Review Plato’s distinction between body and soul in the foundation unit so that you can make comparisons with the thinking of Hick and of Dawkins.
Philosophy of Religion (1973); Death and Eternal Life (1976)
• The soul is a name for the moral, spiritual self formed by the interaction of genes and environment. The human is a psychophysical person with a divine purpose.
• The person shall be resurrected through a divine act of recreation or reconstitution in resurrection, rather than reincarnation as Plato would have it, through God’s creative love.
• The new body is not the old one brought back to life but a spiritual body inhabiting a spiritual world just as the physical body inhabited a physical world.
• Hick conducts a thought experiment with a hypothetical person called John Smith. Smith disappears from the USA and reappears in Calcutta, India. He is physically identical with ...view middle of the document...
’ Information flows through time, the bones and tissues do not.
• The belief in an immortal soul is anachronistic and damaging to human endeavor. There is ‘no spirit-driven life force, no throbbing, heaving, pullulating, protoplasmic, mystic jelly’
• Dawkins argues that myths (such as Plato’s Forms) and faiths are not supported by evidence; scientific beliefs are. Life lacks purpose and is indifferent to suffering. There is no creator God.
• Evolution is the only rational theory. It is not our soul that guides us but our genetic make-up. Over time, the good genes survive and the bad genes die out.
• We are as we are because of our genetic make-up, not the efforts of our soul to guide us towards the realm of Ideas. No soul continues, only DNA, the function of life.
• Our sense of self and individuality is based on digital information, not the soul. Our genes are a colony of information that wants to be replicated. It is easier for this to happen in a multi-cell organism. ‘We are survival machines — robot vehicles blindly programmed to preserve the selfish molecules known as genes.’ (The Selfish Gene, 1976)
• The genes are found in behaviour, so the bodies acquire individuality. We feel like a single organism, not a colony, as selection has favoured genes that co-operate.
• Genes working together give us a sense of individuality not the soul. The colony needs a central control. The genetic model becomes more complex and thinks about itself as an individual and considers the consequences of its actions.
• ‘Consciousness arises when the brain’s simulation of the world becomes so complete that it must include a model of itself.’ (The Selfish Gene, 1976)
• This leads to human culture, a ‘replicator’ or ‘meme’ (tunes, catchphrases, quotes, teachings), which are heard and lodged in the brain and then imitated by it.
• At death, we leave behind genes and memes, though the genes will quickly be dispersed. DNA survival brings about the body and individual consciousness creates culture. This is the soul.