Reincarnation and the formation of the Soul

As the soul is immortal, it follows that it can neither be created nor destroyed. Catholics say each soul is created in time at conception, but this seems a bit contrived. Why wouldn’t all spirit be created at once in eternity? Why is the creation of spirit bound by time? It seems implausible.

Since the soul is immortal, its reasonable that souls depart for the realm of pure spirit upon the death of the body, and are bound to bodies upon conception, ie reincarnation. Wouldn’t this seem like a more merciful cosmology for the souls of men? Instead of having one shot and then BOOM eternal punishment, acquisition of virtue could instead be freed from the restrictions of singular lifetimes. I recognize eternal punishment for permanent spiritual states is just (although the idea that an intellect endowed with total knowledge could commit sin is dubious imo); but isn’t one lifetime a bit arbitrary? If you commit a single mortal sin and then get smoked by a car crossing the road, that’s it? Socrates says the vast majority of men are neither very good nor very bad, but simply mediocre. Catholic cosmology seems too harsh for man’s mediocrity.

Is there any proof that souls are created in time? Or at least that the soul is the form of the body, rather than the (evident imo) view that the body is merely a temporal vessel for the immortal soul?

CCC 1013 tells us:

Death is the end of man’s earthly pilgrimage, of the time of grace and mercy which God offers him so as to work out his earthly life in keeping with the divine plan, and to decide his ultimate destiny. When “the single course of our earthly life” is completed, we shall not return to other earthly lives: “It is appointed for men to die once.” There is no “reincarnation” after death.

The CCC here quotes Hebrews 27 –“Just as it is appointed that human beings die once, and after this the judgment.” Reincarnation implies multiple lives and multiple deaths. That’s a definite no-go.

But reincarnation is not only contradicted in Hebrews 9:27; it is also contradicted by our Lord himself in John 8:23 :

You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world.

And St. Paul adds, in I Cor. 15:47 :

The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven.

Only Christ is revealed in Scripture to have had a pre-human existence, or to be “from heaven.” Humans are revealed to have come “from the earth,” or “from this world.” Thus, we say Jesus Christ was “incarnated.” But even he was not “reincarnated.” Reincarnation implies a previous bodily existence. Or, as the termearth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven.


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No, that doesn’t follow, as was pointed out in another thread.

No, Catholics say that each soul is created “immediately”, which in this case means “without mediation”, or directly by God without involvement of any other entity, rather than “right now”, or in time.

My understanding of Catholic belief is that a human is a composite being; a soul and a body joined together, so why would the soul of a deceased person attach to a different body? The soul is rejoined to the (resurrected) body at the General Judgement and they stay together for eternity, either eternal reward or eternal punishment.

So you don’t believe that Satan is a fallen angel who refused to follow God?

No, that doesn’t follow, as was pointed out in another thread.

It was “pointed out” incorrectly.

So you don’t believe that Satan is a fallen angel who refused to follow God?

I dont know. To have total, infinite knowledge would mean to be God. Can God commit sin? Of course not. Sin seems to require some amount of ignorance of either the nature of Good or the depravity of evil.

Immortal does not exclude the creation. Something that exist later through the eternity can have beginning.

God creates the immortal soul at the time of conception. God has always existed. Everyone else’s soul was created by Him. He is the creator of all things visible and invisible. Once that soul is created, it is immortal and will spend eternity in heaven or hell depending on the choices the person makes while on earth. That’s revealed Truth. There’s not a science lab that can prove it.

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Immortal does not exclude the creation. Something that exist later through the eternity can have beginning .

I know. I believe the realm of spirit and the Forms were created, but they were created in eternity. Didnt Augustine take “God created the heavens and the earth” to mean the creation of spirit itself? Why would human spirit be created in time at each conception? This seems contrived.

There’s not a science lab that can prove it.

But we do have God given reason, as rational souls.

My understanding of Catholic belief is that a human is a composite being

This is sort of what I want to understand/accept

It’s not ‘Catholic cosmology’ for Catholics, it’s ‘real cosmology’ for Catholics. (Which you seem to be, judging by the description on your profile). We chose this harsh fate in the Garden of Eden.

We’ve had an option to never know death.

Because MAN and his SPIRIT are inseparable from each other. By creating man, God has breathed spirit into him, remember?

Angels (and fallen Angels), for example, are only Spirits, Pure Spirits.

No, not at all. immortal does not imply uncreated.

Nowhere does it say that “total infinite” knowledge is required. It doesn’t take a multiple PhD. to know that doing something you know is bad is, well, bad.

Nope, it just requires that you know (and understand at the time) that it’s a sin and you freely (as in not forced) decide to do it anyway. No deep philosophical insight required.

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I didn’t say “uncreated”. I have issues with the idea that they are created in time.

Nowhere does it say that “total infinite” knowledge is required. It doesn’t take a multiple PhD. to know that doing something you know is bad is, well, bad.

My point is that knowledge and the Good are linked. God cannot commit sin, as God has a total understanding of the Good, which is himself. An intellect with total knowledge cannot commit sin, so sin and ignorance are connected.

There is nothing regarding the concept of immortality that means it cannot be created in time. That is what the word “eternal” is used for, and a human being is not eternal. Immortal simply means that once it exists it remains in existence.

Parts of Platonist metaphysics are also incompatible with Catholicism, such as the notion of an eternal realm of pure form. We also reject the notion that a human being is a spirit that is a motor for the body, as if they are two interacting substances.

Scholasticism, adapting Aristotleanism, has a reconciliation of sorts between Aristotleanism and Platonism in that all forms and essences exist in an intelligible way within the Divine Intellect, but not as substances in themselves.

The Scholastic view (best represented by St. Thomas Aquinas) is that body and soul are not two substances joined together. It’s that the living body is itself a composite of two metaphysical principles: prime matter and form. The substance (the human being, or any material substance) is a composite of both. There is no interaction between two substances. A human being is one substance that has faculties for both immaterial operations (intellection) and material operations.

Who said they were created “in time”, and why is that relevant? You seem to have skipped over that part of my earlier reply. As far as I know, the only eternal being is God Himself. All else, whether existing in Eternity or in Time, was created by Him.

The forms are emanations of God; they exist in the mind of God, who is Being Itself. Scholastics were right about that.

A human being is one substance

Yet the soul lives on after the death of the body.

Catholics, scholastics, etc.

Because if it isn’t true, that would mean the Church teaches error. It would also undermine the whole salvation thing.

Source? They are created by God (who exists in Eternity) without mediation to exist in Time along with the body they are created for. Not the same thing as “created in Time”.

But vegetative souls (such as plants) and sensitive souls (such as non-rational animals) do not. Neither does the form of water after it is decomposed into its constituent elements. Because these forms consist of only material operations. What persists after a human being’s biological life is over is the intellect only, which as an immaterial thing does not decompose, and it is by this persistence only that the form of a human being persists. But it is quite the handicapped thing (disregarding any extra assistance it may receive from God), not a whole human being. Many scholastics don’t even think it proper to continue to call it a human being or even a substance anymore. Others do think it appropriate to call it a substance, but in the way (forgive me for the macabre example) that when you cut a tail away from a dog it is still a dog, and you still have a dog as you cut away limbs, torso, etc, until all you have left is a dog head kept alive by machines. But obviously that’s not a dog released from a lower nature to a higher nature, but one whose nature is in some way in a state of privation.

Just to continue the conversation, I don’t know that I’d call the forms emanations. The forms of material things exist only within an intellect or in a physical thing. So the form of a tree exists insofar as there are actual trees or an intellect knowing them. The forms have no subsistence on their own. The only exception, really, is the form of a human being after a human being dies, and that only because a human being among physical substances comes into being with an immaterial faculty.

I find this hard to accept. Why is spirit dependent upon matter? It seems spirit cannot be destroyed or dependent upon matter in any way.

And so they perpetually exist in the Divine Intellect, Being Itself. Essences of things exist outside of matter because they are always in the mind of God.

We are the only ones with an immaterial “faculty” maybe, but not the only ones with an immaterial essence. All essence is immaterial.

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