Is the spiritual less real?

A comment by George about the bread and wine being changed to the flesh and blood of Christ (or vice versa as I prefer to think of it) made me think over my lunch break. How much do we tend to consider that the spiritual aspect is less real than the physical? Perhaps this is a disease of modern man, as we tend to separate the two, something that I understand was not done by our ancient relatives. We as evolutionary creationists on this blog are often accused of putting physical science above scripture. Perhaps this is not entirely undeserved. Certainly, putting the physical above spiritual matters is something we are all guilty of at times, and perhaps it is not so much modern behavior as it is human behavior. Did not the people around Jesus ask for miracles? Not that much different to want a physical manifestation over a spiritual. And not to question Jesus’ healing of the paralytic, but to question his ability to forgive sin may fall into this trap.
We are not alone. It seems to me the YEC obsession with wanting to see Genesis as physically applicable seems to be in this vein, and the danger of missing the spiritual message. Perhaps ID can also be seen as wanting to see physical manifestations in creation as support or proof of God. In some sense, I am most comfortable with ECs position that we accept the mystery of God’s sustaining power in creation, though we see no clearly defined physical manifestation. That is not to say that I still do not struggle with it.
I could go on, but wonder what you guys think, and how and if you struggle with those issues


When I suddenly realized that something as mysterioius and non-material as Consciousness was my linch-pin to all that I might consider divine, I wondered if I was on the wrong track. No doubt, Atheists were very quick to assure me that I was on the wrong track.

But for being immaterial, Consciousness is about as Real an event (for me personally) as I could ever contrive!

Cognito ergo sum! Sure … that might work for that other guy.

But really, it’s just my thinking that really matters! < (That’s kind of a humorous comment there …)

It is the basis of everything else … but usually for reasons people cannot really imagine!

A more even-handed view is that we are on different tracks. As the old saying goes, I only disbelieve in one more god than you do. :wink:

What I do find interesting is that some theists (not pointing fingers) try to argue against scientific theories or findings by arguing that those theories are really religions and/or based on faith. That has always seemed like a an argument that hoists one on their own petard. They are trying to disprove an idea by saying that it is like their idea. On the flip side, I never see those who argue against things like YEC or flood geology try to discredit those views by calling them science.

I think it is this type of attitude that leads to the spiritual being less real for those within the faith. Instead of elevating their own beliefs, they try to drag down the beliefs of other in order to reach some sort of false equivalency.

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Well put, Phil. Perhaps it would help to remove the specific context of Christianity and consider this sign at an Indian zoo:


I am sure that you (and most of the Forum regulars) are aware of the recent flurry of news regarding the ‘Eucharistic miracle in Buenos Aires’ and Pope Francis’ connection with it. I bring this up, not to bring up a contentious topic on the Forum, but to relate its effect on what evidence two highly educated Chrstians–my nephew, a software designer, and myself, a chemist–accept in support of the reality of the Spiritual realm. My nephew accepts the (rumored?) biological investigations that find human heart cells in the eucharistic host in question, and fervently believes (or dearly hopes) that further research will convince the ‘scientific world’ of the truth of this miracle. I fear the exact opposite effect will ensue. If anyone’s spiritual beliefs need to be proven by materialistic science, they really are not Spiritual to begin with. That just makes good sense.

On the other hand, my nephew and his lovely wife have raised a delightful family following old fashioned, no nonsense Catholic doctrine, and all are now living good, purposeful lives. So, do I try to 'improve’ their spiritual conception of Holy Eucharist? *No! "If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it."
Al Leo

Take a look at the chart I put up over in a now closed topic: How John 3 explains how to interpret Genesis One (Changed Topic Title):

It is my graphic representation of how both the “Spiritual” and the “Physical” are both separate yet coterminous with each other. They were both made out of the same “essence” coming from Elohim tri-unity, with the physical via the Son, and the spiritual out of Holy Spirit, while the are also both completely mixed. Note the color blending to represent the mixture, and yet the difference between the two.

We are created (however it occurred) as a a physical being, with “the Set-Apart Breath of Elohim” breathed into us.

The trouble we are discussing here is that if we believe that, then how do we explain “what we cannot see”.

Jesus explained it to Nicodemus quite clearly. Only he has the means for us to “see the unseen”.

That we argue about if it is “real” is because we don’t trust anything we can’t see. It requires faith.

Blessings on the “Lord’s Day”.

Ray :sunglasses:

@gbrooks9 Apologies to George, Decided to carry another cup of water over to my precious “plant”… :grin:

@RLBailey, I think you have my metaphor twisted around. My implication was not that you shouldn’t water your plant. My implication is that the further out in left field you grow your plant, the fewer the people there will be that are inclined to visit and marvel at the plant!

In a round about way, a physical manifestation is what brought me to BioLogos.
My trouble with evolution isn’t what it can explain but rather what can’t it explain?
Even the idea that there is a spiritual reality seems as if it could be explained as an
evolutionary process.

When attempting to give reasons for my hope, a physical manifestation would certainly make
things much easier. Sometimes it feels as if the only argument left to me is first cause.

I have many pages left to read on this site but I felt compelled to share.


Science has a very narrow focus, and that is its strength. Evolution merely explains the diversity of species we see, and that’s all.


Yes, we must keep that width of focus in mind.
So far, Science has largely been focused on the “Seen” (as we suppose the physical cosmos).
The research into the “unseen” of energy (last 200 years) Quantum (last 100 years) Dark Matter and Dark Energy (last two decades) is only beginning.

This “Unseen” world may indeed be populated with all of the angels and demons and worlds we cannot see. What used to be proposed as anti-matter (mirror universes) may now be composed of these “dark” substances and energy.

Yeah, mystic, of course, but most nascent cosmologies are mystical until they gain scientific theorems and proofs.

And how often has the Bible been the basis for scientific discovery (a rational consistent discoverable cosmos), even if the discovery refutes a ancient cosmology? (The heliocentric earth, flat earth v sphere, et al)

Ray :sunglasses:

I have been thinking about this topic a lot since it was posted. I think it may be one of my major stumbling blocks. Is the spiritual less real? For me it is.

When speaking about these things in the layperson circles I live in, science and evolution are like magic.

Every experience I have can be reduced to a survival benefit and explained by evolution. Everything else we don’t have a complete answer for is just a gap in one science discipline or another. Give it enough time and science will figure it out …eventually.

I don’t know how to argue against this (even internally) and I don’t know what I need to know more of for me to arrive at a personal comfort level with it… Do I need to understand theology better? Physics, evolution, philosophy? All of them? Is it even possible? It leaves me with an option that isn’t very comforting for me. If it is turtles all the way down, I don’t think we will find the last turtle in my life time. I will either have to accept the last turtle is floating in mid air or the last turtle is so different from all turtles above it that I am compelled to bow before it.

It feels like I have gone in a full circle. When I was young, I would ask my mother where god was. She would answer…everywhere. When I would ask how she knew she would say…you just need to have faith. Wasn’t satisfying for me then and it isn’t now. And I hate that feeling.
Personally, I can see the path to Jesus and it looks like the correct one to follow. The hard part is deciding if it is a path I absolutely need to go on. Agnostic? Unbeliever or lukewarm Christian? I don’t entirely know and that isn’t a good place to start.
That probably looks like a hot mess to most people and it probably is. I fear what is going to happen to me when they find the chemical pathway for life. For some reason I need something concrete that shows me the spiritual is real.

Apologies for poor grammar and spelling. Just thinking out loud.

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“I don’t know” is a great place to start. Messy stuff generates far more interesting conversation than neat and tidy ducks in a row.

Really? Love, beauty, grace?

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I don’t know… first google search on love I found

" Of course silly. Science is the end-all and be-all of the Universe. It can and will explain everything eventually. As for your question, it is said we are attracted with someone who has an opposite set of immune-system markers."

I don’t know how to argue against that. I don’t even know what I need to know in order to argue with that.

Actually I do…that doesn’t explain why I love my dog. I hope so anyway.


This is a description of scientism, aka philosophical naturalism. Science can only explain natural phenomena. It can’t address questions of faith. (But it can address certain interpretations of religious texts!)

(btw, do you actually know any scientists who actually claim science will know absolutely everything at some point?)

And that describes attraction not love. Perhaps my problem is dealing with doubt?

Complete strangers on the internet will be the first people on earth that I share this with.

I was on a camping trip last month. Every night after I left the fire I would go back to my camper and read
for a few hours. I chose to take Christian apologetic books. Pretty wide variety of authors.

On one night,I had just finished reading a section of a book (The God Question) by JP. Moreland. In it he described the euphoria he has experienced when feeling the presence of God.

I turned off the lights and lay in complete darkness. And I started to pray. I don’t remember the words but I was sincere about it. I just asked that at some point in my life I would love it if God let me have the same feeling JP described.
I hadn’t even finished my internal thought when I felt a tingle at the very top of my scalp. From there it started to go down my body in waves… like energy pulsing through me head to toe.
My first thought was I am having a medical emergency! But then it happened again and it felt too good to be anything very bad. It happened over and over again for at least 30 seconds. I lay there for another few moments taking in what had just happened. I turned over and a tear ran down my cheek. Not a sad tear but a very happy tear! That feeling was amazing and it was real! I thanked God for giving me that. I walked on air for the rest of the trip trying to figure out what to do next. I needed to reorder my life.

Now that I am back home and back into my daily grind… I’ve slowly explained all of it away. Maybe I just had myself worked up because of my reading and it was just a strange physical thing I experienced.

Now I feel guilty. Here I am mentally doubting something that was VERY VERY real at the time. Why do I need proof of the spiritual when it basically slapped me across the face? Handling doubt and fear is my problem. Reorder my life how? I fear the answer to that… I think.


Everyone deals with doubts. Even Mother Theresa had doubts. Our last rector used to explain that doubt is part of faith.

(Note: fundamentalists and cult members don’t have doubts. That kind of thing is frowned upon by leadership.)


To be fair, I don’t know very many scientists that I could ask. I would imagine Krauss does… and Stenger probably did. What does the search for a theory of everything entail if not the ability to know everything?

That would be pretty arrogant! Scientific knowledge is only provisional, and is always open to correction. btw, the theory of everything does NOT involves the ability to know everything.

Everything you say here seems correct to me after thinking about it. And maybe a better thing for me to say is it’s not a good place to end.

And it just occurred to me that I don’t know how to quote on here.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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