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ARE SOULS REAL?, by Jerome W. Elbert

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jerryelbert

ARE SOULS REAL?, by Jerome W. Elbert

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Are Souls Real? Chris O'Connor has suggested that I describe my book here to those who participate in BookTalk. I am the author of Are Souls Real? It is a readable and intellectually stimulating account of the conflicts between ancient soul beliefs and modern science. Published in 2000 and originally priced at $28, new copies of the book can now be purchased for as low as $4! For example, see the "used" books listed under Are Souls Real? at Amazon's site. In October 2000, Are Souls Real? was the Book of the Month on the Secular Web site (infidels.org). I am a physicist with a long interest in topics such as immortal souls, consciousness, and free will. Although I attended parochial schools in grades 1-12, I am very sceptical of religious ideas, particularly when they disagree with science. Those who view the world from the perspectives of faith and biblical inerrancy tend to dislike this book, while free thinkers or sceptics will enjoy it and learn a great deal in the process. The book is divided into three parts. The first is "Religion and the Soul." In it, I give a broad definition of the soul, covering soul beliefs in many cultures. I discuss the likely prehistoric origins of soul beliefs, and the beliefs in the earliest civilizations. I describe how the morality and ethics of the Ten Commandments were taught much earlier among the Egyptians. Also, the ancient Zoroastrian religion of Persia contributed heavily to Jewish and Christian ideas about the soul and other supernatural things. I discuss soul ideas in ancient Greece, and their influences on Christian soul beliefs. Because current American beliefs in immortal souls are usually based on the Bible, I discuss the conclusions of biblical scholars who belong to the Jesus Seminar. These scholars analyze the origins of the New Testament the same way that scholars study the origins of other books. The conclusions are fascinating! One conclusion is that the New Testament's portrayals of Christ's passion and death are fictional elaborations on the "hidden meanings" supposedly present in various Old Testament passages. The second part of the book is "Science and the Soul." It starts by describing, for a reader without a technical background, the basic elementary particles and interactions that form the basic "building blocks" and "cement" from which our world is constructed. I discuss inflation and the origin of matter in the Big Bang, how life's materials were formed in earlier generations of stars, and the formation of the Solar System and the Earth. I describe the origin and evolution of life on Earth, the scientific support for the inter-relatedness of all life, and how consciousness and emotional feelings developed. Without being too technical, I describe the limitations of free will, and why quantum effects do not have much effect on our free choices. All of this is to show that life, consciousness, and free will have natural origins. They are not results of the indwelling of a supernatural soul. Instead of a supernatural soul, I suggest that we have "natural souls." The natural soul is a bundle of natural abilities that give us our minds, wills, and consciences. The natural soul depends on the functioning of the person's nervous system, and it does not survive the person?s death. The book's third part is "Living without Soul Beliefs." It discusses such topics as how one deals with death if one does not believe in an immortal soul, how limitations of free will affect our ideas about responsibility and criminal justice, and why people tend to create a personal god. It ends with advice on how to live with the set of beliefs included in the proposed worldview. There are some other places to read more about the book. I have a web site that presents many of the book's ideas in a greatly shortened form. It is at ourworld.cs.com/demythologizer/index.htm.Another source is at the site of the Secular Web (infidels.org). Select bookstore and then enter Are Souls Real? as the title or go to the bottom of the Book of the Month description, click on Previous Books of the Month, and find the entry for October 2000. Another site is, of course, Amazon.com. You can read the Table of Contents, sample pages, reviews, etc., there. In reading the rating and the reviews, however, note the reviewers are very polarized. They either like the book quite a bit or they dislike it intensely. Free thinkers tend to like it, and they usually give it a higher rating than what appears there.Jerome W. Elbert Edited by: jerryelbert at: 4/16/04 10:26 pm
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Re: ARE SOULS REAL?, by Jerome W. Elbert

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I'm bumping this suggestion.
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