The Devil stood by a lake watching a child drown. A Christian happened along and the Devil said “Look a child is drowning, jump in and save him.” But the Christian was filled with fear and said to himself “If the Devil is telling me this, it must be a trap. If I jump in to save the child I will be eaten by a monster” and he ran off. Next another Christian came by and the Devil said to her “Look. A child is drowning. Jump in and save him.” But she too, reasoned that the Devil sought to trick her. “He wants me to save an evil demon and I will not” she said as she ran off. Next another Christian came along and the Devil repeated his request. This time the Christian said to himself “I know this is the Devil, but a child may be drowning.” And so he jumped in to save the child. Yet again, the Devil stood by a lake watching a drowning child. This time an atheist came by and the Devil said to her “Look. A child is drowning. Jump in and save him.” Not knowing it was the Devil who spoke, she jumped in to save the child. Which of these have done the work of the Lord?
I was just reading an article in U.S. News and World Report about the science of consciousness ( Science and the Soul, by Jay Tolson, Oct. 2006, ). My thoughts are that our spirits can grow and learn based on what happens to them in the physical world. Otherwise, what's the point of life on earth (to the religious minded that is)? Philosophers and science fiction writers have long asked questions about consciousness and soul. E.g., "Am I a man dreaming I'm a butterfly or a butterfly dreaming I'm a man" (chuang tzu circa 500 BC). In the Sci Fi movie - Total Recall, a man gradually recovers his memory after a mind-wipe only to find he is now a completely different person and does not like the person he was. In the Harrison Ford movie "Regarding Henry", Ford plays an unscrupulous lawyer who undergoes a dramatic change in personality after he is shot in the head and suffers major brain damage. These stories and other like them ask the question of who we are. I suspect that many of the scientists studying consciousness now would use this type of evidence (if real) to suggest that consciousness and the soul are merely products of physical processes. But what if they just represent the soul responding to a major physical learning event? Is the soul separate from consciousness? Are both separate from the physical body? (Ask Edgar Allen Poe, or read his story the Fall of the House of Usher, which is about the tripartite man, the narrator who suffers a nervous breakdown, but who recovers in the end as a whole person when the house falls into the tarn. Well that's a high school term paper in a nutshell!). I don't see how these scientists can distinguish between purely physical processes (e.g., "fame in the Brain") and a responsive soul.
Related links, pro and con:
My Case Agains God soul and consciousness