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Soulless Sleep

I was thinking about death and how much I don’t want it. I pondered what it would be like to be dead. Of course, if you believe in a wholly material universe, the answer to asking what being dead will be like is “Mu“. Being dead isn’t like anything because there is no consciousness to experience death. This is so outside our experience (by definition) that it’s frightening to contemplate.

Yet, I thought, it isn’t truly outside our experience because we lose consciousness every night when we enter dreamless sleep. All conscious experience ceases.

Then I pondered what this would mean if we had a soul. As a Mormon, I was taught to believe that my spirit existed before I was born. I had an existence before this life where I reasoned, loved, made choices, learned, and so on like I do here. If this is true, what happens to that spirit when I lose consciousness? Why must that eternal spirit sleep while its physical body sleep? Why does the physical body have power to extinguish the spirit’s capacity to experience and reason and learn while the body sleeps? Surely if the spirit had those faculties before having a body, then those faculties shouldn’t depend on the state of the body.

Perhaps the way I believed before was too simplistic. Perhaps there could be a spirit within me which has an experience entirely independent and inaccessible to my body’s consciousness. Or perhaps the soul has no role in my ability to reason, remember, experience, etc. Occam’s razor applies here. I should be very reluctant to multiply extra entities to explain a phenomenon which has a simpler explanation: I have no soul.

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