In my Saturday newspaper (the Religion section), there was review of a book called The Spiritual Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Case for the Existance of the Soul by Dr. Mario Beauregard. The review was written by Bryan Appleyard of the Philadelphia Inquirer. http://www.philly.com/inquirer/currents/10137792.html
I haven’t read the book, but the complaint I have with the review is its tone. He portrays us materialists as closed-minded zealots and “militant atheists” who ignore science in favor of our “faith”.
“Materialists have two problems. Their certainty of victory is, for the moment, a leap of faith.” — “The strength of his [the author’s] position is the folly of the materialists. He continually draws attention to the scientifically dubious basis of their leap of faith.” (Unfortunately, the reviewer doesn’t share this “dubious basis” with us.) “The materialists, reductionists and militant atheists have not done what they claim to have done, and Beauregard performs an admirable service in explaining why.” Just what is it we’re supposed to be claiming? He finally throws out a red herring by mentioning how a computer which plays chess doesn’t prove that a machine can think, it only shows how good its programmers are. Who said it did?
Strangely enough, in the last few paragraphs, the reviewer casts doubt on Dr. Beauregard’s own thesis. Near-death experiences, so-called “paranormal effects”, and changes in brain chemistry during meditation don’t “prove” that the soul is separate from the body, either. Both positions, materialist and “soulist”, rely on speculation. But I notice he doesn’t criticize the author of the book nearly as much as he criticizes us materialists.