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Soton Iselobhor

Divergent views on the origin of the soul have been a subject of profound theological debate throughout history. While some derive their theories from the bible, others derive theirs from philosophical studies and science.
This situation of diverse views affects the very definition of the word “soul”. According to Mounce’s Complete…. the word soul which translates to “nepes”, in the Old Testament has a wide range of meanings. According to him, “the basic meaning is “breath”, but it can also mean “soul, life, entire being” To my mind, the lack of uniformity in definition is the beginning and root of deviations and disagreements.
Three views on the origin of the soul are explored below.

1. Creationism:
This theological view which is held by the Roman Catholics mostly, posits that the human soul is directly created by God at the moment of conception or birth. It teaches that each human soul is an immediate and individual creation by God. This perspective is rooted in the belief that God is the ultimate author of life and imparts a unique, eternal soul.
Paul Enns in his book, The Moody Handbook of Theology, states that there are two reasons for this view which are that, it maintains the purity of Christ, and that parents may propagate a mortal body but only God can produce an immortal soul. With this view, Christ could not inherit a sinful nature from his mother.
While I may be tempted to agree with the concept of Creationism for its correlation to the Bible’s truths and accounts. Chief among these is the fact that Mary, even though she gave birth to Jesus could not transmit the sin nature to Jesus because of birth. In Jeremiah 1:5, the prophet states that before God formed him, He knew him.
However, Paul Enns posits that this view has some problems in that it necessitates an individual fall by each person as God can only create perfection. It does not account for the problem of why all men sin. James 1:21 talks about the salvation of our souls. The soul which has been described as the centre of activity and constitutes the mind has a natural state which the bible describes as “desperately wicked”. The question posed here is that if God creates the soul, then at what point does the soul get corrupted? As God could not have created a corrupted soul.

2. Traducianism:
This view suggests that the human soul is inherited from one’s parents. That the soul as well as the body is generated by the parents. According to this perspective, the soul is transmitted in a manner similar to physical traits passed down through genetic inheritance. Traducianism proposes that the soul is propagated alongside the physical body, establishing a connection between generations.
This view may be supported as it confirms the biblical truth of Adam’s transmission of both physical and spiritual aspects to his descendants.
I however agree with Paul Enns, to disagree with this view because human beings cannot pass on their soul which is immaterial. To believe this view is to believe that Jesus must have partaken of the sinful nature of Mary and this is not true. Everyone’s soul is unique to them and it is impossible to inherit a soul. The mind again which is part of the soul is not a physical entity.

3. Pre-existence:
This view advocates that the human soul has existed previously and is taught in Hinduism and was also held by Plato, Philo and Origen. The theory teaches that in a previous experience, men were angelic spirits, and as punishment and discipline for sin, they were sent to indwell human bodies. Proponents of this view argue that the soul is eternal and pre-exists in a spiritual realm before entering the physical world. Pre-existence posits that the soul is on a journey of growth and development, and its embodiment on Earth is part of its spiritual progression.
The compelling problem with this view is that no scripture supports it even though the disciples in John 9:2 seemed to suggest a possibility of the blind man having sinned before he was born leading to his being born blind. In addition, no one has any recollection of such an existence.

Conclusively, the views on the origin of the human soul are diverse, encompassing perspectives of religion, science and personal beliefs. Each viewpoint holds its unique position on the nature of the soul and its origin. It is essential to recognize that discussions on the origin of the human soul lie at the intersection of faith, philosophy, and personal belief systems.

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