Soul and Immortality
By Ali Sina
Is there such thing as soul and does it survive
the death of the body?
I cannot say for certainty whether there is a life after death or not.
This is a subject that needs to be studied further and I believe there is
no definite answer in support or against it yet.
It seems that we, or rather all living beings, have something more than
just our physical existence that could be called soul. But let us define
first what is physical existence.
We consider the mater as existing and what does not have material
existence as non-existing. At least this is the materialistic definition
of existence. Nevertheless this is not a comprehensive definition. There
are realities that do exist yet they do not have a material existence. As
a matter of fact the Matter itself does not have any real existence.
Matter is energy in motion.
The smallest element of matter is atom. It is made of electrons that are
whirling about the nucleolus that is jiggling in the center of the atom.
“If we drew the atom to scale and made protons and neutrons a centimeter
in diameter, then the electrons and quarks would be less than the diameter
of a hair and the entire atom's diameter would be greater than the length
of thirty football fields! 99.999999999999% of an atom's volume is just
empty space!” (1)
So as you see what appears to be solid matter is mostly empty space. If
you squish the atoms of the Earth to fill up all the empty spaces, this
planet of ours will become smaller than a pea.
Electrons are leptons; they are believed to be fundamentals, i.e. the
smallest indivisible particle of matter. The nucleolus is composed of
protons and neutrons. They are made of quarks. Quarks are also believed to
be fundamentals. (Scientists do not discard the possibility that leptons
and quarks may not be fundamentals but composites of yet smaller
We still do not know what is the basic nature of matter. What we know is
that matter and energy are intimately related. “According to the law of
mass-energy equivalence, developed by Albert Einstein as part of his
theory of relativity, a quantity of matter of mass m possesses an
intrinsic rest mass energy E given by E= mc2, where c is the speed of
light. This equivalence is dramatically demonstrated in the phenomena of
nuclear fission and fusion in which a small amount of matter is converted
to a rather large amount of energy. The converse reaction, the conversion
of energy to matter, has been observed frequently in the creation of many
new elementary particles.” (2)
So if you crack the atom or the particles composing it you find that it does not have any tangible existence. All existence, even the
material world is nothing but a perception. This world that you and I see
and experience is only a chimera. It has no existence beyond our
perceptions. This is the scientific definition of mater. By this
definition can you say that matter has any existence?
As you see “existence” is a relative term. If you were so tiny that
you could live inside an atom, this material world would not be tangible
to you. Actually we cannot say “inside” the atom because atoms do not
have shells. It is just an open space—a field of probabilities. The
electrons that whirl about the nucleus in orbits form a cloud of charge.
These orbits are referred to as “shells” but really they are not.
Therefore matter does not exist. Matter is energy and energy is
insubstantial. We perceive the matter as existing. Yet it really does not
exist beyond our perception. Now, suppose you were made of an immaterial
substance. In that case you will have a total different perception of the
matter and the material world. So matter is an “inexistent” existence
that our senses perceive.
Let me clarify this with an example. Take the example of sounds. Our ears
perceive the waves with certain lengths as sound. Any wavelength longer or
shorter cannot be heard. Other animals such as dogs hear wavelengths that
we do not. We cannot say that because we do not hear that wavelength that
sound does not exist. If dogs hear it, it must exist even if we don’t.
There are creatures, e.g. earthworms that do not need to hear anything for
their survival. For them sounds have no existence. They perceive the world
through other senses but not through sounds. If we were worms we could
argue that there is no such thing as sound.
The same thing can be said of light and what can be seen by our eyes. We only see a certain gamma of lights. We cannot see anything
outside those wavelengths and therefore we are not aware of the existence of
other lights or colors even though they exist and some other animals and
insects see them.
The world that we know is a world that we perceive through our senses. It
does not have any reality beyond our perceptions. Therefore it is not
outlandish to believe that the world as we perceive it exists only in our
minds. Other animals and creatures perceive it differently. The perceived
world is just that. It is only relative to us. In reality it has no
“real” existence. The only reality is perception.
We have to ask ourselves whether there are existences that are beyond
our perception. Let us see what is Life! Can we say that an animate being
has something that an inanimate thing does not have? Can we say that Life
is a reality that “exists” in living beings, which does not exist in
dead or inanimate objects? If so then Life is an existing reality. What is
the difference between a living being and a dead thing? One HAS something
that the other does not have. This “thing” is Life. So Life exists. It
is a reality that transcends matter. Of course life cannot exist without matter. Nevertheless life is a distinct reality from
Now we have two forms of existences: Matter and Life. One can be sensed and
the other is the sensor. Is that all or are there other existences? What
is Intelligence? Does Intelligence have existence? You can argue that Intelligence does not exist and it is just the function
of the brain. But so is Life. Life is the function of the Matter. Life is
generated when molecules interact. Yet we agree that it has its own
existence. The same thing can be said about the Matter. Matter as we
discussed above has no independent reality. It is the function of speed
and energy. E=MC2. However speed and energy do not have any existences.
Therefore it is fair to say that Intelligence is no less a being than Life
What about Love? What about Compassion, what about Devotion, what about
the sense of humor? If we agree that intelligence has independent
existence, why not Love, Compassion or Fairness? These are all functions
of Life but Life is also a function of Matter and Matter is the function
of speed and speed is nothing. Thus everything is a function of nothing.
As you see, existence does not begin and end with Matter only. There are
other levels of existences that are perceived albeit not with senses. Now
we have to ask ourselves whether existence is limited to what we sense and
perceive? Are we humans the measure of all things? As you saw in the above
discussion, I argued that this Universe does not exist beyond our
perception. This Universe is made of atoms and when you crack the atom you
find nothing therein. So we can conclude that the essence of the Universe
is nothing. When Matter is nothing, its functions are also nothing. There
is “nothing” to discuss about. It’s all a big void.
If everything is nothing then who am I? I must exist in order to
pose this question or to doubt. “Cogito ergo sum”, as Descartes,
concluded. Yes I must exist but my existence is only a function of
nothing. We are all functions of nothing. But can something come out of
nothing? Logic says no! Then, wherefrom comes this Universe, with its
pullulating life and all its functions?
"I believe in Spinoza's God who reveals Himself in the orderly harmony of
what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with fates and actions of human
beings." - Albert
I submit that there must be another Reality that is neither part nor apart
from the Universe. This Universe, with all its material and immaterial
intricacies that we sense and perceive is only a reflection of that
Reality. From nothingness this Universe comes into being by reflecting the
existence of that absolute Reality. So Matter as well as Life, Love,
Intelligence and other realities are reflections of a Reality that is
absolute. Without the absolute Reality everything is but nothing.
This absolute reality is not a being. It is not a thing. Therefore it is
not a person, a spirit or a god. It is HOW; how things happen; how things
work. It is the law of the evolution. This Reality is the Single Principle
underlying the creation. If this principle is HOW, the creation is WHAT.
That is all there is: HOW and WHAT. The WHAT depends on HOW but HOW depend
on nothing. The HOW is self-subsisting, is eternal and is omnipresent. The
HOW is the Principle of all things.
The Principle is neither forgiving nor vindictive. It is neither loving
nor hating. It is neither wise nor ignorant. These are human attributes.
These are functions of Life and Matter. The Principle is above all these
In other words, this world that we perceive is nothing but a reflection
from a higher Reality. It does not have any real existence. It is just a
shadow, an image of a non-being Reality. This is an old concept of which
many seers and mystics have spoken. Yet it should not be confused with
religious gods. It is rather an antithesis to the concept of deity
especially to Muhammad’s primitive notion of God.
Paradoxically the non-being is the only real Being and the beings are
non-existent. What seems real is unreal and the unseen is real. What is
not, IS; and what is, IS NOT. This is the real paradox of reality where the
unreal is manifest and the real is hidden.
Now what about the soul? Does soul exist? As we saw above, everything is a
function of other functions. By that definition we can say that soul
is also a function of other functions such as Consciousness, Love,
Intelligence, etc. That does not mean that it is any less real than other
beings. The soul has its own independent existence, just like Love, just
like Life and just like Matter. It has a functional existence that is as
real, perhaps even more real than Matter. Soul is as real as the
body. You perceive the body through senses while you cannot perceive the
soul through senses.
We perceive Love, Intelligence, Consciousness and other functions
somehow, even if not through our senses. Therefore we accept that these
realities exist. Yet how can we be sure of such a thing as the soul
when we cannot perceive it in anyways?
Well, we do actually! Soul is the ultimate function of a living being
that makes it work. If your body can be compared to hardware your soul is
the software that makes it work. If the hardware crashes, the software
will stop working but if the software is damaged the hardware will produce
garbage. Soul and body are interdependent. What is the difference
between a person who is alive in one moment and is not in the next? His
body is the same. All his organs could be working independently and can be
transplanted to other persons. All the cells of his body are still alive
and will continue to live for several more days. His hairs and nails will keep
growing. His organs and cells are living. Yet he is dead. What is missing
is the soul - the software that made it work is missing. Something in the hardware
was damaged and the software stopped working.
Now, will soul survive after the death occurs? I have no answer to
that. If we think of soul as the function of Life, Consciousness,
Intelligence, Love, etc, how can a function survive when the instrument
that makes that function does no more exist? It is like saying that the
music of a violin will survive after the violin is broken? This is not
possible. Or is it? Once the violin is broken it can no more generate sounds,
but sounds don't die. Sound waves are indestructible. Theoretically we could listen to
the sounds of creatures long dead as we still can listen to the sound of
Big Bang generated when the Universe was born. So the sounds we utter are eternal even if we are mortals.
Thus, if sound can survive, why can’t
To sum it up, the only reality is perception. This universe does not exist
except in the perception of one who perceives it. We do not perceive the
Reality with our senses for the Reality is intangible but we can witness
the functions of that reality. This would not exist if there were no one
perceiving it as such, just as sounds do not exist unless there is someone
listening to it. This sounds a lot like George Berkeley's theory that if
an object is not perceived, it does not exist. The Irish Empiricist philosopher
might have been up to something after all. It seems that in reality nothing
exists and everything is our perception. The
Universe is our perception of the function of the Reality. The Reality is
a non-Being that paradoxically is the only thing that exists. To make this
palatable to the religious minded people and mystics, let us say God is
the only Reality that exists and nothing beyond God exists. But I am not
talking about the God taught by religions. This God is a non-Being that is the mother of all beings.
Suggested link: einsteinandreligion.com
This site is created Prof.
Arnold Lesikar Professor Emeritus of Physics St. Cloud State University and is
about Einstein's Writings on Science and Religion