Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Souls and Culture

This is a really old post that I never finished up. It makes reference to the following posts from 2007: ChoicesSouls and the Sovereignty of GodWhat is a soul? Based on those posts, I wish to examine what I believe this implies about the relationship between souls and societies.

If there is anything obvious about human society, it is that we have produced a varied collection of social structures. While I believe that Western society is in many ways superior to other cultures produced throughout human history, it nonetheless remains true that men in every culture manage to find ways to live remarkably similar lives, at least in terms of the basic structures of their lives. Family, friendship, work, leisure - these are common elements of every cultural expression of man. Given this common structure, it seems plausible to me that God would, in expressing His love for the soul He created, recognize the impact on that soul that would result from placing it in a given culture. By impact, I mean both limitations and opportunities. I have heard those who strive to bring broadened opportunity to less developed cultures speak of the uncounted number of "3rd world Einsteins" who will never reach their fullest potential because they find themselves trapped in a subsistence culture where the leisure required to develop higher reasoning skills is not available.

However, if we accept that God creates souls and loves them from the moment of creation, then we have to ask whether He would in fact do such a thing. It may very well be that their are no "undiscovered Einsteins" in the 3rd world because God would not place a soul with such a potential into a 3rd world culture in the first place.

I do not want to be accused of Western bigotry. As a Westerner, I appreciate the advantages that being born and raised in the West has given me. And I can only speculate as to what opportunities are available in cultures that I am less familiar with. But no matter what the relative benefits of different cultures, it seem wholly reasonable to me to believe that God places soul into cultures of His choosing.

Another risk in this position is to assume that I believe that souls are created primarily for this life. I do not believe this. We are created for eternity with God; but I believe that He places great weight in what happens in the span of our lives, and therefore positions us in this life in whatever place  offers us the greatest chance for preparing ourselves for the next.

There is an interesting question that this raises. If God places souls into cultures based upon His recognition that the soul will best reach their potential within that culture, then cultural change is of necessity very slow. The individuals within a culture are those best-suited for that culture; any individual who would likely push for large change will most likely find themselves in a culture more to their personality. This makes the struggle of the prophet more compelling, they are most likely "souls out-of-place,"except for the fact that they are exactly where God has placed them.