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Salient: Victoria University of Wellington Students' Newspaper. Vol. 32, No. 7. 1969.

Immortal soul

Immortal soul

In going through my desk I found an old "proof" for man's "immortal soul". I thought it was time it saw the light of day so here it is.

Physics is the study of the interactions between matter and energy in a special time framework. On a macroscopic scale it is observed that these interactions obey certain unbreakable laws. It is not known what causes these laws (or even what they are) but they do exist, and it may be deduced that they are universal Fundamentally, everything which is physical, matter and energy of this universe must conform to fixed laws, no matter how complicated these laws may be. There is no such thing as chance. If all the present were known, all the past could be determined, and all the Future predicted.

Man, however, does not conform to any physical law. His life and actions are based on his own decisions, they cannot be totally predetermined. If they could, the human race would just be helpless puppets in a gigantic act called life.

The question now arises: how does a man, composed of matter and energy, have the power to disregard the laws governing him? The only answer is that he contains something unphysical or spiritual, which has neither matter nor energy, which is the chief motivating force of hit free actions, and must be considered as his "soul" or real "life". To deny this is to deny physics to deny any purpose in man's existence, indeed it is to deny thought.

All thinking life forma must have a "soul". Indeed, the great difference between the animate and inanimate must be the presence of the "soul". And as energy and matter "can neither be created or destroyed, only changed in form", surely this soul, which has the power to control energy and matter, at least in the human brain, can also "neither be created or destroyed".

If you can't understand it, read it again: I couldn't follow it for a while. The argument seems to be based on two premises:

(1) All that is physical obeys certain fixed lews.

(2) Man does not completely obey these fixed laws.

From the acceptance of both of these premises, the conclusion logically follows:

Man it not all physical.

The second part of the "proof" assumes the conclusion of the first, that man is not all physical and therefore possesses something which it not physical, which for convenience is called the "soul".

It then applies the principle of "conservation of energy" to this "soul" end reason I that this "soul" is not destroyed at human death.

If this proof contains no plan, then the philosophical implications teem staggering.

Graeme Browne.