Sir Roger Penrose, 85, is a respected and award-winning mathematical physicist in England. He serves as the Emeritus Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics at University of Oxford’s Mathematical Institute.
His awards include the Wolf Prize won in 1988 that he shared with Stephen Hawkings. His most recent awards include the De Morgan medal (2004) that is handed out every three years by the London Mathematics Society and the Copley Medal (2006) awarded by London’s Royal Society for outstanding research achievements in any branch of science. It is considered the world’s oldest scientific award.
Penrose ranks among the greats — Einstein and Hawkings.
He has also developed many theories during his lifetime, but perhaps his most intriguing is his belief in a human soul that continues to exist after a person dies.
According to an article in The Sun, he describes the soul as a “packet of information stored at a quantum – or sub-atomic level.”
When a person dies this information is released intact into the universe but will return to the human body if the person is brought back to life. Penrose believes this explains the near-death experiences reported by many people.
He also suspects that this “packet of information” could continue existing indefinitely. He has even found evidence these ‘packets of information’ are stored in microtubules found inside our brain’s neurons.
Penrose sums it up saying:
“If the patient dies, it’s possible that this quantum information can exist outside the body, perhaps indefinitely as the soul.”
Long before theories of quantum physics filled science journals, the Bible spoke of the existence of the soul or spirit. God not only created human bodies, but the soul as well:
16 Then King Zedeki′ah swore secretly to Jeremiah, “As the Lord lives, who made our souls, I will not put you to death or deliver you into the hand of these men who seek your life.” (Jeremiah 38:16 RSV)
And the Bible is also clear this soul continues to exist after a person dies.
Just before her death, Jacob’s wife Rachel named her son. But notice how the Bible describes the moment of death:
“Now it came about as her soul (napsa) was departing (for she died), that she named him Ben-oni, but his father called him Benjamin (Genesis 35:18 NASV).
In this account the departing of the soul is clearly differentiated from the act of death. Though happening at the same time, they are two distinct events.
In the Hebrew, the word soul (napsa) describes a person’s “living being, life or soul.” It is used to describe who they are — their personality. This soul makes the human body come alive and Rachel’s soul left her body when she died.
King David further elaborates when he rejoiced that God was not going to abandon his soul to Sheol indefinitely.
Therefore my heart is glad and my glory rejoices;
My flesh also will dwell securely.
10 For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol;
Nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay. (Psalm 16:9-10 NASV)
Sheol is the intermediary state where the soul goes after the body dies. The Apostle Paul explains that David’s description of the “Holy One” not undergoing decay looked ahead to Jesus (Acts 13:35-37) who God raised from the dead before His body decayed.
As for David, though his body decayed, his soul lives on.
And in arguably the oldest book in the Bible, Job talks of a day long after he died when he will be renewed (Job 14:14). The New Testament explains this renewal process is completed when the believer’s soul returns to a new resurrected body (1 Corinthians 15:35-58).
We also have other passages that talk of the continued existence of the soul. Perhaps the strangest is found during the last days of King Saul’s reign. The prophet Samuel had died and Saul was desperate to hear a word from God about an upcoming battle with the Philistines.
Since God was not giving this back-slidden king any direction, Saul consulted a medium and asked her to conjure up the spirit of Samuel. This verse has proven problematic with some theologians trying to explain it away by saying that the apparition was a demon.
However, the Bible does not give this impression at all:
13 The king said to her, “Do not be afraid; but what do you see?” And the woman said to Saul, “I see a divine being coming up out of the earth.” 14 He said to her, “What is his form?” And she said, “An old man is coming up, and he is wrapped with a robe.” And Saul knew that it was Samuel, and he bowed with his face to the ground and did homage.
15 Then Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?” (1 Samuel 28:13-15 NASV)
Samuel who still existed appears to Saul and condemned him for his sin and disobedience, as the prophet had done while alive on earth.
He then judges Saul saying God has departed from him and that the Philistines will win the upcoming battle.
This is why Jesus warns:
28 Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in [a]hell. (Matthew 10:28 NASV)