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Author Topic: Do we have souls?  (Read 906 times)
Yelnoc
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« on: June 08, 2015, 04:14:34 pm »
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By soul I just mean something about "us" which is distinct from our biology.

The question occurred to me when thinking about transgender people. As I understand it [1], the root of the trans* identity is a feeling that one lives in a biological body which does not reflect their true gender identity. Unless you're prepared to call transgender identity a mental illness, that juxtaposition suggests to me the existence of something, call it a soul, which forms an important part of our consciousness yet is separate from our physical bodies.

What do you all think?

[1] If anyone on Atlas is actually trans, I'm happy to be educated, this is just my understanding.
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« Reply #1 on: June 08, 2015, 04:22:58 pm »
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I do believe so, yes. 

This is obviously not satisfying to atheists, but I "feel" a higher power, that I (and everyone else) are more than just a sack of proteins......yes, consciousness can be described in terms of chemical reactions, but I do believe in a transcendent element to our temporal nature on Earth that cannot simply be expressed with an MRI machine. 

Nathan is trans and also an Episcopalian IIRC, so I'm sure he can weigh in on this with his usual elegant,  far-more-sophisticated-than-mine arguments. 
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« Reply #2 on: June 09, 2015, 05:53:43 am »
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No.

I suppose you can theorise a soul as a sort of ‘spiritual facsimile’ of your conscious being that isn’t subject to death, you may even wish for material thoughts and the manner in which you identify ‘self’ to be something ‘other’ than the vessel of your body. If there is a soul, there is no evidence that that it is ‘informing’ you in a manner different from or in addition to your own consciousness. If your soul had even a very limited. If the soul is acting behind the scenes, then it’s following exactly the same processes as your body and isn’t guiding you any more or any less than your consciousness is in making moral choices. Therefore I don’t believe you can say that it exists independently or even co-dependently of your consciousness. When your brain can no longer sustain the electrochemical patterns that make up your consciousness, the 'you' part of the physical process dies. Consciousness doesn’t go anywhere when it ceases any more than the ‘flame’ or the ‘spin’ or the ‘fall’ goes somewhere when the energy that sustains it ceases. It just stops. And that’s okay.

Consciousness, laden with materialism can still be beautiful.

Identity is part of consciousness. As a gay man, I find other men beautiful and fulfilling and I enjoy ‘doing the fulfilling’ as a man. Yet I have a paternalistic drive, one that cannot ever be fulfilled strictly biologically. It cannot ever accord with my physicality or my consciousness. I am a gay man who is married to a gay man and I would like to raise children with him. I can only ever do that through adoption, or through surrogacy and only because those options are available to me. If they were not available, then my desire to raise children with my partner would still be there. I don’t think I could argue that this is somehow ‘distinct’ from my biology.

I also think it is somewhat dangerous to suggest that the answers to identity issues, whether to do with sexuality or trans* matters need to be found outside of biology and placed within metaphysics, because compartmentalising identity into something outside of the ‘self’ and outside of scientific and sociological study is effectively (and I know this may not be the intent) dismisses it as worthy of that level of attention or afforded a level of protection. It’s a very heteronormative thing to do; ‘oh you’re a trans man or a man who loves other men; that’s different, it’s identity related; let’s look outside of biology’.  Furthermore ‘souls’ (being the metaphysical playthings that they are) are often subject to people of a religious/spiritual persuasion saying they know more about your soul than you do; it’s from god, or it’s karma that you’re reborn as x and so in. So you can end up losing part of your identity to people with power (see homosexuals being pressured to physically change their gender in Iran for example)







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« Reply #3 on: June 09, 2015, 07:37:56 am »
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I definitely feel so, and I understand that it is one of those things that we will never get a true answer on, and that is why the entire study of God and so on is so important for us as humans. I know, to our resident atheists around here, that it is an emotional argument, but I believe in God and believe that I have a higher purpose, and think that  part of me gives me more fulfillment than what being an atheist would.

Relative to trans issues, I really don't know what to think. According to my theology, the gender that they're born with is the one God gave them, but if one feels happier as the opposite gender, then I have to problem with them identifying as such. I don't care what the root cause of that dysphoria is, but I think people ought to have the right to do what makes them the happiest.
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« Reply #4 on: June 09, 2015, 08:20:37 am »
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No.  Soul is a word that describes our sense of self which is a product of our biology.

But, once you're dead or braindead even, it's over.  Whatever it is that was you is 100% gone forever.  That's the only conclusion I can draw.   

Believing in a soul that outlives your brain is just wishful thinking and flattering yourself. 
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« Reply #5 on: June 09, 2015, 08:43:28 am »
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No prude, such things do not exist.

(Will anyone even get the reference?)
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« Reply #6 on: June 09, 2015, 02:36:34 pm »
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By soul I just mean something about "us" which is distinct from our biology.

The question occurred to me when thinking about transgender people. As I understand it [1], the root of the trans* identity is a feeling that one lives in a biological body which does not reflect their true gender identity. Unless you're prepared to call transgender identity a mental illness, that juxtaposition suggests to me the existence of something, call it a soul, which forms an important part of our consciousness yet is separate from our physical bodies.

What do you all think?

[1] If anyone on Atlas is actually trans, I'm happy to be educated, this is just my understanding.

there's actually a good deal of research that suggests that trans women's brains are biologically more similar to cis women's than to cis men's.
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« Reply #7 on: June 09, 2015, 07:14:44 pm »
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I definitely feel so, and I understand that it is one of those things that we will never get a true answer on
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« Reply #8 on: June 10, 2015, 02:53:59 am »
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I definitely feel so, and I understand that it is one of those things that we will never get a true answer on
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« Reply #9 on: June 10, 2015, 05:58:33 am »
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I definitely feel so, and I understand that it is one of those things that we will never get a true answer on

That's new Smiley
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« Reply #10 on: June 10, 2015, 06:20:53 am »
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I definitely feel so, and I understand that it is one of those things that we will never get a true answer on

That's new Smiley

?
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« Reply #11 on: June 10, 2015, 07:05:12 am »
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It's the first time I've been aware of you stating that you believed that humans have souls, that's all.
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« Reply #12 on: June 10, 2015, 07:12:14 am »
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It's the first time I've been aware of you stating that you believed that humans have souls, that's all.

I thought you were implying it was inconsistent with something I said before. Philosophically, I've always preferred idealism over materialism.
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« Reply #13 on: June 10, 2015, 08:43:25 am »
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I've always thought it was strange that our language implicitly takes the position that there is some fundamental self apart from biology. When I'm describing a dead man, I refer to "his" body, as though the body is something possessed by him, and he's separate from that body.
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« Reply #14 on: June 10, 2015, 09:56:07 am »
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We have our dreams to guide us. That the subconscious may or maynot live pass our present lives, only once death occur will that realization occurs.

But, dreams do dictate premonitions, danger ahead, and that in itself can indicate there is a life beyond the material wrld. Because the supernatural are premonitions.
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« Reply #15 on: June 10, 2015, 01:11:47 pm »
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We have our dreams to guide us. That the subconscious may or maynot live pass our present lives, only once death occur will that realization occurs.

But, dreams do dictate premonitions, danger ahead, and that in itself can indicate there is a life beyond the material wrld. Because the supernatural are premonitions.

I didn't know you did horoscopes!
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« Reply #16 on: June 10, 2015, 06:15:39 pm »
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I really doubt it, but either way, I have no reason to think so. Personally, I remember nothing from before I became conscious (i.e., born), and I don't think I will know anything after I have passed. In any event, I don't even know why a corporeal body would have a soul. I mean, why does a finite, corporeal, physical being supposedly have some immortal component that is neither detectable nor in any way evident? Huh

Now, if we're to say that "soul" is some special talent for something, I think that can be far better explained by way of genetic and environmental factors.  
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« Reply #17 on: June 17, 2015, 03:11:50 am »
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No.   Our lives and our consciousness are products of bio-chemical and neural processes, and once those processes break down, our lives and consciousness come to an end.
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« Reply #18 on: June 17, 2015, 09:00:28 am »
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There is no definate on this, but if you believe in the supermatural, then it is possible.

What makes someone unique over another human being. In personal wealth or life. Why are there miracles.

Clearly an intellegent life, GOD is reason to have given one a soul that makes one unique.
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« Reply #19 on: June 17, 2015, 01:03:09 pm »
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Depends upon what one means. In one sense, it's fairly self-evident that we have souls. However, in the sense that the OP meant, of an immortal soul which is linked to our individual identity and which continues on after the physical body it was associated with passes on, it's not only not self-evident, I don't see that it is a necessary part of Christian doctrine. That's because of mine own views on the nature of the Divine and by extension what an afterlife associated with the Divine is like. The attributes associated with the Divine require that ey be outside linear time rendering concepts such as immortality moot.

(English is not set up to easily discuss the temporal concepts I have in mind. In what follows I'll be using the bare infinitive 'be' to refer to past, present, and future simultaneously.) Even tho our physical lives exist along discrete arcs of spacetime, we be in existence during not only all of spacetime but even. Long after we are dead we will still be, and that is true no matter what beliefs one may hold about the nature of paraphysical existence, even if that belief is that there is no such thing.
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« Reply #20 on: June 17, 2015, 02:51:44 pm »
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Long after we are dead we will still be, and that is true no matter what beliefs one may hold about the nature of paraphysical existence, even if that belief is that there is no such thing.

We cannot 'be' after we are dead, because the entire definition of what is it means to 'be' is retained by the living. In my opinion that is retained by each living person, but even if we consider the entirety of our species (in the manner that one can say Shakespeare or Hitler never really 'go away' or even an ancestor if you care to find him in some forgotten record) as being the 'retainer', when we are all gone who is left to ponder us? Who is left to say that we all 'be'?

If we can 'be', independent of our lives as individuals or as a species, why can't other processes 'be'? (and the universe is nothing but processes) why not viruses, or cats, cascading rocks or extinguished flames or extinguished suns? Why can't they 'be', or do we simply exclude them in order to give us as a species some self reverence?

Human beings are exceptionally self-aggrandising. Claiming for ourselves a 'soul' is nothing more than an extension of that. 
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« Reply #21 on: June 17, 2015, 10:59:54 pm »
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You've totally missed my point, or at a minimum you've mistakenly assumed I posited that only humans have souls. A myriad years from now, presumably long after your physical body died, the you of now, of 2015, will still be even tho no one then will be able to touch you nor you touch them despite the distance of ten thousand years between you and them. You're several thousand miles distant from me in space and we cannot touch each other because our spatial locations are not close. Yet you exist, as do I, despite that.
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« Reply #22 on: July 22, 2015, 12:39:08 pm »
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I can't answer the question, but I am interested to know when a soul's "life" begins.
If "life" begins at conception, meaning that that is when the soul is born, what does that
mean about a "human" in the earliest stage of life, namely when the fertilized egg splits
in two "identical" twins? Does that mean it's "soul" splits into two souls?

Sam Harris asked this question. I had never thought about that before.
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« Reply #23 on: July 26, 2015, 08:55:59 am »
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I do believe in spirits, but scientifically there's really not any proof of souls. So I'm stuck.
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