At a concert of one of my granddaughters years ago, at Visitation Academy in St. Louis, the first song their choral group sang was the old Simon and Garfunkel hit, Bridge Over Troubled Waters. That song and many other message-oriented songs are food for my soul. They send me into a momentary reverie that touches my heart and elevates my spirit. Some religious, spiritual or even classical hymns also send my soul soaring to unimaginable heights.
Music, even some overtly secular music, is one of the great feeding stations for a person’s soul. So much so that I am always pleased to have an opportunity to sup at a musical table, such as the one at Viz. People don’t talk very much about the human soul. Since Charles Darwin and Karl Marx infected Western Civilization with the disease of dialectical materialism there has been a concerted effort among the left to eliminate any idea of the soul.
Professor Benjamin Wiker’s 2013 book, Worshipping the State: How Liberalism Became our State Religion, underscored the fact that if acceptance of a human soul is ever eliminated from the culture, it will open the modern world to all kinds of moral evils. I believe that has already happened and we approach the year 2020.
What would happen if there were no soul? First of all, the Christian religion collapses. Without the human soul, its raison d’etre, Christianity would have no real reason to exist, except maybe ministering to the poor, but then it would be just like any government welfare organization.
Jesus Christ would then be reduced to a savior for people who don’t need one. His cross would be reduced to firewood for the poor and the Catholic Church would be not much more than the largest Bingo operator in the world. If a mere corporal body is the only thing that exists…like the lower animals, why should anyone treat humans any better than animals? In fact that is already well in place. The snail darter has many more protections than unborn human beings. If life is just material, then there is no God.
This is essentially what Fyodor Dostoevsky meant when he wrote in the Brothers Karamazov… if there were no God then nothing is forbidden. There would be no right nor wrong, just the arbitrary will of governments. This would eliminate any effective opposition to abortion, homosexual marriage, euthanasia and even Holocausts, such as the one that the Nazis created.
The Bible would then be reduced to a work of fiction because it was the Bible where man received his original dignity. In the Book of Genesis God created man and woman on the Sixth day and said this was very good. This first book also says that God created man and woman in His image and likeness. This is a revolutionary idea that has lost its meaning through thousands of years of history.
Think about this statement. He made men and women with distinctive but complementary sexual organs. However our sexuality transcends the organs.
Being a man or a woman encompasses much more than our respective genitalia.
At the Invisible Dog Art Center in Brooklyn, a man and a woman, both nude, hula-hooped in silence for 35 minutes. According to the New York Times article, five years ago, to the small gathering, seated on the floor below, this was a beautiful rendition of the beauty of the male and female bodies in a rhythmic motion that locked the transcendence from mere organic differences to something inherently uplifting and artistic. While on the surface there was nothing inherently wrong with their performance, the underlining thought was that this man and woman were mere materially attractive bodies rather than humans whose beauty is animated by their inner spirits.
Actor Maurice Chevalier once said about this: Vive la difference, with regard to the intrinsic differences between men and women. Unfortunately in our unisex culture we have forgotten his profound comment. While the nude bodies of Adam and Eve reflected the beauty, power and majesty of God’s creative love, after the Fall that beauty and love became a vehicle for lust and shame.
The first parents had to cover their nakedness because they did not want God to see them in their shame because they had brought sin into the world. They were human beings and it was their souls that had offended God, not their bodies. Both had an integral unity of body and soul that was more like a liquid mixture that reflected both the material and the immaterial.
Throughout history that mixture became bifurcated into a critical duality that has dominated religion, philosophy economics and politics ever since. Throughout the early history of Christianity, many different cults of heretics have emphasized the spirit over the body. To many, including St. Augustine, the human body, especially the more seductive features of the female body, were the material of sin and self-degradation.
In a word the human body was evil and had to be hidden as much as possible. This attitude dominated the Gnostics, the Cathars, and the Albigensians—all prolific heresies.
The most successful of these heretics were the Cathars, first cousins to the world’s oldest heresy, the Gnostics, who both believed all visible matter was created by Satan, especially the human body. Human souls were thought to be the genderless souls of Angels trapped within the physical creation of Satan cursed to be reincarnated until the Cathar faithful achieved salvation through a ritual called the Consolamentum.
Many Catholic leaders implicitly sanctioned this erroneous belief. They did so because to them the soul lived for eternity while the body was destined for corruption and disintegration. Salvation was the work of the Church and it was of the soul, not the human body.
The Enlightenment changed some of this as the Church lost much of its power and influence, especially during the French Revolution. The Enlightenment emphasized man’s reason and the superiority of scientific fact over the alleged superstitions of religion. Darwin, Marx and later Freud, were the first ones to deny the soul.
Without the soul men and women had nothing to cling to in life but their bodies.
This led to the Sexual Revolution where men and women sexually united in pairs, and groups as frequently as their stamina and organs could hold up. The sex drive, now completely separated from procreation, became an end in itself.
The human body became a cult. Bicycling, jogging, weight training, yoga, aerobics and all kind of transcendental mediation activities sprang up everywhere.
Moderns were running, bicycling and training so as to extend their material lives as long as possible because they have been told by the powers that be that this was all that they had going for them.
I have always been amazed at the number of colorfully-attired runners and cyclists who frequent the streets and roadways on a Sunday morning. They can get up to run or bike to take good care of their bodies but what about Mass or a Sunday service for their soul? This idea does not resonate in today’s neo-pagan culture.
The death of the soul advocates received a great lift in 1996 when writer, Tom Wolfe, the author of The Right Stuff published an essay in Forbes Magazine entitled 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.
Wolfe 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 religious debate over man’s soul dates back at least to the 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, 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. He believed that science and pharmacology have replaced religious faith by altering the chemistry of the brain, which also dulled the moral sense. It also separates them, instead of realizing that the body and soul are intricately united into one being.
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. According to their approach all man’s emotions, feelings, and morality were mere sense impressions, the spontaneous result of biochemical changes.
German philosopher Frederick Nietzsche made quite a stir in the late 19th century when he informed the world that 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 anymore, so He was as good as dead.
Echoing Friedrich 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 trans-humanism, a utopian attempt to establish man’s earthly immortality. The theory is that frozen bodies can be thawed in hundreds of years when the cure for what killed them would invariably be found.
The first cryopreservation was in 1967. 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.
This is another and maybe more dangerous attempt to replace an eternal God with an eternal man, which 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 the Christian faith are all fictitious.
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, the so-called enemies of the cross that St. Paul warned, have dedicated themselves to the final destruction of all the superstitious remnants of Christian belief. Echoing both Nietzsche and Wolf their 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.
Then there is the 2045 Initiative. It is the futuristic project of Dmitry Itskov, 37, a Russian multimillionaire and former online media magnate. It envisions the mass production of lifelike, low-cost avatars that can be uploaded with the contents of a human brain, complete with all the particulars of consciousness and personality. This way a person’s personality, thoughts and mind can achieve an artificial kind of immortality. This seems very much like a new ghost in the machine to me.
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. Yet despite all their chimera dreams, the only Garden possible with their thinking is the Garden of Hell.
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.