In his article, ““Evidence of a Transcendent Soul,” Fr. Robert J. Spitzer, S.J. P.h.D. discusses substantial evidence for our transphysical soul from the medical studies of near death experiences, the five transcendental desires, the phenomenon of self-consciousness (giving rise to Chalmer’s Hard Problem of Consciousness), Gödel’s Theorem, the human capacity for syntactically meaningful language and conceptual ideas, and free will.
This evidence reveals 12 capacities of the soul that are inaccessible to artificial and animal consciousness. When these capacities are understood properly, there can be little doubt about the truth of the proclamation in genesis that God has made us in his own image and likeness (Gen 1:27).
The 12 Capacities of the Soul
- The capacity for self-consciousness (inwardness)—allowing us to experience and apprehend ourselves and to create a private inner world.
- The capacity for conceptual ideas—allowing us to have abstract thoughts, syntactical control, and conceptual language
- The desire for perfect truth—enabling us to recognize all imperfections in our knowledge, causing us to ask questions indefinitely until we reach perfect truth.
- The recognition of the spiritual-sacred-numinous-transcendent reality (God)—causing fascination, worship, awe, and obedience, which draws us to enter into a deeper relationship with Him, bringing us to his transcendent, eternal, and sacred essence.
- The desire for perfect home—enabling us to recognize the imperfections of our worldly existence, causing us to pursue the sacred and Its source until we have reached our perfect home.
- The capacity for empathy—which recognizes the unique goodness and lovability of the other, creating the desire to care about and care for the other even to the point of self- sacrificial love.
- The desire for perfect love—enabling us to recognize all imperfections in love, causing us to pursue deeper and more authentic love until we have reached perfect love.
- The capacity for moral reflection originating from conscience—which is God’s moral presence to our self-consciousness.
- The desire for perfect justice/goodness—enabling us to recognize all imperfections in justice/goodness (in groups, organizations, and community), causing us to pursue more perfect forms of justice and the common good until we have reached perfect justice/goodness.
- The capacity to appreciate and be filled by the beautiful in nature, music, art, architecture, literature, intellectual ideas, love, and goodness—causing us to seek ever greater forms of beauty until we reach perfect beauty-majesty-splendor itself.
- The desire for perfect beauty—enabling us to recognize all imperfections in beauty, causing us to pursue ever greater beauty until we reach perfect beauty itself.
- The capacity for free will—self-consciousness’ orientation toward either itself or toward others and God (in goodness and love.
Our transcendental capacities are so great that we can be satisfied only by Him, who is perfect truth, love, justice/goodness, beauty, and home. As Augustine noted at the beginning of the Confessions, “For thou hast made us for thyself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in thee.”