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Old 08-09-2013, 07:59 AM
 
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Okay, based on what I've come up with, most Atheists don't believe in superstition (magic, supernatural creatures, luck, and generic black cats/breaking mirrors/etc), souls, God/gods, and sometimes creation itself.

You don't have to believe in the other stuff, but you should at least believe in souls. Here's why.

Based on what I get as a vibe from atheists it's "what determines afterlife, and there isn't an afterlife." Well, yes, it can be that, but let's examine other definitions. First, there are numerous ways of describing the soul (philosophers associate it with the mind, Faustian stories typically associate the soul and the loss thereof in framework of the story with either one's life, one's afterlife, or one's identity). Let's mention the last one here. So, instead of getting the dictionary definition of soul (which has a bunch of high-minded afterlife talk), let's type in soulless.

Soulless
1. lacking any humanizing qualities or influences; dead; mechanical soulless work
2. (of a person) lacking in sensitivity or nobility
3. heartless; cruel

Definition 1 implies a person or concept that has no will of its own. A puppet is soulless, a robot is soulless. The others have to do with cruelty, which is a moral concept, and I didn't come here to preach morality. The reason there are so many different afterlifes? Because people have the ability to choose both their life and afterlife (or not to have one). That's what a soul does, it allows choice. But without one, what is life like? Going through motions, having other people dictate what you should do with your life (kinda what my life is now, since I'm submissive). If atheism is about not having some God or religion tell you what to do, and being able to do what you want in life, then necessarily, you must believe that you have free will (soul) in order to do so.

In short (not really), soul has nothing to do with God/afterlife/etc that's tied to religion (except as an afterthought). It's basically the sum total of your self. If you don't believe in your self, you don't have ability to make decisions, or do much of anything really.
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Old 08-09-2013, 08:13 AM
 
1,176 posts, read 2,053,068 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bulmabriefs144 View Post
Okay, based on what I've come up with, most Atheists don't believe in superstition (magic, supernatural creatures, luck, and generic black cats/breaking mirrors/etc), souls, God/gods, and sometimes creation itself.

You don't have to believe in the other stuff, but you should at least believe in souls. Here's why.

Based on what I get as a vibe from atheists it's "what determines afterlife, and there isn't an afterlife." Well, yes, it can be that, but let's examine other definitions. First, there are numerous ways of describing the soul (philosophers associate it with the mind, Faustian stories typically associate the soul and the loss thereof in framework of the story with either one's life, one's afterlife, or one's identity). Let's mention the last one here. So, instead of getting the dictionary definition of soul (which has a bunch of high-minded afterlife talk), let's type in soulless.

Soulless
1. lacking any humanizing qualities or influences; dead; mechanical soulless work
2. (of a person) lacking in sensitivity or nobility
3. heartless; cruel

Definition 1 implies a person or concept that has no will of its own. A puppet is soulless, a robot is soulless. The others have to do with cruelty, which is a moral concept, and I didn't come here to preach morality. The reason there are so many different afterlifes? Because people have the ability to choose both their life and afterlife (or not to have one). That's what a soul does, it allows choice. But without one, what is life like? Going through motions, having other people dictate what you should do with your life (kinda what my life is now, since I'm submissive). If atheism is about not having some God or religion tell you what to do, and being able to do what you want in life, then necessarily, you must believe that you have free will (soul) in order to do so.

In short (not really), soul has nothing to do with God/afterlife/etc that's tied to religion (except as an afterthought). It's basically the sum total of your self. If you don't believe in your self, you don't have ability to make decisions, or do much of anything really.
Just a thought, but I get an implied definition of soul that varies from what I understand soul to be.

You don't have a soul. You have a body. You are a soul.
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Old 08-09-2013, 08:21 AM
 
3,404 posts, read 2,257,014 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bulmabriefs144 View Post
Okay, based on what I've come up with, most Atheists don't believe in superstition (magic, supernatural creatures, luck, and generic black cats/breaking mirrors/etc), souls, God/gods, and sometimes creation itself.

You don't have to believe in the other stuff, but you should at least believe in souls. Here's why.

Based on what I get as a vibe from atheists it's "what determines afterlife, and there isn't an afterlife." Well, yes, it can be that, but let's examine other definitions. First, there are numerous ways of describing the soul (philosophers associate it with the mind, Faustian stories typically associate the soul and the loss thereof in framework of the story with either one's life, one's afterlife, or one's identity). Let's mention the last one here. So, instead of getting the dictionary definition of soul (which has a bunch of high-minded afterlife talk), let's type in soulless.

Soulless
1. lacking any humanizing qualities or influences; dead; mechanical soulless work
2. (of a person) lacking in sensitivity or nobility
3. heartless; cruel

Definition 1 implies a person or concept that has no will of its own. A puppet is soulless, a robot is soulless. The others have to do with cruelty, which is a moral concept, and I didn't come here to preach morality. The reason there are so many different afterlifes? Because people have the ability to choose both their life and afterlife (or not to have one). That's what a soul does, it allows choice. But without one, what is life like? Going through motions, having other people dictate what you should do with your life (kinda what my life is now, since I'm submissive). If atheism is about not having some God or religion tell you what to do, and being able to do what you want in life, then necessarily, you must believe that you have free will (soul) in order to do so.

In short (not really), soul has nothing to do with God/afterlife/etc that's tied to religion (except as an afterthought). It's basically the sum total of your self. If you don't believe in your self, you don't have ability to make decisions, or do much of anything really.
The problem here is that, like you say, there are countless definitions of "soul" most of which are freighted with god-belief and the supernatural. I do believe I have at least a compelling illusion of choice, of agency, but I hesitate to use a word that comes with so much supernatural baggage.

I have no problem using the word in figurative language, but as best I can tell the thing that allows me choice is my mind, my consciousness, not some other ethereal "me". At this point, I think the best explanation for the mind or consciousness is a combination of neurological structure and algorithmic complexity within the brain. We at least perceive other animals as having rudimentary decision making, communication, and social capacity corresponding with the complexity of their brains.

In short I would choose consciousness over soul, to avoid a lot of the mumbo jumbo associated with the latter term.

-NoCapo
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Old 08-09-2013, 08:28 AM
 
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Soul is self. Or consciousness. Or free will.

The word itself is irrelevant, it's the concept that's the key point.
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Old 08-09-2013, 08:32 AM
 
Location: Southern Oregon
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For me the soul has nothing to do with religion or the belief in an afterlife, the soul is "who you are". A person will manifest this soul through their character, actions and conversation. Have you ever met a person that just made you feel that you had to get away from them, or a person that really made you feel good just being around them, this is their soul.
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Old 08-09-2013, 08:35 AM
 
Location: Southwestern, USA
15,559 posts, read 12,217,553 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cleonidas View Post
Just a thought, but I get an implied definition of soul that
varies from what I understand soul to be.

You don't have a soul. You have a body. You are a soul.
Good one.

Added:
Well, if you are a vampire with a soul...it seems to mean a conscience.

Last edited by Miss Hepburn; 08-09-2013 at 08:50 AM..
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Old 08-09-2013, 08:37 AM
 
520 posts, read 871,756 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bulmabriefs144 View Post
Soul is self. Or consciousness. Or free will.

The word itself is irrelevant, it's the concept that's the key point.

It just depends on how you define the word. The way I understand it, soul has a spiritual concept, something in every human that isn't just a manifestation of nerve endings and chemicals.

If someone understood 'soul' as simply meaning 'consciousness', then obviously an atheist could talk about souls. But as soon as you start using the word "believe" as the thread title does, you've made it something that exists beyond the tangible realm.

To me, consciousness is consciousness. Free will is free will. The concept of a soul is something different. Its the idea of their being something non-corporeal to a person, some essence of the person that exists beyond the body. I don't think atheists would believe in that.
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Old 08-09-2013, 08:42 AM
 
3,404 posts, read 2,257,014 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bulmabriefs144 View Post
Soul is self. Or consciousness. Or free will.

The word itself is irrelevant, it's the concept that's the key point.
And as long as that is what we are talking about I am fine with it. "Souls" existing apart from a live, functioning brain, afterlives, "souls" as part of a universal field or a homunculus that sits in our mind and runs the controls, all those ideas don't make sense to me.

As I said, if you want to use the word soul in a figurative sense for the idea of decision making, rationalizing, or conscious thought, that is fine. I just don't like it because it has way too many other connotations. It is too easy to have miscommunication when one person's uses soul to mean the capacity for chioce, and another uses soul to mean an eternal, incorporeal component of your existence that somehow encapsulated all of what it means to be you.

For me this "soul" is a byproduct of biology, an emergent property of a specific arrangement of electro-chemical responses.

-NoCapo
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Old 08-09-2013, 09:03 AM
 
Location: Northeastern US
14,198 posts, read 9,113,267 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NoCapo View Post
For me this "soul" is a byproduct of biology, an emergent property of a specific arrangement of electro-chemical responses.
Agreed. Just as my body is a specific and ever-changing configuration of chemicals, hormones, enzymes, proteins, DNA, etc., and will lose that organization when life ceases, so too, my "soul" or "self" is a specific and ever-changing configuration of neurochemical impulses and will lose that organization when life ceases.

The main illusory aspect of the idea of self is that it is discrete, permanent and fixed. That is where religion generally goes awry with the concept. The self is an emergent property of complex systems and personal experience, and transitory.
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Old 08-09-2013, 09:41 AM
 
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It's the old problem of concepts before definitions. 'Soul' is a bit of a blunderbuss term for all sorts of imperfectly understood feelings and thoughts we have the way our bodies and minds work and speculations about the individual after death and even about matter and the cosmos.

Clearly, the term can be used in many ways, but none of them make a particular case for belief from the point of view of atheism.

That is the point of the thread of course, and while we are well aware of feelings, emotions, and aspirations, it is the speculations about an element of the individual that survives after the body is gone and also the strong links between that idea and the god -claim that are addressed to atheists, and the definitions about persons whose behaviour we disapprove of, or work that seems mechanical and devoid of any commitment of inspiration, don't really concern us, as atheists.

The only thing that does is the claim to a conscious element of our identity that survives death and the implications that might have for god -belief - as there is no particular reason why a soul - if we had one - would imply the existence of a god.
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