Sunday, 25 June 2017


(I disagree with CS Lewis but here he is again. His works of fiction and non-fiction assume but never set out to prove the questionable notion of survival after death. The Biblical idea of the resurrection of the body contradicts the Greek and Indian ideas of the immortality of the soul.)

Souls exist in many, though not all, religious belief systems and therefore also in works of fantasy that assume the reality of ghosts or a hereafter. How many works by Poul Anderson?

SM Stirling's Church Universal and Triumphant perverts Eastern religions by teaching that some human beings are soulless and can lawfully be killed. Either every person has or is a soul or none have.

Do I believe that people are souls? No. Do I believe that people are "soulless"? No. The adjective is metaphorical, not metaphysical, and implies the Nazi concept of a life without value.


Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor Paul!

I think it is equally questionable to doubt the immortality of the soul as it is for you to to be skeptical departed souls have an afterlife. Plato offers us four arguments for the immortality of the soul in his dialogue "Phaedo."

I don't think the idea of bodily resurrection from the dead can be truly said to contradict Classical about the soul's immortality. Rather, the resurrection is best understood as a REVELATION from God, not as something we could know from reasoning alone.

Some of the stories of PA where belief in the afterlife can be found or even proven would be: "Pact," THE KING OF YS, the two OPERATION books, etc.

Dang! I really need to reread the Emberverse series. I had forgotten how the CUT believe some people have no souls and therefore they could be rightly killed.

And I do believe we are bodies with souls!


S.M. Stirling said...

That bit of the CUT's doctrine is actually taken from genuine theosophism, tho' a distinct minority strain within it.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Dear Mr. Stirling,

Dang! And I'm reading JRR Tolkien's translation of BEOWULF and a collection of Franz Kafka's stories called THE METAMORPHOSIS & OTHER STORIES. I need to hustle on reading those books so I can get to your works! (Smiles)

Noted, how one strain of Theosophism denied some people have souls. One of those bad ideas floating around in the 19th century, it seems.


Paul Shackley said...

I have known Theosophists but had never heard that abominable doctrine.

Sean, granted there is no logical contradiction between immortal souls and resurrected bodies. Nevertheless, they are two very different concepts of survival after death. Greek philosophers laughed when Paul said God had resurrected a man. Jehovah's Witnesses understandly insist on Biblical resurrection of the body while denying the soul. Only mainstream Christianity has combined the ideas and there is a tension between them. Theologians had to debate whether a soul is judged immediately after death or not until after the resurrection. I have read a description of a buried man "awaiting the resurrection." Is he not already in the hereafter?
CS Lewis said that each of us is a soul with a body, not a body with a soul! I was taught that we are a combination. I now say that each of us is a mortal psychophysical organism.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Agree, what you said about Theosophism. Stirling has REALLY dug into this rather obscure strain of religious speculation!

I agree, immortality of the soul and resurrection of the death are DIFFERENT. I remember about that incident in Acts where St. Paul debated with Greek philosophers in Athens. It was the resurrection which they could not accept. Only one man, Dionysius the Areopagite, was willing to listen further to Paul.

Needless to say, as a Catholic, I disagree with the JWs about the soul. The consensus of Catholic belief is that the soul is judged immediately after death. And both the saved and the damned will receive their bodies back at the resurrection.

I believe we are more than merely "a mortal psychophysical organism."