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PhilipBitar.com - Proofs - Soul
Proofs

Soul

Conservative Christians have felt threatened by the concept of materialism. One particular concern is personal identity. I think that most conservative Christians still hold to the ancient notion of soul, as espoused by Plato in the –300s. In this view, a person’s soul is a platonic form or ideal of their identity.

Today Christians hold this belief for two reasons. First, it is now given by Christian tradition, since elements of Neo-Platonism, a prevailing philosophy of Augustine’s time, were integrated into Christianity by Augustine in the 400s. Second, conservative Christians think that the concept of soul counters materialism, which they feel is antithetical to theism.

However, there is a simple proof that the concept of soul is irrational. Here’s the proof.

A definition of the concept of person must guarantee that there can be only one instance of a given person at a given time. For example, personal identity entails the concept that there can be at most one instance of me at a given time. This is evident since I can’t imagine simultaneously consisting of two distinct instances, nor can you imagine me simultaneously consisting of two distinct instances. If there were two ostensible simultaneous instances of me, then each instance would actually be a unique person and at most one of them would be me. Thus, by definition, a person is singular.

Now notice the following. If I had a soul, God could copy my soul ten times and simultaneously implant each copy in its own human body. Or, to use the terminology of platonic forms, God could instantiate my soul simultaneously in ten human bodies. If the resulting humans are all me, then we generate a contradiction since a person must be singular. This implies that the soul does not carry the identity of a person. On the other hand, if the resulting humans are all unique persons, as defined by the unique locations of their bodies in space at a given time, then the soul does not carry the identity of a person.

We have just proven that the concept of soul is irrational.

Reference citation.  Philip Bitar, Why? In Pursuit of the Ultimate Answer, Abridged version 2008-11-11, p. 19.



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