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spiffy

Does Philosophy or Theology Better Explain Soul?

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The 'spirit/soul' question has interested me for years.  There are few topics in Christianity that give more widely varying answers than this one.  I tend to think Scripture alone is not sufficient to properly distinguish between soul and spirit.  The addition of philosophy (or maybe more accurately metaphysics) helps flesh out the issue, but still can't provide anything like a proper distinction. 

Seems to me the pertinent issues lie in at minimum trying to fit the following topics into a coherent whole:

* properties of each (spirit-soul) and how one works with the other in psychological terms; (is spirit better explained theologically and soul philosophically?)

* how do "good-evil" fit into the picture?

* can we find a way to overcome the "material-immaterial" conundrum and unify this with the "good-evil" and "spirit-soul" issues?

I'm interested to hear opinions.

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I believe God's Word explains the concepts best. After all, God is Who created all things.

A lot of confusion comes from the closeness of the Greek words in the manuscripts used to describe soul vs. spirit. There's also confusion from the OT description about one's spirit.

Eccl 12:5-7
5 Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail: because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets:

6 Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern.

7 Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.
KJV

Most scholars have treated that idea of spirit going back to God being just animate spirit that is present even in animals and plants. In Matthew 10:28 Jesus said don't fear those who can kill the body but not one's soul (Greek psuche-breath). That proves something does go back to God that is of the realm of spirit. Greek pneuma also can mean 'breath', but scholars say represents soul, so which one is correct? The ancient Greeks believed that our spirit-soul was made up from something in the air originating from the sun called nous. Thinking along those lines can be confusing.

In the above, Solomon reveals the existence of a "silver cord" linking one's spirit together with their flesh body while alive on earth. And at death, that silver cord is severed, and the two distinct parts then go their respective ways.

In John 3, Jesus said that which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. That means we have to understand the two different dimensions of existence, this earthly existence, and the heavenly existence.

2 Realms -

Earthy - our spirit with soul in a flesh body

Heavenly - our spirit with soul, the silver cord having been severed at flesh death

 

There's a phenomena with amputees, where some of them say still at times they can feel a limb that was amputated. What they feel is their spiritual body.

In 1 Cor.15, Apostle Paul said, "there is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body". And he said that like in the present tense they both exist today.

I propose the matter is simply that whichever realm our soul is in, whether the earthy or the heavenly, we need a body to get around that realm in. In this earthy realm we need a flesh body. In the heavenly realm we need the "spiritual body".

The mystery is that our spirit in our flesh is not just animate spirit that goes back to God like a drop of water returned to some great sea. Our spirit is actually our spiritual body that Paul was talking about that can be separated from our flesh. And our soul is our actual person. Our spirit and soul are always... attached together and cannot be separated from each other.

This is what Paul was showing us in 1 Cor.15 about the "image of the earthy" vs. the "image of the heavenly". The image of the earthy is our flesh body. The image of the heavenly is our spiritual body. A 'body'... is an outward image. Thus our spirit, or spiritual body, has an outward image like the angels, for that is the comparison our Lord Jesus gave us for our resurrection body (Mark 12:25).

 

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The simple of the complex is the defined 'being' status is spirit seen here

Genesis 2:7 (KJV)

[7] And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

quite simply then the soul of man was born out of The Spirit of God and when we sinned The Holy Breath or Spirit of God left leaving man to a dead soul in need of Spiritual life...
the body is not a necessary element as we see here

Revelation 20:11 (KJV)

[11] And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.

This is souls separated from all of material creation before God to give an account-> spirit beings which have no material resource to give excuse to God... like so much of the time we use I couldn't help myself indicating the desire of the created thing over God which is idol worship. Literally we choose to let that around us 1st created things to dictate our behavior but here it is removed so these beings are left with only truth I chose this because it pleased me to do so!
Love, Steven

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On ‎10‎/‎10‎/‎2016 at 0:18 PM, Salty said:

I believe God's Word explains the concepts best. After all, God is Who created all things.

A lot of confusion comes from the closeness of the Greek words in the manuscripts used to describe soul vs. spirit. There's also confusion from the OT description about one's spirit.

Eccl 12:5-7
5 Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail: because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets:

6 Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern.

7 Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.
KJV

Most scholars have treated that idea of spirit going back to God being just animate spirit that is present even in animals and plants. In Matthew 10:28 Jesus said don't fear those who can kill the body but not one's soul (Greek psuche-breath). That proves something does go back to God that is of the realm of spirit. Greek pneuma also can mean 'breath', but scholars say represents soul, so which one is correct? The ancient Greeks believed that our spirit-soul was made up from something in the air originating from the sun called nous. Thinking along those lines can be confusing.

In the above, Solomon reveals the existence of a "silver cord" linking one's spirit together with their flesh body while alive on earth. And at death, that silver cord is severed, and the two distinct parts then go their respective ways.

In John 3, Jesus said that which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. That means we have to understand the two different dimensions of existence, this earthly existence, and the heavenly existence.

2 Realms -

Earthy - our spirit with soul in a flesh body

Heavenly - our spirit with soul, the silver cord having been severed at flesh death

 

There's a phenomena with amputees, where some of them say still at times they can feel a limb that was amputated. What they feel is their spiritual body.

In 1 Cor.15, Apostle Paul said, "there is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body". And he said that like in the present tense they both exist today.

I propose the matter is simply that whichever realm our soul is in, whether the earthy or the heavenly, we need a body to get around that realm in. In this earthy realm we need a flesh body. In the heavenly realm we need the "spiritual body".

The mystery is that our spirit in our flesh is not just animate spirit that goes back to God like a drop of water returned to some great sea. Our spirit is actually our spiritual body that Paul was talking about that can be separated from our flesh. And our soul is our actual person. Our spirit and soul are always... attached together and cannot be separated from each other.

This is what Paul was showing us in 1 Cor.15 about the "image of the earthy" vs. the "image of the heavenly". The image of the earthy is our flesh body. The image of the heavenly is our spiritual body. A 'body'... is an outward image. Thus our spirit, or spiritual body, has an outward image like the angels, for that is the comparison our Lord Jesus gave us for our resurrection body (Mark 12:25).

 

It's not clear to me what you're saying.  What is the difference between soul and spirit in your estimation?

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the soul of man was born out of The Spirit of God and when we sinned The Holy Breath or Spirit of God left leaving man to a dead soul in need of Spiritual life...
the body is not a necessary element

I've not heard this idea before.  Are you saying we fist have a spirit, then turn into a "soul" after sinning?  What are the properties of spirit and soul such that we can distinguish between them?  Where is the soul before we sin?  Where does our spirit go when we sin?

You make a case for souls being around after death, but what happens to the spirit we were born with?  I'm curious to see how you tie these things together.

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 I believe the clearest answer we can hope for (and it still may be like looking through a darkened glass (1Cor 13)) would come from Scripture. This is because the same one who created us with a spirit/soul is the same one who gave us His Word in the Scriptures.

Secondly, philosophy has given us myriads of theories on this so who is to determine which if any is correct especially through the lens of a fallen nature?

 

So how using Scripture do you distinguish between soul and spirit? 

Seems to me philosophy as a search for knowledge will never have complete answers.  Once all is known about something it's of no use to philosophy; it just goes off looking for answers to something else.  And philosophy "gives" us nothing.  Humans create philosophies to frame possible answers to life's hard questions.  Theists create and pursue philosophies that include God.  Atheists pursue and create philosophies that exclude God.  Humans give us philosophies, it's up to us to try to discern which ones make most sense.

The same one who gave us His word didn't give us all the same mind to interpret what He means, so the notion that Scripture gives clear answers to these things seems not to work very well in pursuing answers to these kinds of questions.  I'm not sure God intended His word to explain all things to us.  For me it raises as many questions as it answers.

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There are generally two main theories of the structure of humankind from a Christian viewpoint.  These are typical descriptions for the purpose of discussion, there are of course variations:

1) Tripartite (man is three: body, soul, spirit) 

2) Bipartite (man is two: soul and body)

The 3 crowd typically argues that spirit is a vivifying principle that animates body to produce soul or mind.  In the Tri crowd we're two parts immaterial (soul/spirit) and one part material (body).  The 2 crowd uses soul as a single immaterial part in union with the material body.  When looking at these positions form a metaphysical point of view, the problem with the Tri position is that by separating soul and spirit there is no good explanation for why, if spirit animates body to produce soul, there would be the presence of a soul after physical death.  How can there be a soul since there's no longer a body to animate to produce it?  This tends to align to some degree with the atheist/materialist view that the self is only the brain, that there's nothing after physical death.

The Bipartite folks overcome this problem by combining spirit and soul into one.  If the soul is both animating principle of the body and also holds all the properties unique to conscious intellectual operation, the immaterial soul leaves the body with all the intellectual properties attached at physical death.  This solves the problem raised by the tripartite approach.  For my part, I find the 3 version--despite the problem raised above--is somewhat easier to mount an explanation for sin, i.e., its presence and effects in consciousness and human behavior, than the 2 version.

The next logical question is, after adopting a material/immaterial structure (which philosophy rejects because no intellectually satisfactory connection can be found between matter and an immateriality) of humanity, how does sin or good and evil fit into the puzzle? 

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22 hours ago, spiffy said:

There are generally two main theories of the structure of humankind from a Christian viewpoint.  These are typical descriptions for the purpose of discussion, there are of course variations:

1) Tripartite (man is three: body, soul, spirit) 

2) Bipartite (man is two: soul and body)

The 3 crowd typically argues that spirit is a vivifying principle that animates body to produce soul or mind.  In the Tri crowd we're two parts immaterial (soul/spirit) and one part material (body).  The 2 crowd uses soul as a single immaterial part in union with the material body.  When looking at these positions form a metaphysical point of view, the problem with the Tri position is that by separating soul and spirit there is no good explanation for why, if spirit animates body to produce soul, there would be the presence of a soul after physical death.  How can there be a soul since there's no longer a body to animate to produce it?  This tends to align to some degree with the atheist/materialist view that the self is only the brain, that there's nothing after physical death.

The Bipartite folks overcome this problem by combining spirit and soul into one.  If the soul is both animating principle of the body and also holds all the properties unique to conscious intellectual operation, the immaterial soul leaves the body with all the intellectual properties attached at physical death.  This solves the problem raised by the tripartite approach.  For my part, I find the 3 version--despite the problem raised above--is somewhat easier to mount an explanation for sin, i.e., its presence and effects in consciousness and human behavior, than the 2 version.

The next logical question is, after adopting a material/immaterial structure (which philosophy rejects because no intellectually satisfactory connection can be found between matter and an immateriality) of humanity, how does sin or good and evil fit into the puzzle? 

The 'body' of flesh is of the earth, it is material matter. It has no consciousness. To think that material matter can have conscious is equal to thinking a piece of iron can breath air. That's how backwards thinking it is to assume material matter has consciousness. What part does have consciousness then? Our spirit part, and that is the part that goes back to God when the flesh body dies, as per Eccl.12. Simple as that. Lesson over.

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7 hours ago, Salty said:

The 'body' of flesh is of the earth, it is material matter. It has no consciousness. To think that material matter can have conscious is equal to thinking a piece of iron can breath air. That's how backwards thinking it is to assume material matter has consciousness. What part does have consciousness then? Our spirit part, and that is the part that goes back to God when the flesh body dies, as per Eccl.12. Simple as that. Lesson over.

Sorry, I don't know what you're talking about.  I don't think anyone suggests that matter has consciousness.  Is this a reference to my comment about materialists equating consciousness to brain activity? 

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6 hours ago, Yowm said:

It helps when quoting someone to click on the word 'Quote' next to the '+' sign, that way we are alerted you have quoted us.

The way you have framed the situation,  no one can be certain about anything, so why waste your time with philosophy let alone the Bible? If man's ideas are the path to Truth, then you have a case and ultimately there is no truth (Is that the truth?).

Scriptures affirm there is truth and that God, the Creator of all things (including our ability to reason) is the Source of that Truth. Being one that doesn't lie, He has given us His Word.

It is not the fault of Scripture that there are so many interpretations but mostly due to the Fall leading to our bent thinking when handling God's thoughts in Scripture. This is largely overcome in those who are born again, those who possess the Author of Scripture, the Holy Spirit and will fully be made plain when we receive our new bodies.

Scripture reveals that man is made from the earth (his body) and God breathed into man (spirit). So essentially man is made of body and spirit. Those two interrelations comprise what we normally call the soul. At death of the body that interrelationship will be undone and in the resurrection the believer's spirit will receive an incorruptible body.

Genesis 2:7 KJVS
[7] And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

 

If those who are born again have a more direct path to truth, how does one find this group?  What are the true and proper teachings of this group?  How do they know they hold the greatest degree of truth?  I've seen a lot of different people who claim to be Christian hold a lot of different views of what God says in the Bible.  Virtually all seem to think they are born again in some sense that parallels the Bible's teachings.  Which of these groups is really born again and which are mistaken?

If the body-spirit interrelationship is undone at physical death, what happens to the soul that this union produces?  I assume you consider the soul to be equivalent to the mind?  In the resurrection does the incorruptible body and spirit begin to form a new soul?

Sorry the 'quote' tag didn't seem to be working last night so I copied pasted.  Seems to work fine today.

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