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What Is The Spirit Made Of

Discussion in 'Culture & Religion' started by Chip, Oct 20, 2008.

  1. Chip

    Chip New Member

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    In another discussion, a tangential question arose as to the composition of our spirit.

    So maybe we can pursue that answer here.

    The question is: what is our spirit made of.

    In traditional religious context, before we were "made flesh" we may have had a pre-existing "soul", our spirit, that was infused into our body.

    In traditional religious context, our spirit, whether pre-existing or newly existing, dwells within our body, but is not of the body.

    In traditional religious context, when we die, only our flesh dies, and our spirit, our "soul", continues to live on, maybe never to dwell in flesh again, maybe to be reincarnated ... or maybe to eventually perish.

    If anything we've scientifically learned to date, however, it's that whatever exists is made of something.

    We've also reached a point where we classically know there is matter (mass and energy) and quantum mechanically know that some sub-atomic particles are, astonishingly (as I've read), without mass and yet are not pure energy either even though they carry a "charge" (a charge, negative or positive not being equivalent to energy), and that some (maybe all) sub-atomic particles, like the photon, emit a wave of energy.

    And, to date, we also scientifically think that whatever exists must be composed of something.

    So, since/if our spirit exists, what is it made of? Matter? Does it have mass? Is it pure energy? Is it made from something else we've yet to discover?

    Though I can't imagine we'd create any breakthroughs in this discussion, it's still a rather stimulating topic ... for some.

    After all, when we say "I am", we're not talking about our flesh in whole or in part, we're talking about our ontological being presence, on which we really can't put our finger -- we're talking about our essence, our spirit, our religious "soul".

    And unless science itself is wrong, our spirit is made of something, or it wouldn't be at all!

    So ... what is our spirit made of?
     
  2. foggedinn

    foggedinn New Member

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    I don't really believe that I can answer your question, but I can express some thoughts from the perspective of someone who has read the bible several times.

    You seem to be using the terms soul and spirit interchangably. I doubt that is correct usage of the terms. Elisha, upon the accension of Elijah, was given a double portion of the spirit. I don't believe this means that he had two souls.

    When a prophet "speaks in the spirit", it is a manifestation of the third part of the trinity.

    The only part of scripture I can think of where a soul is manifested is when King Saul employed the Witch of Endor to commune with a dead Samuel.(and got read the riot act for his efforts)
     
  3. Chip

    Chip New Member

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    Yes, finding the correct answer to this question isn't easy.

    And maybe for most the correct answer is unknowable.

    But considering everyone wonders about this from time to time, I couldn't help but imagine that searching for the answer might open other heretofore undesirably closed doors in the process.

    It's all good.
     
  4. Dr.Who

    Dr.Who Well-Known Member

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    Science has limited itself to observing the natural world. Science can never be used to answer a question about something that is spiritual.

    So has science taught us that everything is made of something? Well, no it has not. It has taught us that everything we have looked at in the natural world is made of something. Two possibilities now exist; 1) that we have not yet looked at the something in the natural world that is not made of something (which I doubt will change as we look at more things) or 2) that our observations of the natural world tell us nothing about the spiritual world.
     
  5. Chip

    Chip New Member

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    Why not?

    If we don't know what the spiritual is made of, how can we conclude anything about future observations of it?

    We may just find that the spiritual isn't unknowable in composition, just like we learned more about the microcosmos through quantum mechanics.

    We may find that classical physics doesn't apply objectively to the spiritual just like it doesn't apply to the sub-atomic particle-wave world ... and that, likewise, quantum mechanics does apply.

    Schrodinger's equation has provided us with a way of "seeing" the quantum mechanical world without actually observing it's effective invisibility.

    Some even think that consciousness itself is quantum mechanically based -- the quantum mind.

    But intuitively, we know ... we know that everything that exists is composed of something, without exception ... no matter how small, or large ... or different.

    With that as a truthful given, it's okay not to know the answer ...

    ... Even though the answer does exist.

    I, however, think the answer is knowable, and, within our immediate grasp.
     
  6. Dr.Who

    Dr.Who Well-Known Member

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    I stand corrected.

    Had you asked about the supernatural then by definition it would have been outside of the realm of science. But you asked about the spirit.

    Traditionally spirit is considered to be an element of the supernatural. The bible teaches that it is invisible and describes properties of it that appear to violate the laws of nature. Nevertheless, it could be that some day it will be knowable through scientific means. If spirit is observable then it can be investigated scientifically. For now that is an "if" we don't know the answer to.
     
  7. TruthAboveAll

    TruthAboveAll Active Member

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    What a wonderful question to ponder! As a Christian, I fully realize that the spirit in the biblical sense stems from the Hebrew ruach. To my understanding, it remains a bit mysterious and is intended to. A pure essence of energy as Chip mentioned? Perhaps that may be the best way for us to understand it in a general sense with our current knowledge. At best, the Bible contains the meaning within the bounds of the intangible part of man.

    The soul (Hebrew nephesh) is psyche, and so applies to the rational and relational. It is how we see ourselves, and how we interact with others.

    Back up a step. There is the body, the essence physical. In living beings, plants have bodies which progress in kind to the development of other living beings. But without soul and spirt, the commonality with other living beings stops there.

    Animals have bodies, but also have souls. The soul generally is understood as a part of us, the psyche indicating it operates from our mind, our emotions, our communication. It is part of the interacting process. Animals have this, as they are often observed showing all those traits. Humans have it, displayed in our perception of ourselves and our relational perception of others and how we interact with them.

    Humans and animals can also connect and interact on the soul level. Why it is that some animal species seem to have more of a soul than others, is yet another mystery that I've no convincing answers for. But you have merely to witness a human "animal lover" interacting with horses, dogs, cats, etc. and you can see clearly the communication between them on the soul level. Animals let you know that they love you, and that is essence of being expressed with the soul. Perhaps they're more intertwined. The soul may be a component of our physical being functions to relate, connect and express.

    The plants have body, but no soul. Animals and humans have souls, but only the humans have spirits. There's that intangible quality again. I think the "pure energy" idea is actually a good way to start to understand it. From what I understand, I believe that the spirit is what actually connects us to God. Jesus told us to worship in spirit and in truth. There are many references of this type in regard to the spirit, so I feel very comfortable accepting that there is this "system" in part of my makeup that operates in a different sense, possibly a different dimension. I recognize it in the here and now, but I also see that my spirit is connecting me with others that I can only reach in spirit. There bodies are gone, so I have no physical interaction; gone, so I have no connection/interaction of soul. But in the spirit (to me, this is the human's gifted ability to spiritually seek out, find, touch and embrace God. It is a sharing of his divine spirit that activates ours.

    I know I've not said all I wanted to say, and possibly said more than I'd intended now, \
     
  8. Chip

    Chip New Member

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    I had not previously thought of a distinction between spirit and soul ... but the idea is intersting.

    In his book, The Physics of Consciousness, Evan Harris Walker states that whatever our consciousness, our "I am" our spirit, whatever you call our being essense, it must have a link to the physical.

    He employs some pretty good arguments, referencing state-of-the-art physics, to conclude that the 1.4 quadrillion synaptic gaps in our complete nervous system, taken in summation as a whole, especially the sub-system in the brain itself, is that link.

    If he is right, and I think he's at least in the right vacinity, then we pretty much know where the spirit calls home.

    But I wonder ... if perhaps the spirit is simply a phenomenon, a form of life at the "next level" created by so many other forms of life (neurons, etc.) in such amazingly close systemic cooperative proxmity.

    Does the physical thus itself actually create the spiritual?

    If this is the case then our spirit is ephemerally mortal.

    But if the physical doesn't create the spiritual, then is our neuro-system merely a hospitible place for our spirit to reside?

    I know this doesn't really focus on answering the question of the foundational post, per se.

    But the previous post was stimulating.
     
  9. Dr.Who

    Dr.Who Well-Known Member

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    God is said to be spirit (by the bible) and to have existed before the physical universe. This would lead on to think that the physical did not create the spiritual.

    We are said to have an eternal existence (by the bible) while the universe is said to have a finite existence by both the bible and scientists. If we continue to exist when the universe ends then again we could not merely be an aspect of the physical universe.
     
  10. Chip

    Chip New Member

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    In the "Is God Invisible?" thread, some said yes, some said no.

    I believe God is both visible and invisible. That's a panentheistic perspective; his body is visible, his spirit is not.

    The Bible is a theistic perspective. Understandably God is Biblically invisible, though with powers of imminent manifestation in the physical.

    As for us having eternal existence, by Biblical reference we are immortal, not eternal. Only God is eternal. But I've been told by others that we're eternal too, though they weren't referencing the Bible.

    The question remains ... what is the spirit made of?

    Merely because the spirit may be spectrally invisible doesn't mean it's not made of something.

    And if our spirit is made of something ... wouldn't that mean God's is also ... and, if so, what is God's spirit made of?

    Is God's spirit made of different stuff because he's eternal and we're not?

    Hmmm ... ...
     
  11. TruthAboveAll

    TruthAboveAll Active Member

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    The whole idea of God as spirit or the spirit aspect of man strikes me as something that is basically unprovable and beyond our understanding. At least, by our human standards of proof and understanding. Because we are limited to the standards within our experience and existence, we can theorize, imagine and even sense with conviction the actuality of spirit, it is not verifiable in a scientific sense.

    The "Old Earth" vs. Creationism theories seem to be irreconcilable on the surface. Yet if we can accept that there is a, for lack of a better term, "dimensional" variance that allows a spiritual realm and our known, tangible physical realm to mutually exist, it lends to explanation to this and other conundrums. In essence. Our inability to understand a spiritual God who is capable of creation or the mechanics thereof does not negate the possibility of his existence.

    I've no doubt that our spirits and that of God are tangible and substantial. Because it is beyond our ability to define, again does not negate it as truth or possibility. 500 years ago, only the rare individual could even imagine flying, electricity or the internal-combustion engine. 100 years ago, the very computer and internet we use so commonly today would have seemed totally unimaginable to all but a few. As our knowledge and learning increase, we become able to understand as fact things that were impossible fables to our great-grandfathers.

    Yet with the spirit, it is possible that the greater our knowledge, the harder for us to understand something ephemeral in a physical, scientific world. The knowledge of mankind is increasing at startling rates, though not necessarily accompanied by wisdom, discernment or even common sense. And it's possible that just as some minds are more capable of grasping the concept of how an audio/video signal is transformed into something that can pass through space and be transformed again into an image and sound, some individuals are more capable of grasping the concept of spirit.

    The spirit/soul/body aspect is mirrored by the Christian concept of a triune God. Jesus Christ is the body, the physical manifestation. The Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost is the soul, or the psyche manifestation, operating within the physical human realm like an energy source. The Father is the ultimate spirit manifestation, the eternal force behind it all.

    As humans, and God's divine creation, we are gifted with the human physical body for our daily existence, with a spirit that links us to God immortally and the soul that binds them together in our psyche. Although we are not eternal, our spirits having a beginning at some given, unknown point to us, yet we are immortal as that spirit will live on through eternity. I have not read the Walker book mentioned by Chip, but it sounds as if there may be some similarity in the concepts.

    Our science, knowledge and capabilities have brought us to the point where we can hypothesize exactly what the sun is, what it is made of, what it's lifespan could be, what processes are involved, etc. We can ascertain certain things, but all we can truly know is that it holds our solar system together, gives us heat and gives us light. I think the understanding of spiritual composition is much the same.
     
  12. Dr.Who

    Dr.Who Well-Known Member

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    You could be on to something. And it might be called dualism.
     
  13. Dr.Who

    Dr.Who Well-Known Member

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    Yes the question remains. But we don't want to get caught up in the question so much that we ignore others. Perhaps an earlier question might be is the spirit made of anything? It just might not be.
     
  14. TruthAboveAll

    TruthAboveAll Active Member

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    Energy will be dispersed without some sort of containment system; pour coffee into an uncoated cup it will escape. The examples of similar properties of decay and dispersion are boundless, all observable in our physical world.

    The spirit must be made of something, even though we don't know how to qualify and define it. If we accept that there is a spirit aspect to us, we can say that our bodies keep it intact if it be of ephemeral quality. Accepting that, we expect that the spirit of God is at least in kind. Again, if the ephemeral quality we identify with is factual, there must be another characteristic, another force retaining substance.
     
  15. Dr.Who

    Dr.Who Well-Known Member

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    Why must the spirit be made of something? We have never observed a spirit empirically. How can we say anything at all about it through natural means? Perhaps you have received a revelation that tells you it has to be made of something. if not then I don't see that you have any reason at all to make a claim one way or the other that it is or is not made of something.
     
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