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Whatever Happened to the Soul? Scientific and Theological Portraits of Human Nature Paperback – November 4, 1998

4.1 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Warren S. Brown is Professor of Psychology and Director of the Travis Research Institute at the Graduate School of Psychology, Fuller Theological Seminary. He is a research neuropsychologist with more than eighty peer-reviewed scientific papers on human brain function and behavior. He has also edited or co-authored four previous books, most recently Neuroscience, Psychology and Religion (with Malcolm Jeeves, 2009).

Nancey Murphy is Professor of Christian Philosophy at Fuller Theological Seminary. She is an internationally known author and speaker in the field of religion and science.
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Product Details

  • Series: Theology & the Sciences
  • Paperback: 268 pages
  • Publisher: Fortress Press; First Edition edition (November 4, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0800631412
  • ISBN-13: 978-0800631413
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #915,357 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
It is unlikely that those who gave this book poor reviews understood the book at all. In fact, this book is NOT an attack on Christianity, and furthermore, several contributors to this volume are prominent theological scholars. Contrary to others' opinions, the authors take a non-reductive physicalist approach to human consciousness, rather than a purely materialistic view. The contention of the authors is merely that human consciousness is a physical entity; not some undetectable, supernatural phenomenon. Critics subsequently concluded that this contention equalled a disbelief in God. I beg to differ.
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Format: Paperback
This is the way books need to be written which integrate two different disciplines. A variety of authors from diverse areas of expertise which addressed a single issue. The arguement is well focused from beginning to end and each contributor genuinely interacted with the others. Finally we have a contemporary, intelligent book that deals a fatal blow to the banal notion of personhood as duality, and its more popular heresy, the immortality of the soul. As a pastor this academic volume has proven fruitful in teaching, preaching, writing and counseling. Yes, my pastoral colleagues, science I could understand and enjoy, as well as sink my teeth into. Yes, my scientific friends, theology with integrity, honesty and an appreciation for others contribution to an important topic.
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Finally! Here is a book which combines sound biblical research, solid contemporary life sciences, well-reasoned philosophy, and rich theological construction. The authors describe the consonance between good biblically based theology and contemporary science in developing what they call nonreductive physicalist Christian anthropology. This book will be BASIC to sound contemporary theology in this area. Reading it is liberating, exciting, and affirming of the unity of faith and reason, religion and science, piety and devotion to learning. BUY IT, but above all READ IT.
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By A Customer on January 18, 2001
Format: Paperback
People who have actually studied philosophy and are tired of hearing people rave on and on about saving "souls" can read this for direction and sound arguments. It is a good collection of experts in theological, scientific, and philosophical fields that are not trying to push materialism onto you and call it Christianity. These are seminary professors and Christian scholars who have done their homework and are trying to make the corrections necessary to share the faith in today's world. It accentuates religion's key characteristic of a new life in Christ. Makes a great partner to William James' "Varieties of Religious Experience." Theological Anthropology is much overlooked today, and Christians are taking flack. You do not have to believe in evolution, but you cannot deny modern neuroscience and psychology. This book delineates how that can be done.
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Edited by Brown, Murphy and Maloney `What Ever Happened to the Soul' is a collection of inter-related essays regarding contemporary thought in the area of cognitive science as it pertains to the concept of the human soul.

Much recent work in the field of neurology points to an increasing correlation between the physical and the mental. Though work in this area is embryonic and far from definitive, it does raises important theological and philosophical questions. In particular, how does this growing physical-mental relationship impact the classic theistic view of man? In popular writing the mind-body issue has traditionally been framed as a dichotomy between either Cartesian substance dualism (brain and soul interact but are distinct substances) or reductive materialism (ultimately everything can be reduced to physics). Both of these approaches have there challenges.

With regard to dualism, the oft-cited question of how two distinct substances interact is not as troublesome to me as the implications of an increasing correlation between the physical brain and the mind (soul) - e.g. impact of injury, disease and the genetic-personality link. Despite dualism's difficulties, however, reductive materialism is even less satisfactory. For example, reductionism fails to account for free will, the nature of consciousness or the veracity of rationality - not minor problems.

The current text argues for what is known as non-reductive materialism. In this model, the soul is tied to the brain but an emergent quality that is not explainable by reductionism. I find this approach to have its own challenges. On the positive side the authors do a good job of dispelling the overstated popular conception of Christianity as necessarily entailing Cartesian dualism.
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