Three Theological Questions


#1
  1. Can the Holy Spirit’s presence in each individual be equated with each individual’s soul, so that the “spiritual principle in man” is in essence the Holy Ghost within us, and if not why not?

  2. Also is it correct to say that believing in the soul is not necessarily subscribing to substance dualism, and if so why?

  3. The link to the Times below seems to imply that limbo is to be rejected altogether as a “theological hypothesis” by the Vatican, however the Times and their citations - according to my understanding of the doctrine - make the mistake of assigning limbo as a place from which those resident in it are barred - whether temporarily or not - from heaven.

timesonline.co.uk/article/0,13509-1897480,00.html

What is to be the Vatican position on my understanding of limbo as a temporary state in which the fate of those consigned to it “cannot be determined by any but God”? Or is this understanding of limbo wrong?

**


#2
  1. I have always understood that the soul is given to me at the moment of my creation by God and so, is NOT God (The Holy Spirit).

**382 **“Man, though made of body and soul, is a unity” (GS 14 § 1). The doctrine of the faith affirms that the spiritual and immortal soul is created immediately by God.

I would think, if I understand your question correctly, that this means the Holy Spirit (God) is not our soul, though our soul may be open to the gifts of the Holy Spirit, such as those granted us through the Sacrament of Confirmation.

  1. I would answer this with teachings from the Catechism:
    363 In Sacred Scripture the term “soul” often refers to human *life *or the entire human person.230 But “soul” also refers to the innermost aspect of man, that which is of greatest value in him,231 that by which he is most especially in God’s image: “soul” signifies the spiritual principle in man.

366 The Church teaches that every spiritual soul is created immediately by God - it is not “produced” by the parents - and also that it is immortal: it does not perish when it separates from the body at death, and it will be reunited with the body at the final Resurrection.235

367 Sometimes the soul is distinguished from the spirit: St. Paul for instance prays that God may sanctify his people “wholly”, with “spirit and soul and body” kept sound and blameless at the Lord’s coming.236 **The Church teaches that this distinction does not introduce a duality into the soul.**237 “Spirit” signifies that from creation man is ordered to a supernatural end and that his soul can gratuitously be raised beyond all it deserves to communion with God.238 368 The spiritual tradition of the Church also emphasizes the heart, in the biblical sense of the depths of one’s being, where the person decides for or against God.239

  1. You know, I am not really sure what is up with this whole Limbo thing. I always understood that it was not an official teaching or doctrine of the Church and sure enough I find nothing about it in the Catechism.

#3

Is the soul considered to be the incorporeal/immaterial animator of the physical body?
If so this implies substance dualism and this sits uneasily with me as through Ryle’s Regress and various other arguments I have concluded that there is sufficient proof to dismiss any mind (or soul) - body separation.
I would like to propose that a theological viewpoint be reconciled and supported by a scientific one.


#4

Again, if I understand your thought, and I may not, you are hoping that there can be scientific evidence offered to support the Catholic Catechism Truth about the human soul.

I believe there were scientific experiments attempted whereas a doctor (and I do not know the name, forgive me) put someone who was dying on a scale and attempted to weigh them before death and then immediately after death to determine the ‘weight’ of their soul leaving the body.

The findings were inconclusive.

I am unaware of there being any scientific proofs in existence that can prove my Faith or the Truths of the Catholic Catechism.


#5

In regards to Ryles Regress, I fail to see how that pertains to God breathing into a human being, at the moment of their conception, a human soul? Perhaps you could explain how you applied it to Human Soul?

For the sake of the discussion being joined by others:

Ryle’s Regress is a classic argument against cognitivist theories, and concludes that such theories cannot be scientific. The philosopher Gilbert Ryle (1949) was concerned with critiquing what he called the intellectualist legend, which required intelligent acts to be the product of the conscious application of mental rules. Ryle argued that the intellectualist legend results in an infinite regress of thought:

“According to the legend, whenever an agent does anything intelligently, his act is preceded and steered by another internal act of considering a regulative proposition appropriate to his practical problem. …] Must we then say that for the hero’s reflections how to act to be intelligent he must first reflect how best to reflect how to act? The endlessness of this implied regress shows that the aplication of the appropriateness does not entail the occurrence of a process of considering this criterion.”

Variants of Ryle’s Regress are commonly aimed at cognitivist theories. For instance, in order to explain the behavior of rats, Edward Tolman found that he had to use terms that modern cognitive scientists would be very comfortable with. For instance, Tolman suggested that his rats were constructing a “cognitive map” that helped them locate reinforcers, and he used intentional terms (e.g., expectancies, purposes, meanings) to describe their behavior. This led to a famous attack on Tolman’s work by Guthrie:

“Signs, in Tolman’s theory, occasion in the rat realization, or cognition, or judgement, or hypotheses, or abstraction, but they do not occasion action. In his concern with what goes on in the rat’s mind, Tolman has neglected to predict what the rat will do. So far as the theory is concerned the rate is left buried in thought; if he gets to the food-box at the end that is his concern, not the concern of the theory.” Cognitive scientists must be constantly aware of Ryle’s Regress as a potential problem with their theories, and must ensure that their theories include a principled account of how the (potentially) infinite regress that emerges from functional analysis can be stopped. This is why the identification of the functional architecture is one of the fundamental goals of cognitive science.
penta.ufrgs.br/edu/telelab/3/ryles_re.htm


#6

“You don’t have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body.” C.S. Lewis
It is the role that we as souls play that Ryle’s Regress can find an application in and how we can inform and interact with our physical bodies.
But instead of talking about Ryle’s Regress let us look at the problem of interaction itself.

If we as incorporeal souls animate a physical body then there is the problem of how the soul with its innate (but often unconscious) knowledge (perhaps informed by the Holy Spirit) of God interacts with our physical body.
To take an example:
If I perform a kindly act involving movement then it is understood that the firing of neurons causes the physical and observable movements and this in turn is caused by a transfer of energy. The problem lies with the supposition that the mind - which we shall take to be the emergent properties of the complex brain - has to be informed (not necessarily directed, otherwise all human actions would be kindly, which is difficult in itself to measure and also not true quite a lot of the time) by the soul and its or rather our innate knowledge of what is right. How can it be that a supposedly immaterial entity - the soul - can cause or in any way influence the physical movements of a material body, without a violation of the Principle of Conservation of Energy, i.e. where did the energy come from to initiate a physical event such as the firing of neurons (for as the soul is immaterial it cannot according to current physical laws, possess the physical energy needed)?


#7

[quote=313cristnogion]“You don’t have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body.” C.S. Lewis
It is the role that we as souls play that Ryle’s Regress can find an application in and how we can inform and interact with our physical bodies.
But instead of talking about Ryle’s Regress let us look at the problem of interaction itself.

If we as incorporeal souls animate a physical body then there is the problem of how the soul with its innate (but often unconscious) knowledge (perhaps informed by the Holy Spirit) of God interacts with our physical body.
To take an example:
If I perform a kindly act involving movement then it is understood that the firing of neurons causes the physical and observable movements and this in turn is caused by a transfer of energy. The problem lies with the supposition that the mind - which we shall take to be the emergent properties of the complex brain - has to be informed (not necessarily directed, otherwise all human actions would be kindly, which is difficult in itself to measure and also not true quite a lot of the time) by the soul and its or rather our innate knowledge of what is right. How can it be that a supposedly immaterial entity - the soul - can cause or in any way influence the physical movements of a material body, without a violation of the Principle of Conservation of Energy, i.e. where did the energy come from to initiate a physical event such as the firing of neurons (for as the soul is immaterial it cannot according to current physical laws, possess the physical energy needed)?
[/quote]

The body, as a physical substance, derives it’s energy, not from the soul, but from physical fuel, as you implied. The energy comes from our food, drink, respiration, sunlight (to a small extent), etc.

The most beautiful explanation I read was in Peter Kreeft’s “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Heaven”. We tend to think of the soul as an ingredient in the body, hence the ridiculous experiments where a body is weighed before and after death. The soul, as purely spiritual, has no weight. Kreeft, however, explains it this way. Our soul is not within our body. If anything, our body is within our soul or part of our soul. But even that doesn’t completely express it. The body IS the physical form of our soul and the soul IS the substance of our body. Notice that I said that the soul is the substance of the body, and not our cells or organs. They will decompose and be eaten by worms when we die. However, our body is the “form” of our existance, so even when God gives us new, supernatural material in Heaven, it will take the form of our “resurrected” form, or body.

Rather than an existing duality, it is a psychosomatic union. By animating the body, we mean that, while the cells and organs derive their energy from physical fuel (obeying the Principle of Conservation of Energy). The body derives its direction and discretion from the fact that the soul directs our potential and actualized energy.

Sorry, I wrote this in a rush, but might expand later.


#8

I understand the explanation. In other words, the soul inhabits and is a part of the body and visa versa. This is why those experiments were so ridiculous (and, of course, inconclusive).

While CS Lewis was a fine writer, he was not a Catholic Theologian. I like Peter’s explanation. It gives allows for dignity and allows for the idea that women can kill their conscience and men can malform their conscience by repeated acts of sin.


#9

cristnogion,

Welcome to the forums! I hope you enjoy your stay here and have some good discussion.

**LSK **and Awfulthings,
I think that maybe cristnogion is speaking more of the philosophical problem of how the soul (which is spiritual) and the body and brain (which are physical) interact

I find this problem, often termed the “mind-body problem” to be quite complicated.

cristnogion, here is an article from the Catholic Encylopediawhich begins to address the issue: MIND

And here is a discussion about substance DUALISM.
Also check out Energy, Conservation of. . .since you brought it up:thumbsup:
where we find this restatment of **cristnogion’s **problem:

According to the ordinary Catholic doctrine, philosophical and theological, the soul is a spiritual principle, distinct from matter, yet by its union with the organism constituting one substantial being, the living man. It is the source of spiritual activities, thought, and volition. It is endowed with free-will. It originates and controls bodily movements. In its origin it has been created; at death it is separated from the body and passes away from the material universe. Now if the soul or mind, though itself not a form of material energy, acts on the body, originates, checks, or modifies bodily movements, then it seems to perform work and so to interfere with the constancy of the sum of energy. Moreover, if thus being sources of energy individual souls are created and introduced into this material universe and subsequently pass out of it, then their irruptions seem to constitute a continuous infringement of the law.

as well as an awesome treatment of it.

Hope you find that useful!
God Bless, and welcome to the forums again.

VC


#10

The body derives its direction and discretion from the fact that the soul directs our potential and actualized energy

What do you mean by “potential and actualized energy”? Potential energy is the energy possessed by an object or system as a result of its position within a force-mediating field or its state such as that of a compressed spring, so I’m not sure if you are using the term potential energy correctly.

The experiment mentioned is ridiculous for the following reason:
The soul is held to be immaterial and therefore will not possess mass.

*The important question is how does the material body derive anything from the immaterial * soul?
I think the presence of a soul is unprovable via empirical evidence, as we are, in the main, dealing with living beings whose animation poses problems with experimentation.
Rather, the nature of the soul is a theoretical problem. It is necessary to reconcile the tenets held within the Catechism of the Catholic Church with science.
I would posit that the science we would have to deal with is not to be viewed from a macroscopic level, or even the molecular level. The level at which a theoretical basis for the soul could be conceived (as with that of understanding the mind) is at the most fundamental level and incorporating not just matters of matter but the alternatives. And at the expense of confusing the soul with the mind I would say neuroscience, quantum theory and particle physics are integral to the problem.
Finally, having said all this, it may be that our understanding of the nature of the soul is quite possibly a case of ignoramus et ignorabimus and that the Catechism’s declarations concerning the soul will suffice, as the soul may have to remain an issue of faith.

To Verbum Caro:
Thankyou for the links, will read them when time allows.


#11

The best answer I’ve seen yet, and from the OP himself.


#12

#13

In addition to the discussion it would be worth getting hold of F.J. Sheed’s book called Theology for Beginners. There is a very good chapter on The Nature of Man: Soul and Body.


#14

[quote=313cristnogion]1) Can the Holy Spirit’s presence in each individual be equated with each individual’s soul, so that the “spiritual principle in man” is in essence the Holy Ghost within us, and if not why not?
[/quote]

No, that would be pantheism. It would mean that we are all God.

%between%


#15

Can anyone provide insights to the following original question?

[quote=313cristnogion]3) The link to the Times below seems to imply that limbo is to be rejected altogether as a “theological hypothesis” by the Vatican, however the Times and their citations - according to my understanding of the doctrine - make the mistake of assigning limbo as a place from which those resident in it are barred - whether temporarily or not - from heaven.

timesonline.co.uk/article/0,13509-1897480,00.html

What is to be the Vatican position on my understanding of limbo as a temporary state in which the fate of those consigned to it “cannot be determined by any but God”? Or is this understanding of limbo wrong?

**
[/quote]


#16

Can anyone provide insights to the following original question?

  1. The link to the Times below seems to imply that limbo is to be rejected altogether as a “theological hypothesis” by the Vatican, however the Times and their citations - according to my understanding of the doctrine - make the mistake of assigning limbo as a place from which those resident in it are barred - whether temporarily or not - from heaven.

timesonline.co.uk/article/0,13509-1897480,00.html

What is to be the Vatican position on my understanding of limbo as a temporary state in which the fate of those consigned to it “cannot be determined by any but God”? Or is this understanding of limbo wrong?

**


#17

[quote=313cristnogion]Can anyone provide insights to the following original question?

  1. The link to the Times below seems to imply that limbo is to be rejected altogether as a “theological hypothesis” by the Vatican, however the Times and their citations - according to my understanding of the doctrine - make the mistake of assigning limbo as a place from which those resident in it are barred - whether temporarily or not - from heaven.

timesonline.co.uk/article/0,13509-1897480,00.html

What is to be the Vatican position on my understanding of limbo as a temporary state in which the fate of those consigned to it “cannot be determined by any but God”? Or is this understanding of limbo wrong?

**

Yes, Limbo is not a temporary place and is not rejected by the Church. In fact it is incumbant upon catholics to believe that Limbo exists. However, limbo is not a place other than heaven or hell. Rather, Limbo is indeed hell but without the punnishment of suffering but only the punnishment of not being before the beatific vision. Thus, it could be said that it is being in an earthly paradise type state.
[/quote]


#18
  1. Can the Holy Spirit’s presence in each individual be equated with each individual’s soul, so that the “spiritual principle in man” is in essence the Holy Ghost within us, and if not why not?

I would think not since souls can go to hell and I dont believe the Holy Spirit is in hell. In addition, we can be “hell bound” while alive on earth.

  1. Also is it correct to say that believing in the soul is not necessarily subscribing to substance dualism, and if so why?

The soul is not a substance.

  1. The link to the Times below seems to imply that limbo is to be rejected altogether as a “theological hypothesis” by the Vatican, however the Times and their citations - according to my understanding of the doctrine - make the mistake of assigning limbo as a place from which those resident in it are barred - whether temporarily or not - from heaven.

timesonline.co.uk/article/0,13509-1897480,00.html

What is to be the Vatican position on my understanding of limbo as a temporary state in which the fate of those consigned to it “cannot be determined by any but God”? Or is this understanding of limbo wrong?

I dont know, sorry - why do you care?

**


#19

Philthy, (and 313christnogion),

Just a clarification here, to avoid equivocation. The soul IS a substance, although an immaterial and spiritual substance. (Incidentally, to be more precise it is an “incomplete” substance, having been ordained as the form of our body.)

Philthy, you may have been using the term “substance” to mean the normally accepted shorthand for “physical substance”, and you are correct in saying the soul is not a physical substance, but it is rather a spiritual intellectual substance.

What do you think Philthy?
God Bless,
VC


#20

One can distinguish between the limbo of the just (patriarchs prior to Christ, limbus patrum aka Abraham’s bosom) and the limbo of unbaptized infants, limbus infantium. There is also a place where those from the time of Noah were held until Christ preached to them (1 Peter 3:19-20).

The limbo of the just is not a hypothesis, but the limbo of unbaptized infants is a hypothesis (to resolve the conflict between the teaching of the requirement of baptism and the justice of God towards someone without actual sin). Notice that all unbaptized infants have original sin, whereas not all the patriarchs did (if any). Furthermore, those in limbo of the just did not stay there. It was temporary because heaven was not yet open. But for unbaptized infants, the hypothesis is that it is permanent, because they died in original sin, and it is too late to remedy that.

So you see that one must distinguish between actual limbus patrum and the hypothetical limbus infantium. The hypothesis makes theological sense, but is not satisfactory to the desires of the faithful.

What I believe the Church is considering, is that in place of the hypothesis of “limbus infantium”, a statement will be given to the effect that we don’t know but leave it in the hands of God, hoping for the best.

hurst


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