As this Age of Materialism rapidly draws to a painful-but-merciful close, many are still suffering the effects of a kind of intellectual or philosophical hangover. Truths that are as basic and necessary to the health of the mind as air and water are necessary to the health of the body are cavalierly denied as if no consequences followed. Alas, imbibing falsehood or rejecting truth is, albeit on a higher level, more harmful than ingesting poison or refusing food or water. However, because our mindset is so materialistic, we do not think a cause or an effect is real unless we can see it or feel it immediately.
For the present, let us think a little about the concept of a soul. What is a soul? The classical definition of a soul is “a principle of life.” Every living thing, whether a plant, an animal, or a man, has a principle of life. Can we prove this? Sure.
What is the difference between a human corpse and a man? What is the difference between a living, barking, slobbering dog and the corpse of a dead dog? What is the difference between a rose still on the rose bush and one that has been cut off from its source of vitality and is slowly withering and decomposing?
The Latin word for soul is “anima.” That is why we talk about a person being “animated,” or about non-living things like rocks being “inanimate objects.”
While the now-departed life principle of the spinach or romaine lettuce in your salad is not on the same level as that of a dog or a man, it is just as accurately called a soul, for it is a principle of life. The thing that sets men apart from animals is, above all, the nature of our souls. Our souls are rational and immortal. The two main faculties of the human soul are intellect and will. Our bodies make us like the animals; our souls make us like the angels, pure spirits whose intellects and wills are much stronger than our own.
For those who deny that men have souls, I would simply ask: what is the difference between a man and a human corpse? What change has occurred to make a formerly animate being into nothing but a bag of bones? Something serious happened — what? In a word: the principle of life departed. As soon as that occurs, the body begins to decay.
The pure materialist is at a loss when faced with such questions. The idea of materialism annihilates itself simply because it is an idea, and ideas are… you guessed it, immaterial. No one can be shown materialism any more than he can be shown a soul — but we can all see what follows when the soul departs a man, an animal, or a plant.