The soul is one of the most enduring metaphysical ideas in our culture. The use of the word soul pervades so much of our thinking. We say that women who corrupt our male friends are soulless bitches or have eaten our friend's soul. A singer of particular expression is soulful. We can sell our souls to the devil.
But it seems to me that we really have almost no good concept of what a soul is. The allegation I gather from both religion and common parlance is that the soul is an immaterial entity that is both us and not us. Souls are the most intimate part of us but it is an ineffable and intangible unreal reality, tied to the carnal us and yet transcendently free from it, and bound to the mortality of our human bodies and yet eternal in its existence unfettered by entropy or decay unless that decay is moral which is somehow not tied to material agency though the moral decay of said soul is dependent on the material human agent and its expenditure of energy in the material world for it to be moral at all in any way that our material bodies can understand. Obviously, I am working my way toward either creating a straw man or I have come to an epiphany about the total absurdity of the soul.
Where do souls come from? If the soul is a transcendent object that is independent of the human brain and body, then its origin and generation is seemingly ex machina. If that is the case, then by what mechanism does it come to attach itself, temporarily, to the human brain and body. Can it leave without us noticing or does some kind of force bind it to us? Does that force come about from the soul's volition or is it a mindless force like gravity?
Is it possible that there are two genesis loci in two different universes that create interdependent beings that join together as one in this universe? For example, souls are born from a spring in a place called Arcadia. Souls are sentient pure water that trickles down some kind of otherworldly mountain side. Some of it falls into a pool that is a conduit to all humans at the moment that sperms fertilize eggs. Some of these souls end up in a symbiosis with fascinating people like Queen Elizabeth or Genghis Khan or Einstein or Thich Nhat Hanh or Madame Curie. Others are not so lucky and are consigned to gas chambers at Treblinka or they step on landmines in Cambodia. Others simply have very short rides as they come to inhabit an eight-celled human conceptus that never implants in a woman's uterus to create a viable human embryo. It goes for a short ride down a human sewer pipe and starves to death. Poor soul.
Are these souls then judged because of the accident of their symbiosis with their meat puppets? Why do the souls get to survive and the meat puppets they ride around in don't?
Or does God generate these souls? If God, Allah, Shiva...eh, whoever...generates these souls, why? Why go through the extra step of creating a soul that must necessarily be separated from the heavenly reality? If you were going to create something to serve and love you, then wouldn't you create it in such a way that it could do so in the most direct fashion you could? To do otherwise shows a lack of investment in your creation, a lack of ability, or other motives.
So far what I think I have here is that if God created humans and created souls and they are separate but not, then life here is a clearinghouse where souls are tested by being put into meat puppets. However, the rules of this game for judgment and salvation are tremendously unclear. Monopoly has clear rules. Trivial Pursuit has clear rules. Our lives have some pretty clear rules and a whole lot of gray fuzzy bits without the strictures of supposed transcendental beings cohabitating our bodies (but not cohabitating) with us. Why make the rules so unclear if the future eternity of our souls' pleasure are at stake?
I might be suffering from a failure of either imagination or intelligence, but the idea of the soul is silly. Occam's Razor states that you throw out complicating factors that muddle the parsimony of an explanation. We have to come to understand that consciousness is a beautiful thing and is certainly an enormous part of that phenomena (possibly chimeric) that we call "I" and "me". But the soul explains exactly nothing. It is an invitation to regress into a homunculus inside a homunculus inside a homunculus inside a homunculus inside a homunculus ad infinitum. Our minds and selves are the result of the experience of the resultant phenomena of matter and energy in our bodies and brains, our neural architectures, interacting with our environments. It is a strange and beautiful dance we do in our little niches in the universe. To tie it to something else is to put a weight on its legs and throw it in the East River of ignorance and wish-thinking.