Souls Real? by Jerome W. Elbert
Do you believe your soul will survive after you die?
Do you even believe you HAVE a soul? Many people devote their lives to
caring for their souls and preparing for an afterlife. Others doubt
souls exist. For questioners, the local experts on souls are usually
ministers, priests, or rabbis. Not surprisingly, spiritual counselors
almost always believe in various spirits, including some kind of
supernatural soul. But given what we now know about the brain,
psychology, and body chemistry, the skeptic may well ask what meaning or
relevance this medieval term can possibly have today.
Physicist Jerome W. Elbert takes up this intriguing
issue in his informative yet accessible study. He points out that many
contemporary dilemmas have much to do with whether or not we posit the
existence of a soul -- for example, the question of free will and the
debate over abortion. Reviewing the ancient origins of the soul concept,
Elbert looks at Christian beliefs and pagan parallels, and then
considers how the advance of science has changed our fundamental
understanding of the brain and consciousness. He shows how these new
scientific insights inevitably affect our traditional ideas about the
For anyone who is at all uncertain, ARE SOULS REAL?
offers an alternative to the views of a spiritual advisor. Various
experts, from biblical scholars to neuroscientists, have gathered
information that allows soul beliefs to be judged more skeptically. This
book brings these conclusions together, offering a new perspective on
whether supernatural souls really exist.
Insightful and absorbing, ARE SOULS REAL? is popular
science writing at its best.
From The author, Jerome W. Elbert , April 18,
This book gives a skeptical discussion of soul-beliefs. Do you
believe your soul will survive after you die? Do you even believe you
have a soul? Many people devote their lives to caring for their souls,
while others doubt souls exist. Given the explosion in scientific
knowledge about the brain, mind, and body chemistry, anyone who is even
slightly skeptical may wonder whether the ancient concept of the soul
holds any meaning in the modern world.
In Are Souls Real?, I review the ancient origins of
the soul concept, look at Christian beliefs and pagan parallels, and
consider how scientific progress has changed our understanding of the
brain and consciousness. As a physicist with a life-long interest in
religious and philosophical questions, I have developed my own insights
and have gathered information from various experts, ranging from
biblical scholars to neuroscientists and philosophers. The results allow
me to make a thorough, but readable, evaluation of soul-beliefs. I come
to a strong conclusion that a wide range of readers will find
That supernatural souls may not exist can have an
enormous impact on our thinking about our basic nature and how we should
live our lives. Does a soul impart consciousness to our bodies, or is
consciousness a natural result of the functioning of our brains? I
present an easily understood picture of how consciousness arises as a
result of natural processes in biological organisms. I discuss how the
possible non-existence of supernatural souls affects our ideas about
practical issues such as free will, responsibility, crime and
punishment, and abortion.
As the first book devoted entirely to a skeptical
discussion of the soul's existence, Are Souls Real? is bound to be
somewhat controversial. It does not treat soul-beliefs as primarily a
matter of faith and tradition, but as questionable statements about
reality. I expect a wide range of reactions. Although some may find the
book disturbing since it challenges certain cherished beliefs, I hope
that most will find that it gives a persuasive and enlightening
description of what we are and what we are not.
About the Author
Jerome W. Elbert, Ph.D., is an independent researcher and writer. For
many years he worked as a research professor of physics at the
University of Utah. He is a member of the American Physical Society and
the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
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