Hey all, this is kind of my foundation of atheism so I thought i'd post it as my introduction. First post! I've mostly been an agnostic throughout my life but I came to find that I don't even believe in the soul. There is just as little evidence in a soul as there is in evidence of a god. That is what made start calling myself an atheist. In fact I find it hard to understand how an atheist could believe in souls and if one does i'd like to know their reasoning behind it. Anyway, this is my take on it...
I believe consciousness is an emergent property of our incredibly complex biology. This belief does not make me any less in awe of life.
I believe the soul is something humans invented to ease man's natural fear of death. A fear shared by all life. The idea of the soul came before their respective religions. Tribes of early man wanted to understand this thing called death and wanted to give hope and understanding to those mourning lost loved ones. So they implanted the idea that when one dies they are merely shifting onto another plain of existence. They could again see their loved ones. They would again be able to experience life in another form.
This idea then needed to evolve with man. It needed a "backstory" or mythology, if you will an explanation or religion. So man, governments, those in power began inventing them. Most incarnations of these mythologies (religions) if you think about it are nothing more than explanations for where your soul goes when you die. But noone stops to think about WHY they actually believe they have a soul to begin with.
I believe when we die we will once again experience that which we experienced before we were born. Nothingness. Remember that time? Before you were born. There was nothing. That is what we will be returned to in death. Can this not be beautiful?
It was for Sassan.
Could've asked in a PM you know :P
Indeed I could have.
But it provided me the opportunity to remind us all of proper conduct and behavior.
As a mod, I simply can't pass up an opportunity to link the guidelines and common courtesy sections. :)
I was always of the opinion the religion was built around the idea of the soul. The ideology seems to be centered around a structured set of ethics intended to shape the moral character, or "soul" of the person, and maybe the society, in question.
Granted, structured ethics are also used for the sake of maintaining or molding a uniform society, which I always kindof thought might just be an instinctual tool for survival that we as people have carried throughout the years. Of course I have nothing to back that up. Morality and ideology have also been used by the ambitious as a manner of acquiring and keeping control over necessary resources.
If you haven't read The Evolution of God by Robert Wright, I think you might enjoy it (at least much of it).
If I remember correctly, he discusses the origins of belief in the supernatural, and possibly belief in the "soul" likely as having something to do with early humans and dreams- seeing those "dead" people in dreams- certainly, in the minds of early humans, they still "existed." And how best to do that, a "soul."
(I apologize if this is not in Wright's book, but it is still a good read)
Personally, I agree- all the evidence would suggest when we are dead, it will be just like it was before we were born.
Don't say that. I admire your bravery but I never want to get old...my biggest fear in life is death even though I have come to accept it as a reality and don't fear it like I once dead but I still dread it...I used to stay awake at nights crying about the thought that I will no longer be around and be a NOTHING but I realized I was being selfish as this is part of evolution and the grander scheme of things and that I was just being selfish. Regardless of my fear in death, I refuse and have always refused to lie to myself and believe in a higher power to appease this fear. This is the most predominant reason people believe in god, their fear of death for themselves and their loved ones. Still, living life in a false sense of hope and not facing life heads on with reality is a dangerous proposition. I can only hope with my hopes of being involved in neuroscience and the advancement of medical science we can one day merge our thoughts into computer chips and carry life-on inevitably that way and hopefully the science of cryonics improves. We will see where science takes us!!! But I just wanted to share that with your insightful response.
Edit: I dread getting old. I am 27 now (will be in a couple of days).