Geoff Smith (
Tue, 21 Jul 1998 10:29:58 -0700 (PDT)

On Tue, 21 Jul 1998, Daniel Fabulich wrote:

> On Mon, 20 Jul 1998, Geoff Smith wrote:
> > (in addition to the already stated empirical evidence approach, I have
> > provided an answer for those who prefers semantics and "logic" to
> > empiricism...)
> >
> > For a spirit to interact with matter&energy, it would by definition have
> > to BE a form of matter&energy. If it is useful(or spiritually imperative)
> > to separate matter&energy into that which is considered the "soul" and
> > that which is not, this separation can be accommodated in the uploading
> > process.
> >
> > Thus, by simple logic, it is appparent that even those who believe in a
> > soul can be uploaded without compromising their faith. Transhumanism is
> > therefore compatible with any religion that does not explicity state "Thou
> > shalt not upload!"
> This argument will not appeal to its stated audience, I think, because
> most of those who believe in the soul would not swallow your premise that
> a soul is matter or energy; many believe it is made out of soulstuff that
> cannot be measured;

Bizarre. So, we have a soul, yet it has no measurable effect on the body? Hmmm, I don't know too many religious type that believe that; however, arguing against a belief such as that would be futile since you are truly arguing against nothing. Only Occam's Razor can defeat nothing, and not too many religious types can be swayed by this method.

> others believe that it is energy, but it is a form of
> energy which is unlike other forms of energy in certain mystical ways.
> Anyone who believes these things will not be convinced by your argument.

You're absolutely right. I didn't clarify my audience well enough. I don't think mystics can be swayed by logic: any logical conflict can be resolved by "god works in mysterious ways" or "such are the mysteries of the universe." My audience is the religious who still bow to logic: the scientists and philosophers who have to deal with the conflicts between their faith and their way of life everyday.

Mystics require a different approach. My theory is that mystics are hedonists and aesthetes in disguise. Convince them that shedding their mystical ways will give them great pleasure and fulfillment, and you've got them. This can be challenging when you're dealing with someone who has built the perfect mustical world for himself/herself. How can one compete with fantasy? Maybe some really good VR.

> To answer this question more mystically:
> Some people believe that if humans were ever to build a brain or reanimate
> a cryonically frozen one, it could never have a soul.

Then they also believe that a person who has had a near-death experience has no soul. *Everyone* I know who believes in an afterlife gives credence to NDE stories. I highly doubt any of them think that the post NDE'ers have lost their soul since they were clinically dead for a while. I also doubt I could find anyone who claimed they knew the window of time where one could reanimate a body and no longer have a soul present. Building a brain is a different story...

> If this belief is
> true, then artifical consciousness of any kind is impossible.
> I must begin by pointing out that it seems quite likely that humans will
> one day create something so sophisticated that we will not be able to tell
> whether it is conscious or not simply by observing its behavior. For
> example, a functional upload would definitely APPEAR conscious. Similarly,
> if we could get cryonics to work at all then the reanimated person would
> look and act just like a normal person; while progress in AI is moving
> slowly for now, I am aware of no strong evidence that it is impossible to
> make a computer which ACTS like it has a soul. That we will one day, at
> least, perfectly imitate consciousness seems clear to me.
> The necessary consequence of this point, however, is that when presented
> with such a computer, we could never use human observation to figure out
> whether it has a soul or not. If it acts conscious, claims to be
> conscious, and exhibits intelligence, there's really nothing further we
> can observe using our five senses. The rest is necessarily incorporeal.
> I could now argue, as many intelligent people have, that if we cannot tell
> the difference between something that has a soul and something that
> doesn't, then it doesn't really matter; some have even gone as far as to
> define consciousness in terms of its behavior, claiming that anything that
> seems conscious, is.
> This answer does not settle well with the religious, however. A religious
> person might argue that there are lots of things outside of human
> observation; the soul may be one of them. While a behavioralist might not
> find this argument very compelling, the behavioralist's argument is
> equally opaque to the religious: just because we can never observe whether
> the soul is there or not doesn't mean that it is there; nor does it mean
> that we cannot know at all.
> I conclude, then, that if one believes that the answer to this question
> cannot be acquired by human observation, then the religious have no choice
> but to seek out *religious* knowledge, ie that wisdom derived from
> religious texts and personal meditation.
> Unfortunately, this specific question is not explicitly answered in any
> religious text that I am aware of. Like so many other things, the
> religious must work out the answer to this question themselves, with only
> their wits and their religious knowledge to guide them.
> That being said, here are some interesting questions to ask yourself:
> Does the soul enter the body during the conception process? If so, would
> it likewise form in a body in which one cell was actually a computer?
> What about two cells? Four? A dozen? Half? Most? All but one? All?
> Similarly, many people alive today were frozen, as fertilized zygotes,
> months before a woman gave birth to them. Do they have a soul? Would
> they have a soul if they were frozen three months into the pregnancy?
> Six? Immediately following birth?

These questions will not phase a mystic. The soul enters the ovum at conception. The soul eventually connects to the brain, half the neurons automated = half the living area for the soul to connect to the body. Frozens cells have dormant souls. These answers come easy to someone who doesn't care about logical conflicts or empirical evidence.

If spiritual satisfaction is the only goal of a mystic, then transhumanist must provide this to sway him. Words won't cut it, but really good drugs and Virtual Reality might.