Are Souls Real?

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Prometheus Books, 2000 - Religion - 399 pages
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In an age dominated by science many traditional concepts are being reevaluated in light of current knowledge about the physical and biological world. Among the many religious notions passed down from generation to generation, belief in the soul may be the most in need of reconsideration. Despite its slightly antiquated nuances and its fuzziness as a coherent idea, people today still refer to the soul quite frequently We often hear such questions as: Can the soul leave the body? Does the soul survive death? And if so, do the souls of the departed occasionally appear to the living? But, given what we now know about the brain, psychology, and body chemistry, the skeptic may well ask, what meaning or relevance can this medieval term possibly have?Physicist Jerome W. Elbert takes up this intriguing issue in this informative yet accessible study. He begins by reviewing the ancient origins of the soul concept, 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. These new scientific insights, he points out, inevitably affect our traditional ideas about the soul. Moreover, 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. Taking into consideration the views of many recognized experts, he moves to the inescapable conclusion that we can account for the nature of life, the mind, and the human decision-making process without any need for the now obsolete idea of a soul.Insightful and absorbing, Are Souls Real? is popular science writing at its best.Jerome W. Elbert, Ph.D. (Tacoma, WA), now a self-employed researcher and writer, worked for many years as a research professor of physics at the University of Utah.
 

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Contents

Preface
13
Challenging Our Ideas About the Soul
19
The Ancient Origins of the Idea of the Soul
29
The Pagan Parallels of Some Christian Beliefs
57
New Ideas About the Origin of the New Testament
77
SCIENCE AND THE SOUL
111
The Origin of Matter and the Earth
139
The Origin
159
Consciousness and GhostBusting
253
Consciousness and Feelings
271
Physics the Quantum and Free Will
297
Feeling Free and Being Free
315
LIVING WITHOUT SQUI BELIEFS
331
Society and Our Nature
353
How the Quantum Entered Modern Science
361
Glossary
371

The Evolution of Human Abilities
185
Consciousness the Soul and the Brain
213
Consciousness and Models of the Mind
231

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About the author (2000)

Jerome W. Elbert, Ph.D. (Tacoma, WA), now a self-employed researcher and writer, worked for many years as a research professor of physics at the University of Utah.

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