Bodies and Souls, or Spirited Bodies? (Current Issues in Theology) Illustrated Edition
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Frequently bought together
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
"Elegantly written volume, her book provides an eloquent and valuable stimulus to further theological research on this topic"
Matthew Levering, Ph.D., The National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly
- Item Weight : 7.8 ounces
- Paperback : 164 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0521676762
- ISBN-13 : 978-0521676762
- Dimensions : 5.43 x 0.37 x 8.5 inches
- Publisher : Cambridge University Press; Illustrated edition (February 20, 2006)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,031,487 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
The book has only four chapters. In Chapter One, Murphy begins by tracing the history of theological positions that have influenced Christian views of anthropology, and demonstrates that dualism is not theologically necessary. In Chapter Two, Murphy highlights three instances where Western science contradicts dualism: modern physics, the Darwinian revolution, and contemporary neuroscience. Having built a theological and scientific case against dualism, Murphy develops her own position: non-reductive physicalism. The argument of Chapter Three is two-pronged--it first involves arguing against causal reductionism, and second building a case for a complex organism's self-direction. The final chapter surveys four potential philosophical and theological problems with physicalism.
The purpose of the book is to provide theological grounding to the claim that free will and moral responsibility can exist within a physicalist framework. Because of the book's brevity, I believe that the arguments Murphy presents are not fully expounded--and therefore not fully defensible; however, the general outline provides promise to an area of research worth pursuing. This book challenges many assumptions that Western Christianity takes for granted in matters of human nature, metaphysics, and the nature of God. More significantly though, it encourages one to struggle with the meaning of the Christian life as it relates to physical awareness: our physicality--our being--and our ethical practices are tightly connected. It is a mistake to assume that the human ability for reflective thought, deep emotions, social interdependence, and spirituality requires something more than the dust of the earth; but it would also be a mistake to assume that we are merely the sum of our parts; indeed, we are fearfully and wonderfully made.
1) I found her Biblical arguments to be very thin. Part of that is due to the length of this book. It would be hard to give an exhaustive survey of Biblical anthropology in such a limited space.
2) Her account of Nonreductive Physicalism ultimately fails. She notes in the introduction that she herself is not satisfied with her arguments for this position.
3) If you have read her other works then you will not find many new things here. There is a lot of repeat material taken from some of her other writings which she also admits in several footnotes.
I am not convinced that dualism is false after reading this book, but I will admit that I became convinced of the defensibility of the Christian Physicalist position. Murphy's clarity and fairness in her arguments make this book worth reading.
Before getting to the Science, she looks at the philosophical and biblical basis for the belief in a "soul" separate from the body (dualism) as opposed to "spirited bodies" (a view she will later argue for) hinting at possible theological implications. She fairly summarizes the vast literature on the subject boiling the issues down in a very readable form for the average reader.
Then, in the second nature, she adeptly summarizes three major challenges coming from modern science. From physics (the Copernican revolution), from biology (human evolution) and from neuroscience (modern studies on the brain).
The third chapter addresses mainly the issues of reductionism and free will. This area is more complex and debatable, but she gives an excellent summary.
She then goes on to discuss how a non-reductive physicalist view of human nature might be compatible with Christian salvation - finishing with a passage from James Dunn (a biblical scholar) who pulls together the view of humans as reflected in the New Testament by Saint Paul - arguing for compatibility (as long as reductionism is rejected).
Ultimately, it is up to the reader to decide if the case she makes is convincing. It is certainly will challenge the presuppositions of many, but is generally well argued.