I think we do have a soul !
There is no way to describe what I experience without a soul that transcends the personality. There is something in us which is more than my habits, limitations and combined past. According to Christianity and Islam we each have an immortal soul, that may rot in hell if we don’t behave. According to Hinduism we have a soul (atma) that will reincarnate as all kinds of beings till we grow enlightened (or awake) enough to not need to reincarnate any further. Unfortunately it’s a bumpy ride: up and down.
Buddhism agrees on the reincarnation, but some Buddhists believe that what reincarnates changes too much to be called a soul (anatma). Psychologists agree we have a personality, but don’t know about what happens after we die.
People who read this fall into two (predictable) camps: one side is happy to see a well written book by a neuroscientist defending the existence of the soul. The other half feels the book is either too hard, or defends an outdated concept.
This book was written by a neuroscientist with the help of a journalist. This makes the book, for the subject, very readable. But it’s still about a very difficult subject, so I’m not surprised that some people just can’t follow it. Also – because of the nature of the subject, there are going to be people who disagree.
Neuroscientists usually do not agree there is a soul. In this interesting book you will read about the exception to the rule.
Neurology doesn’t agree
Apparently we DO NOT have a soul, or so scientists think. Mainstream neurology doesn’t think we have a soul. They measure brain-activity and think that that’s what there is to our consciousness. Our sense of ‘I am I’ is, to them, merely a side product of the complex workings of the brain.
Oliver Sacks is the pop star of neurology
I love each and every one of Oliver Sacks’ books. He writes well. He’s funny and most importantly, he makes it real easy to imagine what it’s like to have some weird neurological illness. With the result that neurology becomes easier to understand as well. Through case studies one really gets a feel of what it’s like to live with a brain that’s off somehow. And through getting a feel of how the brain functions when something goes wrong, one also gets a sense of how the brain functions normally.
I’d recommend this to anyone interested in neuroscience.
NDE’s prove my point
Near Death Experiences (NDE) as proof for the soul
One of the things that is most puzzling about our consciousness is that it doesn’t just stop when our brain does.
When a person gets medically labeled as ‘brain-dead’ – yet wakes up hours, days or even weeks later (and yes, that happens sometimes) – they often report experiences of all kinds of things. That’s called a Near Death Experience. Some of those experiences sound a lot like the reports about what happens after we die by Tibetan Lama’s. Others sound like they were actually conscious and knew what was happening around them.
To me it seems that science can’t have it both ways: either the brain was not dead, and that explains why consciousness didn’t stop – or the brain was dead and consciousness restarted the brain somehow. If it’s the first: then people don’t die as quickly as medicine would like us to – in order for them to harvest organs for organ-transplants. If the second: the soul does exist.
So, I asked me readers to pitch in. Some agreed that…
There is no soul: our sense of ‘I’ is a neurological side-effect
Humans do not “have” a soul. You can’t base whether you have a soul or not on your “feelings”. You base it on the Bible. To see whether humans have a soul or not we look at when and how Adam was first created.
“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” Genesis 2:7.
Now this passage is saying that God formed Adam BY taking from the dirt of the ground + breathing into his nostrils the breath of life = and what IS THE RESULT? A SOUL!! Man IS a soul. He doesn’t “have” a soul. This one verse is so clear I don’t know how you don’t understand it. God didn’t put any mystical soul in man. But when God formed dirt from the ground and breathed into its nostrils it BECAME a soul. So what is the equation for a human?
Dirt from ground + breath of life = soul (Genesis 2:7)
I don’t necessarily reject the possibility of a soul, but I see no evidence for one separate and apart from our corporeal existence. I think that emphasis on the soul as the seat of experience is to denigrate the marvelous capabilities and depths of our corporeal existence.
I think it is no less wonderful that my experiences and feelings might be the result biological processes than if they were the result of having a soul.
I wish I could believe that we have souls, but I just don’t. I think we are just machines made out of flesh. If you take a person who is really kind and give him a brain injury he could turn into a jerk. Or the other way around. So which is the true soul of the person? Or is the soul separate from personality and actions?
The thought process is biological thing in your brain.
The emotions you feel are caused by chemicals in your brain.
The memories are stored all over your brain.
This is a proven fact because people with brain injuries may become paralyzed, lose some or all of their memories and become otherwise impaired.
That means when we die even if our “soul” stays we don’t have any emotions, memories or even a mind for that instance. It’s just a bundle of energy or something. That’s why I think soul does not exist.
The soul is a figment of your imagination (very fitting, no?). Sentience is completely physical. The only energy controlling what you do is the electricity in your brain. I am an atheist, and an advocate for AI, so by default, that is my belief. Science or nothing. Prove it to me with duplicable evidence and experimentation. Nobody ever seems to be able to.
Yes, of course we have a soul!
Course we do – if a person is no more than his thoughts,we die every second, as our beliefs,opinions and views are constantly changing. By that logic the person you were last year is dead and you should regularly organise your own funeral. The soul is the unshakable part of you, has no relation to what you do or say but is rather what you are.
Yes, we do. Our soul is eternal. when a person dies, it’s just the body which dies not the soul because the soul is eternal.
Duh! There has to be something more than our physical beings. How do we account for the relationships we are able to uphold with others if we didn’t have souls?
The body is just a garment we wear to play around on this earth. We of course unfortunately forgot how to play. Its what people have invented to keep themselves busy that becomes such a distracting monster. Most of us forgot who we are due to the static in our own lives.
I think every thing out there has a soul or consciousness. We just haven’t created the machines to measure it. 200 years ago, there was no way to measure electricity, but yet it did exist.
Something must be recording our experiences – small children often ‘remember’ events and skills that haven’t been acquired in their present incarnation. Why do we suddenly fear or embrace certain concepts when our life or family experiences have never included such things to bias our judgement?
I think we have a soul. I am not a religious person and although I have thought about what we really are since I was a child, I had/have no answers. However, when my father died following an accident about 10 years ago, I feel certain I encountered his spirit. We had been sent to a waiting area as the medical team worked on him. Suddenly I knew he was in the room with us. I did not see, hear, feel, or smell anything. It was purely a “knowing”. I have never been more certain of anything in my life. Moments later we were told he had died. I was equally certain a day or two later that he came again to reassure me (and my sister).
Again, this was no vision. I am not predisposed to such imaginings or have beliefs that would lend themselves to this occurring. I believe however, that some people are more in tuned to such things than others. Similar perhaps to the fact that some people have better hearing or better eye sight than others. Whether heaven awaits us or not, I don’t know. But there is another existence, perhaps not corporeal. We see colors animals cannot. Animals hear things we can not. That doesn’t mean these things don’t exist; similarly just because you can see or prove something, doesn’t mean it cannot exist. It means it hasn’t been proven.
I have a friend who suffered a TBI 20 years ago and has many stories to share about what he experienced during a 13 day coma. His life is focused on be here now and reincarnation of the soul. I don’t know what is “real” but I feel the presence of loved ones who are gone at times and also experience deja vu. I must read your recommended books to learn more.
Judaism states that there is a soul and also that there will be a resurrection of the dead. if scientists cannot identify the soul it is because God conceals the proof of it from them. Keep in mind too, that the soul is not physical. The book of Daniel states that there will be a resurrection and this is part of the Jewish bible—the prophets.
Yes, We do have a soul.
I will never forget what I experienced when I was a teenager.
It was a Saturday. I was asleep during the morning. For some reason I saw the sun light coming into my room and I “woke up”, I heard my sisters and my mother talking and laughing in the front porch and I felt like I went there. Once I got there, I saw them eating a juicy watermelon but it was weird they didn’t notice my presence, minutes later I woke up again and I said that all I saw was only a dream.
I got up and I went to the front porch again and my mother and sisters noticed me there while eating watermelon, laughing and talking and wearing the same clothes, and having the same conversation, this time the weight of my body was heavier than when I woke up the first time.