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Philosophy of Evolution: Not Man's Soul

The Level of Certitude

Overview
Background
Dialogue
Definitions
Question
Aquinas
Solution
Certitude
Links

Certainly, The Human Soul Has Not Evolved.
 

The purpose of this section of the dissertation is to assess the minimum level of certitude for the thesis proposed, with an additional comment of any suspected higher level of certitude. There are various levels of certitude that can be chosen. Opinion is defined as intellectual assent (or disagreement) given to one part of a contradiction with fear of the opposite.52 Possibility is defined as the capacity for existence for a concrete possible thing: internally, that its constituent characteristics are not impossible, and additionally externally possible, if there is power to produce the thing.53 Probability, also called likelihood, is defined as the weight of motives, or the accumulation of serious motives, for prudent assent to some proposition, which is intrinsic probability if the motive arises from the nature of the thing, and can be extrinsic probability if the motive is from authority, which can also suppose the internal motive.54 Summary of Probabilities is defined as an accumulation of probable arguments, considered according to their force, which results from a mere juxtaposition. Convergence of Probabilities is defined as an accumulation of probabilities which converge to produce a sufficient reason. Moral certitude is defined as firm assent to one part of a contradiction whose necessity arises from the moral law in the physical (not ethical) sense, e.g., every mother instinctively loves. Physical certitude is defined as firm assent to one part of a contradiction whose necessity arises from the very physical nature of the thing, e.g., the law of gravity. Metaphysical certitude is defined as firm assent to one part of a contradiction whose necessity arises from metaphysical necessity, e.g., my own existence.55

Certitude could arise from some observable fact or experiment. However, there is no experiment to prove evolution.56 However, some restricted observation of evolution is possible within species.57 Nogar correctly states, "The theory of evolution, taken in its strict sense, cannot explain the origin of man as a whole, since it does not account fully for his spiritual and intellectual capacities, his history, nor his destiny."58 Marcozzi and Benignus note that operations follow from the nature of the thing (operatio sequitur esse).59 The conscious operations in my thinking have causes higher than purely physical causes. The philosopher seeks an adequate cause, while the scientist studies the process.60 Nogar notes that "Scientists of today prefer to be neutral about the ultimate creative intelligent faculty for adaptation in man."61

Certitude could arise from some philosophical explanation that exists. Explanations were given by several Neo-Scholastics: Di Napoli,62 Benignus,63 Palmes,64 and Klubertanz.65

Certitude could arise if the argumentation was based on some philosophical principles. Bittle explicitly notes that "Man’s soul is not the product of evolution; since it is a spiritual entity, the principle of causality precludes the possibility that it could have evolved out of the material body or the material soul of animals or plants."66 The principle of causality provides that whatever makes something (operatio sequitur esse) or is made does so according to its essence or nature in order to be actual (omne agens agit sibi simile), but the spiritual soul is by nature intrinsically independent of matter. To be intrinsically independent of matter is to be intrinsically independent of the material subject which the soul informs, so that the origin of the soul is intrinsically independent of matter, which is the same as to be created.67 Secondly, the principle of sufficient reason provides that the soul is generated or created. But since the soul is not generated, because it is independent of its subject, the soul is created.68

Certitude could arise if the explanation is sufficient, due to the principle of sufficient reason. Palmes argues that by eliminating Emanationism and Generationism, only Creationism is a sufficient reason for the production of the human soul.69 Di Napoli argues in the same way.70

Certitude could arise if the explanation was rooted in St. Thomas Aquinas, thereby being faithful to tradition. St. Thomas says: "God Himself operating in nature also produces the organization of the body, whence there is a quasi-continual action, bringing a reduction into unity, and which is terminated toward the ultimate disposition of the subject and also which is terminated toward the form; although nature (parents) cooperates toward the composite (human child), nature (parents) does not cooperate toward the form (spiritual soul)" (Aquinas Scriptum in Liber Sententiarum 2. 18. 2. 1 ad 5).71

Certitude could arise if Neo-Scholastics agree on the possibility of the creation of the human soul, such as: Di Napoli,72 Gredt,73 Palmes,74 Mondin,75 Masi,76 Degl’Innocenti noting "today all agree,"77 and Calcagno.78

Certitude could not arise due to recent scientific confirmation, as expected, since "the human soul, or the spiritual principle of man’s distinctive activities is not a subject for anthropological research, and the origin, nature, and properties of the soul do not enter into scientific account," notes Raymond Nogar.79 Nogar also notes that "primitive pre-history works with concepts of evolving populations, not individuals."80

Certitude about the creation of the human soul could arise if the opposite opinion is not tenable. Donat (in 1915) rejects Anthropological Evolution that the body and soul of man have evolved by arguing, among other things, that there exists an essential difference between man and beast.81 Calcagno notes that Anthropological Evolution is even more rejected because in so far as the human soul, its brute animal origin is most absurd because the human soul is a spiritual substance which can come into existence only by true creation.82 Bittle argues that the theory of pre-existence of human souls must be rejected because, first, we have no memory of a previous existence, and second, the theory is a gratuitous assumption.83

Certitude could arise if the objections of adversaries are able to be answered.

OBJECTION: The human soul is the substantial form of the human body giving the body at least vegetative and sensitive being; but such substantial forms are educed from the potency of the material, and not created by God. Therefore, the human soul is not created by God. REPLY: We distinguish how the human soul is the substantial form of the human body: as substantial form in its material entity (like a vegetative soul), we deny; as substantial from in its spiritual entity (although virtually and radically also the vegetive and sensitive form), we concede.84 Thus the human soul is entitatively spiritual, and virtually vegetative and sensitive. We note that there are not several substantial forms.

OBJECTION: If the soul is not generated by the parents, but only by God, the parents would not generate the human child. The soul is the principle part of the man, by which man differs essentially from the animals. Therefore parents do not generate the human child. REPLY: We deny the major, that parents need to generate the soul to be parents. We concede the importance of the soul as the principle part of man. We distinguish the principle part: parents do not generate the composite if they do not generate the principle part, we deny;85 parents do generate the composite as efficient causes if they generate a non-principle part of the composite, which naturally, according to the laws of nature established by God, determines the production of the principle part.

OBJECTION: The actions of God and parents each have their own terminus distinct from each other, soul or body, but neither have termination in the composite, that is man. Therefore human unity is impossible. REPLY: St. Thomas says: "God Himself operating in nature also produces the organization of the body, whence there is a quasi-continual action, bringing a reduction into unity, and which is terminated toward the ultimate disposition of the subject and also which is terminated toward the form; although nature cooperates toward the composite, it does not cooperate toward the form" (Aquinas Scriptum in Liber Sententiarum 2. 18. 2. 1 ad 5).86

OBJECTION: Without a doubt the soul of man during its union with the body evolves and is perfected, at least in as far as those perfections which are spiritual habits, such as science or art; and in the moral order, virtue or vice, merit or demerit, which are in the spiritual soul as in a subject, and by which at least the soul of man continually progresses or regresses in its spiritual perfection. REPLY: Perfections in the soul of man are distinguished: accidental perfections, we concede; substantial perfections, we deny.87 Accidental perfections do not change the substance of the soul.

Certitude can be had from the possibility of Neo-Scholastic philosophers and theologians admitting this mode of origin of the soul without damage to their other beliefs. Neo-Scholastic theologians commonly hold that the souls of each individual human are de facto created only by God; they hold this position to be a truth whose denial would imply a denial of a dogma of faith (proxima fidei) since the human generation of the soul makes the soul non-subsistent and corruptible.88 St. Thomas calls Materialistic Generationism heretical (Aquinas Summa Theologiae 1. 118. 2).89 Spiritualistic Generationism is commonly held by Neo-Scholastic theologians as not Catholic and proximate to heresy, in so far as it denies souls are created by God.90 Pope Pius XII in the Encyclical Letter Humani Generis teaches that "the Catholic faith commands us to hold that souls... are immediately created by God " (Acta Apostolica Sedis 42 [1950]). Even Rosmini, who said that only the sensitive soul of man was produced by the generation of parents, had his opinion condemned by Pope Leo XIII in 1887.

The level of certitude for "Certainly, the human soul has not evolved" is at the level of the metaphysically certain. The proof is the principle of causality, since the spiritual soul has spiritual operations. Further, the convergence of all of the above arguments are proof, especially the fulfillment of the principle of sufficient reason. This agrees with the opinion of Palmes91 and Bittle.92

Having come to the correct conclusion on the philosophical level of certitude, the philosopher must still conclude with some humility, because the question is a difficult one. The philosophy of nature does not disregard the objects observed and perceived by sense.93 This is the method of Aristotle and St. Thomas.94 It is true that "material souls, plant or animal, arise by eduction from the material they inform, effected by the generative force of the living thing from which is generated the living thing of the same species."95 However, the spiritual soul of man is not to be confused with the material soul of other animals, even though man is partially animal, an animal rationale. Both types of vital principle (material or non-material soul) are judged by the same principle or method of Aristotle and St. Thomas, that the perceived operation reveals the essence (operatio sequitur esse).96 The material soul is not capable of purely spiritual activity, such as geometry, future planning, religious or aesthetic appreciation. Secondly, progress in understanding that the human soul was created took about a thousand years, a development of dogma..97 Thirdly, because the human soul is created by God, the outstanding dignity and nobility of the human person is evident.98 Fourthly, the question is a difficult one because creation excludes anything we might imagine, and is contrary to the ordinary habits of thought even of philosophers, who ordinarily hold that nothing comes from nothing (ex nihilo, nihil fit).99

Author:  John Edward Mulvihill, S.T.D., D.Min., Ph.D.
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