Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Is a split brain consistent with a soul?

  1. Oct 17, 2005 #1
    I have posted this elsewhere and it failed to get any response so I am trying it in its own thread.

    AP wire service. June 15 20XX, Seoul, Korea.
    In an historic 14 hour operation yesterday, Dr. Kim Sun Hi succeeded in transplanting the right hemisphere of the brain of an unidentified twin into the twins brother who was born anencephalic. The brother, who was born without a cerebrum, would have died if life support were removed. He is now off life support and showing signs of awareness.
    This operation was only recently made possible by advances in nerve regeneration and rejection prevention. Nerve regeneration will allow the half brain to completely control the body, unlike previous experiments that severed the corpus callosum nerve bundle that normally connects the two halves of our brain together. The results of this operation are unknown and will probably provide some surprises. Anything from a dysfunctional mind to a psychic connection between the brothers has been speculated. Only time will tell.


    The above is obviously fictional but it will happen someday. Nerve regeneration and rejection will be conquered soon making the above experiment inevitable.

    The question is, if we have a soul. Can it be split? Would we even have a brain split in two hemispheres if we had a soul? Does the fact that we in effect have two brains prove there is no soul? Will the two halves still be connected and cause a psychic bond (quantum entanglement of the soul?)?
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2005
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 17, 2005 #2
    Why would having a soul entail having a brain?
     
  4. Oct 17, 2005 #3
    I take it you're using definition one, which points to the brain. Definition two doesn't tho.

    1. The animating and vital principle in humans, credited with the faculties of thought, action, and emotion and often conceived as an immaterial entity.

    2. The spiritual nature of humans, regarded as immortal, separable from the body at death, and susceptible to happiness or misery in a future state.
     
  5. Oct 17, 2005 #4
    I guess I should have known someone would think that maybe the soul is in our fingernails or elbows. Well, I don't think I am losing my soul by clipping my nails or donating a kidney. If the soul does not reside in the brain, where then?

    A thought experiment. I remove your brain and offer your 2 halves (body and brain, but I think only one will respond) a choice. I will transplant someone elses brain in your body and your brain in another body. Then I will destroy one or the other, your choice. Which would you choose (key word here being you)?

    or

    If I removed your brain and destroyed your body and then kept your brain alive and aware (Donovan's Brain), do you honestly think that I destroyed your soul? Would you say yes if I asked you (your brain) that?

    If anyone still thinks the soul resides outside the brain start your own thread elsewhere, I am assuming that it is in the brain if it exists.
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2005
  6. Oct 17, 2005 #5
    Do protists have souls? Sponges? Jellyfish? Or is it just animals that have brains? Or just humans? Even if its just humans, why would it reside in the physical if it is spiritual? Or are you identifying the phenomenon of consciousness with soul?

    If we go with humans, I can see how it has to be tied to physical, or else souls wouldn't be tied to individual bodies (as you are pointing out). I wonder what astrology has to say about this (no jokes please:smile:)
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2005
  7. Oct 20, 2005 #6
    The soul is consciousness or contains consciousness, and if it stores memory it stores it seperately from the brain, in a place not accessible by the same methods as physical memory.

    Even if brains can be transplanted by half, this will not disprove the existence of the soul; this is by the same principle by which faulty memory, hallucinations, and temporary unconsciousness do not disprove it. The fundamental propery of the soul-- the only premise of the soul's existence that is agreed upon by all to exist-- is consciousness. The fact that it is known only to exist in neurologically advanced animal species (namely humans) might lead to speculation that the soul is designed to store memory and/or perform other brain-like functions.

    My point is this; the soul, if it exists, has no direct connection to memory or, consequently, conscious personality. The soul's inherrent consciousness would still exist in periods of unconsciousness; the brain would simply not remember it. The splitting of one fully functioning brain into two fully functioning brains would (assuming, as seems likely, that no strange psychic phenomena would take place) merely provide a new "vessel" for a soul to attach to in the transplanted portion-- or, concievably (but more frighteningly), stretch one soul out over two bodies (this would not necessitate a "psychic link" between brains because only consciousness would be shared-- not knowledge or memory).

    It's equally possible, if not more, that such an experiment would prove impossible in the first place and that both halves of the brain would die or cease conscious function; which obviously has no impact on the question of the soul.
     
  8. Oct 20, 2005 #7
    The soul, by definition, is meta-physical. As such, it does not "occupy" any physical organ/location; the soul would be connected to the brain, not within the brain.

    The brain is important because it allows for memory and information processing; without these, consciousness could not record information, think, or learn. Even if the soul contains redundancies of these functions, it is obvious that when connected to a body/brain, the brain's functions are experienced consciously and the soul's are not.

    So it is obvious that the soul would be connected to the brain or, at least, that we would only be aware of those souls that are connected to brains. Any connection it might have to a fingernail is trivial; the fingernail does not function to enhance consciousness in any way, and thus its loss is not important. The brain, however, aids consciousness by allowing memory and personality-- the functions of the brain, when "felt" by consciousness, become the "mind". (Whether there is some seperate level of "mind" peculiar to the soul that allows personality to be carried beyond death is irrelevant to the current discussion.)
     
  9. Oct 20, 2005 #8
    When the experiment I outlined takes place, half the memory will be transferred with half the brain. I think experiments with people who have had the other operation I mentioned prove this. Are you saying that one of the halves, though intelligent and reasoning, will be a soulless automaton? Or are you saying the 2 independantly operating beings that are a result of the operation are sharing one soul? LOL to either of those.
     
  10. Oct 21, 2005 #9
    If we have a soul I have to believe it resides in anything that also has a brain. Our brain isn't much different than any other brain.

    I am not saying I don't believe we have a soul. I am self-aware and it is hard to reconcile consciousness with being nothing but a bio-machine. But I look at all sides of any argument and I know that the operation I stated in the first post will happen sooner or later, there is no doubt about it. I jumped right to a human experiment but we will see this in an animal first. All it really requires is cellular regeneration and we know that is possible therefore inevitable. We can also say with fair certainty that both halves of the brain will be self aware. With those givens and the assumption of a soul, what happens to it when the brain is split into two separate beings?
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2005
  11. Oct 21, 2005 #10

    Pengwuino

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Whose to say your soul is in your brain if you have one? Maybe its in your nose and when you sneeze, it's your soul being sick of you and wanting to run away :P
     
  12. Oct 22, 2005 #11
    I remember when I first heard about cloning and thinking if there is a soul what happens to it when you replicate yourself ???
     
  13. Oct 22, 2005 #12
    Mine is, maybe yours isn't.
     
  14. Oct 22, 2005 #13
    Cloning is essentally no different than natural birth. People generally forget that identical twins are clones yet they aren't exactly the same people despite being genetically identical at birth and they obviously have their own souls. This is nothing like what I proposed which is splitting the vessel of the soul after it has already occupied it.

    I assume the brain is the vessel of the soul. I assume this because we have been able to remove just about everything else from people without them ceasing to be themselves, damage the brain and they are no longer what they once were.

    I don't buy into this crap that we are human at the moment of conception. We aren't, humanity requires a brain. People are born without a brain sometimes (anencephalic), the brain never develops though the rest of the body does. Is that a human being? Does it have a soul? Was it human at conception though it was destined to never develop a brain? I don't think so, it is nothing but a vegetable that looks human and was from the start.
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2005
  15. Oct 22, 2005 #14
    Please define what is the "moment of conception".

    Please define what we, humanity, is at the "moment of conception".

    o:)
     
  16. Oct 22, 2005 #15
    It's when the sperm fuses with the egg, a single cell is the result.

    I don't think we are anything until the brain starts to function.

    To take what I have been saying even further, this can't be the time a soul would inhabit the potential human because it could turn into many humans after this, anything from twins on up. Or are souls hanging around like sharks hoping for the tell tale split that signals multiple births? I don't think so. I believe that the soul would inhabit the brain when it starts to function.
     
  17. Oct 22, 2005 #16
    you assume too much...

    ...cos i don't buy into this soul crap

    and i would beg to differ that cloning is nothing like natural birth nor is an identical twin an exact replica of each other...

    so what would you say we are at the moment of conception if not human ???
     
  18. Oct 25, 2005 #17
    At the moment of conception we are nothing. A human, at least in the sense of a conscious human being, does not exist until the brain begins to function.

    If you don't think the brain is necessary, what is? What would you say we are at the moment the egg cell that will eventually become us is created and the sperm cell's components are floating about among various food items? What would you say we are at the moment, a few billion years ago, when the subatomic particles that would one day become our embryos were adrift in the forming universe?

    At some point you must stop going back in time, if you are to differentiate a human being from the rest of the universe. Because the brain defines your memories, personality, etc etc and cannot be removed without the removal of the "self" and of your capabilities (as opposed to the removal of an arm or a hair), its development is a reasonable, if not the only reasonable, point at which to ascribe the development of humanity/consciousness.
     
  19. Oct 25, 2005 #18
    I agree, having the same genes doesn't make two people exactly the same. You can have completely different experiences, and varied responses. There is evidence in a lot of studies that it's about 50/50 nature/nurture influence. Even if genes influenced/controlled you in most of your behaviors, your environment is never exactly the same which will lead to variation in thought and behavior. Physically, you can't ever be in the same place at the same time, so memories will be different. Plus, if you were cloned, you'd have the experience of being someone's clone, not of being that person.

    btw, is the soul eternal? or is it temporal like the body? these should have bearing on the question of how you link humanity and soul.

    another quick tidbit - astrologist's take on twins:

    As far as the rest of the chart goes, and in situations when the twins have the same Ascendant and Moon signs, what usually happens is that they divide up the chart between them. One twin will express the Sun, the other the Moon; one may express the Mars, while the other expresses the Venus energy. It’s not that they don’t each have the ability to experience all of the planets in the chart; but while they are living together, they tend to stick to the planets that they "own."

    When twins grow up and start living apart from each other, they begin to express the whole chart–they no longer feel the need to share it with their sibling. But when they are together, their behavior patterns tend to revert, and they will once again split the chart between them.

    I think that one reason that many twins, particularly identical twins stay so close through their lives, is that they don’t fully realize that they can own and express their entire natal chart; they have gotten so used to only being responsible for half of the chart, and relying on their sibling for the other half, that they may be afraid that they would not be able to exist without the support of their twin
    ....
    As you’ve already realized, even though your daughters share very similar charts, and an undeniable bond being twins, they are very different individuals, and already lead different lives. Remember: we have absolute free will and it’s not so much what’s in our chart that matters as it is how we’ve experienced it, and how we’re choosing to express the energies.
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2005
  20. Oct 25, 2005 #19
    Identical twins are identical genetically at birth, same as clones. The only difference between a clone and a twin is how the same genetic material is inserted in 2 separate people, the result is the same, 2 people with the exact same genetic makeup at birth. Until some sort of artificial womb is invented, clones will be born by natural childbirth just like a twin. Assuming a perfect clone, clones and twins are the same. A twin arises from a cell splitting and each copy has the same genes, a clone is started by a cell given the same genes as another cell, it's the same thing. A rose by any other name...
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2005
  21. Oct 27, 2005 #20
    This is a good thread. I suspect most are avoiding it because it's gets complicated immediately.

    Anyway, I don't have a real lock on my own opinion. But I'll just say that I think it's too messy trying to assume there's a connection between the soul and any particular part of the body. It just doesn't seem to work out right.

    Psi, are you talking about a soul in the Christian, heaven, hell, kind of way or more of a spiritual soul. There are some different definitions out there.
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?



Similar Discussions: Is a split brain consistent with a soul?
  1. The soul (Replies: 7)

  2. That's a soul? (Replies: 132)

  3. Soul-a matter (Replies: 5)

  4. Location of the Soul? (Replies: 22)

Loading...