Do human beings have souls?

Background

The belief that humans have souls enjoys broad support in the general population. Among philosophers and scientists, however, belief in the soul is far less common. The relationship between the soul and body has been a subject of intense debate since French philosopher René Descartes proposed his famous theory of mind-body dualism. Recently, new advances in psychology and neuroscience have come closer to explaining many of the complex brain functions once thought inexplicable. However, these advances have given way to an increasingly reductionistic and materialistic attitude towards human existence. Many feel that this attitude reduces them, in the words of one writer, to a “walking, talking, conscious bag of dirt.” Is there room for the human soul in our understanding of humans?

Read the top arguments on both sides to decide for yourself!

Discussion Questions

1. How would you define the word “soul”?

2. How does your religious upbringing (or lack thereof) affect your ideas about whether people have souls?

3. The “PRO-soul” side claims that there are aspects of human beings that are hard to explain in a purely physical way. How convincing do you find this argument?

4. Do you think that it is possible to prove or disprove the existence of the soul? If not, does it ultimately come down to blind faith, or does one side have better reasons?

For more resources to help with classroom discussions, check out our Teachers Pay Teachers page!

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