Let's go through the logic first. The following statements are suppositions that must be chronologically accepted.

  1. Matter is neither created nor destroyed.
  2. Matter is made up of atoms.
  3. I am made up of atoms.
  4. I am matter.
  5. Therefore, I cannot be created nor destroyed.

Now here's the philosophical (or perhaps, ideological) part:

With respect to statements 3-5 above, what defines "I"? Am (or Is) "I" the atoms that compose my form or am (or is) "I" the identity that I have created for myself?

If "I" am my atoms, then when "I" die, I will continue to exist because my atoms will, albeit in a different form - a different incarnation hence, reincarnation. If "I" am my identity, then when "I" die, I will cease to exist.

I think the former highlights a type of belief common in eastern philosophy (we are the universe) whereas the latter is common is western philosophy (We live in the universe, or we observe the universe).

Perhaps one's identity is linked with their atomic structure (i.e., the chemical processes of the brain)?

Do you think my reasoning is sound?

Edit: to make it clear, I am supporting the idea that if one believes that "I" is based on the existence of atoms, then reincarnation is in fact real.

  • In my opinion a person is not the sum of her/his atoms. To capture the personality, one has to add at least the dynamics due to the physiological and mental processes. The personality dissolves at death even when the atoms continue to exist. Hence your reasoning does not convince me.
    – Jo Wehler
    Mar 25, 2022 at 19:29
  • Your reasoning does not convince me, but it's valid and sound assuming we accept the premise "I am nothing more than my atoms", to use your terms.
    – SamIAm123
    Mar 25, 2022 at 19:47
  • I think you need to define reincarnation. You seem to be using it in an unusual way. Do you mean that any time one of "your" atoms becomes a component of another lifeform "you" have been reborn? If so, it's possible that "you" are presently alive in many different bodies. It's possible that "you" and "I" are sharing a body right now. This might be an interesting way of thinking about life, but it's not what most people would call reincarnation.
    – Juhasz
    Mar 25, 2022 at 23:29
  • 2
    Premise 1 and 2 are arguably false although too vague to be sure (atoms can be split and loose mass). Conclusion 5 does not follow from 1 to 4.
    – armand
    Mar 26, 2022 at 0:30
  • 1
    @ProfessorFinesse 1 I don't really get why you mention atoms at all, then, if it does not matter... The point being, matter can be destroyed by nuclear fission, so your premise is false. 2 if I take all your atoms and rearrange them in a big soup, it won't be you in any acceptable sense. You are more than your atoms just like a poem is more than the paper and ink it's written with, and the same ink could be used to write a recipe, that is not the poem. Even if your atoms could not be destroyed it does not follow that you can't. ("Your" atoms does not even make sense. It changes all the time.)
    – armand
    Mar 26, 2022 at 11:21

2 Answers 2


Atoms can indeed be broken apart and reassembled in a wide variety of ways, in particle accelerators. But of primary importance for objects like human beings is the fact that molecules can and are routinely broken apart and rearranged in everyday life. That molecular rearrangement process is how you digest food, and how your body rots after you die.

Human immortality hence requires at a minimum that molecules be immortal, which they are decidedly not.

  • Wow. minus one point for an accepted answer. Mar 29, 2022 at 16:27

As suggested at in the comments, 1 is false, since the elementary particles which matter comprises can, in fact, be created and destroyed. In addition, the argument leading to 5 is a fallacy of composition, since, even if the constituent parts which you comprise could not be created nor destroyed, that would not entail that you could not. Therefore, your reasoning is not sound.

  • Elementary particles of atoms - if they have mass, cannot be created nor destroyed by definition of the Law of Conservation of Matter. I concede to your point about the argument leading to 5 being a fallacy of composition and I must thank you for leading me to the subject of emergence. However, despite that fallacy in the structure of the argument, the premise remains scientifically true. The matter that defines me cannot be created, nor can they be destroyed. What if I simplified the argument: 1) Matter cannot be created nor destroyed 2) I am matter 3) I encompass all properties of matter? Mar 26, 2022 at 2:40
  • @ProfessorFinesse Having taken a class in quantum field theory, I'm not sure what you mean by "Law of Conservation of Matter," since particle number is not a conserved quantity. Matter can be created and destroyed. For example, the β¯ decay of an atom creates an electron. In addition, any particle (massive or massless) can annihilate with its respective antiparticle, and more massive particles can decay into less massive ones. Looking at your simplified argument, your conclusion still does not follow from the premises.
    – Sandejo
    Mar 26, 2022 at 19:01

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .