Emergentism and the Rejection of Spirit Entities: A Response to Christian Physicalists


Emergentism comprises two theses: (1) there is no such thing as a pure spiritual mental being because
there is nothing that can have a mental property without having a physical property, and (2) whatever
mental properties an entity may have, they emerged from, depend on and are determined by matter.
For Christian physicalists, the view of the human person in Scripture is accordingly monistic. Underlying
this view is an appeal to neuroscience and the evolutionary history of human beings. The aim in this
paper is to respond to their claims by taking Genesis 1:2 as the point of departure. The argument is that
the Spirit’s presence and creative activities at the beginning of creation serve as a paradigm for how
we are to understand the relationship of the soul/spirit to the body and of the mind to the brain. Logical,
epistemological, and ontological objections will show that radical emergentism as an explanatory theory
of consciousness, mental states and personal agency is so implausible that it cannot be true.

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from Answers in Genesis

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