What if ... there is no soul?

We all know that the Catholic Catechism tells us that the soul indeed does exist; "that “soul” (also) refers to the innermost aspect of man, that by which is of greatest value to him (Matthew 10:28, 26:38; John 12;27; 2 Maccabees 6:30), that by which he is most especially in God’s image: “soul” signifies the spiritual principle in man.” (CCC 363) Further, “The human body shares in the dignity of “the image of God”: it is a human body precisely because it is animated by a spiritual soul, and it is the whole human person that is intended to become, in the body of Christ, a temple of the Spirit.” (1 Cor 6:19-20; 15:44-45) (CCC 364)

Let us consider for a moment that after God willed us into being and prior to the fall, when there was no bodily death, that life, human existence, and being were in their purest form and our relationship with God began. The human body, in this pure, “transfigured” state did not know sickness, death, or decay. However, sin ended that, the body as we know it became a covering, a tent as Paul said “For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” (1 Corinth 5:1)

Before the fall, we existed bodily, in heavenly bliss before God. The body given at creation was something pure, good, and it would appear, necessary. After all, it is our very belief in the resurrection of the body that gives us the hope of one day returning to that state of pure oneness once again in His presence. It appears that we are made to be embodied, that we cannot encounter God without a body, making it at least as important to eternal life as an immortal soul. And if the Christian physicalists (e.g. Nancey Murphy in Bodies, Souls, or Spiritied Bodies? or Joel Green in Body, Soul and Human Life) had their way and there was no soul, what then? Can there still be eternal life without a soul? Without a body?

So my question for us to ponder is this:

Is our hope for eternal life staked on bodily resurrection rather than the immortal soul?

Neither. Our hope is staked on the promise of Jesus, who said was going away to prepare a place for us.

Whatever we might play in the mind, the truth remains the truth. You can not deny your own existence.

We are souls and our flesh will die. We are God’s creatures and are alive on this earth. Our resurrection depends on whether we choose the culture of life or the culture of death. Both cultures are revealed to us. Satan and his hatred against us is revealed and obvious. Everything is exposed. We can see the outcome of our decisions before we decide.
Sin separates us from God.

Eternal life of us souls will be staked on our own decisions during residence on earth. In Adam and Eve we are fallen, through Jesus and Mary we will rise.

How do we know we have a soul? We don’t have one, we are souls. Praise the Lord with body, heart and mind.

Aquinas’s philosophy is one of hylemorphic dualism; basically, the body and soul are meant be together, but the soul can survive after philosophy, but not in its natural state; an analogy Dr. Edward Feser, a Thomist, used is that it’s as if a head had been chopped off of the body and kept alive with electronics it’s still alive, but it’s not natural for a head to exist that way.

The resurrection returns the soul to the body, where it properly belongs. The difference is that this time the body is the perfect “version”, for lack of the better word, of the old body.

For this reason St. Thomas considered the Resurrection of the Body essential to Christianity.

To answer your thread question : If there’s no soul, there is no life. Life is the effect of the soul , soul is the cause of the life. The soul is indeed the principle, the principle of life. God made us in his image, what is that? 1. we have a Will, and 2. We have an intellect.

Thank you, and I totally agree. It is the “us” in your reply I was trying to “flesh out” (pardon the pun). When we go to that place he has prepared, our belief in bodily resurrection tells us we do so bodily (and with our soul). Is the resurrected body then an essential element for a relationship with God in eternal life? Could there be something to the physicalist argument that the soul does not exist or is unnecessary or irrelevant? Must we truly be embodied to experience that relationship with God? I am looking for thoughts/ideas/scripture references/church father references that support or reject these arguments, so thanks for your input.

It can’t be true in the order you put it. I put it this way:

The soul has a spirit and a body.

The body is only the earthly temple of the soul and by being a soul I am part of God, the church, therefore live for all eternity.

The resurrection brings the soul into God’s hands and God puts it into a new body.
In other words:
The resurrection doesn’t bring back the soul into the earthly body, but certainly a new body in heaven

In case my spirit separates from my body after a car accident, but comes back again, God can only do that in order for me to complete his task. That would be a miracle.

God is the maker of souls and gives them a body to dwell in and a world to live in.

The souls that go to hell also get a new body. A body in which no soul should be.

In addition, our bodies are different to the bodies of Jesus and Mary and probably also the body of St. John the Baptist and of St. Joseph.

Their bodies never sinned and are pure. They don’t need a new body in heaven. They might have risen even with their clothes on.

That’s what I was trying to say, but you explain it better :slight_smile:

Before the fall, we existed bodily, in heavenly bliss before God. The body given at creation was something pure, good, and it would appear, necessary. After all, it is our very belief in the resurrection of the body that gives us the hope of one day returning to that state of pure oneness once again in His presence. It appears that we are made to be embodied, that we cannot encounter God without a body, making it at least as important to eternal life as an immortal soul. And if the Christian physicalists (e.g. Nancey Murphy in Bodies, Souls, or Spiritied Bodies? or Joel Green in Body, Soul and Human Life) had their way and there was no soul, what then? Can there still be eternal life without a soul? Without a body?

No. We did not exist in “heavenly” bliss before the Fall. It was an earthly paradise in which man had Sanctifying Grace, but man did not behold the Beatific Vision which is the essence of Heaven.

The saints in Heaven now do not have their bodies, yet they encounter God in the Beatific Vision. Body not absolutely required.

The soul is the naturally immortal part of man by virtue of its immateriality. The soul can exist without the body, but not the body without the soul. Heavenly bliss can be enjoyed without a body, yet man is not a pure soul, but a soul/body combination. It is fitting that to be truly perfect, we be reunited with our bodies.

well described:)

The body is not merely a suit of clothes worn by the soul, but is an essential and integral part of man. While the soul can continue to exist if the body is destroyed, it cannot exist without their having initially been a body because the soul is the form of the body, and it is hte body which individuates my soul from your soul.

The resurrection brings the soul into God’s hands and God puts it into a new body.
In other words:
The resurrection doesn’t bring back the soul into the earthly body, but certainly a new body in heaven.

That is heretical. The doctrine of the Resurrection of the Body involves being returned to the same bodies we had while on earth. They may be glorified, but they are still the same.

Catholic Encyclopedia says, “All shall rise from the dead in their own, in their entire, and in immortal bodies; but the good shall rise to the resurrection of life, the wicked to the resurrection of Judgment. It would destroy the very idea of resurrection, if the dead were to rise in bodies not their own.”

In addition, our bodies are different to the bodies of Jesus and Mary and probably also the body of St. John the Baptist and of St. Joseph.
Their bodies never sinned and are pure. They don’t need a new body in heaven. They might have risen even with their clothes on.

Christ received a glorified Body only afer He died. Our Blessed Mother, and Sts. John and Joseph. Did not leave this world in glorified bodies, and hence would still need to undergo that transformation. St. John and St. Joseph did not ascend bodily into Heaven, and there bodies remain here on earth.

Must we truly be embodied to experience that relationship with God?

You seem to speculate on something.
I encourage you to make it simple and brother, where there is charity and love, there is God.
When we worship God we use our bodies, that he has bestowed on us to dwell in.

Thank you; enlightening! Looking for some clarification on a couple things; the saints not having their bodies, are you saying they will be rejoined with their bodies after “final judgement”? What about the tradition of bodily assumption of Mary and bodily ascension of Jesus? Any scriptural/church father references with your points (e.g. beatific vision) would be appreciated. Thanks appreciate your thoughts/input.

Yes, the saints (along with the damned) will be reunitied with their bodies at the Resurrection which immediate precedes Final Judgment.

Our Lord has a glorified Body now in Heaven. Our Lady has her body in Heaven as well, and I think it safe to suppose it is now a glorified body as well.

I can provide references for any point. Was there something particular about the Beatific Vision you wanted me to support?

Christ received a glorified Body only afer He died. Our Blessed Mother, and Sts. John and Joseph. Did not leave this world in glorified bodies, and hence would still need to undergo that transformation. St. John and St. Joseph did not ascend bodily into Heaven, and there bodies remain here on earth.

Beautiful insight. Christ received a glorified Body after he died. Yes, and his own body that Mary conceived by the Holy Ghost.

Isn’t the Assumption of Mary the glorification of her, transformed after into the Queen of Heaven and Earth? How could she be a soul without a body, when she is seen as she appears to the seers in Fatima?

I think the bodies of St Joseph and St, John are already glorified also, but you could be correct. I rather see the beauty in the saints being already glorified, because they are so real. I am a witness to the glory of God by his saints.

If bodies were required to truly experience the Beatific Vision, then the saints would now be disqualified since they are separated souls. Having bodies would, I am sure, give us a fuller experience, but Heaven is enjoyed really and truly without bodies.

If anything I said seems to be speculation, I would be happy to cite sources. I am not trying to offer personal speculation (at least not in this case), but merely pass along the tradition and teaching of the Church.

Yes, I am trying to better understand/address the area of “human personhood” in Christian Spirituality. We have accepted terms like soul, spirit, mind, and body in explaining human composition but in light of developments in neuroscience has lead to a non-reductive physicalist account of human nature, i.e. that we are our bodies with no additional metaphysical element such as a mind or soul or spirit. There are Christians that hold this view that believe that this physicalist position “need not deny that we are intelligent, moral, and spiritual," fully capable of a spiritual life where personal identity can be maintained in pre and post resurrection bodies in the “embodiedness” of our lives, and specifically in our relationships, primarily with God, but also vitally with others. (Nancey Murphy in Bodies and Souls, or Spirited Bodies? pgs. ix, 22). I (and they would to) absolutely agree with you that our bodily creation is a key element in our worship but there is certainly more to being made in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26-27). More on that later perhaps. Thanks.

It seems clarification is needed.

I am a Thomist, as I’ve said. I am a hlyemorphic dualist. For each individual person, they are only naturally whole when body and soul are together. Although the soul can survive outside of the body this is not its natural state. Our natural state is to be united with our bodies. This is what’s ordered toward the God. So the Resurrection of the Body returns us to our bodies, but our bodies will be glorified. We will be whole, body and soul, just as we were created by God to be.

Since the soul does not function the same without a body as it does with a body, the Resurrection of the Body is extremely important in Thomistic theology.

…And it is also important because >how else would we be able to express our love, first to our creator and to each other?< plus >our bodies give us our individual identity< whereas >the souls, as we are, are part of God< Does that make sense?

I would love to read some sources that you use.
So far I only recited what I learned during catechism courses of various priests, that uphold the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas. :slight_smile: …And of course I shall be inspired by the Holy Ghost, our helper through prayer. Love you, brother.

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