- Published on Wednesday, 21 October 2009 01:20
- Written by John Draper
- Hits: 3056
Many of the notions in Religion come from common thoughts that people have. I identify myself as separate to others - there are thoughts inside me which others don't know. Other people have the same experience, so if I say I have a mind or even a soul which is separate to my body, other people think "yes, that's true, that's how I feel". So the idea is born that there is somehow a separation between our body which is clearly material and our thoughts which are somehow independent of our body. This leads easily to the concept that our mind is spiritual and independent of our material brain. It's only a small step to call this our spiritual soul which could easily exist (in some unknown way) separately from our body and therefore continue after death. Maybe souls could wander around and be ghosts; or maybe they could go to heaven or hell?
Unfortunately there is one big flaw with this - minds (souls) are not separate from the material body. How we think affects our health - the body does change depending on what we think. And conversely, our thoughts do depend on our body. Health affects thoughts; whether we are sleeping or not affects thoughts; what we are doing affects thoughts - the mind and body are certainly strongly connected. And the mind is not a separate entity despite many attempts to prove otherwise. There have been many attempts to prove that a mind can be "read", or that minds (souls) exist after death but nothing has been proved. One site which has disproved many claims is the James Randi Foundation.
However, it is interesting that humans all agree with the concept that "I exist inside my body" and it's because that's what it feels like. Maybe animals feel like that too - How would we know? This feeling (thought?) is why we are so ready to believe in a life after death and a being who can listen in on silent thoughts or prayers.
An apparent contradiction to this is that early cultures - and even primitive cultures like the Muslims - were more focused on an external show. Such things as worship in big Churches, bowing down to pray, kneeling, pilgrimages, penance and more - all assume that god cannot read our minds but is like an earthly king who would demand such obeisance. But once we came to accept the idea of an "inner self" and therefore an immortal soul, this idea/concept joined up with our invention of a god creator who demanded worship (like any king). This composite god (a creator of bodies which included souls) would be able to provide immortality to our souls. Thinking that he could read our minds came later.
It's all part of why religions exist - it's because we want them to exist - even if they don't make sense.