Essence and Existence

This may be more of a philosophical or metaphysics reflection than anything scientific, so forgive me this once.  Christian views of the afterlife are often viewed by the non-Christian public with scorn, derision and disdain.  The popular, Medieval, view of the afterlife as winged creatures flying around heaven is also unhelpful.  The Greek doctrine of immortality of the soul (Plato) is so thoroughly mixed into Christian belief that most people are surprised that immortality of the soul is not an explicitly “Christian” belief.  What’s a person with one foot in physics and the other in Christian theology to do?   Greek philosophers brought us the idea of οὐσία (ousia) or essence.  The word became a cornerstone of the Nicene creed although our Prayer Book translation doesn’t help.  Our version says “of one being with the Father” which was taken from the Latin “de substantia Patris” which was a translation of the original Greek creed, τῆς οὐσίας τοῦ Πατρος.  (Tes ousia tou Patros).  The Greek philosophical “essence” becomes that Latin “substance” which further morphs to the English “being.”   One of the patriarchs of the Greek Orthodox church, John of Damascus, wrote that ousia is “all that subsists by itself and which has not its being in another.”  We could spend days on this one word, but I would like to switch to physics.   If you imagine a person’s life as a path through space and time, the path taken and the interactions with the world (including other people) could be recorded as information as if one had a fancy video recorder that stored date, time, place, and all other information about each moment of life.  I wonder if all that information is what the Greeks call Ousia or essence.  I wonder if that essence is what defines us and is what has “eternal life.”   Even more bizarre and further afield than theology is the speculation of some very serious “m-brane” theorists in physics.  Plausible arguments have been made to show that our space-time universe could be nothing but a projection from the surface of a black hole much like a hologram is a three-dimensional image projected from a two-dimensional film.  If all that we are and all that we can observe is nothing but a projection from a cosmic object, such a view is not too far from that “in which we live and move and have our being.”   Perhaps Plato was onto something with his allegory of the cave where the reality for philosophers was only shadows projected onto the wall from a candle.