Ken Connor

Bad news about your soul: it doesn't exist. So says the New York Times in an article entitled, Science of the Soul? 'I Think, Therefore I Am' Is Losing Force by Cornelia Dean. The article, from earlier this week, goes on to report that "human minds are the product of evolution", "the idea that man was created in the image of God can surely be put aside, " and "religious faith is nothing but an evolutionary artifact". So lighten up, folks. Do as you please. Seize the day! Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow you die. And forget about that still small voice that we call "conscience." It's nothing more than a biological process—sort of like the heartburn you get after eating too much pizza.

The Times boldly declares: "...as evolutionary biologists and cognitive neuroscientists peer ever deeper into the brain, they are discovering more and more genes, brain structures and other physical correlates to feelings like empathy, disgust and joy. That is, they are discovering physical bases for the feelings from which moral sense emerges—not just in people but in other animals as well." The implications of this discovery, according to the author, are clear: "For many scientists, the evidence that moral reasoning is a result of physical traits that evolve along with everything else is just more evidence against the existence of the soul, or of a God to imbue humans with souls."

So there you have it, God does not exist. The New York Times said it, so it must be true. There is no soul. There is no God. Moral sense is just a feeling produced by neurons. Religion is a leftover from a more primitive evolutionary stage. Human beings are not really different from animals. Got it?

The premise that man is nothing more than animated protoplasm is not new. From the beginning of time, there have been those who deny the existence of God and who would reduce man to a mere automaton. This is the "same old same old" dressed up in scientific jargon. But the larger question is, what qualifies scientists to draw this conclusion? Certainly not modern technology. The instruments of modern science—the microscope, the telescope, the ruler and the scale—are very good at measuring and studying the physical world. But, they are inadequate when it comes to assessing the world of the non-material. The utility of such instruments depends on the suitability of their application. A ruler cannot weigh an elephant, nor can a telescope cannot be used to perform an x-ray. How much less useful are these instruments in measuring immaterial realities, like the soul or the concept of justice?


Ken Connor

Ken Connor is Chairman of the Center for a Just Society in Washington, DC.