The concept of souls has been around for a long time, ancient peoples recognized that there must have been some force that animated living bodies and made the natural assumption that what ever it is must leave the body at death. Before modern ways of investigating the world there was no way to know of such things as metabolism, brain waves, neurons, REM sleep, neurological disorders and so forth.
Before the notion of the brain creating consciousness, there was no reason to believe that a material substrate of any sort was required to give rise to thought, intention and free will. Today neuroscience has been able to progress to the point of being able to image a person’s thoughts and to monitor individual neurons firing. The correlation between processes in the brain and movement, recognizing speech as well as images and even the feeling of love is overwhelming. Quite literally the mind is what the brain does. Isn’t that amazing enough?
It seems to me that the only ones that insist on the existence of a soul are those with a vested interest in this being so. Whether as a crutch for dealing with death, or as a way of controlling the behaviour of others. While the idea of a disembodied mind is an attractive one, I’m afraid there is just no credible evidence to support it. Don’t get me wrong I would love to be proven incorrect (that’s not an invitation), but I don’t really know how that might be possible. In the end this issue can never be 100% proven but the mysteries that we can know are to me more wonderful than those beyond knowing.
http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?tool=pmcentrez&artid=543470 Warning: Only for the dedicated, or terminal insomniac