The history of science is marked by the assumption of substances that were not there. Ether was a substance we assumed was needed for light to travel in space, just like phlogiston was a substance that 18th century scientists assumed carried heat. Yet, from all the substances we have ever assumed to be there, but are not, there is hardly one with a larger social impact than the substance known popularly as the human soul.
The idea of a soul, as a substance, is an attractive idea. It is the idea that the human experience is made of something extra. Yet, the idea of the soul as a substance, as a ghost, as a phantom, is an idea that—although more humanistic than scientific—is not only ready for retirement, but ready to be replaced.
The soul, as a substance, is nowhere to be found. Bodies are by all means material and there is no reason to believe that there is anything in them that is not biological. Yet, we are often afraid to lose the idea of the soul as a substance because we fear that with it, we will lose the mystery of the human experience. A naïve interpretation of our material nature can leave some of us feeling empty, and this anticipation of emptiness can cause restraint. My contention, however, is that the mystery of the human experience is ill served by the assumption of substance-like soul, since the mystery of the human experience hinges in a reality that is unsubstantial, yet more mysterious and profound. That reality is the duality between matter and information.
Consider a deck of cards. Now consider shuffling them. Shuffling a deck of cards changes the information that is embedded in them, but not its weight. The information that is embedded in the deck of cards is unsubstantial, but nevertheless real. Yet, the information that is embedded in the deck of cards cannot exist without the cards. After all, information cannot exist if it is not physically embedded. This duality between matter and information, but more precisely between information and physical fields—that can also be massless—is the essential duality needed to explain the mystery of life. It is the duality between matter and information gives the human experience the gravity that is absent in stones, and the complexity that is missing in the sun. It is this duality the one that endows the universe with much of its mystery.
Our bodies are pregnant with information, and are also hungry for it. Genes are not carriers of matter, but carriers of physically embedded information. Yet genes—although important in determining our hardware—are hardly the ones responsibly for the entire mystery of the human experience. Our constant engulfing, processing and regurgitating of non-genetic information populates much of our “unsubstantial soul”. Our eyes sit proudly in our faces, not to eat photons for energetic purposes, but to capture the information about our surroundings that is carried by them. Our mouths are used for talking more often than for eating. Our ears are finely tuned to absorb the information carried by the immaterial ghosts that people exhale as they speak. Our hands have evolved to become input output devices, which we use to build the objects begot by our imagination, and to learn about the world as we fidget with other people’s creations.
And it is by noticing that our essence is literally insubstantial that we recover the mystery of the human experience, but also the mystery of our collective experience, since information is not exclusive to humans, but something that transcend us. Your clothes, car, and home are not made merely of atoms, but primarily of information. It is not the economic value of objects, but the humanity of the information embedded in them what makes these extensions of our humanity, and transcendental links between each other. The objects that populate our world embody the “substanceless souls” of others, since they are made of information begot by humans and carry with them parts of our existence, bringing transcendence to our lives.
Yet our collective experience is not limited only to our ability to deposit parts of us, as information, into objects. Because we are made of information, and the soul is not a fixed ethereal substance, is that we can so effectively combine in our bodies the essence of others. It is because I am made of information, and of a body that can engulf and process information, that I can absorb the ghost of a language that my parents did not speak, and the ghost of scientific ideas and concepts that I did not imagine. It is because I am made of information, that I can be possessed by the ideas of Boltzmann, Darwin and Prigogine, and I can regurgitate combinations of the information they begot, and once deposited in matter. It is because we exist in this duality between matter and information, that we can deposit parts of us in our environment, literally not metaphorically, by doing something as simple as writing a book or building an object. It is because we are made of information that we can have parts of us leave our body to be later re-embodied in the flesh of someone. As bodies we are mortal shells, yet as information we can live forever.
So when we understand life as information, we understand that the idea of a substance like soul is ready to retire. Like phlogiston and ether, we now know that the substance like soul is not there. Yet its absence does not leave a void. The substance is not needed once we begin to understand the beautiful duality between matter and information, a duality so ancient and profound, that even though real, is nevertheless a source of endless mystery.
- Return to the Earth: Grounding Wholeness. (jennylvoe.com)
- The Catastrophic Sideshow (femamax.wordpress.com)
- Determinism and Indeterminism (livasperiklis.com)
- Energetic Aether Metaphysics (jaysanalysis.com)
- The Elephant in the Room (americankabuki.blogspot.com)
- Message from Saint Germain and Méline Lafont ~ Solstice 2013 ~ Merging point and breaking point of this duality (lafontmeline.wordpress.com)
- ~ Elizabeth Ayres Escher ~ White Cloud: On Seeking the Savior Within (illuminations2012.wordpress.com)
- Whole-dude – Whole-designer – Matter and Spirit (wholedude.com)
- “Do you believe in reincarnation?” (chaihousechatter.wordpress.com)
- Closer to me than my jugular vein? (beyondthetourist.wordpress.com)