The soul as a concept is widely debated and has an array of definitions. It is broadly defined as the essence of our being, that which makes one who they are. It is normally considered beyond the physical world, and often eternal or immortal. For generations, humans have sought to explain the soul through religion, philosophy, and science, and there are countless theories and controversies regarding this question. Do we have a soul?
Religious ideas have discussed the soul for centuriesShow moreShow less
Religion, the long-lasting human tradition of explaining the world around us, has lots to say about the essence of our being.
Christianity establishes the soul as an immortal divine essence that is separate from the physical world. The physical world of our bodies and objects around us, and the spiritual world of God and the divine where our soul resides, has a clear distinction. The soul constitutes who a person is, and it is what animates and gives the body life.
When the body dies, the soul carries on. When our physical world ceases to matter at the death of our body, we enter into the spiritual world of God as a soul. There, the soul is judged based upon our actions in the physical realm, and will eventually be sent to either heaven or hell. It remains active during this time with God until it is eventually re-birthed back into a physical form during the second coming of Christ. Souls are characterized as active, being capable of positive and negative experiences and emotions in the spiritual world, and interacting with other souls.
The Islamic idea of the soul is very similar to Christianity's ideas. The soul is an essence that makes a person themselves and is deeply connected with and modeled after God. In addition, the soul goes through the same motions of life, judgment, and resurrection. However, Muslims have slightly different beliefs about the soul as well. Muslims do not believe the soul is eternal, but that it is created by God and placed into the fetus in the fifth month of pregnancy (after which it is immortal, but it is not everlasting in both directions.) This constitutes a tie between the physical body and the soul; while Islam states that the soul does not reside in a specific part of the body and continues after the body's death, it is interconnected with the body, unlike in Christianity where the soul is on a completely different plane than the body.
Various Christian branches' beliefs on the soul slightly vary. Some believe the soul is dormant while awaiting resurrection, not active. In addition, others believe that souls in hell do not suffer endlessly, but are merely destroyed, therefore denouncing the idea of the soul as eternal.
[P1] The soul is immortal and the essence of our being; it is what makes us who we are.
[P2] Christians assert that the soul exists in the spiritual world, the world of God that is a separate counterpart to our physical world.
[P3] Muslims assert that the soul can exist without the body, but is connected to it.
[P4] After bodily death, the soul is judged by God in the afterlife, and eventually resurrected.