We found this in the Daily Express, a national tabloid newspaper headquartered in London. Well, today it’s probably the Sunday Express. Anyway, their headline is: Life after death: Why scientist declared ‘there IS an afterlife – Memories are separate!’, and they have a comments feature. Here are some excerpts from the news story, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:
James Porter Morland is an American philosopher who currently serves as a distinguished professor at Talbot School of Theology at Biola University in California.
Ooooooooooooh! Biola University. That’s the bible college founded in 1908 as the Bible Institute Of Los Angeles. We’ve previously posted about the interlocking relationships between the Discovery Institute and Biola. And as we reported earlier, for the celebration of their centennial year, Biola honored Philip E. Johnson: Godfather of Intelligent Design.
Let’s find out what the professor says:
As a dedicated Christian, he declared during Amazon Prime’s “Closer To Truth” series that there is an afterlife. However, besides his faith, Dr Morland also claimed to have scientific evidence to support his views.
Wowie — scientific evidence! We gotta see what that is. The tabloid tells us:
He said in 2014: “Well I think there are certain pieces of evidence that there is an afterlife. The first branch of evidence is theistic-dependent. In other words, whether it’s reasonable to believe in an afterlife or not depends on whether you also think it’s rational to believe in God. Since I think it’s rational to believe that God exists, then I have a reason for thinking there’s an afterlife.”
The professor gives his reasons:
“It would go something like this – God is not finished with us in this life, he has projects for us.” Dr Morland went on to elaborate on this point. He added: “He [God] values versions because he made them, he is not about to annihilate them or snuff them out of existence. And so God will sustain us in existence because we will always matter to him, whether we want to be with him or not.”
That was his “theistic-dependent” argument. Now we’ll learn about his scientific evidence. We’re told:
“The two empirical reasons I have for believing in life after death is the resurrection of Jesus – if, in fact, he rose from the dead. Then he has done there [sic] and told us about it and I’m going to listen to what he has to say.”
And that’s not all. Let’s read on:
Dr Morland went on to detail another well-documented reason for believing in an afterlife. “The second are a bevvy of near-death experiences where people learn things there is absolutely no way they could know and are impossible to adequately explain through deprivation to the brain of oxygen.”
Ah yes, Wikipedia has an article on that: Near-death experience. Then the professor says:
“The truth is there is no scientific approach to how we die, just scientists who have their own approach. And scientists differ on the question and they differ as philosophers, not scientists. The question of whether the mind or consciousness can exist outside the brain is not a scientific question. Let me dispute the claim that everything can be rooted in the brain, if that’s true, there’s no free will.” [Huh?]
That’s a bit difficult to follow, but we must proceed. Here’s another excerpt:
However, Dr Morland took things one step further, claiming the brain does not store memories. [What?] He concluded: “That means that consciousness is an epiphenomenon, it’s a byproduct, it’s caused by the brain, but it doesn’t, in turn, cause anything. If that’s true, then the acceptance of scientific theories is determined by your brain chemistry.” However, Dr Morland took things one step further, claiming the brain does not store memories.
He concluded: “That means that consciousness is an epiphenomenon, it’s a byproduct, it’s caused by the brain, but it doesn’t, in turn, cause anything. If that’s true, then the acceptance of scientific theories is determined by your brain chemistry. The idea that memories are in the brain is absolutely gobbledy-gook – it makes no sense at all. Memories aren’t the sort of thing that can be spatially located in a piece of chemistry.”
Then, in a display of journalistic ethics, the tabloid presents the other side:
However, most scientists are not in agreement. [Gasp!] Sean Carroll, a cosmologist and physics professor at the California Institute of Technology, claimed to have put the debate to bed after extensively studying the laws of physics. He said in 2018: “Claims that some form of consciousness persists after our bodies die and decay into their constituent atoms face one huge, insuperable obstacle.
What’s that huge obstacle? We’re given that in the final paragraph:
“The laws of physics underlying everyday life are completely understood, and there’s no way within those laws to allow for the information stored in our brains to persist after we die. It’s really nothing but atoms and the known forces, there is clearly no way for the soul to survive death. Believing in life after death, to put it mildly requires physics beyond the Standard Model.”
Okay, dear reader. We’ve been given two contradictory opinions — each one claiming to be scientific. What do you think?
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