Consider two Christian materialist theories about how life after death works:
- Snatching: At the last moment of life, God snatches a central part of the person (say, the cerebrum), transports it away to heaven, purgatory or hell, keeps it alive there, and replaces it in the corpse with a replica.
- Fission: At the last moment of life, the cells in the body or a central part of it get the power to split into two cells. One of these cells is a dead cell found in the corpse and the other is in heaven, purgatory or hell.
Here's problem both Snatching and Fission face: there is no death on these stories, since death requires the cessation of biological life. But on both, biological life is continuously maintained. These are stories about life after teleportation rather than about life after death. But we do in fact die: Scripture is completely clear on this.
Maybe one could modify my formulations of Snatching or Fission to solve this problem. Rather than the snatching or fission happening at the last moment of life, it happens at the first moment of death. Thus, God snatches or fissions a central part of the person after the person is already dead, and then resuscitates the part in heaven, purgatory or hell. The problem with this is that Snatching and Fission are meant to preserve biological continuity. But while typically after death cells remain with some semblance of biological life, this need not always happen. Suppose that someone dies by having a laser blast their brain. That person dies precisely when those cells central to biological life have been destroyed. But it is precisely those cells that would need to be snatched or fissioned after death.
(I used to think, by the way, that the interim state--the state between death and the resurrection of the body--was also an objection to Snatching and Fission. But it's not. For the materialist can say that after Snatching or Fusion, the person exists as a mere brain in a vat in heaven, purgatory or hell. And then only at the second coming does that brain regain the rest of the body. The materialist can even say that the brain plays the functional role of the soul here.)