I have always wondered why, in the abortion debate, it is never pointed out that LIFE IS NOT CREATED either at conception or birth. LIFE CONTINUES AT CONCEPTION, two living cells merge and continue to live. If we believed that all eggs and sperms hosted souls, then we would have to work hard to preserve all eggs and sperms, and the excess of sperms over eggs would cause an ethical dilemma.
So, we might speculate that souls are ethereal morphogenetic fields that join an emergent embryo at some stage in its development, or possibly even sometime after birth. Whenever it enters, it adds a new factor, Soul/Nature/Nurture, in the development of the person.
Is the soul changed during its time in a body? What aspects of a person are aspects of its soul? What if I die a child, at 30, or when a senile person. What traits go on? What if I die with multiple identity, or when as any of the strange persons studied by Oliver Sacks?
Have those who believe in an afterlife ever considered what it would be like to be eternal? Would you ever change? Would you get bored? If you wouldn’t be anything like you were during life, why are you interested in an afterlife? An important query is why no one who believes in an afterlife ever ponder these questions?
Have those who hope for very great extended longevity ever considered the impact on Earth and the effect on children and their treatment? Would migration into space be adequate to solve the population problem? What form of risk aversion would humans engage if their accidental death would terminate their extended longevity? In their book, Denial, Varki & Brower hypothesize that humans evolved the ability to emotionally deny death so those with advanced self consciousness (who could conceptualize mortality) would be able to take mating risks and promote their DNA. Would extended longevity be like another global heating threat, doing something without considering the consequences?
The space-time of physics and biology, and the matter/energy space-time distributions may not be all there is to reality. Suppose that the life-line, from conception to death, of a being is “frozen in another dimension of time” upon death. Each sequential state of the biological being, like a “trail”, is preserved. Playfully, I call this a soul. Suppose that these souls can interact with other souls (after their biological death) in some organized way. These “body-trails” can’t change in “our time dimension”, but they may change in “their time dimension”.
Suppose they can also interact in some ways with other living beings, while they are living. This might account for the reported statements of young children being attributed to a recently deceased relative – often presented as evidence for reincarnation. A wrinkle in this has to do with the death of individual cells in the body of the being as it lives – with a rapid turnover of cells. Would the cells have tiny souls? What about the trails of our molecules, atoms and elementary particles? Since we are all composed of star dust, all souls must be woven together, inter penetrating.
When do we die? There is an eventual end to our physical existence, but as fossils show, parts can last a very long time. Our atoms seldom cease to exist. During our lives, many of our cells die and some split into two cells – the original cell ceasing to exist. Some parts can be transplanted. Some cells can be preserved and kept as living cultures. At what moment after the sperm penetrates the cell membrane of the egg do we claim the new being as started?
I just read, as prologue to a book, about an Indian Buddhist story telling of a living man having all of his parts being sequentially replaced by parts from a corpse. The corpse walks off, now having all the parts of the man. The man, now composed of all parts of the corpse, wonders about who he is, the nature of his self. This book is about the new science of the self, which is what we identify as being born, dying, and possibly continuing after death.