So let's begin then by thinking about the kinds of arguments that have been invoked over the centuries to support the notion that human beings have something like a traditional soul. Those ideas and arguments fall into three broad categories. The first are what's called first person arguments. Descartes made a famous argument of this type in the 17th century, then comes a line of work ideas that have to do with death or approaching death. Things like reincarnation, near death experiences and in talking about these I will address the challenge that, this was sort of tongue in cheek, but the challenge that professor Oglesby raised last time regarding the recent Newsweek article featuring Evan Alexander and his near death experience. Finally, a third class of arguments pertains to that which we do not yet understand and there's plenty of that. In particular, that we do not [LAUGH] understand about the mind and there's plenty of that too. Consciousness comes to mind. Consciousness is a puzzling feature that still has no satisfactory explanation. People have made the argument that you see, you can't explain this feature of the mind. Therefore, it opens the door for something like the soul. We'll take a look at arguments of this type, as well. They can be thought of as soul of the gap arguments by analogy to what's known as God of the gap arguments. Now if you take a look at a recent book called the Brief History of the Soul, published a couple years ago, I believe. The author's Argue that throughout history, so you can take a look at the quote. In light of our brief history of thought about the soul. They review the history of the soul, going all the way back to the Egyptians and the Greeks and major thinkers. They claim that it shows that the soul's existence is affirmed largely, if not entirely on the basis of first person experience. So that's the first line of argument and that's the most prominent one that you can trace all the way back to the beginnings of recorded history. So let's think about what this is. The idea here is that there's something it's like to be a human being. We each subjectively perceive the world and we have an awareness of our internal states. So when we introspect, many people feel that subjectively, it feels like we're more than just physical bodies. It feels that there's somebody home, there's something home. And when you think about that, it doesn't feel like the eye, the self, the consciousness, perhaps the soul is something that's physical. It feels that this is something that's separate from the body. So subjective reality suggests to us that there's a duality of mind and body. Therefore, some people have claimed by some sort of isomorphism. Meaning, a correspondence between the subjective world and the objective world. Whatever is felt objectively, must also be true of the world out there, must be true objectively. So in other words, if we feel that way, very powerfully, it must mean that there's something like bodies is what Descartes called res extensa. So physical stuff that is extended in space and obeys the laws of physics and it also follows from this line of argument that there's another world or another kind of substance. What we talked about last time called res cogitans in Descartes system, that's the world of souls. In other words, whatever we feel inside, according to this view, must correspond to something that is objectively real from a third person perspective. That's the argument. It's easy to see that, it's a very fallacious argument. It doesn't take much thinking, so let's try this. Suppose that, I'm sure you all remember when you were younger having dreams and nightmares. So suppose somebody has a vivid nightmare that there's a monster under their bed. So you wake up in the middle of the night and every fiber of your being tells you, because you had a vivid dream that there's a monster under your bed. We've all experienced things like that. Now scientists would not deny the subjective reality of the dream. Of course, the kid or the person had a dream. They had a powerful, subjective impression. Now here's the key question. Can we conclude about the objective world now, not the world inside your mind? That because you think there's a monster under your bed, there must be a monster under your bed and the answer's of course not. How do we decide whether there really is a monster under your bed? We don't just take the report of the child or the person. We say, let's check. Let's see there's actual evidence that there's a monster under your bed. Let's go, look at the bed. Film, photograph, search to see if there's a monster. If there isn't a monster, then that's it. There's nothing to what you've experiences. It's powerful, it's subjective, but it tells you nothing about objective reality. That should be pretty straightforward. So this is a case where something feels true, but it actually is false. You can have the argument in the opposite direction. Some things feel very true, but they are false. Right now, for example, you are sitting and I'm standing. And all of us I'm sure, unless you have vertigo of some sort or have had a few drinks before you came to class, feel that the Earth beneath us is very stable and stationary. If you introspect, if you think about how you feel. Every fiber of your being tells you, look, nothing's moving. Now suppose that therefore, the Earth doesn't move, but that just is not true. We know independently that the Earth is moving very fast around the sun. So that's a case where our intuitions tell us something that we think is true, but actually is false. So the bottom line and the conclusion here is we simply can't trust our subjective intuitions when it comes to objective reality and the world. In fact, the history of science shows us that most of science's most important conclusions are extremely counterintuitive and we've talked about this a little bit last time. It's very counterintuitive that we evolved from very simple life forms. It doesn't feel that way, it feels like we were created, but we were not and you can multiply the examples. If you look at advanced physics, all the conclusions are extremely counterintuitive, but they're taken to be correct by scientists, even if you feel that it doesn't make sense. So what you feel like, what subjective impressions are not taken very seriously at least as far as evidence in the sciences. So that takes care of one class of arguments, the first person arguments that have been invoked for a long time. Here's a few more examples of this. These are quotes from famous philosopher of mind and science Paul Churchland, which really make the point. So he writes that the red surface of an apple does not look like a matrix of molecules reflecting photons at certain critical wavelengths, but that's what it is. To us, it doesn't feel like it, but that's what it is physically. The sound of a flute or any kind of musical instrument. Does not sound like a compression wave train in the atmosphere, but that's what it is. The warmth of the summer air, when it gets a bit warmer around here. You feel wonderful on your skin, on your face, it feels great. Does not feel like the mean kinetic energy of millions of tiny molecules, but that is what it is. So he continues, Churchland continues, and says, or writes, that if one's pains and hopes and beliefs do not introspectively, meaning when we think subjectively about them, seem like electrochemical states in a neural network that may be only because our faculty of introspection like our other senses is not sufficiently penetrating to reveal such hidden details. So that's why scientists do not take first person arguments seriously. You need third person objective corroborative evidence before you decide whether something that you experience objectively is true or false. Before you decide that there is or isn't a monster under the bed. You want to go and check objectively, verifiably, demonstratably. That should be pretty trivial to understand. We know, in fact, if you look at research in psychology that the conscious mind, so take the tip of the iceberg here to be the conscious part of your minds. And take the bulk of the iceberg to be whatever happens under the hood, metaphorically, that is not accessible to consciousness. We now know with a high level of certainty that most of what we deploy cognitively is in fact governed by principles and mechanisms of which we have no conscious awareness. If you take courses in cognitive psychology, that's one of the main conclusions. The principles that you deploy when you produce or understand language, you have no idea what they are. And they're not at all the kind that you heard about in third and fourth grade like don't split infinitives and don't use the double negatives. These are worthless. They're much more complicated and you have no access to them consciously. It takes scientific theories to uncover them. When you make decisions, you think you know how you make decisions. Well, take psychology classes and think again. There are plenty of factors that affect the way we make decisions including important decisions about which we have no conscious awareness. Same thing for moral judgements. When you make moral judgements. And you say, this feels right, this feels wrong. You might try to rationalize about what it is, what principle it is that's guiding your intuition. But most of the time, it's actually not true, and the principles again are not accessible to consciousness. When you pay attention, so right now, all of you I'm sure have a very powerful illusion if you look around. That all the details of the room, and me, and you're peers is perfectly painted metaphorically in your mind. That's an illusion. And there's very interesting ways to show that. You actually only pay attention to a very tiny segment of the scene around you and there are powerful experiments to show that. If you're interested in this, there's a great popular science book that came out not too long ago called Incognito by David Eagleman that goes over, it's called the secret lives of the brain, showing you how much of your behavior is actually controlled by processes that you do not understand and that you have no conscious access to. But it shouldn't surprise you too much. Think about your hearts, for example. Is anybody right now, as I'm speaking, consciously saying to themselves boom, boom, boom, boom? And if you stop saying this, your heart will stop? Of course not. It just works perfectly fine. You are aware of the fact that it's beating, but you have no idea how it's beating. You're not aware, unless you've taken medical classes, the physical and biochemical principles that underlie your heart's functioning. The same is true for many aspects of your minds. Richard Feynman, who is a Nobel Prize winning physicist, died in the late 1980s. Said this absolutely beautifully. In fact, this should apply to everything when you inquire about the world from any perspective. Scientific, spiritual, religious, philosophical. The first principle is that you must not fool yourself into thinking something is true when it isn't. Or something is false when it isn't, and you are the easiest person to fool. Not you, but us. We are the easiest persons to fool. And so the way to avoid being fooled, the best way we've ever discovered as a species is called science. Let's turn now to a second class of arguments. Involving death or near death and that gets us closer to the challenge that was issued tongue and cheek by Professor Oglesby last week. You may remember that a few weeks ago. The magazine, Newsweek, came out with a special cover. A special article. Conclusion, heaven is real. This gentleman over there, even Alexander, neurosurgeon, had a near death experience. I'll tell you about what this is in just a moment. And he claims, you should read the article, it's available. It's interesting. He claims that part of his brain, the part that is supposed to be responsible for consciousness, his cerebral cortex, had completely shut down. His conclusion is that he can't possibly have had the conscious experiences that he reports, and therefore that heaven must be real, and that the soul must be real of course. That's the conclusion. So what's a near death experience? It's not new at all. Eben Alexander is not the first person in the world to have had one. He's one of many, many people who've had a near death experience. The first reports, the first accounts, of near death experiences go back to the Greeks. Plato actually talks about near death experiences, in his writing he talks about a soldier who's had a near death experience. So it's an old phenomena. It's been portrayed in movies, and literally hundreds of thousands of people have had those. I've had students who've come to me and had those experiences. What they are is usually, it's altered state of consciousness. It happens sometimes when you are perhaps about to die, when you are in a coma and you recover, and it involves a rather unusual set of subjective experiences. Often but not always, it's a set of pleasant emotions, a sense of serenity and calmness and oneness with the world and the universe around you. Often people report tunnel visions, you see a dark tunnel with bright lights at the end, suggesting passage to a new dimension, to a new realm. The world of light, the world of spirits. People often report encountering deceased individuals. Loved ones, perhaps spiritual figures, Jesus, depending on your religion and culture. Sometimes, again not always, there's plenty of variation, they are people experience a life review where your life flashes before your eyes. Memories from when you were younger, a little less young, all the way to the present moment. An out of body experience. I'd love to be able to experience this. I should perhaps, one way to take drugs. I'm not going to try that, but people do, and have. An out of body experience is the subjective sensation that you can see yourself. Your own body, from a detached third person perspective. As though, your soul is floating in the room and could see your physical body lying on the bed. Imagine how powerful an impression this must make on people. It's not hard to imagine that the conclusion that people would draw, especially many decades and centuries ago, is that, yeah, my soul left my body temporarily, saw the world from its perspective and then came back. And there's a sensation, because these people don't die. If they really died, they wouldn't be around to tell us the stories. So often, people will feel like they're being returned to their body in the physical world, sometimes reluctantly. So that's your dead experiences. Again, those symptoms vary. For people, the experiences are frightening and they think they see hell. So the cover of Newsweek could very well have been Hell is Real. So let's get back now to Eben Alexander and his near-death experience. Not unique by any stretch of the imagination. What makes the story unique is that he's a scientist of sorts, he's a neurosurgeon. So it somehow adds, in the popular imagination, credibility to the report. But let's think about this for a second. This gentleman had a very powerful set of subjective experiences. What does that tell us about the real world? Nothing. If there's no objective evidence to verify that the realm exists, it could very well have been just a dream or dream-like state. Okay. He claims that his cerebral cortex had shut down. If you read the article and you read the commentaries that have been made, it's very unlikely. But let's give him that, let's say that it's true. Now, that guy didn't die, right, he came back to life to tell the story. Which means that even if his cortex had shutdown, it must have been powered back up again for him to regain consciousness. What's to say that in the process of being powered back up again, this is not the moment when the whole experience happened. There's little scientific merit to something like this. And it's well-known within the scientific community and that has been discussed extensively. So I just want to show you an analogy. What you should know about this, is that people like Alexander are what's called contrarians. They are one out of a handful of people who believe one view, when almost everybody else believes the opposite. This is something about climate science that's relevant given what just happened to us. As you may know, there's a big public controversy in the United States, amazingly, over whether climate science is real or not. No such controversy within the scientific community, especially when you ask people who know best about the climate, climate scientists. This is a paper that was published in 2010 in one of the most prestigious scientific journals, called the Proceedings of the National Academy of the Sciences, PNAS. They looked at the numbers on top publishing research climate scientists. Out of 100, 97 of them believe the tenants of the IPCC, that it is getting warmer and that we're in part responsible. Now there are a could of contrarians always, two or three contrarians saying, well, we don't think it's true. Suppose now that we pick one of those contrarians. We put that guy on the cover of Newsweek and say, global warming is a hoax. People would say, look, there's a guy who says climate change is a hoax. Yeah, but this all his peers, pretty much, disagree with him, so he's a contrarian. We know that even on the most trivial questions. Okay, how many people of you believe think that the Earth is flat? I doubt there's anyone in the room who seriously believes, today, that the Earth is flat. Nonetheless, you find contrarians, some have PhDs. I'm not kidding. Look it up, check. I'm not saying this guy has a PhD, but some. So, this is Charles Johnson. Until 2001 when he died, he was the president of the International Flat Earth Society. Don't laugh, it's serious. Those guys exist, okay? Now suppose you find a guy with a PhD, and there are some, that says the Earth is flat. Does that tell you anything about whether the Earth is flat? Of course not. So the fact that you have one guy, even Alexander who has a near death experience, and says look, heaven is real, tells you nothing. And is not regarded seriously by mainstream science.