Matt Dillahunty on the concept of a soul

as far as i'm concerned the concept of a soul is the single most dead doctine of any theology

The soul is the name given to the supposed immaterial part of an individual that can exist separately from the body.

Although it is not recognized by science because it is both non-falsifiable and supernatural, it is an important aspect of much religious thought.

History of the concept[]

Before the influence of the Greek concept of the psyche on Hebrew thought, the bible's authors only spoke of a man having breath (spirit), and any living creature was called a "soul". In fact, the belief in consciousness after death was explicitly denied in the Old Testament. 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." The Old Testament conception of soul was thus much like the vitalist conception of "vital force". See Soul in Old Testament Making a connection between "soul" and breath is also evident from the words for them in several languages, notably

  • Old English gâst "soul, breath" (> English "ghost")
  • Latin spîritus, -ûs "breath, spirit" (< spîrâre, "to breathe")
  • Greek psukhê (< psukhein "to blow")
  • Greek pneuma, "air, wind, breath, spirit"
  • Sanskrit âtmâ, -man-, "breath, soul"

Sources: Wiktionary, Online Etymology Dictionary

But one ought to be careful not to read too much into this connection. Did it mean that the soul was thought of as a breathlike substance? Or was the connection only metaphorical?

Famous mangled quotes[]

  • "Soul is the brevity of wit"

See also[]

External links[]

adapted from RationalWiki