Let me begin by welcoming all who have come here and to explain why I’ve named my blog “sodium channels versus the soul.”
What is the soul and why is it important? The soul is often used as the basis for the life after death mythologies and is, therefore, very important for the religious ideologies that utilize life after death as both a carrot and a threat to tempt people into belief. Religions rely on a limited variety of methods to maintain their beliefs, namely threats, promises and the lifestyle benefits of belonging to the in-group. Nullifying the belief in a soul destroys several of religion’s more powerful methods of control. Without a soul there is no heaven or hell. Without consciousness there is no need for an afterlife.
The soul is also the non-body mind in philosophical dualism. The soul is often used interchangeably with the conscious mind: responsible for cognitive thought, emotion, personality and memories. These characteristics of our mind are what most people want to remain after death.
Another, more contemporary, definition of soul that has been put forward is that the soul is the epiphenomenon that links the physical workings of the brain to the “mind.” Of course, this definition fails the believer for the same reason that the older definitions of the soul fail, because there is no evidence to suggest a supernatural origin for this link. The evidence suggests that the mind is a function of the spatial structure and electro-chemical activity of the brain.
So, why use sodium channels? This is easy, sodium channels exist in all nerve cells of the body as either ligand gated or voltage gated channels and inhibition of neuronal sodium channels can decrease brain activity to the point that there is no consciousness. In other words, blocking sodium channels can shut off the soul. We use this concept every day, throughout the world as we shut down the brain during surgery using volatile anesthetics.
Which wins, sodium channels or the myth of the soul? In my opinion, the microscopic sodium channels win every time because, unlike a soul, they exist and manipulating them provides benefits to society and the individual.