Believers in the reality of a human soul, claim the soul is the seat of consciousness, the seat of all facets of mind, and the repository of all memories. Furthermore they contend that the human soul controls the body through the mechanisms of the body, much as a remote controlled airplane is controlled by the controller through the mechanisms of the airplane.
Indeed, this analogy of comparing the human soul to that of the controller of a radio-controlled airplane is very useful as a method of visualizing control of the human body by the soul. The controller controls all aspects of the functioning of the airplane, but can only do this through the mechanisms of the airplane. To an observer of such an airplane who is unable to see a hidden controller, it appears that the movements of the airplane are spontaneous and controlled from within the airplane itself. The same is true when we observe the functioning of a human body—yours, mine, anyone else—how is it possible to determine whether that body is controlled by the brain within its head, or remotely by an immaterial and invisible soul?
Modern brain scanning techniques, such as functional magnetic resonance imaging reveal much about the functioning of the brain. Functional magnetic resonance imaging clearly reveals that each emotion, movement and action results in activation of various specific regions of the brain. When I [the author] explained that these regions of the brain were the cause of these emotions, movements and actions to believers in the reality of a controlling soul, I promptly received a very good lesson in logic.
Believers in the reality of a controlling human soul claim that increased activity in specific regions of the human brain is an “association”, and is absolutely no proof of “causation”. The putative human soul is immaterial, invisible and undetectable, and supposedly controls the body through the mechanisms of the body. Therefore, the fact these specific regions of the brain showed increased activity during emotions, movements and actions, only indicates that the controlling soul was exerting control over the human body through the appropriate mechanisms of the body during the period of scanning. This “alternative explanation” is impossible to refute, because the reality of a human soul is neither disproved or proved.
So are these activated regions of the human brain only associated with, or the actual causation of the related specific emotions, movements, and actions? This was a salutary lesson in logic for me [the author]. It meant that brain scan studies of the human brain could only be regarded as providing material capable of alternative explanations. The same logic of alternative explanations is applicable to other phenomena possibly associated with the reality of a human soul, e.g. paranormal phenomena, etc., …
The only way to distinguish between the concepts of control by a soul, or that the body is the generator of all aspects of the conscious mind, is to examine internal functions of the soul. Believers in the reality of the human soul claim that memory is an internal function of the soul—they claim that the soul is not only the controller of the body, but also the repository of all memory. As proof they offer the belief that the soul after death retains it’s the memories and personality during life, and the phenomena such a “life review”, and the ability to remember veridical events observed during out-of-body experiences undergone during near-death experiences, or so-called “actual death experiences”.
Demonstration of the failure of memory formation during conscious sedation with drugs such as midazolam and propofol is proof that memory formation is a function of the physical brain, and not of the extracorporeal soul. This proof is incapable of “alternative explanation” — and being incapable of alternative explanation, proof of absence of memory formation means failure of the ages-old belief in the reality of a human soul with the properties proposed by believers.
This is the power of systematic analysis of the functions of the soul — this is the methodology of “Anesthesia & the Soul”.