Common sense tells us that everyone has a soul, but this is based on a personally held notion, common to all, that somehow our own conscious experience is indestructible. I believe that it is life that is indestructible, while the individual conscious experience that people mistakenly believe to be an indestructible soul is like smoke in the air. I have seen what happens to people who have been afflicted by a stroke. When neurological tissue is lost, that portion of the individual ceases to exist. The victim has not been subject to some invasive spirit nor has a soul been degraded, it is simply the result of material destruction.
There is no separation of body and soul. Like any other creature, children start from a single cell that is only an instruction set for the construction of a new person. All that is required is an environment for each unique set of instructions to automatically grow itself into a new person. Consciousness arrived when neurons had proliferated and arranged themselves into a form that could sustain such an outcome. It didn’t happen because a soul had “materialized” and endowed this new person with consciousness.
The conscious experience of everyone is enriched by interactions with those about us. We become more couscous than we otherwise would be were it not for what we learn from others. In fact, frequently those others are those we deem to be dead. They have written books and so in a very real sense they are not dead and are in fact very much alive when their thoughts are replicated in our own living minds. Our separateness from them is actually more imaginary than it is real, they still live and it is in us that they yet exist.
Astronomers tell that there is no privileged vantage point for observing the universe, no matter where one is it appears that that is the center of the universe. Our individual conscious experiences are similar in that everyone occupies a position that appears central to all conscious experience while a universe of others lies beyond. We are all inner-connected and the death of one is not the end of consciousness nor does it represent the departure of a soul from earthly existence. Without the material there can be no consciousness and no soul or spirit is needed for explanation. Death is not the end, it is just a portal to a new material existence. It is not the portal to any heaven or hell.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.