It seems almost a universal belief among atheists on the net (with some notable exceptions) that science has explained all of consciousness, reduced "mind" to an illusory nature, a side effect of brain chemistry. Atheists argue this fantasy from the stand point of the soul or the spirit, reducing dualistic aspects of religious thought to only the material realm, thus confirming their naturalism and eliminating what they see as primitive religious thinking. The problem is, this is sheer fantasy. The atheist delusion that the whole of science accepts this conclusion as fact and as a matter of course is totally contradicted by major physicists (Penrose) and the Nobel Laureates who support many of the new forms of dualism or quantum versions of consciousness.
Atheists argue this issue on two grounds: (1) that there is no data of any kind whatsoever supporting any sort of soul or spirit; (2) that alterations to brain chemistry seem to alter consciousness in many ways. Thus they conclude that brain chemistry is what "mind" reduce to, and there is nothing more than that and there need be nothing more than that. To answer the first point first, what atheists have in mind on the issue of soul is something like Casper the friendly ghost. They seem to think that religious thinking has not advanced sufficiently to get past the vapor notion of a bygone era. But not all religious viewpoints understand things in this way.
"Soul," in my parlance, is a vague term which is given no consistent use in the Bible. What emerges from the Biblical text most often is the idea that "soul" is a symbolic term referring to the over all life of the individual, especially with reference to the religious sphere, the telos of the individual's life goal, the after life. This is not to say that "soul" is what lives on, except in the symbolic sense. In other words, we do not have souls, we are souls. Thus the Bible speaks of a certain number of "souls" going down into Egypt, or we speak of "lost souls" and "saving souls."
It is Spirit that I think of as the thing that lives after death. Spirit is the "life force" in a metaphorical sense. Now this doesn't mean it's a mysterious energy, for I understand "spirit" in the way that Albert Schweitzer did, as mind: Spirit = mind. Mind is an immaterial aspect of brain which produces consciousness, self awareness, and that is what lives on after death. Of course the atheist will argue that the mind is a side effect of brain chemistry, below (page 3) I present a boat load of data to show that this is simply not the case. Mind transcends brain. Of course we should be prepared to assume that mind is produced by brain function, that is "caused" by having a brain; but just being caused by the brain doesn't mean that the mind is reducible to the brain. As for living without a brain, we are talking about a state of after life. Of course we shouldn't expect minds to go running around planet earth without brains while people are still alive, but in the state of after life, where one transcends the material, why not? Some Christians might raise the issue of "resurrection body," but when Jesus was still in the flesh, after the resurrection, he told Mary he had not yet ascended to the father, and implied that his body would be transformed. Paul says he was raised a life giving spirit; he doesn't say he was a life giving spirit immediately upon raising. So perhaps in the state of after life the "resurrection body" is pure spirit? That is to say, the resurrection body is pure mind; being taken up into God's presence the mind coheres through some divine measure we know not of? That seems like the simplest solution to consider to me.
As for the issue of brain chemistry and changing brain function changes consciousness, there is a problem here between correlation and causality. There is a very strong correlation between brain damage and changes of consciousness, but there is no way to prove that this is because the mind is reducible to the brain. If the mind is dependent upon the brain as a soft ware package is dependent upon hardware, then of course damaging the hard ware would make the soft ware inaccessible, but it would not mean that soft are is reducible to hardware.
Below is a piece written by Glenn Miller (Christian think Tank) showing that the Biblical picture of brain/mind/soul/spirit is must the same as one might expect to find while following the upshot of modern brain/mind research. The other pages continue to make the argument that mind is not reducible to brain.
The argument is that the characteristics described by the scientific
data coincide with the picture the Bible paints of the soul.
Glenn Miller Christian Think Tank
The operative terms include: soul, self, mind, heart, spirit, nature.
* Soul generally refers to either the totality of the person (including
body) or simply the transcendental part (as distinct from the body--cf.
Jesus' words in Matt 10.28: Do not be afraid of those who kill the body
but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy
both soul and body in hell. ). It seems to include awareness and the moment-by-moment
phenomenal consciousness, and can be designated by 'self' or 'life' in
this general sense (Luke 9.25 with parallel passages). It can be 'pulled
on' by evil desires--indicating some conflict of goal processes 'below
it' (I Pet 2.11).
* When the concept of soul is expanded to include personality traits,
is seems to be referred to as the 'self' (Eph 4.22; Col 3.9f; I Peter 3.4).
* The conscious aspect of the soul can be seen in the fact that 'mind'
is almost a synonym for this function of it. The two words almost never
appear together--except in panoramic statements such as Mark 12.30: Love
the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all
your mind and with all your strength.' . Mind can be programmed through
attention/learning/choice (Dt 11.18; Is 46.8; Luke 21.14; Luke 8.18; Dan
10.12), can be influenced/dominated by the 'heart' and 'spirit' (Rom 8.6;
Eph 5.19), and can be loaded with value-based goals (Rom 8.5) and principles
(John 15.18; Rom 7.23). Mind seems to reflect the cognitive 'workspace'
for immediate memory and attended percepts (Mt 16.23; ) and is subject
to constant refresh and turnover (Rom 12.2). The mind is the primary mechanism
we have under our control to effect self-initiated changes to the heart,
generally through attention, fixation, meditation, and saturation (Phil
4.8 ; 2 Cor 3.18. cf. Phil 3.19; Col 3.1-2).
* Spirit is the most elusive/mysterious of the words, since it not only
refers to intelligent agents (God, angels, humans, evil spirits), but in
psychological contexts refers to very strong propensities, goal-trajectories,
or inclinations. Spirit would represent some our deepest unconscious and
subconscious influences and drives, esp. those dealing with motivational
'readiness' activation. Spirit can 'write upwards into' the heart (2 Cor
3.3) and can be thwarted by the weakness of the physical organism, if the
overall mental environment at a given moment is not able to 'amplify' the
signal through fixation, attention, and distribution (cf. Jesus' words
in Mt 26.41: "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.
The spirit is willing, but the body is weak." ). The spirit is probably
the more fundamental of the inclinations; the conflict between the 'sinful
nature' and the 'spirit' in Gal 5.16ff and Romans 6-8 reflects conflicting
value-goals of a very high-order level. In fact, these competing values
are not simple ethical rules (which might best be actualized at a 'less
primal' level), but rather are radical determinants of the internal view
of self--a VERY powerful mental construct. The battle between the self-views
('servants of value vs. servants of dis-value') explains some of the intensity
that show up in these goal-conflicted experiences. Spirit is generally
viewed as initiator of process--a lot like 'wind'. It moves and is often
imaged as a force or power, instead of an 'entity'.
* Heart is the concept that gets the vast majority of the scriptural
'air time'. A short list of some of the aspects of 'heart' will illustrate
the centrality of this concept in the biblical view of persons.
* it contains motives--both minor and 'deep' (I Cor 4.5; Gen 6.5; Prov
20.5; 21.2; 24.12; I Chrn 28.9f)
* as such, it can often be used in parallel with 'spirit' (Ps 78.8;
* it contains the "thoughts behind the thoughts" (Gen 24.15; Mark 2.8;
I Chrn 28.9f)
* it has varying degrees of flexibility and corrigibility--from hardened
to open to free (Prov 28.14; Ex 7.14; Ps 51.10; Ps 17.10)
* this flexibility can influence the mind's ability to learn new material
(Eph 4.18) as well as ethical behavior (Ps 73.7; Ps 119.32)
* the actions and moral-valued behaviors 'spring' from it--the "wellspring
of life" (Mt 15.18; Prov 4.23)
* it contains plans, expected schemas, and imagined schemas (Acts 7.39;
Prov 6.14,18; 16.1,9; 19.21)
* it seems to include long-term memory functions (Mt 12.34; Prov 7.3;
* it is the source of 'blurting out' or 'slips' (Mt 12.34-36; Prov 12.23)
* it has some type of knowledge of its internal sub-systems (Prov 14.10)
* it produces psychosomatic effects (Prov 14.30; 17.22)
* its sensitivity can be re-configured by somatic perceptions (Eph 4.18)
* it deliberates--probably including unconscious 'computation' and analysis
* it emotes (Prov 13.12; Gen 6.6; Prov 19.3)
* it CAN BE OVERRIDEN by the soul/mind (I Cor 10.6; Prov 24.17; Ps 62.10)
* it CAN BE AIMED/Directed at problems, goals, scenarios (Lk 12.29;
I Cor 10.6)
* it CAN BE PROGRAMMED to 'work on' or learn from certain situations
(Prov 24.32; Dt 11.18; Is 46.8; Ps 77.6; 119.30; Luke 12.29)
* it CAN BE PRIMED to vigilance, situation-detection, or feature-detection
(1 Peter 1.13; Rom 14.13; Eph 6.18)
* its 'direction' or inclination can be set, and can thereby suppress
certain behaviors (2 Chron 12.14; 11.16; 2 Chrn 19.3; Ps 119.112)
* it can completely dominate the mind, reducing flexibility and freedom
for self-transformation (Ps 81.12; Rom 1)
* it maintains value-schemas--it can be disloyal (Ps 78.8)
* it typically maintains multiple conflicting goals (John 12.27; Jas
* it has attitudes (Heb 4.12)
* God has access to the full 'contents' and processes within it (Ps
7.9; 26.2; Jer 20.12)
* As the most reliable indicator of 'who we are really', it will be
the basis of our judgment in the future (Jer 17.10)
* We have some access to it, via introspection and meditation (Ps 4.4)
Thus, 'heart' looks like the actual engine that "pushes" our life forward.
It runs on by itself--churning out behaviors, words, plans-- in whatever
operating direction it has built in at that point, but it can be (1) vetoed
and (2) re-aimed through modification of the underlying goals and directives.
As a seedbed of conflicting goals, its 'coherency' can be modified to produce
increasingly self-directed (free) action. The emphasis on striving for
self-control, self-discipline, and clear-mindedness in scripture (e.g.
Jas 1.8; 4.8; I pet 4.7; Gal 5.23; 2 Pet 1.6; 2 Tim 1.7) indicate that
coherence and integration of conscious goals and processes is NOT the standard
operating mode of the human soul. * Nature. Although 'nature' can sometimes
refer to the body proper (e.g. Rom 1.3) or 'essence' (e.g. Rom 1.20), in
psychological contexts it generally is used in a negative sense, and the
modifier 'sinful' is often added to it in the Pauline literature. For example
in Roman 6-8 Paul talks about people being dominated by what the 'sinful
nature desires' (Romans 8.5), the 'sinful nature' is in constant battle
for conscious executive control with the spirit (Gal 5.17), and it has
goal-orientations (e.g. cravings, desires, thoughts, passions). It is so
powerful that Paul tells the Romans to not even THINK about mechanisms
to achieve the gratification of 'the sinful nature'--with the probable
meaning that such thinking would prime or activate such unconscious processes
(as the Law did in Romans 7).
Theologically, this aspect of human 'nature' would refer to biological-plus
drives that have been DE-COUPLED from the overall value-teleology of humanity.
In other words, the God-given drives for survival, pleasure, significance,
celebration, pain-avoidance (for examples) were de-coupled or detached
from implicit control mechanisms due to the disintegration of sin/evil.
As such, they now tend to run in abject independence from balancing processes
of value-creation and value-maintenance. So, for example, the desire for
culinary pleasure--a precious gift of God which will be honored in extremes
at the Coronation of His Son (e.g. Isaiah 25.6!)--when de-coupled from
the desire for equilibrium conditions, becomes gluttony. Hence, the biblical
emphasis on self-control in the 'system'--the need to keep these de-coupled
drives artificially 're-coupled up' by (1) conscious executive veto mechanisms
(Titus 2.12); (2) by conscious integration into healthy theological frameworks
(I Tim 4.3-4; Heb 13.4; I Cor 7.3ff + the Song of Solomon!; Rom 12.3);
and (3) by conscious priming, activation, sustaining of more "positive"
drive-oriented processes (Col 3.2; Phil 4.8).
These biblical terms have a great deal of overlap, so we should not
press the general characterizations above too far. But the model above
can be roughly mapped onto contemporary categories (which has its OWN lack
Self might refer to the internal self-maps of Damasio (CS:DEERHB) plus
current acquired and survival goals of the individual. Soul, in its narrowest
sense, would refer to phenomenal consciousness/awareness. Mind might refer
to our modern notion of 'global workspace', with some extensions into unconscious
processes, and without losing the phenomenal experience aspect. Spirit
would reflect deep motivational structures--setting pervasive goals on
the basis of self-understanding (reflecting survival and growth value--broadly
considered). Heart would be a very broad notion, certainly entailing many
of the unconscious processes and subsystems. [Even the 'blurting' matches
the 'liberation' of unconscious action routines-cf. CS:SAC:423-444.] The
'programming' and 'directing' activities can be seen as attention/distribution
and priming mechanisms, and the overriding of action routines in process
as the veto/executive function of consciousness (see Libet, CS:TSC:342;
JCS:1:1:130). "Sinful nature" would refer narrowly to certain de-coupled
unconscious drives, that attempt to dominate behavior.
Thus the biblical usage of these terms has adequate non-technical overlap
with our contemporary concepts in the literature.
Psyche: An interdisciplinary Journal of research on Consciousness
Page 2: New Dualism Emerging