STUDY THE BIBLE COURSE Lesson 14: Are Humans Immortal?

STUDY THE BIBLE COURSE
Lesson 14a: Are Humans Immortal?

 

 

Bob Thiel, Editor-in-Chief

Published 2018 by the Continuing Church of God

Preface: This course is highly based upon the personal correspondence course developed in 1954 that began under the direction of the late C. Paul Meredith in the old Radio Church of God. Various portions have been updated for the 21st century (though much of the original writing has been retained). It also has more scriptural references, as well as information and questions not in the original course. Unless otherwise noted, scriptural references are to the NKJV, copyright Thomas Nelson Publishing, used by permission. The KJV, sometimes referred to as the Authorized Version is also often used. Additionally, Catholic-approved translations such as the New Jerusalem Bible (NJB) are sometimes used as are other translations.

Note: This particular lesson was so long in the original, it was needful to break it into three parts as it was longer than an entire edition of this magazine. The next part, 14b, is planned for the next issue.

Death is a stark reality for humanity. Some die by war, others by starvation, still others by old age. Everyone must face it.

What happens after death? Is there life beyond the grave? This lesson answers these and many other vital questions about man.

WHAT IS MAN?

WHAT IS man?” asked the psalmist David in Psalm 8:4. Is man an immortal soul in a material body? Is death the separation of body and soul? What really happens to a person at death?

And what about the atheist who believes that there is no HOPE OF LIFE AFTER DEATH?

These questions have puzzled – yes, frightened – millions since the beginning of time! How can we PROVE – how can we really be SURE – what happens to a human being at death?

Death a Reality

Death is a reality! – a TERRIBLE reality for many religious people. Death is often pictured as the inescapable FINAL PLUNGE into the unknown – into the “next world” with its heaven, its hell or its purgatory.

But to the average man-on-the-street, death is a vague, far-off, UNREAL something that happens to someone else – a hazy, distant possibility which he feels he can worry about LATER.

Though many today like to shove it from their minds, like to escape having to think about it, death is REAL! It is the inevitable consequence of being ALIVE. Every living organism follows the pattern of birth, growth, senility and death. Death befalls thousands every hour – through sickness, accidents, starvation, murder and war.

Isn’t it about time we examined what is called life and death? Isn’t it about time we finally learned WHAT MAN IS? – and what hope there is of life after death?

No Immortal Soul!

Nearly every ancient pagan philosopher, heathen tribe, and nation from antiquity have believed that a human is essentially a spiritual being – some kind of vague immortal spiritual soul housed in a body of flesh – that the human body is merely the house we dwell in, or the cloak put around us temporarily – that the REAL person is not the body, but an invisible, immaterial, immortal soul that thinks, that hears, that sees and that will live on consciously forever.

At death, according to the speculation of the ancient pagan philosophers, the SOUL – the real you – leaves the body and journeys to a heaven, to a purgatory or to a place of punishment. The BODY, they observed, went to the grave.

A few philosophers speculated that the souls of the departed are reborn in other kinds of bodies after death and live on earth again in the form of monkeys, cattle, serpents, or perhaps as human beings. This doctrine is called “transmigration of souls.”

What about the widespread belief among many who profess Christ that humans have (or are) an immortal soul?

Consider this candid admission from the “Jewish Encyclopedia”:

“The belief that the soul continues its existence after the dissolution of the body” – after death – “is a matter of philosophical or theological SPECULATION rather than of simple faith, and is accordingly NOWHERE EXPRESSLY TAUGHT IN HOLY SCRIPTURE” (from article, “Immortality of the Soul”).

Nowhere does the Bible say God created an “immortal soul” in man!

Then where DID the Jews, Catholics, and Protestants acquire their present belief about the immortality of the soul?

The Immortal Soul Idea Originated with Satan and the Pagans

So where did the idea of the immortal soul come from?

According to the Bible it came from Satan and was part of the first lie to humans! Notice this account:

1 Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”

2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; 3 but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’”

4 Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. …” (Genesis 3:1-4).

In time, variants of this popped up around the world.

The Jews were affected as well.

Here are words from the same Jewish article explaining where the doctrine of the immortality of the soul DID originate:

“The belief in the immortality of the soul came to the Jews from contact with Greek thought and chiefly through the philosophy of Plato, its principle exponent, who was led to it through Orphic and Eleusinian mysteries in which Babylonian and Egyptian views were strangely blended.”

Here are the words from a more recent source:

Plato, most influentially, separated the soul, or psyche, from the material body and argued that this reasoning part of our being was immortal. His idea was so powerful and attractive that it has kept philosophers intimately engaged with it to this day. Then, too, because so many influential Christian theologians were part of this philosophical tradition, Platonic ideas have left a lasting imprint on Christian beliefs. The body may die, many Christians hold, but the soul lives on, presumably extending into eternity those qualities that we associate with our conscious minds and our sense of selfhood…

Malcolm Jeeves, an honorary professor of psychology at the University of St. Andrews, is one of many believing scientists…”The immortality of the soul is so often talked about that it is easy to miss that the Jewish view did not support it,” Jeeves says. “Furthermore, the original Christian view was not the immortality of the soul but the resurrection of the body.” But Platonism did creep in, Jeeves acknowledges, winning over such influential Christian theologians as Augustine and John Calvin. (Tolson J. Is There Room for the Soul? New challenges to our most cherished beliefs about self and the human spirit. US NEWS AND WORLD REPORT, October 23, 2006).

It came from the PAGAN GREEK PHILOSOPHERS who acquired it from Egypt and Babylon – NOT FROM THE BIBLE! It is now a widely accepted tradition by those in the Greco-Roman-Protestant faiths, but not those that believe the Bible over tradition, like the Continuing Church of God.

The speculations about the soul appear to have entered the western world FROM EGYPT. Herodotus, the famous Greek historian, who lived in the fifth century before Jesus, admitted:

[T]he Egyptians are also the first who reported the doctrine that the soul of man is immortal, …. This doctrine certain Hellenes adopted, some earlier and some later, as if it were of their own invention (Herodotus Book 2: Euterpe, see 123).

Hellenes means Greeks. The Greeks adopted the immortality doctrine from the pagan Egyptians, not from the Bible!

It was Socrates, the Greek philosopher, who travelled to Egypt and consulted the Egyptians on this very teaching. After his return to Greece, he imparted the error to Plato, his most famous pupil. Now compare the present-day doctrine of the churches with what Plato wrote in his book, “The Phaedo.” Plato wrote:

And in like manner, not only does life exclude death, but the soul, of which life is the inseparable attribute, also excludes death. And that of which life is the inseparable attribute is by the force of the terms imperishable. … But the immortal is imperishable; and therefore the soul on the approach of death does not perish but removes. …

What is the nature of that death which he desires? Death is the separation of soul and body—and the philosopher desires such a separation.

Sounds like an ordinary church catechism, doesn’t it? Of course! Yet, the DOCTRINE was formulated by Plato! – not the apostle Paul!

To Plato, the student and intimate acquaintance of Socrates, death did not really mean death! Rather, he conceived it to be the separation of the “soul” from the body.

You, too, were probably taught to assume this same doctrine. You were probably told it came straight from the Bible – but it did not! It came out of pagan speculation!

After Plato came Aristotle who perpetuated the theory. Then the Roman poet Virgil (70-19 B.C.) popularized it throughout the Roman world.

Paganism Falsely Labeled “Christian”

The introduction of this pagan superstition into the churches was a gradual process lasting centuries. As the great conspiracy spread, the early Catholic “fathers” became divided on this subject.

The EARLY Catholics KNEW they DID NOT HAVE immortality within themselves! It was something they expected to receive.

In the 2nd century A.D., the Roman church supporting Justin (often called Justin Martyr) wrote:

Justin also stated, “For I choose to follow not men or men’s doctrines, but God and the doctrines [delivered] by Him. For if you have fallen in with some who are called Christians, but who do not admit this [truth], and venture to blaspheme the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; who say there is no resurrection of the dead, and that their souls, when they die, are taken to heaven; do not imagine that they are Christians” (Dialogue. Chapter 80).

It may be of interest to note that the false idea that humans could not die as they possessed immortality was, according to Justin, believed by false Christians who descended from Simon Magus:

“To Simon the holy God.” And almost all the Samaritans, and a few even of other nations, worship him, and acknowledge him as the first god; and a woman, Helena, who went about with him at that time, and had formerly been a prostitute, they say is the first idea generated by him. And a man, Meander, also a Samaritan, of the town Capparetaea, a disciple of Simon, and inspired by devils, we know to have deceived many while he was in Antioch by his magical art. He persuaded those who adhered to him that they should never die, and even now there are some living who hold this opinion of his…All who take their opinions from these men, are, as we before said, called Christians; just as also those who do not agree with the philosophers in their doctrines, have yet in common with them the name of philosophers given to them…But I have a treatise against all the heresies that have existed already composed, which, if you wish to read it, I will give you (Justin. First Apology, Chapter XXVI)

But Catholic doctrine gradually changed.

Here is what John Nelson Darby, leader among the “Plymouth Brethren” Church later confesses:

“I cannot show from Scripture that man is naturally immortal. I can only deduce it. The idea of the immortality of the soul has no source in the gospel; it comes, on the contrary, from the Platonists, and it is just when the second coming of Christ was denied in the Church, or at least began to be lost sight of, that the doctrine of the immortality of the soul came in to replace that of the resurrection. This was about the time of Origen” (from “Lectures”, Vol. IV).

And who was Origen?

A Catholic teacher in Alexandria, Egypt! He joined the speculations of Plato with certain Bible doctrines and called his philosophy NEO-PLATONISM. Here is what Origen wrote around 200 A.D.: “Souls that are immortal, as God Himself is eternal and immortal”!

He professed to be a true “Platonist, who believed in the immortality of the soul” (“Ante-Nicene Fathers”, Vol. IV, pp. 314, 402).

A spurious document apparently from the second or early third century, called The Recognitions of Clement, may have been used to introduce the immortality heresy into the Alexandrian Orthodox:

Now, the proof that the soul is immortal will be put past doubt, not from what it says, or from what I hear, but from what I see: for seeing it with my eyes, I shall ever after hold the surest conviction of its immortality; and no fallacy of words or uncertainty of hearing shall ever be able to disturb the persuasion produced by sight. (The Recognitions of Clement, 1.5. In the Ante-Nicene Fathers, Rev. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, editors, Vol. VIII. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B Eerdmans Publishing Company, Note: This text is considered to have been spurious and probably not written by Clement of Alexandria.)

Notice that the claim for immortality above is NOT based on the Bible, but what the author claims to see. The Bible teaches that we are to “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7)–yet perhaps the first “proimmortality” Greco-Roman writing does not appeal to scripture, unlike the future immorality writers generally did.

Since it is believed that Origen referred to this Recognition work c. 231, he would have been familiar with it, though some believe passages may have been added to it in the fourth or even later centuries (Smith T. Introductory Notice to The Recognitions of Clement. ANTE-NICENE FATHERS VOLUME 8).

In the mid-late 3rd century, a mystic often now referred to as Gregory the Wonder Worker, claimed the soul was immortal. Gregory studied under Origen in Alexandria Egypt. Gregory was also the first to claim to see “Mary,” he helped introduce heretical doctrines, and he may have been the first of the Greco-Roman bishops to teach that the soul was immortal:

We prove, then, that the soul is simple … that what is simple is immortal … If, therefore, the soul is not corrupted by the evil proper to itself, and the evil of the soul is cowardice, intemperance, envy, and the like, and all these things do not despoil it of its powers of life and action, it follows that it is immortal. (Gregory Thaumaturgus. On the Soul, Chapters 5, 6)

Sand is simple, but that does not make it immortal, yet the simplicity argument is supposedly proof of the false doctrine. Bacterial life is simpler than human life, but bacteria are not immortal.

While this doctrine was not commonly accepted for a while, Gregory’s change did get accepted (though to a significant degree because of others, but also likely some he at least indirectly affected). But it never should have been accepted.

In Ezekiel 18:4 the Douay-Rheims Bible (a well known Roman Catholic rendition of scripture into the English language) teaches “ the soul that sinneth, the same shall die” and “The soul that sinneth, the same shall die” in Ezekiel 18:20.

But a few Catholic writers and teachers as late as the time of Constantine condemned the change in doctrine from Christ to Plato. Here is the clear testimony of Arnobius against those who were being “carried away with an extravagant opinion of themselves that souls are immortal …. Will you lay aside your habitual arrogance, O men, who claim God as your Father, and maintain that you are immortal just as He is?” (Vol. LV, p. 440).

Thus even into the 4th century, the immortality of humans was not taught as is now accepted by Catholics and Protestants. But this seemed to change as many who professed Catholicism ended coming from a background in Mithraism (such as Emperor Constantine).

Mithraism Taught the Immortality of the Soul

In the fourth century, there was a sort of merging between the Greco-Roman churches and many who had been followers of the sun-god Mithras. And while the Greco-Romans did not adopt everything associated with Mithraism, they did adopt some practices and beliefs that those who followed Mithras had.

While many Roman emperors had been followers of Mithras, they tended to disdain forms of Christianity. However this changed with Emperor Constantine.

The Catholic Encyclopedia reports:

…it was especially in the western part of the empire that the veneration of Mithras predominated. Would it not be possible to gather all the different nationalities around his altars? Could not Sol Deus Invictus, to whom even Constantine dedicated his coins for a long time, or Sol Mithras Deus Invictus, venerated by Diocletian and Galerius, become the supreme god of the empire? Constantine may have pondered over this.

Nor had he absolutely rejected the thought even after a miraculous event had strongly influenced him in favour of the God of the Christians…As pontifex maximus he watched over the heathen worship and protected its rights…It is true that the believers in Mithras also observed Sunday as well as Christmas. Consequently Constantine speaks not of the day of the Lord, but of the everlasting day of the sun.

(Herbermann, Charles, and Georg Grupp. “Constantine the Great.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 4. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1908. 1 Sept. 2008 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04295c.htm>)

It should be mentioned that the coins dedicated to Mithras still were produced for years after Constantines’ alleged acceptance of “Christianity”.

Mithraism taught the immortality of the soul. And though that was not the original position of the Greco-Roman churches, scholars recognize that both Mithraism and mainstream Christianity ended up with a similar teaching on this subject:

The resemblances between Mithraism and Christianity may be quickly summed up,— belief in the immortality of the soul (Aiken C.F., Mithraism and Christianity. The Catholic University bulletin, Volume 19, 1913. Original from the University of Michigan, Digitized Dec 19, 2008, p. 380)

They both admitted the existence of a Heaven inhabited by beatified ones, situate in the upper regions…they both, finally, believed in the immortality of the soul.

(Cumont, Franz. Translated from the second revised French edition by Thomas J. McCormack. The Mysteries of Mithra. Chicago, The Catholic University bulletin Author Catholic University of America Publisher Catholic University of America., 1913 Item notes v. 19 Original from the University of Michigan Digitized Dec 19, 2008pen Court [1903] p. 193)

Because of Emperor Constantine’s strong influence (perhaps also combined with Gregory the Wonder Worker’s writings), it should be little surprise that the Greco-Romans began to change to accept a teaching that they originally taught against. But for a while, the “immortality of the soul” view was in the minority.

The immortality of the soul was a prominent view within Mithraism and the Greco-Romans adopted it for their form of “Christianity.”

After the time of Emperor Constantine – who essentially forced the Catholic/Orthodox Church on the Roman Empire – Augustine of North Africa “sanctified” the doctrine of the immortality of the soul in his book, “The City of God”. Along came other writers – all under the influence of Plato, Aristotle and Virgil – who dominated the philosophy of Western “Christian” theology during the early Middle Ages.

Fully Developed in the 13th Century, But With Questions

Although it took some time from its introduction, by the end of 13th century, the immortality of the soul view was clearly predominant.

The Catholic Encyclopedia states:

Immortality…The doctrine received its complete philosophical elaboration from St. Thomas. Accepting the Aristotelean theory that the soul is the form of the body, Aquinas still insists that, possessing spiritual faculties of intellect and will, it belongs to an altogether higher plane of existence than other animal forms…St. Thomas holds that we can prove the fact of the soul’s conscious life when separate from the body (Michael Maher. Transcribed by Douglas J. Potter. Immortality. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume VII. Published 1910. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, June 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Thomas Aquinas wrote:

It would seem that no souls are conveyed to heaven…immediately after death…On the contrary, It is written: “If our earthly house of this habitation be dissolved, that we have . . . a house not made with hands, but reserved in heaven” (Aquinas Thomas. Summa Theologica. Question 69. Matters concerning the resurrection, and first of the place where souls are after death).

It should be pointed out that “St. Thomas” (Aquinas) died in 1274 A.D. Hence, the Roman Catholic Church admits that the doctrine of immortality as now understood by the Roman Catholics was a relatively late development.

However, it should be pointed out that Thomas tended to base his position on early writings and traditions. And the idea of the immortality of the soul did not come just from Aristotle, it also was part of Mithraism– a religion that shared many doctrines that the Church of Rome (as well as many other churches) adopted.

From 1308 to 1320, Durante Alighieri, popularly known as Dante, wrote the immensely famous poem, “The Divine Comedy.” In which he pictured for the common people the PAGAN CONCEPT OF PARADISE, PURGATORY, AND THE NON-DESTROYING INFERNO. Such FALSE DOCTRINES have been widely believed since that time.

False Idea Imposed by Roman Church

Just before the Protestant Reformation broke out in Europe, the Catholic Church imposed the death penalty on all who refused to believe the pagan doctrine of the soul’s immortality. At the Lateran Council, held in 1513, this decree was issued:

“Whereas some have dared to assert concerning the nature of the reasonable soul that it is mortal … We, with the approbation of the Sacred Council, do condemn and reprobate all those who assert that the intellectual soul is mortal, or one and the same in all men, and those who call these things in question; seeing that the soul is not only truly, and of itself, and essentially the form of the human body, as is expressed in the canon of Pope Clement the Fifth, … is infused … immortal; … and we decree that all who adhere to like erroneous assertions shall be shunned and PUNISHED AS HERETICS.”

Little wonder that the Protestant reformers found the people unwilling to change their doctrines. The reformers quickly took the popular road, rejected “the faith once delivered for all time to the saints’ (Jude 3), and began to follow tradition – Catholic tradition which has its roots in pagan philosophy and doctrines of demons!

And THAT IS WHY MOST OF YOU were reared to BELIEVE in the IMMORTALITY OF THE SOUL!

Now we give you the startling Catholic admission about the doctrine of the immortality of the soul: “It enshrines the principles of ancient SPECULATION” (“The Catholic Encyclopedia”, from article “Soul,” p. 157

Notice! The belief that man is essentially a spiritual soul housed in a material body is derived from ANCIENT PAGAN SPECULATION!

The apostle Paul wrote about this very kind of speculation: “BEWARE lest any man spoil you through PHILOSOPHY and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments” – or fundamental concepts – “of the world, and not after Christ” (Colossians 2:8, KJV).

The BIBLE CONDEMNS the philosophic errors of the pagans! – AND THAT INCLUDES THEIR DOCTRINE THAT MAN IS AN IMMORTAL SOUL!

The Original Protestant View

Even the ORIGINAL leaders of the Protestant Reformation recognized that the doctrine of the immortality of the soul did not come from the Bible. Martin Luther declared that it was the Pope, not the Bible, who taught that “the soul is immortal” (“Defense”, proposition section 27).

The Catholic Cardinal Du Perron charged specifically that “Luther held that the soul died with the body, and that God would hereafter raise both the one and the other” (“Historical View”, p. 344).

How different were Luther’s first teachings from the Protestant doctrine today. Here are Luther’s early views as expressed 13 January 1522:

“It is probable, in my opinion, that, with very few exceptions, indeed, the DEAD SLEEP IN UTTER INSENSIBILITY TILL THE DAY OF JUDGMENT … On what authority can it be said that the souls of the dead may not sleep … in the same way that the living pass in profound slumber the interval between their downlying at night and their uprising in the morning?” (From “Michelet’s Life of Luther”, Bohn’s edition, p. 133.)

The Bible teaches “the dead know nothing” (Ecclesiastes 9:5).

Yet, both Catholics and Protestants now almost universally claim that the soul is immortal–and many condemn the biblical idea of “soul sleep.”

Others also noticed some of this. Here is some of what the late Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote about it in a paper dated November 23, 1949:

In Avesta, Mithra was the genius of celestial light … The doctrine of the immortality of the soul was another view which was very prominent in Mithraism … Of all the mystery cults, Mithraism was the greatest competitor of Christianity … That Christians did copy and borrow from Mithraism cannot be denied (King ML. The papers of Martin Luther King, Jr, Volume 4. Clayborne Carson, Ralph Luker, Penny A. Russell editors/compliers. University of California Press, 1992, pp. 213-214, 217, 222, 224).

William Tyndale, the printer of the first New Testament in English, and one of the reformers, wrote:

In putting [departed souls] in heaven, hell, or purgatory you destroy the arguments wherewith Christ and Paul prove the resurrection …. The true faith putteth the resurrection; the HEATHEN philosophers, denying that, did put that souls did ever live. And the Pope joineth the spiritual doctrine of Christ and the fleshly doctrine of the philosophers together — things so contrary that they cannot agree …. And because the fleshly minded Pope consenteth to heathen doctrine, therefore he corrupteth the Scripture to establish it. If the soul be in heaven, tell me what cause is there for the resurrection?

Even “Lange’s Commentary” admits:

“The doctrine of the immortality of the soul, and the name, are alike unknown to the entire Bible” (Olshausen’s comment on 1 Corinthians 15:19, 20).

Then why do most Protestants today believe the doctrine of the immortality of the soul? Because they, too, have been deceived by the speculations of the ancient pagan philosophers! The Bible is not the source of the religion of Protestants any more than of Catholics or Jews!

In the next part, with your own Bible we will go into what the Word of God has to say ABOUT THE SOUL –about what humans really are!

 

STUDY THE BIBLE COURSE
Lesson 14b: What Are Humans?

 

 

Bob Thiel, Editor-in-Chief

Published 2018 by the Continuing Church of God

Preface: This course is highly based upon the personal correspondence course developed in 1954 that began under the direction of the late C. Paul Meredith in the old Radio Church of God. Various portions have been updated for the 21st century (though much of the original writing has been retained). It also has more scriptural references, as well as information and questions not in the original course. Unless otherwise noted, scriptural references are to the NKJV, copyright Thomas Nelson Publishing, used by permission. The KJV, sometimes referred to as the Authorized Version is also often used. Additionally, Catholic-approved translations such as the New Jerusalem Bible (NJB) are sometimes used as are other translations.

God Reveals What Humans Really Are!

Jesus Christ is the Word of God, the Spokesman of God the Supreme Creator. Unless He had revealed His knowledge to us, we would have had no possible way to find out what human beings really are, what death is, and what lies beyond! And unless you accept His revelation of that knowledge, you have NO basis whatsoever for any knowledge or belief as to what you really are!

Only the Bible has the complete and INFALLIBLE record of Jesus Christ’s testimony about life and death.

Here are Christ’s own words: “I am He who lives, AND WAS DEAD” – Christ, then, has returned from the dead, come back to life to REVEAL what happened ON THE OTHER SIDE OF DEATH—”and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen.” He continues, “And I have the keys of Hades [the grave] and of Death” (Revelation 1:18).

Christ has the keys of the grave and of death. There is nothing that can be hidden from Him, or kept back from His almighty power! He has ALL knowledge; SCIENCE can only reveal PART of the truth that Christ knows. Yet science can contribute something. What do experiments lead scientists to believe?

SCIENCE DEALS ONLY WITH MATERIAL SUBSTANCE – matter, force, energy. Matter is either inorganic or organic – dead or living. Science knows of no life apart from matter, because science is limited entirely to the material world that can be weighed and measured – what can be perceived by the five senses. All that a human can know NATURALLY IS MATERIAL.

NO SCIENTIFIC AUTHORITY BELIEVES THAT LIFE IN PLANTS OR ANIMALS IS A SEPARATE ENTITY WHICH MAY EXIST APART FROM, OR OUTSIDE OF THAT PLANT OR ANIMAL.

An important contribution of science to the study of what a human is, is the LAW OF BIOGENESIS. This is the scientific demonstration that all living substance, or matter, arises only from other substance already living. We discussed this in Lesson 11 of this Course. Life can come only from life. When life ceases, the plant or animal or human becomes dead matter.

Nothing is more certainly proved by science than the utter impossibility of the reappearance of life whether of plant, animal or human – in a resurrection through any powers inherent within matter. That is one of the reasons why SCIENCE ASSUMES there COULD BE NO RESURRECTION. Science IS ABLE TO OBSERVE ONLY WHAT IS MATERIAL. All living material is mortal matter – matter with a TEMPORARY EXISTENCE. Flesh is matter, and a human is flesh!

What about the doctrine of the immortality of the soul? What has science to say about it? NOTHING! SCIENCE HAS NEVER FOUND ANY IMMORTAL SOUL WITHIN A HUMAN because there is no way for SCIENCE to observe any such thing. There is no evidence in the entire realm of scientific investigation of any such thing as an immortal soul that leaves the body at death, and that departs with all the store of knowledge that has been accumulated in the lifetime of the individual. All that science has proved is that individuals who have died on an operating table, and who have been revived after a few minutes through heart massage after quickly opening the chest, have known nothing about the intervening time! THEY HAVE “GONE” NOWHERE! They merely reawaken on the operating table. If too many minutes have elapsed, the deterioration of the brain is so rapid that the person is thereafter deprived of some of his thinking faculties, and of his store of previous knowledge. But certainly there is no evidence of any thinking soul being able to exist apart from the body!

SCIENCE can reveal no more than this. HUMAN PHILOSOPHY cannot reveal even this much, because philosophy has no way to prove any of its speculations apart from the tools of science.

ONLY THE BIBLE – the Revelation of Jesus Christ – CAN REVEAL WHAT SCIENCE IS UNABLE TO KNOW! Here is what the Bible reveals about WHAT A HUMAN REALLY IS!

1. Of what is a human composed, according to Jesus Christ? John 3:6, first part. Is a human born of the flesh in this life? Then is he FLESH? Since a person is born of fleshly parents, a human is NOT composed of SPIRIT.

COMMENT: Jesus here plainly points out that if we are born of flesh, we CANNOT be composed of spirit. The natural human, then, is NOT composed of an IMMORTAL SPIRITUAL SOUL in a body of mortal flesh. A person is composed ENTIRELY of mortal flesh and when that flesh dies, the PERSON IS DEAD – COMPLETELY! Science proves that!

2. Was Jesus Christ born of the flesh? Romans 1:3. Then Christ was composed of flesh, wasn’t He? Compare this with Colossians 1:22. Jesus certainly knew what flesh was – because He was composed of flesh!

3. Was Paul composed of flesh? Romans 7:18. Was Paul a soul CLOTHED in a body of flesh? – or did Paul speak of himself as his flesh? Then is it not true the real Paul, the personality, was flesh and not an immortal spirit?

4. Is the mind of the natural person also fleshly minded? Colossians 2:18, last part.

How Man Was Created

God created the first man. God tells us how He did it so we could know what we are. The one who did the work of creation was Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:16). Here is how He says He created man:

1. Out of what did God form man? Genesis 2:7. Notice that it was the man – NOT MERELY THE BODY – that was formed! Does it say that MAN was formed out of dust or out of SPIRIT?

2. Was merely the BODY composed of dust – OR was THE MAN composed of dust? Genesis 3:19, last part. Whom does God address in this verse – the body, or the man? Then it is the man, not merely the body, who is composed of dust, isn’t it?

3. What was to happen to humans? Genesis 3:19, last part. Who was to return to dust, the body or THE HUMAN? Does God say “your body” shall return to dust, or “YOU” – THE CONSCIOUS HUMAN – shall return to dust – which?

4. After God had formed the lifeless man and made every cell in his body, what did God do to make the man ALIVE? Genesis 2:7, middle part of verse. Did God breathe something into man’s nostrils? What was it that He BREATHED INTO the man?

COMMENT: God breathed into the man “the breath of life” – the AIR or WIND that gave the man life! It does NOT say the man had an immortal soul because God breathed one into the man! It was breath – the same breath we breathe today – that imparted life to the first human. God blew air or wind into the man’s lungs through the nostrils, and the man lived!

5. Is essentially the same breath of life passing through the nostrils of the animals and fowl and rodents? Genesis 7:21-22. Then the source of LIFE of humans, of animals and of birds is the SAME breath of LIFE, isn’t it? Since there is no immortal soul imparting life to the animals and to the fowl of the air, therefore, there is no immortal soul imparting life to humans, is there?

6. What happens if living flesh is deprived of the breath of life? Psalm 104:29, last part. Do they die? Do THEY – or only their bodies – return to the dust? Same verse.

7. What does Psalm 146:4 reveal about the life of humans? What is it that returns to the earth when the breath leaves? Is it only the body or is it the human? ALL of the person? What happens to one’s thoughts when death overtakes a human? Same verse, last part. Does ones thoughts continue to exist in an immortal soul – or do the thoughts PERISH? Does PERISH mean to exist forever, or to CEASE to exist? (Look up the meaning in your dictionary.)

A Human Being IS a MORTAL Soul

1. When God had breathed – blown – air or breath into the man’s nostrils, what did the man Adam become? Genesis 2:7, KJV, last part.

COMMENT: The original Hebrew word here translated in the KJV “soul” is “nephesh.” Young’s Concordance defines it as a “breathing creature.” Strong’s Concordance also defines it as a “breathing creature, i.e. animal.” The NKJV translates as “being.” In Genesis 1:21, 24; 2:19; 9:10, 12, 15, 16 and Leviticus 11:46 the same word “nephesh” IS translated “creature” when referring to animals. And so a human is a creature.

The “soul,” nephesh in Hebrew, is a reference to the “life” or the “life essence”–that which makes us living beings. The same term is used of animals in the Bible- -actually it is used for non-humans more than humans in the Old Testament (e.g. Genesis 1:20,21,24).

Notice the same word “nephesh” IS translated as “dead body” or “the dead” in Leviticus 19:28; 21:1; 22:4, KJV; Numbers 5:2, KJV; 6:11, KJV and 9:6, 7, 10, KJV. THE SOUL, THEN, IS ANIMAL LIFE, SUBJECT TO DECAY AND DEATH. IT IS NOT IMMORTAL.

The SOUL IS COMPOSED OF THE DUST of the ground – it is material, not spiritual. It is matter. When the man BREATHES, he is a LIVING soul. When man ceases to breathe, he becomes a non-living or dead soul. That’s what your Bible reveals!

Can the soul die? Ezekiel 18:4 and 20. If the soul were immortal, it could not die, could it? Then the soul is plainly MORTAL, isn’t it? Job 4:17.

COMMENT: Since the soul is mortal, then humans are MORTAL – subject to DEATH.

Was Adam subject to death? Genesis 2:17, last part. Was it the body only that would die, or was it the conscious man – Adam – “you” – that would die?

2. Does the same thing that happens to humans happen to animals? Ecclesiastes 3:19. What one thing befalls both humans and animals alike? Same verse. Why? – because they all have the same TEMPORARY source of life, the breath of air? Do humans and animals all breathe air from the same source? When it comes to physical life, a human has no pre-eminence above an animal, correct?

3. Do all go to the same place at death? Ecclesiastes 3:20. Does this include ALL – men and animals alike? When an animal dies, it is dead; SO DIES A HUMAN also. When humans die, they are completely dead, too.

4. What is it that all humans and animals return to? Same verse. Do they ALL return to dust? Does this verse say that only the body returns to dust? Was it only the body, or was it the ENTIRE CONSCIOUS MAN that was originally made of dust? Genesis 3:19. Since the human, and not merely the body, is composed of dust, then it is the human who dies and returns to dust, isn’t it? Ecclesiastes 3:19-20. Is this passage a part of Scripture? How much of Scripture is given by inspiration? 2 Timothy 3:16. Then this passage in Ecclesiastes IS INSPIRED, isn’t it?

COMMENT: Some contend that this passage in Ecclesiastes is merely what SOLOMON thought, and that it is not the truth. The Bible plainly proves this idea false.

5. Now what does Ecclesiastes 3:21 teach?

COMMENT: There is, thus, a real difference between humans and animals. Humans have the “spirit of man” in them, whereas animals, including the other primates, do not. The reality that there is a spirit in humans is taught in both the Old and New Testaments: 8 But there is a spirit in man, And the breath of the Almighty gives him understanding. (Job 32:8)

11 For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? (1 Corinthians 2:11)

God gave animals instinct, but not the type of understanding that He gave humans (cf. Job 39:13-17). This “spirit in man” is not conscience after death (cf. Ecclesiastes 9:5; Psalm 6:5).

6. In many ways, are humans like the beasts that PERISH? Psalm 49:12.

What Is the LIFE of a Human?

A HUMAN IS A LIVING BREATHING mortal creature – a NEPHESH, or living soul/being, in whose nostrils is air. Let us understand the function of the breath of air that goes into your lungs. The blood flows through the wall of the lungs on the way back to the heart, as it is pumped through the veins and arteries of the body. The breath of air, upon contact with the surface of the lungs, gives up oxygen. This oxygen is absorbed into the bloodstream, and is quickly burned up in creating the energy needed to keep up body heat and other functions of the internal organs and muscles. The LIFE OF A HUMAN IS IN THE BLOOD, and the blood needs the breath of life to keep the body active and alive.

1. WHERE DOES THE LIFE OF ALL LIVING CREATURES RESIDE? Genesis 9:4. Is the life of man and animals found in the BLOODSTREAM? – or in an immortal soul?

2. Do we find the same definition of life in Leviticus 17:11 and 14?

3. Does Deuteronomy 12:23 corroborate this?

COMMENT: In these verses, the Hebrew word NEPHESH is translated “life.” The word NEPHESH or soul, then, can mean either the FLESHLY PART of a person or the LIFEBLOOD of a person.

4. Did Christ make His soul an offering for sin? Isaiah 53:10. How did He accomplish this? Verse 12.

COMMENT: Christ gave Himself for our sins (1 Corinthians 15:3) – offered up His soul or body to be crucified, and allowed His lifeblood or soul to be poured out!

5. When a person dies – becomes lifeless – what happens to him? Ecclesiastes 9:5. How much do the dead know?

COMMENT: Since the dead are not conscious of anything, then a human is NOT born with an immortal soul which would be aware of things happening around it after man’s fleshly body dies.

6. Are those who have died able to praise God? Psalm 115:17. Does this sound like what most of you have been taught in the churches? Do the churches really believe and teach the Bible?

7. Is there any remembrance of God in death? Psalm 6:5.

COMMENT: DEATH is the OPPOSITE OF LIFE. Death is the CESSATION OF LIFE.

Is a HuMan Merely an Animal?

1. Since both humans and animals maintain their mortal existence by the very same breath – is a human MERELY AN ANIMAL? Isn’t man created in the image of God? Genesis 1:26-27. Are humans to rule over all other creatures? Verse 26.

2. Were animals created in God’s image or weren’t they created each after its own kind? Genesis 1:21, 24, 25.

3. Other than the “spirit in man,” what is it that makes humans different from the animals – the lower creatures of the earth that God created? Was a human to be made in the image and likeness of God? Did God, then, create a mortal being – a human – after His own kind – the God kind? Genesis 1:26-27.

COMMENT: The Hebrew words of Genesis 1:26-27 reveal God’s great plan and ultimate purpose for humankind! When God moulded Adam of the dust, Adam was shaped in the “likeness” – the outward form and shape – of God Himself! God didn’t form any of the other creatures He had created to be a clay replica of Himself.

Notice what else God gave humans at creation! “God said, Let Us make man in OUR IMAGE … “ The Hebrew words here indicate more than merely the outward form and shape of God – His likeness – FAR MORE! The image of God refers to aspects of His MIND AND CHARACTER! No animal was ever given the gift of mind power! It is this very special attribute of mind and character that separates humans from animals!

A human IS NOT A MERE ANIMAL! Animals have only the brain – fantastically intricate brain with a degree of memory and instinct – which God created for each kind of animal. BUT ANIMALS DO NOT HAVE THE POTENTIAL OF MIND AND CHARACTER GOD CREATED ONLY FOR HUMANS.

Notice the great difference. Animals have brains as well as humans. Yet animals DO NOT HAVE TRUE REASONING, THINKING MINDS!

Animals follow habit patterns in their feeding, nesting, migration, and reproduction – by INSTINCT. This instinct which God created in their brains is set like a clock to cause them to react INVOLUNTARILY.

For example, thousands of birds flock south as winter approaches in the northern hemisphere each year without KNOWING WHY, without planning ahead an itinerary of stops. Yet at a given signal – like the alarm of a clock – they leave their summer feeding grounds in the North and travel thousands of miles south. Scientists don’t fully understand WHY – they can merely observe the operation of this animal instinct which God created. Each species of bird – each kind God created – has different instinctive patterns, builds different nests, feeds on different foods, and migrates in different ways at different times to different places. None of these actions are planned by animals however; they are merely the reaction Almighty God built into the instinct of each creature at creation.

But a HUMAN is DIFFERENT! A human is able to see – to perceive and understand – various ways to do any one thing. Humans can reason from memorized facts and knowledge, draw conclusions, make decisions, will to act according to a thought-out plan. Animals have much, much, less reasoning abilities.

Each person may build a different house, eat different foods – live an entirely different way of life from every other. If a human wants to change a particular way of life, this can be done! Human beings are not subject to the type of instinct, governed by a set of pre-determined natural principles, as are animals. Humans can CHOOSE – HUMANS HAVE FREE MORAL AGENCY! Humans can devise codes of morals and exercise self-discipline. Humans can originate ideas and evaluate scientific knowledge because humans have MINDS which were made in the “image” of God’s own mind! Humans can devise, plan, and bring those plans to fruition – because humans have some of the same creative powers God Himself has! BUT PEOPLE’S POWERS ARE LIMITED NOW (cf. Hebrews 2:8)!

The attributes of mind and character make humans God’s unique physical creation. God has shared some of His own qualities – the image of His mind – with humans – and expects humans to love and to develop the IMAGE of GOD’S PERFECT HOLY CHARACTER. That is the wonderful purpose God is working out here below! God gave humans the ability to choose right from wrong – and commands people to choose RIGHT! By constantly choosing God’s ways – making the right decisions God Himself would make, a human can develop the very character image of Almighty God!

This is what a human was designed to become at creation. This is the wonderful reason why humans were made different from animals, and given – IN A LIMITED WAY – some of the very attributes of God! God’s plan is to make of humans – now only a CLAY model of the God kind – partakers of God’s Own Divine Nature! God is reproducing himself IN HUMANKIND– and converted humans will someday be elevated to the God KIND!

To understand more of God’s wonderful purpose for humankind, you should read “What is the Meaning of Life?” available at COGwriter.com. The purpose for human life is the heart and core of Christ’s Gospel. No wonder those who couldn’t understand His message accused Him of BLASPHEMY!