Humans Consist of Two Parts: Body and Soul
The cerebral cortex of the human brain, on which all our beliefs, memories, and conscious life depend, consists of two hemispheres—a left hemisphere and a right hemisphere. Recent neuroscience has discovered that humans continue to have much the same conscious life, memories, and beliefs if either their left hemisphere or their right hemisphere is removed. Suppose the cerebral cortex to be removed from the brain of each of three humans; and the cortex of one of these humans, Alexandra, to be divided into its two hemispheres, and one of these hemispheres to be integrated into the brain of one of the other humans, Alex, and the other hemisphere to be integrated into the brain of the other human, Sandra. Then both Alex and Sandra would have some of the brain and almost all of the memories, and type of conscious life of Alexandra and would both claim to have been Alexandra. For each of these persons, for example Alex, it is totally compatible with everything we could ever know about the brain and mental life of the earlier Alexandra and the subsequent Alex, that Alex is Alexandra; and it is also totally compatible with everything we could ever know that Alex is not Alexandra. But there could only be a difference between Alex being and Alex not being Alexandra if there is something extra beyond the brain matter and beyond the mental life which makes that person Alexandra, and that must be an immaterial soul. I go on to develop the consequences of this scientifically possible experiment for the nature of humans, and to reject philosophical objections to my interpretation of it.
||Richard Swinburne is Emeritus Nolloth Professor of the Philosophy of Christian Religion at the University of Oxford, and a Fellow of the British Academy. He is the author or editor of over two dozen books, and his work has been translated into twenty languages.