Can Religion Deny The Soul And Still Be Religion? -- By: Edmund Booth Young

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 090:360 (Oct 1933)
Article: Can Religion Deny The Soul And Still Be Religion?
Author: Edmund Booth Young


Can Religion Deny The Soul And Still Be Religion?

Edmund Booth Young

“Mind is solely a product of electricity manufactured in the brain by a power system of generation and distribution consisting of 4,000,000,000,000,000 individual dynamos and a distribution system vastly greater than all the lines of communication now in existence.” (Dr. George W. Crile of Cleveland, quoted in the Christian Century, May 3, 1933). This would seem to be saying a good deal for the individual mind; but it is undisguised materialism.

Materialism and Religion have generally been considered as mutually antagonistic. Undeniably they are so in fact when Religion is understood in the traditional way as concerning, on the one hand, God and, on the other, human souls in their relation to and service of Him. Religion is more than a bond between the Almighty and electricity— so in our obscurantism we think. Towards Religion as Humanism or ultra-Liberalism represents it. Materialism has no animosity and such quasi-Religion has no contest— rather is in agreement—with it. The case is different, however, when Religion is regarded as having to do with the supernatural; then between it and a philosophy so entirely ‘of the earth, earthy’ there is relentless conflict.

Materialism denies God, but not only does it do that; it dispenses also with any spiritual element in man, bringing him down from the position given him by Religion, where he is but little lower than the angels, to that but a little higher than the apes from whom he is supposed to derive not only his body, but also what we call his mind. There is nothing in man to survive death and ‘the Great Enemy’ in destroying the brain and nervous organization, brings to an end all there is of man. The power plant stops running and the business is liquidated. Death is still in possession of its sting and to the grave the victory is quite sure.

Still more, certain attributes of man which Theistic Religion requires for its holding and exercise are by some forms of materialism brought into question or denied.

There being no mind entity, there is no such thing as consciousness as a unity, and no really free-will. Man is a machine, the materials of which are flesh, blood, and bones and whose manifestations of life (behavior) have their source and origin in that mortal machine of flesh and blood. To the commonsense of the general reader this may seem like the foisting of folly upon the adversary to make him appear ridiculous, but no! A popular writer upon Psychology wrote in a magazine not so long ago: “In one sweeping assumption after another, the Behaviorist threw out the concepts both of mind and consciousness, calling them carryovers ...

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