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Is There Proof of the Existence of a Soul?

Is There Proof of the Existence of a Soul?

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Dear Rabbi,

Ever since the death of my brother seven years ago, I have been grappling with the concept of the soul. I wish I could believe in it. I am the type that needs rational arguments to convince me, and it seems the soul is too abstract for my mind. I know these things can't be scientifically proven, but do I have to resort to blind faith to believe in the soul?

Answer:

The pain of losing a loved one is so deep because it is so final. You can never replace a person whom you have lost.

But what if you could?

Imagine it were possible to clone your late brother. A genetically identical replica could be created who talks, thinks, looks and smells precisely the same as the person you grew up with. Furthermore, what if scientists developed a way to preserve and replicate memory? They could take your late brother's memories and insert them into his clone. You could sit with your newly recreated brother and reminisce about childhood experiences and laugh at the good old days, sharing a bond that only brothers can.

Would you opt for this? Would you be satisfied with an exact copy of your brother? Would his death be reversed when you met his clone? Would it end your pain?

I can't imagine the answer could be yes. I can't imagine anyone would truly believe that a clone could replace a brother or sister, son or daughter, parent or spouse or best friend.

But why not? Why would a refurbished model be any different from the original?

Because something is missing. This is not your brother. He may have your brother's voice and your brother's expressions, your brother's manner and mind and memory, but he doesn't have your brother's soul. It just isn't him.

That's what soul is. It is what makes you, you. It is the fragment of G‑d that makes each one of us unique. Above your body, beyond your personality, transcending genetics and even deeper than memory is the core of your being, the ineffable essence that is you. We call this your soul. It is soul that makes each person irreplaceable. And it is your brother's soul that you miss.

You don't need scientific proof of the soul, neither do you need blind faith. You know it to exist just as you know your own existence. You can choose to ignore it, or to remember it constantly. Sometimes you can even feel it. And at those moments when you feel your soul, you will feel your brother's soul too.

See Sending Love Packages to Deceased Loved Ones from our Jewish Death & Mourning minisite.

Aron Moss is rabbi of the Nefesh Community in Sydney, Australia, and is a frequent contributor to Chabad.org.
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Discussion (81)
June 6, 2014
do souls exist?
i want to know whether souls really exists?
how can we know that the loved one's souls is still existing ?
Anonymous
May 14, 2014
Argument for the soul
The soul is an immaterial thing that contains consciousness and animates the body. It is not a “thing” or “object”, but has being. If you say you believe in the G-d of Abraham, then we can assume, based on what is written in the Torah/Tenakh that He, also, has consciousness. That is to say, He has emotions such as anger, love, etc., He experiences things and events, He has beliefs and desires, and He acts out of free will. All that said, He is not limited to a physical body.

If A = B, then we can assume both A and B are the same in all aspects. But, if there is a difference between A and B at any point, then we can no longer claim that A = B, but rather that they are, indeed different. Please allow the following explanation:

Consciousness has 5 states: 1) sensation, 2) thoughts, 3) beliefs, 4) desires, and 5) acts of free will. All of these are non-physical states. Within these states, there are things that cannot be measured as brain activity. That is to say, although our consciousness can feel the sensation of the brain being mechanically stimulated, it’s not the same thing as a brain state. For example, a sensation is not the same thing as a belief.

Further, we all know the brain state is physical, and the consciousness is not. Indeed, the brain state is either true or false, but states of consciousness can be both true and false. For example, I may think that the sky is orange in color, but it is actually blue. Or, I may believe that the Pittsburgh Steelers will win the superbowl, but they do not. I may will that I should climb the empire state building, but cannot. And so on… These are not measurable scientifically.

Thus, A does not equal B. And therefore, although our body carries a brain, the soul is separate and immaterial, but utilizes the brain, just as we would pick up a tool box and utilize the tools inside for specific purposes.

Brain activity, or measurements made by scientists of brain activity is just that. The soul is infinitely more, and transcendent.
B
April 29, 2014
I would agree, that when you die, the micro-tubules in your brain release the quantum information in your brain to the universe as a whole. This hardly is proof of God, quite a big jump in logic there wouldn't you say? There is absolutely no reason to assume this, and leads one down a path of inconsistency and fallacy. I mean, the truth of the matter is the Eastern religions have been saying that for thousands of years, not really a new discovery of science at all, science has merely confirmed what the Hindus and Buddhists have known all along!
Mark
April 28, 2014
Sounds like denial of the most fundamental principle in Judaism to me. "Shema Yisroel, Hashem E--lokani, Hashem ECHAD". How can you call something a fragment of God, God is indivisible!!! He is not composed of parts and therefore cannot be fragmented. Please don't reference late authorities to argue your view. Only primary sources and reason will suffice. Thank you.
Dan K.
Far Rockaway
April 4, 2014
Mark: We Are More than Rocks as Our Souls Give Us Animation
Though the universe is soulful; for example Aaron drew water from rock, what makes the human soul special is that it can operate at higher levels than rocks, and even still at higher levels than other species. The soul is the part that animates.
For instance; there is the animal soul that makes it such that some of us experience hunger. A rock will probably never feel hungry, and because of that, what we believe hunger is an inclination to evil. That makes the souls of beasts higher than that of inanimate objects.
Another level of the soul that I believe even monkeys, and especially mother’s of other higher level species can do is empathy. Although I can’t say every human is capable of empathy. It is usually very apparent when a human lacks it. Though it is difficult for family members, and close people to deal with a human lacks the level of the soul that is a conscience: I feel pity for someone who never experiences empathy. That is the appropriate response for such a person.
Craig Hamilton
Sandwich, MA
April 4, 2014
LOL love the people who haven't looked into recent science.. they've actually somewhat proven that when you die, the micro-tubules in your brain release the quantum information in your brain to the universe as a whole.. when resuscitated, they have the fabled 'near death experience' of seeing white light in a tunnel or seeing lost family members.. how can you still base your belief of no god on science that was founded while knowing almost nothing about the universe and proving and proving until they feel like they know everything.. but oh wait there's more! oh Quantum mechanics? wow an entire area of science that we still hardly understand.. nevermind what causes it all, or where all the matter in the universe came from. YOUR ANSWER is God. You have a soul that uses the microtubules in your brain to perceive our universe with your senses, and control your body with your motor skills, and learn new things with neuro-plasticity, and yet we call this Biology, not Soulology. Perspective
Mike
Amherst
April 4, 2014
The soul can not be measured . The after life is a totally new dimension. Measurements are man made just like time and space. Let me know when science can find or figure out where the conscious is located in the brain or in body.When you die your soul lives on . It could be very simple, the conscious is the soul and the connection between the brain and heart. Like in the times of Moses or Jesus . Some look but do not see. Some listen but do not hear. I am a big beter on eternity. Why because I seen it.
Mike Hagan
USA
April 3, 2014
incorrect again!
energy has mass huh? Ok what is the mass of the energy of the effort it takes to type this sentence? ha ha ha, your funny. Uhh, because as humans we want to explain things, understand things. That doesn't mean the explanations are true--talk about a straw man!! ha ha. wow. You are way off base in your analysis. I don't really care about your beliefs at all, so I could care less about convincing anyone of anything. I only point the way to rationale. This is not a 'soul' site sir, so what are you talking about? And I am not Hindu. Ahh, so if it makes you happy it must be true! what a well though out argument! ha ha! And even with your reply (which is cool, I am enjoying the discussion actually), in which I specifically asked a question, you completely avoided the question and didn't even attempt to answer it! Wait, are you saying the soul is nothing more than energy? Ok, I tend to agree, the only thing that survives death is the energy of a being. Why is this a soul though?
Mark
April 1, 2014
Soul dimensions
Mark,
Your argument is a "straw man".
Energy has mass, but no dimensions.
also:
The Consciousness could have G-d as the cause.

Ever wonder why every human culture has a concept of "life after death"? Not every human culture has "invented" the wheel (Aztec's had some circular toys, but no wheel vehicles).

I am coming to the conclusion that This is more than an interesting argument to you. Why is it so important to "prove" there is no soul?

You have spent a lot of time here trying to "prove" the Soul does not exist because you don't know how to measure it. If, as you contend, there is no soul, why is it so important to you that others are convinced souls exist?
I don't go to Hindu websites and tell them their beliefs are false, because their beliefs have no effect on my life.

If There is no Proof that G-d exists, there is also, no proof that G-d does not exist.
You assume that G-d(who created the soul), does not exist. Does this belief make you happier?
BurtB
April 1, 2014
ok then....
I would simply ask y'all to describe even one characteristic of this soul that is so apparent to you. We can't say eternal, for eternal would mean unchanging, and there is nothing that is unchanging. There are also just as many books and works that claim no soul. So that argument doesn't work. I would suggest you do your homework, and read about how millions of other people believe instead of just reading the same falsehoods over and over and then using them as your 'proof'! ha ha The truth is, the concept of a soul is just that...a concept. The only 'I' there is is the one we construct, and we call it 'ego' in our language. The ego is based on the individual perceiver, and once the perceiver no longer perceives, there is no chance of an ego. Ego and "soul" are the same thing! When a person dies, they obviously have no ego any longer. So what remains of the person? No thought, feeling, perception, consciousness, etc so, what is it EXACTLY you are claiming to be this 'soul'?
Mark
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