By Anna Galaktionov
(Disclaimer: The views in this article are not necessarily shared by the interviewees.)
Since the COVID-19 outbreak, a large number of people have not recovered. In fact, according to Google’s tracking of the disease, approximately 1.17 million people died from the coronavirus worldwide.
Now, that’s not just a number. Each of these 1.17 million people was an individual person who had plans and goals, fears and joys, failures and successes. Most importantly, each person could identify themselves as an I, a me. But where did that I, that me go after the physical body ceased its function?
Now, I know you’re probably thinking “Not this spiritual, abstract stuff again. Ugh!” but bear with me. You will have to grapple with these issues at some point.
For the purposes of this article, let’s refer to the I and me as the soul. Dr. Sean Erwin, Associate Professor of Philosophy at Barry, provided me with some ancient yet valuable philosophical views on the soul.
Dr. Erwin mentioned Aristotle’s book De Anima (On the Soul) where he discusses the different types of souls a person has. They are the nutritive soul (bodily functions), the perceptive soul (the ability to sense and imagine), and the reasoning soul (which includes nous or the capacity for insight).
Out of the three types of souls, Aristotle believed that the reasoning soul may not die, unlike the other two. Dr. Erwin said, “Nous is a kind of thinking that exists when it is thinking about its objects, because its objects exist always.” In other words, nous exists eternally because the objects of its thought exist eternally.
What are these objects? In Aristotle's view, they were intelligible. He often used mathematical objects and geometrical relationships as examples of eternal objects that were created by thinking them. But, in my opinion, the objects also include abstract concepts like morality and God, which exist forever. I’ll discuss each in turn.
Before I do that though, I would like to add two more points for eternity after death. I interviewed Fr. Cristóbal, the university chaplain, asking him about his personal evidence for life after death, and he replied, “Every culture I ever heard of, or most cultures, have some notion of surviving bodily death . . . I do think there’s a collective wisdom, I do think that there is something in human experience that is aware of this, so it does turn out across cultures.”
Something else to ponder is the question, “What is the meaning of life if death awaits no matter how we live?”
Another universal concept is morality, which is our sense of right and wrong. Ask yourself these yes or no questions:
Would you say that torturing babies
for fun is morally wrong?
Do you have any doubt that torturing
babies for fun is morally wrong?
Do you think that every mentally sane
person would share the same
answers with you?
We don’t need anyone to give us a lecture as to why torturing babies is wrong, because we intuitively know it is. This is one of the main arguments for morality as a universal concept.
But who engraved this moral intuition in us? Some argue that we developed morality due to our social nature and living in communities. We care for each other, and therefore, we establish rules that keep us from harming each other. Dr. Frank Turek, a renowned apologist who visits colleges around the U.S, countered this argument in a YouTube video titled “A Challenge to the Moral Argument.”.
Student: “We are giving and we care about each other.”
Dr. Turek: “Why is that good?”
Student: “Why is that good? Because it helps our species survive.”
Dr. Turek: “Why is it good to survive?”
Student: “Because then we can propagate and move on as a species and continue
Dr. Turek: “So, why is that a good thing? Who said?”
In other words, we initially had an objective moral law that claimed we must be loving and caring for each other. We ourselves couldn’t establish that law, because we needed the understanding of love in the first place. So, who established that law?
The only option I can see is that a supernatural being, outside of our limitations of time, space, and matter, established these laws and engraved morality in us. This supernatural being initiated everything we know of, not just morality, and was the uncaused first cause, or the cause of everything that itself was never caused by anything. I’ll call Him God.
Now, do we listen to our morality? To be honest, not all the time. We are liars, cheaters, self-obsessed, haters, you name it.
I’m going to take you further now, and you might feel offended or disgusted with me after this discussion. Although the following discussion entails my personal views, I hope you find a kernel of truth in them. You will have a lot of objections and questions, but seek the truth and take a look at the list of resources below.
When we step over the standards God set, which we all do, there must be consequences, right? If there were no consequences for our wrongdoings, there would be no concept of justice. The initiator of justice must have been God, the lawmaker. If He wasn’t just, He wouldn’t be God and justice would not exist.
The ultimate consequence is death, as we see with COVID-19 and throughout all human history. Everyone dies, because everyone broke the law.
To some, God grants eternal life after physical death. (At this point, throw out your perception of heaven as a place with baby angels playing on golden harps, please and thank you).
This select group of people realize that God, the ultimate One, was willing to take the consequence of death on Himself. The judge decided to take the death penalty in order to save the one charged guilty.
Why would He do this? Simply out of love.
So, if you accept this love, ask for God’s pardon, and strive to do better daily, you will live eternally with Him.