"The spiritualists turned out to be right in the end, and so did the marerialists. Dualists and supporters of reincarnation also had cause to pour themselves a little celebratory drink.
When the population of the world had stabilised at around twelve billion, a strange child was born in a smal Bolivian mountain village on the shores of Lake Titicaca. Pablo, as he was called, was an uncommonly good-looking, but otherwise fairly ordinary, male infant. He cried like most babies, had all the natural instinct and was more than age appropriate when it came to language development and motor skills. But gradually, as he grew up it became clear to those around him that the boy had no spiritual capacity. He was subjected to several neurological examinations all of which corroborated the fact that he wasn't suffering from any physucal brain damage, nor any sensual disturbance. He even learnt to read and reckon faster than most of his peers. But he had no soul. Pablo was an empty husk, a pod without fruit, a jewel box without a jewel. It would be misleading to say he had 'underdeveloped spiritual faculties' – a phrase that in any case has a strong ideological bias, as it implies that spiritual faculties are things that can be 'developed' in the same way as physical or other mechanical processes. Pablo's scourge was that he didn't have any spiritual faculties at all, and as a result he grew up like a human animal completly bereft of conscience or consideration for others. He even lacked any interest in his own welfare, living instead from moment to moment like a minutely programmed robot.
From the tender age of eighteen months, Pablo had to be put on a lead, much to his parents' despair. The village priest insisted however, that he be allowed to go to school like other children. So, from the age of six he was transported to and from school in a pickup truck, and in the classroom his harness was fastened to a stout desk that was bolted to the concrete floor. This caused him no concern as he was completly incapable of feeling any shame or self-contempt. Pablo was almost frighteningly quick to learn, he had an impressive memory, and one of his teachers soon began to refer to him as a child prodigy. But as the wears went by it was firmly established that he had no soul. It was the only thing wrong with him.
A few seconds after Pablo came into the world, a similar child was born right in the heart of London, a girl named Linda, who was also unusually pretty. In the minutes that followed, a soulless child was born in the little town of Boppard on the left bank of the Rhine, another in Lilongwe, the capital of the African state of Malawi, twelve in China, two in Japan, eight in India and four in Bangladesh. In each case it was years before the local health authorities managed to isolate this rare syndrome. As a result, the label 'brain damagep was applied, but some professionals discussed this term at lenght because these soulless children were often of above average intgelligence.
When Pablo was twenty and already responsible for a number of murders and crimes of violence, including the brutal axe-murder of his own mother, the WHO published an international report that covered all 2000 incidences of what was tentatively called LSD, or 'Lack of Soul Disease'. The most striking thing about this UN report was that is established that LSD children were always born in tight time clusters. Roughly half of the more than 2000 reported cases had been born in the space of less than a day. And there was then a gap before another 600 LSD children were born, also in just a few hours, and then fully eight passed before there was a new wave of about 400 cases. So, as regards their time of birth, the LSD children were closely connected, but there was no geographical link between the events. Only seconds after Pablo was born in Bolivia, Linda came into the world in London, and since then there had been no further reported cases of LSD either in London or Bolivia. This ruled out and reasonable chance of contagion, and genetic causes could also beexcluded. Certain astrologers were quick to interpret the LSD children as the ultimate proof of the influence of the stars, but this was soon shown to be a wash and over-hasty conclusion.
Using advanced demographic statistics, a group of Indian sciensts was able to come up with the elaborate finding that LSD children were always born after the world's otal population had topped a certan figure a few months earlier. After a fatal epidemic, a major natural catastrophe or the outbreak of a particulary bloody war, it always took some time for any more LSD children to arrive, and the conclusion of these Indian reseachers was perfectly clear: there was a certan number of souls in the universe, and everything pointed to the figure being twelve billion. Each time the world's population passed that number, there would be a new boom of LSD children that would continue until the population figure again fell below twelve billion incarnated souls.
This new information rocked the entire world and naturally enough gave impetus to radical new ideas on the most diverse of subjects. It is to the credit of the Roman Catholic church that it almost immediately adopted a completely new attitude to a list of hoary old chestnuts, for example the official ban on contraception. The pope and his curia were soon supporting an international movement which occasionally aired its objectives using the simple slogan: 'Make love, not worms!' The church was also categegorical in its refusal to baptise LSD children. Such a thing would be as blasphemous as trying to christen a dog.
Criminal law had to break new ground as well. In certan countries LSD criminals were punished like other felons, but most societies had long since acknowledged that an LSD sufferer was no more responsible for his actions than a tidal wave or a volcano. Discussions are also raged regarding the moral right of society – or the individual – to kill LSD children once a definite diagnosis had been established. Unfortunately, it was not possible to demonstrate LSD using amniocentesis. Absent attributes of the soul have nothing to do with genes.
During the past couple of years some of the oldest LSD children have been brought together to see how they would react to one another, and amongst the first were Bolivian Pablo and British Linda. As soon as they were introduced, and divested of their harness and leads, they piunced on each other and began to make live so violently and brutishly, that for that for the next few hours they made the Kamasutra look like a Sunday school outing. Pablo and Linda had no soul they could decote to one another, but they were man and woman and all their carnal instincts were intact. They felt no bashfulness or inhibition, because without souls there was nothing that could tame or control their lust, let alone place it in a wider context.
The meeting between Pablo and Linda resulted in pregnancu and childbirth, and the remarkable thing was that their child was a prefectly normal girl with soul as well as a life. But as people said: what was so remakable about a vacant soul entering a child of soulless parents? Wasn't that just what one would expect? The only thing needed to create a complete human was that one of the universe's twelve billion souls should take up residence in a foetus. The cosmic balance was now out of kilter because for short period there was less supply of souls than the literally crying demand.
Pablo and Linda's daughter was christened Cartesiana afther the French philosopher René Decartes, because she'd demonstrated to the world once and for all that the soul was not corporeal phenomenon. The soul is not hereditary, of course. Our physical characteristic are what get handed down. We inherit half of our genetic material from our mothers and half from our fathers, but genes are entirely linked ti human beings as biological creatures – human beings as machines. We don't inherit half of our souls from our mothers and another half from our fathers. A soul cannot be split in two, and neither can two souls be united. The soul is an indivisible entity, or a monad.
It wasn't the first time prallels had been drawn between Western philosopers like Decrates and Leibniz and Indian school of thought such as the firmly dualistic samkhya philosophy. As Plato and various Indian thinkers had pointed out two and a half thousand wears earlier, the soul was incarnated and reincarnated in an endless succession of human bodies. When all the universe's souls inhabit the physical world at the same time, there's a complete incarnation soppage – until, once again, more human bodues die than are created.
Cartesiana, who was a little ray of sunshine, was immediately taken in hand of the Child Protection Agency on the ground of anticipated parental neglect by her biological parents. Neither her father nor her mother took any notice of this, and they were allowed to stay together. Many people were bigoted enough to believe that it would be grotesque and unethical to allow more LSD people the chanse to have children. As the instigation of the church the majority of them were therefore forced to undergo sterilisation.
One aspect of this story was that, from then on, people had a deeper respect for each other as spiritual beings. One didn't succumb to cursing or abusing a soul that one might possibly meet again in a hunderd, or hunderd million years' time.
After the last outbreak of LSD the world's population has remained at well below twelve billion souls, but not everyone has been pleased with this development. There is a point of view that holds hat a few thousand LSD children ought to be kept apart in large camps or body-plantations to provide a steady stream of organ donors. Others have emphasised the value of keeping a number of soulless Aphrodites and Adonises in public brothels for the entertainment of those wo live in enforced celibacy.
The proportion of humanits that believes we ought to increase the planet's population to over twelve billoon again, is only a few percent at the moment."
from the book "The Ringmaster's Daughter" by Jostein Gaarder