Re: [asa] consciousness, ASA article feedback

From: Jack <>
Date: Wed Sep 23 2009 - 00:15:40 EDT

This is to just address your "house of cards" comment:

If there is no resurrection, we have no basis for faith. I Cor 15

Meaningless doesnt come from me, it comes from Paul.

  ----- Original Message -----
  From: Jim Armstrong
  To: ASA
  Sent: Tuesday, September 22, 2009 11:14 PM
  Subject: Re: [asa] consciousness, ASA article feedback

  Re: "Personally, I agree with your position that without an eternal soul, Christianity is meaningless."
  Isn't this rather like the "house of cards" premise that has been argued against when dealing with the evolution vs God argument?
  Granted, this is central part of the belief system for most Christians....but not all (though you may take issue with this broader application of the label, Christian - though the apparent origin of the term evinces a sufficiently large contextual umbrella).

  "Meaningless" would suggest that there is nothing of value, no possibility of God's expression of intent, ...etc. ... and no meaningful obligation to the present, should this belief prove false. I think we should seriously ask test questions like this. In fact, one thoughtful soul on this list flat out asked me "what is left?" should there be no resurrection (to mention another belief indispensable to most - but not all - Christians).

  To be honest, one of the issues that grew in me in my denominational setting for so many years was precisely the heavy-duty focus on evangelism (the hope of souls in heaven) at the expense of a well manifested balance between hope for the future and stewardship of the present. [Though this denomination is well-known for missionary endeavor, still I found myself troubled that the widespread sense within the church body that missionary outreach is motivated by evangelism, and not simply because the needs existed.]

  With that bias, I wrestled/wrestle with many "what if" questions, including the "What if there is no soul?" question, and including exploration of some of the specific arguments Bernie spoke of. It's good to do so, because for most, it is hard to otherwise differentiate strong tradition from some form of absolute truth in refining our own belief systems. And we are not alone in such ponderings because there is historical and even traditional precedent. And, there remains a diversity of opinion among Christians even on beliefs as central as this, the existence of a soul. Pascal's wager applied more widely provides some interesting illumination.

  BTW, Jack, I do recognize that you did say that you personally agreed with the position, not taking the position to be absolute. But I personally do not find any more that the essential Christianity collapses, becomes meaningless, even if one of its central tenets proves ... uh ... misunderstood.

  I personally list toward the agnostic on this matter of "soul" - with many unresolved questions. The inability to resolve these questions satisfactorily has had the practical consequence of the "now" and its needs/stewardship becoming more compelling, an understanding which I have found most satisfyingly in harmony with the core teachings and example of Jesus. I am constantly awed at every turn by the near-spectacular and unassuming Christ-likeness embodied in many of those brothers and sisters who labor tirelessly in work that was slightly disparagingly categorized in my former church life as "social ministries".

  JimA [Friend of ASA]

  Jack wrote:
    "I think the main point of the argument was that neuroscience experts and many modern theologians now see the soul as emergence, as in a form of monism. "

    Obviously there has to be more to your concern than just this article, but what makes you think that the author of this article is correct?

    Personally, I agree with your position that without an eternal soul, Christianity is meaningless. Monism, defined as a Christian philosophy where there is no mind/body dualism that nevertheless allows eternal salvation, leads to two possible outcomes, annihilationism, or universalism. Either all unbelievers cease to exist after death and God "recreates" and resurrects believers, or everyone is recreated and saved. (I have a theodicy problem with God creating a body/mind just for the purpose of eternal torture.) So, monism is not consistent with Christianity.

    But there is nothing in modern science or philosophy, in my opinion that convinces me that the traditional concept of an eternal soul is incorrect. You have to keep in mind that we see, hear, understand, and reason within our brain, so our seeing hearing and understanding are limited to those functions that our brain can sustain. Which is not to say that there are not experiences beyond our understanding, i.e. beyond our brains ability to process it.

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Received on Wed Sep 23 00:15:41 2009

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