In most modern religions that believe in an afterlife, the soul and spirit are essentially synonymous. They teach that a person essentially consists of a physical body that must die, and a soul that lives forever. The soul or spirit has never been scientifically proven to be real, but many formal religions, past and present, have taught that people have a soul which continues to exist in some form after the death of the physical body.
There is no proof for the reality of life after death or the existence of a soul. Belief/faith is not proof. Statements in Holy Texts are not proof. Tests biased to prove a point are not proof.
A test to prove the yea or nay on this issue would have to be a double blind test, with testers and participants unaware of the results meaning, observation criteria and interpretation criteria set up beforehand, and having numerous blank tests. No pro-soul group has complied with these needs. No non-soul group figurs it is worth the effort.
There is a source of energy that exists within an organism (person) giving it/them life the absence of this energy causes death. This life giving energy is referred to as a soul or spirit.
It is suggested that a body can continue to exist with the use of technology but in the absence of a soul it cannot be alive. A soul is believed to exist as a shroud of pure conscious energy that is beyond physical containment or measurement. It is perceived to exist within a sphere that is beyond the purview of scientific knowledge. The concept of a soul suggests that it cannot experience physical sensations or have direct interactions with elements within a physical realm.
People can still think e.g. a deaf. blind person can still have thoughts even if they have never seen or heard the world around them. They are still a person and still have a consciousness. Their is also scientific evidence of people who were blind since birth seeing while their brain was unconsciousness. Some of these person has recalled objects, shapes and colours with precision they would only know of if they had seen them. Their soul saw this not anything in their physical body because these people have always been blind and have remained blind for the rest of their life.
While a person is alive they use their brain to sense the physical world around them. When they die the functions of the brain are taken over by their immortal consciousness; the soul. Occasionally the soul can leave the body while the brain temporarily shuts down from oxygen deprivation in a near death experience as in the case with the blind-deaf people. But for some reason the soul comes back to Earth and inhabits the body again. This happens in non-religious people as well as religious people.
Life is just a perception. you do not see with your eyes, feel with your body, taste with your tongue, smell with your nose, or hear with your ears. All of those things are done with your brain, and the eyes, body, tongue, nose, and ears are just tools for your brain to perceive the world with. Matter is an illusion if you stopped the connection between your eyes and your brain you wouldn't see anything, but you would still hear, taste, feel, and smell everything. If you cut off your connection to your nerves you would not feel anything or bump into anything. So basicly with out your "tools" matter does not exist. If this is true and your brain (made of matter) does not exist either then who is it that is perceiving this world that you are in? Many people would call that thing that you use to percieve the world with your "soul", but you can call it anything you'd like.
Now, you are able to draw a picture of all of the information and the theories i gave you. And yes, they are real. Few people (me as well) wprk with spirits, what you call 'souls'. You can choose to believe or not, but again, you can even work with them.
Here is a book which is called "are souls real?" , you can chck this out in google books: