Thursday, May 24, 2007

Is the Soul Immortal?

Depending on specific definitions, the soul is not immortal, and could only by nuance be considered so.

If the soul is defined as the sum of our experiences, memories, emotions, consciousness, reason, and other mental capacities of a unique individual, then it is most certainly mortal. Such seemingly intangible processes have a tangible representation in the brain and are sustained continuously only by the body and its systems and nothing else. The electrical impulses that course through our bodies are very much dependent on the matter that composes us. If the cycles of the body cease or are severely disrupted, degradation of the substance of our brains can occur, resulting in the loss or degradation of the “soul”. Upon death, the sustained pattern of the brain stops, as does the functioning of consciousness.

If the specific configuration of neurons and their proper firing order somehow serve as data storage, then the information contained within the soul would need some new structure to represent and act as a vessel for it if it were to continue in its specific condition. No such container has ever been found, and no such transfer of the soul out of a human to some other medium has ever occurred. The soul having supernatural qualities is outside the bounds of evidence and is therefore irrelevant. We cannot presume to know what happens to the soul after we die because it can no longer be detected after death.

However, if our experiences, memories, emotions, and other mental capacities, as the natural intangibles, are what comprise the soul, then by subtle massaging it can be thought of as immortal. Emotions are common to all humans, and though individual humans may die, emotions continue to be felt, regardless of the circumstances. Memories and experiences can be shared with others via verbal and other forms of communication, in effect transmitting one part of a soul from one person to another. Such an act of copying would in some non one-to-one ratio be a continuation of the soul. So long as there are humans and other emotion- and language-capable lifeforms on earth, the soul could, as it has been defined, and only in this loose sense, be considered immortal.



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