An interesting question is, “Burn in hell: When you burn something, doesn’t it simply change form?” H. Buis comments on how adherents of literal everlasting destruction place great emphasis on the fact that the figure of “fire” is used in the Bible to describe the second death, “and fire, they point out, always destroys… But the fact is that when you burn something it is not annihilated, it simply changes form” (Buis 125). I guess what Mr. Buis is trying to say is that when, say, a log is burned up, it technically isn’t wiped out from existence, it turns to smoke vapors and ashes. While this is true, the simple fact is that the log itself is destroyed¾it no longer exists. The smoke vapors and ashes are merely the remains of the log.
The same is true when God “destroys both soul and body in hell (Gehenna).” In regards to the body, when it is destroyed the remains will simply return to the dust from which it came (Genesis 3:19; Psalm 146:4). As for the soul, no one knows from what spiritual materials God creates a soul but, whatever it is, when the soul is destroyed it will return to such. The simple fact is that the soul is destroyed, just like the log above. This is regardless of what materials it reverts to after its destruction.
Incidentally, in light of the creation text, Genesis 2:7, which states that the soul and body are animated by a “breath of life” from God, some might wonder what happens to this “breath of life” when the soul is destroyed. Well, according to this creation text, it is the breath of life from God which makes the soul “a living soul.” When the soul is destroyed, the breath of life simply returns to God who gave it (see Ecclesiastes 12:7; Psalm 146:4; Job 34:14-15; 1Maccabees 2:62-63). Naturally, a soul without God’s animating breath of life is a dead soul. See Appendix B for details on this issue.
Throughout this study we have seen that the only words Biblically used to describe the destruction of soul and body in hell (Gehenna) are “die,” “death,” “destruction,” “destroy,” “perish,” “consume,” and “burn up.” The meaning of these terms can easily be comprehended by mongoloids; we need not all become advanced physicists to understand their plain meaning.
Let me emphasize that literal destruction is not the belief that the remains of body and soul cease to exist when people suffer the second death; it is the belief that their conscious life expires. The conscious life of their being is what is annihilated not whatever substances God uses to create their being.
The simple fact is that God is the Creator of all things, including human beings; and whatever he creates he can just as easily de-create, that is, destroy. Why do religionists find this simple concept so difficult to grasp?
NOTE: The only exception to this, as already pointed out in Chapter Four, would be beings that willing accept God’s gift of intrinsic immortality, such as all angelic beings. This will include redeemed human beings after their resurrection unto eternal life–see Luke 20:34-36.