Re: [asa] Physicalism and Incarnation

From: D. F. Siemens, Jr. <>
Date: Thu Mar 01 2007 - 21:51:53 EST

Several articles, different arguments, all within the framework of
evangelical theology. The earliest had a response by Murphy which brushed
off biblically based critiques. The briefest summary is mine in

On Thu, 1 Mar 2007 19:01:06 -0500 "Jack" <> writes:
Incompatible with scripture in what way? Did they propose that
scripture clearly teaches dualism? Or did they claim that, even if
scripture is unclear on the matter, that physicalism is incomaptible with
scripture otherwise?

I think many would argue that there is no perfectly clear teaching that
supports dualism in the scriptures. It is a matter of interpretation.
Despite this being the traditional teaching, many claim that this
traditional interpretation can be traced back to Platonic influences.
So, putting this aside, the Christian monists have many explanations that
allow physicalism to be compatible with Christianity otherwise, and
overall do not think you can just claim that physicalism is incompatible
with scripture.

Personally, I think that scripture teaches dualism. My problem with
physicalism is that I do not think they have a good explanation for what
seems to be transitional states between physical existence, and a
resurrected body, that is I have not heard a convincing explanation of
biblical examples of disembodied conscious existence (Rev. 6:9-11 for
----- Original Message -----
From: D. F. Siemens, Jr.
Cc: ; ; ; ; ;
Sent: Thursday, March 01, 2007 4:28 PM
Subject: Re: [asa] Physicalism and Incarnation

I have to agree that physicalism handles the science better than dualism,
but only because science cannot handle dualism. For that matter, it
cannot handle values, except descriptively as what some culture accepts.
But there is no way scientifically to demonstrate that one culture's
values are better than another's. Those who try have a covert commitment
that they do not recognize.

In addition to my article in PSCF the Johan noted, there are a number in
/Philosophia Christi/, 2(2), 3(1) and 4(2) that reject Murphy's
physicalism as incompatible with scripture.

On Thu, 1 Mar 2007 12:12:05 -0500 "David Opderbeck"
<> writes:
Michael, I'm confused by your comment about Tom Wright. Here is Wright
in a recent interview
( ):

Let's be quite clear. The word 'resurrection' in the ancient world, the
Greek word 'anastasis' always referred to something that we would call a
physical resurrection. That is to say, the word 'resurrection' was never
a kind of synonym for life after death, or a spiritual survival, or 'John
Brown's body lies a-mouldering in the grave, while his soul goes marching
on'. The ancient world was full of theories about bodies mouldering in
graves and souls being off somewhere else, and that is not resurrection.
It never was.

Wright notes that a spiritualized resurrection would not have been a
scandal at all in either the pagan or Jewish context of the first century
church. I find Wright's arguments compelling.

Bob -- we'll have to agree to disagree on the exegetical question, but it
seems to me that the physicalist position on human nature Jack mentioend
above and the nonreductive physicalist position I mentioned from Nancey
Murphy do a better job of handling the science of what we know today
about human nature. Yet if anything like those positions are true, then
resurrection for a human being can't entail only some spiritual aspect.
And as Jesus was fully man, and also is the archetype of the resurrection
we hope for, it seems impossible to me to spiritualize Jesus'
resurrection without bollixing up a Christian anthropology that is in
dialogue with contemporary science.

On 3/1/07, Robert Schneider <> wrote:
Nor do I. "Bodily resurrection" does not entail the physical body of
Jesus. That would be resuscitation, not resurrection. I believe that what
the disciples experienced was the real presence of the risen Messiah, but
read carefully 1 Cor. 15 to see how Paul wrestled with this matter.
----- Original Message -----
From: Michael Roberts
To: Alexanian, Moorad ; Johan Jammart ; ; Janice Matchett
Sent: Thursday, March 01, 2007 10:44 AM
Subject: Re: [asa] Physicalism and Incarnation

Like Bishop Tom Wright I do not believe in a physical resurrection.

----- Original Message -----
From: Janice Matchett
To: Alexanian, Moorad ; Johan Jammart ;
Sent: Thursday, March 01, 2007 3:07 PM
Subject: RE: [asa] Physicalism and Incarnation

At 09:45 AM 3/1/2007, 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

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Received on Thu Mar 1 21:57:55 2007

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