Author by : Matthew T. Dickerson
Languange Used : English
Release Date : 2016-08-04
Publisher by :
Are humans just complex biochemical machines, mere physical parts of a causally closed materialist universe? Are we approaching the so-called "Singularity" when human consciousness can (and will) be downloaded into computers? Or is there more to the human person--something that might be known as soul or spirit? As this book makes clear, the answers to these questions have profound implications to topics such as heroism, creativity, ecology, and the possibility of reason and science. In exploring this important topic, Dickerson engages the ideas of some well-known twentieth- and twenty-first-century espousers of physicalism, including philosopher Daniel Dennett (Consciousness Explained), biologist Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion), futurist-engineer Raymond Kurzweil (The Age of Spiritual Machines), psychologist B. F. Skinner (Beyond Freedom and Dignity), and mathematician-philosopher Bertrand Russell (Why I Am Not a Christian). Through a careful reading of their works, Dickerson not only provides a five-fold critique of physicalism, but also offers a Christian alternative in the form of "integrative dualism," which affirms the existence of both a physical and spiritual reality without diminishing the goodness or importance of either, and acknowledges that humans are spiritual as well as bodily persons.
"An engaging and probing exploration of some of the fundamental questions humans ask about themselves: Is a human being just a machine made out of protein? Are humans completely determined by the physical processes going on in their bodies? Is the belief that humans are spiritual just a vestige of prescientific thinking? Dickerson attacks these questions--and many others--with verve and élan. The book is a model of interdisciplinary inquiry, drawing on a deep understanding of contemporary philosophy, science, and computers."
--C. Stephen Evans, Baylor University
"[A] complex, thoughtful book."
"Dickerson deftly evaluates cutting-edge cultural implications of physicalist treatments of human persons. Refreshingly, he presents a specific dualist alternative and underscores the important entailments of that alternative. I am glad to recommend this wonderful book."
--J. P. Moreland, Biola University; author, The Recalcitrant Imago Dei
"Dickerson is one of the most gifted, clear-headed contemporary writers working on consciousness today. He has a command of the philosophical literature, a love for well-crafted, compelling arguments, and a matchless grasp of the deep wisdom that can be found in the work of C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien. His latest book is both an accessible introduction to central questions about human nature and a sustained, rigorous argument for recognizing the distinctive, overwhelming value of human persons."
--Charles Taliaferro, St. Olaf College; author, Consciousness and the Mind of God
"Whether human minds are machines is a central question not only for philosophers and scientists but also for the future of our culture and of the human race itself. This book is clearer, fairer, more helpful, and more reliable than 99 out of 100 others on the subject. Its author knows both halves of his book's title very well."
--Peter Kreeft, Boston College
Matthew Dickerson is a professor at Middlebury College (Vermont), affiliated with the Department of Computer Science and the Program of Environmental Studies. His most recent books include The Rood and the Torc: The Song of Kristinge, Son of Finn (2014); Downstream: Reflections on Brook Trout, Fly Fishing, and the Waters of Appalachia (2014, with David O'Hara); The Gifted (2015); and Trout in the Desert: On Fly Fishing, Human Habits, and the Cold Waters of the Arid Southwest (2015).