ADVANTAGES

In reply to the physicalist’s second claim, that it would be better to exist in a state of misery than not to exist at all, the dualist could either simply deny this on intuitive grounds or agree that it is true. But if a Christian dualist were to agree that the non-existence of a person previously existing person would be worse than any kind of ongoing personal existence, wouldn’t that be tantamount to conceding that the Christian physicalist has won the argument we have been examining? Not necessarily, since there is another version of substance dualism that we have not yet considered to which the dualist could resort for a defense against pure materialism. This is the dualist theory that human persons are a combination of material body and immaterial soul. On this hybrid view, a person cannot exist as only body or only soul. As we have been conceiving them, Christian physicalism entails that persons are just bodies and Christian dualism is the claim that persons are nothing but souls. The hybrid view is a dualist view because it makes both a material substance and an immaterial substance essential components of individual human persons. On this view, the soul is a thing that has the potential to think, will, and act, but only when it is conjoined with a requisite material substance such as a human body. In order to have a complete person, the soul’s potential to think, will, and act, must be actualized in conjunction with a body that provides the materials that can serve as objects of the soul’s thinking, willing, and acting. Though a lot more needs to be said about this view, what is important for present purposes is that there is a dualist view that has as one of its consequences that human persons are destroyed at death. So the Christian dualist who accepts this form of dualism can agree with the Christian physicalist that personal annihilation is worse than a miserable personal existence without having to concede that physicalism can account for the Bible’s position on death and resurrection better than any version of dualism can. Of course this version of dualism may end up being untenable. But in that case, the dualist can simply deny the claim that non-existence is worse than miserable existence on intuitive grounds as suggested earlier.

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