- Published on Thursday, 10 November 2011 07:07
- Written by John Draper
- Hits: 1832
Because we are "self-aware", religious people argue that we therefore have a soul. Since a soul cannot be found in our body, it must be spiritual and not material so could have a separate existence e.g. in heaven or hell and for eternity. There is nothing to wear out! I wish I could believe it. But does self-awareness prove we have a soul? Biological science has shown that we can think with our brain - no soul is needed. (See neurophilosopher Patricia Churchland and Morality comes from the brain, not a soul) but where does self-awareness come from? First, how do we know that we are self-aware? It seems to be self-evident because we think, we know we exist, we can talk about it and hear others tell about their self-awareness. Perhaps persuasive. But why would we think that we are unique? Why would we think that animals are not self-aware? Maybe they are but because they have not developed a form of communicating that we can understand, we don't know about it. Have you ever watched a dog chasing a rabbit or sheep? The dog will anticipate where the rabbit/sheep are headed and run towards that spot. He is clearly thinking and applying some form of logic. Other animals such as chimpanzees will often act just like humans so clearly demonstrate an ability to think abstractly. If animals think logically and abstractly, are they also self-aware? Based on their behaviour self-awareness would be quite possible. So do they have a soul too? Are they capable of sin too? Or was there no original sin for them so they are "good" and destined for animal heaven?
Some animals are obviously smarter than others so is there a point at which they become self-aware and have a soul? Seems likely. The alternative of course is that there is no such thing as a soul - thinking is just a result of chemical and electrical reactions in our biological brains. A pity - if I could only work up a belief in a soul then I'd be able to live forever in heaven. Another problem, I'd first have to believe that believing in something, by itself, makes it true. Unfortunately, that's too much to ask of anyone who bothers to think.