Many issues arise with Resurrection for only nine have ever been resurrected and the only evidence of this comes from the Bible, for example: “A ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see I have”.(Luke 24:39)
Immortality of the soul is another popular, monotheistic notion of life after death.
This idea agrees that the physical body can not live without the soul however it is dualistic as opposed to monistic for it implies that the soul can live without the body. If snow is faced with fire, it cannot exist as a solid and must transform to liquid in the same way a soul must escape the physical body when it dies.
The body is made up of physical matter and thus will eventually decay, the soul is a non-contingent entity which has an affinity to a higher place Plato describes as the ‘realm of forms’. When the body dies, the soul cannot exist in a world of physical material, and so must escape back to the spiritual realm where it will contemplate truth, beauty and goodness. Plato supported the perception of dualism and put forward two arguments in backing it up.
Firstly, in his dialogue, the Meno, Plato has Socrates ask a slave boy to solve simple geometry where he will reach conclusions he could not have possibly known in this life. Another example is Socrates asking Plato to define what ‘virtue’ is. Rather than Plato explaining what it is, he gives Socrates an example of virtue. Plato has still not given him a solid definition, and yet Socrates understands the meaning of the word.
So, is it logical to assume that knowledge is gained in a previous life and forgotten until we can practice it in a new life? This is known as Plato’s ‘Doctrine of Recollection’.
Secondly, the foundation of Plato’s Phaedo is that ‘like gives rise to like’. This illustrates that a body is made from physical material whereas the soul on the other hand is made from an intellectual and non-physical reality. Things that change must eventually decay, it is the soul which stays the same. It would therefore be impossible to assume that soul is made from body and body is made from soul.
Cogito Ergo Sum or “I think, therefore I am” is a quote from French philosopher Rene Descartes who is sceptical of the physical world and suggests that to doubt the physical existence of a person is proof of the reality of one’s mind. It would imply that one is not robotic but can think for oneself and proposes that we are free willed.
Descartes argues that the soul is the most meaningful way of understanding the afterlife. This notion of life after death would support the perception of the soul being the most meaningful and important reality for it focuses entirely on the soul as opposed to the physical body.
Immanuel Kant believed that the purpose of human existence was to achieve complete good or ‘summum bonum’. Life is far too short to reach this and so God is morally obligated to grant us eternity. Morality would otherwise be pointless. Immortality of the soul grants the idea of multiple life times in which we can gain this potential.
AO2: Immortality of the Soul and Resurrection of the body are both subject to complications, but to what extent is one of these a more convincing form of life after death than the other?
Only few examples of resurrection are depicted in the Bible, most importantly when Jesus shows himself to his disciples: “I am the resurrection and the life”.(John 11:25) Although scripture shows the only evidence of resurrection, at least there is some evidence unlike the Buddhist notion of life after death, rebirth. However, when Jesus is seen by his disciples in his ‘soma pneumatikon’ form they are “kept from recognizing him”. Can it be justified that it was Jesus who they really saw? The disciples could see that Jesus bore the scars of where he had been nailed to the cross, this brings us to our next observation: Are the sick and handicapped cured upon resurrection? If a mental illness were something that played a huge role in your lifetime, and the experiences you had through the eyes of someone who is mentally ill might play a part in the choices you make, could you not argue that something so awful is also part of your character? And to take that away would be to take away a part of you, could you then argue that you are still the same soul?
‘Replica Theory’ is an analogy thought up by John Hick who asks you to imagine a person who dies in one place and reappears in another place with the same memory and physical features. Hick argues that it would be meaningful to consider this as the same person who had died due to his mental continuity. An omnipotent God is capable of replicating someone in this way. Hick concludes by saying that those who are resurrected go to a realm of resurrected people and await judgement. This theory does however defy physics. It is reasonable to argue that a replica of a person is not as valuable as the original and would undermine personal identity. Hick even says that we are compelled to believe this as there are no other explanations. He furthers this by referring to life after death as an Eschatological argument: One that can be confirmed if true but cannot be proven wrong.
Immortality of the soul also faces criticisms. Firstly ‘Hell’ is incompatible with the idea of an omnibenevolent God. Hick describes Hell as “Horrible and disgusting beyond words…” How can something many would define as ‘evil’ be the end result of a loving God? Perhaps Hell has always been and is out of God’s control, or maybe he isn’t as loving as the Bible illustrates - either way, this would not qualify for the transcendent God we have been taught to obey. If those who did obey God were to eventually reach Heaven, what would they do once they get there? If there are no challenges to overcome, what is the point in existing in an afterlife? How can one be sure that it is truly worthwhile? H.H Price also points out that if we do not have a physical body, how can we interact with other souls? Perhaps we continue to exist but not consciously.
There are two men walking down a road, one believes that the road will take them to a city, the other believes there to be nothing. If they do not walk, it cannot be proven right or wrong, they have to reach the end of the road to know the truth and so to argue is meaningless. In conclusion, both the idea of judgement day and death itself cannot be verified until the end of life is reached, and so religion is meaningless. Neither form of life after death provides empirical evidence to support the notion. Immortality of the soul does however seem more plausible than the idea of a body coming back to life as we often hear of people recalling past lives. The only evidence of Resurrection is found in the Bible which is outdated and focuses on the resurrection of Jesus. Immortality of the soul is therefore a more convincing argument for life after death than Resurrection of the body.