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Thread: Souls

  1. #1
    I'm Back! Koss's Avatar
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    Souls

    Do you think Humans have souls, or are we just Animals who's only purpose is to 'make babies'?
    Is who we are important, or are each of us just a flame about to be blown out of existance?

    That is not dead which may eternal lie,
    for in strange aeons even death may die.

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    I think it’s fairly obvious from the wording of your post which of the two you believe. Nothing wrong with believing in anything, mind you, but it does make your entry come across as very biased, which should preferably be avoided in an introductory presentation for discussion. Also, it would have helped some if you had explained exactly what kind of ‘soul’ you are referring to.

    Do I believe we carry a divine spark, a Breath of God, which gives us life and consciousness and conscience, and which will be judged after our death and sent to either Heaven or Hell? No.

    Do I then believe we must be limited to the sum of our biological parts? Not necessarily. Perhaps there does exist a ‘soul’, a non-biological component of the human physiology, currently undiscovered by our limited technology but nevertheless empirically measurable and scientifically explainable once we acquire the means to do so.

    However, based on the scientific knowledge currently available to me, I would say no, we do not have a soul. Our self-awareness is a result of evolution, of biology and biochemistry, just like the colourful wings of a butterfly or the intricate songs of a nightingale. But does this make it any less wonderful? Is a butterfly any less colourful for being designed by Nature rather than God? Is the nightingale’s song any less sweet?

    You write, Kossolax, that either we have a soul, an importance, or we’re just animals with no higher purpose, bound for death. I think you’ve got it upside down. Do you really think we are unimportant and purposeless unless some meddling deity tells us how to live our lives, that our only worth is passed to us from God? Then we have no worth, no intrinsic value, no importance!

    I say we have whatever purpose we make for ourselves, we have a worth in ourselves, we should rejoice in the wonders of the natural world and marvel at the beauty that is around us, that is us, not because God created it but exactly because He didn’t. Everything has its own value, its own beauty, its own purpose; nothing was created for anything, it exists just for itself. I would rather exist just for myself than for any purpose imposed on me.

    And as for eternal life, I think it’s overrated. The very lack of an immortal human soul is what makes human life valuable. The Japanese Samurai culture had a wonderful philosophy capturing the very essence of this idea: they considered a freshly-bloomed cherry blossom to be the second most beautiful object in the world, only surpassed by a withering cherry blossom – the very death of the flower made its transient beauty infinitely more precious than if it had lasted forever.

    ~Grephaun.
    "Girls are nice and cuddly on the outside, and freaky on the inside." ~ Lost Nemesis.


  4. #3
    God's nutcase Xerxes's Avatar
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    I've a feeling that my answer here is a foregone conclusion: we do have souls, given to us by God. Even before I became Christian I had a distant sense of this, that life was too much of a gift to be a chance. Particularly mine; I've worked out that there's a roughly 10% chance (well, 5-12½% chance) for someone with my medical history even getting a normal education without special needs assistance to the age of 16, let alone going to university.

    And it is this importance to God that he created us to serve him that makes us important. That an omnipotent being chose to create us to fulfil his purposes, gave us the chance at life rather than fulfil his purposes himself, and are seen as worth preserving forever, is truly wonderful. It gives us worth because we are considered the preferred option of God rather than for him to do it himself. You have been chosen to enact the creator's purpose in lieu of the creator himself. Isn't that a privilege?

    While the temporariness of the atheistic life may give it a rarity value (which I appreciate for the reasons given above), the soul and its eternity gives it the same sort of value as a priceless antique; preserved because of its worth to the collector. Which, technically, is the only value anything has; we attribute value to things, they do not possess it intrinsically. The same, I extrapolate, goes for us; with nothing to grant us value (which does not have to be God, it can just be society, other humans or whatever), we have none. We're just an arrangement of chemicals that can produce other arrangements of chemicals. It takes a mind to give something value.

    As for the empirical evidence of a soul, there is none. But there must be something else there, otherwise I see free will as an impossibility. While no free will is indeed a possibility, the nature of my existence so far would indicate that it's not a very likely one.

  5. #4
    The Allmighty Chaos Boots Process's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xerxes View Post
    I've a feeling that my answer here is a foregone conclusion: we do have souls, given to us by God. Even before I became Christian I had a distant sense of this, that life was too much of a gift to be a chance. Particularly mine; I've worked out that there's a roughly 10% chance (well, 5-12½% chance) for someone with my medical history even getting a normal education without special needs assistance to the age of 16, let alone going to university.

    And it is this importance to God that he created us to serve him that makes us important. That an omnipotent being chose to create us to fulfil his purposes, gave us the chance at life rather than fulfil his purposes himself, and are seen as worth preserving forever, is truly wonderful. It gives us worth because we are considered the preferred option of God rather than for him to do it himself. You have been chosen to enact the creator's purpose in lieu of the creator himself. Isn't that a privilege?

    While the temporariness of the atheistic life may give it a rarity value (which I appreciate for the reasons given above), the soul and its eternity gives it the same sort of value as a priceless antique; preserved because of its worth to the collector. Which, technically, is the only value anything has; we attribute value to things, they do not possess it intrinsically. The same, I extrapolate, goes for us; with nothing to grant us value (which does not have to be God, it can just be society, other humans or whatever), we have none. We're just an arrangement of chemicals that can produce other arrangements of chemicals. It takes a mind to give something value.

    As for the empirical evidence of a soul, there is none. But there must be something else there, otherwise I see free will as an impossibility. While no free will is indeed a possibility, the nature of my existence so far would indicate that it's not a very likely one.
    I'm sorry you have medical issues Xerxes and I hope you will get well soon (as in as soon as medical science catches up to your perticular problem, and they better move it or else process will turn them into spawns).

    However: There is no privelige in slavery Xerxes. I do not understand why there has to exist a soul. Is everyone os afraid of death that they are unable to go on living without the dream and hope of something more? I'm afraid of death. It scares me, it makes me cry sometimes because life is too good to ever end. So I made up my mind to be remembered instead. to be remebered as something good. Thats living forever.

    As for free will, I believe it is in essence an illusion. Rational choice is simple logic as applied to a situation and an individual with given information. That which creates randomness is lack of absolute information. Each individual always chooses in every situation exactly what they think is for the best there is no free will only powergaming with misprinted codices. its still fun, its still great. we still discover new things and learn and find enjoyment in life but there is no randomness only mechanics. If someone would have all available information (that is all of it, and really I mean ALL...) you could take that person back blindfolded to big bang, erase its memory and ask that person what I would write here today and that person would even get all my typos right. A drop of water falls in a muddy pudle 35 million years ago and because it didn't fall two more inches to the left we are going to have world war 4 in 2029.

    mmm I would consider our minds to be the result of chemical processes in our cranial filling. Why does it have to be anything more?

    Even if free will existed as an abstract reality I would say that would not be possible to coexist with christian theological concepts such as the soul simply because christian theology was mostly developed in the prefeudal to feudal era were people didn't see a problem with being somebody else liege (slave) but thats a different flame war me thinks.

    It makes me sad that people hang on to concepts such as the soul as it takes from us our dignity as human beings. Even if the world is a pure mekanik and its all predestined to be this way or that way we can still live this illusion of free will to the best of our ability. i hope that that is our predestined future, a bright one filled wityh compassion and warmth not on the basis of a freudian father figure in the sky but on the basis that it makes people in general happy. I'm sorry for bringing this up in this thread but its hard to discuss the concept of soul without its context.
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    "behold, I am the flamer, the searing one, the combustion of all spontanious flash fires, I am process" BIG RED BUTTON!

  6. #5
    Now 17% more helpful gingerninja's Avatar
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    Metaphysical debate. Awesome. :shifty:

    I, personally, am not sure about the existance of a part of the human body that could be defined as a soul. I would love to believe that there is something more than this plane of existance. That in the end the journey we undertake in this plane has a final destination better than a hole in the ground, or a pleasant little urn.

    However, at heart I am a scientist. I require proof before I am truely willing to believe anything. I have always thought, as many do, that it is better to have ideas than beliefs. (There is a fantastic reference to this in the movie Dogma for the film lovers amongst you).
    Living forever is a nice idea, but I am just not convinced that it is the right idea.

    Free will is for another conversation perhaps, but I would say that every human has the right to choose what actions they do and do not take. If that isn't the ultimate expression of a humans free will, then I don't know what is.

    Quote Originally Posted by Process View Post
    It makes me sad that people hang on to concepts such as the soul as it takes from us our dignity as human beings.
    I'm not sure I can agree with this statement. Every human being has the right to make of this existance what they will. If they wish to seek comfort in the idea that this is not all there is then how is that not dignified. Just because someones ideas/beliefs differ from the masses doesn't make them undignified. Uninformed maybe. Dignity is a different aspect of humans all together.

    Just my thoughts

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    A drop of water falls in a muddy pudle 35 million years ago and because it didn't fall two more inches to the left we are going to have world war 4 in 2029.
    What happened to world war 3?


    One thing I've always been confused about; If we do not have souls(Meaning we are just biological) why do humans have qualities such as the capacity to love, hope, faith, kindness, a sense of morality ect. Why bother with these things if they are not that important in the grand scheme of things. Why not just have life be all about Eating, Fcuking and Pooing if that is the case. Cuase if all this is rather insignificant, I'd rather just spend my time Eating, Fcuking and Pooing. The basic stuff in life, since nothing else matters.
    That is not dead which may eternal lie,
    for in strange aeons even death may die.

  8. #7
    Dawn Under Heaven Triumph Of Man's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kossolax_the_Foresworn View Post
    Do you think Humans have souls, or are we just Animals who's only purpose is to 'make babies'?
    Is who we are important, or are each of us just a flame about to be blown out of existance?
    For me it's all over when it comes to death. There's no soul, no god, no heaven or hell to go to.

    So I'm just gonna try and enjoy myself for the next 70 years or so. :yes:

    Cuase if all this is rather insignificant, I'd rather just spend my time Eating, Fcuking and Pooing. The basic stuff in life, since nothing else matters.
    Meh, said with the "I'm better than you" conviction? Sorry, I've had that thrown at me too many times by religious people who look down their noses at me because I don't believe in their god. Apparently, I've got "nothing to live for" so apparently I should stop bothering with living or being sentient.

    Yah, bollocks I will. I've got Halo 3 and the next gen Xbox to look forward to anyway.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Kossolax_the_Foresworn View Post
    One thing I've always been confused about; If we do not have souls(Meaning we are just biological) why do humans have qualities such as the capacity to love, hope, faith, kindness, a sense of morality ect. Why bother with these things if they are not that important in the grand scheme of things. Why not just have life be all about Eating, Fcuking and Pooing if that is the case. Cuase if all this is rather insignificant, I'd rather just spend my time Eating, Fcuking and Pooing. The basic stuff in life, since nothing else matters.
    I agree with Triumph on this one; no offence, but that is just such a typical ‘holier-than-thou’ statement which religious people fling at Atheists in order to ‘prove’ the superiority of their conviction over ours that I’m finding it difficult to take seriously; it only shows that you’ve not understood anything about Atheism at all.

    Let me tell you this: Atheists are not amoral in any way. In fact, Atheists commit less crime than religious people, and have a lower rate of divorce. Today, which is a religious holiday in my country, Atheists are encouraged to skip the church ceremonies and instead go donate blood, sign up for organ donation, help a stranger, or donate money to a secular non-profit charity organisation. Which seems more moral to you? Going to church to pray for your own soul in the afterlife, or helping to save the life of a complete stranger for no personal gain but the pleasure of doing a kind act?

    Speaking of which, I don’t even believe in such a thing as ‘religious morality’. To quote Richard Dawkins, “…do you really mean to tell me the only reason you try to be good is to gain God’s approval and reward, or to avoid his disappointment and punishment? That’s not morality, that’s just sucking up, apple-polishing, looking over your shoulder at the great surveillance camera in the sky, or the still small wiretap inside your head, monitoring your every move, even your every base thought.”

    If you do a good deed only because you expect to be rewarded for it later, then it is no good deed at all, but a purely selfish action taken not for the benefit of your fellow human beings but for the sake of your own immortal soul. Only when you believe you will gain nothing from helping another person and yet still do it, will you have done a truly good deed.

    If you believe that without religion you would devolve to nothing more than an unsophisticated beast with no purpose but to eat, defecate, and copulate, then frankly I’m rather disturbed by that; after all, religion does nothing more than add a gilding – you would still be ugly underneath. Me, I have rubbed away that fake gold and taken a good look at the human being underneath, and found that I could look myself in the eyes and not flinch. If you cannot remove religion from yourself without also removing your humanity, then soul or no soul, you’re still nothing more than a primitive beast, and no amount of religious fervour can change that ugly truth.

    Many religious people seem to think that because Atheists don’t believe in a god, they’re entirely nihilistic and believe that nothing whatsoever matters. This couldn’t be more wrong. In fact, Atheists understand that we have only this one chance at life and must make the most of it, and so we have a joy of living that is no less than that of the most devout religious follower and might in fact be greater, since we’re freed from the restrictions and limitations of religion to rejoice in our own humanity.

    ~Greph.
    "Girls are nice and cuddly on the outside, and freaky on the inside." ~ Lost Nemesis.


  10. #9
    The Shadow Knows! Jon Quixote's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grephaun View Post
    If you do a good deed only because you expect to be rewarded for it later, then it is no good deed at all, but a purely selfish action taken not for the benefit of your fellow human beings but for the sake of your own immortal soul. Only when you believe you will gain nothing from helping another person and yet still do it, will you have done a truly good deed.
    I agree.

    I've not really understood the heaven and hell prospect for the soul.

    If the only reason to be 'good' is so that you don't go to hell for eternity, then that is really just a bribe to influence the un-socially minded and not a true moral choice. A bit like Santa Claus only extrapolated.

    However, if you are 'good' because you can see that it is inherently the right thing to do, and that nothing is at 'stake' then, surely that is worth more.

    I'm not sure that some people that believe in the soul understand the concept of 'forever'. I don't, but I know that according to more than one person, I'm going to burn for ever for a 'sin' that I don't believe in. That's a horrible thing to believe for all those that don't follow your own particular dogma, which is the majority of the rest of the world since time immemorial. And it's enormously arrogant.

    I think the eternal soul was a tool used by power hungry rulers to keep the people in check and has just remained as a sort of appendix for the religious.

    So, no I don't believe in the soul, or a guardian angel for that matter, but I think that's a story for another time. However, feel free to believe in a soul, but only if you truly understand the consequences for you and everyone else. :yes:
    Cervantes: In order to attain the impossible, one must attempt the absurd.


  11. #10
    Staying out of trouble KOS-MOS's Avatar
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    I believe we have something that makes us who we are whether thats a soul or not is not for me to say. Aren't we just a number of thoughts and experiences that makes us who we are. I mean we all start off blank and its up to our upbringing to determine what kind of person we become. What im trying to say is that maybe the word soul is just another word for a humans personality.
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