How do we know we have a soul?

this a question often asked by atheists. and theyr rationale is that we can’t scientifically measure a soul. therefore they thik everything is contained int he human brain.

i relize we reject certain eastern religions for similar reasons, when they talk about forces of nature and bodily energy and such things. we also can’t measure those.

what would be a good explanation of the soul? i haven’t really been able to come up with one yet. thanks

Truth, goodness, freedom, justice, beauty and love cannot be scientifically measured yet they are more precious and significant than anything else. Materialism is a soul-destroying view of life which rejects the very reasons for our existence. Our soul distinguishes us from animals because it is a gift from God who made us in His image and likeness with a capacity for love and self-sacrifice. It is the source of our free will and power of self-determination. We cannot define it any more precisely than we can define what is divine because it takes us to the very heart of reality.

How does any one know we don’t have one?

The soul is what gives life to the body. Human souls are immortal and are able to know through intellection, and to love. Animal souls are not immortal and die with the body. The human soul is created with God as it’s end, for eternity. We know we have an immaterial soul because we can contemplate life, have self awareness, and can know God. These are all immaterial operations, thus the human soul is immaterial (unlike the soul of a beast) and exists independently from the body and the soul lives on after it leaves the human body.


thanks for some good answers. it was helpful. it’s always just been one of those things i knew but didn’t really know how to explain.

Also Jesus mentions the soul in Matthew 10:28

And fear not them that kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear Him that is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

How do we know that we have a soul?

Well, one way is that we have the ability to objectify our bodies.

We are more than just our bodies, the mass of electrical impulses and biochemical reactions, I am “me”. I am.

While my body is extremely important, the self of which I am the subject still views my body as it’s object. Meaning that the self that is “I” in fact transcends my body.

The “I” which is subject, is the human soul.

Only in sin is the situation reversed, instead of the body being subject to the self, the self becomes subject to the body, or rather the passions and impulses of the body.

Thus, the more we sin, the more we lose our distinct individuality, the less “ourselves” we become. We “lose ourselves” in favor of the sin we love.

I would suggest reading something on Plato. Mostly, the arguments made by Socrates about the nature of the soul are based on moral a priori arguments. Catholic teaching on the soul is not the same as Platonic teaching. We officially adopted Thomistic ideas on the soul. F.C. Copleston would be another good read. We read part of his book, Aquinas: An Introduction to the Life and Work of the Great Medieval Thinker for my philosophy of religion class. Laying out the Platonic, Aristotelian, Judeo-Christian, and Epicurean ideas about the soul was what helped convince me that there was a soul/resurrection even if it was based on a priori postulates.

Other implications deal with how religions deal with concepts of ethics due to their views on the souls. Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, because of their belief in resurrection, emphasize moral goodness along with the glorification of the body into accordance with the divine. Aristotelianism holds to a higher standard of ethics than that of Epicurus but since there is no afterlife, there is no hope of re-uniting with the now since dead. Plato’s philosophy is a complete demotion of the body. Epicureanism is an over-emphasis of the body’s glorification. These are the extremes Fr. Copleston looks at.

The person who denies the soul based on a “rationalistic” worldview is actually deceiving themselves. You can reply to them kindly by asking them how to define death. Note the confusion that follows.

Ever wondered why does the “soul” exist at the first of our biological form but doesn’t end with our death?

The difference between a soul and energy is that energy transforms; soul isn’t defined well; what is a “soul”. Could it possibly be just a word which first humans created in their wonder of moves and energy amd in their needs for eternal existence?

Where does the soul stay in it’s waiting for the 2nd coming? If not in Hell; purgatory or Heaven; then where!

Ever wondered why does the “soul” exist at the first of our biological form but doesn’t end with our death?

The difference between a soul and energy is that energy transforms; soul isn’t defined well; what is a “soul”? Could it possibly be just a word which first humans created in their wonder of moves and energy and in their needs for eternal existence?

Where does the soul stay and wait for the sècond coming? If not in Hell; purgatory or Heaven then where!

.life is synonymous with activity. It is easier to understand how inanimate objects are moved by something already in motion than to understand how animate entities are moved. Animate entities have a source of immanent activity ( coming from within).called soul. In vegetative and animal life the “soul” is composed of matter and can communicate this life to entities that are similar. In humans there is an activity that transcends physical sensation even though in this life, its present mode of existence it is “extrinsically” dependent on matter (meaning matter is not necessary for its activity in itself, or its nature, but it is united to the physical and limited by the physical-union of body and soul) This activity is called “cognition”, the activity of the intellect in union with the brain which collects sense impression from the physical world. Also there is the activity of the will, called volition, the power of choice. These faculties belong to the rational soul of man. Metaphysicians reached the conclusion that the human soul is spiritual because the nature of this activity called cognition, abstraction, self-consciousness, reflection. Matter is incapable of self-consciousness, autonomic activity as shown in humans. Nor can matter organize itself, it needs an organizer. The soul is call an intellective agent that keeps the body organized. When the body can no longer support the activity of the soul (the principal of animate activity in humans,) it changes it mode of existence to that of its own nature, no longer united to matter, but pure spirit. This means the intellect is no longer restricited in the activity of knowing, it now is infused with knowledge directly from God who is Truth. Also the will is united to the Truth that the intellect perceives, this is call “The Beatific Vision” or union with God.:thumbsup: p.s. The soul is not matter so it is not effected… by material corruption.

The Irenaean theology resolves this issue.

" But if any persons at this point maintain that those souls, which only began a little while ago to exist, cannot endure for any length of time; but that they must, on the one hand, either be unborn, in order that they may be immortal, or if they have had a beginning in the way of generation, that they should die with the body itself— let them learn that God alone, who is Lord of all, is without beginning and without end, being truly and for ever the same, and always remaining the same unchangeable Being. But all things which proceed from Him, whatsoever have been made, and are made, do indeed receive their own beginning of generation, and on this account are inferior to Him who formed them, inasmuch as they are not unbegotten. Nevertheless they endure, and extend their existence into a long series of ages in accordance with the will of God their Creator; so that He grants them that they should be thus formed at the beginning, and that they should so exist afterwards." (Against Heresies, 34.2)

So someone who is now brain dead and all they have is life support is dead?

I believe it is a safe conclusion. The brain controls all bodily functions, heart beat, respiration, elimination etc. It is the center of all nerve and intellectual activity. One thing remains- can we safely conclude that the brain can no longer function. People have experience long periods of unconsciousness and have revived. Science says by the use of the ociliscope electrical activity can be detected in the brain. When it isn’t detected,it is called “flat-line” no activity detected. Since the soul is the principle of activity in the body its presence is detected by its EFFECTS on physical body, the soul itself can’t be detected by the senses. Its presence can only be KNOWN BY THE INTELLECT. This same principle or truth is used to know Gods’ presence in the universe. Now many hospitals require a living will. This takes the responsibility from the doctors and transferes it to the patient. I have witnessed decisions made by doctors on life or death and were proven wrong.with terrible consequences. I choose to die a natural death. The use of drugs to make the patient more comfortable, to diminish pain is O/K. morally, the use of drugs to perform mercy killing, is morally wrong. Life support can support vegetative life, and maybe sentient life (doubtful), but not “rational life” if the brain is truly dead. I prefer to die with human dignity.:slight_smile:

Ah, I see now. Someone who is brain dead…by logic…has no longer a soul.

a Rational soul. The soul has the power of vegetative , sentient and rational life. Life support may support the vegetative life of the body, but that isn,t really human living. In time even vegetative live diminishes even with life support.

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