RE: [asa] Event or process

From: Jon Tandy <>
Date: Thu May 10 2007 - 08:47:51 EDT

This conversation has been about when mankind received a "soul", but I think
maybe there isn't a clear (or consistent) definition of what people mean by
the soul. Maybe I'm wrong, and if I haven't followed the conversation
closely enough, I apologize.
In particular, in response to Don's statement, "There is no indication in
biblical teaching that human souls can exist independently of bodies," I
would have to question this. Maybe we are using different definitions, or
maybe you simply understand the Bible differently from me.
Very briefly, without giving a lot of scriptural references, I believe the
Bible indicates the following:
- Man is made generally of body and spirit.
- When the spirit leaves the body, the person is dead.
- The body goes to the grave, the spirit goes on to either paradise or hell,
where it exists as a conscious entity.
- At the resurrection, the body is restored to the spirit, and we live
again. (Our eternal state is determined by God's judgment.)
Where the "soul" fits with this, I'm not entirely clear. Between various
translations and different scripture references, I think it's clear that the
word "soul" (at least in the King James translation, probably others) is
used in various ways. By definition, it means breath or the essence of the
individual. Sometimes it's used simply of a person. Sometimes it refers to
the spirit.
Body, soul, and spirit are all used in 1Thes 5:23, but whether this is
simply enhancing the idea "your whole being" or teaching a doctrine of a
soul separate from the spirit and body, I'm not sure.
The popular definition of soul that I've heard is "mind, will, and
emotions". But I find this problematic, if the soul is separate from the
body and spirit. Our body has a mind (the brain), and there is the "mind of
the spirit", which I would consider our spiritual consciousness. We have
physical emotions, and I believe also spiritual emotions (joy, contentment,
etc.). We have a will of the flesh and a will of the spirit, which war
against one another. So my understanding is that the conjunction of the
body and spirit might be considered the soul.
But if others have a different definition of soul and spirit, this needs to
be considered when talking about when mankind first received theirs
(whatever it is). Another thing to be considered is what did the Biblical
writers understand when they talked about soul or spirit, and what relation
does that have to what they considered the animals had, whether different
from (or the same as) what mankind had, if any progress is to be made in
distinguishing between what non-human or pre-human creatures had which was
different from mankind (or Adam and Eve).
Jon Tandy

-----Original Message-----
From: [] On
Behalf Of Don Winterstein
Sent: Thursday, May 10, 2007 2:35 AM
To: David Buller
Cc: asa
Subject: Re: [asa] Event or process

David Buller wrote: "If 'God saves people, not souls,' then would you say
that the would of someone in hell is the same as a soul in heaven, since
neither soul has been saved? Also, how could a soul ever be 'incapable of
existence apart from the body?' I don't see how this could ever be
construed to be 'compatible with biblical teachings.'"
I obviously didn't make my point clear: The biblical teaching is that God
saves people--soul and body joined, not souls in isolation from their
bodies. People experience heaven or hell in their bodies, not as
disembodied spirits.
There is no indication in biblical teaching that human souls can exist
independently of bodies. If the teaching is not there, I can't point out in
detail that it's not there; if you think it's there, it's up to you to
demonstrate it. The disciples apparently believed there was such a thing as
a ghost (pneuma) (Luke 24:37-39), but the NT isn't teaching there that
ghosts are real. People of every culture have believed in the existence
ghosts, and the disciples were simply responding in a way that was natural
for people of their culture.
Incidentally, the view that matter has intrinsic rudimentary
consciousness--which I attributed to Leibnitz--is not as far-fetched as it
might seem. In the Dec. 1995 issue of Scientific American, David Chalmers
in "The Puzzle of Conscious Experience" essentially came to the same
conclusion, that consciousness like space-time is simply a property of
matter. This conclusion comes from the psychological observation that it's
easy to gather data, but how to go from data to an awareness of oneself
defies rational explanation. Francis Crick believed an explanation was
possible and was working on one, but we're still waiting. IMO if you think
you can explain consciousness, then you don't really understand the problem.

An elegant solution is just to assign the property to matter itself. All
the rest, including souls, is evolution.

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Received on Thu May 10 08:48:28 2007

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