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The Nine Point Five Theses

Deriving the existence of souls from an examination of human behavior, plus the fundamental physical reason why souls have to exist in the first place. These proofs rest on a foundation of coldly objective logic and reason. The reader is invited to use his/her own logic and reason to decide for himself/herself if they are correct and rigorous---or not. I guarantee you an interesting read.

Monday, February 05, 2007

ON SOULS

ON HUMAN MOTIVATION

by Jeffrey A. Corkern

Why do people do what they do? Is it possible to come up with one single rule that encompasses all of human motivation?

Try this one.

PEOPLE DO WHAT THEY DO IN ORDER TO TRY TO FEEL HAPPY.

Whatever it is they do may or may not succeed, thus the process is called the "pursuit of happiness." This "pursuit of happiness" may seem like a trivial thing. It isn't. There's a reason why the American Declaration of Independence mentions "the pursuit of happiness" as one of the three inalienable rights.

Because everything people do, everything, can be stated, in the end, in terms of being happy, of reaching this particular emotional state.

Consider. You work hard to get whatever it is you want---and you feel happy if you succeed, and unhappy if you don't. Food, shelter, jobs, love, sex, relationships, all fall under this. Start a war, end a war, paint a painting, raise a family, build a building, bomb a building, what do people feel when they've accomplished their goal, good or bad?

Happy.

I can hear the gentle reader raising an objection to this. Surely, he is saying, we have all seen people doing things that even they knew would wind up making them unhappy. Yes, surely we all have, but even that particular case can be expressed like this:
"I’m not happy----unless I’m unhappy."

(Yes, it’s twisted, but hey, that’s people, baby. They can do whatever they want. Free will, you know.)

However, we can cover this case too by putting our original statement into more general terms. Let's also be a tad more specific about what it is that's feeling this happiness emotion. (Let us call the following the "happiness rule.")

PEOPLE DO WHAT THEY DO IN ORDER TO TRY TO PUT THEIR BRAINS INTO A DESIRED EMOTIONAL STATE.

We give people the choice of what emotional state they want their brains to be in---although this, too, can be expressed in terms of happiness, showing how very basic this happiness thing is. (Let us call the following the "happiness statement.")

"I'm not happy---unless I'm {insert desired emotional state here}."

I can hear the gentle reader raising another objection.

Okay, he is saying, people do what they do in order to put their brains into certain emotional states. Fine.

But what about when people deliberately do something that destroys their brains, their feeling organs, huh? Specifically, what about people who choose to die for some weird reason, like, to protect other people or democracy or global jihad? They're not happy, they're not anything, THEY'RE JUST PLAIN DEAD, dead and wiped out, man!

The gentle reader appears to be perfectly right. After all, in death the brain stops working and is without doubt no longer capable of feeling emotion. This one specific action does NOT fit into our happiness rule. All other human action fits that happiness rule---except the act of giving your life for something, wherein your emotion-feeling organ is destroyed.

This is a glaring problem. Let's look at this closer.

For a rational, intelligent, self-aware individual to give his life---his existence, to strike the rock-bottom---for anything, anything at all, makes ZERO sense. For an animal driven by instinct to propagate his gene line, such behavior is understandable. An animal isn't in total control of its actions the way a human being is. But for an intelligent, self-aware human being, it isn't. It is irrational in the extreme, so absolutely, totally stupid you really have to wonder why such behavior appeared and persisted in supposedly intelligent human beings in the first place.

Some scientists would argue it's because people are NOT truly intelligent, that they STILL ARE instinct-dominated animals, totally driven by certain subsets of their genes---CONTROLLED by certain subsets of their genes---to perform self-sacrificing behavior in order to propagate their gene line. This is known as the gene-controlled theory of human behavior.

I see a tremendous money-making opportunity here for some ambitious bio-technology company looking for new markets. If there really are some genes inside you that can FORCE you to sacrifice your life, then clearly the SMART thing to do is to CHANGE those genes, to turn those damn genes OFF!

Get in on the ground floor, folks. But hey, I notice something more than a little awkward.

If somebody can change his genes, are his genes controlling him, or is he controlling his genes?

There is a MAJOR problem with the gene-controlled theory of human behavior.

Hmmm. It strikes me there is an unconscious (COMPLETELY UNPROVEN!) assumption in the statement that somebody who dies for something is just plain DEAD.

That he's no longer feeling emotion. That the person who died is no longer feeling or thinking anything. That his personality, his essence, zeroed out, that he blinked out of existence when he died the way a light bulb blows out.

You know, there is ONE way you could fit the act of giving your life into our happiness rule, ONE way it could become rational for an intelligent, self-aware human being to die for something. A way that could make giving up your own life possibly correct and sensible, that would make ALL of human behavior fit into our happiness rule, ONE way such an act could survive and persist in human behavior.

If human beings can still think---and more importantly, feel---after dying.

If human beings survive death. If your life and your existence are NOT the same.

If human beings have souls. Self-aware thinking and feeling structures that survive the death of the physical body.

If souls are truly what human beings are, not physical bodies.

In such a case, the act of giving your life for some reason can actually be a thoroughly rational action, depending on the circumstances. (I don't mean to imply for a second that dying for some reason renders that reason right, or that people who die for something are automatically some kind of saint. Dying for something can be stupid just like any other human action.) If you have a soul and die for something, you've given up your life, all right---but NOT your existence.

This requires a slight modification to our happiness rule.

PEOPLE DO WHAT THEY DO IN ORDER TO TRY TO PUT THEIR SOULS INTO A DESIRED EMOTIONAL STATE.

(Of course, this implies souls are the true feeling organ, the emotion organ, not the brain. The brain's emotion centers, at most, can only be a mirror, a reflection of a more fundamental physical structure.)

Finally, we have a single, simple rule for why people do what they do that encompasses ALL of human behavior, including dying for a cause. Now, it ALL fits.

Whether our final happiness rule is correct or not is another question, since it requires souls.

The modification we've had to make is quite stunning, to say the least. We don't know for a solid scientific fact if souls exist or not.

Let’s look a little closer at this particular problem, using this happiness rule we’ve come up with.

ON THE EXISTENCE OF SOULS

People have been arguing about whether or not souls exist for what? Three thousand years now? For so long the assumption has arisen it’s not possible to solve this problem by pure, objective reason and logic, and therefore it must be left to faith and religion.

As someone with physical-scientist training, I resist this assumption. If souls exist as real, physical entities or DON'T exist as real, physical entities, I maintain this existence or non-existence MUST be deducible by logical arguments. Simple logical arguments, too, arguments anyone can understand.

Allow me to take a stab at this, at trying to determine whether souls exist or not in a scientific manner, by pure, objective reason and logic alone. Whether or not I succeed I will leave to the gentle reader's judgment.

YOU, gentle reader, are specifically charged with making the final judgment for yourself, whether my attempt at pure, objective reason and logic is correct and rigorous, or isn't.

Off we go.

First, a definition of a "soul."

A "soul" is an eternally existing thinking and feeling structure that can exist with or without a physical body. They can and do inhabit physical bodies from time to time, but don't require one.

Now, what would this weird thing do to people? How would the existence of a soul, if somebody has one, affect his behavior?

Let us phrase this question in a scientific manner.

What would be the observable differences between with-soul and without-soul human behavior?

Or, the best way of stating the problem:

What is the smart, rational way for somebody to act if he has a soul? What is the smart, rational way for somebody to act if he doesn't?

This is the best way to state the problem because, with human beings, we must take into account the strong---and increasing by the second---influence of intelligence on behavior. As humanity continues to evolve, pure intelligence more and more is influencing human behavior, and in the end will be THE dominant force influencing human behavior. To state this in abstract theoretical terms, as evolution progresses, sentient behavior tends toward the rational (where "rational" is defined as "in conformity with physical law"). So what we must derive is the end state behavioral evolution is driving toward, if such an end state exists.

Hmmm. People do what they do in order to feel happy. And they want to get happy by the cheapest possible route, too, at minimum cost to them.

Okay, suppose you don't have a soul, and there's something you've decided you need in order to feel happy. What's the rational thing to do?

Answer: Just take it. Any method whatsoever of getting what you want is fine, up to and including killing as many people as necessary---just make SURE you can get away with it. Wipe out the entire human race if you have to. Killing is perfectly acceptable, as long as you make sure nobody's looking first, and be sure to shoot them in the back to be safe.

It's the rational, the SMART thing to do.

Why?

BECAUSE YOU CAN ESCAPE THE CONSEQUENCES OF YOUR ACTIONS.

If you can make it to your own death without anybody finding out and making you pay, you've succeeded as much as it's possible to succeed. If there are no souls, the only variable you should consider when selecting a path to happiness is the cost to you, how it affects you personally. Other than that, all paths to happiness are physically equivalent. The only REAL, PHYSICAL difference is the cost to you. If killing people is the cheapest thing to do, get behind them, sight them up, and gun them down.

Worried about how everybody else might feel about this? Don't. It's not rational. Not in conformity with physical law.

Without a soul, you are a Universe Of One. You are fundamentally absolutely, completely alone. Any feeling of connection you might have to other people is strictly false and an illusion. As far as you personally are concerned, the Universe began when you were born and will end when you die. Nothing truly matters except what you want. Nobody's feelings matter in any real sense except yours.

From an abstract theoretical viewpoint, without souls---eternal existence, to strike the rock-bottom---your emotional state is NOT dependent on, NOT PHYSICALLY LINKED to, anyone else's emotional state.

Without a soul, there is NO PHYSICAL REASON for you to take anybody else's feelings into account, NO PHYSICAL REASON for you to act in accordance with anybody's desires other than your own.

This type of behavior is known to humanity. It is called sociopathic behavior.

IF THERE ARE NO SOULS, THE ONLY RATIONAL THING TO BE IS A SOCIOPATH.

Let us look at the societal implications of this, what the end state of this behavioral evolution would be.

Let's conduct a thought experiment. Theoretically, we convince everybody in the world souls don't exist. In practical terms, we will create a society of sociopaths, since sentient behavior tends toward the rational as evolution does its thing.

But the word "sociopath" means "one who hates society." A "society of sociopaths" is an oxymoron, a contradiction in terms. It can't exist.

In practical terms, we convince people souls don't exist---and WHAM! Society is totally destroyed, just like that.

(Observation: If removing a certain assumption from society totally destroys society, that assumption is what was holding society up in the first place.

The deeper implication is that, without souls, the very concept of "society" itself cannot appear. Souls, it turns out, are critically necessary for the existence of society. No souls---no society, and that's it.)

Given scientists are currently trying to do exactly this---convince the entire world souls do not exist---the gentle reader should be feeling a cold wind on his back about now. The implications for the very survival of the human race on Earth are chilling.

However, the gentle reader can breathe a sigh of relief. There's an almost-zero-effort way for the modern rational sociopath to achieve happiness that doesn't involve a bullet in the back for the rest of us. The modern rational sociopath can put his brain into whatever emotional state he wants, and not risk anything. Not have to sweat a single drop, wait a single second, spend significant amounts of money, or, fortunately for the rest of us, shoot one single person in the back. We live in an age of technological wonder. If the ultimate aim is to feel happy by the cheapest possible route, it is now possible to buy happiness in chemical form.

Drugs.

Emotion drugs. Drugs that have as their sole purpose the inducement of emotional states in the brain. Pot, alcohol, meth, smack, cocaine, crack, LSD, Ecstasy (note the revealing name), crank, uppers, downers, the list goes on and on and gets longer on a daily basis.

Better living through chemistry, baby.

Some might object that all these drugs, since they are chemicals, are very likely to have negative side effects, i.e. will make their user unhappy in the long run. True enough, but side effects are strictly a technological problem, and therefore can be eliminated totally.

By direct stimulation of the brain’s pleasure centers with electrical wire, say. There’s already been considerable work done on that. No nasty chemicals, so no nasty chemical side effects to make the modern rational sociopath unhappy.

Technology marches on.

Soon, it will be easily possible to feel happy---or whatever you want to feel---all the time, without any side effects.

People do what they do in order to feel happy. If you believe you have no soul, drugs are the cheapest, the best, way to achieve this emotional state. (At least, until they perfect the neuro-electrical stimulation system.) So what is the only goal the modern rational sociopath should aspire to?

TO BE STONED ALL THE DAMN TIME.

Seal himself up in an underground steel vault for maximum safety, stick a needle in his arm or a wire into his prefrontal lobes, shoot the juice to himself and STAY THAT WAY.

How strange. Right off the bat, you would think that somebody who thinks he has no soul would be much freer in his actions than somebody who thinks he does, but this turns out to be completely dead wrong. When artificial emotion stimulation---direct stimulation of the brain’s emotion centers---becomes possible, without-soul behavior becomes rationally restricted to only one thing.

If you meet somebody---a smart somebody---who thinks he has no soul, there's only one thing he should say to you.

"Hey, man, can you tell me where I can find some drugs?"

It is now clear what the end-state of a without-souls "society" would be.

One person, and only one, sealed deep underground in a steel vault with a wire running into his brain.

I say only one because that's the long-run absolute safest thing for the one person who survives, that every other human being be dead. By far the most dangerous threat to an individual human being is, and always has been, another human being. Without souls, that's all another human being is, a threat, and the rational thing to do to a threat is eliminate it.

(Note this demonstrates again convincing people souls don’t exist will have the long-term effect of destroying society.)

The gentle reader still has cause for alarm, alas. Given scientists are going around telling people souls don’t exist, the body-armor industry might be about to experience a sudden boom.

So we now know what without-soul behavior would be. Let's look at with-soul behavior.

Once again, we start from the basic observation that people do what they do in order to feel happy.

Okay, suppose you DO have a soul, and there's something you've decided you need in order to feel happy. What do you do?

Well, your actions are MUCH more restricted than in the previous case. The cost to you is now a function of many more variables, the emotions of other human beings. Start shooting people in the back, and the very same people are certainly going to search for you and find you and HURT you.

Remember, if you've got an immortal soul, SO DO THEY. You make them unhappy by shooting them in the back, one day, if it takes a million billion years (immortal, remember), they're going to show up breathing fire and brimstone and make YOU unhappy.

Immortality might be nice, but immortality has a price.

YOU CANNOT ESCAPE THE CONSEQUENCES OF YOUR ACTIONS.

(Interesting. The very first effect of immortal souls is to PHYSICALLY interconnect everyone’s emotional state, although in an extremely crude, inefficient fashion.)

All right, you have a soul, and there's something you've decided you need in order to feel happy. So what's fundamentally different about your actions?

You're going to have to take everybody else's feelings into account before you act.

It is now the RATIONAL thing to do, in your self-interest, in total conformity with physical law.

In the previous case, everybody else's feelings didn't matter. But in this case, they do.

Oh, man, life just got REALLY complicated. As we all know, making EVERYBODY happy is just about impossible. You're going to spend more time worrying about other peoples feelings than your own. Your specific action to get what you want can’t be predicted, because it’s going to depend on the desires of the other people involved, on the infinite vagaries of human emotion.

What would be the societal end-state?

Well, it's clear by now the first effect would be to make society itself possible. Groups of interacting human beings would now be perfectly stable. The behaviors that would evolve as people---immortal souls, actually---interacted would be complex and numerous. As severely restricted in its behavior as a without-souls society would be, a with-souls society would be unrestricted. Though not completely unrestricted, mind, because immortality imposes its own restrictions.

Hmmm. We are looking for observable differences between with-soul and without-soul behavior. What would be really nice to find is some behavior where the difference would be as different as possible, a huge difference, a whacking great big whale of a difference, a Mount Everest of a difference, a difference that would resolve the problem beyond all doubt.

What is the overwhelming characteristic of without-soul behavior?

Sociopathy. Me-me-me above all. Absolute, uncaring selfishness.

What is the exact opposite of selfish?

Selfless.

This is correct but doesn't quite fit. Selfless means "no self" and this is exactly wrong for an immortal soul, an immortal self. We need a better-fitting term.

(The word "selfless" is actually a sign of confusion. It would arise in a situation where a sentient gave up its life for some reason, and it would appear to those who didn't know sentients possessed immortal souls as if the sentient had given up its existence.)

Sacrifice?

Yeah, sacrifice. That's it. To pin it down precisely, sociopathic behavior is where you make yourself happy with no thought given to the happiness of others, and sacrificial behavior is where you give up your own happiness so that others can be happy instead. But, remembering all actions can be stated in term of being happy, you're basically making the following happiness statement:

"I'm not happy---unless everybody else is happy, too."

(This statement is truly scary, because the best, strongest way to enforce this would be for all sentients' emotional states to be PHYSICALLY interconnected. Immortality does this, but the interconnection is weak at best. It is my gut feeling something MUCH stronger is required for stability, something like spiritual copper wires connecting everybody's souls, along which emotional "currents" would run.

In plain English, if somebody hurts, you have to be able to feel it, too. Their pain is yours, quite literally.

In precisely the same sense as all the stars are physically interconnected by gravity, all sentients' emotional states---every single sentient that exists in the Universe---may also be all physically interconnected.)

But, to be completely rigorous, it doesn't necessarily have to be for other people's happiness. More generally, it can be so some other goal can be accomplished. It might even be something like "the preservation of the Earth." The happiness statement would be:

"I'm not happy---unless I know the Earth is safe."

Would you see this kind of behavior in a with-souls society?

Oh, hell, yes, you'd see it.

Because, in a with-souls society, it's RATIONAL behavior. Supremely rational.

If you're surrounded by unhappy people, what are the odds you're going to be unhappy too?

One hundred per cent, and you know it.

And you can't shoot them in the back to make them go away, although you might wish you could. I mean, they're immortal souls, right? They ain't going anywhere, they're always going to be there. So what's the only possible course of action to take so you can be happy?

Make the unhappy people happy.

Yes, it's gonna be a MAJOR pain in the rear end, but it's the only thing you can do.

(This is the rock-bottom. However, depending on how strong the interconnection is between human beings' emotional states, it could easily be that it is PHYSICALLY IMPOSSIBLE for you to feel completely happy UNLESS everybody around you is completely happy, too.)

So you set your own feelings aside for a while and go to work.

So, stepping back, what would be observed in a with-souls society is people working like dogs and giving up lives of ease and comfort to, fundamentally, make other people happy. There would be many, many people who would apparently "die" for this single cause. The odds are there would be so many people willing to dedicate themselves to making other people happy they would form organizations. These organizations would be recognizable by very unique characteristics. They would transcend barriers of race(genes), money, politics, time, and space. This is because they would be the group expression of the wills of eternal beings.
People would also dedicate their lives to the study of what it takes to make people happy, and professions would appear where people specialized in helping unhappy people to get happy. Which is a sacrifice because dealing with unhappy people all the time is like wallowing in sewage for a living. There are much easier and more lucrative ways of making money.

Let’s put souls into our happiness statement:

"My soul is not happy---unless everybody else's soul is happy, too."

Now let’s add sacrifice to it:

"I'm willing for my soul to be unhappy, for a little while---so that everybody else's soul, including mine, will be happy in the end."

(Scientists have got this odd notion that self-sacrifice is impelled by genes, that people are controlled by their genes, so this is something I have to pause for a minute and address.

What would we observe in human behavior that would be different in the two cases, one where self-sacrifice is driven by the instinct to protect your gene line, and the other, where self-sacrifice is driven by the desire to keep everybody's soul happy, your own included?

Answer: For the gene-driven model, self-sacrificial behavior would be observed ONLY when the person or persons being sacrificed for is a close genetic relative. For the soul-driven model, self-sacrificing behavior would be observed for ALL people, even when the person or persons being sacrificed for is not a close genetic relative.

Also, for the gene-driven model, the fundamental reason for the sacrifice will be propagation of the gene line. For the soul-driven model, the fundamental reason for the sacrifice will be the happiness of the person or persons being sacrificed for.

There is one situation in particular where the difference in behavior would be stark.

Where parents have a child who is disabled, to the point of not being physically capable of reproducing, not capable of passing on the gene line.

For the gene-driven model, the rational behavior would be to toss the disabled kid out the front door and forget him. That's what should be observed.

For the soul-driven model, the rational behavior would be the same as the other children---to love the kid just as much as the others, maybe more. Because he's fundamentally the same as the other children. He's got a soul, too.

Which behavior is observed in the real world I leave to the gentle reader's judgment.)

Note that the addition of souls takes most of the sting out of sacrifice. Without souls, sacrifice means permanent loss. With souls, it means temporary loss. You're gonna be happy, too, it's just going to take a little longer. You can even argue that, all things considered, it's not really sacrifice at all, that it's something that MIGHT be called "enlightened self-interest."

(Some might accuse me of taking the romance out of sacrifice, or taking the mystery out of much of the world. They're right. I plead necessity. This has to be done. The insane technological killing power Man has created and is going to continue to create makes it absolutely necessary to prove, beyond all possible doubt, that justice cannot be escaped.)

There now, I've established sacrifice would be the main observable difference between a with-souls society and a without-soul society, excepting the existence of society itself.

Also, note a without-souls "society" (actually impossible) would be sociopathic and revolve around selfishness, and a with-souls society would revolve around everybody being happy.

Whether this is correct or not, as always, I leave to the gentle reader's judgment. (By the way, gentle reader, if you have ever in your life dropped so much as a penny in a Salvation Army bucket, you were making a sacrifice for the happiness of others and therefore acting like you had a soul---whether you knew it or not. Right?)

But that's not the only difference, just the biggest one. There are others. For example, in a with-souls society, as societal evolution progressed and sentient behavior tended toward the rational, this everybody-has-to-be-happy thing would begin to bubble towards consciousness and be expressed in their fundamental rules for society. Phrases like "the pursuit of happiness" would appear and be described as "inalienable rights" in the foundation documents of societies.

I invite the gentle reader to find others. Go for it.

But I haven't described the societal end-state yet.

But it's clear as glass, given all the preceding.

A society where EVERYBODY is happy.

Now, people being people---or, souls being souls---eternity might not be long enough to reach this particular goal, but that's the end-state.

One additional thing is certain from all the preceding. Right at the moment, nobody knows for a solid scientific fact if souls exist or not. As far as I know, there is NO credible scientific data for or against the existence of souls.

But it is stunningly clear human society is critically dependent on the existence on souls. When everybody is aware of this, how critically important these things are, there is no question what will happen next.

Scientists might not have gone looking for souls in a determined fashion yet---but they're going to. It's as inevitable as the sun rising in the morning.

I will make a flat statement. The experiment to detect souls will be the most important scientific experiment that has been done, or ever will be done, in the history of the human race. (And the name of the scientist who detects souls first will outshine all other scientists' names in human history, forever.)

In the meantime, until scientists get around to detecting souls, a bit of practical advice: If the smart, gentle reader meets somebody who says he doesn’t believe in souls, there’s one thing I HIGHLY recommend the smart, gentle reader avoid doing.

Don’t turn your back to him.

Y’all have a good one.

END

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