Do souls exist?

Discussions relating to conciousness, spirituality, and the great dilemma between materialism and dualism

Do souls exist?

Postby Brandon Norgaard on Wed Sep 09, 2009 8:45 pm

Many people believe that there is a certain nonphysical essence to their being, and this is called the soul. Do souls exist? If so, what kind of beings have them? How did you come to this conclusion?
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Re: Do souls exist?

Postby michael on Wed Dec 30, 2009 4:00 pm

Certainly. We each have two that we walk on.

My counter point is simply, how can we even agree on if something exists or not when we don't even understand on the use of the word.

The use of the word soul can mean an individual, the bottom of a foot, of course, that is only the English interepretation.

I certainly belive individuals exist and that we have feet.

Beyond that, can you clarify your question?
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Re: Do souls exist?

Postby Brandon Norgaard on Wed Dec 30, 2009 6:03 pm

michael wrote:The use of the word soul can mean an individual, the bottom of a foot, of course, that is only the English interepretation.

I certainly belive individuals exist and that we have feet.

Beyond that, can you clarify your question?

I can certainly clarify what I mean by "soul" but I am wondering why you didn't bother to read any more than the heading "Do souls exist?". If you had read the actual question I posed above then it should have been clear that in this context "soul" means the nonphysical essence of one's self. Also, this word is a homonym with "sole" which is spelled differently and means the bottom of one's foot. Wake up man.
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Re: Do souls exist?

Postby technicolor on Wed Jan 06, 2010 9:56 pm

Brandon, the soul , in my opinion, is the light and life of any animal. I also feel that all matter has some sort of spirit. That may sound strange; but no stranger than the concept as a whole. The reason that I believe in the Soul of Man and of animals is that there is a very basic phenomena in all life forms; and that is each must have a certain component to live independent of other life. That is, there still remains one very fundamental task that even the brightest of men can not do, and that is create and sustain life in any form; from scratch. It seems that the only thing man can do concerning life is either nurture and sustain it or kill it. What a resume.
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Re: Do souls exist?

Postby technicolor on Wed Jan 06, 2010 10:11 pm

The seemingly greatest Phenom on this Planet is the innate ability of Man to procreate. Who gave that to him? I seriously think the answer to that lies in the greater question; who created the Universe and all that teaming life therein? I don't think it was Barack Obama (little liberal humor) Thank you for the use of your forum.
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Re: Do souls exist?

Postby Brandon Norgaard on Thu Jan 07, 2010 9:02 pm

technicolor wrote:Brandon, the soul , in my opinion, is the light and life of any animal. I also feel that all matter has some sort of spirit. That may sound strange; but no stranger than the concept as a whole. The reason that I believe in the Soul of Man and of animals is that there is a very basic phenomena in all life forms; and that is each must have a certain component to live independent of other life. That is, there still remains one very fundamental task that even the brightest of men can not do, and that is create and sustain life in any form; from scratch. It seems that the only thing man can do concerning life is either nurture and sustain it or kill it. What a resume.

This sounds Leibnizian. If your not familiar, G.W. Leibniz argued that not only do humans have souls, but also animals and nonliving matter. I believe that there is reason to believe that humans have souls, though I doubt that animals do as well and I have no reason at all to believe that nonliving matter does.

I have concluded that humans have souls as an extension of my conclusion that I have a soul. I have concluded that I have a soul as a logical implication of my experience of phenomenal consciousness. You see, I know that there is an element of my experience that is altogether distinct from the physical universe. I understand, to some extent, the physical universe that I perceive and I understand my own qualia and I know that the two are distinct. Qualia, for those who don't know, is the actual experience of something. For example, the redness of red, or the actual experience of tasting or hearing or feeling. Now, I am well aware that my qualia are determined by what is going on physically, but the two must be distinct.

One common argument that philosophers who believe this put forth is that it is conceivable that there could be a being that is physically identical to my body in every way, yet does not actually experience qualia. This being, which would have to be, in all seriousness, called a zombie, would have all of the brain functions of perception including seeing, hearing, etc. but it would not actually be phenomenally conscious.

I have concluded that there is merit to this argument, but with the exception that such a zombie would not believe that it is experiencing qualia, as I do. It is my brain that knows this and it is my body that is reporting on the experience of qualia, but it cannot be the physical body that experiences qualia, since a zombie would not be reporting on it. A zombie is purely physical, whereas qualia are nonphysical. Therefore, there is an element of my being that is nonphysical as well. This nonphysical element can be called the soul. It is the soul that experiences qualia, as determined by the body's perceptions and thoughts, and then somehow the body knows certain details about the soul's experience in order to be able to distinguish between its own perception and the qualia. The body does not know that much about the qualia because it does not actually experience it, but it is able to conclude that this qualia and its own perceptions are ontologically distinct.

There is more to body-soul interaction than I have described so far. I have also concluded that I have libertarian free will and that therefore all humans do as well. Please see the topic "Do humans have free will" for more on this. Since free will is physically impossible, it must be nonphysical and therefore it must be a behavior of the soul. The soul has free will to act within the bounds that were defined by the creator. When the soul intends to act, this causes the body to attempt to carry out this intended action.

This is also closely related to morality. The soul's actions are entirely based on moral choices. I know this from my experience of valence, which is the nonphysical positive and negative experience from which moral choices derive. The soul can choose to act in its own interest or in the interest of others or somewhere in between.

Now, in order for a body to be capable of body-soul interaction as defined above, it must have certain functional and representational qualities. In order for the soul to be able to understand the expected consequences of certain possible actions, it must know this from the body. The soul also needs to understand what other beings have souls and thus must get this information from the body as well. So if the body does not understand how things work physically and understand other beings, then the soul cannot make moral choices. Any physical being that does not appear to understand details about the physical world and to communicate these details to other beings likely does not have a soul. Any being whose actions are too simple to be controlled by a free willed soul likely does not have a soul.

From this, I conclude that only humans have souls. Only humans have the ability to understand how things work physically and can communicate details about this to other similar beings. No animal can do this. Not even the "smart" ones. I am aware that young children cannot do this either, but it is best to assume that they will when they get older, provided their right to life is respected, and therefore it is best to respect this right. As for animals, however, they do not have a right to life because they have no soul.

This argument is VERY complex and I have a much more detailed version in my book. The argument that I summarized above takes up eight chapters of my book. This, along with the understanding of the higher power and the solution to the problem of evil is collectively the "More Enlightened Worldview" that I refer to in the title of my book. If argument that I have outlined here does not make sense, then please stay tuned for the release of the book. It will hopefully clear things up.
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Re: Do souls exist?

Postby Guest on Thu Jan 07, 2010 11:31 pm

I kind of think of a Soul as an organized Spirit. Intelligence is comprised of all forms of light and truth. If animals didn't have a spirit (soul), then why can't one be sustained in life through crucial physical repairs, just as piece of machinery when it breaks or dies if you will. The re-introduction of certain physical parts to a dead animal does not bring it back to life. All Life must have a Spirit to function. Spirits don't have to be intellectually sophisticated to be spirit. God can create all life forms in their own spheres; spiritually.
The reason I believe that all matter has spirit is that all matter is eternal and can't be destroyed. Of course it hasn't an organized soul; as you say, but it does have a form of intelligence. If you look at matter in all forms in it's atomic scale, you see movement in protons and neutrons. What causes these to move? What causes all matter to be coherent in it's own sphere? All matter must be organized in order to reach Life form; that constitutes a soul. It should now be apparent that there is intelligent design,ie God.
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Re: Do souls exist?

Postby Guest on Thu Jan 07, 2010 11:38 pm

somehow I was logged our. Technicolor is Guest. Thanks
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Re: Do souls exist?

Postby Brandon Norgaard on Sat Jan 09, 2010 8:44 pm

Guest wrote:I kind of think of a Soul as an organized Spirit. Intelligence is comprised of all forms of light and truth. If animals didn't have a spirit (soul), then why can't one be sustained in life through crucial physical repairs, just as piece of machinery when it breaks or dies if you will. The re-introduction of certain physical parts to a dead animal does not bring it back to life. All Life must have a Spirit to function. Spirits don't have to be intellectually sophisticated to be spirit. God can create all life forms in their own spheres; spiritually.
The reason I believe that all matter has spirit is that all matter is eternal and can't be destroyed. Of course it hasn't an organized soul; as you say, but it does have a form of intelligence. If you look at matter in all forms in it's atomic scale, you see movement in protons and neutrons. What causes these to move? What causes all matter to be coherent in it's own sphere? All matter must be organized in order to reach Life form; that constitutes a soul. It should now be apparent that there is intelligent design,ie God.

The problem with this theory is that, despite the intelligence of humans or any other life form, this intelligence can be understood as a complex but deterministic process and it can also be understood as the product of natural selection. Now, I don't have a topic here on evolution because this matter has been better explained by others, including Richard Dawkins, Kenneth Miller (the author of "Finding Darwin's God") and of course Darwin himself. Basically, if you are denying that natural selection can produce, over millions of years, very complex and intelligent life forms, then I suggest you read these. Now, I don't deny intelligent design, but I only use this theory to explain the complexity of the laws of nature. I do believe that one who denies natural selection is ignorant, but I also believe that denying that a higher power created the laws of nature in the first place is ignorant.

It seems also that you are ascribing a supernatural power to intelligence. Since intelligence can be understood as a natural phenomenon, this is unjustified. Now, as I stated in a previous post, I do believe that beings that have the right functional and representational characteristics have souls. My conclusion is that only humans meet these criteria among living things, but on this I could be wrong. This is less of a certainty than the belief that some living things have souls. Now, the soul is not a supernatural thing. It exists on the basis of certain natural, albeit nonphysical laws. The free willed actions of souls, however, can be supernatural because they are at least sometimes not determined by any prior states of affairs of natural laws, but are instead determined by the will of the soul.
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Re: Do souls exist?

Postby technicolor on Sun Jan 10, 2010 11:12 am

Brandon, Hope this viewpoint finds you well. I don't think that intel only increases with natural selection. Usually, when there is a natural dispersal of energy, there seems to be an entropic effect. That is, intelligence is not always increasing within a species or in the "order of evolution". Progression within nature can only be ascribed to a "Creator", in that no intelligence increases randomly, according to entropy. I do agree that within a species, genetics plays the largest part in intelligent selection. The miracle of it is that things occur within that process that are very surprising, that is other things come into play that are incredible. Who can explain "talent" for example? There are things that a seemingly average intelligent person can do that boggles the mind. There is genius in other spheres also. This is what I love about God (one thing). I
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