Friday, July 30, 2010

The Immortal Soul

After death, there is a part of you that lives on: the Immortal Soul. People all around the world maintain some variation of the belief; the Soul goes somewhere—Heaven, Hell, Purgatory, the Soul inhabits a new body—Reincarnation, the Soul becomes a ghost, or the Soul goes to another world (i.e. the Spirit World). Regardless of variation, these people all believe in the existence of an Immortal Soul. I, on the other hand, reject the idea of an Immortal Soul for a variety of reasons.

First of all, the Immortal Soul implies You do not change over time, which is of course ridiculous. When I die, does my childhood Self move on or the Self directly preceding my death? Does my Self as an infant, a teenager, a young adult, a thirty year old, or a fifty year old live on eternally?

The question puzzled me. Perhaps all of these Selves, merged into one, comprise the Immortal Soul. This, however, made no sense to me. How can I simultaneously be an infant who cannot walk, an innocent child, an angst-ridden teenager, a hard working adult, and a dying old man all at once? Perhaps that is a unique quality of the Immortal Soul: counterintuitive, but nevertheless true. I think not.

To believe in an Immortal Soul is to believe in a Dual Self. There is the Physical Self, the body, and the Spiritual Self, the soul. The Physical Self undeniably exists. The existence of the Spiritual Self is harder to prove. Can a part of oneself really separate from the body? I think not. When people refer to the soul, they are simply referring to their conscious mind.

That being said, the Immortal Soul is nothing more than an undying copy of our thoughts, emotions, personality, disposition, creativity, etc. When looked at in this way, the idea of the Immortal Soul is easily blasted into oblivion. The conscious mind cannot separate itself from the body! It is a part of the body! The conscious mind resides in the brain, a large and complex collection of nerve cells. When those nerve cells collectively cease firing, the conscious mind (a.k.a. the Immortal Soul) dies.

4 comments:

Rui Xuan said...

People say that after you die, you live on...in the hearts of those who love and remember you. Is that considered your Immortal Soul? It is true, in a way. I don't know a lot about these things, I admit :) Interesting blog post, though.

Gabriel Gethin said...

That is a certain type of immortality, I agree. However, I refrain from labeling it as the Immortal Soul for the sake of clarity. I do not want the memory of a person to be mistaken for a belief in the afterlife.

Tay Darramont said...

I think you would enjoy a fabulous (nonfiction) book called Godel, Escher, Bach by Douglas Hofstadter. It deals with many topics, among them the issue of brain vs. mind, and whether the software (mind) is separable from the hardware (brain). It's a very enlightening book, and contains some amusing fiction aspects as well.

Rui Xuan said...

I found the book in my local library; thank you, Tay! I'll be busy during the year-end holidays reading, that's for sure.