Lie — The Bible says you have an immortal soul

The Story

Each human being is created with an immortal soul.

Our purpose in life is to improve that soul by resisting the temptations that attack the physical body in which our soul is imprisoned.

The Bible tells us that after we die, our immortal souls will live on forever, either in perpetual heavenly bliss, or perpetual infernal torment.

Historical Facts

Many religions believe in immortal souls.

Some, such as Hinduism teach that upon death our souls are reincarnated. If we have improved our soul above the lot we were given, our next reincarnation will be to a higher level being, but if we have neglected our souls, our next reincarnation will be to a lower being. All animal life have souls. Animals are lower than humans, but even among humans there are different levels of soul. After sufficient cycles, eventually our souls can attain perfection.

Most other religions teach that we have but one life in which to develop our souls. After that, we die and our souls are either rewarded or punished, for all eternity.

The concept of the immortal soul, a potentially perfect spiritual being trapped in a weak and imperfect physical body, is widely taught by mainstream Christianity. Physical pleasure is bad for the soul, while physical denial and suffering are good for it. This doctrine however owes its origins more to Greek philosophers, such as Aristotle, and Greek cults, such as Asceticism, than to the Bible.

The Bible

The Bible nowhere mentions immortal souls, but makes it very clear that souls are mortal. Ezekiel 18:4 and 18:20 tell us that the soul that sinneth, it shall die.

Nor does the Bible teach that a soul is a spiritual something that lives within our physical bodies. Genesis 2:7 says that man became a living soul. We don't have souls; we are souls.

In fact, the Hebrew word for soul, nephesh (נֶפֶשׁ), refers not only to humans but to animals too. When animals appeared during the week of creation, the same word is used to refer to them, though usually translated as creature. In Genesis 2:19, Adam was asked to give names to all these souls: ... and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.

Souls don't even need to be living creatures. The Bible contains numerous references to dead bodies, where the word translated as body is the same nephesh that is elsewhere translated as soul.

The word simply means something or someone that is or was alive. We occasionally use the word that way even today, as when a ship sinks and say all souls were lost.

The Bible does refer to a spirit in man, but that is more of a driving force that gives us the power to think and reason, not a separate immortal being that inhabits our bodies.


The philosophy of Aristotle and practices of Asceticism formed a large part of the Roman way of life. When Christianity became the established religion of Rome, these Greek philosophies weren't abandoned, but were incorporated into the teachings of the Church.

While the Catholic Church does not consider the Bible to be the ultimate authority, and so is quite justified in its teachings, most Protestant denominations do claim that their faith is strictly Bible based. Even so, most of them continue to teach the non-biblical Greek philosophies of immortal souls and the evils of physical pleasure.

The ability to deny pleasure and to threaten an eternity of suffering is a powerful tool.