Introduction

Some of my previous articles contained experimental thoughts about
the nature and relationship of human spirit and body. Namely:

They were good for
nothing more than to question our traditional conceptions, to catalyse
thinking in new directions. These thoughts have developed somewhat
further now so that I’m able to present a consistent hypothesis here.
This will hopefully the last post about this topic: I think I’m
satisfied to know one possibility how to harmonize the
neuropsychological and the biblical image of humanity. I don’t need to
know if this possibility is correct … and I cannot, lacking the
resources for the necessary experiments. So, after this article I’ll
turn to some more practical topics.

My motivation for thinking about the body/spirit relationship was
that it really bothered me to know no explanation for the seeming
contradiction between modern neuroscience and the biblical concept of a
human “spirit” … I am not willing to believe biblical content at the
expense of scientific integrity, and I am not willing to mistrust
biblical content based on preliminary scientific results. So I am happy
to offer my harmonizing hypothesis here, and I am curious whether or
not it will
prove valid while science develops further in the next years.

Spirit: a phenomenological definition

How to define “human spirit”? A first shot would be: spirit is
“intention”, either body-less or abstractable from the body. Or: spirit
is an intention generation system (a “mind”), either body-less or
abstractable from the body. But it’s not that easy, there is much
confusion what abilities are attributed to the spirit and what not.
Also, the “spirit” concept is mainly used in areas with low overall
affinity to scientific thinking, e.g. in Christianity. Here, some
people might say spirit is “the ability to communicate with God” or
only “the knowledge that there is a God” which animals have not. Other
Christians might attribute typically human abilities (like semantic
language, rational thinking etc.) to the spirit. Again, others think
the spirit is mainly a “higher quality, immaterial cybernetic system”,
opposed to soul (with emotions) and body (with biochemistry etc.), and
argue that man has to seek “living out of his (renewed) spirit” to be
holy.

To get out of this confusion, this article takes a simple
phenomenological perspective: all or some differences between higher
animals and humans are attributed to the spirit. Because people (esp.
Christians) agree at least in this point that animals do not have a
spirit. This definition is enough for the purpose of this article.

Hypothesis presentation: brain-powered human spirit

The intuitive Christian conception of “spirit” is probably: it is an
entity, it is the center of a person, it is made of non-material
substance, it does not die, and it is able to communicate with my body
or at least my brain. This conception comes probably from the idea that
Genesis 2:7 implies that God imparted something divine (i.e.
non-material substance) to man at his creation, and that this is being
made in “God’s image” (Genesis 1:26 WEB), contrary to animals:

“Yahweh God formed man from the dust of the ground, and
breathed into
his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”
(Genesis
2:7 WEB)

Now, neuroscience seems to indicate that all of human’s mental
capabilities are brain capabilities (see the justification below),
among them rational thinking, semantic language and all other
differences to animals. So, no non-material spirit is needed to explain
the differences between animals and humans. Wherefore, then, do we need
the concept of a “spirit” at all?

The hypothesis introduced here is this:

“Human spirit” designates the brain capabilities that
distinguish
humans from all animals. So, human spirit is materially implemented in
the brain, but there is also something like “immaterial spirit”,
sharing comparable attributes but a non-material implementation.
Material
and immaterial spirit are functionally compatible to some degree, e.g.
they can communicate with each other.

To prevent misunderstandings: in this hypothesis, “spirit” is not a
later introduced abstraction
to verbalize the perceived differences between humans and animals, but
an intentionally created “thing”: created by God, who created the
differences between humans and
animals to resemble the differences between God and creatures.

What is new in this hypothesis is to view “spirit” as
implementation-independent: it might be implemented in material
substance (as with humans) or in non-material substance (as with angels
e.g.). This central idea is justifiable from the purpose the creator
God intended for this world (see below), and it allows to harmonize
neuroscience and the biblical concept of “spirit” and a “spiritual
world”: it is in harmony with the (probable) result of neuroscience
that man is made from matter and nothing else, and with the biblical
message that man has a spirit and that there is a non-material,
spiritual world out there.

Hypothesis justification

Being the image of God demands for a brain-powered spirit

Let’s question the intuitive conception of “being created in the
image of God”, which is something like: because God is an immaterial
being, man must have an immaterial component, too, that is, the human
spirit. However, how about this view:
man is God’s image not in the abolute sense (i.e. compared to God) but
in the relative sense (compared to this world’s nature). To be God
implies to be strongest of all, yet the bible says that angels are
stronger than men – therefore, man cannot be the image of God relative
to the spiritual world. Yet man is the image of God relative to this
world, which he was told to subdue and have domion over (Genesis 1:28).
Probably it is in this sense that the bible calls us “Gods” (Psalms
82:6).

If this conception of being the “image of God” is correct, it does
no longer necessarily imply that the human spirit is made of the same
immaterial substance as God’s. The human spirit is the image
of God’s spirit: it is a spirit relative to the material world
around him, but the image of a spirit relative to God. As with other
images, there is likeness but also reduction implied: a photography
reduces a four-dimensional world to only two. Relative to the material
world, some higher brain
capabilities qualify as “spirit” (as they
enable language, ratio, …) and give the attributes of a “God of this
world” to man, as it enables men to have dominion.

It seems that God intended this disconnectedness between the
material and the immaterial world, creating the material world as an
independent, four-dimensional image to view at it and be glad. To grasp
it in concepts of physics, the material and the immaterial world might
be said to be parallel universa, (nearly) completely disconnected from
each other. Only if man is in such a “universe of its own” that exists
independent from God’s concrete intervention, he qualifies as the god
of this area, i.e. the image of his creator God. This kind of demands
that man is completely made from material substance, to uphold this
disconnectedness from the immaterial universe.

The difficulties of spirit/brain interaction demand for a
brain-powered spirit

If one assumes that the spirit is a separate entity from the body,
one
has to assume an “interface”: something that creates the undissolvable
link between an individual spirit and an individual body. As a
atom-by-atom copy would be connected to a different spirit, this
connection cannot have a material implementation, i.e. one assumes that
a supernatural element is implied in the body of every human being.
That’d be an inconsistency in God’s creation, a nasty flaw, from an
engineering perspective. So it should be assumed that nothing of a
person would exist if the body would not exist.

And another indication that the human spirit is brain-powered: the
alternative would be a brain-spirit interface. Brain injuries which
affect typically human (“spiritual”) capabilities like language show
that these capabilities are distributed all over the brain. Which
implies that a non-material spirit would have to
interact with the brain as a whole. This however is really improbable,
as one would have to assume then that spirit can interface with all
kind of matter (as the brain is no special matter).

And another reason: brain injuries that affect small areas of the
brain can result in losing spiritual capabilities like language. Which
means that a brain-powered spirit would probably consist of a
relatively small area of the brain; the
description of this small structure might well fit into the believed 3%
of DNA
divergence between humans and modern apes. Remember that the spirit is
not detectable from a specific outward form of the body or one of it’s
organs, it just enables beings to use their limbs and organs in more
complex ways. The spirit is better software (in the sense of: control
ability) for an otherwise identic body. Even better, it is
self-learning software and probably loaden with emergence, that is,
it might be a really compact piece of
DNA that describes it.

Hypothesis application: implications on various phenomena

  1. Sleep. If the spirit would be a non-material entity, one
    would have to assume that awareness of self continues while the body is
    asleep. This is not the case, which indicates that the spirit is
    brain-powered, and sleep means that the brain area for creating
    “awareness
    of self” is put into another mode of function.
  2. Coma. If the spirit would be a non-material entity,
    awareness of self and spiritual activities like thinking sould continue
    even if the body is in coma or vegetative state. But he have no
    indications to think so.
  3. Metal handicaps. This could be explained as a defect of
    the material part of the brain-spirit interface (assuming the spirit is
    a non-material entity) or as a defect of the brain itself (if the
    spirit is assumed to be brain-powered). Occam’s razor
    advises to use
    the most economic explanation, and this is to postulate that all mental
    human capabilities are implemented in his brain, not in a immaterial
    spirit.
  4. Heart vs. head. If human spirit is
    brain-powered, there cannot be
    a qualitative difference between “heart” (in the imaginary sense of:
    the center of will and direction) and “rational thinking”, as
    both are brain capabilities; at least there cannot be a qualitative
    difference out of metaphysical reasons. However, currently many
    Christians assume rational thinking to be of lower quality.
  5. The social gets important. If the human spirit is
    brain-powered, the social area is related to the spirit in the sense of
    its emergence.
    Therefore, it could no longer be justified to view society with all its
    complicatedness as “unimportant for spiritual / Christian matters”. As,
    society would belong to humanity just as the brain does. Things like
    social atmosphere, room atmosphere, optical impression etc. could no
    longer be completely low-valued out of a priori reasons.
  6. Humans have no supernatural abilities. With a
    brain-powered spirit, it would be sure that humans cannot have
    abilities that transcend the laws of nature. This would, for example,
    change the view of prayer: prayer is no “direct spirit-to-spirit
    communication” with God, but normal, materially implemented talking (as
    we do with humans) or thinking. It would reach God only because God, as
    an omniscient being, perceives all that happens onn earth.
  7. What is original sin? If the human spirit is implemented
    as a brain capability, then original sin might be nothing that is
    passed on by inheritance, but by learning from other sinners.
  8. The homogenous conception of man. Often, it is argued
    that the Bible does not teach that human’s are made from separate
    components (like the trichotomy of body, soul and spirit) but that all
    these are only aspects of an integrated whole. If however man would be
    made up of an immaterial spirit and a material body, this exegesis is
    difficult to apply. With an brain-powered spirit it is easy, however:
    humans are made of matter and matter only, and the body is indeed an
    integrated whole where each part affects each other.
  9. What is being filles with the Spirit? Being filled with
    the Holy Spirit changes people’s behavior, as reported on many
    occasions in Acts. From the perspective of a brain-powered spirit, this
    would be supernaturally caused, (temporary) changes in the programming
    of the brain, or functional equivalent to that.
  10. The body is not the shell. If the spirit is implemented
    as a brain capability, the body is much more important than it is to
    those who think their body is just the “shell” they will leave back
    when they die. Dismissing these thoughts will lead to a new awareness
    and appreciation for one’s body: “I am what my body is, not something
    that dwells in my body.”
  11. Creating new people. If the spirit is brain-powered,
    then the procreation of a human being happens completely in the
    material realm. Because there is no necessity for an act of God, like
    “creating the non-material spirit”. This is a really cool implication,
    as it says: God created man as an being that independent that man is
    able to re-reate himself without the help of God. Which would mean, God
    gave man the true ability to create, making him a true image of God
    also in this sense. One can sense the parents marvelling at the ability
    to create in tehir likeness just and God created them in his likeness,
    when the first man and the first woman created a son:

    “In the day that God created man, he made him in God’s
    likeness. He created them male and female, and blessed them, and called
    their name “Adam,” in the day when they were created. Adam lived one
    hundred thirty years, and became the father of a son in his own
    likeness, after his image, and named him Seth.” (Genesis 5:1-3)

    But this implies also a great and awesome
    responsibility: humans, not God, are the reasons why new humans come
    into existence. And it demystifies our conception about our own origin:
    we are not as we are “because God created us as we are”, with all
    attributes and abilities, but because of natural and random effects
    occuring during the recombination of chromosomes. Else one had to
    assume that God creates animals the same way, i.e. by directing the
    only apparantly random recombination of chromosomes.

  12. Who is Jesus? According to the biblical records, Jesus
    proclaimed to be the Son of God, i.e. God himself. Which implies that
    he cannot be just an ordinary man, as he had a preexistence as an
    immaterial, spiritual being (as “God is spirit”, John 4:24). Therefore,
    the process of incarnation is something supernatural, but compatible
    with the ranges of above mentioned hypothesis: it would be an
    implementation change, from a non-materially implemented spirit to a
    brain-powered spirit, transfering some or all mental attributes.
  13. Heaven and earth als parallel universa. One can
    understand the biblical concept “earth” as the material universe
    (including our material world and us humans with our brain-powered
    spirits), and one can understand the biblical concept “heaven” as the
    non-material universe where God and the angels dwell. Because they are
    disconnected with respect to the natural laws, it is impossible to
    assign a relative location to them. God promised to create once a new
    heaven and a new earth, and that resurrected believers in Christ will
    then be in “heaven”. Which is quite interesting, as it says that they
    will be spiritual beings “like God’s angels in heaven” (Matthew 22:30).
    This is compatible with the hypothesis that the human spirit is
    brain-powered: it is implemented in material substance now but might
    get re-implemented in non-material substance later, thereby retaining
    all experiences and memories.
  14. Intended closuredness of the material universe.
    Traditionally, it is assumed in the Christian faith that the creation
    of angels and the creation of the material world has some connection to
    each other. This is easy to justify if humans are spiritual, angel-like
    beings, but placed in a body. But if they are totally material beings
    however, as argued here, there is not necessarily an intended
    connection between the two universa. That is, it could have been
    totally against God’s will that non-material spirits like Lucifer
    interfer with the material world, as they did. It was possible however,
    as the non-material universe seems to be a “superset” or in another
    sense the mightier one.
  15. Recognizing God within people. A brain-powered spirit is
    the “programming” of a person, inclucing character, intentions,
    attitude etc.. God, also having a spirit, also has character,
    intentions, attitude etc.. Which makes it possible that these (holy)
    attributes of God are, by God’s power, presented in the life of humans,
    to hint people towards God. And these hints would be justifiable: they
    mean something, but perhaps they are not obvious in some situations.
    Whereever people change in character, intentions, attitude etc., it is
    a change in spirit – effected by education or perhaps through the Holy
    Spirit.
  16. What is possession by spirits? The Holy Spirit does not
    make people possessed, but offers an undirected, positive force that
    people can use to want and do good. Demons however want to possess
    people, that is, completely control them. This implies a supernatural
    genesis: a non-material spirit controls the body of a human. The
    results however would be completely in the material realm, that is, a
    change in the programming of the brain. The possibility of possession
    (when affirmed) shows at least that spirits are compatible with each
    other with respect to interaction, and the respective implementation
    would not matter.
  17. Immortal experiences. Humans learn things in this world.
    This would have no value for eternal life, however, if all our
    experiences would get lost upon death. They would, if only a
    non-material spirit would survive while all our experiences and
    memories are stored in brain. But they do not, if humans have a
    brain-powered spirit, implying that all experiences belong to their
    spirit and are resurrected with the spirit. Just as software can be
    copied to a new computer. The value of generating our “software” in the
    tedious process of learning in this world rather than by creatio ex
    nihilo (also possible)
    is this: in the latter case, the result would be identical, but the
    facts would be different, as no history is implied which would
    attribute a worth to the “software”.

Discussion: advantages, differences, difficulties

Of course, this hypothesis is just a first draft and nothing one
should follow as a “new belief system” (beware, readers!). It’s just
meant as a set of experimental thoughts to foster reconciliation
between the scientific and the Christian image of humanity. As a draft,
it contains several difficulties and open questions. The following come
to my mind, and you may add your own below:

  • Jesus said that his words “are spirit” (John 6:63). This cannot
    just mean that these words are “information”, as this wouldn’s make
    them different from human words. Perhaps he uses “spirit” (in the sense
    of: from the Holy Spirit) do designate the quality of his words, as
    opposed to human “fleshly” quality?
  • How to explain inner impressions from supernatural sources
    (images, dreams, visions) in this theory? This implies to find
    authentic and trustable accounts of such impressions.
  • How to place the biblical concept of “flesh” into this
    hypothesis? According to the Bible, spirit and flesh are opposed to
    each other (Galatians 5:17): does that mean the Holy Spirit as a
    person, or the human spirit? In both cases, what is “flesh”, as it must
    have functions in the same are area as spirit, or else it couldn’t be
    opposed to spirit.
  • Postulating that there is a non-material spiritual world out
    there demands to search for verifications, e.g. finding trustable
    accounts of miracles etc..
  • How do education (of the human spirit) and spiritual influence
    (from the Holy Spirit) relate to each other? One proposal would be:
    education is a law-like force, using pressure and expectation, and is
    therefore unable to create “wanting the good” in somebody. While the
    Holy Spirit (functionally equivalent to a changed programming of the
    brain) gives just this: an undirected force to want what is good.
  • There is no indication that angels are made of the same
    “spiritual” substance that God, is it? They might just as well be a
    created universe of their own, not God’s “natural” living place since
    eternity, but the place he chose to dwell. However, this article assume
    yet that angels and God are related by substance.

Start date: 2007-11-04
Post date: 2007-11-15
Version date: 2007-11-16 (for last meaningful change)

My recent article “Wherefore
do we spend our breath?
” elaborated somewhat on the idea of
creating immortality by part-by-part exchange of the whole body,
including digitization of the brain. It was argued that identity and
even subjective, “perceived” identity would outlive this process. These
speculations brought me to some further speculations. Note that this
stuff does not represent my “new belief system”, it’s just a set of
experiments to detect and throw away some naive conceptions, in this
case conceptions of immortality and identity.

Demystification of the “identity” concept

The naive human conception of our own “identity” is probably thus:
In essence, I am a spiritual, atomic entity. My body is only the shell,
but the real “me” consists of spiritual matter. Because I am an atomic
entity, I am undividable, therefore also undestroyable, and therefore
of eternal existence. At least mine conception is (was?) that way when
you allow me to exaggerate somewhat.

However, let’s take a closer look. This naive, “intuitive”
conception is highly mystical as it postulates “spiritual matter” which
is orthogonal to human perception. It is a more economical explanation
to view “identity” as a learned concept:

  • There’s nothing mystical about the fact that we can perceive our
    own identity. Biologists explain this as learning from the experience
    that there is a body/world separation. So the concept of “I” can
    develop by learning.
  • Probably, we learned from experience and contemplation the
    following concept: a person can claim to have an “identity” because it
    acquired its identity in a process which is unique world-wide. The
    start was the inseminated ovum, carrying unique genetic substance that
    resulted from a non-deterministic merge of chromosomes. Then, the
    person was born as a baby and travelled its unique world line through
    4-dimensional spacetime, experiencing its unique collection of
    situations. So, our learned concept of identity is coupled to
    uniqueness and “having a history”. Therfore, we would not assign the
    same identity to an atom-by-atom copy of a person, as it has no
    history. But as soon as such a copy starts living, it starts to differ
    from its original, and step by step acquires its own identity.
  • The way we learned it, identity is not coupled to our continuous
    awareness of self: we think that a human being has the same identity
    after a sleep, though there was no continued perception of
    identity or body. Especially here it becomes apparent that “identity”
    is no metaphysically pre-defined “thing” but a self-defined concept,
    just as it seems meaningful to people.
  • The way we learned it, identity is coupled to the possibiility to
    exploit and extend the aquired set of memories, bodily abilities,
    characteristics, qualifications etc. that are called together a
    “person”.
  • The way we learned it, identity is coupled to “uniqueness”, i.e.
    identity is not “by
    our own virtue”, as, without a world that allows different situations
    there would be no different people, i.e. no identities.

Seeing identity as a “learned concept” seems to work: it’s just an
unproven thought experiment but it deeply questions the naive
conception of “identity by being an atomic spiritual entity”

Demystification of the “resurrection” concept

What exactly do we search when longing for “eternal life”? We cannot
reasonably expect the uninterrupted existence of our human body here on
earth, seing the many people who died and do no longer reside here on
earth. So what we expect is not to preserve the body we have now, but
to preserve our identity in the sense of: our unique set of abilities
and experiences (see above). This includes bodily abilities but is far
from limited to that. Here is a natural science based explanation why
this identity does not die the moment the body dies. For this argument,
the following assumptions are made:

  • The spirit is not made of “spiritual substance” but implemented
    by using the material substance of the body.
  • The body is radically mortal.
  • Material substance
    is interchangeable, i.e. atoms have no own identity.
  • Identity is an emergence
    made up of a complex system
    of many parts.
  • Sleep and coma do not destroy identity, i.e. identity is not
    defined via perpetual awareness of self.

With these assumptions in mind and judged by our perception of self
/ identity, there is no difference between one night’s sleep and one
night’s sleep which is interrupted by a 1000 years period of
non-existence. The resurrected man would perceive his identity just the
same way as the man who just slept – because there is no difference
between their bodies, so no possibility to detect a difference. Of
course, this needs a being who knows atom-by-atom how to re-create a no
longer existing  body.

That means: resurrection of a radically mortal body with a spirit
and soul which is implemented in the body is possible if only we know
how to re-create the body, esp. including the brain and all its
content. So death and resurrection does not destroy our identity, not
even our perception of our own identity.

Above, identity was identified as a “learned concept”, and
resurrection just adds another lesson: we have to learn / add to our
definition of identity that identity is not destroyed by a time of
bodily non-existence. During that time, a person exists just as a
non-living informational representation, one might say “in the
knowledge of God”. If God would forget a person, this would be
annihilation.

So the traditional concepts of “resurrection of the body” seem to be
overthrowable. For eternal life, no spirit made of “spiritual
substance” is necessary, and no  re-collection of the atoms we
were once made of. The same identity is re-created with other
substance, including continued perception of our identity.

The interesting thing here is the finding that our very identity is
“informationally representable” (i.e. abstractable from matter).
Because of that, it is “informationally transferable” from
one body to another. So because identity is abstractable, it is
resurrectable.

Implications for inventing eternal life on earth

If these ideas of identities and resurrection are correct, this
would mean for the natural implementation of eternal life: full
digitization of the brain content and exact description of the body
attributes are enough to “resurrect” a person lateron (e.g. after
the technology to create and program empty brains has been developed).

So one would have to develop the “brain digitization technology”
first; with it,
people could be “archived” and resurrected when it becomes technically
possible. Archiving people would even be possible if the brain’s
content is not yet understood, as interpreting this could be developed
later. One would just have to archive a large matrix that stores store
all the
connections between the neve cells, and the “activation thresholds” of
each connection within this neural network. This would best be done
immediately after death by a
machine that digitizes the brain slice by slice (the brain is destroyed
during that process, but that does not matter here).

Another idea would
be to preserve the brain itself until the digitization technology and
“resurrection technology” is fully developed. This is the easiest
solution: it needs nothing more than non-destroying preservation of a
materially implemented neural network. Perhaps in fluid nitrogen?

However, you need to trust in people who live after you that they
will resurrect you when it becomes technically possible. These people
however might be selfish, or they’re just opposed to the opinions you
had while alive, or they think it’s just too expensive to resurrect
you, or the world is near to over-population (as always), or somebody
argues that there’s no reason to resurrect you as you cannot even be
sad if they save the effort … you’re dead, after all. You see the
problem. Personally, I’d really prefer to trust in a faithful God to resurrect
me rather than in us people. 😉


Start date: 2007-10-21
Post date: 2007-10-23
Version date: 2007-10-23 (for last meaningful change)

Don’t pal up with the last reality

When taking an honest approach to life, one must take the most
important problem to be most important. One must face reality. So, what
is the most important problem of man? It’s the last reality: death. It
renders all nothing, destroys what you made of you, ignores what was
dear to you. So foremost, we must face and fight death.

But people seem to have come to terms with death. They accept that
death will destroy them sooner or later. While death accepts that
people ignore it until it catches them. People don’t talk about death.
People don’t talk about diseases, they talk about health. Politicians
who try to cope with diseases work in the “Department of Health”, not
the “Department of Diseases”. People take out a life assurance, not a
death assurance, but it pays only in case of death, not life.

An honest approach to life however forbids to accept death while
concentrating on minor problems. There is absolutely nothing to say
against investing your whole life into overcoming death. One might
sacrifice career, money, health, partnership, social insurances and
everything else in order to find dependable assurance of eternal
life. If there is no eternal life at all, the state of such a man after
death is as miserable as career people’s, even so far as both cannot
hear neither contempt nor admiration. But if there is any sort of
eternal existence, it’s surely a good idea to invest all of one’s
breath therein.

Again: you guys are not allowed to blame me for freaking out now,
totally and outrageously, out of this damned average death-integrating
lifestyle. As it is in order to find out for all of us how to arrive at
eternal life. In
the sense of something to really hope for, something that you expect
and then it happens. Not in the sense of a
religious pacifier.

I will no present some weird thoughts about “inventing eternal life”
on this earth. Please do not interpret this as being disbelief, but
it’s an awfull, absolute,
weird, most extreme, ultimate determinedness to get around death. For
all of lifes sake. Because this is the foremost problem of men and
people simply don’t care. I could screeeeeeeam! People work, highly
motivated, for vain
stuff and then die, and accept it that way. Why don’t people try
instead to get eternal life????? Is there so little logic in
people????? Obviously.

Eternal life by digitization, including uninterrupted existence

On 2006-11-04, I had some interesting insights about human identity
(see my invention
list
), and, building on top of these, a natural implementation of
eternal life seems possible even though medicine found no way to make
the human body immortal. First, the basic thoughts:

What people search is perceived immortality. Therefore, an identical
but younger copy of a person would not prolong this person’s life. Even
if all memories and experiences could be copied. Because, people would
not feel to live eternally that way. In human perception, these two
persons would have their own identity each because they could start to
live contemporaneously but differently (e.g. in different places). So,
an idea is needed how to prolong the life of one person, while
upholding its self-perceived identity.

For this idea, we need to know what “self-perceived identity” is. It
is the awareness of the self, the feeling to be somebody, the awareness
of one’s own body. With this definition, identity is an emergence of all
parts of the body. No part of the body generates the feeling to be a
human body, but together they do, as together they make
self-observation possible.

The inspiring factum is this: exchanging one part of the body (like
by an organ transplant) disturbs “perceived identity” but does not
destroy it. After some time, the new part of the body is integrated
into the emergence of identity. This is due to two effects: it learned
form the other parts of the body to behave according to the identity
which is outweighingly defined by them; and, it influenced the other
parts of the body and thus, the identity, while the perception that
identity stayed basically the same has been uphold. If identity changes
slow enough, it is perceived to stay the same.

This results in the following idea: by exchanging all parts of the
body, one after the other, the body of somebody can be exchanged by a
different body while the identity stays the same. This would include
exchanging the brain, part by part. At least here, very difficult
technical problems could arise: how to create “empty” brains, and how
to “program” them. So it might be better here to exchange the brain by
a functionally equivalent computer. The digitization of the most
important part of a human identity would make it possible to create
“backups” of people. So if a body is crushed in an accident, the
“software” would be restored to an empty brain in a new (comparable)
body, and this human being could start to live further, starting with
the last backup, i.e. with an amnesia of perhaps 1-2 weeks and like
waking from a deep sleep of that length. Sleep and amnesia do not
destroy the self-perceived identity, and this process would not either.

How Christ will qualify as an even better hope

I’m not going to end this post here, as the above mentioned
invention is not my present approach to overcome the problem of
morbidity. I hope however that I would consequently follow after it if
I wouldn’t believe that eternal life is the free gift of Jesus the
Christ, as I do. But I do believe this. I presented the above
“alternative hope” to stir up us believers: everybody would agree that
one should invest into the most promising alternative. Which means we
must explain: why is eternal life from Christ a better hope than the
above mentioned invention of eternal life by digitization? If we cannot
explain this even in the long run, it would be better for all of us to
become scientists and work towards our own digitization. Imagine, 200+
millions of scientists … .

So I am deeply determined to arrive at an explanation here. Tell me
the reason why the Christian hope is better, or join me in
searching for that reason. I call this search the search for “Second
Acts”. Here’s a quick list of some basic approaches, please extend it
where necessary:

  • Document supernatural phenomena with rigid scientific methodology.
  • Document the influence of the “name” on supernatural phenomena,
    check if it is a valid theory to assume name-based dependencies to
    supernatural entities.
  • Document the supernatural phenomena that happen “in the name of
    Jesus the Christ”.
  • Does the collected data confirm that Jesus is the Christ and that
    he’ll save believers as he promised to?

To conclude: I would so much appreciate this desire for life to spread
all over this
society and this world. It is: loving life more than even your own
pride. As
you might need to let loose your pride in order to get eternal life,
e.g. if eternal life is available by Jesus the Christ only.


Start date: 2007-10-19
Post date: 2007-10-20
Version date: 2007-10-20 (for last meaningful change)

It’s juts like in a haywire company where everything is like
hey-go-mad. Say, some stuff rolls out of a high-level rack and strikes
somebody dead. Now, who is responsible, who has to bear the blame for
this industrial accident? The safety representative of the company? The
staff manager who hired a underqualified person for that position? The
chief executive officer who does not care for anything except pressing
more private income out of that company? The cleaning lady who saw the
insecurely positioned stuff the evening before in the rack but was too
lazy to try reaching somebody who could change this? The organizational
design people who were not interested in setting up a functioning
information infrastructure so that it would’ve been no effort for the
cleaning lady to place her information? The workman who died in this
accident together with his warehouseman colleagues, as they had been
lazy and careless for years, never encouraging each other to better
care for safety and improvement of work process?

On 2007-10-05, I did chat with a friend of mine via ICQ. We came to
talk about personal and nearby experiences of injustice and suffering,
and he askes: where is the justice of the God. Which is the theodicy question,
actually. The above comparison is what I currently think about that,
and told him. Of course it is “unjust” that this one workman died, as
he is not to be charged more than others for the chaos that caused his
death. Chaos is a place where stuff happens without a perceivable
particular reason, that is, it’s a place where injustice happens. This
world is just like such a chaos factory. It’s full of injustice and
things that “nobody wants” because it’s full of chaos. And who is in
charge of the chaos? No particular person, but all of us. Humankind, as
an entity, and everybody, as an individual. Humankind turned away from
God collectively, and that way marooned itself, wanting to live on its
own, an impossible task that resulted in the present chaos. Another
interesting observartion from the “factory analogy” is that no single
person could correct the chaos, but humankind could. It’s a social
phenomenon. All of us (as individuals) have a share in being
responsible for the chaos, and therefore an obligation to change our
way of life (to “repent”). But an individual’s repentance does not
change anything meaningful in this chaotic world, it just removes one
more impediment for order. Our chaos is a social phenomenon: no single
human being created it, and no single human being is able to correct
it. Seeing that makes it less frustrating if we see no result of our
anti-world-chaos lifestyle … such people are, if rare, “only” light
on chaos, not order.


Start date: 2007-10-16
Post date: 2007-10-16
Version date: 2007-10-16 (for last meaningful change)

Yesterday and the day before that I thought about some commercial
activities I wanna get myself into. And I had to think about if that
sorta planning and intending is alright in God’s sight or not. As I
knew of some verses which say something hereunto but I wouldn’t
understand. Me thinks I got some better conception now. Here are these
verses:

(13) Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go
to such and such a town, stay there a year, conduct business, and make
money.” (14) You do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your
life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.
(15) Instead you should say, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live—and
do this or that.” (16) But you boast about your proud intentions. All
such boasting is evil. [James
4:13-16 ISV
]

The Int’l Standard Version cited here preemptively takes you on the
right track. Until yesterday I had the following conception based on a
German translation [James
4:15 GerElb1905
]: it depends on the concrete will of God if we live
another day, and God might want that or the opposite for us; and
likewise for what God wants us to do concretely; so only in the
incident when God wants us to live another day and do what we
plan to it will come to pass. To me, this now smells like folk
religiousness. Let me explain why and then conclude with an alternative
(and grammatically justified) translation.

Men’s duality as a created creator

God created the human being to be “his image” [Genesis
1:26 ESV
]. According to the verse just quoted this means that man
should have dominion above all other things in this world – just as God
has dominion above all things in the whole known and unknown universe.
Man resembles God in that the world is his universe. So man can be
called the “god in this world”, perhaps see [Psalms
82:6 ESV
] for that.

So man is in a complex relationship: in the direction toward God he
is the creature, and in the direction towards this world he is the
creator. As the creator, man can work and build and reach and govern
something; as a creature, he should know that he lives because of the
goodwill and grace of his creator. Sadly, his creator is invisible
while the things he can create are visible; which serves as a steady
temptation to deem oneself as creator only. Which obviously would not
be appropriate to reality.

Nonetheless, Adam tried it, and every human being since him: we
wanted to be just as God, a creator only, not just a humble creature.
It deems us unjust that God demands us to be humble creatures while he
allows himself to be creator only. But he does not! God is Father and
Son (and Spirit), and as such Creator and Creature in “personal union”.
So the error begins with the misconception of God when we want to be
“just as God”. What we want is to break “free” from love … we wanna
be egoistic, wanna have all for ourselves. This is not just confined to
the love relationship to our creator only, but affects also the
relationships to our wife or husband, to our children and to nature. So
the deepest cause of all of man’s problems is his rebellion … against
love.

But: there is no way except love; where there is more than one
entity, there is society, and society without love does not work.
Between complimentary entities, love is respect in one direction and
care in the other; and every human being has part in many such
complimentary love relationships, so cannot complain that this is
unjust. Human beings are to respect God as their creator, yet care for
their fellows; husbands are to care for their wifes, while wifes are to
care for their children (here, in their natural, worthy role as mother,
which is being closest to the children). Children are to respect their
mother, and wifes are to respect their husband, and husbands are to
respect God. In Paul’s words:

Now I want you to realize that Christ is the head of every
man, and man is the head of the woman, and God is the head of Christ. [I
Corinthians 11:3 ISV
]

So man’s task is to live both things out at the same time, in love:
being creature and creator. In the directions towards God this demands
just obedience to love, and humbleness before God (in the most positive
sense of the word) [Micha
6:8 ESV
]. A lack of humbleness towards God might be expressed by
explicit rebellion. Or it might be expressed by a lifestyle that is
intended to convey complete independence from God, so as if we’d be
immortal by our own virtue. James denounces exactly this lifestyle in
the concerned passage [James
4:13-16 ISV
]. As an example of explicit rebellion against God
(hidden in all kinds of God-independent lifestyles) let’s have a look
at what is said about Nimrod and the Tower of Babylon after the deluge:

(2.) Now it was Nimrod who excited them to such an affront
and contempt of God. He was the grandson of Ham, the son of Noah, a
bold man, and of great strength of hand. He persuaded them not to
ascribe it to God, as if it was through his means they were happy, but
to believe that it was their own courage which procured that happiness.
He also gradually changed the government into tyranny, seeing no other
way of turning men from the fear of God, but to bring them into a
constant dependence on his power. He also said he would be revenged on
God, if he should have a mind to drown the world again; for that he
would build a tower too high for the waters to be able to reach! and
that he would avenge himself on God for destroying their forefathers!
(3.) Now the multitude were very ready to follow the determination of
Nimrod, and to esteem it a piece of cowardice to submit to God; and
they built a tower, neither sparing any pains, nor being in any degree
negligent about the work: and, by reason of the multitude of hands
employed in it, it grew very high, sooner than any one could expect;
but the thickness of it was so great, and it was so strongly built,
that thereby its great height seemed, upon the view, to be less than it
really was. It was built of burnt brick, cemented together with mortar,
made of bitumen, that it might not be liable to admit water. [Flavius
Josephus: Antiquities of the Jews, book 1, chapter. 4, paragraph. 2-3
]

There are many more interesting considerations about how to deal
with our createdness adequately. For example, James advises to express
an adequate, humble attitude towards our creator in some way [James
4:15 ISV
]. How can we do this today, without resenting to the
stereotypical religious expressions or the folk religiousness often
found in prayers before meals. Or, what the “tree of life” in paradise
means here: in my view, there is reason to think that only regular
eating from this tree’s fruit guaranteed eternal life and healing from
injuries and illnesses; thereby man was remembered of being dependent
(ultimately on God’s favor) and had no self-immanent eternal existence.
While by eating from the “tree of knowledge” man expressed the wish to
be independent “just like God” (with the misconception about God
implied that we discussed bove). Another thought: me thinks the book of
Ecclesiastes is a big advise how to live our createdness out adequately
… look for example at [Ecclesiastes
3:12-13 ESV
]. What do you think, guys 😉

James 4:15 re-understood

Now here’s how I would explain the verse I misunderstodd previously:

Instead you should say, “If the Lord wants us to live (as
he does, but it depends on that), we will live — will hopefully
do this or that.” [James 4:15 explained]

That’s because I conclude from context [James
4:14 ISV
] that John just wants people to recognize and live out
their createdness, i.e. our immanent transientness which is extended
day by day by the grace of our creator. James does not want to say that
God may want our death, but we must be conscient that God
wants our life [John
14:6 ISV
; I
John 5:11-12 ISV
; I
John 4:9 ISV
]. And that we live beauce God wants us to and not
because we want to. After all, we normally die not from God’s will but
from sin and a sinful world, that is, from our wish to be independent
of our creator’s sustaining grace. And he does not want to say that
what we can do concretely depends on what God wants us to: but the
freedom to be able to do “this or that” comes from God.


Start date: 2007-09-27
Version date: 2007-09-29 (for last meaningful change)

Is all of life banal? Me thinks it’s justified to ask so, as the non-banality is nowhere obvious at first glance. To find it, one should define it. I propose here the following definitions:

Each situation defines one or some actions as appropriate (or: wise, adequate, necessary, essential) answers to the situation. To act non-banally means to do this resp. one of these. To act banally means to do something different. So banal actions are those which miss the point, are secondary, are irrelevant.

It follows from this that actions are not banal, but tuples of situation and action are. For example: to party is mostly banal where one faces a significant relationship problem, but is non-banal where one realizes God’s blessings and wants to express one’s gratitude and joy. Another example: all of life is banal where one does something different from the purpose of living, which is, in my view, to live life in loving communion with God.

Some more observations. Equating appropriateness and non-banality serves an interesting understanding of some bible passages. Look here:

“(5) Behave wisely toward outsiders, making the best use of your time. (6) Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer everyone.” [Col 4:5-6 ISV]

Wise is, as stated above, a synonym for “non-banal”. Because there is limited time, we need to act appropriately to the sad condition of the world we found it in. Which includes especially to live appropriately (i.e. inviting) in relation to those who are not yet Christians. And not to spend all of our life on private affairs, i.e. on a banal life, on irrlevevant activity in the context of a lost world. Note also that one’s action are limited by the available possibilities: one does not act banally if one does not help where one cannot. So banality is probably better determined by a triple (requirement,possibility,action), in this way: the difference between possibility and action, not between requirement and action, is a measure for banality.

“(29) This is what I mean, brothers: The time has been shortened. From now on, those who have wives should live as though they had none, (30) and those who mourn as though they did not mourn, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they did not own a thing, (31) and those who use the things in the world as though they were not dependent on them. For the world in its present form is passing away. (32) I want you to be free from concerns. An unmarried man is concerned about the affairs of the Lord, that is, about how he can please the Lord. (33) But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world, that is, about how he can please his wife, (34) and so his attention is divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the affairs of the Lord, so that she may be holy in body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world, that is, about how she can please her husband. (35) I’m saying this for your benefit, not to put a noose around your necks, but to promote good order and unhindered devotion to the Lord.” [I Cor 7:29-35 ISV]

Not that crying or rejoicing (both about worldly things), buying, using technology or marrying is a bad idea, or should or even could be really avoided. But living for one’s private worldly affairs only while there is so much important stuff available is simply banal. Important stuff includes one’s relationship to God, personal sanctification and a missional lifestyle (for the latter, that was the point in Col 4:5-6).

Date: 2007-08-19

Last meaningful change: 2007-08-21

I’m here in the course of trying to find how to live with God practically. (Jus’ to be clear: with the God of the bible, as there is no other being who deserves this title, as it means: the supreme being, the highest one, above all.) Now, umh, here I’m going to deal with the question: what is receiving wisdom from God?
The question arises from the following verses from the apostle James:

“(5) Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to everyone generously without a rebuke, and it will be given to him. (6) But he must ask in faith, without any doubts, for the one who has doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. (7) Such a person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. (8) He is a double-minded man, unstable in all he undertakes.” (James 1:5-8 ISV)

I will continue to examine these verses from the perspective that the relationship to God is in the average case “mediate”, i.e. without individual interaction between God and men. (By the way, I realize that this perspective needs a name to identify it.) Choosing this perspective willingly is not to say that it is the ultimately correct one, but to examine its validity on the go. What follows is a selection of theses and arguments for them:
  • Getting wisdom is not getting a concrete answer what to do but goodness ability. When trying to understand a text one has to use the meanings (or: connotations) that an author attributed to his words, not one’s own. This is esp. important when dealing with old or translated text as both changes the language and might increase the difference in meaning to the average use of words today. This holds true somewhat for “wisdom” here. Intuitively, we will understand this verse as: if you don’t know what to do in any concrete situation, if you lack any answer, pray to God for it. However, James has a more general concept in mind, as appears from his following words: “However, the wisdom that comes from above is first of all pure, then peace-loving, gentle, willing to yield, full of compassion and good fruits, and without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy.” (James 3:17 ISV). Cf. also the context: James 3:13-17 ISV. For James, wisdom is the ability to live rightly. The same seems to be true in King Solomon’s case (I Kings 3:7-12 NASB): he prayed for wisdom and received an ability to be wise “himself”, not a communication channel to ask God whenever he needed a decision.
  • Wisdom from God comes without concrete interaction, on average. We saw that wisdom does not consist in concrete answers but in ability to generate concrete answers. This opens the possibility that God might give wisdom not in a concrete, delimited interaction but without it. This assumption is supported somewhat by James’ not saying what experience we’ve to expect when receiving wisdom from God. And by the experiences of those who prayed: it seems to happen very infrequently that we received wisdom from God in an explicitly supernatural way. Instead, the wisdom might “just be there” or “just grow up”, just as it seems to have been with Solomon.
  • Wisdom is the agency of the Holy Spirit. When comparing James’ description of wisdom (James 3:17 ISV) and Paul’s list of the “fruit of the spirit” (Galatians 5:22-23 ISV) it appears that both is the same, in essence. So wisdom, the ability to live, is due to the indwelling Holy Spirit. It is unclear however if it is something “human in essence” as the effect of the Holy Spirit’s teaching and educating, or something “divine in essence” as the concrete agency of the Holy Spirit as our “new core”. Or both. This is however not that essential …
  • Answers for concrete situations are termed “knowledge” in the bible instead. One of the charismatic gifts is the “gift of knowledge”, enabling people to recognize what God thinks about a situation and what he proposes concretely. Quick hint: in I Corinthians 12:8, speaking wisdom and knowledge is identified as two separate gifts.
Date: 2007-08-04
Last major change: 2007-08-08