Have you ever stopped to ponder the concept of personal identity? While our bodies are in a constant state of renewal, with every cell being replaced approximately every seven years, we still perceive ourselves as the same individuals we were in the past. This intriguing phenomenon raises questions about the nature of our existence and leads us to contemplate the existence of something beyond the physical realm. In this blog post, I explore the idea that the persistence of personal identity suggests the presence of an immaterial soul or spirit, ultimately pointing towards the existence to God.

The Ever-Changing Physical Self

Science tells us that our bodies are in a perpetual state of flux. Cells die and are replaced, tissues regenerate, and our physical appearance evolves over time. It is estimated that every cell in the human body is replaced within a span of approximately seven years. From a purely physical and material standpoint, the person you are today is not the same person you were seven years ago.

The Illusion of Continuity

Despite the physical changes, there is an undeniable sense of continuity and sameness that persists within us. We believe that we are the same individuals who experienced the past, made choices, and forged relationships. This fundamental belief in the continuity of our personal identity is deeply ingrained within us.

The Supernatural and Cognitive Dissonance

To reconcile the belief in personal identity with the parameters of naturalism and atheism, one must confront a state of cognitive dissonance. Naturalism, which asserts that everything can be explained by natural laws and processes, leaves little room for the existence of an abiding self. According to this worldview, there would only be replicas of individuals over time, lacking any true continuity. in other word, there is no real subsisting “you.”

Implications for the Criminal Justice System

The notion of personal identity and its implications extend beyond philosophical musings. The criminal justice system, for instance, relies on the concept of individual accountability. If we were to accept the naturalist perspective fully, the idea of holding someone accountable for the actions of their “old cells” becomes problematic. It challenges the very foundation of our legal system and raises questions about our understanding of responsibility.

The Testimony of Personal Identity

The persistence of personal identity serves as a powerful testimony to the existence of something beyond the physical realm. If there is a continuous and abiding “self” that transcends the physical changes, it demands the presence of an immaterial essence—an aspect that cannot be explained by purely naturalistic means.

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The Existence of a Higher Power

From this perspective, the existence of a subsisting “you” points towards the existence of a higher power—God. The enduring nature of personal identity seems to defy the constraints of naturalism and atheism, emphatically implying the presence of something supernatural. It demands the existence of an immaterial soul or spirit that transcends the physical body, providing an explanation for our sense of continuity and personal identity.

Conclusion

The mystery of personal identity continues to captivate our minds and challenge our philosophical frameworks. While our bodies undergo constant change, we perceive ourselves as the same individuals over time. This persistence of personal identity raises profound questions about the nature of our existence and the existence of something beyond the physical world. The belief in an abiding self points towards the supernatural, highlighting the possibility of an immaterial soul or spirit. Ultimately, personal identity serves as a testament to the existence of God.


C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo House Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Find him everywhere: Find him everywhere

    7 replies to "The Subsistence of the “You” Argument for the Existence of God"

      • C Michael Patton

        I agree. I am strongly a traducian. It effects just about everything. Including that concept into this post would have made it more complicated than I wanted.

        • chapmaned24

          Traducian? LOL. Shall I make another movie quote for you?

        • C Michael Patton

          As long as it puts me in a good light! If not, give the movie quote, but make it refer to someone else. 😃

        • chapmaned24

          “You clinking, clanking, clattering collection of caligenous junk!”

          He didn’t get a heart from his parents!

          Traducian! Sounds like an alien from another planet!

          Ed Chapman

      • chapmaned24

        Another way to see the word soul as something that someone HAS is by the words “MY SOUL”.

        By stating “MY SOUL”, you are indicating that you HAVE a soul. Not that you ARE a soul.

        Also note that the soul is DISTINCT from your spirit from seeing the words of 1 Thessalonians 5:23 which separates the words, spirit, soul, body, with the conjunction word, “AND”. So you cannot interchange those two words, spirit and soul.

        There are 169 instances in the KJV of “my soul”.

        In addition, when the word “OF” is used in conjunction with the word, “soul”, such as:

        2 Samuel 13:39
        And the soul of king David…

        So, while the Hebrew Nephesh states, a living breathing creature, the Greek states psyche.

        Genesis 23:8
        And he communed with them, saying, If it be your mind H5315 that I should bury my dead out of my sight; hear me, and intreat for me to Ephron the son of Zohar,

        The English word, “MIND” is used for the Hebrew NEPHESH in the above.

        And finally, if what you say is true about souls being MORTAL…how is the following even POSSIBLE?

        Revelation 6:9
        9 And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:

        10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?

        11 And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.

        DEAD SOULS TALKING, ASKING QUESTIONS.

        I think that BOTH you, and CS Lewis here, oh, I mean CW McCall, not that’s not it, General Patton need to rethink your stance on the word SOUL.

    • chapmaned24

      The Greek word for soul is PSUCKE. Transliterated to Latin is PSYCHE. The Hebrew definition is incomplete.

      Genesis 2:7
      And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

      Here we have 3 things.
      1. DIRT (BODY)
      2. Breath of Life (YOUR SPIRIT)
      3. Soul (LIVING, as opposed to dead)

      1 Thessalonians 5:23
      And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

      Spirit AND Soul AND body.

      Based on the Greek Definition of Soul…

      Genesis 2:7
      And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living THINKER.

      Note the last word. Your soul is your THINKING skills.

      Even God “HAS” a soul…

      Isaiah 1:14
      Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them.

      Jeremiah 6:8
      Be thou instructed, O Jerusalem, lest my soul depart from thee; lest I make thee desolate, a land not inhabited.

      Jeremiah 9:9
      Shall I not visit them for these things? saith the Lord: shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?

      We “HAVE” a soul, and we are known as a soul, BECAUSE we HAVE a soul. PSUCKE (GREEK).

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