Tuesday, October 28, 2008

What is a Soul? The $10,000 Question no one can answer.

The soul is apparently what separates us from animal’s, it is what makes us human. It is our umbilical tube to God & allows us to access eternal life.

But what exactly is a soul?

I posed this question & others, to local Christian Web Site called Soul Purpose. Actually, I had to ask twice and you can read the replies in detail, both
here & here.

I appreciated the honest input, but felt unfulfilled in the answers I received (some straight from Wiki, cut & pasted) Souls form a major tenant of Christian & theist belief, yet remain strangely indescribable to even those who say they have one.

“We are not simply flesh and bones - we have personalities, emotions, these are part of what make us unique”.

“A soul is who we are, our body holds us, but our soul contains the essence of who we are”.

“Instilled by God--along with the spirit”

“The soul is some part of us that is separate to the rest of our humanity and floats around somewhere somehow”

So who could tell me what a soul is?

The major source on what a soul is, has to be The Bible, right? But when I researched this avenue, it turned-out there were more questions than answers.

Take the first reference point from its pages
“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)

Am I right interpreting from Genesis that, my whole body is in fact one massive soul? The middle toe on say my left foot? My elbow as well? If I lose a finger in an accident does this mean, I’ve lost a part of my soul as well?

Besides none of this answers ‘at which stage of our evolution development was it God decided we were human enough to blow these souls into us’?

Nor could I find-out if we have different sized souls or does one size fit all? Can I choose a colour, as black makes me look too thin? Do they grow and conversely deflate, like balloons, at different stages of ones life?

“The soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul” (Samuel 18:1)at least gives us something to work-on & seems to say souls can be connected like conjoined twins?

Does it mean a soul form at birth or at the moment of conception? What happens to identical twins, do they share a soul? Does God randomly pull souls from a shelf and implant them into embryos? Do some people get the deluxe soul version?

I also pondered how come brain-damaged people can show radical changes in personality after say an accident? Shouldn’t their souls kick-in and over-ride this?

There are no obvious answers to these important questions.

Jeremiah 2:34, states a soul has blood, which allows us to at least relate it to something we all know about.

So the logical presumption we can all take from Jeremiah 2;34, is that souls must be detectable?

Sadly, this is not the case, and despite what is written in Jeremiah, perplexingly they remain invisible and scientifically undetectable, unlike all other things made of red/white blood cells, platelets, plasma etc.

Another passage that implies souls are made of matter is in account of the torture of Joseph in Psalms
“I saw the iron enter into his soul, and felt what sort of pain it was that ariseth from hope deferred.”

The soul is mentioned literally thousands of times in the new & old testaments, 300 alone in reference to death/immortality – but no where is there was there any explanation I could find that could answer the most important question of all “what is a soul?”

For someone seeking answers, I would have thought its pages would have been ‘the’ reference point, but I was left utterly confused and having to interpret every damn thing.

Why can’t a God forsaken unbeliever like me get a straight answer to a straight question?

May be part of the problem with using The Bible to define a soul ( or Nephesh or Psuche) is because the word itself has many meanings, such as ‘life, ‘self’, ‘person’, ‘desire’ even ‘appetite’ etc.

So many definitions of the word abound for the word I’m not even going to start quoting them, other than to say the word & concept pre-dates Christianity by thousands of years.

No way did The God of the Bible did not have a monopoly on soul creation, with thousands of current/past religions sharing the concept. Egyptian Mummies, anyone? What say a Viking funeral instead? Why are the Aristotle, Buddhist, Plato, Bahia, Inca concept’s of a soul any less credible than the Christian one, remembering none of them have any basis in

Believing in something doesn’t make it true and Christians would scoff at the polytheist religions like those practiced in Egypt. It’s also possible to put up an argument for fairies at the bottom of the garden, but what we seek as humans are solid answers.

Surely something as intrinsically important as a soul to the Christian story, with billions of believers, should be definable, not open to interpretation?

But it isn’t, and the conclusion I came to was - ‘no one knows, what the hell a soul is!’.

Mind you at least one of the respondents at 'Soul Purpose' had the honesty to come-out straight, and say as much.

I also have little doubt that if you asked, in isolation, 100 theists who claim to have souls, what they are in 200 words or less, you’d get 100 different answers. It would be more intriguing, amusing almost, to see what would happen if you asked believers to ‘draw a soul’.

As ridiculous as the concept sounds there are loopies out there that will paint you a portrait of your own soul! Above is a rendition of what a soul looks like, just in case you were wondering what the hell it was.

I’m positive not even the Pope himself could tell me with any surety, & his drawing would be little better than a 10 year olds down the road.

A soul simply is indescribable, as much as it is undetectable.

That’s because souls don’t exist, and this whole exercise proves it.


Jono said...

What does your thought process look like?

I don't think you really took anytime to try and understand the viewpoints of those on the websites you posted on, some are quite valid others less so but at the same time you provide no scientific evidence to counter the existence of a soul, as an atheist this is something you should be striving for.

Your arguements are less than compelling and show similar reasoning to an 8 year olds.

Canterbury Atheists said...

Translating Jonos reply: I’m Christian. I don’t know what a soul is either & have nothing to contribute on an intellectual basis or even provide a passage from my favourite book to substantiate my beliefs. So I’ll play the man and not the ball. Jono, why not do a google on that nutcase Doctor Duncan MacDougall, and his crude, morbid attempts to prove scientifically a soul exists? Then play the You-Tube Video & ‘Fake It’ again and listen to the lyrics mate.

Jono said...

Yes I am a Christian, and a soul is the life of someone, believe it or not wait till someone you know dies and then look at the body and you'll notice that something is not "there" as it were. On an intellectual level if you are attacking the case for a creator: take a look at micro organisms, the delicate nature and function of these organisms to the point where they have bio-mechanical motors would indicate some seriously interesting stuff went on to get there, the theory that an amount of matter smaller than the head of a pin could explode and create more mass is wrong. you can't make mass out of nothing, and you can't make water out of iron. element wise its impossible. And if you're an evolutionist explain to me how mud which has no living organisms, suddenly have living organisms and turn into a fish - again, this is basic, it will not work. And if you're into you're modern scientists- why do you base you're arguement on a 19th century scientist? even if it was accurate most people would disregard it these days.

By saying you're an atheist you are saying you know everything(by the way what brand is my stereo?). If you know everything then let me be the first one to shake your hand, as you would have surpassed everyone in knowledge base.

To the extent of your knowledge(which is limited)God doesn't exist.This statement is the most true and exacting statement that can be made.

As for a biblical point for my belief, I can't say I rely on the bible for my belief I prefer actual experiences, however perhaps Gen1:1 "In the beginning.." would be a good starting point.

Canterbury Atheists said...

Jono, you are going off on a tangent buddy. This topic is the soul, not evolution. My profile is displayed to the middle/right of every page and says for your benefit ‘Atheists do look for answers to existence itself. They just don't make them up’. From this you get a fair idea of what I’m about. I suggest you read my yet article again and you’ll see I did my best to seek answers about the soul, only I couldn’t find them in Christian circles at least, nor in the pages of The Bible, nor from you or your mates at Soul Purpose. Remember it’s not me who claims to have a soul – it’s you. Thus you have a point to prove & currently all you are doing is ranting-on when I’m more than happy to be convinced by solid evidence (that’s how most atheists work by the way). All you are using at the moment is the traditional argument I alluded to in my article, that’s to say: ‘prove to me fairies DON’T live at the bottom of the garden’ when you need to prove ‘fairies DO live at the bottom of the garden’ to convince me. Happy to receive criticism & corrections, where it is due.Hope next time you can at least provide some biblical passages which will clarify this for me. Cheers.Paul.

youtube required said...

The soul is one's physical body. That's it. People always get it confused with spirit. Spirit can be one's attitude, spunk, fire, etc (that one's got spirit!), or people can think a spirit part that goes on somehow after death, or astral travel, and so on. But to say soul as spirit, as an invisible part of you to live on, is a scripture mis perception/mistranslation, imooooo

youtube required said...

But all animals have souls (physical bodies) and spirit. So, saying otherwise is usually speciesist bigotry. "They don't have soul like us so they are unworthy" and such fiddle faddle.

Anonymous said...

The soul is the physical body, duh. one of the biggest bible mis understandings and lies ever

Rob Leder said...

No clue what souls are, but if they "form a major tenant of Christian & theist belief", maybe I should become a believer. I guess the rent payments are a sort-of reward, kind-of like Islam's 72 virgins? Or perhaps you meant "tenet", not "tenant".