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The existence of the soul.

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The existence of the soul.

Post  Haneul on Tue Jan 20, 2015 12:21 pm

I won't bore you with all the terrible details, but to surmise my situation: A beloved aunt of mine recently passed away while I was questioning the logic of my religion (I'd been a practicing Hellenic polytheist for seven years previously). The Gods brought me solace before and now continue to bring me the solace I need, but my doubt of the Soul lingers, despite my better efforts to reassure myself of its existence. I've asked everyone in my life for their opinions on the subject, which resulted in being told to look up Bible passages (which aren't reassuring at all). So I've come here to see what this community, which (as near as I can tell) believes similarly to myself, can tell me about the subject.

There seems to be no logical proof of the Soul, but without the Soul, life would be a pointless, temporary thing. Morality wouldn't matter because we'd ourselves be temporary bodies acting upon other temporary bodies. Compassion, kindness, and love would cease to matter, because without an immortal Soul these feelings would be as temporary as the bodies which comprise our consciousness. Our lives would begin and end linearly, and nothing would be remembered afterward, because we'd forget ourselves afterward. We'd be little more than rocks with muscles to move us, hearts to warm us, and brains to fool us into thinking we're more than the walking corpses that we are. Our existence would be little more than an illusion constructed inside our own elaborate brains. It seems to me innately wrong that there should be no Soul - but neither can I find proof, in science or in logic, of its existence.

So, the Soul: Does it exist, or doesn't it?


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Re: The existence of the soul.

Post  DavidMcCann on Tue Jan 20, 2015 2:13 pm

Hellenism, like all paganisms, resulted from the accumulated experience of people over millennia. All peoples believe in the soul, so if you accept their belief in the gods, why reject their belief in the soul?

Those who reject the idea of a soul are mostly suffering from what the philosopher Thomas Reid called "philosophical lunacy": the adoption of views that normal people would laugh at, because they are carried away by their own fallacious arguments. The arguments for materialism are very weak: Sir Karl Popper called them humbug, because they mostly come down to assertions with no evidence. Other modern philosophers, like Richard Swinburne and Stephan K├Ârner, have also pointed out their weakness. As Descartes pointed out, my body could be an illusion, but I know I have a mind.

Consider a dying man. The monitor stops beeping: electrical activity in the brain has ceased and he's dead. But how does his body one second before differ from one second after? Only in its lack of activity. To assert that electrical activity in the brain is life rather than a consequence of life is begging the question. What registrar would accept a death certificate that gave the cause as "cessation of brain activity"? The difference between the living man and the corpse is the presence or absence of the soul.

Suppose a scientist could learn to recognise the presence of certain perceptions from brain states. This would be no more significant than his ability to recognise emotions from facial expressions: he could not know that a particular brain state indicated that the subject was seeing blue unless he had been told so by the subject and unless he knew what "seeing blue" meant from his own experiences.

Will the soul persist? Old age and death are a reflection of the facts that the more complex a system is, the more easily it is changed by interaction with its environment, and that the majority of changes in a complex system will be deleterious: "Murphy's Law". The soul is not a complex entity and only registers its experiences without being changed by them. We see, in consequence, that our minds do not age, although some of their activities may be restricted by the aging of the brain, just as they may be restricted by loss of sight or hearing. It the soul does not age, how then can it die? Moreover, matter can only be destroyed by dissolution into its component parts, or transformation into energy. The soul has no parts and does not transform. The universality of belief in the immortality of the soul is stronger than any arguments that might be brought against it.

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