Science in Christian Perspective


No Other Options
Stanley L. Jaki
  Department of Physics Seton Hall University 
P.O. Box 167 Princeton, NJ 08540

From: JASA 24 (September 1972): 127.

.... a few words in the way of a rejoiner as to the true status of the "Other Options" ("Brain, Mind and Computers" by S.L. Jaki in Journal ASA 24, 12 (1972) ). In these comments my position is identified with strict dualism, according to which, to use the expression in the comments, "the soul is the true person." The core of the person, as I emphasized in my article, is its personal identity, or the "I", in short. If its role is explained with the "second option," or the analogy of the piano player, we have on hand, as anyone can easily see, the Cartesian or mechanistic phrasing and distortion of strict dualism, and thus we are in substance hack at the "first option."

If the "I" as an entity is the product of bodily development, that is, the outcome of successive differentiations of biochemical structure (the "third option"), then the "I" must become a nonentity with the dissolution of that differentiation following one's death. This is, however, equivalent to the "fourth option," or materialistic exclusionism, couched in sophisticated terms.

Backers of that "third option," according to which the "I" is retained after death "in the mind of Con," should face the question whether a non-entity can be retained even "in the mind of God" as 'anything but a sheer possibility. They should recall that Christ, in referring to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, referred to the God of the living and not to the God of sheer possibilities, a point to be pondered carefully by all committed to the biblical perspectives of human existence.

At any rate, on reading the note "Other Options?", I could not help remembering some words of Professor Feigl, a leader of logical positivism and the most authorative spokesman of its interpretation (or rather firm rejection) of mind-body dualism, that is, of the metaphysical existence of soul in any and all sense. Once he told me that lie was unable to understand how some Christian thinkers, trying to vindicate their faith in immortality on grounds other than strict dualism, could still imagine that their position differed from his.