What are souls? Who has ever seen them? Would we recognize them if we did see them? From where do they come, and what is their eventual fate, assuming they even exist? Questions about the soul and spirituality have vexed humans since at least as far back as our earliest extant writings. They still pervade every known culture, ranging from primitive tribal cultures, to hi-tech mega-cities, and every place in-between where humans live. Our inability to agree on something as basic to human nature as the soul seems an immense paradox, especially considering the relative length of its study, as opposed to other, more prodigious but recent fields, such as medicine or physics.

One thing, however, that is fairly certain, is that religion is the prime category for the study of spirituality and the soul. Animism, Hinduism, Christianity, as well as all other religions, have put the focus of their study on the spiritual nature of humans. Though philosophy is closely associated with religious study, philosophy tends to focus on more epistemological issues, such as the foundations of beliefs, or an analysis of beliefs, whereas religion tends to deal specifically with the act of believing. Theology acts as a bridge between philosophy and religion, trying to understand beliefs, developing more accurate beliefs, and finding appropriate ways to express those beliefs. The bridge that theology provides is to use the logical, systematic methods of philosophy, typically combined with the belief in and commitment to the spirituality of religion.

It is this theological perspective that we bring to the study of the soul in this paper. In trying to understand our own spirituality better, one step is to understand the nature of our souls, and what the relationship is between our "supernatural souls" and our "natural lives." Thus far we have introduced some essential concepts of neuroscience, philosophy of language, and quantum physics, that influence our contemporary understanding of the soul. Using these concepts, we will be able to critique various models of the brain-mind-soul interaction, and make headway in our own personal constructions of the nature of the soul.

History and Diversity of the Mind-Body Problem

Throughout history there have been many different conceptions of how the soul is related to the reality we perceive around us. The dominant Western view of brain currently excludes all notions of soul, and reduces mental phenomenon to emergent properties of neurons. These emergent properties/mental activities are not able to influence neural activity, since they are only a phenomenological production of a physical process. Just as clean blood is the result of proper liver function, thoughts are the result of proper brain function. One method of testing kidney function is analysis of urine; likewise, testing behavior or cognition indicates the state of the brain. This paradigm is extremely useful and accurate for prediction and treatment of brain disorders; therefore, it is a very stable, powerful model in the contemporary scientific community.

The brain, however, has not always been considered the seat of consciousness. At least since the ancient Greeks, there has been discussion of the mind-body problem. Empedocles in the fifth century B.C.E., started what is known as the cardio-vascular (CV) theory of mind-body relations (Jeeves 1994:8). He taught that the mind could be localized in the heart and blood. He had adversaries, however, in Alcmaeon and Pythagoras, who thought that mind (?????) could be localized in the brain (Delitzsch 1875:298). This is the encephalic view. The debate between these two theories has raged even to today. As mentioned before, the scientific community finds mind (as such) in the brain, while there is still the opposing theory of finding the "person" in the "heart." The latter view, while not usually locating mind in the , takes the view that brain is only a part of who the person is, and discussions of mind and person-hood should take an holistic viewpoint. This view attempts to keep at bay the reduction of the person to merely neurons, and attempts to consider the gestalt experience of being a human, living organism, usually including the person's environment.

Returning to the Greeks, in the fourth century B.C.E., Aristotle and Plato were the next to disagree on the mind-body problem. While Aristotle held the CV view, Plato taught a view similar to the gestalts of today, that only in a fusion of brain and heart could mind be found. These two philosophers had another competitor in Hippocrates. He held the encephalic view, and thought of the brain as the "interpreter of consciousness as well as the mediator of feelings" (Jeeves 1994:8). To some degree, this split in professional disagreement is played out through most of history. Hippocrates, as physician, saw mind in the brain, while Aristotle and Plato as philosophers, saw mind dispersed throughout the body.

Coming into the Christian era, Tertullian absorbed the Aristotelian CV theory, while Galen, the great Roman physician, saw mind solely in brain. The Stoics followed the gestalt stance, and claimed that the soul permeates the entire body. They placed the "thinking center" in the heart, which "controls and issues instructions to the rest of the soul" (Jacobson 1982:7). Most of the later thinkers on this issue until the Renaissance followed Tertullian.

It wasn't until Descartes in the early 1600's that the debate began seriously again, and scientists and philosophers alike began thinking of a duality between mind and body, and moreover, focused on the brain. Where there is a duality, there must a contact point. For Descartes, of course, this contact point was the pineal gland. Because of its spherical shape (symbolizing perfection), and its location near the optic fibers ("the windows from the soul to the world"), it was a perfect choice. After Descartes, Spinoza rejected dualism and followed a monistic philosophy. The body, he taught, was the key to understanding thought, and further, that there could be no thought, perception, or soul without a body (Jacobson 1982:13).

In the late 1600's, Leibniz explored the concept of "Monads." These were conscious substances without extension into space. They were derived from the body, and direct action on the body from a monad/soul was impossible. A contemporary of Leibniz, Locke, felt there were two actions of mind: perception (which was for Locke the equivalent to "thinking") and willing. This led to the concept of primary and secondary qualities. An apple, for example, has the primary qualities of mass, volume, inertia, etc., which are inherent to the natural properties of the apple. Its redness and sweetness, however, are secondary qualities, and only exist because the mind perceives them. The apple has mass because it exists. It tastes sweet because it is perceived.

Berkeley, in the early 1700's, extended Locke's thought. Certainly, secondary qualities exist only because they are perceived by the mind. But aren't mass and volume only relevant, indeed extant, because a mind perceives them too!? Indeed, Berkeley concluded, all qualities that are perceived by the mind are "mental" qualities, therefore all perceivable qualities are mental. Logically, then, since all of the world around us consists of perceived qualities, then all of the world, including our own bodies and minds, are entirely "mental." There is no "body" that factors into the equation, only mind. (Thus the infamous tree falling in the woods question: if there is no one there to hear it fall, there is no sound, because even the tree does not exist without a "perceiver" there.) Two of the most popular competing models of the soul are dualism and monism. The first can be typified in the Christian view of the soul of the Middle Ages, and the second in the Buddhist view. Monism is the belief that the soul is intimately bound up with the body, in a way that makes them both inseparable, and moreover, indistinguishable. To Buddha, there was no soul apart from the body, nor was there a difference between the two. While Buddha denied the existence of a soul in the commonly used sense, he still held to the idea of a substance which continues to exist throughout time (Smith 1986:171).

Soul in the common usage connotes some non-material substance which "hovers" throughout the body, that is distinguishable from the body, but somehow mutually influential on that body. This perspective, which is dualistic, was held by most Hindus at the time of Buddha, as well as by many Christians. The concept of an eternal, unchanging soul is what Buddha rejected. His analogy of the soul was of a candle-flame which can be passed to other candles. The flames on each succeeding candle derive from the same energy, and from the same chain of causal events. Thus, while each flame becomes somewhat of an unique entity, each one is inexorably tied to the original flame, not just historically, but ontologically as well.

Understanding the Buddha’s view of the soul taxes the Western mind. The questions we tend to ask are refused by the Buddha, as we are shown in some of the Buddhist sacred writings (Warren 1896:125-127). On being asked whether the saint exists or does not exist, the Buddha answers by saying that the question is wrongly formed. He responds by asking where a flame goes when it disappears--does it go east, west, north or south? There is no answer, because the question has no meaning. When a flame disappears, it just disappears, it does not “go" in any direction. Likewise, the saint neither exists, nor does not exist--the question has no meaning.

Both classical physics and physical biology can give us analogies of the Buddha’s answer. Extending the flame analogy, we can define a flame as the rapid oxidation of the wick of a candle. This is a process, not an event, and it is (in part) the transformation of matter into energy (thermal heat). This intense heat produces certain wavelengths which our eyes see as a flame. The flame itself is not the entity, but merely the manifestation of the entity--the process of heat production. When this process stops, the manifestation also stops, thus the flame disappears. The actual physics of this is that the heat and light are dispersed and absorbed into the local environment. Thus the heat and its flame (the disbursed light) still exist, yet they do not exist. Properly following the law of conservation of matter and energy, the heat and flame do not disappear, but are transformed and “conserved."

Moreover, physical biology tells us that every atom in our body is replaced about every ten years. If we consider our physical bodies to be a large part of who we are, then in ten years from now, we will be almost entirely different people. In one way we would all say that is true, but in another way, most Westerners would say that is essentially false. The Westerner would tend to believe there is a persistent identity that is “me," so that I can say “I am Jeramy. I was Jeramy when I was ten years old, the same as I am Jeramy now that I am twenty-four years old, the same as I will be Jeramy when I am 50 years old." However, in a materialistic sense, nothing that I am today will remain ten years from now.

This is played out in Buddha’s thought. What we are today is radically different from what we used to be, and what we will become, since all existence is a chain of causal events. Buddha says that sour cream is not milk, but it used to be (Warren 1876:134). There would be no sour-cream if not for its antecedent (the milk), therefore they cannot be disconnected. The milk has not been annihilated and neither has it persisted unchanged, but has become sour-cream. Likewise, the soul is neither annhilated, nor does it persist unchanged (Buddha calls both of these teachings heresy). Thus, three hundred years from now we will still exist, but will have been radically changed by the events which will have occurred in the universe between now and then.

This leads us into the Buddha’s ideas about transmigration and karma. Who we are and what we do with our bodies cannot be separated. Each succeeding life we live is a direct result of who we were and what we did in the past (though our freedom of choice always remains intact). There is no entity which continues to jump from body to body. But rather, the energy and direction of our lives directly affect the events that will happen in the future. Who we are today is therefore a function of the events and people of the past, not a continuation of one single person or event. One of the most important ideas to grasp here is the radical unity of the universe. To the Eastern Monist there is no “YOU" and “ME" in the strongest sense of those words, because we are each bound by the antecedents which have preceded us, and at some point in our past, present and futures, the “streams" of our lives will have merged and changed each of us.

The essence of monism from the Buddhist perspective is similar to that of the materialistic foundations of naturalism. While Buddha emphasized a spiritualistic monism, the monism found in naturalism emphasizes a lack of anything spiritual, leaving only the physical universe as ultimate reality. The analogies of the flame and of the atoms in the body are similar in this naturalistic perspective. If we want to think of things of things metaphysically, we are almost forced into either structuralism or functionalism. In the former, I am Jeramy because my atoms are organized in a basically Jeramy form. My atoms may continue to exist, but the molecules which make up my current Jeramy-ness will eventually dissipate, as will the essence of who I think I am. As long as my core structure exists (the way my atoms are put together), then Jeramy exists. This is my soul or mind (for to the monist, there is no distinction between the two).

In the latter, I am Jeramy because I function as a Jeramy. Other people come to recognize me because they recognize common patterns of function. The things I do and say cause them to recognize me as Jeramy. Thus they are recognizing my soul, or mind, by how I interact with my environment. Though all of us may have basically the same structure, we all have radically different functions in life, and interact with our environments in unique ways that create, for a short time, an entity which we tend to call a soul or mind, thus person-hood.

From here we move on to the dualistic concept of soul. This concept is familiar to most Westerners, since it has molded the structure of Western philosophy, and shaped the way most of us view ourselves. In dualism, there is matter, and there is soul, both of which somehow interact, but which are also entirely different substances. Ever since Augustine, Christians have had increasingly tended to separate the body and soul of humans. This dualism is most easily recognized in the idea that at the time of death, the body is essentially worthless, and the soul leaves to go either to heaven or hell (or at least according to popular belief). There is a very clear separation here between the spiritual and the material worlds. A person’s soul causes his/her body to behave in either good or evil ways. If the soul is good, then the body will be good. If the soul is evil, then the body will be evil. This strict dichotomy is still common in Western culture.

Dualistic philosophies are not, however, unique to post-Augustinian times. Early Greek thought also showed strong dualistic tendencies, and this carried over into early Christian heresies. In gnostic thought, Jesus could not have been truly human, but had to be spirit only, taking on the “image" of human form. If Jesus were God (and God is perfect and good), then he could not have taken on true material human-ness, because matter is imperfect and evil (“Gnosticism" 1993:315). The belief in the strict dualistic relationship between matter and evil, and spirit and good, however, is obviously contradictory to orthodox Christianity.

Dualism in less offensive forms is still believed by most Christians, and is still causing controversy. In recent history we have seen atheists flock to the mind-body problem as evidence that humans have no soul, and thus conclude that there is not God. Given the dualistic assumptions of many Christians, and the monistic assumptions of naturalism, there is a great question of how the soul could possibly interact with the body, which is matter. This question has come under such strong scrutiny over such a great length of time, that it is now fairly well accepted that spirit cannot interact with matter. Moreover, even if we could come up with a plausible way for those two different realities to interact, we still have the problem of the law of conservation of mass and energy with which to contend.

This conservation law is based on several assumptions and observations. The first assumption is that the spiritual realm cannot be measured by the tools of science, which are designed to measure material objects and energies. The second assumption is that if the spiritual world were to influence the material world, there would be changes in energies or masses of things, which could of course be measured. There is, however, no scientifically accepted, reproducible evidence to suggest that there are changes in energies or masses that cannot be explained by physical means. Moreover, the evidence is so strong that such inexplicable occurrences do not occur because the law of conservation of mass and energy is one of the foundational laws of physics, on which many solid, cohesive, provable theories have been built. The strength of this law of conservation, along with the general acceptance of the philosophical implausibility of interaction between spirit world and material world, has left many with no alternative but to dismiss any spiritual claims.

Thus, with the vaccuum left by rejecting dualism, and the obvious parallel between Eastern monism and Western naturalism (including the parallels between Eastern philosophies and quantum physics discussed by several famous physicists), monistic ideas have inter-mingled with Western culture to produce several interesting ideas about mind and person-hood. Some of these ideas are hostile to Christian concepts of what it means to be a person and to the Christian emphasis of the significance and uniqueness of human life. Let it be noted, as an aside, that this devaluation of life comes mainly from naturalism, given that many Eastern teachings give a high priority to morality and to the sanctity of all life, not just human life.

A Biblical Perspective: Old Testament

When looking for a Christian view of the soul, one must eventually (if not as the first step) ask what the Old and New Testaments, and the early theologians, say about the soul to see if they give us hints as to the relationship between the soul and the body. Both the Hebrew and Christian Testaments reveal a definite concept of a resurrection and after-life. A brief survey of these will help us develop a more theologically sound foundation as we narrow our search into the more spiritual ideas about the body and soul relationship.

Though some people suggest there is little hint of an Hebraic concept of life after death (Obayashi 1992:68), both the Hebrew Scriptures and early Jewish theologians had definite beliefs in a soul that would continue to survive and go to be with God even after the death of the body. There are several key passages throughout the Old Testament that show us that fact. Of these, several show us a distinct picture that the Isrealites always had a belief in a resurrection and/or an after-life (Eccl 12:7, Ps 49:15, Job 19:25-27 (assuming an early dating for Job), Isa 26:19 and Dan 12:2). In addition, the story of Samuel consulting the witch of Endor (1 Sam 28) reveals that there was a belief in the possibility of communicating with people who had already died (see also Isa 8: 19; regardless of the question of whether communication with the dead is actually possible, the point is that the Israelites believed it was possible).

In Gen 2:7 we see a hint that the early Israelites saw some sort of distinction between the body and spirit. In this passage God takes the dust of the ground to form the body, and then to Adam He imparts neshama (breath of life; Cooper 1989:43) at which time Adam became a nephesh chayyah (a living being/soul; Jacob 1958:158-159). Then in Eccl 12:7 we see the separation of these two parts: 1) the nephesh back into dust, which returns to the ground, and 2) the ruach which returns to God. Further, in Ezekiel 37 in the Valley of Dry Bones, we see God's ruach needing to enter the basar (flesh; Cooper:44) to animate it to chayah (life). These, together with the passages describing the resurrection, lead us to conclude that the Israelites believed in a distinct entity which was not totally bound to the body, but was to some degree separable.

There is also, however, a very strong emphasis on the unity of the person in the Old Testament (Erickson 1990:536). There is little room for the Western form of duality most of us know. John Cooper goes as far as to say that "the Old Testament picture of humanity positively seems to rule dualism out" (Cooper 1989:48). John Hesselink claims that Paul, being a good Hebrew, "realized that no meaningful existence is possible without bodily existence" (Hesselink 1995:12). This strong link is one of the reasons which leads some scholars to believe there is no after-life in Israelite theology, since if the body dies, the soul (nephesh/ruach) must also die. Both the Isaiah and Job passages mentioned above refer to a bodily resurrection of the flesh (nebelah and basar, respectively), implying a permanent bond between body and soul, as well as an after-life. Edmond Jacob finds such a tight junction between body and soul that he says that in the Old Testament, "man is a psycho-physical being and psychical functions are bound so closely to his physical nature that they are all localized in bodily organs which themselves only draw their life from the vital force that animates them" (Jacob 1958:157).

Jacob goes on to discuss the concept of heart (leb) as being the main residence for the consciousness, and creativity (see also Cooper 1989:44-47). It not only perceives the world around it, but "also forges new and original constructions" (Jacob:163). The leb is the "soul in its inner value" whereas the nephesh is the totality of the soul. The heart is what causes humans to act in certain ways (Isa 57:17). It is often contrasted with the face--whereas fellow humans can usually tell the state of the heart by looking at the face, only God can truly know the heart, because He can see right into it (1 Sam 16:7). The heart is the organ that God Himself chooses to circumcise (Deut 30:6; Rom 2:28-29).

While in the English language we often speak metaphorically about the heart as being the source of emotions and will, we tend to think of those functions as belonging to a more ephemeral object, like a non-material soul. To the Hebrews, the nature of this metaphor was less abstract, and their attribution of these concepts to the organs of the body were much more literal than our own. Still, this is not to imply that the ancient Hebrew writers were medically trying to locate consciousness in the heart itself, but their perspective does guide us into a radical holism as we try to understand the apparent spirit/body dichotomy.

Rabbinical traditions tend to continue in this line of thought, but drift into more dualistic directions. The Palestinian Talmud attributes the origin of the human body to "human parents, while the spirit, life and soul are attributed to God" (“Soul" 1985:451). The soul is responsible for good and bad behavior, while the body is only a vehicle for the soul's directions (contrary to Greek dualistic thought where the body is the source of evil). At death the soul leaves the body, but is later returned at the resurrection. Prior to the resurrection, the souls of the righteous will remain with God, while all other souls will "wander in the air" (“Soul" 1985:451).

A Biblical Perspective: New Testament

With Old Testament holism as a backdrop, we move into the New Testament picture of the spirit/body relationship. Here we find a similar picture, but addressing the dualistic culture of the Greek world. The two most important Hebrew words for this topic, nephesh and ruach, are continuous with the Greek words psuche and pneuma, respectively (“Soul" 1985:455).

One distinction we find carried over is the idea of nephesh/psuche referring to a soul that has "quasi-physical" properties, while pneuma/ruach as spirit have none. For example, God's ruach/pneuma might come on a person or place (Matt 3:16; Acts 2:4; Gal 3:5), while a person's nephesh/psuche is closely linked to the person as a self (Matt 16:26; Mark 14:34; 1 Thess 5:23; 1 Pet 1:9).

John Cooper concludes from the New Testament usage of these two words that the human pneuma refers to that part of the person that is separable from the body. When we die, for instance, our pneuma is said to depart (Matt 27:50; Luke 24:37; 1 Pet 3:19-20) (Cooper 1989:123-126). He makes this concept continuous with the Hebrew tradition of the rephaim in Sheol (Isa 14:9-10; Job 26:5). The rephaim are people in between death and the resurrection, who have a minimal form of somatic existence, and will be reunited with their bodies at the resurrection (Cooper:72).

However, such a strict distinction cannot be consistently maintained. Pneuma is used several times in the New Testament in a way that one would expect psuche to be used if the distinction is absolute (Matt 5:3; John 13:21; 1 Cor 7:34; Phil 2:2). Neither is psuche used totally without reference to disembodiment (Rev 6:9; Rev 20:4).

Louw and Nida define pneuma and psuche separately in their Greek-English lexicon, adding more nuances to our understanding of the two concepts. They define psuche as "the essence of life in terms of thinking, willing and feeling--'inner self, mind, thoughts, feelings, heart, being' " (Louw and Nida 1988, v. 1:321-322). Pneuma has several shades of meaning, the most common being "a supernatural non-material being--'spirit' " (Louw and Nida:145) (about 70% of pneuma in the New Testament refers either to the Holy Spirit or God's Spirit). One of the meanings of pneuma closest to psuche is "the non-material psychological faculty which is potentially sensitive and responsive to God" (Louw and Nida:323). While these two pictures of pneuma and psuche are very similar, we again see an emphasis on the immaterial aspect of pneuma and the more holistic, uniquely personal aspect of psuche.

From all of this we have a better idea of what the New Testament says about the part of the human that is not strictly the body. We see that there is a definite (although somewhat unclear) distinction between a person's soul and spirit. These two parts are also distinct from the body proper. Several New Testament passages indicate a dualistic concept of human nature (Matt 10:28; 1 Cor 7:34; 2 Cor 5:6-10; Phil 1:22-24). Most of these and similar passages imply that at death the body remains on earth while the self in whatever form will go to be with God. Further, we have several passages which set up contrasts between each of these three characteristics (body, soul, and spirit: Luke 10:27; 1 Thess 5:23; Heb 4:12).

But just as with the Old Testament, there is still the idea of a radical holism between body, soul and spirit. Many of the above passages which can be used to show dualism can also be used to show integration. For example, 1 Thess 5:23 says "May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless. . ." (NIV). In this verse we aren't encouraged to keep only our souls blameless since our bodies are only temporary and therefore irrelevant, as many of the Greeks of that culture believed.1 Rather, each of the separate aspects of the human is to be considered important and integrated with the others. Similarly, in Luke 10:27, we are told to "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind." There is not one part of us that loves God, but each part can express love to God, and God desires this holistic love and worship.
We also see the promise of resurrection in the New Testament, both of the soul and of the body. In 1 Cor 15:35-58, Paul gives us a unique description of the resurrection body. While he does tell us clearly that our bodies will be raised, he makes the point that they will be transformed. They will not be natural bodies, as we apparently have now, but they will be spiritual bodies (v. 44).

It would be easy to carry this to an extreme and believe that Paul is saying our resurrected bodies will not be "bodies" at all, but will be merely spirits. However, this would be inappropriate, since Paul qualifies his position in two ways. First he makes the analogy between a seed and what that seed becomes. The seed does not merely decompose and a spiritual plant arises. A real plant grows as a direct and continuous result of the seed. There is no way the plant could exist if it were not for the seed. Granted, Paul states that a natural body is sown, and a spiritual body is raised. But Paul then makes a second qualification. In the process of explaining that the perishable (the natural body) cannot inherit the Kingdom of God (v. 50), he does not say that the perishable will therefore be annihilated. Rather, he says that "the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable" (v. 53) and that when the mortal has been clothed with the immortal, only then will the victory be won. Thus we can see the metaphor of transformation of the body, not by annihilation, but by metamorphosis. I would conclude along with most others who hold to a bodily resurrection, that this metamorphosis is actually the perfection and full integration of all aspects of our humanity.

This position is intimately tied to the view of mind-body relationship held by many theologians, which has many nuances and several names. Millard Erickson discusses "conditional unity" when discussing the body/soul relationship (Erickson 1990:536-538), and John Cooper refers to "holistic dualism" (Cooper 1989). John Hesselink disagrees at certain points with both Erickson and Cooper, but uses a related model (Hesselink 1995). Regardless of the title given, this holistic model seems to me the most reasonable of the alternatives, and will be assumed for the remainder of this chapter.

Briefly, the first of the alternatives is physical monism. Here there seems to be no life after death, since the physical world is all there is. Our only continued existence would be in the accomplishments we are able to make while we are alive. Second is spiritual monism. This is similar to the Eastern views discussed earlier. While we may continue to exist in a technical sense, it is not a personal, unique existence, but an integration into a universal consciousness. Finally there is strict dualism. Here we have a spirit and a body which are permanently separated at the death of the body. While this view is held by many Christians, it is difficult to reconcile with the Biblical texts referring to bodily resurrection., and moreover, begs the question of why we would have natural bodies at all if their only fate is annihilation.

Current Theological Perspectives

Several important concepts appear in current discussions about the soul. An attempt is definitely made to contrast spirit with soul, and to then try to fit ideas like self and person-hood into these constructs. Many definitions seem to fit the New Testament distinction we have just reviewed. For example, soul tends to be equated with the self, and the “core of experienced reality" (Ashbrook 1991:160), or as “that which each of us can call our own, that which distinguishes us from everything else in creation" (165). Elsewhere it is referred to as the embodiment of the self and spirit (Childs 1994:85), or as a biosocial-spiritual unity (Childs 1994:210). From a teleological perspective, James Ashbrook says the soul’s purpose is to express meaning (Ashbrook 1992:34). Herbert Anderson says our “ultimate aim is to ‘put soul at the center of our lives’" (in Childs 1994:210), and that “soul is the source of human genuineness and depth and mystery" (208).

Though the soul is at times equated with the true self, if there is a distinction to be made, “self is more readily understood as a social construction than it is a gift from God" (Childs 1994:209). Further, the self has been described as “the felt awareness of one’s own personhood" (Childs 1994:84). Notice the emphasis on “felt awareness" rather than an ontological reality. My interpretation of this is that while one “feels" that one is a “self," one “is" a “soul"; one experiences reality as a soul, but one’s experience of that experience is exhibited as self-hood. Donald Capps goes on to hypothesize that the “self is dominant where there is assertion of one’s felt sense of ownness and sameness" (in Childs 1994:84).

Spirit, on the other hand, seems to be more generic. It is called the “human form of life itself" (Childs 1994:83). The spirit “is dominant in actions, attitudes, thoughts, or emotional states where there is relational outreach and aspiration toward the future" (84). Capps makes an extended contrast between spirit and soul (in Childs 1994:83-90):

[The spirit] provides intensity of motion and direction toward other beings and toward a vision of the future. . . . Spirit is fast, and it quickens what it touches. Its direction is vertical, and ascending. In contrast to our images of spirit, soul images are connected to the night world, the realm of the dead, and the moon. . . . Unlike spirit, which extracts meanings (insights) and puts them into action, soul sticks to the realm of experience and to reflections within experience. . . . Soul involves us in the pack and welter of phenomena and the flow of impressions. It is the “patient" part of us. Soul is vulnerable and suffers; it is passive and remembers. . . . The valley world of the soul is steeped in history, whereas in the peak experience of the spirit, history is that which can be overcome, the debris over which we cling in our ascent and must, therefore, be denied. . . . The spirit is impersonal, rooted not in local soul, but timeless. Spirit ascends the mountain, thinking that it can leave soul behind, and believing that it will not pay a price for having done so. . . . soul is ‘a wondrous quality in daily life,’ an appreciation for things and experiences that spirit considers mere local trivia.
James Loder with Jim Neidhardt have as the premise to their book The Knight’s Move that spirit is a relationship more than a distinct entity. They use the quantum model of wave-particle duality as the foundation for saying the self-brain relationship is the same kind of relationship (Loder 1992:46). This relationship “is" spirit, spirit referring “to a quality of relationality and is a way to conceptualize the dynamic interactive . . . unity by which two disparate things are held together without loss of their diversity" (10). Just like a quantum entity is both wave and particle at the same time, so are our spirits are both self/mind and brain at the same time. It is the relationship between the two that “is" spirit. “Neither wave nor particle exists without the other, neither can be reduced to its opposite, and through their reciprocity they constitute a unity of the quantum object" (46), just as the self-brain relationship. This is what makes spirit irreducible--the fact that it is a relationship (50).

Our spirit (the relationship between our brain and our self) is a model for the relationship between us and the Holy Spirit. Loder brings in Goedel’s ideas of the strange loop at this point, and calls our spirit’s relationship with the Holy Spirit an asymmetrical, bipolar relational unity. The Holy Spirit exercises marginal control over our own spirits in our relationship, just as (when describing light) the wave nature of the quantum entity exercises marginal control of the particle nature. The strange loop is this: while we are two separate entities, we are intimately bound to each other; while I am a real entity, without the Holy Spirit, my image disappears (48), so I am thus utterly dependent on the Holy Spirit, while at the same time separate, and at times opposed to Him. Further,

the two poles and the asymmetrical relationship between them form a feedback loop. The top level [the Holy Spirit] reaches downward toward the bottom level and influences it, while simultaneously responding to the bottom level. Out of the dynamic character of the two poles and the asymmetrical relationship between them, the dynamic-differential relational unity emerges.
With the holistic dualism model of the body/soul relationship as a foundation we should now be able to move into scientific explanations of mind and try to create a fusion of these concepts. Therefore we will next look at how particular scientists and philosophers have tried to use physics and neuroscience to distill a cohesive view of and explanation for the mind.


1. One might use Matthew 10:28 to counter this line of thought. But this verse does not imply that the body is irrelevant. It is highlighting that even though our body might be killed, our soul will carry us through to God. Looking further in that verse, we read that both body and soul can be sent into Gehenna, further strengthening the case for integration of body and soul.