Stephen Cave holds a doctorate in metaphysics from the University of Cambridge. He has written extensively on philosophical and scientific subjects, and is the author of Immortality: The Quest to Live Forever and How It Drives Civilization.
The belief that we each have a soul that can survive the death of our bodies is extremely widespread. Ideas of the soul can be found in civilizations from ancient Egypt to the shamans of Siberia. Most Christians, Muslims, and Hindus alive today—nearly five billion people—profess to believe in something like it. Anthropologists have therefore called this belief a “human universal,” meaning it is found in every known society.
This is surprising, given no one has ever seen one. (Unless, that is, you believe people see ghosts, and that ghosts are departed souls.) Your soul is by its nature supposed to be non-physical and so presumably invisible—light, after all, only bounces off physical objects. That makes it a difficult thing for which to collect convincing evidence.Read More