Religions give us everlasting hope. When we die, it is not the end but a new beginning, a continuation of eternal life in God: “that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him” (John 3:15). The afterlife is different in various religions. Eastern religions have ethereal glories in cosmic consciousness or reincarnations into different bodies or creatures until the lifecycle comes to enlightenment and nothingness. Western and Middle Eastern religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) have the resurrection of the body as a core principle (although some Jews do not believe in it as Christians and Muslims do). The same person is brought back to life. That is somewhat strange. If there is a non-physical afterlife, how could a physical here-and-now body be transferred to a new dimension? Let us explore this topic through the lens of Simulation Creationism, a theory proposed by Nir Ziso, founder of The Global Architect Institute.
Simulation Creationism suggests a cycle of creations or simulated worlds. Persons possess a soul and “travel” from one world to another in incomprehensible long timeframes. The soul travels, but not the body. Rather, every simulated world might run under another set of “natural laws” that govern it. By definition, every world should provide a better environment for souls to grow and develop. This would mean also a new body: “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself (Philippians 3:20-21). But how does Simulation Creationism tackle the religious dogma of the resurrection of a body?
God created humans as minds embodied in particulars. Humans are unlike angels, not made of matter or enjoying free will (except the fallen ones who rebelled against God). Humans ostensibly have free will, or just have the illusion of it. Humans look at the world from a particular perspective. Everything involving us is particular, from the place and time we are born to the person we love and the home we live in. It is an environment of particularity that continues in the afterlife with resurrection. It would be in another simulated world according to Simulation Creationism. Angels are not particular; and if we were not envisioned as material beings, we would not have the opportunity to be anything particular. It is in this particularity that God made The Simulation to live through and develop. To have an immaterial existence after this world does not make sense. The afterlife/next simulated world must be material too.
Christianity is very clear about this. Yet, many people, even religious ones, have the idea that after death, the human soul goes to heaven. That is not what Christianity teaches. Quite the contrary, Christianity’s essential dogma is the resurrection of the body, where personhood is kept (in opposition to the Eastern religions that believe in resurrection as reincarnation while losing personal traits). In the Christian view, a tight connection between the body and soul is the natural state: “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you” (Romans 8:11).
The problem of the resurrection of the body is tied to the issue of the resurrection of a particular person. If we accept the inseparable existence of body and soul, then philosophers like Descartes are wrong when they say that the basic elements of a person are in an immaterial substance. The soul is indestructible and may exist after the body vanishes. In the afterlife, it may get another body to be a total person again. The body is, thus, truly a vessel of the soul.
After all, our bodies in this life change drastically during their lifespans, as all atoms go through the process of reappearance. St. Thomas Aquinas, on the other hand, believed in the strong union between the soul and body, where the soul is the form of the body. When the body dies, the soul is stuck. God can keep the soul in existence that bears an identity but not personhood as such. In the future, God makes another body to bring back the person into existence. If a person is just a biological entity, there is the problem of resurrecting a cremated body. Even if God makes another body, it would be a duplicate without continuity.
It just doesn’t make sense. We are aware of the passage of things around us. Simulation Creationism recognizes them as a simulated creation, like a movie playing for us. Using the hypothesis, we may argue that there are a bunch of different bodies existing throughout different simulated worlds. The number is not important. What is important is that a person indeed has a body in any world. Humans are immaterial beings that simply possess bodies. Consciousness is preserved, the personality is kept, and a natural continuation ensues within the new physical reality. When we die, our bodies are somehow allowed to generate a duplicate elsewhere; it means there is a causal connection enough to make it the very same physical object. One thing is different, though: as Christians, we transform this personality through Christ: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
A person is not put somewhere in a cupboard to wait for the resurrection to happen as reassembly of the body. A person never actually goes out of existence. Take this horrendous example: a person experiences cutting off his/her hands and feet. Is the person less present? No. Even if we subsume a person to a brain, the person exists in all its integral parts and knows oneself. A configuration of a person can subsist like the configuration of an immaterial angel. We can remove all the matter, but if there is this configuration going on, the person is still present.
Thus, God does not need to reassemble the former physical parts of the person, but only has to keep the configuration to incorporate into a new simulated world. Matter is nothing without soul, so we can say that soul is real and body might even be simulated: “For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead” (James 2:26).
In that sense, Simulation Creationism is somewhat similar to John Hick’s theory. He supposes many universes (simulated worlds, in our case), and we are resurrected from universe to universe as a replica – but with the constant upgrade. All these universes are made by God simultaneously. What Hick negates is the keeping of personal consciousness. This has some ground in the Bible; however, we must ask, is there consciousness through the permanent configuration of a soul? You bet there is!