The physics behind resurrection of the body


I have a question about the general resurrection that I was pondering. At the general resurrection, the souls of all the saved are reunited with their bodies, which are raised and assume a perfected state. This is easy for me to imagine in regards to those who have died and been buried. However, what about those who have died and whos bodies have not been preserved but instead have returned to simple atoms and molecules, and that organic matter has become the building blocks in the creation of another human being far in the future. For instance, say I eat a plant that grew from the dirt where an ancient person many millenia past had died and “returned to dust”. In such a case, at the atomic level, I would then share my makeup with someone from ages past. How is this reconciled when we all get our bodies back? Should I just assume that we get our old bodies in a supernatural way that we don’t understand?



One way I thought to reconcile this was to theorize that our actual physical bodies don’t get raised, but instead are recreated perfectly according to the genetic code we were born with. As soon as I thought of that though, it seemed heretical. Our faith and divine revelation seems pretty clear that our bodies are really and truly raised, just as Christ’s was. So that puts me back at square one in thinking about this :frowning: .



Someone I knew, who is dead now, told me once that he’d heard all of our cells are replaced every 5 or so years, or something. So at that rate possibly none of the original atoms in my body at birth are there still.
Its a bit like the posh woman complaining to the electricity supplier that she did not want someone elses used electricity.
I reckon one carbon atom is the very same as the next but if it really became a problem (if they fell into a nuclear fission or fusion reactor) He could simply recreate a persons carbon atoms again!:whacky:


I think that’s right. In fact I just heard a physician lecturer the other night say that we get a new skeleton about every 10 years. So in fact, when we speak of “my body,” it’s hard to say just which body at which instant of time we mean.

It’s also good to recall that according to Thomistic metaphysics, everything that is perceptible to the senses comprises ‘accidents’ or ‘appearances.’ This includes everything that is perceptible to senses or instruments extending the senses–even down to the molecular and atomic level. In fact, all you really know about your body is from it’s appearances.


Indeed, regardless of the time frame, “our” bodies are not atomically the same from moment to moment. Take a deep breath, inhale some oxygen – Let it out, expel CO2 – You’ve just exchanged some bits of your body with the atmosphere.



I have often thought this question as well… the question of what is meant by our bodies. Will it be our youthful bodies, or our older bodies, or a spiritual body seen through the eyes of faith (for St. Paul never once makes direct reference to a physical bodily resurrection)?

We base a lot of our views of the resurrection off of Jesus’ bodily resurrection but in the gospels we are told stores of Jesus walking through walls and other things which would appear to be a non-physical bodily resurrection but more in line with a spiritual body. Also, as you say our physical body changes completely every 5-10 years.


Fascinating. So exactly what *is *it that is raised when the time comes? I want to say everything that comprised me at my death, but again, some of those parts might have comprised another person at the moment of their death. The other uneasy thing about this is that it seems when we discuss our physical content as ever-changing, etc. that we start to separate the concepts of soul and body, and of course our theology is adament is saying that they are inseparable - that we are a body/soul composite.



Yes, I heard from Colin Donovin on the show recently that our resurrected bodies have three or four specific such characteristics (i.e. agility) that quite frankly seemed to describe superheroes :). I can accept that our physical bodies are enhanced in these ways. However, I do still have a hard time imagining what the earthly components of our remaining physical nature are raised and made candidates for this enhancement.



This may be the key. Our bodies are our bodies, but our atoms are not our atoms. Never mind long-dead people, we could very well have atoms that were once in other living people.


Yes we are an inseparable body-soul composite. The soul is non-material, yet inspearably fused into a unity with the body. The body, however, IS material, and is ever changing. Some matter enters, some leaves.

My soul is inseparably united to my body at this instant, as it also was 20 years ago. But that 20 years ago body is no longer present. Can I say that it, being in the past, is not at this instant being animated by my soul? I think so. I have not changed in essence even though every atom in my body has changed. It’s still me.

We don’t get a “spiritual” body at the resurrection, (that’s almost a contradiction in terms), but rather we get our own body. Which one? I don’t know. But we also get back the preternatural gifts. Matter is not so well defined or so solidly packed that we might not also, like Jesus, be able to walk through walls.


The usual vocabulary in this regard is *glorified *body.



“The physics behind resurrection of the body”

There is no physics behind it- the concept exists completely outside of the natural law.


I’m working on a paper about the resurrection, so I’ve read a lot of sources, a couple of which deal with that very issue. Athenagoras, Augustine, Tertullian, and Aquinas deal in detail on the matter of how our bodies are “regenerated” or “reconstituted”, despite decay, absorption into other bodies, etc.

Here’s my suggested reading list for you on the matter. Chapter/section listings are the specific parts that deal with the regeneration of our bodies.
*]Treatise on the Resurrection of the Dead, Athenagoras (ch. II - IV)
*]On the Resurrection of the Flesh, Tertullian (ch. LV, LVII)
*]City of God (Book XXII), Augustine (ch. 19-20)
*]Enchiridion, Augustine (ch. 88-89)
*]Summa Theologica (XP), Aquinas (Q79)
That’s all for now. I’ll certainly remember to reply to this when I’ve got something to show, in terms of my paper.


IMHO - absolutely correct.

God doesn’t need to use physics, he invented physics and can change it any time he wants.

Our resurrected bodies could be done with “standard atoms, etc.” but there may be something used which is totally outside of our experience.

We are pondering a question like “what is heaven?” and like that question, there is probably no answer that we could possibly comprehend.


This is a great reply. It also begs some other considerations. Although my body completely replaces its makeup naturally, there is still a continuity that causes its identity (the “myself”) to remain constant. Now, what *is *that continuity? Could it be my soul, or a part of it? Or is it actually a persistent part of my natural biology (along with my soul) which is actually my true physical nature that is perfected and raised in my glorified body? So many questions…



One way I thought to reconcile this was to theorize that our actual physical bodies don’t get raised, but instead are recreated perfectly according to the genetic code we were born with.

That is MY understanding too!

Jesus said that every hair on our heads had been counted. I have always taken this to imply our genetic code.

It actually seem preposterous that our sinful bodies [yes I know they are forgiven in Christ], but sinful none the less, should enter into the beatific vision? Such an idea is preposterous.

Someone… told me once that he’d heard all of our cells are replaced every 5 or so years,

Our cells are continously replacing themselves. Some cells are replaced every 28-days. How many re-generations is that in an average life time!!

So at that rate possibly none of the original atoms in my body at birth are there still

I would not say ‘possibly’ but ‘definitely not’! Our whole bodies go through about 8 complete re-generations in an average life time. I am 55-years old. The body I had at 45 no longer exists. It is long since dead, as it the one before and the ones before that. From dust they came and to dust they have returned!!

Our glorious Lord I think resurrected from a catalyse of His dead body much the same as a butterfly comes from a grub, That is my understanding. But He was different, His body could not know decay seeings He was without sin :thumbsup:


I would say that what causes my identity to remain constant–my self–is precisely the immaterial soul, which is constant. That is not to say, however, that the body is entirely in flux. Our DNA remains constant, by replicating itself. My body remains my body, no matter how many changes of molecules it undergoes, and it remains recognizable as my body.

If, in fact, I were able to return to my “self” as it was 20 years ago, as we should be able to do in heaven, I suspect that "I’ would then be in that 20 years younger body. It would seem rather strange for an older self to occupy a younger body.


Thank you for the excellent discussion.

After reading this thread, I am confused :confused: re: the state(s) of our being during the time between particular and final judgement. Please can you explain while distinguishing the terms of “soul”, “spiritual body”, “glorified body”, “ressurected body”, and “inseparable body-soul composite”.

It seems to me that

  1. our soul and flesh body are separated at the time of death, which coincides with particular judgement
  2. at the time of final judgement, and for some time prior to this event, our souls will be united with our (non-flesh) body.

…is our soul the same as our “spiritual body”?

May God grant you mercy, peace, and love in ever greater measure.


For me, the key to remember is that your cells/atoms/etc are constantly being replaced - and that the only makeup that most assume matters is that which you had at the moment of death. If you’re resurrected and your cells contain material of someone else’s body, eventually (whether naturally or, I suppose, induced in some way) those atoms which ‘belong’ to someone else (Perhaps even many someones) will leave you.

I also wonder if an entire bodily resurrection would be necessary. If my brain were put in a duplicated body, would ‘I’ still be ‘me’? In my ignorance, I would assume so. Which cuts down on the amount of overlap. Mind you, this is going with an entirely physicalist concept of self, which is debatable.


dont mean to jack this thread but if some knowledgeable people here could spend a spare minute and help me out itd be appreciated. I made a thread about christian death and life there after and i need some info. I got a projetc due and need some guidance

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