Wednesday, February 28, 2007

What is a Soul?

Soul, as per most of the religions, is an immortal essence of a human. It survives physical death. According to some believes, it goes to Hell or Heaven with some other body. Some others believe, it takes another body to reborn as a human once more.

The essential property of a soul is 'self-awareness'. It means, a soul knows the identity of the human attached to it. So, it is safe to conclude that soul has memory (at least minimal) since it retains knowledge. This 'self-awareness' property is lost in the case of rebirth, with some exceptions. In case of other beliefs, the new body in hell or heaven must retain the identity of the human - otherwise what's the use of punishing or pampering it?

Now coming to the 'minimal memory', what is the exact domain of memory retained by the soul at physical death? If it is only the name and address of the human being, it cannot simply have a 'self-awareness' property. It should retain most of the memory of the human being it has been attached to. In other words, the memory at the time of death is the best candidate to be retained by soul, as logically deduced from beliefs.

Is the memory physical or non-physical? It has to be physical. It resides within human brain. There are brain disorders(Alzheimer's disease) those kill the memory. There are different types of Amnesia resulting out of head injury. This brings us to the paradox - what memory does the soul retain for an Amnesia patient? After all, the soul is non-physical. So, the memory has to be freed from the physical container (brain). The paradox two states that how this detachment takes place?

There are many other candidates as a soul like mind, thought and emotions. But none of them could logically survive without memory, can they? The modern soul theorists claim that soul is supernatural, it 'temporarily' stays inside the brain and then can easily float out of it. Even, that does not answer the paradox one. After all, a huge percentage of human beings suffer from global amnesia before death. Does the soul depart earlier for them? It cannot - according to the beliefs.

And, if I logically conclude that there is no soul then there should not be any hell or heaven as well. Neither should there be an afterlife. So, what are we living for? Is it to get a place in heaven or to merge our soul with the eternal soul? It increasingly seems that we live for ourselves. The life is a single and beautiful expression of a human being - with his body and mind. Live the life first, there might not be an afterlife at all.

References :
1) Religious views on soul.
2) Amnesia

Atheism, Religion, Soul

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