7 Yahweh God shaped man from the soil of the ground and blew the breath of life into his nostrils, and man became a living being. Genesis 2:7
According to the above cited text it states that we were basically formed of the ground and that once God breathed into Adams nostrils he became a living being. Recently I was having a discussion about my atheism with a young lady who could not believe that I did not accept a belief in God. So she posed the most common question that I hear as an atheist: “Where do you think we go when we die?” My reply was very simple and direct: I said that we do like all other forms of life do when they come to an end; we decompose becoming inorganic material in that we cease to exist. We no longer possess the characteristics of living organisms.
What do you think is the most basic yet essential aspect to our survival? The act of breathing is the most important thing all humans and most animal species must do in order to survive. Although the bible states that the blood is the life of a man I personally put blood at second to the inhalation of oxygen. Breathing is essential to the proper functioning of our bodies major organs without oxygen, our bodies would literally shut down.
This can easily be tested simply by putting someone in a choke hold or having them hold their breath and restrict their breathing. I have participated and done both of these things as a teen and can attest to the efficacy of both of these techniques to cause someone to lose consciousness. The reason for the loss of consciousness is that the flow of blood which carries oxygen to the brain is interrupted. If the brain does not have enough oxygen you simply pass out, if it remains that way you can then suffer severe brain damage, and finally if it stays that way for too long death.
The blood is essential of course because one of its functions is to transport oxygen and other nutrients to the various organs in the body but you need to breathe in order to obtain oxygen. Even before a prescientific age it is not so hard to see how one could deduce from observing the cessation of breathing that a person or animal had ceased to exist in an organic sense. As the various organs die and decomposition begins to set in it is not hard to come to the simple conclusion that one is dead. The same goes for watching someone dying because they have lost too much blood, although the functions of the blood were not yet understood in biological terms at the time.
7 the dust returns to the earth from which it came, and the spirit returns to God who gave it. Ecclesiastes 12:7
I find it interesting that in Ecclesiastes this verse can be found. I will be using this verse out of context on purpose to make some pertinent points in this post. The rest of the chapter refers to judgment after death. I decided to look up the word for spirit in a Hebrew lexicon to try and put this text into perspective. I was not surprised to find out that the Hebrew word for spirit is 'ruwach' which included in its definition the words wind and breath. The word for soul is 'nephesh' which also includes in its definitions allusions to wind and breath and the act of breathing among other things.
In conclusion, the basic premise of this post is that without breath there is no life. And we all basically breathe in one form or another. The act of breathing itself is one of those functions of the brain that we technically don’t have to think about. Our brains most basic functions are done without our conscious participation. The reason for this is because our most basic goal in life is to survive and propagate the species. For this we do not require the existence of a God and I am convinced that the descriptions of the bible were derived by the simple act of observation and then mythologized. The Bible is just how man would have interpreted what he did not understand at the time.
For those who would like to check the sources for this post you can do so by clicking on the two links that follow:
For information on the functions of blood http://www.myuniversalfacts.com/2006/01/purpose-of-blood-its-functions-and.html
For the Hebrew lexicon http://www.biblestudytools.com/search/?q=soul&rc=LEX&rc2=LEX+HEB&ps=10&s=References
As usual I used the New Jerusalem Bible translation for textual references.