Thursday, June 14, 2007

outa here suckers!

Alas my friends, the time is nigh for another “I’m leaving the country” post. The past six months have been spent living in America. Six months is a new record for time spent living in America since I was 13, and I have to say, the experience was…average. In retrospect there was much skiing, much working, much acquisition of worldly outdoorsy goods, surprisingly little time spent being a student (Community College seems to have made a whole new definition for the term “full time student”), a fair amount of time spent on familial engagements, and little time spent doing things with any manner of people that could be called “friends”. Unfortunate as it was, forgoing friendships and all things meaningful that I had developed in my life in BC was the only way to have direction in my life. You see, I have this thing; its like when your pants are on fire and your underpants are filled with red ants and lobsters—its like that. Only all the time. The burning drives me forward constantly so in reflexive action to the fire, red ants, and lobsters I run franticly forward in a randomized and erratic pattern. But in the process I seem to shake off many dear friends. And it saddens my heart greatly to shake off more again. There are three things that humans were never meant to experience: death, disease, and farewells. Unfortunately all are an inevitable part of our futile existences here on planet “Global Warming Will Kill Us All”.

Anyways, I’m off to Japan tomorrow (Thursday, June 14th) so I wish you all many babies and flowery cakes. I will be in Japan working as a guide in the Northern Japan Alps and Mount Fuji with Northstar Outdoor Adventures again. Should be a pretty good time. I’ll be in J-town until late August sometime.

On a lighter note I came up with an idea that seems to support reincarnation. Here’s the idea:
1. If a person hits his head, his memory can be lost or altered forever. He might not remember his name, how to do simple math, or even how to speak. He will not remember who he is married to, who his family is, nothing. He will have to relearn everything.

2. If a person hits his head, his personality can be altered forever. His wife will claim that she doesn’t know him any more, he will be more aggressive or less ambitious, the chemicals in his brain will have changed somehow so that the person you formerly knew as John is now gone and replaced by this new person.

The soul has no memory or personality in and of itself. If memory can be altered with relative ease by inflicting damage on the physical brain, who would disagree that brain is the only part of a human that retains memory? And when that memory retainer is altered or ceases , there is nothing to fill in. Similarly, if personality can be altered simply with a hammer, does this mean that the death of the brain is the true end of a humans personality? In this argument one could conclude that the soul retains neither memory nor personality; it is simply that which is necessary to provide life, and that which leaves when the body ceases functioning. So if the soul leaves at the time of death (as seems obvious that it does) then where does this life-giving, but impersonal force go? Would it not seek out another creation to give life to? Hence, reincarnation.

Seems to make sense eh? It almost makes too much sense. I haven’t been able to find a counter argument yet. Let me know what you think though, I don’t like that philosophy at all and I want to be rid of it.


Cami said...

I think you're making a logical leap when you assume that because personality can be changed with a hammer therefore the soul is impersonal. I like to think of it like this (though I'm not at all convinced that I'm right...this seems like a topic that when we will actually know the answer we won't really care anymore, but who knows...). The soul is like a little man sitting up inside our heads at an immense set of controls and levers. We'll call him Frank. Frank is sitting up in my head coming up with all kinds of funny jokes and actions and pushing buttons and levers so that my body responds properly. That, to the outside world, makes up my personality. The actions and thoughts that the outside world see are a combination of Frank and the biology of the "machine" that Frank is operating (aka my body). My body doesn't control Frank, but Frank operates my body.
Now, with a strong swing of a hammer, half of the controls in front of Frank go dim. It's not Frank that has changed, but the ways that Frank can express himself, or the physical activities that Frank can accomplish with his machine.

The swing of the hammer may change the biology of the machine, increasing chemicals that feed aggression or lowering the levels of ambition. Again that is a change in the machine, not Frank. Much like a car that has been in an accident can have the alignment messed up, and always pull the car to the right. The driver of the car would have to compensate and turn the wheel to the left to drive straight. But if the accident were too severe and no amount of pulling the wheel to the left could compensate for it, then the car would always be turning to the right. In a car that's reason to junk it and get a new one, in as a human it's a little more difficult.

One could argue that the little "Frank" in my head could reincarnate into a different "machine" and he would end up being a totally different person (at least to the outside observer). It would be like Frank getting a new car with some sweet upgrades (or less sweet...if he becomes a roach in the next life). This I don't know about. But my feeling is that souls are eternal, and continually trapping them again and again in the temporal seems cruel (which perhaps makes it fit right in in this world). Even the Buddhists believe that reincarnation is only for a while, or however long it takes you to be perfect, and that the eternal soul goes somewhere else...but I digress.

I am the marriage of my biology and my soul. My machine and my "Frank". If my machine were to break, you may not recognize me.

This is similar to the way that C.S. Lewis discusses ethics and morals. He talks about how we will be judged less on our outward actions, and more on our inward "Frank". Some "good" actions are really easy for some people and extremely difficult for others, why should the reward/ consequences be the same? I don't think it is. I think this is what Jesus was talking about when He said, Man judges by appearance, but I judge the heart"

Perhaps who you know isn't me at all, just the complex functioning of my physiology, and my soul is something (or someone) else entirely...

elizabeth said...

I think this is why its so important that the body is resurected as well - like in the apostle's creed
"I believe in the holy ghost, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting"
soul and spirit are not so seperate - that is an idea that came from greek philosophy. The God we know from judeism created out bodies and saw them as good. the Jews believed they were very connected with the earth and with their bodies, which is why the early church fathers spent so much time in their letters talking about Jesus's complete death, and our resurected bodies - because they were combatting this idea that the spirit and body were seperate things that could function apart from one another. Christ is the first born, the first fruit - the first of the resurected, and if he had a real body (one that the disciples could touch his scars, and a body that consumed food) shouldn't we also expect to have real bodies that need real life sustaining them?

sorry to randomly comment - I just came across your blog, and japan sounds amazing

Jimmy said...

well....first, even if you assume that everything you said up until your very last statement is true, I don't think it supports reincarnation. Just because the soul leaves the body at death--regardless of what the soul is--doesn't mean that it would necessarily be reincarnated.

Second, there's a host of issues and perspectives surrounding the ideas of the soul, body, spirit, mind, and identity in general. Perhaps the soul and body are actually more of a unity than we tend to think. What affects the body also affects the soul and vice versa. Just because we can distinguish them doesn't mean that they are actually separable. For instance, just as you can distinguish the act of thinking from a particular thought doesn't mean you can have a thought or do the act of thinking separately. Thinking and thoughts are not the same, but they must go together. Maybe soul and body are like that.

Third, Christianity teaches a resurrection of the physical body (see 1 Cor. 15). Jesus had a perfected resurrection body which was the same but different from his original physical body. He still had his wounds from the cross, but he could also walk through doors. This seems to support the idea that our identity as persons is tied up with our physical bodies, not just some kind of soul, personal or impersonal.

A question that I thought of recently is whether the physical is in some sense necessary for the soul/spiritual. I think the answer is yes, but I'm not sure why. We're less than human without souls, but we're also less than human without bodies.

Those are my initial thoughts. You should get in touch with Anna Reedy--she took a whole class on this kind of stuff.