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 believe in the feeling and biographical characteristic of empathy called "soul". If you can't identify what that is, you are either without, or just not in touch with it.
No supernatural idea to be intended.
I'm gonna quickly just respond to this comment and say I agree with Nelson on this point. Obviously. And Nelson's response touches on a major problem I have with the word "soul". I like your phrasing of "religious baggage" here. There are MANY MANY different terms, meanings, implications and connotations of the word soul. But at it's core I think we all know that it refers to the idea that one can somehow live on after the death of their body.
Back to the topic of what came first the soul or religion. Well. I'm not going to go back and reply to every response you've made as I find most of them long winded and straying far from the point i'm making and we could end up going on and on forever. What I will say is that I believe Christianity and many if not most religions came as a way of explaining the idea of the soul. I don't see any way around that, that is a loose explanation to what i've come to believe and I don't see any reason to be debating it unless you're going to point out some sort of evidence that says other wise. I haven't seen that in any of your responses above.
the soul and the spirit may have different origins but to me they both refer to a component of your sense of self which can exist without your body. I don't believe in souls, spirits, ghosts, reincarnation or anything that implies you can live on without your body. You often get people responding to any reason here with a statement similar to one if the following: " but energy doesn't die! It just takes on another form!" or "we're all made of stardust" or "your soul is just the type of person you are" or "your soul can't be explained by science! do you hate kittens too?"
My thinking here is how does the fact that the universe does not expel a piece of matter or energy mean that your soul is going to live on? And if it TRULY is a part of your being. Why do you not remember a thing about it before you were born? If it just changes so much that you can no longer comprehend it or you simply don't remember it then HOW does it even have any connection to you in the hear and now?