Am I just my brain?

Phill Sacre offers this review of Sharon Dirckx’s recent book Am I Just my Brain? published by The Good Book Company, 2019.

1. The issue

A wise and learned philosopher once said, “We are living in a material world, and I am a material girl”. OK, those were the lyrics to Material Girl by Madonna – but, whether she realised it or not, I think she was onto something: many people today, especially within science, do think we are quite literally living in a material world. Many scientists (and, indeed, people from other fields such as history) presume methodological naturalism – the idea that the best explanation for anything is always a naturalistic one. ‘Supernatural’ explanations are discounted a priori.

This kind of attitude seems to have become standard fare in many scientific circles. Although I don’t usually read the magazine, back in 2012 my wife kindly bought me a copy of the New Scientist special edition “The God Issue”. The editorial on the front page talked scornfully about religion: “Religious claims still wither under rational scrutiny and deserve no special place in public life.” Ouch! This kind of attitude was evident most of the way through the magazine.

This kind of anti-religious sentiment comes out in various scientific disciplines, but perhaps none more so than neuroscience – the field in which Sharon Dirckx works. Dirckx is a specialist in brain imaging and as such comes at the issue from both a scientific and a Christian perspective. According to her, many within neuroscience are arguing that the sum total of human experience – mind and consciousness included – can be explained by what happens within our brains.

By contrast, Dirckx argues that scientifically, philosophically and theologically the ‘naturalistic’ explanation is inconsistent, incoherent and fundamentally flawed (more on the argument of the book in a moment).

But Dirckx recognises that the question of whether we are just our brains touches on a deeper question: who we are as human beings, and our place in the universe. Again and again the book goes deeper than the surface issue of the scientific evidence and probes into the more fundamental questions of human identity. As Dirckx says at the end of the introduction, quoting Marilynne Robinson: “Whoever controls the definition of the mind controls the definition of humankind itself”.

2. The argument of the book

Dirckx develops her argument by looking at a series of questions, e.g. “Is belief in the soul out of date?” and “Is free will an illusion?” In each chapter she starts out with the physical and scientific evidence, and then moves on to the logical, philosophical and theological perspectives on the question. She examines each view with the questions, ‘Is it internally coherent?’, ‘Does it have explanatory power?’ and ‘Can it be lived?’

One of the things I appreciated most about the book was that it makes technical arguments and discussion accessible for the layperson. She makes excellent use of stories and personal anecdotes which help humanise what could be a very technical discussion. After all, issues of consciousness are not remote from our day-to-day experience of life – that’s the whole point! 

Another thing which I particularly appreciated about the book was the way Dirckx brings in the gospel. Through the book she talks increasingly about the Bible, the gospel, and her own experience of them. The message is clear: (1) the question of whether we are simply our brains makes a real impact on the way we think about ourselves and the way we live our lives; (2) the question of what we believe about our brains is intimately bound up with what we believe about God.

For example, on the question of gender identity, she says: “as a society, profoundly contradictory messages are coming from different corners… some secular scientists say that the core of a person is physical. Many transgender advocates say things which seem to imply that the core of a person is non-physical; there is a soul that cannot be denied. Surely both of these cannot be true – so which is it?” Here we see how a view about human beings directly impacts on a ‘hot potato’ issue in society today. Are we bodies, brains, or both? Is there a soul where our ‘true selves’ are located, external to our brains? What we believe about all these things will affect how we interpret our experiences and how we live our lives. 

I also particularly appreciated her drawing out the fact that this question is not neutral when it comes to belief in God. She says:

Humans are God’s representatives on earth, and, as such, have a role in tending the natural world. The image of God helps us answer the question, “Am I just my brain?” If we are made in the image of God, then our core identity is not subject to the vagaries of a degenerative disease or age-related atrophy. Each human is infinitely precious and loved by God, regardless of what is happening to their body or brain. Each one of us is made in God’s image for a life of meaning and purpose.

This is the heart of the matter. What we believe about our brains is dependent on what we believe about God – and vice versa. The question is, which explanation of the universe makes most sense? Which explanation of the universe do we live by? The one which says the universe has no intelligence behind it, has no purpose, no meaning, and all our actions can be determined by cause and effect? Or the one which says an intelligent mind made us in his image to relate to and worship him, to love him and love others? 

3. A theological reflection

Calvin began his Institutes:

The whole sum of our wisdom – wisdom, that is, which deserves to be called true and assured – broadly consists of two parts, knowledge of God and knowledge of ourselves … now it is not easy to discern which of the two comes first and so gives rise to the other.

Calvin argues that we need both a knowledge of God and ourselves. The two are intimately related – as we grow in the knowledge of one we grow in the knowledge of the other. One of the logical implications of this view is that a wrong view of God will lead to a wrong view of ourselves: our view of the one who made us is reflected in the way we see humankind. 

But there’s a snag: human beings are not neutral and impartial evaluators of the evidence. Paul speaks damning words about humanity in Romans 1:

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them (vv18-19).

Far from being neutral and impartial, we are ‘truth-suppressers’ by nature. We choose to displace God from his throne; we want to live with the ways and values that we desire rather than those given to us by our Creator. We choose to suppress what we know to be true about God so we can have freedom to live our lives in the way that we want. To quote from another well-known group of wise and learned philosophers – Primal Scream – “We want to be free to do what we wanna do, we wanna get loaded, and we wanna have a good time.” This could be a motto for humanity!

How does this relate to the question of whether we are just our brains? Because the answer comes with a theological subtext. Those who wish to claim that we are nothing more than our brains are not simply following the evidence where it leads. They are actively seeking to write the God who made them out of the picture.

Scientific questions such as these stretch beyond the bounds of data and brain scans. How we answer the question will largely depend on the presuppositions we bring to the table. If we presuppose methodological naturalism, strangely enough we’ll end up with a naturalistic answer – irrespective of what the evidence might say. The question that Dirckx helpfully addresses in this book is, why should anyone committed to truth and to the evidence presuppose such a thing? 

This is why I highly recommend Dirckx’s book. It exposes the fact that these sorts of questions cannot be answered by science alone – and those who claim that they can have an underlying agenda. I think the book deserves to be read widely, not just for the treatment of the topic at hand but for the wider question of how science relates to theology. I don’t know if the book in itself will convince sceptics – it is of course up to the Holy Spirit alone to change hearts – but it will better equip the church to respond to the naturalistic age we are living in.

Phill Sacre is an ordained minister within the Church of England. He serves in a parish in the East of England. He regularly blogs at

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49 thoughts on “Am I just my brain?”

  1. Materialism cannot explain the universe because important aspects of the universe are not material. This isn’t a new observation, Plato used it to refute the materialists in Athens, though still many people don’t seem to appreciate that materialism is a completely inadequate metaphysics.

    Numbers are not material – the number 3 is not material. Mathematics is not material. The laws of physics are not material. The parameters of the universe and the properties of the elementary particles are not material.

    The material universe is not deterministic. Under quantum mechanics it is governed by statistical laws with an indeterminacy prior to resolution. Those statistical laws are not material.

    Freedom is not material. Intentions are not material. Sensation is not material. Morality is not material. Ideas are not material.

    None of these things are matter in motion. None of them are objects in space and time. Materialism is the most inadequate explanation of the universe anyone has ever conceived. It is even self-refuting as the materialist theory is itself not material. It only endures because people want an excuse not to believe in God, or have lost their faith in a benevolent Creator and need a worldview that backs it up. But that doesn’t make it any more satisfactory.

    • Will

      Im not so sure. Numbers, for example, are simply a human invention. From a material brain.

      The laws of physics, again, arise from the material brain.

      Indeed everything you have listed arise from the material (I would argue that not all you have mentioned are immaterial – properties of elementary particles for example).

      One could logically argue that anything ‘immaterial’ comes from the material. Therefore the Universe cannot arise from an immaterial God, if indeed we can think of God in that way, ie non-physical.

      I dont find your argument satisfactory! But I still believe in the Creator.


      • ‘The laws of physics arise from the material brain.’

        No, the material brain quite clearly arises from the laws of physics! The brain is an object made of matter in motion in space and time ie it is material. The laws of physics are not made of matter in motion in space and time so are not material. This isn’t complicated. They govern the behaviour of the universe and the matter within it, they are quite obviously not themselves made of matter.

        Likewise, properties of elementary particles are not made of matter in motion in space and time so are not material, instead they specify the properties of matter. The specification of the properties of matter is not itself material. The fact that an electron has a certain rest mass, electric charge, spin, weak isopin etc is a fact about matter, it is not itself matter. It is not an object in motion in space and time but describes such objects.

        Numbers are not a human invention, if they were then the universe would not be governed by their properties.

        Ideas do not exist in a material brain, they could not because an idea is not material – as Plato observed, matter is specific and concrete but ideas are often general and abstract. They exist in a conscious mind. The classic philosophical illustration of this is the colour blue, which is not material and is not in the material brain. You can dissect the brain all you want but you will not find in it anything blue or that looks like that blue car over there, or the one I am recalling or imagining. Experience is irreducible, ideas are irreducible.

        • I think we may be working from different definitions. For me, the laws of physics are a human description, produced by the human brain, to describe how the Universe appears to work. Following Einstein, for example, these ‘laws’ were substantially changed from Newton. But I think you are referring to the actual behaviour, rather than a description of said behaviour. But I still dont think I agree – the actual behaviour is material in nature, whilst the description of said behaviour is immaterial.

          Numbers are a human invention – it is simply a counting system. We can only talk about ‘3’ objects because of a devised, agreed system. Of course, there are imaginary numbers…lol.

          As for ideas, as I said they arise from the material brain. It is logical to conclude without a material brain no such ideas would exist. The experience of those who have been brain-damaged is surely relevant. Though with further advanced imaging, we may be able to ‘see’ ideas and thoughts as they are produced. Maybe.

          • The laws of physics are the principles governing the operation of the universe. We also use the term to refer to our current best attempt to formulate these principles. They include the law of conservation of momentum, the law of gravity, the laws of thermodynamics, and the laws of conservation of quantum numbers.

            The principles which define the behaviour of matter are not material. That is a category error. A star is material, planets are material. The law of gravity is not, it defines how matter behaves. If it was material it wouldn’t be a general rule for all matter. A law doesn’t become material just because it defines what matter does.

            If numbers are a human invention then why is the universe governed by their properties? Why must quantum numbers be conserved? Why do atoms have different properties depending on how many protons in their nucleus and electrons in their shells? Imaginary numbers are not actually imaginary; they play a fundamental role in defining the behaviour of electrons in atomic orbitals, for example.

            You seem to think humans have invented the laws of logic, number and physics, which is absurd as the entire universe is governed by them. Humans are just discerning them.

          • Also, even if ideas wouldn’t exist without a brain that doesn’t make them material. As I said, experience is irreducible. There may well be something in the brain that corresponds to a thought about a blue car or an experience of a blue car (seems very likely). But that in no way shows that ideas are material, as the idea is not the thing in the brain that corresponds to the idea but the idea itself, which is blue and car shaped, whereas nothing in the brain is blue and car shaped.

      • You have confused discovering something with inventing or conceiving it. Human beings discover the laws of physics, they do not conceive of birth them. The universe was following these laws for billions of years before any human thought about them.
        It is true that atheist mathematicians are worried by the implications of what they discover. So the philosophically inclined among them are anti-realist nominalists. But historically, many of the greatest mathematicians have been religiously or mystically inclined, believing either in an eternal God or a eternal forms. One of the Critical Thinking exercises in sixth forms that do the International Baccalaureate is to consider “whether mathematics is invented or discovered”. But if it is a product of our human minds, why does the universe function according to it?
        What if it is a product of the Divine Mind instead?

      • PC1.. “One could logically argue that anything ‘immaterial’ comes from the material. Therefore the Universe cannot arise from an immaterial God, if indeed we can think of God in that way, ie non-physical.”

        “God said; ” Let there be… and there was”…. Is our use of “immaterial” a big enough concept? God’s words create that which his will decides should exist.

          • According to Google:
            Materialism: ‘The theory or belief that nothing exists except matter and its movements and modifications. The theory or belief that consciousness and will are wholly due to material agency.’

            The definition here is part of the problem as it is unclear where the laws of physics, mathematics, number and logic fit in. If ‘matter’ includes all of those things then it is not looking very material. I can’t bump into the number 3 or Pythagoras’ Theorem.

            Its main problems though are dealing with conscious experience, free will, rationality and morality, none of which can be given satisfactory explanations based wholly on ‘matter’.

      • Peter,

        I don’t think you would have much support for numbers being nothing but an invention of the human brain from any philosopher (or, indeed, mathematician). That our brains can comprehend numbers and mathematics is remarkable. But there is not the contingency in mathematics which would be the case if it were a pure invention. (OK, there are things like the axiom of choice, but that is pretty specialised). The natural numbers arise very simply in observation of the world around us. If there are two birds sitting on the branch of a tree, and another bird arrives then there are three. That is not the invention of a brain. It is a way of defining ‘two’ and ‘three’.

        The fascinating thing is how mathematics developed purely out of curiosity has subsequently been found to be useful in formulating descriptions of the physical world. The obvious example of this is the use of Group Theory in particle physics.

    • Will -pretty much in agreement with these ideas, which I regularly use in sermons and teaching A level Philosophy. The killer argument is this – and it was put by the sceptic J B Haldane and quoted by C S Lewis in ‘Miracles’: ‘If my thoughts are nothing other than the movement of atoms through my brain, then I have no reason for believing what they tell me.’
      The first half of ‘Miracles’ is a brilliant exposition of the idea of rationality as belonging to non-material reality and should be read carefully by all Christian preachers and teachers. Alvin Plantinga developed this into a talk about 20+ years on (I paraphrase from memory) “Why Darwinian evolution gives you no reason to believe it is true.”

        • My only hesitation concerned whether there is real indeterminacy in quantum mechanics but this is something I am far from understanding properly, so I pass on this. It’s something I’ll have to return to because a lot of statements about quantum physics seem to contradict general axioms of physics (if I have understood them rightly). I don’t have expertise in the philosophy of mind, just a keen interest and an intention (!) some time to ground myself more fully in the classical tradition represented today by Feser and Moreland. Mele is another interesting writer – I just finished today a short book he wrote supporting the existence of free will (to some degree) against a strong trend in contemporary psychology attacking the idea . Of course, most modern psychology is materialist and deterministic-reductionist, and rejects out of hand the idea of souls. But this is quite at odds with a biblical anthropology. I strongly believe churches should be teaching- in a popular, accessible way – enough philosophy to counter materialist atheism, which is really all most kids will encounter in secondary school.

          • Ah I see. The indeterminacy of quantum states is well-established I believe. Particles like photons have a wave-form that interferes with other particle wave-forms, and other forms of indeterminacy like direction of spin, but under certain conditions can be detected with definite position and spin direction (at which point the wave-form and its interference disappears). This ability to switch between an indeterminate state (eg spread out) and a determinate state (eg absorbed by this particle) is certainly an odd and surprising behaviour, but all the laws that govern it are mutually consistent – otherwise the universe would produce contradictions.

            There is an attempt to avoid it by supposing that each quantum event results in new universes coming into being where each event happens differently – the Many Worlds interpretation. Stephen Hawking was a proponent and his last work was an effort to show how these other universes might be detected. However, the idea has multiple problems, most obvious (especially for Christians) that it involves the existence of countless universes in which every single possibility happens. And still it doesn’t get rid of the indeterminacy in quantum events, it just means that they resolve by creating new universes rather than simply collapsing into one possible state.

          • I think the question should be “without the brain, can we think or be conscious”. The simple answer is no. People who are brain dead have no consciousness and can’t think. If there is a soul existing outside the brain, then it should be able to function without the brain. Everything we are and think we are is in our brains. Things like fear, love, remorse, are not workings of a soul, as animals experience these as well, and we agree they have no souls. We just think too much of ourselves as humans. But in reality we are nothing but an insignificant part of a grandiose universe.

        • Darwinian evolution refers to a materialistic account of evolution. Plantinga’s point is that Darwinian evolution proposes that humans have evolved merely to survive and reproduce, not to grasp truth. Therefore it gives us no reason to think that the human brain can accurately perceive truth rather than just do what it must to survive and reproduce. Therefore Darwinian evolution gives us no good reason to think that humans can grasp truth, and hence no reason to believe in the truth of Darwinian evolution.

          C S Lewis believed in theistic evolution of some kind, which overcomes the objection. It’s not an argument against evolution as such but against the materialism which many think evolution supports.

          • I dont see how one can come to that conclusion. ‘Grasping truth’ may be one of the many end products of the evolution of the physical human brain. Evolutionists would argue it must be as that is reality. It says nothing about evolutionary theory.

          • They say it is ‘reality’ but how do they know? Because their brains tell them. But their theory tells them their brains evolved to survive and reproduce. They believe grasping truth is a byproduct, but is it? Or do they just think it is because their brains tell them so? The point is their theory of the origin of the brain gives them no reason to believe that their brain is capable of grasping truth other than they think it is, but they have no reason to trust what their brain tells them.

            Personally I’m not a great fan of this argument because I think it is somewhat confusing and asks materialists to become sceptics when they are not. It isn’t without merit though, as it highlights the oddity of believers in materialist evolution taking for granted the reasoning and analytical capability of human beings in a world supposedly governed entirely by mechanistic forces and blind chance.

  2. Matter cannot think, reason, analyse or speak; therefore to say that matter is all there is is self-refuting, for the speaker (and reader) of this sentence must be non-material, or at least have a non-material aspect/part.

    How do we know that our reasoning actually corresponds to reality? Who or what is the guarantor of man’s ability to reason, know, understand, if his brain is made of matter and there is no soul or spirit? Let me quote from CS Lewis at this point:

    “All possible knowledge depends on the validity of reasoning. If the feeling of certainty which we express by words like must be and therefore and since is a real perception of how things outside our own minds really “must” be, well and good. But if this certainty is merely a feeling in our own minds and not a genuine insight into realities beyond them – if it merely represents the way our minds happen to work – then we can have no knowledge. Unless human reasoning is valid no science can be true.

    “It follows that no account of the universe can be true unless that account leaves it possible for our thinking to be a real insight. A theory which explained everything else in the whole universe but which made it impossible to believe that our thinking was valid, would be utterly out of court. For that theory would itself have been reached by thinking, and if thinking is not valid that theory would, of course, be itself demolished. It would have destroyed its own credentials. It would be an argument which proved that no argument was sound – a proof that there are no such thing as proofs – which is nonsense.

    “Thus a strict materialism refutes itself for the reason given long ago by Professor Haldane: ‘If my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain, I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true … and hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms.’ ”

    • Ha! I didn’t read your comment before I posted mine – but please to see that the motion of atoms in my brain has matched the motion of atoms in yours.
      It should be recognised as well that some strict materialists (at least) deny that consciousness actually exists – most notoriously the ironically named Churchwards in California, whose work Edward Feser discusses in his book ‘The Last Superstition’.
      On the other hand, the agnostic philosopher Thomas Nagel in his quite brief and readable book ‘Mind and Cosmos’ argues that Darwinian evolutionism as an explanation of life and consciousness is “almost certainly wrong”. Standard evolutionary thought claims that consciousness is a late arrival at the cosmic ball, that most of the history of life has been unconscious, non-sentient and undirected but toward the end of biological history consciousness appeared (accidentally, of course, like everything else), but Nagel denies this and claims all the evidence points to consciousness being inscribed into the cosmos from the beginning. He can’t bring himself to say this requires a theistic account of reality but he knows it points that way.

      • All consciousness is like a fractal. Lower animals have a simpler pattern but the same joys, pains or fears. The Bible says of animals that we don’t know if their souls go up or down.

  3. The “laws of physics” are not descriptors of, from, the material mind, but of what is, that would exist. And did, without human knowledge and brain input. They are of God, from whom all “natural” laws, derive, from a human school of jurisprudence position.

  4. Surely, in absolute terms, there are no “laws of physics”. There are only theorems, hypotheses or working models. These “laws” are suggested patterns that try to explain observations or to predict outcomes. They may be rather simplified explanations. If the cloth could be turned over then the reality could be seen…though it could turn out to be significantly more difficult to understand or even beyond the reach of human intelligence.

    • The laws of physics are a description of objective reality. Objectively speaking the universe is ordered and has regularities and these regularities obey laws of logic and mathematics so do not generate contradictions. Our current descriptions might not be quite accurate in all respects but they are definitely a description of an objective reality, one governed by laws of logic and number.

      • Isn’t it unassailable truth that no one is able to assess the laws we decide on from the position of full and complete knowledge… no hidden corners or unobserved actions? Science marks its own homework.

        They can only ever be working hypotheses no matter how accurate we might “believe ” them to be.

        Long ago 🙂 I used to set apprentice tests in a Circuit Laboratory. One practical test was to use a voltmeter to determine what was in a sealed box having only 8 terminals on the outside. It could be “solved” but only in producing a model. It’s quite possible to produce the taken measurements with other devices in the box.

        • Yes our current formulation of the laws of physics is always provisional to some extent. But it is a matter of closeness to truth, not complete difference. The scope for doubt is within tight bounds. Our current formulation works as well as it does because it resembles the true laws of physics to a significant degree.

          • I find myself in the absurd position of saying that you are right about “closeness to the truth”… but on the other hand that one can really only declare “closeness” if you actually do know the truth…. which, evidently, “closeness” disclaims.

            Enough obtuseness for the evening…

          • We can see that our current formulations are accurately describing the phenomena we observe and making further correct predictions. That is enough to be confident of closeness.

    • A much older book on a similar area is that by Donald MacKay,”The Clockwork Image” (1974, IVP). He was himself a neuroscientist, but spoke and wrote more widely on science and Christianity. A key point he would emphasise is to be aware of the dangers of “nothing buttery”, i.e. saying that something is “nothing but…”.

      An example here would be to say that ‘thought’ and ‘mind’ and ‘consciousness’ are “nothing but” the firing of synapeses etc.

  5. We are entering into the realms of epistemology and philosophy of science.
    What is a “law “of physics? In simplistic terms, to me, as a non scientist are systems of rules (governing?) of construction and exceptions.
    Gravity is, whether we know what it is, or not, but what it is not is a product of the physical human brain, even if it is described as a law.
    Can humans know truly even if not absolutely ?
    Science, at best, can look to give the best explanation of what is, perhaps the how, where and when, but the teleological why, of the old discussion of uncaused- cause becomes philosophical thought process.

  6. If all matter is energy, ‘material’ is too ambiguous a concept in the first place.

    Secondly, even then one can conceptualise interrelationships, and it would be hard to call *them* material even if they were supposedly between material ‘things’, which (see para 1) is highly debatable.

    • Yes matter needs defining. I presume that it covers the objects governed by the laws of physics so includes energy and fields. However, the matter is the stuff itself, the particular state of the universe and its contents from moment to moment. It isn’t the principles which govern that stuff and its behaviour, which are obviously a different kind of thing. This corresponds broadly to the distinction between particulars and universals in classical metaphysics.

  7. PC1,
    Just where does it hurt? Is it a product of the brain or mind?
    Brain and mind.
    To slightly extend the opening question “Am I just a brain? ” is anyone able to give current thinking, science, on where the “mind” is, its location and what it is?
    Has the mind been defined?
    Has Marilynne Robinson’s, cited in the article, quote been answered ? : “Whoever controls the definition of the mind controls the definition of humankind itself”.
    A brief 2012 New Scientist article suggests it’s still a mystery:

  8. Ian does all a great service by hosting this blog as well as writing most of it, and it’s certainly the best watering hole I know of in the UK for serious discussion of evangelical theology. We all have our preferences – some of us are more at home in biblical studies, others in historical theology and probably an even more select group in philosophical theology, to which the mind/body problem belongs most comfortably. It is good to learn from each other and to share our discoveries and what we’ve found helpful. I consider myself a serious dabbler in these waters. Encouraged by this discussion, I have immersed myself the past couple of days in Edward Feser’s modestly-sized but stretching introduction ‘The Philosophy of Mind’, which provides a good discussion of contemporary issues. Feser readily admits that ‘mind = brain’ is the dominant view, but he presents a strong case for the immateriality of the mind, stressing the matters of qualia or sensations, intentionality, consciousness and ‘the argument from reason’, which is referenced in the discussion above. On the last point, Victor Reppert has written ‘C. S. Lewis’s Dangerous Idea. A Philosophical Defense of Lewis’s Argument from Reason’ (2003), which I’ve just obtained. It’s about 120 pages long, and I may comment here when I’ve read it. As I’ve mentioned before, we really do need to equip our students, both in secondary school and university, with good arguments to counter the regnant naturalism they face every day.

    • Thanks Brian. A Faithful Guide to Philosophy by Peter S Williams is a really good accessible introduction to a lot of the key issues. We definitely need to do more on this as a church. I think the apologetics of people like OCCA is important.

      • Will, thanks for the heads-up on the Williams book (yes, the ‘S’ is necessary to disambiguate from another excellent Christian scholar!) – it looks like an excellent resource.

    • Brian,
      Pleased you are looking into this – the immateriality of the mind.
      I have, but can’t find, Peter S Williams early book, A Case for God. Can’t recall if he considers the question at hand.
      But this takes me back somewhat to when I first became a Christian, at 47, and came across teaching of the tripartite nature of humans : a) body b) soul – psyche ie mind, will, and emotions c) spirit.
      This teaching is rejected by large parts of the church.
      I think, A W Tower touches upon it in an essay- Man the Dwelling place of God but memory may not be sound.
      Certainly, Watchman Nee has it in his writings, non academic,
      But the teaching joins together the material and immateriality nature of humans.
      The term heart in scripture seems to have a meaning the it is the “place” of centre of our desires. (immaterial?) Dr Mike Reeves has teaching on this as have others, Keller,? Jonathan Edwards (Religious Affections?)


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