I have recounted this to people many times verbally, but never bothered to write it down. Well, here it is:

Easy dismissal of all religion

What do most people consider the soul? Many say that it is your essence -- this consciousness that sits behind these eyes, that feels emotions, understands the world, and is the final decision-maker, the pilot.

If that is what it is then the soul dies with your body, because it is fairly easy to show that those things are a function of that wonderfully complex organ, the brain. Alter the brain and you alter your consciousness.

Here are a few examples:

Clearly your consciousness is really an action that your brain performs. It can no more survive your death than a bird's flight can continue after the bird dies. If consciousness is what the soul is then the soul dies with your brain and your body.

Wait, you say. The soul doesn't have to be consciousness. It could be something less tangible; something not related to our feelings or brain actions; something far more ethereal.

Yes, but that now becomes a waste of time. If I told you that I could keep one of your fingers alive after you died, you would wonder what was the point. Of what use is a finger without the consciousness to operate it? It is our mind that is important -- it is what we are. Such an unconscious soul, even if it did continue beyond our death is irrelevant.

Without a soul, all gods and all religions become unnecessary. Their very reason for existing evaporates.


NOTE: I was recently alerted to a very interesting article on the impossibility of souls at:
(Darn, his site appears to be offline. Use the InternetArchive for the moment.) In that article the author, Dave Clarke, approaches from a slightly different direction with a more detailed explanation.