c) The Resurrection in Relation to Science
i) The Resurrection of Christ. Certainly the normative and
defining theme for Christian theologies of most varieties is the Resurrection
of Jesus of Nazareth, and out of this event, the development of theologies of
the incarnation. How, if at all, are these miracles to be put into
intelligible relation to the natural sciences? Scholars in general who deal
with the Resurrection may feel free to overlook its relation to science; still, it is clearly a challenge which must be addressed by the theology and
Arthur Peacocke and John Polkinghorne offer responses whose
differences illuminate the delicate choice between, and subtle consequences of,
giving priority to theology or to science when conflict seems unavoidable.Both agree that the resurrection is more than mere psychology. Polkinghorne,
however, is more committed to an empty tomb than is Peacocke. Again,
Polkinghorne views the incarnation as evidence of both Gods divine action and
Marys human agency, while Peacocke insists on filtering out the birth stories
from an incarnational theology.
ii) The General Resurrection. We have seen that the
interaction with evolutionary biology and the cognitive / neurosciences has led
many scholars to reject body/soul dualism. What result might this have on the
meaning of the resurrection of humanity in general?
Peters sees theology and science as being in consonance
here. According to Peters,the rejection of body/soul dualism has been seen by some as undermining the
Christian view of life after death. But there are, in fact, two views here: a)
the death of a person and their resurrection at the end of time as a
psychosomatic unity, and b) the survival of the immortal soul after death and
its reunion at the end of time with the resurrected body. For theological
reasons Peters prefers the former, based on ancient Hebrew anthropology, over
the latter, with its Greek body/soul dualism. Given the former view, the
cognitive sciences and Christian theology are in fact consonant: both reject
anthropological dualism, including such contemporary examples as Frank Tiplers
view that life can be reduced to disembodied information processing (see
below). Meanwhile, a theology of the resurrection of the person can be pursued
further in light of science.
John Haught, too, rejects both a dualistic anthropology
(i.e., soul and body) and a dualistic cosmology (i.e., spirit and matter).
Instead he offers a trinitarian process interpretation of personality in
relation to other persons, nature and God. Death liberates us from the
restrictions of this life to a relationship to the entire cosmos.With Karl Rahner, Denis Edwards stresses the cosmic significance of the
resurrection as the beginning of the transformation of the whole universe.
Contributed by: Dr. Robert Russell