In order to help you make the most of this #TrendingQuestions event, we are offering some additional self-study material to give you the opportunity to engage more deeply with the content before, during, and after the event.
Listed below are additional resources, book recommendations, and questions for you to reflect on (both prior to and during the event) as you seek to better understand this topic. Our hope is that some of the resources we have highlighted will help provide context for how this conversation is progressing outside of the Church, and that the rest will help equip you to understand and engage in the conversation with grace, love, and truth.
This material is entirely optional, but we do hope that you find it useful as you seek to understand this topic more deeply, in order love your neighbors well.
Grace and Peace,
The ZI Team
Am I Just My Brain?
#TrendingQuestions: Sharon Dirckx
Resources to Engage With Prior to the Event
Topic Primer: Crash Course Mind-Body Problem
Watch this engaging series of short videos for a helpful background primer on various aspects of the mind-body problem:
- Where Does Your Mind Reside?
- Getting to Know Your Brain
- Determinism vs. Free Will
For a look at some of the ways this conversation is playing out in society at large, see:
- The Hard Problem of Consciousness (From his “Waking Up” podcast)
- “The Mystery of Consciousness” (Article from samharris.org)
Sharon Dirckx Preview
Pre-event Reflection Questions
What is my gut-level reaction to the question, “Am I just my brain?” Does the answer seem obvious to me? Can I imagine why someone might answer differently to me, even if the way I answer the question seems self-evident?
What are some of the ways different people have thought about the mind-body problem outside of the Christian worldview? (The “Crash Course” videos above will be helpful here)
Watch this video on the soul. What are some key Biblical texts that address the idea of the soul?
What are some potential implications of this debate for society? For the church? For me?
Event Reflection Questions
Where are we as a society on this question? Does there seem to be space in the cultural conversation for people who hold different views about whether we are simply the product of the neurons firing in our brains? Is the Christian response to this question at odds with the scientific consensus? Is there a scientific consensus?
If you believe that we are more than just our brains, can you understand why someone might argue otherwise? Does our worldview dictate how we have to answer this question? Does the answer to this question dictate our worldview?
How would you explain the mind-body problem to someone? How can you respond with grace and truth to those who deny that we are anything more than our physical brains? What are some questions you could ask to spark further dialogue?
Has your thinking changed at all on this topic? Solidified in any way?
What could you still use further clarification on? (Q&A session)
Resources For Further Examination
- Conversations on Consciousness - A series of conversations between some of the world’s leading philosophers and scientists, providing a helpful summary of non-theistic approaches to consciousness.
Joel Green and Stuart Palmer
- In Search of the Soul: Four Views of the Mind-body Problem - A helpful book that presents and critiques four views of the mind-body problem and references many other helpful books.
- Free Will- A short but hard-hitting book in which Harris outlines his radical views on free will.
- Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False - A fascinating read from a materialist who argues that we need to look for new ways of thinking about the mind-body problem, beyond simply material things.
- Into the Grey Zone: A Neuroscientist Explores the Border Between Life and Death- A neuroscientist recounts his studies of patients in a vegetative state and the astonishing discovery that some appear to be conscious within a deeply damaged brain.
J.P. Moreland and Scott Rae
- Body and Soul: Human Nature and the Crisis in Ethics - A careful and thorough treatment of the case for body-soul dualism from a Christian perspective.
Malcolm Jeeves and Warren S. Brown
- Neuroscience, Psychology and Religion: Illusions, Delusions and Realities About Human Nature- A discussion of current views about mind and brain, interwoven with Christian perspectives on human nature.