Materialism and the Afterlife
June 13, 2006 — 12:28

Author: James Beebe  Category: Afterlife  Comments: 12

Readers and contributors to Prosblogion, I am a new contributor to Prosblogion, even though I have been a regular reader of the blog for some time. I work primarily in epistemology (for now at least). I wanted to ask a question about materialism and the afterlife. Van Inwagen's materialist vision of the afterlife is notorious and seems to be the first thing people generally mention on the topic. But I was wondering if you knew of any other attempts to combine materialism about the mind with our continued personal existence in the afterlife. I thought readers of this blog could tell me where to look, if anyone could. Thanks in advance.

  • Dean Zimmerman offers advice to materialists in a paper entitled “The Compatibility of Materialism and Survival: The ‘Falling Elevator’ Model” in Faith and Philosophy from 1999. A version of it is also reprinted in Metaphysics: The Big Questions. Trenton Merricks defends a similar view in a chapter in Reason for the Hope Within, ed. Michael Murray. Does anyone know if Lynne Rudder Baker has anything on this?
    Then, of course, there’s the chapter “Identity” in Locke’s An Essay Concerning Human Understanding.

    June 13, 2006 — 12:51
  • Kevin Timpe

    To tag onto Jeremy’s reply, Lynne Baker does have a number of pieces on this. For instance, see her “Christians Should Reject Mind-Body Dualism” in Peterson and VanArragon, eds., “Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Religion” as well as her “Materialism with a Human Face” in Corcoran, ed., “Soul, Body and Survival”. I have used both of these articles successfully in the class room in the past.
    Corcoran himself gives a fairly similar view to Baker’s in his contribution to the same volume, which also contains an article by Merricks (this paper is pretty similar to the one by Merricks in the Murray volume). And Corcoran has a new monograph on this topic, though I must confess that I haven’t read it: “Rethinking Human Nature: A Christian Materialist Alternative to the Soul.”
    There have also been some critiques of Zimmerman’s falling-elevator model that I think are now out in print. Jeff Green from ND has published on this if I remember correctly.

    June 13, 2006 — 13:57
  • M. Harper

    I think Nancy Murphy has some things to say about this as well.

    June 13, 2006 — 23:04
  • James Beebe

    Thanks for the very helpful references. Since I do not do research in metaphysics or phil. of religion (yet), I would not have known where to look.

    June 14, 2006 — 7:27
  • Daniel D. Novotny

    I wonder whether James F. Ross has worked out this project:
    He argues for the metamorphosis view of the survival which seems very attractive to me. Ross is a very thoughtful philosopher.

    June 14, 2006 — 14:54
  • I wanted to chip in with a couple of remarks. First, since I am going to be in the incoming crop of Ph.D. students at Buffalo this year, I wanted to say hello to Dr. Beebe, I’m excited to get to work with you (I hear good things here in the Stl). Second, someone mentioned C.S. Lewis’s treatment of this subject in his book Miracles. As I recall, there he mentions (and pretty much defers) to an earlier book “Symbolism and Belief” by Edwin Bevan. That might be a tome worth looking into.

    June 14, 2006 — 16:21
  • David Hunter

    Hi James
    Welcome to the blog
    Peter Forrest I believe defends this kind of view in his book “God without the Supernatural”. I seem to remember that I thought it was a tenable but highly implausible account myself, when I read it a few years ago.

    June 15, 2006 — 2:10
  • Kevin Corcoran — another Christian materialist — has a recent relevant post (“I (Still) Believe in the Resurrection of the Body”) over at GOTT at:

    June 15, 2006 — 16:58
  • Hey James! I *knew* I’d see you here! I knew it, I knew it, I knew it!
    You’ll want to take a look at Hud Hudson’s _A Materialist Metaphysics of the Human Person_. It is an absolute *must* here.
    The page will let you search the book. One interesting thing about Hud’s approach is that he actually supports Christian materialism from the Fathers of the Church. He thinks there’s a stronger case for Christian Materialism from Sacred Tradition than for Dualism (p. 194).
    Eric Olson reviewed it for Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews online.
    Finally, I was supposed to chair a session at the Pacific APA on this paper:
    A Critique of the Jumping Animals Account of Resurrection (VIII-I)
    Jeffrey H. Green, University of Notre Dame
    Dean Zimmerman has recently proposed an account of resurrection, the “jumping animal” account, which is compatible with materialism. His proposal is committed to adopting a closest continuer position, a position that many are
    reluctant to accept. Hudson modifies Zimmerman’s view so that he avoids
    endorsing the closest continuer position. In this paper, I will offer a
    criticism that is applicable to both versions of the story. First, I will
    briefly recall the picture offered to us by Zimmerman and Hudson. Second, I
    will argue that this account is merely an account of time travel and not one of
    resurrection. Third, I will explain why it is that Zimmerman and Hudson fail
    and propose a necessary condition for cases of resurrection. Finally, I will
    provide an account of resurrection that is successful.
    I’ve got the paper, but you’d probably want to get an updated version from him.
    Hope to see you around here more often!

    June 17, 2006 — 11:44
  • Van Inwagen has an essay called “I Look for the Resurrection of the Dead and the Life of the World to Come,” which can be found on his Notre Dame faculty webpage (you will have to download it). He spends a large amount of time clarifying his original essay, “The Possibility of Resurrection” and then analyzes Lynne Rudder Baker’s theories regarding the resurrection.

    June 19, 2006 — 0:36
  • Lynne Rudder Baker has some stuff here:
    Just scroll down. It’s not hard to find.

    July 1, 2006 — 15:08
  • John

    From John,
    I believe that when we die we become a part of everything in this three-dimensional universe, but not part of God like the Gnostics believed. We are in a like image of God so that means that we must have a similar aspect not in appearance but in our minds. Could it be that God was an energy (as I have stated in a previous comment) and that that energy is in our soul and mind so that when we die that energy is dispersed throughout our universe? In Genesis it says that God seperated Heaven from Earth. Could it be that he seperated the Universe of Heaven from the Universe where Earth dwells? Is it possible for defferent types of energy to pass through into paralel universes, hence into Heaven?
    I would love to debate this with others if any are open to the subject.

    November 1, 2007 — 15:24