This is a sequel to my earlier post:
1. Chris Date said:
God had warned Adam that “in the day” he ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, he would die (Gen 2:17). The Hebrew phrase translated “in the day” often just means “when,” and needn’t be taken woodenly any more than when one says, “When you eat too much, you get fat.” Had God intended to emphasize that Adam’s death would take place immediately, he might have used the demonstrative pronoun: “in that day” (cf. Exod 13:8). Instead, when God carries out the sentence of which he had warned, that sentence is clearly literal death. Hence he says that “to dust you shall return” (Gen 3:19), and he evicts Adam and Eve from the garden so that they will not “live forever,” lacking access to the tree of life (Gen 3:22–23). So mankind fell into mortality.
I'm in nearly complete agreement with this statement. My only disagreement is that I wouldn't say mankind fell into morality. Rather, Adam and Eve were created mortal, with an opportunity to gain immortality for themselves and their posterity–and opportunity which they blew.
2. My bigger is disagreement is that Date makes the aforesaid statement to support this claim:
#2: Scripture consistently teaches that human beings are mortal and will not live forever unless God grants them immortality. This he will grant to the saved, but will withhold from the lost, who therefore will not live forever.
The problem with this claim is that it flounders on a fatal equivocation. Mortality/immortality can mean two different things:
i) The immortality of the body
To be immortal is to be deathless. Mortals die, whereas immortals never die. In this sense, mortality/immortality refers to physical or biological life and death.
ii) The immortality of the soul
To be immortal is to survive death. The body expires and decays, but your personality subsists because the mind is essentially independent of the body.
The soul can't die because it was never alive in the first place. It was never alive in the biological sense. A human soul is not the kind of entity that can expire or decay. It is not a physical organism.
(i) is more of a popular or dictionary definition whereas (ii) is more of a philosophical definition. Now my immediate purpose is not to argue for one or the other. Rather, my point is that death is only an argument for annihilationism if we define mortality in terms of (i), and combine that with physicalism.
3. But there's another problem for Date's argument. He says "I don't, actually, define biological death as equivalent to oblivion." But that presents a twofold problem:
i) If biological death isn't equivalent to oblivion, then how can death count as evidence for annihilationism? You see, Date talks about mortality as if that's evidence for annihilationism. But when he denies that biological death is equivalent to oblivion, how does that support his position? If you don't pass into oblivion when you die, how is death or mortality evidence for annihilationism?
ii) In addition, his denial is nonsensical. By his own admission, Date is a physicalist. And according to physicalism, the mind produces the brain. It's a cause/effect relation. Hence, brain death results in the extinction of consciousness.
It's like a light-bulb that's connected to a power generator. Cut the power and the light goes out.
Since Date is a physicalist, there's no way he can compartmentalize the implications that physicalism has for annihilationism. His commitment to physicalism delimits how life and death can be defined.
The only way to avoid that implication is if God made duplicate bodies, stored on an M-class planet somewhere else in the universe, and at the moment of death, God instantly uploads the decedent's consciousness into the duplicate brain (which presumes a computational theory of mind). Otherwise, there's nothing to bridge the gap between the moment of death and the general resurrection.
Since this duplicate body scenario obviously doesn't happen on earth, it must occur at some extraterrestrial locale. But from what I've read, annihilationists typically reserve the general resurrection for the day of judgment.
Perhaps Date can crawl out from under the desk he's quivering beneath to offer an alternative that's consistent with his commitment to physicalism.
4. Death can either be defined as an event or a condition. In reality, it is both. What is the postmortem condition of a decedent? What condition is the decedent in, given physicalist annihilationism? Answer: oblivion.
5. Let's approach this from another angle. Suppose we could preserve a corpse from decay. There'd be no brain function. Would it be dead or alive according to Date?
Suppose we could digitize a person and store the data, then turn the abstract data back into its pre-digitized form. Would the individual be alive during storage?