Until recently, the dominant ontology of the human person among Christian scholars has been various forms of mind-body dualism (hereafter, dualism), according to which the human person is comprised of body and soul. In stark disagreement, many contemporary Christian scholars vigorously advance anti-dualism and defend physicalism (reductive or non-reductive), understanding the human person as fundamentally physical. These Christian physicalists proffer the strong impression of a uniform rejection of dualism across the neuroscientific, theological, and philosophical communities.
This certain-defeat-of-dualism narrative is, or so I argue, demonstrably false. There is, in fact, a growing resurgence of dualism in philosophy. This paper moves the conversation forward by carefully considering Alister McGrath’s various objections to dualism. In part one, I argue that McGrath’s objections to dualism fail for a variety of reasons, giving special attention to his argument that neuroscience is incompatible with dualism. In part two, I develop two arguments against McGrath’s anti-dualism, each of which poses problems for Christian physicalism in general. The first problem arises from advances in the neuroscience of consciousness. The second problem reveals a deep tension between McGrath’s defense of theistic belief from studies in cognitive science which I argue provide equal if not greater pro tanto justification for dualism.