I have been pondering the nature of the soul. Something etherial, having no mass, volume, visual form, scent, or any other elemental substance that we can detect, and yet so important to what it means to be alive and “human”. We are more than just the sum of our parts. Most theologians, religious beliefs, and philosophers agree. There is something else there.
Modern atheists contend that all we are is chemicals washing over bioelectric pathways, randomly firing neurons when potentials are achieved. But there is more.
I suspect that the nature of the soul is that it is too large and too complex to be contained in the human body. It is connected to us, but not a part of us. Nor does it need to be. It’s existence is in the “cloud”. But it connects and attaches to us at some point.
1. Biologically and medically, we can account for every cubic Centimeter of the human body by it’s function. There is no leftover piece that can be the root of the soul. There is medical evidence that each of those parts can be removed or even replaced and yet the life continues and the identity of the person in that life remains unchanged. The soul is not in the spleen, the kidney, the liver, the bowels, or even the heart. The Brain is the only exception.
2. But even with the brain, there are few mysteries remaining. We have medical histories showing each part of the brain being damaged in different patients. The damage may present loss of motor control in one area (as in a stroke), loss of memory (as in alzheimers), and even changes in personality (mood altering drugs). But the identity and self awareness remain as long as there is enough function remaining to sustain life. The soul is not in the brain.
So where is it? If it is not in the body, the most likely conclusion is: it is not in the body, and never was.
What this means:
It means that stories of the Christian Heaven, Reincarnation, and out of body experiences may all be true and consistent. The Chriatian heaven is the natural state of the soul, existing in the cloud, when unattached to a physical form. Reincarnation is the detached soul, finding a soul-less body and attaching to it. And out of body experiences are those people who for some reason achieve the experience of detaching and then reattaching to the same shell, before it dies and becomes unsuitable.
What this means for abortion: At the earliest point of biological creation, life, biological life is generated in a single cell. That cell has no brain to be conscious of itself and no other organ with any complexity sufficient to be called a soul. Yet it may have one. A body-less soul may be searching for attachment and find the young form compatible. I have no idea at what point this happens. A single cell human may not have a suitable connection point yet. So the abortionists may indeed be right saying it has no “life” yet and can be safely disposed of. I also have no evidence that some 5 year olds have yet achieved that connection to a soul of their own.
The balance of souls. For attachments to be created, there must be a well of souls to be drawn from. The 6 billion people on the planet to day are far more than existed in previous centuries. Much more than can be sustained purely by recycling souls. So there must either be new ones, or each soul is a piece of a larger soul and each generation is existing on smaller and smaller residual soul fractions. Or there are a whole lot of people who have no souls. In this way, the Christian Holy Spirit may be a perfectly compatible concept with the Hindu concepts of all of us being part of the Divine (even though the Christian church believes the second proposition to be herassy).
Metaphysically, does it matter if we kill a person who has no soul? Or is such a person just meat? Since we cannot measure the presence or absence of the soul, I would argue that it is a safe policy to assume all living people have souls and are worthy of preservation on that basis.
Feel free to add your own thoughts.