Some might say the soul is an illusion, a notion created out of primitive mythology and a self-serving desire to break free of our physical constraints – that the so called soul is really nothing more than complex brain chemistry reacting in the fireworks of electricity passing between synapse as a response to the ontological predicament of self-aware sentience.
This is modernity’s explanation of who you are. That your deep unsettled longing to find significance, meaning, and purpose to your life — leading you to believe that beauty, justice, and love have intrinsic transcendent value is just a trick of the mind, merely the pragmatism of your survival instinct hardwired into your DNA kicking in, designed to perpetuate you, your species, and life in general . . . for no apparent reason.
I’m often told that to hold such a philosophical position requires absolutely no faith – because the evidence is incontrovertible . . . as if evidence were self-assessing. But to peer into such a dark nihilist abyss; a darkness so bleak that it devours all light of hope; devoid of any meaning whatsoever, and filled with the randomness of chaos – and then to sustain the assumption that this is the only tenable ontological explanation . . . I believe takes an extraordinary amount of faith.
My faith discipline leads me to believe that man’s soul is divine spark – that we are set apart from creation so that we might bear God’s image. This is an immutable assessment of worth predicated on an unimpeachable transcendent source. It is a value we can neither merit, nor sustain, and is entirely impervious to our opinions. My significance cannot be determined without it, and I am not at liberty to determine anyone else’s significance outside of its purview. It is the universally essential baseline.
This particularly comes to mind in light of the incessant bullhorn rhetoric of identity politics with which our culture is currently immersed. There appears to be a considerable amount of disagreement over whose lives matter most, where everyone is offering up their own self-important existential pronouncements . . . without giving the first thought to addressing the most fundamental question their assertions imply . . . if any of our lives really do matter at all – to whom do they matter?
I can’t make my life matter to you and you can’t make your life matter to me — no matter how much red faced insistence is imposed; no matter how many laws are passed; no matter how menacing the intimidation. Our lives either intrinsically matter, or they don’t. If they matter it isn’t because we have decreed it so – it is because God has already made that assessment. And if God doesn’t exist then the idea that our lives matter is absolute fiction – it’s nothing more than the empty rhetoric of self-inflated delusion. So the only question you need to answer is: Do you trust God’s assessment that we all bear his image, and therefore all of our lives matter, or do you pretend to be God, and assume your opinion is all that matters?
Couldn’t resist including this Bruce Cockburn interpretation of the traditional gospel blues song “Soul of a Man”