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?
Computers is a field that has grown at a staggering rate since the first computer was built in the 1940s, but its growth has always been underestimated(except maybe by the earliest AI researchers, who believed that we would build a near human AI in the foreseeable future).
So I don't think that it would be too big of a stretch to imagine that we could have a functional Mind Uploading technology sometime in the future, specially with all the research being done in neuroinformatics. The Blue Brain project looks very promising in delivering one part of the Mind Uploading problem - Artificial brain, in the near future.
Honestly, its more of an opinion, so my apologies if that came out as though it were fact. In regard to personality being biological, it was a subject touched on along time ago in a biology class. Supposedly 50% of your behavioral personality is inherited not learned. I'll do a some more reading on that though, because once again you are right, I don't have anything but a memory to back up that claim.
The problem with our memories and our conscious is that we "don't" remember the time of nothingness before we were born, nor can we ever really understand death, because by the time we're dead, well, we're dead.
I don't believe in any sort of soul at all. I think it's just an extension of everything we've ever known: perpetual existence. We "don't" remember the time before we were born, and we'll only get one shot to experience death... which we won't really be experiencing anyway.
I also disagree with the concept of dualism. I don't believe life has characteristics that necessitate the existence of a separate conscious to govern it.
"Can this not be beautiful?"
It certainly is, especially: "I believe consciousness is an emergent property of our incredibly complex biology." It perfectly illustrates my view of the soul. :)
I think another possible factor that might also hold explanatory power is that of state control. Religions emerged alongside the early civilizations. Means of communication and transportation were weak, laws that prevented unwanted behavior went unenforced and regularly broken. We therefore invented the afterlife, with horrible consequences if the admission expectations were broken. The government would not only punish you for murder in life, but also in the afterlife. Quite a powerful incentive not to go around murdering people (presuming that there is a natural incentive to kill people in the first place.)
Hence, religion might also be a law enforcement tool when the "Ministry of Internal Affairs" doesn't have a large policeforce.
Seems a little pointless to me, as far as immortality goes.
Without the meaning behind the name, it's just a word.
That doesn't make you immortal. That just makes you outdated terminology. :)