I don’t doubt his answer at all – I’ve always had the same understanding.
My interest is in providing evidence, particularly Scriptural evidence, for this belief, so that I can provide it to people who believe in a pre-mortal existence of the soul.
One particular form of the non-Catholic belief in pre-mortal existence is the idea that human souls were created long ago, possibly at (or before) the “beginning of time,” and then just placed in a body after conception. I’m referring specifically to a belief of a local denomination* that I have intimate contact with. They believe in a “spirit body,” i.e., that God “created everything spiritually before he created it physically,” and that pre-mortal souls had some form of existence in heaven prior to being sent down to earth.
It’s all rather messy Gnostic stuff, if you ask me, but I would like some assistance in showing where it departs from orthodox Christianity and Scripture.
*Restoration Church of Jesus Christ, a conservative offshoot of the Community of Christ (CoC)/RLDS. They accept the Book of Mormon, but are far from the LDS (not accepting later Smithian teachings) or even the CoC, with beliefs much more like mainline Protestants. In this particular doctrine, it is distinct from the LDS in that they do believe the soul was created (rather than being an “uncreated intelligence” that was with God in the beginning somehow, and thus they do understand that human souls are creatures and not gods-in-embryo, like the LDS apparently believe).
May not be what you are looking for but this works for me. Gen 2:7 there’s no living soul til we are formed and have been given breath. As Fr said in his response, prior to being formed, we did not exist.
One piece of evidence comes from Wisdom 7:1-6: I also am mortal, like all men, a descendant of the first-formed child of earth; and in the womb of a mother I was molded into flesh, within the period of ten months, compacted with blood, from the seed of a man and the pleasure of marriage. And when I was born, I began to breathe the common air, and fell upon the kindred earth, and my first sound was a cry, like that of all. I was nursed with care in swaddling cloths. For no king has had a different beginning of existence; there is for all mankind one entrance into life, and a common departure. I emphasize these words: “in the womb of a mother I was molded into flesh,” “[and] no king has had a different beginning of existence.” Since he calls the womb “[the] beginning of existence” and “[the] entrance into life,” it seems to follow that we do not exist before that.
Another passage that can be used to support this point is John 8:23 – "He said to them, ‘You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world.’ " Jesus seems here to contrast His pre-existence with our non-pre-existence.
Also, in John 1:30 St. John the Baptist says, “After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.” By saying this, he appears to contrast Jesus’ pre-existence with his own non-pre-existence. We can extrapolate that we, like John, do not pre-exist, like Jesus.
I’ve also seen Zechariah 12:1 used to disprove the pre-existence of the soul: “[T]he LORD…stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundation of the earth, and formed the spirit of man within him.” The argument is, if God formed the spirit of man within him, then at least part of him had to exist within which the spirit was formed. That part must be the embryo, and the earliest condition of the embryo is as a fertilized egg. Therefore, the earliest that the soul could be formed within man would be at the moment of conception.
Gn 3:19; 18:27; Tb 8:6; Jb 34:15; Ps 103:14; 104:29; Eccl 3:20; 12:7; Wis 7:1; Sir 33:10; 1 Cor 15:45.
Ps 103: 14 For he knows how we are formed, remembers that we are dust 15 As for man, his days are like the grass; he blossoms like a flower in the field. 16 A wind sweeps over it and it is gone; its place knows it no more.
Ps 104: 29 When you hide your face, they panic. Take away their breath, they perish and return to the dust.
Ecclesiastes: 7 And the dust returns to the earth as it once was, and the life breath returns to God who gave it.
Wisdom 7: 1 I too am a mortal, the same as all the rest, and a descendant of the first one formed of earth. And in my mother’s womb I was molded into flesh