Re: [asa] Evolution of the Soul

From: D. F. Siemens, Jr. <>
Date: Tue Sep 26 2006 - 13:44:22 EDT

You make a good point that we don't know some things about the origin of
true human beings. However, the altars and burials of Neanderthals are
suggestive that they believed in a power greater than they and some kind
of existence beyond death. Indeed, the more ancient Venuses may also be
cited. Nevertheless, there is a question whether some power or a personal
deity is the requisite element in humanity. But then we have the current
problem of determining whether contemporary animists, whom we acknowledge
as truly human, lost knowledge of God or never progressed to it. Seems to
me that the answer has to be given in theological terms, with all the
differences of interpretation that are found. Of course, the views are
almost always accompanied with what Peirce noted, "This time I'm right."

On Tue, 26 Sep 2006 11:47:08 -0500 "David Campbell"
<> writes:
Among those who accept both evolutionary origins of humans and the
existence of human spiritual nature, some have suggested a fairly direct
infusion of this spiritual nature into a non-spiritual, biologically
evolved body. Others have suggested a gradual evolution of spirituality,
paralleling biological evolution. Yet another possibility is that God
designed organisms such that, when a particular threshold of intellectual
capacity was reached via evolution, the organism would become spiritually
aware as well.

I don't know any good way to test these ideas. If we could establish
agreement as to what physical evidence consistutes evidence of a
spiritual nature, then we could look for traces of them in the
archeological record. Although several people have proposed such
criteria, there isn't general agreement. Furthermore, inability to find
such traces associated with early hominids could merely mean that the
traces are not preserved or that we're not looking for the right thing,
so it would be hard to get a clear answer even with agreement on what to
look for.

Accepting evolution more or less entails accepting that the Bible is not
especially concerned with telling us about the methods of creation.
Knowing that God did it doesn't distinguish among the options above (not
to mention other possibilities that I didn't think of).

This is somewhat related to the question of when and how babies get
souls, to the historically debated question of whether newly discovered
peoples were fully human and in need of evangelism, to speculation on the
spiritual status of extraterrestrials, etc. Arguments on those topics
might provide some ideas, but probably would not provide many answers,
except insofar as taking a particular stance on one of these might have
implications for the others.

Dr. David Campbell
425 Scientific Collections
University of Alabama
"I think of my happy condition, surrounded by acres of clams" 
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Received on Tue Sep 26 13:48:16 2006

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