In this careful and thoughtful treatment J.P. Moreland and Scott B. Rae provide a reasonable and biblically accurate depiction of human personhood, relating it to crucial ethical concerns that affect each of us.
While most people throughout history have believed that we are both physical and spiritual beings, the rise of science has called into question the existence of the soul. Many now argue that neurophysiology demonstrates the radical dependence, indeed, identity, between mind and brain. Advances in genetics and in mapping human DNA, some say, show there is no need for the hypothesis of body-soul dualism. Even many Christian intellectuals have come to view the soul as a false Greek concept that is outdated and unbiblical. Concurrent with the demise of dualism has been the rise of advanced medical technologies that have brought to the fore difficult issues at both edges of life. Central to questions about abortion, fetal research, reproductive techologies, cloning and euthanasia is our understanding of the nature of human personhood, the reality of life after death and the value of ethical or religious knowledge as compared to scientific knowledge. In this careful treatment, J. P. Moreland and Scott B. Rae argue that the rise of these problems alongside the demise of Christian dualism is no coincidence. They therefore employ a theological realism to meet these pressing issues, and to present a reasonable and biblical depiction of human nature as it impinges upon critical ethical concerns. This vigorous philosophical and ethical defense of human nature as body and soul, regardless of whether one agrees or disagrees, will be for all a touchstone for debate and discussion for years to come.
J. P. Moreland (PhD, University of Southern California; ThM, Dallas Theological Seminary) is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University, in La Mirada, California. He also serves as director of Eidos Christian Center. He has written, edited or contributed to over twenty books including (with Kai Nielsen) and He has also published more than fifty articles in journals such as and He is a fellow of the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture.
Scott B. Rae (Ph.D., University of Southern California) is professor of biblical studies and Christian ethics at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University, in La Mirada, California. He is also the author of (Crossroads) and (Baker).
Advanced medical and scientific technologies constantly challenge the way in
which humankind perceives the connection between the physical body and the
spiritual soul. Historically, philosophers and theologians have relied on the
concept of substance dualism to explain the body/soul separation, but
contemporary intellectual trends have ranged more toward Christian materialism.
Sticking to tradition, professors Moreland and Rae (at Talbot School of
Theology and Biola University, respectively) defend substance dualism (of the
Thomistic, as opposed to the Cartesian, variety) and libertarian agency in this
weighty tome. The authors convincingly acknowledge opposing arguments and
philosophies while building a case of their own (e.g., that a human being is a
substance, not a property-thing). They frequently quote from scholarship in the
fields of ethics and religion, evaluating the body/soul dichotomy through the
use of mathematical theorems and real-life examples. Although the authors note
that they "have chosen to write the book at... a fairly high academic level,"
they also hope "a nonspecialist will be able to gain much." Only academics,
philosophers and ethicists will grasp the book's meatier arguments, although
skipping the metaphysical reflections of the first sections makes it slightly
more palatable. (Apr.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
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