A Brief Refutation of “Christian” Physicalism

The physicalist conception of the soul as being supervenient upon neurochemical processes in the brain entails certain logical consequences that place it in direct opposition to the Scriptural teaching regarding man’s salvation. What follows will be a brief enumeration of the logical consequences of a physicalist conception of the soul of man, and a demonstration of how they are in direct opposition to the Scriptural teaching regarding man’s salvation.

If the soul is a byproduct of the body, then changes to the body necessarily entail changes to the soul. Thus, for every positive or negative bodily change there is a corresponding positive or negative soul change. Bodily health, for instance, would correspond to soul health, whereas bodily illness would correspond to soul illness. Similarly, bodily simplicity or complexity would be correlative to the soul states produced by the body. The soul of an infant would correspond to the level of simplicity of the body which has produced it. Inversely, the soul of an elderly man would correspond to the level of complexity of the body which has produced it. For every bodily change, therefore, there is a necessary soul change corresponding to the body which has produced it.

Since the fall of man, humanity has been cursed with bodily weakness, illness, decay, and death. Man also, of course, is born spiritually corrupt, ill, decaying, dead. Thus far, the correlative states of body and soul seem to find corroboration in Scripture. This is not the case, however, for God regenerates sinners. Scripture teaches that man is given a new heart, i.e. a renewed soul that struggles against sin, moral corruption, and spiritual illness. That is not all that occurs in the heart of man, either; man’s mind is renewed by the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit. This all occurs in man’s heart/soul, moreover, in spite of the fact that man’s body is gradually failing. Bodily decay and death, according to the Scriptures, will not be eradicated until Christ returns.

Yet if the body and soul are necessarily qualitatively correlative to one another, Christian sanctification must correspond to changes in the body of the believer. Wouldn’t this imply that the believer would not die but perpetually exist in tension between life and death? If physicalism is true, to ask the question more forcefully, then why do any Christians even get sick? Wouldn’t Job’s friends be vindicated by such a doctrine, seeing as they attribute Job’s bodily suffering to his sin? The answer seems to be “Yes.”

Thus, if the soul is supervenient upon the body, and bodily states are qualitatively correlative to soul states, and soul states include (a.)being unregenerate, (b.)being regenerate, and (c.)being regenerate and undergoing the processes of sanctification, then (a.), (b.), and (c.) must each have qualitatively correlative bodily states. However, the unregenerate are  sometimes physically superior to the regenerate. Likewise, the regenerate are, many times, weaker than the unregenerate. Thus, physicalism cannot be true, for (a.), (b.), and (c.) do not have qualitatively correlative bodily states.

-h.

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What is a “Philosophical” Argument?

Avoiding the Inexorable Consequences of One’s Beliefs

Since the debate a few weeks ago, I’ve been talking to annihilationists about the foundations on which they build their doctrine. The result has not been very fruitful, as there has been much misunderstanding from the annihilationist camp about the various critiques I have been offering. In the course of our interactions, the accusation arose that we (myself and Michael Burgos from grassrootsapologetics.org) were making “philosophical” arguments and not “Biblical” arguments. The statement bugged me because it is, well, worthless in terms of refuting any singular point that one’s opponent raises in a given discussion. What is worse, however, is the fact that the assertion wrongly identifies logic as philosophy, which are two different things.  Logic is the science of necessary inference; philosophy is a branch of study that involves the study of knowledge (i.e. epistemology), the study of first principles (i.e. metaphysics), the study of being/s (i.e. ontology), and the study of ethics. Logic is prerequisite to all cognition. Philosophy is the fruit of such cognition.

So the accusation that a person is making a “philosophical” argument, as opposed to a Biblical one, is a meaningless assertion. What I’ve noticed, however, is that the accusation occurs when prooftexting is not involved in the argument that one is making, but deduction from a given set of premises (whether Biblical or extrabiblical). Yet this still does not give one grounds to identify the argument as a “philosophical” argument. Why then is this meaningless assertion used? Because it is a way to avoid dealing with the inexorable consequences of one’s beliefs. For instance, if a Romanist’s simultaneous belief in the perpetual virginity and sinlessness of Mary leads us to conclude that if Mary was perpetually a virgin, then Joseph was perpetually subject to sexual temptation, Mary was willfully neglecting her duty to be physically intimate with Joseph and, therefore, guilty of sin and could not have been born without the taint and stain of original sin, will he concede the point? Not at all. Rather, the focus will be shifted. The one who draws out the logical consequences of the Romanist’s idolatry will be shunned as rationalistic, or his arguments will be said to be the fruit of philosophical speculation, or something of that sort. “Mary’s perpetual virginity and immaculate conception,” they will retort, “are a mystery that you must accept, even if you think it is irrational.”

Regarding the annihilationists I mentioned above, a similar course of action was taken. Arguments that work deductively, were identified as “philosophical” and not logical. The one making the assertion had the advantage, because he was then in a position to state that he wa arguing biblically and not philosophically. This move can only be made in one of two ways: (1.)abject ignorance of what philosophy, logic, and theology are, or (2.)a good understanding of the differences between philosophy, logic, and theology, and yet the unwillingness of the one who knows these things to follow his beliefs to their inexorable conclusions.

This is not Christian thinking, but cultic reasoning. And as such, it is completely unfit for all who profess the name of Christ.

I have written some more on this, but I will post it over @ Grassroots Apologetics.

Soli.

Deo.

Gloria.

-h.