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Dust to dust...then what?

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Dust to dust...then what?

Postby Biblegate » Sat Feb 10, 2018 10:14 pm

Dust to dust...then what? Upon death, is a Christian's soul instantly and consciously with God, or does it sleep until the resurrection? And what about that troublesome body it left behind? Soon it won't exist, so how can there be anything for Jesus to resurrect? These were the concerns of a man who called The Narrow Path radio program and asked host Steve Gregg.

https://youtu.be/-Au1gXvwpvk


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Re: Dust to dust...then what?

Postby Paidion » Sun Feb 11, 2018 12:40 am

What is "a Christian's soul"? Do you subscribe to the view that we have an immaterial "soul" somehow attached to a physical body? Was that view (prevalent throughout Christianity) imported from Greek thought? Could your consciousness be an aspect of the living human being (which ceases to exist after death)?

Do you really think a dead human body soon will not exist just because it disintergrates ? Don't scientists affirm that atoms cannot be created or destroyed? If atoms cannot be destroyed, then won't all the atoms that made up each human body continue to exist until God puts them together again in the resurrection, raising from the dead each of those human beings? Cannot God arrange the atoms that had formed the body in such a way that the same person will live again?
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Re: Dust to dust...then what?

Postby steve » Sun Feb 11, 2018 11:40 pm

What is "a Christian's soul"? Do you subscribe to the view that we have an immaterial "soul" somehow attached to a physical body? Was that view (prevalent throughout Christianity) imported from Greek thought? Could your consciousness be an aspect of the living human being (which ceases to exist after death)?


I don't know what a soul is, but I believe there is an immaterial part of us that can be either "in the body" or "out of the body" (2 Cor.12:2, 3). When our bodies are alive, we are "at home in the body" and when they die, we are "absent from the body" (2 Cor.5:6, 8).

It is true that the idea seems to show up among the Greeks before it is taught among the Hebrews, but it shows up in the New Testament. One may speculate that Paul borrowed it from the Greeks (which seems uncharacteristic of him to do), or that Paul got the revelation from God, which happened to agree in points with things thoughtful philosophers had previously speculated about.

Do you really think a dead human body soon will not exist just because it disintergrates ? Don't scientists affirm that atoms cannot be created or destroyed? If atoms cannot be destroyed, then won't all the atoms that made up each human body continue to exist until God puts them together again in the resurrection, raising from the dead each of those human beings? Cannot God arrange the atoms that had formed the body in such a way that the same person will live again?


The answer I gave to the caller, in the clip linked above, was that it might seem impossible for the resurrected body to contain all the same atoms as the mortal body had contained, since:

1) Even the atoms in our mortal bodies turn over during a lifetime; and

2) Atoms of one body, eaten by another body become the atoms of the new body. If certain atoms have been in lots of bodies throughout history, it would not seem possible that every resurrected body could contain all the atoms that were in it during the moral lifetime.

However, I explained that this does not strike me as a problem, and I explained why.
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Re: Dust to dust...then what?

Postby Paidion » Tue Feb 13, 2018 8:34 pm

Steve, I hadn't listened to your discussion with this questioner until just this moment. Your thoughts on the DNA may indeed be that which assures that the resurrected person is indeed the same person as he who died. I don't know why I said what I did about the atoms, for I had even read early Christian writers who brought out the fact that animals have devoured people or parts of people etc and then other people might eat the animals. Also, more directly, there have been cannibals throughout the centuries.

I still doubt the concept of an immaterial "soul" or "spirit" that inhabits a human body. What about your dog? Does he have an immaterial "soul" too? George MacDonald thought so. If not, how can a dog be consciously aware of his owner and his environment? If the dog has no soul, could we also (without possessing a "soul") have consciousness and awareness in the same way as dogs and other mammals? True, people have far greater intelligence than other mammals, but could that be a matter of degree?

I do understand that man was a special creation by God and that only man was created "in God's image." I wonder if that accounts for man's ability to chose in a way that is lacking in other mammals that act more according to instinct than according to choice.
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Re: Dust to dust...then what?

Postby steve » Wed Feb 14, 2018 1:03 pm

Hi Paidion,

I don't know about the higher animals and their "souls." I think C.S. Lewis was one of those who speculated that higher animals do possess immortal souls (but he also believed that people naturally possess immortality, which is not evident in scripture). I don't know if consciousness (which animals certainly possess) is the same thing as an immaterial soul, or not. It would appear that animals can become demon possessed (Matt.8:32). Does this testify to a spiritual (non-physical) dimension to their existence? Who knows?

The avowed atheist philosopher, Thomas Nagel, in his book Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False" (Oxford University Press, 2012), argues that consciousness is a phenomenon that no materialistic approach to biology can account for. The materialist's assertion that consciousness is a natural product of physical brain activity is a statement of faith, not science or even reason.

Nagel writes:
The problem, then, is this: What kind of explanation of the development of these organisms, even one that includes evolutionary theory, could account for the appearance of organisms that are not only physically adapted to the environment but also conscious subjects? In brief, I believe it cannot be a purely physical explanation.


If an atheist seems driven, despite the risk to his reputation among fellow secularists, to suggest that consciousness cannot be the product of merely physical phenomena, then the Christian, who believes that God is a spirit, and that there is an entire spiritual reality, should not find the admission of an immaterial soul a difficult concept.

As I said, if Paul could comfortably speak of persons being "in the body or out of the body," or of being "present in the body, or absent from the body," then (while other possible scenarios might be barely imaginable) it seems most likely that he believed that we possess a center of consciousness that is separate from our physicality, which animates our bodies and gives us self-awareness.

It may be a stretch to suggest that Paul, with reference to a non-physical soul, would have made the same claim for animals as for man. But even if he would, the presence of an immaterial soul would not automatically translate to the concept of an immortal soul.
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Re: Dust to dust...then what?

Postby Paidion » Thu Feb 15, 2018 1:07 pm

The avowed atheist philosopher, Thomas Nagel, in his book Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False" (Oxford University Press, 2012), argues that consciousness is a phenomenon that no materialistic approach to biology can account for. The materialist's assertion that consciousness is a natural product of physical brain activity is a statement of faith, not science or even reason.


I certainly agree with that. A sophisticated man-made robot, no matter how much it may behave like a human being, even to the point of answering questions, and expressing sympathy, has no individual consciousness nor can it be "given" consciousness by its human creator (or should I say "assembler"?)

I took a course in philosophy at the University of Manitoba at the post-graduate level called "Philosophy of Mind." The author of the main text book tried to equate mental events with brain events. Success in the course consisted of doing well in the writing of a single essay. I argued for the existence of the "metaphysical ego." Each student had to first present his essay to the rest of the class. In hearing my presentation, the professor said, "Your reasoning is weak, here, here, and here. Go fix it up, before turning it in." I did so and the professor gave me an A minus. However, he wrote the following comment on the paper:"Much improved and better reasoning, but still wrong." In other words, it was "wrong" because it presented the concept of consciousness as being something other than mere physicality.

Yet I believed and still believe that consciousness is somehow a function of the physical brain. Otherwise, how does destruction of certain parts of the brain affect that consciousness? Why does the aging of the brain, a mere physical phenomena, often result in dementia, a mental state? And why does worrying (a mental state) sometimes cause stomach ulcers (a physical state)?

It is because of this close interdependency between physical and mental events that I have difficulty in seeing a person existing as a "spirit" or "soul" apart from the body.
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Re: Dust to dust...then what?

Postby Paidion » Thu Feb 15, 2018 1:30 pm

Steve, you have made reference to the following passage a couple of times, seemingly to support the idea that one can exist as a bodiless "soul" or "spirit":

Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord; for we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. (2 Corinthians 5:6-8 KJ21)


I understand this passage as saying (or at least meaning) that while we are at home in this PRESENT body we are absent from the direct presence of the Lord, and we would rather be absent from this PRESENT body and to be directly present with the Lord in the RESURRECTED body. I don't think the passage says anything about "the intermediate state."
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Re: Dust to dust...then what?

Postby jeremiah » Fri Feb 16, 2018 1:30 pm

Hello Steve,

you wrote:As I said, if Paul could comfortably speak of persons being "in the body or out of the body,"...


I think this is precisely the often overlooked problem with your reading of Paul in 2Cor 12. Of course if we take for granted a view of souls being immaterial as you do, then we're very comfortable so reading Paul there. Is he comfortably saying what he says though? I don't think he is. Twice following the phrase "whether in the body or out of the body," twice he adds, "I don't know, God knows." To my mind, it's much more sensible that these words would be added by someone who can 'barely imagine' exactly how one could be "without" his body, and is struggling to describe the received vision.

Regarding Paul's comfort with being present/at home/absent in and from the body, I wholly agree with Paidion's last post. I think Paul makes himself pretty clear he believes it is the Resurrection by which we will be "present with the Lord," and not immediately upon the dissolution of this tabernacle.

I hope you both are well brothers,. God bless you.
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Re: Dust to dust...then what?

Postby Paidion » Sat Feb 17, 2018 12:38 pm

Thank you for the input, Jeremiah.

The apostle Paul wrote:If according to a human perspective I fought wild beasts at Ephesus, what benefit [is it] to me? If the dead are not raised, let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die. (1Co 15:32 LEB)


It seems to me that Paul is essentially saying, "What benefit is it to me to endanger my life by taking a strong Christian stand, if I the dead are not raised? I might as well eat, drink, and be merry, for I will soon die, and if I am not raised to life again, that would be the end of my existence.

If Paul had believed in his immaterial soul leaving the body at death and going to heaven, then to him, it wouldn't be a big deal if there were no resurrection.
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Re: Dust to dust...then what?

Postby Homer » Sat Feb 17, 2018 9:38 pm

2 Corinthians 5:8 (NASB)
8. we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.

Lange comments regarding "with the Lord", pros ton kurion, that this is "a pregnant expression, and it signifies: to depart, go to another country, in order to be with Christ".

Philippians 1:22-24 (NASB)
22. But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. 23. But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; 24. yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake.


Both of the texts present the same idea. Being absent from the body, for Paul, was to be with Christ. Paul doesn't envision any condition other than the two; if he does, where do we find it?

1 Corinthians 15:32 (NASB)
32. If from human motives I fought with wild beasts at Ephesus, what does it profit me? If the dead are not raised, let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.


It seems to me this text is not at all focused on our condition after death but rather that if the Gospel is false and there is no resurrection and judgement, no consequences to how we live, then we might as well enjoy this life as much as possible.

Consider this:
In this life, physical body
At death, spiritual body
Post resurrection, physical body

What text or texts would argue against this? If we are dead, and there isno existence in any form until resurrection, how can it be said we presently have eternal life?
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