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July 23, 2012 / compassioninpolitics

What of the Bible and philosophical dualism?

I do know people who say that everything is material. Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t know anyone in the public square or academia that defends the other extreme–that the material doesn’t exist (perhaps there are QMers who do–not sure).

For instance, in the case of the Bible–it doesn’t deny the existence of the material. In fact it says eat well and treat your body well. It just suggests that the material is temporary (i.e. we die) and then makes claims about prioritization of purpose/meaning/character over the material.

I’m not sure how to think about what you said about dualism. Contextualizing in our current discussion–its seems paradoxical–but I think you can think of Christianity as not seeing them as dual–because the spirit underlies it all. (The examples I highlighted before work or for instance when a democratic president proposes job, economic, education, or crime reform which resonates with the interests of both parties.)

Love and service aren’t just ideals for the christian–but have a material reality. I guess the best defense of this might be the book of James (but not in the terms with which I’ve framed the discussion).

Moreover, the ideals of forgiveness, grace, and love are themselves ideals which transcend dualist assumptions (Jesus took issue with the dualism of the Pharisee’s–although for much meatier reasons than their dualism).

However, I’ll admit, any philosophy of ethics or prioritization almost of necessity is doing to have dualist elements–even if not 100% dualist from top to bottom (i think the DNA metaphor applies here).

I should be clear, I’m not saying the Bible is non-dualist–just that its not dualist in a hyper-absolute way–but in a rather nuanced way.

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