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The Table Video

Mark Baker& Gregg Ten Elshof

Science and the Soul Hypothesis

Distinguished Professor of Linguistics, Rutgers University
CCT Scholar-in-Residence and Executive Board Member / Professor of Philosophy, Biola University
November 16, 2012

Mark Baker (Rutgers University) explains “The Soul Hypothesis” and comments on the relevance of scientific methodology to the study of the human soul.


Mark, your book is entitled “The Soul Hypothesis: “Investigations Into the Existence of the Soul”. What is the soul hypothesis and how might it be investigated? In particular, what does science have to do with it? People might have thought, well, given the kind of thing the soul is supposed to be, it doesn’t seem like science would have much to say about it. So does science have something to say about it and how should we think about these things?

Well, of course those are all great questions and complicated questions and take some teasing apart. We picked the title “Soul Hypothesis” fairly carefully. We wanted to use “Soul Hypothesis” rather than “Soul Religious Belief” or something like that, because we believed that it had and should have some intersection with science. On the other hand, we picked it, “Soul Hypothesis” rather than “Soul Self-Evident Truth” or something because we didn’t know that that was that or what the implications of that would be.

But the idea of a hypothesis, generally in a scientific theory, is that some serious idea that you’re casting out to see how it relates to other ideas, how it works together to explain things that we see. And kind of the idea of the book is that this has been ridiculed or downplayed in the effort to kind of secularize everything.

But if we took that idea again and put it back into the equation and saw how it would relate to other ideas, maybe we could explain some things that we couldn’t otherwise. And it’s not like cognitive science and neuroscience and so on have solved everything and there are no mysteries left to do, so it seems worth a try.