Re: Acquisition of spirituality

Dick Fischer (
Wed, 01 Jan 1997 12:13:05 -0600

Hi Jonathon, you wrote:

> I do NOT want to resurrect the abortion question, but one of
> the issues raised was the moment at which the foetus gets a
> "soul" or become spiritual. The question I have is this.
> Is there a useful parallel to be drawn with the question of
> when mankind became spiritual? If you hold to a YEC
> position this is not an issue. But for those with a
> theistic evolution position the question seems very
> relevant. Did we suddenly become human in an instant of
> spiritual creation? Or did our spirituality develop over
> time? I think that this has been discussed by
> Glenn and others before. But, it seems to me that we have
> the same difficulty in dealing with the spirituality of the
> foetus, or rather when it becomes spiritual, albeit in a
> shorter time frame. I am also reminded of the addage
> (somewhat flawed) that ontogeny repeats phylogeny - perhaps
> this is true of the spirit as well as the body?

I don't know if this helps, but I'll offer it up to public exposure.
It's an excerpt from The Origins Solution. As you may know the thesis
of the book is that Adam was historical and lived about 7,000 years ago
while the roots of generic man (most of us)are quite ancient.

The Human Soul

If we consider the possibility that human beings evolved, when or how
did we become endowed with souls? A certain unease can come with the
idea of sharing common ancestors with creatures more hairy. Most would
prefer to think that man was specially created, thus barring descent from
any oddball ancestors. It fits our prideful nature. It might do us good
to ponder the likelihood of humbler beginnings.

If we had a choice, we might think it is more desirable to be direct
descendants from Adam and Eve, who were created without ancestors. We
could say that because of our unique origin, we had "souls" (some prefer
"spirit"), and all those lesser quality evolved creatures like Homo
habilis, Homo erectus, and the curious Neanderthals were used as models
perhaps, or experimental prototypes.

How do we get those wonderfully unique and redeemable (or punishable)
souls? Are we endowed with souls because of direct descent from
specially created ancestors? That has been the traditionally espoused
rationale, but in essence, it works no better than gap theory.

All living mammals, including man, carry the potential for life to bring
about further offspring. Until union takes place between an egg and a
sperm, there is no physical being capable of further replication. Life,
as evidenced by cell division, commences at conception.

If a "soul" came from the man, we would have to postulate little potential
souls as an integral part of each one of countless billions of sperm cells
which do not exist in any form until the human male reaches puberty. After
that, these are produced throughout a man's entire life. Would human males
manufacture souls continually to accompany tiny sperm cells? That looks
doubtful, so how about the woman?

Women are supplied with hundreds of eggs at birth. After puberty, a woman
releases an egg approximately every 28 days until she reaches menopause.
Do those eggs come prepackaged with souls too? If so, far more end up in
waste treatment plants than in choir lofts. That is not God's plan. We
must differentiate between the material and the spiritual.

Our DNA, and all that is associated with our life-producing capabilities,
are simply physical processes for producing physical beings. It is hard
to imagine any spirit entity intertwined with the potentials of life. When
union takes place, that is a different story. But how spiritual souls
match up with physical bodies is anybody's guess. Are souls allotted at
conception; handed out at "viability"; assigned at birth; imparted at an
arbitrary age of reason; bestowed at an arbitrary age of accountability;
conferred at the acceptance of Christ's Lordship; or none of the above? If
anyone knows the answer, please step forward.

The spiritual world is almost entirely out of bounds for human
investigation. The angelic hosts, who exist without physical bodies, are
living entities
in a real sense just as we are. They think, interact with humans as
"ministering spirits," have free will, and so forth.

Whatever part of us belongs to the spirit realm may be wrapped up in our
material selves to some degree, but clearly we exist apart from our physical
bodies, inasmuch as we were known before the "foundations of the earth," and
glorified bodies will be conferred eventually.

We can gain some insight from Jacob and Esau (Gen. 25:20-34). In a sense,
Esau was condemned from the beginning because his life's deeds were already
pre-known to an omniscient God. Souls capable of redemption were part of
the make-up of both brothers. Both were in the Adamic-Abrahamic line. Yet
Esau's celebrated ancestry offered no guarantee of redemption for his soul.
This suggests that redemption and Adamic ancestry are two separate issues,
and are not interdependent.

If there is no commonly accepted theory as to how humans would get souls,
even for direct-line descendants from a specially created forefather who
presumably had one - Adam, not knowing how humans with evolved ancestry
would be imbued with souls (should evolved ancestry be confirmed) is no
worse case. The prospect of nonhuman ancestors complicates no further
what is already a perplexing issue.

It makes no difference how our predecessors got here. The subject of souls
is perplexing regardless of our ultimate origins; however, this should not
be a source of consternation. John 3:15 assures, "That whosoever believeth
in Him should not perish ..." A soul or spirit capable of redemption is
expressly implied in that "whosoever." The Bible does not say whosoever
believeth, and has Adamic ancestry, should not perish.

Dick Fischer