The Doctrine of Man (part 6)

March 23, 2009     Time: 00:40:23


(Study resumes at about 9:25 into the podcast)

In the news, we’ve heard some more interesting things. I got this report from a friend. This comes from World Net Daily dated September 27, 2006. It is a very, very interesting report called “Suicide Bombers Follow the Quran Concludes Pentagon Briefing.”[1] This is what it says.

With suicide bombings spreading from Iraq to Afghanistan, the Pentagon has tasked intelligence analysts to pinpoint what’s driving Muslim after Muslim to do the unthinkable.

Their preliminary finding is politically explosive: it’s their “holy book” the Quran after all, according to intelligence briefings obtained by WND.

In public, the U.S. government has made an effort to avoid linking the terrorist threat to Islam and the Quran while dismissing suicide terrorists as crazed heretics who pervert Islamic teachings.

“The terrorists distort the idea of jihad into a call for violence and murder,” the White House maintains in its recently released “National Strategy for Combating Terrorism” report.

But internal Pentagon briefings show intelligence analysts have reached a wholly different conclusion after studying Islamic scripture and the backgrounds of suicide terrorists. They’ve found that most Muslim suicide bombers are in fact students of the Quran who are motivated by its violent commands – making them, as strange as it sounds to the West, “rational actors” on the Islamic stage.

In Islam, it is not how one lives one’s life that guarantees spiritual salvation, but how one dies, according to the briefings. There are great advantages to becoming a martyr. Dying while fighting the infidels in the cause of Allah reserves a special place and honor in Paradise. And it earns special favor with Allah.

“Suicide in defense of Islam is permitted, and the Islamic suicide bomber is, in the main, a rational actor,” concludes a recent Pentagon briefing paper titled, “Motivations of Muslim Suicide Bombers.”

“His actions provide a win-win scenario for himself, his family, his faith and his God,” the document explains. “The bomber secures salvation and the pleasures of Paradise. He earns a degree of financial security and a place for his family in Paradise. He defends his faith and takes his place in a long line of martyrs to be memorialized as a valorous fighter.

“And finally, because of the manner of his death, he is assured that he will find favor with Allah,” the briefing adds. “Against these considerations, the selfless sacrifice by the individual Muslim to destroy Islam’s enemies becomes a suitable, feasible and acceptable course of action.”

The briefing – produced by a little-known Pentagon intelligence unit called the Counterintelligence Field Activity, or CIFA – cites a number of passages from the Quran dealing with jihad, or “holy” warfare, martyrdom and Paradise, where “beautiful mansions” and “maidens” await martyr heroes. In preparation for attacks, suicide terrorists typically recite passages from six surahs, or chapters, of the Quran: Baqura (Surah 2), Al Imran (3), Anfal (8), Tawba (9), Rahman (55) and Asr (103).

CIFA staffs hundreds of investigators and analysts to help coordinate Pentagon security efforts at U.S. military installations at home and abroad.

The Pentagon unit is especially concerned about a new wave of suicide bombings hitting Afghanistan.

. . .

The U.S. command in Afghanistan now warns that a suicide bombing cell is operating inside the Afghan capital. Meanwhile, the Taliban’s top military commander told ABC News he has 500 suicide bombers at his disposal.

“We have so many of them that it is difficult to accommodate and arm and equip them,” Mullah Dadullah Akhund said. “Some of them have been waiting for a year or more for their turn to be sent to the battlefield.”

The emergence of a suicide cell in Kabul troubles military analysts because suicide attacks are the most effective weapon Muslim terrorists can use against the West. The Rand Corp. predicts they’ll pose a serious and constant threat to the U.S. for years to come.

The U.S. intelligence community is growing increasingly worried, as well.

“Most jihadist groups will use suicide attacks focused primarily on soft targets to implement asymmetric warfare strategy,” warns the just-declassified executive summary of the National Intelligence Estimate on the global terror threat.[2] “Fighters with experience in Iraq are a potential source of leadership for jihadists pursuing these tactics.”

. . .

Muslim clerics do not disavow the virgins-for-martyrs reward as a perverted interpretation of the Quran.

And even Muslim leaders in the West condone suicide bombings. British scholar Azzam Tamimi recently told 8,000 Muslims in Manchester, England, that dying while fighting “George Bush and Tony Blair” is “just” and “the greatest act of martyrdom.” Earlier, he said it’s “the straight way to pleasing Allah.”

And the founder of an allegedly mainstream Muslim group in Washington – the Council on American-Islamic Relations – also has given his blessing to suicide bombings.

Addressing a youth session at the 1999 Islamic Association for Palestine’s annual convention in Chicago, CAIR founder Omar Ahmad praised suicide bombers who “kill themselves for Islam,” according to a transcript provided by terror expert Steve Emerson’s Investigative Project.

“Fighting for freedom, fighting for Islam, that is not suicide,” Ahmad asserted. “They kill themselves for Islam.”

Osama bin Laden has encouraged “Muslims brothers” to defeat the U.S. and U.K. with suicide attacks.

“I tell you to act upon the orders of Allah,” he said in 2003, “be united against Bush and Blair and defeat them through suicide attacks so that you may be successful before Allah.”

I thought that was a really, really riveting report from U.S. intelligence analysts that they’ve finally come to see what is obvious, I think, to anybody who has read the Qur’an. These Muslims are acting in line with their theology. They are not crazed heretics. They are faithful Muslims who believe the Qur’an and try to carry out the example and teaching of Muhammad. Therefore, what the Pope said, I think, is just vitally correct. The question is: who is the true God? If Allah is not the true God then you are obeying purely human commands. You are not being commanded by God. If he is the true God then, as the report said, it is rational to do what he says. So it is absolutely crucial that we be involved in this question in assessing who is the true God – the God of the Bible or the God of the Qur’an.

I was interested to see the Pope’s further reaction as he met with several Islamic diplomats this week. You may have heard the Pope calling for religious freedom and for tolerance and religious peace and so forth. You might think these remarks are very conciliatory on the part of the Pope. He is really doing a soft step here – a soft line that he is towing. Not at all! What you’ve got to remember is – when the Pope is calling for religious tolerance and for peace and so forth, this is just one more slap in the face of Islam because Islamic countries don’t practice religious tolerance. Islamic countries are places of persecution and intolerance. So the Pope, in calling for peace and to repudiate violence – asking Muslims to repudiate violence and persecution – is just taking one more forward step, I think, in attempting to turn back the force of Islam as a theology. He is really out front and center on this issue. I think it is tremendous the way he is speaking out so clearly.

I thought you’d be interested in hearing that report.

[Dr. Craig hands out a newsletter, opens with prayer, and hands out the class outline.][3]

We have been looking at attempts to systematize the data. We’ve been looking at dualism-interactionism in terms of the body and the soul. You will remember last time I said that it seemed to me that the Scripture clearly teaches that human beings are not unitary – that is to say, we are not just physical entities. Rather we are composed of an immaterial element (call it soul or spirit) and our physical bodies. So we are dualistic in nature. This becomes especially clear, I said, when you look at passages contemplating the intermediate state of the soul after death. In 1 Corinthians 5 and in Philippians 1 you will remember Paul contemplates dying, and he says that if he does die that really he goes to be with Christ and that is far better. To be absent from the body, he says, is to be present with the Lord. For Paul, when the Christian dies the lights don’t just go out. It is not as though you cease to exist when your physical body dies. Rather your immaterial self – your soul – goes to be with Christ where it will remain until the final resurrection at the end of the world. This is described, if you take your New Testaments out, in 1 Thessalonians 4:14, 16-17.

For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. . . . For the Lord himself will descend from heaven, with a loud shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then, we who are alive and remain shall be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.

Notice what happens here. When Christ returns it says he brings with him the righteous dead in Christ (those who are with Christ in this disembodied state). Then they are reunited with the remains of their earthly bodies – the dead in Christ rise first and the souls will be reconjoined with this transformed resurrection body. Then those who are still alive at the return of Christ will similarly be miraculously transformed into the resurrection body. They will not have to pass through that intermediate state – that state of nakedness as Paul describes it in 2 Corinthians 5 – but will immediately receive their resurrection body as it were like pulling on top clothing without needing to undress first.

Notice that the Scripture here does not depreciate the importance of the physical body. The physical body is part and parcel of what it means to be a human being. We are not just going to be immortal souls to go to be with Christ. Rather there will be resurrected bodies which will be united with these souls of the dead in Christ. Then those who are alive will similarly be transformed.

In summary of Paul’s teaching then, Paul’s view is that when a Christian dies his soul goes to be with Christ in a disembodied state until the time of Christ’s second coming. When Christ returns any remains of that person’s body that are still around will be raised from the dead and transformed into a spiritual, glorious, immortal, resurrection body and conjoined again with that soul to become a complete person. Those who are then still alive will then be similarly transformed into the resurrection bodily state. Paul, I think, is clearly committed to the reality of the soul and of the intermediate state.

Other New Testament evidence for this same position would include Luke 16:19ff. This is the parable that Jesus tells of the Rich Man and Lazarus. While you can’t teach doctrine out of a parable by its incidental details (a parable is meant to illustrate a central point), nevertheless I think that the parable does show the kind of first century Jewish mentality about the afterlife that existed at the time of Jesus and which Jesus himself endorses.[4]

“Now there was a rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, joyously living in splendor every day. And a poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores, and longing to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the rich man’s table; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores. Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried. In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried out and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.’”

Here you clearly have a picture of this intermediate state (paradise or Abraham’s bosom) where the righteous dead go to be, Hades where the unrighteous dead go to be, and these are separated. One is a place of comfort and blessing; the other a place of agony and torment. Jesus himself presupposes the reality of the soul after death prior to the resurrection at the end of the world.

Also 1 Peter 3:18-20. This is a very mysterious passage about what happened after Christ died.

For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark . . .

Here we have a picture of Christ after his death going and preaching to the spirits that are in prison whom it says were disobedient during the days of Noah. Now, we don’t know much about this but I think it clearly indicates belief in a kind of spiritual realm of the dead where people who are not embodied persons are existent and alive and where Christ went after his death.

Finally, Hebrews 12:22-23 says,

But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect,

There, again, in addition to the angels and to God, it refers to the spirits of the righteous. These are evidently those who are righteous dead, perhaps those who have died in Christ and gone on to be with him in this intermediate state. They are described there as spirits.

I think that there is a good case of strong New Testament evidence that dualism is true – we are composed of body and soul, and this isn’t just a kind of literary metaphor that doesn’t have literal truth value.


Student: [inaudible]

Dr. Craig: She asks what about the trichotomous as opposed to dichotomous view? I am going to say something more about that. Let me put that off until then.[5] As I already said a week or so ago, I don’t think that this is a great issue that we have to worry about – whether you are a dichotomist or trichotomist.The really crucial thing is that we are not materialists or unitarians.

Student: [inaudible]

Dr. Craig: I thought somebody might ask that. Does the 1 Peter passage imply that these folks were being given a second chance? This is debated among theologians. Some people will want to say, yes, this might indicate that they are given a second chance to hear the Gospel. But I don’t think that that probably is correct when you read it in the context of Isaiah which talks about spirits being imprisoned in a kind of netherworld. I think that what Christ is doing there is proclaiming his victory over the evil spirits and over sin and death. It doesn’t say that they are being given a second chance in the passage. I think it is probably a proclamation of his victory. In Hebrews it says it is appointed to man to die once and then comes judgment. I don’t think that one should use this text as a kind of weak read on which to develop a theology of people having another chance after death.

Student: [inaudible]

Dr. Craig: Is there any biblical? I don’t know if we can say that there is any biblical credence to that because I can’t think of any examples in Scripture of near-death experiences of that sort.

Student: [inaudible]

Dr. Craig: Paul being stoned . . . oh, well. OK. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12, “I know a man in Christ who was transported to the third heaven. And he saw things there that no man can utter.” A lot of people think that Paul is talking there about himself. It could be that when he was stoned in Lystra and dragged out of the city for dead, maybe that is the description of the experience he had of being transported to the third heaven and seeing these unspeakable glories. But that is very speculative. That is putting together two independent passages. My colleague J. P. Moreland and my friend Gary Habermas have worked on this a lot. They have written a book called Immortality in which they argue that these near-death experiences are often veridical. They particularly appeal to lots of different anecdotes of where the person whose heart has stopped or has been brain dead on the table when he is revived is able to recount in detail things that happened in the operating room while he was out and even able to recount things that happened out in the hallway that he couldn’t possibly have seen with his physical eyes. So Gary and J. P. are convinced that a lot of these experiences are authentic out-of-body experiences by the soul. If you are interested in that, take a look at J. P. Moreland’s book Immortality where he talks about some of these.

Student: [inaudible]

Dr. Craig: There is a number of different ways to take this passage. You are quite right that there are different ways to take it. It may be talking about the people that were alive at that time, not that they are now alive. Though one way to take it would be that there are these spirits that are actually alive now. But, yeah, that is certainly controverted.


I want to talk a little bit about dualism-interactionism in terms of its defense and importance. Here I am going to be drawing upon J. P. Moreland and my book Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview. If you are interested, that goes into these issues in much more detail.

This whole area of the soul and the body has become one of the major areas of philosophy today – of metaphysics. So we are going to take a little excursus here and talk a little bit about the philosophical arguments concerning the mind-body relationship.[6]

There are two fundamentally opposed views with respect to the mind-body relationship. One would be physicalism. That is the view that we are simply material organisms; there aren’t any sort of spiritual or mental substances. The other would be dualism which says that in addition to physical substances there are mental or spiritual substances.

Physicalism comes in two sorts. One would be reductive physicalism. Reductive physicalism would try to reduce all mental properties to physical properties. There aren’t any properties that are truly mental. Things that you think are mental properties that you have are really just properties of the brain like weight and composition, electrical charge. Those would be all physical properties. Reductive physicalism tries to reduce everything mental down to the physical and says there are no spiritual or mental properties.

The other type of physicalism is non-reductive physicalism. This view holds that while there are mental properties these are not properties of a mental thing or substance or entity. They are simply properties of the physical entity – the brain. So the brain is a purely physical organ that has both physical properties like weight and composition and location and so forth but it also has mental properties. But these mental properties don’t belong to any kind of a soul or mind or spiritual substance. These are just mental properties that belong to the brain.

Dualism will say that there is not only mental properties but there is a mental substance, too. There is a mental or spiritual thing there – a soul, a self. This is quite distinct from the body, though it interacts with the body for human thought.

Let’s talk a little bit first about reductive physicalism. I want to give you four arguments as to why I think reductive physicalism doesn’t work.

The first is that the mind and the brain have distinct properties and therefore cannot be identical. By the mind I mean the soul or the self. I want you, as a little thought experiment, think in your mind of a pink elephant. Maybe you saw one in the cartoon Dumbo or something of the sort. Vision in your mind right now an image of a pink elephant. Where is that pink elephant to be found? It is certainly not in your brain. A neurophysiologist who cut open your cranium and searched your brain would look in vain for any awareness of a pink elephant in the brain. That is simply not a physical property. Rather, it is a mental property and clearly is not to be identified with any physical property that the brain has. Similarly, the brain is not sad. The brain is not worried. The brain is not confused or happy. Those are properties of persons, of selves. I think it is very evident when you think about these kinds of properties that the brain and the mind have different sorts of properties and that these mental properties are not things that the brain possesses. It would be just a category mistake to talk about a happy brain, for example.

Secondly, mental properties are what is called self-presenting. What one means here is that you have private access to your own thoughts in a way that is impossible for anybody else. You have a kind of private entrée to your mental life, your thought life. You know what you are thinking. No neurophysiologist or brain scientist can have that kind of self-awareness. You are the only person in the world who can have that sort of self-awareness to your own eye. Moreover, you know these mental states incorrigibly – that is to say, you cannot be mistaken about them.[7] When you feel pain you cannot be mistaken that you feel pain. It feels painful to you. You have an incorrigible or unmistakable private access to these sensations. If you seem to see a chair – even if you are hallucinating – you still seem to see the chair. That mental awareness is unmistakable to you. If you say it looks white to me, even if it is a mirage it still looks white to you. You are giving first person reports of your mental awarenesses. These are not the way physical properties present themselves. Physical properties are available from a third person perspective. Anybody can go and look at a physical property, but only a self which is distinct from the physical can be aware of these mental properties.

Thirdly, subjective states of awareness are not physical. To give an illustration, imagine a deaf scientist who studies hearing. He could know all about the ear and its mechanisms, about sound waves carried through the air, and so forth. He could have a complete physical understanding of the physics of sound, and yet as a deaf scientist he wouldn’t have any understanding of how a Beethoven symphony sounds. He could understand all about the notes and the sounds waves and the physical processes in the brain, but a deaf person doesn’t have any awareness of how the symphony sounds. Again, these are mental properties that aren’t just physically available. He could know every physical property about sound, but he wouldn’t know how it sounds. So again I think this shows a distinction between physical and mental properties.

Finally, the fourth point I wanted to make is about something called intentionality. This is the idea of being about something. When you have thoughts, you have thoughts about something. I can think of President Bush. I can think about Defenders class next week. I can think about Jan. I can have thoughts about someone. That is called intentionality. But a physical object doesn’t have any kind of intentionality. No collection of physical molecules can be about something. Aboutness is a property, again, that is a mental property. It is an awareness of something. This just reinforces the idea that a purely physical entity isn’t something that has aboutness or intentionality. Therefore, the mind cannot just be a physical entity. Not all properties can be reduced to physical properties.

I think these four reasons give a very, very powerful case for thinking that there really are genuine mental properties and that you cannot reduce everything to just physical properties of things. So reductive physicalism is really quite implausible. I am very pleased to say that I think most philosophers of mind would agree with that. You would be hard-pressed to find someone who is willing to give a vigorous defense of reductive physicalism anymore because it is so evident that there are these mental awarenesses and properties that are quite different from physical properties.


Student: [inaudible]

Dr. Craig: He asks wouldn’t a reductive physicalism undermine our own beliefs and reason and logic and therefore be self-defeating? I think you are right, but I am going to reserve that argument against even non-reductive physicalism. Because on this view even though there are mental properties there is no self which can think. Everything is just determined by the physical stimuli that you receive and your genetic makeup. So it really undermines rationality and thereby undermines itself. Hang on to that until later.

Student: [inaudible]

Dr. Craig: Clearly the mind and the brain are connected with each other in that there is a causal connection between the mind and the brain that I think runs both ways – it is symmetric.[8] The mind can influence the brain – I can will to lift my arm and my arm goes up. But similarly, the brain influences the mind. You prick me with a pin and I feel pain. I have an awareness of pain. That is why this is called dualism-interactionism. The mind and the brain work together as a whole for thought. Although I was going to share this with you later, let me go ahead and share it now. A wonderful illustration of this was given by Sir John Eccles who was a Nobel-prize winning neurologist and who wrote a book with Sir Karl Popper, one of the greatest philosophers of science of the 20th century. Popper and Eccles called their book The Self and its Brain. You see already in the title what they are hinting at. The self is not the brain. The self is an immaterial entity that is conjoined and works with a brain. What Eccles said is that the self produces thought in the same way a musician produces music. The musician sits down at the piano and uses the piano to play music. If the piano is out of tune or in another way defective the sound that comes out will be defective. The problem isn’t with the musician. It is with the instrument. What Eccles said is the self or the mind uses the brain as an instrument to think. The brain files away information and the self or the mind scans the brain for information and uses it as an instrument of thought. So when the brain is stimulated or injured there will be causal effects or correlations with what transpires in consciousness. But that isn’t to say that that awareness, say, of a pink elephant is a physical property of the brain. It is a mental property. It think that is why reductive physicalism is really difficult to maintain. These mental properties are so clearly not capable of being reduced to just physical properties. But there obviously is this correlation or causal connection between the brain and the mind.

Student: [inaudible]

Dr. Craig: This is an area where I am not expert – in brain science. They certainly have identified different regions of the brain that function in different ways in where this information can be stored. That is not anything that one would object to on a dualist-interactionist view. What one would object to is any attempt to reduce mental properties to being purely physical properties, or in the non-reductive view to say that these mental properties are properties of the brain but not of an immaterial self.

Student: [inaudible]

Dr. Craig: That depends on how you use the word memory. If you mean by memory a kind of awareness then that is a mental property. That would be a property of the mind. But if you mean by a memory just the information content, that can be stored in the brain or on a Rolodex – on a physical file. You can store information on a physical substratum but it is the awareness of it that is a mental property, not a physical property. It depends on how you are using the word memory. Certainly this information can be filed in the brain but then the awareness of it is a mental property that doesn’t belong to the brain.

Student: [inaudible]

Dr. Craig: Yes, we certainly are. As I say, these debates over mind-brain relations are right at the forefront of a lot of philosophical and scientific discussion today.


What we will want to do when we are able to come back to this topic is have a look at non-reductive physicalism and why that also doesn’t work. Then we’ll look at some objections to dualism.[9]



[1] See (accessed March 24, 2016).

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[4] 15:15

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[8] 35:04

[9] Total Running Time: 40:23 (Copyright © 2009 William Lane Craig)