Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Do We Have a Soul?

Everything that is me, my conciousness, emotions, thoughts and dreams are the result of electrochemical reactions in my brain responding to, and trying to make sense of, the universe i inhabit. Distorted by the failings of biological sensors, filtered to exclude extraneous information, applied to inadequate models, interpreted in relation to my own idiosyncratic world view the thing I call reality only exists in my head. True reality, what the universe is actually like will always be shrouded from me. I percieve just a narrow band of the electromagnetic spectrum and can exist only in a very small nich environment if you consider the extremes of heat, gravity and radiation that abound "out there".
So me, my brain and all that is me, finds itself trapped in a bone prison. Percieveing in a grossly filtered, distorted way the reality that lies a mere inch or so beyond the walls. Contact, even with my loved ones, must pass through two of these distorting fortress walls. So I can never know what another feels, thinks or sees except dimmly through imperfect senses. We are all inconcievably alone, and when we die the reactions of nerve and charge. The myriad connections of neurons blindy reaching out to touch their neighbours, the receptors hungry for the nurotransmitters to slip like hand into glove to fire in chemical release down the multitude of pathways that form the models I use to make sense of "outside", that strive to see patterns in everything, that create love, pain, wonder and loss. All this will end. Rot. Become a seemingly amorphous mush with no hint of the vistas, life, hopes and experience it once allowed itself to imagine. End of existance for anything that could be called self.
That a part of the universe, some matter that, at even the scale of molecules. Let alone atoms or their component particles, is indistinguishable from rock, comet, supernovae remnants, could become concious of itself and strive to understand the universe is stunning. The universe concious of itself. Enough to wonder at, enough beauty, enough tears for anyone without resorting to anything so tawdry as a christian soul don't you think?

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