by J Warner Wallace
An Important Foundation
There are many things that we, as Christians, take for granted regarding what we believe about the nature of God and the nature of our physical world. Many of these necessary truths are accepted without much examination, even though they are critical and foundational to the faith that we hold. One such foundational truth is something called “dualism”. As Christians, you and I believe that there is more to this life than the physical world around us. We also believe that this short time span of existence is not all that waits for us as humans. We do have the hope of Heaven. But for this to be true, we have to hold a view of TWO realities: the physical and the spiritual. It is a ‘dual’ view of world around us. We believe in BOTH the brain and the mind, the body and the soul (an essence that differs from the body and is not dissolved by death), the material existence and the spiritual realm. This concept of dualism, the recognition of two co-existent realms and realities, is critical to our faith as Christians. If dualism is NOT true (the opposite view is often called ‘monism’ or ‘physicalism’) then there is no realm in which God exists, we have no souls designed for salvation and life with God, and there is no life beyond this one. That’s why the examination of the TRUTH of dualism is so important.
Can We Prove It With Science?
So how can we begin to prove the existence of something that cannot be seen? What kind of science could we possibly use? After all, science deals with the natural, physical realm, and we are trying to measure something that is immaterial. Is science even the right instrument to get this job done? Probably NOT. A better and more rational approach would be to take a look at the issue from a philosophical perspective and see if there is any rational philosophical reason to believe in anything immaterial. So, that is exactly what we are going to do. We will begin by looking into the possibility of just one immaterial reality. We will begin by looking at the existence of the MIND. If we can provide evidence for the existence of the mind, we can open up the possibility of other nonmaterial realities such as the soul and the spiritual realm, so that will be our task.
We need to recognize that strict physicalists deny the existence of anything immaterial or non-physical. To this way of thinking, there are NO abstract immaterial objects. All that exists in the world, in this view, can be described using physics and chemistry. In this view, there is no mind; there is only a materiel brain containing neurons and C-fibers that are firing as a series of electrical and chemical events that cause a mental sensation (a thought or occurrence of pain, for example). For physicalists, there is only a brain and nervous system, limited to the physical world, and containing physical properties in which occur physical events. For physicalists, any idea that there is a “mind” or a “soul” is simply the product of the physical functioning of our brains. These things don’t really exist; they are simply the product of the physical workings of our brains.
Evidence from the Law of Identity
As Christians, we reject physicalism and believe that there are TWO realities, the brain and the mind, the body and the soul. We believe that there is an immaterial, unseen reality. And there is evidence to support our belief. Let’s begin by establishing the way that we are going to look at this evidence. Let’s be rational and logical about it. In fact, let’s begin with a simple LAW of logic called the Law of Identity. It’s a pretty simple law actually. Here is what it claims…
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