I am frequently accused of being aggressive, bullying and 'looking for arguments' mostly with Christians but the odd Muslim and Hindu too because I seek out theistic claims made online in news articles, blogs and on discussion forums and challenge them. Is this fair? If theists claim that they have an immortal soul which will experience eternal bliss or eternal torment and that they are made in the image of a god who is interested in everything they do, this is one thing. However, they also claim that I do and am.
This is quite important surely and something which I have the right to try to get to the bottom of? If gods or souls exist and impact humanity so seriously, it is essential to human wellbeing that we confirm and understand this. I do not challenge theists' right to claim the existence of gods and souls but simply ask them to explain why they make this claim. If a creationist asks me what right I have or how I dare to tell them they are a species of large ape I accept this as a valid question. I provide them with physiological specifications of apes, our biological classification as hominidae, fossil evidence, genetic evidence and the significance of vestigiality and ebryology explained for lay people like me.
If I ask a theist what is the evidence for these claims about gods and souls and they tell me there is none, this is just what they believe, I am also quite happy to leave it there after suggesting faith is not necessarily a virtue. But so many don't. They then attempt to support their argument by claiming 'scientific evidence.' This puts their claim into an area in which the evidence must be presented and may then be challenged. This is the 'scientific evidence' for gods and souls which I have been presented with.
1) Bodies weigh 21 grams less after death.
No, they don't. The one study which claimed this used six subjects, two of which were discarded and two of which showed weight loss but one of them gained it again and then lost it again. Even if all six of them instead of one had lost 21 grams this would not prove it was a soul.
2) No-one knows what the pineal gland does. It must house the soul.
Yes, we do, it produces melatonin which regulates aging, sexual development and sleep patterns. It is also still there and demonstrably dead after death. Besides which, not knowing what something does is not evidence of a soul.
3) Near death experiences prove there is a soul - see this book by Dr Alexander, a neuroscientist , who experienced it and became a Christian.
No, they don't. He wasn't a neuroscientist, he was a neurosurgeon and already a Christian. Being a scientist of any kind does not mean you apply the scientific method to every aspect of your life anyway. NDEs occur to people of all religious beliefs and none and they all see things in keeping with their own beliefs or those they were culturally familiar with.This is the best evidence for them being psychological. If everyone who saw a god saw the same one no matter which one they'd been raised to believe in, this could be evidence of something. Also for people to remember these experiences means that their brains must have been functioning and storing the memories which means these experiences occurred at a time when they were alive tho their brains may well have been starved of oxygen.
4)Memories of past lives prove there is a soul. Look at this book called Old Souls: The Scientific Evidence For Past Lives by the scientist Ian Stevenson.
No, he was a psychiatrist who spent forty years trying to prove past lives and ultimately failing. Please see the reception of his 'work' by all credible scientific forums.
It is at this point I am accused of being aggressive. Is this fair? I don't think so. I have the right to challenge and ask for evidence for any claims made about me, the nature of my being and my future.