On being a collection of Bones

I’m fairly certain that I don’t have a soul. I make this claim based on the fact that, as far as I know, there is no consensus on what a soul consists of, where it’s located, or any evidence of its mechanism. I am as certain of this as I am in terms of my “spirituality” — that is, I have none.

All the evidence we have to date suggests that when I die, I as an individual ceases to exist, leaving only a heap of biological residue that, in my opinion, after removing every useable organ, should be burnt or tossed in the garbage; I’m not looking to have my corpse to take up valuable real estate.

My position was affirmed last week at the dentist, when I first stretched out in the faux, cold vinyl operating chair, and found my teeth on a screen spread out like a oval map, along with my recent x-rays. All the fillings, operations, health and decay of a 47 year-old life was on display in all of its clinical glory. Arguments about a soul might focus on that which extends beyond the corporeal — that our body is a “vessel”, or, as some claim, a “modem” taking in supernatural WiFi signals — but there’s no screen for the soul where it can be displayed, where the strength and decay of a “spiritual” life can be assessed.

We are, at bottom, as far as we can tell, a collection of bones, skin, and organs. There is no spirit, no soul, no transcendent element of ourselves. We are bags of blood and water, and that’s OK; great, even, because that means we are accountable for what we do while we are alive, and all of our energy can be focused on the here and now, and not on how our actions and focus will somehow gain us entry into a dubious, infinite afterlife.

I am happy to be a collection of bones. I am happy to be using those bones to raise my son, love my wife, play drums and run marathons. I will make sure that when I die, those bones will be well used, and ready to become stardust one day.

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