05 May 2005

Soul What?

My friend Jim asked me to expound a bit about abortion, but his question was more philosophical than political, so its a bit difficult to assail that all in one go. I'll tackle the impossible part today, then the possible tomorrow, and Saturday, and Sunday...

The main stumbling block is his definition of abortion. Which I am not certain that I understand. Apparently the foetus must be transformed to a person from mere flesh and blood by the addition of a soul before it is considered a living person, which would then make termination of same a killing.

I don't follow that reasoning at all. First of all, pinpointing the moment that the foetus becomes a person or is imbued with a soul is masturabatory philosophy. You can argue about that all you want and all you will get is tired.

What is a soul? Where does it come from? Where does it go to? Is there reincarnation of the same soul or does every person get a brand-spanking new soul? Do animals have souls? If so, how far down the animal kingdom do you have to go to locate non-soul species? And then what about ghosts: is a ghost a soul? If so, is a ghost a 'trapped' soul?

I cannot answer those questions, nor do I intend to try.

I will mention that the conversation we had about this was fairly lively. I had to say that I could not accept the concept of a new soul being created at a particular time in the evolution of the foetus. Multiple independent spontaneous miracles like that seems to be a bit too miracle-intensive.

If I had to commit to a philosophy of God's intervention in the world, then I prefer to think of God as the Clockmaker. The Clockmaker fashions a clock (the world), bringing a complex and intricate machine into being through the sheer force of His divine will. He winds it up, then sits back to watch it run.

"And just how does that explain Jesus?" Jim countered.

"Jesus," I replied, "is daylight savings time."

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