The Christian doctrine of the resurrection of bodies holds that at the end of time, the soul of a saved person will be reunited with a perfect and incorruptible body.
The early Christian apologists argued that the body must be resurrected because neither the soul nor the body by itself can be called man; since God has promised man eternal life, He has given his promise not to a part, but to the whole of man, which therefore must include the body.
Furthermore, the joy that the immortal soul will attain when it sees and contemplates God would be even more delightful when the soul is restored to a perfect body; therefore, it has been argued, God would not choose to do otherwise.
In this view, the Supreme Good consists both in the liberation of the soul from the urgent and degrading demands of a corrupt physical medium, but also, ultimately, in the capacity of the soul to enjoy corporeal pleasure in harmony with a renewed body that is no longer corrupted.
Prior to the modern era, the soul was understood as an immaterial and mysterious power that, nonetheless, was immanent in and deeply linked with the body, to which it was connected by an exceedingly fine, gossamer-like physical substance known as spirit.
The soul, which existed in human beings as a multiplicity of three — the vegetable, sensible, and rational souls — was understood as responsible not only for thought and emotion, but for all of the animate functions of the body, including the workings of its sensory organs and its autonomic processes, such as the movement of breath through the lungs or blood through the heart.
At the beginning of the modern era, the doctrine of the resurrection of bodies came to be progressively ignored by Christianity. What soul would wish to be eternally conjoined with the substance that not only causes us to sin, is crippled by injury and disease, and finally rots in the grave, but also can be broken down into its constituent parts by science?
It no longer seemed necessary to invoke the concept of an immaterial soul to explain the animate movement of physical matter when science offered a persuasive mechanical explanation for these phenomena.
The early modern concept of the soul became more transcendent and mysterious — independent of physical matter, rather than immanent within the processes of the body — and also increasingly defined in terms of its association with the alleged human capacity for rational thought. If a soul only exists where there is rational thought, it would appear that non-human animals are soulless machines, brute physical matter animated by mechanical processes.
The human soul, in other words, is reduced to the human mind, which is the last thing to escape the total mechanization of our concept of the world. But even the mind, via psychiatry and neurology, becomes trapped within this totalizing concept, as yet another stratum of the automatic processes of a dead physical universe.
Because of our desire to escape the limitations of our physical bodies — which really is the desire for a resurrection of the soul defined as the rational mind, without a body or an unconscious — we have arrived at the opposite. The resurrection has already occurred, and the human soul has departed the physical universe, leaving a world that is made up not of bodies but of parts of bodies which can no longer be located within a whole.
The physical world has become the only world that exists, and at the same time remains a prison. This world is an abundant Organ Bank, just waiting for the right entity to harvest its wealth.