When it comes to discussing the validity of the Christian salvation thesis, many people tend to do it in an emotionally charged manner, especially if they happen to be strongly religious. The same applies to several non-religious individuals as well: all because they find the concerned thesis much too irrational to be given any serious thought.
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Moreover, it also represents a common assumption that since the subject matter in question is much too sensitive, in the politically correct sense of this word, people should avoid expressing their personal opinions about it. Nevertheless, it is possible to provide a scientifically sound and yet perfectly unemotional answer as to whether the Christian concept of salvation should be deemed credible or not. In my paper, I will aim to substantiate the validity of this suggestion at length while exposing the concerned religious dogma to be inconsistent with the most fundamental principles of the universe’s functioning and also with what neuroscientists know about the formation of one’s sense of self-identity (“soul”).
The Christian thesis about salvation is based on two axiomatic assumptions: the existence of God and the possibility for one’s “immortal soul” to exist independently of his or her body. Therefore, before defining the measure of the thesis’s overall validity, we will need to examine each of these assumptions individually and show that neither of them can be deemed even slightly credible.
Nonexistence of God
The existence/nonexistence of God is best assessed in conjunction with the famous Theorem of Incompleteness by Kurt Godel (Rajeevan, 2017). According to this theorem, just about any ontological system of reasoning, based on axiomatic assumptions, can be defined as being either incomplete (scientific) or self-contradictory (religious). An incomplete system is the one, within the framework of which a particular argument can be proven neither valid nor erroneous.
A self-contradictory system is the one, within the framework of which a particular suggestion can be proven both valid and erroneous at the same time. The observable emanations of the surrounding reality, however, are anything but self-contradictory: there are no simultaneously existent and nonexistent things in this world. What this means is that to be consistent with how the universe operates (and hence, discursively legitimate), ontological statements must recognize the possibility that they are, in fact, incomplete. This can be defined as the main principle of science. Even though humanity’s scientific knowledge is thoroughly objective, it cannot possibly be referred to as being “complete”.
However, the introduction of God (the ultimate cause behind all causes), as the ontological system’s conceptual cornerstone, automatically makes it complete. The reason for this is that the existence of God, whose ways are mysterious, makes it quite possible to prove the validity of just about any idea/suggestion, regardless of how improbable it may be. Nevertheless, if one were to assume that God indeed exists, he or she would be consequently forced to assume that the surrounding reality is full of contradictions, which in turn would enable effects to define their causes.
Yet, one does not have to be a scientist to realize that this is far from being the actual case, otherwise people would be able to walk through the walls and it would be possible to boil water by freezing it. Therefore, is there is no omnipotent God, at least in the conventional sense of this word. The reason for this is that the existence of such a deity would prove inconsistent with the existence of nature, as we know it. It is either God or nature, there cannot be both at the same time. And, since there is no God, there is also nobody in charge of saving people’s “immortal souls”.
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Nonexistence of “Soul”
The very assumption that God can prevent one’s “soul” from being cast into the “fiery pit of hell” (created by the same God) presupposes the full objectiveness of the former. “Soul” is assumed to an entity of its own, capable of surviving the person’s physical death. Nevertheless, those aware of the actual mechanics of how one’s consciousness comes into being will deem such an assumption erroneous.
The reason for this is that, contrary to what religious people believe to be the case, their sense of being endowed with some sort of an unchangeable personality (“soul”) is nothing but a mental illusion. As Hood (2013) aptly observed, “We all certainly experience some form of self, but what we experience is a powerful deception generated by our brains for our own benefit” (p. 2). The human brain (where one’s personality actually “resides”) is not designed to do abstract thinking per se. Rather, it is designed to help individuals to solve different situational problems, within the context of how they pursue their biological agenda.
Such people’s agenda is ultimately concerned with sexual mating, securing access to nutrients/resources, and imposing their dominance on others (Braun, 2015). In this regard, the representatives of the Homo Sapiens species are no different from their closest biological relatives: chimpanzees. While accounting for only about one-fiftieth of a person’s bodily mass, the brain consumes up to 25% of metabolic energy within the body when addressing various psycho-cognitive tasks (Falkowska et al., 2015).
This is exactly the reason why most people find intellectual pursuits (such as studying) very exhausting and generally unpleasant. The brain does not tolerate excessive thinking unless this activity serves the purpose of making it more likely for the concerned person to succeed in spreading its genome or acquiring some valuable resource without having to apply too much of an effort. The above-stated provides us with the answer as to why many people are naturally drawn to religion.
By adopting a particular religion as an integral part of their existential mode, individuals can preserve valuable metabolic energy. For a religious person, there is no need to think: religion holds “answers” to all possible questions. Hence, the a well-established positive correlation between the strength of one’s religiosity and the person’s talent in making babies (Peri-Rotem, 2016). Such a state of affairs makes a good biological sense. For as long as the laws of evolution are concerned, it is being of very little relevance whether the person is morally upstanding, smart, intelligent, kind, or otherwise. All that it matters is whether he or she has what it takes to ensure the passing of its genes to the next generation.
Thus, the Christian thesis about salvation appears to be deprived of any logical sense, whatsoever, just as it is the case with the religious people’s belief in the immortality of their “souls”. Enough, there is no point in discussing the specifics of one’s existential self-positioning as something that has the value of a thing-in-itself. An individual’s sense of personhood is the attribute of his or her body and not vice versa. As it has been shown on countless occasions in the past, the surgical removal of even a tiny part of the person’s brain will have a heavy effect on the workings of his or her psyche. This alone exposes the fallaciousness of people’s belief in the immaterial nature of personality (“soul”).
Even if we were to assume that one’s “soul” is indeed immortal, the purpose of its post-mortem existence could not be anything but biological. The earlier outlined insights into the subject matter testify to the full soundness of such a suggestion. After all, our sense of individuality is a byproduct of how our brain strives to adapt to the surrounding reality, which means that the “soul’s” perception of the latter would still be reflective of the cause-effect workings of the material world. Hence, the question that Christianity cannot answer: why would anyone’s “soul” be interested in being “saved” by Jesus (so that it can exist in the bodiless form for eternity), if it will continue to think and act as merely a non-physical extrapolation of its former physical body?
In light of what has been said earlier, it will only be logical to conclude this paper by stressing out once again the fundamental irrelevance of the Christian thesis about “salvation”. It is no more credible than the Christian fables about the donkeys that talk to people and the Sun stands still in the sky on God’s command so that the Jews may enjoy more daylight. I believe that this conclusion is fully consistent with the paper’s initial thesis.
Braun, C. (2015). Biological costs of the evolution of adaptive behavior and consciousness. Psychology of Consciousness: Theory, Research, and Practice, 2(4), 377-403.
Falkowska, A., Gutowska, I., Goschorska, M., Nowacki, P., Chlubek, D., & Baranowska-Bosiacka, I. (2015). Energy metabolism of the brain, including the cooperation between astrocytes and neurons, especially in the context of glycogen metabolism. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 16(11), 25959-25981.
Hood, B. (2013). The Self illusion: How the social brain creates identity. New York: Oxford University Press.
Peri-Rotem, N. (2016). Religion and fertility in Western Europe: Trends across cohorts in Britain, France and the Netherlands. European Journal of Population, 32(2), 231-265.
Rajeevan, E. (2017). Gödel’s theorem and its implications. The Researchers’ International Research Journal, 3(2), 87-99.