Is there a soul?

I have some questions I’d like to have some input on. I know it may seem like some rather trite and unanswerable questions, but I’m interested in what my readers think and see if they can help me out any with some of my own thoughts. Here are the questions:

Does a human being have a soul? Why do you believe this?

And a bonus question for theists: Do you feel your theological/religious beliefs compel you believe in a soul? If so, why?

For the purposes of the discussion, let’s roughly define the soul as an immaterial component of a human being that is where the individual’s identity, emotions, and creativity reside. If you don’t like this definition, be sure to state your superior definition.

Feel free to be very expansive with your reasoning. Go crazy with the comments (I’ll do light editing if there are some obvious typos). If you’d like to keep your response private, feel free to email it to me.

4 thoughts on “Is there a soul?

  1. To start-yes I believe in a soul. But no, I don’t believe that the soul is the immaterial center of identity, creativity, emotions, etc. These things are, while difficult to identify in terms of basic materials, structures, and chemicals in the brain, extremely easy to affect by means of material, structural, and chemical manipulation. Hence, I do not believe that the soul is the root of identity, creativity, and emotion.

    I believe that the soul is the eternal part of a person that goes on to the afterlife once the body stops kickin’. I don’t know much about the soul once it gets to wherever it winds up after the body dies. I don’t know if it is some sort of ideal self with any sort of flaws in personality removed or fixed (such as a person with some sort of metal retardation in life becoming “normal” in death), if it reflects exactly the same person you had grown to become at the moment your life ended, or what the deal is. I just believe in the eternal persistance of the soul. That is all.

    I believe in this only because I am a theist. There is absolutely no scientific or logical rationale that I can use to support this belief. I believe that people who have momentarily “died on the operating table” and come back spouting stuff like “I saw all my old dead relatives and pets” and such stories were never really “dead” to begin with. Their hearts may not have been beating, but their brains were still lingering in a dream-like state between life and death.

    Why do I believe in a soul for purely theistic reasons? Because my faith compells me to believe in the afterlife. And because it makes me comfortable. I would really LIKE to believe that I go somewhere nice after I die. It makes my life and identity seem more meaningful. I realize that I am not a world-changing man like Da Vinci or Einstien, that when I die people will likely forget about me within a couple of generations. I believe in a soul partly because I need to feel that I will not simply fizzle out of existance at some point.

    Anyhow, I hope this gives you something to work with…

  2. I believe I have a soul. My belief is primarily based on my theism, and my theism is of the Christian stripe.

    I seriously doubt there will ever be solid scientific evidence to prove my claim or my belief. Yet I don’t dismiss Near Death Experiences as easily as your other poster. I have seen a documentary (“The Search for Heaven” from the Grizzly Adams production company) of a procedure performed on a woman whereby her heart was stopped, her body was chilled, the blood was drained from her head and brain (she was undergoing a delicate brain operation), her eyes were taped shut and her ears were plugged. Yet, somehow, she was able to describe events, dialog, and devices in the room with amazing clarity. Other NDE survivors have described events in nearby rooms which they could not have witnessed. One woman told of “floating” up to the roof of the hospital where she saw a red shoe. After recovery, an intern was sent up to the roof, where the red shoe was recovered.

    There are so many events like this documented by respectable M.D.s and medical practitioners that I am persuaded by this, if nothing else, that *something* persists when bodily activity is suspended. To be sure, these patients/victims have not truly died: they only came “near” death and lived to tell the tale. But it does seem compelling to me that they are able to recount with vivid clarity not only seemingly supernatural events, but real-world events as well. The soul does seem to have some reality beyond the body. I do not, however, consider the content of the supernatural experiences to be substantively consistent enough to draw solid conclusions. Too much is subject to interpretation.

    I also like C.S. Lewis’ contention that there is no natural, innate desire in man for which a true object for his desires does not exist. We thirst, naturally, and we have water which quenches our thirst. Love satisfies our loneliness. Food satisfies our hunger. Sex satisfies our lust. Etc. and etc.

    In all civilizations throughout all time, man has yearned for meaning beyond this life. It is as nearly universal a need/desire/longing as can be imagined.

    If we have a desire for a thing which cannot be found within this world, we might rightly conclude that the thing which satisfies us (an afterlife) doesn’t exist within this world. We have been made for eternity.



  3. Good thoughts. I like your CS Lewis reference. I’ve always dismissed most of the stories such as “the red shoe” bit as heresay and conjecture, but I am sure that some of these stories are probably true enough.

  4. You are different from me. I can interact with you and get a response back. You have thoughts that differ from mine. You have dreams different from mine. So, in other words I do believe in souls. I also believe that souls make us who we are. For us to livein this world and be aware of who we are, and to die into nothingness… then what was the point for our existance to begin with. I believe things happen for a reason, even though I may not understand it at that time. But I do believe we all have souls, even down to our very pets. If you ask me, thats all the proof I need šŸ™‚

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