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?
RE: "I believe the soul is something humans invented to ease man's natural fear of death. A fear shared by all life." - While it's true that all animals will avoid danger, and to that extent, I suppose it could be said that they fear death, few, if any other animals really understand the concept of death. A mother chimp, with whom we share 97% of DNA, for example, was filmed carrying her dead baby around for weeks before finally abandoning it.
There's a good possibility that we are the only animals that know we are going to die.
Sorry, dragotron, but I see nothing beautiful in nothingness, the complete absence of consciousness, of physical or mental stimulation, is not a condition for which I would ever find myself longing. When I think of all of the things I know, that I didn't used to know, and try to imagine all that I could learn, that I don't know now, I don't want it to end, but there's nothing I can do about it.
Souls? Naaah --
You must be kidding. I think anyone who believes in a soul as a spirit distinct from and independent of the body can't be a very serious atheist because such a view is both illogical and without empirical basis. The only rational use of the term "soul" is as a synonym for "consciousness."
RE: "The only rational use of the term 'soul' is as a synonym for 'consciousness.'" - you're totally discounting hamhocks, greens and chitlin's? And Louie Armstrong? Get thee to a nunnery!
'The only rational use of the term "soul" is as a synonym for "consciousness"' might be rewritten to please picky people as 'The only rational use of the term "soul" in the context of this post is as a synonym for "consciousness."'
Does everything have to be about you? ;)
That goes without saying, it's just implied.
Have you ever been given sodium pentathol? One instant I'm in the operating room, and the next instant I'm in recovery and 8 hours have passed. Where was my soul during those 8 hours? Nowhere!
Yes, if there was a soul, as a spirit it wouldn't be affected by body chemistry. After all, it isn't even effected by death, according to the believers.