The Soul Hole

Has science proven there is no soul?

In 1975, Time Magazine had a cover story in one of their editions devoted to the idea of consciousness. A massive part of that particular edition, midsummer, was devoted to analyzing: what is consciousness? When we think of our awarenesses, of ourselves, or of other things—what is that? Of course, the effort is to try to make it into something physical, and much of the article was an attempt to reduce consciousness to something physical because that’s the way modern science operates given their philosophical presupposition. ‘Everything’s physical, so consciousness must be physical.’ The problem is, there’s no physical elements to consciousness itself, so it defies that kind of reductionism. Nevertheless, it did not discourage Time from making a remarkable conclusion!

They said they don’t know what consciousness is. After the whole article—‘we still don’t know what it is.’ But here’s what they know it is not. “Despite our every instinct to the contrary, there is one thing that consciousness is not. It is not some entity deep inside the brain that corresponds to the self—some kernel of awareness that runs the show.” What they’re saying is: we don’t know what consciousness is but we know what it is not. ‘It is not a soul. You have no soul. There is no you inside. The light is on but nobody’s home.’ 

This is a controversial claim and so the question then can be asked: How did you come to that conclusion? What are the reasons that they give for coming to the conclusion that souls do not exist?  

They say so in the article, and they give two reasons. 

Here’s the first reason: Scientists have been looking for the soul for one-hundred years and haven’t been able to find it. 

Second reason: “There is no place or space in the brain for the soul to fit.” 

The reason I’m pausing after these statements is that I want them to sink in because it’s amazing to me that an intelligent person can write that statement. If souls exist, they’re not physical. If they’re not physical, it doesn’t matter how long scientists, using their scientific investigation of empirical analysis, look for it. They’re not going to find it! Because it’s not physical! It’s like the person who says, “I don’t believe there’s any immaterial things because I can’t see them.” Or the person who says, “Ya know, you told me there was an invisible man inside your house? I went in there and didn’t see him anywhere. I looked under the bed and in the closet—I didn’t see him.”  

This doesn’t prove that an invisible man doesn’t exist, but it shows that that’s the wrong way to disprove that he exists. And if the soul does exist then it is not a physical thing. And if it is not a physical thing, it is not located in physical space. And if it’s not located in physical space, it doesn’t need a little place in the brain to fit. 

The proof of the soul is another enterprise and it is not a scientific one. There are ways to demonstrate that souls exist apart from scientific assessment, and they are good ones. But to assume that the soul doesn’t exist simply because your scientific instruments haven’t found it is the height of foolishness. Don’t make that mistake.

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Greg Koukl