There are sound arguments for believing in Life after Death

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Last updated: April 1, 2019

Resurrection is a unique view of life after death where human do indeed die as by nature humans are mortal. We all have a finite life span! There are several arguments that support life after death and the first is the concept of Reincarnation/Resurrection which is split into two categories of Materalistic and Dualistic. One view is that there is no disembodied soul that survives death and carries on living rather we die and after a period of time God brings us back to life with an identical body.This is a materialistic view because it sees the body as an essential part of life and the soul isn’t separate to it. The other view of reincarnation suggests that we are resurrected in spiritual form in another realm- a Dualistic view however not in the same way as Plato or Descartes would understand it as they would have seen the soul and body as completely separate entities.

Several theologians have come up with theodicy’s that highlight this and in my view John Hicks “Replica” theory is most successful as he uses his theory to explain the coherence of bodily resurrection (Materalistic view) to signify the reappearance of a person who is essentially the same as a person who has just died – this person is seen to be a replica of the first, for example Man “A” is in London and suddenly dies.At the same moment man “B” appears in New York, has the same memories, personality and physical looks as man “A”. They are the same in every way! It is therefore coherent to say that “A” and “B” is the same person; “B” is a replica of “A”. From this he went on to say that it is possible that when man “A” dies his replica appears/is resurrected in another universe, time and space. It is not actually logically possible for this to take place after a previous embodied existence!This is due to time and space being connected, in order for the afore mention advent to take place there would have to be another “space and time” in existence so actually logically Man “B” (replica) wouldn’t be resurrected before or after the pervious life of Man “A” (original) in time or space. Hick gets around this problem by saying that it isn’t physically possible to synchronise the clocks and calendars of each and every “world” and that in reality there is a single timeline that contains each and every timeline.

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There are many problems raised by the replica body theory for is a person is replicated, they are not the same person but in reality a carbon copy – even though identical there are a duplicate and at the end of the day a copy is a copy! Another problem is that of continuity as it is broken at the point of death and replication, as for a moment in time the person didn’t exist. It isn’t possible for two existences to overlap and throws into doubt the self of the replica. However Steven T.Davis suggests that it maybe in human nature to have such gaps but concludes that we don’t have any experience of this nature as the only true “Gap” is death and as death is the end it cannot be experienced.

Immortality is another argument used when talking about life after the death and is used mainly in reference to the soul – Immortality of the Soul (Dualism) There is a material body and a non physical soul which seems to be in conflict with scientific view regarding Humans as physical entities; this needs the understanding of the human psyche from the physical persptive, eg; Schizophrenia can be sorted with drugs.Biology for example bases all examples of human kind from the physical indeed evolutionary biology seeks to give a complete explanation for both physical body and physiological behaviour, eg: Altruistic behaviour can be explained in the context of evolution as a survival method For dualists such as Plato their approach to the idea of mind and body is that the mind determines the personality and that in reality the body is just a “home” for the soul. The body is contingent (dependent) and so will die and decay but because the mind is made of higher forms such as truth and goodness, it is immortal!Plato writes that the soul is a substance and therefore immortal -this view came from his theory of Forms (ideas).

Plato also says that for everything in existence there is the perfect form (for each man there is the ideal man, for each Dog the ideal Dog etc. ) Ideas are not just merely physical so must also belong to the Spiritual Realm which is actually more real than the material one. This is due to the soul being able to grasp the concept of ideas unlike the body which relies on sense-impressions (smell, taste, experience! The soul is capable of knowing truths beyond the physical. For him, knowledge was the recollection of acquaintances that we had with forms; before the soul was imprisoned in the body. Aristotle had another take on the immortal soul, he considered the soul to be the part of the body that gave life and was what turned any physical form into a living organism (a Cat has a catty soul and a human has a human soul). Soul and body are inseparable; the soul develops a person’s skills, character, and mood but cannot survive death.Body and soul are a unity so when the body dies the soul dies – this appears to be a materialistic view however Aristotle believed that body and soul were different.

Humans have a soul or self that is capable of intellectual life. Only humans can reflect on feelings and sensations and understand truth and kindness- eternal truths! For the ancient Greeks, the psyche (emotions/feelings) were on the body side of dualism which means that it’s the body that feels and the mind that thinks so for instance the body will feel the pains of hunger but it will be the mind that will dwell on the feelings and idea of hunger.For the Greeks, mental activity is different from bodily activity-this is the aspect of the soul that Aristotle said survived death. Aristotle is seen to be a dualist in that he sees the soul as different from the physical body. However, he can also be seen as a materialist as he also says that the body and soul are dependent; the whole soul doesn’t survive the body. Surprisingly, it is possible to be very sympathetic to this notion of the soul.

If we accept that it is possible in the not to distance future to create Artificial Intelligence (AI), perhaps even in the human form such as Data from Star Trek. We could say that not only is AI is very human like but is actually capable of surpassing humanity in its ability to contemplate universal truths such as love, justice and truth. So could it be said that upon death/destruction of the AI, that it has a soul that then goes on to have an immortal soul? I would say no.

Though there seems to be a clear distinction between the physical aspects and its mental capacity in which to contemplate universals. We would not seriously say that this was a serious argument for an immaterial separate from the body soul. In the context of life after death, it could be argued that Aristotle’s notion of the soul is largely irrelevant as it just confuses the issue by suggesting that there is another layer to being human or any life form when actually to all intensive purposes all that there seem to be needed is the physical body!

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