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?
I don't believe in a soul, but the idea of consciousness still continues to blow my mind. It feels like it's an entity that should transcend the body, but I know that makes no sense and I reject any theory that pretends that it does. Feeling alone is not any kind of proof. So, no I don't believe in a soul and I don't really believe consciousness can exist outside of the brain. I just wish it did.
Personally, I'm still struggling with this one myself. Intellectually I realize that consciousness most likely arises from our biological processes. But the fact that we don't know what happens when we die makes it hard for me to jump off the edge and say that there is no soul. However, I do agree that that our need to have an explanation to unexplainable things has fostered a litany of unsupportable ideas including souls.
However, I try to live my life as though this is the only one that I get. This is one of reasons why I do not like religion. It causes people to waste their lives on the hope that they might get something better when they die but there is no proof positive evidence of that.