Aristotle, Descartes and Materialism: On the Soul and Body

A key question today in discussions of mind and matter is: can we explain consciousness by way of the brain without remainder, that is, apart from any consideration of an immaterial mind or soul? Aristotle and Descartes argued for non-materialist conceptions of life involving both soul or mind and body. In what follows, I will discuss their views and touch briefly upon a materialist conception.Aristotle’s model of hylomorphism is the combination of matter and form or body and soul as two d … [Read more...]

Holiness Involves the Humane Treatment of Animals

Mother and Baby Elephant

Holiness involves the humane treatment of animals. This is not a politically correct statement, but a biblically correct one.Note for example the prohibition against boiling a young goat in its mother’s milk in Exodus 23:19, Exodus 34:26, and Deuteronomy 14:21. The latter passage reads: “You shall not eat anything that has died naturally. You may give it to the sojourner who is within your towns, that he may eat it, or you may sell it to a foreigner. For you are a people holy to the LORD you … [Read more...]

Holiness Is Relational

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Holiness is relational. Behavioral solutions don't solve relational problems. Otherwise, God could say "Take two moral pills and call me in the morning." God solves relational problems relationally.Where did I get this idea? No, I haven’t digested a hallucinogenic. Nor did I pull a rabbit answer out of a hat. Take it or leave it, but my perspective is based on my ruminations over reading the Bible.Jesus came to earth to live among us. The incarnation (John 1:14) is bound up with God’s pro … [Read more...]

Thank God for the Dalai Lama.

Dalai Lama

For all of orthodox Christianity's differences in belief from the Dalai Lama and Tibetan Buddhism, we share many things in common. One of the things I admire most is his profound compassionate care for all of existence, most notably, his supreme regard for humanity. Such compassionate care is on full display in his volume, The Universe in a Single Atom: The Convergence of Science and Spirituality (New York: Harmony Books, 2005). In his essay titled “Ethics and the New Genetics,” he addresses the … [Read more...]

Aristotle and Luther: On Justice, Virtue and the Reformation of Values

Food for Thought

Do we become just by doing just things or by being made just? This is a key question in view of Aristotle and Luther.In the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle writes that “by doing just things we become just.”[1] Luther took an opposing stance: we become good by being made good. Luther had harsh words for Aristotle’s Ethics.[2] According to Luther in his “Disputation Against Scholastic Theology,” the fallen will is not free to choose the good; it will bear bad fruit—choosing and doing only evil.[3 … [Read more...]

Grateful for the Dead

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Editors’ Note: This article is part of the Public Square on Remembering Our Dead: Ancestors, Rituals, Relics. Read other perspectives from the Patheos community here. Are you grateful for the dead—any dead? One of the major holidays in Japan is Obon or Bon. The holiday celebration centers on honoring one's ancestors who are believed to return home during the celebration in mid-August of every year.People in Japan don't walk away from the dead. There is a living bond or connection. The pictur … [Read more...]

Kyogen Carlson: Bridge-Builder over Troubled Waters

Burnside bridge

Zen Buddhist priest Kyogen Carlson (1948-2014) was a bridge-builder. He built bridges of understanding and respect over the dirty, murky, troubled waters of our nation's culture wars. It is a deep irony that a man with such an open heart and mind died of a massive heart attack. Whether one knew him or not, each person owes him a debt of mindfulness for what he risked and accomplished. Among other related practices, he helped bring liberal Buddhists and conservative Evangelical Christians … [Read more...]


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