At what point does a person no longer have a soul?


#1

Okay, I admit that this may sound far-fetched but please work with me for a bit. What might sound far-fetched today, may be common place tomorrow. A hundred years ago (1905), if you told someone that humans would walk on the moon, they would have said that you were crazy. Today, walking on the moon is old news. What I am about to suggest may sound “crazy” today, but it may very well be common place within the next few generations.

Having said the above, here is my question …

If someone loses an arm or a leg to an accident or illness, an artificial arm or leg can be provided to help the person be more functional. The artificial one, obviously, isn’t as good as the real thing but it’s still better than not having one and as science developes, the artificial arms & legs will continue to be more & more functional.

When a person loses an arm or a leg and receives a replacement, there is no effect on the soul. Artificial hearts are being worked on and when a person receives one of those, again, the soul is unaffected.

As science continues to advance, it will ultimately be possible to replace EVERY human part with an artificial part INCLUDING the brain. After all, the brain is just an organ like the heart and even today certain brain implants have been developed to replace parts of the brain which don’t function properly. My daughter goes to school with a boy who has a brain implant (he has a wire coming out of his skull going to a battery pack) which enables him to hear. That is today. In future generations, there is no reason to believe that the entire brain can be replaced by artificial means.

If a person was replaced piece by piece with artifical parts (due to accident, illness, old age or a combination of all of them), at what point would the soul cease to exist within that person?

Would it be when the last living cell was removed? Would it be when the last living organ was removed? When?

Again, this may sound like a ‘crazy’ idea but walking on the moon in 1905 would have sounded equally crazy.

Thoughts? Ideas? Comments?


#2

a human being has a soul and a body from the moment of conception and throughout all eternity. No matter what damage or abuse to the body on earth, before or after death, we profess belief in the resurrection of the body. At the end of the created world, God will resurrect completely the bodies of all who have died, and their glorified bodies, united with their souls will behold, love and praise Him eternally in heaven, or their bodies and souls, united again, will reject His vision and suffer eternal torment in Hell.


#3

I would rephrase the question. At what point does a soul no longer have a body? The soul is eternal. the body is finite.


#4

At what point does a person no longer have a soul?

When you vote Republican (just kidding)

Well, The implant the boy has is a cochlear implant. One of my nephews has one. As far as I know it doesn’t go into his brain. It attaches in the deep part of the ear (where I always get ear infections) and magnifies sounds to make them clearer. But when my sister starts talking medicine (shes a dr.), and isn’t talking about a hot young resident, than I tune out. My mom has two artificial hips, and is about to get her shoulder replaced.
I have fake cartilidge in my knee, I dont think this makes me, my mom or nephew any less human. I think once you die you no longer have a soul.


#5

[quote=hermit]I would rephrase the question. At what point does a soul no longer have a body? The soul is eternal. the body is finite.
[/quote]

following the resurrection and last judgement, the body is eternal, and eternally united with the soul for which it was created. As I understand your question, you are wondering at what point the soul and body are separated, in other words, what is the definition of death.


#6

But if every single human part is replaced with an artificial part, when does the soul no longer reside with that machine? When more than half of it is human? When at least one human part remains? When?


#7

[quote=Sir Knight]But if every single human part is replaced with an artificial part, when does the soul no longer reside with that machine? When more than half of it is human? When at least one human part remains? When?
[/quote]

I suggest the possibility that, even when the last “living” part is replaced with a functioning artificial equivalent, the soul might remain, and the person still be a living soul.


#8

Ummm, you’re suggesting, then, that a Frankenstein-like creature would have no soul, right?

Just my opinion (I doubt that Rome has weighed in on this), but I think that to whomever he grants human life, God grants a soul. If God were to grant life to a human being that a scientist cobbled together with spare parts, God would also grant that person a soul. Likewise, if you were cloned from a de-nucleated egg and the nucleus out of someone’s cheek, God would not grant success to the cloning that made you without granting you a soul. How could this be? Well, with identical twins, one fertilized egg results in two separate persons… obviously, God not only *can *do this, but does do this.

To answer your question, then (and this is just my opinion)… change out your parts, as long as the result is in some sense you, you will still have your soul. If the creature has in some sense lost the identity of the original parts, then either it would not be a living human or it would have a soul. Were I to run into such a creature, I would err on the side of caution and assume that the God who gave this creature both life and a human form also gave him or her a soul, with all the dignity that that implies.


#9

[quote=Reepicheep]I suggest the possibility that, even when the last “living” part is replaced with a functioning artificial equivalent, the soul might remain, and the person still be a living soul.
[/quote]

Hmmm. I don’t think so. You’re basically talking about a “haunted” machine. To have a soul is to have the gift of life from God. If all the “life” is mechanical movement granted by someone other than God, then that is no longer a human person with a soul.


#10

A person gets a soul in the moment she or he is created and can never loose it. Were the soul will be for all eternity, is a question about love or no-love for God!

G.Grace


#11

[quote=BLB_Oregon] … If all the “life” is mechanical movement granted by someone other than God, then that is no longer a human person with a soul.
[/quote]

That’s basicly my question.


#12

i can’t resist this.

you can take every part of the body, fry it in oil (or abort it) the soul is!!

you can fry a finn in oil, he is still a finn!! (private joke!)


#13

A human being is by philosophical definition a composite of body and soul. The soul is defined as the “life principle” of the body, and in the case of humans it is spiritual in nature.

A spirit, being non-material, is not really “spread out,” so we are not to envision the human soul as being spread out over the parts of the body like a shadow. A spirit’s ‘location’ is where it acts.

The OP’s question seems to be this:

When I receive an artificial arm, or leg, or even an artificial mechanical heart or artificial brain, are those artificial parts really a part of “me?” Are they infused with my soul?

And if you proceed to replace each human part, one by one, with a mechanical part, in the end there is no “human” flesh left; but am 'I" still there? Is my soul?

I would have to say yes. If I am still conscious of being me, if I perceive no discontinuity in my identity as a human being, then I am still human, and so must have a soul.

After all, mechanical parts are just matter, as are fleshly parts. No qualitative distinction there. So as far as I can guess, the soul still resides there.

(But at the resurrection I will get my own body back!)


#14

I think I need to mention that I’m Jewish, so that could condition my response. How I got interested in this board is a long story, but it has a lot to do with the passing of Pope John Paul II (shalom alav, peace be with him) and my desire to find out something about him when I heard that he had passed.

The OP’s question and some of the replies to it seem to raise some other interesting questions. The issue of consciousness comes to mind (as it did to JG). Whatever consciousness may be, it seems to be initimately associated with or linked to the soul. It seems to be a property of the soul and not the body – it runs with the soul.

Now is the body some sort of “container” of the soul when we are here in this world? That seems to be the thrust of Knight’s question and I’m tempted to answer my own question with a qualified no and a very weak analogy. One might argue that my bicycle acquires some sort of life when I am riding it. Obviously, I’m not my bike, but to the naive (small child?) observer, it may seem to be alive when I am riding it. It is a vehicle through which I’m expressing myself when I’m in the saddle. Interestingly enough, when I ride my bike (which I do a lot) my bike almost seems to become a part of myself as if it were an extension of my body. Two wheels feel as natural as two legs. This doesn’t happen if I ride someone else’s bicycle, at least initially.

So maybe the question is: Would God permit a soul to express itself through a wholly artificial (or man made, if you will) body as opposed to one with at least some flesh and some blood? If so, then it follows that one could live for an arbitrarily long time, as long as there were technicians and engineers around to replace the parts that wear out.

I’m not a professional author, but over the years I’ve entertained small audiences with the occasional short story I’ve written. A long time ago, I thought about writing a story about someone who was transferred, for lack of a better word, into a wholly artificial body, but I got stuck when I began to attempt to think out the implications of this. The only thing that I felt I could fall back on at the time were a couple of verses in the Tanakh (Old Testament) from the book of Leviticus. One of them is chapter 17 and verse 11(in part): “For the soul of the flesh is the blood…” and 17:14: "For the life of any creature – its blood represents its life, so I say to the Children of Israel: “You shall not consume the blood of any creature; for the life of any creature is its blood, whoever consumes it will be cut off”.

I’m just mentioning this without an attempt at comment now.

Be well. :confused:


#15

This is a bit like a sci-fi series I read several years ago by Tad Williams. The books were loOoooooooooooong and moved very slow, so I don’t necessarily recommend them, but I was intrigued by the philosophy they introduced.

The series delt with people who in their everyday life, “plugged into” a cyber life. They existed, interacted with others, and lived their lives through 0’s and 1’s in cyberspace.

The “evil” guy in the book was an extremely wealthy old man who was put together much like the opening poster suggests. He was a creation whose flesh was almost entirely replaced by artificial support in some way or another. This old guy’s mission was to develop a digital world where he could “upload” his conciousness and exist without a body in perpetuity.

Conflict and resolution circle around this basic premise in the stories.

When I read this thread, it reminded me of many of the questions that I had when I read the story. As the opening poster suggests, that which seems incredible now- may very well seem commonplace in the future. And, coupled with the fact that many of the posters agree that a “body” isn’t what makes us soulfilled, it’s more aligned with our conciousness. If we could develop a way to have an immortal conciousness without our body…

Hmmm…

Otherland series, by Tad Williams


#16

In other words, can the “soul” exist outside of the body? (In this case, the “body” was originally organic; and now the question is can the soul exist outside of this organic body and inside some other, metallic or inorganic, body.)

I would ask, What do you mean by ‘soul’?


#17

[quote=BLB_Oregon]Hmmm. I don’t think so. You’re basically talking about a “haunted” machine. To have a soul is to have the gift of life from God. If all the “life” is mechanical movement granted by someone other than God, then that is no longer a human person with a soul.
[/quote]

“Haunted machine” That would be a great title for a book
:hmmm: . If I write this book I will be sure to give you credit and a “taste”. Or you could write it. :smiley:
James


#18

I don’t really think that the original proposition is possible. That is, I don’t think that every organ and organ system in the body could be replaced by artificial ones. At some point in that process the individual would probably die. But—if the person didn’t die, then I’m assuming that there is no discontinuity, and that the individual would remain himself—the same individual—a human being with body and soul, even though the ‘body’ was at that point largely or wholly artificial.


#19

Matthew 10:28 Do not fear those who deprive the body of life but cannot destroy the soul. Rather, fear him who can destroy both body and soul in Gehenna.


#20

The originator of this thread is a thinker. Are you a computer guru or a Chemist. Thes two disiplines are known to be the foremst creative disiplines, are you one of these?

I will have to say two things.

  1. To completely replace all human systems, tissues and fluids with artificial prophillactics is impossible; therefore, your contemplative suggestions will not be realized.

  2. The SOUL CANNOT BE DESTROYED. The soul lives on after death. The soul cannot anahilated. It goes to hell, purgatory or heaven.


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