Souls, neuroscience, and daisies

Andrew Sullivan links (without comment – chicken!) to a letter in Science in which neuroscientist Martha Farah and theologian Nancey Murphy “worry about fundamentalists attacking neuroscience”. For some reason, Andrew illustrates the piece with some pretty flowers, which he usually does when he has no answer to the points just made except an appeal to the emotions.
The problem for mysterians like Andrew, who claim that they embrace doubt while at the same time being utterly enslaved by their faith, is that neuroscience isn’t just a threat to “fundamentalists”: it undercuts every religious view which assumes the existence of a soul that is distinct from (and can exist independently of) the physical body. We’re talking about all of Christianity, Islam, the dualist variants of Judaism, and any belief system which includes reincarnation. And we’re not just talking about naive, folk-theories about souls (being reunited with loved ones after death, or having out-of-body experiences); even the most subtle and sophisticated theological positions are pretty much threadbare. And that includes Andrew’s. Pretty pictures of daisies won’t make up for that.

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