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In Republic: Book X, Plato writes about a discussion that took place between Socrates and Glaucon. I have selected parts of that discussion. As with the Bible, selecting parts of a discussion can lead to false conclusions.
Socrates had already convinced Glaucon of the immortality of the Soul.
. . . . . .
“But the soul which cannot be destroyed by an evil, whether inherent or external, must exist forever, and if existing forever, must be immortal?”
“That is the conclusion, and, if a true conclusion, then the souls must always be the same, for if none be destroyed they will not diminish in number. Neither will they increase, for the increase of the immortal natures must come from something mortal, and all things would end in immortality.”
. . . . . .
“. . . not there must we look.”
“At her love of wisdom. Let us see whom she affects, and what society and converse she seeks in virtue . . . .”
“. . . but justice in her own nature has been shown to be best for the soul in her own nature. Let a man do what is just, whether he have the ring of Gyges or not, and even if in addition to the ring of Gyges he put on the helmet of Hades.”
“. . . how many and how great are the rewards which justice and the other virtues procure to the soul from gods and from men, both in life and after death.”
In Webster’s New World Dictionary, there is an extensive definition of the word Soul:
Soul 1. An entity which is regarded as being the immortal or spiritual part of the person and, though having no physical or material reality, is credited with the functions of thinking and willing, and hence determining all behavior.
Webster goes on from there. I could have typed it all in here, but if I followed that practice, then this book would become too heavy to carry.
The soul is the part of you that is your spirit, your ambition, your value system. The soul is your conscience. That part of you that gets you up in the morning to do whatever you do. The soul is your awareness. The soul is your contact with God.
The Encyclopædia Britannica offers pages on this subject. I did read it. You should check your own reference sources.
Now is the time to start to put this together and see how far we can stray from sound theology.
I cannot argue better than Plato about the immortality of the soul. Read it for yourself. The following premises and conclusions may or may not have anything to do with what you believe. Remember, you see your own elephant. This is another view of the elephant.
The soul is immortal. It has always existed and will always exist.
Only God is immortal.
Therefore, the soul is of God, a part of the essence of God.
God is infinite, we are finite.
The soul is only a small portion of God. The soul is the part of God that lives within us. There can be no limit to the number of souls as there is no limit to God. This is not necessarily in conflict with the arguments of Plato. If there is only God, then there is one Soul. Each person’s soul is only a part of the ONE Soul.
When a new life is created, God takes a portion of Himself and places it into that new one. He breaths the soul of life into you upon your creation. Is that creation at conception? What if that soul is put by God into the egg and the sperm? After all there is that admonition in Genesis against casting your seed upon the ground.
Native Americans believed that all things possess a soul. This extended beyond living things to rocks, hills, mountains, and all of creation. After all they are all created of the essence of God.
This love of all life, all nature, all of the universe is present in the religious beliefs of all the different peoples of the Americas at the time of Columbus. Do not mistake this for worship of nature. They worship the Great Spirit - - - the power behind nature. God is Mother Nature, so perhaps it is worship of NATURE.
Upon death, the soul returns to God. It either remains separate or rejoins the essence of God. I will now explore these two options.
A. Upon death the soul remains separate. You retain your own identity and are not assimilated into the one Soul.
1. According to those who believe in re-incarnation, this soul will be cycled through one entity after another until it achieves the quality of being rejoined with God as a single Soul.
2. If you do not believe in re-incarnation, then this portion is set aside until some distant future time when all is ended and Heaven or Hell is your destination. You still retain your identity and will then realize eternal reward basking in the presence of God, or punishment separated forever from God.
a. Your reward or punishment comes immediately at death.
b. Your reward or punishment will come at the end of time.
3. If eventually this portion of God that is my soul ever reunites with the Soul of God, then what?
Will God not desire to have this portion of Himself rejoined to Himself?
B. Upon death the soul rejoins the essence of God. What we are, what we have done to/with the God within us, will add to or detract from God. If you think of it that way, your way of life is much more serious than you previously considered. If I have corrupted my soul, then I have corrupted THE Soul. Then, when God forms a new life, it gains some of the characteristics we have returned to THE Soul. This is our immortality, our re-incarnation. Then we have corrupted a new soul. That new life starts out with part of our sins and part of our virtues. That new life starts out with part of the sins and virtues of every one who ever was.
If a tree falls in the forest and there is no one to hear it, it does make a difference.
Did you notice that I avoided using the word Spirit here? Why do you suppose I did that?
1. Soul is a feminine noun. Plato refers to a soul as “her.”
2. Justice is also a feminine noun.
3. A magic ring that Socrates and his students knew to be mythical.
4. A helmet of invisibility also known to be mythical.
5. My wife, Lenore.
6. God is Mother Nature.
copyright© 2007 George L Snyder