The Soul, God, Religion, & Evil Essay, Research Paper
The Soul, God, Religion, & Evil
Being raised in a Catholic family, I have always been told that my body contains a soul. I have often wondered where my soul is and how it functions. Being asked by my friends questions about the soul, I could not answer because I never really knew myself, so I looked to the writings of the church. According the Catechism of the Catholic Church, written by Pope John Paul II, the soul is not just part of the body, it is the body. “In Sacred Scripture the term “soul” often refers to the life or the entire person. But “soul” also refers to the innermost aspect of man, that which is of greatest value in him, that by which he is most especially in God’s image: “soul” signifies the spiritual principle in man. The unity of soul and body is so profound that one has to consider the soul to be the “form” of the body: i.e., it is because of its spiritual soul that the body made of matter becomes a living, human body; spirit and matter, in man, are not two natures united, but rather their union forms a single nature. The Church teaches that every spiritual soul is created immediately by God – it is not “produced” by the parents – and also that it is immortal: it does not perish when it separates from the body at death, and it will be united with the body at the final Resurrection.” That is the belief of my church. Other religion hold different views, are they right? If what I believe is right, then the soul is there, not for Catholics, but for everyone, so that we all have a spiritual awareness and can become closer to God. But what if I am wrong? What if we really do not have soul? How then am I to live my life? What if there really is no God, and religion is just a security blanket for people so that they seem to have some meaning in their lives? How can one justify the existence of God if there is so much evil in the world? What about reincarnation? If we have a soul, then it is supposed to be reunited with the body on the final Resurrection, but then how do certain people have special talents where as others do not? These questions are ones that my personal experiences and beliefs will try to answer.
I do not believe that the Catholic Christian religion is the only true religion in this world. If I were to believe this, then I would not be the ideal, loving, open minded person that I am called to be by my beliefs, and by God. I believe that each religion is right for each person involved, depending on where they are located. God calls each person in different ways because all people are not the same, and live in different surroundings. Each culture has certain beliefs based on their cultural pasts, and physical environments. For example, Europe and the Americas are considered to be part of the “Western World.” The Western World is modern, destructive, fast paced, and highly independent. That is the way our society has developed, and the religions that we believe correspond to these factors. African religions are different then the European religions, just as Asian and Middle Eastern religions are different then African religions, because they do not have the same pasts. The way that people had lived, their ancestors, helped to develop their religious ideas. Each culture had to have believed in some higher power, and someone (Buddha, Jesus, Confucius, etc.) helped to lead their people into a system that corresponded with their lives, and contributed to bringing some sort of meaning to the society, fulfilling some void that was present. So in a sense, the religions that were created, were created by a certain type of people to fill something missing in their lives, caused by the type of society they were residing in. It was not that the religions created the people, it was that the people created the religions.
In line with that idea, religions have also been used to control societies. In their perfect forms, each religion is something good for the individuals involved to look too, but almost all have been manipulated at some point in time (even now) to control the people who believed. In the Dark Ages, for example the Catholic Church used its incredible influence over the uneducated public to gain power. Or in India. The caste system was there to keep the lower class people from revolting by telling them that they had to accept their present lives, make the most of it, then they could move on to a better existence in their next life. And currently, the Chinese government is trying to take over Tibet. Its newest tactic is holding the Tibetan Buddhist monks (who have a large role in the lives of the Tibetan people) religious leader, the new Dally lama, in China to “educate” him. This all makes me wonder, if religions are just here because of some few intelligent people who wanted power, or if they have some truth behind them. Did God have some influence on their creation? And if so, then how come so many people were, and still are, killed (during the Crusades and other religious wars) in the name of God? What kind of God is this that pain is inflicted for him?
Evil. There is evil everywhere, all the time. Why is this? How possibly could a loving God allow his “children” to suffer, as everyone does, at some point in their lives? There are two reasons I believe that evil could exist. One, that because I believe in a loving God, evil has to be present in this world for some purpose, If I did not believe in a loving God, then I could not believe as a Christian. If I believed that there was no God, then evil would be some form of human expression, solely independent from any purpose. But, since I DO believe in God, then I must believe that all the bad things in the world are caused for some greater good. That God, does not inflict pain on people randomly, just because. Secondly, we are equal to God. All people are created in God’s image. We each have a soul that allows us to determine right from wrong for ourselves, and to decide what we want to believe. The story of Adam and Eve tries to explain this point, that we are thinking, feeling characters, that God really has no control over in this world. If he did, then what would be the point of Heaven and Hell? Those two “places” were created to help people make the right decisions, because they have the ability to CHOOSE for themselves. God does have some sort of plan for each of us, but we CHOOSE whether we want to follow that plan or not. God has made us independent. Evil happens because God allows us to make decisions for ourselves, right or wrong, because that way, when we make the right decisions, we become closer to knowing who God really is.
By saying that we are independent beings, because of our soul, and because we are equal to God, makes me wonder what equal really means. How can we possibly be equal to an omnipotent being? Reincarnation would help to explain why certain people have certain special talents, because the person they were in their previous life also had that talent, and they are just contributing to that past life. But where did that original talent from the first life come from? For example why was one of my good friends able to completely take apart a computer, then put it back together at age six? It could be because he was some science genius in a past life, or it could be that the knowledge he has inside of him was rubbed off from God. That my friend Luke obtained some part of God that no one else got. Let me explain. We are created in God’s image, and are equal in the ability that was can determine right from wrong because of our soul. If everyone were God, then we would have not religions to believe in. The religions are based on the belief that there is something higher then humans, that there is something that knows everything. Each individual takes a small piece of this intelligence when they are created, so that they have something unique, something special about them that no one else has, but that only God has. This makes God part of every person, making every person equal to each other, because everyone has a little piece of God inside them.
These ideas help me to confirm my original beliefs, that there is a God, and that we all have a soul. Religions were created by people to believe in something, but they were inspired by God. The reason that they have had problems is that people are the leaders of them. People are allowed to make mistakes because they are created in God’s image, with a soul to help us choose right from wrong. Also, we are his equals in the sense that we all have a little piece of God which makes us all equal to each other, but still unique enough for us to have to learn to accept each others differences, and look beyond them to see that we all are a part of God. I am certain that someone could prove me wrong, but based on the culture and history of my family and my family’s beliefs, these ideas fit perfectly into my Christian life. I want to believe in a higher being. I want to believe that I will live forever. I want to believe that I have some purpose in my life instead of just being here because.