Occam’s Razor — There is no “soul”

Occam’s Razor Soul

Here’s a rhetorical question for you:

On which side of Occam’s Razor does your notion of ‘Soul’ fall?

think about it for a couple of seconds.

Let me clarify:

The purpose of this little thought experiment is simple, yet shocking, to some, at its conclusion. I know it was to me.

1. Let ‘soul’, ‘consciousness’, ‘mind’, ‘self’, etc. be defined as any nonphysical phenomena containing the essence of one’s personality. (I used the first two terms interchangeably here.)

2. According to Occam’s Razor, “among competing hypotheses, the hypothesis with the fewest assumptions should be selected.” This is really just human common sense simplified: sure, it is definitely possible that every time an apple drops to the ground, pink unicorns from Mars shoot invisible laser beams to push the apple down; then again, it’s much likelier that Earth’s mass simply bends the space-time continuum around Earth, thus exerting a force we call gravity.

3. Take the following situation; somebody snaps their fingers; the air gets compressed in waves until it reaches your outer ear; those compressed waves pass through your ear canal, and then hit the eardrum. These vibrations, via the Malleus, Incus, and Cochlea (in a perfectly understood physiological-mechanical-electrical process which we can easily emulate nowadays – look for “cochlear implants”) are in turn translated into electrical pulses.

Electrical.

Pulses.

From here on, there is nothing but electricity and chemistry.

These electrical pulses travel to the brain via the auditory nerve.

Now. The brain is a quiet place; it doesn’t have any pictures, nor any sounds or smells.

All that we are are pattern processing machines that have learned, through extensive trial and error – mostly during our formative years – to interpret external stimuli, in this case, particular electrical pulses as somebody snapping their fingers.

If you don’t believe me, simply look at a six month old baby trying to reach a toy right in front of him. look at how he twitches every muscle in his body and face. The child simply does not know yet to associate specific external stimuli (sight, pressure on specific patches of skin, causing a specific set of exquisitely timed electrical pulses, etc.) with specific desirable results (flexing the proper muscles in a series of actions that will result in him grabbing the toy).

4. Increase the level of “white noise” in the physical brain via simple chemicals (e.g. Propofol), and you will induce lack of consciousness, i.e. anesthesia. Use a specific “deep brain stimulation” probe you can also increase the noise so as to drown out Parkinson’s.

Eliminate pin-sized regions in the brain associated with short term memory processing and attention span, and you will be faced with a mere shell of a man.

If such simple physical, chemical, electrical, measures can have such a profound – even negating – effect on our so-called consciousness, what makes anyone think that consciousness is anything but the product of a physical, chemical, electrical brain is beyond me.

We don’t need anything more than the physical brain in order to generate consciousness.

The conclusion: you are a bio chemical electrical machine!

There is no nonphysical soul, nor consciousness.

I am a complete, proud atheist, but to my atheist friends who disagree with me, I should mention that being a critical thinker requires that you stop believing in fairies of all kinds – inside and out – God especially, but also your ethereal, out of body consciousness.

The mind is merely a mechanism designed by blind evolutionary forces to increase the likelihood of survival. If you can interpret patterns, you would know, for example, that that rustle in the grass is indicative of a beast ready to pounce; you would know that next year, 2 moon cycles after the days have stopped shortening, there should be enough rain to sustain your newly sown seeds.

Isn’t it time we all grew up?

There is no need for the added complication stemming from the existence of an ethereal soul; the concept of Soul falls on the side of superfluous assumptions, and thus should not be selected. Thus, according to Occam’s Razor, indeed, according to human common sense, there is no soul.

— Yaniv Chen

Originally posted in the Facebook Group “Atheists Unite”

American Exceptionalism: Myth vs. Reality

We talk as though America is the greatest nation to ever exist.  Isn’t it time for a reality check?

 

  • We’re #23 in math, #17 in reading, and in 16th place for college graduate numbers.  
  • Thirty-six countries have better and more affordable health care than we do.  
  • Justin Denney of Rice University said the average life U.S. expectancy for a person born today is 78.49 — significantly lower than for people born in Monaco, Macau and Japan, which have the three highest life expectancies at 89.7 84.4 and 83.9 years, respectively.  
  • Research by the Annie E. Casey Foundation found that child poverty increased in 38 states from 2000 to 2009. 
    • As a result, 14.7 million children, 20 percent, were poor in 2009. 
    • That represents a 2.5 million increase from 2000, when 17% of the nation’s youth lived in low-income homes.  
  • According to Census data, by 2011, poverty rates grew to include 1 out of every 6 Americans.  
  • We’re 50th in the world in infant mortality rates, which means 49 countries have lower rates than we do.  
  • Our overall tax rate is 27.3% of GDP (latest stats available that I could find are 2008), making us the 4th lowest among member countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) — but everyone shits bricks at the idea of raising taxes, which we should to dig out of our economic mess.  
  • When it comes to social justice — defined here as the ability each individual has to participate in the market society, regardless of their social status — the United States ranks 26 out of 36 in the OECD, and #27 in job security.  
  • We rank #7 out of 36 OEDC member countries in housing expenditure ratio.  
  • Out of the top 30 nations, we rank last in social equality.  
  • In terms of Social Spending (entitlement programs), the U.S. spends 11% of the federal budget on such programs, ranking 25th out of the 34 wealthiest nations; and we spend 24% of the federal budget on our military — more than any other nation, and 42.8% of total global military expenditures.  
  • We spend 14% of our total governmental budget (federal, state, and local all together) on education, placing us #55 out of 194 countries.  
  • Which brings us back to the beginning: we’re #23 in math, #17 in reading, and in 16th place for college graduate numbers.

 

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m a proud American.  I’m also too well aware of the reality: American exceptionalism is a myth, and we need to be real about it.

Link

Scientists Find Black Hole ‘Missing Link’ — with reflective comentary

Fascinating stuff!  To think we humans are a product of a star formed in a galaxy swirling around a black hole!  

So let’s consider in that grand scheme how completely insignificant we are.  Let’s get some perspective.  If people of faith could see how much more awesome our existence is considering earth itself is but an atom in the scope of the single galaxy we inhabit, and we just happened to come to be here on it.  

Just look at all these OTHER galaxies!  

Maybe then we could stop hurting each other in the name of gods we should be mature enough to let go of by now.  It’s time for the human race to grow up, face the realities of our existence, and in sheer humility of that alone wish to do nothing but good for its own sake.  It is amazing enough that any of us are here; there is no need of a deity to remind us of that anymore.  

If the human race doesn’t annihilate itself, the sun will.  This is what makes our ability as a race to work together crucial.  Before the sun gets us, the environment will.  Look at the recent storms, and look at the trends over the past 20 years in carbon emissions in Megatons having direct correlations to severe weather, and people are dying and made homeless by them.  

We need to be scientists, people, and we need to work out our differences with our neighbors so we can save ourselves.  It’s amazing we’re here, we just need to get it right for a change.