Autosoteriology: A New (Old) Theory For Null-Theology

What is the future of salvation and theology without the supernatural?
salvation and theology without the supernatural
Photo by Egor Myznik on Unsplash 

For the LORD your God is he that goeth with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.

Bible (King James Version) Deuteronomy 20:4

Christian soul, here is the strength of your salvation; here is the cause of your freedom; here is the price of your redemption. You were a captive, but you have been redeemed; you were a slave, but [by Him] are made free. And so, an exile, you are brought home; lost, you are reclaimed, and dead, you are restored to life. This lets your heart taste, O man, this let it suck, this let it swallow, while your mouth receives the Body and Blood of your Redeemer. In this present life make this your daily bread, your nourishment, your support in pilgrimage. For by means of this, this and nothing else, you remain in Christ and Christ in you, and in the life to come your joy shall be full.

Anselm of Canterbury

And whoever desires other than Islam as religion - never will it be accepted from him, and he, in the Hereafter, will be among the losers.

Quran Chapter (3) sūrat āl ʿim'rān (The Family of Imrān); Surah 3:85

Salvation pertains to a coupling between an emergency and a saving from said emergency. The natural discourse of transcendentalist religious imagery, languages, metaphors, texts, and figures, is salvation at the core. A problem exists in the world, including human nature. A solution exists for this problem extant in the world. Choices can be made to solve this problem or not.

If chosen on the path to the solution, then salvation for the individual or some larger purpose, e.g., the mission of God, can be met conclusively. The rewards may be reaped for the struggling ascetic spiritualist on some metaphysically-driven purpose with a reunion with the divine, with God, with the angels, with Brahman, with Allah, with Creator, or with… something. 

An incorporeal facet of a human being sits as a premise behind these arguments as a cornerstone or a foundational piece because the human spirit or soul is considered something eternal, never ceases existence. 

The cessation of the physiological processes of the body does not end the soul in this view. This notion implies the physicality of the body links to some metaphysicality of the soul. The physical-metaphysical divide seems unclear. 

In this sense, all the provisions of the laws of the sciences wrought forth bring the idea of the physical as a non-sense idea, which becomes one idea; while, at the same time, the metaphysical seems nowhere in the formulae.

Most formulations about metaphysics of the laws of nature delineate some higher-order language or mathematical construct to encapsulate the cosmos. This seems false. The laws describe the tendencies of operation of the universe intrinsically, not extrinsically, as in the descriptors happen intrinsically and do not become extrinsically derived. This dispenses with metaphysics almost whole cloth. 

This metaphysicality of the soul becomes problematic on this level. Similarly, the soul seems like an issue because the entire fabric of the cosmos seems reasonably described without it. An unnecessary premise in the descriptive argument about the universe becomes non-parsimonious, so unnecessary. 

You can add it if you like, but you add nothing as you see the issue. The physical seems like a self-limit of the material and the material seems like a self-limit of the natural, while the natural seems like a self-limit of the informational, where the informational means the simple difference in constituent parts between one state at T=0 and another state at T=1. The sum of the difference between time-state 1 and time-state 2, ∑{T1-T2}, equates to the information contained in the state change.

The additional spatiotemporal volume to contain the soul would be problematic, including its associated energetic properties. On another level of analysis, the informational content in that which exists would require more information for the existence of billions of souls. 

Even more problematic, the claims for these souls, traditionally so-called, require a formulation of a divine architect who, on this basis, would be wholly wasteful for a holy being – by definition imperfect. 

Do not mistake me, I believe in souls, as stated in "Soul Ensoulment - Not I have a soul, But I am a soul." They need proper framing. Onto the problem or the problems as they were, salvation remains foundational to most major religions. A problem exists. You need salvation from this, e.g., as a sinner et cetera.

The questions remain as to the survivability of the notion of the soul in a transcendentalist manner. The field of theology dealing with this is called soteriology. Either rituals and ceremonies can save someone, individual efforts, or the help from ‘above’ can do it. 

If a person, and if a problem for the person, then, inevitably, there will be salvation awaiting them if they choose the right path. All manner of religious systems proposes this. In North America, we see the predominance of Christianity and its salvation by works, by faith, by Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross.

In the Middle East and North Africa region, we see Islam. Salvation through the submission to the divine Will of Allah with salvation only granted upon the mercy of Allah alone. There is no other way. Given the global demographic of religious believers, especially in the Abrahamic religions, we can find this within the context of half of the population of the planet. 

Soteriology, truly, is the crux upon which global ideology rests firmly. People desire life after physical life. They want to escape the body. They believe in a naïve, metaphysical soul. They want to cheat the fates, nature, and the laws of it. 

Yet, here we exist, like froth on a stone tossed into eternity floating alone, together, as has been extrapolated by modern research into the biblical narratives, especially Professor Francesca Stavrakopoulou, very little, probably, is factual. One could make safe claims about the supernatural claims of other religious traditions.

The soteriological arguments for these faiths rest on ungrounded certainties without a proper warrant. The holy texts must be true. The divine figures must be divinely inspired, even made of some divine essence or substance. Sin must be actual. 

Sin in the Bible includes pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath, and sloth. Hamartiology is the study of sin. Its origins, effects on life, and on one’s self afterlife. These sins, in the parlance of theology, become expiated, as in expiation or the cleansing of the sins. 

Grace is imparted, as in impartation or something granted. Sin is covered or cleansed; grace is imparted or granted to the newly born Christian, as an example. This is the idea of redemption at the Cross. Soteriology, hamartiology, expatiation, impartation, and redemption, and so on, all biblical direct claims or extra-biblical interpretations. 

A sin is an act offensive against God. These offenses against God get tallied and marked against a person and mar their soul, in a manner of speaking. Within this framework, the sacrifice of a God-man at the Cross redeems Mankind’s sins with the grace of Christ.

Once more, all are founded within the assertions of this text. 

God sure made things difficult for salvation with such a rich lexicon and confusing structure. More seriously, if the premises upon which the theologies ground themselves become subject to a profuse lack of confirmation or an apparent systematic virtual disconfirmation without affirmative evidence over decades, then the, rather obvious, tentative conclusion – to date, and more reasonable – would be the rejection of their empirics or claims to truth. 

Furthermore, with the rejection of such bases, the claims within soteriology become conditionally subject to such scrutiny, too. No veracity to the textual claims or supernaturalistic historicity; therefore, no necessary God in such a written form, no Yeshua as saviour, no Cross as redemptive device, no sin needing saving from, so no soteriology for half of the world’s population. It’s not impartation or expiation, but a fabrication. 

What happens to soteriology in this framework? It vanishes. The naturalistic and digital philosophies of the world take place now. Yet, the questions remain about the richness of the theological landscape. For one, it’s dying. For two, astrology continues its fantasy-march, too, and retains a rich, complex internal structure disconnected from reality as well. 

Theology continues in such a manner as with astrology. It doesn’t matter anymore. It’s only a matter of playing out a centuries-long end game. With the natural before us and the informational in us, perhaps, our options sit with the knowledge of our evolved capacities and limitations.

These capabilities and boundaries set the functionality and structures of the human organism. Our cognitive capacities sit within this range, too. Thusly, the only Sin is no sin, while functional, civilized human life requires education of the mind, training of the body, and conditioning of the heart. Our evolved drives can work against this at times. 

In this light, we do not need saving from an external source but require an understanding of our evolved selves and the necessity for adaptation for a modern society. In turn, this means the only path forward for soteriology is one directed on the self to save oneself and others from, well, oneself.

Drug addictions, poor hygiene habits, lack of education, poor decorum, cross-cultural insensitivity, bad nutrition, lack of clarity in writing and speech, and the like, these amount to the ‘sins’ or the wrong behaviours and psychology in most social contexts for a civilized human being.

Soteriology in this sense becomes autosoteriology founded in the natural sciences and evolving to various flavours of civilized sensibilities within the universalist ethic of individual responsibility tied to social awareness and responsibility. 

With this, soteriology dies, and so with it, theology, and the freethought march of the secular continues apace with autosoteriology as a guidepost.

Founder of In-Sight Publishing and Editor-in-Chief of In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. He is an Independent Journalist and Researcher. Jacobsen works for science and human rights, especially women’s and children’s rights. He considers the modern scientific and technological world the foundation for the provision of the basics of human life throughout the world and the advancement of human rights as the universal movement among peoples everywhere. 

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