In this timely and provocative book, Nancey Murphy sets out to dispel skepticism regarding Christian belief. She argues for the rationality of Christian belief by showing that theological reasoning is similar to scientific reasoning as described by contemporary philosophy of science. Murphy draws on new historicist accounts of science, particularly that of lmre Lakatos. According to Lakatos, scientists work within a "research program" consisting of a fixed core theory and a series of changing auxiliary hypotheses that allow for prediction and (...) explanation of novel facts: Murphy argues that strikingly similar patterns of reasoning can be used to justify theological assertions. She provides an original characterization of theological data and explores the consequences for theology and philosophy of religion of adopting such an approach. (shrink)
Are humans composed of a body and a nonmaterial mind or soul, or are we purely physical beings? Opinion is sharply divided over this issue. In this clear and concise book, Nancey Murphy argues for a physicalist account, but one that does not diminish traditional views of humans as rational, moral, and capable of relating to God. This position is motivated not only by developments in science and philosophy, but also by biblical studies and Christian theology. The reader is invited (...) to appreciate the ways in which organisms are more than the sum of their parts. That higher human capacities such as morality, free will, and religious awareness emerge from our neurobiological complexity and develop through our relation to others, to our cultural inheritance, and, most importantly, to God. Murphy addresses the questions of human uniqueness, religious experience, and personal identity before and after bodily resurrection. (shrink)
If humans are purely physical, and if it is the brain that does the work formerly assigned to the mind or soul, then how can it fail to be the case that all of our thoughts and actions are determined by the laws of neurobiology? If this is the case, then free will, moral responsibility, and, indeed, reason itself would appear to be in jeopardy. Murphy and Brown present an original defence of a non-reductive version of physicalism whereby humans are (...) the authors of their own thoughts and actions. (shrink)
The debate over scientific or critical realism is characterized by confusion, which I claim is a result of approaching the issue from both modern and ‘postmodern’ perspectives. Modern thought is characterized by foundationalism in epistemology and representationalism in philosophy of language, while holism in epistemology and the theory of meaning as use in philosophy of language are postmodern. Typical forms of scientific realism (which seek referents for theoretical terms or correspondence accounts of the truth of scientific theories) are positions at (...) home only in a modern framework. Postmodern presuppositions of other participants in the debate account for the ability of opponents to talk past one another. (shrink)
This essay seeks to promote a concept of human nature that is usually called nonreductive physicalism, which is at least not ruled out by Scripture, and may in fact be closer to biblical thinking than dualism. The essay then looks to neuroscience to show that it provides useful insights into how and why we behave as we do.
__Scientific Perspectives on Divine Action: Twenty Years of Challenge and Progress_ _is a collection of thirteen essays assessing the scholarly contributions to the _Scientific Perspectives on Divine Action_ series, which is comprised of five volumes resulting from international research conferences co-sponsored by the Vatican Observatory and the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences between 1991 and 2000. The overarching goal of the series is to advance the engagement of constructive theology with the natural sciences with special attention to the (...) theme of divine action and to investigate the philosophical and theological elements within science. This volume is divided into three sections: In Section One, contributors review the history of the series and the development of new research methodology and discuss philosophical issues raised by the laws of nature and the limits of science; in Section Two, authors provide philosophical analysis of specific issues in the series; and in Section Three, contributors offer theological analyses of specific issues. The five volumes in the series include: _Quantum Cosmology and the Laws of Nature_ ; _Chaos and Complexity_ ; _Molecular and Evolutionary Biology_ ; _Neuroscience and the Person_ ; and _Quantum Mechanics _, and are distributed by University of Notre Dame Press. (shrink)
This essay compares Robert John Russell's work in his recent book Cosmology from Alpha to Omega: The Creative Mutual Interaction of Theology and Science (2008) to that of the authors known collectively as "the new atheists." I treat the latter as recent contributors to the modern tradition of scientific naturalism. This tradition makes claims to legitimacy on the basis of its close relations to the natural sciences. The purpose of this essay is to show up the poverty of the naturalist (...) tradition's scientific credentials by contrasting it with Russell's careful account of positive relations between science and Christian theology. (shrink)
The term postmodern is generally used to refer to current work in philosophy, literary criticism, and feminist thought inspired by Continental thinkers such as Friedrich Nietzsche and Jacques Derrida. In this book, Nancey Murphy appropriates the term to describe emerging patterns in Anglo-American thought and to indicate their radical break from the thought patterns of Enlightened modernity.The book examines the shift from modern to postmodern in three areas: epistemology, philosophy of language, and metaphysics. Murphy contends that whole clusters of terms (...) in each of these disciplines have taken on new uses in the past fifty years and that these changes have radical consequences for all areas of academia, especially in philosophy of science, philosophy of religion, and ethics. (shrink)
American Protestant Christianity is often described as a two-party system divided into liberals and conservatives. This book clarifies differences between the intellectual positions of these two groups by advancing the thesis that the philosophy of the modern period is largely responsible for the polarity of Protestant Christian thought. A second thesis is that the modern philosophical positions driving the division between liberals and conservatives have themselves been called into question. It therefore becomes opportune to ask how theology ought to be (...) done in a postmodern era, and to envision a rapprochement between theologians of the left and right. A concluding chapter speculates specifically on the era now dawning and the likelihood that the compulsion to separate the spectrum into two distinct camps will be precluded by the coexistence of a wide range of theological positions from left to right. Nancey C. Murphy is Associate Professor of Christian Philosophy at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, and the author of Reasoning and Rhetoric in Religion, also published by Trinity Press. Her book Theology in the Age of Scientific Reasoning earned the American Academy of Religion's Award for Excellence. (shrink)
. Neither the correspondence nor the coherence theory of truth does justice to the truth claims made in science and theology. I propose a new definition that relates truth to solving puzzles. I claim that this definition is more adequate than either of the traditional theories and that it offers two additional benefits: first, it provides grounds for a theory regarding the relations between theology and science that may stand up better to philosophical scrutiny than does critical realism; and second, (...) it blocks the move to relativism based on recognition of the plurality of perspectives and the historical and social conditioning of knowledge. (shrink)
Most disagreements about the proper place of philosophy in the theologyscience dialogue stem from disagreements about the nature of philosophy itself This essay traces some of the history of ideas about the nature of philosophy, and then proposes that in this post-analytic era philosophy can play both a constructive and critical role in the theology-science dialogue. The constructive role is well reflected in current literature, so this article explores the role of philosophy as therapy. As a test case the doctrine (...) of critical realism is diagnosed as a theory designed to solve a problem that needs instead to be dissolved by recognizing that it is based on a misleading picture of the knower's relation to the world. /// A autora do presente artigo parte do pressuposto de que a grande maioria dos desacordos acerca do lugar específico da Filosofia no contexto do diálogo entre Teologia e Ciência derivam de desacordos no que respeita à própria natureza da Filosofia. Nesse sentido, o artigo traça algumas das linhas de desenvolvimento na história das ideias relativamente à questão acerca da natureza da Filosofia, sugerindo que na presente era pós-analítica a Filosofia pode desempenhar um papel tão construtivo como crítico no âmbito do diálogo entre Teologia e Ciência. O papel construtivo está bem representado na literatura mais actual, o que leva a autora a explorar de um modo especial a pertinência e o alcance da noção de Filosofia como Terapia. O texto assume também como caso especial de verificação a doutrina do realismo crítico como exemplo de teoria desenhada para a solução de um problema e que, pelo contrário, necessita de ser dissolvida mediante o reconhecimento de que está baseada numa representação confusa acerca da relação do sujeito do conhecimento com o mundo. (shrink)
This paper seeks to explain and evaluate, by an analytic method, the conflict between determinism and free will from the viewpoint of two physicalist reductionist philosophers, namely, Daniel Dennett and Sam Harris. Dennett is a compatibilist philosopher who tries to show compatibility between determinism and free will, while Sam Harris is a non-compatibilist philosopher who turns to determinism with the thesis that our thoughts and actions have been pre-determined by the neurobiological events associated with them, and thus, considers free will (...) to be an illusion. Therefore according to him, we are not the authors of our thoughts and actions. However, Dennett tries to establish the existence of free will through the use of concepts like control and deliberation and defends ‘free will worth wanting’. Therefore, if we take the agency of the agent and the absence of determinism as two criteria for free will, Dennett accepts both and Harris denies them; since there is neurobiological determinism, and all of Dennett’s deliberations, etc. are also determined neurobiologically. Between the two conditions of free will, Dennett accepts that the origin of action must be in the agent; however, he refutes the condition of alternate possibilities, establishing his view based on a causal theory. As a Neo-Darwinist, he explains human beings’ physical and mental phenomena based on evolution theory and despite accepting causal determinism, he shows how the agent can still have agency in decisions and actions. As a result, he does not consider determinism to requisite compulsion. In his philosophical system, one can change the future that has not yet taken place. This decision-making regarding the future takes place through the process of deliberation, which has a special place in Dennett’s view. On the other hand, by adhering to Libet’s neurological experiments, Harris refutes both conditions of free will and considers the cause of all human being actions to arise from activities of the brain and concludes that one cannot have any conscious control over one’s actions. As a result, he emerges as a non-compatibilist determinist. In both his works, The Moral Landscape and Free Will, Harris addresses the topic of free will. In Free Will, he criticizes the view of compatibilists like Dennett, who responds to those criticisms in his article, ‘Reflections on Free Will, Review of Sam Harris’ Free Will’. Like Harris, Dennett too addresses free will in his two important books, Elbow Room and Freedom Evolves. Following an analysis of the views of Dennett and Harris and explaining the criticisms of the two regarding each other, the present article will show that neither Dennett, considering the rest of the elements of his philosophical views in philosophy of mind and philosophy of action can well justify compatibilism, nor can Harris, considering his neurological approach defend his determinist idea. The conflict that is present in Dennett’s views causes his explanation of the agent being the origin of his action to also be indefensible. Furthermore, due to the incompatibility of the different elements of his view and the vagueness of his idea regarding the effect of unconscious intentions on action, Harris too is placed in a weak position. In contrast to Harris’ supposition, a human is not “a puppet [who] is free as long as he loves his strings”; rather, a human chooses, makes decisions and acts according to his own will. As a result, despite the objections that apply to both philosophers, Dennett’s view is more acceptable than Harris’ in terms of the effort to justify free will; even though neither have been apparently successful in defending their own ideas. (shrink)
In Anglo‐American Postmodernity I call attention to recent intellectual shifts in epistemology, philosophy of language, and metaphysics, and pursue the consequences of these changes for science, theology, and ethics. Wesley Robbins criticizes the book for making overly optimistic claims for the intellectual status of theology; Philip Clayton criticizes it for giving up the quest for general standards of rational progress. Both criticisms miss the mark in not taking on the account of rationality that I have developed from resources in the (...) work of Alasdair MacIntyre. (shrink)
The goal of this article is to explain how the concept of Illumination came to be a source of skepticism in the modern West. In ancient and medieval Christian thought it was essentially tied not only to Plato’s philosophy, but especially to Augustine’s invention of the notion that the soul is an inner chamber containing all his knowledge, but also the locus of his encounter with God. The concept of the soul or mind as an inner chamber re-emerged in early (...) modern western philosophy, but it was no longer open to illumination, John Locke having made revelation into an entirely distinct category of knowledge. The set of ocular metaphors of which illumination is a part still has an important place in ordinary language, but can no longer provide for a philosophical theory of knowledge. Thus, different complex metaphors need to be employed. Alasdair MacIntyre’s account of human reason begins with social practices, and can be described as an extensive thesis reflecting the metaphor Knowing as Doing. With his incorporation of Thomas Aquinas into his account of tradition-constituted rationality, it is suggested that interesting parallels might be found with the work of Mulla Sadra. (shrink)
This collection of 21 essays explores the creative interaction among the cognitive neurosciences, philosophy, and theology. It is the result of an international research conference co-sponsored by the Vatican Observatory, Rome, and the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences, Berkeley.
This chapter contains sections titled: * 1 Introduction * 2 The Modern Problem of Divine Action * 3 The End of Causal Reductionism * 4 Divine Action in the Hierarchy of the Sciences * 5 Conclusion * Bibliography.