A Journalist's Odyssey Through the Darwin Debates
There are two kinds of so-called atheists and so-called agnostics: the stupid kind and the dishonest kind. The author of this book doesn’t agree with this. He thinks people who teach their children life ends in the grave have a materialistic worldview. The author thinks it shows bad judgment to have a materialistic worldview, but he is against denigrating the integrity and intelligence of people who don’t admit the transcendent reality called God in the religions originating in the Near East exists.
The stupid anti-religion fanatics say that free will is an illusion. The dishonest ones say that free will is an emergent property of the human brain. In other words, human beings do not have souls.
Emergence is a scientific concept. Scientists say the property of water emerges from the property of hydrogen atoms and oxygen atoms because they can’t explain why water freezes at zero degrees Celsius but know for sure that this property comes from the two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atoms in a molecule of water.
The freezing point of water and our knowledge of hydrogen and oxygen are scientific observations and inferences. That human beings have free will and the conscious knowledge of human beings as opposed to the sense knowledge of animals is not a scientific observation. That animals can see, hear, and solve simple problems is an empirical fact and a scientific observation. Our knowledge of the human mind arises from our ability to make ourselves the subject of our own knowledge. It is not an empirical fact or scientific observation that human beings have free will. It is more accurately described as a metaphysical observation. As I said, there are people who say and maybe even think free will is an illusion. No one denies that animals can see and hear. What this means is that free will is an emergent property of the human brain by analogy.
There is nothing dishonest or irrational about saying free will is an emergent property by analogy. But this is equivalent to saying human beings don’t have souls. Why is it dishonest to say human beings don’t have souls?
The reason it is dishonest is that many religious people think human beings do have souls. The honest response to this is to explain why human beings don’t have souls. The concept of the soul arises from the metaphysical observation that human beings are superior to animals. This creates a paradox. How can two humans be equal to each other and at the same time different from each other? The body is the metaphysical principle or incomplete being that makes human beings different from one another and the soul is the metaphysical principle or incomplete being that makes human beings equal to one another and superior to animals. The human soul is spiritual because we can comprehend what makes us superior to animals, but we can’t define or explicate free will and the conscious knowledge of human beings. It is not that human beings “have” souls. Rather, a human being is a composition of body and soul. In other words, a human being is an embodied spirit or spirited body.
The idea that the human soul is a spiritual substance rather than a metaphysical principle is nonsense and conflicts with the Christian doctrine of Original Sin and the Second Coming of Jesus.
One reason many people think human beings have souls is the Catholic doctrine of purgatory. Many Catholics believe that after we die our soul suffers in purgatory to help us pay for our sins. This doctrine is not in the Apostles’ Creed and is just theological speculation to fill in the gap between our deaths and the Second Coming of Jesus.
The other reason people think there is an immaterial substance inside the brain is that this fallacy provides an atheist-friendly way to explain why so many intelligent and educated people with good character don’t believe in God. The explanation is that they have a materialist worldview. Saying, as I do, that such people are stupid and dishonest is not atheist-friendly. This means everyone benefits from the idea that human beings have souls. People against religion benefit because it makes religious people look irrational. Religious people benefit because they don’t get anti-religious people too mad at them.