Emergent Soulss

Gessler, Nicholas (gessler@ANTHRO.SSCNET.UCLA.EDU)
Wed, 1 Jun 1994 12:17:00 PDT

Cathy Bishop <CBishop@tulsajc> wrote:

Do atheists believe humans have souls?
<Some athiests are tied to a tit-for-tat debate with theists and are
playing the same game. Atheists believe many different things.>

What about evolutionists?
<Evolutionists, as scientists, are usually playing a different game. "Soul"
would have to be operationalized as "free will, consciousness, information,
complexity, language, intelligence," etc. to be an object of study. As the
current discussions on the list show, even these need to be further

If so, do animals have souls? When did we pick up souls along the way if
animals don't and we do?
<You might wish to re-ask the question.>

Or do most scientists believe we are animals who have developed cognitively
enough to invent religion as a way to explain the unknown?
<More or less. But I would replace "to invent religion" with "to have
religion emerge." I believe there is at least one computer scientist
who would answer with a definite "yes" and further assert that the fact could
be demonstrated with evolutionary computation on a symbol system. I suspect
that the argument would go something like this: Intuitive hypothesis
formulation and testing on common daily experiences would confer fitness.
Since there is no selective disadvantage for most untestable "hypotheses"
about other worldly experiences, the formulation of stories about the
unknowable would also arise as a spin-off or epi-phenomenon.>

Nick Gessler <gessler@anthro.sscnet.ucla.edu>