German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche made quite a stir in the late 19th century when he informed the world God is dead! Since then most people have misunderstood what he meant. He wasn’t saying that God had lived and then He died. Nietzsche meant that in his sophisticated world, no one of any education, intelligence or cultural breeding believed in God any more, so He was as good as dead.
A rival situation has been taking place since the late 20th century. One of the essential teachings of the Catholic Church is that each individual has been blessed with an immortal soul that was made in the image and likeness of God. America’s cultural elite have dedicated themselves to the final destruction of all the superstitious remnants of Christian belief. Their new militancy has focused on the human soul as the final battleground. To accomplish their final victory, atheistic scientists had to conjure a way to “kill” the soul. According to their approach all man’s emotions, feelings, and morality were mere sense impressions, the spontaneous result of biochemical changes.
This new strategy first became apparent in 1996 when Forbes Magazine published Thomas Wolfe’s essay, Sorry but your Soul just Died. His article defined the boundaries for the final battle by focusing on brain imaging, the new technology that watches the human brain as it functions in real time. While brain imaging was invented for diagnostics reasons, Wolfe underscored its importance for broaching metaphysical and eschatological issues, such as the complex mysteries of personhood, the self, the soul and free will. He envisioned that neuroscience would have an enormous impact on how people viewed life, death and other human beings. He predicted that this new science was on the threshold of a unified theory that will have an impact as powerful as that of Darwinism a 100-years ago.
The debate over man’s soul dates back to 17th century and French philosophe Rene Descartes’ dictum Cogito ergo Sum. (I think therefore I am.) Traditionalists have always regarded his maxim as indicative of man’s dual nature of body and soul. This gave rise to the ghost in the machine fallacy and the notion that there is a spiritual self somewhere inside the brain that directs and interprets its operations. Wolfe’s article challenged this idea, stating that neuroscience proved there is not even any one place in the human brain where consciousness or self-consciousness is located.
According to Wolfe, science and pharmacology have replaced religious faith by altering the chemistry of the brain, which also dulled the moral sense. Echoing Nietzsche, Wolfe predicted that the next generation would believe the soul, the last refuge of values, is dead because educated people no longer believe it exists. Wolfe believes that the soul for the next generation will occupy the same intellectual realm as witches and warlocks.
It is also clear that the death of the soul movement is symptomatic of a larger scheme. Cryogenics or the freezing of the dead so that medical science can later resurrect them is a part of transhumanism, a utopian attempt to establish man’s earthly immortality. To fill the void created by the death of the soul, these modern Doctor Frankensteins have sacralized the earth and made man’s body the object of immortalization.
So while they believe man does not have an eternal soul, his body through scientific discovery and manipulation can eventually achieve earthly immortality. This effectively flips Christianity on its head. It is another and maybe more dangerous attempt to replace an eternal God with an eternal man who is the fulfillment of the serpent’s promise of ye shall be like gods, in the Garden of Eden. How important is it for us to understand and oppose this new attack? If science can eliminate the immortal soul, then Christ’s death, Resurrection and our entire Catholic faith were all in vain.
WILLIAM A. BORST has taught at virtually all levels of education from elementary school through university, published commentaries in many local and national publications, and hosted a weekly talk show on WGNU radio for 22 years. Having recently served as editor of the Mindszenty Report, Dr. Borst is the author of two prominent books: Liberalism: Fatal Consequences (1999) and The Scorpion and the Frog: A Natural Conspiracy (2005). He holds a PhD in American History from St. Louis University.