Every religion I have read about (Eastern and Western) talk about every sentient organism having a ‘soul’. It is one thing all religions seem to agree on - everyone has a soul, and something happens to it upon death. The most developed / abstract philosophical systems (Hindu Vedanta, Madhyamika Buddhism) teach that the soul only exists at a transactional level; the fundamental reality being that individual souls are merely reflections of the ‘universal soul’, aka God/Isvara.
But no system I know of denies the existence of the soul as the real experiencer of events, with the body literally being the garment he wears.
My purpose in starting this thread is to obtain a rational scientific viewpoint on this matter.
- Does science believe there is something akin to a soul, as described by most religious traditions?
- Is mainstream science agnostic about its possible existence, or dismissive based on scientific evidence?
- What, if any, scientific experiments have been undertaken to settle this question one way or the other?
- Is the brain (in case of humans) believed to fully explain consciousness, and thus the qualities attributed to a soul by religious thought? How does science explain lifeforms that live without a nervous system of any kind?
I am looking for a scientific perspective on this topic, but I welcome personal thoughts too, particularly from athiests.
Mods: Please move if inappropriate for this forum.