I was playing around with another post on the existence of the soul. I was going to line up the various options we’ve discussed, from the concept that ‘soul’ is just another name for ‘life force’ through to the concept that our ‘soul’ is the real us, and the body is just a temporary home. (Neither of these is the Catholic teaching, by the way.)
Then I came across a post of DarwinCatholic’s, which seems to address part of the issue, so I’m posting some of that, instead:
Darwin talks about a scientist who believes we can create a potentially unlimited labour source by scanning people’s brains and downloading them into a computer (whole-brain emulation). Darwin asks:
Why should we believe that the sum and total of what you can physically scan in the brain is all there is to know about a person? Why shouldn’t we think that there’s something else to the “mind” than just the parts of the brain and their current state? Couldn’t there be some kind of will which is not materially detectable and is what is causing the brain to act the way it is?
The scientist replies that we’ve been looking, and we’ve never found anything. Darwin again:
When we say, “Physicists have done all this work, and all they’ve ever found is matter and energy,” you are really saying, “Given the tools and methodology physicists use, all they are able to detect is matter and energy.” But I’m not clear how getting from that to, “Therefore there is nothing other than matter and energy,” is anything other than an assumption.
Is there any valid reason why we should accept the jump from, “Tools that scientists use to detect things can only detect the existence of material things,” to “Only material things exist”?
This seems particularly troublesome given that the project here is supposedly to create an emulation program which can be given a brain scan and then act like an independent human. If our experience of being human is that there is something in the driver seat, something which decides what is beautiful or what is right or who to marry or whether we want rice pudding for lunch today, then unless there is some active, non-deterministic thing within the brain which can be measured by this scan, then what you get is going to be, for lack of a better word, dead.