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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Issues with resurrected people

People of faith tend to ignore the coming resurrection of the dead—perhaps because the idea is so obviously preposterous. And yet this is precisely the form of afterlife one must expect if one is to be a serious Jew, Christian, or Muslim. Devout Muslims may not yet doubt this, but most Jews and Christians have begun to waver. In fact, scarcely 20% of American Christians understand that they have been promised a physical afterlife. Most seem to believe that they will travel to heaven at the moment of death, leaving their corpses behind forever. But Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are in full accord on this point: God intends to do the humble work of reassembling our bodies on the Day of Judgment. The problem, of course, is that it is very difficult to imagine how even an omniscient and omnipotent God could accomplish such a feat.

Human bodies are made of cells and molecules and it is very highly likely that some of the molecules in a person's body that make up the cells of that body were once molecules that were in the cells of other human bodies.  How then can the exact same dead bodies be resurrected for everyone if over time the dead bodies shared these molecules while on earth?

If one tries to argue that Jesus knows who is going to heaven and therefore, makes sure those people do not share their molecules with any others, then you have the problem of free will and predestination.

What of the person who was born without a leg? Does that person get a new leg when they are resurrected? With what material does that leg get made? There was never an original leg to resurrect. If they do not get a new leg, how is the body perfected? At which stage of life will we be resurrected? If a man dies at age 90, hobbled by age, will he be condemned to live in this state for eternity? If a woman has lost a limb, will she be given a new one on the Day of Judgment? If a person dies as an infant, not yet able to speak, will he be resurrected in a tiny body but given adult faculties?

If people get a body similar to their own body but not the exact same body that they had at the moment of their death then it is not resurrection but the uniting of the soul with a facsimile or replica.  The body that died is not resurrected but another body is created by a deity to unite with the soul for all eternity.  This belief avoids the recycling, corrupted and maladjusted body problems but it is not strictly speaking a resurrection of the body and it does not get around the one and only one body problem.

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