Re: [asa] Evolution of the Soul

From: David Campbell <>
Date: Thu Sep 28 2006 - 14:39:23 EDT

> Only two questions come to me regarding the comments: first in David
> Campbell's post, I wonder what is (a) '*spiritual nature*' and why those
> words are combined together. This causes me, as a social scientist, to react
> in a similar way to when sociologists write about 'the nature of' society,
> since it is clear that discourse grows around each concept/percept
> separately and respectively. Perhaps it is David's notion that the two
> signifiers can and must be kept together, or integrated, that is, nature and
> spirit? In such a case, would evolution (a purely naturalistic process
> philosophy) of the soul be considered a (purely) 'natural' thing? Is there
> thus *no* intervention or moment of direct spiritual contact from God to his
> creation, from an ET, TE, or CE viewpoint? Perhaps it is not as cut-and-dry
> as I make it out to be either.

Definitions are always important! By "spiritual nature" I was trying to
come up with a short general term to refer to those aspects of humanity that
specifically relate to spirituality, ability to interact with God, etc.
Thus, "nature" was intended in a way similar to the phrase "human nature"
rather than definitions such as a contrast with supernatural or a contrast
with artificial.

Also, I should perhaps have specified that evolution is a process fully
under the control, guidance, and sustenance of God. He's not any less
involved in something that happens "naturally" (i.e., in accord with the
laws of science) than something that happens otherwise. This is a
theological premise; the physical evidence of evolution (or any other
"natural" process) doesn't tell us about the nature of God's involvement.

While it would be possible to envision a scenario in which having a
spiritual nature is merely an emergent property of organisms, God having
perhaps started the universe and then more or less waiting around until it
developed organisms that could communicate with him, this doesn't accord
well with the Biblical picture. However, I can't think of an experimental
test that would distinguish between this scenario and that of God's active
involvement and direction taking place in a pattern describable by
scientific laws.

A complicating factor is the existence of various scenarios as to what human
spirituality is like. This affects both how to name it and what sort of
scenario of origins seems more plausible. In particular, I am thinking of
questions about the relationship of body, soul, spirit, etc.-are they
different? how closely linked are they? etc. If the body is thought of as
mainly housing the spirit, in a more dualistic scenario, then insertion of a
fully formed spirit into a physically human but unspiritual body might seem
likely, whereas a more integrated idea of body and spirit as intimately
related and not fully separable might favor the gradual development of
spirituality in parallel to the evolution of greater physical capacities for

> p.p.p.s It seems to me that David Campbell is one of the bravest persons
> at ASA in attempting answers and contributions on such difficult topics

Sometimes foolhardiness might look similar to bravery or determined
procrastination of official duties might be hard to tell from helpful
willingness to address all topics! The PCR machine is calling, but not
loudly enough yet. I do have an analysis crunching on the next computer, so
perhaps that counts a little towards doing work.

Nevertheless, I'm glad my replies are helpful.

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 Thu Sep 28 14:39:47 2006

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