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Is There a Life Beyond the Grave?

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Author Topic: Is There a Life Beyond the Grave?  (Read 255 times)
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« on: February 10, 2009, 10:54:54 pm »

It is alleged that the "soul" is the "thinking principle." If this be so, wherein is man's superiority over the lower animals so far as immortality is concerned? Herbert Spencer, Dr. W.B. Carpenter, and many other eminent writers, have contended that the reasoning powers in man differ only in degree from those in the general animal kingdom. In other words, if the above allegation be correct, the lower animals, as they possess the "thinking principle," have "souls," and will live forever. Indeed, Bishop Butler granted this, for he assures us "that there is no true analogy in all nature which would lead us to think that death will prove the destruction of a living creation." Moreover, we read in the Bible: "For that which befalleth the sons of man befalleth the beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath: so that a man hath no pre-eminence above a beast: for all is vanity." Besides, the thinking principle, so far as we know, depends upon a mental organization for its manifestation: is it, therefore, not reasonable to conclude that when the organization is destroyed the principle will no longer exist? When the cause is gone the effect must cease.

Those persons who dogmatically assert that there is a future life, erroneously, confound something they call a "soul" with the mind and they then assert that the mind is a distinct, entity. Now as Dr. Wigan observes The mind every anatomist knows to be a set of functions of the brain, differing only in number and degree from the intellect of animals. Of the mind we know much, but of the soul we know nothing. Can the mind, then, be a thing per se, distinct and separate from the body? No more than the motion can exist independent of the watch, and all the arguments of theologians and metaphysicians on this subject are founded on the confusion of terms." It is said that a future life is proved by the fact that development has been always taking place in the organic kingdom. First came animals low in the scale, then of higher and higher type, and so on up to man. Why, then, it is asked, may not man pass at death into a still higher condition? Now the merest tyro in logic can recognize that there is no analogy whatever in the two cases. The higher animals are not the lower in another stage, but an improvement upon them, a new individuality. The only argument that could logically be drawn from the development theory on this point is that after man beings of a still higher order might make their appearance, but then they would no more be individual men of a previous age than we are the Iguanodons of the "age of reptiles." Besides, all the changes that we know of in the organic kingdom have taken place upon the earth, whereas the condition which believers in a future life contend for is to be in some far-off land of shadows occupied by what is termed disembodied spirits." The case of the caterpillar is frequently, given as an illustration of changes from a lower to a higher state of existence. But the caterpillar becomes transformed into the butterfly before our eyes; we can see it in both conditions, and can observe the process of change going on. The butterfly is an improvement upon the caterpillar in point of organization, but in every other respect they are both similar. Both are material, and each is liable to destruction and decay, The spirit, however, that is supposed to be evolved from the human form at death, is said to be immaterial and immortal, and, therefore, totally unlike that material organization from which it has escaped. The change is not observed, the body dies and the elements of which it was composed pass into other forms -- this is all that we see and all that we know. Beyond this everything is mere conjecture and vague speculation.

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