Is the Soul in the Blood? – St. Augustine Speaks

Is the soul in the blood?

Is the soul in the blood?

Many people have spoken about the soul, and the subject is treated as though it exists within the body. This then prompts the question fo where it might be. And people tend to assume that the soul is spread throughout the entire body, so they then reason that it must be tied to the blood.

But is this really the Christian view? Or it it just speculation?

Blood contains the soul, but the sould is not confined to the blood. The soul exists throughout the whole body, but it does not reside in any part. Wherever the soul is, it exists in fullness and does nto divide itself. The integrity of the soul is not lost when a body part is damaged or removed.

This understanding of the soul has been contested throughout the ages, and the first great heresy against it was produced by the Manichaeans during Christianity’s early years. Below we explore how St. Augustine confronted them.

Against the Fundamental Epistle of Manichaeus (Augustine)

Manichaeus and his followers were among the most influential of the heretical Christian sects which were active during the early history of the church.

Their teachings held that good and evil were both active forces with a will behind them. These forces were close to each other in power, and they fought with each other using the world as a battleground.

This is analogous to two men playing a game of chess. The Manichaeans believed that Good and Evil were forces competing against one another and using men as pieces in their conflict.

Why Manichaeanism is Heresy

This view is a heresy in Catholicism and in Orthodoxy. It is a violation of the First Commandment. The dualistic view of the Manichaeans breaks this order because it holds that a second being of power equal to God exists and opposes Him. But God does not have an equal, and Satan is merely a created angel.

How It Came to Be

The Manichaean heresy arose in Persia, and the Persians followed a religion called Zoroastrianism.

Zoroastrianism is a dualistic religion which views the world as a battleground between the Good, Ahura Mazda, and the Evil, Ahriman.

And when the Persians first began to adopt Christianity, they mixed their own religious understanding with what they were taught about Jesus and the God of Abraham. The result was a teaching which set up the devil as an equal and opposite to God.

So Manichaeanism was born from the mixing of these two beliefs.

The Manichaean View of the Soul

They had believed the soul had parts and that it was spread throughout the body. If a person’s hand were removed, then the portion of the soul which was in the hand would be removed along with it.

Chapter 16.— The Soul, Though Mutable, Has No Material Form. It is All Present in Every Part of the Body (Is the Soul in the Blood?)

Things Made of Matter Are Divisible into Smaller Parts

But why speak of truth and wisdom which surpass all the powers of the soul, when the nature of the soul itself, which is known to be mutable, still has no kind of material extension in space?

For whatever consists of any kind of gross matter must necessarily be divisible into parts, having one in one place, and another in another.

Thus, the finger is less than the whole hand, and one finger is less than two; and there is one place for this finger, and another for that, and another for the rest of the hand.

And this applies not to organized bodies only, but also to the earth, each part of which has its own place, so that one cannot be where the other is.

So in moisture, the smaller quantity occupies a smaller space, and the larger quantity a larger space; and one part is at the bottom of the cup, and another part near the mouth.

So in air, each part has its own place. It is impossible for the air in this house to have along with itself, in the same house at the same moment, the air that the neighbors have.

And even as regards light itself, one part pours through one window, and another through another; then a greater through the larger, and a smaller through the smaller.

TLDR: Many things can be divided into smaller things. We can observe this in daily life.

Sections are Smaller than the Whole

Nor, in fact, can there be any bodily substance, whether celestial or terrestrial, whether aerial or moist, which is not less in part than in whole, or which can possibly have one part in the place of another at the same time; but, having one thing in one place and another in another, its extension in space is a substance which has distinct limits and parts, or, so to speak, sections.

Everything material can be split into sections. These sections are smaller than the whole. Nothing breaks this rule.

The Soul Is Immaterial

The nature of the soul, on the other hand, though we leave out of account its power of perceiving truth, and consider only its inferior power of giving unity to the body, and of sensation in the body, does not appear to have any material extension in space.

The soul is not a material thing. The properties which materials things have may not apply to the soul. This does not mean that the soul does not exist. After all, time exists, but it does not have a material form either.

Sometimes, people will claim that science proves that the soul does not exist. These people do not understand what they are talking about. Their claim is a fallacy called a category error; they are pretending that an immaterial thing, i.e., the soul, can be assessed using material methods, i.e., empiricism.

Where the Soul Is

For it is all present in each separate part of its body when it is all present in any sensation.

A person may read this line and pretend it means that the soul is in the blood. Yet your blood does not exist within your cerebrospinal fluid, but the statement affirms the soul exists there as well. Therefore, the soul must not be tied to the blood.

And the soul exists in fullness wherever it may be. It does not divide in the body.

Where the Soul Is, It Is in Entirety

There is not a smaller part in the finger, and a larger in the arm, as the bulk of the finger is less than that of the arm; but the quantity everywhere is the same, for the whole is present everywhere. For when the finger is touched, the whole mind feels, though the sensation is not through the whole body.

No part of the mind is unconscious of the touch, which proves the presence of the whole.

And yet it is not so present in the finger or in the sensation as to abandon the rest of the body, or to gather itself up into the one place where the sensation occurs.

For when it is all present in the sensation in a finger, if another part, say the foot, be touched, it does not fail to be all present in this sensation too: so that at the same moment it is all present in different places, without leaving one in order to be in the other, and without having one part in one, and another in the other; but by this power showing itself to be all present at the same moment in separate places.

Augustine’s Proof of the Soul – Is the Soul in the Blood?

Since it is all present in the sensations of these places, it proves that it is not bound by the conditions of space.

Here, Augustine states that we know where the soul is because of sensations which arise from it. Yet these sensations to which Augustine ascribes the soul are now known to be caused by our nervous system.

Augustine conflates the soul with the nervous system. Oh my.

A person with numbness in the limbs and digits would lack sensation there and, according to Augustine, the soul would not be present in these places. This would be because the sensations which he treats as evidence of the soul’s presence would be absent.

Fortunately, the theology of the soul does not begin or end with St. Augustine.

Gene Botkin

Gene is the director of the Theosis Christian Project. He studied physics and military science before founding the Project. Gene is currently pursuing his doctorate in systems engineering at an engineering college in the Ozarks. The Theosis Christian Project is his attempt to expand Holy Orthodoxy in America.

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