Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Of Two Minds--Sort of

This is my 299th post on this blog. I'm just sayin' . . .

A subject that fascinates and repels me is that of dualism. The philosophy of dualism controls more of our lives than we realize, but let me be quick to say that the opposite of dualism--is kind of hard to define. Since dualism is the philosophy of opposites, and I reject dualism, then logically I would reject the opposite of dualism, right?

Enough of that nonsense. It's not that I reject all dualism, but I do reject it as a world view, as an interpretation of the universe. So, moving on . . .

Dualism says there are two forces in the world, opposing and equal. They will go on forever that way, opposing each other but of equal strength. Ying/yang; black/white; good/evil; devil/God; flesh/spirit; body/mind. So that's the definition. What's the problem? Well, first of all, it's not really Biblical or in line with traditional Christian (well, Augustinian and Reformed) doctrine. Because there is only one eternal "force" or "power" in the universe, God's, which is good. The evil is not eternal and will be defeated, nor is it equal to the good.

But let's move to the mind/body split, which you can talk about without getting into Christian doctrine, as we can see since it started with Plato and reinvented itself throughout the middle ages and with Descartes. If we are split between mind and body, or between a soul and body or spirit and body, then the body can do what it wants and the spirit doesn't have anything to do with it; the body can sin and the spirit is not affected. But in another iteration of this mind/body split, we have the commercials where eating a brownie is some kind of unpardonable sin; the body ad soul are in such conflict that a brownie is part of the equation.

I see dualism in so many places. Is holism the answer? Not in the strictest sense, because holism can be sort of new age, just like dualism can. There is a need to find a middle way, recognizing that the body is not unconnected totally from the spirit and soul, that the spirit is not necessarily and always in conflict with the body, that the spirit affects the body and the body the spirit, that the body is not evil (flesh in Scripture is not usually referring to the physical body, but the sin nature), that the body is used by the spirit of man and the Holy Spirit of God. We do not need to hate our bodies, and I say this especially to women, and to myself, since we all seem to whine about our bodies. Yes, our bodies are getting old, and they get sick, but they are not useless baggage. It is how we serve the Lord, and it's how he ordained it for serving Him on this earth. When we don't have bodies anymore, our ability to serve on this earth will be gone.

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