The Watchtower Teaching
Unlike the Signorelli painting above, the Watchtower describes the earthly resurrection as the injecting of a dead person’s memories and personality into a newly created body.
They teach that the vast majority of humankind will be resurrected to life on earth: both the “righteous and the unrighteous.” This includes “billions of ‘unrighteous’ ones.” These are said to have gone to Sheol.
But not everyone will be resurrected. Those excluded are said to have gone to Gehanna instead of Sheol. Included in this group are:
- Those whom Jehovah judges to have been wicked and unwilling to change. These include Adam, Eve, Cain, and Judas. (Though the Watchtower used to teach that Adam and Eve would be resurrected. See Reconciliation (1928) pp.323, 324).
- Those whom Jehovah exterminated, such as Noah’s contemporaries and the people who lived in the cities of Sodom or Gomorrah (though the Watchtower has changed its mind about this several times). Doubtless this will also include those who will be killed at Armageddon.
In the past, the Watchtower has taught that resurrected ones will not be permitted to marry, or to reunite with their spouse as a married couple. In 2014, however, this understanding was revised to “we don’t know.”
A Thought About the Teaching
A question arises in my mind regarding the resurrected individual:
Is this the same person who died?
Since we have no way to test this, the best we can do is to engage in some thought experiments.
What if it were possible to inject your memories (and whatever we might mean by “personality”) into a computer, android, or living clone? Would it be you?
In Disneyland men have created an “animatronic” of Abraham Lincoln. You can watch “him” move around, gesture, and recite Lincoln’s speeches. It looks and sounds very much like the real thing.
Despite this marvelous creation though, I don’t think anyone would point to it as evidence that Abraham Lincoln literally lives. Lincoln is still very much dead.
Blade Runner was a great sci-fi movie from 1982. In the film, the character of Rachael is of interest. She is a human-like robot injected with the memories of her creator’s niece, causing her to believe she is his niece, and that the memories are hers. However, the real niece (of course) does not believe that the robot is in fact herself.
On a lighter note, the 1996 comedy Multiplicity can aid our thought-experiment when it comes to clones. In this film, the main character (Doug) has himself cloned. The clone (dubbed “Two”) turns out to be an exact adult replica of Doug. Two has all the memories of Doug, and initially assumes that Doug is the clone! Naturally; Two thinks that he himself is Doug; he possesses all of Doug’s memories and personality. However, there is no doubt in Doug’s mind that Two is not him.
At the Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida, they have used artificial intelligence and an interactive screen to “bring to life” the deceased artist in a presentation called Dali Lives! Visitors to the museum can experience what it would have been like to talk directly with Dali when he was still alive, and can even have their picture taken with him! But all of this cutting-edge technology does Dali just as much good as the Disneyland animatronic does for Lincoln: zilch. Both men are still very much dead.
For our final thought-experiment, please consider this. What if Jehovah were to create a new body right now, in front of your eyes, and place your memories and personality into it. You stand there looking at it. Do you think it is you? Or are you the one looking at this new body? What if you were to now suddenly die. Does the new body now somehow magically become you? Or are you dead?
Injecting your memories and personality into a newly created being in the New Order, seemingly will not do anything for you. It will be just like “Two” in Multiplicity and just like the android in Blade Runner. Oh yes, this new being on this new earth will think that they’re you. But is that any consolation? Can you take comfort in knowing that you will have a surrogate sincerely posing as you for eternity?
It’s not you that will be resurrected.
You will still be dead. As dead as Lincoln and Dali.
Don’t miss Part 2: The Resurrection of the “Unrighteous”!