Life is in the soul
Whether life resides in the body or the soul; whether there is a spirit and soul; if both, whether the soul dies; whether animals have souls that die? What is the nature of the soul and its characteristics? All are philosophical questions.
The soul is the immaterial part of every living being, from the simplest of one-celled organisms to humans, and including the non-material beings (the angels and many other kinds having no names to us merely because of our ignorance of the topic).
The soul is beyond reason. Efforts to explain it via psychology, philosophy, political science, sociology, and the other social sciences fall far short because the social sciences are really just the study of the soul in interaction with its environment (via the body) and with other souls — observational science rather than experimental science.
The human soul is the source of religion, culture, society. It provides the sense that we have purpose and is the source of our volition, needs, motivations, feelings.
The soul gives meaning and reality to symbols and is the center of creativity. In humans it learns and speaks via language.
The soul is in some mysterious way connected to the physical body. This is true of all earthly life forms (but not of spirit beings — the angels and others).
It is the soul which experiences, the soul which lives (in conjunction with the body). The soul animates the body. The human soul is the moral agent accountable to God for the actions it performs (via the body). The human soul ends up with a new body in heaven (the new heavens and new earth) or hell.
We have all experienced the weird circumstance of watching someone unnoticed (or so we think) when they suddenly turn around and look you right in the eye (because they sensed they were being watched). Their body didn't know they were being watched, but their soul knew exactly what was going on — it even knew exactly where you were (they didn't have to look around to find you).
The soul motivates the body into action. If the body is injured and nerves are damaged, the soul will continue to try to move the body (for a while at least). At death the soul gives up all attachment to the body (but a body-sense lingers).
There is interaction between soul and body. The soul animates a body, causes it to live, causes it to move. The soul is attached to the body and receives sensory data. The soul is torn away from the body at death.
The spiritual realm defies rational description. Souls and spirit beings fly around, gauzy and translucent. Symbols exude tangible substance. Deity pervades all. Life and living rule supreme, nothing else exists. Spiritual bodies live, but not as inert blobs as in the physical realm.
Aspects of the soul...
The soul has natural appetites, desires, or cravings which can be quite strong...
In referring to the soul, I generally use the word appetite. I could have used the word desire — it fits just as well.
The appetites of the soul are created by God when he creates the soul. I remember as a child having desires I couldn't visualize in images — I wanted/needed something, but I didn't know what. This was a conscious experience of the innate appetite of the soul.
The appetites of the soul lead to action, that is their purpose. As we acquire memories from our senses these appetites are consciously experienced as desires for particular sensory stimuli — we desire something in particular, not things in general.
The appetites of the soul create both attraction and repulsion.
I remember once during a liquid fast (fruit juice, vegetable juice, protein drink) I at times had such strong urges for food. I experienced a mental image of the particular foods and of myself eating them. It reminded me of images of people who hadn't eaten in a long time wolfing-down food because their urge to eat was so strong they couldn't control them.
The soul experiences the material, physical world through the senses. The soul also has spiritual senses with which it experiences interactions with the spirit world and other spirit beings.
The senses pass information to the soul (I wonder how this works, perhaps via some sort of interface of quantum mechanics?) Certainly the information passed from body to soul is after it is processed by the brain, meaning, the soul often operates on false information not representing the true condition of the physical realm. Optical illusions and other tricks illustrate this.
The soul receives data from the senses and forms memories. These sense memories are stored in the soul. If the brain is damaged, the memories are not lost; in some future spiritual state we will have full access to all our memories.
In purgatory we will permanently purge out undesirable memories. Examples of these purged memories: (1) those of unredeemed people, (2) those of sinful actions we've performed, and (3) those of hurtful and painful experiences. We will not have these memories in the new heavens and new earth (that is the main purpose of purgatory, to purge these memories).
We think we are not conscious when we are asleep because we don't remember it upon awaking. But the soul remembers all of it. For some reason, while in the body, we only have a limited experience of what our soul actually experiences. Our soul functions even if we are not conscious.
The soul must have some sort of sub-conscious active awareness which we are not conscious of now, but which we can access at a later time as sort of sub-conscious impressions and motivations. Probably after death we will remember all these.
We seem to only be conscious part of the time and can be rendered unconscious via anesthesia. I assume the soul only receives conscious inputs when we are conscious. But yet our body continues to function.
Our view of the spiritual realm is very limited, mostly to the workings of our own soul. And yet I postulate that after death, our conscious experience will include interactions with other souls and with God. And in the new heavens and new earth we will have a greater awareness of activities occurring in the spiritual realm. Thus, our current experience is as if we have blinders on to prevent us from having the full range of possible experiences. Probably this is to protect us from the wicked spiritual powers.
Dreams are merely experiences of the soul creatively utilizing memories. Often in dreams we have the sense of being two people at once...
Our dreams are based on a patchwork of things we have actually experienced.
Sadly, dreams are rarely pleasant. Lots of tension, struggles, unfulfilled wishes, unpleasant interactions with others who wish to constrain or harm us.
For the soul, symbols are real. While living in this physical, material world our soul experience is usually limited to our sense perceptions. But our souls are capable of experiencing the often-hidden spiritual realm. In this realm seemingly arbitrary symbols have real meaning.
Every great leader understands the importance of using symbols to motivate people. Every religious person knows that symbols play a key role in their religious experience and they use symbols in expressing their worship and love of God.
After death these symbolic realities become prominent aspects of our conscious experience.
Birds migrate south for the winter. Certainly they didn't learn to do this — it is an innate tendency, an instinct.
Souls have spiritual bodies composed of spiritual "stuff". The body we experience in our dreams is a spiritual body.
Souls can manifest bodies in the physical realm in two ways...
Jesus ate fish after his resurrection. He didn't kill this fish but merely materialized its body; there was never a living fish soul, just a fish body. This is the same kind of thing that occurred with the multiplication of loaves and fishes.
Once created by God, the soul lives forever. The redeemed enjoy a special kind of eternal life...
Even angels have souls. Angels and demons are often referred to in the New Testament as spirits.
It is common for fundamentalist evangelical Protestants to ask someone "if you die today will you go heaven?" Certainly the souls of the redeemed will remain in the spiritual realm when they die, either in purgatory or in heaven. What is often ignored is that our souls already reside in the spiritual realm, in a realm closely associated with the earth. This realm is also populated by the good spirits (angels) as well as the wicked spirits; these are engaged in mortal combat in a great spiritual war. Our souls are influenced by both kinds of spirits.
At death the fate of each human soul varies...
Each of us will live forever. However, each will die physically some day; the body dies, but not the soul. So it is tempting to say that I am my soul, not my body. Many religions and spiritual philosophical systems are founded on this idea.
The Christian view is that each of us has a soul, and while alive in this present universe, also a body. After death each will continue to live in the spiritual realm. But finally, one day this universe will be re-constituted and each of us who are redeemed will again inhabit the new heavens and new earth in body and soul. It will be glorious.
Thus, our true nature consists of both body and soul.
We are currently living in a spiritual fog.
We are in a spiritual life-and-death struggle but are blind to the reality of the spiritual world.
The soul, not the body, is the center of consciousness: we will still be alive and aware even after the death of the body. Thus, we live in a spiritual realm closely connected with the earth, with the physical universe. (There are many levels in the spiritual realm.) Unfortunately, at the fall of Adam and Eve, God removed his grace which protected humans from these wicked spirits and they were allowed to reside in this same spiritual realm as us. We are literally living with the wicked spirits.
Our souls are very sensitive and impressionable. We are continually bombarded with the horrific ideas and suggestions of the wicked spirits. Our souls are too weak to resist the onslaught of suggestions to act in a manner which dishonors God and inflicts harm on one another.
The ancient philosophers had an improper view of the physical vs. spiritual, and of the domain of each. Modern science clearly specifies that the physical realm is composed only of matter, space, energy, time, and the natural laws operating on these — everything else is spiritual. The ancient philosophers included certain spiritual elements in the physical, and this is the source of confusion. Sadly, Christianity has inherited some of this thinking, for example, in the understanding of the word "flesh" in which the power of our physical body controls our moral choices; and we must resist this.
In many philosophical systems, non-physical principles such as mind, consciousness, and thought are said to possess a sort of tangible existence with discernable structures, sometimes residing in a non-physical realm. The physical universe interacts with these or, in some views, the physical realm is merely imagined to exist as a separate entity.
Materialistic science usually assumes that all that exists is the material universe with its matter, space, time, and natural laws, and that all of experienced life must somehow be explained in terms of these. This seems wrong because the physical universe simply does not possess these things. For example, the molecules of a chair do not possess the form of "chair-ness", and consciousness is not some sort of quantum wave function collapse.
In my view, the physical universe is inert. All the philosophical constructs are located in the spiritual realm. In addition, sin and evil exist only within the spiritual realm — the physical universe is not evil.
All living creatures have various attributes and appetites depending on their species or kind. Animals have emotions. All life forms have the appetite of procreation and of beingness, the will to be. Plants perhaps lack higher consciousness.
The evil spirits residing in the spiritual realm affect events in this universe. God gave them creative power over aspects of the universe before they rebelled and he honors his covenant with them. Thus, all the bad things that happen such as animals eating each other, falling tree limbs hurting people and animals, life-destroying floods, are orchestrated by these evil spirits. In the new heavens and new earth bad things will no longer occur because God will guide all physical events ensuring no harm is caused. Thus, tornados will still exist, but people will ride them uninjured. Trees will fall over but will never crush any living creatures. In their glorified bodies, carnivores will have no need to eat.
When God creates a soul he creates the spiritual space around it in the spiritual realm. In other words, souls take up space, spiritual space.
This physical universe has no life, no motion. Merely configurations of motionless matter representing wishes and dreams imposed from the spiritual realms. If a tree exists at all, someone (perhaps God) first wished to interact with one.
Why even have a material universe at all? Answer: Interacting with it and changing its form brings joy and satisfaction to the soul. Being outside of the spiritual ream, reaching to the boundary between spirit and material, the soul derives deep satisfaction from molding this clay-like substance forever distinct from the essence of the spirit artist. Taking us outside of ourselves.
So what is going on when someone acts out a clearly demonic behavior?
We are living in the kingdom of darkness, that is to say, our souls reside in a part of the spiritual realm that is also inhabited by the spirits of darkness, a part of the spiritual realm closely connected with the universe.
Our souls are weak and are tangled up with the wicked spirits to various degrees. But we are also protected in various degrees from these influences. This is why the baptism of infants is a good idea; it provides for more supernatural protection (of course, other factors such as parents who are steeped in sin can neutralize this grace).
Consider someone who is otherwise holy who has a severe hormonal imbalance or who is taking the wrong medication. They can suddenly exhibit the most horrible behavior and speech. It seems we are not totally in control of our thoughts and behavior if it can be modified by drugs or chemicals.
There is a sense in which we are all puppets, with the powers of darkness pulling the strings and controlling us. But there is a war in the spiritual realm, in heaven, and the good angels are also vying for control, to help us in our walk of holiness.
This is what original sin is and why it is passed-on from generation to generation from birth. When Adam and Eve chose to bring children into the world, they brought them into this same sin-controlled world they lived in. In the garden of Eden, God protected them from the powers of evil (but allowed for temptation). If they chose to reject the influences of the tempter, God would have declared victory over the wicked spirits, cast them into the lake of fire, and ushered in the new heavens and new earth right then.
So there is a sense in which "the devil made me do it" is a correct explanation for sinful behavior. However, we are to train and discipline ourselves in living the virtues and avoiding vice to strengthen our ability to resist these influences. But even so, it is as if we are driving a car at high speed and fighting for control of the steering wheel with the demonic spirits.
The soul and the body are closely connected. This is true for humans as well as other life forms (such as dogs and seagulls).
Personhood — The conscious experience of self. Humans have it, dogs have it. It is the soul which possesses personhood. But the person considers the body to be part of him even though after death the person continues to live on as a soul with no body.
The soul learns to interpret the form of objects in the material world — thus a bird understands that a worm is food. A city dweller in a street scene recognizes cars and people and understands that the people are living but the cars are not, that the sidewalk is safe but the street is not.
I've heard it said that each angel is a unique, one-of-a-kind species. I suggest that each person's soul is likewise a unique, one-of-a-kind species. Thus, each person has a unique personality and temperament with unique appetites and motivations but all human souls have commonalities (just as angels of the same kind have commonalities).
In some way a person's human form reflects the soul — we each look the way we do because our soul influences the development of our body. When we look at someone we get an impression about them, we see their soul through the form of their body. Old people's "oldness" reflects the soul's weariness with still being tied-down to a physical body
Various kinds of souls based on the type of creature with their characteristics and complexity.
In this section I discuss non-animals and non-humans — plants, single-celled organisms (even those considered animals), viruses.
Questions to consider...
I propose that all biological lifeforms possess a soul but that the souls of different kinds of lifeforms have different characteristics, different attributes. Thus the human soul possesses moral accountability (some call this man's spirit), animals such as dogs experience emotion and loyalty, but plants have no consciousness at all. In the spectrum of attributes of souls, consciousness is merely one attribute; but not all souls possess this attribute.
In the new heavens and new earth I wonder how it's possible to live without killing plants for food, lumber, rope, firewood, and etc. Perhaps plants don't have a soul at all and are thus nonliving? If so, they can't be killed just as a rock can't be killed by breaking it in two.
Some observations about plant souls...
To resolve the conflict I propose that each species of plant has a single soul shared amongst all the individual plants. Thus, you can only kill a plant by extinction of the species, and this never occurs in the new heavens and new earth. This plant soul is conscious but feels no pain or sense of loss when an individual plant "killed".
The Bible verses I mention clearly indicate that plants have a soul. Typically these are interpreted as mere figures of speech, but based on what? It's from a predetermined bias against these being literally true — it's certainly not from Biblical teaching. And doing so robs these passages of their meaning and excitement by stripping away the life and replacing it with figurative images not having factual meaning. And why stop here? Liberal Christians do this and in the process destroy the gospel. It is safer to interpret these strictly literally and find explanations for things that seemingly don't make sense, as I have done.
Higher animals such as dogs seem to have personality and they seem to be consciously aware of their existence.
Every evening some birds land on my lawn looking for worms to eat. This doesn't seem like a very appealing dinner to me but I suspect it is one of the highlights of their day.
Birds seem to spend all day either looking for food or waiting until conditions arise in which they can find food. Some birds wait for low tide, some wait for evening, some wait for tourists on the ferry to drop food on the ground.
The material form of a human is shaped by the propensities and personality of the soul. A human is a hybrid between the genetic material and the characteristics of the particular soul.
When the soul is first created it is associated with the embryo. This young soul does not yet receive sensory data since the bodily sense organs do not yet exist. The soul modifies the physical appearance of the developing embryo.
As the senses develop while in the womb the soul begins to experience the physical world and to collect memories of these sense perceptions.
It is possible that I have a memory of living in the womb. I remember the fleeting sensation of pure being-ness, mixed with confusion by it all, wondering "what is this sense of awareness?"
I wonder whether the soul is created fully-developed with all its capabilities of intellect and with full awareness (with personhood) or whether it develops, passing through plant, animal, then finally human stages? As the soul develops it begins to have more capabilities.
I have brief memories as an infant. I remember the sensation of grasping, of trying to use hands and arms but not being able to, the desire to manipulate the physical world with my body, to exercise the innate power I felt I possessed. One appetite of the soul is to use the body.
Part of the soul's attachment to the body is that it recognizes that it has power over the material world through the body — it can make the body move, it can grasp things. At death the soul must give up this power which it has come to enjoy — a painful experience because of the attachments and habits it has developed while alive.
The soul is connected to the body for as long as the body lives. This is true even for those whose senses have stopped working as designed (such as Terri Schaivo). But this bonding between soul and body provides experiences of the soul that it can remember after death. Thus, the soul knows that it is trapped in the body. But this is not an unnatural condition.
Not everyone is able to experience the fullness of life that is possible for humans. For example, some homeless people seem to spend their days in survival mode: either looking for food, cigarettes, and drugs; or waiting until the daily commute when there will be enough people to panhandle from.
At death the soul must sever its attachments to the body. These attachments are of several kinds...
The soul discerns when death is imminent. Even animals know that a certain dangerous situation is potentially life-threatening.
At death the attachment of the soul to the body is broken (some call this attachment the silver cord). I wonder what is the nature of this attachment?
It is a traumatic experience for the soul when it becomes separated from the body.
After death all memories still exist. The soul can reflect on all the experiences it had while in the body and continues to form new memories of its experiences after death as it continues to interact with other spirit beings and in spiritual interactions with the souls of living beings still alive here on the earth (and on other worlds?)
After death the soul must adapt to its new life: there is now no input from bodily senses, no ability or power over the actions of a body, no influence in the material world via the body. Existence is limited to only the spiritual but there are the many bodily memories received from the senses when their soul was attached to its body.
The soul possesses two bodies...
We all have practical experience of this. When we are half asleep dreaming we are aware of our spiritual body (our dream body) as well as our physical body (the body that is lying down on the sofa).
The physical body does not live in the spiritual realm. Even Jesus gave up his physical body when he ascended into heaven. I believe that Jesus, Mary, and all the Saints in heaven have spiritual bodies but not physical bodies. In the new heavens and new earth we will again live in the physical realm in physical bodies (but we will still have spiritual bodies).
It is impossible for a physical object to exist in the spiritual realm and it is likewise impossible for a spiritual being to exist in the physical realm. Spiritual beings (including the human soul) interact with the physical world at the boundary (sometimes referred to in the Bible as air, clouds, or water) between the physical and spiritual realms. For example, our spiritual souls receive data from our physical senses by virtue of their being linked to this boundary with the physical world — it is part of our human nature for our souls to be linked in this manner to the physical realm, to our physical bodies. We sense that we are our bodies because our souls are so intimately connected to the sense perceptions of our physical bodies.
Angels and other spirit beings only have spiritual bodies. When angels appear in the physical world they manifest with either a physical body or with other physical phenomena: lights, wind, sounds, etc. This second kind of manifestation is called an apparition. Even though angels can materialize in the physical realm with a physical body, angels do not possess physical bodies: their nature is inherently spiritual and the manifested physical body is merely a way for them to interact physically with those in the physical realm. It is possible that angels will appear from time to time in the new heavens and new earth but generally they live only in the spiritual realm.
The New Testament contains many stories of humans and even animals possessed by wicked spiritual beings. Apparently these spirit beings enjoy the pleasures of inhabiting a body but this is not their proper habitation. The good angels never do this.
I suspect that souls develop as the fetus develops. Once a soul reaches full "maturity" it never reverts even if it loses the sensory connection to the body via injury or disease.
Children below the age of accountability have souls which are not accountable for their moral choices.
States of the human soul...
Many scientists studying consciousness claim it is a function of the brain, thinking they've explained it if they can discover brain activity corresponding. This makes no sense whatever. What they're studying is the interface between the physical (the brain) and the spiritual (consciousness).
It is remarkable that consciousness can be measured, meaning, gadgets for measuring brain activity can detect whether or not we are conscious. This is useful, of course, for anesthesiologists. In our current condition, consciousness is always associated with brain activity. Even having a spiritual vision registers in the brain.
Consciousness operates as a flashlight shining upon a region of the activities of the soul, illuminating it for us to see. Certain aspects of our being are unconscious. In this current phase of human existence in which we are bodily alive, we are not conscious of much of the operation of our soul.
Some philosophers accept that consciousness is outside of the physical scientific domain, a kind of dualism. Some observations...
Some reject dualism and try to add the property of mind as an attribute of matter. Even Aristotle and Plato did this. The goal seems to be to allow for one reality within the physical universe without the need for a spiritual realm containing non-material stuff.
In my view, consciousness is an attribute of the soul, residing within the spiritual realm. In humans it is tightly coupled to the brain but occasionally responds to inputs purely from the spiritual realm, bypassing the physical body (brain and senses). After death, the soul begins to experience consciously directly from the spiritual realm. I have no idea what triggers this change. Perhaps consciousness is like a window and while in this current reality influenced by the powers of darkness, the parts of this window that can harm us are blocked off.
After death, our conscious experience will "wake up" to the goings-on in the spiritual realm. I suspect in the new heavens and new earth we will still be conscious of all this and in addition will again be conscious of the body just as we are now.
I wonder whether when we are unconscious (during sleep or anesthesia) we are actually conscious of goings-on in the spiritual realm but not the body. When we wake up we think we were unconscious because we cannot remember any of these experiences.
Normally we are only partially aware of the activities and experiences of the soul — for example, we do not remember the soulish experiences we had during sleep — we assume we were unconscious, but our souls were fully conscious the whole time. After death we will remember all these experiences. The same is true for people such as Terri Schiavo whose soul is fully functioning (but not receiving data from the senses because the transmission connections are broken). I wonder what it is like for such as her? Does she consciously experience her predicament or does she only awake after death?
I am open to the possibility of "soul sleep" after death, that we "wake up" in our resurrected bodies in the New Heavens and New Earth after becoming unconscious when we die. But there are some Bible passages that seem to contradict it: (1) Samuel's spirit appearing to King Saul and the witch of Endor, (2) the rich man and the beggar in Luke, and (3) the event of Jesus preaching to the captives after he died but before his resurrection.
Consciousness appears tightly coupled with brain function. During sleep and anesthesia it disappears. Scientists likely can now accurately detect when a person is and is not conscious.
If our soul is conscious in the spiritual realm apart from brain function, why don't we experience this conscious awareness of goings on in the spiritual realm? Do we shift modes abruptly at death, from physical mode to spiritual mode? And then in the new heavens and new earth do we shift back into brain conscious mode?
People having faulty brain functioning or people on drugs can have unusual conscious experiences even including thinking you are multiple selves at the same time. Christians often label this demon possession but doing so explains nothing.
A side effect of all this is that animals not having the required brain structures are not conscious. This perhaps includes dogs, for example.
This reminds me of a fatal flaw with reincarnation; we are reborn to learn lessons we missed in a previous life but can't remember any of that. How can we improve without this conscious connection?
I want to say that consciousness exists as an attribute of the soul which resides in the spiritual realm and that it is conscious of goings on in the spiritual realm via spiritual senses in the spiritual body. I do not currently know how to reconcile this with the previous.
Another aspect of this: We are only conscious of certain aspects of our mental functioning. Even Freud noticed this and postulated the subconscious and unconscious mind. If these are sources of sin requiring redemption, why are we unaware of them and helpless to control them?
One explanation for all this is God limits the extent of our consciousness to protect us from the powers of darkness which influence the spiritual realm our souls inhabit. I think this kind of solution is most likey.
The quality of life of a seagull — a rather pathetic existence. They spend most of their energy and time either looking for food; or waiting for the time of day to come around when they can look for food; or waiting for the next ferry to launch so they can scavenge food from the tourists; or fighting with other seagulls for the best location where the food might appear. It seems their lives should be spent on more noble pursuits, but they are seagulls and they do what seagulls do.
How much time do humans spend on similar pursuits? Our whole work experience is based on earning money to take care of our survival needs. So much time and energy of humans is spent on fighting and on wars. Political power seems to be a major part of our lives. It goes well beyond the minimum needed to form into communities and organizations for a stable and organized community.
Both of these kinds of souls, seagulls and humans, have the same survival appetite (includes eating). Even though the human soul has higher aspirations, it seems to spend a lot of its time stuck in these lower pursuits.
Perhaps the biological need is perceived by the soul and translated into an appetite (but the urge to procreate doesn't fit this model).
I recently observed at close range several seagull families rearing their newly-hatched younglings. They are more social creatures than I originally thought.
Creativity is a window into the supernatural realm. For example, when I am composing music I have the impression that the thoughts of which notes to play come from outside my conscious awareness. These thoughts originate in a hidden part of my soul. As they flow across the boundary of consciousness I use my reason to judge whether or not I like these notes and if I do I play them — I have created! In heaven we will be conscious of the whole process.
This sounds a bit like new-age channeling but it isn't. In new-age channeling the inputs are from spirit beings from the dark side. Prophecy occurs when the inputs are from angelic spirit beings (directed by God). But creativity originates from within our own souls.
The act of creativity is based on particular forms and is rooted in the material world. For example, a painter has inspirations of where to place the paint, a composer of which note to use, a writer of which words. Creativity is based on objects received from the senses (colors, forms, sounds, words on a page).
In heaven before receiving a resurrected body, creativity will be based on the spiritual senses — the ideas and thoughts we receive from other spirit beings and from our own souls.
Creativity is the process whereby something that never was suddenly becomes. This is the way God operates; he dwells in the plane of pure creativity. He is the creator, not just once at the beginning of the universe, but moment by moment in this universe and in the spirit world.
Nothing is ever lost; nothing ever forgotten. Every action performed in this world endures forever; as does every word spoken, every created masterpiece. As I compose music the combinations of notes are fixed — they can't be undone even after they are long forgotten by the people of this world. These creations will continue to have an existence in the spiritual realm; in the memory of the souls who heard the created music, or at least in the memory of the soul of the composer.
I base this section on the idea that the universe is a soul and that its appetites are the natural laws (gravity, etc.) The souls of creatures are in some way able to inhabit this soul of the universe — thus we live within the universe.
This view: The universe is merely a soul (with a body) created by God. It has appetites leading to action and motion and activity just as other souls with bodies do. Perhaps it has a consciousness but I assume it doesn't — that it is more like a plant than an animal.
The natural laws are the appetites of the soul of the universe. The material world is the body of the soul of the universe. Our souls interact with the soul of the universe and our bodies interact with the body of the universe.
When we analyze the material universe it is difficult to determine what it even is. At the sub-atomic level it is the interaction of natural laws, matter/energy, and space-time. The natural laws of nature are similar to the appetites of the soul — they result in action, motion and activity. It is as if the material universe is merely the manifestation of a soul and its appetites (the physical laws). Consider gravity for example. Matter attracts matter just as seagulls seek food. The "desire" of gravity and of seagulls manifests in physical action.
The material universe is a soul/body just as humans are soul and body. It is not alive in the way claimed by the new-age movement and others — that the earth is a living entity, Gaia. Perhaps it doesn't possess the attribute of consciousness. Perhaps it is actually a lower form of soul than even plants (plant souls may not have the attribute of consciousness either). In the spectrum of attributes of souls consciousness is merely one attribute but not all souls possess this attribute.
The new-age movement has ideas such as this but my concept is not new-age — rather, it is Christian.
There are Bible verses indicating that non-living objects have a soul. Typically these are interpreted as mere figures of speech, but based on what? It's from a predetermined bias against these being literally true — it's certainly not from Biblical teaching. And doing so robs these passages of their meaning and excitement by stripping away the life and replacing it with figurative images not having factual meaning. And why stop here? Liberal Christians do this and in the process destroy the gospel. It is safer to interpret these strictly literally and find explanations for things that seemingly don't make sense, as I have done.
I remember once during a liquid fast (fruit juice, vegetable juice, protein drink) I at times had such strong urges for food. I experienced a mental image of the particular foods and of myself eating them. I learned about these particular foods through my senses long ago. If I had been brought up in a different culture with different kinds of food my images of food would have been of these kinds of food instead.
In some case people die because they lose the will to live. I suspect that the soul's appetite to survive is so strong that this usually only occurs in extreme cases of stress or bodily misfunction.
What motivates people? I suppose it is the combination and interplay of all the appetites of the soul. Some of these appetites result in us taking steps to survive, some prompt us to create works of art, and others lead us to worship God.
The soul can predict the future outcome of present situations. Even in day to day life the soul has these predictive, anticipitory powers and thus we experience dread or joy, etc., as we anticipate future events. We should learn to expect the best and to pray for the best — this is certainly better than assuming that the worst will happen.
The soul of someone in a vegetative state does not interact with their bodies via the senses. One might be tempted to think that it is better to "release their soul" by allowing them to die. One danger of this is that we are presuming to know whether or not the life of a soul in this situation could be improved by encouraging death. Another danger with this is that we might start to imagine other situations in which it is better if the soul is released. Examples...
If you made a list of all the different kinds of souls (plants, animals, etc.) and placed them in order based on their attributes they would form into levels of souls. Souls with higher attributes such as consciousness would be higher in the list than souls without those attributes. The highest attribute is moral awareness possessed by humans and certain spirit beings (angels).
I wonder what it is like to be a plant, a dog, a fly, a bird, or a single-celled organism? I suppose we only need to reflect on how we feel when we are operating with the same attributes. We don't need to waste our time trying to imagine what it is like to be a creature with a soul that does not possess the attribute of consciousness. For the animals that spend their entire lives in survival mode we merely need to remember the fleeting moments in which we were operating in survival mode. Animals such as dogs that have emotion are experiencing what we experience when we experience emotion.
Here's my theory and musings. . . .
Some bird species fly thousands of miles twice a year to very precise locations. I doubt if one bird in isolation could successfully migrate without a lot of luck.
It is possible that God or some other spirit beings direct the birds by interacting with their souls giving them directions as they are flying. I think this may be what happened when the animals went into Noah's ark — God directed each animal individually; Noah just looked on in amazement.
Here's what I suspect usually happens: Older birds remember having migrated in the past. During autumn in the north it starts to get cold and there is less food and less sunlight. Predators are hungrier and the birds start to get skittish, nervous, and generally afraid. One day a particular bird gets spooked and suddenly flies off, and all the other birds follow suit. They associate the general mood with the long flight south so the migration just sort of begins on it own.
No particular bird wants to be the leader of the flying formation. When a bird ends up in front it feels insecure and eventually falls back leaving another bird as the leader. As individual birds notice landmarks they recognize they fly more confidently and the other birds notice this and follow them for a while. Thus, the whole flock of birds leads the way.
Similar for the migration back north. The conditions in the spring in the south (such as the increased heat and the urge to mate) causes the birds to feel restless and one day one of them abruptly flies away and the others follow. . . .
For example, fighting. Humans have this tendency (wars, bullying) just as seagulls do.
In the next two sections I highlight two controversies...
In my opinion these are not essentials and should not divide Christians.
Some Christians make a strong distinction between soul and spirit claiming that humans have three parts: (1) body, (2) soul, and (3) spirit. In this view it is the spirit of man which is truly spiritually alive; which is born again. This view runs into trouble when considering the unredeemed who also have a spirit, even if it is not activated by God's Spirit.
Verses supporting this view...
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)
However, there are plenty of verses which contradict this view by indicating that the soul is saved...
In addition, there are passages which indicate that the soul lives spiritually and that there are only two aspects to humans, (1) body, and (2) soul, also called spirit...
The body is mentioned but not the soul.
However, there are verses contradicting this view...
Here we see that the spirit is also the source of sin.
If the flesh is that part of a person which is influenced by Satan to sin, why would Paul want to turn that person's flesh over to Satan so they would be saved from sin? There are two possible answers: (1) Paul wants Satan to kill that man before he loses his salvation (but later Paul exhorts the Christians to accept the man back into fellowship), and (2) Paul wants that man to experience the hardship caused by loss of fellowship to motivate him to repent and stop sinning.
In my view, the human soul has appetites (the flesh) which must be under the conscious control of the person and used in moderation according to God's law. When people merely follow the dictates of their appetites they are operating in the flesh which often results in them committing various sins. Some verses that support this...