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2:4 Souls & the Supernatural

There is one thing that truly distinguishes fantasy from reality, the supernatural.

Christianity is filled with supernatural stories and is entirely dependent on one supernatural claim in particular, the existence of souls.

Supernatural & Magic
"Natural laws" are simply the well documented patterns and limitations found throughout nature. The supernatural is any manifestation or event that breaks these "laws". Magic is the invoking and wielding of supernatural forces. Everything in the Bible which is commonly referred to as a "miracle" is, by definition, magic.

Most people know that magic is not real. This is why Christians are hesitant to use the word and instead use the word "miracle" to refer to claims of magic. But if magic was real like the Bible regularly claims it would be easy to prove. All one would have to do is demonstrate an event that breaks the well known and documented patterns and limitations of nature.

Here are two simply ways
to prove the existence of magic.

  1. Walking On Water
    A person walking on water, like in the stories of Jesus and Peter, without any special tools would break well known laws nature and be defined as magic.
    * Matt 14:29

  2. Reattach An Ear
    Reattaching a human ear by simply touching the detached ear and instantly heeling the victim would also be a clear demonstration of magic.
    * Luke 22:49-51

The Bible claims any Christian can do all of the supernatural acts the Jesus is said to have done, and even greater ones, and will receive whatever is asked for through prayer. If the Bible is correct, then the acts of magic mentioned above should be easy for most of America.
* John 14:12, 5:7, Matt 21:22

Souls
There was never a reason to think souls exist. From the beginning, souls were just imaginative stories and assumptions to explain something we lacked any knowledge about. Man didn't know what consciousness was so we assumed it was magic, something beyond natural explanation.

Today, thanks to cognitive science, we do actually know what consciousness is and what causes it. Since the soul is the supernatural explanation for consciousness so, by definition, science has disproved the soul by providing the natural explanation.

According to the Bible, our breath is a magical force that's our consciousness and who we are. The word spirit, generally a synonym for soul, comes from the Latin word spiritus, which means 'breath'. Ancient man noticed the air inside of living things caused the lungs to raise and fall and then when a creature dies that air stops flowing through them. As that air leaves our bodies so does life so it was assumed that our breath was the essences of life and the source of our consciousness. The words translated to 'Holly spirit' from Hebrew scripture actually mean 'sacred air,' hence why Jesus breathed on the disciples so they'd receive the holy spirit. (John 20:22)

In the KJV the Hebrew word neshamah (literally meaning 'breath') is translated twice as 'spirit' and once as 'soul'. The Hebrew word ruach (literally meaning 'wind') is translated 240 times as 'spirit'. The Hebrew word nephesh (literally meaning 'breath') is translated 428 times as 'soul', 2 times as 'ghost', 119 times as 'life', and 292 times as 'spirit'.

  Brain disproves soul

What we now know
Cognitive science, the study of the brain, lets us know exactly what consciousness is and its source. Everything that makes us who we are including our consciousness, personality, memory, and thoughts are 100% based on and dependent on the physical structure of our brain. All of which can be manipulated, altered, or erased by physical changes to the physical structure of the brain. This leaves no room for the concept of supernatural breath, aka souls/spirits.

  Thinking & Intelligence

Thinking & Intelligence

Intelligence is our ability to understand, interact with, and learn from/about one's environment. It embraces many different types of skills, such as physical dexterity, verbal fluency, concrete and abstract reasoning, sensory discrimination, emotional sensitivity, numeracy, and also the ability to function well in society. The location of each section of the brain responsible for intelligence has been mapped out and documented.

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The Brain's Superhighway

The frontal lobes have long been considered the seat of intelligence since damage to them affects the ability to concentrate, make sound judgements, and so on. Yet frontal-lobe damage does not always affect a person's IQ, so other brain areas must also be involved. Recent research suggests that intelligence relies on a neural "superhighway" that links the frontal lobes, which plan and organize, with the parietal lobes, which integrate sensory information. The speed and efficiency with which the frontal lobes receive a stream of ready-to-use data via this route may affect IQ.

There are regions in both sides of the brain (orange) as well as areas in the left hemisphere only (blue) that are strongly associated with intelligence and reasoning. The arcuate fasciculus (green), a think bundle of nerve fibers, provides a neural link between the parietal and frontal lobes.
 

Why we can't do two things at once

If you try to do something while still working on a previous task, your brain stalls. This may be because the prefrontal cortex, which disengages attention from one task and switches it to another, cannot do so instantly, resulting in a short "processing gap." The brain is also unable to do two similar things simultaneously because the tasks compete for the same neurons. For example, listening to speech while reading words activates overlapping brain areas, so it is difficult to achieve, but listening to a speech while looking at landscape is easy.
 

 
 

Making Decisions

Intelligence is largely the ability to make sensible decisions, which involves calculating pros and cons. First the brain assesses the "goal value" - the reward expected as a result of the decision. Next it calculates the "decision value", the net outcome, or the reward minus the cost. Finally the brain makes a prediction of how likely it is that the decision will deliver the reward envisaged. The more complex the problem, the more the frontal areas of the brain are involved.
 

Activity in the medial orbitofrontal cortex correlates with goal values (red); activity in the central orbitofrontal cortex (yellow) correlates with decision values; and activity in the ventral striatum, part of the caudate nucleus and putamen, correlates with prediction errors (green).

The Creative Process

Our brains are continuously bombarded with stimuli, most of which are ignored. This "shutting out" ensures we use the most relevant information to guide our thoughts. Opening our minds to new information kicks off the creative process. This happens when the brain relaxes out of sharp attentiveness into "idling," which is characterized by slow, relaxed alpha waves. In this mode, stimuli that might otherwise be ignored enter awareness and resonate with memories, generating new thoughts and ideas that may be both novel and useful.
Split-Brain

Split-Brain

A split-brain patient is one who has had their corpus callosum cut preventing communication and interaction with our two hemisphere. Such a process is done to cure violent cases of epilepsy. When a split-brain patient stares at the center of a screen visual information projected on the left side goes to the patient's RH and vice versa. When the patient is asked what he saw on the left he is unable to verbally say what he saw but he can draw the answer. When asked what he saw on the right side he can only verbally say what he saw.

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The right hemisphere (RH) is our artistic half and is used when drawing, imagining, and dealing with shapes. The left hemisphere (LH) is our logical half and is used during verbal communication, writing, counting, and dealing with sequences. Also, the RH is connected to our left eye and hand while the LH is connected to our right eye and hand. The two hemispheres of our brains are linked by the corpus callosum, through which they communicate and coordinate.
 
Frontal Lobe Damage

Frontal Lobe Damage

Failure to inhibit unwanted responses show up in environmentally driven behavior. Individuals with frontal lobe damage often react in stereotyped ways to objects they encounter, however socially inappropriate the setting. Seeing a toothbrush, they may pick it up and use it, even though it belongs to someone else and they are not in a bathroom. Entering someone's home, they may overtly inspect the pictures on the walls, commenting upon them and pricing them as though in a gallery. When the inappropriateness of their behavior is pointed out, they may become confused or confabulate fantastic explanations of their actions.

Memory

Memory

Our memory is the re-creation of past experiences by the synchronous firing of neurons that were involved in the original experience. The subsequent combined firing of the neurons reconstructs the original experience, producing a "recollection" of it. The act of recollecting makes the neurons involved even more likely to fire again in the future, so repeatedly reconstructing an event makes it increasingly easy to recall. Our Hippocampus is responsible for storing these memories. If it is damaged or removed we can no longer create/retain new memories.

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Importance of the Hippocampus

In 1953 surgery was performed on a patient known as HM to relieve the symptoms of severe epileptic seizures. The operation involved removing a large part of the hippocampus. This controlled the seizures but it also produced a severe memory loss. From the time HM woke up from the operation he was unable to lay down conscious memories. Day-to-day events remained in his mind for only a few seconds or minutes. When he met someone he could not recognize them no matter how many times they have met before. HM also believed himself to be a young man right into his eighties because the years since his operation did not effectively exist for him. His case shows how essential the hippocampus is for our memory.

Location of Memories

Although the Hippocampus is used to lay down our memories, memory is stored throughout the brain by the neurons that created them. Groups of neurons in the visual cortex will encode a sight and neurons in the amygdala will store an emotion. The hippocampus pulls them all together. The simultaneous firing of all these groups constructs the memory in its entirety.
 

FORMING MEMORIES

The initial perception of an experience is generated by a subset of neurons firing together. Synchronous firing makes the neurons involved more inclined to fire together again in the future which recreates the original experience. If the same neurons fire together often they eventually become permanently sensitized to each other, so that if one fires the others do as well.

1 INPUT
An external stimulus triggers two neurons to fire simultaneously. In future, if one fires, the other is likely to fire too.

2 CIRCUIT FORMATION
A third neuron fires. One of the initial pair is stimulated to fire with it, triggering the second, so the three become linked.

3 INCREASING ACTIVITY
The three neurons are now sensitized to one another, so that if one fires, the other two are likely to fire as well.
Emotions

Emotions

Emotions may seem to be conscious feelings but they are in fact "inner motions" - physiological responses to stimuli - which push us away from danger and toward reward. Emotions are actually generated constantly but much of the time we are completely unaware of them. They are generated in the limbic system which initially evolved very early in mammalian history for evaluating smells. Each emotion results in the release of hormones that produce physical reactions such as increased heart rate and muscle contraction.

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How Evolution Works

Unconscious Emotion

We have evolved a conscious emotional system but we retain the primitive, automatic emotional responses. A frightening sight or sound registers in the amygdala before we are even conscious of it. While the sensory information is sent to the cortex to be made conscious, the amygdala is already sending messages to the hypothalamus, which triggers changes that ready the body a physical reaction. This allows us to take instant action to save ourselves instead of waiting for instructions from our conscious mind. When we are startled by a loud noise, then relax after realizing it is harmless, we are experiencing both stages - the unconscious reaction followed by the conscious response.

Positive Emotion

Limbic system structures next to the amygdala are involved in feelings of pleasure, mainly by reducing activity in the amygdala and in cortical areas concerned with anxiety.
Personality

Personality

Many different personality traits have been linked to specific patterns of activity in the brain, some of which are linked to the expression of certain genes or particular genetic mutations. For example, a person who produces more excitatory neurotransmitters is less likely to feel the need to seek thrills than someone who needs a lot of stimulation to experience the same level of excitement.

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Extroversion

Extroverts have reduced activity, in response to stimuli, in the neural circuit that keeps the brain aroused (shown here). As a result, they need more environmental stimuli to keep them feeling energized.
 

Aggression

People with a version of a gene previously linked to impulsive violence show abnormally reduced volume and unusually low activity in the cingulate cortex - an area concerned with monitoring and guiding behavior.
 

Social Behavior

Socially secure people have a stronger response to friendly looking people in the striatum - an area concerned with reward - than shy people. Avoidant types show a stronger reaction in the amygdala to unfriendly looking people.
 

Novelty Seeking

People who like novelty may have better connections between areas shown here. The hippocampus sends signals to the striatum - which registers pleasure - when it identifies an experience as new.
 

Cooperation

Cooperative people show increased activity in the insula if they think their treatment is unfair. Uncooperative people do not register unfairness to the same extent, suggesting an underdeveloped sense of trust.
 

Optimism

Optimism is linked to enhanced activation in the amygdala and in the anterior cingulate cortex when imagining future events relative to negative ones.
Belief & Superstition

Belief & Superstition

Our brains are constantly trying to make sense of the world in order to guide our actions. One way of doing this is by creating explanatory stories or ideas into which we fit our experiences. Such frameworks are often useful even when they are not correct. Spiritual transcendence shares some features with other "weird" experiences, such as out-of-body experiences, auras, and sensing the presence of spirits or ghosts. These are associated with flurries of unusually high activity in the temporal lobes.

Develop & Gegenerate

Develop & Gegenerate

As the brain slowly develops a child's abilities to perform particular motor skills and social skills also develops. In our later years the brain degenerates, its volume & size decreases 5-10 percent, and neurons are lost. This results in the person experiencing memory problems, slowed reflexes, and slowing thought processing. Our ability to process thoughts, control our motor skills, and recall memories are formed when our brain is formed, grow as our brain grows, degenerate as our brain degenerates, and cease to exist when our brain ceases to exist.

Evolution of the Brain

Evolution of the Brain

The various stages of the human brain's evolution can be seen in different organisms that are still alive today. As our brain evolved its functionality and capabilities increased. When the limbic system evolved above the R-complex of the brain we gained the ability to process emotional states. When our cerebral cortex evolved we gained the ability to process complex thoughts. The animals alive today whose ancestors did not evolve these sections of the brain do not possess the abilities and functionalities associated with them.

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Earthworm Brain
The earthworm has a crude brain, the cerebral ganglion, which is connected to a cord of nervous tissue (the ventral nerve cord) that runs the length of its body. Nerve fibers from the cord extend into each segment, so muscle contraction along the body can be coordinated to produce movement in response to stimuli.

Invertebrate Brain Evolution

All animals have to respond to changes in their internal and external environment in order to survive. To do this, they have evolved cells that are sensitive to stimuli such as light and to vibrations. The sensory cells are, in turn, connected to other cells that can move the organism or change its state in response to the stimulus. This system of interconnected nervous tissue is a crude form of brain. In invertebrates, such as worms, the nervous system is distributed throughout the creature's body, as a loose network of reactive fibers. Some of these networks contain small masses of nerves, known as ganglia. These are the forerunners of the structures that, in some species, have become the central nervous system of the brain.
 
Primitive Nervous System
The simplest system, as seen in this hydra (a tiny aquatic invertebrate), consists of a loose network of sensory cells with clumps of interconnected cells called ganglia.
 

Vertebrate Brain Evolution

Through the course of evolution, the brain has undergone considerable changes. Compared to the primitive nervous system of invertebrates, the brain of vertebrates is a well-developed, highly interconnected organ. The central nervous system is connected to the rest of the body by a peripheral nervous system that includes the fibers running to and from the sensory organs. The basic vertebrate brain - also sometimes referred to as the "reptilian brain" - consists of the cluster of nuclei that lies just above the brainstem in humans. They include the modules that produce arousal, sensation, and reaction to stimuli. It is unlikely, however, that these nuclei alone are sufficient to produce consciousness. This basic vertebrate brain does not include more advanced features, such as the limbic system or cerebral cortex, which exists only in the brains of mammals.

Three Brains in One

Our brain has a "layered" architecture, with newer parts built on top of the earlier parts.
 
The first and most ancient, the R-complex (the R refers to reptiles), developed as an extension of the upper brain stem. This area influences our territoriality, mating, and aggression - our basic "survival brain."
 
Above the R-complex lies the limbic system (evolved with the earliest mammals), which produces our emotional states - our "feeling brain."
 
Our cerebral cortex is the thick, outer layer of our brain - our "thinking cap." With this new brain mass, we developed the traits that make us uniquely human.
 

Hominid Brains

The brains of hominids (modern humans and their ancestors) underwent a surge of evolutionary changes that left them, in some ways, distinctly different even from their near relatives, such as chimpanzees and gorillas. The main distinction between human and other mammalian brains is the size and density of the cortex, and particularly of the frontal lobe, which is responsible for complex thought, conscious judgement, and self-reflection. No one knows yet why the human brain evolved as it did - it may have been due to some change in diet forced by the environment, or the product of living in groups that depended on close interdependence for survival.
 


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