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God as an emergent property

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Treating conscious states as emergent properties of brain states has religious implications. Emergence claims the neutral ground between substance dualism (perceived as hostile to science) and reductive physicalism (perceived as hostile to religion). This neutrality makes possible a theory of human experience that is religious, yet lies wholly within the natural order and open to scientific investigation. One attempt to explain the soul as an emergent property of brain states is studied and found wanting, because of a dogmatic assumption that God is ‘beyond all material form’. Reflection on the central Christian claim that Jesus Christ was human and divine suggests the alternative view that God and the soul are both emergent properties. Unlike the philosopher's or physicist's remote and isolated ‘first cause’, this God is immediate and personal and social.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Imprint Academic, PO Box 1, Thorverton, Devon EX5 5YX, UK. Email:

Publication date: September 1, 2001


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