The question of the nature of humanity is basic to both science and theology.
Rev. Austriaco gives us a traditional answer based on the theology of St. Thomas, that humans as the Image of God qwere created as ensouled bodies. I say that based on modern science and theology, that humans as the Image of God were created as the trinitarian beings.
To understand what we are talking about we first need to understand what the “soul” is. Much has been written about the “immortal soul,” however this phrase does not appear in the Bible. The NT is written in Greek, but it was written by Jews for a predominantly Greek Christian audience. The Soul is a Greek concept used by Greek philosophers, and incorporated by theologians into the faith after the writing of the Bible.
Now what are the problems with the understanding of humans as ensouled bodies.
- The soul is said to be immortal, but only God is really immortal and humans are not God.
- Because the soul is immortal it must be also immutable, and humans are not immutable.
- Jesus was not an immortal soul in a human body, because Jesus was fully human and fully God.
- The soul is said to be immaterial, but thinking which is the key activity of the soul is done in the brain, which is material.
- Thinkers have replaced the idea of mind for the soul. However for almost everyone the mind is not the same as the soul. The soul is both spiritual and rational, but the mind is only rational.
When we reduce a human being who is created in the Image of God as Triune physical, rational, and spiritual, to more simply a ensouled body or physical and rational/spiritual with the emphasis on the rational, we lose the Image of God and we lose the reality of our spiritual nature. When we allow the argument about our nature to be reduced to the mind/body question we lose the spiritual nature altogether.
The NT talks more about the human heart and spirit than the soul. These are more accurate and better description of the human triune nature.
The Greek word for soul used here is Psukhe. While we might think that science does not believe in the Soul, it lives in science as Psychology, the science of the Soul or Psukhe.
The science of Psychology is not about the mind or the immortal soul, it is about the human self. Whereas Plato left Western culture with a dualist version of humanity, he began his thinking with a three fold view and as one noted writer, Leslie Stevenson, has observed this view had been dominant despite Plato’s conversion.
Take Freud’s trio of Id, Ego, and Super Ego. We have Id as the natural or animalistic, the Ego as the rational, and the Super Ego as the moral or spiritual. I certainly do not defend all or even much of what Freud wrote, but he was correct in his basic formulation of humans being in some real sense physical, rational, and spiritual.
Also we observe now that just as the physical bodies of flora and fauna have evolved, so too the nervous systems that allow us humans to think, and our spiritual understanding to enable us to better know God.
All of this leads me to conclude that Genesis 1 is correct to say that humans, male and female, are created in God’s Image, which Christians understand as Triune, physical, rational, and spiritual.