I believe that there is more to us than the physical body and the nervous system activity that it supports.

In particular, I believe that we are conscious, in a way that is not simply emergent from the body and its processes; that is, when we experience something, there is a real ``we'' that is not part of this physical world. This experiencer is what we call the soul.

The soul feels emotions, and, at least technically, has free will (although it seems that many souls do not routinely exercise this to any great extent).

Connections between souls

I believe that there are connections between souls, other than the communications mediated through the body. Some researchers (Sheldrake, for example) claim scientific evidence for this, but there is much more non-measurable ("anecdotal") evidence. Interestingly, when sceptics and believers in this have run parallel experiments to each other, using the same statistics, they have each got results supporting their views. (I don't have the reference for this; I heard of it at a talk by Dr Peter Fenwick, of the Institute of Psychiatry in the UK, and I remember that the conference he mentioned, at which the two groups tried in parallel, was held at Jesus College, Cambridge.)

Sometimes this connectedness seems to be so effective that it seems that souls are not purely discrete and separate items, but local concentrations in a common substance, with a common tether of soulness (humanity?) between the concentrated ``individuals''. A particular individual can use the common soulness in which they are embedded, to do good or to do evil to the souls around them; to give, or to take; to comfort, or to scream; to caress, or to grope.

The extent of the soul

I believe that the soul appears to survive death of the body; there is evidence (from a large number of reports of near-death experiences) that can be seen to support this; there is also other anecdotal evidence, for example the apparent inheriting of characteristics of someone who has recently died, by their close relatives and perhaps friends.

I believe that souls may leave some kind of imprint in a physical place, such as a ``prayerful atmosphere'' or ``good vibes'' or ``bad vibes''.

I believe it is likely that souls may be capable of more than that which we can measure scientifically or analyze rigourously. This may include a limited ability to see into the future, in ways other than rational prediction. Along with the feeling of ``vibes'' we commonly get from people in the immediate area (although much of this will be through ordinary, but unconscious, observation), this gives me the impression that although the soul is in some sense centred on the body, it may extend around it for some distance, both in space and in time. (Why I mention ``time'' as well as ``space'' is that some of my quite specific dreams that I have remembered, have turned out to be predictive, to an extent that makes it hard to say that I was just remembering ones that I later matched to actual events.)

The Great Soul

I believe their exists a Great Soul, commonly referred to by such names as ``God''. Our soulness is an echo of the soulness of the Great Soul; or, in the traditional language, ``We are made in His image''. Some Christians insist that we should think of a ``personal God'' (as distinct from an impersonal one), but it may be more import that we are ``Godly persons'' to God (``made a little lower than the angels'').

There is also one soul, that of Jesus of Nazareth, who seems to be both a human soul and the Great Soul.

According to a well-established tradition (and one with which I am comfortable) there are some non-embodied souls, called ``angels'', who have a closer connection with the God, the Great Soul, than we do, and who may have a less direct connection with the physical world that so preoccupies much of our thinking.

[John's Christianity page]
John C. G. Sturdy

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