Why do we, first of all, have to ask this question, “Do we have a soul”? What has been making humanity pose this question for many centuries and quite possibly since the beginning of the human species? The answer to this question could open doors to the existential question of the soul as it is. It could be argued that people began to ask this question to be able to explain the difference between a dead and a living person. What does a living person boast that a dead person cannot have? Certainly, dead people cannot move. On the other hand, there are people who are paralyzed and some of them cannot even wink. There are also people who are completely living beings, but are immovable because of a coma. From this, we can infer that the ability to move is not the underlying difference between a dead and a living person. I will later argue that the ability to think plays a giant role in the understanding of soul, but at this point, I am asking myself a question of what a primeval man could see to begin wondering about another side to our human biological existence.
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I believe that the primeval man was able to see that dead people began to decompose, and by decomposition I do not mean an essential part of some sickness like leprosy or others, when human limps begin to rot and eventually fall apart, but the fact of total dismantling of a dead body taking place in time. It could be argued that since early human history, we began to see that there was something inside humans that was able to hold the body together and not let it fall apart. I suppose they described it by a term in some way comparable to our word “life”. Life could leave people and they became lifeless, and therefore dead. Another characteristic would be the warmth of a living body, since it becomes cold when life leavers it. Finally, the heartbeat is recognizable within a living human body. Once the heartbeat is over, the process of dying begins, followed by gradual decomposition.
Up to this moment, I have been talking about purely physical things, easily recognized even by a primeval man as part of a living body. The general conclusion is that people began to understand that there was a reason for the heartbeat, bodily warmth and general cohesion of a body. There was something behind it. What is more, as humanity developed, it is quite sure that people began to separate their desires to eat, drink, have sex or fall asleep from the desire to do something good to other people not for the sake of a material reward, but to gain a condition when a person is happy and makes others happy. Then they possibly wanted to explain why we love, hate, think, rejoice or feel said, are better at exact sciences rather than liberal or vice versa. Finally, they needed to explain such phenomenon when people died and still saw something (like blind people seeing individuals around their dead body), and then returned to life.
All these manifestations (emotions, thinking, decision-making, feelings, extracorporeal experience) need explanations, and the explanation can suggest the existence of a soul as the inner being of a human person, tightly merged with the physical form of our bodies and responsible for self-identification. When the soul leaves the body, it goes with stoppage of heart and all of the ongoing processes within a human body. Our muscles or our brain cannot think by themselves, and we know there could be people whose brain is totally damaged, but they are still alive and can possibly be detected dreaming about something through taking measures of the heartbeat changes during the coma. Why do we love or hate? Why do we fall in love with that or this person? Why can we identify ourselves as a separate human being living inside a certain bodily coating? Why are some people more talented than others, even though they have an equal size of brain or can be brought up by the same parents? Why do people have different talents? We cannot ignore these questions.
A tree cannot love, it can only work as a biological mechanism, fulfilling the natural programs or algorithms built into it, like photosynthesis or having tree branches always protrude toward the south. Animals cannot think of worshipping a God, and they have not been detected as praying or performing any other religious ritual requesting a supernatural help. There is something special about humans, giving them the ability to make choices and talk about them, prove their points and express emotions, that sets them apart from the rest of the living world and imparts them with something that other organisms like plants or animals cannot have. There is no argument here whether animals have a soul or not, but with regard to humans, as a species who uses the famous Latin saying ,“Cognito ergo sum” (“I think, therefore, I exist) there is no doubt that there is a side to our being other than simply biological processes going on inside like a program.
The abilities for thinking and self-identification as well as our emotions, character (meek or impulsive, for example) and preferences (rap versus classic music, for example) require a different dimension to our biological being, which could be described as “a soul”. It is our soul that loves one kind of painting and dislikes another, is able to create poetry or think about praying to God.
It is our soul that sees things during clinical death condition that cannot be explained by science and there are many books with testimonies of people who experienced this condition, and returned to testify to the existence of life after death. Even the very fact that the one who reads these lines either doubts or agrees that there is a soul is a confirmation by itself that it exists! Biological processes cannot doubt, they have to execute, don’t they?
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