AA asks: “Is our spirit considered energy in a scientific way? One that we cannot see with our eyes but we know it is there. How does our Christian view differ from the new age movement? I think of our spirit as energy that cannot be destroyed and it is created by God.”
First of all, the human spirit is not considered by science to be a form of energy. Scientists have long tried to discover what composes the human spirit (or soul) but to no avail. Some claim the body becomes lighter after death, suggesting this is because the person’s soul has left the body. This theory implies that the soul (or spirit) is something material; however, this has never been substantiated.
For the purposes of our discussion, let’s start with the understanding that the word “spirit” is often used interchangeably with the word “soul.” In this sense, it’s important to understand the nature of the soul.
“From a spiritual perspective, it is the soul that is the life-principle of the body, not something else. Consequently, there is no spiritual ‘life energy’ animating the body,” write the apologists at Catholic Answers. “Any energy used as part of the body’s operations—such as the electricity in our nervous systems—is material in nature, not spiritual. . . . Since this is contrary to Christian theology, it is inappropriate for Christians to participate in activities based on this belief.”
What does it mean to be “spiritual” and is this a kind of energy?
Again, the answer is no. “Spirit” refers to a “non-material” substance, such as what we mean when we say that God and the angels are “pure spirit.” They do not have a bodily substance at all. This is unlike energy which is a substance, albeit an unusual one.
Therefore, our souls (or spirits) are spiritual — and our bodies have substance which makes them corporeal.
But here is where we have to be careful to avoid any idea of duality because humans are a soul/body composite.
As the Catechism teaches, “The Human person, created in the image of God, is a being at once corporeal and spiritual” (CCC #362).
“The unity of soul and body is so profound that one has to consider the soul to be the ‘form’ of the body: i.e., it is because of its spiritual soul that the body made of matter becomes a living, human body; spirit and matter, in man, are not two natures united, but rather their union forms a single nature” (CCC #365).
We must always remember that man, though made of body and soul, is always “a unity” (CCC #364).
How does this differ from the New Age perception of “spirit” as an energy force? This is best explained in the pontifical document, Jesus Christ, the Bearer of the Water of Life:
“The New Age god is an impersonal energy, a particular extension or component of the cosmos; god in this sense is the life-force or soul of the world. This is very different from the Christian understanding of God as the maker of heaven and earth and the source of all personal life. God is in himself personal, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who created the universe in order to share the communion of His life with creaturely persons” (Sec. 4).
This blog will give you a more in depth look at New Age energy forces and how they differ from scientifically credible sources of energy.