Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Dialogue on Christian Materialism

A friend and I had a discussion not too long ago about "Christian materialism." Since that conversation is already public, I reproduce a portion of our dialogue for your consideration.

My friend writes:

> Although the view of those "Christian materialists"
> might be
> practically the same as ours, I always saw us (or
> myself) more
> as "idealists".

I reply:

The term "materialist" admittedly is somewhat confusing in this context. When thinking about a materialist, those who espouse atheism might come to mind. However, what the "Christian materialist" wants to assert (among other things) is that while the human body is not identical with what we are as persons--it does *constitute* what we are as persons. Think of "Christian materialism" in this way. The marble of a statue may not be identical with the statue; nevertheless, the marble does constitute the statue. Similarly, it is possible that our bodies constitute what we are as persons without being identical to our respective personalities. Maybe conscious states arise from neurobiological processes (started by God) and only neurobiological processes. It is possible that what we are as persons is primarily determined by synaptic connections and sensory experiences. I am speaking with respect to humans and not with regard to the angels.

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