John Hick is a materialist, he believes that the body and the soul are one and at death the body and soul both die. Hick aims to show that the concept of life after death doesn’t depend on human beings having souls in the way Plato and other thinkers believed. He believes that even though the death of our body is the death of the person, there is no separate soul to live on and he argues that this doesn’t rule out the possibility of our existence after death.Although Hick believes that the body and soul both die, he also says that it could be possible for the dead to exist after death as the same person if an exact replica of them were to appear. He says that this replica could then be identified as being the same person who had died and therefore Hick said they are same person.
Hick argued that if God is all powerful then it would be no problem for God to be able to create a replica of the person when they reach heaven. He said that this replica should have all the individuals’ memories of their past life, as well as their characteristics meaning that the replica would be the same person.John Hicks replica theory shows that not all materialists accept that death is the end and believe that there is a life after death. As the physical body can’t be separated from the soul (mind), there is only one way this could happen and this is if the body continues on after death.
Therefore this would have to involve the resurrection of the body. However this then raises the question of how the resurrection of the body could take place if the body has decayed or been cremated. For materialists the resurrected person must be recognisable as how she or he was before they died because any other form of them would mean that the ‘I’ of the individual had not survived death.St Paul is seen as a dualist. He believed that after death the body will be raised but it will be transformed and will become a spiritual body, unlike its earthly form as the seed is from the plant into which it grows. This is the way St Paul explained how an individual keeps their personal identity he or she had in their life but is able to achieve eternal life in a bodily form.
Hick agreed with St Paul however he believed that he contradicted himself by saying that the soul is immortal and by also saying that we have a spiritual boy. Therefore Hick improved upon St Paul’s ideas using his replica theory.Many philosophers don’t accept that a replica body is still the same as the ‘I’ that died. Hick tried to solve this problem with a series of experiments to prove that the ‘I’ that existed in this world is the same ‘I’ that is resurrected in the next world. He used the idea of a man called John Smith; Hick said imagine John Smith who lived in America, one day his friends watched as Smith vanished without a trace.
At the same moment as he disappeared, a replica John Smith appeared in India. Hick believes that this is the same John Smith. Hick then used this idea in a different scenario. He said imagine that John Smith had died. God then re-created John Smith in the next world and that this John Smith was also the same person.Many Philosophers would disagree with both Hick and the teachings of St Paul, for example Richard Dawkins believes that there is no soul at all.
He believes that our bodies are simply a product of our genes and that our bodies enable our genes to survive. Dawkins believes that the belief in a soul comes from human inability to accept that evil and suffering have no purpose. Dawkins believes that humans are no more than their DNA. He says that the purpose of life is DNA survival. Each individual, according to Dawkins, is the product of evolution and not an immortal soul; he says that life on earth came to be not as a miraculous creation but as a natural consequence of evolution.
Dawkins believes that the only way in which a human survives is through their DNA.Plato is a dualist; he believed that the soul and body were two separate substances which then interact. He believed that the soul is a substance which is immortal; this thought came from his theory of ideas which he called the Forms. For everything in existence, Plato accepted that there was the perfect Form. Ideas are not physical things, so therefore he believed that they must belong to a spiritual realm. For Plato the, the real identity of the person lies within the soul.
The soul is not matter which is unthinking. The physical world in which the body exists, the soul however is immaterial. The aim of the soul, according to Plato, is to break free from the chains of matter and escape to the realm of ideas where it will be able to spend eternity. Plato believes that the body wouldn’t survive death, but the soul would continue.
There is nothing scientific about Hicks replica theory; he is simply theological in his approach. By saying that when we die we there is a replica of us in heaven doesn’t make sense, this is because the replica would not be the same person as it wouldn’t have the same genes and DNA as the living individual. This theory also wouldn’t give the families of the dead any comfort especially if the individual died in pain, this is because the replica theory would mean that the person is still the same as they were when they were in pain and therefore isn’t how the families would prefer to remember them.