1. Compare and contrast the immortality of the soul and the resurrection of the body.
The concept of the immortality of the soul is a dualist one, meaning that the body and soul are two separate entities. Whereas resurrection of the body is the opposite believing that one cannot necessarily live without the other. People that accept the idea of immortality of the soul believe that the soul is separate from the body and that when we die the soul will live on making it immortal. Resurrection of the body however differs because the body and soul are together and when you die both will be resurrected.
Plate is a dualist and he believes the soul is not of this world but another where there are perfect forms of everything on earth. He uses the allegory of to demonstrate this idea. Prisoners are bound in a cave and cannot look out the mouth of the cave. Behind them is a fire casting shadows onto the wall they are facing. They believe these shadows to be reality. One then is released and he is blinded by the real world. He sees the perfection of the world and realises his previous thoughts were wrong. When he tells the prisoners in the cave about what he has seen the do not believe him, because they have not yet experienced it. This is like our souls. They want to be realised into the higher world of perfection because they desire greater things.
René Descartes is also a dualist. Cartesian dualism, as his views are now known, centre around the famous statement, “I think therefore I am.” Our body is just a case for the machine and it is only because our soul is conscious that our body is alive. Gilbert Rile compares this to a “ghost in the machine”, implying that our body is just a machine and our body makes us aware. Saint Thomas Aquinas shares a similar view referring to the soul as “anima.” This means animation, believing that the soul animates the body and gives us our characteristics and personalities.
Resurrection of the body is very different from immortality of the soul. With this idea the body is needed for a person to live on. This is a very Christian belief because of the Bibles reference to it. On judgement day Jesus will come and those who have lived lives according to the law of God will be resurrected in a new heaven and new Earth. The resurrection of the body is spoken about by many writers in the Bible, including St Paul. There are also examples, with the most famous being Jesus rising on the third day and Jesus bringing a girl back to life after saying she was only “sleeping.”
John Hick has a slightly different variation of resurrection of the body, and postulates his “replica theory.” Hick suggests that when we die our body and soul our lost, and that God, the omnipotent being, creates an exact replica of us in heaven. This replica can be recognised by our family and friends because we are no different.
1. To what extent is one of these a more convincing concept that the other
Both, immortality of the soul and resurrection of the body, have their problems. Immortality of the soul has been challenged by many empiricists such as A.J Ayer and Richard Dawkins because of their idea of a soul. Biologist Dawkins ask where this soul is, it cannot be found in the body and therefore we have no proof for its existence, and if it does not exist then it cannot be immortal implying that there is no life after death. Another problem facing the soul is when a human receives one. Aquinas suggested men get one after 40 days after conception and women after 60; however, again there is no proof for this idea.
Rene Descartes also has challenges with his statement “I think therefore I am.” With some clever word swapping the idea of “I am therefore I think” was suggested by another philosopher, arguing that the only reason that you are conscious is because exist not because a soul has appeared in your body, we have evolved to think.
Resurrection of the soul has some major difficulties also. There is no proof for a life after death, naturally because no one has come back and told us. Also, Despite the Bible having numerous accounts of resurrection, the Bible is not a reliable source that can be taken literally because of some of the other ideas and concepts within it. There is also the question of what happens to those who are dead and judgement day has not come, do they wait in some form of purgatory. Heaven and hell have no empirical evidence either so there is no reason to assume people are there.
Hick’s replica theory is arguable the weakest of all the ideas. In his concept God recreates an exact replica of the person that died, but why, if he is God, does it need to be a replica, if he is omnipotent should he not be able to resurrect our body? This is in a way not a life after death because the original person is dead and it is not their body that has lived on.
However, it is not so much a question of whether which concept is more convincing than the other, it is more does a life after death actually exist, or have we created one? Has the human race just feared the ceasing of existence, and so to try and give hope and reason to a miserable existence? Or was it created by those who wish to keep the people in order, by making them live in fear of a hell and by giving them a reward for being good, they could create a form of social control.