16 December 2007

Bodily resurrection

I encountered recently in my internet surfing an expression of the idea that "substance dualism" is dead among neuroscientists and philosophers alike. Nobody with any relevant training and intellectual focus any longer believes that the soul is a thing that could survive and remain conscious separate from the body.

This author continued: "This is indeed a CRUSHING blow to religion in general, specifically Christianity, because the idea of an immortal soul is central to most religions."

Allow me just to respond to that. The disappearance of substance dualism might not be as crushing a blow as he would think, even if it were complete. After all, Christianity incorporates the idea of bodily immortality. The new testament insists that Jesus was no ghost after his death, that he returned in body, and in time ascended to heaven to the right hand of the father still in his earthly clay.

Millions of Christians believe that there will be a general resurrection of the saved. So to say that the soul will be immortal doesn't imply that it is something essentially separate from the body.

Augustine said that no dogma of the church is "more opposed" to the ways of the world than this. In his environment, filled with strict mind/body dualisms, the idea that the soul, having escaped the body, would willingly and gladly put it back on at the end of days was the most shocking aspect of Christianity to the pagans.


If we 'awake' onjudgment day to find ourselves in a reconstituted body, will we feel continuous with our present selves? Will it matter how much time will have lapsed? Will it feel like waking from a good night's sleep?

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Knowledge is warranted belief -- it is the body of belief that we build up because, while living in this world, we've developed good reasons for believing it. What we know, then, is what works -- and it is, necessarily, what has worked for us, each of us individually, as a first approximation. For my other blog, on the struggles for control in the corporate suites, see www.proxypartisans.blogspot.com.