This is partially a follow-up question onto this question which left some unanswered questions in my mind.
According to an answer to that earlier question, Jesus seems to have literally died on the Calvary but only in the physical sense. The answer says that one needs to separate between physical death and spiritual death.
I wanted to get a clarification on what spiritual death means but firstly some background.
Please note: I am asking from the perspective of an atheist, but I am not looking for the perspective of an atheist. This is simply a question of how to understand what the Bible says according to the Catholic tradition.
Just to clarify what I mean with the atheistic point of view, I want to here share a quote by Ann Druyan (wife of astronomer Carl Sagan 1981-1996):
When my husband died, because he was so famous and known for not being a believer, many people would come up to me-it still sometimes happens-and ask me if Carl changed at the end and converted to a belief in an afterlife. They also frequently ask me if I think I will see him again. Carl faced his death with unflagging courage and never sought refuge in illusions. The tragedy was that we knew we would never see each other again. I don't ever expect to be reunited with Carl.
Now with that out of the way, I was reading a paranormal book that was probably written by some Christian because it had a lot Bible references.
The book said the following about death:
So here we can ask, what did "death" mean to Adam? Did God tell Adam that he would burn in hell for all eternity? No. What God told Adam can be seen in Genesis 3:17-19 (New International Version, 1984): To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”
The author made these points out of above:
- Adam would eat his food all the remaining days of his life.
- Adam would eat his food until he returned to the ground.
So the author of that book connects the Adam's remaining lifespan to his eating the food.
The book continued:
The sentence meted out to Adam was for him to return back to dust, to the state where he had existed before he was created. And where was Adam before he was created? He was nowhere. That is the state he was destined to end back in.
So this explanation seemed to support the notion that there was no afterlife for Adam.
After that the book quoted these Bible verses.
This in Ecclesiastes 9:5...
For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have no further reward, and even the memory of them is forgotten.
...this in Ecclesiastes 9:10...
Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.
...and this in Psalms 146:3-4:
Do not trust in princes, In mortal man, in whom there is no salvation. His spirit departs, he returns to the earth; In that very day his thoughts perish.
So if there was no afterlife for Adam, does it not then mean that the Bible's point of view about death is also like the atheistic point of view?
Or if this all fits together in some sense with "spiritual death" then what is "spiritual death" in the context of Adam and Jesus?
The questions I wanted to ask:
- Is spiritual death some kind of "death in God's eyes" (e.g. that he no longer considers you alive even though you may be), a destruction of the soul (an inner part that would survive death of the physical human body), or some kind of conceptual death?
- And what does it mean in context of Adam and Jesus? Did either one of them ever become "dead" as viewed from the atheistic perspective?