Thursday, April 05, 2007

God and Science: Part 2

[see part 1 here]
If you don't mind, I would like to follow up on the discussion about mental illness/disability. I understand that we will not all be made perfect (and moreover that we are all far short of perfection), but my confusion is whether these chemical imbalences account for what we believe is the soul. From what I understand, we believe that God created us in His image and that we are an intersection of the spiritual world and the physical world. What throws me off is that if our souls, our personality, the essence of our selves are in the spiritual realm, then how can it fit that chemical imbalances (or chemical treatments) can dramatically alter our souls and personalities.
The answer to your question is in the relationship between the body and the soul. The soul is the animating principle of the body. It is the life force that sets all of the inner-workings of the body into motion. In other words, the body functions because it is animated by the soul.

Now, the soul can only work with the body that it is given. For example, the soul can exercise it's powers of intellect through the brain only as long as the brain continues to function properly. When the brain is damaged (for example, as a result of some physical trauma to the brain) then the soul can no longer exercise it's intellectual faculties through the brain in the same way that it could before.

The same thing goes with chemical imbalances. When, for whatever reason, the chemicals in the brain are not balanced as they should, then the soul is less equipped in the use of its faculties. The soul can only do so much. It can't express the emotion of happiness as effectively in a body that has low serotonin levels. This does not mean that the body changes or "dramatically alters" the soul. The capabilities of the soul always exist in potency. They just don't always exist in actuality. Even when a body is utterly incapacitated (for example, with a person on life support) the soul still maintains all of its capabilities.....it just can't use them, or express them, or bring them into actuality. This is evidenced by the fact that, when the veracity of the brain in the unconscious man is restored, then he becomes able to think, and feel, and imagine again.

So, there is no dramatic altering of the soul, there is just varying degrees of utility of the body. In other words, the soul does not change, but the usefulness of the body to the soul does.

I hope that answers your question.

Pax Christi,
Nick

3 comments:

Brett said...

Nothing really to add here except kudos for well answered questions. Although i am also a firm believer in God (and science), i still like seeing how others answer these types of questions. It helps me find better ways of expressing my beliefs as well.

Thanks
--Brett

phatcatholic said...

Thanks Brett!

GoGettyer said...

If a soul animates all functions of the body, what animates the functions of an animal's body?

And a side question--our soul is still adulterated from the Fall, and concupiscence rests in the soul, right?

humbly,
justin

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