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Melisande
08-26-2011, 05:02 AM
And as the title suggests, my question is;

Can philosophy exist without religious under (or over) tones?

I am not educated in any kind of philosophy. But I do get a sense that different philosophies often follows various religious, either dogma or thoughts. I am also aware that there are some political philosophies out there, but are they really non-religious?

I ask this because not only ancient history - the pharaohs, roman emperors and the likes of them have promoted themselves to gods, but also recent history shows that this is something current; Mao Ze-Dong, Pol Pot, Ayatollah Khomeini, the Pope, etc.

My aim here is not to critisize any kind of religion, religious leader, head of state or anything like that.

I am just curious to know, from people far more educated than I, if they believe that philosophy and religion (or political worship for that matter) goes hand in hand, or if philosophy would have entered the world without those aspects.

mima
08-26-2011, 05:22 AM
the best resource i've ever found for concisely but not simply explaining philosophical ideas is this book:
http://www.amazon.com/Young-Persons-Guide-Philosophy-Jeremy/dp/0789430746/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1314321291&sr=8-1

yes, philosophy can exist without religion. a religion may have several philosophies attached or people from several different religions might all share a common philosophy. the excuses people use to empower themselves are more about human nature (theirs, and those that follow them) than philosophy. so bringing politics into the mix further stirs the water because you can have religious politics, philosophical politics, or something that i'll just call practical politics which is about efficiency and organization (which could be argued to be a philosophy, i guess).

thinking critically about the nature of reality doesn't have to mix with faith, but it's such a headtrip that it leads to a mix very readily.

Maryn
08-26-2011, 05:59 AM
I'm married to a philosophy PhD and have a 'kid' pursuing the same degree. Both of them are atheists who are firm in the belief that there is no supreme being of any kind, although they are of course respectful of those who believe differently.

The nature of the moral rightness of one's thoughts, beliefs, or actions is not dependent on a god who rewards or punishes, but on the concept of good.

This is only a part of the study of philosophy, but it's fairly basic. Usually teens have already thought about this before they take a philosophy course. They will learn of a difficult decision someone faces--the family dog is suffering with a fatal illness, so is it right to put it down? What about Grandma?--and it gets them to thinking about the nature of what is the moral high ground and why.

Maryn, whose philosopher is deep into a Red Sox game

ColoradoGuy
08-26-2011, 07:31 AM
The very word philosophy means "love of wisdom." There is no need for religious overtones. Philosophy as a discipline is also very systematic; many religions are not. A good historical example of religion attempting to make use of the rational, systematic methods of philosophy was the efforts of medieval scholastics, such as Thomas Aquinas, to adapt Aristotle to Christian theology. It was not an entirely good fit.

Medievalist
08-26-2011, 07:35 AM
Sure philosophy can exist without a religious context, or even the assumption or belief in a deity of any sort.

ColoradoGuy
08-26-2011, 08:12 AM
Socrates was executed for "corrupting the youth"; the authorities in Athens accused him of denying the civic gods, the civic religion.

atombaby
08-26-2011, 08:55 AM
What is philosophy? What purpose does it serve?

Philosophy can apply to many different subjects and no, one's religion doesn't have to permeate it. Sometimes it has, and many different beliefs and convictions have created different philosophies. There is no "universal" philosophy and through the centuries, different time periods and different persons have produced a variety of approaches to issues and questions. But like Maryn brought up, what makes something good? What makes something right, and something else wrong? Where do morals come from? There has to be a basis--a source or reason for this moral ground somewhere, and this, I feel, is what humans have been trying to answer for ... ever.

areteus
08-26-2011, 12:55 PM
Think about the meaning of the terms 'PhD' and 'MPhil' - it means a Doctor of Philosophy or a Master of Philosophy and you can get Doctorates in any subject. What it means is that you are academically aware of the philosophy of that subject - the methods used to study it, the thought processes that underlie it. Essentially, rather than being someone who reads about the subject and 'learns' it, you become someone who thinks about the subject and applies your own ideas to it.

The Philosophy of science, for example, is rooted in the methodologies laid out by Isaac Newton (generally considered to be the first 'proper' scientist in that he applied a rigid methology to his work, though I think this may be debatable) and such concepts outlined by philosophers such as Karl Popper (whose 'there is no such thing as a white raven' question neatly outlines the modern process of hypothesis testing).

Then you have philosophers like Immanuelle Kant whose theories were later incorporated into the relatively modern discipline of psychology.

Philosophy, like science, is a method humanity uses to attempt to understand the universe around them. In the early days of humanity and civilisation, many of the ideas formulated by philosophy were mired in belief and religion (what is that big shiny ball in the sky? Must be some form of god...) and theology branched off from it. As time went on, philosophy moved more and more away from religion but there was still a connection. Descartes, for example, came up with the idea that the mind was in two parts - a part which resided within the body and a part that floated above the body which you could equate to a soul.

I personally consider anyone who thinks seriously about the world around them, however they do it, to be some form of philosopher because, as stated above, it translates into 'Love of Wisdom'. Whether your personal philosophy does or does not involve religion is irrelevant to the fundamentals of the process of trying to understand the universe.

Maxx
08-26-2011, 04:59 PM
I am just curious to know, from people far more educated than I, if they believe that philosophy and religion (or political worship for that matter) goes hand in hand, or if philosophy would have entered the world without those aspects.

As an atheist, I often feel it is worth indicating that religion does have a valid and useful place in discourse and experience. Perhaps moreso in the past than now, but still it is worth noting. We know, for example, that historically, religious interests motivated to some degree the origins of all the sciences. Philosophy as a separate activity (separate from say speculating on what the fundamental substances and operations of the cosmos were) is a little later, or even more remotely derived from the original religious constructions of reality.
It's possible to find some religious resonances in many active currents of contemporary philosophy (eg. chez Wittgenstein or Derrida or Heidegger ).

I would add that there is a lot of religious and philosophical resonance in places that are not generally considered philosophical as in Levi-Strauss or History of Science or Freud.

Huscurian
09-07-2011, 11:26 PM
Philosophy? According to a class I'm taking under Kinesiology, this is what my professor summed up:

Philosophy is a set of beliefs and also a set of values by which you live and work (ethical issues, moral standpoint). It does not always have to be defined by religion though some close-minded people tend to believe that philosophy are based in religion and only religion.

While atheists may not believe there is a supreme being, agnostics believe in a higher power, pagans believe in multiple gods, etc., there's no clear-cut ground from which philosophy is firmly rooted. The term philosophy that I gave according to my professor is generally broad to define different philosophies.

We have a philosophy though each of us have different, if not recurring parts, of a philosophy that we adopt. That can come from growing up in a particular culture, a group of influencing friends, etc:

Guides decisions one must make
o Basic everyday problems
o Program development
o Ethical issues
Articulates values and worth

Take for example, educational philosophies from educational leaders:

Idealism Mind is Center
o Teacher plays major role in educational process
o Focus on character development, sportsmanship
o Emphasis on value

Realism Scientific Method
o Follow orderly progression, periodic assessment to ensure that learning is taking place
o Total development of person is important
o PE very structured and systematic, assessment important

Pragmatism Experiences are Center
o Truth based on experiences
o Reality differs from person to person
o Social responsibility important
o PE would offer variety of activities, problem solving activities

Naturalism Life is governed by laws of nature
o Consider individual level of growth and development
o Individualized learning, self-directed, competition against oneself
o Programs focus on developmentally appropriate activities

Existentialism Individual experiences
o Individuals must accept responsibility for themselves and the choices they make
o PE should provide choice for individual, promote reflection and individual responsibility for learning
o PE should develop self-awareness and self-responsibility

Eclectic combination of beliefs

While this may not be related to your topic of philosophy, I felt it had some relevancy. While you should disregard the words 'teacher', 'PE', and focus on thinking of any of the philosophies as not being educational but a part of some person's background, their set of beliefs and the way life guides them.

For instance, I have a philosophy that is naturally eclectic since I'm different. I don't hold to one particular but merge a few: realism, pragmatism, and parts of existentialism. Not only those but also other things.

One part of who I am is my conviction of choosing a choice to take advantage of people when I'm angry because I know I get pushed over, ran over by mischievous, sly, evil bosses or youths who *hisssss* "don't know any better!" While the thought of committing "Rampage" (yes, an actual movie) to get back at those who hurt me so badly, my philosophy concerns the moral standpoint: since they hurt me, I must exact revenge! It only stands to reason that it gives me more to lose, no sweet reward in revenge. The best thing I can do is leave them alone and perhaps someone with authority would arrange them into a more fitting place: a more cruel boss picking on, yelling, screaming, and possibly shoving the evil boss, and/or getting fired and myself getting a promotion over him; or the youths hurting others and possibly getting ganged up by others (eye for an eye), getting arrested by the police or worst the FBI (though I respect the FBI very much, I just know that if the FBI's involved, the stakes are much higher).

Therefore, a part of who I am is that I leave those who have committed wrongdoing toward me to their own devices. Their own devices will get them so caught up they cannot get themselves out of the trap they made. Even if they did, a bigger trap awaits them.

P.S. These philosophies that I put down were class notes I took yesterday. So don't think that philosophy is usually based on religion. It's about who we are, what our beliefs are, and what are our ethics that drives us when making choices.

areteus
09-08-2011, 03:27 AM
Agnostics don't necessarily believe in a higher power. The true definition is someone who has an open mind to the possibility that there may be something currently undefined and unmeasurable in the universe which current science cannot explain. Since it is an evidence based form of faith, I tend to consider it as the only path for a true scientist because a scientist cannot know something does or does not exist until they have definitive proof.

Huscurian
09-08-2011, 05:42 AM
Agnostics don't necessarily believe in a higher power. The true definition is someone who has an open mind to the possibility that there may be something currently undefined and unmeasurable in the universe which current science cannot explain. Since it is an evidence based form of faith, I tend to consider it as the only path for a true scientist because a scientist cannot know something does or does not exist until they have definitive proof.

Understandable, Areteus. I have a sister who's agnostic. She's been this way since she questioned the Bible and no answer was provided by an Episcopalian priest. He was so stunned by her remarkable intelligence that he had to boot my sister, me, and my brother out of the church entirely for being "subversive".

She said that she necessarily believes that there could be a higher power but is very wary of "organized" religion in which a deity, or a number of deities, exist for mortal man/woman to serve. She, in the scientific sense, wants proof; not acts of faith.

Mr. Anonymous
09-08-2011, 06:39 AM
task number 1 - define philosophy. I define philosophy broadly, as the pursuit of truth. The greek word for philosopher translates to lover of wisdom, and people who we consider wise, I think it can be argued, are those who (either through experience or intelligence or both) are more firmly in touch with what is true than most.

task 2 - define religion. Must religion have a god? (ie, taoism, if I'm not mistaken, does not have a God.) etc. If you define religion broadly, as a system which seeks to understand the world and our place in it, and which relies on certain leaps of faith in such cases where neither pure reason nor experience are sufficient/available, then yes, I'd have to say there is considerable overlap between philosophy and religion. And we might make the argument that an individual's philosophy is in effect a religion of sorts.

If I were to draw a distinction between the two, I'd say that religion accepts or even embraces leaps of faith, whereas philosophy does it's best to avoid leaps of faith whenever possible. So there is perhaps an important difference in the methodology/psychology of philosophy versus the methodology/psychology of religion. Institutionalized religion departs even further from philosophy, because you have a religious elite dictating to people what they ought to believe without requiring them to go through an impartial process of rational inquiry.

areteus
09-08-2011, 01:09 PM
Understandable, Areteus. I have a sister who's agnostic. She's been this way since she questioned the Bible and no answer was provided by an Episcopalian priest. He was so stunned by her remarkable intelligence that he had to boot my sister, me, and my brother out of the church entirely for being "subversive".

She said that she necessarily believes that there could be a higher power but is very wary of "organized" religion in which a deity, or a number of deities, exist for mortal man/woman to serve. She, in the scientific sense, wants proof; not acts of faith.

Dangerous subversives... I had a friend who is similar. She is a Christian and identifies as such (even goes to church, which many of my friends who claim to be Christian don't do...) but she has got a reputation in her church for being irritatingly intelligent. Not been thrown out, though. I think churches here are more tolerant of that sort of thing.

Personally, this sort of behaviour doesn't help organised religions because you don't avoid the issue by casting out the person who pointed it out to you. Especially as true, fundamental protestantism is supposed to be about using your intelligence to find your own, personal interpretation of the scriptures instead of being told what to think (as the Catholics used to do and was one of the main reasons the schism happened - the difference between a priest who is a direct connection to god and a minister who advises you on how best to interpret god's will).

An interpretation of religion requiring an act of faith is a good one, distinguishing it from philosophy which is more evidence based (or, rather, logical thought based as you can't really have evidence in philosophy in the same was as in science). Taoism is a wierd outlier on both scales, however. Is it really a religion if it has no deity? That is almost a taoist question in and of itself.

Rufus Coppertop
09-08-2011, 06:29 PM
As an atheist, I often feel it is worth indicating that religion does have a valid and useful place in discourse and experience.

As a buddhist who holds many religions in very high regard and whose three best friends are atheists, I sincerely wish that even more atheists were like you.

Come to think of it, I wish that more religious people had the same level of respect for the secular swing of things that you have as an atheist, for religion.

Rufus Coppertop
09-08-2011, 06:42 PM
I am just curious to know, from people far more educated than I, if they believe that philosophy and religion (or political worship for that matter) goes hand in hand, or if philosophy would have entered the world without those aspects.

I'm pretty sure that philosophy would never have entered the world without religion or the human impulse that is the driving force behind religion.

There is at least one school of philosophy I can think of that exists without religious under/overtones. Dialectical Materialism, the philosophy developed by Marx and Engels.

As well as being the driving force (according to my very limited understanding) behind Communism and possibly Socialism, it can be a useful conceptual tool for the interpretation of history.

As with any religious or political ideology or philosophy though, you sometimes find barking fanatics who think it's the be-all and end-all.

Huscurian
09-08-2011, 08:12 PM
Dangerous subversives... I had a friend who is similar. She is a Christian and identifies as such (even goes to church, which many of my friends who claim to be Christian don't do...) but she has got a reputation in her church for being irritatingly intelligent. Not been thrown out, though. I think churches here are more tolerant of that sort of thing.

Personally, this sort of behaviour doesn't help organised religions because you don't avoid the issue by casting out the person who pointed it out to you. Especially as true, fundamental protestantism is supposed to be about using your intelligence to find your own, personal interpretation of the scriptures instead of being told what to think (as the Catholics used to do and was one of the main reasons the schism happened - the difference between a priest who is a direct connection to god and a minister who advises you on how best to interpret god's will).

Sometimes, it all adds up to the "Us versus THEM" attitude.


An interpretation of religion requiring an act of faith is a good one, distinguishing it from philosophy which is more evidence based (or, rather, logical thought based as you can't really have evidence in philosophy in the same was as in science). Taoism is a wierd outlier on both scales, however. Is it really a religion if it has no deity? That is almost a taoist question in and of itself.

Couldn't have said it better myself.

Maxx
09-08-2011, 08:44 PM
As a buddhist who holds many religions in very high regard and whose three best friends are atheists, I sincerely wish that even more atheists were like you.

Come to think of it, I wish that more religious people had the same level of respect for the secular swing of things that you have as an atheist, for religion.

I'm an Atheist because I believe in everything except an all-loving God who wants to beat me up after I'm dead so that I will behave while I'm alive.

Rufus Coppertop
09-09-2011, 05:02 AM
I'm an Atheist because I believe in everything except an all-loving God who wants to beat me up after I'm dead so that I will behave while I'm alive.

I never believed in a god like that when I was monotheistic.

Mr. Anonymous
09-09-2011, 08:23 AM
I'm an Atheist because I believe in everything except an all-loving God who wants to beat me up after I'm dead so that I will behave while I'm alive.

It is important to distinguish belief in God/s in general, from belief in a specific God/s which other human beings claim to know the will of.

To take the deist stance, and argue that God set the universe in motion, does not in any way force you to accept someone else's conception of a vengeful God.

Maxx
09-09-2011, 05:32 PM
It is important to distinguish belief in God/s in general, from belief in a specific God/s which other human beings claim to know the will of.

To take the deist stance, and argue that God set the universe in motion, does not in any way force you to accept someone else's conception of a vengeful God.


Well, I don't give these nuances much thought: if One God is so full of Love that he wants to beat me up after I'm dead so that I will be nice while I'm alive -- I say, forget that stuff, who wants waste time sorting out an infinite pack of infinitely powerful psychotics? -- Not me. So I'm an atheist and I try to think well of all the Gods I don't believe in, since (let's face it), the chance they are going to beat me up after I'm dead is less than zero, even if they do Love me.

RainyDayNinja
09-09-2011, 06:47 PM
As I see it, philosophy and religion are trying to answer the same two questions: "What is the purpose of life?" and "How should we live?"

But it's impossible to answer those questions without also considering basic questions about the universe like "Where did we come from?" "Where do we go when we die?" and "Who/What is the arbiter of morality?" These questions are of course the province of religion, so I believe it's impossible to completely divorce your philosophy from your religious worldview (and I include atheistic worldviews in that because they still try to answer those questions).

Mr. Anonymous
09-09-2011, 07:32 PM
Maxx, follow me for a bit. This is the sort of argument you're making. While you are of course entitled to your beliefs, it's not really very logical.

- I don't believe in candies, because I believe in everything except a candy bar that has the magical power to turn people from cranky old guys into relaxed teens (as seen on a snicker's commercial.)

- There's a distinction we ought to make, between not believing in what one commercial tells you about a specific candy, and not believing in candies in general.

- Well, I don't give these nuances much thought: if One candy is so good at quenching hunger that I have to keep eating the damn thing to stop from turning into some cranky old dude -- I say, forget that stuff, who wants waste time sorting out an infinite pack of infinitely undesirable possibilities relating to what happens when we go for a bit without eating them -- Not me. So I don't believe in candies and I try to think well of all the candies I don't believe in, since (let's face it), the chance that I'm going to turn into some cranky old dude if I don't eat them is less than zero, even if they are really good at quenching hunger.

Rufus Coppertop
09-09-2011, 08:09 PM
:popcorn:

Maxx
09-09-2011, 08:34 PM
Maxx, follow me for a bit. This is the sort of argument you're making. While you are of course entitled to your beliefs, it's not really very logical.

- I don't believe in candies, because I believe in everything except a candy bar that has the magical power to turn people from cranky old guys into a relaxed teens (as seen on a snicker's commercial.)

- There's a distinction we ought to make, between not believing in what one commercial tells you about a specific candy, and not believing in candies in general.

- Well, I don't give these nuances much thought: if One candy is so good at quenching hunger that I have to keep eating the damn thing to stop from turning into some cranky old dude -- I say, forget that stuff, who wants waste time sorting out an infinite pack of infinitely undesirable possibilities relating to what happens when we go for a bit without eating them -- Not me. So I don't believe in candies and I try to think well of all the candies I don't believe in, since (let's face it), the chance that I'm going to turn into some cranky old dude if I don't eat them is less than zero, even if they are really good at quenching hunger.

Except that one can actually observe candy, which is more than I can say for that touchingly wonderful Being who loves me and wants to beat me up after I'm dead just so that I'll behave while I'm alive.

Similarly: suppose everyone burned their ears off because it would keep them from getting beaten up after they were dead. Suppose I did not burn my ears off.

Mr. Anonymous
09-09-2011, 09:09 PM
Except that one can actually observe candy, which is more than I can say for that touchingly wonderful Being who loves me and wants to beat me up after I'm dead just so that I'll behave while I'm alive.


Right, but you see, "there is no sufficient evidence to justify belief in a God" is a completely different argument from "we should not believe in any God/s because the christian god is mean." (christians would dispute that, of course, but I'm just repeating your thoughts, more or less.)

The argument that there is no sufficient evidence is valid, though as an agnostic, I would turn this argument around and say, "There is no sufficient evidence to disprove/rule out the existence of God either." That too, is valid (you could of course say that there is never sufficient evidence to rule out the existence of a thing, which is a fair point in itself.)

That said, your previous argument is not valid.

Similarly: suppose everyone burned their ears off because it would keep them from getting beaten up after they were dead. Suppose I did not burn my ears off.

I'll bite.

So you don't burn your ears off.

Would you not burn your ears off because

1. the idea that we have to burn our ears off to keep from getting beat up when we're dead is unfair, and consequently, you don't believe in this idea simply because it is unfair

or

2. because there is no actual evidence that would justify
a) belief in (any) afterlife
b) belief in the specific afterlife in which you will get beaten up for not cutting your ears off.

Personally, I'd go for number 2. Number 1 simply is not a valid argument, for a number of reasons...

1. Why does the universe have to be fair? Surely we can think of lots of things that are unfair that happen every day.

2. What is fairness? Could fairness be simply an artificial, manmade concept as opposed to some immutable law that reality has to subscribe to? Can we describe fairness in purely descriptive terms, without resorting to a value judgement? No? Then where does this value come from and why should the universe necessarily have to bend to what may very well be a subjective and artificial judgment on our parts?

3. Could God have a different conception of fairness than we do?

Maxx
09-09-2011, 09:45 PM
Except that one can actually observe candy, which is more than I can say for that touchingly wonderful Being who loves me and wants to beat me up after I'm dead just so that I'll behave while I'm alive.


Right, but you see, "there is no sufficient evidence to justify belief in a God" is a completely different argument from "we should not believe in any God/s because the christian god is mean."

Here's where a tiny bit of philosophy can come to our rescues:
Maybe you don't have to spend your time trying to believe things that make no sense.
It's not the "mean" qualities of the All-loving God that make me wish to save time by not thinking seriously about Him, its His utter inanity. Do I care if He beats me up after I'm dead? If I do, it can only be because I feel a little sorry for the Almighty. Surely a waste of time on top of another waste of time.
And this business of post-mortum beatings is only a tiny glimpse at the vast and unfathomable inanities He has promised us all. Again, I'm being charitable to a non-Being, but I try to be polite and forgiving about all the foibles of all the non-existent Gods that I don't believe in.

Mr. Anonymous
09-09-2011, 10:43 PM
Yes, but Maxx, this is just going back to where we started. On the basis of one perspective on God/s, you're condemning all perspectives on God/s.

Furthermore, to even refer to christian dogma as "one perspective" is vastly misleading. We can interpret the basic tenets of christianity in many ways, and in the process of which, remove most if not all of the inanities which you speak of.

Don't like the idea of heaven vs. hell?

Well, why do heaven and hell have to be actual places? Perhaps they are just a metaphor, in the sense that your soul will have to live with what you've done in your life for all eternity. Once you're dead, you have no possibility of new experiences, so you will be alone with what you've done until the end of time. In a sense, heaven and hell could simply be about "living" with yourself. They could simply be an eternal state of contemplation.

Why does god allow evil in the world?

Without the choice to do evil, the decision to be good would hardly be a decision at all. If a robot saves a life because he is programmed to, we do not call him good. We call the effect of his actions good, but not the robot himself. Why? Because he could not have done otherwise--he simply did as he was programmed to do. What is unique about human beings is we are programmed to choose. Without evil in the world (and the choice to do evil), we would be little more than robots.

etc.

Maxx
09-09-2011, 10:55 PM
Yes, but Maxx, this is just going back to where we started. On the basis of one perspective on God/s, you're condemning all perspectives on God/s.

I'm not condemning anything. I said I believed in everything except certain types of stuff that I won't go into.

I could define the types of absurdity that one can chose not to believe in, but that seems pretty pointless since I picked what seemed like a pretty absurd deal and somehow that was not convincing.

One could discuss the basics of everyday belief and that would keep one well within philosophy without much trouble.

In the world of absurdities, one actually has a lot of choices. Why (for example) should one take
some generalized version of "evil in the world" as a problem? I find myself drawn to more intriguing
questions such as the 8th century Christian problem of whether people with dog heads had souls.
What is it about having a dog head that makes your soul-status seem questionable? And why
would anyone in the 8th century worry about that when there would seem to have been much
more pressing matters?

Mr. Anonymous
09-09-2011, 11:03 PM
Maxx, regarding the absurdities you speak of, see my post above (I edited.)

Maxx
09-09-2011, 11:36 PM
Maxx, regarding the absurdities you speak of, see my post above (I edited.)

I edited too.

Mr. Anonymous
09-10-2011, 01:59 AM
In the world of absurdities, one actually has a lot of choices. Why (for example) should one take some generalized version of "evil in the world" as a problem?

This is a common (albeit fallacious) argument used by atheists to argue against the existence of God. It's very similar to the argument you made earlier, actually.

Why do I not believe in God? Because a supposedly loving God is going to torture me for eternity for not believing in him.

Why do I not believe in God? Because a supposedly loving God allows people to be raped, murdered, etc every single day.

I find myself drawn to more intriguing questions such as the 8th century Christian problem of whether people with dog heads had souls. What is it about having a dog head that makes your soul-status seem questionable? And why would anyone in the 8th century worry about that when there would seem to have been much
more pressing matters?

I'm afraid that

1. I have no idea what you're talking about.

2. I have no idea how 8th century thought on the status of the souls of people with dog heads (???) has any bearing on the possible existence of a God/s (that might be nothing like the 8th century christian conception of God.)

You're also mixing things up a bit.

The question of the existence of any God/s is separate from both

1. the question of the existence of an afterlife
2. the question of the existence (and status) of the soul.

They *may* be related, but not necessarily so. It is possible that God does not exist but that we have souls and therefore some kind of afterlife. It is also possible that God does exist but that we don't have souls/an afterlife.

kborsden
09-10-2011, 02:28 AM
This should be asked the other way round - can religion exist without philosophy?

In the absence of faith, organised worship and/or named deities, tra-la-la, you will always have superstitious thinking. What is religious understanding without the philosophy of religion (aka the gospel and the scripture)?

Many people see religious philosophy incorrectly. Indeed the principle of philosophical belief and imparted understanding of the ideals that encompass that philosophy of life. Religion is not a power of information or answers (a power of explanation). It is a strength through integration, the reformulation of superstition to the sum of what it represents, magical thinking, the belief that we or some higher power has control or an effect on the physical world around us. Religious understanding, the philosophy of faith and belief is thus the entirety of a person's experience shared. Take, for example, the sensation when we hold a newborn baby for the first time, or look at a sunset -- those religiously inclined may grasp to define it by some divine reasoning, others perhaps momentarily dumb for it. The simple fact is that mankind has always gathered in pockets and discussed to define such moments; make sense of all else in the natural, emotional and psychological world -- this, the origins of religion and a system of faith through rudimentary philosophy -- it may have evolved over time, differing from place to place, snowballing, gathering pace and resonance with similar minded people; Chinese whispers and who knows, maybe even gained purpose and intention to become an ideal of what we are - what we are destined to be, why we are here. See it like this, we invest such (abstract) concepts as hope and faith in what we believe defines us and our existence, we seek to improve ourselves whether religious or not; intend to lead a decent and purposeful life. We do this by analysis and interpretation of information and randomness -- we intellectualize everything to an extent -- we are constantly philosophizing.

So, philosophy and religion are in actuality, more or less, the same thing: the need to define, to better ourselves, to understand ourselves and the nature of why, what and how, the desire for hope and security through vested understanding (aka faith) -- perhaps we could argue that that very drive is the essence of what is commonly referred to under the notion of what God (or Jehovah, or Allah, or Ganesh, or Vishnu, or Bob, whatever you call Him/Her/it) is.

kborsden
09-10-2011, 04:50 AM
The question of the existence of any God/s is separate from both

1. the question of the existence of an afterlife
2. the question of the existence (and status) of the soul.

They *may* be related, but not necessarily so. It is possible that God does not exist but that we have souls and therefore some kind of afterlife. It is also possible that God does exist but that we don't have souls/an afterlife.


If the existence of the soul is proven then so is the existence of a god-like entity, or to some degree a divine force - the soul is defined as a piece of divinity in each of us. We do not own our souls, they are gifted to us -- if the soul exists. If we discount God in this equation, then to whom does the soul belong? Who gave us the soul? To what other existence are we then tied? The afterlife? And what if that doesn't exist?

Buddhism could be seen to answer these questions - but ask yourself, is Nirvana a divine force. See, I don't necessarily believe that what most religions understand under the concept of gods are per definition sentient beings. A god would not need to be, if omnipresence is a factor, then the sentience and/or consciousness of all life equates to that.

Rufus Coppertop
09-10-2011, 06:53 AM
Kborsden, I'm intrigued. Can you elaborate just a little on Buddhism's answers to these questions?

kborsden
09-10-2011, 07:28 AM
Perhaps I should rephrase.

It doesn't answer these questions in the literal sense so much as offers an alternative to the Christian ideals in terms of how we perceive gods and divine powers, beings -- entities. A religion based on the concept of a more or less eternal life where the soul is constantly reborn (ergo no true afterlife) - that is, until the correct requirements are met when the soul enters Nirvana - Brahman is a similar Hindu ideal, or close parallel, the source of what we might understand as the soul and where it ultimately returns to.

I don't believe the afterlife, god(s) and the concept of the soul to be separate elements, basically. I feel that Christianity, Judaism and Islam (and their derivatives) have split them unnecessarily. They are part and parcel of the same thing. If we have a soul, then that is the part of God we have in us. Therefore, it ties us in life to our point of divine origin, i.e. Heaven (= the afterlife). However, removing the godly/divine element raises the questions I stated in my previous post --but reviewing that same situation in the mindset that god(s) need not be actual separate entities, or sentient for that matter and we come to a logical restatement of it in Buddhism - where per default there is already no actual higher being other than the force (universal spirit) which connects us; to where we return.

As I said:

I don't necessarily believe that what most religions understand under the concept of gods are per definition sentient beings. A god would not need to be, if omnipresence is a factor, then the sentience and/or consciousness of all life equates to that.

In other words it is the combined intellect, awareness and consciousness of all existing life that would be the sentience of whatever we might want to understand as God - and it is in that existence in everything (the omnipresence of a god) that we find the afterlife; the birth place of the soul. It makes more sense... to me anyway.

Mr. Anonymous
09-10-2011, 07:56 AM
If the existence of the soul is proven then so is the existence of a god-like entity, or to some degree a divine force - the soul is defined as a piece of divinity in each of us.

I disagree. My definition of the soul living on after the body dies has to do solely with some kind of continuity of consciousness and/or experience. I think arguing for the existence of God, even if continuity of consciousness/experience post-death were a fact, would be a logical stretch (just because there is a continuity of consciousness/experience doesn't mean that my continuity of consciousness/experience is connected to anyone else's.)

Furthermore, even if we say

existence of the soul -> existence of a certain conception of God,

that doesn't mean that

Existence of any conception of God -> existence of the soul.

We do not own our souls, they are gifted to us -- if the soul exists.

This, again, I disagree with. You're referring to a specific conception of what the soul is and saying that if we have a soul, this has to be the right conception. If you want to try and prove it, feel free, but I think that's a doomed effort.

If we discount God in this equation, then to whom does the soul belong?

If a soul is merely a continuity of consciousness/experience, I'm not sure it has to "belong" to anyone other than ourselves.

Who gave us the soul?

Why did something need to give us a soul? Perhaps all living creatures have souls--the more complicated the creature, the more complicated the soul.

To what other existence are we then tied?

Must we be tied to another existence? If there is a soul in the sense of a continuity of consciousness/experience post-death, then we certainly are tied to some kind of afterlife existence, but it is entirely beyond our capacity to describe such an existence.

And what if that doesn't exist?

If there isn't some sort of continuity of consciousness/experience, then there isn't an afterlife. And it's entirely possible that this is the case.

A god would not need to be, if omnipresence is a factor, then the sentience and/or consciousness of all life equates to that.

Well, you have to be careful here. First of all, not all life is sentient/conscious. Second of all, there are vast stretches of the universe that have no life at all, which means life certainly isn't omnipresent. If you're hypothesizing about some kind of "force"-like energy field connecting all living things, well, that's fine... It's a possibility. But there's nothing to suggest that this possibility is more likely than any other, and the function of such a "God," if indeed the web of life throughout the universe is to be considered God, is a very different from the function we typically assign to God.

For example, if God is dependent on living things with sentience/consciousness, then God could not have existed at the beginning of the universe, before life had evolved. So we still have no account for the beginning of the universe, the origin of time and space and energy/matter, etc.

kborsden
09-10-2011, 08:28 AM
definition of the soul living on after the body dies has to do solely with some kind of continuity of consciousness and/or experience

You're confusing the concept of the soul with the mind. The mind is individual to each of us - the soul is something else; the divine part of us. Many religions refer to such a divine element of life, either as something in our blood, our heart, that surrounds us, or that has no fixed location etc etc -- there are many different names and ideas with regards to this philosophical concept, but they all agree on the divine (or spiritual) nature of it. The mind does not share that nature. See it as a trinity - mind, body and soul (Father, Son and Holy Ghost :D )

I think we agree on the concept of energy. So, let's step away from religious undertones (as was the initial question for this thread). There is an omnipresence to the universe - an energy/radiation that permeates everything. It is my understanding that when a star or celestial body dies, it implodes and then explodes, expelling its energies into countless new amounts of other masses etc which in turn eventually form new bodies, but the energy passed on to each is also less than what it was before as it has to present in more things - however, the actual total amount is the same, it's just spread further. this continues on for however long calculations can be done until the bodies are so minuscule that they can only fuse and become the larger again as the Universe first expands through the act and eventually retracts itself. This same process is what led to the energy that exists in us, the glue that holds us together, the same energy that we will pass on back into the Universe when we die and our bodies decompose. The quotient in terms of available energy remains the same -- it simply changes form and purpose. The way I see it, that is what we are, remnants of the birth of our energies manifested. Just because there is or isn't life in certain expanses of the Universe, does not mean there is no energy, it may be in a different shape or form to our own, but it is still energy, it still shares that common element.

Taking it back to a god as a sentient being. I am fine with whatever force of origin having no initial free thought until the evolution of self aware, intelligent life - it is a new form of energy - a force that at our death is passed on into the Universe and may resurface in those very expanses where it isn't at this time.

The principles of stars dying and the birth of them as energies passed on - this is something we see again and again. In terms of procreation we see it again only translated into physical forms, genetics etc. My children have 1/2 my DNA, my grand kids will have 1/4 of it, my great grand children 1/8. With a slight religious overtone - we could argue that we are reincarnated, but not all at once: pieces of us stretching across the many eons after we are no more - the final remnants in physical form.

I find it less difficult to believe that we are and will always be part of that energy - that the soul, the divine aspect of us is connected to it.



For example, if God is dependent on living things with sentience/consciousness, then God could not have existed at the beginning of the universe, before life had evolved.

Our notion of a god is reliant on the sentience of living things. The energies that bind the Universe are what allows us to have that notion and be bound by it.


So we still have no account for the beginning of the universe, the origin of time and space and energy/matter, etc.

I agree, we have no account for where it came from. Perhaps it was a smaller version of something larger and that of something else, and so on, and so on -- yet the question of its origin remains.


if indeed the web of life throughout the universe is to be considered God, is a very different from the function we typically assign to God..

And just what is that typical function?

Rufus Coppertop
09-10-2011, 01:06 PM
And just what is that typical function?

The Hindu threesome of Brahma, Vishnu and Siva works nicely as three functions of a god.

To create, to sustain, to destroy.

Mr. Anonymous
09-12-2011, 03:31 AM
You're confusing the concept of the soul with the mind. The mind is individual to each of us - the soul is something else; the divine part of us.

I'm afraid I'm going to have to go Wittgenstein on you and say that your comment about the soul is completely meaningless to me. I don't know what the divine is, and if you try to explain it to me, I will simply question why I should accept your interpretation of something whose existence I am uncertain of/see no necessity for. If you tried to explain the divine to me in purely descriptive terms, without resorting to metaphor or value judgments, you would fail. While this doesn't mean there isn't necessarily such a thing as the divine, it does seem to suggest that our language isn't up to the task of grappling with it.

Still, I might concede the point to you, in the sense that fine, what I really meant to refer to was the mind, but at that point, the soul would ceases to be of an interest to me.

The reason I used the word soul, is because the mind, judging form my experience of being alive, needs a vessel. Right now, this vessel is my body/brain. After I die, my body/brain will decompose. So there's an assumption here that if I have a continuity of consciousness/experience, there must be some kind of vessel for it--aka, a soul. As for whether it is "divine" - like I mentioned, I don't really know what that actually means.

Your discussion of energy is interesting, but just because we're energy and the universe is filled with energy doesn't necessarily mean that this energy interacts with itself on the level you seem to be suggesting.

Furthermore, I'm not sure how we would be able to retain our sentience past death. This is a banal point, of course, but a necessary one--for there to be a sentient God such that you speak of, there would need to be

1. a connection/web between the energies of all things
2. a retention of sentience post-death

Note, sentience is actually different from the terms I used, namely consciousness/experience. I used a slash here, to indicate that it's possible we have experience post-death, but no real consciousness/sentience to speak of. My example of this would be dreams. I often have dreams in which things happen and I feel entirely like I'm a sort of paralyzed bystander. I SEE, but I cannot affect, or think freely/at all. Perhaps death is a similar experience.

we could argue that we are reincarnated, but not all at once: pieces of us stretching across the many eons after we are no more - the final remnants in physical form.

We could but it would be misleading. Reincarnation implies not the continuity of the matter/energy that make us up, but rather, the continuity of experience via the continuity of a vessel which does the experiencing.

My notion of a god is reliant on the sentience of living things. The energies that bind the Universe are what allows us to have that notion and be bound by it.

^ corrected.

And just what is that typical function?

To explain the beginning of all things (energy/matter, time and space, the world/universe) Hence why many origin myths begin with nothing.

kborsden
09-12-2011, 05:10 AM
we could argue that we are reincarnated, but not all at once: pieces of us stretching across the many eons after we are no more - the final remnants in physical form.

We could but it would be misleading. Reincarnation implies not the continuity of the matter/energy that make us up, but rather, the continuity of experience via the continuity of a vessel which does the experiencing.

And what of genetic memory?


My notion of a god is reliant on the sentience of living things. The energies that bind the Universe are what allows us to have that notion and be bound by it.

^ corrected.

In order to remove oneself from religious under/overtones, a distinction must be made between the notion of god(s) and the actuality of god(s).

There is no need for the correction - if we weren't sentient, we would not have the notion of a god; we would not consider, nor conceive of one.

The notion of god(s) is solely reliant on the sentience (or correlation of self-awareness, consciousness and intelligence) of living things.


And just what is that typical function?

To explain the beginning of all things (energy/matter, time and space, the world/universe)

Science attempts to do the same -- is science therefore a god?

We attempt this also, through our notion of god(s) - are we then gods in our own right.


Hence why many origin myths begin with nothing.

And from nothing a sentient being comes forth? Is it safe to conclude that a god is then representative of nothingness, or nothing is the origin of everything? We then return to nothing once we die? The afterlife is nothingness, oblivion?


I'm afraid I'm going to have to go Wittgenstein on you and say that your comment about the soul is completely meaningless to me. I don't know what the divine is, and if you try to explain it to me, I will simply question why I should accept your interpretation of something whose existence I am uncertain of/see no necessity for. If you tried to explain the divine to me in purely descriptive terms, without resorting to metaphor or value judgments, you would fail. While this doesn't mean there isn't necessarily such a thing as the divine, it does seem to suggest that our language isn't up to the task of grappling with it.

Then your use of 'soul' is still incorrect, even more so for the exact same reasons that you disqualify 'divine' as having meaning and purpose in this sense. To elucidate - explain the soul to me in purely descriptive terms, without resorting to metaphor or value judgments, or synonyms.


Still, I might concede the point to you, in the sense that fine, what I really meant to refer to was the mind, but at that point, the soul would ceases to be of an interest to me.

Exactly. What I am (was) getting at is, words/terms such as 'god', 'divine', 'soul' etc are conceptual abstractions intended to explain, or intellectualize what we can't explain in concrete terms - however, if we can do the same through synonyms that have closer footing in terminology outside of religious understanding, why do we still use them?
_____________________________


Your discussion of energy is interesting, but just because we're energy and the universe is filled with energy doesn't necessarily mean that this energy interacts with itself on the level you seem to be suggesting.

In terms of a possible interactive omnipresent entity* - allow me to elaborate on a different level (even further removed from religious under/overtones):

Observation can be defined as a form of measurement. Anything that has measure can be observed to exist in some form -- whether by numeration, calculation, tangence, size, colour, mass, growth etc etc. -- and the observer is the measuring device. However, this is never a 2 party scenario as even in a sterile laboratory, the environment also factors to a degree. It is impossible to separate the environment from the subject - or the subject from the measuring device at the point of observation:

take the viewing of a rainbow, for example. When a person looks at a rainbow he/she sees it starting in a certain position and ending in a certain position. However, when a second person - who is standing in another place - looks at the rainbow he/she will see it starting and ending in a completely different spot. So the two people are effectively seeing different rainbows, with different starting and ending positions. But those 2 separate rainbows are resulted from the same energy. Does that energy then interact with each person independently? If so, why? How, if not by some design of purpose? How, if energy has no decisive (or devised) working or interaction with itself?

The observable existence of the rainbow is actually a superpostion of many layered states of energy by perception and environmental conditions (thus the severance of subject, environment and device becomes impossible). We each of us perceive those individually, the originating energies manifest independently for every viewer/observer/measuring device.

Consider the rainbow and the observer as a single system. Again, it is impossible to separate the subject from the measuring device - on a level beyond our conscious application we are thus interacting with energies through energies.

*An entity is something that has a distinct existence - not per definition a material existence. There is also no presumption that an entity is animate or sentient per definition.

Mr. Anonymous
09-12-2011, 07:11 AM
And what of genetic memory?


As far as I understand it, genetic memory has to do with basic functions like birds knowing instinctively how to fly in formation, that sort of thing. Genetic memory doesn't mean that my individual consciousness/experience will continue post-death. We could of course use reincarnation in the sense of genetic memory, but I'm concerned with the continuity of my experience/consciousness, not the continuity of basic human instincts (although it would be interesting to speculate upon what sort of effect genetic memory might have on the human race in the long run.)

A distinction must be made between the notion of god(s) and the actuality of god(s).


Right, right. I misread your post.

There is no need for the correction - if we weren't sentient, we would not have the notion of a god; we would not consider, nor conceive of one.

Agreed.

The notion of god(s) is solely reliant on the sentience (or correlation of self-awareness, consciousness and intelligence) of living things.

Right.

Science attempts to do the same -- is science therefore a god?


Attempts is the key word. Science has not achieved it's goal. If you believe in God and take the requisite leaps of faith, you can explain the beginnings of things, etc, etc. Whether you explain them correctly is a different question though.

Science does not claim to explain everything (yet.) At the point at which science does explain everything, yes, perhaps we might call it a sort of God. For when I say God explains the beginnings of all things, what I mean to say was "God explains the beginnings of all things to us."

But it's not just explanatory power. We could hypothetically have the explanatory power to explain all things. The God I'm concerned with would have, also, causal power, in the form of first cause, perhaps.

And from nothing a sentient being comes forth? Is it safe to conclude that a god is then representative of nothingness, or nothing is the origin of everything? We then return to nothing once we die? The afterlife is nothingness, oblivion?

We could write books on nothing, but I'm afraid all our best efforts would amount to Much Ado about Nothing (not my joke, ha.)

There is obviously a contradiction in the notion of everything coming from nothing (a contradiction which is inherent in the very idea that all things have a beginning. But then, if all things don't have a beginning, that leads us to a contradiction as well.) My point was simply that many faiths believe God/Gods are the one/s who brought the world into being.

But in a sense, I might argue that your version of God did come from nothing. If God is dependent on the sentient energies, he would not exist until sentient beings evolved. You might argue that a God-like power would still exist, it just wouldn't be sentient. But I admit I'm very skeptical about this whole sentience web thing. There are far more non-sentient life forms than sentient ones, for instance. Why should our energies override the non-sentient ones, given we are in such a minority? Even if there is some kind of cosmic web of which you speak, I don't think it's sentient or of one mind. I think it's more like a force of nature, driven by momentum, a wind blowing across the cosmic sea.

As far as the afterlife goes--sure, why not nothing? Wouldn't an end to sentience be (effectively) a state of nothingness?

And here's just one example of why I'm skeptical of sentience post-death, energy web or no energy web. Take a person named Bob. Lobotomize him. He's not the same person anymore. Which suggest the mind is inseparable from the brain. And even if some shred of it lives on after death, it will leave us a shell of what we were.

Does that energy then interact with each person independently? If so, why? How, if not by some design of purpose? How, if energy has no decisive working or interaction with itself?

You're looking in the wrong place, I think. The energy is the same, broadly, but the sensory input that your two observers are subject to is different. It's like two people standing at opposite ends of the beach. They're both being bombarded by the same general ocean, the same general energy of that ocean, but they can still be affected by different waves (at the same time.)

Because of their different locations, the means of perceiving the same phenomena (which is not actually the same, given the difference in locations) is also different. Hence your two rainbows.

Consider the rainbow and the observer as a single system.

Ok. So what?

Again, it is impossible to separate the subject from the measuring device - on a level beyond our conscious application we are thus interacting with energies through energies.

We are interacting with energies through energies, sure. I suppose with that conceded you might argue a ripple effect of sorts--if the rainbow and the observer are energies interacting with energies, then everything is energy interacting with energy, etc.

The observable existence of the rainbow is actually a superpostion of many layered states of energy by perception and environmental conditions (thus the severance of subject, environment and device becomes impossible). We each of us perceive those individually, the originating energies manifest independently for every viewer/observer/measuring device.

I follow you up to the italics. I'm not sure the energies manifest themselves independently for each viewer. Rather, the viewer, through his subjective means of ordering the sensory data of the world, orders this data in such a way as to render it comprehensible. And so he sees a rainbow, among other things.

Then your use of 'soul' is still incorrect, even more so for the exact same reasons that you disqualify 'divine' as having meaning and purpose in this sense. To elucidate - explain the soul to me in purely descriptive terms, without resorting to metaphor or value judgments, or synonyms.

Perhaps, but it would be for a different reason. Namely, I'm entertaining the existence of a hypothetical actuality (whereas value judgments are not 'actual' in the sense that they exist only if there are those who can project values, values do not seem to exist in and of themselves)
It of course, is difficult to speak concretely about a hypothetical actuality. If I observed the continuity of consciousness/experience post death, I'd be in a position to describe it in terms of pure facts. As I have not observed it, I can only go so far as to approximate a definition, by calling the soul that hypothetical actuality which would function as a vessel that allows for the continuity of consciousness/experience post-death.

kborsden
09-12-2011, 08:22 AM
We could of course use reincarnation in the sense of genetic memory, but I'm concerned with the continuity of my experience/consciousness, not the continuity of basic human instincts (although it would be interesting to speculate upon what sort of effect genetic memory might have on the human race in the long run.)

Agreed - fascinating to think that certain behaviours can/could become instinctive. Which ones would be most beneficial to the survival of the human race do you think?


Science has not achieved it's goal. If you believe in God and take the requisite leaps of faith, you can explain the beginnings of things, etc, etc. Whether you explain them correctly is a different question though.

Very true -- but some may argue that the notion of god(s) is an attempt to explain the same things.


But it's not just explanatory power. We could hypothetically have the explanatory power to explain all things. The God I'm concerned with would have, also, causal power, in the form of first cause, perhaps.

This is something I find myself saying over and over -- the power of explanation is the very smallest part of what religious understanding is. The existence of a god also gives life meaning and purpose. It becomes then a strength for the individual to aid during life and hardships -- makes me jealous that I can't make that requisite leap of faith with conviction.


I might argue that your version of God did come from nothing. If God is dependent on the sentient energies, he would not exist until sentient beings evolved. You might argue that a God-like power would still exist, it just wouldn't be sentient. But I admit I'm very skeptical about this whole sentience web thing. There are far more non-sentient life forms than sentient ones, for instance. Why should our energies override the non-sentient ones, given we are in such a minority? Even if there is some kind of cosmic web of which you speak, I don't think it's sentient or of one mind. I think it's more like a force of nature, driven by momentum, a wind blowing across the cosmic sea.

That's my whole point --- it is the sentience of humanity that gives the notion of a god levity.


Take a person named Bob. Lobotomize him. He's not the same person anymore. Which suggest the mind is inseparable from the brain. And even if some shred of it lives on after death, it will leave us a shell of what we were.

Are personality and the mind the same thing? Or personality a component? We already understand personality and identity to be separate concepts.


I'm entertaining the existence of a hypothetical actuality (whereas value judgments are not 'actual' in the sense that they exist only if there are those who can project values, values do not seem to exist in and of themselves)
It of course, is difficult to speak concretely about a hypothetical actuality. If I observed the continuity of consciousness/experience post death, I'd be in a position to describe it in terms of pure facts. As I have not observed it, I can only go so far as to approximate a definition, by calling the soul that hypothetical actuality which would function as a vessel that allows for the continuity of consciousness/experience post-death.

But you can't have a philosophical debate without religious connotations that way - not without starkly altering your terminology to reflect that the hypothesis is linguistic based on commonly understood conceptual abstractions relative to faith(s). In any case, I agree with your usage of the terms, but wonder how such discussion would have been carried out if we didn't have them.

Maxx
09-12-2011, 05:50 PM
You're also mixing things up a bit.

The question of the existence of any God/s is separate from both

1. the question of the existence of an afterlife
2. the question of the existence (and status) of the soul.

They *may* be related, but not necessarily so. It is possible that God does not exist but that we have souls and therefore some kind of afterlife. It is also possible that God does exist but that we don't have souls/an afterlife.

But in philosophical terms, one might prefer the comparatively slight absurdity of wondering about whether people with doggie heads have souls, to more intensive absurdities about the eternal judgements based on
short tests administered to confused animals.