Do humans survive the death of their bodies- BLOG Image

The Law of Identity & the Human Soul

By Tim Stratton

Do humans survive the death of their bodies? As a pastor, I have officiated several funerals over the past few years and I have attended many recently. This topic is always sure to come up while talking to the surviving relatives. Questions such as these are regularly asked: Will we see our loved one again? Although the body of our loved one has died, does their soul continue to exist?

The vast majority of humanity has believed in the soul throughout the centuries; however, many advocates of scientism (the presupposition that science is the only way to know reality) have caused much doubt regarding the existence of the soul today. It is important to remember that if the human soul does exist, it is something that, like God, cannot be discovered by science. The scientific method is only applicable to things in the natural universe, and science is impotent to test, discover, or explain things such as the laws of logic, mathematics, self-introspection, objective morality, the order of science itself, and anything outside of or transcending the natural universe. [1] These kinds of things would be other than nature and this is what philosophers refer to as “supernatural.”

I have come to the conclusion that after examining all of the data, we can confidently proclaim the human soul does exist. In fact, The Freethinking Argument deductively proves that not only do humans possess libertarian free will and that naturalism is false, but it also proves that the human soul does exist! This counts as evidence demonstrating the existence of the soul; however, I am often asked for more, and independent, evidence.

The Logical Law of Identity

There are other reasons to think we are more than just bodies and brains. JP Moreland provides a powerful philosophical case regarding the logical law of identity. He says, “If I have the property of being possibly disembodied, but my body does not have the property of being possibly disembodied, it logically follows that I am not my body.”[2]  That is to say, if it is not logically incoherent to conceive of the idea that I could exist apart from my body, then it logically follows that I am something other than my body.

According to the laws of logic, there is a property that I have that my body does not, and therefore, my body and I are not identical. My body and I are not the same thing. That is to say, I am not my body.[3]   This thing that I call, “I,” is something other than my body (or brain) and it is what I refer to as the soul.

To illustrate, think about this: suppose water is H2O and they are identical. Is there anything that could possibly happen to water that could not happen to H2O? No. Whatever temperature forces water to boil, will necessarily force H2O to boil, because they are identical.[4]

Here is the point: even if life after death is false, I am at least possibly the kind of thing that logically could exist after my body dies. It is not a logically incoherent concept. Therefore, if I am the kind of thing that could (at least possibly) exist disembodied, then, logically, I cannot be my brain or body.

Moreover, I am possibly disembrainable (after all, near-death experiences could possibly be true), but my brain is not possibly disembrainable. This proves I am not my brain because there is something true of me which is not true of my brain. Namely, I am the sort of thing that could survive death (even if I do not), but the brain cannot logically survive its destruction. Moreland provides a deductive syllogism to summarize his case:[5]   

  1. The law of identity is true: If x is identical to y, then whatever is true of x is true of y and vice versa.
  2. I can strongly conceive of myself as existing disembodied.
  3. If I can strongly conceive of some state of affairs S that S possibly obtains, then I have good grounds for believing that S is possible.
  4. Therefore, I have good grounds for believing of myself that it is possible for me to exist and be disembodied.
  5. If some entity x is such that it is possible for x to exist without y, then (i) x is not identical to y, and (ii) y is not essential to x.
  6. My body (or brain) is not such that it is possible to exist disembodied, i.e., my body (or brain) is essentially physical.
  7. Therefore, I have good grounds for believing of myself that I am not identical to my body (or brain) and that my physical body is not essential to me.

Conclusion

It makes sense to conclude, along with the Nobel Prize winning neurologist, Sir John Eccles, that I am a soul who uses a body and brain. This argument for the existence of the soul, along with the Freethinking Argument (and others), provides good reason to conclude that the Apostle Paul knew what he was talking about: “…  we are confident and satisfied to be out of the body and at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8). 

Do we survive the death of our bodies? You better believe it!

Stay reasonable (Philippians 4:5),

Tim Stratton


For more articles like The Law of Identity & the Human Soul visit Tim’s website Freethinkingministries.com


NOTES

[1] William Lane Craig in debate vs. Peter Atkins, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8U_NS9WsJ08 (Accessed 9-11-12)

[2] JP Moreland “In Defense of the Soul,” Biola University lecture on CD

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] J.P. Moreland’s syllogism is found in, The Soul: How We Know It’s Real and Why It Matters (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2014), 125-26

Randy Everist provides a detailed defense of this argument here and here. Be sure to check it out!

Free CrossExamined.org Resource

Get the first chapter of "Stealing From God: Why Atheists Need God to Make Their Case" in PDF.

Powered by ConvertKit
16 replies
  1. TGM says:

    Wow. This is what happens when you play logic without feeding real world data into it.

    ”I am at least possibly the kind of thing that logically could exist after my body dies. It is not a logically incoherent concept.”

    How do you evaluate that you could possibly be that kind of thing? So far, you’ve only asserted it, presumably because it feels like you could exist post mortem. A feeling doesn’t make it possibly so. If you cannot offer anything better than a feeling, then I must reject your assertion for lack of foundation.You would have to demonstrate this possibility before logical coherence even matters.

    ”3. If I can strongly conceive of some state of affairs S that S possibly obtains, then I have good grounds for believing that S is possible.”

    This is demonstrably absurd. I can ”strongly conceive” (what does that mean?) that an M&M can be instantaneously vaporized and reassembled into a Vogon bard. What in the world gives me grounds for believing it is therefore possible? Sorry. Just because you can imagine something, does not make it possible, nor does it make belief that it is possible reasonable. Moreland’s argument is silly.

    Incidentally, we don’t have bodies, we are bodies.

    Reply
    • Jordan says:

      There have been numerous NDE’s and OBE’s that cannot possibly be explained by Psychedelic attributes in Neuro-Chemistry.
      Many NDE’s have happened while there was 0 firing between the Neurons IE brain death.

      If even a single NDE or OBE is valid then there is definitive proof that conscience not dependent upon flesh is real.

      I have read of NDE’s where someone who is blind could see what was happening in the hospital room during an NDE.

      I have also read of many accounts of Occultist and others who have astral projected, some into other realms and some have moved good distances away from their body and observed real time events.

      Considering the complexity of abiotic matter and life I think it is logical to conclude that there is a creator, if there is a creator for all of reality then it is also logical to conclude that the reality we see may only be a fraction or even an insignificant slice of reality.

      I have studied Genetics and Particle Physics to a great extent and have yet to learn anything that would suggest that complexity is self arising ESPECIALLY organic complexity.
      I have also studied the Bible to a great extent and have not found a single contradiction be it a contradiction within the Word or a contradiction between empirical knowledge and the Bible.
      The Bible also explains a great deal about the soul, life, after life and even has a good deal of science within it including certain attributes of space like the rapid expansion of space, genetics to the extent of establishing natural selection (kinds are classified in the Bible).

      There are untold millions of reasons to believe in God and thus as many reasons to believe you have a soul.

      Reply
  2. TGM says:

    ”The scientific method is only applicable to things in the natural universe, and science is impotent to test, discover, or explain things such as the laws of logic, mathematics, self-introspection, objective morality, the order of science itself, and anything outside of or transcending the natural universe.”

    I’m unable to agree with this entire statement.

    For starters, you seem to imply that logic, mathematics, introspection etc. are functionally equivalent to the transcendent. Excuse me?

    Secondly, the scientific method is, at heart, the following – propose a hypothesis, test it repeatedly, reject hypothesis based on the results. What about the scientific method makes it unable to test mathematics? Take a math hypothesis and test it. Viola. Or why cannot the scientific method be used to test itself? Start with the null hypothesis that says the scientific method fails to evaluate a class of specific hypotheses. Then run experiments on the scientific method. Did the scientific method fail to validate itself? Sure, this is recursive, but not internally inconsistent. What matters is whether the results accurately reflect reality.

    You can also test logic with the SM. Is logic definitionally true? Maybe in some models. But we use logic because it works. How do we know it works? I’d say we know it works because we scientifically test it by applying it repeatedly and confirming the results against reality. Were we to discover that logic fails, we would cease to use it.

    As for testing the transcendent, I think intercessory prayer has been tested. Is that not transcendent? Even if that does not qualify to your satisfaction, it’s not clear to me why we cannot hypothesize and evaluate facts about the supernatural (assuming that even exists). Look, if you can assert that what happens outside the universe remains subject to philosophical inquiry (eg. whatever begins to exist has a cause… etc.), then I can assert that what happens outside remains subject to scientific inquiry.

    Reply
  3. toby says:

    “If I have the property of being possibly disembodied, but my body does not have the property of being possibly disembodied, it logically follows that I am not my body.”[2] That is to say, if it is not logically incoherent to conceive of the idea that I could exist apart from my body, then it logically follows that I am something other than my body.
    What gives anyone any reason to believe that they could have the property of being disembodied? This is such an awful exercise of someone’s time and brainpower. It’s rather like the ontological argument. “I can imagine it so it must be so.” Dualism is wishful thinking. What could a soul even be without a body? Would it still have sight? Feeling? Any senses? Does being severed from it’s body suddenly give it those things? It would seem that if a soul existed after death then the only thing it would be is mystic memories of experience.

    Reply
    • Andy Ryan says:

      Yes, if this soul can see and hear and think without the brain, then why is the brain needed in the first place?

      “If I can strongly conceive of some state of affairs S that S possibly obtains, then I have good grounds for believing that S is possible.”

      What grounds are they? That’s a non sequitur – If X then Y, when there’s no connection at all between X and Y being the case.

      “My body and I are not the same thing”

      Your consciousness is an arising property of your brain, which is part of your body.

      “In fact, The Freethinking Argument deductively proves that not only do humans possess libertarian free will and that naturalism is false, but it also proves that the human soul does exist!”

      This is amazing hubris, Tim. You argue it, you don’t prove it.

      How can you tell the difference between the following:
      1) You a freethinking being created by God, who argues that he is a freethinking being created by God
      2) You are a deterministic being created by natural selection who plays out his determinist destiny in arguing that he is a freethinking being created by God?

      Reply
        • Andy Ryan says:

          Well, even if he wants to argue that he has a lock-tight logical argument for it, and that we’re just too stupid to understand it, he’s still claiming to have solved one of the greatest philosophical problems of all time, if not THE greatest. And Tim isn’t just claiming to have a really good argument for the existence of human souls – he says it’s proved. Job done, nothing to argue against – Tim has proved it. All the religious people who say they still sometimes have doubts can stop worrying, Tim has ruled out any doubt conclusively with his logical argument.

          And that’s aside from the fact that it’s not even a good argument, let alone a lock-tight, cast iron one.

          1) He claims that without free will it’s impossible to have any knowledge at all. Does that mean animals either have free will or cannot know anything? Does that mean dogs cannot recognise their masters? Sheep cannot know when they’re in danger from predators?

          2) Even if someone wants to paint determinism as meaning humans are like computers or calculating machines, they still haven’t shown that it’s impossible for humans to work anything out or make calculated judgments. Computers don’t have free will and yet manage to make calculations.

          3) As I outline above Tim could make exactly the same argument even if he was living in a completely materialistic deterministic universe. There’s nothing falsifiable or testable about his argument, no way to feed observations about reality into it. As TGM says above: “This is what happens when you play logic without feeding real world data into it.”

          3a) Real world data actually works AGAINST free will, when we look at neuroscience experiments: “Relevant findings include the pioneering study by Benjamin Libet and its subsequent redesigns; these studies were able to detect activity related to a decision to move, and the activity appears to begin briefly before people become conscious of it. Other studies try to predict activity before overt action occurs. Taken together, these various findings show that at least some actions – like moving a finger – are initiated unconsciously at first, and enter consciousness afterward.”

          4) Finally, we’re given no argument for how having a soul creates free will. It’s just assumed that if free will exists then the soul must exist and that if the soul exists then free will would have to follow. Tim just says that if the mind is freed from physical forces then it escapes determinism. But this is basically just saying the mind would be magic and so would somehow function differently. This doesn’t fly as an argument. The alternative to cause and effect is randomness and saying the brain is magic doesn’t escape this dichotomy. What’s the third option a soul adds to the choices of A) Decision based on something else, and B) Random decision? If we had two identical brains, one without free will and one with, why would the latter necessarily make better decisions, all other things being equal?

          Reply
          • toby says:

            Exactly. The idea of a soul is simply wishful thinking. No one can offer an single instance of having made a choice or performed an act that wasn’t based on something prior to it. It reminds me of Frank’s line about, “if you don’t have free will you’re not reasoning, you’re reacting.” YES! Everything is a reaction! Making a choice is a reaction to two or more options and that reaction is based on past experiences.

            The thought of a soul or dualism creates so many other questions that theists don’t even attempt to answer.
            1. How does the immaterial thought interact with a material mind?
            2. How come immaterial thought is confined into a single brain and not shared among multiple brains?
            3. How come immaterial thought can be disrupted or affected by material stimuli? For example, distracting sights or sounds, hormones, physical damage to the brain, drugs, or even a counterargument?
            4. Why do we have to learn?
            5. Why aren’t we born with language?
            The questions are endless and their answers are non-existent.

          • toby says:

            A guy I watch on youtube put it like this in his most recent video.

            “To say that you love someone because they are good is to say that your love is a deterministic response to a stimulus. It’s no more “free” than it would have been if god had just programmed us to love him.”

      • KB says:

        Andy, first of all, you need to look up what natural selection is, it IS NOT evolution if that is what you are leaning toward, and you may also want to read origin of species in which Darwin himself had extreme doubts. as C.S.Lewis put it:
        Supposing there was no intelligence behind the universe, no creative mind. In that case, nobody designed my brain for the purpose of thinking. It is merely that when the atoms inside my skull happen, for physical or chemical reasons, to arrange themselves in a certain way, this gives me, as a by-product, the sensation I call thought. But, if so, how can I trust my own thinking to be true? It’s like upsetting a milk jug and hoping that the way it splashes itself will give you a map of London. But if I can’t trust my own thinking, of course I can’t trust the arguments leading to Atheism, and therefore have no reason to be an Atheist, or anything else. Unless I believe in God, I cannot believe in thought: so I can never use thought to disbelieve in God.”

        Reply
        • TGM says:

          “…what natural selection is, it IS NOT evolution…”

          Natural Selection is not the entirety of evolution, to be sure, but it’s a critical component. And Darwin’s doubts are exaggerated by the apologetic community. Darwin made an intellectually honest account of his data and his conclusions and stated the conditions under which his Theory would be falsifiable. If only apologists were so accommodating. But who cares what Darwin thinks anyway? It’s his Theory that is relevant, not his person. And that theory remains unimpeached.

          As to CS Lewis… “how can I trust my own thinking to be true?”
          One should trust their thinking to the extent that it is useful and provides effective results. Whatsoever may “ultimately true” (and the meaning/perception of truth has been argued ad nauseum with no resolution), we seem to barred from recognizing it. The best we can do is interact with the reality we can perceive and influence – and that does not include nor require a deity. One does not need any sort of higher consciousness to evaluate consciousness. It’s success is its own validation.

          Reply
  4. Mark Guetersloh says:

    Since every choice we make, or behavior we engage in or even consider, is based on some external stimulus, sure, I’ll go along with the statement that every reaction is based on a subsequent experience. Pavlov and his dog are all we need to see this demonstrated. Common sense is all we need to see it at work in every day animal behavior – human or otherwise. But is some stimulus a necessary condition for mental activity? I think not. Sentience has no need of stimulus. Simply to think is enough to be. To think isn’t simply to react. Machines react, but they don’t feel. We – you me, even the higher animals, “feel.” Therein lies the rub. Matter has no sentience, so machines have no sentience. Programs written on cards and discs may animate machines, but still these machines have no sentience. You must have God to give matter personality and free will. Now there’s a data “gap” only God can fill, huh. The most sophisticated robot we might build, animated by the most sophisticated program we can imagine, still cannot feel. For you Trekkies, Data is nothing more than complex programming in a humanoid android receptacle…a robot moved by stimulus-response. This is the naturalists dilemma, and why you must bow the knee to nihilism and meaninglessness if evolution is true. Bottom line, by Darwin’s explanation, the best we can be is a complicated organic machine…an impressive machine at that, but in the end just a machine. But you know better. Everyone knows better. We do more than respond to external stimulus. We feel and we make choices, choices that defy simple organic wiring. We are responsible for those choices. God wanted just that even if Darwin did not.

    For some folks, sin and death become less dreadful if life is finite and meaningless. It is not. You, the real you (and me and everyone else) is eternal. In this universe, this dimension we currently inhabit, matter is finite. Makes sense that God would house His most beloved created thing in an immaterial, eternal form. Also makes sense that He would empower these beings created in His image with free will, and that He would place these free moral agents in an environment that would allow us to choose good or evil. By resistless logic it also follows that after the choice is made, a separate, eternal repository would be made for those who choose good and those who choose evil. Sure this sounds fantastic, but truth is often just that. Are you sure you have made the right choice? Forever is a long time to be wrong.

    Regarding your other dilemmas:
    1. How does immaterial thought react with the material mind? Our material mind allows the immaterial “us” to interact with a material world. The fact that science cannot explain this interaction has no bearing on the truth of it.
    2. How come immaterial thought is confined into a single brain and not shared among multiple brains? Immaterial thought isn’t some nebulous universal cloud floating about looking for minds to animate. We are created in the image of God. God is a person. We are persons. I know you do not agree with this, but your disagreement des not invalidate the claim. Our soul and spirit are the “programs” built by God that inhabit material houses. He is the only programmer able to build consciousness capable of free will.
    3. How come immaterial thought can be disrupted or affected by material stimuli? For example, distracting sights or sounds, hormones, physical damage to the brain, drugs, or even a counterargument?
    4. Why do we have to learn? Because we are not simple machines, we are free moral agents capable of great wisdom and great stupidity. The choice is ours.
    5. Why aren’t we born with language? We were born with the capability of learning to speak, more to speak multiple languages. Smacks of intelligent design, doesn’t it.
    6. And finally – The questions are endless and their answers are non-existent. No argument here – questions are indeed endless. The answers exist but only God can quicken you so that you might hear them.

    Reply
  5. toby says:

    Simply to think is enough to be. To think isn’t simply to react. Machines react, but they don’t feel. We – you me, even the higher animals, “feel.” Therein lies the rub.
    Of course machines feel. It’s called thermistors and optics and pressure sensors, etc.

    But you know better. Everyone knows better. We do more than respond to external stimulus. We feel and we make choices, choices that defy simple organic wiring.
    I think not. Thought is computation and calculation based on external input. Let’s take you back in time to when you were a baby and blind you, deafen you, and disrupt your senses of smell and touch. What would you be now? No input, no calculation.

    You, the real you (and me and everyone else) is eternal.
    Wishful conjecture. If we’re all eternal then why make it hinge on a teensie speck of finite existence that will become diluted and insignificant in the vastness of eternity. It’s like walking into a house and deciding that if there is a speck of dust on a table you’ll burn the whole house down. Some design.

    Our material mind allows the immaterial “us” to interact with a material world. The fact that science cannot explain this interaction has no bearing on the truth of it.
    So basically you can make up things in your head like us being immaterial and eternal and not need any sort of evidence for that being the case except what other people made up and in some cases wrote down thousands of years ago? That and feelings that it’s so?

    Because we are not simple machines, we are free moral agents capable of great wisdom and great stupidity. The choice is ours.
    Really? Did you choose to learn a language as a toddler?

    We were born with the capability of learning to speak, more to speak multiple languages. Smacks of intelligent design, doesn’t it.
    Not a bit. You have to question the intelligence and goodness of a designer that makes such a rare thing as life and then forces it to live by killing other life. From lettuce to cows we kill it all to live, as do most all species. It should be called Intelligent Sadism. Don’t think your god was smart enough to make us intelligent and be able to get our energy from the sun, air, and minerals?

    Reply
  6. Luke says:

    Mark said: “But is some stimulus a necessary condition for mental activity? I think not. Sentience has no need of stimulus. Simply to think is enough to be.”

    If there is nothing to think about, what does one think about?

    Reply
    • toby says:

      Luke,

      I think people fail to realize that it is impossible to have a thought that is not based on some previous experience. The majority of thought is verbal so in a sense all thought is caused by the accumulation of language and that language is then bounced off of experiences. All thoughts are reactions to something.

      Suppose that there is no free will as thought of by philosophers and theists isn’t real. If that’s the case then what we’re doing right now is the “illusion of free will”. Doesn’t seem all that bad.

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *