An Eternal Soul

The essence of self in our minds and psyche appears when the neurons of our brain formulate and process our first thought. These thoughts are recorded as memories that continue to feed our growing identities. What happens to our essence of self when our brains no longer function? I’ve known people that have died and everything I’ve seen has shown me they cease to exist. My own experience is that I don’t know of anything before I was born. Everything I know of our physical universe tells me that I don’t exist without my brain.

Religions teach us that there’s an eternal soul. The fear of death and the desire to live forever makes the idea of the soul a very appealing fiction. I have memories of loved ones that have passed away and it is through human imagination and these memories that I can project their persona into the present and imagine what they may think if they were still alive. Our imaginations have a powerful ability to trick and confuse the reality in our minds. Combining imagination with the vision of someone that actually existed can make their soul and essence of their existence appear to be real and eternal. Early humans and their ancestor worship led to the development of the eternal soul concept in later religions along with a heaven to hold our souls.

I have no sense of my personality or thoughts before I was born. The growth of our persona over the course of our lives leads me to believe there isn’t an eternal aspect to our essence of self. There should be some signs of our mental abilities and growth starting well before our physical human lives if we did have souls. Each person starts as a blank slate and a sponge that learns from everything around them instead of bringing with them an eternal knowledge or wisdom that a soul should possess.

If there really was an eternal soul then our human lives exist in such a small blip of time that these lives are meaningless compared to eternity. This very moment that you read this and contemplate this thought would literally have no meaning or value compared to the eternal time that we aren’t human beings. An eternal soul devalues human life and makes it insignificant and unimportant compared to the importance of an eternal soul. This is a dangerous viewpoint because unknowable beliefs about these imagined souls could be argued to be more important than the human lives we know.

The importance of agnosticism is the acknowledgement that we don’t really know about these supernatural or spiritual concepts. We shouldn’t put our faith in what we don’t know regardless of how much we might imagine or believe such things could be true. What we do know about our very real human lives should always be the most important concept that guides us.

I know I’m definitely a human being and not an immortal soul momentarily possessing this body. Every fiber of my being tells me I really do need this body to exist and my death will be the end of me. It doesn’t make sense to make the giant leap of faith to believe in my soul since it conflicts with that feeling of life inside my physical body and mind.

4 thoughts on “An Eternal Soul

  1. Hi, Jeff,
    Excellent threadhead. Very provocative. I think you could have expanded, but, I understand. To the point, so the reader has the patience to read the entire argument.
    So, let me expand on your precise foundation. While our intuitions about the existence or lack of existence of an afterlife have no more scientific value than a religionists faith in the promise, what does enter into logical debate is our survival instinct. Every living thing is tenaciously possessed with it. You can pour Roundup on a shrub whose branches are fucking up your chainlink fense, cut it to it’s stump and a couple of years later, it is fucking up your fense again.
    Now, let’s look at virus. Scientists don’t even classify them as life, because they have no nervous system, and no reproductive capability of their own. They must inject their genetic material into living cells in order to reproduce. They could be classified as a poison if it weren’t for the fact that they can evolve faster than science can chase them. They have no brain, and therefore cannot “want to survive” yet they do.
    Now, let’s look at humans. We are intelligent enough to recognize a pattern of events based on past generations leads to a conclusion that every human born is going to die, and nothing can be done to stop it. But, because of our survival instinct, and a void in science, we decided there must be an afterlife. Not that we love suffering life so much, by we feared the inevitable death. So clerics and witchdoctors, and prophets used the opportunity to sell us hopes of never dying as long as we never questioned the word of the church, or the warlord who was in bed with it.

    Agnostism is freedom from all that confusion, without inventing the anti-religion. We are freethought.

    NL

  2. Hi, Jeff,
    I just watched the first part of a two part series by Richard Dawkins about the corrosive effects of superstition on society. It may be ironic that it frustrates me on a deep level that I agree with absolutely everything he said.
    Why? would be an understandable response. The answer about my frustration is clear and easy. That in so many ways, I am an atheist. Yet, at the same time, atheists do not understand the lesson taught by superstition and religion. That the error of thought is to believe in that which cannot be proven. And while many who call themselves atheists for the same reason I feel a kinship with them, are really agnostics. Or, we could believe Penn Jillette who admits that every atheist is an agnostic.
    Personally, I disagree, because that would make every atheist a freethinker. By extrapolation, bigots and conspiracy theorists would be freethinkers, too. Agnostism is the highest degree of skepticm. It is pure proven science.
    Now, I may even live on a wider fringe than you, Jeff, in my skepticism, because my understanding of scientific palentology, and the fate of past ecosystems presents me with the reality that millions of years of evolutionary progress can be swept away by global event. The message I recieve from that is that even if there is spark behind the origin of the universe, it does not interfere with course of chaos. At best, it sits and curiously watches, awaiting the final outcome.
    So, someone could ask, if you believe no gods influence the affairs of men, why not call yourself an atheist? Again, the answer is simple. To call myself an atheist is to miss the lesson of religion and superstition. That lesson is: believe nothing that cannot be proven. If atheists want me to believe the universe is an accident, don’t hand me theories, show me scientific proof. Until they do, I don’t know. If that offends them, and I have heard all their epithets, so I wish them an epiphany, but, I am less than hopeful.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0CyMglakWoo

  3. I understand the grappling with labels and their use and misuse. I think I have more problems with the use of agnostic to try to say a person is undecided than I am with the use of the atheist label. It’s not indecision to apply agnosticism to religious viewpoints. I don’t view agnosticism as an affirmation of a lack of commitment. I agree with atheism from the sense that I lack belief in theism. That’s it. It’s not my label of choice but I don’t reject that meaning and when other people use it I don’t assume they’re engaging in “gnostic atheism.” The most logical truth to me is “agnostic atheism” and a lack of knowledge that is the rationale for lacking belief.

    I have no major issues with Dawkins and tend to agree when he says this about agnosticism:
    According to Richard Dawkins, a distinction between agnosticism and atheism is unwieldy and depends on how close to zero we are willing to rate the probability of existence for any given god-like entity. Since in practice it is not worth contrasting a zero probability with one that is nearly indistinguishable from zero, he prefers to categorize himself as a “de facto atheist”. He specifies his position by means of a scale of 1 to 7. On this scale, 1 indicates “100 per cent probability of God.” A person ranking at 7 on the scale would be a person who says “I know there is no God…” Dawkins places himself at 6 on the scale, which he characterizes as “I cannot know for certain but I think God is very improbable, and I live my life on the assumption that he is not there”, but leaning toward 7. About himself, Dawkins continues that “I am agnostic only to the extent that I am agnostic about fairies at the bottom of the garden.” Dawkins also identifies two categories of agnostics: Temporary Agnostics in Practice (TAPs), and Permanent Agnostics in Principle (PAPs). Dawkins considers temporary agnosticism an entirely reasonable position, but views permanent agnosticism as “fence-sitting, intellectual cowardice.”

    I will say that I’m definitely a temporary agnostic insofar that I believe it will be hundreds of generations or more before agnosticism can be replaced by verifiable knowledge of the first origin of the universe. 🙂

  4. That you can not remember, what was before birth is not a proof of anything unless you can proof that not beeing is the ONLY reason why you can t remember anything.

    This is a very basic error of classical logic as already the greek teached. I am very unimpressed.

    It is especially heavy error as their are many known processes which can cause memory loss and birth might just be one cause we do no understand very well.

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