Do we have souls?

All sorts of political issues hinge on presuppositions about religious questions. And Christians have pretty much dropped the whole subject of the soul.

Yet what else is finally at stake in abortion? Would you lightly kill a being with an immortal soul in need of God’s grace? Many Christians, who feel strongly that the answer is a horrified “No!” have accepted the secularist premise that we can’t talk about that in public.

Nothing illustrates more powerfully than the abortion controversy that unless you believe that man has an immortal soul, there are limits — rational, logical limits — to how deeply you can believe in human dignity. This has nothing to do with how well-meaning you are. If you don’t believe that the soul exists, you are bound to regard pro-lifers who want to save even the tiniest embryo from destruction the way you’d regard the Hindu who believes that an insect may contain the transmigrated soul of one of his ancestors. You may be touched by his piety and conviction, but it will seem wildly exaggerated.

In our stupid pragmatism, we keep trying to fashion laws for human beings without defining human nature. It can’t be done. You can’t make laws appropriate for man, any more than for dog, until you decide whether the critter is angel, beast, or what.