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The Sacred Cosmos: Christian Faith and the Challenge of Naturalism

The Sacred Cosmos: Christian Faith and the Challenge of Naturalism

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The Sacred Cosmos: Christian Faith and the Challenge of Naturalism

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  1. The Sacred Cosmos:Christian Faith and the Challenge of Naturalism 4. Human Nature: Embodied Self and Transcendent Soul, Part 1 Sunday, January 31, 2010 10 to 10:50 am, in the Parlor Presenter: David Monyak

  2. Primary Reference • The Sacred Cosmos: Christian Faith and the Challenge of Naturalism, Terrence L. Nichols, Brazos Press, 2003. (Reissued Jan 2009 by Wipf and Stock)

  3. Primary Reference • The Sacred Cosmos: Christian Faith and the Challenge of Naturalism, Terrence L. Nichols, Brazos Press, 2003. (Reissued Jan 2009 by Wipf and Stock)

  4. Dr. Terrence Nicholsis Professor of Theology at the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul Academic History Ph.D. - Marquette University B.A. - University of Minnesota

  5. The Sacred CosmosChristian Faith and the Challenge of Naturalism • Jan 3. God and Nature • Jan 10: Origins: Creation and Big Bang • Jan 24: Evolution: The Journey into God • Jan 31: Human Nature: Embodied Self and Transcendent Soul, Part 1 • Feb 7: Human Nature: Embodied Self and Transcendent Soul, Part 2. Conclusion: A Sacred Cosmos

  6. O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ our Lord. For the Human Family, Book of Common Prayer, p. 815

  7. This Week:4. Human Nature: Embodied Self and Transcendent Soul, Part 1

  8. Introduction: Naturalism

  9. IntroductionThe Challenge of Naturalism • Naturalism is the philosophical theory about reality that declares: • nature is all that exists, • there is no reality that is greater than and independent of nature, • there cannot be any hope of an afterlife, nor any means to really transcend our natural condition.

  10. IntroductionCan Naturalism Explain the World? • How well can Naturalism actually explain the world and humanity? • We have been considering naturalistic versus Christian explanations for: • the origin of the universe (Jan 10) • evolution (Jan 24) • human nature (today).

  11. What is a Human Being?

  12. What is a Human Being?Do We Have Souls? • We can distinguish two primary perspectives on the human person: • 1. “Dualism:” we are beings composed of a body and a soul • body: material and mortal • soul: non-material; can survive the death of the body • 2. “Monism:” we are “psychosomatic” unities • A single, purely material being, with a thinking brain

  13. What is a Human Being?Do We Have Souls? • Christianity, Judaism and Islam have traditionally affirmed that we have an immortal soul that: • survives after the death of our body • that will someday be reunited to a new resurrected body • Modern science however holds we are psychosomatic unities, single purely material beings.

  14. What is a Human Being? A Psychosomatic Unity • There are two camps in the view we are psychosomatic unities: • 1. Reductionism: • there is nothing in the person that cannot be explained by physics, chemistry, and biology • since physics, chemistry, and biology are largely deterministic, free will is suspect, an illusion

  15. What is a Human Being? A Psychosomatic Unity • There are two camps in the view we are psychosomatic unities: • 2. Emergentism • Complex systems like the human brain, develop qualitatively new properties, properties of the whole • In particular: a consciousness with true freedom of action. • Such emergent properties are “causally effective:” they can influence and change their component parts (“top-down” causality)

  16. What is a Human Being? A Psychosomatic Unity • Note you can be a Christian and still believe we are psychosomatic unities, without a soul. • We profess in the Creed not a doctrine of an immortal soul, but a doctrine of the resurrection of the dead.

  17. What is a Human Being? Outline • Review biblical and historical views of the nature of human beings. • Review modern views of human nature, including: • modern science’s account of the evolution of human beings • results from neuroscience • Review problems with the view that we are psychosomatic unities: • problems with the Reductionist view • problems with the Emergentist view (in Part 2) • Lastly look at how we might view ourselves as beings with both a body and soul in the 21st century (in Part 2)

  18. Biblical and Historical Views

  19. Biblical, Historical ViewsAncient Israel • The general consensus of modern scholars is that the Hebrews thought of the human being as a totality, a psychosomatic unity. • There was no separated soul to carry the personality after death. • There could be no person without the body • The only hope for immortality was the resurrection of the whole person, such as in the book of Daniel.

  20. Biblical, Historical ViewsAncient Israel • Nichols notes he disagrees with this modern consensus, and sides with Old Testament scholar James Barr, who writes: • … it seems probable that in certain contexts the nephesh is not, as much present opinion favors, a unity of body and soul.... It is rather, in these contexts, a superior controlling center which accompanies, expresses, and directs the existence of that totality, and one which, especially, provides life to the whole … nephesh = Hebrew for “living being (breathing creature).” In the Greek Septuagint, nephesh is mostly translated as psyche (psyche in English = breath, spirit, life, soul)

  21. Biblical, Historical ViewsNew Testament • The general consensus of modern scholars: the New Testament view is that the human person is a psychosomatic unity, a unity of soul, body, flesh, which together constitute the whole man. • The New Testament teaches the resurrection of the body as the hope for a future life: • Jesus’ teachings (Matthew. 22:23-33 and parallel passages), • Paul (1 Cor. 15 and elsewhere)

  22. Biblical, Historical ViewsNew Testament • Nichols again disagrees with this consensus and makes a case New Testament views are more diverse. • He again quotes James Barr (The Garden of Eden and the Hope for Immortality): • The New Testament certainly says little directly and specifically about the immortality of the soul; but it has a reasonable degree of mention of immortality, and it certainly has an awareness that things of the body and things of the soul could take different directions.

  23. Biblical, Historical ViewsChristian Tradition • In early Christian tradition, the survival of a soul after death seems to have been presumed. • The early Christian apologist Justin Martyr wrote in his Dialogue with Trypho that after death, the souls of the righteous go to some “better place,” and the souls of the wicked to some “worse place,” to await judgment. Justin Martyr 100-165 AD (martyred in Rome under the Emperor Marcus Aurelius)

  24. Biblical, Historical ViewsChristian Tradition: Justin Martyr • Justin notes that the soul is not naturally immortal (as in the Greek philosophy Platonism) • Rather, God gives the soul life: “the soul shares in life, when God wants it to live.” Justin Martyr 100-165 AD (martyred in Rome under the Emperor Marcus Aurelius

  25. Biblical, Historical ViewsChristian Tradition: Augustine • Augustine wrote that the human being is a “rational soul using a body” and was convinced of the immortality of the soul. • The powers of reason and understanding are present in the soul from infancy, and awaken and develop as the child ages. Augustine of Hippo, 354-430 AD

  26. Biblical, Historical ViewsChristian Tradition: Augustine • Augustine argued everything God made is good, including the body. • The corruptible body is a load on the soul (as written in the book of Wisdom 9:15), but that is only because of the sin of Adam (= “original sin”): The soul is weighed down not by the body as such, but by the body such as it has become as a consequence of sin and its punishment Augustine of Hippo, 354-430 AD

  27. Biblical, Historical ViewsChristian Tradition: Augustine • Augustine never solved the problem of how the soul was related to the body. • The soul, he thought, was a substance, yet the body was also a substance. And yet the human being was a single composite substance. • He realized that this caused philosophical problems, but he could not resolve them. Augustine of Hippo, 354-430 AD

  28. Biblical, Historical ViewsChristian Tradition: Aquinas • Thomas Aquinas argued that the human person was a unitary substance, a unitary being, composed of two principles: • 1. the soul • 2. the matter of the body. • The person was a soul-body composite, in which the matter of the body was “formed” or organized by the soul. Thomas Aquinas, 1224-1274 AD

  29. Biblical, Historical ViewsChristian Tradition: Aquinas • Aquinas felt the soul was the “Aristotelian form” of the body. • The soul or form was the dynamic internal organizing principle for the body. • The soul or form contained within it a final end or goal which the organism strives to fulfill. • In the case of a human, this intrinsic end or goal was to know and love God. • Without the soul or form “informing” the body, the body would have no form or organization of its own. • This form could exist on its own, apart from the body. Thomas Aquinas, 1224-1274 AD

  30. Biblical, Historical ViewsChristian Tradition: Aquinas • Aquinas did not think that the human soul was created at conception. • He suggested the developing embryo first had a simple plant soul, then an animal soul, and only in the last months, after the brain had been formed, a fully human soul. • Aquinas opposed abortion because it interfere with God’s will that an embryo become a human person, killing it before God could give it a human soul. Thomas Aquinas, 1224-1274 AD

  31. Biblical, Historical ViewsChristian Tradition: Protestant Thought • John Calvin taught that the soul was immortal: … there can be no question that man consists of a body and a soul; meaning by a soul, an immortal though created essence, which is his nobler part. • The Westminister Confession, following Calvin, affirms that the soul is immortal, is judged immediately upon death, and goes to heaven or hell, there to await the resurrection of the body John Calvin, 1509-1564

  32. Biblical, Historical ViewsChristian Tradition: Protestant Thought • Lutheran confessional documents say little about the state after death. • Luther does suggest, in the Smalcald articles, that the saints in heaven might pray for us (article 2). Martin Luther, 1483-1546

  33. Modern Views

  34. Modern ViewsRene Descartes • Modern conceptions of the human person are usually said to begin with Rene Descartes. • Descartes rejected Aquinas’s Aristotelian view of form and final cause, and embraced the new atomic and mechanistic theory of matter. Rene Descartes, 1596-1650

  35. Modern ViewsRene Descartes • The body, he said, was governed by simple mechanical principles. • The mind however, could make free decisions, and so was not governed by mechanical or physical principles. • The mind therefore must be an immaterial substance, free and immortal. Rene Descartes, 1596-1650

  36. Modern ViewsRene Descartes • There are two substances, in the human being: • 1. the material body, characterized by extension in space, a res extensa (extended thing), • 2. a mind, which is not extended in space, but which thinks, a res cogitans (thinking thing). • This is “Cartesian” “mind-body dualism” Rene Descartes, 1596-1650

  37. Modern ViewsProblem with Mind-Body Dualism • The great problem faced by any such mind-body dualism is: How does the substance of the mind interact with the substance of the body? That is: How can the immaterial mind affect the material body? • Decartes suggested there was a connection in the pineal gland. • Somehow, the mind affected the pineal gland, which in turn affected the body.

  38. Modern ViewsProblem with Mind-Body Dualism • A later follower of Descartes, Nicholas Malebranche, suggested the only connection between the soul and the body was God. • When the soul decided to do something, God caused the body to do it. • Every occasion was caused by God, hence this idea was known as occasionalism.

  39. Modern ViewsTwentieth Century • Descartes’s dualism, which separated the mind and the body, lasted down to the late twentieth century, when it lost credibility: • Evidence from modern science seemed to support the view we are psychosomatic unities, pure material unitary beings: • 1. Evolutionary science showed human beings emerged by degrees from primate ancestors. • We different from animals only in degree, not in kind. • 2. Modern neuroscience strongly reinforced the scientific conviction that the mind has its roots in the brain.

  40. The Evolution of Human Beings

  41. Evolution of Human Beings18 to 12 Million Years Ago • 18 to 12 million years ago (Middle Miocene geological Epoch): the basic anatomical form of large hominids (= biological family that includes extinct and extant human beings, chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans) first appears in Africa.

  42. Evolution of Human Beings8 to 5 Million Years Ago • 8 to 5 million years ago (Late Miocene geological Epoch): tree-loving, apelike animals with long arms and legs abound in east Africa.

  43. Evolution of Human Beings6 to 5 Million Years Ago • 6 to 5 million years ago (during Late Miocene geological Epoch): chimpanzees (our closest living relative) diverge from the common ancestor shared with the line from which human beings will rise.

  44. Evolution of Human Beings5 to 3 Million Years Ago • 5 to 3 million years ago: African climate becomes drier. More open savannas encourage endurance, high mobility, bipedalism. • Several pre-human species identified from this period in East Africa: • Ardipithecus ramidus (4.5 million years ago) • Australopithecus anamensis (4.2 to 4 million years ago) • Australopithecus afarensis (3.5 to 3 million years ago)

  45. Evolution of Human Beings5 to 3 Million Years Ago The Australopithecus afarensis creature discovered in 1974 named “Lucy” lived 3.18 million years ago

  46. Evolution of Human Beings5 to 3 Million Years Ago • 3.5 million years ago: two Australopithecus afarensis creatures walked over a layer of soft volcanic ash in what is modern day Tanzania, leaving footprints that hardened and were preserved.

  47. Evolution of Human Beings5 to 3 Million Years Ago • They walked upright, with a rolling, slow-moving gait, hips swiveling at every step

  48. Evolution of Human Beings3 to 2 Million Years Ago • 3 to 2 million years ago:Australopithecus afarensis) diverges into several new species: • Australopithecus africanus • Australopithecus robustus • Homo habilis (“handy person”), the first stone toolmaker

  49. Evolution of Human Beings3 to 2 Million Years Ago • 3 to 2 million years ago:Homo habilis • About 4 feet, 3 inches • Brain 600-700 cc (modern humans: 1200 cc) • Used a stone hammer to shear sharp stone flakes off from stone cobbles • Carried the tools around so that the stone flakes could be manufactured when and where they were needed (to butcher a freshly killed animal)

  50. Evolution of Human Beings2 million to 500,000 years ago • About 2 million years ago: the earth enters the Pleistocene geological Epoch, the last ice age, and begins a long period of continued climatic fluctuations between warmer and cooler conditions. • At 780,000 years, the earth’s magnetic field abruptly reversed, causing greater variations in weather patterns.