Blade Runner and the Resurrection

Sorry for the clickbait title, but I’ll try to tie it all together somehow. Just thinking out loud, so feel free to throw slings and arrows …

All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in the rain.

Is there a “self” if memory is lost? All of us have heard the painful stories told by relatives of those who suffer from Alzheimer’s. Pascal noted long ago, “Memory is necessary for all the operations of reason.” Who are we, then, if all our memory/experience is wiped away?

I’m thinking about the Resurrection and the nature of God. Memory, to me, seems tied up with the physical brain, so what happens to memory when the physical brain decomposes? How is it reconstituted? I tend toward the belief that the human being is a holistic creature. We don’t have a soul so much as we are a soul. But even if one holds the traditional belief that humans are body and soul, and the soul goes to be with God at death, then how is the consciousness preserved without an embodied self? If we equate spirit with thought, then what happens to the spirit when the brain is unconscious, as during deep sleep or coma? Does the spirit depart and then return upon wakefulness? That doesn’t make sense, so I think it’s a mistake to equate consciousness with the spirit.

Perhaps the question is unanswerable, but it seems to me the answer is in God’s nature. Our lives and experience are not lost in God, because God remembers every moment. Abraham was called the father of faith and a “friend of God.” God doesn’t forget his friends. He recalls every instance of memory and is capable of restoring it to us in its wholeness. Every individual self can be restored to its last conscious state because God will not let go of his friends. He remembers every tear and every memory. Nothing is ever lost on him.

Fire away.

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The only self I really believe in is the choices we make and you cannot separate the choices we make from the context in which they are made. Are memories apart from free will choices in any way necessary for an existent self? I don’t think so. A long nightmare of torment devoid of choices can be discarded without any loss of self – thrown away as nothing more than a forgotten nightmare. Which is not to say that the circumstances of a choice we did make was not a terrifying nightmare… these on the other hand may be quite an essential part of who we are.

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The greatest film until The Book of Life.

If there is transcendence, then the only source we have, probably speculative, rational faith in itself, says that we will have glorified bodies. Glorified brains. Glorified pre-frontal lobes. Glorified medial prefrontal cortices, posterior cingulate cortices and angular gyri; that “play a central role in the emotional processes that influence personal moral decision-making,” - Raine and Yang. I imagine everything we are prior to dementia robbing us will be downloaded in to that glorified matrix. All with equal total recall? Equal prominence. Obviously not. We’ll all awaken on the Plains of Heaven on glorified Earth. As we have been doing at least since Jesus’ resurrection. And we will be gently de-re-constructed. Love is that good, that efficacious, that powerful.

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I like this idea. So God is like “the cloud” so that even when our hard drives fail, our data will still exist somewhere else… or something?

Several years back I enjoyed a book called “Ongoingness” by Sarah Manguso, who writes about keeping a diary in order to hold on to time and memories as best as she could. But this made me think of that book and how much fear we often hold at the idea of being forgotten:

My life, which exists mostly in the memories of the people I’ve known, is deteriorating at the rate of physiological decay. A color, a sensation, the way someone said a single word—soon it will all be gone. In a hundred and fifty years no one alive will ever have known me.

Being forgotten like that, entering that great and ongoing blank, seems more like death than death.

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I agree that the “self” is formed by the choices we make. But memory is nothing more or less than a recollection of those choices and the particular contexts in which they were made.

You wax poetic. Will I also have a glorified gut and anus? haha. I enjoy your thoughts a lot more when you bother to unpack them for the masses (i.e. me). :wink: It’s for some reason not that hard for me to consider God reconstructing my glorified “spiritual body” (whatever that might mean), but a resurrected mind is hard to imagine. The glorified matrix is a good analogy.

Another good metaphor. The Spirit’s localized presence – the shekinah glory – is described often as a cloud. My favorite instance in Luke 9:

33 As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, “Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (He did not know what he was saying.)

34 While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and covered them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. 35 A voice came from the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.”

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For me it’s definitely one of those unanswerable things. The scriptures don’t lay it out snd science can’t provide s answer.

But whatever it is, I agree that it comes from God. The same way God could have made descendants of Abraham from stones I believe when he resurrects us he will simply be able to do it. It’s a matter of faith and so only speculation is there.

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Well, a glorified body can obviously do, front, manifest a body. One with wounds. That feels peckish. Eats real barbecued fish and real honeycomb. What happens to it after that?! The mind boggles. I always said I’d be happy being a lavatory attendant in Heaven,

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Yes, I’m purely speculating. Can’t help myself sometimes. Whatever the ultimate answer is,

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

I am content to be last in the door.

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I forgot to mention that this sounds like a great book. Sounds like Proust and Remembrance of Things Past. This line about the “great and ongoing blank” is classic.

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I think speculation is perfectly fine. It’s often used as just rambling but I feel it’s philosophical reasoning trying to better fill in the gaps. I do it as well.

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I’m not familiar with Laura’s recommended book and have never read any Proust but I do feel an affinity for that expression. Am “I” more the record of the ways in which that blank has been filled in at various points along the way or am I the blank itself, the ongoing locus of experience in whatever shape it might take? I’ve thought so long as we are content that however the blank gets filled in now, later, looking back, it will almost always take on a just so quality of inevitability. At the risk of sounding Buddhist (which I’m not), maybe we get just a little too attached to all the particulars of our biographies? If there was such a thing as a spirit, what would that consist of, the potential for experience or the record of past experience? Whew, maybe I’d better lay off the Oxycodone.

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Yes, because there in fact two selves. One is the true self or the soul. The other is the personal self. The personal self arises as we are enchanted by this physical reality and begin to identify with the body and the ideas in the Mind.

The personal self or ego is an ephemeral being. It is however dependent on ideas and memories. If the memories are lost there is still a self because it is the true self that is the real experiencer. However, the experience of being in this physical reality becomes current only when memories are lost.

Some interesting thoughts here. Thanks.

I think it’s probably true that memory/experience is essential to our sense of self, that without memory we’d just be a bunch of algorithms struggling for dominance in a world made of endlessly recycled baryonic matter. Memory is what makes each of us unique, similar on the outside to our fellow human beings, but on the inside, one of a kind, known at the deepest levels only to ourselves and to God. Memory shapes our present and our future. It shapes how we learn and why we learn. It shapes all our relationships. It’s the foundation for conscience, respect, and empathy. It’s the starting point for faith, because we can only be in relationship with God if we remember how much we need God’s love.

So, yes, it’s difficult and extremely painful to watch our loved ones lose their memories at a biological, human level. I’m at this point now with my father, who turns 97 next week. I understand that at the biological level, he’s starting to lose access to the memories encoded in his physical brain. But I also believe that at the soul level (which is to say, at the quantum biological level that few of us have any conscious awareness of, let alone a scientific understanding of), his most important human memories are already so fully entwined in the tapestry of his soul that they won’t be lost when he dies.

What are his most important human memories? I have no idea, because sometimes the memories that have changed us the most are so personal and so intense that we’ve never shared them with anyone else during our human lifetime. If we’re lucky, we’ve been able to trust God with these memories and experiences, to learn to parse the memories and glean amazing insights about God’s nature by listening to the voice of our ongoing human experiences. And if we’ve chosen a different path, the path of shutting out the Kingdom Jesus taught, well, the important memories are still part of our inheritance as children of God, and we’ll still take them Home with us when we die.

I believe a loving God would never take anything away from us – especially memories and experiences – that help us better understand ourselves, each other, God’s Creation, and God’s own Heart. So even when we die as human beings, and our physical brains decompose, our “true” memories are packed up in our “soul suitcase” so we can be ready for the next stage of our relationship with God.

I agree.

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I take the blank as being forgotten. It’s like each of us is a placeholder in the web of present human experience, but when the last person who actually knew us is gone, our individual existence is forgotten and lost in the mass of humanity past. That’s a Hindu/Buddhist thought, for sure. Even if one achieves nirvana, individual existence merges with the universal spirit. The counterpart in Christian theology is called “theosis” in the Orthodox church, indicating likeness to or union with God. But the individual personality isn’t lost in the process. There is diversity within the unity.

A footnote to this thought is that having one’s name remembered by history is not the same as immortality. How much do we really know of Shakespeare? We certainly don’t know him in the way his friends or relatives did. His name and work live in history, but the man is lost in the “blank.”

I don’t think there is a true self and then some other self residing within my mind or body. Can’t agree with you there.

Yes, well said. Some additional thoughts: Memory is the record of our individual experience, but part of our common human experience is the instinct to share our psychological state with others. We want others to know who we truly are, and we want to know them in the same way. This inborn desire can only be met in Christ. As Paul put it in his exposition of “love” in 1 Cor. 13: “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”

I wouldn’t agree with equating the soul to a physical phenomenon like a “quantum biological level,” but I can agree with most everything else you say.

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For me, this is the very heart of what Jesus was trying to say. The human struggle, repeated generation after generation, is to know and to love yourself more clearly, which is the only path to knowing and loving others, including God, more clearly. But in order to know yourself more clearly, you have to know God more clearly at the same time. So it’s quite a paradox.

Going back to the “clickbait title,” Blade Runner and its sequel, Blade Runner 2049, speak to the deepest themes about human memory, individuation, and redemption. The Battlestar Galactica reboot is also built around these themes (as are many other fine stories, but I happen to be “sparked,” so to speak, by the rather fearless approach to redemption often seen in science fiction).

About the nature of the soul, which none of us is in a position to adequately answer because we don’t know the physics of it, I just want to say that I don’t view the soul as a physical phenomenon governed solely by the laws of classical physics. Far from it. But I do believe there are many aspects of God’s Creation – interactions of consciousness with fields and particles and gravity and even Divine Memory – that would explain the nature of the soul if we could understand it. Which we can’t, though we try and try (and argue and argue).

One thing seems certain, though: the soul seems desperate to know and be known. I don’t think this need can be separated from what it means to love.

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One thing I wonder is about the witch and Samuel. He seemed to have some understanding of who he was.

Though I wonder if it was a vision. There is some debate that the Hebrew language is nodding towards that event having been a vision as opposed to an actual ghost. But I’ve not dug into the topic of “soul sleeping” enough to be certain how I feel it plays a role in conditional immortality which all kinds of ties into this discussion.

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Loved that series! The plot twist that the Cylons believed in one god and the humans believed in a pantheon was endlessly fascinating to me.

The instinct to share our thoughts and selves with others reaches far back into our evolutionary past. Michael Tomasello has spent his career studying the differences between primate and human communication, particularly how human infants acquire language. Among primates, vocalizations are inborn, but gestures are learned. Their communication is dyadic (one-to-one) and mainly consists of requesting specific behaviors from others. Human communication, on the other hand, is entirely learned. More significantly, it is triadic and referential, focused on sharing information and psychological states with others. (We say thinks like, “Look at that beautiful view.”) Tomasello identified the instinct to share our psychological states with others as providing the evolutionary motivation for humans to speak. Ultimately, this sharing of ourselves undergirds the Christian understanding of love. As to how we acquired this instinct, I attribute it to God.

Samuel and the witch are above my pay grade! On “soul sleep,” I can’t imagine a disembodied conscious existence, so tend to believe that we “sleep” in the grave until the resurrection. We’re not aware of the passage of time during physical sleep, being unconscious, so no time at all would have passed in our consciousness between death and being “awakened” at the resurrection. Having said all that, I still haven’t decided the question for myself, either.

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There is no separate entity residing in the mind or body. It is the same self but identifying with the ideas and the body reactions. To give some example.

I used to play Diablo 1 and 2 and some of the PC games. Some of them I became engrossed to the point of identifying with my avatar strongly. In fact on a few occasions I nearly fell off my chair trying to dodge arrows being fired at me on the screen. When I had to grab the desk to stop from fall off the chair of course I regain my true identity.

This is the same thing. There are no two separate selves.

Love of self is not a struggle humans go through. Before we love God we are slaves of sin, under the power of the god of this world. We are enemies of God and children of wrath. Our biggest idol is self. Because we love ourselves, we covet the things of this world in direct disobedience to God’s command not to covet. We lie, steal, fornicate, commit adultery, murder, dishonor our parents and worship everything except God. 2 Tim 3:1 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them."

After we die with Christ through his cross we are new creations, recreated in Christ. This new creation is now to be fully consumed with love for the one who died and rose again to save us from the power of sin. Jesus said to take up the cross and follow Him. The cross is the instrument of execution, we put to death the deeds of the flesh by His Spirit so that the life of Christ lives in us. It is all Christ. No love of self, as the scripture above says, “People will be lovers of themselves”. This is not a commendable trait.

When Jesus said we should love our neighbors as ourselves, all he was saying was we should do unto others as we would have them do to us. We feed and clothe ourselves, so we should help those in need as we would want others to help us in our need. That is not learning to love ourselves, that is just doing to others what we naturally do for ourselves.

Before Christ, the old man is wicked and a lover of self. In Christ we die to self and live for God.
That is our freedom. That is salvation at work in us now. That is the grace, unmerited favor that the Father gives us through Jesus’s cross. I will love him more than my father, mother, sister, brother and my own life. Before Christ, my life is forfeit, after Christ’s cross, my life is, CHRIST IN ME.

Gal 6:14 May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

I’d always heard it was the for the sake of gossiping about others so that we could trust larger numbers of individuals.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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