Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Human Recipe

         Here is the human recipe:  Body and soul; soul and body:  a psychosomatic unity.  Not body only, as the physicalists assert; and not spirit only, as the Gnostics and Platonists wish to assert, and would, if only reality permitted.
         We humans are body and spirit.  Any of us with even a modicum of self-awareness knows that whenever we look carefully at ourselves, we are not explained solely by flesh or without it.  In us, there is flesh and more.  We have both a physical and non-physical dimension to our lives, neither of which could be eliminated without eliminating us.  I do not have a body; I am a body.  I do not have a soul; I am a soul.  If you think you have a body or a soul, what exactly is the you that has it?  It’s not a question of having but of being.  Delete either body or soul and I am deleted.  That is why the creed affirms the resurrection of the body in opposition to the gnostic heresies, which despised the body.  I will not resurrect merely as a disembodied soul.  I will resurrect complete -- both body and soul -- as did Christ.  The resurrection brings life to me, and me to life, all of me, both what is physical and what is not.   From which I learn this:  body is not junk, not something merely to be tossed blithely aside as the Gnostics would do.  Nor is spirit; something to be tossed blithely aside as the physicalists would do, folks who assert that the spirit cannot be real because it leaves no physical footprint, no laboratory trace -- as if that were the sort evidence you looked for when you looked for soul.
         Consider this evidence:  the testimony of humanity, by their millions and billions, across the millennia, in a hundred ways and in a hundred languages and a hundred means-- by word, song, and painting -- testifying that soul is real, and is real whether you are ancient, medieval or modern, whether you are eastern or western, northern or southern, young or old, rich or poor, learned or ignorant, primitive or technological.  The testimony is not universal, but nearly so.  It is only nearly universal because some among us have so little self-knowledge and self-awareness that they do not recognize even their own spirit, even their own soul.  So they conclude, arrogantly enough, that the problem lies with nearly universal humanity at large, and not with them.  Because they are blind, they think all others delusional, seeing things that just aren’t there.
         If 99% of the witnesses testify that they saw X, witnesses from all across the human spectrum, and if 1% did not, I could not conclude that X is a delusion.  I’d more likely conclude that about non-X.  Quibble with the percentages if you like.  We don’t have exact numbers.  But the differences are so great that quibbling won’t help.  Even if it’s 98-2 or 93-7, the same result follows.