We’re all familiar with the concept of the “soul”. It’s an idea that’s been passed down through the thousands of generations since the first humans asked “who am I, and why am I here”. Yet, there’s little proof of the existence of one. Sure, there’s the photo by Russian scientist Konstantin Korotkov (photo to the left), and the 1907 experiment by Dr. Duncan MacDougall of Haverhill, Massachusetts, whose extensive study and research of the matter concluded that the soul indeed is measurable, and according to his experiments, it weighs 21.3 grams. But… overwhelmingly what we know about the soul is legend, myth, fairytales passed down from generation to generation.
For the sake of this blog, let’s assume that the soul is indeed a real thing. For many people it’s a comforting thought that this life isn’t it. In fact… as much as we try to think of our existence on this little blue planet as “reality”, I’ve never see it that way, mainly because I don’t know if “reality” has a beginning or and/or an end. We know that our existence does, but does “reality”? Regardless, many people have different beliefs when it comes to the soul.
Some believe that after a person dies his/her soul goes to Heaven, Hell or Purgatory. Others believe it will reincarnate as an animal or another person. Yet others believe that the soul becomes free to roam the Universe, and there’s even the belief that our Moon was put in place as a sort of a “soul catcher”. These are all wonderful and heartwarming thoughts (except for the Moon one, that one is pretty sinister) but ever since I was a child, they seemed simplistic, to me. These were ideas thought up by people who didn’t know much about their surroundings, and did the best they could, with what little they knew. After all, that’s pretty much all we can do as humans. Come up with a theory, and when new evidence presents itself, reassess said theory. The problem is that most folks do not like their beliefs questioned. In fact, most people don’t even want to think about things, they simply want to be told that this is how shit is, and that’s that. As a result, it often takes generations for a new idea to break through.
Quantum physics is one of these modern marvels which, for me, is very exciting. To learn how photons, neutrons, electrons, protons, quarks, tachyons and other particles and subatomic particles behave, tells us a whole lot about the makeup of our Universe, not only the physicality of it, but also the time variable. One of my favorite examples of “reality is stranger than fiction” comes from the DOUBLE SLIT EXPERIMENT. It’s an experiment first accomplished about a century ago, but scientists at that time weren’t quite sure what to make of it. However, as time went by, more and more scientists recreated it in different ways, and the results were always the same. It showed us that matter does not exist, unless we observe it, and when a particle is shot at the double slits, it creates every possible outcome, all at the same time! This concept is mind-blowing. Where does reality go, when we’re not watching?
What gets even more mind blowing is M-theory or Membrane Theory, which grew out of the frustration of 5 different versions of String Theory first invented in the 80’s as a way to explain the universe like a resonating thing, much like the strings of a violin or cello. [M-theory isn’t complete, but the underlying structure of the mathematics has been established and is in agreement with all the string theories. Furthermore, it has passed many tests of internal mathematical consistency.] - Wikipedia
M-theory proves via mathematics that we likely live in a Multiverse, and not a Universe. Well… we live in our Universe, which is one in a collection of infinite amount of Universes, to create the Multiverse. And things get even stranger. Combine M-theory with the Double Slit Experiment, and this suggests that nothing in existence can make a wrong or right choice, alone. At any time in your life when you have to make a choice, you make every possible choice. In other words, if you come to a 4-way intersection, and you think to yourself “which way should I turn, left, go straight or make a right”, you end up making all three choices. The membrane creates 3 separate Universes, where the only difference is that in one you turned left, the other you went straight and in the third you made a right. From that point, the three Universes could go into completely different directions, or stay pretty much the same.
So then… what happens to your soul, do you now exist in 3 different Universes. Think about how many choices you’ve made in your life, from birth to whatever age you are currently, and that would mean that you exist in thousands of Universes, if not hundreds of thousands. Is there one true Universe for you, the one in which you were given birth, and if so… is that where your soul resides? Or does your soul also split every single time you create a new Universe, kind of like a single celled organism? If so…. I’m sure there are hundreds or thousands of Universes in which you’re already dead. What happened to those souls? Are they in some kind of sleep state where they’re waiting for all of your souls to combine?
To further complicate this question, enter the “Block Universe Theory”, which according to Dr. Bradford Skow, an associate professor of philosophy at MIT says that “you’re spread out in time, something like the way you’re spread out in space”. His theory follows another postulated by scientists. They proposed that at the moment of the Big Bang, a ‘mirror universe’ to our own was created that moves in the opposite direction through time – and intelligent beings in each one would perceive the other to be moving backwards through time… … … Trippieeeee!
Well… so much for the simple thought that you “die and your soul goes to Heaven”. To get back to the Double Slit Experiment for a moment, we also learn that there is no such thing is past, present or future. Everything already happened, is happening and will happen at once. Whoa… trying to wrap our tiny brains around this concept can hurt.
The one thing one should take away from our “reality” is that we can only see what our brain is designed to see. We can only truly understand what our brain is designed to understand. Mathematics and physics shows us truly how strange our reality really is. It’s exciting to think about, but impossible to comprehend. Much like an ant can’t comprehend us (humans), because their brains aren’t designed for it, there are likely all kinds of beings around us that we can’t see, because of the limitations of our own brains. Now… some may argue that we make tools in order to see the things our eyes can’t, or hear things our ears can’t hear, this is true. But, unless we know what to look for, we have no way of knowing what type of tool to build.
What does this last paragraph have to do with our souls? Nothing… I don’t think… just something that popped into my head. But as long as we’re talking about the soul, what exactly is it? I’ve asked priests and scholars alike, and in the best case scenario I get a bunch of rambling about stuff. No one really knows. Most people simply believe that it is what gives life and personality to the body. I’m sure you’ve heard people refer to someone as an “old soul” or “evil soul”, etc… I’ve had people tell me that without a soul, you’re nothing more than an animal. Well, I like to think that we’re animals regardless, and if humans have a soul, because it’s what gives life and personality to our bodies, then the same would apply to animals and what about artificial creatures? Beings like Data on Star Trek TNG… does Data not have a soul? Seems like a thing thought up by humans, to make us seem more important than we really are. The way I see it it’s not your soul that makes you a good or smart person, but rather your hard drive and processor… aka… your brain. The more quickly you can process information and the more efficiently you can store it, the more intelligently you’ll come across. It has nothing to do with your “soul”.
I feel like I’ve rambled on long enough about this topic, and no matter how I try to enjoy the simplistic stories of life after death, I can’t ever take them seriously. Compared to everything physics has shown us about the realities of our Multiverse, the old stories are lame. Does our existence in this “reality” have any meaning at all, or is it random and pointless. Do we actually have a “soul” or don’t we? I don’t know, and would never claim to have the answers. One thing I do hope is that there is more after we die, and it’s something similar to one of my favorite movies “Defending Your Life”, by the great Albert Brooks.
- Attila -
"Because You Shouldn't be Afraid to Chase Your Dreams"
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Attila Domos is a musician/wheelchair athlete/author/digital artist/film maker/ entrepreneur and occasional blogger.