Category Archives: Spirituality

Dualism

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Dualism is a traditional belief that we are all made up of a physical body and a spiritual body. We believe that the spirit inhabits the body until death.

Teachers routinely use the analogy about a hand in a glove:

Explain that in this example the glove represents the physical body and the hand represents the spirit. When the spirit enters the body, the body can live, work, and act.

This analogy implies that the spirit is responsible for controlling the movements of the body. But nobody really has a good explanation for how the spirit interacts with the physical body. In order to affect physical muscles or even physical neurons, physical energy must be applied. And if physical energy is present, then it can be measured by scientific instruments just like any other physical events. But we usually think of the spirit as something that can’t be measured. In fact, any part of the spirit that can be observed physically should not be considered to be spiritual, by definition.

There is a different analogy that I like better, of a masterpiece painting. The painting is physically made up of oils and a canvas. But people looking at the painting can feel something deeper in it. The painting can have a spiritual presence. I think you could say that the painting wouldn’t be alive without that spirit. As another example, we recognize sacred places by the spiritual qualities attached to them.

Likewise, I think that it is our spirits that give our lives deeper meaning. Our physical bodies are just the machines, where pain is sensed and muscles are flexed. Our spirits inhabit the machinery, without interfering with it. Nothing from the spiritual realm ever enters the physical realm, nor does it need to. Even our power to make decisions is seated solely in our physical brains. This belief is called epiphenomenalism, an unpopular version of dualism. Continue reading

Personal Revelation

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Lots more people have started reading the Book of Mormon than have finished it. I suspect that the first stories in the Book of Mormon were specially chosen because they would be read thousands of times more often than the final stories. And which stories were given prominence? In the 4th chapter, Nephi was asked to slay the unconscious Laban in the streets. It’s interesting that only a few pages into the book a man was commanded to break one of the Ten Commandments.

There’s a similar conflict in the story of Abraham’s sacrifice. Kierkegaard wrote about the angst he imagined for Abraham in Fear and Trembling. Abraham was willing to obey, even though he was potentially disqualifying himself from heaven. Kierkegaard asked how Abraham could know that he was interpreting God’s words correctly, especially with the stakes so high. He had to have enough faith in his new vision to disobey God’s laws that had been established by great prophets in other generations. Continue reading