The Metaphysical Problem of Intermittent Existence and the Possibility of Resurrection

Faith and Philosophy 20 (1):24-36 (2003)
If one does not possess an immaterial and immortal soul, then the prospect of conscious experience after death would appear to depend upon the metaphysical possibility of the resurrection of one’s biological life.[i] By “resurrection,” I don’t mean just the possibility that a dead but still existing and well preserved individual could be brought back to life. My contention is that the human organism can even cease to exist, perhaps as a result of cremation or extensive decay, and yet still can be brought back into existence at a later time. That is, the same organism can live again after a period of nonexistence. However, a number of philosophers, religious and secular, insist that once an individual ceases to exist he does so forever, regardless of whether God or a future technology reassembles his atoms. Their claim is that the resulting human being would be a duplicate, for intermittent existence is impossible - at least for living creatures. In the pages that follow, I aim to establish, not that the dead will be resurrected, but that some of the alleged barriers to such an event are dubious. My contention is that resurrection after a period of nonexistence is not a metaphysically impossible state of affairs.
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