The word “SOUL” could mean many things.  The soul that I am referring here is the non-physical part or entity of the human body.  It could also be a spirit if you want to give it a little more ‘form’ !  Do humans have souls?  Well, if you believe that there is an immortal part of a human being, then you have to believe that there is a non-physical entity that lives on after the mortal physical body is dead.  And that is the soul I mean, the immortal part.  If you don’t believe the immortal component, and instead believe that everything in a human dies together with the physical body, then there is no soul to talk about, in this context.
What is a soul then?  It has got to be something that only human beings have.  In other words, animals don’t have souls.  So, it can’t be intelligence as animals do have intelligence.  It can’t even be consciousness or self-awareness (see mirror test in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirror_test ) as animals have been tested to have these human attributes as well.  As humans are the species with the best or most-developed brain, is it possible that the soul exists in the brain?  If so, the obvious implication is when does the human soul exist in a person (ie when is ensoulment)? At conception, the fusion of an ovum from a woman and a sperm from a man starts the development of a new human being.  The cell then multiplies to 2, then 4, 8, and so on until the trillion upon trillion of cells are completely built in a human being.  If the soul exists at conception, it would be a technical problem as the foetus is just one-celled at that stage, and if splits into a twin later, then the one soul at conception would have to be shared between two humans, which would sound really ridiculous!  But if it does not exist at conception, then it would be quite difficult to determine when it can start to exist, such as whether it is at 4 cells stage or at 8 or many trillions (this point is probably quite important when thinking about the moral issues of abortions).

Could we consider then, that the birth of a soul is at a different time as the birth of the physical body, meaning it isn’t at conception, nor at the embryonic stage and not even upon delivery?  A newly born baby would have a mental capacity and capability that are less than a grown-up animal so if we consider an animal as not having a soul, how could a baby have one then?  Using this measurement, ie mental capability, could I venture that a soul would get born once a baby human reaches a particular point in his or her life where his/her mental capacity reaches a level where he/she is distinctly different from an animal?  This birthdate would then be different from persons to persons, solely depending on the development of the brain, and once that threshold level is reached, an immortal soul would be born and lives on from that time onwards, even after physical death.  We probably will never know or understand when this threshold level can be reached to result in the birth of a soul, but I think this is not as problematic as determining the timing of the soul between conception and birth.  Of course, this is just speculation on my part, but I think it is still a possibility.  Otherwise, there would be a lot of soul-less souls (ie souls without personality or character) resulting from the many miscarriages, abortions, still births, frozen embryos outside the wombs, and even microscopic foetuses of a few days old that didn’t get attached to the uterus successfully.

I think we can liken this to the sudden appearance of a flame in a piece of hot charcoal.  A piece of charcoal can be red hot but yet not hot enough to produce a flame.  However, continuous fanning of the hot charcoal will eventually cause a flame to be ignited suddenly when it reaches a certain temperature.  This is exactly what I envision of a soul suddenly bursting into life in a baby when a certain level of personality, character, consciousness and many other mental levels or maturities are reached.  The soul would have to exist beyond the 3 dimensions of space we live in, and who knows if it could be the driver of the brain in the 4th dimension?


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