RE: [asa] Physicalism and Incarnation

From: Alexanian, Moorad <>
Date: Thu Mar 01 2007 - 15:07:33 EST

I would say that God is purely supernatural, whereas both Christ and man
are supernatural/physical/nonphysical but not in the same proportion or


-----Original Message-----
From: [] On
Behalf Of
Sent: Thursday, March 01, 2007 11:51 AM
To: Alexanian, Moorad; Johan Jammart;
Subject: Re: [asa] Physicalism and Incarnation

I forwarded this question on to a friend of mine, Kevin
Corcoran, Associate Professor of Philosphy at Calvin
College, whose interests are mainly just this issue. He
has not yet responded but I will quote from his book,
"Rethinking Human Nature, A Christian Materialists View on
the Human Soul."

On page 80 he directly addresses this issue of the
incarnation. Before I give you the quote, I will
summarize his view. He calls his view the The
Constitution View (CV), and contrasts it to compound
dualism. According to CV "we human persons are
constituted by our bodies without being identical with the
bodies that constitute us." And he goes on to illustrate
this with an analogy of a statue, a bronze statue for
example is constituted by bronze, but is not identical
with bronze.

Regarding the incarnation he says:

"One may ask how a Christian materialist can possibly
explain the incarnation. The putative problem is this, If
God is essentially an immaterial being, then how could
such a being become purely material without losing an
essential property? If the Second Person of the Trinity
loses an essential property, then wouldn't he cease to be
fully God?

"I believe CV actually offers a way of understanding the
dual natures of Christ that is somewhat more plausible
than that offered by substance dualism. According to the
Chalcedonian formulation, the incarnate Christ is one
person with two natures, a fully divine nature, and a
fully human nature. CV divides things where one would
expect - between the human nature and the divine nature of
the single person. Keep in mind that the person of Christ
is not human; he is divine, being the Second Person of the
Trinity. But his one person, in the incarnation, had two
natures-human and divine. According the this
understanding of the dual natures, Christ is wholly
immaterial in his divine nature, and wholly material in
his human nature. Consider the less than elegant cleavage
substance dualists must offer. According to them Christ
is wholly immaterial in his divine nature, and partly
material and partly immaterial in his human nature."

So that is his answer. Just to clarify, in his view,
human beings are wholly material beings, not a combination
of spiritual (divine) and material (human). He goes on to
discuss imago dei in the next section of the book, but I
will leave it here for now.

On Thu, 1 Mar 2007 09:45:44 -0500
  "Alexanian, Moorad" <> wrote:
> One must understand what the word "incarnation" means
>and see if one can
> define it in purely physical terms. If one cannot, then
>the incarnation
> of Christ is incompatible with physicalism.
> Moorad
> ________________________________
>[] On
> Behalf Of Johan Jammart
> Sent: Thursday, March 01, 2007 5:28 AM
> To:
> Subject: [asa] Physicalism and Incarnation
> I have read articles on claiming that
>incarnation of Christ was
> incompatible with physicalism ==>
> I have read a discussion on this also on an blog:
> JJ: Trenton Merricks in an unpublished paper entitled
>'The Word Made
>Flesh: Dualism, Physicalism, and the Incarnation'
>presents a different
> view. We are human organisms. To be human is to be a
>human organism. So
> a divine subject becomes human by becoming a human
>organism. So an
> immaterial simple becomes a material composite. I think
>that no
> immaterial being can become a material being and that no
>simple can
> become a composite. So I do not hold this view.
> BV: You are a wise man.
> JJ: But the strategy is a coherent one.
> BV: How? It appears to be absurd on the face of it. An
>immaterial simple
> becomes a material composite without ceasing to be an
> simple?!?
> Next stop: The Twilight Zone.
> Is really physicalism incompatible with incarnation? Can
>an immaterial
> Christ became only material?
> Blessings,
> Johan
> To unsubscribe, send a message to
>with "unsubscribe
> asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.

To unsubscribe, send a message to with
"unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.

To unsubscribe, send a message to with
"unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
Received on Thu Mar 1 15:08:00 2007

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Thu Mar 01 2007 - 15:08:00 EST