Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Could materialism be true in heaven?

This post is inspired by Mike Almeida's argument against materialism.

  1. In heaven, it is impossible to sin.
  2. Necessarily, if our minds supervene on physical brains like ours and these brains are not potentially interfered with, it is possible for us to sin, because of non-deterministic processes in physical brains like ours.
  3. Therefore, in heaven, our minds either do not supervene on physical brains like ours or else these brains are potentially interfered with.

So the Christian materialist has to say that something changes in heaven. Either we get different kinds of brains from the ones we now have (either through matter being moved about or through the laws of the functioning of that matter being changed—which I think also counts as a change of the kind of brains), or else materialism ceases to be false, or else our indestructable righteousness in heaven depends on potential interference with our brain's functioning. This isn't a knock-down argument that materialism can't be true in heaven, but it should give the materialist pause.


Jonathan D. Jacobs said...

Is premise 1 dogmatic? If not, what is its basis?

Eli said...

Correction: this should give the Christian materialist pause, if anyone. I have a hard time seeing how this will impress anybody else.

Alexander R Pruss said...

I did mean "Christian materialist". But see my next post.

James Bejon said...

Is premise 1 dogmatic? If not, what is its basis?

I'm not sure. For my part, I don't see why heaven couldn't be filled with individuals who, given their closeness to God, simply wouldn't sin for all eternity.

A further question that occurs to me is as follows. Is someone for whom sin is impossible morally perfect? And if so, what distinguishes their moral standing from God's?

Alexander R Pruss said...

Maybe someone for whom sin is impossible would be morally perfect only if he was identical with his nature (the case of God) or got to be morally perfect in part through his own free choices, during which the possibility of moral imperfection would exist.

As for individuals who "wouldn't sin", I think the secure joy of heaven requires some sort of a guarantee that one won't sin. Whether such a guarantee is possible requires one to consider difficult questions about Molinism and foreknowledge.