I’m a Soul Man (de Anima II)

September 13, 2009


I’m a soul man. It’s true! I am. But yes you guessed it … not that sort of soul man (don’t cue the music). I was walking through Twickenham the other day and a bus zoomed passed by me. Ironically on the side of the bus was a sign asking “Does God exist?” The proximity of bus could have easily led to me giving an answer a little sooner than I intended to.

I have spent a few years now talking in philosophy and theology classes about the existence of God. We look at all the standard philosophical arguments from St Anselm of Canterbury, through to Descartes and up to the present day with Swinburne. They are of course well constructed arguments. But heavens they leave me unsatisfied, logically complete but spiritually hungry. Increasingly I also feel that talking about the existence of God is not a good starting point.

John Main says the following, “most of us have to take a preliminary step before we can begin to appreciate the full wonder and glorious mystery of this fundamental relationship [ie with God]. Most of us have to get into touch with ourselves first, to get into full relationship with ourselves before we can turn openly to our relationship with God. Putting this another way, we can say that we have first to find, expand and experience our own capacity for peace, for serenity, and for harmony before we can begin to appreciate our God and Creator who is the author of all harmony and serenity.” (Word Into Silence, 206,2). 

I believe there is an urgent need to talk about the soul. A much more interesting debate would be to start with the existence of the soul, where it comes from and where it is going. I repeatedly say to my classes that it is the vision of what it means to be human that needs to be clarified in all our debates. Whatever we watch, read or study always contains an anthropology. Sadly often only a materialistic vision of life is offered. If one brings up God it can lead to alienation especially when speaking to people who do not have a spiritual vision of life. However if you start to speak of a “divine spark” or “divine seed” within the human person often people will respond warmly to this. If we can prove the existence of this, if we can allow people to experience the soul within themselves the door is wide open not just to talk about God but to know him.


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