Re: "Ensoulment"

Moorad Alexanian (alexanian@UNCWIL.EDU)
Wed, 11 Feb 1998 09:46:00 -0500 (EST)

At 09:22 PM 2/10/98 -0600, Scott A. Oakman wrote:
>I've held my peace on this subject for awhile--but I think that we REALLY
>to be more precise about what we mean when we speak of the concept of
"soul" as
>it occurs in Scripture.
>I haven't studied this nearly to the level that I would wish to, being
>preoccupied with such trivial things as earning doctorates, but I think
that we
>should point out that the Scripture uses a number of terms to express the idea
>of the human personality and inner being. IN GENERAL, the Hebrew 'nepes' and
>Greek 'psyche' usually convey the idea of mind, including emotion and
>things we tend to think of as "personality". (Interestingly, the Hebrew
term is
>also frequently used of animals as well as humans). Personally, as a
>psychologist and neuroscientist, I think of these things as being *strongly*
>based in the functions of the biological brain, though as a human and a
>Christian, I also find them difficult to separate from the "higher life" that
>the Scripture *usually* describes as 'spirit' (Heb 'ruah'; Grk 'pneuma').
>terms of 'soul' and 'spirit' often overlap with 'heart' as a description of
>man's inner self, but there is a general trend toward using 'soul' and
>to refer to the 'lower' and 'higher' aspects of our immaterial qualities. An
>example of this distinction is seen in I Thess 5:23, where Paul places the
>'lower' and 'higher' immaterial qualities alongside the material
>expresses his confidence that Jesus Christ will sanctify the whole package!
>(One of my sources for the above paragraph is the _New Bible Dictionary_, 2nd
>Edition, Tyndale. I found its articles on 'Soul' and 'Spirit' to at least
>somewhat confirm my simplistic, preliminary speculations on this topic.)
>Personally and professionally, I find this distinction a helpful one in
>out what it means to us that biological factors in the brain exert so much
>influence over such "immaterial" things as emotion, behavioral predilictions,
>and personality.
>How I would apply this distinction to this discussion is to assert that the
>"soul" probably does not exist until brain activity begins, whereas the "Image
>of God" kind of unique human qualities which Brian refers to below might be
>better described as 'spirit'--the unique life breathed into us by God to allow
>fellowship with Him. I do not know when this event occurs, nor do I believe
>that science can answer that question. (For that matter, Scripture is
>essentially silent as well!) I am content, however, to leave the matter in
>Sovereign hands, and to err in the direction of protecting the sanctity of ALL
>human life--born and unborn, rich and poor, saved and unsaved, regardless of
>national origin or relative epidermal pigmentation.

Dear Scott,

A very pragmatic way of viewing a human being is as a detector of many
signals. For instance, our five senses can detect things which can also be
detected by material apparatus as well. For instance, our eyes and skin
detect electromagentic radiations in different parts of the spectrum. Of
course, the human mind can also develop and use concepts that my be
idealizations of real existing things--witness the whole of mathematics.
But most important, there is the human spirit that can "detect" God. The
latter separates us from animals, which I believe cannot even conceive such
forms of existence. It is this difference in kind between animals and man
which makes me take a negative view of any evolutionary theory of man. To
reconcile evolutionary theory with Scripture is to relegate God's Word to a
secondary place vis a vis science.