Mere Science and Christian Faith: Bridging the Divide with Emerging Adults, by Greg Cootsona: Chapter 3- Emerging Adults: Are They None and Done?
We are reviewing the book, Mere Science and Christian Faith, by Greg Cootsona, subtitled Bridging the Divide with Emerging Adults. Today we look at Chapter 3- Emerging Adults: Are They None and Done? Cootsona begins this chapter with the de-conversion story of Don Barker, founder of the Freedom from Religion Foundation, the organization responsible for the “de-baptismal certificate”. Barker has somewhat of the typical de-conversion story (supposing there is such a thing). Raised in a fundamentalist family and church, his dad having had the “lightning bolt” conversion that caused him to throw out and disassociate from everything “secular”. They had a family “gospel” music team, Barker played and wrote many Christian songs, from which he still receive royalties. He went to a Christian bible college, became a pastor, and led many people to Christ. Gradually, he found he didn’t believe anymore—no specific turning point, and now he takes the “preacher” personality he cultivated and uses it for counter-evangelism.
Cootsona brings up this story because one Barna survey found a third of the emerging adults believe the church does more harm than good, which makes it a huge challenge for that same church to try and bring science and faith together. Cootsona wants to relate emerging adult’s attitudes toward faith and science by looking at the late Ian Barbour’s four part typology. Barbour had been at the forefront of the dialogue between scientists and theologians. Trained as a physicist with a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago (1950), and as a theologian with a B.D. from Yale University (1956), Barbour has drawn on the philosophical insights of both disciplines to try to transcend their boundaries.
First type, conflict, asserts that religion and science will never agree. This is the Richard Dawkin’s perspective as well as the Ken Ham perspective—they are really mirror images of each other. The concept of warfare between science and religion has received an onslaught of scholarly critique, but has remained remarkably tenacious in the general public’s mind.
The second type, independence, concludes that religion and science are two completely different ways to look at the world and their boundaries should be observed. The late Harvard paleontologist, Stephen Jay Gould is the most well know proponent of this view with his NOMA, Non-Overlapping Magisterial Authority. Gould’s general point with NOMA is that we should respect the boundaries of both science and religion, as well as affirm the legitimacy of each other. Cootsona’s music director at his first pastorate knew Gould personally, and said he was a brilliant and kind man who didn’t conclude that “thoughtful Christian” was an oxymoron.
The third type is dialogue which involves a respectful discussion of insights from each discipline. Almost every academic theologian or scientist who’s been at a science and religion conference does the work of dialogue. It’s what academics do—talk, talk, talk, and then talk some more.
But if dialogue is fruitful, it leads to Barbour’s fourth type—integration. Integration holds that science and religion need to make a difference to each other through collaboration; it’s exemplified by people such as Francis Collins and Robert J. Russell.
In Cootsona’s experience, both dialogue and integration are well represented in emerging adults. He says:
When I begin my science and religion class at Chico State, I often have the students form a visual graph of where they find themselves on Barbour’s scale by grouping themselves by their preferred type of interaction in the four corners of the classroom. There are few in the conflict corner, a few more in the independence, and the most (usually over half the class) in dialogue and integration. (I also have a fifth spot, in the middle of the room, for those who are undecided. To my surprise, few choose this).
Bear in mind, Chico State is part of the California state school system, and is not a religious institution. Cootsona notes that there is two conflicting sets of survey data regarding the attitudes of college students towards religion and science. One study of 2,381 undergraduates found 70% agreed or strongly agreed with the statement that religion and science conflicted. However, another survey of 10,810 California undergraduates found that, despite the seeming predominance of a conflict-oriented narrative, the majority of undergraduates do not view the relationship as one of conflict. This study found 69% agreed that independence or collaboration was the best way to relate religion and science. Cootsona, trying to make sense of these conflicting claims believes that it is in how the question is posed. The first study asked about the culture at large, while the second one focused more on personal view. Cootsona concluded that, simply put, the majority of emerging adults in these studies sense that there is conflict “out there” in the culture, but they themselves want something better than conflict. They are fatigued by the culture wars. (Oh, Greg, good luck getting the evangelical church to listen to you!) He says:
Unfortunately, I cannot predict that an integration of mainstream science and mere Christianity will dry up the market for Barker’s de-baptism certificates. But it might help stem the flow of “nones” and “dones” away from the church. So how does integration take shape in emerging-adult ministries? How do we speak to a demographic context that hears conflict but favors collaboration or independence?
First, Cootsona says, the church needs to show how it engages mainstream science. Don’t teach the controversy; teach the collaboration. The majority of emerging adults want to move beyond warfare. Second, he says, engage the Internet, the influence of the Internet on the emerging generation is mostly negative, and inflames the conflict narrative. Don’t be a part of that, point to the positive influences on the Internet, like BioLogos. This is one reason I’ve committed to blogging here at Internet Monk. I want to use my credentials as a scientist and a Christian to work for dialogue and collaboration.
Case Study: Cognitive Science and Reasons not to Believe
The case study for this chapter is Cognitive Science and Reasons not to Believe. One of the arguments Cootsona hears from 18-30 year-olds is that the idea of the soul does not make sense anymore in light of the advances in cognitive neuroscience. We dealt with this subject at length in my review of Minds, Brains, Souls, and Gods: A Conversation of Faith, Psychology and Neuroscience by Malcolm Jeeves. The problem, prominent in most Christian circles, is the dualistic concept of the soul—the idea that there is an entirely separate substance within our bodies that make up our soul, like air in a tire, or what philosopher Gilbert Ryle called “the ghost in the machine”. Many Christians think this is the “biblical” position, but it really owes much more to Greek philosophy, particularly Platonism, than Hebrew thought. As we discussed in the Minds, Brains… series, the ancient Hebrew view was that we are a unity of body and spirit. As seen in Genesis 2:7, we don’t have a soul, we are souls, a psychosomatic unity, if you will, or, as I like to put it, an emergent property.
The bible teaches that full redemption includes redemption of the body (Romans 8:23, 1 Corinthians 15:12-57). Our hope is not, what N.T. Wright calls “platonized eschatology”, in which our disembodied essence rises up to a noncorporeal heavenly realm. Rather, Christians traditionally believed in the resurrection of the body and living on an earth that has be remade. So, in a sense, neuroscientists are correcting an erroneous idea that Christians hold.
In a similar manner, evolutionary psychologists who note the human tendency toward cooperation, which helps ensure survival, and produces a common morality. Humans naturally seem to converge upon a common set of intuitions that structure moral thought. Some scientists take this tendency into the service of atheism and use it to impugn belief in God i.e. we can’t help belief in God, our brains demand it. But this view essentially takes atheism as the given starting point and argues to its own conclusion. It begs the question. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says that God has set eternity in the human heart. There is no reason why an evolutionary process couldn’t be the means of that setting of eternity in human cognition. It’s what you’d expect if we are His created creatures.
49 thoughts on “Mere Science and Christian Faith, by Greg Cootsona: Chapter 3- Emerging Adults: Are They None and Done?”
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They demanded similar perfection in animal sacrifices. To an extent I think we are prisoners of our 21st Century individualistic mindset. I don’t think the issue was that those with physical imperfections were bad people or spiritually impure. The requirement for perfection in sacrificial animals was to avoid people picking the least valuable animals they didn’t want anyway as sacrifices, and I wonder if the concern was to an extent to avoid Levite families similarly shortchanging God by picking for service in the temple those who were through infirmity not capable of other work.
If it can’t be answered well by anyone anymore, could it ever have been answered well, or were the answers always actually deficient, even though people believed otherwise?
I’m also not sure I can answer well.
But you continue to recognize yourself in the mirror as the same person, because something remains the same. That is the basis of your identity. Your soul and body have both undergone changes, but if something in one or both of them does not remain the same, then you would not be the same person. A Buddhist would say that you are in fact not the same person, and that the perception of identity between the younger and older man is illusory. I say that something in your soul remains the same, even though every molecule in your body has not only been changed but replaced over time, it is in fact not the same body as it was forty years ago, and it is your soul that makes the recognition of identity between the younger man and the changed older one when you look in the mirror correct.
–> “Most of the dreaded evangelicals , believe it or not , can reconcile their acceptance of science facts when science conflicts with the historic interpretation of the Bible.”
Unfortunately, I know far too many Christians these days who, despite scientific evidence to the contrary, are falling for the 6,000 year old earth “Biblical truth” and who are now making that a requirement for knowing if someone is truly a Christian.
If you have not met these people yet, be glad. Be very glad.
J.B., you always leave me smiling 🙂
I think the Chinese also had a folk belief to that effect — that your ghost after death maintained the same injuries and scars your body had in life. (And that Chinese Ghosts always appeared bearing the marks of their cause of death.) This also explains why in Old Imperial China, the most severe forms of the death penalty always involved mutilating torture — both to prevent the culprit from “escaping” punishment too soon and to mutilate him permanently in the afterlife.
But will that resurrected body be me, or just an exact duplicate of the me which ceased to exist?
Will I maintain an unbroken First Person Point of View?
(The doctrine that Judgment happens either in the Intermediate State or Resurrection implies that there is SOME way to maintain Continuity; otherwise, God is judging and punishing a copy for the sins of the original.)
When Philip Jose Farmer wrote his “Riverworld” series (of an artificial world where everyone who ever lived is deposited by unknown “Transcendental” aliens and resurrect every time they die again), he had to tackle this dilemma. His solution was an SF version of an “incorporeal soul”, a dimensional(?) device that records and maintains the personality matrix and memory trace between resurrections, sort of like Cookies maintain your settings on a given Website. Basically a fictional technobabble “soul” and “intermediate state”.
I will repeat my oft repeated slogan here – Down with Plato, Up with Democritus!
Lack of critical thinking skills is maybe THE major issue facing education today. I say that because a host of other issues derive from this.
Sure there are fundy scientists, no doubt. But in my well over 2 decades of interaction with scientists, both academic and in industry, I have yet to meet one. On the other hand, fundy Christians are a dime a dozen. There is little equivalency.
Okay, I stated that badly. The point I’m trying to make is that the bundle of physicality that remains after you die does not contain your identity, even though it is contiguous with the body you had when alive. So, the most physical thing left over from your life, your corpse and all its physical attributes, is not you;how then is your body the location of your identity before you die, unless there is some quality that vacates your body at death and is not identical with your physical being? What is the quality that attached to your body and made it you and that no longer attaches to your corpse, so that we can say that Adam’s corpse is not him? That quality is the locus of identity, whatever it is, whether it continues to exist after death or not, and however it may change during life or be changed by death.
As I said, I think there are complementary truths in the Platonic and Hebrew understandings, that we need to bring out for different purposes. It’s like the wave-particle duality of energy-matter: for some purposes we have to understand it as a wave, and for others as a particle, even though according to our logic it can’t be both at the same time.
Whether continuity of consciousness is necessary for identity is not the issue I’m attending to in my comment. The point is that the bundle of qualities and processes that made up the body and are now a corpse definitely do continue, but have nothing of our identity attached to them anymore. Our identity is not invested in the corpse moldering in the grave, even though it (the corpse) is definitely physically contiguous with the physical processes and qualities of the body we had when we were alive. Our identity is not in the leftover physical elements, after death; was it in the physical elements before death?
I am in camp “both”. Haters should be marginalized, there is nothing else to be done with them. And The Church should have a compelling alternative. But I am not hopeful about the second part. 😦
I believe the modern version of the culture wars started with Billy Graham and has it’s roots in the cold war and the red fear. It was indeed – as was Billy – funded by those with a motivation to feed that fear.
Faith is not based on science or is science based on faith. How do we acquire faith? We are taught how to gain faith, in Christianity the faith lessons are contained in the Bible. Who inspired the Bible? Christians believe God inspired the Bible
I never thought the Bible was a science book, never looked to see if the Bible could tell me how things work in this world, like how to make electric power.
Most of the dreaded evangelicals , believe it or not , can reconcile their acceptance of science facts when science conflicts with the historic interpretation of the Bible. “They” know that a deep , true understanding of science is not what the Bible is about, the Bible is about Jesus.
At the beginning of Christianity, the debate was really “” is the Old Testament really part of the story of Jesus? In other words Jesus came to override many of the law/teachings of the old Testament. I will summarize a complex thought, at least complex for John Barry, into a simple and debatable statement the fundamentalist place more emphasis on Jesus, Jesus, Jesus and his salvation than the Old Testament. In the early 20th century the fundamentalist took a direction that if one Bible fact is found to be untrue based on science, then the whole house of cards fall down. This was not a main concern of Christianity and I will say the Scopes Monkey Trial hardened the issue.
Deep down evangelicals know that the Old Testament was to foreshadow the coming of Jesus and was told in a “story” format to endure for the ages.
“They” believe the moral teachings of the OT such as the 10 Commandments and the lessons relevant to living a life pleasing to God are why God inspired the OT.
So many evangelicals take the OT as the background for the arrival of Jesus but the other “facts” that the OT held was written to a Bronze Age people that would change with the advent of time.
The earth revolves around the sun does , that does invalidate the life and salvation of Jesus.
Simply, I think most of the dreaded evangelicals really have found a personal way , what way that is, to separate science from faith. Actually it is not a big issue to most of the pew sitters, they do not dwell on it at least for 80% of evangelicals.
this is only the thoughts of John Barry and they are worth what you paid for them.. People who know me well, do not say penny for your thought as they feel they would want to overpay and no one ask me for my 2 cents worth.
Of course I , by the power invested in me by the internet, I speak for most Christians, this is a heavy weight.
What local afternoon drive-time radio called “The Elvis Effect” — 1 in 6 believe Elvis Presley is still alive.
Some are more than “in the shadow of”.
Some are grafted to Grand Unified Conspiracy Theory like conjoined twins. And Christianese Conspiracy Crack jacks up everything to Cosmic Importance with “Every inch of Everything claimed by God and counter-claimed by Satan”.
> Nothing is more redolent of privilege than the “Quarter-life Crisis”
In the words of the prophet Alfred Yankovic:
(Problem is, if all you have left is First World Problems, they can still trigger your Life-or-Death Survival reactions.)
At which point, you’re up against Salvation-Level Dogma in a milieu where Personal Salvation is not only Everything, but the Only Thing. Their Eternal Existence is threatened (whether by non-existence or Eternal Hell) and They Will Fight Back.
I don’t think the question “Why even be a Christian?” can be answered well by many anymore.
I’m not sure I can even.
Adam, I’m not dismissing or ignoring anyone. But I think of a single mother of my acquaintance working two jobs. She doesn’t have time to “emerge”. Next to her it’s hard to sympathize with a 25 year old year old still living with his parents. (I know one of those too. He’s waiting for the “right moment” to make his move.) The transition to adulthood is never easy. But you got to get out there and do it.
–> “I’m not sure that ‘marginalizing’ anyone is the correct solution. When someone is already feeling discounted and excluded, heaping even more condemnation on them just causes them to hunker down even more.
I think what we really need is a non-fundamentalist Christian movement that is vibrant and compelling enough to get people to sit up and take notice…”
I initially agreed with the marginalization idea, but yours seems like a good counterpoint!
Speaking of the fatigue of the ‘Culture Wars’, when did they start and who was behind them? Or were they some kind of spontaneous occurrence?
My own thought is that somehow, these ‘wars’ were started by people who would BENEFIT personally from them, as though these folks went around preaching on ‘circuits’ where people came to hear them speak as ‘entertainment’ and to give money to the one stirring up the hatred (?)
. . . . or maybe there are different cases for each separate Culture War issue?
I’m not sure that “marginalizing” anyone is the correct solution. When someone is already feeling discounted and excluded, heaping even more condemnation on them just causes them to hunker down even more.
I think what we really need is a non-fundamentalist Christian movement that is vibrant and compelling enough to get people to sit up and take notice, not because it threatens them or makes them look bad, but because it piques their curiosity – a movement that is faithful to the core teachings of Christianity and where God is manifestly present and active.
Along with that, our society needs changes in our education system, and more broadly in how we shape and form the minds of children. Lack of critical thinking skills is not just a matter of innate intelligence – it’s a failure by society to provide kids with the environment they need for their brains to develop to their full potential.
At 55, I’ve shed lots of skin and when I look in the mirror and see the face that has aged over the years, my soul is changed. I’ve also shed lots of hair on my head that have not been replaced. The ones that remain have replaced blond hair for gray. My soul is changed.
> I’m not sure about that generalization.
Agree, even more strongly – I am certain it is not true. This is mistaking the Loudest for the Most.
> …fully a third, believe the earth…
So, less than a third. I’ve heard compelling arguments that roughly 20% (or 1 in 5) of Americans have diagnosed or untreated mental illness – also 20% of the population exhibits an absence of risk-aversion behavior – so I find this less disturbing than it appears on the surface. Believing the world is ~10,000 years old is very much in the shadow of believing in conspiracy theories, etc… I suspect this will always be true – and more or less always has been. This is something a healthy society recognizes and deals with; obsessing over it is the wrong approach, focus on the other 70%.
> Nothing is more redolent of privilege than the “Quarter-life Crisis”
I have a lot of sympathy for your cynicism; on the other hand those Economically Privileged experiencing Quarter-life Crisis are (a) People, so their suffering|doubt|questions must be taken seriously as a matter of dignity AND (b) inevitably out of that Economically Privileged will come tomorrow’s leaders – so dismissing or ignoring them is foolish.
> Fundamentalism must be opposed and marginalized.
Evangelicalism [the modern Western name for Fundamentalism] is essentially, irreparably, incompatible with an economically prosperous equitable democratic society; it is an enemy of civil society.
> What, read something that might change what I believe to be true?”
Which raises the question: Then what is the point of reading anything?
Slowing orbiting my understand closer to whatever is truth|reality is why I read what I do. If not that, I might as well just drink beer and nap.
Is continuity a necessity of “same” consciousness? Even neurology suggests the answer is no.
–> “Unfortunately fundamentalism is a dominant point of view in our churches.”
I’m not sure about that generalization. The church I attend isn’t, and one I visited in Boston two weeks ago isn.t
And those that are… Those churches will crater as more and more people decide not to attend churches with such a strict views of things.
–> “Polls show that a depressing number of Americans, fully a third, believe the earth was created less than 10,000 years ago.”
That is a depressing figure. Of course, there are other polls (about science and history) that are equally depressing, showing the general lack of knowledge of the average American citizen. Heck, that’s why shows like Finding Bigfoot and Ancient Aliens exist!
–> “It’s not the scientists you need to worry about. Fundamentalism must be opposed and marginalized.”
I don’t disagree, but there are fundamentalist scientists who need to be challenged, too. Fundamentalists of all ilks need to be marginalized.
And the son flipped one-eighty into throwing out and disassociating from everything Christian.
Probably with similar Zeal and Fundamentalist personality, just transferred to a different belief system.
Communism begets Objectivism.
“Platonic thinking” crossover into Christian culture is the central theme of JMJ/Christian Monist’s Butterflies in the Belfry, Serpents in the Cellar on the IMonk Authors & Artists sidebar.
That is how the idea of a separate soul in an “intermediate state” between death and resurrection began. To maintain Continuity of the Whole.
Like all the Trekkie back-and-forths about how the Star Trek Transporter actually works — does it teleport you from point A to point B, or does it destroy the original at point A in the process of making an exact duplicate at point B? In the latter case, is A dead and B a physical Max Headroom copy with no Continuity of the Whole? (This idea has also been the source of a LOT of SF horror pieces. And one humorous MLP:FIM fanfic.)
–> “But the main proponents of this idea that science and religion are in conflict… are Christians.”
Yep. My daughter goes to a Christian school and I’ve shared the links to some of the science articles here at iMonk with her biology teacher. “You might want to read this, gives a different perspective on traditional views of science and religion.”
Not sure he ever read them. My fear is that he’s of the ilk, “What, read something that might change what I believe to be true?”
Also, I’m part of a science group that involves agnostics. I think they find it refreshing for a Christian to find science interesting and NOT in conflict with science. In fact, they’ve said themselves, “I don’t understand why people think the two can’t go hand-in-hand!”
Sort of like “This knife has been in our family since the [English] Civil War. The blade’s been replaced three times and the hilt four, but it’s still the same knife.”?
In which case, what makes it “the same knife” is the CONTINUITY of the whole.
Physical issues did seem to impact their idea of “holiness” for sure.
Thing is, the Evangelical machine has redefined “Christian” without any adjectives to mean Fundagelical and Fundagelical alone.
Remember all those Testimonies that go “I was Catholic/Lutheran/Baptist/etc, but now I’m CHRISTIAN(TM)!”?
Usually with SCRIPTURAL anathemas and denunciations of whatever church they were before?
I will freely admit to a smidgeon of cynicism but I am still amused by the concept of the “emerging adult”. Nothing is more redolent of privilege than the “Quarter-life Crisis”. Would that all folks had such privilege! Economics alone prevents many from enjoying any such.
We have to recognize that a certain type of religiosity IS in conflict with science. This is of course fundamentalism. Unfortunately fundamentalism is a dominant point of view in our churches. (It’s really not accurate to compare Richard Dawkins and Ken Ham. Dawkins is at least correct about his science. As far as I can tell Ken Ham is not right about anything.)
Polls show that a depressing number of Americans, fully a third, believe the earth was created less than 10,000 years ago. Even after continual legal defeats efforts by creationists to influence school curriculums are equally continual. Nervous school boards don’t advocate “teaching the controversy” so much as “avoiding the controversy” with the result that the central foundation of biology, evolution, is frequently avoided as a subject altogether!
Geneticists can show that it’s simply impossible that the human race could have developed from a single pair of adults. Archeologists can show that there is no evidence for the mass migration of Israelites from Egypt to Palestine (while at the same time they can show evidence for much smaller non-Biblical ones). There is no evidence for a Davidic world empire. etc etc
My point here is that it’s not merely a matter of changing from a conflict model to an integration model. To do that you’re going to have to change the way Christians view their sacred texts. It’s not the scientists you need to worry about. Fundamentalism must be opposed and marginalized. Then there will be something to talk about.
And the perspective of Mohammed abu-Hamid al-Ghazali, whose Incoherence of the Philosophers was a major influence in Islamic theology some 800 years ago.
And since they are mirror images of each other, total opposite on the surface, identical in Righteousness underneath… Anyone remember the Original Star Trek episode “Let That be Your Last Battlefield”?
In the traditional Christian worldview, you do in some sense “cease to exist” when you die, only to “awaken” in a resurrected body in the new heaven and earth that God will one day create. Whether some vestige of your consciousness will live on in between death and the resurrection is much less clear. The Christian hope is not that we will live on as disembodied souls, but that we will be resurrected in physical but perfected bodies just as Jesus was.
> But the main proponents of this idea that science and religion are in conflict… are Christians.
search-replace “Christians” with “Evangelicals”. Unfortunately they own the channels [as most channels are owned by Conflict oriented peoples, other peoples have much less interest in owning channels]. 😦
> but by then often the damage is done
This entanglement of issues runs DEEP in [white] Evangelicalism; encompassing cultural prejudices and partisan affiliations; but I guess we talk about that alot here. 🙂 Like telling younger people to “get real jobs and buy a car” – that is really the same thing. Evangelical Christianity has become a huge package one has to buy in its entirety.
So in other words: people are abandoning faith because they’ve been made to believe that science and religion are in conflict. But the main proponents of this idea that science and religion are in conflict… are Christians. If we instead were all seeking ways to integrate science and faith, the idea that science is a barrier to faith would not have been able to gain any traction in our society.
This is the modern equivalent of missionaries telling new converts, “If you want to be Christian you have to dress in Western clothing.” We keep telling people, “You need to be X to be Christian,” where X is not a Christian value but a conservative one, and then people say, “Well, I can’t be X so I guess I can’t be Christian.” We’re shooting ourselves in the foot.
As a progressive Christian, it breaks my heart every time I meet someone who abandoned Christianity altogether because of certain toxic aspects of conservativism. I try to tell them that there are other ways to know and follow Jesus, but by then often the damage is done and they want nothing more to do with Christianity.
“””the majority of emerging adults in these studies sense that there is conflict “out there” in the culture, but they themselves want something better than conflict. They are fatigued by the culture wars”””
The Conflict people are, naturally, so much louder; which leads everyone to FEEL there are more of them than their are.
Yeah, their attitude regarding imperfection has troubled me; of course, Jesus repudiates that pretty clearly.
On the other hand, of course losing an arm changes my soul. As does being red-green color blind and losing 48% of my hearing. On the other hand, where I live and what I do for a living certainly has changed my soul. If I could grow a third arm and have yet another hand that would also change my soul.
When I put on glasses that correct for color blindness and the world exploded into full color – that changed my soul. I understood for the first time in my life why STOP signs were “red” (which is not a dirty brownish color).
I think this is wrong: “””Our bodies change every day in ways that we are not aware of without that changing our souls or spirits.””” Our souls change constantly, we change constantly. What I am is not static – thank goodness. Younger me was kind of a turd.
I think the ancient Hebrews might well have believed losing a limb changed your soul – not just in their punishments, but also in the inability for levites with physical imperfections to serve in the Holy of Holies.
I believe that it is not either/or, but both/and in this case. Platonic thinking about and Jewish understanding of the mind/body relationship express complementary truths, not exclusive options.
And finally, when I die, the physical remnant of what was my body when my soul and matter were intimately related and articulated, is now merely a corpse. Changes to that physical remnant in no way any longer constitute changes to me, although it certainly continues to change. Do I cease to exist? If so, the same cannot be said of the matter that was part of me when I was alive; it continues to exist. Do I exist in another place? If so, it is not with the physical remnant of what was my body.
And my understanding is that over a lifetime every single cell in our physical body is replaced; but that doesn’t mean we are not the same person, with the same soul, anymore. In this case, the body is physically replaced in its entirety, without the same obtaining for the soul.
Yes, but it’s complicated. If I lose part of my body, it may have little or no impact on my soul. If I lose an arm it may change me in significant ways as a person, it could even be said to change me spiritually or to change my soul, but when I shed skin the same could not be said. Our bodies change every day in ways that we are not aware of without that changing our souls or spirits. It’s complicated.