Wednesday, December 2, 2009

What is a soul?

According to
Soul: the principle of life, feeling, thought, and action in humans

What is a soul? By definition, it is the very essence of what makes us human. It is our personality, our feelings, and thoughts, and ability to move about as humans do.

Having grown up as a Christian, and recently changing my views, some new thoughts have arose as to what a soul really is, and what it does. I suppose I began thinking of this to weigh out the likeliness of the existence of the soul.

For comparison, I tried thinking of something that may be animated that we can all agree does NOT have a soul. I thought of a robot.

Now, Question 1: What happens when you replace a human's "essence" with robot parts? They've already been transplanting mechanical hearts for some time, and I know it seems far fetched right now, but the following links lead me to believe that it may be possible one day to also replace an ill brain with a mechanical one. The links demonstrate robots that can learn, and basically think for themselves. They do things they are not programmed to do. If they can do this, why wouldn't they be able to put that same programming to run the basic motor and social functions of a human being, once our technology becomes advanced enough?

(there are many more great videos out there about the technological advances they've made with robots... you should google it)

Now, Question 2: What happens when a robot gains the essence of what makes us human? We've already seen a glimpse into robots being made with emotions, reactions, thoughts, etc. Does this then mean they have a soul? No, I would say not, and you probably agree. So what sets humans apart? If it's not our ability to think and react in our own ways, then is it simply our flesh that can harbor the soul? Why is it then taught that animals have no soul? I have had many pets in my lifetime, and I can't honestly say that they don't have their own personalities and thoughts and feelings.

And really, if you think about it, our human brain works much in the same way that the robot ones would, in that it passes signals from one main point to complete the motor functions. Take this clip from to understand how the brain processes thoughts:
"A neuron (also known as a neurone or nerve cell) is an excitable cell in the nervous system that processes and transmits information by electrochemical signalling. Neurons are the core components of the brain, the vertebrate spinal cord, the invertebrate ventral nerve cord, and the peripheral nerves. A number of specialized types of neurons exist: sensory neurons respond to touch, sound, light and numerous other stimuli affecting cells of the sensory organs that then send signals to the spinal cord and brain. Motor neurons receive signals from the brain and spinal cord and cause muscle contractions and affect glands. "

All of this leaves us with Question 3: If the soul can only be defined by what can also be possessed by what we know to souless, then can a soul truly exist? And if the soul can not, then in turn, can God?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

moving forward at christmas time

It's been quite a year for me. It started off with my boyfriend telling me he wasn't sure if he still believed in God or not. Where we come from, everybody does. If they don't, they don't say so, because it's expected of you, and you will be shut out of the community if you don't agree with their strong one-way religious beliefs. It wasn't the kind of place you'd really call diverse.
I panicked. I loved him, I wanted to marry him, and from what I learned growing up, he would be damned to hell and I would be shunned in my hometown if I were to stay with him anyway.
Now this wasn't any small puppy love. We'd been together for several years and I couldn't imagine my life being any better than with him. So we talked... and talked, and talked, and talked. We discussed, listened, and expressed to each other from the bottom of our hearts what we believed and why it was important to us and how we could make this work. We looked at several different materials, supporting belief in God, and otherwise. Over time, once I shook what had been so adamantly penetrated into my brain as a child, I came to realize I'd been following the wrong path. Religion doesn't make sense to me, and it's not what I want to do anymore. I want to mention I mean no disrespect to any kind of believer out there, as long as you know what it is you believe and stick to it. Following something you're passionate about is admirable when it isn't forced on anyone and you're not out to discriminate those with different views. And now I've found mine.
After I had that moment, that I finally knew, "this makes sense to me, and I won't go for hell for it. It's okay to consider something other than what I was taught", it was a HUGE relief, I've never felt so light.
When we came to an understanding of what our lives meant now, my boyfriend and I got engaged, and are now married. I've never made a better choice in all my life.
Now as we live our new life together, our world looks completely different. Luckily we have each other to help each other through it. Ever since this decision to live for myself, and for the ones I love, I've come to realize how much my sense of self was being squashed down as I was growing up.
I still find myself praying quietly when something goes wrong, then remembering to shake it off. And I have to say, this INFURIATES me, because when I pause and reflect within myself, I know that I 100% am sure in my beliefs right now, and the reason that I find myself praying and reciting little religious phrases that became a part of my daily life has NOTHING to do with my beliefs, and EVERYTHING to do with the way I was brought up.
and now Christmas is rolling around. A whole holiday for me to smile and pretend I believe in the same thing as my family does (because they'd never understand), and try to find Christmas carols I can sing to myself that have nothing to do with Jesus.
I want my childhood back. One where I'm encouraged to be me without the chains of a God that isn't there. I want to live the free life I was told I had, and I want to go back and free my family too.