Can Science Disprove the Christian Notion of the Soul?

silhouette of person standing on rock surrounded by body of water

Do you have a soul? Can science say anything about it? Can science disprove it?

Brian Cox, the musician turned professor, says science makes it plain the soul does not exist. If there was some other material source present in the body, it should be detectable in some way. Since the soul is not detectable in some measurable way, it must not exist.

This reminds me of a conversation with a skeptic friend some years back. He told me if I could prove what organ in the body is the soul, he would gladly believe. But that demonstrates the problem, doesn’t it? He believes only those things that can in some way be reduced to a material explanation are real. Furthermore, I never claimed the soul is an organ in the body. It is easy to begin talking past each other on points like this.

The Christian belief is that the soul is an immaterial part of the human condition. To be a human is to have a material body and an immaterial soul. Humans are a unit of soul and body. The body can be weighted, measured, nipped, tucked, prodded, poked, whatever. The soul on the other hand, since it is immaterial, cannot. Does this make the Christian position somehow weaker, or beyond any real scrutiny? No.

Here’s why. Nobody really lives merely for those sorts of things that can be qualified or quantified by science. You probably didn’t get out of bed today inspired by the law of gravity. Most people live for a whole lot of immaterial realities, like love, friendship, beauty, purpose, meaning, justice, gratitude, the laws of logic, et cetera. Most of our lives are spent facing values that science cannot explain. Does that mean those things are illusions? It doesn’t if we have a soul.

If we have an immaterial part of us, that would make sense that our lives are spent in relationship to immaterial values. On the other hand, if we don’t have a soul, an immaterial part of the human condition, then most of our lives are really spent pursuing illusions, merely chasing after the wind. However, even those who reject the notion of the soul cannot escape being human. Their lives are in all likelihood marked by immaterial values.

So, what is more irrational, the Christian who believes in the soul or the atheist who believes in love?