Does the Soul Exist?
Almost everyone answered yes! My answer would be an emphatic NO. A lot of people have totally mistaken the soul for Atma and Jeevatma.
The soul is a belief. Atma can be scientifically explained. This is the basic difference.
I guess “soul” is just wishful thinking, an invention that allows a conscious intelligence to project its existence beyond the certainty of its own death. It’s a feel-good fantasy that appeals to people who are emotionally unprepared to face the final reality of death.
Science says there’s no evidence of souls. Even in beliefs and myths soul hasn’t even been properly defined. All exaggerated anecdotes, vivid personal experiences, and individual testimonials that people relate to the realm of the soul can be explained by psychology along with Neuroscience.
According to the Cambridge Dictionary, the soul is “the spiritual part of a person that some people believe continues to exist in some form after their body has died”.
The soul is essentially a Semitic belief. According to Christian Mythology, only a human has a soul, and each and every soul is born a sinner. God creates a soul for each body. It doesn’t have a past, but surely will have an eternal future, either in heaven or hell. Christianity believes the soul continues its existence immediately after death. At the point of death, God will determine the soul’s ultimate fate — eternal punishment or eternal happiness.
In Hebrew, the word for soul is nefesh (Arabic nafs) which refers to breath. Abrahamic theology is inconsistent – while animals, plants, etc. all breathe, they do NOT possess souls. Only human beings have souls. So respiration while common to most life forms don’t indicate the presence of a “soul”.
On the contrary, Hinduism addresses you as “Amrutatma” (Eternal Atma) and not as “sinner”. Atma doesn’t have an English word. And it has nothing to do with the soul.
According to Hinduism, all created will be destroyed. Science also shares this view. If the soul is created, then it cannot be eternal. Semitic belief lacks the past of the soul. Hence the word eternal is not at all suitable because eternal means all the time (always).
Hindus also talk about a life force in all animate beings (not just humans). It is called Jiva. The Jiva has started and ended, created, and can be/will be destroyed.
Atma is a different concept altogether. For further understanding, one needs to go through the genuine scriptures of the Bhagavad Gita and Upanishad (NOT interpretations and quotes), Many scriptures provide different perceptions and it needs a lot of time to understand and explain them.
So, to make it simple (scientifically and logically), I can only provide my understanding and perspective and hence am not able to provide any specific references.
Science says every animate and inanimate material is made up of atoms. And the atom contains energy. There are about 100 trillion cells that make up the human body. Human cells are made up of multiple atoms. It all has energy. Our ancients say there is also a conscious part of the energy that sustains the body which is Atman. It is also known as Self. Atma (Self) is the consciousness that pervades everywhere.
The universe has trillions and trillions of atoms. The total sum energy of the universe/cosmos is Brahman. The conscious part of the Brahman or universal consciousness is called Paramatma (Absolute Atman). Modern science also agrees that there could be a universal consciousness.
Hindu scriptures go in-depth on the individual self (atman) as well as the supreme self (Brahman). As per believers, Atma is like God in atomic form, the smallest particle of God.
Scientists can produce a baby in the lab even years after the parents die. This experiment crashed the belief in the soul. But it validated what Hindu scriptures say: “Both sperm and ovum have Atman”.
Bhagwad Gita says: “As a person sheds worn-out garments and wears new ones, likewise, at the time of death, the Atma casts off its worn-out body and enters a new one.” Don’t get confused. In simple words, energy is being transferred.
According to Semitic beliefs, a soul leaves the body and rests in heaven upon death until Judgment Day. Even their bodies will rise to heaven and join the souls on that day. I don’t see any sense in this story as all we know is that the dead body will decay and disintegrate.
Hinduism and science say that once a person dies, the Jiva leaves the body forever, while the body returns to the elements through cremation. That means your last breath will be dissolved into the atmosphere, that’s all. That air may be breathed by plants or other animate objects.
All our scriptures are very clear on the fact that Atman is eternal.
The soul, on the other hand, is an unfalsifiable explanation because, in most of its interpretations, it doesn’t point at something quantifiable or detectable that can be measured to check the validity of the claim. Explanations or propositions that are irrefutable, unfalsifiable, and untestable (cannot be confirmed or denied through an experiment) are not under the domain of science. (Message No: 364)
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