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Goodbye Jesus

Do Atheists Believe In Souls?


Guest Aquarius217

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Guest Aquarius217

I'm sure this question has been asked a million times but I'm not sure how I feel about souls.

 

I don't believe that our soul survives after our death. No one's soul "lives" on.

 

But do have a soul while we're alive? Do animals have souls?

 

Here's a few ways Merriam-Webster defines "soul":

 

1: the immaterial essence, animating principle, or actuating cause of an individual life

2 a: the spiritual principle embodied in human beings, all rational and spiritual beings, or the universe bcapitalized Christian Science : god 1b

3: a person's total self

 

 

I guess I'm not completely grasping the definition of "soul". I googled this question and the answer was a definite "No". But the answers pertained to souls after death.

 

What do you think?

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Goodbye Jesus

As far as the definition you have provided, I'd have to say I do not believe anyone has a soul. And if you don't believe that souls live on after death, I'm not sure why you care if people have souls or not?

 

What would you think the purpose of a soul would be? And what difference would it make if we had one or not?

 

It's an interesting question. I'm quite interested to know what started you thinking about this.

 

Heather

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There's nothing attributed to the "soul" that can't be explained by human brain activity.

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There's nothing attributed to the "soul" that can't be explained by human brain activity.

 

... exactly "par4dcourse"!

 

Give a human being a massive brain injury then check his/her ability to believe in a god ... to have feelings from the heart ... tends to render these "emotions" stone dead!

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here is my quandry with the concept of a soul....if a soul can exist on its own, if it can hold itself together as an individual entity not reliant on another, why would it bother inhabiting material bodies? What purpose does merging with a physical body have, if you already have a defined existence that, by religious definition, can last forever.

 

If there is a soul, I think it falls apart upon dead, because there is no bio-electrical field holding it together. Maybe the only souls that make it to Heaven are the ones that are strong enough to hold themselves together for the trip from body to Pearly Gates.....all others dissintergrate on the journey.

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Guest Aquarius217
As far as the definition you have provided, I'd have to say I do not believe anyone has a soul. And if you don't believe that souls live on after death, I'm not sure why you care if people have souls or not?

 

What would you think the purpose of a soul would be? And what difference would it make if we had one or not?

 

It's an interesting question. I'm quite interested to know what started you thinking about this.

 

Heather

 

I've been asking myself more and more questions and this includes certain terms that I've never thought about. I've heard the term "soul" used to mean the "essence of a person", but you can see how vague that definition is. I've also heard people describe someone else as "soulless", possibly meaning they're cold or that they have no emotions (?). When I was a believer, I did believe that our soul lived on. But since now I believe death is truly the end -- nothing of our being lives on beyond death -- certain questions have been popping up.

 

I don't care either way it was just something that came to my mind. I may never know what it means and I'm not bothered by that. I'm just seeing what others thought on the matter.

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i personally don't believe in souls. sure i at times when wandering about things, wonder how did "i" get into this body but i still see no reason to believe in souls.

 

but i know an atheist that either one does, or is open to the idea of it. he's my best friend. i at times am spellbounded how an atheist can believe in souls. i've always tied in souls with supernatural/spiritual. i've never asked him why he's open to that idea tho. no concern of mine.

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I like the "animating principle" definition, because I do think each individual conveys, to the outside world, an essence which is more than the sum of that person's life facts, body parts and brain activity. This evanescent something is, to me, the sense of style, the sense of life, the sense of purpose which can't be measured or codified, but which is grasped by others in a kind of totality, usually leading to an almost instant assessment of "I like that person" or "I can't trust that person" or whatever.

 

The word, soul, has been rendered almost useless because of its being co-opted for nefarious religious purposes of indoctrination, but maybe it's time for the rest of us to reclaim it and give it a definition meaningful to human interaction.

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I like the "animating principle" definition, because I do think each individual conveys, to the outside world, an essence which is more than the sum of that person's life facts, body parts and brain activity. This evanescent something is, to me, the sense of style, the sense of life, the sense of purpose which can't be measured or codified, but which is grasped by others in a kind of totality, usually leading to an almost instant assessment of "I like that person" or "I can't trust that person" or whatever.

 

The word, soul, has been rendered almost useless because of its being co-opted for nefarious religious purposes of indoctrination, but maybe it's time for the rest of us to reclaim it and give it a definition meaningful to human interaction.

maybe soul=individuality?

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Soul is an interesting concept.

 

There is "something" unique and seemingly singular that everyone can recognize though. It's your "window" of consciousness. In other words, you ONLY look out your own two eyes, no other creatures. You have a centering focus, though might be caused entirely by the brain, it is still singular to you.

 

Now, giving the assumption that infinity is truely infinite, and most all scientific data points to this as true, in an infinite environment there can exisit no singularity. This basicly proves there can be no one god, as if there were a god, it would mean there were immeasrable amounts of "gods" out there.

 

Ok well, if that is true, then, well you exist now once. It's not possible... You exist now, so you are established in the cosmos as a "possiblity", there can be no sinularities in infinity, so you HAVE to also exist an uncountible number of times *as well as* all possible variations of you.

 

This is actually far more probable then existing once, then never again, infinity indicates otherwise.

 

Does this make sense?

 

Using this concept, you can rightly define your self awareness, consiousness, AS your soul. As a single existance is proven by you right now reading this, means you will always exist, somewhere, sometime, some universe, but infinite, as you are established.

 

Of course its only theory, subject to revision, but in it's rawest form this theory to me, seems the most likely, and no god is required either. No afterlife, no "floating around" on clouds... Just simple death, becoming non-existant due to lack of brain and body, and being born somewhere again and aquiring your consiousness, your awareness, once again.

 

The sad thing is, you cant remember who you used to be because those memories died with your body. It's a paradox, we are mortal, yet immortal.

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Do Atheists Believe In Souls?

Technically, I don't see a problem if an atheist does, because an atheist is just about the standpoint in regards to a god, not supernatural, spirits, souls, and so on. However, most of the time an atheist is also very skeptical to any such claim and would most likely not believe in souls in the traditional sense.

 

Personally I don't, but I can't say I'm 100% certain the soul doesn't exist. I believe our awareness arises from the processes of the brain. In a sense the "soul" does exist on a higher level, or meta level (hence metaphysical) over matter, but it doesn't exist separate from matter. Just like Microsoft Windows only exist as a potential operating system on the installation CD, the harddisk, and the RAM in the computer, but won't exist fully and as an experience until the computer is on, processing the bits, in time, and interact with the world it's within. When you turn the computer off, that particular experience disappears. And also, we are who we are at the moment, not as some infinite template, i.e. we change who we are every second. Our experience at the moment is what makes us who we are, not the particular combination of neurons or cells, because we are constantly renewed, we learn new things, and our thoughts are different. But is it possible that our soul could exist outside matter, time, and space? In a way I think it is possible, but however unlikely.

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Soul is an interesting concept.

 

There is "something" unique and seemingly singular that everyone can recognize though. It's your "window" of consciousness. In other words, you ONLY look out your own two eyes, no other creatures. You have a centering focus, though might be caused entirely by the brain, it is still singular to you.

 

Now, giving the assumption that infinity is truely infinite, and most all scientific data points to this as true, in an infinite environment there can exisit no singularity. This basicly proves there can be no one god, as if there were a god, it would mean there were immeasrable amounts of "gods" out there.

 

Ok well, if that is true, then, well you exist now once. It's not possible... You exist now, so you are established in the cosmos as a "possiblity", there can be no sinularities in infinity, so you HAVE to also exist an uncountible number of times *as well as* all possible variations of you.

 

This is actually far more probable then existing once, then never again, infinity indicates otherwise.

 

Does this make sense?

 

Using this concept, you can rightly define your self awareness, consiousness, AS your soul. As a single existance is proven by you right now reading this, means you will always exist, somewhere, sometime, some universe, but infinite, as you are established.

 

Of course its only theory, subject to revision, but in it's rawest form this theory to me, seems the most likely, and no god is required either. No afterlife, no "floating around" on clouds... Just simple death, becoming non-existant due to lack of brain and body, and being born somewhere again and aquiring your consiousness, your awareness, once again.

 

The sad thing is, you cant remember who you used to be because those memories died with your body. It's a paradox, we are mortal, yet immortal.

As much as I accept that possibility, I actually believe, in lieu of better knowledge, that it's just as likely that the opposite is true. Besides, the number of possible configurations is indeed infinite, and we as a species are not the same as we were 100,000 years ago. We aren't going to be the same in 1,000,000 years if we even still exist. Furthermore, our experiences, and our environments shape who and what we are; there's no way that two people in as much as a trillion years are going to have the exact same set of circumstances. We won't even be human at that point, most certainly.

 

But yes, if there were to be reincarnation, I agree that it requires neither a god nor a soul.

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I like the "animating principle" definition, because I do think each individual conveys, to the outside world, an essence which is more than the sum of that person's life facts, body parts and brain activity. This evanescent something is, to me, the sense of style, the sense of life, the sense of purpose which can't be measured or codified, but which is grasped by others in a kind of totality, usually leading to an almost instant assessment of "I like that person" or "I can't trust that person" or whatever.

 

The word, soul, has been rendered almost useless because of its being co-opted for nefarious religious purposes of indoctrination, but maybe it's time for the rest of us to reclaim it and give it a definition meaningful to human interaction.

maybe soul=individuality?

 

Maybe. Or "self-expression" or "persona" or "ineffable attribute" or "core" .... ?

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I like the "animating principle" definition, because I do think each individual conveys, to the outside world, an essence which is more than the sum of that person's life facts, body parts and brain activity. This evanescent something is, to me, the sense of style, the sense of life, the sense of purpose which can't be measured or codified, but which is grasped by others in a kind of totality, usually leading to an almost instant assessment of "I like that person" or "I can't trust that person" or whatever.

 

The word, soul, has been rendered almost useless because of its being co-opted for nefarious religious purposes of indoctrination, but maybe it's time for the rest of us to reclaim it and give it a definition meaningful to human interaction.

maybe soul=individuality?

 

Maybe. Or "self-expression" or "persona" or "ineffable attribute" or "core" .... ?

 

These are my thoughts as well (though I couldn't express them that fancy in a second language).

 

Ps. Pitchu: Love love love your avatar!

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Ps. Pitchu: Love love love your avatar!

 

I have to thank WM Dave for it. It was right there in his gallery when I first arrived at this site in September, '03, and I've seen no reason to change it since then. A Broadway woman who smokes... I was and am. Thanks for responding to it, Emme.

 

Now back to the regularly-scheduled soul-searching.

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Do Atheists Believe In Souls?

Technically, I don't see a problem if an atheist does, because an atheist is just about the standpoint in regards to a god, not supernatural, spirits, souls, and so on. However, most of the time an atheist is also very skeptical to any such claim and would most likely not believe in souls in the traditional sense.

 

Personally I don't, but I can't say I'm 100% certain the soul doesn't exist. I believe our awareness arises from the processes of the brain. In a sense the "soul" does exist on a higher level, or meta level (hence metaphysical) over matter, but it doesn't exist separate from matter. Just like Microsoft Windows only exist as a potential operating system on the installation CD, the harddisk, and the RAM in the computer, but won't exist fully and as an experience until the computer is on, processing the bits, in time, and interact with the world it's within. When you turn the computer off, that particular experience disappears. And also, we are who we are at the moment, not as some infinite template, i.e. we change who we are every second. Our experience at the moment is what makes us who we are, not the particular combination of neurons or cells, because we are constantly renewed, we learn new things, and our thoughts are different. But is it possible that our soul could exist outside matter, time, and space? In a way I think it is possible, but however unlikely.

I'm pretty much with you on this question.

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I'm pretty much with you on this question.

I read my post again, and ... I could have done a better job with the grammar! :grin: Well, my head isn't screwed on right in the morning; not until a few cups of coffee been poured through my gullet.

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Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't "soul" in the biblical texts originally mean "breath"? As in "if you've got no breath (soul), that means you're dead"?

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No soul. Unless you're talking about the James Brown variety. In that case- get down!

 

Yeah! James Brown had a tight, funky group and groove!!

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Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't "soul" in the biblical texts originally mean "breath"? As in "if you've got no breath (soul), that means you're dead"?

Not only the Bible, it was probably quite common to make the link between "breathing" and "living". And when someone died, they would stop breathing, so somehow their "life essence" disappeared. I heard the phrase "bless you" comes from the idea that when you sneeze, a part of your soul leaves your body. :)

 

But there was another view on the soul in the Bible, which was that the soul was contained in the blood. Which also makes sense, if you bleed a lot, you die.

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As far as I know, "soul" was originally a religious term. As to "soul" being one's essence or ghost in the machine, I don't think it exists.

 

When a patient's corpus callosum is severed (in extreme epilepsy for example), the right and left hemispheres act separately rather than in concert. One patient was asked to solve a block puzzle. It was a literal case of the right hand not knowing what the left hand was doing. One side of his brain solved the puzzle while the other hemisphere remained unaware of who was controlling the other hand. It was as if another person controlled his one hand!

 

Other types of surgery can change our personality. So much for the soul or the "me inside". We aren't like a box of crackerjack with the prize inside!

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As far as I know, "soul" was originally a religious term.

 

The Greek philosophers dealt with whatever their word for "soul" was, and it was discussed in a secular context.

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I look at in terms of evolution. I can't see any reason or mechanism for such a thing as an imortal soul to have evolved. Also, where in the family tree would it have appeared, and why? If humans have souls and animals do not, what about Neanderthals and australopithicus (I have no real idea how to spell that) and chimpanzees?

 

Also, what physically would it be? Energy? Vapor? The whole thing make no sense in a rational physical world.

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