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Would a simulated human consciousness disprove the existence of a soul?

Discussion in 'Religious Debates' started by serp777, Mar 14, 2019.

  1. serp777

    serp777 Well-Known Member

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    I'm talking about the soul from a classical theist definition, not some wishy washy abstract thing that goes beyond any kind of logic and reasoning. Say IBM builds a computer system that simulates every neuron in someone's brain.This brain, through speakers and a terminal, can communicate just like a regular human would and it would think like a human would. It might even believe in God and pray, etc.

    Would this disprove a soul? I think it would because you've just demonstrated that everything about that entity can, fundamentally, be explained by deterministic processes resulting from nand and nor gates + memory. So in other words its entirely physical and consciousness emerges from the interaction between those gates and memory.

    I mean if you believe in a soul, then what happens when you try to simulate every neuron of someone's brain? Does it just never work? Are you saying its impossible to do that? Or do you create a philosopical zombie that just seems like it has a soul? I'd say that if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then its probably a duck. I think the theists who believe in souls are going to have some major problems to deal with when this technology advances in the next 100 years and we try get a fully simulated human consciousness working.
     
  2. Shad

    Shad Veteran Member

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    Battlestar Galactica binge?
     
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  3. Earthling

    Earthling David Henson

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    Well, that may be true, but the soul according to the Bible is something totally different than the soul according to traditional mainstream Christianity, which was inspired by pagan beliefs and Greek philosophy. The "soul" according to the Bible is the life, life experiences and all that involves, of any breathing creature. The soul is in the blood.

    The New Catholic Encyclopedia: “Nepes [Hebrew word translated soul] is a term of far greater extension than our ‘soul,’ signifying life (Exodus 21:23; Deuteronomy 19:21) and its various vital manifestations: breathing (Genesis 35:18; Job 41:13 [Job 41:21]), blood [Genesis 9:4; Deuteronomy 12:23; Psalms 140:8 Or Psalms 141:8], desire (2 Samuel 3:21; Proverbs 23:2). The soul in the OT means not a part of man, but the whole man - man as a living being. Similarly, in the NT it signifies human life: the life of an individual, conscious subject (Matthew 2:20; Matthew 6:25; Luke 12:22-23; Luke 14:26; John 10:11, John 10:15, John 10:17; John 13:37).” - 1967, Vol. XIII, p. 467.
     
  4. Eddi

    Eddi eddifying

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    I believe in Simulation Theory, which says that we are all AI beings (“virtual people” is one term) who live in a simulated world. I’ve thought a lot about the question of “the soul” and I still use the term. Perhaps metaphorically? Perhaps “the soul” is simply the part of us that survives death (unlike our minds and bodies) and that gets re-born into The Simulation? I don’t know!
     
  5. Jumi

    Jumi Well-Known Member

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    Since it's just speculation, I'll throw in two ideas for your amusement...

    - I don't think many theists equate soul with consciousness. Some believe souls can be unconscious or die. At least some Christians believe the soul dies along with the body and is resurrected when the final days come based on the Bible.

    - Also what if souls work by transmission as some have claimed. Then a sufficiently complex structure would be enough to "house" a soul whether it was just a board of circuits or a brain wouldn't matter.
     
  6. 9-10ths_Penguin

    9-10ths_Penguin 1/10 Subway Stalinist
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    How would you know that the computer system doesn't have a soul?

    And assuming you could know this, what do you infer from the fact? What fills in the blank?

    - a simulated human consciousness exists.
    - therefore, __________.
    - therefore, nobody's essence exists in a real but incorporeal form after they die.
     
  7. Jedster

    Jedster Well-Known Member

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    Well, I have spoken to a few people who use Windows10 and they swear their computers have souls.
     
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  8. dybmh

    dybmh Terminal Optimist
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    Strictly speaking, no, I don't think it disproves it.

    Typical Chicken and Egg argument? A person could always claim God as the creator of the simulated human. As long as God is still possibly the root cause, God could still possibly "breath the spirit" into the simulation.
     
  9. Woberts

    Woberts The Perfumed Seneschal

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    There's no need to disprove something that hasn't (and can't) be proven in the first place.
     
  10. 9-10ths_Penguin

    9-10ths_Penguin 1/10 Subway Stalinist
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    Right.

    Without any evidence for the existence of souls, but with them designed to be unfalsifiable, our current situation is something like "souls either exist or not."

    Disproving the existence of souls would mean we'd have to get from there to "souls must not exist."

    I really don't see what any computer AI or brain simulator has to do with that conclusion.
     
  11. HonestJoe

    HonestJoe Well-Known Member

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    The classical theist definition of “soul” is a wishy washy abstract thing that goes beyond any kind of logic and reasoning. It’s intentionally defined in that manner precisely to avoid difficult questions like this one. :cool:
     
  12. Kangaroo Feathers

    Kangaroo Feathers Yea, it is written in the Book of Cyril...

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    It would prove nothing. Indeed, the first question many would ask is "does IT have a soul?"
     
  13. Quintessence

    Quintessence Tale Weaver
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    Would the creation of artificial intelligence disprove natural intelligence?
     
  14. Quintessence

    Quintessence Tale Weaver
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    Do you know what he means by "classical theist" and what definition of the "soul" that would be? Because I sure don't. I'm guessing he probably meant classical monotheism, which strictly speaking, doesn't actually define the soul in the first place since classical monotheism is a theological proposition, not a treatise on the metaphysics of the soul.
     
  15. HonestJoe

    HonestJoe Well-Known Member

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    I assumed (which in hindsight is always an mistake) that he was using the term correctly; Classical theism - Wikipedia
     
  16. osgart

    osgart Nothing my eye, Something for sure

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    If a person lives in their heart for awhile instead of their mind, then the soul becomes evident and inescapable. The soul is that unified presence of being that makes a person a whole of living entity.

    I dont see how humans could ever see themselves as simulated a.i.. Perhaps people like this live solely in the mind, and dissappear from themselves at the thought of having heart.

    Unfortunately there is no manual for living and we all have to discover ourselves on our own. What leads one into thinking they are mere a.i.?
     
  17. 9-10ths_Penguin

    9-10ths_Penguin 1/10 Subway Stalinist
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    Does "soul" mean "natural intelligence?" I don't think I've ever heard the term used that way.
     
  18. Jaiket

    Jaiket Well-Known Member

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    What is the definition you've alluded to?

    Maybe when you create a conscious being you create a soul. Whatever that means.
     
  19. Quintessence

    Quintessence Tale Weaver
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    It's an analogy, Penguin.

    Artificial souls (or consciousness as the OP puts it) wouldn't invalidate the concept of the soul any more than the creation of artificial intelligence invalidates the concept of intelligence. Doubly so since concepts like the soul and intelligence both are cultural, philosophical, or religious rather than being strictly scientific.
    The OP's argument boils down to little more than scientism, or an appeal to science as the sole dictator of truth (which is ironically unscientific).
     
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