Christian physicalism and the biblical argument for dualism

Weir, Ralph (2021) Christian physicalism and the biblical argument for dualism. International Journal for Philosophy of Religion . ISSN 2330-7439

Full content URL: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11153-021-09811-0

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Christian physicalism and the biblical argument for dualism
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Abstract

This paper examines whether biblical descriptions of the intermediate state imply dualism of the sort that rules out physicalism. Certain passages in the Bible seem to describe persons or souls existing without their bodies in an intermediate state between death and resurrection. For this reason, these passages appear to imply a form of dualism. Some Christian physicalists have countered that the passages in question are in fact compatible with physicalism. For it is compatible with physicalism that, although we are necessarily constituted by physical bodies, we can continue to exist without our current bodies in the intermediate state by being constituted by replacement bodies. I argue that broadly Gricean considerations signifcantly weaken this response. In its place, I propose a new, linguistic objection to the biblical argument for dualism. The linguistic objection says that biblical descriptions of an intermediate state cannot imply dualism in the sense that contradicts physicalism because physicalism is defned by a concept of the physical derived from modern physics, and no term in the biblical languages expresses that concept. I argue that the linguistic objection is less vulnerable to Gricean considerations than the constitution objection. On the other hand the linguistic objection also makes concessions to dualism that some Christian physicalists will fnd unacceptable. And it may be possible to reinforce the biblical argument for dualism by appeal to recent research on ‘common-sense dualism’. The upshot for Christian physicalists who wish to remain open to the biblical case for an intermediate state is therefore partly good, partly bad. The prospects for a Biblical argument for dualism in the sense that contradicts physicalism are limited but remain open.

Keywords:Christian physicalism, · Dualism, The Bible, Soul, Body
Subjects:V Historical and Philosophical studies > V560 Mental Philosophy
V Historical and Philosophical studies > V500 Philosophy
V Historical and Philosophical studies > V330 History of Religions
Divisions:College of Arts
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ID Code:46558
Deposited On:06 Oct 2021 10:07

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