such a belief stand up today, in the light of modern science and technology?
If anything, computer science has made it easier for us to grasp the concept of immortality. Young people today play numerous computer games in which they manipulate and control an animated character on screen who fights to survive and to advance to new levels of success, and in which it is possible for this character to receive the gift of eternal life or immortality. Once in possession of immortal life, mishaps lose their terror. The on-screen cartoon figure falls to his death, or is blown apart by an attacker, only to reappear completely restored and ready to resume his quest or adventure.
Or, turning from computer games to more serious software, if I should die and go to heaven, this would mean, in computer terms, that God ported my program to a new platform. Instead of the David Reed program running via genetic code on a platform of organic carbon-based molecular compounds, we now would find the David Reed program running on a spiritual platform, via whatever code the Creator uses in that new environment.
Paul expresses it this way:
"So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.
"And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption
"Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal [must] put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Corinthians 15:42-57)
So our inner person, our soul, can be ported from the corruptible platform of flesh and blood to the incorruptible platform of the spirit. What we can do with software on computers should help us illustratively to grasp what God can do with our souls to grant us eternal life.
However, our human illustrations can convey inaccuracies along with the truths that we might intend to impart through them. We need to turn to the Bible itself, to see what God actually says about heaven, hell and the afterlife.
Since the Old Testament contains mere hints, while Jesus Christ "has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel," it would be worth the effort to examine Jesus' words on this topic. (2 Timothy 1:10 NIV) We don't often hear people quoting Jesus' words—all of Jesus' words—about life after death; just the portion of his words that we want to hear, and not his complete message.
Yes, some love to quote John 17:3 from Christ's prayer to the Father: "This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ." (Jehovah's Witnesses' New World Translation) Evangelical Christians love to quote John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not