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Does the Soul Exist? Conundrums, Questions, and Quandaries

Updated on December 10, 2016
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Catherine Giordano is a writer and public speaker who often writes and speaks on topics related to science, philosophy, and religion.

Does the Soul Exist?

The belieif that the soul exists raises more questions than it answers.
The belieif that the soul exists raises more questions than it answers. | Source

Why is a Belief in the Soul So Prevalent?

A belief in some kind of soul (or souls) exists in almost every culture from ancient times to modern day. Prior to the scientific age, people tried to explain the existence of living things by positing that they were animated by souls. The soul is an immaterial entity that at different times and places was thought to inhabit different parts of the body, e.g., the gut, the heart, the brain.

If you look up soul in the dictionary, you’ll find the first definition is: an immaterial spiritual something that imbues humans with intellect, conscience, and emotion.

The soul is thought to be the entity that gives us self-awareness, the ability to think and feel emotions, the ability to have memories, and a conscience to control our behavior. The belief is, as I understand it, that without a soul, we would be like zombies without the ability to think or feel.

It feels counter-intuitive to us to say there is no soul. However, modern biological, neurological, and cognitive science answer the questions of consciousness much better than the concept of a soul.

How Does Science Explain the Soul?

The word “soul” is a word used to describe an abstraction. It is essentially no more than a metaphor.

Brain activity gives us consciousness, an awareness of our own existence, the feeling of having a mind. However, the mind, and therefore the soul, cannot exist without a brain. It is purely natural processes in the brain that give us a sense of self.

The belief in a separate entity that inhabits the body is called “dualism” because it posits that each of us is really two entities—a body and a soul. The mind creates the illusion of an entity within us that produces our thoughts and emotions, and even our moral character.

People who accept the scientific view are called materialists because they reject the idea of an immaterial soul. They argue that there is only matter, and therefore no entities that are immaterial can exist.

What are the Conundrums Posed by a Belief in a Soul?

I wrote an article, What is the Soul: From Anima to Abstraction, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that the soul hypothesis presents more conundrums, questions, and quandaries than answers.

“It’s a puzzlement,” as the king said in the movie “Anna and the King of Siam.” Here are some of my questions

An Immaterial Soul?

An immaterial soul is a paradox. By definition it does not exist because everything that exists is made of matter.
An immaterial soul is a paradox. By definition it does not exist because everything that exists is made of matter. | Source

1. The Conundrum of Immateriality

Everything in the universe is made up of matter. Matter is a material thing. By definition, an immaterial thing is not made up of matter, and consequently does not exist.

Yes, love exists and love is immaterial. However, love is known to be an emotion. It is not a “thing” in the way the soul is said to be a thing. How can something that is immaterial exert a force on a material thing like a person?

I’ve often seen “quantum mechanics” brought in to explain the existence of the soul. The problem is that almost no quantum physicists believe in the existence of the soul. There are no mathematical proofs for the soul. I have found that people throw around the term “quantum mechanics” when they have no explanation for something. So please, let’s avoid pseudo-scientific explanations that have no basis in actual science.

2. The Conundundrum of Ensoulment

Most people who believe in a soul believe that the soul is given to us by God. That begs the question of how the soul gets in the body and where it resides within the body.

Moreover, there is a lot of disagreement about when the soul enters the body. Does ensoulment occur as soon as a sperm penetrates an egg, when an embryo begins to form, when brain activity begins in utero, or at birth? Interestingly, the Catholic Church takes no position on this.

I think the time of ensoulment is important to the abortion debate. Since the soul is thought to be required for personhood, before getting a soul the human-to-be is just some protoplasm. Is it thus permissible to remove this protoplasm from a woman’s body?

However, I have heard the argument that removing this protoplasm before ensoulment is even worse than doing it afterwards. Their reasoning is that the soul is eternal so thus the embryo or fetus survives as a soul, but without a soul, nothing will survive the abortion..

We all know spontaneous abortions occur in various stages of a pregnancy. If ensoulment occurs prior to a live birth, do some souls just “give up the ghost” and decide not to be born?

Do Dogs Have Souls?

Most religions teach that only humans have souls, but some people nevertheless believe that animals also have souls.
Most religions teach that only humans have souls, but some people nevertheless believe that animals also have souls. | Source

3. The Conundrum of Animal Souls

For the most part, the three Abrahamic religions teach that only humans have souls. There was a “special creation” event for humans, and souls were given only to humans.

However, many people want to believe that animals have souls. It is obvious to dog owners that their dogs have feelings—for instance, love. Animals that live in packs or herds surely appear to have feelings for the members of their group. There have even been experiments that show that primates have a sense of fairness. In one experiment, chimps refused to accept a reward of food if they observed that the chimp in the next cage was not given the same reward for the same effort.

If dogs have souls, if primates and other mammals have souls, then why not ants? Why not amoebas? Where would the line be drawn?

If animals have souls, are they the same kind of souls found in humans? Animals seem to be less capable than humans with respect to emotions and self-awareness so their souls must be different. Does every type of animal have a different type of soul?

If animals have no soul, how can we explain their obvious ability to think in a limited way (compared to humans) and to feel emotion? Is it all instinct?

Evolution and the Soul

At what point in the evolution of human beings did souls start to be placed into bodies?
At what point in the evolution of human beings did souls start to be placed into bodies? | Source

4. The Conundrum of Evolution

At what point in evolution did souls begin? If animals don’t have souls (as most religions teach), there had to be a demarcation in the evolutionary line when living things began to have souls.

Did Neanderthals have souls or is only homo-erectus capable of love and intellect?

5. The Conundrum of Individuality

If souls make us the person that we are, it seems there must be millions of different kinds of souls because there are millions of different kinds of people.

Are some people “good” people because they got a “good” soul and others are “bad” people because they got a "bad" soul?

Do some people have a talent, for instance, for music or art, because they got a talented soul?

If some people have a penchant for philosophy or poetry, is it because God gave them an intellectual soul?

It seems to me that the soul has nothing to do with these traits—it is all a matter of genetics and environment.

Who gets each kind of soul? Is it random or does God specifically choose the the type of soul each person will get?

Why can brain damage, brain surgery, and pharmaceuticals change our personality, for instance, turning a mild-mannered person belligerent and vice versa? How could an immaterial soul that controls personality be affected by changes to the brain or body?

Soul Qualities

Are we born with certain soul qualities or does our free will determine who we are?
Are we born with certain soul qualities or does our free will determine who we are? | Source

6.The Conundrum of Free Will

If the soul controls feeling, thought, and action, how could there be free will? It seems to me that dualism suggests that there is no free will, yet it is the dualists who believe in free will and the materialists who are more likely to argue that we do not have free will. (The issue of free will brings up many more conundrums, but I don’t have the space to get into them here. I’ll just briefly mention how free will relates to the soul concept.)

The dualists say that our soul gives us the ability to freely choose to be moral or immoral. Is the soul then like a blank slate, a tabula rosa, constantly changed and shaped by our experiences? Is the soul like the picture of Dorian Grey, constantly changing based on our choices?

Or as I suggested before, do some people just get souls prone to bad behavior. If people do bad things because God gave them a bad soul, is it fair to punish them for their bad behavior?

7. The Conundrum of Near-Death Experiences

A person is considered dead when the brain stops functioning, even if the heart is still beating. So when does the soul leave the body--at the cessation of mental activity or at cessation of all bodily activity (heart and brain)? If there is no mind (no mental ability, no emotion, etc—all the things that the soul supposedly imparts to humans), then is there still a soul present even if the heart is beating due to the action of a machine.

There are some people who claim to have “died,” and they say they felt their soul leave their body. Of course, they didn’t actually die—no one survives death—instead they had a near-death-experience. If their soul left their body, did their soul “jump the gun,” taking off before the person was actually dead? Or if you believe that the person was actually dead and the soul had left, why did the soul change its mind and reenter the body bringing the person back to life?

Soul Mates

The word soul is best left to metaphor and poetry.
The word soul is best left to metaphor and poetry. | Source

Does the Soul Belong in the Realm of Metaphor and Poetry?

The first definition of soul in the dictionary says that soul is an immaterial substance that is like a little man sitting in a control tower making us think feel and act. However, there are subsequent definitions that talk about the soul as a metaphor. We use the word “soul” as a metaphor all the time when we say things such as, “soul food,” “the King of Soul,” “soul mate,” and “he’s a lost soul.”

There is a great deal of interest in the soul. When I searched “soul” in google, I got about 809,000,000 results. A lot of people are writing and talking about “soul” in its religious and metaphorical contexts.

The concept of a soul in the religious sense leads to so many conundrums. It is so much simpler to accept that our brains invent the soul, and the soul is no more than a metaphor for a feeling--the sense of self that we feel. It is a word best left for

Please Give Your Opinion about the Soul

Does the soul exist?

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For Further Reading

The Soul Fallacy: What Science Shows We Gain from Letting Go of Our Soul Beliefs
The Soul Fallacy: What Science Shows We Gain from Letting Go of Our Soul Beliefs

This is the book that got me thinking about the soul in a deep way. Julien Musolino, a cognitive scientist, writes in an easy to understand style, but his analysis is all inclusive, giving the pros and cons about the soul hypothesis. He gives the history of soul beliefs, and explains the latest science that makes it clear, as you can guess based on the title of the book, that the soul does not exist.

 

© 2016 Catherine Giordano

I welcome your comments, additions, and questions.

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    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 5 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Sparster: Thank you for your comment. I have to wonder which of us has the stronger confirmation bias and the and the lesser grasp of science. None of the things you mention are validated by peer-reviewed science. Also is the science that you cllaim proves your point is classified, how do you know about it? Quantum mechanics exists, but too many people go around saying that quantum mechanic proves every thing that they can not prove. They never explain how quantum mechanics explains the the thing they are trying to explain. Also, I notice you made no attempt to answer any of the questions posed in the article.

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      Catherine Giordano 5 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Paladin: The soul is a lovely metaphor. I often use the word soul in the metaphorical sense myself. Thanks for your comment.

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      Sparkster Publishing 5 months ago from United Kingdom

      I'm sorry but it's very clear from this article that you are letting your own perception of reality interfere with your beliefs and that you don't really have a strong enough grasp on the science or the latest scientific research. I don't mean any offense by that but I see plenty of confirmation bias here.

      Are you aware, for example, of the scientific experiments into out of body experiences whereby up to 15,000 photons appeared in the room where the subject was projecting their consciousness out of body to, without any other reasonable explanation? That's just one tiny example.

      There is a lot of evidence available in now declassified documents relating to this kind of research. Only taking into account the evidence on one side of the argument and ignoring the opposing evidence is bias. True scientific enquiry is not letting your beliefs, perception of current paradigm interfere with the conclusions and letting the evidence speak for itself.

      You also mentioned pseudoscience in relation to quantum mechanics and yet there are many subjects labelled as pseudoscience which are stupendously easy to prove. Neuro-Linguistic Programming for example. If it's just pseudoscience then why does it work almost flawlessly when used properly?

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      Paladin_ 5 months ago from Michigan, USA

      Indeed! In fact, the arguments offer by Holy Peter, above, were FULL of metaphors! Which only lends support to your own conclusions, Catherine! :-)

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      Catherine Giordano 5 months ago from Orlando Florida

      HolyPeter:I have read your comment. I appreciate that you took the time to comment, although I disagree with what you said (as you you I would.) Until someone has satisfactory answers to the questions in this essay,I will continue to believe that the soul is only an illusion and metaphor.

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      hOLY pETER 5 months ago

      hope someone, maybe author of this article, will read it:

      seems that 72% voted ''soul doesn't exist'

      oh well I'm from minority :-)

      so Mrs Author: soul exists in every organism that shows signs of life, even rocks - dead matter is lifeless energy. You can't have interaction with the table or TV, a car etc...

      the paradox is that common idea says human have soul but in fact it's opposite - we are souls, I am soul and live in human body. Scientific evidence: driver seats in the vehicle (or uses remote control), driver doesn't become a vehicle ! they are separate. So as you're not a car when you drive it then you are not human only because you live in human form.

      Oh no ! how this can be ? yes it is true and everybody HAVE personal experience all life, but being stupefied by wrong ''labels and concepts'' we convinced ourselves that the image we see in the mirror is ME...

      so get photo album, see and ask yourself - was it I in the belly of my mom? was I infant? toddler? baby... child... teen, youth.. young ..grown up.. older and older...is it I in this particular moment?

      you've experienced those changes, mostly forgot about them so who and where is YOU ?

      yo see only skin -but you're not a skin, there are bones, but you are not them.. you don't control blood in your body, lungs, kidneys etc etc etc..

      but persistently you claim it is I ... Me ... mine ...

      most of human experience is complex of illusion of which we got no control, but driven by false education people present theories as science and want to get solid evidence of the energy we ourselves are - we are the soul,

      soul can be visible only thru spiritual vision, for now we got imperfect eyes - we can see only narrow spectrum of total energy that permeates all around us.

      Knowledge of soul and Supersoul is in Bhagavad gita.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 9 months ago from Orlando Florida

      shakir mumtaz: Thank you for your praise of my writing skill. I'm sorry that my debating skill was not enough to persuade you. Of course, not even the best debater could convince you if your argument is not based on facts and reason but on spirituality.

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      Catherine Giordano 9 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Lawrence Hebb: I checked out the Southampton study. As I expected, it doesn't prove what you say it proves. First of all, it wasn't about souls, it was about Near Death Experiences. The operative word is "near"; no one was actually dead. No one comes back from the dead. Also, the headlines about this study wee widely exaggerated; there was only one possibly positive results among the 140 (not 2000) subjects who participated in the full study.

      Please don't trust something just because it is on the internet. Research both sides of a story, not just the side that "proves" what you already believe. Here's one link. http://web.randi.org/swift/no-this-study-is-not-ev...

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      Catherine Giordano 9 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Lawrence Hebb: People believe all sorts of things and there are many "scientific" studies that are anything but scientific. And it is all on the internet. Google "Big Foot" and you will find plenty of proof for that. To be science, there must be rigorous procedures and other scientists must be able to replicate the results. There are no scientific studies that support the existence of a soul; just the opposite--they find no evidence to support the idea that a soul exists.

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      Lawrence Hebb 9 months ago

      Catherine

      Rather than argue for the existence of the soul (and use up my three 'replies') I'll put a hub together in the next few days with what science actually says (I googled 'scientific evidence for the soul and got a significant amount of hits, the top three all said 'probably')

      By the way you never answered how you explain the study done by the university of Southampton into the existence of the soul, that one was 2,000 people in four countries (three continents) that said 40% of the people were aware of their surroundings while in cardiac arrest and as many as 10% could recall things when clinically 'dead' but we're revived and could relate what happened (that's 200 out of a group of 2,000!)

      Their conclusion was 'probably' but more research needed!

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      Catherine Giordano 10 months ago from Orlando Florida

      John: I have not heard about a tear drop forming in the eye when a person dies. If true, it could be an emotion or there could be some other physiological reason for it. If it is a last emotion, it is the last emotion of the person, not of the soul since the soul is nothing more than the illusion of the living mind.

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      John 10 months ago

      With the opportunity to be a part of hospice care and palliative care, it is visibly possible to see the separation of body and soul. One vivid recollection is when a patient physically dies, and you see a teardrop in the corner of the eye. It's unknown why it appears, but could possibly be last emotion of the soul.

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      Catherine Giordano 10 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Sharon: I would probably answer that all my thoughts come from my brain; an unexpected thought may come from my sub-conscious.

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      Sharon 10 months ago

      The 'Soul' is 'The Channel' of which Imagination and Inspiration arises--haven't you often asked yourself--"Where did that thought come from ?"

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 10 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Ozinato: This sounds like word salad to me. Perhaps you could explain "universal sentience" and "holographic theorems" in your own hub because it appears to be a topic that is way too big for a comment.

      Even if this exists, it does not have anything to do with the topic of my article, the soul as it is currently understood by the Abrahamic religions. When I write, I choose a narrow topic to explore due to space limitations. I divided my discussion of the soul into two parts for this reason.

      I suggest you write your own hub about the "oversoul." Perhaps if you explained it in more detail, interested people could have a "coherent debate" about it.

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      Oztinato 10 months ago from Australia

      There is no difference between the soul and energy. This energy (according to the most evolved classical religion Hinduism) is sentient. The oversoul is God.

      Science is just begining to recognise the role of sentience in the universe in new holographic universal theorems.

      Science is now making inroads into this truth due to highly advanced math theorems which are now showing there is a symbiosis between sentience and the physical universe. This symbiotic connection was also understood by classical Hinduism thousands of years ago.

      Without referring to these new astounding theorems we are not able to conduct a coherent debate about the soul.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 10 months ago from Orlando Florida

      RodFreeman: Yes, I meant living bodies. I agree, life after death is not possible. It seems we are in total agreement, yet I feel that you are arguing with me.

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      RodFreeman 10 months ago

      CatherineGiordano: If by 'a human body with a soul' all you mean is a living human body, then, although I fear it may easily lead to confusion, I have no real complaint.

      Try this: Count the number of people in a room. What did you count? Wasn't it just the living human bodies? But if so, then dead body, no life after death. (If asked to count the number of people in the morgue, I don't know about you, but, although I count the mortician and others standing around, I don't count any of the dead human bodies laying there.) And, not the same living human body, then not the same person. So unless the exact same body is brought back to life (through cryogenics?), life after death isn't possible.

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      Catherine Giordano 10 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Rod Freeman: Thanks for your comment. I think the believers would respond that people are both people and souls; We are bodies that have souls. Each person has a soul and so the number of people equals the number of souls. However, I agree that there are no souls, only people.

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      RodFreeman 10 months ago

      A simple argument I've used against the Soul Theory: If people are souls, since souls are immaterial and invisible, we can't count them and so won't be able to count people. But we can count people. Hence, people are not souls. But if they aren't souls, their existence won't matter to the issue of life after death, so they aren't worth considering.

      Count the number of people in a room. What did you just count? Wasn't it just living human bodies? But if so, dead body, no life after death.

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      Catherine Giordano 10 months ago from Orlando Florida

      James Clovispoint: If you are saying that there is no god and therefor there is no soul, I agree. People who say they feel the presence of God and people who say they feel the presence of a soul are both reporting a feeling that results from neurochemical processes in the brain. The experience is true; the interpretation of that experience is false.

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      Catherine Giordano 10 months ago from Orlando Florida

      bravewarrior: I won't debate your reports of your experience anymore except to say what I originally said. No major religion believes that the soul of a living person flies around while they sleep to visit other living persons.

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      James Clovispoint 10 months ago

      "An immaterial soul is a paradox. By definition it does not exist because everything that exists is made of matter.

      "Most people who believe in a soul believe that the soul is given to us by God."

      God, by the very attributes given by religion, is immaterial, invisible, undetectable etc. and by default does not exist since everything that exists is made of matter. How then can people believe that a non-existing being can give a non-existing something, called soul, to an existing being called Man?

      What is more, how can theology be the study of god when this god does not exist and when theologians have no means of communicating with this invisible, immaterial, undetectable, ethereal something. Theology is a misnomer and theologians do not know their god: Principle of Inaccessism.

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      Shauna L Bowling 10 months ago from Central Florida

      Catherine, I hadn't seen or talked to this guy in days. He called me to tell me about the visitation because it was quite disturbing to him.

      In the case of my aunt and uncle, they both attest to the visit and the conversation they had. How could they have both had the same dream at the same time?

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      Catherine Giordano 10 months ago from Orlando Florida

      If you didn't recall the visit, then it was probably the other person who had the dream. I suspect your friend knew what you were wearing because he unwittingly did a cold reading. I have seen "psychic readers" do this. They say something vague and then the subject provides details. Later they are convinced that the reader gave them the details. The desire to believe is so strong.

      I will need more evidence than this to believe that souls (1) exist and (2)can leave the body while we sleep and fly around visiting other people.

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      Shauna L Bowling 10 months ago from Central Florida

      Catherine, they weren't dreams at all. In my case, I heard about the visitations the next day when I was fully awake. Both times, I had absolutely no recollection of the visits. In the second instance I mentioned, the guy who saw me said Christopher (my son) was with me - just his head was floating behind my right shoulder (my son was about four or five at the time). He also told me what I was wearing that night, which is amazing because normally I don't wear anything to bed. That night, however, I had on a tie-dyed nightshirt.

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      Catherine Giordano 10 months ago from Orlando Florida

      bravewarrior: You have brought a very interesting and unique concept to this discussion--the idea thata soul flies around visiting other people while we sleep. The ancient Greeks believed in a" free soul" that could travel about. It is how they explained dreams. I don't think any of the Abrahamic religions currently espouse a soul that leaves the body prior to death for the purpose of visiting other people (or any other purpose).

      You mention some interesting experiences. It sounds like they were just vivid dreams to me.

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      Catherine Giordano 10 months ago from Orlando Florida

      WildBill: I'm so glad for your kind words about my hub. I agree with you that the word "soul" is just a metaphor for our feeling of me-ness. This feeling is a manifestation of the mind.

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      Shauna L Bowling 10 months ago from Central Florida

      I have no doubt the soul exists. On two separate occasions, years apart, people have seen me and had conversations with me when I was either asleep in bed in the next room (first instance) or asleep in bed miles away (second instance). My soul left my body for whatever reason it deemed necessary while I was in the sleep state. How else could it be explained? I'm certainly not two people!

      Another instance happened years ago with one of my uncles who was in the hospital in New Jersey after being in a paralyzing car accident. His spirit - or soul - traveled across the country to visit with one of my aunts who lived in Albuquerque. His soul left his body for the purpose of communicating with his sister.

      In all the instances I cite here, the souls were free to leave their physical forms without death knocking at the door.

      Yes. I believe in the soul wholeheartedly!

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      Wild Bill 10 months ago

      Catherine,

      After reading this Hub, I realize that you are a very deep thinker! Your depth shows how much thought you have put into this subject and I absolutely applaud you for that.

      I for one cannot say that I am 100% certain that we have a soul, as in a floating non-abstract thing (or nothing!) that lives inside our bodies and floats away when we die. What I think that most people use this analogy for is to try their best to explain why some some groups of elements creates a living being that breathes, thinks, and moves, yet other groups of elements that clump together creates inanimate non-living substances such as rocks.

      I don't knock people for believing in a soul because I think this belief keeps the dialogue open for more research into why we are what we are.

      Great Hub!

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      Jewels 10 months ago

      Some call it an illusion, I see it more as way of categorizing experiences. I have been a student for 17 years and lucky for me I have been graced with a school that maps consciousness. Have a look at one of my hubs about consciousness thoughts and the brain which posits the experiences of consciousness beyond the body. One must first learn how to have the experiences, additionally create a language for them, which of course is what the Greeks did, as did many others. Some will call this delusion only because they themselves are unable to experience it and go laterally beyond the rational mind.

      Whilst I understand illusions of the mind are a part of many religious understandings, knowing this doesn't actually help to overcome the difficulties the mind experiences. Ignoring illusions doesn't make them go away. But understanding thoughts and emotions (the astral layers/soul) does help enormously.

      I am really happy with my understandings of esoteric concepts. It is in part what has helped overcome many hurdles in the human condition. Know Thyself - also includes understanding the astral body. Beliefs are over rated and dangerous. Experiences however can help bypass this.

      Interestingly, reading one of your comments above where someone asked why rocks do not have souls. The Fourfold model gives a great explanation to this which encompasses the physical, etheric and astral body.

      I'll check out your Anima to Abstraction. I've actually done talks on the soul and Greek philosophy

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 10 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Jewels: Many religious traditions have the concept of a soul. Astral bodies are soul by a different name. It posits that consciousness can leave the body. This is an illusion of the mind, like an optical illusion. Please look at my other article about the soul, "What is the Soul: From Anima to Abstraction" for more about this. I also discuss the views of the ancient Greek philosophers on soul in that article.

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      Catherine Giordano 10 months ago from Orlando Florida

      fpherj48: Thanks for sharing your personal thoughts on this. It is a struggle for many to reconcile what they were taught as children and what they want to believe with a rational examination of facts. I find that for me there are so many advantages to being a non-believer. Have you read my post, 'Does Religion Do More Harm than Good" and also "Pascal's Wager: Is It a Good Bet?" I discuss the pros and cons of belief in those essays.

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      Jewels 10 months ago from Australia

      Your hub is a pleasure to read, very comprehensive. You may be interested in a body of knowledge titled Subtle Bodies: the Fourfold Model by Samuel Sagan. It is a large volume of knowledge that speaks in part about the soul and the astral body. This knowledge of the soul is taken from Greek literature and also from Rudolf Steiner's work. The term Astral body is used extensively by Indian masters and is derived from Sanskrit texts. The soul and the astral body are interchangeable and refer to the vehicle of emotions and thoughts that affects human consciousness individually and collectively. There is a lot of context and it will be impossible to do this satisfactorily via your hub. I have often heard how confused people are by the term and what it is exactly. Yet when there is a context to it, it's quite simple.

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      fpherj48 10 months ago

      Catherine, I know I needn't repeat my enthusiasm with all that you write. Once again, this is an incredibly interesting hub, encourages me to think deeper than usual. I presented a Question once about the "soul" and the responses were so varied and fascinating.

      I can't be any way but completely honest. I swing back and forth and around & round~~Unable to discern whether I DO actually believe or I just desperately WANT it to be so. One of my private mysteries (well, not so private now!)....Peace, Paula

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 10 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Ozinato: Atheists like Buddhism because it is a practice that does not include any deities or miracles as long as the Buddhism is practiced it the way Buddha taught it. I have written about Buddhism quite a few times. Look at my profile and you will find these essays.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 10 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Larry Rankin: Why do you think there is a soul?

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 10 months ago from Oklahoma

      In my mind wonderings I've come to the conclusion some manner of soul is more likely than not.

      Great read!

    • Oztinato profile image

      Oztinato 10 months ago from Australia

      Of course there are many non believers who accept the Buddhist idea that souls merge into a superconsciousness without necessarily individual differentiation. This belief is shared by literally billions of Hindus and Buddhists.

      I have no idea why bhuddism is so popular with non believers. Perhaps someone could link me to a hub on that? Thanks.

    • Paladin_ profile image

      Paladin_ 10 months ago from Michigan, USA

      Oz, do you have anything to say about the actual TOPIC of this hub, or are you just here for your usual preaching and antagonizing?

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 10 months ago from Orlando Florida

      FlourishAnyway: Another great comment. I won't go so far to say why don't rocks have souls, but I do think that if souls exist, then why don't all living things have them. We are from stardust and we return to stardust. Once our brains die, we cease to exist as individuals. It would be nice to think that we could survive is some manner, but it just is not possible. There is no afterlife, so make the here and now counts. We can live on in only one way--in the memories of the people who knew us. Make sure those memories are good ones.

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      FlourishAnyway 10 months ago from USA

      The number of questions and depth of thought you have given to this topic are remarkable. A part of me would like to believe there is a soul or something that returns to the "allness" from which we collectively came, whatever that is -- space dust or whatever. I'd like to think that I shall rejoin all that I have ever known but I don't know that I will be aware of it in the sense I am now. I've met people who insist that if we have souls then why not rocks? I have no answer for that. There are many layers of awareness and being.

    • Paladin_ profile image

      Paladin_ 10 months ago from Michigan, USA

      An intriguing topic, Catherine! I voted "I don't know" in your poll, though if there were a "most probably not" option, I would have voted for that instead. My opinion is that there is no compelling evidence whatsoever that the soul exists, nor is there even a valid reason for believing it does, but that we simply can't know about such an abstraction with 100% certainty.

      I like that you mentioned the comparison of the soul with an emotion like "love." It reminds me of the line from Carl Sagan's movie "Contact" where Palmer Joss -- in an attempt to draw a parallel with the question of God's existence -- asks Ellie to "prove" she loves her father. It also reminds me of how I wish I could have been there to offer an answer!

      Comparing emotions like "love" with the existence of deities or souls is a false equivalency. The existence of "love" is a wholly SUBJECTIVE question -- the very notion depends entirely upon how we perceive and define our own feelings (or those of others).

      On the other hand, the notion of a "soul" (or of a "god") is a wholly OBJECTIVE question -- it either exists, or it does not exist, independent or irrespective of our own feelings or emotions.

      I look forward to hearing from others on this topic!

    • Oztinato profile image

      Oztinato 10 months ago from Australia

      Some people may be "souless" if they lose human compassion and tolerance to race or religion. These souless persons wander the earth like zombies trying to suck the faith and brains (intelligence) out of others. Some of them claim to have scientific motives but they don't accept any scientific evidence for the soul/God. They are blind to any scientific or commonsense evidence. They don't even accept the God of Einstein or M theory.

      Without souls they may die and go.....nowhere: the place they preach about.

      Do you know anyone who fits that mould?