Growth/Development of Souls . . .
I suspect that souls develop as the fetus develops. Once a soul reaches full "maturity" it never reverts even if it loses the sensory connection to the body via injury or disease.
Children below the age of accountability have souls which are not accountable for their moral choices.
States of the human soul . . .
Many scientists studying consciousness claim it is a function of the brain, thinking they've explained it if they can discover brain activity corresponding. Some philosophers accept that consciousness is outside of the physical scientific domain, a kind of dualism. Some observations...
In my view, consciousness is an attribute of the soul, residing within the spiritual realm. In humans it is tightly coupled to the brain but occasionally responds to inputs purely from the spiritual realm, bypassing the physical body (brain and senses). After death, the soul begins to experience consciously directly from the spiritual realm. I have no idea what triggers this change. Perhaps consciousness is like a window and while in this current reality influenced by the powers of darkness, the parts of this window that can harm us are blocked off.
After death, our consciousness experience will "wake up" to the goings on in the spiritual realm. I suspect in the new heavens and new earth we will still be conscious of all this and in addition will again be conscious of the body just as we are now.
I conclude that when we are unconsciousness (during sleep or anesthesia) we are actually conscious of goings on in the spiritual realm but not the body. When we wake up we think we were unconscious because we cannot remember any of these experiences.
Normally we are only partially aware of the activities and experiences of the soul — for example, we do not remember the soulish experiences we had during sleep — we assume we were unconscious, but our souls were fully conscious the whole time. After death we will remember all these experiences. The same is true for people such as Terri Schiavo whose soul is fully functioning (but not receiving data from the senses because the transmission connections are broken). I wonder what it is like for such as her? Does she consciously experience her predicament or does she only awake after death?
The quality of life of a seagull — a rather pathetic existence. They spend most of their energy and time either looking for food; or waiting for the time of day to come around when they can look for food; or waiting for the next ferry to launch so they can scavage food from the tourists; or fighting with other seagulls for the best location where the food might appear. It seems their lives should be spent on more noble pursuits, but they are seagulls and they do what seagulls do.
How much time do humans spend on similar pursuits? Our whole work experience is based on earning money to take care of our survival needs. So much time and energy of humans is spent on fighting and on wars. Political power seems to be a major part of our lives. It goes well beyond the minimum needed to form into communities and organizations for a stable and organized community.
Both of these kinds of souls, seagulls and humans, have the same survival appetite (includes eating). Even though the human soul has higher aspirations, it seems to spend a lot of its time stuck in these lower pursuits.
Perhaps the biological need is perceived by the soul and translated into an appetite (but the urge to procreate doesn't fit this model).
I recently observed at close range several seagull families rearing their newly-hatched younglings. They are more social creatures than I originally thought.
Creativity is a window into the supernatural realm. For example, when I am composing music I have the impression that the thoughts of which notes to play come from outside my conscious awareness. These thoughts originate in a hidden part of my soul. As they flow across the boundary of consciousness I use my reason to judge whether or not I like these notes and if I do I play them — I have created! In heaven we will be conscious of the whole process.
This sounds a bit like new-age channeling but it isn't. In new-age channeling the inputs are from spirit beings from the dark side. Prophecy occurs when the inputs are from angelic spirit beings (directed by God). But creativity originates from within our own souls.
The act of creativity is based on particular forms and is rooted in the material world. For example, a painter has inspirations of where to place the paint, a composer of which note to use, a writer of which words. Creativity is based on objects received from the senses (colors, forms, sounds, words on a page).
In heaven before receiving a resurrected body, creativity will be based on the spiritual senses — the ideas and thoughts we receive from other spirit beings and from our own souls.
Creativity is the process whereby something that never was suddenly becomes. This is the way God operates; he dwells in the plane of pure creativity. He is the creator, not just once at the beginning of the universe, but moment by momentin this universe and in the spirit world.
Nothing is ever lost; nothing ever forgotten. Every action performed in this world endures forever; as does every word spoken, every created masterpiece. As I compose music the combinations of notes are fixed — they can't be undone even after they are long forgotten by the people of this world. These creations will continue to have an existence in the spirit realm; in the memory of the souls who heard the created music, or at least in the memory of the soul of the composer.
I am basing this discussion on the idea that the universe is a soul and that its appetites are the natural laws (gravity, etc.) The souls of creatures are in some way able to inhabit this soul of the universe — thus we live within the universe.
My view: The universe is merely a soul (with a body) created by God. It has appetites leading to action and motion and activity just as other souls with bodies do. Perhaps it has a consciousness but I assume it doesn't — that it is more like a plant than an animal.
The natural laws are the appetites of the soul of the universe. The material world is the body of the soul of the universe. Our souls interact with the soul of the universe and our bodies interact with the body of the universe.
When we analyze the material universe it is difficult to determine what it even is. At the sub-atomic level it is the interaction of natural laws, matter/energy, and space-time. The natural laws of nature are similar to the appetites of the soul — they result in action, motion and activity. It is as if the material universe is merely the manifestation of a soul and its appetites (the physical laws). Consider gravity for example. Matter attracts matter just as seagulls seek food. The "desire" of gravity and of seagulls manifests in physical action.
The material universe is a soul/body just as humans are soul and body. It is not alive in the way claimed by the new-age movement and others — that the earth is a living entity, Gaia. Perhaps it doesn't possess the attribute of consciousness. Perhaps it is actually a lower form of soul than even plants (plant souls may not have the attribute of consciousness either). In the spectrum of attributes of souls consciousness is merely one attribute but not all souls possess this attribute.
I remember once during a liquid fast (fruit juice, vegetable juice, protein drink) I at times had such strong urges for food. I experienced a mental image of the particular foods and of myself eating them. I learned about these particular foods through my senses long ago. If I had been brought up in a different culture with different kinds of food my images of food would have been of these kinds of food instead.
In some case people die because they lose the will to live. I suspect that the soul's appetite to survive is so strong that this usually only occurs in extreme cases of stress or bodily misfunction.
What motivates people? I suppose it is the combination and interplay of all the appetites of the soul. Some of these appetites result in us taking steps to survive, some prompt us to create works of art, and others lead us to worship God.
The soul can predict the future outcome of present situations. Even in day to day life the soul has these predictive, anticipatory powers and thus we experience dread or joy, etc., as we anticipate future events. We should learn to expect the best and to pray for the best — this is certainly better than assuming that the worst will happen.
Here's my theory and musings. . . .
Some bird species fly thousands of miles twice a year to very precise locations. I doubt if one bird in isolation could successfully migrate without a lot of luck.
It is possible that God or some other spirit beings direct the birds by interacting with their souls giving them directions as they are flying. I think this may be what happened when the animals went into Noah's ark — God directed each animal individually; Noah just looked on in amazement.
Here's what I suspect usually happens: Older birds remember having migrated in the past. During autumn in the north it starts to get cold and there is less food and less sunlight. Predators are hungrier and the birds start to get skittish, nervous, and generally afraid. One day a particular bird gets spooked and suddenly flies off, and all the other birds follow suit. They associate the general mood with the long flight south so the migration just sort of begins on it own.
No particular bird wants to be the leader of the flying formation. When a bird ends up in front it feels insecure and eventually falls back leaving another bird as the leader. As individual birds notice landmarks they recognize they fly more confidently and the other birds notice this and follow them for a while. Thus, the whole flock of birds leads the way.
Similar for the migration back north. The conditions in the spring in the south (such as the increased heat and the urge to mate) causes the birds to feel restless and one day one of them abruptly flies away and the others follow. . . .
The soul of someone in a vegetative state does not interact with their bodies via the senses. One might be tempted to think that it is better to "release their soul" by allowing them to die. One danger of this is that we are presuming to know whether or not the life of a soul in this situation could be improved by encouraging death. Another danger with this is that we might start to imagine other situations in which it is better if the soul is released. Examples . . .
If you made a list of all the different kinds of souls (plants, animals, etc.) and placed them in order based on their attributes they would form into levels of souls. Souls with higher attributes such as consciousness would be higher in the list than souls without those attributes. The highest attribute is moral awareness possessed by humans and certain spirit beings (angels).
I wonder what it is like to be a plant, a dog, a fly, a bird, or a single-celled organism? I suppose we only need to reflect on how we feel when we are operating with the same attributes. We don't need to waste our time trying to imagine what it is like to be a creature with a soul that does not possess the attribute of consciousness. For the animals that spend their entire lives in survival mode we merely need to remember the fleeting moments in which we were operating in survival mode. Animals such as dogs that have emotion are experiencing what we experience when we experience emotion.
For example, fighting. Humans have this tendency (wars, bullying) just as seagulls do.