You are Your (transcendental) Soul
Many people think about the soul in the way, they think about fairies or Santa Claus, but as we will see, there are few things so terribly real as the human soul.
The soul makes a human person be what it is. The soul exists by virtue of itself and the body by virtue of the soul.
A soul is not a ghost in a body machine. Rather, it what separates the living from the non-living? The soul is the source of life in a living thing. Death is the separation of the soul from the body, and a body without a soul is a corpse.
You do not have a soul; you are your soul. You have a body. —C.S. Lewis
Your Human Soul Lives for Eternity
What makes your soul unique among all living things?
The term soul refers to the source of life in a living thing, then whatever is living is animated by a soul. Trees, animals, and anything that lives have a soul and lives because of its soul. Some things are living such as plants have basic functions of nutrition and growth, but do not have any sensory or rational capacities. Other things such as animals in addition to nutrition and growth, have sensory functions like touch or taste but do not have any intelligence or reason. However, human beings are special and distinct from other living things because we possess intelligence and reason, and other things do not.
How can the soul live without the body?
The soul lives beyond the body by exercising certain special higher operations, of knowing and loving. All our vital activities are the works of the soul on organs except for two, knowing and loving. These two acts are the working of intellect and will and are known as your spiritual powers.
To know something is to conceive of universal truth. When I know the formula for the area of a triangle, for example, I know something not about this or that particular triangle, but about “triangles” as such. My knowledge extends to all triangles, even though I have not and cannot either sense or imagine all triangles. One’s knowledge extends beyond all my experience of triangles and extends to all triangles whatsoever. This sort of abstract knowledge of triangles cannot be the working of a material organ, for the brain is limited to knowing this or that particular thing. Something more than the working of organs is going on in the knowledge of universals or the essences of things.
Only the human soul can desire, truth, love, justice-goodness, beauty, and the dire for a perfect home or being. We notice every imperfection in our knowledge. We seek but do not have perfect truth in this world.
The human soul can survive death because, in addition to forming and animating the body, the soul is spiritual and lives on this higher plane by the higher operations of knowing and loving.
Evidence of Your Soul’s Immortality
Near-Death Experiences (NDE)
One kind of physical evidence for our souls and the afterlife comes from Near-Death Experiences (or NDEs). There is a great amount of evidence for NDEs, but we must be careful when considering it. Much of the alleged “evidence” is based on personal testimonies that can’t be verified. Our focus will be only on the evidence coming from scientific research that can be verified.
NDEs usually happen during clinical death, which is when the heart stops and there’s no blood sending oxygen to the brain. Most brain activity shuts down after just 30 seconds without oxygen. Not just advanced functions, like sensing and thinking, but even basic functions, like the gag reflex, stop working.
Despite the absence of brain activity, patients, in about 10% to 20% of clinical deaths, report that they had an NDE. They claim they could see and hear what was going on around them, could remember what was happening around them, and knew who they were. They report moving outside their bodies, passing through hospital walls, and even being transported to another place, often moving through a tunnel toward a bright light.
There are many people, however, who doubt that NDEs really happen. Because they think that consciousness is just a physical process that starts in the brain, they believe that consciousness dies when the brain does. But, is that really true?
If we look at what’s happening to a brain during clinical death and compare it with what people report to have happened during their NDEs, it seems that consciousness does not require a living brain.
Since clinical death often happens in hospitals when patients are being monitored, reports of NDEs can be checked. In fact, thousands of NDEs have been documented and verified. Although there are many studies of NDEs, we will focus on five of the most important ones, then we’ll review what they have in common. Let’s see what the evidence from these studies is.
A 2014 study* looked at 2,060 hospitalized patients with cardiac arrest— meaning their hearts stopped and oxygen wasn’t getting to their brains. 185 of these patients—about 9%—reported that they had an NDE. Some were able to see and hear for several minutes. That’s significant when we remember that a brain without oxygen shuts down within 30 seconds. In each of these cases, researchers verified what was going on in the operating rooms during the NDEs while they were clinically dead. *(by Dr. Sam Parnia, M.D., University of Southampton)
In a 2001 study*, 344 clinically dead cardiac patients were studied and it was found that 18%—or 62 of them—had an NDE. This study ruled out several physical explanations of NDEs because all the patients had the same physical symptoms of cardiac arrest, but only some of the patients had an NDE. These patients reported seeing and hearing things during their NDEs that researchers were able to verify afterward. *(by Dr. Pim van Lommel, M.D.)
In a 2006 study* of 31 blind patients having Near-Death Experience, 80% reported being able to see during their NDEs. Some of them had been blind from birth, while others had lost their sight later in life. Nonetheless, both groups gave similar descriptions of what they saw, and their descriptions also matched the reports of those with sight from other NDE studies. The brain, of course, does not have the ability to process sensory information during clinical death, so the ability for a person born blind to see during an NDE, and see clearly enough to describe it later, suggests that consciousness does not need a physical body. *(by Dr. Kenneth Ring, Ph. D.)
A 2007 study* examined 107 NDEs where patients had reported seeing or hearing things that could be verified independently; for example, things that the medical staff was doing in the hospital room during the patient’s clinical death. The study found that 98 of the 107 cases were 100% accurate; correct in every verifiable detail! *(by Dr. Janice Holden, Ed.D.)
Finally, a 10-year study* interviewed over 1,000 patients with NDEs. This study found several common characteristics in these reported experiences; characteristics like a sense of being dead; rising rapidly to another reality; moving through a tunnel; experiencing peace and painlessness or encountering a “Being of Light”. For each characteristic, the percentage of patients who reported that characteristic was similar to the percentage found in other NDE studies. *(by Dr. Raymond Moody, M.D.)
Since each of these NDE studies includes reports of perceptions during clinical death that can be verified as true, it’s reasonable to believe the other reported experiences that can’t be verified, like moving through a tunnel or experiencing peace and painlessness, are also true.
First, we have reports by patients of events that occurred in the operating rooms during their NDEs; events that can be verified. In one case, a patient in a deep coma accurately described the place where a nurse had put his dentures. And, in every major study, patients who described out-of-body experiences give verifiable details, such as correctly reporting the conversations or the clothing of relatives and friends in the waiting room. Second, no physical reason has been found to explain why 80% of those who are blind can “see” during their NDEs.
And finally, about a third of the NDE patients report meeting deceased relatives, acquaintances, and even strangers. In these meetings, the patients report being given information that the patients themselves never could have known.
You might be asking yourself, “How can anyone doubt the evidence from NDEs?” Attempts are often made to explain away NDEs as just physical or drug-induced phenomena. These attempts, however, can’t explain the evidence we listed; how people can accurately report what they see and hear in other rooms, how the blind can see, or how people learn previously unknown information from deceased persons.
For instance, some people suggest that NDEs are just hallucinations of loved ones the patients expected to see. But, as we said, some patients report meeting and getting verifiable information from, strangers. And besides, how would they have received unknown, but verifiable, information during a hallucination?