Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Soul

There are myriad stories in history about the Gods, hints of forces of nature that cause all events big and small, plain or mysterious, for pauper or king.

At some point, perhaps in Sumeria or Babylon or somewhere else in the ancient birthplaces of civilization and language, there became the concept of the "soul".

Many definitions of the soul involve a kind of separate being than our physical body, that lives inside it, or borrows it for at time. Others merely suggest that it is the motive spirit, that which makes our body move and feel and want to do things.

Yet, as a container of "holy spirit", such as in the Bible, the soul has been elevated to some divine place, where one's life after death will be lived, whether in eternal damnation or in eternal bliss. This seems a bit excessive, both in scope and content. I do not personally think of myself as being divine in any way. I have no connection to God that isn't shared by trees, insects and galaxies.

Spirit is an abstraction, so the soul is nonsubstantial. It was once "weighed" in the sense of having some mass, which upon death, was lost. Of course, simply expelling one's last breath would also expel some mass of water vapor which could account for this "soul" mass.

People are so attached to their ideas about the soul. It is an insult to suggest that it is just the same stuff that you feel in your brain somewhere, much like vision and sound. There is no physical "mind", only the temporary states of atomic interactions, the chemical soup of the brain as it is orchestrated by the fibers of nerves and neurons.

Upon death, one's soul may be lost forever, not to be missed by the previous owner, because there would be no consciousness to feel the loss. Otherwise, the soul may be passed on to the next generation, or just live in Heaven or Hell or some other place, in between, in a Purgatory.

But I do not believe anything. I only know that I am alive right now, and my "soul" exists as my mind and feelings right now. Whatever happens after death has never been proven to me, one way or the other. And I am patient. I will find out soon enough.