The New Horizon

A new world explored with a rational view

What is a soul?

with 13 comments

Soul, as per most of the religions, is an immortal essence of a human. It survives physical death. According to some believes, it goes to Hell or Heaven with some other body. Some others believe, it takes another body to reborn as a human once more.

The essential property of a soul is ‘self-awareness’. It means, a soul knows the identity of the human attached to it. So, it is safe to conclude that soul has memory (at least minimal) since it retains knowledge. This ‘self-awareness’ property is lost in the case of rebirth, with some exceptions. In case of other beliefs, the new body in hell or heaven must retain the identity of the human – otherwise what’s the use of punishing or pampering it?

Now coming to the ‘minimal memory’, what is the exact domain of memory retained by the soul at physical death? If it is only the name and address of the human being, it cannot simply have a ‘self-awareness’ property. It should retain most of the memory of the human being it has been attached to. In other words, the memory at the time of death is the best candidate to be retained by soul, as logically deduced from beliefs.

Is the memory physical or non-physical? It has to be physical. It resides within human brain. There are brain disorders(Alzheimer’s disease) those kill the memory. There are different types of Amnesia resulting out of head injury. This brings us to the paradox – what memory does the soul retain for an Amnesia patient? After all, the soul is non-physical. So, the memory has to be freed from the physical container (brain). The paradox two states that how this detachment takes place?

There are many other candidates as a soul like mind, thought and emotions. But none of them could logically survive without memory, can they? The modern soul theorists claim that soul is supernatural, it ‘temporarily’ stays inside the brain and then can easily float out of it. Even, that does not answer the paradox one. After all, a huge percentage of human beings suffer from global amnesia before death. Does the soul depart earlier for them? It cannot – according to the beliefs.

And, if I logically conclude that there is no soul then there should not be any hell or heaven as well. Neither should there be an afterlife. So, what are we living for? Is it to get a place in heaven or to merge our soul with the eternal soul? It increasingly seems that we live for ourselves. The life is a single and beautiful expression of a human being – with his body and mind. Live the life first, there might not be an afterlife at all.

References :

1) Religious views on soul.

2) Amnesia

Atheism, Religion, Soul


Written by Diganta

February 27, 2007 at 9:02 pm

Posted in Atheism, Religion, Soul

13 Responses

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  1. There was no Diganta to start with. In fact there was nothing to start with. So I logically conclude that Diganta does not exist.


    February 27, 2007 at 10:24 pm

  2. In fact there was nothing to start with. – but how can you know? You cannot travel back to the time when there was nothing … or anything!!


    February 28, 2007 at 10:35 am

  3. This is the most confusing part of human existence. As long as you are alive your body is fine, the moment you die, what goes out of your body that even a beautiful young body starts decaying soon after death. There are many instances of Yogis living for days inside a hole dug in the earth without air and food and surviving.What is that, they have full control of?
    There are instances of people being able to foretell the future (although they are rare) there must be something that we don’t know and it exists.
    I don’t believe in rituals but there has to be something that controls life and death ,may be that is soul.


    February 28, 2007 at 12:08 pm

  4. That is what physics seems to suggest, that is all I can say to a layman.


    February 28, 2007 at 12:42 pm

  5. We indeed can travel back in time. Not in literal sense, but we more or less have an idea about what happened at the beginning. It’s not handwaving.


    February 28, 2007 at 12:43 pm

  6. “As long as you are alive your body is fine, the moment you die, what goes out of your body that even a beautiful young body starts decaying soon after death.” – Well, nothing. Only the processes those used to run inside your body, end there. It’s like a machine getting damaged permanently. The organs of a dead body are alive – since they are reusable, aren’t they? If there were indeed something getting out of body, how could the organs refunction as components in another body?

    “What is that, they have full control of?” – they acquire habit of living against all odds, by sheer practice.

    “There are instances of people being able to foretell the future” – I didn’t come across a single people like that in the age of Science.

    “that controls life and death” – why can’t they be similar to a lifetime of a Machine? Human life and death matches statistically to that of a lifetime of a adaptable machine.


    February 28, 2007 at 1:05 pm

  7. Everything started out of nothing is not claimed. The Big Bang theory says there was a singularity at the beginning of this universe, that is, it had huge mass, in small volume. However, Big Bang theory had a lot of falacies, that’s why the Inflationary theory is gaining popularity. However, there are a lot of unanswered questions. But, gaps in current theories don’t mean something else is true. Isn’t it?


    February 28, 2007 at 1:09 pm

  8. If you know what I mean, causality breaks down at singularity. Time began at that singularity.

    There are unanswered questions. But the big bang is a consensus now. There is no competing theory fitting data as closely as big bang does. Inflation theory is part of the big bang theory. I don’t know where you got this notion ‘that is why inflation is gaining popularity’.


    February 28, 2007 at 11:11 pm

  9. You can see the problems listed as : in “Features, issues and problems” section. A lot of those are solved by Inflationary theory.

    However, the “event of Big Bang” was retained in the inflationary theory. Also, Singularity does not mean nothing was present.

    Actually, the event of Big Bang is accepted truth, the big bang theory comprises of aftermath of the bang. Read :

    “Despite the striking successes of the Big Bang theory, there is good reason to believe that the theory in its traditional form is incomplete. Although it is called the “Big Bang theory,” it is not really the theory of a bang at all. It is only the theory of the aftermath of a bang. It elegantly describes how the early Universe expanded and cooled, and how matter clumped to form galaxies and stars. But the theory says nothing about the underlying physics of the primordial explosion. It gives not even a clue about what banged, what caused it to bang, or what happened before it banged. The inflationary universe theory, on the other hand, is a description of the bang itself, and provides plausible answers to these questions and more.”


    March 1, 2007 at 7:11 am

  10. There are a lot of tits and bits. Let us not get buried in that. I will try to wind up in one sentence. There was nothing before the bang before there was no before the bang.

    Let us come to the point.

    Diganta did not exist before. The conscieousness that we identify with the name Diganta is probably some two or three decades old.

    What should stop this consciousness forming again?

    Islam claims that it will again. This time consciousness is going to last for ever. According to my limited knowledge that is not possible in our kind of universe where things decay. (I am talking of the Second law of Thermodyn); but as we do not know of the second life much, and considering the descriptions are non-specific, we can’t conclude much.

    By the way, I don’t know even if that happens what might happen in between.


    March 1, 2007 at 1:14 pm

  11. Now I understand your point.
    “What should stop this consciousness forming again?” – The question depends on what is included inside “consciousness”. The self-consciousness includes memory, that resides inside the brain. The brain is dead when we die physically – isn’t that?

    Coming to the other part, Diganta was not existing till 17th April, 1979 because the physical entity called brain of Diganta was not there till that. The brain got created in a physical process, so as the ‘consciousness of Diganta’, and both will die together. To retain the ‘consciousness of Diganta’, one has to retain the brain, which is not done.


    March 1, 2007 at 1:26 pm

  12. Why do you think your life depends on your brain? Virsus are doing pretty well without them, in fact they are giving us quite a run for our lives!

    Life does not depend on your brain. Your ability to process data depends on the brain.

    We don’t really know what exactly decides whether we are alive or dead.

    Given that, we can’t really progress much. Iit does not make sense to talk about things we don’t know. As I don’t know what causes you to live, I will not try to say that precisely this is the process you will live again!

    Rather I will say, once more, if you have come to be once, it can happen again.


    March 2, 2007 at 3:41 am

  13. Let me have a write up on “what is life?”


    March 2, 2007 at 6:17 pm

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