Christianity and Life After Death

As I move into the department of behavioral sciences and begin my neuroscience studies, the type of questions I am asking is changing. And one I’m planning on dedicating time
to here soon is life after death and what neuroscience and the philosophy of mind has to say about it. So I’m curious how the Christians here view life after death. My preliminary research seems to suggest the traditional view is a bodily resurrection. But now a disembodied existence seems to be a popular position. But some have argued it’s a Platonic import into theistic traditions.

So I’m going to lay out a few options I have come across and would like any feedback or even share with your view on it.

  1. Bodily resurrection. Upon death we are reasurrected and given a spiritual body.

  2. Disembodied existence. Upon biological death our mental life, or soul lives in disembodied

  3. After death, there is an intermediate period where we are disembodied, but then when are given our spiritual bodies.

I’ve also seen some other bodily resurrection positions who’s arguments are that since the Bible states death is an evil, bodily resurrection truly overcomes death and defeats that evil.

Again this is just my preliminary (very) research and findings. Any thoughts are greatly appreciated.

  1. Anthropological monism. Humans are a fully integrated synthesis of parts, comprising a complete unity. This is in contrast to the traditional sou/body dualism of “orthodox” theology.
  2. Consciousness is an emergent property of the body, and consciousness is the essential “self”.
  3. Upon death of the body, consciousness ceases to exist, and therefore so does “self”.
  4. Bodily resurrection is the only way for the consciousness to return and the “self” to exist again.

In theological studies, and the philosophy of theology, emergence has recently come to the fore as a way of articulating the ontological monist position.

Here is WLC on the afterlife. He seems to suggest 3. Disembodied existence, for any period of time, just seems like torture to me.

It seems reasonably clear to me that the Bible teaches a bodily resurrection subsequent to the return of Christ. It is less clear whether there is an intermediate disembodied state (I’ve seen biblical arguments made both ways, though philosophically I find it hard to see how a resurrection is truly a resurrection, rather than the creation of copy of me, if there is no part of me that persists between death and resurrection).

I agree that embodied existence is better, though I am curious why you think disembodied existence would be torture. Couldn’t it be like a pleasant dream while we wait to wake up in our new bodies?

Could be. Idk If you read the Craig link I shared but he seemed to suggest the same about bodily resurrection and how we will receive our new bodies upon Jesus’ return. And he said this must be the case or otherwise Christian Graves would all be empty (I want to know how he knows they aren’t but that’s besides the point) but this leads me to ask about cremation. How are people who have been cremated physically resurrected? Or even bodies that have fully decomposed.

Isn’t the traditional Jewish interpretation (Old Testament) one of physical resurrection of the body?

Continued spiritual life, if possible, would seem to beyond mortal understanding. Some people say the afterlife is a nice place, but how can we know when our only basis for understanding is physical life?

Those are probably off-topic questions. Feel free to ignore me. :slight_smile:

If there’s a spiritual component to a human being that persists through death, then when that is united to a resurrection body (whether that body is made from that person’s corpse or formed anew) it suffices to make the body that person’s body. But from what we see in the Gospels, Jesus’s resurrection body was physically continuous with his earthly body, so it seems that will be the usual mode for Christians as well (our resurrection being modelled on his). I think that is why Craig says that immediate resurrection would imply that Christians’ graves should all be empty.

As far as I am aware that is the traditional Christian belief: when we die, we persist in a disembodied form (though not like some kind of ghost wandering around on earth; rather, our spirits go into the presence of God, or maybe to something like the OT concept of Sheol) until the time of Christ’s return. At that time we are resurrected, our spirits being united with our resurrection bodies, which are either transformed from (what remains of) our earthly bodies or (if nothing remains) created for us anew.

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