Soulless bag of chemicals

Souless bag of chemicals (video still)
Secular thinker Kurt Bell discussing (2011) reaction, in peripatetic video style (Ѻ), to his controversial labeling of his wife and child, from a secular perspective, as "soulless bags of chemicals". One response video was made, once available here: (Ѻ); albeit, now private, wherein a English/Austrian man explained his agnostic semi-favored support for Bell’s premise, albeit with his doubt’s and objections scattered in.
In hmolscience, soulless bag of chemicals is a term employed, generally, to capture the Darwinian-implications view of what exactly or explicitly a human is, in the context of an overtly godless, religious-free, non-metaphysical universe, driven and brought into formation by the principles of natural selection, physical science, and physicochemical sciences, in regards to universal operation, in the context of the molecules-to-man evolution paradigm.

The etymology of premise that people are evolved “bags of chemicals” traces its origin to a combination of English gene-based evolution theorist Richard Dawkins and his 1986 The Blind Watchmaker, wherein he asserts that evolution works by blind random chance, not via the handling or initiation of a designer, in which he explains how the bombardier beetle is filled with the defense-mechanism chemical hydroquinone 6H4(OH)2 and hydrogen peroxide H2O2, which the beetle squirts out in defense in times of distress or danger. [7]

In 1999, English astronomer and astrophysicist Michael Rowan-Robinson, in his The Nine Numbers of the Cosmos, citing Dawkins' The Blind Watchmaker, describes people or a human specifically, in his “We Exist” chapter, as a “bag of chemicals”, after which the term caught on, virally: [1]

“What are we made of? Bones, flesh, blood, skin? The four humours of the alchemists? A bag of chemicals? The idea that turns out to be really powerful is that we are made of atoms. This was suggested by a group of Ionian philosophers of the sixth century BC, especially Leucippus and Democritus, the greatest of the so-called pre-Socratics.”

In 2008, Dawkins, in his 2008 River Out of Eden: a Darwinian View, began employing and or adopting the phrase "bag of chemicals", in reference to a cell. [6]

In 2011, secular thinker Kurt Bell, an article/blog titled “Soulless Bag of Chemicals”, opened to the following: [2]

“On my better days I regard my wife and daughter as ‘soulless bags of chemicals.’ To be fair though, I think the same of myself and all other forms of life. Souls are supernatural things beyond perception or measure, worthy only of suspended belief pending some real evidence or the giving up of the tenets of science. Chemicals we are…despite the clever animation of flesh and musings of mind brought about by the electricity of life. So why do we think more of ourselves? How are we so offended by these facts?”

Bell then followed this up with a YouTube vlog about how his use of the controversial phrase about how he thought of his wife and his daughter as “soulless bags of chemicals”, which he said he heard somewhere, borrowed it, and liked it, but that it sparked a heated reaction and “got under the skin” of many people, no pun intended.

Thereafter, into the 2010s, the phrase began to take root, whether arisen independently or via the "heard somewhere" method, or by possibly by Bell (or others). The following are a few example usages of the phrase:

“Think about atheism for a second. As an atheist, you must believe that you are the result of the purely mindless, random chance interaction of particles over an immensely long period of time—the classic monkey typing Shakespeare scenario. (I know that the origin of species involves natural selection—however what created our universe with natural laws, which make life possible? Blind chance.) Being a soulless bag of chemicals created by unguided, meaningless random chance you of course have no free will. You are merely a zombie acting automatically according to the chemicals swishing around in your brain. I don't find this too plausible for many reasons.”
— Jacob Stein (2012), “Does Egyptian History Contradict the Torah”, Jan 10 [4]

“If Darwin was right, man is nothing more than a soulless bag of chemicals or equally soulless hominid and there is no ultimate fixed meaning or higher purpose to life except what we choose.”
— Linda Kimball (2013), “Our Only Defense Against the Destructive ‘Me’ Generation & Antichrist Utopianists”, Aug 20 [5]

The term "soulless bag of chemicals", as of 2014, has yet to make it into GoogleBooks, and seems to presently reside in the spontaneous colloquial vernacular of the blogosphere, videos, and forums.

Breaking bad (soul)
An illustrated diagram, with the CHNOPS elements enlarged, of the "soul" scene from the third episode, season one, of Breaking Bad, wherein Walter White and a woman list the elements of a human and speculate on the "soul" as the thing missing from the list.
Soul scene
In 2008, in Breaking Bad, third episode, “… And the Bag’s in the River”, season one, the show opens to Professor White cleaning up the human that had been dissolved in hydrofluoric acid (shown adjacent; lower left), amid which his mind reflects back to, it seems, his college days, and dialogue with a woman, possibly his lover at the time, as shown adjacent right (main image), wherein she reads off the percentage of elements of a human, in moles, to him and he writes them down on a chalkboard, as follows:

Hydrogen (H) 63%
Oxygen (O) 26%
Carbon (C) 9%
Nitrogen (N) 1.25%
Calcium (Ca) 0.25%
Phosphorus (P) 0.19%
Sodium (Na) 0.04%
Iron (Fe) 0.00004%

at the end of which he comments how he thinks that something is missing, to which the woman replies “the soul”?

See also
Heated chemical scum | Stephen Hawking (1995) (Ѻ)
Human | see: Physical models timeline
Soulless molecules | Bruce Bathurst (2009)

1. Rowan-Robinson, Michael. (1999). The Nine Numbers of the Cosmos (pg. 4). Oxford University Press.
2. Bell, Kurt. (2011). “Soulless Bag of Chemicals” (Ѻ), LylesBrother, Sep 02.
3. Bell, Kurt. (2011). “Soulless Bag of Chemicals: Secular Thinking - LylesBrother” (Ѻ), YouTube: LylesBrother, Sep 02.
4. Stein, Jacob. (2012). “Does Egyptian History Contradict the Torah” (Thread comment) (Ѻ),, Jan 10.
5. Kimball, Linda. (2013). “Our Only Defense Against the Destructive ‘Me’ Generation & Antichrist Utopianists” (Ѻ),, Aug 20.
6. Dawkins, Richard. (2008). River Out of Eden: a Darwinian View (pg. 154). Basic Books.
7. Dawkins, Richard. (1986). The Blind Watchmaker (pgs. 86-87). W.W. Norton & Co.

External links
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