Is There Life After Death? (Part Two)
We have made the case that there is a part of our humanity that is not physical, and not subject to the physical death that awaits our bodies. The existence of free will, which is not compatible with a determined naturalistic worldview, shows that it is reasonable to believe that our death will not be the end of us.
If that premise is valid, then so are the concepts of justice, responsibility, good and evil, and love, all of which are dependent on free will. If free will is an illusion, so are these critical aspects of life, but without them life is little more than an absurdity.
There is an even more basic aspect of our existence that cannot be explained physically, but without it, no explanations are needed.
Albert Einstein said that the most incomprehensible thing about the universe is our ability to comprehend it. Human consciousness has long been an enigma to both philosophers and scientists. Blaise Paschal called it the human dilemma: we are aware of our seeming insignificance in the universe, and yet this awareness, this consciousness of self is what drives us to seek for meaning and significance. Only humans ask, “Why?”
Philosophers actually talk about zombies, hypothetical beings that are exactly like humans physically but without this consciousness. Philosopher Daniel Dennett actually believes that consciousness is an illusion and that we are zombies, but then he adds that we should pretend otherwise in our treatment of each other. The reason for his outlandish and contradictory assertion is his absolute commitment to materialism.
Science has no answer for the human mind apart from the physical brain, but they are obviously not the same. Just as our brain state can affect our thoughts, so can our thoughts affect and change our brain. Consider the placebo effect, in which patients taking sugar pills get medicinal benefit because they believe they are taking medicine. Or they get nauseous from the same pill because they believe it is a side effect.
If our mind is independent enough to create physical changes by immaterial thoughts, might it also be independent of the physical law of entropy and death. It is the surviving consciousness that is life after death. And cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker laments, concerning human consciousness, “We have no scientific explanation.”
The Biblical explanation, then should not be ruled out of court. We are physical beings in whom God breathed His image, and we are a living soul. Our brain acts as a transmitter in this life, but is not our personhood. In a similar way, the CD player in your car communicates the music, but it is not the music.
As you agree or disagree with this article, are your neurons just responding as they are programmed, or are you actually thinking? Remember, “I think. Therefore I exist.” (Descartes)