A Physicist’s Explanation of Why the Soul May Exist

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A Physicist’s Explanation of Why the Soul May Exist

#1  Postby kennyc » Jul 01, 2014 4:25 pm

A Physicist’s Explanation of Why the Soul May Exist
By Tara MacIsaac

Henry P. Stapp is a theoretical physicist at the University of California–Berkeley who worked with some of the founding fathers of quantum mechanics. He does not seek to prove that the soul exists, but he does say that the existence of the soul fits within the laws of physics.

It is not true to say belief in the soul is unscientific, according to Stapp. Here the word “soul” refers to a personality independent of the brain or the rest of the human body that can survive beyond death. In his paper, “Compatibility of Contemporary Physical Theory With Personality Survival,” he wrote: “Strong doubts about personality survival based solely on the belief that postmortem survival is incompatible with the laws of physics are unfounded.”

He works with the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics—more or less the interpretation used by some of the founders of quantum mechanics, Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg. Even Bohr and Heisenberg had some disagreements on how quantum mechanics works, and understandings of the theory since that time have also been diverse. Stapp’s paper on the Copenhagen interpretation has been influential. It was written in the 1970s and Heisenberg wrote an appendix for it.

Stapp noted of his own concepts: “There has been no hint in my previous descriptions (or conception) of this orthodox quantum mechanics of any notion of personality survival.”

Why Quantum Theory Could Hint at Life After Death
Stapp explains that the founders of quantum theory required scientists to essentially cut the world into two parts. Above the cut, classical mathematics could describe the physical processes empirically experienced. Below the cut, quantum mathematics describes a realm “which does not entail complete physical determinism.”

Of this realm below the cut, Stapp wrote: “One generally finds that the evolved state of the system below the cut cannot be matched to any conceivable classical description of the properties visible to observers.”
.....


http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/757910- ... may-exist/
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Re: A Physicist’s Explanation of Why the Soul May Exist

#2  Postby Mike_L » Jul 01, 2014 4:48 pm

Starts off as a mildly interesting piece, then takes a nosedive with this...

Stapp said it is not contrary to the laws of physics that the personality of a dead person may attach itself to a living person, as in the case of so-called spirit possession.


...and bottoms out with this...

Furthermore, it is imperative for maintaining human morality to consider people as more than just machines of flesh and blood.

In another paper, titled “Attention, Intention, and Will in Quantum Physics,” Stapp wrote: ”It has become now widely appreciated that assimilation by the general public of this ‘scientific’ view, according to which each human being is basically a mechanical robot, is likely to have a significant and corrosive impact on the moral fabric of society.”


As for the central thesis... it really just amounts to a convoluted way of saying "physics can't prove that the soul doesn't exist". Neither does it offer any evidence that the soul does exist. At best it offers something to be seized upon by those who want to convince themselves of life everlasting. For the skeptic, it comes across as a rather superfluous piece of conjecture.
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Re: A Physicist’s Explanation of Why the Soul May Exist

#3  Postby Matt_B » Jul 01, 2014 5:08 pm

It's the same old god-of-the-gaps thinking.

You can't prove that something doesn't exist, therefore I'll just assume that it does! :lol:
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Re: A Physicist’s Explanation of Why the Soul May Exist

#4  Postby Darwinsbulldog » Jul 02, 2014 12:06 am

Henry P. Stapp is a theoretical physicist

:lol: :lol: :lol:
Physicist makes model that is internally consistent. Fine. But there are any number of physical models that are not implemented in naive reality. So the next step is experiment, to test the model. Otherwise, nothing to see here....
It is a pity that math works so well. It is a powerful tool. But some think it is the arbiter of truth. A good model is reason to go ahead and test, not to pontificate bullshit.
Unfortunately some mathematicians and theoretical physicists are obsessed and conflate math with truth. :doh:
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Re: A Physicist’s Explanation of Why the Soul May Exist

#5  Postby Onyx8 » Jul 02, 2014 3:30 am

I have several friends who, later in life, have come to accept the 'possibility' that there may be an afterlife when they spent their whole adult lives previously thinking that was ridiculous. This sounds along the same trajectory. I'm sure it comforts him in some fashion. But it sure ain't science.
The problem with fantasies is you can't really insist that everyone else believes in yours, the other problem with fantasies is that most believers of fantasies eventually get around to doing exactly that.
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Re: A Physicist’s Explanation of Why the Soul May Exist

#6  Postby LucidFlight » Jul 02, 2014 3:38 am

One is left to ponder the difference between a theoretical physicist and an actual one.
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Re: A Physicist’s Explanation of Why the Soul May Exist

#7  Postby Darwinsbulldog » Jul 02, 2014 4:12 am

LucidFlight wrote:One is left to ponder the difference between a theoretical physicist and an actual one.

Well, Einstein was a good theoretical physicist, and a "lucky" one. I guess that gives other folks the notion they can pull a similar rabbit out of the hat. Plus Einstein stayed with what was testable. I suppose that is what made him suspicious about quantum mechanics-the lack of a testable mechanism at the root of it all.
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Re: A Physicist’s Explanation of Why the Soul May Exist

#8  Postby LucidFlight » Jul 02, 2014 4:40 am

I, of course, have much respect for theoretical physics and its physicists. :)

Perhaps my play on words and attempted dig at Stapp was too subtle.

Theoretically, he's a physicist, is what I meant to imply. :tehe:
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Re: A Physicist’s Explanation of Why the Soul May Exist

#9  Postby Onyx8 » Jul 02, 2014 4:44 am

LucidFlight wrote:One is left to ponder the difference between a theoretical physicist and an actual one.



:rofl:
The problem with fantasies is you can't really insist that everyone else believes in yours, the other problem with fantasies is that most believers of fantasies eventually get around to doing exactly that.
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Re: A Physicist’s Explanation of Why the Soul May Exist

#10  Postby Darwinsbulldog » Jul 02, 2014 4:53 am

Onyx8 wrote:
LucidFlight wrote:One is left to ponder the difference between a theoretical physicist and an actual one.

:rofl:


I forgot one of those. :rofl: Yes, well said LF! :thumbup:
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Re: A Physicist’s Explanation of Why the Soul May Exist

#11  Postby Rumraket » Jul 02, 2014 9:48 am

The comments on that thing alone is mindnumbing.

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"Above the cut" - Heaven, "below the cut" - Hell; the Holy Bible as a Quantum Physics. Blows my mind! This will make for some deep thinking when out with the telescope observing the heavens in the blackness of night. Basically, he just proved Karma too.


Yep. I just broke my own face and both of my palms. :picard:
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Re: A Physicist’s Explanation of Why the Soul May Exist

#12  Postby kennyc » Jul 02, 2014 10:19 am

Darwinsbulldog wrote:
LucidFlight wrote:One is left to ponder the difference between a theoretical physicist and an actual one.

Well, Einstein was a good theoretical physicist, and a "lucky" one. I guess that gives other folks the notion they can pull a similar rabbit out of the hat. Plus Einstein stayed with what was testable. I suppose that is what made him suspicious about quantum mechanics-the lack of a testable mechanism at the root of it all.


and if it's not testable, is it science?
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Re: A Physicist’s Explanation of Why the Soul May Exist

#13  Postby Darwinsbulldog » Jul 02, 2014 10:22 am

kennyc wrote:
Darwinsbulldog wrote:
LucidFlight wrote:One is left to ponder the difference between a theoretical physicist and an actual one.

Well, Einstein was a good theoretical physicist, and a "lucky" one. I guess that gives other folks the notion they can pull a similar rabbit out of the hat. Plus Einstein stayed with what was testable. I suppose that is what made him suspicious about quantum mechanics-the lack of a testable mechanism at the root of it all.


and if it's not testable, is it science?


QM does not have a testable mechanism, but the models are descriptive and predictive.
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Re: A Physicist’s Explanation of Why the Soul May Exist

#14  Postby kennyc » Jul 02, 2014 10:47 am

Ahh.... But is it science?
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Re: A Physicist’s Explanation of Why the Soul May Exist

#15  Postby Matt_B » Jul 02, 2014 10:56 am

kennyc wrote:Ahh.... But is it science?


QM works. Therefore it is.

Well, at least the mathematics works and produces some of the most accurate predictions we've ever had from science.

You can usually give the interminable waffling about how to interpret the results a miss though.
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Re: A Physicist’s Explanation of Why the Soul May Exist

#16  Postby epepke » Jul 02, 2014 3:17 pm

Shouldn't that be "Quantam Qrap"?
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Re: A Physicist’s Explanation of Why the Soul May Exist

#17  Postby kennyc » Jul 02, 2014 3:20 pm

epepke wrote:Shouldn't that be "Quantam Qrap"?


only in a parallel universe.

:P
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Re: A Physicist’s Explanation of Why the Soul May Exist

#18  Postby DavidMcC » Jul 02, 2014 4:32 pm

kennyc wrote:
epepke wrote:Shouldn't that be "Quantam Qrap"?


only in a parallel universe Everett-style MWI with real universes-style parallel universe.

:P

Fixed!
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Re: A Physicist’s Explanation of Why the Soul May Exist

#19  Postby BWE » Jul 02, 2014 9:00 pm

yeah, this is a weird thing for a physicist to attach to physics. It reminds me of the stuff that Fred Wolf comes up with about quantum consciousness and that sort of thing. I mean, QM is really weird to be sure and it is fun to speculate on models which might be consistent with QM, but it seems strange to assume that extraneous models should be considered seriously with no way to test the extraneous parts.
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Re: A Physicist’s Explanation of Why the Soul May Exist

#20  Postby Darwinsbulldog » Jul 02, 2014 10:50 pm

BWE wrote:yeah, this is a weird thing for a physicist to attach to physics. It reminds me of the stuff that Fred Wolf comes up with about quantum consciousness and that sort of thing. I mean, QM is really weird to be sure and it is fun to speculate on models which might be consistent with QM, but it seems strange to assume that extraneous models should be considered seriously with no way to test the extraneous parts.


I don't think any weird shit can or should be ruled out BUT it MUST be testable. If a scientist is limited in imagination, or thinks of some weird shit but then says to hims/herself that it is "too weird" or 'couldn't be real" then further progress is stifled. No matter how crazy the idea is, then it should be considered SO LONG AS it is testable. This is why I think science should be agnostic about reality and why methodological naturalism should be the compass. The history of science for the last hundred years or so demonstrates that "weird shit" is where the action is at. Not so much for routine science, which can probably survive and do many things assuming naive reality. But coming up with revolutionary breakthroughs might sometimes be beyond imagination. it wont help is thinking is straight-jacketed into what scientist opinions are about "what is real?"
Occum said we should not entertain hypotheses beyond necessity, I would add to that the necessity of having minimum metaphysical baggage. This is why I believe realism in science is both unnecessary and wrong.
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