This next piece of thought is a bit untested.
What should you answer, if asked “Are you a religious person?”
I would go with an immediate clarification: “Do you mean, if I believe in supernatural, or if I believe in survival of the soul outside the body?”
If the questioner (a person with a notebook and a pen) confirms that the question is about the immortal soul, here is one possible answer for you.
We already capable of cloning our bodies. We can recreate a person down to a minutest detail of the DNA. Do I reject the possibility that one day we will be able to transfer and clone people’s minds? Of course not. But the real question here is different. Is mind like a data on a computer – recordable and transferable, or is it analogous to a concept of soul – it has to leave one body to enter the other? Basically, is there a celestial “copyright” protection on our minds?
Current understanding of brain function is that it is developing in day-to-day use. While we experience outside world, our brain builds connections that form our personality and foundation for our thoughts. So, as everyone life experience is different, everyone’s brains develop different pathways, and that is why we are all different.
That means two things.
First. Mind and soul is uniquely developed and housed in our brains. It is not transferable into another brain, but has to go with housing (head). To transfer soul one would have to transplant the head and possibly even the spinal cord.
Second. (And this is where many astrophysicists would chime in.) Under trillions of repetitions in trillion of worlds over trillions of years probability is near 100% that someday, somewhere an exact replica of everyone soul would emerge. That is write – every soul.
Returning to the original question.
Question of soul survival outside the body allows two hypothetical answers.
If it can, then it is not unique.
If there is some kind of a media (“disk”) that can hold a complete record of our soul after body is gone, then this media can be used to populate many new bodies with the same soul.
If it can’t, then humanity needs to work on transplanting “old” souls into new heads.
Lastly, let’s narrow down the extent of the soul. Sight, and voice, and taste should be kicked out first. Sex also should go. Potential candidates to be considered as part of the soul are:
Memory or Experience (what one knows and remembers);
Emotions (how one perceives the external events), and
Personality (brain abilities and aptitudes – fast, slow, artistic, scientific).
Narrowing down the soul definition even further, we could cut out personality and emotions as part of the body. These are related to how we perceive the world, how we react to stimuli, and these are most likely decoded in DNA, and is a part of overall chemical mechanism of the body.
So, what’s remains is memory and knowledge. These sometime called “the baggage”. These are a very poor candidates for the immortal soul, because helpless baby has no knowledge and no experience. Plus, these are also found in animal kingdom, and humanity always want to find something in themselves that is uniquely human.
For the next chapter here, I would like to establish a definition of a “soul”, and try to ponder, if whatever that is (soul) will be clonable or transferable in future. Let’s think together.