Of God and His Creatures

Many of us remain quite unconvinced by these a priori reasons. We believe in the resurrection of the body as a revealed doctrine. But we look upon it as not susceptible of a priori proof: in other words not like the immortality of the soul, a property incident to human nature as such. The body will rise again, because God has been pleased to place man in a supernatural state, and in Christ to renew the privileges of that state, one of those privileges being, as St Thomas points out, the final deliverance of the body from death. Of the three arguments last given in the text, the first two rest upon the assumption that the soul, which is the 'form' of the body in man's mortal life, becomes after death a nude 'form' crying for its 'matter.' The assumption is not incontrovertible. After death, the change of the soul lifewards can scarcely be less than the change of the body deathwards. The disembodied spirit must be mightily translated to higher existence, if, bereft of its senses, it still lives and energises and understands, and does not lie stunned and dormant, as in a trance, a supposition which no Catholic theologian will allow (see Chap. XCI). Who shall define this higher existence? Who knows and can tell us that such elevation does not mean a fulness of spiritual nature, independent henceforth of matter and organs of sense? But if so independent, how shall the soul ever return to be the form of a body? It shall not return to be the form of an animal body, but of a spiritual body (1 Cor. xv, 44), that is, of a body entirely subservient to the soul, and no hindrance to its spiritual functions, as St Thomas presently explains (Chap. LXXXVI).

Of the two philosophies that have most affected Christian thought, Platonism makes for the immortality of the soul, but against the resurrection of the body. Aristotelianism raises a difficulty against the immortality of the soul: how shall the 'form' continue when the 'matter' is gone? But that obstacle surmounted, Aristotelianism favours the resurrection, as St Thomas's arguments show. Cf. II, Chap. LXXXI

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