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16 - What is the ‘spiritual body’?: on what may be regarded as ‘ultimate’ in the interrelation between God, matter, and information

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 June 2014

Michael Welker
Heidelberg University
Paul Davies
Arizona State University
Niels Henrik Gregersen
University of Copenhagen
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This chapter operates from a theological perspective – broadened, however, by information on the development of classical philosophy and metaphysics and some experience in the global science-and-theology discourse of the last 20 years. I ask the question: Can we imagine and penetrate the reality classical theology had in mind when it spoke of the ‘spiritual body’? And beyond that, can we convince non-theological mindsets that this concept not only makes sense in the orbit of religion, but that it has illuminating power beyond this realm because it is firmly rooted in a reality, and not just confined to one complex mode of discourse?

The preparation for this task requires a few sophisticated preliminary steps. First we have to differentiate ‘old-style’ and ‘new-style’ metaphysics as two possible frameworks for the approach. Second, we have to discern an understanding of creation in the light of Biblical creation accounts and in the light of ‘old-style’ metaphysics. Third, on the basis of the Biblical creation accounts, we see that the notion of a creator as a mere sustainer of the universe is spiritually not satisfying and salvific. Fourth, this will prepare us for an understanding of the role of the resurrection in divine creativity in general, and provide an understanding of the nature and the importance of the ‘spiritual body’ of Jesus Christ in particular. Fifth, we will try to comprehend the transformative power of this spiritual body and the involvement of human beings and other creatures in it. On this basis we want to engage non-theological academic thinkers by asking them whether the sustaining, rescuing, and ennobling interaction between God, creation, and spiritual information can find analogies in their realms of experience, and whether it can challenge reductionistic concepts of matter. This question will be guided by a metaphysical approach in the ‘new style’.

Information and the Nature of Reality
From Physics to Metaphysics
, pp. 444 - 463
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2014

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