Monday, March 02, 2009

"Nonmaterialist Neuroscience": The New Creationism?

Neuroscience and the soul, via Andrew Sullivan:
A new challenge to the science-religion relationship is currently at hand. We hope that, with careful consideration by scientists and theologians, it will not become the latest front in what some have called the “culture war” between science and religion. The challenge comes from neuroscience and concerns our understanding of human nature.

Most religions endorse the idea of a soul (or spirit) that is distinct from the physical body. Yet as neuroscience advances, it increasingly seems that all aspects of a person can be explained by the functioning of a material system...as neuroscience begins to reveal the mechanisms underlying personality, love, morality, and spirituality, the idea of a ghost in the machine becomes strained.

Brain imaging indicates that all of these traits have physical correlates in brain function. Furthermore, pharmacologic influences on these traits, as well as the effects of localized stimulation or damage, demonstrate that the brain processes in question are not mere correlates but are the physical bases of these central aspects of our personhood. If these aspects of the person are all features of the machine, why have a ghost at all?

By raising questions like this, it seems likely that neuroscience will pose a far more fundamental challenge than evolutionary biology to many religions. Predictably, then, some theologians and even neuroscientists are resisting the implications of modern cognitive and affective neuroscience. “Nonmaterialist neuroscience” has joined “intelligent design” as an alternative interpretation of scientific data.


I predict religions will react in the familiar pattern: Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

Denial: Those stupid atheist scientists don't know what they're talking about. Did you hear about that one fMRI machine that was configured improperly?! And just a little while ago, scientists were arguing that the mind was located in the heart! Man, scientists are so dumb.

Anger: THESE SCIENTISTS HATE GOD AND HATE AMERICA! THEY'RE TRYING TO RUIN EVERYTHING GOOD ABOUT BEING HUMAN.

Bargaining: Okay, maybe there's something to this whole neuroscience thing. But it can't measure everything, and we can still squeeze a non-material soul into the gaps!

Depression: Sigh. Looks like neuroscience was right. I guess life is meaningless and without purpose.

Acceptance
: Of course there's no nonmaterial soul. "Soul" is just metaphorical. Everybody knows that. Praise Jesus!

Fundamentalists will of course stay in the denial and anger zones for a long time, apologists in the bargaining, XGH in the depression, and liberal theologians will enter acceptance a generation or two before the rest.

Atheists, of course, are ahead of the game. The typical atheistic response is "Duh!"

49 comments:

Apikores said...

Great post!

Unfortunately, it seems like its gonna be a long time before we understand everything about the brain, so religionists will be able to stay with the "gap" argument for a while.

jewish philosopher said...

I don't get it. People have always known that the soul resides in the brain. That's why we put tefillin on the head. And therefore, what? There is not soul? What causes self-consciousness and free will?

Anonymous said...

> People have always known that the soul resides in the brain.

Just the opposite actually. Ancient people thought we think with our hearts.

XGH said...

> XGH in the depression

Sigh.

Jewish Atheist said...

Sigh.

Aw, I was hoping for a LOL.

jewish philosopher said...

"Ancient people thought we think with our hearts."

Not Jews.

"The tefillin on our heads is near the brain, so that the spiritual elements in our brains, as well as our senses and all our abilities, should should all be controlled and redirected towards performing the Service we are commanded to perform for Hashem, Whose Name is blessed."

http://www.beingjewish.com/mitzvos/tefillin.html

Shalmo said...

The most damning flaw of this post is that you assume all religions are as ludicrous as Christianity and Judaism.

Sorry to tell you friend but only christians and jews deny evolution and think the world is 6000 years old per the Torah. Nor does every religion lead anti-science movements; many of us (my faith at least) have since the get-go seen science and theology as syncretic rather than the "God put the fossils to test our faith" gibberish that Jews and Christians espouse.

I don't see any of this as a threat to the concept of a soul though. If anything it makes more sense. God clearly designed these bodies to report to external stimuli and that's what this study shows. These reactions are simply our soul, and in the afterlife (yeah I know you are giggling your ass off) we will be judged on how we used what was given to us.

OR would you prefer to use this data to claim we have no free will because its all just cognitive matter duking it out determining our actions. Well the fact that you advocate things like gay rights and so forth shows that indeed you value you free will.

See the problem with science is that if anything it establishes the inequality of man. The entire eugenics fiasco came about because we let science (a subjective matter in itself) tells us where to go and what to do. Just recently in the US there was a study done that showed that blacks were less biologically enabled to succeed. Where as religion would teach the equality of all man, where science, left alone, would teach the opposite.

The exception of course is Judaism, which very much teaches inequality separating mankind into jew and gentile. And advocating the ludicrous idea that one nation would receive God's favor over all other (in Exodus 18 its say Jews would be the most loved of all nations). But not every religion shares that dogma, and separates "us" and "them".

Shalmo said...

"Unfortunately, it seems like its gonna be a long time before we understand everything about the brain, so religionists will be able to stay with the "gap" argument for a while."

Fred Hole, a scientist who advocated ID discovered that the probability of the universe coming into existence and maintained by chance is 10 to the 10 to the 120th power. A number so huge you can fill the entire universe with books of that amount.

And impossibility in statistics starts from 10 to the +40th or -40th power.

So its an absolute argument.

Speaking of "gaps". The atheist argument is that what theists do is that they fill gaps in our knowledge with God. So when we look for who maintains the orbit of planets, Newton said its God, where as today science has shown that its gravity. --- the problem with this argument is that the atheist doesn't look beyond it since a theist rebuttal would be that God put gravity there to maintain the planets and indeed our Earth for our sakes.

Jewish Atheist said...

Shalmo:

Your claims about Islam are hilarious. How can you have an afterlife without a non-material soul? What, is Allah going to airlift your physical body to a planet called Paradise, where he will carefully maintain it forever?

The exception of course is Judaism, which very much teaches inequality separating mankind into jew and gentile.

And there's no difference in Islam between Muslims and non-Muslims??

David Fryman said...

First, neuroscience has its own problems trying to fit free-will into its model of the brain/mind. I'm not saying that positing a non-material soul puts the issue to rest but atheist philosophers of mind have made some serious blunders as they try to deny that materialism implies determinism.

"Yet as neuroscience advances, it increasingly seems that all aspects of a person can be explained by the functioning of a material system"

This passage assumes (as many atheists assume) that religion exists to explain natural phenomena. If the phenomena can be explained without appealing to the supernatural, then religion is superfluous. But this isn't the Jewish approach. Our religion exists as a response to a national prophecy, codified by the Torah, and reflected in a halakhic system which governs our behavior and a hashfakic system which governs our values. Explaining nature is not high on the list of priorities.

So JA, which stage am I in? :-)

Holy Hyrax said...

>The exception of course is Judaism, which very much teaches inequality separating mankind into jew and gentile.

I'm not sure I understand this, don't all other nations make seperations between them and other nations? Americans vs non Americans. That is not an issue of equality but of reality. If you want, you can make the case that under criminal law, Judaism, or at least the kind professed in Talmud, does not treat the Jew and gentile the same.

Shalmo said...

"Your claims about Islam are hilarious."

Why are they hilarious, considering I never even brought up religion.

"How can you have an afterlife without a non-material soul?"

I never said we don't have a soul, and neither does neuro-science LOL.....Unless of course you want it to

"What, is Allah going to airlift your physical body to a planet called Paradise, where he will carefully maintain it forever?"

Well on the day of judgement we are gonna have our souls brought before God. The soul being the culmination of righteous and wrongful deeds committed by us, and then be judged according.

What I find really neat about the islamic version is that on the day of judgement there is gonna be absolute justice done for all crimes that were not punished. So if there was a man who chopped off your hand, and he was not punished for it by some court, then on the day of judgement he's gonna get it chopped off. Basically justice for all. Of course there is also the possibility that you choose to forgive the man for doing it

"And there's no difference in Islam between Muslims and non-Muslims??"

Nope because we (all humans) are all ashraful-maquliqat (best of creation). Notice how this title isn't limited to a select tribe. God didn't make a covenant with a select tribe, or show favor/love to a select people (ahem Exodus 18) over any other. There isn't one set of laws for Israel, and another for everyone else (613 mitzvohs vs 7 noahide laws). There is just one set of laws for everyone

Holy Hyrax said...

>There isn't one set of laws for Israel, and another for everyone else (613 mitzvohs vs 7 noahide laws). There is just one set of laws for everyone


LOL. I think most of the world would thank us for that. I mean, we ARE talking about mostly ritual law here for goodness sakes.

Ivy said...

This post is amusing. You spend ample time on HalfSigma and Steve Sailer opposing human biodiversity despite the loads of statistical evidence supporting those claims. You do so, obviously, based on your "faith" in strict egalitarianism.

Yet, you get all huffy when religious people engage in the same type of behavior. Their faith might be in invisible creatures, but yours is also in something as completely false.

Shalmo said...

"LOL. I think most of the world would thank us for that. I mean, we ARE talking about mostly ritual law here for goodness sakes."

Hardly. You may not realize this but its preposterous for you to assume that only a select tribe can handle a bigger burden than everyone else. Its all part of the worshipping all things Jewish that Judaism is about. We are a special because look we can handle all these laws while the rest of the savage gentiles can't hence we need to grant them a watered down version

And exactly what are the 613 mitzvohs that make you more special than the rest of us poor gentiles.

Half of them have to do with the temple, which you don't have and haven't had for the majority of your history. Ironic because per the Torah having the temple is the norm

From Judaism 101:

http://www.jewfaq.org/613.htm

"To lend to an alien at interest (Deut. 23:21) According to tradition, this is mandatory (affirmative)."

hmmm. Must always charge interest from a gentile but never from a Jew. (for the record in islam you can't charge interest from anybody whether muslim or non-muslim. this is what I meant by we have one set of laws for everyone)

its gets darker

# Always to remember what Amalek did (Deut. 25:17) .
# That the evil done to us by Amalek shall not be forgotten (Deut. 25:19) .
# To destroy the seed of Amalek (Deut. 25:19) .

I have already previously discussed the slaughter of the women and children of the Amalekites demanded by the Torah, but you see here Jews are ordered never to forget him. Never forget how they committed genocide sanctioned by the divine

The point is clear. The 613 mitzvohs are hardly anything special. As we have seen they're mostly about worshipping all things Jewish, God is a misnomer. You can't charge interest from a jew but must from a gentile, you must always remember the slaughter of Amalek, etc etc.

So worshipping all things Jewish entitles you have a special relationship with God over every other nation. PLEASE!

Jewish Atheist said...

Shalmo:

How can you be so upset about Amalek when you seem to be okay with your coreligionists slaughtering thousands of innocent people in the name of Allah?

Jewish Atheist said...

David:

First, neuroscience has its own problems trying to fit free-will into its model of the brain/mind. I'm not saying that positing a non-material soul puts the issue to rest but atheist philosophers of mind have made some serious blunders as they try to deny that materialism implies determinism.

I agree with you completely! Personally, I think free will is an illusion.

This passage assumes (as many atheists assume) that religion exists to explain natural phenomena. If the phenomena can be explained without appealing to the supernatural, then religion is superfluous. But this isn't the Jewish approach. Our religion exists as a response to a national prophecy, codified by the Torah, and reflected in a halakhic system which governs our behavior and a hashfakic system which governs our values. Explaining nature is not high on the list of priorities.

Not anymore, it's not. It used to try to explain nature, it's just that it was wrong about everything. NOW it's all, "oh that was just metaphorical." ;-)

So JA, which stage am I in? :-)

Acceptance.


Ivy:

This post is amusing. You spend ample time on HalfSigma and Steve Sailer opposing human biodiversity despite the loads of statistical evidence supporting those claims.

Untrue. I oppose the ridiculously broad and sweeping conclusions they reach and pretend to base on the statistical evidence. I never oppose the facts.

Holy Hyrax said...

>Hardly. You may not realize this but its preposterous for you to assume that only a select tribe can handle a bigger burden than everyone else.

Whos said nobody can handle. Judaism allows anyone to join, but its a PLUS that we say everyone else does not have to follow our rituals. Its stupid for you even to claim otherwise. Our rituals are for us, and nobody said they can't have their own rituals.


>Its all part of the worshipping all things Jewish that Judaism is about. We are a special because look we can handle all these laws while the rest of the savage gentiles can't hence we need to grant them a watered down version.

No, we are special because we agreed to this contract. The torah does not give any hint at something unique to the makeup of the Israelites. It was a contract between two participants.

David Fryman said...

"It used to try to explain nature, it's just that it was wrong about everything."

There's a difference between religion trying to explain phenomena in nature and the purpose of religion being to explain such phenomena. The fact that you can sufficiently explain it without appeal to God it irrelevant. I don't believe because God's existence explains the natural world.

Just to clarify your history - the robust natural theology of the 'intellectual design' variety originates with the Medievals. The Talmud and classical midrashim spend very little time arguing along those lines.

Jewish Atheist said...

There's a difference between religion trying to explain phenomena in nature and the purpose of religion being to explain such phenomena.

I agree completely. Religion will happily reroute around any new evidence. The only thing threatened by neuroscience is the traditional conception of the soul.

Any religion that survived Darwin can survive this.

Just to clarify your history - the robust natural theology of the 'intellectual design' variety originates with the Medievals. The Talmud and classical midrashim spend very little time arguing along those lines.

I'm not saying they do, but don't you think they really believed the world was created 6,000 years ago in 6 days, etc.? NOW many non-chareidi Orthodox Jews accept evolution, but that's not to say the original audience of the Torah didn't take it literally.

David Fryman said...

The only thing threatened by neuroscience is the traditional conception of the soul.

The traditional conception of a soul is only threatened if you believe that the reason we believe in a soul is because it explains otherwise mysterious phenomena.

Put another way, religious concepts (such as the soul) are not scientific hypotheses posited to account for the world. See here for more on that point.

NOW many non-chareidi Orthodox Jews accept evolution, but that's not to say the original audience of the Torah didn't take it literally.

The Torah's original audience believed lots of things that aren't true. I'm sure there are things we believe that will be shown to be completely absurd by later generations. But so what?

David Fryman said...

Here's the passage of my old post that I wanted to highlight:

We could say that statements about God are not scientific hypotheses at all, since we are not speaking of God as a cause operating within the natural order, which is the sole order about which natural science can speak with any cogency. And, even when we do speak of God as the creator of the universe and all it contains, we are not speaking of a God whose existence has been inferred from human experience of orderly nature. Instead, we are speaking of a God who commands our community, through his historical revelation to our community, to acknowledge his creation of that natural order in which our historical relationship with him takes place.

Jewish Atheist said...

The traditional conception of a soul is only threatened if you believe that the reason we believe in a soul is because it explains otherwise mysterious phenomena.

The traditional conception of the aether is only threatened if you believe the reason we believe in the aether is because it explains otherwise mysterious phenomena.

Put another way, religious concepts (such as the soul) are not scientific hypotheses posited to account for the world. See here for more on that point.

Preaching to the choir, buddy. I know that religious people can "reinterpret" ANYTHING.

The Torah's original audience believed lots of things that aren't true. I'm sure there are things we believe that will be shown to be completely absurd by later generations. But so what?

So a majority of Americans still believe in creationism because of the Torah.

We could say that statements about God are not scientific hypotheses at all, since we are not speaking of God as a cause operating within the natural order, which is the sole order about which natural science can speak with any cogency. And, even when we do speak of God as the creator of the universe and all it contains, we are not speaking of a God whose existence has been inferred from human experience of orderly nature. Instead, we are speaking of a God who commands our community, through his historical revelation to our community, to acknowledge his creation of that natural order in which our historical relationship with him takes place.

That sounds like a bunch of fancy language to hide the fact that you're really saying, "God isn't REAL. It's just a useful metaphor for all this other stuff that matters." Well, fine. Be honest about that if that's what you think. Orthodox Jews tend not to think that way, though.

Shalmo said...

"How can you be so upset about Amalek when you seem to be okay with your coreligionists slaughtering thousands of innocent people in the name of Allah?"

thousands of innocent people. exaggaerating aren't we. I never said I approve of any innocent person being slaughtered EVER. You are putting words in my mouth.

But don't you find it convenient. You blame the Taliban. Yet you don't blame the CIA who trained them in the first place and turned afghanis into savages. Afghanistan was doing great before the Soviets and the US fucked with it and we see what it has done to the people. Same with Iraq. It was doing great before the US came and created an oil reservoir, while installing a brutal dictator who propagated pan-arabism, secular ideology to replace islam and which is responsible for all the slaughter in the middle-east. What of the middle-east? It was cut up by the British and French into tiny warring countries with US sponsored dictators always keeping the population down and infighting. And let's not forget the terrorist state of Israel, which alone has committed barbarism surpassing anything muslims have done. The pattern here is clear. We have foreign powers fucking up our countries, encouraging radical groups, and then blaming islam for the shit they themselves created.

David Fryman said...

. . . historical revelation to our community, . . . his creation of that natural order . . . historical relationship with him . . . .

What part of that "sounds like a bunch of fancy language to hide the fact that you're really saying, 'God isn't REAL'"?

David Fryman said...

The traditional conception of the aether is only threatened if you believe the reason we believe in the aether is because it explains otherwise mysterious phenomena.

But aether was used to explain natural phenomena. It was a scientific idea that was debunked by better a scientific idea.

So a majority of Americans still believe in creationism because of the Torah.

So what? That doesn't make it right.

Shalmo said...

Holy Hyrax

"Whos said nobody can handle. Judaism allows anyone to join, but its a PLUS that we say everyone else does not have to follow our rituals. Its stupid for you even to claim otherwise. Our rituals are for us, and nobody said they can't have their own rituals."

You seem to very ignorant about Judaism. Perhaps you have been fed too much Chabad nonsense

[Mishneh Torah, Laws of Kings 8:11]: Maimonides was anything but an adherent of religious tolerance, in his opinion, not only is it impossible for a Muslim to be a pious Gentile, but it is even forbidden for a Gentile to follow the dictates of Islam

He unequivocally accepts the talmudic view that any Gentile religious system is illicit and the only alternatives for Gentiles are conversion or observance of the Seven Laws of Noah which, by definition, exclude any other religious system [Laws of Kings 10:9].

And this is your Talmud I am talking about.

"No, we are special because we agreed to this contract."

No you didn't. You see the all Jewish souls being present at Sinai is just a later invention. And here's the thing do you remember your past life making the covenant with YHWH? Ofcourse you don't. And yet you are responsible for a covenant you have no memory of ever making

And as I have already shown the 613 mitzvohs aren't anything special. They are mostly Jewish national rituals such as never forgetting what Amalek did to the Israelites, slaughtering their women, children and animals, etc. Apparently laws on loving all things Jewish make you better than everybody else

"The torah does not give any hint at something unique to the makeup of the Israelites. It was a contract between two participants."

WRONG AGAIN

You apparently have not read the Torah where entire chapters such as Exodus, Numbers, Deuteronomy and others are devoted to praising Israel and the Jewish. We have discussed already Ex.18 where they would be the most loved of all people and nations. And there are various other chapters with similar themes. The "suffering servant" for example.

Rabbi Menachem Schneerson, leader of Chabad-Lubavitch.
“The difference between a Jewish and a non-Jewish person stems from the common expression: ‘Let us differentiate.’ Thus, we do not have a case of profound change in which a person is merely on a superior level. Rather, we have case of ‘let us differentiate’ between totally different species. This is what needs to be said about the body: the body of a Jewish person is of a totally different quality from the body of (members) of all nations of the world… A non-Jew’s entire reality is only vanity. The entire creation (of a non-Jew) exists only for the sake of the Jews.”

^^That says it all. And we have already discussed gentile hatred in the Talmud

Shalmo said...

Jewish Atheist you fail to realize that you yourself live in the most corrupt power on this planet (whom your taxes empower), yet you dare lecture us.

Here is a brief History of CIA Sponsored Terrorism 1951-2002

During the Reagan administration, CIA Director William Casey initiated the recruitment of Islamic fundamentalists from around the world to go to Afghanistan to fight in the decade-long guerrilla war against the Soviet military intervention. They received training in terrorist tactics, including the planting of bombs, from US intelligence agents. This was the milieu out of which Osama bin Laden—himself a collaborator with the CIA in Afghanistan—recruited the initial forces for his Al Qaeda organization. After the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, many of these fighters, most of them Arabs, were allowed entry into the United States as a reward for their services in the war.

In the aftermath of the Persian Gulf War, some of these Islamic fundamentalists turned against the US government, bombing the World Trade Center in 1993.

Al Queda then carried out a number of other terrorist acts against US targets overseas most notably the bombing of U.S Embassies in East Africa and the attack on the U.S.S Cole before carrying out their murderous attacks on 9/11.

That an organization like Al Qaeda would emerge after the CIA’s unbelievable stupidity in arming and training more than 35,000 (indirectly over 100,000) anti – western Islamic fundamentalists fighters seemingly has come as a surprise to many neoconservatives (ex Reaganites) serving in the Bush administration. They can’t understand why the rabid dog that they spawned has now turned around and bit the hand that had fed it.

Further it has now become clear (with no WMD’s being found) that rather than face up to the truth behind 9/11, these short sighted ideologues have instead sought to ‘pull the wool over the eyes’ of the American public by manipulating George W Bush (whose father was one of the chief architects of this evil in the 1980ies) to invade Iraq, by claiming a link between Saddam and 9/11.

One thing for certain is that whilst his baathist regime was very disagreeable, it however clearly had nothing to do with 9/11, being both strongly secular and very anti Wahabist (ie. anti Al Qaeda).

From all accounts Bin laden hated Saddam as much as, if not more than his ex – paymaster the U.S. Govt.

BLOWBACK

This phenomenon of former CIA-backed guerrillas using their US training to attack American targets has become known as “blowback.”

Technically a ‘blowback’ (what we call a right stuff up) is the term that the CIA uses to describe a situation when some operative, a terrorist, or some situation that they’ve created gets out of their control and comes back to haunt them. It’s a situation where the scientist (Frankenstein) creates a monster that “blows back” on its creator. Manuel Noriega, Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden are all pretty good examples of blowback. They were all nurtured for many years by the CIA, the US military or military intelligence. They all eventually “blew back.”

1951

The CIA is involved in a coup to overthrow nationalist Prime Minister Dr. Muhammed Mossadeq in Iran, after he threatened to nationalize Iranian oil. CIA/MI6 Supports Iranian military in massacre of Mossadeq supporters and returns the Shah to power. In 1976, Amnesty concluded that the Shah’s CIA-trained security force, the SAVAK, had the worst human rights record in the world, and that the number and variety of torture techniques the CIA had taught SAVAK were “beyond belief.”

Operation MK-ULTRA — Inspired by North Korea’s brainwashing program, the CIA begins experiments on mind control. The most notorious part of this project involves giving LSD and other drugs to American subjects without their knowledge or against their will, causing several to commit suicide. However, the operation involves far more than this. Funded in part by the Rockefeller and Ford foundations, research includes propaganda, brainwashing, public relations, advertising, hypnosis, and other forms of suggestion.

1954

Guatemala — CIA overthrows the democratically elected Jacob Arbenz in a military coup. Arbenz has threatened to nationalize the Rockefeller-owned United Fruit Company, in which CIA Director Allen Dulles also owns stock. Arbenz is replaced with a series of right-wing dictators whose bloodthirsty policies will kill over 100,000 Guatemalans in the next 40 years.

1954-1958

North Vietnam — CIA officer Edward Lansdale spends four years trying to overthrow the nationalist government of North Vietnam, using all the usual dirty tricks. The CIA also attempts to legitimize a tyrannical puppet regime in South Vietnam, headed by Ngo Dinh Diem. These efforts fail to win the hearts and minds of the South Vietnamese because the Diem government is opposed to true democracy, land reform and poverty reduction measures. The CIA’s continuing failure results in escalating American intervention, culminating in the Vietnam War.

1956

Hungary — Radio Free Europe incites Hungary to revolt by broadcasting Khruschev’s Secret Speech, in which he denounced Stalin. It also hints that American aid will help the Hungarians fight. This aid fails to materialize as Hungarians launch a doomed armed revolt, which only invites a major Soviet invasion. The conflict kills an estimated 7,000 Soviets and 30,000 Hungarians.

1957-1973

Laos — The CIA carries out approximately one coup per year trying to nullify Laos’ democratic elections. The problem is the Pathet Lao, a leftist group with enough popular support to be a member of any coalition government. In the late 50s, the CIA even creates an “Armee Clandestine” of Asian mercenaries to attack the Pathet Lao. After the CIA’s army suffers numerous defeats, the U.S. starts bombing, dropping more bombs on Laos than all the U.S. bombs dropped in World War II. A quarter of all Laotians will eventually become refugees, many living in caves.

1959

Haiti — The U.S. military helps “Papa Doc” Duvalier become dictator of Haiti. He creates his own private police force, the “Tonton Macoutes,” who terrorize the population with machetes. They will kill over 100,000 during the Duvalier family reign. The U.S. does not protest their dismal human rights record.

1961

The Bay of Pigs — The CIA sends 1,500 Cuban exiles to invade Castro’s Cuba. But “Operation Mongoose” fails, due to poor planning, security and backing. The planners had imagined that the invasion will spark a popular uprising against Castro; which never happens. A promised American air strike also never occurs. This is the CIA’s first public setback, causing President Kennedy to fire CIA Director Allen Dulles.

Dominican Republic — The CIA assassinates Rafael Trujillo, a murderous dictator Washington has supported since 1930. Trujillo’s business interests have grown so large (about 60 % of the economy) that they have begun competing with American business interests.

Ecuador — The CIA-backed military forces the democratically elected President Jose Velasco to resign. Vice President Carlos Arosemana replaces him; the CIA fills the now vacant vice presidency with its own man.

The Congo — The CIA assassinates the democratically elected Patrice Lumumba. However, public support for Lumumba’s politics runs so high that the CIA cannot clearly install his opponents in power. Four years of political turmoil follow.

1963

Dominican Republic — The CIA overthrows the democratically elected Juan Bosch in a military coup. The CIA installs a repressive, right-wing junta.

Ecuador — A CIA-backed military coup overthrows President Arosemana, whose independent nationalist policies have become unacceptable to Washington. A military junta assumes command, cancels the 1964 elections, and begins abusing human rights.

1964

Brazil — A CIA-backed military coup overthrows the democratically elected government of Joao Goulart. The junta that replaces it will, in the next two decades, become one of the most bloodthirsty in history. General Castelo Branco will create Latin America’s first death squads, or bands of secret police who hunt down progressive Brazilians for torture, interrogation and murder. Often these people labeled as “communists” are no more than Branco’s political opponents. Later it is revealed that the CIA trains the death squads.

1965

Indonesia — The CIA overthrows the democratically elected Sukarno with a military coup. The CIA has been trying to eliminate Sukarno since 1957, using everything from attempted assassination to sexual intrigue, for nothing more than his declaring neutrality in the Cold War. His successor, General Suharto and muslim militias will massacre over one million civilians accused of being “communist.” The CIA supplies the names of countless suspects to be murdered.

Dominican Republic — A popular rebellion breaks out, promising to reinstall Juan Bosch as the country’s elected leader. U.S. Marines land to uphold the military regime by force. The CIA directs everything behind the scenes.

Greece — With the CIA’s backing, the king removes George Papandreou as prime minister. Papandreous has failed to vigorously support U.S. interests in Greece.

Congo — A CIA-backed military coup installs Mobutu Sese Seko as dictator. The hated and repressive Mobutu exploits his desperately poor country for billions.

1966

The Ramparts Affair — The radical magazine Ramparts begins a series of unprecedented anti-CIA articles. Among their scoops: the CIA has paid the University of Michigan $25 million dollars to hire “professors” to train South Vietnamese students in covert police methods. MIT and other universities have received similar payments. Ramparts also reveals that the National Students’ Association is a CIA front. Students are sometimes recruited through blackmail and bribery, including draft deferments.

1967

Greece — A CIA-backed military coup overthrows the government two days before the elections. The favorite to win was George Papandreous, the liberal candidate. During the next six years, the “reign of the colonels” — backed by the CIA — will usher in the widespread use of torture and murder against political opponents. When the Greek ambassador objects to President Johnson about U.S. plans for Cyprus, he tells him: “F**K your parliament and your constitution”

Vietnam – Operation PHEONIX — The CIA helps South Vietnamese agents identify and assasinate alleged Viet Cong leaders operating in South Vietnamese villages. According to a 1971 congressional report, this operation kills over 20,000 “Viet Cong.”

1968

Operation CHAOS — The CIA long been illegally spying on American citizens, but with Operation CHAOS, President Johnson dramatically boosts the effort. CIA agents go undercover as student radicals to spy on and disrupt campus organisations protesting the Vietnam War.

Bolivia — A CIA-organized military operation captures legendary guerilla Che Guevara. The Bolivian military executes him to prevent worldwide calls for clemency.

1969

Uruguay — The notorious CIA torturer Dan Mitrione arrives in Uruguay, a country torn with political strife. Whereas right-wing forces previously used torture only as a last resort, Mitrione convinces them to use it as a routine, widespread practice. “The precise pain, in the precise place, in the precise amount, for the desired effect,” is his motto. The torture techniques he teaches to the death squads rival the Gestapo’. He eventually becomes so feared that revolutionaries will kidnap and murder him a year later.

1970

Cambodia — The CIA overthrows Prince Sihanouk, who is highly popular among Cambodians for keeping them out of the Vietnam War. He is replaced by CIA puppet Lon Nol, who immediately throws Cambodian troops into battle. This unpopular move strengthens once minor opposition parties like the Khmer Rouge, which achieves power in 1975 and massacres millions of its own people.

1971

Bolivia — After half a decade of CIA-inspired political turmoil, a CIA-backed military coup overthrows the leftist President Juan Torres. In the next two years, dictator Hugo Banzer will have over 2,000 political opponents arrested without trial, then tortured, raped and executed.

Haiti — “Papa Doc” Duvalier dies, leaving his 19-year old son “Baby Doc” Duvalier the dictator of Haiti. His son continues his bloody reign with full knowledge and the assistance of the CIA.

1972

Cambodia — Congress votes to cut off CIA funds for its secret war in Cambodia.

Watergate Break-in — President Nixon sends in a team of burglars to wiretap Democratic offices at Watergate. The team members have extensive CIA histories, including James McCord, E. Howard Hunt and five of the Cuban burglars. They work for the Committee to Reelect the President (CREEP), which does dirty work like disrupting Democratic campaigns and laundering Nixon’s illegal campaign contributions. CREEP’s activities are funded and organized by another CIA front, the Mullen Company.

1973

Chile — The CIA overthrows and assassinates Salvador Allende, Latin America’s first democratically elected socialist leader. The problems begin when Allende nationalizes American-owned firms in Chile. ITT offers the CIA $1 million assistance for a coup . The CIA replaces Allende with General Augusto Pinochet, who will torture and murder thousands of his own countrymen in a crackdown on labor leaders and the political left.

CIA begins internal investigations — William Colby, the Deputy Director for Operations, orders all CIA personnel to report any and all illegal activities they know about. This information is later reported to Congress.

Watergate Scandal — The CIA’s main collaborating newspaper in America, The Washington Post, reports Nixon’s crimes long before any other newspaper takes up the subject. The two reporters, Woodward and Bernstein, make almost no mention of the CIA’s many fingerprints all over the scandal. It is later revealed that Woodward was a Naval intelligence briefer to the White House, and knows many important intelligence figures. His main source, “Deep Throat,” is probably one of those.

CIA Director Helms Fired — President Nixon fires CIA Director Richard Helms for failing to help cover up the Watergate scandal. Helms and Nixon have always disliked each other.

1974

CHAOS exposed — Pulitzer prize winning journalist Seymour Hersh publishes a story about Operation CHAOS, the domestic surveillance and infiltration of anti-war and civil rights groups in the U.S. The story sparks national outrage.

Angleton fired — Congress holds hearings on the illegal domestic spying efforts of James Jesus Angleton, the CIA’s chief of counterintelligence. His efforts included mail-opening campaigns and secret surveillance of war protesters. The hearings result in his dismissal from the CIA.

House clears CIA in Watergate — The House of Representatives clears the CIA of any complicity in Nixon’s Watergate break-in.

The Hughes Ryan Act — Congress passes an amendment requiring the president to report nonintelligence CIA operations to the relevant congressional committees in a timely fashion.

1975

Australia — The CIA helps topple the democratically elected, centre left labor government of Prime Minister Gough Whitlam. The CIA does this by giving an ultimatum to its Governor-General, John Kerr. Kerr, a longtime CIA collaborator, exercises his constitutional right to dissolve the Whitlam government. The Governor-General is a largely ceremonial position appointed by the Queen; the Prime Minister is democratically elected. The use of this archaic and never-used law stuns the nation.

Angola — Eager to demonstrate American military resolve after its defeat in Vietnam, Henry Kissinger launches a CIA-backed war in Angola. Contrary to Kissinger’s assertions, Angola is a country of little strategic importance. The CIA backs the brutal leader of UNITA, Jonas Savimbi. This polarizes Angolan politics and drives his opponents into the arms of Cuba and the Soviet Union for survival. Congress will cut off funds in 1976, but the CIA is able to run the war off the books until 1984, when funding is legalized again. This entirely pointless war still goes on and has to date killed over 1.5 million Angolans. Ironically because of the increase in Angola’s Oil output (controlled by the MPLA and going mainly to the U.S) they no longer actively support UNITA.

“The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence” — Victor Marchetti and John Marks publish this whistle-blowing history of CIA crimes and abuses. Marchetti has spent 14 years in the CIA, eventually becoming an executive assistant to the Deputy Director of Intelligence. Marks has spent five years as an intelligence official in the State Department.

“Inside the Company” — Philip Agee publishes a diary of his life inside the CIA. Agee has worked in covert operations in Latin America during the 60s, and details the crimes in which he took part.

Congress investigates CIA wrong-doing — Public outrage compels Congress to hold hearings on CIA crimes. Senator Frank Church heads the Senate investigation (“The Church Committee”), and Representative Otis Pike heads the House investigation. (Despite previously large election mandates, both Church and Pike are defeated in the next elections.) The investigations lead to a number of reforms intended to increase the CIA’s accountability to Congress, including the creation of a standing Senate committee on intelligence. However, the reforms prove ineffective, as the Iran/Contra scandal will show. It turns out the CIA can control, deal with or sidestep Congress with ease.

The Rockefeller Commission — In an attempt to reduce the damage done by the Church Committee, President Ford creates the “Rockefeller Commission” to whitewash CIA history and propose toothless reforms. The commission’s namesake, Vice President Nelson Rockefeller, is himself a major CIA figure. Five of the commission’s eight members are also members of the Council on Foreign Relations, a CIA-dominated organisation.

1979

Nicaragua – After Nicaraguan dictator Samosa is overthrown in 1979, the CIA s turns the old National Guard into death squads known as the Contras. The Contras are used to terrorise rural Nicaragua while the US military blockades Nicaragua’s harbours with mines. In 1989, after 10,000 deaths, the US is successful in ousting the Sandanista government.

1980

El Salvador — The Archbishop of San Salvador, Oscar Romero, pleads with President Carter “Christian to Christian” to stop aiding the military government slaughtering his people. Carter refuses. Shortly afterwards, right-wing leader Roberto D’Aubuisson has Romero shot through the heart while saying Mass. The country soon dissolves into civil war, with the peasants in the hills fighting against the military government. The CIA and U.S. Armed Forces supply the government with overwhelming military and intelligence superiority. CIA-trained death squads roam the countryside, committing atrocities like that of El Mazote in 1982, where they massacre between 700 and 1000 men, women and children. By 1992, some 63,000 Salvadorans will be killed.

1981

Iran/Contra Begins — The CIA begins selling arms to Iran at high prices, using the profits to arm the Contras fighting the Sandinista government in Nicaragua. President Reagan vows that the Sandinistas will be “pressured” until “they say ‘uncle.’” The CIA’s Freedom Fighter’s Manual disbursed to the Contras includes instruction on economic sabotage, propaganda, extortion, bribery, blackmail, interrogation, torture, murder and political assasination.

1983

Honduras — The CIA gives Honduran military officers the Human Resource Exploitation Training Manual – 1983, which teaches how to torture people. Honduras’ notorious “Battalion 316” then uses these techniques, with the CIA’s full knowledge, on thousands of leftist dissidents. At least 184 are murdered.

1984

The Boland Amendment — The last of a series of Boland Amendments is passed. These amendments have reduced CIA aid to the Contras; the last one cuts it off completely. However, CIA Director William Casey is already prepared to “hand off” the operation to Colonel Oliver North, who illegally continues supplying the Contras through the CIA’s informal, secret, and self-financing network. This includes “humanitarian aid” donated by Adolph Coors and William Simon, and military aid funded by Iranian arms sales.

1986

Eugene Hasenfus — Nicaragua shoots down a C-123 transport plane carrying military supplies to the Contras. The lone survivor, Eugene Hasenfus, turns out to be a CIA employee, as are the two dead pilots. The airplane belongs to Southern Air Transport, a CIA front. The incident makes a mockery of President Reagan’s claims that the CIA is not illegally arming the Contras.

Iran/Contra Scandal — Although the details have long been known, the Iran/Contra scandal finally captures the media’s attention in 1986. Congress holds hearings, and several key figures (like Oliver North) lie under oath to protect the intelligence community. CIA Director William Casey dies of brain cancer before Congress can question him. All reforms enacted by Congress after the scandal are purely cosmetic.

Haiti — Rising popular revolt in Haiti means that “Baby Doc” Duvalier will remain “President for Life” only if he has a short one. The U.S., which hates instability in a puppet country, flies the despotic Duvalier to the South of France for a comfortable retirement. The CIA then rigs the upcoming elections in favor of another right-wing military strongman. However, violence keeps the country in political turmoil for another four years. The CIA tries to strengthen the military by creating the National Intelligence Service (SIN), which suppresses popular revolt through torture and murder.

1989

Panama — The U.S. invades Panama to overthrow a dictator of its own making, General Manuel Noriega. Noriega has been on the CIA’s payroll since 1966, and has been transporting drugs with the CIA’s knowledge since 1972. By the late 80s, Noriega’s growing independence and intransigence have angered Washington… so out he goes.

1990

Haiti — Competing against 10 comparatively wealthy candidates, leftist priest Jean-Bertrand Aristide captures 68 percent of the vote. After only eight months in power, however, the CIA-backed military deposes him. More military dictators brutalize the country, as thousands of Haitian refugees escape the turmoil in barely seaworthy boats. As popular opinion calls for Aristide’s return, the CIA begins a disinformation campaign painting the courageous priest as mentally unstable.

1991

The Gulf War — The U.S. liberates Kuwait from Iraq. But Iraq’s dictator, Saddam Hussein, is another creature of the CIA. With U.S. encouragement, Hussein invaded Iran in 1980. During this costly eight-year war, the CIA built up Hussein’s forces with sophisticated arms, intelligence, training and financial backing. This cemented Hussein’s power at home, allowing him to crush the many internal rebellions that erupted from time to time, sometimes with poison gas. It also gave him all the military might he needed to conduct further adventurism — in Kuwait, for example.

1991-2002

Iraq: Severe economic sanctions imposed on Iraq. By UN estimates, the sanctions cost over a million lives, half of them children. About 5,000 children dying each month, mostly from malnutrition and treatable diseases. From the most economically advanced country in the region before the US attack, Iraq becomes the most destitute.

The Fall of the Soviet Union — The CIA fails to predict this most important event of the Cold War. This suggests that it has been so busy undermining governments that it hasn’t been doing its primary job: gathering and analyzing information. The fall of the Soviet Union also robs the CIA of its reason for existence: fighting communism. This leads some to accuse the CIA of intentionally failing to predict the downfall of the Soviet Union. Curiously, the intelligence community’s budget is not significantly reduced after the demise of communism.

1992

Economic Espionage — In the years following the end of the Cold War, the CIA is increasingly used for economic espionage. This involves stealing the technological secrets of competing foreign companies and giving them to American ones. Given the CIA’s clear preference for dirty tricks over mere information gathering, the possibility of serious criminal behavior is very great indeed.

1993

Haiti — The chaos in Haiti grows so bad that President Clinton has no choice but to remove the Haitian military dictator, Raoul Cedras, on threat of U.S. invasion. The U.S. military do not arrest Haiti’s military leaders for crimes against humanity, but instead ensure their safety and rich retirements. Aristide is returned to power only after being forced to accept an agenda favorable to the U.S.

1998

Iraq: Renewed US and British bombing campaign – called Operation Desert Fox – against Iraq after it exposes US spies among UN weapons inspectors (later admitted by US officials). The UN pulls out inspectors before bombings, which continue up until the invasion on average every other day.

2001

Afghanistan: Following the September 11th terrorist attacks, which in part are blamed on the Taliban (close allies of Al Queada) the U.S and coalition forces invade Afghanistan killing over 3,500 people.

The feudal Taliban are key allies of Al Queda (to whom they offer sanctuary). The Taliban ironically put in power by the C.I.A and Pakistan’s SIS in the mid 90ies after an incredibly destructive civil war that broke out in the early nineties between the various Mujahudin factions after their victory over the then pro soviet Kabul government.

Today a US led UN occupation of the country props up the weak Karzai regime in Kabul with real control being held by a number of regional warlords.

2002

By the end of 2002 these warlords manage to increase Afghanistan’s annual heroin production four fold to over 300 tonnes of heroin, the output from 2,500-3,000 tonnes of raw opium (now 4,500 tonnes).

FACE IT BUDDY> I could just as easily say americans (a category that includes you) are the cause of 99% of the world's problems. And based on what I have presented here, well I would be right LOL. Now if you want a list of Jewish atrocities as well, then I'll be happy to provide them

Jewish Atheist said...

David:

What part of that "sounds like a bunch of fancy language to hide the fact that you're really saying, 'God isn't REAL'"?

It's the overly imprecise language. It could mean anything. You write about "his creation of that natural order" yet you insist it's not a scientific hypothesis. How is that different from saying, "I just made that up?"

My basic complaint is that religionists constantly move the goalposts. Before science, religion WAS the explanation of how things worked. Science proved it basically 100% wrong, so religionists shifted to more metaphorical readings. My only point is that I suspect you're doing the same thing with the soul and with God himself.


Shalmo:

I agree with you 100% that the U.S. in general and the CIA in particular have done some seriously evil shit. (And Europe before that, etc.) That doesn't excuse the violence being done in the name of Islam across the globe today. (And it doesn't justify what Saddam did, etc.)

You criticize Judaism (correctly, largely) for the violence commanded in the Torah, but you present Islam as if it were somehow much better. It isn't. The Torah may talk of killing Amalek, but actual Muslims murdered 3,000 civilians in cold blood on 9/11. Israel has done some evil things, including killing thousands of civilians -- and I've criticized them on this very blog for that -- but Palestinian terrorists specifically target civilians. There's just no excuse for that.

You're way too one-sided, cherry-picking the worst part about other religions and other countries and only the best parts of yours.

David Fryman said...

My basic complaint is that religionists constantly move the goalposts. Before science, religion WAS the explanation of how things worked. Science proved it basically 100% wrong, so religionists shifted to more metaphorical readings.

Are you talking about Judaism specifically? When was the Bible "the explanation of how things worked"? The general thrust of Chazal is to read Torah metaphorically and allegorically, with an eye toward theology and morality - not literal accuracy. Midrashim are filled will creative, outlandish readings of Chumash. Rambam, for instance, accepted Aristotelian science as authoritative and reread texts to accommodate it. The idea that Torah is not a science or history textbook is a classic rabbinic idea.

If anything, the modern chareidi literalism is what's foreign to traditional Judaism but that's a topic for another post.

A more general point about your frustration, though. There's nothing wrong with modifying an argument when confronted with new facts. Indeed, that's what debate's supposed to accomplish.

Suppose you and I debate (hypothetically, of course :-)). I start out with my argument, you poke holes, then you make your argument and I poke holes. Ideally by the end, we should each emerge with more sophisticated, nuanced positions. If you look at the history of philosophy, that happens all the time.

Holy Hyrax said...

>Rambam, for instance, accepted Aristotelian science as authoritative and reread texts to accommodate it.

That's JA's point.

Holy Hyrax said...

>I agree with you 100% that the U.S. in general and the CIA in particular have done some seriously evil shit.

Now I am honestly curious as to what US in general did that can be categorized as "evil"

David Fryman said...

>Rambam, for instance, accepted Aristotelian science as authoritative and reread texts to accommodate it.

That's JA's point.


JA's point was that "[b]efore science, religion WAS the explanation of how things worked." My point about Chazal and Rambam was that this was never the case in Judaism.

Jewish Atheist said...

1) The Rambam was a huge, HUGE exception.

2) The Rambam was using the "science" of his day.

David Fryman said...

1) The Rambam was a huge, HUGE exception.

See my post above. What about chazal?

Holy Hyrax said...

JA, there were others before him. Think Philo

Jewish Atheist said...

I agree with you guys that the rabbis never took everything literally. The point of this article is that the concept of the soul is one of the fundamental bases for religion. It's of course possible to have religion without a non-material soul, and I have no doubt that religions will just route around this fact, as I wrote earlier.

Still, don't you think a whole lot of Orthodox Jews would have their world rocked if they suddenly came to believe there's no such thing as a soul?

David Fryman said...

JA, the concept of the soul is not jeopardized by neuroscience. The most science can demonstrate is that aspects of human personality, behavior, values, etc. can be explain without a supernatural (different than non-material) soul. But at least in Judaism, we don't believe in a soul merely because it can explain things. We believe in a soul because it's part of the theology implicit in God's revelation. See the difference?

Jewish Atheist said...

The most science can demonstrate is that aspects of human personality, behavior, values, etc. can be explain without a supernatural (different than non-material) soul.

But you're understating things. Essentially EVERYTHING will be explained without a supernatural soul. There's just no room for the soul.

If your point is that people will believe it anyway because of prior assumptions, fine, I agree with that.

David Fryman said...

There's just no room for the soul.

Of course there's no room for the soul in a scientific theory because the soul isn't a scientific idea. It's a theological idea. It's purpose is not to explain natural phenomena. So the fact that neuroscience may prove that the soul indeed does not explain natural phenomena is theologically irrelevant.

Holy Hyrax said...

David

When they used to fear the soul would escape if you sneeze unless someone said "bless you" was that a theological concern as well? You might say it was only Christians, but I doubt it was so different when compared to everyone else.

David Fryman said...

HH, I'll grant you that. But still, I don't think people believed in the existence of a soul because of the role it played in explaining natural phenomena.

Jewish Atheist said...

David:

Of course there's no room for the soul in a scientific theory because the soul isn't a scientific idea. It's a theological idea. It's purpose is not to explain natural phenomena.

I think that's a pretty weird distinction you're insisting on. People believe the soul is "real." Science may show it is not. This whole thing about "theological ideas" will leave the average person cold. Might as well say "fictional ideas."

David Fryman said...

People believe the soul is "real." Science may show it is not.

Science can't show that! The most it show is that (1) the soul isn't physical; and (2) things can be explained without a soul. As for what's real, science has no more expertise than religion.

Jewish Atheist said...

David:

The most it show is that (1) the soul isn't physical; and (2) things can be explained without a soul.

At which point reasonable people accept the obvious conclusion. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A SOUL.

Holy Hyrax said...

The soul was never realized to be "physical." Its always categorized as a spiritual, or divine component in man. Thats why I think the word "theological" here is misused.

David Fryman said...

At which point reasonable people accept the obvious conclusion. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A SOUL.

That's a pretty big jump. I think reasonable people believe in many things that are neither physical nor scientifically verifiable. Love, honor, morality, beauty, humor - just a few off the top of my head.

The soul was never realized to be "physical." Its always categorized as a spiritual, or divine component in man. Thats why I think the word "theological" here is misused.

If the soul's not physical, but rather "a spiritual, or divine component in man," then how in the world is science relevant to the discussion? That's my point.

Anonymous said...

Gotta say, I've always figured that the biological/logical explanations to what is usually deemed "spiritual" don't have to be at odds with spirituality. Neuroscience might tell us exactly how personality, love, etc function, but that doesn't have to mean that that's all there is to it. You know? As in, the soul is the sum of these physical, neurological functions. It isn't the how, it's the why. If there is a soul, it would have to operate within the realms of what is physically possible. And similarly, if there is a God, it would have to operate within the physical laws of the world. It's not as if something miraculously happens and it's just "magic", poof, boom, miracle. A scientific explanation would have to occur because it's occurring in the physical world.

delirious said...

I've read most of this post. JA, you're totally logical in all that you say. My physical brain agrees with you whole heartedly. On the other hand, your stance is so, cold, clinical, and DEPRESSING! I might as well end it all now. :)

I am not religious. I find christian/jew/muslim religious doctrine entirely absurd.. nothing more than an excuse to be part of a tribe and differentiate yourself from others... also a way to manipulate and control people and prevent free thought.

The only argument I can soothe my "soul" with, in support of the possibility of a soul, is my own consciousness. If I was taken to a chemical lab and melted down in a pot, and compared to anyone else melted down in a pot, you'd find the same stuff. Why am I living in my body (with all of it's limitations) and you are in yours? What is that "I" I refer to? It's the philisophical question and it's the only non-material element in the equation I can construct! All aspects of my character are, indeed, determined by my physical makeup.

The soul I want to believe in tags along for the ride. Otherwise, nobody would really be in here to experience the joy and pain I've experienced so far. Without a soul, I'd just be a robot reacting to external stimuli formulaically. Perhaps this "soul" transcends the body at it's death. Sure, that's reaching.. but why not.

I reject all definitive answers for the big questions (including mine!) I'm just open to the possibility. Science trumphs all, but so far, it has given me no reason to reject this notion. I need something to counteract the alternative, cold, and clinical explanation.