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interalex's avatar

Does soul exist?

Asked by interalex (130 points ) January 11th, 2011

Is soul a separate entity?
Is man constituted of two parts, body and soul? (or three, body, soul and spirit? )
Or body and soul is one thing with two faces?
Do you believe that the soul is a part of mind or vice versa?
Is there soul in animals and plants? In the Universe?
Does the soul exist after life?

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54 Answers

Jude's avatar

No one knows for sure.

(Agnostic)

ragingloli's avatar

Probably not.

Qingu's avatar

Your soul (consciousness) is an emergent property of your brain activity.

The way you’ve framed this question doesn’t take into account emergent properties. It’s not a question of “is the soul part of your body, or something entirely separate,” because with emergent properties it’s not an either/or. Rather, the soul exists on a different “level” than the behavior of its individual neurons.

Many animals are obviously conscious. Extremely simple animals, like bivalves, are not, because they don’t have nervous systems. I don’t think consciousness is this binary either/or thing either. Rather, I think an organism can have varying “amounts” of consciousness, depending on how complex its nervous system is. Humans and chimps have highly complex brains. Lizards? Not so much, but they still feel pain and have a sense of self. Starfish? It’s an unclear boundary.

Souls do not exist after life, because they emerge from brain activity. No brain activity, no soul—for the same reason that if you smash your computer you won’t get to run your computer’s programs anymore.

wundayatta's avatar

Soul is a pretty vague term. Give me a definition that allows me to try to detect it, and I’ll tell you the likelihood of its existence. Right now, as far as I know, there is no evidence to support the existence of any idea of a soul that I have heard of.

Summum's avatar

The soul is the body and spirit together. When the baby breaths in the breath of life he becomes a living soul. When the spirit leaves the body then you become a spiritual entity until the resurrection when the body will be reunited with the spirit. Or I should say when the elements of the body are reunited with the spirit.

Qingu's avatar

@Summum does this “spiritual entities” maintain the memories and personality of its original body’s soul? If so, where are they stored/how are they encoded?

Summum's avatar

They are here on Earth behind the veil. I’m not sure what you mean by encoded? They live here with us in a different dimension and are preparing for the eminent change that is coming.

Sayd_Whater's avatar

For me the soul is what gives life to a body. I believe in soul as an essence of the being =) And I do believe in reencarnation of the souls.

Qingu's avatar

Oh, a different dimension.

Does this different dimension contain matter? Are the spiritual entities encoded in patterns of matter in the other dimension? Like atoms and molecules forming cells and neurons, or what?

Qingu's avatar

Also, what exactly do you mean by “different dimension?” Bodies exist in not one but four macroscopic dimensions.

Sayd_Whater's avatar

I think that soul and spirit are the same; what changes is the body.

Qingu's avatar

@Sayd_Whater, do you believe that plants have souls? Since plants are alive. What gives life to their bodies?

What about starfish? Reptiles? Social primates? All alive, the latter two clearly conscious.

Why do you believe in the reincarnation of souls?

Edit: Are you using the word “soul” to simply mean the physical concept of energy? Most people understand “soul” as something like consciousness, or a sense of self.

Summum's avatar

They are behind the veil and yes they have substance and matter but not as we know it. Though there have been a few already resurrected and have a physical body as well. In the Temples that were built there was a place called the Holy of Holies there was an ability to see through the veil in the Holy of Holies but I cannot describe further. Just like what was in the Ark of the Covenant. It is not secret but it is sacred and will be revealed to all when they are ready.

Summum's avatar

Yes everything has a soul and yes I believe until we get to evolve to another level of existance we will do this life again.

Qingu's avatar

@Summum, you can see through the veil into the other dimension? The one with matter that can encode information from out universe? So, this other dimension must have… more than one dimension… because light (which is what we see) can’t exist in one dimension?

And that after we die, somehow, the information that makes up our personalities and memories gets copied into arrangements of matter in this other dimension?

Okay. Do you have any reason whatsoever to believe any of this? It sounds like you’re just making it up as you go along, frankly.

Summum's avatar

I have seen many who have crossed over the veil and spoke with them. The essence of who we are never dies and has existed always. The spirit was born to a Heavenly Father and Mother as we are born here as mortals. This I have been taught and shown.

jessyamr's avatar

Actually some people believe that the brain is what makes humans differ from animals… (Its true it makes us differ from plants).
What I believe is that the person’s soul is what makes humans special and definitely did not emerge from Gorillas. A person can think about something and can definitely feel it.
Different species of animals do not marry out of love and do not break up as well, they just complete the life’s cycle.
If a person hurts the feelings of people around him, we say he lacks a “human’s soul” and NOT a “human’s brain”...

jessyamr's avatar

@Summum what you’re talking about is Ghosts not Souls at least not alive

Qingu's avatar

@Summum, what dead people have you spoken with? Name their names, please.

@jessyamr, you don’t know much about other animals. Most vertebrates have brains, not just humans. Also, many birds and a few other mammals form monogamous relationships. Monkeys “cheat” on each other and flirt with each other. Gorillas and chimps have very similar brains as humans. Chimpanzees make and use tools. They even form distinct cultures.

Also, humans didn’t evolve from gorillas. We share a common ancestor with gorillas. Gorillas are our cousins, so to speak.

Summum's avatar

I will tell you one story that happened to me. One night a friend of mine was standing beside my bed as I was getting ready to go to bed. He told me that he had an accident and was killed by a deer rifle. He was walking along a ledge and fell. He hung onto the rifle which got caught up in the brush and the rifle went off hitting him in the top of his head. He gave me a message to leave for his wife and showed me where his body was. He told me his wife would ask me a question and that he wanted me to answer it with the information he gave me. I did so. I also directed the search for him to where his body was.

Qingu's avatar

@Summum wow what an amazing story. What was this fellow’s name? Do you have any links to news reports about it?

Asker's avatar

YES. I believe, yes. Soul is made of some kind of matter, some kind of energy. And I believe, it exists after life. The answers are here, around us, but we are just not able to see them.

Sayd_Whater's avatar

@Qingu – I believe that every living being as a soul – So, that includes animal and vegetal life.
However, I only believe in reencarnation if DNA passes along with next generations.
Reproduction is essential to reencarnation.
So… Every soul as it’s nature, and that’s why I don’t believe in reencarnation of a human being into an animal. – They just have to stick to their nature.
I also believe that the soul of our elders passes through us to our kids, and so on. While ones loose life, others gain it.
Nothing’s lost, everything’s transformed.

Summum's avatar

No I won’t give you his name but he left three children behind and a friend (his wife).

Qingu's avatar

@Summum, wow, that’s astonishing. Too bad you won’t give a name or any way whatsoever to show that you aren’t completely full of shit.

What city did this take place in?

Qingu's avatar

@Sayd_Whater, that’s not what reincarnation means, though.

Summum's avatar

Frankly I don’t care if you think I’m full of it or not and that is the attitude I have been talking about. Just because you can’t know or understand it then it cannot be.

Sayd_Whater's avatar

@qingu – Sorry I though *reincarnation was the re-birth of one’s soul in a new born baby!
What do you think it means?

Qingu's avatar

@Sayd_Whater, that’s not how you described it. What you described was DNA-based replication. That has nothing to do with souls. Unless you think a soul is a strand of DNA. In which case it would only be reincarnation in the case of asexually reproducing bacteria and archaea.

Qingu's avatar

@Summum, why won’t you tell us the name of the dead person you allegedly spoke to?

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

I very highly doubt it.

Sayd_Whater's avatar

@Qingu Sorry, what I meant was what I said.
But just to make it clear – I think that reincarnation only happens if reproduction takes place…If not, souls may get lost forever.

Qingu's avatar

@Sayd_Whater, why do you believe that?

thorninmud's avatar

I think that the idea of a soul was a perfectly intuitive way to interpret subjective experience and what happens at death back before we understood the role of the brain. Even to the most sophisticated among us, it really does “feel” like there’s a homunculus, an inner being, who is the real doer and experiencer, directing the body like the driver of a car. And when someone dies, it really does look like something has left the body, leaving it like a cast-off garment. Without the scientific resources to know what that mass of goo in the skull is capable of, the soul idea makes sense.

But I do think we can now account for the full miracle (and I think the word still applies) of life as a sentient being without recourse to a soul. That in no way diminishes the sheer wonder of a universe that became aware of itself.

glenjamin's avatar

I believe that you have nothing that cannot be taken away by physical means… meaning the soul does not exist. Think of people with Alzheimer’s, can’t even remember who they are. What happened to their “souls?” We are but flesh and bone, but we are artful creatures to say the least.

Sayd_Whater's avatar

Because I refuse to believe that when the body dies the soul goes with it…
Have you ever seen a dead body? The body remain, but where is the soul??? The essence?

Must go somewhere – but not just anywhere… So it must go the descendents, otherwise, then I do believe that it’s gone forever.

Elder people losse memory and habilities, and the younger people gain it.

Why do think reproduction is so important?

Although someone might think animals don’t have soul… I think they recognise it better than us, and they know what they have to do better than us…

flutherother's avatar

Yes and no depending on how you define ‘soul’.

Qingu's avatar

Why must the soul go somewhere if it is generated by brain activity?

It’s like saying that when you smash a computer, your iTunes must go somewhere.

Also: people do not gain memories and abilities by absorbing them from dying people.

Arbornaut's avatar

James Brown lives on!

Sayd_Whater's avatar

But why do you think that the soul is physically linked to the body? And why to the brain specifically?
Listen..I do believe that you gain qualities and flaws from the elders… And I do believe that one can gain much more than just physical appearance from elders, eventhough, for some reason, they have never get to meet.
You just have to pay attention to simple particularities…
How often do you hear that someone “picked that gift, or flaw” from the mother, or grandfather? I see it just by watching my nephew behaving and talking just like my grandfather, despite they never met and despite their obvious physical differences.
(But you know…he never looked at me and said: Hi grandchild! How are since our last chess game?!? That would be weird…)
I believe that after death the soul reaches the absulute true about everything, and when it borns again…just forgets most of it…leaving nothing more than instinct and unexplained “Deja Vu’S”...
Either way I don’t believe that brain activity generates souls….but the other way around – One soul can generate many lives. If the soul decide to leave the body…the body may remain tecnically alive linked to machines, although it isn’t really ALIVE, is it?
Plus the lack of brain activity is the legal way to declare someone’s death, but it’s just a theory… No one can say for sure that the soul left the body… But than again no one can say for sure that the soul exist or not!
But does the lack of brain activity determines death even if the rest of the body works just fine? And what if your brain is intact and the rest of organs fail? you don’t go anywhere…either…at least without a transplant. (Someone once said that the soul could follow a transplanted heart – And that doesn’t shock me);

gailcalled's avatar

I turn to the poets in order to examine this question.

Here’s WB Yeats: A Dialog of Self and Soul.

The last five lines, attributed to the Self:

When such as I cast out remorse
So great a sweetness flows into the breast
We must laugh and we must sing,
We are blest by everything,
Everything we look upon is blest.

And Andrew Marvell’s earlier A Dialog between the Soul and Body.

dubsrayboo's avatar

Everything was created spiritually before they were created physically. Everything. All creatures and humans. Thus everything has a soul. The soul within you is directly linked to you. It gives you the essence of who you are. When you die your soul doesn’t die. After your physical death your soul does not loose any information learned or any memories, they are all intact. I also believe that your soul and body will reunite with the second coming of Christ.

Hobbes's avatar

I think the idea of having an individual soul is an illusion because the idea of being an discrete individual separate from the rest of reality is an illusion. I do think that all of reality, including human beings, is divine. I think “Soul” is a word for this. Taoism calls it the Tao. Hinduism calls it Brahman, Sufism speaks of all creation being God’s ongoing Theophany, Buddhism refers to the “Buddha Nature” of all things. Spinoza talked about God’s “Immanence”. I think our body is our soul.

PARAprakrti's avatar

Q: Does soul exist?
A: The living entity exists, yes.

Q: Is soul a separate entity?
A: Yes. The soul is distinct from the body.

Q: Is man constituted of two parts, body and soul? (or three, body, soul and spirit?)
A: The soul is the living entity. Everything else is material covering.

Q: Or body and soul is one thing with two faces?
A: No.

Q: Do you believe that the soul is a part of mind or vice versa?
A: Neither. The mind is part of the subtle material energy and not part of the soul.

Q: Is there soul in animals and plants? In the Universe?
A: Soul = living entity. Ergo, living organism means presence of soul.

Q: Does the soul exist after life?
A: The soul is life. “After” and “before” are terms relative to some particular body.

BoBo1946's avatar

Yes. @PARAprakrti very good!

Welcome to Fluther!

Summum's avatar

The Earth itself has a soul.

Sayd_Whater's avatar

@Summum I totally agree with that! I call it Mother Nature =)

Summum's avatar

@Sayd_Whater Good answer Lurve.

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JakePark's avatar

There is no empirical evidence that there is anything that constitutes a person other than their biology. However, there are many faiths that believe in a soul and offer explanations beyond the physical. Try checking out some religious organizations near you for more answers to the question of whether there is a soul.

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