Where we find ourselves starting somewhere else: with God, before any thing, creative but blocked because matter's matter (entity and energy) and the spirit otherwise: to do justice and love kindness, do to no one what you hate done to you, the law and the prophets, it turns out, real but not material. The first consequence of this distinction (given that we can get here from there, discover how the block was broken) is an enabling of the coalition of theism and naturalism, an odd coupling to be sure but its effect as a premise is breathtaking: by the rule of Ockham's amazing razor (retired, now we know there are more things and less in heaven and earth; we're down to two entities, God and the natural world) naturalistic explanations preclude those that take magic to work, and given naturalism science has nothing more to say. Creation can only be material, so objection to theism because there's no trace of Him is groundless.
"Spiritual entity" and "spiritual energy," however plausible, are absurd. There can be no such things. Theism is nearly unthinkable without the soul as an entity, but naturalism is unequivocal and if "a spirit" can't be there's an alternative: we are physical creatures configured to behave as if we were spirits clad in matter. The statement "there's a soul" is false, but all its consequences are true. Subtracting the physical leaves nothing, but, given it, the soul as metaphor for the self is adequate (in every conceivable sense precisely as if) and requisite: there's no literal answer to the question of the self and other metaphors are flawed, but this one covers all the ground.
Theism needs not the soul as an entity but immortality, which seems to require a "spirit" to be, but with personality intact in the brain's configuration (if you had a soul the physiology--all the country's computers linked by all the phones, right there in your pretty little head--would be redundant, might as well be oatmeal, but given the metaphor is expansive ground for theism), one could be transferred from death to the moment of redemption, there to appear big as life, twice as natural (yup it's her, all right; yup it's me, all right; is this heaven? was it hell?) without having passed the interval, each death at the end of time. This is easier said than done, of course, but so's DNA.
There's no afterlife (somewhere else), just life (here), and this is prelife, tunnel to the world to come, not for everyone but the rule is simple: choose life. Life lies ahead, with no way there but to give billions a taste, see if it suited them, if they took to it and who wouldn't? but there's a catch: choosing life lies in the recognition and behavioral affirmation of two absolutes, the autonomy of the self and the equivalence of the other, which held in conjunction preclude nonsense. Precisely: all value can be derived from a situation involving a self and an other, neither differentiated (by gender, age, race, standing, anything). The spirit is implicit in simple relation and paradigms presenting themselves as based in, bringing overriding meaning from socalled higher levels are caca. Nothing is larger than life. This is subtle, and full recognition may have been too much to ask, especially early on, but it comes down to empathy, plain as the nose on your face since we got here. For its acquisition we can always have been fairly held accountable. The only rule is Hillel's. The condition is domestic.
And bittersweet: the hope that humans should act as if they had souls goes largely unrealized in a world overrun with those laying their wills at any old feet and others imposing theirs at every opportunity. Why the world to come should need this particular tunnel to its entrance, terrors visited indiscriminately on those who run its gauntlet, is the oldest question in the book but evil's on new footing if there can only be creatures like us, born blank and free to draw conclusions, pick and choose, believe it or not. The metaphor of our making clears the way for creation only partly, since there can be no physical apprehension of the spirit and the obvious genesis, the world we'd expect of a holy God, wouldn't last but produce a denial of the reality of the spirit (its givenness apart from God, as opposed to its quite arbitrary prescription). Wide open to another interpretation, poof!paradise has a foregone conclusion, a dilemma requiring for resolution something very like humanity. Since this had to happen anyway, that didn't, but this had to happen just as if it had. The theodicy is a metaphor for reality, so metaphoric we stand on metaphoric ground and it's clear why the bush burned on, not up. The human condition's an infernally hard question, but it's also an answer.
The theodicy's what didn't happen (as the soul's what we're without):
the inexorability that denecessitated it is necessity here, where a favorable
outcome (consummation devoutly to be wished) would be independent confirmation
of the spirit, validating and mapping it to the nth degree. This
isn't the best of all possible worlds but the only one, direct result of
what would have happened otherwise, and in the design of the interface
the nature of the observer determines the structure of the manifold.
The universe as such comes into being on our arrival (color has no givenness)
and splits evenly at the eyes, its outer half spacetime, all those galaxies
and parsecs, its inner each single self, a within which takes priority.
It's literally true that who saves one saves a world and ditto for destroys.
No, we're not "pretty small in the scheme of things" but, contrariwise,
are the scheme of things.