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 science?
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.