Dinesh D Souza, The Greatness of Christianity: Table of Contents
Cf. Dinesh D’souza, What’s So Great About Christianity, at Amazon
“This idea of immaterial souls… has outlived its credibility thanks to the advance of the natural sciences.” —Daniel Dennett, Freedom Evolves
IT IS POSSIBLE TO ASSERT A STRONG OBJECTION to our discussion of con- science, morality, and the traditional notions of right and wrong. We might think we experience the call of conscience, but how do we know that this is not an illusion? Religion tells us that these transactions of good and evil take place in the “soul,” but where can this soul be located? There is a powerful strain of atheism that teaches that human beings are nothing more than matter. In this materialistic view, the soul is a fiction, a “ghost in the machine” that has been invented by religion for its own purposes. After all, we never encounter this ghost within the material frame of human beings. What we do encounter is brains, arteries, blood, and organs. These are all made up of the same atoms and molecules as trees and stones, and are assembled by a process of evolution and natural selection into this intricate machine we call Homo sapiens. From this perspective, man is a kind of intelligent robot, a carbon-based computer. Consequently, man should be understood in the same material terms in which we understand software programs.
“If we do indeed possess an immaterial soul,” physicist Victor Stenger writes in God: The Failed Hypothesis, “then we should expect to find some evidence for it.” But science has found none, which leads Stenger to conclude that the soul is a myth. Philosopher Daniel Dennett writes, “Our brains are made of neurons, and nothing else. Nerve cells are very complicated mechanical systems. You take enough of those, and you put them together, and you get a soul.” Dennett is not suggesting that the soul is itself a material object. Rather, he is implying that the soul is simply the name for the brain’sability to do certain kinds of mechanical processing.