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Is there such a thing as a soul, if so how is it defined?

Do people just cease to exist after they die? What happens to a person after death or before birth.

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    Feb 13 2012: Soul isn't a thing but defines a thing. The soul can refer to the morphology and from this, the purpose of living or non living structures.
    In human form the soul is what makes us human and to the individual it is that part which distincts someone from everyone else.
    As any form develops from the total of interactions between all that composes the universe it is the universal soul that creates any soul in time, being an expression of the one soul.

    That leads to that notion that the soul travels through time to grow, to transcend in phases up to the point all specifics are lost in full circle, becoming undivided again.
    • W T

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      Feb 13 2012: This is very beautiful wording. Where did you get this from?
  • Feb 13 2012: "Is there such a thing as a soul, if so how is it defined?"
    That question is backwards!! You can't logically answer the first part before answering the second part. I'll demonstrate with another example:
    "Is there such a thing as a dkrighad, if so how is it defined?"

    The next part: "Do people just cease to exist after they die? What happens to a person after death or before birth."
    What do you know so far?
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    E G

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    Feb 10 2012: Frankly, I don't know anything about an after life in that way to can be proven , however I believe that after I die I'll continue to exist , if that what will continue to exist is my soul .... so be it .
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    Feb 5 2012: Hi Michael

    The bible says a lot about the soul. Probably a good place to start.

    John 4:24 (NIV)
    [24] God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

    Spirit & soul are both similar, non-material concepts. So God is a non-material being.

    Genesis 5:2 (NIV)
    When God created mankind, he made them in the likeness of God. [2] He created them male and female and blessed them. And he named them “Mankind” when they were created.

    We are created in the 'likeness' of God. As God is a spirit most folks understand this likeness to be within our spirit/soul.

    Genesis 2:7 (NIV)
    [7] Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

    God gives us all life by breathing his spirit into us at conception/birth.

    2 Corinthians 5:5 (NIV)
    [5] Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

    The spirit we have at present is only a deposit.

    1 Thessalonians 4:17 (NIV)
    [17] After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.

    Our souls are immortal & will exist forever. Those who love God will be with Him, those who don't won't.
    Going back to the first scripture we must worship in" spirit & in truth". If we set our spiritual 'face' against God then our mind just won't 'get it'. This tends to be a problem for Atheists.

    This is by no means exhaustive, but gives a flavour of what the bible says about souls.

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      Feb 6 2012: Um. I don't think so.
      Ecclesiastes 9:5
      For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.

      9:6 Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.

      9:7 Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart; for God now accepteth thy works.

      9:8 Let thy garments be always white; and let thy head lack no ointment.

      9:9 Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity: for that is thy portion in this life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun.

      9:10 Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.

      The Bible's way of saying party now cause your gonna be dead. Isn't that a rap song???
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        Feb 7 2012: Hi Linda.
        Ecclesiastes is what is known as 'Wisdom Literature' , which was a common style at that time. it is a bit tongue in cheek , or sarcastic if you like. It is Solomon's way of emphasising the futility of life on earth without god. The whole thing is pointless & meaningless, if all existence is 'under the sun'. It detracts nothing from what the bible says about the soul in other places.

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          Feb 7 2012: Peter I have to laugh! When the Bible says stuff you agree with, it is law. When it says stuff you don' t like or agree with it is pointless and meaningless. If anybody understood party til you drop it was Solomon.

          I was really looking forward to your reply. Oh well.
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          Feb 13 2012: "and thus you make the word of God invalid by YOUR tradition...." Mark 7:13

          Peter, I'm sorry, Linda Taylor pointed out a basic Bible truth.

          Your reply is YOUR personal opinion. She quoted scripture, you refuted it with your beliefs.

          I hope you don't mind me stepping in to say this....Mary
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        Feb 7 2012: Hi Linda.
        Glad you had a laugh. Sorry if I disappointed you. What did you think I would say? Each book is individual, but together they form a whole. You wouldn't take Song of Solomon as literal either, or Revelation for that matter, but they make perfect sense in context with the bible as a whole. Daniel & Revelation have to be read together to get the whole end time scenario in perspective, with a bit of Matthew, & Thessalonians, thrown in for good measure. Folks love to find two verses that appear to disagree, but it's never that simple. Worth the effort though.

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          Feb 7 2012: Oh Peter, I do apologize if the laugh part was snarky. I was actually disappointed. I know scholars that will posit exactly the opposite. See that is the problem with fundamentalist. Somebody someplace will eventually say, this is truth, and this is meaningless and pointless. It's really the only way it works. The only thing that ever changes in my experience is picking and choosing what information belongs where.
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        Feb 8 2012: Hi Linda,
        No worries; as you can imagine I take a lot worse on this site with my views.
        Our understanding of the bible is a work in progress, & it is up to individuals to decide where the truth lies. The water has been muddied over the years by many religious hierarchies using the bible as a pawn in their petty power struggles. At the end of the day though it is God's word to you & me, & we don't lose points for getting it wrong. Most of the important stuff is well enough understood & I find it awesome. You don't have to agree.

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          Feb 9 2012: Peter
          "At the end of the day though it is God's word to you & me, & we don't lose points for getting it wrong" That has to be the best explanation ever. I think you are right. In a big picture kind of way. Because I think its between God and you and Bible or no, you don't loose points for getting it wrong.

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          Feb 13 2012: Ok Thomas. Sincere followers of Christ, which I assume Linda to be, don't lose points for genuine misunderstandings. No-one understands the whole bible. But you knew that, didn't you?
          Ps you should take something for that cough.
      • W T

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        Feb 13 2012: Ecclesiastes 9:5-10....scriptural truth...thank you
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      • W T

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        Feb 13 2012: " It obviously reveals different truths to different people, at different times, using the same Biblical passages"

        No, Thomas, it really doesn't.

        It might "obviously" seem that way, but it is not so.

        I'm not going to continue....TED is not the place for an honest consideration of scripture.
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          Feb 13 2012: Hi Mary,

          History - recent and distant - clearly shows that it does.

          If you want to discuss it in more detail, e-mail me.
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          Feb 13 2012: How, Mary can you possibly say that it's not true with so many battles fought with opposite parties claiming the right to fight to the same inerrant Bible.
          I’ve seen people extracting pure wisdom from that book as others came to stupidities from that same texts.
          It is the one that reflects on it that makes it into what it is.
      • W T

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        Feb 13 2012: " It obviously reveals different truths to different people, at different times, using the same Biblical passages"

        Thomas and problem is with the word "reveal". The Bible really and truly does not reveal different is we who "interpret" it different ways.

        And let me add, this is not the place to have a serious discussion on this subject.

        You can not see me, hear me, and I cannot open up a Bible and explain away....I'm sorry.

        I do thank you for taking an interest and replying to my sincere, well-intentioned comments.

        We are not all closed-minded fanatical followers of men. There are millions of us earth wide who will defend scriptural truths and make a concerted effort to live up to the godly principles found in scripture, even if this means suffering at the hands of riduculers. (not that I feel you have ridiculed me, on the contrary, I have the utmost respect for both of you and your good insights into many topics discussed here on TED)

        Be Well. I enjoy how you try to make Peter reason......I have also tried. I will continue to do so when my comments can be constructive, and not destructive or irreverant or misconstrued.

        Thank you.
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        Feb 13 2012: win......."I don't know".......if what you said was funny or not......happy?

        I must admit that when I read your entry, an instantaneous smile came to my face
        and I envisioned Michael Jackson's video with the zombie's.....

        I guess I was the one who was trying to be hunorous in response to your entry.

        Still, Peter's view is very peculiar.....I don't know where he gets it. I have never
        heard such ideas before.

        What I do perceive is that he is sincere in his beliefs, as are you and Frans.

        Be Well....
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    Feb 4 2012: We are living souls.

    We do not have a soul. We are souls.
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        Feb 5 2012: No.
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        Feb 6 2012: Only material entities can die. Bodies are just like your car; they grow old, deteriorate, & finally expire. The soul is created by god in the spiritual dimension; there is nothing to break, so we cannot die.

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          Feb 13 2012: Ezekiel 18:4...."Look!........The soul that is sinning--it itself will die."

          The soul dies, because we are living souls. Scriptural truth.

          This is hard to accept, I know.......but I will kindly expound, if you are interested Peter.

          You are welcome to email me.
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          Feb 13 2012: Peter, here's what Gary Petty (from "The Good News" magazine) has to say about it:

          "The Biblical Answer to Death .... the Bible plainly teaches that the dead lie in the grave and know nothing, think no thoughts, have no emotions, possess no consciousness. Does this mean death, the cessation of life, is final, the end of everything?

          "The Bible answers this question too. Although mankind is physical, subject to death, the good news is that God promises a resurrection to eternal life to everyone who repents, worships God and accepts Jesus as the Messiah and His sacrifice. [Now, this is all straight from the Bible so it HAS to be true] The first resurrection to immortality will take place when Christ returns to establish God's Kingdom on this earth.

          "Later will come another resurrection—to physical life—for people who had never had a relationship with the Father and Jesus Christ. They, too, will gain the opportunity for immortality. The true final answer is not death but resurrection."

          Interesting, eh, Peter, it's not the soul that is immortal but the body.

          I wonder how that works ... the soul is dead and the body living.


        • W T

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          Feb 13 2012: Thomas, you are not funny....
  • Feb 4 2012: Michael, Right now you know the answers to these questions as well as anyone. I wonder what your response to your questions would be. I wonder how you would define a soul and whether you think people cease to exist after they die or if they existed before birth. I wonder if your mind and intuitions give you the same responses or different responses to these questions.
    • Feb 4 2012: What is your deal ? This is the second time I have read tour comments and I have to say: You sound very judgemental and not very nice! No one wants their question answered with a question. Is it you that may be afraid to share? Do you have low self esteem?Stop being mean. it is unacceptible here @ Ted.
      • Feb 7 2012: dru, I find it interesting that you are interpreting something neutral as negative. I guess we know where that is coming from. Perhaps you can explain what part of what I said that you consider to be "mean." If I agree with you, I will apologize and retract it. Furthermore, if you take another look, you will see that there are no questions in my response to Michael. Perhaps you are using me as a mirror of yourself. If so, I sure wish you had higher self-esteem and were nice and minimally judgemental and brave enough to share your significant thoughts and feelings. Happy Today.
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    Feb 4 2012: Theres no reason to believe one exists and no one seems to be able to provide any kind of coherent definition for one.

    When people go as far as to try and explain what a soul supposedly does, it has always been proven that the exact event has a physical and natural explanation, so most people now just give some convoluted metaphysical explanation which falls apart when questioned due to its lack of consistency and/or unsubstantiation.
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      Feb 4 2012: Trying to imagine absolute nothingness after death is impossible. We have to fill nothingness with something. It is essential fo us to do so.

      In the absence of any scientific clarification, we have to fill that void with the incoherent, the metaphysical, the mythical, with metaphors - a mere guess at what happens to us after death. And because we have lived a life, which is all we know, we (rightly or wrongly) guess that there must be an 'afterlife'. Many people cannot conceive of anything else, and such thoughts are known to be comforting both to the bereaved and those close to death.

      Similarly, where does something so powerful as consciousness actually go? Does it get re-lived as a soul?

      I agree that in the light of objective discussion, convoluted metaphysics are all too easy to dismiss, but I know that in the heat of emotional trauma involved in the death of a loved one, I would find such explanations profoundly comforting, convoluted or not.
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        Feb 12 2012: Convoluted metaphysical explanations are, no doubt, comforting Allan.

        When a friend of mine's spouse died (at a young age) she was so distraught she visited a past-life regression therapist who helped her "remember" eight of her past lives.

        She was married to the same person in all of them.

        And, in her daily life, any unusual experience was attributed to her dead husband's presence - a package falling off a shelf, a clock stopping, whatever.

        It brought her great comfort. (And she was absolutely certain it was all "real.")

        She engaged in such explorations for about two or three years.

        Seven years on, she is happily remarried and I never hear her speak of her "past lives."


        I have altered a few details to protect my friend's anonymity.
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    Feb 12 2012: Hi Michael,

    You are going to get (have already gotten) all kinds of answers.

    This "question" has been asked and talked about for millennia. And a lot of the discussion rests on the definition of the word "soul."

    For some, soul and the mind are one and the same. For some, soul is an immaterial "essence" that transcends and permeates matter, and mind is an emergent property that ceases at the death of the body.

    Others will tell you the soul is simply something we have imagined - it is no more real than, say, Santa Claus or 月兔, the Goddess Chang'e's companion.

    You will get wonderful stories of life after death, reincarnation. And other stories of oblivion.

    Now, let's say some of these stories are true and the people who tell them actually know what they are talking about (they don't by the way) does that help you?

    Not really because even if they know what they're talking about, their stories will be nothing more than stories to you.

    This is one of the questions you have to answer for yourself. No one can answer it for you.

    Now, if you really want to know the answer to your question, and if some of these stories you hear sound interesting to you, you might ask for some instructions on how you too might come to know what it is the story teller has come to know with such certainty.

    For the most part, you will be asked to "believe" something, say, that the Bible is The Holy Word of God and that if you accept Jesus as your saviour your soul will be saved (even if you're still not sure what it is) and so on.

    Others will talk of spiritual mysteries than can be revealed with secret words. They will speak of past lives and so on.

    Again, this does not really help you and even if someone does remember "past lives" they do not know what will happen at the end of THIS life. (No matter how much the believe they do ... they don't.)

    You will even hear of men who communed with spiritual beings who live on other planets!

    And they all say they "know."

    Does this help you?
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    • Feb 12 2012: "Because the energy we 'transform' by giving thought to it accumulates, either negatively as 'karma' (or 'sin'), or positively as 'dharma' (or 'forgiveness'). Whether negative or positive, it stays with our conscious body and accumulates. "

      Thanks, Bridget !
      It makes a lot of sense for me . This is the meaning of the bardo crisis, when your inner flaws appears as your outer nightmares.
      I don't see anything supernatural here ! For not only our actions are frozen forever in the fabric of spacetime ( they create the web of connections, which can't be undone) , and as an implication may organise a kind of a field, but even our thoughts collapse the wave functions making particles hence become real in the quantum world. As someone said " the thought have the capacity to outlive the brain that shaped them ". That someone didn't mean the written legacy or materialised ideas, just thoughts ! So, disembodied spirit/soul/consciousness faces this self created world, literally it becomes this world. Here is the promised hell or heaven. " What you gave you shall receive " !
      Is it what you meant ?
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    • Feb 12 2012: "...Resurrection, in which the physical body is able to transcend, therefore ascend, to spirit worlds without undergoing physical death', as the physical is assimilated (at-one-ment) with the spiritual."

      Einstein asked : " How does time look from the crest of a light wave ?" The answer is that , at the speed of light, time stops. It is "at-one-momentness'' It is Christ/Cosmic consciousness , the crest of a light wave !
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    Zack K

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    Feb 11 2012: When people are about to die it is thought that they release DMT. And the experience that people get is different, sometimes leaving the body. I think that could explain peoples near death experiences
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      Feb 12 2012: Cool. Can you give me references? I could not find anything? Journal articles?
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      Feb 12 2012: I don't usually wiki for references but it is well referenced so I will look some up. So they think people be trippin when they die:) Explains a lot. Too bad there is no evidence.
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        Feb 12 2012: Wiki is okay. Not too long ago, it was compared to the Encyclopaedia Britannica; it held up favourably. And as you say, the references can be pretty good.

        I use it as a "spell check" (I'm dyslexic) and to look up things I can't remember (like the name of the Chinese Moon Goddess, I mentioned recently.)

        Interestingly, religious experiences have been attributed to both exogenous and endogenous psychoactive agents. For example, Claviceps purpurea (ergot) and 3,4-Dihydroxyphenylethylamine (dopamine.)

        The number of religious visions dropped substantially in Europe when the use of rye flour waned and wheat and other flours became more common in the baking of bread. It was common for ergot to contaminate rye. Ergot is an hallucinogenic fungus.


        The spelling for "Claviceps purpurea" and "3,4-Dihydroxyphenylethylamine" are both from Wiki.
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          Feb 12 2012: The rye flour thing I knew about. It is implicated in some theories regarding the Salem witch trials.

          Love how you have dyslexia and conquer language. I have the same thing going with statistics. If there is such a thing as conquering.
  • Feb 4 2012: How does someone define a soul, I'm not so sure.For me, I feel that our souls is who we are.I believe that after we die, our soul leaves our bodies and travels to one of two places. Heaven or Hell.I feel this in all that I am. I have had personal experience with my soul leaving my body however, I am sure that is a different discussion.
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    Feb 4 2012: Well I think your soul is that emotive piece or us. It is the core of our beliefs and personality. The foundation of ourselves as individuals.

    I almost died during childbirth and I felt myself leaving. I don't know how to better explain that. So i understand the theory that our soul continues after death. But personally, I also think that our soul is located in our brain and ceases to exist the moment that stops functioning.
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      Zack K

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      Feb 11 2012: You should look into DMT