Sunday, 10 August 2014

An off switch for consciousness

I saw online that scientists have found an 'off switch' for consciousness in the brain and some of my materialistic-minded friends claim this is proof that there is no soul (that all that makes mind/consciousness is entirely in the brain and permanently gone after death). Does the discovery support that or are they making a logical leap?

Haven’t seen this report but we all know there is an “off switch” if you hit someone on the head hard enough so I don’t see what difference it would make if there were other such “switches”.

Yeah it's fairly new. Basically they were trying to cure a woman of epilepsy by placing electrode in her brain. One of them inadvertently gave them the ability to turn her consciousness on and off. I kinda felt the same way you said in your reply--but I am always second guessing myself (wondering if I am pre-biased as a Christian and such, I want to be fair to all sides not just my own). In the end I kinda felt that this doesn't prove consciousness is trapped in the brain (a potential alternate explanation to me seems that this off switch was just temporarily breaking the soul's/consciousness' connection to the body - granted this view can't be laboratory tested). I just wanted to run it by someone else to make sure I wasn't hastily jumping to a conclusion based on pre-bias :-).

On an unrelated note, who do you and John consider solid sources for information on the historical study of Jesus? I started looking up some stuff and it seems like there is a lot of mine fields out there with different people with axes to grind. From what I've seen some stuff is generally agreed on (Jesus was crucified, his followers claimed his resurrection pretty quickly, roughly half of Paul's letters are guaranteed to be by him) but the rest seems hard to discern since everyone claims to be only following the facts despite their position...

My son-in-law is a global expert in this general area (electrodes in brains etc..) and a strong Christian. Of course the relationship between the soul and the body is quite elusive and hard to pin down.

Christians are not committed to the idea of an “immaterial soul” which is a position of Greek philosophy and very un-Jewish. We believe that we will be resurrected into new bodies and that Jesus is “the first fruits of those who sleep”. I’m fond of the analogy of a piano and the music it plays. If you smash the piano the music stops but it can always be played on another piano. A great piano piece (say the Waldstein Sonata) clearly exists, even though it requires a piano to play it. And studying the physics and chemistry of a Steinway, whilst very interesting, will only give very limited insights into the music of Beethoven.

Tom Wright is the best person on pretty much all the NT stuff. He says that the Pauline letters are probably all genuine.

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