Science and the Auto-Tuned Soul

Is there a soul hiding somewhere in there?

I believe in the soul- that spark behind the eyes that makes us who we are- that pure version of us that sits somewhere deep inside. There’s a few reasons why. One could be that I’ve attended Catholic school for 14 years, where the soul is a central concept due to the belief in an afterlife. Another could be that I thrive off of emotion. As a creative writer, I’ve always turned to the “depths of my soul” for inspiration. Lots of people like to make the soul responsible for the rang of emotions we experience. I feel as though I connect with something “inner.”

Last year, though, I had the joy and privilege to do science writing for, and, counter to popular belief, I found that science only strengthened my belief in the soul.

Religion may be full of gods, hells, heavens, angles and reincarnations, but science can feel like fantasy, too. Stars. Dark Matter. Dark Energy. Black Holes. Quantum Mechanics. Science is a world of facts that is forever evolving with each new minuscule and mind-blowing discovery. So, in regards to the existence of the soul, I say, “Why not?”

The thing about Science is that it connects you to everything. Exploring the universe and unlocking its secrets, gives you a feeling of something more. There’s a meaning behind everything. There’s a plan. There’s an “inner.”

A lot of scientists are said to believe in the soul and its accompanying concepts (Really, a belief in the soul is a belief in something spiritual). Physicists are especially known to feel as though there’s some sort of grand design behind the forces of the universe. When you witness the strange behavior of particles or discover that there’s mysterious, invisible matter that’s responsible for the shape of cosmological bodies, I guess you start to ask the big question that all religions try to answer: What’s the plan?

Biologists, of course, tend not to feel this way. Long story short, everything can be explained by the necessity for survival. You are who you are because you need to be that way to stay alive. I personally think there’s a huge merit to this, but it’s just so, well, soulless.

My favorite endorsement for the soul from the scientific community comes from a scientist who believes that the brain is like a radio and the soul is like music (I wish I could be a responsible blogger and remember his name, but I don’t. He talked about this in a back issue of Science Magazine). Say that a radio is streaming some music. Then turn it off. Does this mean that the music doesn’t exist anymore? No. It simply means that it isn’t being transmitted by the radio at that moment. Its signal isn’t being broadcast.

Now, make the radio the brain, and the soul the music. Essentially the brain is a transmitter for the soul. It translates the soul in a way like a radio translates a station’s signal. If the radio has a few bad wires, the music might come through full of static and deformities. It won’t be pure. If the brain isn’t healthy, that’s going to affect the personality and the behaviors of the person. Maybe when a person is suffering through some sort of mental disorder due to “crossed wires” or brain damage, their soul is simply full of “static.”

All of the chemicals and their balances and imbalances that affect our moods- maybe the brain is auto-tuning the soul. Who we purely are is filtered through the translation from the brain.

I love this idea, but, of course, as any scientific mind would argue, where’s the evidence?

But that’s not the point here. Science has me approaching the concept of the soul in ways that my religious education never did.

I love Teilhard de Chardin‘s saying, “We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”

These two concepts go hand-in-hand. My soul could be transmitted by an elephant’s brain, a penguin’s or a cat’s. So, not only does science have me thinking about the soul, but it connects each member of our world’s vast biodiversity to one another in a way that religion does not (although, reincarnation certainly comes close).

So, science may not yet provide concrete proof that that light behind your eyes isn’t anything more than the fictional creation of religions and poets, but it certainly has me turning up my radio and listening for the music.


3 thoughts on “Science and the Auto-Tuned Soul

  1. As someone who used to be religious I still hang onto the idea that a soul would be nice, but ultimately I interpret the current evidence to suggest no soul, no afterlife. On the other hand, regarding humanity as being something entirely earthbound has a certain urgency, a feeling that you can’t just waste away hoping for a better run in the afterlife. Do you regard the soul as being something that will outlive your body and move on when you die? Or something that is the essence of you somehow?
    Thanks for an interesting post, got my brain awake first thing in the morning!

    • I’d like to believe its something that would outlive the body. The moving on part is always the tricky question…does it move on to some other reality? Is it simply another state of being? I don’t know. It’s definitely something you can spend the rest of your days thinking about.

      Thanks so much for reading!

  2. Nice Sam, I feel that we are somehow connected to each other,past present and future.Too much unexplained phenomena in the universe to think that once we die our essence no longer exist.

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