Soul Doesn’t Exist And The Answer Lies In Consciousness

    The consciousness of the brain gives us the ability of self-awareness and to experience our existence

    By Ammad Naeem | 14 January 2019

    Comparison of a fully conscious brain compared to brain activity during cardiac arrest and at the time of brain death. The graph shows the activity level of the brain from being highly active to least active.

    People who don’t believe in souls or afterlife are often asked this question. What happens when we die and where does the soul go?

    Well, the simple answer to this question is that there is no such thing as a soul. It’s the consciousness of our brain that gives us the ability to experience our existence and be self-aware. The degree of self-awareness also depends on the capacity of the brain function. For example, the human brain has developed to such an extent over the course of millions of years that we are one of the finest self-aware creatures on earth.

    Any creature with a brain would have some degree of self-awareness and also some degree of experiencing its existence. Living things like plants or microbes don’t have the capacity of self-awareness because they lack a functioning brain to give them this experience.

    The internal network of patients with brain death, coma, vegetative state (VS), minimally conscious state (MCS), and Locked-in syndrome (LIS). The network was extracted with independent component analysis. The black and white contour represents a template of the internal network extracted from 11 awake healthy. Yellow and orange colors represent the areas which activities positively correlate with the time course of the internal network.

    On the other hand, humans, animals, and even insects have this function to some degree depending on how much their brains have developed in the evolutionary process of life on earth. Insects do have a brain and also have a considerable ability to memorize. The brain in insects actually controls only a small subset of functions required for an insect to live. The stomodaeal nervous system and other ganglia can control most body functions independent of the brain.

    In fact, an insect can live for several days without a head, assuming it, upon decapitation does not lose a lethal amount of hemolymph which is the insect equivalent of blood. So the function of the brain is different in different species.

    Now coming back to the concept of soul and death, so what happens after death? Well, nothing happens. Your heart stops pumping and the brain dies because of the lack of blood supply. All that remains is a decomposing biochemical mass of tissue and bones. And with that, your consciousness and your ability to experience life and to use your senses are gone indefinitely.


    Reprinted with permission from the author.

    Sir Roger Penrose — The quantum nature of consciousness

    Daniel Dennett – Can Brain Explain Mind?

    Sam Harris: The Self is an Illusion

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    1. I don't think it matters. We are alive and then we are dead. Like going under the knife, if we do not wake up, we do not know that we did not wake up. Our existence here is made up of our lives, from the time our heart begins to beat until it ceases to beat. Period. Must we be greedy and afraid? This life is diminished by the promise of eternal life. If it were globally excepted that this was it, we wouldn't use "hell" to punish those who exploit the masses and "heaven" for a promise to those who spend their life subservient and miserable.

    2. I agree that the concept of a "soul" is only applicable to human life as a metaphor for more complex explanations. That's what religion does well, it condenses complex systems of behavior and thought into easily digestible nuggets of wisdom that the unwashed masses" can understand.

      Consciousness is a product of the massively parallel, distributed computational nature of the human brain. If you take a computer with billions of independent processing cores, or billions of networked, identical computers, and tell them that they are to amass information, but that they can never turn off, only go into sleep mode periodically to compile and correlate the information they've absorbed, eventually consciousness will emerge. There is no magic to it. People want to believe that they are special, that there is some mystical importance to their being here, but they are merely the products of millions of years of evolution, and the magic is the infinite number of ways they can combine the information they've been taking in since their gestation accumulated a critical mass of neural activity to process the limited stimuli that a fetus encounters. Consciousness is a perspective, a singular lens through which an organism views the world, filtered through genetic disposition and experience.

    3. Useful observations.
      Why we believe otherwise is complicated by the miriad of fantastical options available to a world of almost 8 billion people!
      Pick your fantasy as long as it doesn’t impinge on the rights of others!


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