“All men are mortal – Socrates is a man – therefore Socrates is mortal.”
Students hear these words as they embark on a journey of mental gymnastics. Yes, this talk is cerebral. I am going to tickle the gray stuff.
Are we all mortal?
Actually, in Plato’s Phaedo, Socrates argued that humans have an immortal soul. It existed before they were born and does not die. Socrates called philosophy a meditation on death. On marriage he said, “If you get a good wife, you’ll be happy. If you get a bad wife, you’ll become a philosopher.”
An academic treatment of immortality would take us through the ideas of influential thinkers and the beliefs of the major religions. We’re going to take a different approach.
Regarding the simple question, “Are we immortal?” what is generally considered the single best publication is Corliss Lamont’s “The Illusion of Immortality.”
Lamont noted how the concept of immortality and the belief in God are so intertwined that philosopher William James asserted that belief in God for almost everyone MEANS belief in immortality. Martin Luther, the founder of Protestantism, said that without immortality God isn’t worth a mushroom.
Is there a chicken egg relationship between immortality and belief in God? Did we believe in God first, and then arrive at immortality? Or did we insist on immortality, as Immanuel Kant did, and then propose a god to provide it?
Sermon by Dr. Matt Foraker