In the previous blog, I broached a very difficult subject. This is true in two major ways. First, severe brain injuries and disorders are horrible realities for both the people who have them and those who love them. Second, these issues show a glaring problem with the typical Christian view that we will go on to live as disembodied spirits or souls when we die.
That entire idea was built upon the Greek (and sometimes, pagan) view that people are really spirits with a bodily covering. “You” are an immaterial spirit or soul that happens to live in a body during this life. When you talk to someone, you are not really talking to the thing you see in front of you. Instead, you are talking to the being that lives inside that body. The “ghost in the machine,” if you will. This body keeps us (the soul) trapped inside of it until the day we die.
In some sense, the body is a temporary and restrictive tomb for the soul.
But as I said at the end of my writing, “If someone gets hit hard enough in the head, their soul changes. Why should that be possible?” If I am actually the soul living in my body, why would a physical injury change who I am? The same would apply to any type of disease that can affect the brain in powerful ways.
On that note, it’s interesting to wonder why the body can die in the first place, since the soul within it is alleged to actually be the “living you.” The notion that you are an immaterial being that is presently getting packed around in an outer shell (the body) makes less and less since the more you think about it. It really does.
Let’s look at this practically. When we communicate with people, we don’t think we are talking to the soul inside that person; we believe we are literally speaking to that physical person before us. Right?
But what if there is no separate “being” inside of that body? What if the soul is not like that at all? What if the soul is like everything else we understand in our world?
What if the soul is more like a type of information? Not a little you. Not an immaterial version of you. Not some person that is trapped within the body, or any of the sort.
The soul is the information of your life.
Consider this: information drives everything in existence. Your computer, Kindle, smartphone, you name it, are all powered by information or data. This is why I repeatedly say that the body and the soul work very much like the hardware and the software of a computer. Both are necessary pieces, and neither can function without the other.
As the esteemed philosopher of science, Stephen Meyer, tells us, information explains everything about who we physically are:
“After the early 1960’s, further discoveries made clear that the digital information in DNA and RNA is only part of a complex information processing system—an advanced form of nanotechnology that both mirrors and exceeds our own in its complexity, design logic and information storage density.”
In other words, all of your genetics is written in a type of code (hence the term, “genetic code”). Everything that is expressed in your physical body—from the color hair or eyes you have, to the types of diseases you are predisposed to—is determined by an informational code. If you don’t believe me, go send your DNA to 23andMe. You cannot imagine just how many things are determined by your genetic code (information)!
By far the most interesting thing about information is that it is real, but it is not in any way tangible. I pointed this out in the book, when I said:
“As we are all aware, we cannot hold information with our hands; information is simply not a tangible reality. Yet, it powers our world and indeed the universe around us. It runs our computers, powers our digital devices, explains our languages, codes for our DNA, and so much more” (pg. 127).
You may see where I am going with this. The soul is actually information. As I call it, it is “identity information.” The soul is our characters, our personalities; it is what makes us “us.” This changes over time, as our lives progress and we accumulate information. Clearly, our personalities change as time goes on.
In some sense, the soul is the data of our lives. This data begins to develop at conception (I believe) and ceases to develop at death. You are the sum of your life’s experiences!
The informational code written in our genetics primarily determines our physical existence, and the informational code we call the soul primarily determines our identities. But clearly, the two work and function together.
As strange as this may sound at first, it is consistent with everything else in reality. Perhaps more importantly, this gets us out of that nasty little problem I spoke about in the last blog.
Traumatic brain injuries and the various forms of dementia change us because these issues alter both our physical and spiritual information. Our life’s data has changed, not some immaterial being within the body. Again, that type of “soul” should remain unchanged by physical damage!
When the physical brain is disturbed, it naturally changes the immaterial information associated with it. When the body changes, “we” change. That is why a perfectly normal adult can become a perpetual child after a major car accident, and why a brain disease can turn someone into a completely different person in an instant.
All of this information (the soul) will return to God at death, when the breath of life leaves us. At the resurrection, when God provides our perfected bodies, He will reunite the soul with a body that is fit to live for the rest of eternity.
Between death and the resurrection, there is no life. There is no immaterial being that goes on to live by itself. There is no living “you” inside the body.
But there is plenty of identity information.
Thank you for reading! If you found this blog interesting, please see all the other posts on this site. You can purchase The Death Myth by clicking here.
Meyer, Stephen C. “Not by chance: From bacterial propulsion systems to human DNA, evidence of intelligent design is everywhere.” Discovery Inistitute. Dec. 10, 2005. https://www.discovery.org/a/3059/
Rossiter, Brian. The Death Myth: Uncovering What the Bible Really Says about the Afterlife. pg. 136. iUniverse. Bloomington, IN. Copyright, 2018. Print.