Re: [asa] Event or process

From: Christine Smith <>
Date: Fri May 11 2007 - 18:39:40 EDT

Boy, it's hard to keep up with all of this!! I'll give
it a shot though...

Jack writes on 5/9:
"Clearly there is a biblical distinction between
humans (man) and the
animals. Both however are given the breath of life
(nephesh). So what
the distinction?

In order to avoid the confusion between soul, and
breath of life it
might be
easier to focus on Imago Dei. What is this image of
God, and when did
come into existence?"

I think that the distinction between humans and
animals/hominids is that of the knowledge of good &
evil, and the ability to exercise free will (aka: to
be capable of choosing to do evil, contrary to the
will of God). However, I think that an eternal soul
encompasses more than this, because God is more than
this. God is also a conscious, self-aware being, with
feelings/emotions, the ability to reason, to create,
etc. That is *part* of my reasoning for why animals,
who have some (but not all, to be sure) of these
characteristics also have eternal souls.

Going by that reasoning, I think that an eternal soul
is different from the "image of God". The "image of
God" I think is referring very specifically to the
fact that humans possess free will, and that God,
though all powerful, is choosing (by and large) to
allow us to exercise our own wills over both ourselves
and creation; in some sense, I think that makes us
god-like (IOW: in the likeness of God; though
obviously, that does not by any means make us equal to

As for when *humans* came into existence, I suspect
that this could tie into a historical Adam ~6,000 or
so years ago, but I'm not entirely sure on that point.
I've heard it said that morality forms the basis for
organized civilization--is my memory correct in that
the first organized civilization formed around the
time Adam was supposed to have lived?

Don writes on 5/9:
"What is needed is a new perspective, as new as
Gottfried Liebnitz (17th century+), who believed the
fundamental atoms of existence ("monads," I believe he
called them) were capable of perception and hence
could be said to have rudimentary souls. Such souls
by combining in special ways with other souls form
ueber-souls (sometimes recognized by "emergent
properties"), of which the human soul is the
traditionally acknowledged acme. "

I've heard this general concept before (though not the
details), and apart from my concerns about the soul
being essentially material, I haven't heard a
satisfactory answer to the question: if there are
"fundamental atoms of existence" that "could be said
to have rudimentary souls", then what about a rock, or
a tree? Certainly these exist--would these then have
rudimentary souls and perceptions? Doesn't this lead
one towards a pantheistic philosophy?

David Buller writes on 5/9:
Animals have a nephesh soul, although they are not in
the image of God. More importantly, I do not believe
that they have an eternal nature. Remember first of
all how we would interpret "the dust of the ground" in
Genesis when the Bible is referring to the creation of
Adam. We TEs would interpret that to mean "the
natural realm." In other words, apart from God's
giving him an eternal nature (in my opinion), he had a
natural origin. Secondly, remember the passage (I
can't remember where) where the Bible says that the
"soul" of an animal goes down, into the earth?
Borrowing from the earlier definition of the "ground,"
I would interpret this to mean that the "soul" of
animals biodegrades into the earth along with any
other part of the animal. It is therefore a purely
material, non-eternal, non-spiritual "soul," entirely
different from our eternal, spiritual souls, which the
same passage says go up ( i.e., transcending the
natural realm). This also draws a distinction that
Jack drew on a little bit; the animal soul is
incapable of existence apart from the animals mind and
body, while our souls are."

To expand a bit on my response to Jack (see above):
As was mentioned in later emails, the verse referred
to is Ecclesiastes 3:21. The larger context for the
verse is:
"I said in my heart with regard to the sons of men
that God is testing them to show them that they are
but beasts. For the fate of the sons of men and the
fate of beasts is the same; as one dies, so dies the
other. They all have the same breath, and man has no
advantage over the beasts; for all is vanity. All go
to one place; all are from the dust, and all turn to
dust again. Who knows whether the spirit of man goes
upward and the spirit of the beast goes down to the
earth? So I saw that there is nothing better than that
a man should enjoy his work, for that is his lot; who
can bring him to see what will be after him?"

As I would interpret this, the writer of Ecclesiastes
is asking the larger question, what becomes of us
after we die? rather than specifying a particular
doctrine about souls. More generally, my understanding
of Ecclesiastes is that the author exhibits a rather
melancholy mental state, and that more than anything,
he is questioning everything, coming only at the end
of the book to what his ultimate conclusion about the
meaning of life is; so I would hesitate to use a verse
in this book to formulate a doctrine.

From a more scientific vantage point though, let me
pose the question--do believe, for example, that
animals are capable of emotion (i.e. love, fear,
etc.), and that they are conscious? If not, then I
guess we'll have to agree to disagree on this point
and move on :) ; if you acknowledge that animals do
have these attributes, then how do you reconcile your
statement that an animal is "purely material"? Would
you then posit that emotions and consciousness have a
purely material origin and are unrelated to souls? If
so, then how can it be said that "God is love" and
that God is the "great I Am"?

Jack writes on 5/11:
"My point is that the bible clearly describes a
transitional state between the physical earthly body,
and the final resurrection body.
I gave you the example of the "souls" in revelation.
Another example is the "spirit" of Samuel that Saul
talks too.
Also, what form was Christ in after he died on the
cross, and before he was resurrected, when he
"descended into hell"?"

C.S.Lewis, in one of his books (I forget which at the
moment), describes his understanding of how God can be
timeless through the analogy that it's akin to an
author writing a book. The characters in the book are
working within a certain timeline, but the author,
relative to the characters, exists "timelessly",
because the author is not constrained by their
timeline; moreover, the author can jump around in
their timeline, being present at any moment "in the
book". I wonder if the resurrection could be
accomplished in the same manner? Specifically, say I
died today. My body, in an earthly timeline, would be
dead until "the end" as we would know it. But couldn't
my soul, having eternal properties and being detached
from my earthly body, also exist "timelessly", and be
instantaneously taken to "the endtime moment" of
judgement, and be resurrected in my earthly body (as
it exists in the future)? Thus, from the viewpoint of
my soul, there is no need for a "transitory" period,
but yet, the resurrection is still a physical one.

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Received on Fri, 11 May 2007 15:39:40 -0700 (PDT)

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