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The Catholic Catechism says this:

366 The Church teaches that every spiritual soul is created immediately by God - it is not "produced" by the parents - and also that it is immortal: it does not perish when it separates from the body at death, and it will be reunited with the body at the final Resurrection.

In my previous question, it was established that God creates the soul and then, some time after, infuses the soul into a human embryo. In that moment between creation and infusion, does God give the soul the chance to refuse being ensouled in a body? Can the soul make a free will choice not to take on a body? Or does God force each soul to become embodied against their will? The reason a soul might not want to be infused into a body is to avoid the stain of original sin. A soul might not want to take on human nature and the subsequent taint of original sin and risk damnation. If the soul is forced to take on original sin against their will, how can a just and loving God threaten punishment?

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  • 1
    can you link to your previous question? also scope this to a specific denomination since answers will vary based on that.
    – user23657
    Jan 28 at 21:54
  • 1
    A human soul without a human nature is not a human soul at all. This is a contradiction in terms. Agreed on the denomination-specific thing. A Catholic, for instance, would not have even answered the prior question the way it apparently was answered.
    – jaredad7
    Jan 28 at 21:55
  • Yea this needs more focus. What denomination are you referring too?
    – Luke Hill
    Jan 28 at 22:02
  • I'm not sure how to link to my previous question.
    – Stuart
    Jan 28 at 22:23
  • Is this the previous question: christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/89263/…
    – Lesley
    Feb 11 at 16:22

1 Answer 1

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Creation & infusion one simultaneous act

No, because God creates the soul immediately and unites it immediately to the matter when the matter is properly disposed.

The soul is the substantial form of a human, and the form+matter of something cannot exist apart from one another.

Even death, when the soul separates from the body (i.e., no longer animates it), does not sever the relation the body and soul have to one another; hence why our bodies will resurrect on the last day.

St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa contra gentiles ch. 89, n. 17 (cf. Compendium Theologiæ ch. 95 on the soul's "immediate creation by God"):

when the body is actually human, as being perfected by the human soul, it neither precedes nor follows the soul, but is simultaneous with it.
Cum vero est humanum actu, quasi per animam humanam perfectum, non est prius neque posterius anima, sed simul cum ea.

This truth seems implicitly contained in Pope Pius IX's declaration of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, Ineffabilis Deus, where he says:

the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception (primo instanti suæ conceptionis)

He does not say "her soul's" nor "her body's" but "her [body+soul composite] conception", i.e., the conception of her person.

cf. "Could 'The human soul is created at the moment of conception.' be defined as dogma?"

The creation of the soul and its infusion is one instantaneous act. We can distinguish them in our minds (logical distinction), but they can't exist separately in reality. A human soul with no relation to a human body makes no sense because the soul is the substantial form of the body.

Pre-existentianism

Pre-existentianism is the heresy that human souls exist before the creation of their corresponding bodies. It was condemned in the Canons against Origen (Denzinger 203):

  1. If anyone says or holds that the souls of men pre-existed, as if they were formerly minds and holy powers, but having received a surfeit of beholding the Divinity, and having turned towards the worse, and on this account having shuddered (apopsycheisas) at the love of God, in consequence being called souls (psychae) and being sent down into bodies for the sake of punishment, let him be anathema.

and the Council of Braga against the Priscillianists (Denzinger 236):

  1. If anyone says that human souls first sinned in the heavenly habitation and in view of this were hurled down into human bodies on earth, as Priscillian has affirmed, let him be anathema.

source: Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, bk. 2, § 15. The Origin of Individual Human Souls, p. 99

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  • But you are saying that the creation of the soul and the infusion of the soul into a body are 2 separate acts--whether or not they happen simultaneously. One of those acts could occur without the other happening--the soul could be created and not infused into a body. You are also saying that God does not give the soul the free will choice to decide whether they want to be infused into a body. Why doesn't God give us the chance to choose, as souls, whether we want to be infused into a body tainted with original sin?
    – Stuart
    Jan 29 at 2:08
  • See what I added to my answer.
    – Geremia
    Jan 29 at 2:28
  • From The Catholic Herald: "The Church, however, does not specifically define when ensoulment takes place. However, we rightly believe that Almighty God infuses the soul into the body when in accord with His will that creation is a person: for most of us, that would be at conception, but for identical twins or others, this would be after the initially fertilized single ovum divides." According to this, the Church has no teaching about whether the creation of the soul and embodiment are simultaneous. Where is that teaching in the Catechism?
    – Stuart
    Jan 29 at 4:06
  • That journalist seems to mean that the Church has not de fide defined the truth, but that doesn't mean "the Church has no teaching about whether the creation of the soul and embodiment are simultaneous". Have you seen my question: "Could 'The human soul is created at the moment of conception.' be defined as dogma?"?
    – Geremia
    Jan 29 at 18:06
  • It's not defined as dogma--full stop. Probabalism tells us we can come to our own conclusions based on our understanding of reputable authorities. So, prior to the soul being embodied, does God give them a choice whether they want to be ensoulded? Could a soul refuse to be embodied?
    – Stuart
    Jan 29 at 21:31

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