Souls


#1

I’m curious to hear a Catholic perspective on this question:

Let’s say that we’re not really sure if Susan has a soul. How would we go about figuring out if she does or not? Or, equivalently, how would we tell the difference between SusanA, who has a soul, and SusanB, who is physically identical to SusanA, but has no soul?


#2

[quote=EnterTheBowser]I’m curious to hear a Catholic perspective on this question:

Let’s say that we’re not really sure if Susan has a soul. How would we go about figuring out if she does or not? Or, equivalently, how would we tell the difference between SusanA, who has a soul, and SusanB, who is physically identical to SusanA, but has no soul?
[/quote]

BEDEVERE: Quiet! Quiet! Quiet! Quiet! There are ways of telling whether she is a witch.
VILLAGER #1: Are there?
VILLAGER #2: Ah?
VILLAGER #1: What are they?
CROWD: Tell us! Tell us!..
BEDEVERE: Tell me. What do you do with witches?
VILLAGER #2: Burn!
VILLAGER #1: Burn!
CROWD: Burn! Burn them up! Burn!..
BEDEVERE: And what do you burn apart from witches?
VILLAGER #1: More witches!
VILLAGER #3: Shh!
VILLAGER #2: Wood!
BEDEVERE: So, why do witches burn? [pause]
VILLAGER #3: B–… 'cause they’re made of… wood?
BEDEVERE: Good! Heh heh.
CROWD: Oh, yeah. Oh.
BEDEVERE: So, how do we tell whether she is made of wood?
VILLAGER #1: Build a bridge out of her.
BEDEVERE: Ah, but can you not also make bridges out of stone?
VILLAGER #1: Oh, yeah.
RANDOM: Oh, yeah. True. Uhh…
BEDEVERE: Does wood sink in water?
VILLAGER #1: No. No.
VILLAGER #2: No, it floats! It floats!
VILLAGER #1: Throw her into the pond!
CROWD: The pond! Throw her into the pond!
BEDEVERE: What also floats in water?
V****ILLAGER #1: Bread!
VILLAGER #2: Apples!
VILLAGER #3: Uh, very small rocks!
VILLAGER #1: Cider!
VILLAGER #2: Uh, gra-- gravy!
VILLAGER #1: Cherries!
VILLAGER #2: Mud!
VILLAGER #3: Uh, churches! Churches!
VILLAGER #2: Lead! Lead!
ARTHUR: A duck!
CROWD: Oooh.
BEDEVERE: Exactly. So, logically…
VILLAGER #1: If… she… weighs… the same as a duck,… she’s made of wood.
BEDEVERE: And therefore?
VILLAGER #2: A witch!

In all seriousness, a soul, being immaterial, cannot be ‘tested.’ It’s not as if you can put the indicator solution on to Susan’s skin, and, it changed color, my Susan’s got a soul. :wink: I think that we come with the assumption that all human beings have souls, so we don’t need to test for them. Of course there’s always the weigh 'em right before death/right after death model, so you can measure how much the soul weighs. :wink:

I’m curious, where are you going with this?


#3

[quote=EnterTheBowser]I’m curious to hear a Catholic perspective on this question:

Let’s say that we’re not really sure if Susan has a soul. How would we go about figuring out if she does or not? Or, equivalently, how would we tell the difference between SusanA, who has a soul, and SusanB, who is physically identical to SusanA, but has no soul?
[/quote]

Before we get too far afield on this totally hypothetical and vaguely worded question, let’s establish a reference point. From the glossary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

**SOUL: ** The spiritual principle of human beings. The soul is the subject of human consciousness and freedom; soul and body together form one unique human nature. Each human soul is individual and immortal, immediately created by God. The soul does not die with the body, from which it is separated by death, and with which it will be reunited in the final resurrection (363, 366; cf. 1703).

To start out with, we can say from this definition that a soul is something every human, by virtue of being human, possesses as part of it’s nature. Thus if we establish (by either simple observation or scientific analysis) that SusanA (and even Susan B), is human, she posseses a soul. If SusanB does not possess a soul, she is either not human, or if human, in a state of death, which means here soul has seperated from her body, as stated in the definition above…


#4

[quote=RobNY]BEDEVERE: Quiet! Quiet! Quiet! Quiet! There are ways of telling whether she is a witch.
VILLAGER #1: Are there?
VILLAGER #2: Ah?
VILLAGER #1: What are they?
CROWD: Tell us! Tell us!..
BEDEVERE: Tell me. What do you do with witches?
VILLAGER #2: Burn!
VILLAGER #1: Burn!
CROWD: Burn! Burn them up! Burn!..
BEDEVERE: And what do you burn apart from witches?
VILLAGER #1: More witches!
VILLAGER #3: Shh!
VILLAGER #2: Wood!
BEDEVERE: So, why do witches burn? [pause]
VILLAGER #3: B–… 'cause they’re made of… wood?
BEDEVERE: Good! Heh heh.
CROWD: Oh, yeah. Oh.
BEDEVERE: So, how do we tell whether she is made of wood?
VILLAGER #1: Build a bridge out of her.
BEDEVERE: Ah, but can you not also make bridges out of stone?
VILLAGER #1: Oh, yeah.
RANDOM: Oh, yeah. True. Uhh…
BEDEVERE: Does wood sink in water?
VILLAGER #1: No. No.
VILLAGER #2: No, it floats! It floats!
VILLAGER #1: Throw her into the pond!
CROWD: The pond! Throw her into the pond!
BEDEVERE: What also floats in water?
V****ILLAGER #1: Bread!
VILLAGER #2: Apples!
VILLAGER #3: Uh, very small rocks!
VILLAGER #1: Cider!
VILLAGER #2: Uh, gra-- gravy!
VILLAGER #1: Cherries!
VILLAGER #2: Mud!
VILLAGER #3: Uh, churches! Churches!
VILLAGER #2: Lead! Lead!
ARTHUR: A duck!
CROWD: Oooh.
BEDEVERE: Exactly. So, logically…
VILLAGER #1: If… she… weighs… the same as a duck,… she’s made of wood.
BEDEVERE: And therefore?
VILLAGER #2: A witch!

[/quote]

:rotfl: :rotfl:


#5

[quote=RobNY]I’m curious, where are you going with this?
[/quote]

Good question.

If the OP, who describes himself in his profile as an “Atheist” is asking “what proof is there of the soul’s existence” then he (or she) should right out and ask it, rather than play juvenile Socratic mind games as if we were his students.


#6

enter << Or, equivalently, how would we tell the difference between SusanA, who has a soul, and SusanB, who is physically identical to SusanA, but has no soul? >>

Some criteria, from Hominization: On the Origin of Mankind (argues Adam/Eve were Neanderthals)

The problem of hominization is connected with the definition of what man is. His Holiness the Pope John Paul II gave the answer that man is different from all other life forms because man has an immortal soul given by God. I found that there are three fundamental differences between man (with a soul) and animals (without a soul):

  1. Man has self-awareness.

  2. Man has language.

  3. Man has religion.

It is impossible to have religion without the possibility of understanding sentences like: “What is the sense of my life? What will happen to me after my death?” So, there must be language to have religion. Also, it is impossible to have language without self-awareness because without a self-awareness it is impossible to understand the simple sentence like: “I am.”


Problem is when you want to date this. Most theistic evolutionists who are Christian date true humanity to around 40,000 years ago (the “Upper Paleolithic”, i.e. Cro-Magnon homo sapiens). Adam, Eve, and the Hominid Fossil Record gives this standard date.

Others like Glenn Morton take this back much further to some Australopithecine. I recommend his book also Adam, Apes, and Anthropology: Finding the Soul of Fossil Man. He goes through a lot of cultural and anthropological data and dates “Adam” to around 5 million years ago.

Phil P


#7

[quote=Fidelis]Good question.

If the OP, who describes himself in his profile as an “Atheist” is asking “what proof is there of the soul’s existence” then he (or she) should right out and ask it, rather than play juvenile Socratic mind games as if we were his students.
[/quote]

Thanks for being so charitable about my motives ; )

But really, I’ve been in a few other threads, and people have, on occasion, told me that I don’t really understand the Catholic perspective on the issues. So I went ahead and started a thread to, well, get the Catholic perspective on an issue before I went about saying all sorts of misguided things about the issue.


#8

[quote=Fidelis]…

To start out with, we can say from this definition that a soul is something every human, by virtue of being human, possesses as part of it’s nature.


[/quote]

Well, I guess I’d want to ask: is it logically possible for there to be a thing that is physical indistinguishable from a human, but has no soul? We can just set aside the question of whether or not such a thing would properly be called “human.”


#9

[quote=PhilVaz]…

. I found that there are three fundamental differences between man (with a soul) and animals (without a soul):

  1. Man has self-awareness.

  2. Man has language.

  3. Man has religion.

It is impossible to have religion without the possibility of understanding sentences like: “What is the sense of my life? What will happen to me after my death?” So, there must be language to have religion. Also, it is impossible to have language without self-awareness because without a self-awareness it is impossible to understand the simple sentence like: “I am.”


[/quote]

So is your answer: if SusanB had language, self-awareness, and the possibility of religion, she would have a soul (given that having a soul is a necessary condition for these other things). Or more simply: if Susan were self-aware, she would have a soul (since those other two follow from the first?).

If that’s the case: Is it possible for there to be something physically equivalent to a human, but not self-aware? And if so, how would we tell that it was not self-aware?


#10

[quote=EnterTheBowser]Well, I guess I’d want to ask: is it logically possible for there to be a thing that is physical indistinguishable from a human, but has no soul? We can just set aside the question of whether or not such a thing would properly be called “human.”
[/quote]

Sorry if I misjudged your motives.

Properly speaking, only humans have souls. All living creatures --plant and animal–have a spirit (anima), but only humans have a spirit that is also a soul in a sense that which fully meets the definition above.


#11

[quote=EnterTheBowser]Well, I guess I’d want to ask: is it logically possible for there to be a thing that is physical indistinguishable from a human, but has no soul? We can just set aside the question of whether or not such a thing would properly be called “human.”
[/quote]

In the hypotherical situation in which if one was to find such item as described I would assume no. If it is not human I would assume it would not have a soul. A soul was a unquie gift of god.


#12

[quote=EnterTheBowser]I’m curious to hear a Catholic perspective on this question:

Let’s say that we’re not really sure if Susan has a soul. How would we go about figuring out if she does or not? Or, equivalently, how would we tell the difference between SusanA, who has a soul, and SusanB, who is physically identical to SusanA, but has no soul?
[/quote]

Take her pulse and see if it’s still with us. :thumbsup:


#13

[quote=EnterTheBowser]I’m curious to hear a Catholic perspective on this question:

Let’s say that we’re not really sure if Susan has a soul. How would we go about figuring out if she does or not? Or, equivalently, how would we tell the difference between SusanA, who has a soul, and SusanB, who is physically identical to SusanA, but has no soul?
[/quote]

From a Catholic point of view, the situation you suggest would not be possible simply because we believe we are incarnate souls. You can’t seperate the the soul from the body. Our soul isn’t a prisoner of our flesh, but rather a part of the sum of our existence. When we die, the flesh dies, but soul continues until God reunites us with our glorified bodies in the Resurrection.


#14

[quote=EnterTheBowser]I’m curious to hear a Catholic perspective on this question:

Let’s say that we’re not really sure if Susan has a soul. How would we go about figuring out if she does or not? Or, equivalently, how would we tell the difference between SusanA, who has a soul, and SusanB, who is physically identical to SusanA, but has no soul?
[/quote]

This reminds me of an episode of the “Six Million Dollar Man” from many years ago, when Col. Austin has to face two Mr. Goldmans: one is real, the other is a clone of some kind. Which one should he attack? Which is the false one without a soul? “To be continued”.

In the second episode, he suddenly attacks one in particular, and destroys it. He chose correctly! Later, a nervous Mr. Goldman thanks him and asks “How did you know which of us was which?”.

In that particular case, he distinguished by noticing that one of them did not sweat. :wink:

Now, on to your question. I think it has some merit.

For one thing, we are living at a time when it is becoming more likely that we will encounter a computer generated voice, face, or even body, and are more likely to be deceived. But if our soul is created directly by God, then no one can duplicate it, and that becomes a means to tell between a real person and a fake one. But how to tell if someone has a soul? That is, whether a creature projecting itself as a human, has a soul? After all, with cloning on the horizon, it may become an issue.

So, what is the Catholic perspective?

Here are some teachings:
[list=1]
*] Man consists of two essential parts - a material body and a spiritual soul (De fide)
*] The rational soul is per se the essential form of the body (De fide)
*] Every human being possesses an individual soul (De fide)
*] Every individual soul was immediately created out of nothing by God (Sent. certa)
*] God has conferred on man a supernatural Destiny (De fide)
[/list]

(“de fide” is dogma, “sententia certa” is definite teaching)

Additional comments:

  1. Two Essential Constituent Parts of Man
    … In Plato’s view the soul alone makes the man, while the body is only a kind of shadow. The Church teaches the contrary that the body essentially belongs to human nature…
    The spiritual soul is the principle of the spiritual mental life, and at the same time, the principle of the corporeal (vegetative and sensitive) life. (D 1655)

  2. Relation of Body and Soul
    … the uniqueness of the soul-principle in man is shown especially by the testimony of the self-consciousness, according to which the same person is the principle of the rational as of the sensitive and vegetative activities.

  3. Individuality and Immortality of the Soul
    Body and soul are connected… as an intrinsic natural unit, so that the spiritual soul is of itself and essentially the form of the body.
    … St. Augustine teaches: “From the soul the body has feeling and life”.
    … Jesus teaches: “Fear ye not them that kill the body, and are not able to kill the soul” (Matthew 10:28)

Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma (pp. 96-100)
Ludwig Ott

So the question, then, is: are we able to tell if a creature has human consciousness and freedom to be the principle of its own activities? Admittedly, we may not. A person who is comatose, sleepwalking, drunk, or hypnotized doesn’t seem to be exhibiting those traits. A soul may lose control of its body, and therefore it is no longer apparent whether they are alive or normal vs. a robot, dummy, or dead body.

hurst


#15

This is actually a good question I think. As artificial intelligence and neurological studies continue to develop, the whole idea of a ‘Ghost in the Machine’ is going to be a crucial philosophical and scientific argument in this century to come. Catholics/Christians will need to clearly lay out our beliefs as opposed to materialism.

[quote=EntertheBowser]Let’s say that we’re not really sure if Susan has a soul. How would we go about figuring out if she does or not? Or, equivalently, how would we tell the difference between SusanA, who has a soul, and SusanB, who is physically identical to SusanA, but has no soul?
[/quote]

First of all, every living thing has a soul. Plants and animals have souls which animate them, their ‘life-principle.’ Animals have a more developed soul which is seen by the greater capabilites of their bodies (for example, memory and emotions).

In Catholic doctrine the soul is the *form *of the body, the objective universal of the creature which the body expresses. A higher evolved animal is such because it has a more complex soul. A creature is not complete without both its soul and its body. In the case of plants and animals, if the body is destroyed, the soul dissipates and the creature ceases to exist as a living being.
So, living thing=soul. If SusanB can be empirically verified to be alive, and she has a *human ***body, **then she must thereby also have a human soul.

The special spiritual characteristics of the human soul are:
[list]
*]free-will
]self- and god-consciousness (exemplified by arts/sciences and religion, respectively)
]special creation (directy received from God at conception)
]aeveternity (once it exists, it is indissoluble and survives the death of the body).
[/list]Free will and self/god-consciousness can be hindered from proper expression if the body is either born with, or acquires physical limitations (brain damage, limb-loss, blindness/deafness etc.). This is a consequence of the intimate unity between body and soul. The body must fully reflect the soul for the soul to fully express itself. Otherwise the person is ‘handicapped,’ incapable of wholly realising their humanity. This actually occurs to a greater or lesser degree in everyone, (none of us are perfectly human yet
–except Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary) because of the rift which Original Sin caused in Adam by removing perfect spiritual and physical harmony, but is rectified by the Resurrection.

Basically, if we can determine SusanB to be a living *homo sapien sapien, *she has a spiritual soul. It is dogma, i.e. God has revealed to us that he imparts a spiritual soul to every physical human being, and there is no reason to believe (AFAIK) that this would not be the case with human clones, since a spirit (which only humans have) is not physically transmitted.

I would venture to hypothesise that no matter how complex and developed artificial intelligence becomes, human beings will never be able to create a free-willed, self-aware robot. There will never be a true ‘Ghost in the Machine.’ At the most, we may be able to create extremely complicated programs which can *simulate *free-will and self-awareness by responding to predetermined stimuli–but a program is still a program. If you program a robot to never kill a human being–it can never ‘decide’ on its own do so (only an accidental malfunction or external code–virus–could change the predetermined program).
It will be interesting in the coming decades to see materialists try to prove their ‘Ghost in the Machine’ hypothesis. I’m confident that us ‘moderate dualists’ will win points in this arena. Just like we did a century ago with the failed positivistic ‘Frankenstein’ experiment.

The dogma of the human soul is particularly critical because aspects of it are empirically falsifiable. If scientists can one day assemble a truly autonomous, self-aware, free-willed artificial intelligence, the Church will be forced to admit that the rational principle of man can no longer demonstrate his spiritual soul! If any one dogma is rejected, *all *of it is rejected. You can imagine what that would do to Catholicism. But of course, no dogma has ever yet been scientifically disproved :smiley:

*****because of the remaining effects of Original Sin, even the baptised are incapable of fully expressing their humanity, as their bodies still do not perfectly reflect the spirit. This causes the well known struggle of ‘flesh’ against ‘spirit.’


#16

Let me point out here that a soul is not composed of parts, so one should not construe “complex” as such.

Natural reason proves the immortality of the soul from its physical simplicity. As it is not composed of parts, it cannot be resolved into parts.

Ott, p. 98

One may distinguish between sensitive soul (animal) and vegetative soul (plant). The human soul (spirit) actually incorporates the sensitive and vegetative in its “lower” part.

… The locution “Spirit and Soul” serves on occasion as a designation of the higher and the lower soul-life, without involving the distinction between two principles…
… the uniqueness of the soul-principle in man is shown especially by the testimony of the self-consciousness, according to which the same person is the principle of the rational as of the sensitive and vegetative activities.

Ott, p.97

I think we will find that a human clone would not live long, if at all. If it does, it would not have a human soul, but only a sensitive and/or vegetative soul. I would say they would have to be kept “alive” artificially. I don’t see why God would respect the arrogance of man by giving such clones a spiritual soul.

In fact, a lady named Sondra Abrahams was given a private revelation over 20 years ago that such clones would in fact be made, and that it would provoke God greatly.

hurst


#17

[quote=hurst]Let me point out here that a soul is not composed of parts, so one should not construe “complex” as such.
[/quote]

Right, maybe a bad choice of words. I mean that since the soul is the *form *of the body, a monkey’s increased cognitive capacity in comparison to, say, a beetle, is an *effect *of its soul, which therefore operates with higher complexity (though its substance is simple and uniform), no?

One may distinguish between sensitive soul (animal) and vegetative soul (plant). The human soul (spirit) actually incorporates the sensitive and vegetative in its “lower” part.

This is where scholasticism gets a little fuzzy for me. If a soul has no parts, why distinguish between the “lower” and “higher” ‘parts’ (seems like a contradiction)?

I think we will find that a human clone would not live long, if at all. If it does, it would not have a human soul, but only a sensitive and/or vegetative soul. I would say they would have to be kept “alive” artificially. I don’t see why God would respect the arrogance of man by giving such clones a spiritual soul.

What if a human being were cloned and they possessed all the demonstrative characteristics of a normal person (free-will, self-awareness)? Do they not have a soul? I think it would be morally safer to err on the affirmative…
If God gives spiritual souls to humans conceived via invitro fertilisation (which is completely unnatural and objectively sinful), I don’t see why He wouldn’t do so for clones. :ehh:


#18

[quote=EnterTheBowser]I’m curious to hear a Catholic perspective on this question:

Let’s say that we’re not really sure if Susan has a soul. How would we go about figuring out if she does or not? Or, equivalently, how would we tell the difference between SusanA, who has a soul, and SusanB, who is physically identical to SusanA, but has no soul?
[/quote]

Doesnt everybody have an asoul? :smiley:


#19

We won’t “figure” it out. Could we “figure out” if time exists in a box?Why would you think you could “figure it out”?


#20

Because the soul animates a composed body, and the reference is on account of the body. Physical senses are “lower”.

But the same is for God, who though has various attributes, is not “composed” of parts either - even though we can identify “parts”, and even say one is greater than the other: Father is greater than the Son, Mercy is greater than His Justice, etc. Yet, God is absolutely simple and One. Not that we can fully understand this, though.

I think that perhaps it is all the effect on the imperfect creature, even as the same white light is reflected as a different particular color on different objects.

How would it differ from an animal?

You make a good point.

However, the key word here is “conceived”. A clone is not conceived, is it? Isn’t it merely an outgrowth via DNA? How might it differ from a sixth finger on the same person? In vitro people can still identify a mother and father. But a clone can’t. It would essentially have to be a twin with the same mother and father, though it actually belongs to the body of its source. I suppose one would have to look at it like a belatedly separated conjoined twin. The problem is, the souls of conjoined twins are given at conception and present at birth. A clone separated from a live person would not have a separate soul already in place.

So it is not conceived, and not conjoined. Thus, no soul.

hurst


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