If I were asked quite specifically to describe in detail, music; perhaps Mozart, perhaps Mario Del Monaco firing out Nessun Dorma, perhaps Sinatra singing My Way, to a community of people who had never heard any form of music ever before, I would find it close to impossible. It isn’t something that can be extracted, it isn’t an entity, it has no physical presence. It is simply derived from beauty. When Michaelangelo created the Statue of David, Vasari commented that Michaelangelo’s gift for sculptor came from the sole, that he “carved forms from stone, as if he were pulling figures from water“. The only possible way to describe Michaelangelo’s work, is through wondrous metaphors, as Vasari did to emphasise beauty. There is no logical definition, much as there is no logical definition of the colour yellow. Asked to describe yellow to someone who has never seen yellow, is simply impossible. Similarly, within the realms of Philosophy, it is close to impossible to describe the soul. The distinction of soul from body has no words to describe, because the body and it’s perception of reality, is all we know. We do not know the nature of immortality, because everything we recognise either decays or dies.
I believe in science. I believe organised religion can be a force of dangerous dogma as well as a source of hope. But what both science and religion struggle quite effortlessly with, is the nature of the soul. I find it distinctly ridiculous (and quite coincidentally, Plato-esque) that Religion can take the concept of an unworldly force within each of us, and jump to the conclusion that it must come from a Heavenly World, which therefore proves the existence of God, who then must have created the World and Humanity, whilst listening to prayer and endorsing the Pope as his representative and successor to St Peter, on Earth therefore rendering the entire Bible legitimate. The idea that my body is simply a shell, which is injected with this life force we call a soul by a heavenly force, tends to make me a little uneasy about the nature of religious dogma, as if i’m a slave to the divine force that supposedly created me. Which, I refuse to be. Free Will and Organised Religion are not compatible. As this article from Jewishmag.com shows. They jump to irrational conclusions without question. They suggest that the soul must be intricately linked to the nature of God. And so they appear to be manipulating the idea of a soul, to fit their own system of beliefs. I do not accept that for a second. What makes that Jewish dogmatic principle of the distinction between body and soul, any more realistic than the Buddhist tradition of the reincarnation of the soul in the pursuit of Nirvana?
Nor can I accept Kant’s explanation, that the Soul is a force, striving for perfection, held back by our bodily, materialistic desires. Whilst the idea is certainly logical, Kant goes on to say “The pure practical reason must also postulate the existence of God“, and that is the part I cannot accept. I see a huge hole between the notion of an inner force striving for perfection (which is a perfectly logical argument, given the nature of humanity), and that particular force proving the existance of God. It isn’t quite that simple.
Similarly, I cannot succumb to the scientific notion, that we’re all just a mix of easily explained chemical processes. That such deep emotional sensitivity; dreaming, the tranquil sense of spirituality, friendship, affection, ambition, love, devotion, compassion and every other level of consciousness we experience throughout our short lives, are simply neurotransmitters playing games. It’s difficult for me to accept that everything I am, everything that makes me, me, everything that I try to be and try not to be, my hopes, my thoughts, my memories, my loves, my flaws, are all just chemical reactions. I feel entirely at conflict much of the time, between the materialistic nature of the World, the need for more, the thriving for physical wealth by any means necessary, the ruthless disaster of Capitalism and all it’s hostility toward fellow man; whilst at the same time there is a constant voice in side me, that tells me just how wrong it is to become too involved in selfish pursuits whilst condemning those less fortunate. How wrong it is to cause pain to someone else. I constantly have the quite intense feeling that there is much much more beauty to life rather than just simple existence, rather than the dogmatic notion that we are our job, our house, our car, waking up every morning at the same time for work, a holiday once a year, retirement, death. Whether that voice is the work of God, or of chemical processes, I do not know, nor does a Christian, or a Scientist. What I do know, is how I feel. I do not feel that the essence of me was divinely created, nor do I feel that I’m merely a mixture of chemical processes. Neither can tell me where the feeling of loneliness, hurt, sensitivity, and love are derived. Perhaps it is simply a case of millions upon millions of years of Darwinism both within nature and within society that has shaped the minds of generations who have thus become so convinced that the power of the mind is so great that it must come from a higher power. Perhaps that is true. The simple fact is that on a personal level, I can’t accept that my thoughts and my emotional mind set, is simple science. On a rational level, I can’t accept that it is all the work of a supreme, timeless, God.
The nature of confusion.