The true essence of what could be considered our soul is rooted in our physical mind. But what if there is a true origin for our soul in this universe that is not yet dreamt of in our philosophies or religions? The root of agnosticism for me is this acknowledgement that outside of our verifiable knowledge is the realm of the unknown and a possibly unknowable reality. The universe gives us our atoms and the building blocks of our physical bodies. I can imagine that some of the essence of our thoughts and our personas could also come from some misunderstood aspect of the universe instead of existing exclusively in our physical minds.
Our thoughts could be built from and connected back to the universe just as our bodies are built from the materials of the universe. Our bodies and minds are clearly independent of the universe, but there could be more of an impact and connection to our minds just as the physical universe impacts our physical bodies in many ways we don’t always understand or see. A physical example of this is radiation. Maybe there could be a mental equivalent of radiation. This is not to say that such things actually exist and leaps of faith can be justified by imagined possibilities. This is just to point out the limits of our knowledge. Since science can discover and prove radiation, perhaps science may be able to discover a mental essence of our being in addition to our physical existence. It could then be imagined that our mental essence could be built from our parents just as their DNA builds our physical bodies.
So many people believe in specific ideas of an intelligent creator that built thinking beings like themselves. I think it’s more likely this belief is based on projecting our own personas back on the universe from which we are built. If we have a subconscious sense of our bodies being built from the universe then perhaps we have a sense that our conscious also comes from the universe. This doesn’t mean there has to be a deliberate or intelligent cause for this to happen and is something that is beyond our knowledge our understanding. I’m simply suggesting that there may be something to a feeling that there is something out there more than this physical existence and it isn’t a jealous god that demands our love.
We know that the matter of the universe has spawned our physical bodies and minds in this little corner of it all. We don’t know, but it’s plausible, that we assemble our conscious thoughts and sense of self as momentary collections of something unknown in the universe just as our bodies are momentary collections of atoms we understand. We return our bodies to the universe to be used for other things that are unintelligent and unrelated to our lives. Perhaps our thoughts and the essence of our being could also be something tangible we don’t understand. Whatever it is could also be dispersed back into the universe when the atoms of our brains cease to be organized as a living organ capable of processing thoughts. There could be an eternal soul and it’s simply some other material in the universe that organizes into our sense of being for a brief moment in eternity to be dispersed back into the cosmos.
The concept of a soul is another point where I believe knowledge trumps belief and agnosticism is more informative and descriptive than atheism. Disbelief in theism doesn’t convey this idea of what is known and the possibility of something existing beyond what we currently consider to be the natural universe. The atheist response to the soul is that we don’t believe because it is unbelievable. This is valid but it isn’t my primary message to people asking me what I believe. The agnostic view of the soul is we don’t know because it’s unknowable. The complete picture is agnostic atheism: I don’t know and don’t believe because of that.