Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Purgatory and evolution

To my knowledge, most contemporary Catholic intellectuals embrace theistic evolution. This goes all the way to the top, beginning with Pius XII. 

Now, physicalism is a common corollary for human evolution. What makes modern man smarter than early man, or other higher animals, is the fact that we have bigger, more complex brains. There's a direct correlation between intelligence and brainpower. The seat of human intelligence is not some incorporeal soul. Rather, it's the end-result of encephalization over the course of human evolution.

But here's the rub: Purgatory is a version of the intermediate state. The intermediate state presupposes a robust version of dualism. The postmortem survival of the soul (i.e. consciousness, personality, memories). 

If, however, physicalism is true, then that falsifies Purgatory. Brain death extinguishes consciousness. There is no immortal, immaterial soul to experience Purgatory. There may be a future resurrection, but nothing in-between. 

Contemporary Catholic philosophers and theologians labor to update and "reinterpret" traditional dogma in light of what they deem to be historical and scientific challenges to traditional dogma. But it's hard to see how they can graft physicalism onto Purgatory.

I suppose they could try to argue for dualism despite their commitment to theistic evolution. But on the face of it, that's ad hoc.

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