Dude, Where's My Soul?

I’ve been thinking about souls lately. As an agnostic/atheist, this can be pretty entertaining. You don’t have to call it a soul, though. Even if you call it a mind or a personality, it is an odd thing.

First of all, between 50% and 80% of you is made up of water. Good ol’ H2O. I weigh (unfortunately) about 190 lb. (or 86 kg). That means that what I refer to as “me” includes 3 water-cooler sized jugs of water (about 14 gallons at 8.33 gallon/lb.). Does 3 water-cooler sized jugs of water have a soul? I would think not.

I found a site with the elements of the periodic table sorted by their presence in the human body. It looks like we are, in decreasing order of percentage, oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sulphur, sodium and magnesium. Do any of those things have a soul? Do they have a mind?

A mind, we could argue, is a higher level brain function essentially involving close analogs to computers, with data storage, processing and interconnections. Thus a mind is explicable as a rather sophisticated “ghost in the machine” that can be fully explained by physics.

Where is the soul, though? What is a soul? Why do some believe in souls? A soul, they would say, is exactly that part of us which is not a function of the intricate arrangement of various elements. It is not physical. So people have souls and water jugs do not. Who decided that? A soul, apparently, is a special designation by God of supernatural permanence. Or, to be more objective, a soul would be some extra-dimensional aspect of human beings whose existence was not dependent on the “mortal coil” here incarnated. In this case the other dimension may not be study-able, i.e. literally beyond the capabilities of 4-D science, but if this soul thing plays any role in our dimensions, it can’t be completely beyond the realm of study.

I’m trying to be open-minded and thorough because it is an important question. As a hardcore agnostic slash light-weight atheist, it is still hard for me to completely relent to the fact that I am not special. Part of me just so wants to believe that somehow I am special. As someone decidedly non-religious, that translates to there somehow being more reality than we are able to sense. A more complex answer, really, to cosmological questions than the Big Bang/GR/Quantum ones we have discovered. In a way it seems somehow to deny my humanity if I deny the possibility that maybe there really is more than we think.

There is not the slightest shred of evidence for something like this, nor the slightest evidence for God, Heaven or Hell. While it is totally natural to speculate, the only rational answer is extreme agnosticism. Or perhaps atheism. All the rest is the wishful thinking of people that just don’t want to die.

You are going to die. That is a fact. I’m not scared of dying in the abstract. I’m not scared of being dead. My life is precious and therefore all lives are precious, regardless if, and especially if, when we die we are dead. That will not hurt. The fact that we are going where all people go, even if that is to an eternity of non-being, should give us comfort.

We don’t need souls. We are special, you and me, either way.

Dude, Where's My Soul?

5 thoughts on “Dude, Where's My Soul?

  1. Okay so I was waiting for my treatments to dry and I was thinking…hmm, what would happen if I google where’s my soul?

    And this little blog came up. Interesting because atheism is something I don’t entirely understand…Wants funny to me is that for someone who truly believes in her soul thinking about atheists/agnostics is entertaining to me….

    Science has been a love of mine since I was a kid. It in a way is truly one of my religions, my love..but at the same time I believe most definitely in a spiritual undertow of life.

    See…I agree with you completely that if a soul does play a role in our dimension then we would be able to study it. I agree with you so completely that to deny the possibility that there is more than we think is to deny our humanity. Because to define life, humans, without addressing the spiritual, soul, mind, heart, divine, the patterns, the synchronicity that affects us is not an accurate description.

    I have felt that there is much more in the world, believed wholly in the intangible of life since I was a child. I follow no organized religion and I do not try to define my spirituality in terms of others and their doctrines. Nor was I raised in a highly religious family. But I feel it. I dream it. I see it in the patterns of my life, in my emotions, my work, in my science…

    This is why Carl Jung always fascinated me with his visions and idea of synchronicity. A man that broke away from Freud because he truly believed that human behavior was driven more than just by sex and preservation. Fascinating. Through reading his work, I learned to be more openminded and to turn not just science to come into connection with my path, my force, but other less conventional avenues.

    I’m not going to get into what here because people especially scientists have so little faith in orthodox manners of exploring life it would open me up to criticism I’m sure.

    But I don’t believe in a soul to feel special. Because honestly to believe humans have a soul is to believe everyone has a soul. Therefore no one would be special for the possession of a soul. We are all the same in our differences, this is true whether you believe in a soul or not.

    Nor do I believe in it because I’m afraid of death. For centuries, man has had religion. We evolved with it. People argue it’s because we need it, especially after Darwin who tossed us out into a universe of chaos, sex, and destruction.

    But consider that perhaps maybe humanity has always had religion, spirituality not because we need it. Not because we’re afraid. Because it’s there. Because we all feel it. We all feel it, that undertow, in some way or another. Whether you call if god, jesus, goddess, santa, the powers that be, little fairies, the soul, physics….there is something there beyond us and within us.

    So I’ve studied my soul through evolution and all it’s talk of sex, spandrels, and the birth of humanity. I’m study it through meditation, divination, dancing, loving, dreaming, all that good stuff. All that science. I love it. Well, just had to say something.

    Like

  2. Mandy says:

    Okay so I was waiting for my treatments to dry and I was thinking…hmm, what would happen if I google where’s my soul?

    And this little blog came up. Interesting because atheism is something I don’t entirely understand…Wants funny to me is that for someone who truly believes in her soul thinking about atheists/agnostics is entertaining to me….

    Science has been a love of mine since I was a kid. It in a way is truly one of my religions, my love..but at the same time I believe most definitely in a spiritual undertow of life.

    See…I agree with you completely that if a soul does play a role in our dimension then we would be able to study it. I agree with you so completely that to deny the possibility that there is more than we think is to deny our humanity. Because to define life, humans, without addressing the spiritual, soul, mind, heart, divine, the patterns, the synchronicity that affects us is not an accurate description.

    I have felt that there is much more in the world, believed wholly in the intangible of life since I was a child. I follow no organized religion and I do not try to define my spirituality in terms of others and their doctrines. Nor was I raised in a highly religious family. But I feel it. I dream it. I see it in the patterns of my life, in my emotions, my work, in my science…

    This is why Carl Jung always fascinated me with his visions and idea of synchronicity. A man that broke away from Freud because he truly believed that human behavior was driven more than just by sex and preservation. Fascinating. Through reading his work, I learned to be more openminded and to turn not just science to come into connection with my path, my force, but other less conventional avenues.

    I’m not going to get into what here because people especially scientists have so little faith in orthodox manners of exploring life it would open me up to criticism I’m sure.

    But I don’t believe in a soul to feel special. Because honestly to believe humans have a soul is to believe everyone has a soul. Therefore no one would be special for the possession of a soul. We are all the same in our differences, this is true whether you believe in a soul or not.

    Nor do I believe in it because I’m afraid of death. For centuries, man has had religion. We evolved with it. People argue it’s because we need it, especially after Darwin who tossed us out into a universe of chaos, sex, and destruction.

    But consider that perhaps maybe humanity has always had religion, spirituality not because we need it. Not because we’re afraid. Because it’s there. Because we all feel it. We all feel it, that undertow, in some way or another. Whether you call if god, jesus, goddess, santa, the powers that be, little fairies, the soul, physics….there is something there beyond us and within us.

    So I’ve studied my soul through evolution and all it’s talk of sex, spandrels, and the birth of humanity. I’m study it through meditation, divination, dancing, loving, dreaming, all that god stuff. All that science. I love it. Well, just had to say something.

    Like

  3. chem_fem says:

    The table of the elements as proportion of the human body…

    Is this by mass or in moles? If we are composed of up to 80% water I’d expect hydrogen to be higher than third place.

    Maybe it’s all those unsaturated fats……

    Like

  4. i’ve always been puzzled by the soul, heaven, hell, life-after stuff.

    but i have a theory… imagine you’re trying to build up the membership of your brand-new religion. you need a hook. what’s the biggest fear? death. what’s the biggest payoff? eternal life.

    Michael, i think that soul gizmo is just a marketing thing.

    Like

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