Theist? Believe in free will? Where do souls come from?
Question by Natepera Natepera: Theist? Believe in free will? Where do souls come from?
I don’t think that people who believe in an Abrahamic God and free will (not necessarily either, but both in conjunction) have thought about it critically, at least not as much as they probably should. The fundamental backwardness of this concept comes when you think about what makes one person choose to be righteous, and another person choose to sin. What is it that makes up ones character and destines their eternal reward?
It cannot be that people are who they are because of the experiences they’ve had, because that would imply that your actions are not your responsibility, but merely a result of your environment, upbringing, culture, et cetera, and would defeat the concept of free will.
It cannot be that peoples actions are entirely random, based on subconscious coin flips, because that would imply that a supposedly loving God left the fate of your soul entirely to chance.
The theists I’ve met who’ve thought about this have generally responded with something akin to “Souls are either prone to righteousness or wickedness from the start. Life is how God tests these souls, to see if they are deserving of paradise or damnation.” Makes sense, right? Except that part of this is missing: where do souls come from?
An obvious answer would be “God created everything, so he must have created souls too.” However, it would not make sense for a wise, loving, all powerful God to have created evil souls, just to send them to hell. I equate this to creating trash just to throw it away: redundant, pointless, unnecessary, and arguably cruel.
So if God would not have created sinful, unrepentant souls along with the ones destined for glory, then where the did they come from?
That’s very interesting, but I fail to see the relevance.
I recognize that nobody knows anything for certain, that’s not really what I’m talking about. I’m talking about a belief. Everyone believes in certain things, and these beliefs are made legitimate if you can reason them. We don’t know for certain that the sun will rise tomorrow. It very well may not. But based on the fact that it has risen every day before, we can reasonably believe that it will tomorrow too, and we live our lives accordingly. All I’m trying to say here is that I can’t reasonably believe that anyone else can reasonably believe in these specific ideas. I certainly don’t; I would agree that people are, in some respects, products of their surroundings, and chance is definitely a factor. But I’m coming at this from the belief that that is not the case, to show how unreasonable it is. Does that make sense?
Answer by Dhananjaya
Are we just flesh and blood? Or are we more than the sum total of the elements of which we are made? Are we here today and gone tomorrow? Or does some invisible part of us go on living after death?
THOUGH world religions have developed a bewildering array of beliefs about the Hereafter, most of them agree on one basic idea: Something inside a person is immortal and goes on living after death. Many people believe that this “something” is a soul. What do you believe? Are we part flesh and part soul? What is a soul? Do humans have an immortal soul? How vital that we know the truth about what we are!
“The Man Came to Be a Living Soul”
Is “soul” a part of man that separates from the body at death and goes on living? According to the Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, “often the soul is equated with the total person.” For instance, Genesis 2:7 states: “Jehovah God proceeded to form the man out of dust from the ground and to blow into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man came to be a living soul.” The first man, Adam, was a soul.
The understanding that the word “soul” can mean the whole person is supported by other scriptures. For example, the Bible speaks of a soul’s doing work. (Leviticus 23:30) The soul is spoken of as being impatient, irritated, sleepless, fearful, and depressed. (Judges 16:16; Job 19:2; Psalm 119:28; Acts 2:43; 1 Thessalonians 5:14) Referring to a soul as a person, Romans 13:1 states: “Let every soul be in subjection to the superior authorities.” And at 1 Peter 3:20, we read: “In Noah’s days, . . . a few people, that is, eight souls, were carried safely through the water.” Nothing in these scriptures indicates that the soul is some immaterial entity that lives on after death.
What about animals and plants? Are they souls? Consider how the Bible describes the creation of animals. “Let the waters swarm forth a swarm of living souls,” God commanded. On the next creative day, God said: “Let the earth put forth living souls according to their kinds, domestic animal and moving animal and wild beast of the earth according to its kind.” (Genesis 1:20, 24) Therefore, all living creatures—human or animal—are souls. Scripturally, plants are not referred to as souls.What Man Is
Clearly, the Bible shows what man is. He does not have a soul; he is a soul. Because of what man is—his nature—any hope for future life for the dead depends on a resurrection, a raising up. The Bible promises: “Do not marvel at this, because the hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear [Jesus’] voice and come out, those who did good things to a resurrection of life, those who practiced vile things to a resurrection of judgment.” (John 5:28, 29) That sure promise of a resurrection—not the teaching of the immortality of the soul—is the basis for real hope for the dead.
How vital it is to gain accurate knowledge of what the resurrection is and what it means for mankind! Also essential is knowledge of God and Christ, for in prayer Jesus said: “This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ.” (John 17:3) Jehovah’s Witnesses in your community will be happy to assist you in studying the Bible so that you can increase your knowledge of God, his Son, and His promises. You have our invitation to contact the Witnesses or to write to the publishers of this journal.
Know better? Leave your own answer in the comments!