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From Cells to Souls-And Beyond: Changing Portraits of Human Nature [Paperback]

By Malcolm Jeeves (A01)
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Item Specifications...

Pages   266
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.2" Width: 6.18" Height: 0.74"
Weight:   0.88 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Apr 1, 2004
Publisher   Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
ISBN  0802809855  
EAN  9780802809858  


Availability  0 units.


Item Description...
Overview
For more than a decade developments in science have prompted wide-ranging discussions about human nature. Gone are the days when this subject was the preserve of theologians and philosophers; today the fields of genetics and neuroscience are shifting attention to the biological basis of human nature. This engaging book takes readers straight to the intersection of religion and science, exploring what new scientific knowledge does and does not say about religious views on personhood. Written by an international, interdisciplinary team of scholars sponsored by the John Templeton Foundation, From Cells to Souls - and Beyond examines such questions as personal identity, the meaning of "human," the mind-body relationship, and subjective spiritual experience. Each topic is discussed against the backdrop of biblical theology with the relevant science made clear. The result is a fresh interpretation of the Christian doctrine of humankind true to both science and Scripture.

Publishers Description
For more than a decade developments in science have prompted wide-ranging discussions about human nature. Gone are the days when this subject was the preserve of theologians and philosophers; today the fields of genetics and neuroscience are shifting attention to the biological basis of human nature. This engaging book takes readers straight to the intersection of religion and science, exploring what new scientific knowledge does and does not say about religious views on personhood. Written by an international, interdisciplinary team of scholars sponsored by the John Templeton Foundation, From Cells to Souls - and Beyond examines such questions as personal identity, the meaning of "human," the mind-body relationship, and subjective spiritual experience. Each topic is discussed against the backdrop of biblical theology with the relevant science made clear. The result is a fresh interpretation of the Christian doctrine of humankind true to both science and Scripture. Contributors: Diogenes Allen Warren S. Brown Gaius Davies Lindon Eaves Joel B. Green Malcolm Jeeves D. Gareth Jones David Parkes C. Michael Steel Alan J. Torrance Glenn Weaver Michael Welker Philip H. Wiebe

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More About Malcolm Jeeves

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Malcolm Jeeves is professor emeritus of psychology at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. His previous books include From Cells to Souls -- and Beyond: Changing Portraits of Human Nature and Rethinking Human Nature: A Multidisciplinary Approach, both companions to this volume.


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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Making connections, but holding back from the implications  Dec 29, 2005
This book is a collection of essays, written from a Christian perspective, which tries to integrate theology with science. There's a chance that I wouldn't have read it if I had known how Christian it is, but I'm glad I did, because in it I found a notion of personhood and soul that resonates well with Buddhism in that it is based on relatedness as the central characteristic of what constitutes a person.

The book begins its exploration of what it means to be human from a standard neurological perspective, but quickly moves into the realm religion:

"I believe that most, if not all, of the critical properties that have been subsumed within the Judeo-Christian concept of a soul can be captured in the concept of personal relatedness, particularly if one admits the possibility of relatedness to God. In this view, we become persons and "souls" as we ex­perience ourselves within a relational network of God and other human be­ings. Our soulishness is, thus, established and enriched by our deepest and most significant relationships."

I like this conception of soul so much more than what I perceive to be the standard Christian definition, where soul is considered to be eternal and unchanging. What I don't understand, however, is how one can go from a relational definition of soul, which in my mind is the same thing as personhood, and then jump to the idea of relatedness to God. It seems that the only way God can be conceived of in this model is as emerging out of relationship himself, not as the originator of the universe, a being with the characteristics of personhood. It seems like acknowledging that comes too close to unsteadying the very foundation of Christianity, and not one of the authors in this collection wants to get very close to that.

For instance, in the next passage, one could very well say the same thing about God, that he only exists as he is related to, which isn't very far from saying he is a being who is made up by people imagining him. At the same time, however, I feel the heart of what is being said, because of the implied necessity of compassion in achieving humanness.

"Relatedness can also arise in the state of (and experiences of) being related to by a human community. Our deeply individualist concept of what it means to be human finds it easy to presume that each individual's relatedness is entirely dependent only on that person's capacities. From this limited point of view, my personhood and soulishness would be exclusively dependent on my own ability to relate to others. When we consider the possibilities more thor­oughly, we realize that equally important to our experience of interpersonal relatedness is the fact that others relate to us. We both give and receive relat­edness."

So, in the end, what counts is the effect and not necessarily the consistency of the theology.
 

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