Q: How Can There be Life After Death? Featured

Saturday, 28 February 2015 22:54


brainHello, I have a couple of questions concerning our souls.  If consciousness can be determined to depend on the physical brain, does this mean our consciousness ceases to exist after death? Isn't it obvious that if the brain is damaged in any way that it directly affects our consciousness immediately.  Also, if we have souls shouldn't I remember pre-physical experiences prior to my actual birth? Additionally why are we the only beings with souls? If we have souls, surely other coexisting life around us should have souls as well. Currently I feel as if the only sense of living is due to our brain in a strict sense, and that once the mass of nervous matter is gone and eroded that it is the ultimate end with no afterlife. Is the afterlife simply a concept out of fear from death? Emotions as well are to account for hormonal levels and electrical impulses throughout different regions of the brain, there emotions must be purely reliant on biochemical activity. How does this reconcile in any way with the afterlife? Lastly, (this is more of an off topic question) how could have God created me if I am actually the result of reproduction from two other human beings. Thank you.


On your first question, you appear to be making an assumption that I do not agree with, which is that our consciousness depends entirely on a physical brain.  Actually, you may not be assuming this, but simply stating it as a premise.  You are asking a question that philosophers have contemplated for a long time.  It is the debate between monism and a kind of dualism.  DesCartes was a famous dualist.  He believed that humans have a body and a mind and that the mind and body are separate entities.   Like he famously said, "I think, therefore I Am."  He believed that our essential self is our mind, not our body--that our mind occupies our body.   Of course, scientific materialists are strick monists.   This philosophy proposes that we are a body--that consciousness is an epiphenomenon (that it is only an apparent but not an actual phenomenon) and that human beings are bodies with neural networks and neurotransmitters.  To the monists love, consciousness, soul, purpose, ultimate truth, justice and spirit are all meaningless words.

I definitely do not agree with this atheist/determinist/scientific materialist view.  I believe that I HAVE a body, not that I am a body.   Obviously, the Bible proposes that we are souls who have a body.  Jesus taught that we exist apart from our bodies and that we will live, spiritually, even though our bodies die (John 11:25).  If that is true, then we are conscious not simply because of neurons firing.  We will continue to be conscious even when our bodies die.  Our souls are eternal and are not physical, although while we are in the body, our minds do interface with the physical world through our brains.  It is true that if our brains do become unconscious when it is injured, but we do not cease to exist, our soul does not cease to exist and our consciousness does not end when our brains become unconscious.   Science supports the idea that our consciousness does not end when our brains are unconscious, as the brain continues to produce brain waves when we are unconscious.

I suggest you listen to a talk available at the web site: Neuroscience: Room for the Soul? by John Beggs.  If you cannot find it, I will help you.  It is also at my other website.  Dr. Beggs is a physicist who does neuroscience research.  He argues that neuroscience leaves room for the soul--that the brain is a physical organ through which the human soul interacts with the physical world.

Should we remember things which happened before our souls were joined to our bodies?  Apparently not.  In fact, because our brains and thoughts were so completely different when we were infants, we cannot even remember the first three or four years of our lives in the physical body.  Memory is a physical thing which is contained in our brain, although it may also have a non-physical component as well.  In any case, most Christian theologians believe that the Bible implies that our souls do not pre-exist our bodies.  The early Christian theologian Origen speculated that human souls pre-exist our bodies, but he had a tendency to speculate theologically quite a bit and most Christian teachers reject this.

You speculate that if human beings have a soul, then other animals should have a soul as well.  This is not an unreasonable proposition and I certainly cannot disprove your speculation, but, for what it is worth, the Bible seems rather strongly to oppose this idea.  In Genesis chapter 1 God tells us that we human beings were created in God's image.  Exactly what this means is not completely clear, but I believe our being in the image of God includes our having a spirit and a soul, as well as self-consciousness, having a conscience, having free will and the ability to make moral decisions.  Animals do not have any of these and in Christianity they do not have eternal souls.  Why are we the only ones to have souls?  The reason is that God chose to give us souls and did not choose to give any other of his creations soul.  God, being God, has determined this.  I am afraid that you may have to ask God the answer to this question!

You state that in your opinion humans do not exist apart from a functioning brain.  I will admit that this is a reasonable conclusion, but I reject it because the Bible says differently and there is solid evidence that the Bible is inspired by God.  Jesus raised the dead, walked on water, healed the deaf and the blind and was himself raised from the dead.  Jesus believed in soul and in eternal life, so I do as well.  I definitely cannot prove this scientifically and I understand that your thinking here is reasonable and rational, but based on the life of Jesus, on his fulfilling messianic prophecies, on his perfect life and his miracles, I believe that your are not correct.   We exist apart from our bodies.  I have a body,  I am not a body.  You do not have to agree, but this is how I see it.

About your last question, God created us in that he created the universe, he created the physical laws which allowed galaxies, stars and planets to evolve naturally, he created life and he put a soul and a spirit into human beings.  God created life itself and therefore he is the author of all life.   If I write a book and you read that book, you are reading a book that I created, even though, in fact, I did not create the book.  I did not put the ink to paper and I had nothing at all to do with the actual physical production of the book, but still, I wrote the book.  God created all life and he created the physical processes through which life is able to reproduce.  In this sense, he creates each of us, even if he uses a "natural" physical process such as sex and meiosis to create the physical body of a human being.  God created me but he used natural processes to create me.  If it were not for God, I certainly would not exist so he gets more credit than my parents do in creating me as far as I am concerned.

John Oakes
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