Question: You indicate that you believe in both evolution and that we have a soul/afterlife. Would you agree that this means that all living creatures therefore have a soul? –Skyclad
Answer: Yes, in my own belief, I would say that all creatures have a soul. I do not however give it the amount of supernatural significance as some other religions give it. It is a portion of the natural world, and therefore persistent in nature. To say that only humans could possess a soul would be to say that humans were above nature, which at our base we are not. Humankind has developed the ability to control nature at a microcosmic level but we are still vulnerable to the same things that affect all other species. The major difference that I will site with humankind and the soul is that Humans are the only species that has the proven ability to contemplate our souls and their impact in our world. My pet cats, while possessing souls tend not to show outward signs of contemplation of the spiritual, though I do not speak cat, so who knows. The main point here being that only Humans have evolved the mental capacity to consider the existence of the soul and to ascribe it a level of importance somewhere between useless and the whole point of our existence.
As for its purpose, I can only speculate and fantasize. In one argument for the idea of god creating the universe, we come to the concept that a truly all knowing and all seeing being would never be moved to do anything. What would it need? The idea that god created anything means that there was something that god didn’t have on its own. And the most logical is that it didn’t have what all of us lack on our own, an objective view of what and who we are. We certainly have our own idea, but it is subjective and based only on what we see. It is through interactions with other people that we come to see ourselves through others as well. So by this, god created the universe in order to understand its self, attaching to all things capable of observation a piece of itself so that it may one day understand its own existence. In this way, the soul is really just a recorder, carrying with it the experience of the holder to become part of a greater consciousness later. I can’t really speak for others, but this is my feeling on it.
As for the afterlife, the self hoped for tombstone of Benjamin Franklin sums it up best in my opinion, "The Body of B. Franklin Printer; Like the Cover of an old Book, Its Contents torn out, And stripped of its Lettering and Gilding, Lies here, Food for Worms. But the Work shall not be wholly lost: For it will, as he believed, appear once more, In a new & more perfect Edition, Corrected and Amended By the Author.” He didn’t get that on there, but I feel that it’s the best way of looking at it. Nothing ever truly ends, even the destruction of a quantum particle results in energy changes and new particles. You may not still be you, but nothing can truly remove your having existed and your continued existence.
Brian Humanistic Jones