On The Issue: “The Spiritual Controls the Physical”

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    On a more serious note, for the sake of knowledge, let us interrogate this claim:
    “The spiritual controls the physical”
    (If you don’t like reading long posts, you can stop reading now.)
    The first challenge is to ascertain what exactly those who make the statement of the Spiritual controlling the physical mean by the word “Spiritual”.
    Of course, the general notion of “spiritual” is something that is immaterial. But if we must make sense of what immaterial is, we must have to narrow it down to something.
    So, when the word “spiritual” is used, are they talking about the soul as spiritual, Or the human spirit, or even God?
    Knowledge and idea are also immaterial, are they talking of knowledge as the spiritual element that controls the physical?
    Again, the word “spiritual” can also be used for the devil, and indeed what Africans refer to as juju, magical powers, or anything they cannot see or explain. Is that what they mean?
    If we must get a clearer interrogation, then, it is necessary we pick each of the things that could be said to be spiritual and see how true it is that they control the physical.
    1. The Soul/Spirit: does the soul or spirit control the physical?
    You would have noticed one other major problem, which is the word “physical”, what do they mean by “physical”? Does the soul or spirit control our eating, our drinking, our driving, our defecating, and our dressing? Is that not what we mean by physical?
    You can even take it a step further in trying to analyze what is responsible for our ability to breathe. The oxygen we breathe in, is it part of the “spiritual”? Why do the eye see, the nose smell, and the ears hear? What is responsible for that? In summary, is it the ability to perform these “human” acts that are referred to as “the spiritual controlling the physical?”
    2. Knowledge/Idea: we all know that knowledge or idea is immaterial. When we THINK of our THOUGHTS or remember why we FORGOT what we FORGOT, we are simply accessing our immaterial selves.
    The same goes for ideas. For example, the idea of a table is first conceived in our “heads” before we bring it to concrete reality. To build a house, a car, or even to write a post, we first conceive them as ideas before they come to the physical. Is this what Africans mean when they say, the spiritual controls the physical? I don’t think so.
    For if it is so, I can conceive the idea to kill a person, but I will need a gun or poison or something physical. But I think what people who make that statement of the Spiritual controlling the physical mean is different. To them, I can conceive to kill someone for whatever reason, and I just sit in my shrine or room or “Altar” and command the person to die, and the person dies wherever he or she is.
    Is that a possibility?
    Truth is, no created being has that power, for if they do, they have become God, but I know proponents will still argue. So I leave it like that.
    3. God/Devil: does God as a spiritual being control the physical? Does the devil control the physical?
    Here, when people say the spiritual controls the physical, let’s be honest, do they really mean to say “God controls the physical?” I don’t think they mean to say, God. And even if they do, they won’t deny the fact that even though God is in charge of the universe, he left us with freedom such that our actions are solely our responsibilities.
    If we take it also further, does God or the devil controls the physical in the sense that whatever we do, and whatever decisions we take are solely not ours but God’s? So, how can anyone be held responsible for anything, good or bad? It then means, whatever you think you are doing in the physical, it is not actually you doing it. . . It is controlled by someone, someone called “spiritual.”
    To be clear, God as per God is the only one that can CONTROL the physical. . . That is if we truly understand the word “control”, but fortunately or unfortunately, he gave us the freedom to be in charge of the world and our decisions.
    4. Juju, magical powers, etc: I think (correct me if I am wrong), this is what Africans mean whenever they quote the phrase “the spiritual controls the physical.” It is usually about something diabolical.
    I dare to say this. . . While there could be unseen forces and powers, no single created agent that is possessing any so-called spiritual power, has the ability to use such power to absolutely control the spiritual and physical reality of another created agent.
    In this case, we can make a distinction between the word “control” and the word “manipulate.” They are not the same thing. While control removes responsibility from you, manipulation on the other hand makes you responsible still for your actions.
    What I think most of you are trying to say is manipulation. This is why hypnosis is possible or brainwashing is possible. In this case, the one manipulating cannot be certain of the outcome because the agent he or she is manipulating never lost control of his or her “beingness.”
    My concluding lines:
    While it is right to say God CAN control the physical, it is too ambiguous to say the spiritual controls the physical.
    While I can agree that evil forces or created agents can manipulate another created agent, it is impossible for a created being to CONTROL the spiritual and physical reality of another created being. Very impossible!
    Now I ask you when you say the spiritual controls the physical, what exactly do you mean? Over to you. . . Take your time and educate me. Tag me if possible.
    Fr. Kelvin Ugwu
    Fr. Kelvin Ugwu
    Fr Kelvin Ugwu MSP is an influential Nigerian Catholic priest on a mission in The Gambia.

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