By Engr. Carlos Cornejo
Holy Scripture is very clear in telling us that there is life after death. As a consequence of that, we therefore have something within us that does not die. It can’t be our body since it can only live by an average of 71 years, which is the life expectancy in the Philippines according to the World Health Organization. That something that the lives in us forever is what we call the soul. Actually, it’s a someone rather than a something because our souls are our very selves. Or as the philosophers would call it, it is our very “I” which is the strongest description of our individuality or personhood.
Even without the Bible we could ascertain that we have souls based on reason. There are several proofs actually but we will just mention the two most common ones here. The proofs are not physical of course, but logical or philosophical, since our soul is invisible or immaterial and can’t be subjected to scientific experiments. Science is limited to the study of corporeal or physical entities.
The first proof is based on the principle that action follows being. The principle simply means that whatever is the action or activity, based on that activity we could determine the nature of the cause (who or what is causing it) or we could ascertain the nature of the being causing the activity. If the activity is a physically moving car, we know the cause or what makes the car move is something we can physically see or detect. We know that the movement of the car is caused by the movement of the pistons inside the car’s engine that makes the car move. In the case of a bulb that is lighted, the light is caused by electric current although we don’t physically see the electrons that move across the wire, but we can detect it with an instrument. Thus, physical actions are caused by physical causes. Likewise, spiritual actions are caused by spiritual causes. Based on this principle, we know we have a soul because we humans can do spiritual acts. A spiritual act such as “thinking” can come only from a spiritual cause. If we think of concepts such as “justice” or “truth” these are not physical realities but spiritual. These concepts don’t have color, size or weight but they do exist. Well, you might argue that this is caused by our brains. Scientists have found that we can detect how the brain forms images inside our head but it can’t be determined how the brain puts together these images. Self-consciousness for example which means “I am aware that I exist” or “I am aware that I am thinking” is a very intense spiritual act that you can never locate physically in your brain. Therefore, the brain requires a higher capability outside of it. And that capability comes from the soul which has a faculty called the “intellect”. Aside from that material effect is predictable if you have a material cause. Cars moving forward caused by the burning of gasoline, is something we can demonstrate many times. Animals too have predictable behaviors. But with humans we can never predict a person’s behavior because of his or her inherent capacity to make moral choices which is a spiritual act caused by a spiritual soul.
Second proof is by analogy. How come we can convict a person who has violated a law when the unlawful act happened decades ago? Such was the case for example of Manuel Gonzales a truck driver who was convicted of second-degree murder on September 30, 1999 with the slaying of off-duty police officer Ronald Stapleton on December 18, 1977 in New York. Mr. Gonzales could have argued that it was not him who committed the crime because he is now an older person. He could have said it was not me but the younger version of me with a different face, different height or different weight. He could even further argue that he is a “reformed man now”. Nevertheless, the court convicted him because it is still Mr. Manuel Gonzales who did the unlawful act regardless of age. Thus, there must be something that makes us the same person across space and time. And that something or rather that someone is our soul.