Arguments for the existence of the soul/spirit

I am wondering if any of you have any really strong arguments for the existence of the human soul/spirit. I was always told that a soul is the life force of a body, but humans have a soul which is also a spirit.

Most people I have debated say that what I would call my soul is just my brain. Yet when I think about it more it seems like it can’t just be my brain. My brain produced signals which have physical properties to them, but the thoughts themselves do not. When one thinks about justice or sympathy they do not have physical characteristics. They do not have a length, or a mass or anything like that. When I have the option to be compassionate or demand justice, I am not comparing groves in my brain to one another. These concepts fell like something else. Yet if we found another species that had the same intelligence as us (imagine planet of the apes) wouldn’t this mean that they would have to have a spirit in order for them to preform these complex thought?

I believe what I am trying to say is that are there any really strong arguments for the existence of the human soul/spirit that would be able to stand even if we found other intelligent beings?

Can’t really help much with ‘strong arguments for the existence of the human soul/spirit’; but I did draft a post in a similar thread, that bears re-posting here, as a different perspective, FWIW.

[the question it was responsive to, was whether the mind/brain and soul were the same; another poster mentioned that spirit was also distinct; here’s my post].

**Mind: our consciousness, our intellect, our will;

Spirit: our life force, our animation;

Soul: our identity; who we are, to./in the eyes of God.

If Mind and Spirit were Soul, then abortion would not be condemned as being so offensive to God–nor would euthanasia of the unconscious (e.g.–the comatose).

NB: Not that the pre-born, comatose, or ‘brain dead’ are ‘mindless’ or ‘spiritless’, but rather their mental and spiritual faculties have been compromised, or in the case of the pre-born, lack the maturity, to be expressive of the Soul.

It is the Soul, having been created in the image of God, that lends Man his sacred dignity;

The Spirit, his energy and capability to live, and to love, and to help carry out/effect the Will of God (or to work against it, according to his (man’s) own free will) thereby;

The Mind, his ability to understand and know God, good from bad/evil, and to choose either good (to serve and glorify God) or evil (to turn away from God, to serve self or anyone/thing other than God, to not glorify God–i.e.–to sin)–i.e.–free will.

Mind and Spirit permit Man to respond to the gift/grace of Faith (or to reject it)–according to the Soul.

Mind and the Spirit are therefore manifestations of the Soul.

But not the Soul itself.

(Just my humble understanding–no claim to specific authority; as always, I welcome critiques, dissents, corrections, suggestions, clarifications, exceptions, advice, or such). **

One argument for the soul is based on the difference between a corpse and a living body. In the morning a man is alive, but by the evening he may be a corpse. Now what is the difference between the two? It’s not a difference of material. There is no chemical you could add to the corpse that would make it alive again, nothing material could do that. But there is a difference. Therefore, there is a nonmaterial element without which the body is a corpse. Catholics call it the soul.

A second argument for the soul is based on justice. If there is no life after death, there is no justice. Good and evil are not balanced in this life. Good people often suffer, evil people often do well. Also, if there is no future life, there is no true morality. Rob, lie, murder – only be careful! The only way true justice can be served is if we have a soul that lives on after death, where a sentence of judgment awaits. But if there is no soul, then there is ultimately no justice and no morality either.

A third argument for the soul is based on the law of nature. Human beings naturally believe in life after death and in many cases look forward to it. Fr. Rumble’s book “Radio Replies Volume 3” uses this as an argument that the afterlife is real: “Could anyone conceive that God would form that most delicate organ of hearing, the ear, so wonderfully adapted to every kind of vibration, yet endow no objects with the power of causing sound? The whole tendency of the ear would be to hear, yet it would never do so because its complementary object would be wanting. Every natural tendency implies and has an object.” Therefore, something exists which corresponds to our natural expectation of an afterlife.

I believe that God lives within each one of us - our soul - that which makes us His beloved children. Is that not one of the reasons that we are taught to always seek the good in others, to “Love them as I have loved you…”

God bless you.

Since I understand the spirit to be the remembrance of a person, the body to be the present person, and the soul to be the future of a person, I recognize they exist.

Thanks for sharing the interesting question!

Clearly emotions, also part of the soul, are experienced in the body as well as the brain. Yet they are intangible and defy measurement. We can observe and measure their effects, but not their essence. This is true about all the aspects of soul that are intangible.

I often wonder how people can experience dreams and not accept that there is an intangible aspect of the human being.

I think I heard it put this way before:

Our bodies are in union with our souls from what I understand. So, we can look at how the mind actually works to see how there’s a need for a soul in a living being.

A human can move, think, and do functions with their body. These are simply types of actions, but it is not the individual parts of the body, or even the whole of the body that is the origin of these actions.

Our souls, which posses free will, since they’re rational, exercises free will, morality, etc through the use of our bodies.

The body needs a soul to know that actions can be important. A sin is a wrong action, but it is not our brains that somehow functions in a way that tells us our actions are good or bad, it is our rational soul’s coupled with our body’s intellect.

That is why a soul needs a body in my opinion - to feed sensory and intellectual input so that our souls can be formed with a correct conscience, and act accordingly.

Our brains help in moving, perception, understanding, thinking

Our souls help in making moral decisions, knowing right from wrong, and animating the body

That could be why when the brain is damaged our behavior changes, but not who we are. The soul’s interactions with the physical can be hampered by the damaged brain, because it’s unable to collect the right sensory input or output the right responses. That doesn’t make us any less of a person.

Good thread.

I have heard it said that we “are” a soul, and we “have a body”. Jesus said that in heaven we will be like the angels (neither marry or given in marriage). The glorified body will be like the body of Jesus. While we are in this bondage of flesh, we are subject to temptation that will not happen in our glorified bodies.

Obviously souls are still "people’ without the body, as evidenced by how the prophet Samuel appeared to Saul, and how Moses and Elijah appeared and were conversing with Christ. They have a sense of themselves, of what is going on in the temporal realm, and are able to communicate, express intention and emotion. How these things can happen without the body is truly a mystery.

Here is an excellent philosophical argument to your question from Peter Kreeft.

Another quite simple piece of evidence for the presence of an immaterial reality (soul) in us which is not subject to the laws of matter and its death, is the daily experience of real magic: the power of mind over matter. Every time I deliberately move my arm, I do magic. If there were no mind and will commanding the arm, only muscles; if there were muscles and a nervous system and even a brain but no conscious mind commanding them; then the arm could not rise unless it were lighter than air. When the body dies, its arms no longer move; the body reverts to obedience to merely material laws, like a sword dropped by a swordsman.

Even more simply stated, mind is not part of the system of matter, not measurable by material standards (How many inches long is your mind?) Therefore it need not die when the material body dies. The argument is so simple and evident that one wonders who the real ‘primitive’ is, the ‘savage’ who understands it or the sophisticated modern materialist who cannot understand the difference between mind and brain.


I may be misunderstanding you so you can help me by elaborating some more on what you mean.

Do you mean that the spirit of a person is like personality types and the soul is different ??

To me the body is more than the person, it contains the soul as Jesus had in the Incarnation if I have it right.

The soul is not necessarily the future of a person because we NOW grow in holiness in our soul here on earth to skip or lessen purgation.

Can you show more of what you were saying please. If I understand what you are meaning it can be helpful.

I will gladly do my best to explain my understandings!

Do you mean that the spirit of a person is like personality types and the soul is different ??

By remembrance of person, I would also term it “a person’s exact past,” and I also understand it as “what a person did” and even “what a person would do.” For example, if you looked at a photo of a very special person in your life, and this act of viewing the photo, stirred up your emotions. From my understanding, you would be interacting with this person’s spirit or a remembrance of their person.
This understanding is supported by Jesus commanding us to “Do this in remembrance of me,” and the Church sharing with us that we celebrate the Mass in the Holy Spirit.

By future of a person, I would also term it “a person’s exact future,” and I also understand it as “what a person will do.” For example, consider Psalm 103:1 “For David himself. Bless the Lord, O my soul: and let all that is within me bless his holy name.”
In this Psalm, we are speaking to our soul with distinction. We could simply bless the Lord, just as we do when we pray, “…we bless you, we adore you,…” Given we cannot change what we did in the past, and we are not blessing in the present, we must be speaking to what we will do in the future.

By present person, I also understand it as “what a person is doing.”

From God’s perspective, what we would do, are doing, and will do is always known perfectly. However, from humanity’s perspective, we lack unity in the three. Sometimes I declare I would or will do something, yet when it comes time to do it, I don’t.

To me the body is more than the person, it contains the soul as Jesus had in the Incarnation if I have it right.

I can definitely agree with these understandings. Since Jesus is God, who is pure spirit, I find Jesus’ body and soul is contained in His Spirit because “Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”

The soul is not necessarily the future of a person because we NOW grow in holiness in our soul here on earth to skip or lessen purgation.

For me this understanding describes the growth in unifying our spirit, body, and soul. In other words, I find the pinnacle of living is to make what I would do, am doing, and will do eternally unchanging and more importantly the same as what God would do, is doing, and will do. Any time I set an act to be eternally willed, which is in union with what God wills, my soul has grown in holiness.

Can you show more of what you were saying please. If I understand what you are meaning it can be helpful.

One last consideration, when I share “would do, am doing, and will do,” I would also include feelings and thoughts as a part of the “doing.” For example, “what did I do, how did I feel, and what did I think,” are all important elements in a person’s exact past.

Thank you very much for further discussion! I look forward to more!

There is a soul…otherwise it’s all matter/brain/etc. and you’ve got determinism. Correct? Stimulus to our body, the laws of chemistry, physics, etc. determine the result. So if someone came up and shot you, you can’t complain…they had to do it. There’s no right/wrong, good/evil, love/hate, because it’s all matter moving around causing chemical reactions.

Can you imagine building a robot (all matter…like what we’re talking about) that could feel pain? Sure, you can program a robot to jump and scream when the temperature sensor went over 150 degrees. But would there be real suffering? I say no. I believe there’s a link to “the beyond” - the soul that we can’t see/measure/etc.

Why would the existence of our soul (beyond the mere physical) be in jeapordy if other intelligent beings exist elsewhere? I’d say monkeys here are fairly intelligent and have souls. We humans have eternal souls as taught in scripture. We have no teaching on the eternality (or not) of souls of animals or of extra-terrestrial beings (if they exist).


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