Physical/Spiritual Dualities

Published 11-19-2016

Our world is a world of multiple dualities. Let us give a few examples. There are many physical dualities such as day and night, light and dark, hot and cold. In the world of morality, good and evil exist. There are many dualistic manifestations of good and evil, such as kindness vs cruelty. In the more esoteric philosophical concept of ontology, defined according to dictionary sources as the nature of human existence, being, becoming, or reality, there are many examples of duality such as the distinction between body and mind. In theology we speak of the duality of our physical and spiritual existence. Our own science/faith blog might be described as a discussion of dualities. Some scientists might have difficulty relating science and faith. They may feel that knowledge of science does not form a duality with faith. Our position is that science and faith comprise a healthy duality.

The relationship of the physical and spiritual may be considered a duality. Our past blog posts mostly describe the physical dimensions with which science deals. We have attempted to blend a spiritual and scriptural dimension to the physical science issues we have raised.

Churches in our time address the spiritual needs of their members and society. This is appropriate, for what is more important than settling eternal questions about our souls and where we spend eternity? Our pulpit ministries also remind us that God has provided for the diverse physical needs of our lives. We call this a spiritual/physical duality—one of hundreds of dualities which comprise our human existence. In the scheme of human experience both elements merge. Man’s physical existence is the framework for his spiritual existence. The blending of physical and spiritual dimensions of humanity is a concept authored by the Creator of all things.

In the United States we live in a time of plenteous physical blessings. In our day the standard of living has advanced far beyond the acquisition of bountiful physical food, shoes, and clothing. The KJV (I Tim 6:8) echoes through my youthful memory when acquisition of “food and raiment” was of much greater concern than today. Perhaps spiritual concerns acquired more importance in those days. In our modern world, not only do we have a surfeit of supermarket food variety, but we search for additional pleasure from an ever-expanding array of physical goods from hand-held technological wi-fi marvels to automobiles which easily run for 100,000+ miles and may soon drive themselves. Perhaps “food and raiment” has acquired an expanded modern meaning.

In this day of plenty our children and grandchildren experience difficulty identifying with their parents’ and grandparents’ recollections of what supplied physical and spiritual satisfaction as recently as the early 20th century, not to mention what life was like in distant pioneer days of our nation. For those willing to search more deeply into humanity’s history on this planet, we take a giant time leap in order to recapture the overwhelming concerns of people in much earlier epochs. If we want to stretch our awareness we could study historians’ account going back to 3000-4000 BC before the invention of writing. Predating the so-called “Rise of Civilization,” modern archaeologists attempt to recapture the duality of the physical and spiritual in the lives of even more ancient humans. No written works give us clues. Archaeological artifacts and art work tell the story of human life.

Let us travel in our time machine back to 10,000 BC. The people were mostly hunter-gatherers as we have noted in a number of recent posts. Widespread agriculture did not become a feature of human experience until roughly 8000 BC. This date marked the approximate end of the Paleolithic Period (Old Stone Age) and the beginning of the Neolithic Period (New Stone Age).

A recent conversation with two friends raised the subject of the Ice Age. I stated that the Wisconsin glacial event ended geologically rather abruptly around 10,000 BC but that hunter-gatherer humans from that era were fully human. The human population may have been 2 to 3 million, but estimates range from 1 to 15 million. One friend opined that these residents were “cave men.” They were not, I stated, reiterating their “fully human” status. It is difficult to imagine fully human beings created in the “Image of God” not yet having discovered the benefits of agriculture, the wheel, or writing. When the onset of ancient agriculture produced a more urban, sedentary society beginning about 8,000 BC, humanity enjoyed a population explosion of sorts—tripling by the time of the invention of the wheel and the development of writing in 3000 to 3500 BC. By the time of Christ world population had expanded to 200 million.

About 9600 BC the hunter-gatherer society in Turkey built an enormous series of structures on 22 acres which is not yet 5% excavated. It is obvious from the complex already excavated that a large concentration of well-organized labor built the structures over a long period of time. It was abandoned around 8200 BC. The site is located at Gobekli Tepe. It was never occupied as a human residence. Some speculate that the structure was a religious temple. Did these hunter-gatherers have a sense of the sacred? There is intense discussion about these people who lived just after the end of the Wisconsin glacial event. The northern ice sheet did not reach them in their location in present day Turkey. With regard to food, the workers ate the plentiful wild animals and plants from the area. The agricultural revolution had not yet begun. Evidence left indicates they were aware of the duality of the physical and the spiritual. They were probably animistic, able to conceptualize spirits and the supernatural.

The full humanity of the Gobekli Tepe hunter-gatherer population cannot be questioned. Neither should we question the humanity of homo sapiens sapiens existing on our planet for tens of thousands of years or the dozens of low population, uncontacted hunter-gather societies still currently living in remote wild areas of Earth. Hunter-gatherer people, whether modern or ancient, manifest an awareness of a realm beyond the physical. Physical-spiritual dualism has been a part of man’s conceptual awareness since his creation in the “Image of God.”

When Adam and Eve were created, God directly interacted with them, giving them divine directions for living on a high spiritual plane. They failed to follow God’s directions. We imagine that their period of innocence was brief. In a few chapters, Genesis tells of their children and other descendants, the story of Noah and the flood, and the Tower of Babel. It is likely that the events surrounding Adam and Eve took place several tens of millennia before Noah’s flood. The tower of Babel account was the most recent. It is probable that Paleo-Indians arrived in the New World between 16500 and 13000 years ago when the sea level was very low and the “earth was divided” (Genesis 10:25). The Tower of Babel incident likely took place before 11000 years ago and Noah’s flood even before that. Low sea levels facilitated the spread of humanity around the earth to Indonesia, Australia, and North and South America.

In humanity’s failure to remain innocent, he never lost his awareness of the duality of his physical existence and the reality of the spiritual. Tragically, man’s concept of the spiritual is most often an intellectual construct of his own making. Romans 1:21 proclaims the bitter truth: “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened” (Romans 1:21 NIV).

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