2015-33 Faith

“But cannot kill the soul” (Matt. 10:28)

Atheists deny the existence of both God and an immortal human soul. In this way, they reduce the human person to mere matter and their happiness to the unrestricted satisfaction of carnal instincts and needs.

Soviet atheists sneered at those who believed in the existence of an immortal human soul by claiming that there was no such thing, because it could not be seen in an X-ray. Other atheists were convinced that a human soul was material energy and as such could be examined, but there are also still others for whom a soul is a mere product of the human brain or a plain illusion. Questioning the existence of a human soul leads to treating man as a rational animal and, consequently, to the terrible deformation of humanity through moral corruption and the devastation of culture. And so, for instance, Theodore Adorno (1903–1969), one of the major founders of gender ideology, claimed man to be only part of a sexual drive, which is split into a woman and a man. An idea born of this concept, to sexualise all spheres of man’s life, including children, has been implemented for many years by believers in Marxist genderism. That is why another ideologist of genderism, Wilhelm Reich (1897– 1967), insisted that all restrictions of the sexual sphere be abolished and that man be once and for all rid of “the image and likeness of God”. He proposed a “religion of orgasm” and “sexual mysticism” (W. Reich, The Murder of Christ).

The contentions by atheists that the material brain generates human consciousness are thus proven wrong

The mystery of the human person

Rejecting the existence of an immortal human soul is an insult to the human logic of cognition. How do we know it actually exists? When we speak of a human soul, we touch upon the mystery of human beings, with their self-awareness, freedom, thinking, love, imagination and creativity. Of all living creatures, only humans have reason, free will, self-awareness and the capacity for self-reflection. With thoughts, they can penetrate the macro- and microcosm, gain knowledge, develop science, exercise reason, make judgments, assign valuesand develop abstract concepts. An obvious sign of the existence of a spiritual element in man is seen in our ability to communicate usinglanguage, with its grammar and logical reasoning (entirely absent from the animal world). What is more, man continues to progress in science and develop in civilisation (from an abacus to a computer, from a bow to spacecraft, etc.), whereas animals always do the same in the same way.

Human consciousness is independent of the material brain and it continues to live after the death of the body

It is thanks to a spiritual and immortal soul that humans are rational and free creatures, have self-awareness, are open to the truth, love, good and beauty, and have conscience and a moral sense, thanks to which they can distinguish between good and evil and believe or refuse to believe in God. All these manifestations of spiritual life are absent from the life of animals for the simple reason that they do not have a spiritual soul. A soul, being a spiritual reality, transcends the material world and is immortal by nature, because God continuously keeps it in existence.

Instances of bilocation

One of the arguments for the existence of a spiritual soul in man involves many documented instances of bilocation in the lives of saints. Owing to a special gift received from God, saints could move in spirit to places that were not infrequently thousands of kilometres away to help those in need. Their body remained where they lived, but their soul was at the same time present in another place to provide specific assistance. Despite the fact that it a long time, perfectly understanding each other, despite the fact that the general spoke English, while Father Pio used his native Benevento dialect. After this meeting, the general, who had been a Protestant, converted to Catholicism.

Near death experience

The fact that souls suffering in Purgatory appear to people living on Earth to ask them for a prayer in their intention is evidence of the existence of a human soul and that it continues to live after the body dies. We have numerous testimonies left by saints whom God granted a special charisma of meeting souls suffering in Purgatory and coming to ask for a prayer and expiation for their sins. In this context, it must be strongly emphasised that the possibility of meeting souls suffering in Purgatory is a special gift from God, whereas anyone attempting to communicate with the souls of the departed and hold intercourse with them in spiritséances expose themselves to the action of evil spirits, which are able to camouflage themselves perfectly and pose as dead persons. Such practices are always very dangerous, may even cause possession, and therefore constitute a mortal sin.

The existence of a human soul and its continued life after the death of the body is attested by the experiences of people who have approached the threshold of real death while undergoing clinical death. There is documented evidence of such people remembering, upon returning to earthly life, minute details of what was happening during their clinical death, when their brain was inactive. This is an obvious sign that human consciousness is independent of the material brain and that it continues to live after the death of the body.

In the book Immortality, the Other Side of Death, Gary R. Habermas and J. P. Moreland recorded many cases of people, including the blind, who had experienced clinical death. One of the blind, who had undergone clinical death as a result of a tragic accident, after regaining consciousness, was able to describe in minute detail the resuscitation efforts by the medical personnel, whom he watched with the “eyes” of his soul. Also otherpeople who had been blind from birth described the efforts to resuscitate them with such details as the colour of clothes and type of jewellery worn by the medical personnel.

The loss of brainwave activity for some time is now considered the most reliable definition of natural death. There have been cases where encephalography showed a complete loss of brainwave activity; that is, the brain had stopped working. One such case involved a woman in whom an encephalographic examination indicated that her brain was dead and who consequently was pronounced dead. However, three and a half hours later, when her body was being transported to the morgue, all of a sudden, the woman came to and raised the sheet covering her face. Later, she said that during the resuscitation, she had hovered above her body and clearly seen and heard everything. She described with great accuracy all that had happened, remembering everything from the period when her brain was in the state of death. This case was thoroughly examined by doctors, who were amazed to find that this patient’s story was absolutely true. The contentions by atheists that the material brain generates human consciousness are thus proven wrong.

A Nobel Prize winner on the human soul

A Nobel Prize winner in physiology and medicine (1963), the Australian neurophysiologist John Carew Eccles (1903–1997), one of the world’s greatest authorities on the study of the human brain, concluded from his research that every man had an immortal soul. He proved that human consciousness was not a product of matter. Matter cannot generate any psychic phenomena and there is no conversion of physical into psychic energy. Only spiritual reality can produce psychic phenomena. The assertion of materialists that thinking is a result of material processes is rejected by Eccles as a superstition, having nothing in common with the findings of science: “It is simply a religious belief held by dogmatic materialists” (John C. Eccles, The Wonder of Being Human: Our Brain and Our Mind (San Francisco: Shambala, 1985), p. 24). Eccles stresses that we all have a personal self, or non-material mind, which operates through a material brain. Thus, besides the physical world, there is an intellectual – or spiritual – world in every man, where these worlds interact with one another (cf. How the Self Controls Its Brain, p. 38). According to the Nobel laureate, the self-awareness of a personal self continues unaltered throughout the entire life of every man or woman, “and this fact must be considered a miracle” (Ibid. p. 139). “Since the materialistic conception is incapable of explaining and accounting for the experience of our unrepeatability, I am forced to accept the supernatural creation of the unique, spiritual, and personal ‘I’—that is, the soul. Or, to put it in theological terms, every Soul is a new Divine creation infused into the human embryo.” (Evolution of the Brain: Creation of the Self, p. 237).

Nobel Prize winner John Eccles proved that human consciousness was not a product of matter

Man as a unity of body and soul

At the moment of fertilisation, or the joining of male and female cells, God creates an individual immortal soul which does not perish afterparting from the body upon its death. It is thanks to the immortal soul that man carries in himself the image and likeness of God, “an eternal seed which cannot be reduced to sheer matter” (Gaudium et spes 18; cf. 14).

“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul” (Matt. 10:28)

The harmonious development of a human being from the moment of their conception is programmed by the “information” (genetic code) encoded in every cell of a human organism. It is this brilliant “information” that organises, manages and guides the development of the body. It is a sign of the existence and activity of an individual human soul, which unites, enlivens and shapes matter in such a way that it becomes the body of a specific man. The soul reveals itself in a human body and as the spiritual reality of a personal self is present in every cell of a human organism.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church reads: “The unity of soul and body is so profound that one has to consider the soul to be the “form” of the body: i.e., it is because of its spiritual soul that the body made of matter becomes a living, human body; spirit and matter, in man, are not two natures united, but rather their union forms a single nature.” (365)

Modern science tells us that everyseven to nine years, all the matter in a human body, including the brain, is replaced at the level of atoms. In spite of this, we do not become new persons every seven to nine years. What keeps a person one and the same despite the lapse of time and gives them the selfawareness of an immutable self is the spiritual soul, being the principle of unity.

Man represents the unity of body and soul; hence the body cannot be treated by man as an unnecessary burden. Modern theology explains that the body is a symbol and autorealisation of the soul. The immortal human soul constantly refers to the material body, and after its death the soul “awaits” the body’s resurrection.

According to Pope Benedict XVI, being possessed of a soul means that man is welcomed, known and loved by God; it means that he is a creature summoned by God to an eternal dialogue of love with him.

If, however, a person totally rejects this summons, stubbornly persists in sin and does not want God, in his unlimited mercy, to work the miracle of forgiveness, then such a life ends in the gravest misery which is the eternal hell of absolute egoism. By consciously and freely choosing evil, man can completely destroy his capacity for love, breaking the ties of love joining him to God and other people, thereby choosing hell. But he cannot destroy himself, because the personal self, kept by God in existence, is indestructible. Man can kill his body but has not the power to annihilate his soul.

The Scripture on the immortality of the human soul

Adventists and Jehovah Witnessescontend that upon death an entire man dies with his body and soul, while the idea of an immortal soul originates with Greek philosophy and not Scripture. This view results from their false or perverse interpretations of biblical texts. The exegesis of the Holy Scriptures revealed by God clearly finds that in both Old and New Testaments the truth of the immortality of a human soul is clearly expounded. The Gospels record the words of Jesus, who unequivocally indicated that after the death of the body, the human soul continued to exist. Jesus said to his disciples: “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt 10:28). “Cannot kill the soul”, hence the human soul is immortal.

The dialogue of Jesus hanging from the cross with the Good Thief indicates that after the death of the body, a man continues to live. To the pleading by the Good Thief: “Jesus,remember me when you come in your kingly power” (Luke 23:42), Jesusreplies: “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43). The Saviour used the term “Paradise”, which indicated that there is life after death and before the resurrection of bodies. When Jesus says “today you will be with me in Paradise”, it means right after death, literally “before the sunset” – that is when the body will be in the state of death. The resurrection of bodies will take place only “at the last day” (John 6:54). Thus, the words addressed to the Good Thief contained a clear assertion by Jesus that after the death of the body, the immortal human soul continues to live.

In Jesus’ words to Martha, the sister of the deceased Lazarus, there is a clear message that despite the death of the body, man continues to live: “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25–26). Elsewhere, Jesus also assures us about life after death. “Truly, truly, I say to you, if any one keeps my word, he will never see death” (John 8:51).

St Paul, writing about man, mentions the mortal body, or soma, and the soul, to which he refers, by the terms psyche and pneuma, as the principle of supernatural life: “your spirit and soul and body” (1 Thess. 5:23). In the First Epistle to the Thessalonians, St Paul writes about Christ, “who died for us so that whether we wake or sleep we might live with him” (5:10). What we have here is a clear assertion that those people whose bodies are in the state of death are alive too. Hence, upon death, it is only the body that dies, while a man in his or her spiritual self, that is the soul, continues to live.

If a person during their earthly life neglects spiritual life, does not take care of the love relationship with God and other people, does not struggle with sin, does not pray, disregards Divine Mercy and does not go to confession or take Holy Communion, then they take the path of satisfying corporal desires and whims and the wicked mind (cf. Eph. 2:3). This lifestyle inevitably leads to the greatest life tragedy which is the state of absolute egoism or eternal damnation. “To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, indeed it cannot; and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. […] for if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body you will live” (Rom. 8:6–8:13).