cuchulain

Does the human soul exist?

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It's something I have been thinking about lately, trying to determine if I can believe logically in a soul.  There are many cultures and philosophies and religions that insist it exists, and that it is obviously self evident and cannot be questioned.  I question it.  

I know the Christian answer presupposes it's existence, and I can appreciate that they believe it, but what I am looking for is philosophical or scientific evidence, if possible, either way.  I understand(perhaps wrongly) that Buddhists don't believe in a soul but DO believe in reincarnation?  Not sure how that works without a soul...

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6 hours ago, cuchulain said:

It's something I have been thinking about lately, trying to determine if I can believe logically in a soul.  There are many cultures and philosophies and religions that insist it exists, and that it is obviously self evident and cannot be questioned.  I question it.  

I know the Christian answer presupposes it's existence, and I can appreciate that they believe it, but what I am looking for is philosophical or scientific evidence, if possible, either way.  I understand(perhaps wrongly) that Buddhists don't believe in a soul but DO believe in reincarnation?  Not sure how that works without a soul...

To my understanding -- that's all it is.  My understanding -- there is no objective evidence one way or another.

That brings us to the question of post death existence.  There are two possibilities.  Either there is post death existence, or there is not.

If there is post death existence, we will know soon enough.  Life is short.  That is, we will know only if sentience survives.  Otherwise, we won't find out at all.  

If there is nothing at death, we won't find out at all.  Not an attractive prospect, but wanting or not wanting does not change the facts.

Either way, the only life we can be sure of is this one.  Best to enjoy it while we can.  Best to live until we die.  

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The soul and senteince/consciousness are not necessarily the same. If there is indeed a soul, we have no idea what properties it contains or what form it takes.

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I read an interesting objection to the soul's existence, or relevance anyway.  Someone wrote on another board that if the soul is incorporeal, it would have no method of interacting with the corporeal mind and body and so would be irrelevant.  

I don't know if it exists or not.  Just something I have been wondering lately, one of the questions I have gone back to reevaluate, since it's always something that seems taken for granted.

I understand the idea of the soul as an afterlife vessel, but wonder if the soul exists, does it actually serve that purpose or does it serve another that we are unaware of?  I agree with your take on the afterlife, Johnathan, to a point.  Either we will know, or we won't...that I do not contest.  But I do not think a surcease to be a bad or unpleasant thought.  If there is nothingness after life, we won't care :) 

Brother Kaman, I can agree that the soul and sentience are not necessarily the same thing.  The religious would have the two linked inextricably while convincing us that are mortal souls are in peril of the devil, quite the sales pitch I believe.  You are correct in that if the soul exists, we don't know what form or properties it exists in, perhaps a definition of the soul would be in order?

The dictionary.  Soul:  the spiritual or immaterial part of a human being or animal, regarded as immortal.  

That doesn't really help in this case, does it?  How does one find the soul, how does one point to it and say "there it is"?

I guess the best answer so far is Johnathan's.  It's my understanding.  Lacking evidence, I should as a good atheist reject the idea until good evidence comes along, eh?

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4 hours ago, cuchulain said:

The religious would have the two linked inextricably while convincing us that are mortal souls are in peril of the devil, quite the sales pitch I believe.

Seriously? I give up.

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8 minutes ago, LeopardBoy said:

Seriously? I give up.

Was that offensive in some manner?  I did not mean it as such...I assume at this point that you are upset that I lumped all religious into one group.  Looking back, I realize I should have said the main stream religions.  My bad.  But a point here.  I am not saying I was not wrong to lump it all together, but don't you think perhaps you could have taken it with a grain of salt, perhaps a little less critically?  Just a thought.

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53 minutes ago, cuchulain said:

Was that offensive in some manner?  I did not mean it as such...I assume at this point that you are upset that I lumped all religious into one group.  Looking back, I realize I should have said the main stream religions.  My bad.  But a point here.  I am not saying I was not wrong to lump it all together, but don't you think perhaps you could have taken it with a grain of salt, perhaps a little less critically?  Just a thought.

After a discussion about how fundamentalist Christians can make people uncomfortable in this group and attempt to push people out, I made the point that whether they realize it or not, atheists often do the same thing to those of us who are religious but not Christian (or Abrahamic monotheists) in the course of their arguments against fundamentalist Christianity.  When the word religion is defined in such a specific way by both groups, that drowns out the voice of those of us who don't fit that definition.  Can't you see how that could make us feel just as delegitimized and uncomfortable in a supposedly inclusive interfaith group?  When "the religious" as a whole are supposed to believe that mortal souls are imperiled by the devil, where does that leave those of us who have no such creature in our myths?

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5 minutes ago, LeopardBoy said:

After a discussion about how fundamentalist Christians can make people uncomfortable in this group and attempt to push people out, I made the point that whether they realize it or not, atheists often do the same thing to those of us who are religious but not Christian (or Abrahamic monotheists) in the course of their arguments against fundamentalist Christianity.  When the word religion is defined in such a specific way by both groups, that drowns out the voice of those of us who don't fit that definition.  Can't you see how that could make us feel just as delegitimized and uncomfortable in a supposedly inclusive interfaith group?  When "the religious" as a whole are supposed to believe that mortal souls are imperiled by the devil, where does that leave those of us who have no such creature in our myths?

Wherever you want.  If you are offended that I occasionally make a mistake and lump all religions into one, something that I am working on by the way(but still occasionally fail), is the cause what I said, or how you took it?  Will you honestly tell me that you could not view what I wrote in the sense that it was intended, that I meant those religions that actually have a concept of evil and a devil?  I don't believe that...what I believe is you have a pet peeve on this particular topic and it simply gets to you when someone miscommunicates.  Kind of like others have a pet peeve about specifics of their religion, philosophy(did I miss a word that could stand for religion?  wouldn't want to offend someone...).  It gets real monotonous to watch everything I say, if you can understand that.  I don't communicate the best, I get that.  But communication is a two way street.  People that are offended by the occasional lack of specifics, they are allowing themselves to be offended rather than viewing the issue as it is.  That's my opinion.  

As I said, I didn't intend to offend.  I think intent should count for something, but apparently it doesn't.  If you don't think you can handle the occasional slip, you are welcome not to respond, to use the ignore button, well...whatever you feel like really.  That's because I have no control over you, or how you will take my message.  That's the short and simple.

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6 hours ago, cuchulain said:

I read an interesting objection to the soul's existence, or relevance anyway.  Someone wrote on another board that if the soul is incorporeal, it would have no method of interacting with the corporeal mind and body and so would be irrelevant.  

I don't know if it exists or not.  Just something I have been wondering lately, one of the questions I have gone back to reevaluate, since it's always something that seems taken for granted.

I understand the idea of the soul as an afterlife vessel, but wonder if the soul exists, does it actually serve that purpose or does it serve another that we are unaware of?  I agree with your take on the afterlife, Johnathan, to a point.  Either we will know, or we won't...that I do not contest.  But I do not think a surcease to be a bad or unpleasant thought.  If there is nothingness after life, we won't care :) 

Brother Kaman, I can agree that the soul and sentience are not necessarily the same thing.  The religious would have the two linked inextricably while convincing us that are mortal souls are in peril of the devil, quite the sales pitch I believe.  You are correct in that if the soul exists, we don't know what form or properties it exists in, perhaps a definition of the soul would be in order?

The dictionary.  Soul:  the spiritual or immaterial part of a human being or animal, regarded as immortal.  

That doesn't really help in this case, does it?  How does one find the soul, how does one point to it and say "there it is"?

I guess the best answer so far is Johnathan's.  It's my understanding.  Lacking evidence, I should as a good atheist reject the idea until good evidence comes along, eh?

If the soul is immaterial, then it cannot exist outside a mental thought. If it is  material, then the laws of physics apply (Newtonian and quantum) and we have not yet scientifically discovered it. Perhaps physists will learn of a thought particle and those particles make up the soul. I am sure it will all be revealed in time. 

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11 hours ago, cuchulain said:

I read an interesting objection to the soul's existence, or relevance anyway.  Someone wrote on another board that if the soul is incorporeal, it would have no method of interacting with the corporeal mind and body and so would be irrelevant.  

I don't know if it exists or not.  Just something I have been wondering lately, one of the questions I have gone back to reevaluate, since it's always something that seems taken for granted.

I understand the idea of the soul as an afterlife vessel, but wonder if the soul exists, does it actually serve that purpose or does it serve another that we are unaware of?  I agree with your take on the afterlife, Johnathan, to a point.  Either we will know, or we won't...that I do not contest.  But I do not think a surcease to be a bad or unpleasant thought.  If there is nothingness after life, we won't care :) 

Brother Kaman, I can agree that the soul and sentience are not necessarily the same thing.  The religious would have the two linked inextricably while convincing us that are mortal souls are in peril of the devil, quite the sales pitch I believe.  You are correct in that if the soul exists, we don't know what form or properties it exists in, perhaps a definition of the soul would be in order?

The dictionary.  Soul:  the spiritual or immaterial part of a human being or animal, regarded as immortal.  

That doesn't really help in this case, does it?  How does one find the soul, how does one point to it and say "there it is"?

I guess the best answer so far is Johnathan's.  It's my understanding.  Lacking evidence, I should as a good atheist reject the idea until good evidence comes along, eh?

Atheism is only non-belief regarding God or gods.  Not even disbelief.  Non-belief on a specific point.  It has nothing to do with souls.

Speaking strictly as an Agnostic:  I don't know that I have a soul.  I don't know that I don't have a soul.  Neither do I expect to find out.  I leave the question unanswered because I don't think there is an answer.  Other people think that they know.  That is not a problem for me.  

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13 hours ago, cuchulain said:

.  If you are offended that I occasionally make a mistake and lump all religions into one, something that I am working on by the way(but still occasionally fail), is the cause what I said, or how you took it?  

 He never said he was offended. He suggested that your words have the potential to alienate people, driving them away from the forum. He also indicated frustration over an apparent failure, on your end, to see that. It is part of an ongoing complaint he has regarding what he sees as the marginalization of those who do not share the predominate "Abrahamic worldview" (for lack of a better way to put it).

Based on previous conversations with him, I would bet he is not trying to make you look or feel bad for what you said, but is basically saying "How are we* supposed to communicate when we* clearly don't speak the same language? How can I* feel welcomed if I* am ignored?"

 

*In general terms.

 

Sound fair and/or accurate, LeopardBoy?

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12 hours ago, Brother Kaman said:

If the soul is immaterial, then it cannot exist outside a mental thought.

Why not? Space and time are immaterial, yet exist outside a mental thought. 

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12 hours ago, Brother Kaman said:

If it is  material, then the laws of physics apply (Newtonian and quantum)

Not necessarily. Scientific laws are based on past observation, and can apply to a given phenomenon only as much as that phenomenon is similar to what has previously been observed. A newly observed phenomenon always has the potential to completely change our understanding of how the universe works, necessitating a completely new scientific law to explain why existing ones can't apply in certain circumstances. And it is always possible that some things are simply beyond our ability to understand.

Edited by mererdog

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1 hour ago, mererdog said:

Not necessarily. Scientific laws are based on past observation, and can apply to a given phenomenon only as much as that phenomenon is similar to what has previously been observed. A newly observed phenomenon always has the potential to completely change our understanding of how the universe works, necessitating a completely new scientific law to explain why existing ones can't apply in certain circumstances. And it is always possible that some things are simply beyond our ability to understand.

Out of context. Read my entire post.

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1 hour ago, mererdog said:

Why not? Space and time are immaterial, yet exist outside a mental thought. 

Space is material. It has dimension. Science tells us also that space is not empty. Time is a mental construct.

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4 hours ago, mererdog said:

 He never said he was offended. He suggested that your words have the potential to alienate people, driving them away from the forum. He also indicated frustration over an apparent failure, on your end, to see that. It is part of an ongoing complaint he has regarding what he sees as the marginalization of those who do not share the predominate "Abrahamic worldview" (for lack of a better way to put it).

Based on previous conversations with him, I would bet he is not trying to make you look or feel bad for what you said, but is basically saying "How are we* supposed to communicate when we* clearly don't speak the same language? How can I* feel welcomed if I* am ignored?"

 

*In general terms.

 

Sound fair and/or accurate, LeopardBoy?

It sounds fair to me...but I did apologize for it, before the tirade continued.  I'm just trying to figure out what more to do, beyond trying to check myself in the future, you know?  Guessing at this point that it's time to just let it go on my end.

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All interesting ideas about the soul.  Perhaps there is some mechanism by which it interacts with the body, maybe that mechanism is the appendix?  Don't take my appendix!!! Nah, but seriously maybe some day it will be discovered...or maybe someday it won't because it doesn't exist.

Johnathan.  You are quite right, Atheism doesn't necessarily preclude the soul.  I should say skeptic.  Again with the language, eh?  I am not the best communicator, but am working on that.

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there are some who define soul,spirit as conscious,sub conscious,and energy.that, to answer your question is what some people believe allows for reincarnation(it isn't just buddhists who believe in it.)

in the end,we'll all get an answer one way or another.till then,is it important?that is up to the individual.

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6 hours ago, cuchulain said:

All interesting ideas about the soul.  Perhaps there is some mechanism by which it interacts with the body, maybe that mechanism is the appendix?  Don't take my appendix!!! Nah, but seriously maybe some day it will be discovered...or maybe someday it won't because it doesn't exist.

Johnathan.  You are quite right, Atheism doesn't necessarily preclude the soul.  I should say skeptic.  Again with the language, eh?  I am not the best communicator, but am working on that.

Skeptic is a problem word.  One of the worst.  If your goal is to avoid offending people, I would find something different.  

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4 hours ago, mark 45 said:

there are some who define soul,spirit as conscious,sub conscious,and energy.that, to answer your question is what some people believe allows for reincarnation(it isn't just buddhists who believe in it.)

in the end,we'll all get an answer one way or another.till then,is it important?that is up to the individual.

"Energy" may be the most mistranslated word of all time.  Well, one of them.

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