Larry Jordan

Everyone is related, and everything is connected.

Soul Doubt

Mar 11, 2023 by Larry Jordan, in The Way
Soul Doubt, an engaging, hoppy IPA, is my favorite beer at my favorite brewery. It might also be the label for some of the most engaging, hoppy conversations that I have had since I wrote a book about God and the Universe.

Many of us (and I used to be among them) hold some very fervent beliefs about afterlives and souls. Here is a really interesting thought experimant -- write down everything that you think that you know about afterlives and souls. Now, read the Gospels to see what Jesus said about them.

Jesus makes a few references to Gehenna and mansions with many rooms and sheep and goats. Did your thought experiment mention these passages? Did Jesus mention anything that was in your thought experiment? Did Jesus mention anything about "souls," a Greek philosophical concept?

Now, reread your thought experiment, and think about how your scenario would work. Will all 117 billion people who ever lived resurrect on the New Earth? Is that a different place than the old Earth, which is struggling to support only eight billion people? If not, where is the New Earth?

Will our latest forms migrate to the New Earth, so that those of us who died young will always be young and those of us who died old will always be old?  If so, will young people speak for the first time? Will old people suffering from dementia recover their faculties? 

After our bodies and brains die (and presumably our memories and personalities and relationships die with them) does anything like our selves still exist?

Assume that Larry Jordan, absent body and brain and memories and personality and relationships, gets stirred into the cosmic soup to reunite with Source. Does this essentIal, self-less "person" resemble Larry Jordan in any meaningful way? Does this essential, self-less person live forever?

In my book, I quote Julien Musolino, a psychology professor:

"Notice that the conclusion, if we want to be intellectually honest, should not be that there is no soul, but rather, that there are no good reasons to believe that we have souls, and that there are very good reasons to believe that we do not have souls... In the end, the soul, like the emperer's new clothes, has exactly the same properties that it should have if it didn't exist."

At his point, if I am talking about my book, I might look over my glasses and whisper, "I do not think that I have a soul, but that is no cause for concern, because I do not think that you have a soul, either." This is meant as the beginning of a conversation, not the end of a conversation.

If you read my book (or if you read about my book) then you know that its tone is journalistic, not apologetic or polemic, and that its purpose is to ask good questions, not to convince or unconvince anyone of anything. I respect all manner of beliefs (especially if I used to hold them myself.)

Here is another interesting thought experiment. Recognizing that all theology is speculation, including mine and yours -- if you could (magically) come to know  that death means "lights out," would you be disappointed or surprised? Would you live more intentionally in the here and now?