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Appendix IV | Body, Soul and Creation

There are a number of questions about the origin, nature and destiny of man, as an individual and as a species, in which both Christian theology and natural science have a special interest, and concerning which it is widely believed that these two disciplines are in some kind of deep-seated opposition. This impression is, I believe, mainly due to a misunderstanding about a fundamental Christian doctrine which underlies discussions in this realm, namely the doctrine of creation.

To many people the word ‘creation’ will simply suggest an act by which God is alleged to have brought the world or one of its constituents into existence at the beginning of its career, whenever that beginning may have been. The word is indeed sometimes used in this sense by theologians themselves, or at least by biblical scholars, as, for example, when the stories contained in the first two chapters of the book Genesis are described as ‘creation-narratives’. In philosophical and dogmatic theology, however, ‘creation’ means much more than this, as is seen from the common assertion that it would still have application to finite beings even if they had always existed and therefore had no beginning at all. This can be illustrated very strikingly from the writings of St Thomas Aquinas, the greatest of the medieval theologians. St Thomas did in fact believe, in accordance with the interpretation of the Genesis stories which was current at his day, that the world had begun to exist at some particular date in the past and he was anxious to controvert the arguments of the Arab philosophers who claimed to prove by purely rational arguments, without any appeal to revelation, that the world had always existed and would always continue to exist. Nevertheless, he was convinced that reason itself could not settle the question; what was clear to him was that, whether the world had always existed or not, it must in either case be the creature of God.1 ‘That the world did not always exist’, he writes, ‘is held by faith alone and cannot be proved by demonstration.’2 Everything except God is created, and to create is to make something out of nothing, but creation is no kind of change, for ‘nothing’ is not a being but the absence of any being.3 The creation of a being is in fact identical with its conservation. ‘As it depends on God's will that he brings things into being, so it depends on his will that he keeps them in being; for he keeps them in being only by always giving them being. Therefore if he withdrew his action from them they would return to non-existence.’4 ‘God causes this effect [sc. of being created] in things, not only when they first begin to be but as long as they are kept in being.’5 For since God himself exists in eternity, creation is, from his standpoint, one timeless act by which the whole range of temporal existence is maintained in being; it is only from the temporal standpoint of the creature that creation is an act that begins when the creature begins. Nevertheless, from the creature's standpoint it is a continual and not a momentary act and it continues as long as the creature itself exists.6 It is important that this should be kept in mind in the subsequent discussion, as otherwise quite unnecessary difficulties will arise. The view that God's creative activity is involved only when a creature begins its career is a hangover from the discredited seventeenth-and eighteenth-century doctrine known as deism;7 it is certainly no part of traditional Christian teaching.

A more subtle but still important point is this; that creation is to be conceived as the imparting of being and not as the withholding of it. This assertion may sound cryptic and needs to be amplified. Some writers have thought it necessary, in order to protect the genuine freedom of the human will and to acquit God of direct responsibility for evil, to say that, within the sphere of the creature's freedom, God withholds his own activity. Thus Captain D. H. Doig, in a very interesting article on the problem of evil,8 has written as follows:

The act of divine creation must have something paradoxical about it. It cannot confer any benefit on God to create something, because he has the fulness of perfection already. And the first need must be for the Creator to withdraw his universality and omnipotence from a certain sphere in which his creation can operate.… Thus to express himself more fully he must surrender some freedom of action. His creation must be a positive act, but since it cannot add to what was already infinite, this must be balanced by a negative withdrawal.

Now it must of course always be remembered that words taken from human experience and applied to God must be understood analogically, and it would be unfair to press the suggestions of the notion of withdrawal beyond its proper limits. Nevertheless, the notion that God has to withdraw himself from a certain sphere in order that, on balance, the totality of being shall not be augmented by the act of creation does not seem to me to be a happy one. The classical tradition of Christian theism would maintain that, simply because the creature is finite and God is infinite, the creature's existence, real as it is, does not add anything to the existence of God; no ‘withdrawal’ is necessary because there is no augmentation to be counterbalanced. So far from the creature's freedom implying a withdrawal of God from its sphere, that freedom is itself a gift of God and so implies God's entry into it, though ‘entry’, no less than ‘withdrawal’, is a radically analogous term. Where free-will is involved it seems to me much more satisfactory to start from the traditional assertion that God moves all secondary causes according to their natures: physical causes according to the nature of physical causes, and voluntary causes according to the nature of voluntary causes. For, although this is a statement of the problem rather than its solution, it is at least a statement of the right problem and not of the wrong one. It takes account of two truths of Christian experience: first, that when a man acts in accordance with God's will, God is not excluded from the act but is in fact the primary agent in it; secondly that when a man tries to exclude God from the act and make himself the primary agent, all that he manages to do is to introduce an element of sheer destruction and negation, an element which contravenes the man's own nature as fundamentally dependent upon God, an element which is not genuine activity but is rather deficiency in actuality, an element which goes against the creature's own inbuilt finality and is therefore self-frustrating and self-destructive. There is, I believe, deep truth and not mere slickness or paradox in the maxim that it is only in the order of negation and defect that the creature can be a primary cause. So long as he is acting in line with the authentic finality of the nature which God maintains in him he cannot keep God out, nor will he wish to do so. For the act by which the creature fulfils itself is simply the prolongation, in the finite realm of secondary causes, of the act by which God continually creates and conserves it. To try to exclude God from one's act is to repudiate one's ontological status as dependent upon God and so to frustrate oneself. In contrast, willingly to invite God as primary cause into one's act is not to abandon or diminish one's own freedom and spontaneity but to augment it. For in relations between persons, in contrast to relations between impersonal forces, provided the relations are authentically adjusted in accordance with the status and character of the parties, the influence of the one does not suppress but releases and enhances the freedom of the other; and this will be more and not less true when the former is the Creator himself. What I find unsatisfactory in Captain Doig's notion of ‘withdrawal’ is the suggestion that God withholds himself from the sphere in which he gives us freedom to act; rather I would wish to say that it is precisely by entering into it that he gives us freedom.

It should be unnecessary to add that the priority of God in this relationship is not a priority in time; it is not temporal but ontological. There is not an act of God, followed by an act of man; nor is there an act of man, followed by an act of God. There is one act, in which God is the primary cause and the creature is the secondary cause, and in which God exercises his primary cause by maintaining the creature's secondary causality and not by overriding or suppressing it. There are only two qualifications which I would wish to make to this assertion.

(1) I am excluding from consideration here acts of God which are, in the strict sense, miraculous. Whether in these there is a real overriding of the secondary causality of creatures by divine intervention, and what the nature of such an overriding would be, would need a separate discussion. My own tentative suggestion would be that even in these cases what is manifested is an abnormal mode of relation of the primary cause to the secondary causes rather than a suppression of the latter by the former. A miracle may be an unusually striking example of divine activity to minds such as ours in which familiarity tends to breed, if not contempt, at least insensitivity; but God is no more involved in it than he is in the ordinary course of nature. It is only to a deistic metaphysic that miracles will be seen as invasions by God into a normally godless universe. It is relevant to remark that the traditional arguments for the existence of God are based not upon occasional miraculous events but upon the existence and the normal functioning of the world, which, it is held, themselves depend upon the unfailing creative and conserving activity of God. For a fuller discussion I would refer the reader to the recent work by Fr Louis Monden, S.J., Signs and Wonders: a study of the miraculous element in religion.9

(2) It is an open question among scientists whether the basic events in the physical world are prescribed in all their aspects by strict causal laws or whether, on the other hand, all that can be specified by physical law, even in principle, is the statistical frequency with which events of a certain type occur and the probability of occurrence of any individual event. The second of these views is that of the ‘Copenhagen’ school; if it is correct (it certainly seems to be dominant) we shall have to say that in the individual events on the sub-atomic level, the primary causality of God is operative without the involvement of any secondary causes at all. This will, however, be true only of the individual events in their bare occurrence as contrasted with their place in the setting of their actual environment. Secondary causality is not abolished on the Copenhagen view, but its scope is limited to the determination of the frequency or the probability of events of a specified type and does not extend to the determination of their individual occurrence. And, for theism, this whole fabric of statistical secondary causality will itself be conserved by the primary causality of God. To say this is not to postulate a ‘God of the gaps’ in the proper and pejorative sense of that term. What that term applies to is the view that God does not operate in the realm that has at the present time been brought within the scope of natural law, but only in that which has not; and since the latter realm is constantly diminishing as science advances, the view in question is rightly held to be undignified and suicidal. I am saying something quite different: not that God is in the gaps and nowhere else, but that God is everywhere, including the gaps if there are any. Whether there are any gaps is the business of the physical scientist and not of the theologian. The structure of secondary causality is the subject of the positive sciences; the theologian is concerned with the relation of secondary causality to the primary causality of God. He will, of course, be suspicious of any doctrine of the physical world which excludes from its account of secondary causality any place for the effectiveness of volition; but so too will the scientist if he is a human being. The detailed correlation of physical law with human freedom is in any case the job of the scientist and, perhaps, the philosopher, not of the theologian. The latter is concerned only to maintain that, however secondary causes operate, they do so under the primary causality of God, who is ‘everywhere present and filleth all things’.

If we now turn to consider the process of the evolution of the physical and biological universe, we must envisage it all as taking place against the background of the creative and conserving activity of God. Whether this process, in its physical aspects, is capable of being understood simply in terms of the laws of physics and chemistry or whether it needs the postulation of some kind of immanent entelechy or ‘drive’, some élan vital, in Bergson's phrase, is not, as I see it, a question in which the theologian has any vested interest. Speaking as an outsider, I find it very difficult to convince myself that the diversity, complexity and magnitude of evolution as it has actually occurred is to be accounted for simply by natural selection acting upon the material provided by the mutation and reshuffling of genes; so do biologists such as Dr Robert Clark and, if I understand him, Dr W. H. Thorpe, and such an amazingly well-informed philosopher from the scientific angle as Dr Errol Harris.10 However, the majority of biologists seem to be confident that nothing beyond the laws of chemistry and physics is needed to explain the evolutionary process; this is true even of Sir Alister Hardy, who stresses the selective power of differences of habit as of not less importance than pure natural selection.11 The applied mathematician will recall how the apparently teleological variation-principles can be reduced to non-teleological differential equations.

The relevance of this emphasis upon creation as, from the standpoint of the creature, a continuous and not a momentary activity will be seen when we consider the question of the origin of the human soul. Before doing this, however, I shall briefly consider the relation between mentality and the physical organism throughout the evolutionary process, leaving the special case of man for discussion later. As a matter of verbal clarification it should be noticed that, in ancient writers and in traditional Christian theologians, the word ‘soul’—the Greek psyche, the Latin anima—is used to denote the vital principle in any living being, however lowly.

Turnips and wart-hogs, as well as men, possess souls, for they, too, in their humble and different ways, are alive; when more precision is needed, the soul of the turnip is described as ‘vegetative’, that of the wart-hog as ‘sensitive’ and that of the man as ‘rational’; there is no implication that a soul necessarily survives the death of the body or that it is, in the modern sense of the word, ‘religious’. A vestige of this terminology persists in our use of the word ‘animal’ to describe such beings as wart-hogs, and of ‘animate’ and ‘inanimate’ to mean respectively ‘alive’ and ‘dead’. (Incidentally, the word ‘sensitive’ has also changed its meaning; today we should hardly describe the wart-hog as having a ‘sensitive soul’, though we might so describe a poet or an art-critic.) Without trying to decide the precise stage of the evolutionary process at which the first glimmerings of consciousness appear, I shall, in the present discussion, use the word ‘soul’ to cover any kind of mental awareness or appetition, and I shall now ask how we are to conceive the relation between soul and body.

There is a tendency among philosophers and scientists of what might be called the ‘tough-minded’ type to attempt to reduce mentality to the status of a mere function of the physical processes of the body. This is exemplified on the crudest level by the once fashionable assertion that ‘the brain secretes thought as the liver secretes bile’ and in a much more sophisticated and elusive way in Professor Gilbert Ryle's neobehaviourism, as set forth in his celebrated work The Concept of Mind. In spite of such disclaimers as ‘Men are not machines, not even ghost-ridden machines. They are men—a tautology which is sometimes worth remembering’,12 he maintains ‘To find that most people have minds (though idiots and infants in arms do not) is simply to find that they are able and prone to do certain sorts of things, and this we do by witnessing the sort of things they do.’13 And it is clear from the whole context that ‘the sort of things they do’ refers simply to overt bodily behaviour. All the statements that are normally taken to be statements about mental acts and dispositions are thus interpreted as being purely about either actual bodily behaviour or the bodily behaviour that takes place or would take place under certain specifiable conditions. Ryle is thus led to the astounding assertion that, in the only sense in which he is willing to use the word ‘mind’, we do not experience our own minds in any way substantially different from the way in which we experience the minds of other people,14 since we experience both simply by observing overt bodily behaviour. Against this neobehaviourist reductionism I shall assert, with common sense, that I have an immediate awareness of my own mind as a subject of consciousness, although this awareness is in important respects different from the awareness that I have of physical objects. I shall also assert that it is reasonable to believe that human bodies which are in their general structure and behaviour similar to mine have a subjective awareness associated with them in a way essentially similar to the way in which my subjective awareness is associated with mine. And, in spite of Descartes, I shall hold, with almost equal confidence, that non-human living physical bodies have types of awareness associated with them of a type that in each case is co-ordinated with the kind of physical body in question. It is, I admit, not easy to know just what it feels like to be an oyster or a mushroom; for the matter of that it is not easy for me to know exactly what it feels like to be Professor Ryle, or for him to know exactly what it feels like to be me. But it is not unreasonable to suppose that some kind and degree of mentality is to be found in the evolutionary scale well below the human level, and I am pretty sure that most biologists, like most human beings, assume this. Even the fox-hunter in the television programme, who denied his opponent's right to say that foxes did not like being hunted, on the ground that the opponent in question was not a fox, found himself obliged to defend his own assertion that the fox rather enjoyed the sport, by maintaining that, although he himself was not a fox either, he had lived among foxes all his life and knew what they felt like. It is, however, not essential to my next point that all living creatures have some kind of mental awareness, but only that some of them do, and in particular human beings. That point is the following: mentality cannot be reduced simply to physical quantities and processes, for the simple reason that the laws connecting physical quantities and describing physical processes make no reference whatever to mental states.

Put as baldly as this, the point may seem to be a platitude, but it is in fact so often ignored that it will be well to make it in more detail. The argument is simply this. You can only solve a mathematical equation for the variables that are in it. The variables that occur in the equations of physical science stand for purely non-mental quantities: masses, positions, electric charges, gravitational and electromagnetic fields, isotopic spins, strangenesses and whatever other concepts may be fashionable at the time. None of them stands for awareness, volition, surprise or pain. The equations enable one in principle (for their solution in practice may surpass the powers of man or computer) to derive from the values of these quantities at one moment their values at any later moment. (If the generally accepted view of quantum theory is correct, they do not enable one to do quite as much as this, but they certainly do not enable one to do more.) Thus, given the physical state of a living body at one moment, equations can in principle be constructed whose solution will specify its physical state at any subsequent moment. But the solution cannot specify the body's mental state, for none of the variables in the equation stands for anything mental. If there are laws which, when the physical state is given, specify the mental state, they are certainly not the laws of physics. The equations that specify the physical process will be exactly the same whether the physical process is accompanied by mental process or not. Therefore, if a physicist or biologist asserts that a certain type and degree of physical complexity in an organism is always accompanied by a certain type of mental awareness and appetition, he may conceivably be saying what is true, but its truth or falsehood in no way follows from the laws of physics. A similar point arises in connection with the question which is often discussed, whether any electronic computer that either exists now or may exist in the future can rightly be said to ‘think’. Some of those who answer this question in the affirmative appear to hold that some kind of consciousness will necessarily appear in a computer which embodies a certain type of complexity; others, à la Ryle, appear to hold that thinking is not a matter of consciousness in any case, but only of overt physical behaviour. All of them are, I maintain, wrong. Whether such a machine is necessarily conscious, or potentially conscious, or never conscious is entirely undetermined by its physical structure and operation; this will be decided by something outside the realm of physics. A theist will, of course, say that, like the operation of physical law, it is decided in the last resort by the will of God: but he will add that God's conservation of the physical process is one thing and his decision about consciousness is another; there is no logical necessity connecting the two.

Thus for a theist it will be a matter for empirical investigation (unless a direct divine revelation has been vouchsafed on the question) whether consciousness has in fact been associated by God with organisms which have reached a certain level of physical complexity or with man-made machines of a certain type. Admittedly, such investigation may be very difficult to carry out, and in any given case the conclusion may be largely conjectural. We cannot, however, bypass the matter by simply asserting that such an association will always take place. A theist may think it is very probable that God will always bring it about or he may think that it is a rare privilege conferred by God on certain favoured organisms and machines, but there is no logical necessity one way or the other. The empirical investigation will indeed be difficult and may be inconclusive. It will clearly not be an empirical investigation of the type that is characteristic of the physical and biological sciences, for these, as we have already seen, are concerned simply with the physical aspects of their object. I have, however, argued elsewhere15 that it is characteristic of the human mind that its perceptive activity does not terminate in the sense-datum which is the proper object of the physical sciences; it uses the sense-datum instrumentally as the objectum quo, through which it apprehends the intelligible object, the objectum quod, whether this latter be a lifeless or a living being. It is of course by entering into active relationship with them that we are able to acquire a knowledge of other beings that penetrates beneath the phenomenal level, and it is through this involvement and interchange that we convince ourselves that we are in relation with real beings and not just with groups of sense-data. We meet other human beings on the plane of our common humanity, dogs and cats on the plane of our common animality, and stocks and stones on the plane of our common materiality. There can be no logical guarantee that we are not mistaken in supposing that the people around us are subjects of consciousness like ourselves, but then there can never be a logical guarantee against an absolutely indetectible hallucination; it is indeed a truth of logic that what is indetectible cannot be detected. Nevertheless, from the fact that we are sometimes deceived it does not follow that deception is invariable or normal; and it is by acting on the principle that our senses do not normally deceive us that we learn to recognise the occasions when they do. How we are to decide whether there is genuine mental life in some extremely elaborate computer will indeed be a difficult problem, for the objectum quo with which it confronts us will be vastly different from those presented by the conscious beings with which we are normally familiar. Mr J. R. Lucas has forcefully argued16 on logical grounds that it is impossible for a calculating machine, however complex it may be, to simulate the mental activity of intelligent self-consciousness unless it is in fact intelligently self-conscious. If all machines of a certain kind are found to simulate this activity, it will show that they are something more than just machines. We shall then, as Mr Lucas remarks, have to recognise that there are two ways open to us of making intelligent beings: one that employs the old-fashioned method of sexual union and the other that uses the more up-to-date factory techniques. If he is right, we shall have a method by which, in principle, we may be able to recognise that a machine has an intelligent consciousness, for the manifestation of self-reflection will be a sufficient, though not perhaps a necessary, index. It must, however, be noted that this will be the index of a consciousness that is intelligent in the sense of being able to reflect upon its own activities; there can be no such index of a consciousness which is not in any way self—conscious, or which has only an unformulated or ‘unthematic’ consciousness of itself as the subject, but not as the object, of its own activity. The fact in any case remains, that there can be no a-priori logical or physical necessity for any machine, or, for that matter, for any organism, to be conscious, since there are no variables in any physical equation which stand for conscious activities or states, though it may be possible in some cases to recognise consciousness, by Lucas's criterion, a posteriori. The theist will, of course, assert that physical and mental states alike are in the last resort due to the creative activity of God; he will add that, even if the atheist were right in thinking that the physical states were self-explanatory, he would still be demonstrably wrong if he supposed that the mental states were necessary consequences of them.

Whatever may be the case about machines we have, I have suggested earlier on, solid grounds for supposing that, as a matter of fact though not of physical or logical necessity, certain complicated types of biological organism have associated with them subjects of consciousness which, following the traditional usage, I shall call ‘souls’. (This will not exclude the application of the word ‘soul’ to the vital principle of a living organism which has not even a rudimentary consciousness; this we may guess to be the case with plants, though it would be difficult to prove it.) Nothing is implied about the nature of this consciousness, but, since the consciousness and the physical organism—the ‘body’—are intimately related, it is reasonable to suppose that the more elaborate and hierarchically structured types of consciousness will be found in connection with the more elaborate types of body and especially those with a highly developed central nervous system. The general view of neurophysiologists that there is an association between the higher types of mental life and a great development of the frontal lobes of the brain is just the sort of thing we might expect. We must further recognise that, while the soul is intimately associated with the body, it is not spatially extended through it in such a way that one part of the soul is in one part of the body and another part in another. There may, of course, be cases—perhaps sponges and ant-hills provide examples—in which the total organism includes within itself lesser organisms, each of which has its own vital principle, its own ‘soul’; the fact will remain that the soul, as the vital principle of the organism, is correlated with the organism as such and hence it is inherently indivisible. If the organism divides into two organisms, the soul will not be subdivided, though it may be replaced by two new souls; if the organism decays and disintegrates, the soul may cease to exist. But, because it is correlated to the organism as a whole, it is essentially indivisible and unextended. If we are to speak of its relations to the spatially distinct parts of the organism, we can only say that it is totum in toto et totum in aliqua parte; it is related as a whole, though in diverse ways, to the organism as a whole and to every part of it. Whether in the case of a human being the soul is something more than just the body's vital principle is a question which we shall shortly consider; but even if it is more it is certainly that. The point which I wish to stress at the moment is this. Bodies can divide into fresh bodies, as when the amoeba becomes two amoebae; they can eject parts of themselves and such parts can come together and unite into fresh bodies, as happens in sexual reproduction. But souls can only come into existence and cease to exist. There is nothing specially mysterious or miraculous about this, and least of all to the theist. For, as I have already emphasised, no special activity on the part of God is involved in a being's genesis and phthora, its coming-to-be and its passing-away; his creative activity is uniformly involved in the whole course of its existence, however long or short that may be. As long as beings exist God conserves them and this is equally true whether they are bodies which are divisible, or souls which are indivisible, or living organisms composed of body and soul.

It has been the traditional belief of Christianity and of most, though perhaps not all, other religions that, in contrast with the souls of lower animals, the rational soul of a human being survives the death and decay of the body with which it is associated. Whether this immortality of the human soul is a necessary consequence of its rational nature has been disputed even within the tradition of scholasticism; not all the medieval philosophers agreed with St Thomas Aquinas on this point. It is, however, significant that, in contrast with the lower creation, man has a whole range of mental life which transcends the mere concern with the business of physical existence, and through which he is able, as it were, to stand outside and reflect upon his own embodied condition and, which is even more significant, to acquire a dim awareness of another realm, not of this world which is his real home and to which he ultimately belongs. There is nothing contrary to reason in the Christian doctrine according to which a human being is neither a pure animal nor a pure spirit, but a unity of both, this unity being dissolved at death and restored in the final resurrection, while in the intervening period the soul continues to exist although deprived of its material partner. Some of the questions that arise from this dual composition of man I have discussed elsewhere.17 In particular it should be remarked that the nature of the time-process for a disembodied soul may be very different from that which it experiences in its normal embodied condition; for all we know, it may pass ‘like a flash’. What I wish to stress at the moment is that, even if for a sub-human organism the consciousness is so narrowly limited in its concern with the operations of the body that its raison d'être ceases with the body's dissolution, there is no reason whatever why in the case of man this consciousness should not have a subject whose concern transcends, while including, the operations of the body and which therefore can still, so to speak, ‘find something to do’ when the body itself has died. From a different angle, we might say that, when bodily evolution (and especially its cerebral aspect) has reached the degree and type of development which we find in man, it can rightly and without maladjustment have a mental partner—a ‘rational soul’—whose concern is not only with the material world and the body but also with a higher spiritual realm, and that just because the soul has this double concern, the body itself—or, it would be more accurate to say, the whole man, body and soul together—is given a point of entry into this other world in which the soul is rooted. The further point, that man has an openness towards the spiritual realm which makes it possible for him to be taken up by grace into the very life of God, is of the utmost importance but cannot be discussed here.18 What I want to stress is that the traditional view that the soul of every human being is a fresh creation is much more reasonable than is sometimes recognised; for all that it really means is that the soul, not being extended in space as a material object is (though it is of course united with a material body), cannot be made out of pieces of other souls. This does not imply that the mental characteristics of a human being do not depend in any way upon the mental characteristics of his parents, that there is no inheritance of mental qualities. For a human being is not a loose conjunction of a totally unrelated soul and body; not, to speak colloquially, just any old soul and any old body thrown together anyhow. He is a real unity of two distinct but mutually adapted constituents, and, both at the first moment of his existence and throughout his subsequent life, the two fit together, develop together and influence each other. (The Aristotelian way of saying this is that the soul is the formal cause of the body's development and the body the material cause of the soul's, but the point can be made without bringing in either Aristotle or St Thomas.) There may thus very well be a registration of mental as well as physical peculiarities in the genetic material (the chromosomes, etc.) of the individual, and these may have been inherited from the parents according to the normal Mendelian laws. There will thus be an indirect transmission of mental characteristics from the souls of the parents to the soul of their child, since in parents and child alike these mental characteristics will be correlated with, and registered in, the genetic material in which, through the union of spermatozoon and ovum, the direct transmission from body to body takes place. And if we now cease to speak about the soul and the body separately and speak instead of the human being as the unified being who is constituted by their union, we can say quite simply that all the characteristics of a human being, both bodily and mental, are inherited from his parents. This does not, of course, deny the part that may be played in his subsequent development by his environment, his free decisions or the grace of God; it concerns simply his initial inherited endowment.

If the complaint is made that the account which I have given is very complicated, I can only reply that a human being is a very complicated kind of thing. It is much simpler to be either an angel or a machine, but this does not prove that either Descartes or Haeckel was right. We are not concerned with what is simple but with what is true.

  • 1.

    S.c.G., II, xxxi–xxxviii; S. Th., I, xlvi.

  • 2.

    S. Th., I, xlvi, 2c.

  • 3.

    S.c.G., II, xv–xxi; S. Th., I, xliv, xlv.

  • 4.

    S. Th., I, ix, 2c.

  • 5.

    S. Th., I, viii, 1c.

  • 6.

    For a fuller discussion cf. my Existence and Analogy, ch. vi.

  • 7.

    Cf. G. G. Joyce, Encycl. of Religion and Ethics, IV, pp. 533ff; R. S. Westfall, Science and Religion in Seventeenth-century England; R. H. Hurlbutt III. Hume, Newton and the Design Argument.

  • 8.

    Theology, LXIX (1966), pp. 485ff.

  • 9.

    New York: Desclée, 1966 (Original edition: Le Miracle, Signe de Salut (Bruges: Desclée de Brouwer, 1960)).

  • 10.

    R. E. D. Clark, The Universe: Plan or Accident? (1961); W. H. Thorpe, Science, Man and Morals (1965), ch. ii; E. E. Harris, The Foundations of Metaphysics in Science (1965), chh. xi–xiv.

  • 11.

    The Living Stream (1965), chh. v-vii.

  • 12.

    op. cit., p. 81.

  • 13.

    ibid., p. 61.

  • 14.

    Cf. op. cit., p. 169.

  • 15.

    Words and Images, pp. 70ff. Cf. pp. 98f supra.

  • 16.

    ‘Minds, Machines and Godel’, in Minds and Machines, ed. A. R. Anderson. Briefly, the argument is that, while a calculating machine can handle data of any logical type inferior to its own, it is logically impossible for it to handle data of its own logical type. Minds, in self-reflection, do just this.

  • 17.

    Cf. The Importance of Being Human, ch. ii; Christian Theology and Natural Science, ch. vi.

  • 18.

    Cf. my The Importance of Being Human, ch. iv; Grace and Glory, passim; Christ, the Christian and the Church, passim; Appendix IV supra.