Human Nature and the Possibility of Life after Death: Why Christian Orthodoxy Requires Compositional Substance Dualism

Philosophy and Theology 20 (1/2):129-149 (2008)


In part one of this paper I argue that there are three possible accounts of human nature: we are either purely material beings, purely spiritual beings, or body/soul composites. In parts two and three I assess the relative merits of these positions both from a broadly secular perspective and also from the perspective of Christian orthodoxy. While both perspectives are mostly strongly opposed to the thesis that we are souls, and while a secular perspective is likely to favor some form of materialism, I argue that Christian orthodoxy commits us to compositional substance dualism, since materialism is incompatible first, with the traditional understanding of Christ’s humanity, and second, with the thesis that we shall enjoy a conscious, sentient existence during the interim period between our death and the General Resurrection.

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Christopher H. Conn
Sewanee, The University of the South

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