Thank you Thomas for asking this question.
Christian belief is that we are not made up of just atoms and molecules. The secular world believes that we are just made up of stardust, as Carl Sagan would say. That is not true. We are not made up of stardust. As we read in Genesis 2:7, God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and the man became a living creature. The Bible does not say this about any animals or other living creatures. It says God created the animals. God created the plants. But only for human beings, does it say that God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. So, we are not just a physical body. We also have a soul. It is immaterial and invisible. The secular world says everything that has existence must be material or its emergence. We don’t believe that. Existence is both physical and spiritual.
Our soul is more important than the body because our soul is eternal and our body is temporary. I am not a body with a soul. I am a soul with a body. In other words, we should think of ourselves as souls with bodies, not bodies with souls. Soul is not part of the body. Body is part of the soul. Body is a temporary part of the eternal soul.
God puts great value on every soul. Our blessed Savior asked us very poignantly, “What shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul?” (Matthew 16:26). You may be Jeff Bezos with over 200 billion dollars of wealth, but if you are not saved, that is all wasted in the eyes of God.
The Bible makes a clear distinction between body and soul. We read in Proverbs 6:24, “Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body” Proverbs 6:24. Graceful words provide sweetness to the soul and health to the body.
Human beings are called to love God with all their heart, with all their soul, and with all their mind (Matthew 22:37).
Jesus Christ our Lord clearly taught the eternal nature of the human soul. In Matthew 11:28, he says, ‘Come unto me, all who labor and are heavy laden, I will give you rest…you will find rest for your souls’. He is promising rest to our bodies. This is rest to our souls. In Jesus, our souls found rest.
In Mark 12:25, Jesus says that in heaven, we are like angels. To be in heaven like angels we must be living souls on the earth. If we have only physical bodies now, we cannot go to heaven and continue our existence like angels.
Jesus was crucified between two thieves. One thief repented of his sins and accepted Jesus as his Savior. Then Jesus says to that thief, ‘today you will be in paradise with me’. That evening, the dead bodies of Jesus and of that thief were hanging on the crosses outside of Jerusalem. But, both were in heaven enjoying the fellowship of God. Their dead bodies were on the crosses, but they were in heaven. It could not have happened if they did not have souls.
A great gospel verse from Romans 6:23 says,
‘For the wages of sin is death,
but the gift of God is eternal life
in Jesus Christ our Lord’
The gospel is receiving eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord. Eternal life implies we have an eternal soul.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:23, Apostle Paul says God keeps a believer’s spirit, soul and body blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Spirit, soul and body. Three distinct dimensions of our being are clearly enumerated.
In Acts chapter 7, we see Stephen being stoned to death for his confession of faith in Lord Jesus Christ. As he was dying, Stephen said, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit’ (Acts 7:59). Receive my spirit, so Stephen’s spirit is distinct from his body which is being stoned on earth. His spirit is not going to evaporate and disappear. He is asking Lord Jesus to receive it.
In 2 Corinthians chapter 12, Apostle Paul describes his tour of heaven. He visited heaven before his death. He says he is not sure whether he went to heaven in his body or out of his body. That means, it is possible to go to heaven without a body. That means, we have a soul distinct from the body (2 Cor 12:3).
In Luke chapter 16:19-31, the richman is Hades is crying with thirst. His dead body is in the cemetery in a grave. But his soul is in hell.
In Revelation chapter 6, when the fifth seal is opened, John sees the souls of people who became martyrs for the word of God. Their dead bodies are in their graves. But their souls are in heaven.(Revelation 6:9)
In 1 Corinthians chapter 15, apostle Paul explains the metamorphosis which takes place at the time of rapture. He says, in the twinkling of an eye, the perishable body becomes imperishable, the mortal body becomes immortal. For that to happen, the soul must exist.(1 Corinthians 15:51-58).
In 2 Corinthians 5:6-8, Apostle Paul says that he would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. How can it be possible to be away from the body and at home with the Lord if we do not have a soul?
So, the Bible clearly teaches us that we are not just physical bodies. We have souls. Cults like Jehovah’s Witnesses and false religions like Buddhism corrupted this clear teaching. We should not follow their errors.
This truth is not only important for our spiritual well being. It is also essential for moral and scientific worldviews. Rene Descartes took this biblical truth into secular science and gave the world dualism. Dualism is central to Western science and morality. If everything is matter in motion, how can you be ever certain that you are investigating reality? If the neurons in your brain are just shooting sparks and sensations, how can you be sure that you can know anything for certain? So, you cannot do science without dualism.
If everything matters, morality also has no meaning. Why should the stardust in a human body must adhere to a moral law, while the stardust in a dog or a cat or an elephant do not have to adhere to a moral law? So, without dualism, morality has no meaning.
So, the truth of an eternal soul is essential to our spiritual, intellectual, rational and moral well being.