Are you a car or a computer? “That’s silly,” you say. “I’m neither. I’m a human being.”
True enough, but let’s pursue the question anyway. Cars and computers have one thing in common with us humans: we all need intelligence in order to function properly. However, cars don’t have an intelligence of their own. A car needs an intelligent operator to get inside, start the engine, and drive off. When the intelligent operator arrives at his destination, he turns off the ignition, and the car “dies.” The intelligent operator then gets out of the “dead” car and takes care of his business.

A computer is different. Its intelligence is built in. However, that intelligence lies dormant until the computer is connected to an electrical power source. When electricity enters the computer, it comes “alive” and can carry out its intelligent tasks. When the power is disconnected, the computer’s intelligence “dies.” THE COMPUTER STILL NEEDS A HUMAN TO PLUG IT INTO ELECTRICITY.

Some people believe that, like a car, our intelligence arises from a soul that resides in our bodies. This soul is immortal and can never die, so when the body dies, the soul leaves the body and continues its intelligent activity elsewhere.

Other people believe that our intelligence, like that of a computer, is built in. It arises exclusively from the interaction of the nerve cells in our physical brains. However, like the computer, the brain needs a source of power outside itself to turn it on so its intelligence can function. The Bible’s creation story helps us understand which way we humans are made—whether like a car or a computer. Genesis 2:7 says, “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being” (italics added). Notice two things. First, like the computer, Adam’s body and ours, including our brains, are made out of physical material. However, it was only after God breathed the breath of life into Adam that his brain turned on and he became an intelligent living being. That’s the computer model, not the car model.

Death is the reverse of that process. Speaking of death, Ecclesiastes 12:7 says, “Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it.” In the Hebrew language, the word translated spirit in English means breath or wind. So when we die, God takes back to Himself the breath of life that had activated our brains, and our intelligence ceases.

“Wait a minute!” you say. “The breath of life that goes back to God is the soul.”

It’s true that God takes back something from us when we die, but whatever that is, it isn’t intelligent, because Ecclesiastes 9:5 says, “The living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing” (italics added). So this breath (or spirit) that goes back to God is not the intelligent part of our nature.

We humans are like computers. When God energizes us with His life-giving principle—the breath of life—we come alive and our intelligence “turns on.” When God takes this life-giving principle back to Himself, we die, and our intelligence “turns off.”

But does it matter?
You may ask, “What difference does it make to me right now how I get my intelligence? I’ll find that out on resurrection morning.”

You’re right that, as a mere point of information, we humans don’t need to know whether the intelligent part of our nature is like a car or a computer. However, there’s a very important reason why we do need to know, right now, which way we’re made: we aren’t the only intelligent beings inhabiting our planet. The Bible tells us that thousands of years ago a third of intelligent beings called angels became evil and were thrown out of heaven to our planet (Revelation 12:7-9). We call them demons or devils. A master called Satan leads them, and one of their primary objectives is to lie to us (John 8:44).

Jesus told His disciples that shortly before His second coming false christs will arise and will “deceive many” (Matthew 24:5). Years later one of Jesus’ disciples said that during the final days of earth’s history “spirits of demons, performing signs, [will] go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty” (Revelation 16:14). And one of Jesus’ most ardent followers, a man named Paul, said something similar: “The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish” (2 Thessalonians 2:9, 10).

But what do Satan’s deceptive miracles in the end time have to do with our need to know the source of our intelligence today?

You’ve no doubt heard about spiritualism. Webster’s dictionary defines spiritualism as “the belief that the dead survive as spirits which can communicate with living, esp. with the help of a third party (medium).”* Spiritualists believe that, like the driver of a car, the intelligent part of our nature continues to exist after we die.

This belief is very widespread in today’s world. A number of popular TV shows and movies have been based on it in recent years. Another popular “proof” of intelligent life beyond the grave is the so-called “out-of-body experience” in which people who are near death claim to have floated out of their bodies and through a dark tunnel to “the other side.” After conversing with deceased friends and loved ones who are supposedly in heaven, they return to their revived bodies and report what they’ve seen and heard.

Then there’s witchcraft, which also includes the idea that our intelligence continues to function after we die. Nowhere is the popularity of witchcraft in our culture better illustrated than with the wildly popular Harry Potter books.
Notably, the majority of Christians agree with spiritualists that human beings have an immortal soul that continues a conscious existence after the death of the body. This provides a wide-open opportunity for demons to trick them by masquerading as their departed loved ones who are enjoying the bliss of heaven—when in fact their loved ones are dead in the grave with no consciousness or intelligence whatsoever.

As the final events of earth’s history unfold in the near future, Satan will use this popular yet unbiblical belief that the dead can communicate with the living as part of his agenda to deceive. That’s why it’s so critical that you understand the truth about our human condition in death today. It will keep you from being tricked by satanic agencies, both now, and just before the return of Jesus Christ.

Finally, one more reason why many people like to believe we are like a car is that the idea of losing our consciousness when we die seems scary. But life after death doesn’t depend on our consciousness continuing after we die. It depends on accepting Jesus as our Savior and trusting His promise to bring us back to life “in the resurrection at the last day” (John 11:24).
Why not invite Him into your life today and guarantee your resurrection into His eternal kingdom?


Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Cover design: ©