[In Part 1, I present an argument based on the Bible that there are disembodied spirits and consciousness beyond the grave. In Part 2, I present an argument based on the Bible that there are no disembodied spirits and that there is no consciousness beyond the grave and unless there is a resurrection then all the dead would forever sleep in total oblivion. Which argument is right? After careful reading, you decide.]
Is there consciousness and activity among the dead in the underworld? Did Adam possess an immortal soul which God allegedly breathed into his nostrils?
In Genesis 2:7 we read:-
“And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” [King James Version].
The first thing I would like to point out is the fact that the word formed is translated from the Hebrew word yatsar which means:-
“to mould into a form; espec. as a potter”.
Creator God took some clay and as a Potter formed that clay into the features of a human being. That form - the body of Adam - was of the elements of the soil. This body of Adam was not immortal, neither did it possess an immortal soul. When God moulded the body of Adam out of the ground, what did He do next? The same passage tells us that He imparted life to this dead and lifeless figure. How did He do that? By simply breathing the ‘breath of life’ into the nostrils of this lifeless form. The word breath has been translated from the Hebrew word neshamah, which means:
“a puff, i.e. wind, angry or vital breath”.
The word life comes from the Hebrew word chay which means:
“alive, raw, fresh, life”.
When God supplied the breath of life into the nostrils of the dead form of Adam, what did take place? The dead body of Adam became alive. The man became a LIVING SOUL. The word living comes from the Hebrew word chay which has been already defined. The word soul has been translated from the Hebrew word nephesh which means:-
“a breathing creature”.
The word soul is crucial in this text. To virtually all of Christendom it implies that God breathed into the nostrils an immortal soul which is caged in Adam’s body. This soul according to their conception survives and retains consciousness beyond the grave. No other living creature possesses this immortal soul which God supposedly breathed into the nostrils of Adam. However, when we thoroughly investigate the case we discover that both man and animals have the same neshamah and are both nephesh. Animals and humans have the same breath and spirit, and are both living souls. Yes, animal is as much a living soul as human is. The soul is not immaterial and immortal. It is not something that man has and animals do not - as is erroneously supposed by Christians and the adherents of most other religions. The soul is real flesh and blood, the LIVING BODY! When Elohim breathed into the nostrils of Adam He did not impart a soul into his lifeless body. He imparted life giving spirit into his lifeless body, and that lifeless body became a living soul.
Man as a whole is a soul. He does not possess a soul. And it may surprise you to discover that in the Bible animals, just like humans, are called SOULS. In Numbers 31:28 we read:-
“And levy a tribute unto the LORD God of the men of war which went out to the battle: one soul of five hundred, both of the persons, and of the beeves, and of the asses, and of the sheep” [King James Version].
Here we find that beeves, donkeys and sheep are ALSO called SOULS. The word soul in this text has been translated from the Hebrew word nephepsh. Even the Greek word psukhe translated soul in the ‘New Testament’ has been used in reference to animals. In Revelation 16:3 we are told:-
“And the second angel poured out his vial upon the sea; and it became as the blood of a dead man: and every LIVING SOUL died in the sea” [King James Version].
The Bible plainly says that all marine creatures are in reality LIVING SOULS. They were souls when Revelation was written, at the time of Moses, and in fact at the instance of their creation. In Genesis 1:20-21,24 we find this information:
“And the LORD God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving CREATURE that hath life...And the LORD God created great whales, and every LIVING CREATURE that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly...And the LORD God said, Let the earth bring forth the LIVING CREATURE after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind” [King James Version].
Every moving creature in the ocean has life. The word life comes from the Hebrew word nephesh. Even the Centre Reference in the King James Bible states that life in Hebrew reads soul. All marine creatures and land animals are called living creatures, while man a living soul in the King James translation of Genesis. But in all cases the Hebrew word nephesh occurs in the original. As man is a living nephesh so are the animals. The King James translators opted not to use the identical word in the story of creation because they erroneously, through deception, assumed that a man has an immortal soul while the animals do not. But the Bible makes it plain that animals, just like man, came from the ground. They are of the same composition. They breathe the same breath [oxygen]. They have the same spirit [ruwach] in their nostrils. In the account of the Deluge we read:-
“...they, and every beast after his kind, and every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind, and every fowl after his kind, every bird of every sort. And they went in unto Noah into the ark, two and two of all flesh, wherein is the BREATH OF LIFE...And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beast, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, and every man: All in whose nostrils was the BREATH OF LIFE, of all that was in the dry land died” [Genesis 7:14-15,21-22 King James Version].
The phrase breath of life in this text has been translated from the Hebrew word ruwach which means spirit. This may sound incredible, but it is true! All crawling creatures, marine creatures, and the humans alike - have the same and identical breath [neshamah], and spirit [ruwach]. They are all LIVING SOULS [nephesh]. Whatever occurs to animals when they die, the same occurs to humans. King Solomon wrote:-
“I said in mine heart concerning the estate of the sons of men, that God might manifest them, and that they might see that they themselves are beasts. For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one [same] thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one [same] breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity. All go unto one [same] place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again” [Ecclesiastes 3:18-20 King James Version].
Solomon here in the most plain language tells us that animals and humans are of the same composition - the elements of the soil - and both have one and the same breath. The word breath, by the way, has been translated from the Hebrew word ruwach. Therefore Solomon wrote that the beasts and the sons of men have the same and identical spirit. Christians do not like this passage because it nullifies their pagan doctrine of immortality of the soul. Solomon also wrote:-
“For the living know that they will die: but the dead know not anything, neither have they anymore reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in anything that is done under the sun...Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest” [Ecclesiastes 9:5-6,10 King James Version].
The ancient peoples of pagan Egypt, Assyria, Babylon... did not agree with Solomon. They did not believe that death is the end. They believed that in death the immortal soul was liberated and continued a conscious existence. For this reason they buried their dead with great valuables - for they believed that the ‘departed spirits’ would have a use for them. They even had a custom of taking food and drinks to the grave, so that the ‘departed spirits’ could eat and drink. To this very day this pagan ritual continues to be practiced in certain countries of the world.
Christians likewise do not agree with Solomon. They also teach that there IS ‘wisdom, knowledge, joy, and bliss’ for all those who have died ‘in the Lord’. They dogmatically insist that the saved ones at death go to Heaven where they enjoy the bliss of Paradise in the presence of their ‘Lord Jesus’. Professor Harold J. Berry, in his booklet ‘Seventh Day Adventists’ portrays the basic Christian concept of ‘immortality of the soul’ when he states:-
“Seventh Day Advenstists deny the immortality of the soul, as do the Jehovah’s Witnesses and followers of Herbert W. Armstrong. They believe a person is a soul but that he does not have a soul...The Seventh Day Adventists teach the doctrine commonly known as soul sleep. It is the belief that a person has no conscious existence from the time of death until the resurrection from the dead...First Thessalonians 4:14-16 states [it does not] that the Christian goes to be with Christ at death. When Christ comes to rapture the Church, He will bring with Him the believers who have died, and they will receive their bodies from the grave. When the physical body dies, the believer’s soul and spirit are immediately in the presence of Christ” Pages 24-27].
Professor Berry [like so many Christians] lies about the texts of the Bible. He states that in 1 Thessalonians 4:14-16 we are told that ‘the Christian goes to be with Christ at death’. The contents of this text is presented below for your own verification:-
“For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first”[King James Version].
Just where in this text are we told that the believers at death immediately go to be in the presence of Jesus? On the contrary, we are told that the believers are asleep and that they will arise at the coming of Jesus. Christian professors and theologians read in between the lines, wanting you to believe something that is simply not written there. Professor Berry also states another absurdity. He claims that Christians who have gone at death to be with Christ, will at his return receive their bodies from the graves. Why should they receive this mortal body since they have already been living in Heaven - in the presence of their beloved ‘Lord Jesus?’ It simply does not make sense - nor is this what Paul actually taught the believers in Thessalonica. We shall see later that all flesh - humans and animals alike - sleep in total oblivion and unconsciousness. Solomon also stated that
“a living dog is better than a dead lion” [Ecclesiastes 9:4 King James Version].
The Bible depicts a lion as the king of the beasts. Yet a mere dog, if alive, is of more value than a most glorious lion that is dead. This clearly reveals that the dead do not know anything, nor do they participate in any activity whatsoever. In the book of Job we are also told that all flesh posses breath [neshamah] and spirit [ruwach]:-
“If he set his heart upon man; if he gather unto himself his spirit [ruwach] and his breath [neshamah]; all flesh shall perish together, and man shall turn again unto dust” [Job 34:14-15 King James Version].
This is exactly what God did at the time of Noah when He sent a universal Deluge. He withdrew His breath and spirit from all animals and humans - and they died together. In due time they all decomposed and returned to dust from which they were created. When Adam lost his breath he became lifeless - dead - just as he was when Elohim formed his shape and before He breathed a life giving spirit. We know that all animals and Adam alike were created from the elements of the soil. Their formed bodies did not have life. So God imparted spirit [ruwach] into their bodies which caused the billions of cells to live. The spirit is the life force which both animals and humans have. But in order for those cells to stay alive, God had to supply breath [neshamah].
If God did not breathe the breath of life into the nostrils of Adam, and if his lungs did not send that breath through the bloodstream - billions of cells would have died and all life in Adam’s body would have ceased. The same is true of all the animal kingdom. Even in our day certain newborn babies do not begin to breathe at birth. In that case the doctor finds it essential to spank the child to make it start breathing. The spirit which Elohim imparted into all living souls is not a ghost or soul. The living body is a soul. This spirit does not retain consciousness and life after the body dies.
This spirit cannot think, speak, hear, see, or feel. It is simply a life force that enables living creatures to stay alive. This spirit can be compared to the electric current of a car’s battery. The current of a battery can ignite the fuel to cause the engine produce power, cause the headlights to shine, sound the horn, or cause the radio to play music. The battery of itself could do none of the above. The battery is merely the power or energy which enables the equipment to perform. The same is true of all human beings. They see with their eyes, hear with their ears, speak with their mouths, think with their hearts [not brains], and touch with their hands. The spirit in humans can do none of these things of itself. It merely imparts the ability and power to the human body in order to perform. When the breath of life [neshamah] and the spirit [ruwach] are withdrawn from humans and all other living souls - they expire and sleep in total oblivion. Adam was DUST and to DUST he was to return:
"...for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” [Genesis 3:19 King James Version].
Think for a moment. Where was Adam before God moulded him of the dust of the ground? Why, he was simply non existent. When Adam died - after God withdrew His breath and spirit - he became the same lifeless and unconscious form that he was before God breathed life into his nostrils. In due course his lifeless body returned to DUST, the dust from which he was taken. It is as simple as that.
Adam did not have an immortal soul which survived beyond the grave. He did not continue a conscious existence in any form whatsoever. The Psalmist wrote:
“Put not your trust in princes, nor the son of man, in whom there is no help. His breath [ruwach] goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day HIS THOUGHTS PERISH” [Psalm 146:3-4 King James Version].
That Adam did not have immortal soul in him of any kind is evident from Genesis 3:22:
“Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever” [King James Version].
This is an indisputable fact that Adam simply did not have an immortal soul. For if he had, then eating from the Tree of Life would not have made any difference. Since God placed a cherub with a flaming sword to insure Adam did not obtain immortality - it is obvious that he did not have an immortal soul. That Adam died and is in his grave - as are also all others who have died as righteous servants of God - is obvious from the following text of Paul:
“For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are FALLEN ASLEEP IN CHRIST are PERISHED” [1 Corinthians 15:16-18 King James Version].
Do you understand the tremendous significance of this statement? If Paul believed like Christians that those who fell asleep in Jesus went to Heaven to be with God in Paradise - why did he say that if there is no resurrection then all those who fell asleep [died] in Jesus have PERISHED? This text explicitly points out the concept of Paul. He simply believed that if there is no resurrection from the dead then Jesus is still dead. This verifies that Jesus did not have an immortal soul. Jesus slept in His grave in total oblivion and unconsciousness. His soul was not in Heaven - as is supposed by the Christian Church - but rather in HELL, that is, grave:
“Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption...men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, [not in Heaven], and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne. He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in HELL, neither his flesh did see corruption...For David is not ascended into the heavens” [Acts 2:27-34 King James Version].
The soul that was in hell was actually the BODY of Jesus. Jesus as a whole being was in his grave. Remember, Jesus was a nephesh - a breathing creature, a living soul - who became a dead creature, a dead nephesh. In the Hebrew Bible there is a reference to a living nephesh usually translated living soul in the King James Bible and the dead nephesh, deliberately translated dead body, rather than dead soul, in the King James Bible. The phrase dead nephesh - dead soul - should once and for all prove to us that the soul is not immortal. For anything immortal simply is not subject to death.
Most Christians teach and assume that the soul is immaterial and immortal which becomes defused from the body at the hour of death. If the soul is really immaterial and immortal, why do we then find statements such as this in the Bible?:
“Your soul craves to eat meat” Deuteronomy 12:20 King James Version].
If the soul is immaterial and exists in essence form - how, then, can it eat meat? It should be obvious that a soul is a whole living being. God has also said that no soul should eat blood [Leviticus 17:2]. The soul is clearly a PERSON - a living creature, an animate being. If the soul is immaterial why then does God state?:
“Also in thy skirts is found the blood of the souls of the poor innocents” [Jeremiah 2:34 King James Bible].
If the soul is immaterial as supposed by Christians, how then can the blood flow through its veins? If the soul is immaterial then it does not need sleep and rest. Yet the Psalmist wrote:
“My soul has been sleepless from grief” [Psalm 119:28 King James Version].
Jonah prayed from the belly of a huge monster:
“The waters compassed me about, even to the soul...When my soul fainteth within me I remembered the LORD” [Jonah 2:5,7].
Jonah stated that his soul fainted within him. It clearly shows that the life within him was fainting. The soul does mean body, being, life... a complete personage. If the soul is capable of a conscious existence apart from the body, and if it is in the presence of God in Paradise - as is erroneously supposed by Christians - why, then, is there a need for the resurrection?
If the ‘departed souls’ are already in Paradise, enjoying eternal bliss in the presence of their ‘Lord’ - why should Jesus bother to bring them back into their decomposed bodies? Why resurrect the decomposed bodies of all those who have died as believers - if the soul is immortal and already in the bliss of Paradise? It just does not make any sense!
The Bible very specifically states that the soul is not immortal and that it does not continue existence apart from the body. The soul does not go to Heaven, Hell or Purgatory at death - but rather to the grave - where it sleeps in total oblivion until the Last Day. Jesus himself made this fact very plain:
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live [become alive]...Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in their GRAVES shall hear his voice, And shall COME FORTH: they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation” John 5:25,28-29 King James Version].
On the authority of Jesus, THE DEAD are in their GRAVES. They will remain in their tombs until the Last Day when they will hear the voice of the Son of God. Then, and only then, will they open their eyes and come forward OUT OF THEIR GRAVES - and not from Heaven, Hell or Purgatory. Gabriel, the Malak-Gadol, told Daniel:
“And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall AWAKE, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt” [Daniel 12:2 King James Version].
If all the righteous who have died are already in Heaven, they would not need to AWAKE from the DUST in order to go to Heaven. Matthew informs us that certain saints arose from the dead the day Jesus died. He tells us the following:
“...and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many” [Matthew 27:51-53 King James Bible].
Did you get that? The saints who died before Jesus' time were asleep and then awoke - coming out of their graves. They were not somewhere in Heaven living in a great splendour and bliss - as is erroneously supposed by the adherents of the Christian Church. They were asleep and after awaking they came forward out of their tombs. This fact alone should be sufficient evidence that man does not possess an immortal soul, but is mortal and without existence until the resurrection of the body takes place.
The patriarch Job said:
“Why did I not perish at birth, and die as I came from the womb?...For now I would be lying down in peace; I would be asleep and at rest...There the wicked cease from turmoil, and there the weary are at rest. Captives also enjoy their ease; they no longer hear the slave driver’s shout. The small and the great are there, and the slave is freed from his master” [Job 3:11-19].
The righteous patriarch Job did not believe that little babies at death go to Heaven to become 'little angels’ - as the Christians do. He plainly stated that if he had died during his birth then he would have been lying down in peace and sleeping and resting.
Job further stated that in the grave the slave does not hear his ruler’s shout, and the wicked ceases from turmoil. In the GRAVE, said Job, the wicked also sleeps in total oblivion ceasing from turmoil. The Christians however, place the wicked in a horrific, indescribable torment of a blazing inferno - being roasted alive on the fiery coals. In the same chapter, verses 20-22, Job is quoted as saying:
“Why is light given to those in misery, and life to the bitter of soul, to those who long for death that does not come, who search for it more than for a hidden treasure, who are filled with gladness and rejoice when they reach the grave?”
It is an indisputable fact that the righteous patriarch Job believed that the grave is the END of all life and activity of any kind. In the grave all the dead - righteous and wicked - sleep in total oblivion awaiting the resurrection. Those who believe in the immortality of the soul have embraced a pagan concept of the ancient Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians...
Death is a contrast of life. In fact, everything has its opposite. Beauty is contrasted with ugliness, high with low, long with short, light with darkness etc,. To be alive means to be animate, living. To be dead must mean the very opposite of being alive, that is, DEAD, NON ANIMATE, NON LIVING. If the dead continue their existence in another dimension then they are not DEAD but ALIVE and therefore we are then left without a contrast. Just as everything else has its opposite so does life. Death is opposite and a contrast of life and therefore DEATH cannot be life in any dimension whatsoever. To be dead means to be mortus and to sleep in total oblivion and to be in a state as if the person never existed. That is exactly what Job believed when he said that if he died in his mother's womb then he would be as if he had never been. This is a fact, fact, fact.
The resurrection was the only hope Jesus had to be alive again and the resurrection is the only hope we have to be alive again. If there is no resurrection - as Paul said - then even Jesus is still dead and all the saints are still dead and will be dead forever. The definition of 'resurrection' is:
"the state of one restored back to life."
If a man has an immortal soul which never dies then the resurrection has no meaning since you don't need to restore a living soul back to life. Only if death is a contrast of life, the resurrection has a meaning and becomes absolute necessity for the revival and the restoration of a dead soul. It is impossible to believe in the immortality of the soul and a conscious existence beyond the grave and at the same time embrace the fundamental doctrine of the resurrection. We accept either one or the other.