Chronicles in Ordinary Time 54: “Souls on Board”

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No one talks about souls anymore. Like all generalizations, this one is to some degree inaccurate. Passenger carriers—ships, airlines, etc.—still use the term to describe numbers of people on board; surprisingly, a Google search doesn’t really provide answers as to why.

Science-oriented folk, particularly those with a dislike of religion, tend to say that we don’t have souls because there is no scientific proof for the soul. Urban legends aside, no one has measured the weight of a soul, and a soul can’t really be detected by modern science. Therefore, the soul can’t exist; right?
X-rays didn’t ‘exist’ until 1895, when Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen “produced and detected electromagnetic radiation in a wavelength range today that was known as X-rays or Röntgen rays, an achievement that earned him the first Nobel Prize in Physics in 1901”. [wikipedia]
Except that x-rays have existed as long as the electromagnetic spectrum has existed. We just weren’t aware of them. I find it interesting that in the first chapter of Genesis, Torah states that the Creator created light before creating the sun. Visible light is one portion of the electromagnetic spectrum; wherever the electromagnetic spectrum exists, light exists.

C.S. Lewis wrote that we are not bodies with a soul, we are souls with a body. Years ago I spent time with people who talked about how we aren’t bodies with a brain, we are a brain with a body. Consequently, we are souls with a brain and a body. If souls exist, and are eternal, then they really are different than our time-bound bodies. Is it probable that we can really understand the concept of an eternal soul? Perhaps our brains are merely the interface between our very physical bodies, and our very non-physical souls. Perhaps it is simply human arrogance that we think we can understand the workings of the universe.

I spend a lot of time thinking about things like this. I distract myself from thinking about the pain my body experiences, by thinking about stuff. I use music as well, and movies; if I’m awake, there is a soundtrack. In reality, there’s a soundtrack 24/7 in my house. I have music playing all the time. In theory I can’t hear it when I sleep—the office is too far away from my bed; in theory maybe I hear the music even then. The sound drowns out the whining in my head caused by tinnitus—the ‘gift’ I received from spending too many years as a foolish contractor using power tools without hearing protection. The lyrics of songs also become the means by which I ‘program’ my brain—upgrading my software. There was a time when I had silence in my life; one of my delights while my sons were in Boy Scouts was walking down to whatever body of water was present at the summer camp, and watching the stars, listening to the silence. The worse the tinnitus got, the less enjoyable the experience of sky-watching.
Movies help drown out the ‘noise’ of aching joints, aching bones; the sharp pains that come when neurons act out.

One of today’s movies was “Hereafter,” Clint Eastwood’s exploration of the ‘white light’ phenomenon associated with near-death experiences. The ‘text’ of the story is that the idea that when the ‘plug is pulled, the lights go out’ is inadequate. Something exists beyond life as we know it. There isn’t a lot of scientific proof [although the dialog hints at more scientific evidence than I’ve heard about]; but there is a preponderance of experiential evidence.
For myself, I have no doubts about the existence of my soul. I was aware of my soul before I’d even heard of a soul. In my early twenties, during the seventies, my soul was troubled by the hatred and fear I found in our society; a hatred and fear I hadn’t known about as a kid. I spent lots of hours grieving over the emptiness in our society that I hadn’t known about before I started thinking about more than myself. When I asked the Creator into my life, it was a matter of that emptiness becoming filled.

My soul is troubled by the violence and hatred in today’s world…The “top stories” on BBC World News are that today is the 100th Anniversary of the beginning of World War I; and the co-existing facts that Israel’s attacks on Gaza have resulted in the deaths of 1800 Palestinians, mostly women and children; and the deaths of 66 Israelis, mostly soldiers. A ‘fitting’ testimony, in my mind… We never seem to learn that death doesn’t solve life.

String Theorists suggest that there are 11 dimensions compared with the three we know from geometry plus time. I am of the opinion that one of these dimensions is a dimension of the soul; a dimension that has no clear meaning for us today. The fact that we don’t understand does not mean that these other dimensions do not exist, any more than x-rays didn’t ‘exist’ in 1890. We just aren’t able to see them.

Through hardships to the stars




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