Everyone agrees that the body exists.
But, does the soul exist? The Catholic Church teaches us that it does indeed, and that man is composed of both body and soul. This teaching is based on the Bible and on Tradition. But is that all? Is there any way of confirming this truth by our reason?
Right throughout the ages most men have believed that there was something in them which was to some extent independent of the body and which was beyond and above it. This was the case for the Egyptians, the Greeks and the Romans. Now, we don’t have to accept everything these people said just because they said it (because they made many mistakes), but we must accept what they say if their reasoning was sound. After all, they didn’t just make mistakes either!
They realised that, even though the makeup of their bodies was not that different from the animals, and that, even though the various animals were physically superior to them in certain ways, they were able to outwit them and dominate them. THEY could learn from the animals, but the animals couldn’t learn from them. They concluded that there was a principle or cause of this superiority – they called this principle the soul.
Modern men will argue that we now know that they were wrong and that it’s actually the superior chemical make-up of the human brain which accounts for these differences with the animals. And, there’s a certain amount of truth in what they say. The human brain is more developed than the animal brain, but that still doesn’t account for the ability to think. Because, no matter how developed the brain is, it remains a composite of chemicals – ordered, of course – but still a composite of chemicals. And chemicals can’t think!
A brain is necessary for thinking, but it’s not the brain that thinks. The brain stores information like a computer. “I” (the soul) extract that information and group it together so that it makes sense. A computer is useless unless there is a human who can extract information from it. A brain is useless unless there is a soul to extract information from it. We even say: “USE your brain”. Well, if YOU can use something, then YOU must be more than that something.
Finally, we can also grasp the existence of the soul by thinking about moral responsibility. A brain is used to plan a murder, a finger pulls the trigger … but we don’t condemn the brain or the finger for the crime! We condemn the PERSON. The person is the brain and the finger acting as instruments of the soul.