2009-12-14

Spirit and World

Many people think there is not one world, but two - one world is material, the visible world or the scientifically detectable world; and the other world is spiritual and invisible, a holy reality. According to this view, the material world we see is only part of the full reality; alongside it is another, more important, world, containing things like God or Heaven.
 
We may call this the "two-worlds theory", which human beings invented long ago. The two-worlds theory was used to explain the many things that were invisible, like the wind, or to understand unknown forces of the natural world, or to irrationally deny that the dead had wholly disappeared. Even today, many people believe that the innermost core of their own personal identity, their soul, is not of this world, but of the spirit world. After all, we cannot see our own souls; therefore our souls must not belong to this world.
 
But there is only one reality, and in this one reality there are not two worlds – a spiritual world and a material world - but only one world, in which the material things in it give rise to things we regard as spiritual, when they are truly real. The wind may be invisible, but now we know it consists of small molecules of gases. We can now see what is in Heaven by telescopes and space probes. Human beings themselves have now entered Heaven, and found no god there, no angels or realm of the departed.
 
The things we consider our soul, such as our memories, our personality, and our consciousness, arise from material things, the nerve cells in our brains. The things we have considered spiritual arise from and depend upon material things. A human being is not a composite of two things, a body and a soul, but rather, a human being is one single entity. The body, when it is properly active, can give rise to the things which we call the soul, such as mind, feeling, emotion, consciousness, memories, temperament, and personality. We may not be able to touch our inner experience, but what we experience arises from what is material, from the activity of something that is material, and it is the experience of what is material. The soul depends upon the activity of the body in order to exist and have the character it does.
 
We are not spirits imprisoned in matter. We are spirits of matter, matter taking on a spiritual nature and giving rise to spiritual experience. The body is not the husk of the soul, with the soul the living seed; the body and the soul together are both alive, intertwined with each other, with the soul depending on the body. The soul arose from matter historically, because the bodies of primitive animals without mind existed before bodies that gave rise to primitive mind. Minds that could reflect on themselves arose from minds that could only feel pain or pleasure, by the evolution of bodies that could support greater mind. Subjectivity has evolved alongside the evolution of bodies and nervous systems, because it is a particular, material nature which makes a particular, spiritual nature possible.
 
The soul, then, is intimately associated with the body. When the body is properly preserved, the soul can be preserved. We know now that almost all of what we regard as our soul arises from even one organ of our body, the brain, and that by preserving this we can preserve the material basis for the soul. The brain may be inactive, or unable to function spontaneously, but if its nature is preserved, the information necessary to give rise to that particular soul is also preserved. The soul does not depend on only one body or only one type of body; it can arise from the working of many possible bodies. That is why we must preserve the body, so we can preserve the soul in the only way that it can be preserved now.
 

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