The Soul

  • File

    Brown, Warren S.

     (423K)

    Numinous or Carnal Persons? The Practical Costs of Inner Souls and Selves

    "How many essential substances am I composed of? Am I a body; a body and a soul; a body and a mind; a body, a mind, and a soul; or what about a body, a mind, a soul, and a spirit? These questions highlight the issue of dualism (or tri-part-ism or fourpart- ism) vs wholism (or monism). Another way to ask this question would be the following: Am I essentially numinous (i.e., a non-material spirit) or am I essentially carnal (i.e., a physical body). The answer one gives to this question is fundamental to almost every aspect of our understanding of human nature..."
  • File

    Brown, Warren S.

     (490K)

    Did My Neurons Make Me Do It?

    "In this lecture I will be considering the following question: How is it possible for physicalism to avoid reductionism and biological determinism? Is it possible to give a reasonable account of free will within a physicalist understanding of human nature? I will try to defend the position that physicalism can be understood in a nonreductive way – that is, in a way that does not presume that all humanness can be reduced to 'nothing but' neurophysiology or the laws of physics, or that human behavior is entirely determined by physical laws."
  • File

    Brown, Warren S.

     (401K)

    The Knotty Implications of Recent Neuroscience Research

    "In today’s lecture, I wish to start from the beginning. I will attempt to restate the problem in an unambiguous way, survey the current neuropsychological data that are making the issue particularly acute for 21st Century Christians, and suggest a method for going about resolution of these questions. In the last part of this lecture, I will describe some adjustments we might want to make in our theological anthropology in order to establish greater resonance between theology and neuroscience."
  • File

    Brown, Warren S. and Malcolm A. Jeeves

     (156K)

    Portraits of Human Nature: Reconciling Neuroscience and Christian Anthropology

    "Integrating and reconciling the truth claims made by Christian theology is always challenging. Perhaps most problematic is the challenge presented by modern neurobiology Christian anthropology. Given the presumption that ‘truth cannot contradict truth’, it seems to be increasingly difficult to hold a traditional Christian view of persons in a world of modern neurobiology and neuropsychology. One is caught in the middle of a dilemma or paradox represented by the following contradictory propositions: Proposition 1: Humans are physical beings who also have non-material souls. It is through our souls that we experience and relate to God. Proposition 2: Humans are neurobiological beings whose mind (also soul, religious experience, etc.) can, in theory, be exhaustively explained by neurochemistry and ultimately by physics."
  • File

    Clayton, Philip

     (323K)

    Neuroscience, the Person and God: An Emergentist Account

    "Strong forms of dualism and eliminative materialism block any significant dialogue between the neurosciences and theology. The present article thus challenges the 'Sufficiency Thesis,' according to which neuroscientific explanations will finally be sufficient to fully explain human behavior. It then explores the various ways in which neuroscientific results and theological interpretations contribute to an overall theory of the person. Supervenience theories, which hold that mental events are dependent on their physical substrata but not reducible to them, are explained. Challenging the determinism of 'strong' supervenience, I defend a version of 'soft' supervenience that allows for genuine mental causation. This view gives rise in turn to an emergentist theory of the person."
  • File

    Clayton, Philip

     (65K)

    Part 2: The Emergence Of Spirit

    "...[T]he last few decades have brought an important new opening for science-based reflection on the nature of God. This opening lies in the ascendance of the concept of emergence, and more recently in the development of the new field of Emergence Studies. What is this new concept, and why does it so clearly give rise to speculation about God? Finally, assuming that it does, what might one conclude about the nature of God based on the new sciences of emergence?"
  • File

    Clayton, Philip

     (211K)

    Part 1: The Emergence of Spirit

    "I believe that it is possible to develop a philosophy of the emergence of spirit in which the sciences (and meta-scientific reflection) provide the major touchstones. Foes, and perhaps even friends, may see this project as a return to Hegel; and surely it is Hegelian in scope (and in some other ways that experts will recognize). But it’s equally true to say that emergence theory turns Hegel on his head no less radically than Feuerbach did. Where “the rational necessity of the dialectic” once ruled, we now appeal to empirical results and an analysis of their implications. We believe we see in the natural world an open-ended process of increasing complexity, which leads to qualitatively new forms of existence."
  • File

    Clayton, Philip

     (242K)

    Emergence, Supervenience, and Personal Knowledge

    "Although I will not continue to use the term 'supervenience' in the final section of this paper, you could understand the position on human personhood being defended as a version of emergentist supervenience. Rather than offering you a survey of the most recent articles and books on emergence — which has become a rather impressive body of literature — let me describe the decision points that one faces and then argue for a particular position on the nature of mind or personhood. To advocate an emergence approach is already to have made certain decisions. It is to reject reductionist physicalism, the belief that all adequate explanations will finally be given in the terms of contemporary physics. On the other side, it is to reject substance dualism, the view that there are two distinct kinds of substances. (In the substance dualism of Descartes, for example, these were res cogitans and res extensa, thinking and extended substance)."
  • File

    Dinis, Alfredo

     (152K)

    Body, Soul and God: Philosophy, Theology and the Cognitive Sciences

    "The concept of a soul is not theological but rather philosophical. As a consequence, one may leave it out of the theological discourse. Concepts like ‘mind,’ ‘soul,’ ‘self,’ and ‘consciousness’ are not specifically theological concepts. They are rather philosophical concepts. Theology has over the centuries used such concepts to express some religious beliefs, but such beliefs do not have a necessary connection with those concepts and certainly not with the metaphysical meaning they have in some philosophical traditions. Today, however, it is the sciences, especially the cognitive sciences, that wish to clarify such concepts. In this task, they are most of the time against religious beliefs because such beliefs seem to be necessarily connected with those concepts. I want to argue that this is a mistake, and that most authors in the cognitive sciences are basing their analysis on misleading presuppositions. But it is also true that a new theology needs a new anthropology, one that is less dependent on the traditional metaphysics of Thomas Aquinas and more in line with a relational paradigm."
  • File

    Gasser, Georg, Josef Quitterer, Joseph Wang and Nikolaus Wandinger

     (221K)

    Identity through change - Why the soul has not died yet

    "Neurobiology and empirical psychology provide evidence that seems to question our common sense assumption of personal identity...Doubting the acceptance of personal identity, however, is a challenge not only for our common understanding of ourselves in the here and now but also for the belief in immortality. As held in many religious traditions, immortality presupposes diachronic identity between the person in this life and in his/her purported life after death...We argue that the notion of the soul should be introduced for explanatory purposes: It provides the integrative function which is missing in the concept of ‘self’. The notion of the soul is able to capture both biological and cognitive capacities of the same person and their interdependence."
  • File

    Jeeves, Malcolm

     (163K)

    Neuroscience, Evolutionary Psychology, and the Image of God

    "Almost daily we read media reports of scientific breakthroughs, often in neuroscience and evolutionary psychology, which, it is claimed, offer new insights into our mysterious human nature. Most of these reports present no direct challenge to widely held traditional Hebrew- Christian understandings of human nature. Others, however, seem directly to confront some of our most deeply held Christian beliefs about our nature. Beliefs reinforced as we sing some of our favorite hymns. Whilst references to the “image of God” are relatively infrequent in Scripture nevertheless the understandings of humankind which they enshrine are all pervasive...Acknowledging the persuasive current impact of neuroscience and neuro-philosophy this paper urges us to remember that biblical warrant and scientific evidence join in reminding us that central to our understanding of what it means to be a person is our psychosomatic unity. We know each other, not as brains ensheathed in bodies, but as embodied persons."
  • File

    Jeeves, Malcolm

     (439K)

    How Free is Free?: Reflections on the Neuropsychology of Thought and Action

    "It is widely recognised that some of the implications of rapid developments in neuroscience raise with a fresh urgency questions of human freedom and responsibility. These are issues for humanists and atheists as much as for Christians since all claim that their often deeply held beliefs were rationally considered and freely embraced. However, the evidence from bottom-up neuro-scientific research points to the ever-tightening links between brain processes and mental processes and have been interpreted by some as pointing to a reductionist view of human nature. At the same time, with the use of new brain imaging techniques the evidence for the efficacy of top-down processes also accumulates at an accelerating pace. This paper argues that there is an irreducible interdependence between cognitive and neural processes calling for a duality of description but without necessitating belief in a dualism of substances."
  • File

    Lennard, Stan E.

     (108K)

    The Distinctive Human Self

    "The 'self' makes man distinctively human. The human mystery is demeaned by scientific reductionism with its claim to account for all the non-material world by patterns of neuronal activity. Contemporary neuroscience persists in showing that mind ultimately reduces to neurophysiology. Eccles stated that, 'This belief must be classified as a superstition....we are spiritual beings with souls existing in a spiritual world as well as material beings with bodies and brains existing in a material world.'"
  • File

    Moreland, J. P.

     (206K)

    A Christian Perspective on the Impact of Modern Science on Philosophy of Mind

    “Today it is widely held that, while broadly logically possible, dualism is no longer plausible in light of the advances of modern science. My thesis is that once we get clear on the central first and second-order issues in philosophy of mind, it becomes evident that stating and resolving those issues is basically a (theological and) philosophical matter for which discoveries in the hard sciences are largely irrelevant.”
  • File

    Murphy, Nancey

     (157K)

    Scientific Perspectives on Christian Anthropology

    "I have argued, all too briefly, that theology and science are moving toward consensus on a theory of human nature that may be surprising to some of you here. I have noted not only that science promotes a view of humankind as thoroughly physical, but have also surveyed results from biblical studies and church history over the past century that have also called body-soul dualism into question. This new (or rather very old) account of human nature has called for a lot of fresh theological work, since dualism had been presupposed for so many years. But it is work well worth doing, especially if it is true that recognition of our status as dust of the ground will help call us back to Jesus' concern for bringing about the rule of God on earth."
  • File

    Rüst, Peter

     (124K)

    Dimensions of the Human Being and of Divine Action

    "Humans are three-dimensional, body-soul-spirit entities, but nevertheless unitary, indivisible persons. Animal behavior includes deterministic and random constituents. It may be modeled in terms of information systems, containing regulatory loops. Goal settings for these may be fixed, as in 'lower' animals, or governed by internal adaptive supervisory systems freely selecting from alternative routines, as in conscious 'higher' or 'soulish' animals. A metasupervisor in humans provides self-consciousness, free will, conscience and spiritual behavior. As with space, each further dimension includes the previous one, but cannot emerge from it or be reduced to it."
  • File

    Sikkema, Arnold E.

     (164K)

    A Physicist’s Reformed Critique of Nonreductive Physicalism and Emergence

    "The clearest definition of nonreductive physicalism articulated in a Christian context is given in a collection of papers whose authors, according to co-editor Nancey Murphy, agree 'with the scientists and philosophers who hold that it is not necessary to postulate a second metaphysical entity, the soul or mind, to account for human capacities and distinctiveness [while indicating their] rejection of contemporary philosophical views that say that the person is "nothing but" a body.'...While I join the 'nonreductive physicalist' in this eschewing of two (or more) types of substance, a Reformed Christian approach must contest the inherent reductionism of claiming that the one kind of stuff out of which the world is made is the stuff of physics."
  • File

    Trenn, Thaddeus J.

     (105K)

    Science and the Mystery of the Human Person

    "I offer an alternative perspective about the mystery of the human person closely allied with that which Merton has so eloquently expressed. It is my contention that the essential spiritual nature of the human person quite transcends the secular domain, being irreducible to space-time biophysical components or considerations. Nevertheless, during its incarnational sojourn, the human person is capable of expressing self through physically familiar and scientifically detectable space-time categories of behavior. In other words, 'soulish' expressions would be expected and manifested in detectable somatic ways. However, the innermost essence of the human person must be sought elsewhere, viz in the authentically eternal spiritual soul that is embedded with Christ in God. Accordingly this quintessential aspect of the human person remains totally unbeknownst to most and inherently beyond the scope of any form of physicalism."
  • File

    Trenn, Thaddeus J.

     (125K)

    If the Spiritual Soul Were Beyond the Scope of Physicalism

    "Since neuroscience cannot reach beyond its own inherent limits, considerable caution is required when drawing conclusions that bear existential import. In particular, the findings of neuroscience could never offer compelling justification for a summary dismissal of the innermost self or for remaining remote from Christ. When it comes to one's eternal salvation, therefore, each person must ultimately decide whether to abide in Christ with deep faith or prefer to seek solace from science. Our modern world has provided us with a perilous choice indeed."