Christian physicalism, What if the resurrection is just another me, but like a clone?


(Luca) #1

Hello everyone!
I have made a topic about how you guys envision heaven.
But through this i have thought of an issue. Without the immortal soul. Could it be that at the resurrection it won’t really be me? But a clone type thing? This link really does explain my problem:

http://www.metanexus.net/essay/christian-physicalism-and-personal-identity

Lets just say i am my consciousness. If we say that my consciousness is bound to my brain. When i die my brain is gone. So therefore also my consciousness. Then i am gone? What will be resurrected? What will be put back inside of the new body?

Sorry if this is very hard to understand. I have tried my best to explain my worries.


(Andrew M. Wolfe) #2

I understand your concern, I think, although the link you provided is long, and I admit I stopped reading after a few paragraphs. (It would be helpful if you wanted to lift out certain paragraphs that resonated with you, and paste them into a response here, to help others engage your question.)

I see this as a great mystery. Imagine the case of those who passed on millennia ago, perhaps without caskets. Even their bones have long since dissolved into the earth and their molecules have become part of the soil, of plant life, perhaps even part of other people, etc.

If we believe that God knows all things, and that He knows us at a deeply personal level, then we must believe that our identities are somehow hidden away in God’s mind, even if we may struggle with the idea of an immortal soul as such. When God creates the new heavens and the new earth, we believe He is able to reconstitute us somehow, in such a way that we will recognize that we are still who we were, down to the all the neurons that encode our pre-death memories.

Does this seem fantastical? No more so, I would venture, than the physical resurrection of Jesus, the virgin birth, the Trinity, and other articles of faith.

I file this away in the file, “Questions I will ask God in that day.” Meanwhile I embrace it as one of the mysteries of the faith. I don’t know that we can get further than that.


(Jay Johnson) #3

When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body… I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.

Eternal life certainly involves an embodied existence, although it will not be the “flesh and blood” physicality that we associate with our present bodies. Our present “natural body” is metaphorically compared to a seed, which yields no outward clue what the future plant will be. So, there is discontinuity, but there is also continuity between the seed and the plant. What the “spiritual body” will be, we cannot guess from its present seed-form, although we know it will not merely be a reprise of our present flesh-and-blood existence.

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments,
and his paths beyond tracing out!
“Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?”
“Who has ever given to God,
that God should repay them?”
For from him and through him and for him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen.


(Luca) #4

Finally, there is another problem. Gracia has argued that the principle of individuation is existence.43 Suppose, then, that during John’s earthly life, God made three replicas of him and infused his bundle of features into each one. Since each replica has its own distinct existence, each replica would be a different individual from John. This also explains why a replica of John in the afterlife would not be John, but a different individual. Murphy holds that a person’s attributes are dependent on a body for their existence. When that body dies the attributes pass out of existence. If existence is the principle of individuation then once John passes out of existence he is gone forever. Even if, in Heaven, God brought into existence a replica of John, the replica, because it has a new and thus a distinct act of existence, would be a different individual.

This is from the site.

I see what you are saying and that is my problem. If God makes me at the resurrection. The same thought process etc. Won’t it just be a replica of me? Sure my replica can have the memories of my life inserted into him but it won’t be me. Like i will still be gone. It’s instead him living on?


(Luca) #5

So i am the seed that will eventually cease to exist to make a plant that can belong in the kingdom of God?

So i am now just the person that will die and cease to exist. To make a spiritual body for the kingdom of God. But that won’t be me?

I am the perishable and i will never get to the imperishable?


(Jay Johnson) #6

Haha. No. I was speaking only of the body. Even if you believe that people do not have an immortal soul at birth, when the Holy Spirit indwells your body, now you are no longer only flesh-and-blood. Through union with Christ through the Spirit of God, you have experienced “spiritual birth” and have already crossed over from death to life. You now live by faith in the Son of God, who will preserve the essential “you” throughout eternity.

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Gal. 2:20


(Mervin Bitikofer) #7

Or here is another place where Paul writes on this (2 Corinthians between chapters 4 and 5) NRSV:

16 So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. 17 For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, 18 because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.
For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this tent we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling— 3 if indeed, when we have taken it off we will not be found naked. 4 For while we are still in this tent, we groan under our burden, because we wish not to be unclothed but to be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.

6 So we are always confident; even though we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord— 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 Yes, we do have confidence, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. 10 For all of us must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may receive recompense for what has been done in the body, whether good or evil.

So it would seem on this reading that we are “longing to be clothed with immortality” and the mortal is longing to be swallowed up by life. Since it is us mortals doing the longing, it would seem to still be us (but away from the body) who are clothed with immortality.

Given what this specific passage says, it does seem to favor a disembodied soul that can be “away from the body”. It is unclear to me how that can be reconciled with the notion of a physically resurrected body. But there it is. You can reach different conclusions by being selective of the passages (even just the Pauline passages) that you choose to read and choose to ignore. Perhaps we are temporarily away from our bodies (and with Christ) when we die, but then will eventually be reunited with our resurrected bodies at the end? That is probably how it is all spun by those who can’t abide not having an answer for everything.

Whatever it all turns out to be … Christ has got this for us.


(Luca) #8

I guess i am just overthinking it a bit! :stuck_out_tongue:
I just like to have everything complete and working together. I don’t like gaps.
I personally am putting all my eggs in using soul as the entire person/body rather than a disembodied soul’s basket. But i also like WLC’s view of a soul. Like that the brain is the piano and that my soul is the pianist.

I also don’t believe God would intend us to just be replicas. He also makes it clear that we are already into spiritual life if you accept Jesus.

As for what Paul meant with away from the body is to be with God. I look at it as sleep in a way.
When i fall asleep i seem to instantly wake up. Cause the time in between isn’t known to us.

Sorry if this topic was a bit of a waste of time!


(Mervin Bitikofer) #9

I should not have implied that it was as my tones suggested in my previous post. I owe you the apology. Anything that causes us to search through Scriptures together will probably not be a waste of time!


(Tom Larkin) #10

I have read through the article which deals mainly with philosophy and not with the Bible. The Bible distinguishes between the spirit and the flesh. The flesh is a driver toward sinful acts, the spirit with the help of the Holy Spirit which indwells believers helps us to reduce the sinful acts that we commit. (you can complete a web search for “Bible sin nature” or “Bible Holy Spirit” to get long lists of Biblical references). A good example of what happens when we die is in Colossians 3:
4 When Christ who is your[a] life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you:[b] sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

We lose the “flesh” and our sin nature with it (which will be great!)

A great Biblical example of the maintenance of “self” before and after death is Jesus. Jesus always was. (John 1:1 - In the beginning was the Word) He is referred to throughout the Old Testament as “The Angel of the Lord”. His person and identity are the same before the beginning of time, during his earthly ministry and after his earthly life (see the Book of “The Revelation”). During his earthly ministry he is self limited, (not omnipresent, e.g. the death of Lazarus) and not all knowing (e.g. “Only the Father knows the date and time…”), but otherwise the same person or identity.


(Luca) #11

Hmm let me try to ask it in a different way.
Those of you who believe in a soul as the unity of man. Do you think God will make a clone of you?
Or really you.
To those who believe in an immaterial soul : What do you think about what science says about consciousness?


#12

Don’t worry. You will still be you. Even now, your body is CONSTANTLY shedding worn-out cells and making new ones. And you get hair cuts, etc. You won’t be confused and you won’t have to take back your baby teeth, etc. Jus let God handle it.


#13

Have you already read John Polkinghorne’s treatment of these themes? I’m personally quite agnostic about that matter, but I do think his considerations about that are very interesting.

http://downloads.sms.cam.ac.uk/1191647/1191651.m4v

About “what science says about consciousness”, it really is an open question…I’ve seen many atheist/agnostic neuroscientists openly admit that we have absolutely no clue about how brain could possibly generate conscious experience (though they usually believe it does). It is called the “hard problem of consciousness” for a good reason. What we do have are atheists/materialists (which are very common among scientists) who personally believe consciousness is just some weird consequence of brain information processing, since any other option would not fit well with their worldview, but it is not really a scientifically proven statement, and I don’t think we can ever have a definite answer. But about God making clones, I really don’t think that is something Christians should worry about. I’m personally much more worried about the existence of God itself (I guess you could call me an agnostic theist for that matter), but once you assume that he does exist, it is really easy to conceive that he knows what it is that keeps people’s personal identity, whether it is an immaterial soul, the patterns of synapses in the brain, whatever…so it would be a very easy task for him to create a new body with the same personal identity (like Polkinghorne suggests), it really doesn’t matter if the cause is purely physical or not. We know for sure that something is responsible for conscious experience, since we experience it everyday, and as long as God knows precisely what that “something” is, I don’t see how that could really be a problem.


(Andrew M. Wolfe) #14

I personally think that, as tightly woven together as body and mind have been shown to be, consciousness itself is miraculous, or perhaps I could say it has its origins in God. I don’t think it can be reduced to pure physicality.

I remember the wonder I experienced when my first child was born. There were two beings — my wife and me — and then suddenly, inexplicably, there was this third being, who experienced life separately from me and my wife. There is a gradient sort of quality to this, of course — at birth, the child is not aware that it is individuated from its parents, but grows to understand that over the first year of life post-partum — but I felt it was miraculous nonetheless.

With God out of the picture, I agree, it would be nothing but a clone. But once you introduce God, who Himself is the Father and origin of that spark of consciousness, He is able to establish continuity.

Thank you for asking this question. It is not at all a waste of time. It’s a wonderful invitation to us all to reflect on some of life’s deepest mysteries and grapple with them. So thanks.


(George Brooks) #15

The Essene view of the person, according to the interpretation by Josephus, is that the components that make up the personality (some might use the term “soul” for this personality) can function without a brain.

Even the Egyptians had to believe this, since they disposed of the brain, while retaining the four following items from the body:

[1] Hapi, the baboon-headed god representing the north, whose jar contained the lungs and was protected by the goddess Nephthys

[2] Duamutef, the jackal-headed god representing the east, whose jar contained the stomach and was protected by the goddess Neith

[3] Imsety, the human-headed god representing the south, whose jar contained the liver and was protected by the goddess Isis

[4] Qebehsenuef, the falcon-headed god representing the west, whose jar contained the intestines and was protected by the goddess Serqet.

It is novel that the Egyptians, who perceived so many possible non-physical emanations of personality and awareness, still felt that ultimately the physical corpse and key parts of the corpse, were necessary to sustain a non-physical afterlife !!!
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The metaphysics of the Essenes appear to have been more heavily influenced by the Zoroastrians than other sects of Judaism - - and so they also inherited the Persian view that the body was less important than usually imagined by other world views.


#16

There’s nothing to prevent a Christian from proposing that consciousness is a material consequence of the brain as well. One could simply suggest that the pattern of biochemical activity will be later copied into a new medium during the resurrection process.

While we don’t have a step-by-step explanation for consciousness, we do have pretty good evidence that whatever it is, it seems to be strongly affected by material (chemical, physical) changes to the brain. So, scientists aren’t shooting completely in the dark when they seek to investigate consciousness as a material process.


#17

Timely! There’s a science fiction book recently adapted to a Netflix series, ‘Altered Carbon’. In that story, people’s brain patterns can be stored an re-imprinted to brains in other bodies. This show present a version of immortality and also confronts (briefly), the question of what would happen if two bodies are imprinted with the same pattern at the same time.


(Luca) #18

Thanks for the reply! It’s given me alot more insight :slight_smile:


(Luca) #19

Are you a Christian who holds the purely physical view?


(Luca) #20

I understand what everyone is saying…but i always get the answer that without the brain there is no consciousness. Cause if i’m lets say knocked out. i am not awake/conscious. So how do you guys relate that with a soul that lives on after death?