Read Along: Ch8—Has Science Shown There Is No Soul?

Today we continue with Chapter Eight in the Read Along with Apologetics 315 project. This is a chapter-by-chapter study through the book Is God Just a Human Invention? And Seventeen Other Questions Raised by the New Atheists by Sean McDowell and Jonathan Morrow. (Hear an interview about the book here.) Below you will find an audio intro for Chapter Eight, a brief summary of the chapter, a PDF workbook with questions for the chapter, and some notable quotes. You’re also encouraged to share your comments and feedback for each chapter in the comment section below. Feel free to interact!  Index page here.

[Audio Intro] – Jonathan Morrow introduces this chapter.
[Chapter 08 Study Questions] (with kindle locations) – PDF study guide.
[Podcast Feed RSS | Podcast in iTunes] – Click to subscribe to the audio.

Chapter Eight: Has Science Shown There Is No Soul?
(pages 108-119)

Chapter eight explores the concept of the human soul. Naturalism asserts that all that exists is a purely materialistic universe. If this is true, then there is no human soul. However, the authors show that our experience of the world strongly points to the existence of the soul. The point to evidence from our personal experience of consciousness, near-death experiences (NDEs), the experience of free will, and the nature of identity, and mental/physical states to make the case that the human soul best accounts for these, while materialism does not adequately explain them.

Dale and Jonalyn Fincher contribute an essay to this chapter which points to the soul as foundational to how we approach our system of human values. They argue that we should beware of any movement or ideology that disinherits us from our souls, for it is the bedrock for the belief that humans are equally valuable.

Notable quotes:

According to the Christian worldview, the material world is not all that exists. God made human beings in his image, and human beings consist of both body and soul. (p. 109)

NDEs provide compelling evidence for the distinction between body and soul as well as for a continued consciousness in the initial moments of the afterlife. (p. 112)

If materialism is true, then a human being is simply a body. If you are solely a material system, then you have no inner self that has the capacity to freely choose between options. You have no center of consciousness to make reasoned decisions. Physical systems operate completely by external programming, not by inner decision making. Thus, if materialism is true, you do not have any genuine ability to choose your actions. (p. 112)

Something nonphysical must account for sameness of identity over time, even with a few unchanging neurons in the brain. The soul is the most reasonable explanation. (p. 114)


  1. What evidence for the soul do you find most compelling?
  2. How does the existence of the soul better account for our experience than naturalism?
  3. What’s one way you might apply this information to an apologetic conversation?
Recommended Reading
Next Week: Chapter 9—Is God Just a Human Invention?
Written by

Brian Auten is the founder emeritus of Apologetics315. He is also director of Reasonable Faith Belfast. Brian holds a Masters degree in Christian Apologetics and has interviewed over 150 Christian apologists. His background is in missions, media direction, graphic design, and administration. Brian started Apologetics315 in 2007 to be an apologetics hub to equip Christians to defend the faith.

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The mission of Apologetics 315 is to provide educational resources for the defense of the Christian faith, with the goal of strengthening the faith of believers and engaging the questions and challenges of other worldviews.

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