I think the comparison of computers and the human brain can be useful. However when it comes to atheism, I believe it is an unfortunate analogy. In fact, it kind of makes the case for religion and life after death.
When a computer dies, it is far from over. Computers are resurrected all the time. Ask any computer repairman. Also, even if the computer is not repaired, all of the information that makes that computer unique (Its soul) can be stored remotely, like in the cloud (computer heaven).
It can be proven logically that living things have a soul, if one takes the meaning of a soul to be that which survives an organism after its death. Certainly the memories that a person has left survive their death. So there is at least a soul as long as there are others to remember them. In Billy Joel’s lullaby, he says “lullabies go on and on. they never die that’s how you and I shall be”. So the works of a person survive their death also. In the case of a great artist or scientist, these works can have a tremendous influence on millions. Even for us normal folks, we have a great influence on later generations. It is amazing to see the mannerisms and hear phrases my grandfather (long passed) used, also used by my grandchildren.
So, I don’t know if there is a supernatural life after death or not. Anyone who is honest must admit the same. But certainly there are things that survive a person, and perhaps that is enough. While I feel Mr. Hawking made an unfortunate analogy, his contributions to humanity give him a greater soul than most.
So what motivated me to start this blog was comments by Stephen Hawking to the effect that life is like a computer. Once the power goes out, that’s all there is. The article can be found here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2011/may/15/stephen-hawking-interview-there-is-no-heaven
Another statement made by Hawking relates that there is no need for God in the creation of the Universe. This may be found here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/7976594/Stephen-Hawking-God-was-not-needed-to-create-the-Universe.html
Let me say that I have a lot of respect for Mr. Hawking and am a confirmed agnostic. But while physicists are close to a “Theory of Everything” that unites electromagnetic forces with gravity and explains the existence of the largest things (the universe), and the smallest things (sub-atomic particles), there is a lot to explain in between. Science is no closer to proving or disproving the existence of God than it ever was.
I’m afraid that that this is a good example of what happens when one mixes science and religion. It’s not good science and it is not religion. It hurts the cause of science and the reputations of scientists when one says that science can prove or disprove the existence of God. Fortunately, I am a bit of a crackpot with no reputation to protect, and this is the perfect forum for mixing the two :)
I pretty much grew up in the Marines, and I always used to make the mistake of asking why whenever I got a crappy job. I guess I figured I could do it better, or at least be a little more motivated if I knew why I was doing something.
The answer I always got was “suck it up, eyes to the front and keep marching”. I took this to mean that they didn’t know why we were doing something, they only knew that we must do it.
It’s kind of the same whenever one asks the hard questions. Why do I exist? What purpose is there? Why should I act morally when so many do not? I mean knowing these things would help us live a little better, or at least motivate us a little to do so, right?
Well if one asks the clergy these questions, they might get the answer that one must have faith. Ask philosophers and they might say that one must become enlightened. Ask a scientist and they might get that science cannot yet answer all of these questions.
In other words, we do not know why we must do things, we only know that we must. In other words, “suck it up eyes to the front, keep marching”.