Egnor: Humans Have Souls

The slowest news day we can remember compels us to scrape the bottom today. We found something at the creationist blog of the Discovery Institute.

As you know, they’ve been gradually recently letting it creep into their posts that their intelligent designer — blessed be he! — has all the attributes of Yahweh, although they still don’t specifically make that identification because they like to pretend that their “theory” is science; but neither they nor their fans have any doubts about who their designer really is.

For example, see Casey Admits the Designer Is the First Cause. Before that they had already emerged out of their closet, pranced around wearing ecclesiastical garb, and confessed that their “scientific” designer is transcendent. That means their designer exists beyond time and space, in that inaccessible and incomprehensible realm known only to the gods. Shortly after that we wrote Klinghoffer Admits Intelligent Design Is Theism. And don’t forget their wedge strategy, which makes everything quite clear — see What is the “Wedge Document”?

Then we wrote Discoveroids: All Theology, All the Time, about a Discoveroid post by Michael Egnor — that’s his writeup at the Encyclopedia of American Loons. Egnor said:

God is not demonstrable by the scientific method. … His existence — his glory and wisdom and love — are manifest in creation, but his manifestation is not the same thing as his demonstration. … There are several strong demonstrations of God’s existence — Aquinas’ Five Ways, the ontological proof, and the argument from moral law, among others. These are logical proofs that depend only minimally on inferences drawn from nature, and do not depend at all on the current state of science.


There is directedness to the universe. It is the consistent directedness of change in nature — the fact that atoms and rocks and bodies and planets and galaxies and the entire universe have tendencies to do one thing and not another — that leads via reason to the existence of God.


When I think of a manifestation of God’s glory, I think of the fine-tuning of the cosmos.

Now Egnor is back again, and his theism is once more undisguised in his new Discoveroid post: Is Your Cat Logical?. We’ll give you a few excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis. First he quotes extensively from and dismisses a study about whether cats can be logical. After that he tells us:

Of course cats can’t do logic, mathematical or otherwise, and they never will. Cats can be clever, and can make inferences about things in their environment. But they don’t do logic. Because they’re cats. Logic is a system of abstract rule-based inferences. The key word is abstract.

Then he prattles on and on about logical syllogisms, and announces:

What distinguishes men from animals is this: men, but not animals, can contemplate universals, independently of particulars. Animals cannot contemplate universals. Animal thought is always tied to particular things.

Not much new there. Let’s read on:

There has never been a demonstration of an animal who is capable of abstract thought about universals, unlinked to particulars. In fact, an animal cannot think about universals, for the simple reason that animals have no language.

Okay. Again, no big deal. Egnor continues:

Men can think abstractly and have language. Language is what makes abstract thought possible. This is the root of what makes us human. We don’t have language in order to communicate with other people (contra evolutionary fairy tales about screeching monkeys and group selection), although language is certainly useful for communication. We have language in order to think abstractly.

We’re not in the mood to argue about what Egnor thinks is the purpose of language. Anyway, here comes the thundering climax of his post:

Men have spiritual souls, and we are able to contemplate abstractions like universals independently of particular things. Abstract thought is an immaterial power unique to the human soul, and language is necessary to it.

So there it is, dear reader. This is the most explicit acknowledgement we’ve yet seen from the Discoveroids. Their scientific “theory” of intelligent design is nothing but bubble-wrapped theism. It’s good that they’re admitting it. They never fooled anyone anyway.

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18 responses to “Egnor: Humans Have Souls

  1. In fact, an animal cannot think about universals, for the simple reason that animals have no language.

    I’d be interested if Egnor could offer any proof of this contention.

  2. “argue about what Egnor thinks is the purpose of language”
    No need to. The fact that he thinks language has the purpose of making abstract thinking possible (and there can be no doubt which entity determined that purpose) makes his argument a Begging the Question.

  3. What about teaching chimps sign language? They certainly have the ability to learn and use it and even teach it to their offspring. Now it’s true that the language capacity of chimps will not exceed that of a two year old human, but the basics are there including abstract thinking. So much for Egnor’s opinions. He couldn’t even Google language and discover this for himself. On the other hand I guess ignorance is bliss.

  4. Egnor throws out piles of claims without any logic behind it. Animals trained to perform various actions in response to verbal commands or gestures are engaging in at least some level of abstract thought. Parrots, apes, and others who have been taught some amount of language can put their words together in new patterns, and even invent new words to describe new objects. Who can say that they are not using their language to think abstractly. Similarly, dolphins exhibit complex communications – just because we have not decoded the sounds does not mean they do not have language. Who knows what they are thinking?

    Egnor believes that he does. But, despite all of his talk of logic, he attributes the facility of logical thinking to the most illogical cause imaginable. Something never detected, something which by all known laws of nature cannot exist, and something which – if it exists – simply pushes the question back one level, to how this impossible thing came to be and how it acquired logic – etc. etc. etc. And mystical Egnor, who apparently believes in god(s), devils, angels, minor demons, and the whole panoply of invisible creatures that populate the universe of religious people — calls evolution a fairy tale.

  5. docbill1351

    Egnor the Egnorant has been wanking about this for-EV-ah! Mind-brain dualist, that’s pure Egnorance coming from a guy who is so religiously deluded that it should border on a mental illness. Seriously, Saint Tom is the best he’s got and that ain’t much. Proof positive that you can work on a brain without possessing a working brain.

    Bye, Felicia.

  6. Does he want to make the claim what makes a true human is the ability to speak a language, to hold abstract concepts, to do logic?

    What about infants, those in a vegetative state, or even the unconscious?

    Does he really want to go there?

  7. Eric Lipps

    Men have spiritual souls, and we are able to contemplate abstractions like universals independently of particular things.

    REDUNDANCY ALERT! Is there such a thing as a non-spiritual soul? If so, what’s it like?

    Abstract thought is an immaterial power unique to the human soul, and language is necessary to it.

    Is abstract thought unique to the human soul or merely to the human mind? (Theologically, the two are not the same.) Or is it unique to neither? No one expects animals to have abstract reasoning capabilities equal to those of humans (except for certain cetacean enthusiasts), but that doesn’t mean that no nonhuman animals have any. And in fact experiments with primates and even with rats have shown evidence (albeit very limited evidence in the case of the rodents) of abstract thought. It’s also well established that chimps and gorillas can be taught at least simple language skills (though they cannot actually speak).

  8. This dude is so full of crap you should do as his name says…Ignor Ignor>

  9. @Eric Lipps
    Parrots can speak, and there is evidence that their speech can be meaningful. Some parrots can count.

  10. Sorry this is unrelated to todays’s post, but I saw something on YouTube and thought yu’d enjoy. It’s called Confronting Creationism: Episode 2 – Ken’s Ark.

  11. The link to the piece on Ken’s Ark is:

    It will appeal to visitors to this site; it explains in great detail why the whole thing, biblical story and Ken Ham’s effort, are based on myth.

  12. Egnor proclaims, ex cathedra:

    Language is what makes abstract thought possible. This is the root of what makes us human.

    …But…but…I thought the DI claimed it was all about possessing the right Intuition

  13. docbill1351

    …But…but…I thought the DI claimed it was all about possessing the right Intuition…

    No, no, no! It’s all about anticipa…

  14. docbill1351

    Here is the brilliant Jeffrey Shallit on Egnor …


    The gripe about the Egnorance is always the same. Egnorance asserts because Egnorance knows best – by definition.

    Just like mind-brain dualism, a strange belief for a brain surgeon, to be sure, where Egnorance’s analogy was your brain as a cell phone and God as ATT. No, it doesn’t make sense, but neither does Egnorance.

  15. “Language is what makes abstract thought possible,” says Egnor. Interesting. Apparently ducklings are capable of abstract thought:

  16. Apologies, Megalonyx: I didn’t notice your comment about the ducklings.