Is the Soul Immortal?
To answer this question, let us turn to the highest authority on the subject—the inspired Word of the Creator. In the very first book of the Bible, Genesis, we learn the accurate meaning of “soul.” Regarding the creation of the first man, Adam, the Bible says: “Jehovah God proceeded to form the man out of dust from the ground and to blow into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man came to be a living soul.” (Genesis 2:7) Clearly, the soul is not what a man has but what he is. The Hebrew word used here for soul is ne′phesh. It occurs some 700 times in the Bible, and it never refers to a separate and ethereal part of a human but always to something tangible and physical.—Job 6:7; Psalm 35:13; 107:9; 119:28.
What happens to the soul at death? Consider what happened to Adam at his death. When he sinned, God told him: “You [will] return to the ground, for out of it you were taken. For dust you are and to dust you will return.” (Genesis 3:19) Think of what that means. Before God created him from the dust, Adam did not exist. After his death, Adam returned to the same state of nonexistence.
Simply stated, the Bible teaches that death is the opposite of life. At Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10, we read: “The living are conscious that they will die; but as for the dead, they are conscious of nothing at all, neither do they anymore have wages, because the remembrance of them has been forgotten. All that your hand finds to do, do with your very power, for there is no work nor devising nor knowledge nor wisdom in Sheol, the place to which you are going.”
This means that the dead are unable to do or feel anything. They no longer have any thoughts, nor do they remember anything. The psalmist states: “Do not put your trust in nobles, nor in the son of earthling man, to whom no salvation belongs. His spirit goes out, he goes back to his ground; in that day his thoughts do perish.”—Psalm 146:3, 4.
The Bible clearly shows that at death the soul does not move on to another body, but it dies. “The soul that is sinning—it itself will die,” the Bible emphatically states. (Ezekiel 18:4, 20; Acts 3:23; Revelation 16:3) Thus, the doctrine of the immortality of the soul—the very foundation of the theory of reincarnation—does not find any support in the Scriptures. Without it, the theory collapses. What, then, explains the suffering we see in the world?