General Immortality

Home > Philosophy of Religion Articles > General Immortality
  • File

    Anders, Paul C.


    Material Being and the Survival of Death: A Dilemma for the Religiously Oriented Materialist

    "The nature of (human) persons has become an issue at the forefront of the debate between religion and a modern scientific worldview. Contemporary philosophy of mind is decidedly physicalistic in its approach. Some religiously oriented philosophers have sought to show some conceptual unification between religious doctrine and physicalist philosophy of mind. One of the central doctrines of many religious systems is that human persons survive death. After considering a standard objection to many types of materialist accounts of human persons, I focus my discussion on Peter van Inwagen’s proposed material ontology of human persons and how his position relates to the doctrine of life after death. I find van Inwagen’s proposal does not fall to this standard objection. However, van Inwagen’s attempt to show his materialism and the doctrine of the survival of death consistent makes clear the necessary falsehood of his material ontology regarding human persons. This result suggests a serious dilemma for the religiously oriented materialist regarding persons."
  • File

    Baker Lynne, Rudder


    Material Persons and the Doctrine of Resurrection

    "Many Christians assume that there are only two possibilities for what a human person is: either Animalism (the view that we are fundamentally animals) or Immaterialism (the view that we are fundamentally immaterial souls). I set out a third possibility: the Constitution View (the view that we are material beings, constituted by bodies but not identical to the bodies that now constitute us.) After setting out and briefly defending the Constitution View, I apply it to the doctrine of resurrection. I conclude by giving reasons for Christians to prefer the Constitution View of human persons to both Animalism and Immaterialism."
  • File

    Baker, Lynne Rudder


    Death and the Afterlife

    "The doctrine of resurrection has not received as much philosophical attention as some other aspects of Christian theology (e.g., the problem of evil and the traditional arguments for the existence of God), but views on personal identity suggest intriguing possibilities for identifying conditions under which a premortem person can be identical to a postmortem person. Only if a premortem and postmortem person can be one and the same individual is resurrection even a logical possibility."
  • File

    Baker, Lynne Rudder


    Persons and the Metaphysics of Resurrection

    "Theories of the human person differ greatly in their ability to underwrite a metaphysics of resurrection. This paper compares and contrasts a number of such views in light of the Christian doctrine of resurrection. In a Christian framework, resurrection requires that the same person who exists on earth also exists in an afterlife, that a postmortem person be embodied, and that the existence of a postmortem person is brought about by a miracle. According to my view of persons (the Constitution View), a human person is constituted by—but not identical to—a human organism. A person has a firstperson perspective essentially, and an organism has interrelated biological functions essentially. I shall argue for the superiority the Constitution View as a metaphysical basis for resurrection."
  • File

    Haldane, John J.


    Sentiments of Reason and Aspirations of the Soul

    "...[B]ecause I am going to be discussing immortality and the rationality of the desire for eternity, I want to say something about attitudes to considering the very idea of the soul; then I will set out in brief some arguments for its reality—arguments that I think are unjustly neglected, but that, I am happy to acknowledge, are also somewhat obscure and require detailed analyses that cannot be entered into here."
  • File

    Hasker, William



    "Human beings, like all other organic creatures, die and their bodies decay. Nevertheless, there is a widespread and long-standing belief that in some way death is survivable, that there is “life after death.” The focus in this article is on the possibility that the individual who dies will somehow continue to live, or will resume life at a later time, and not on the specific forms such an afterlife might take. We begin by considering the logical possibility of survival, given different metaphysical views concerning the nature of the mind/soul, and then move on to consider possible forms of support for the belief in survival."
  • File

    Swinburne, Richard


    "Nature and Immortality of the Soul" in E. Craig (Ed.), Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy. London: Routledge (1998).

    "...[T]he soul is what gives life to the body. Plato thought of it as a thing separate from the body. A human living on earth consists of two parts, soul and body. The soul is the essential part of the human – what makes me me. It is the part to which the mental life of humans pertains – it is the soul which thinks and feels and chooses. Soul and body interact. Bodily states often cause soul states, and soul states often cause bodily states. This view is known as substance dualism."
    Read Article (External Site)
  • File

    Swinburne, Richard


    The Possibility of Life after Death

    "In this paper I argue that a human on Earth consists of two interconnected parts (two substances, in philosophical terminology) - body and soul. The body is material, the soul is immaterial. The soul is the essential part of the person; it is the continuing of my soul which constitutes the continuing of me, as argued in my The Evolution of the Soul. At death my body ceases to function, and gradually decays. If there is a God, as I believe, what happens to the soul depends on his will; and I believe that he has revealed that normally he will keep it in existence for ever. I do not know what would happen to the soul if there were no God. I can't prove to you in twenty minutes, as well as everything else, that there is a God and so that the soul will go on existing forever. But I can, I hope, prove to you that there is a soul for something to happen to."
  • File

    Vasalou, Sofia


    Personal Identity Across Temporal Gaps: An Islamic View of the Problem

    "The topic I will be discussing in this paper concerns the efforts of medieval Muslim theologians to establish claims of identity for human beings resurrected after a period of non-existence. Medieval Islam had room for a fairly diverse range of views about the nature of human beings, of resurrection and the afterlife in general, but what sets the stage for a problem familiar both in medieval Christianity and in contemporary philosophy is a particular combination of views found among some, though by no means all, medieval Muslim theologians. One was the view of human beings as basically physical entities for whom death meant the cessation of existence with no part of them to survive, and the other the belief that resurrection was preceded by a temporal gap – a yawning temporal gap indeed, in which created being was annihilated by God in order to be created anew afterwards."
  • File

    Wilson, P. Eddy


    Is Seamless Post-Mortem Existence Necessary for Survival?

    "...I have set out to investigate how three notable philosophers understand survival. I expose some of their assumptions about seamless or non-gappy existence. Corcoran and Hasker speculate that an account of survival could be developed that would include spatial and temporal gaps in an individual’s history.[33] As a prolegomenon to an alternative description of survival I suggest gappy accounts of survival would be more consistent with the nature of existence as we now understand it."
  • File

    van Inwagen, Peter


    I Look for the Resurrection of the Dead and the Life of the World to Come

    "I must address a difficult metaphysical question. Is resurrection possible, given materialism? It can be plausibly argued that the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead presupposes some form of dualism. For if human persons are not immaterial souls, if they are living animals, then it would seem that death must be the end of them. A living animal is a material object. A material object is composed, at any given moment, of certain atoms. But if one is composed of certain atoms today, it is clear from what we know about the metabolisms of living things that one was not composed of those same atoms a year ago: one must then have been composed of a set of atoms that hardly overlaps the set of atoms that composes one today—and so for any living organism. This fact, the fact that the atoms of which a living organism is composed are in continuous flux, confronts the materialist who believes in resurrection with a grave metaphysical difficulty."
  • File

    van Inwagen, Peter



    "There are several competing philosophical theories of the metaphysics of resurrection. Some who accept the doctrine of resurrection deny the existence of a separable, immaterial soul...Others accept the existence of an immaterial soul, but differ on the question whether the person, the I, is the immaterial soul...Others who believe in a separable soul...accept a metaphysic of soul and body that is deceptively similar to Plato's: one is an immaterial soul, and one will exist and think and have experiences throughout the interval during which one is without a body...Each of these metaphysical theories of resurrection faces philosophical problems."