Saturday, September 28, 2013

Darwinism & materialism


  1. This is a bit off topic but...

    ... are you aware of any good discussions by Christians who hold to a materialist view of humans (as opposed to substance dualists) as to what constitutes human nature and how the Fall occurred. I've been wondering about it but it seems the Fall would have to have been some physical change in Adam/Eve.

  2. I believe the best-known are philosophers (e.g. Peter van Inwagen, Nancy Murphy, Kevin Corcoran, Trenton Merricks, Lynne Rudder Baker). They take their position on scientific and philosophical grounds, then retrofit traditional Christian theology accordingly. I think Joel Green is the best-known Bible scholar who's a physicalist.

    Ironically, while some professing Christians are ditching dualism, some atheists despair of physicalism.

    For more:

  3. Sorry for displaying my ignorance, but what would "Christians who hold to a materialist view of humans" affirm regarding such doctrines as Heaven, eternal life, the Resurrection, etc? Do they consider the soul simply a manifestation of the body/brain? Is it possible to be a materialist and affirm Christian doctrine sufficiently to actually be a Christian?

  4. Doc,

    There are a variety of views about this. Some Christian materialists think God re-creates us at the resurrection. Others might hold that God "replicates" us at the resurrection (maybe new parts, but same memory and characteristics, etc.). Others (e.g., Corcoran) hold to a constitution view of persons and he thinks we exist, bodily, prior to the resurrection but not bodily-glorified as we will after the resurrection. Hylomorphism seems to have a similar difficulty though and they (I think) believe our souls continue to exist but not as functional or not as whole or complete as when informed materially.

  5. I hate to hijack the comments thread; perhaps there's some other venue someone could point me to to discuss this further. Christian materialism seems to be an odd doctrine. In my admittedly limited experience, when I hear of an 'odd' doctrine, it often appears that it does some kind of 'work' for those who promote/adhere to it. E.g., the 'pre-adamic race' doctrine has been used to excuse racism, or to 'harmonize' the Bible with the 'Evolution' fantasy. I wonder what 'work' 'Christian materialism' does for its adherents?

  6. Doc,

    For a Christian materialist perspective see Corcoran's Rethinking Human Nature. For a dualist perspective see Taliaferro and Goetz's A Brief History of the Soul... or JP Moreland's forthcoming The Soul: How We Know It's Real and Why It Matters. From a more theological perspective: Body, Soul, and Life Everlasting. There is a lot more of course, but that's a good basic intro.