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Humans Can Have A Soul

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/24/2013 Category: Religion
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 917 times Debate No: 33995
Debate Rounds (5)
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Humans Can Have A Soul

For this to be true I must show that humans can have a soul, but that it is reasonable.

A Souls is that which gives someone free will.
Free will is the ability for someone to make a choice that is not predetermined. [1]
If absolute determinism is true then there can be no free will.
If there is no free will then there can be no soul.

However, the uncertainty principle shows absolute “newtonian” determinism is false.[2] The world exists as a form of pseudo-determinism where we can predict short term outcomes with a fair degree of certainty, but not long term, and not with absolute certainty. This is caused by a universal mechanism for choosing values for things that are undetermined.

For example, the spin of an electron is only known from the angle that it was last measured. If an electron is measured at an angle that it was not measured by last then it randomly chooses the direction of its spin. This was shown in the Stern-Gerlach Experiment.[3][4]

The best word I have for this mechanism is chaos because chaos is defined as a state of things in which chance is supreme.[5]

Therefore, a soul must be chaos.

Quantum effects are one of the few, if only, sources for this chaos.
If a human cannot have quantum effects then a human cannot have a soul.
If biological organisms cannot have quantum effects then humans cannot have quantum effects.
Conversely, if biological organisms can have quantum effects then humans can have quantum effects. This would be a result of common descent.
Biological organisms have been shown to have utilized quantum effects. This has been shown in photosynthesis in plants, and in bird navigation. [6]

Biological organisms can have quantum effects, therefore, humans can have quantum effects, and, thus, can have a soul.




3000 Characters Only, Unreasonably short.

This argument will be focused on Quantum Indeterminism since it underlies his case. No explicit burden of proof is stated therefore I interpret the burden of proof is on the affirmative.

The first premise of the argument is simply assumed and given no evidence for. In fact it assumes souls exist at all. For if souls don"t exist then existence of freewill cannot be explained by souls.

The Problem with Quantum Indeterminism (the Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics):

The first criticism is based on classical physics. The problem with Copenhagen interpretation is that it undermines several principles of classical physics. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy states 5 principles Copenhagen interpretation explicitly contradicts. "The principle of space and time, i.e., physical objects exist separately in space and time in such a way that they are localizable and countable, and physical processes take place in space and time ;The principle of causality, i.e., every event has a cause; The principle of determination, i.e., every later state of a system is uniquely determined by any earlier state; The principle of continuity, i.e., all processes exhibiting a difference between the initial and the final state have to go through every intervening state; and finally The principle of the conservation of energy, i.e., the energy of a closed system can be transformed into various forms but is never gained, lost or destroyed." Unfortunately for the people who support this interpretation they must justify why we should think that the experimental results that are obtained by all Quantum Mechanics interpretations should be indeterministic in nature and therefore defy classical physics. The next objection is that which is based in epistemological terms and ontological state. Simply because science is unable to show a causal state of affairs doesn"t indicate the event in question is uncaused. We simply haven"t progressed enough in science to see all the variables. The biological equivalent to the Copenhagen Interpretation might be spontaneous generation. While individuals didn"t know what caused bacteria and other living things to appear, it seemed to be uncaused however as Louis Pasteur shows us, everything must be physically caused. This may be an oversimplification but it is still reasonably analogous. Next the essay will point out issues and objections raised by Albert Einstein. Einstein criticized the fact that Copenhagen interpretation relies on the assumption that a physical state of an individual system is completely specified by a wave function which determines only the possibility of experimental results or a collection of experiment results. Einstein thought that even on the quantum level there must be underlying principles that determine a current state of affairs. He thought that we should be able to go beyond probability to say that with certainty, "God doesn"t play dice" Another criticism might be from Bohm"s own writing, which he states that the primary problem with Copenhagen interpretation is that it "requires us to give up on the possibility of even conceiving precisely what might determine the behavior on a quantum level without providing adequate proof that renunciation is necessary." This seems obvious because the people who conclude renunciation is necessary beg the question by assuming the Copenhagen interpretation of virtual particles.
Debate Round No. 1


I’d like to thank TheChosenOnesike for accepting this debate.

Three thousand characters is ample. You did not have to accept, or respond to the first round if you did not.

The first premise is actually just a definition for soul. From the ignostic perspective a soul is usually so ill defined that proving, or disproving it is impossible. However, I feel I’ve given a clear definition to proceed from. Under this definition if free will exists a soul would be the mechanism that permits it. If your objection is that I lack a source for this definition how about

“The soul’s power with respect to the body - But the will is by its nature so free that it can’t ever be constrained.” [1]

This clearly defines a soul's primary action in relation to us is to provide free will. You’re free to present an alternative as a challenge. However, as an example, if I define a computer that is being used has a user all I would have to prove to prove that there is a user is that it is being used. It wouldn’t matter if the user was a person, or a bot. By definition the computer would have a user.

Your argument against uncertainty appears to be rooted in the Copenhagen Interpretation, and fails to take into account any of the progression in the field of Quantum Mechanics since then. Bell’s Theorem was the first step to prove the predictions of Quantum Mechanics. Since then tests of the Theorem in 1971 by John Clauser and Stuart Freedman your 5 principles have been in doubt[2]. You’re left with proof requiring the rejection of locality, or realism. In doing so each and every one of the principals are either discarded, or left in doubt. The tests of Bell’s Theorem has shown all combination of local variables that could exist cannot explain the results. Retreating to “Classical” Physics if an attempt to claim Classical General Relativity is superior to Quantum Mechanics when in Physics they are regarded as equal theories that each explains something the other cannot.

Your appeal to Einstein is an appeal to an authority who cannot review the new data since he died in 1955. Comparing Quantum Physics to spontaneous generation, Creationism, is little more than an ad hominem. Given that it’s one of the most tested theories we have, and is the theory behind the Standard Model I will suggest you come up with a better analogy. I would argue that comparing a scientific theory you don’t agree with to Creationism is oddly similar to violating Godwin’s Law.

[1] “Passions of the Soul” by René Descartes



The characters was mentioned for the voters, it was not a contention of debate.

The first premise still begs the question, you have to assume that a soul exists in order to be able to evaluate it on the concept of freewill. Certainly, we cannot conclude based on the evidence that the soul gives us any freewill, because even if the soul exists, one could take a Epiphenomenalist view upon the nature of the soul and therefore no causal relation exists from the soul to the physical properties. Mental events could be caused by physical events, and physical events may have no effect whatsoever, therefore the definition of souls is unclear and false in the context of the argument. Ignosticism should lead us to take a noncognitivist view upon the soul. But nevertheless, we have been given no reason to accept this position anyway.

The quote is truly an appeal to authority(unlike my Einstein example). Why should we think this is the true definition? There are many views that would clearly contradict this view. For example, a determinist may be a dualist.

On Quantum Mechanics, my opponent fails to realize(as stated in my opening paragraph) all experimental results would still obtained by a hidden variable theory. However, my opponent completely misunderstands Bell's theorem. Locality is the issue not variables. You see Bell's Theorem shows that no hidden variables can exist in a local system however Bohemian Mechanics, one of the primary deterministic views, is non-local. Further, the many-worlds interpretation is a non-local deterministic theory. Anyone who remotely understands Bell's Theorem knows this.

The appeal to authority is a simple mistake in definition and in use of the fallacy. The appeal to authority fallacy is defined as "that because an authority thinks something, it must therefore be true." I never claimed this, I introduced the objection Einstein himself made. If I hadn't introduced the actual objection, the yes it would be. BUT, I didn't therefore no fallacy.

My opponent simply asserts that spontaneous generation isn't similar to Quantum Mechanics in anyway. For one, creationism has to do with the creation of universe by a being not the biological view held for thousands of years, religiously by many scientists. This theory was tested by scientists back then, and they were convinced it was absolutely true. This definitely has parallels to Quantum Mechanics as my opponent seems to concede by not really objecting but by saying "Noooo, its not even close to the same thing".

Renunciation is dropped therefore it flows to my side of the debate.

Further there are reasons to think deterministic view is likely, for example as David Albert once summarized "The dynamics and the postulate of collapse are flatly in contradiction with one another ... the postulate of collapse seems to be right about what happens when we make measurements, and the dynamics seems to be bizarrely wrong about what happens when we make measurements, and yet the dynamics seems to be right about what happens whenever we aren't making measurements." (Albert 79) However, Bohmian Mechanics doesn"t fall for the problem that traditional quantum mechanics does because it sees the initial description of the Wave function as incomplete(that is why it is called a hidden variable theory in that there are more variables that we can measure epistemologically speaking). For the evolution of the Wave function is formulated based on Schrodinger"s equation alone, and therefore the textbook collapse is simply the result of Bohmian dynamics. You see because observation implies a certain level of interaction, some system that maybe under observation cannot be truly consider a closed system (which is required by the laws of classical physics and thermodynamics). So because we have fundamentally two systems. Copenhagen interpretation simply lacks the resources and epistemological reliability in order to form a conditional wave function unlike the Bohmian interpretation. Due to this conditional wave function the interpretation (Bohmian) is able to solve the problem of the Double-Slit.
Debate Round No. 2


I would like to thank Con for his response.

I am not arguing that the mind is necessary the sole, or that physical events may have no effect whatsoever. What I am suggesting is that when the mind is faced with a probabilistic outcome that it could query, or be affected by, a source of real chaos in order to make a choice that had no predetermined outcome. For example, if there were a 60 percent chance of turning left, and a 40 percent chance of turning right that choice could be chosen nondeterministically. Con has assumed far more than what’s been stated, and is an attempt to change my argument into something it is not.

Con fails to understand what an appeal to authority fallacy actually is. An appeal to authority is only applicable with the authority is false. In Cons case Einstein is unable to review, or examine any data after his death. It would be like claiming the solar system is unstable because Newton claimed so in spite of additional data from Laplace demonstrating otherwise long after Newton's death[1].

However, in my case, all I am doing is stating the definition of a soul. There are plenty to choose from, and I’ve choosen one based on the function of a soul.

By taking the position of non-locality Con has refuted his own position on the Principle of Determination where every later state is uniquely determined by a later state. In order for non-local variable to function later states can determine prior states. It also happens to break the Principle of Continuity, and Causality. The Many-World interpretation is interesting, but defies the Law of Conservation of Energy, and Matter. Con is awfully willing to discard a lot of the principles he holds against me to support his view. However, by accepting that some things can be chosen via true chaos most of those principles can remain unscathed.

My objection to Cons analogy is that his bar for “similar” and “parallels” is so low that he could use it to compare to any Scientific Theory he didn’t like to discredit it. The analogy is little more than an ad hominem tailored to people who dislike Creationism.

Renunciation was not dropped. Con had chosen to stay marred in dated information with the Copenhagen Interpretation. Bell’s Theorem, and the experimental evidence is the proof needed to consider renunciation. Maybe I wasn’t clear enough for him when I stated his argument fails to take into account any of the progress in the field of Quantum Mechanics since the Copenhagen Interpretation.

Cons argument regarding Bohmian Mechanics is just an extension of the hidden variables argument. Bell’s Theorem addresses that. If Con wishes to cede the Principles of Determination, Continuity, and Causality I’d be happy to show the logical contradiction against non-local variables in the next round.




TheChosenOnesike forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3


I was a bit concerned that I wasn’t going to have time to respond to my opponent. There was a family emergency this weekend, and I only now, with 14 hours left, know that my opponent has forfeited, or had their account terminated for other reasons.

I’ll cover the objection to why should we considered the given definition of soul in the rebuttal, and focus what little time I have on the issue of uncertainty vs determinism.

Unfortunately, if you’re set on believing in local realism in spite of any experiment, or data to the contrary, there is little I can say to persuade you. However, if you side with determinism through either the Many Worlds Hypothesis, or via non-local variables then there is something that I can.

With non-local variables a form of time travel is permitted. After all, a non-local variable is a future state causing a change to a past state. This permits two systems that use non-local variables to be established to become interdependent. If determinism were correct this would lead to an infinite loop, and prevent any result from occurring. However, if you accept that one of the results is randomly set, and the others are falling in line with that one random result then you have no more paradox.

The Many Worlds Hypothesis is interesting, but the lure of determinism is illusory. Every possible outcome occurs in the Many World view, but you are still left with no way of determining which of an infinite number of paths the world will follow. An indeterminate path is hardly determinism, and yet the Many World view is only a hypothesis with no proposed experiment.

Thank you.



TheChosenOnesike forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4


I’ll keep this short since my opponent is unable to respond.

My opponents objection to the given definition of soul is an odd objection because it’s ultimately an argument better represented by a linguist than anyone else. Why do we call anything by any name? Why is the word blue represent blue? Because humans look at object with that color and named that attribute blue. In the case of a soul people need a name to attribute what is perceived as free will. Some give it far more definition than that, but I see no reason to include attributes that cannot be tested, or clearly defined.

Free will is something that can be defined even if you object to the definition. There was no presented objection to the definition of free will just whether it exists by that definition. My opponent could have taken a different path, and objected to the definition as Sam Harris, and Stephen Hawking have. In fact, I was hoping more for a more modern attack on my argument then has been presented by my opponent.

If you’ve stayed reading to this point. Thank you for your time.



TheChosenOnesike forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 5
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by TheChosenOnesike 3 years ago
Works Cited
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"A Brief History of Quantum Mechanics (Part 1)." YouTube. YouTube, 08 Nov. 2010. Web. 20 Apr. 2013.

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"Schrodinger"s Cat - 60-Second Adventures in Thought (6/6)." YouTube. YouTube, 03 Oct. 2011. Web. 20 Apr. 2013.

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"Wave function." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 18 Apr. 2013. Web. 20 Apr. 2013.

Susskind, Leonard. The Black Hole War: My Battle with Stephen Hawking to Make the World Safe for Quantum Mechanics. New York: Little, Brown, 2008. Print.

Gasiorowicz, Stephen. Quantum Physics. New York: Wiley, 1974. Print.

"Quantum Superposition." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 20 Apr. 2013. Web. 20 Apr. 2013.
"Physics Lecture:- Quantum Mechanics-I :- Interpretations." YouTube. YouTube, 13 Sept. 2010. Web. 20 Apr. 2013.
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Posted by medv4380 3 years ago
I'm interpreting free will as the ability to make a choice unconstrained by certain factors. Certain factors being any physical world factors. If you interpret that as indeterminism then yes, I am. It's not exactly uncommon to define something by defining it's opposite and absolute determinism can be seen as the opposite of free will by some. I am not defining free will as Absolute indeterminism though since Absolute indeterminism is easily proven false in the same way absolute determinism is provably false. My reason for using "but that it is reasonable" is that under some interpretations Can could be so easy to prove that the debate would be meaningless. I want the added difficulty of not only can it be possible, but that my argument leads to it being reasonable to believe a human soul can exit. Think of it as one step above just faith in a soul, but rather reasonable faith.
Posted by Vulpes_Inculta 3 years ago
Pseudo-intellectual rabble, honestly.
Posted by philochristos 3 years ago
Am I right in interpreting you to equate quantum indeterminism with free will?
Posted by philochristos 3 years ago
"For this to be true I must show that humans can have a soul, but that it is reasonable."

I don't understand your use of the word 'but' in this sentence.
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