Re: [asa] Event or process

From: Don Winterstein <dfwinterstein@msn.com>
Date: Sat May 12 2007 - 04:40:38 EDT

In response to David:

>>II Corinthians 5:8 says: "We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord."
>>If the soul is inseparable from the body, then why would Paul...draw a distinction between being with Christ and abiding in the flesh?

In context of Paul's other writings I'd not interpret this as a comment on body/soul dichotomy but as a wish to be rid of this present sinful body and be with the Lord in the perfected body he mentions in I Corinthians 15. I don't hear Paul saying (ever, either literally or by implication) that he'd like to be a disembodied spirit in the presence of Christ.

>>Ecclesiastes 3:19-21 says: "For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts, even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; so that a man hath no preeminenece above a beast: for all is vanity. All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again. Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?"

This can hardly be taken as a clear statement on the body/soul issue, and one wonders whether the final sentence is a clear statement about anything. See the references I included in my post to Jack. Those are understandable without mental gyrations, and they argue against disembodied spiritual existence after death.

>>Here's the problem with your statement that the soul "ceases to exist if and when the body dies." If someone were to kill me today, then (according to you) my soul would "cease to exist." Yet Matthew 10:28 clearly says that man is not capable of destroying the soul.

Exactly. The passage is defining what it means to destroy or kill the soul. To cause the soul to cease to exist would not be killing it. Killing the body indeed terminates the soul, according to this line of reasoning, but God can restore both body and soul. So terminating the soul is not killing it. Killing or destroying it is what happens if and only if it comes under God's condemnation. Actually, my interpretation was a bit too narrow in the sense that I didn't acknowledge that people can cause a soul to be killed. The way they would do this would be by enticing the person to reject God, not by killing the person's body.

>>...Don't claim that I'm interpreting in order to "best fit my theological presuppositions.

Why not? Everybody does it. And if I accuse you before you accuse me, maybe I can get the upper hand. : )

In response to Christine:

>>[Don wrote:] "What is needed is a new perspective, as new as
Gottfried Leibnitz (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?

Roughly ten years ago I included a long chapter on this subject in a book I wrote (not published). The biggest challenge of such a theory is to explain differences in levels of perception and consciousness among the world's different constituents. Suffice it to say one can make qualitative headway on this (at least, in my judgment); and yes, trees and rocks are capable of perception and have rudimentary souls, although such capabilities for rocks, for example, would be extremely rudimentary.

I don't see that this necessarily has anything to do with pantheism. We don't worship a creature just because we believe it may be conscious.

Don

  ----- Original Message -----
  From: David Buller<mailto:bullerscience@gmail.com>
  To: Don Winterstein<mailto:dfwinterstein@msn.com>
  Cc: asa<mailto:asa@calvin.edu>
  Sent: Friday, May 11, 2007 12:26 PM
  Subject: Re: [asa] Event or process

  Don,

  Thanks for your reply. I understand the way you interpreted Genesis 35:18 and agree that that makes as least as much sense. The question now would be if "soul" can be interpreted as "breath" or "life" in other passages. Here are some other passages that I have come across.

  II Corinthians 5:8 says: "We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord."

  Here Paul describes being present with the Lord as being absent from the body. How then could Paul ever be present with the Lord, since that meant being "absent from the body," and his soul was inseperable from his body, as you say?

  Ecclesiastes 3:19-21 says: "For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts, even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; so that a man hath no preeminenece above a beast: for all is vanity. All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again. Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?"

  If the soul of man is inseperable from his body, than it would "turn to dust" as his body would. Why then would the passage say that the "spirit of man goeth upward" while his body "turn[s] to dust"?

  Philippians 1:23-24 says: "For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you."

  If the soul is inseperable from the body, then why would Paul once again draw a distinction between being with Christ and abiding in the flesh?

  Regarding my mention of Matthew 10:28, you said: "Once again you're interpreting in terms of your assumptions, which are not necessarily valid. When God "destroys" the soul in hell, it continues suffering, which means it's not destroyed in the usual sense. This passage, then, is defining what "killing the soul" means--in a word, God's damnation. The passage is not making a statement about the nature of human persons. Rather, it's telling us to get our priorities straight. You can kill the body in any number of ways, but the only way to kill the soul is for God to damn it to hell. When killing the soul is defined in this way, it's obvious that only God can do it. To say that the passage means the soul lives independently after the body dies would be to deduce meanings that're simply not there."

  Maybe I'm missing something here, but I don't think you ever really countered my point. Basically you said "that's not the main thrust of the passage." I acknowledge that, but the passage seems (to me) to say it, just the same.

  Your view is that the soul "ceases to exist if and when the body dies." Rather than refuting that myself, I'll quote what you yourself said: "You can kill the body in any number of ways, but the only way to kill the soul is for God to damn it to hell." This is an obvious contradiction in your reasoning. When the body dies, does the soul cease to exist (the position in the first quote) or does it continue to exist (the position in your second quote and Matthew 10:18)? I'd be interested to hear you try to reconcile these two quotes.

  Here's the problem with your statement that the soul "ceases to exist if and when the body dies." If someone were to kill me today, then (according to you) my soul would "cease to exist." Yet Matthew 10:28 clearly says that man is not capable of destroying the soul.

  I made sure to quote Scripture and then ask questions about the passages, so don't claim that I'm interpreting in order to "best fit my theological presuppositions." I'll leave that up to you. :-)

  I look forward to your reply!

  -David Buller

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Received on Sat May 12 04:37:44 2007

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