Monday, September 07, 2015

Greg Koukl on If There Is No Soul

What makes me the same person today as I was in the past? It isn't my body.  That's changing constantly. It isn't my memory, either. If it was, I'd literally be a different person every time I had a new experience or added to my memory.

I don't remember being conceived or being born. My first recollection is of my second birthday when I got bumped by a pickup truck and broke my leg. But my existence didn't begin on my second birthday when my memories began.  Further, if I lost my memory tomorrow, would I cease to exist?  If I had a Vulcan mind meld and got your memories, would I be you? If so, then who would you be?

First, if there is no soul, then you aren't the same one who was born on your birthday. There is a different you at every moment, with every change of your physical body. But you have an immediate awareness that you've been the same self for your entire lifetime. Therefore, you must have a soul.

Second, if there is no soul, then you don't have a right to do what you want with your body. You don't possess a body; you are your body. But we know intuitively that we are the possessors of our own bodies and are different from them. Therefore, our essential selves are immaterial. We are soulish beings.

Third, if there is no soul, there can be no true guilt. The legitimacy of guilt and punishment, however, is a notion that is so pervasive its reality is rarely in question. Humans must have souls capable of making free, moral choices for which they are properly held responsible.

All humans-even unborn humans-have souls. It's part of what it means to be human. That's why we continue to be ourselves over time, even when  our physical bodies change.

Stand firm in Christ,

1.  Koukl, Greg. Precious Unborn Human Persons. Pages 38-39.


John Moore said...

Maybe you are a continuum. You are like a journey from one place to another. When you travel a mile from your starting point, you are no longer at your starting point! But that's fine because you consist of the whole journey, not any particular point along the journey. No matter where you go or what changes you experience, you are still the journey.

Chase said...

Hello John,

As always, thanks for visiting the blog.

Maybe you are a continuum. You are like a journey from one place to another.

What do you mean by this? Does this position imply that the soul does not exist and if yes, how does this position address the three points Koukl makes regarding the implications of the non-existence of the soul?


John Moore said...

Talking about the soul is one way to understand selfhood, but the continuum idea is another way. Maybe these ideas are compatible or maybe not, but it's just good to see alternatives.

The continuum idea is just addressing Koukl's first point where he says if there's no soul then you aren't the same person from one moment to the next. There are different ways to understand personhood. The idea of an immaterial soul is not the only way.

Chase said...


I understand that the continuum idea is an alternative view of personhood. However, I am still not clear on the nature of the continuum. Can you provide some clarity for me?