Saturday, February 14, 2015

Dialogue on the Resurrection

[Interlocutor]
And here we have it: the problem. Did you really just argue that the JW teaching is not a re-creation because of a metaphor? It counts as a resurrection and not a re-creation because, metaphorically and not literally, S1 still lives? With all due respect, you've got to be kidding.

[Edgar Response]
Let's not misrepresent my argument. I am not contending that a resurrection as opposed to a re-creation takes place BECAUSE S1 still lives metaphorically. Rather, my position is that S1 is resurrected BECAUSE S1 is truly dead (not conscious or existent) and is raised from that condition by God through Jesus Christ and the holy spirit.

[Edgar Previously]
If I type a document, save it to my C drive, then transfer it to a floppy disk, delete the original file, then insert the floppy in another computer and retrieve the document on the floppy disk-- how can anyone legitimately claim that I'm "re-creating" the original document?

[Interlocutor]
Well, the same way that the Magna Charta that is in the US Archives is a copy (a re-creation) of the original. The same way that, if I try to sell you the Declaration of Independence, I'm committing a fraud -- what I have is a copy. The same way that the absolute best copy of Goya's Saturn is worth a couple grand and the original is priceless.

[Edgar Response]
The word "copy" is ambiguous. It can refer to something (X) that is exactly like another distinct thing or the word may have reference to something (X) that has been made to resemble something else. I have deliberately refrained from using the word "copy" when illustrating the possible relationship between a deceased person and the same person existing after God resurrects him or her. Keep in mind that the computer disk example is just that: one should not take the illustration literally. All examples have their own limitations.

But let us assume (as I am suggesting) that the resurrection could be analogous to opening a file that derives from an original document which initially existed on the C-drive. I still don't see how that [necessarily] constitutes "re-creating" the file. It is unnecessary to recreate something that never ceased to exist in the first place. However, please do not infer that I am trying to say S1 never stops existing (although in a metaphorical sense, that point is true) post mortem. The original point of my example was to illustrate how something that exists, dies and comes back to life can still be considered numerically identical through the whole process. In the case of the file example, the file exists, is transferred to a disk, and then deleted but continues to exist on the disk. You can clearly see that I am not positing a strict analogy between the file example and a person who dies, but is later raised from the dead.

[Edgar Previously]
Similarly, I don't see why my view regarding the dead being brought back to life can't be termed "resurrection."

[Interlocutor]
There are two main reasons. First, the JW perspective eliminates the uniqueness of the individual. In exactly the same way we can print out an unlimited number of the saved documents, and each one we will claim is THE document, under the JW thinking there is no "thingness" to any of us. There are only (potentially many) examples of that thing. This is generally and for good reason considered to be a pretty big drawback to the JW position.

[Edgar Response]
As I've said earlier, my example involving the computer file should not be misconstrued. It was intended to show how numerical identity can be preserved although an object might be deleted but continue to exist in another form. I believe that it misrepresents the Witness position to claim that Witnesses say there are "potentially many" examples of a particular thing, in this case. Furthermore, I don't know how you can make that claim about my belief when I've made it clear that I believe the self is neural and coupled with the body proper. If S1 is a neural self that is metaphysically distinct from S2 (another neural self), S3, S4 . . . , then there cannot be many instantiations of S1. Only S1 experiences particular synaptic connections, brain states and sensory experiences peculiar to S1. S1 also has a particular genetic code, [fingerprints], and set of unique memories. The atomic structure of S1 also belongs to S1 and only to S1. Therefore, one and only one S1 can exist.

[Interlocutor]
Second, and related, the JW position that there is a complete break at death -- as you said, there is a literal and total break -- makes it tough to see how continuity is maintained (continuity being generally considered a really important element of the whole resurrection vs. re-creation question). Cartesian dualists, whatever else their problems might be, don't have this problem.

[Edgar Response]
Continuity is preserved (on the Witness account) because while people die (completely and totally), there is a sense in which human persons continue living. They live unto God [i.e., in his memory].

2 comments:

Killa Jules said...

In this dialogue, the interlocutor does not appear to recognize or admit that describing a person's identity as analogous to a document or message is an assumption.

It is meaningful to speak of a document or message being copied. It would be nonsense to say that the meaning of the message is a copy. The copied document has the same meaning as the original, any gaps in existence are totally irrelevant.

I am not arguing that a person's identity is analogous to the meaning of a message. I am only saying that we do know of real things (meaning, ideas) which cannot be spoken of as being copied.

From this point of view, the interlocutor's objections are meaningless.

Edgar Foster said...

Thank you. I like your aproach to his objection.

Regards,

Edgar