Musings and mutterings

A theological musing to start your day.

Are human beings ephemeral works of art? Installations, shall we say, along the lines of an Andy Goldsworthy daisy-chain of leaves drifting in a stream? Or is our soul the equivalent of a bronze sculpture, guaranteed to be around until the earth falls into the sun?

One argument for the immortality of the human soul is that nature doesn’e2’80’99t waste things, and that considering all the effort of shaping a human being’e2’80’99s inner life, it is inconceivable that it should simply dissipate when the motion of electrons in the brain ceases.

But what if we are Andy Goldsworthy daisy-chains of leaves, drifting in a stream? What if our ephemeral nature is precisely the point?

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  1. Dianna on May 28, 2005 at 5:03 pm

    If it is such, then it’s best to make the most of what time we have, before it’s gone.

    If you don’t mind my referencing another’s ideas, Orson Scott Card wrote a story on the idea that immortals, who after all live forever, would then have mortal gods… that in death, the one thing denied to them, something could be found.

  2. CaraSusanetta on May 28, 2005 at 8:11 pm

    Another Goldsworthy appreciator? Golly, woman, you just keep impressing the heck out of me.

  3. WDI on May 29, 2005 at 3:53 pm

    At the risk of being pedantic (or perhaps just dense!), I think these are really two arguments, and I’m not entirely convinced by either.

    Indeed, the workings of organisms large and small, not to mention some basic physical and chemical processes, do a very good job of recycling matter — including the stuff of the human body. So in that sense, nature doesn’t waste, and nature doesn’t waste human bodies — but what does that have to do with the soul?

    The second argument, that it’s inconceivable that something that takes as much effort to shape should dissipate upon death, seems eerily similar to the argument used to denounce evolution — the argument from incredulity. “It’s inconceivable that something as intricate and complex as a human being could be assembled by mechanistic processes . . .” By that reasoning, general relativity doesn’t work (it’s wholely inconceivable to me that time slows near the speed of light!).

    To me, the existence of a soul is something to take on faith, not by analogy to natural processes or reliance on intellectual satisfaction. I do believe in their existence, and that’s enough for me 🙂

    Given that, how much more poetic for us all to be daisy-chains of leaves than bronze statues! Maybe there really is an analogy there, and the matter of our souls can be recycled just like those leaves . . .

    Lovely thoughts; thank you so much for sharing them!

  4. PK the Bookeemonster on May 29, 2005 at 3:57 pm

    I think both ideas have the possibility of being true although there is no way to get an absolute perhaps until we die. I think the specific personality in a particular space/time is like the daisy-chain while the overall collective soul is continuing. How’s that for a yes-or-no answer? 🙂

  5. Dahra on May 29, 2005 at 9:58 pm

    Well. Blake said, “Eternity is in love with the productions of Time.” Which I like enough to have engraved it on my watch, without much claiming to understand it. Blake, of course, was crazy, and I am perpetually late. So I’m not sure this is an argument for anything.

    If time is just something we’ve made up, the two views are the same.

  6. pseudosu on May 30, 2005 at 10:22 pm

    since all any of us has to offer on the subject is our oppinion, i’ll add mine to the pot.

    i feel our “ephemeral nature”, and the fleeting beauty of all things earthly may perhaps be the point of this life, here. that is in order to attach some sense of urgency to our life, urging us to do more with it than lie about waiting for it to expire, it needs to feel limited in some way.

    but i also feel it’s an illusion to some extent, and that energy really can not be destroyed. i think we do go on and on, albeit probably not in the exact same configuration. probably each experience of living, if we get more than one, would be unique.

    and andy goldsworthy is awesome!

  7. myninki on June 2, 2005 at 8:22 pm

    Its is so important whether we go as daisies or sculptures?
    Once at school they changed the rules, the good students, at the end of the term got the worst places to go to work to, those that no one choose, the poorest, the inaccessible, the most awful, and we, the bad students, that’e2’80’99s me, I wasn’e2’80’99t really that bad, just wasn’e2’80’99t too good to attending classes, well point is we got to stay at the university in the so called good jobs?! I still laugh at that
    Good girls didn’e2’80’99t wanted to be too good afterwards. I wonder if it wasn’e2’80’99t because they don’e2’80’99t serve cuba libres in hell, we will be behaving differently? So, it’e2’80’99s important?
    I know so many people, that don’e2’80’99t even know what a soul is and still, they will get a special place at side of the Lord, my Lord, well, our Lord.
    So, it’e2’80’99s important? we get all the trouble of worrying and all of that about the state of our souls, our good deeds, our sins and the like but maybe everything is going to ‘e2’80’9c’e2’80’a6simply dissipate when the motion of electrons in the brain ceases.’e2’80’9d
    Its important? No, it isnt, one is suppose to do the right thing, nevermind the soul, are you going to be able to live with yourself after beating an old lady out of your way because you just realiced that there is nothing else, but life?

  8. Anonymous on June 16, 2005 at 9:52 pm

    Well, then, one has to ask the obvious question. Is there really something about us that does go on when the neurons cease to be operational? If it’s that much of an investment for mechanistic nature to create deeply feeling beings… One has to wonder why, if something doesn’t continue on, why we can get so emotional.

  9. ManUtdGal04 on June 17, 2005 at 4:45 am

    Ok. First of all.. this is deep for something being posted at 6:39AM. I’m not even awake at that time… unless, of course, I’m riddled with insomnia and must write. Sometimes my best ideas come out of insomnia. Hmm… weird… Anywho…

    My belief (is that spelt right?? I’ve spelt it three different ways and it still looks wrong. Oh well.), and I’m not forcing this on anyone, is that the soul continues after our body dies. That we are reborn as something different until we have learned all we need to learn. When our soul has learned all that it must – about life, death, and so on – it goes on to the Summerlands (aka Heaven) and it rests with other souls till it is chosen to start all over again.

    I know others believe that when we die, we go to Heaven – or the other place – and that’s all she wrote. If we have unfinished buisiness, we come stay between the plains as ghosts. I know a few other religions believe in reincarnation (as I do), but with different properties. We are reincarnated to burn off Karma or something similar.

    I would like to believe Mother Nature doesn’t waste things as crucial as a soul, but She could also say, “One ride is all you get.” But what a ride. 🙂

  10. Elle on December 14, 2005 at 2:05 am

    Hello all,

    I think we are both. I am godless, so my perception is probably different from a lot of folk.

    I know that I will die, and I will turn to dust (I will be creamated, so I will go to dust sooner than later). However, the products of our lives, for good or ill, are still here, like bronze relics. Also, I know that the strength we each have inside is also like bronze, that takes a lifetime to wear out.

    I get most of my ideas about myself and the world around me from books, including the one above. I often think of fiction as a mirror to the world, a funhouse mirror. So, perhaps my ideas are a bit on the warped side. I hope you all don’t mind.

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