3.2 Contention: "Persons do not have physical causes."

Humanists, at least as we are using the term here, are dualists. Dualists such as Leon Kass may fear that giving up dualism leads to a loss of mystery and purpose in life. Kass writes, "A quasi-religious faith has sprung up among us--"let me call it "soul-less scientism"--which believes that our new biology, eliminating all mystery, can give a complete account of human life, giving purely scientific explanations of human thought, love, creativity, moral judgment, and even why we believe in God. The threat to our humanity today comes not from the transmigration of souls in the next life, but from the denial of soul in this one, not from turning men into buffaloes, but from denying that there is any real difference between them." Read his lecture, "Keeping Life Human."

Other dualists offer arguments for the superiority of dualism to naturalism. "Naturalists," write Stewart Goetz and Charles Taliaferro (GT), "tend to hold that there is no more than the physical world. Some of them think that the physical world is whatever is disclosed in an ideal physical science, which excludes the existence of conscious persons with free will and moral lives."

Unlike naturalists, dualists believe some things exist outside the material universe. Such things include you and I and, for dualistic theists, God. Dualists believe that all fundamentally purposive beings, human and divine, are themselves causes. In other words, we exist without physical causes.

GT defend dualism as follows.

"Rather than follow the naturalist and explain the existence of consciousness and purposive beings (humans and nonhuman animals) in terms of nonconscious, nonpurposive forces, theists see the whole cosmos as ultimately explained in terms of a conscious, purposive, divine reality. In theism, it is important to appreciate that God and the cosmos are not on an equal footing in terms of their being; the cosmos exists contingently, and thus neither its coming to exist nor its continued existence from moment to moment is necessary."

Outline and evaluate GT's argument.

Author: comstock
Maintained By: Gary Comstock
Last Updated: 2009-05-16