5 Jun

Malcolm Jeeves, "Portraits of Human Nature: Scientific & Theological" (Regent College, recorded in 2002)

Category: What We're Reading
By: Amy L. Graeser
Published: 06/05/03

Available on CD through the Regent Bookstore, 800-334-3279 or A brief question and answer session followed Jeeves's lecture and is included on the CD recording.

In "Portraits of Human Nature: Scientific & Theological," professor emeritus Malcolm Jeeves analyzes what science can contribute to the debate about human nature and dualism. He discusses what people have thought about human nature, how the Imago Dei is manifested in mankind, and spirituality, all in conjunction with scientific discoveries throughout the centuries. The collective evidence, he states, overwhelmingly points away from thinking of humans as dualist beings and towards regarding them as unified wholes. The glimpses of reality science affords reveal that humans are a mysterious unity of body and mind. When that revelation is considered alongside the glimpses of reality that theology affords, Jeeves notes, it is possible to see that human nature is largely defined by people's capacity for relationships with God and others, and that people's spirituality—their practice of their relationship with God—is embodied and thus can change as bodies degenerate or are traumatized.

Jeeves is Emeritus Professor of Psychology at the University of St. Andrews and was President of The Royal Society of Edinburgh, Scotland's National Academy of Science and Letters. "Portraits of Human Nature: Scientific and Theological" was recorded in 2002 at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia.

A Literary Aside:

For centuries, various strains of philosophy in Western civilization have assumed a dual nature in human beings, pitting the mortal flesh against the immortal soul in a battle over which has more eternal importance. As long as these philosophies have existed, however, there have been additional systems of thought that assume the opposite. Poet John Donne (1572-1631) spoke from within one of those traditions, as the following quote from his Easter sermon in 1623 demonstrates:

"Never therefore dispute against thine own happinesse; never say, God asks the heart, that is, the soule, and therefore rewards the soule, or punishes the soule, and hath no respect to the body; Nec augeramus cogitationes a collegio carnis, saies Tertullian, Never go about to separate the thoughts of the heart, from the colledge, from the fellowship of the body; Siquidem in carne, & cum carne, & per carnem agitur, quicquid ab anima emaculetur, All that the soule does, it does in, and with, and by the body. And therefore, (saies he also) Caro abluitur, ut anima emaculetur, The body is washed in baptisme, but it is that the soule might be made cleane; Cargo ungitur, ut anima consecretur, In all unctions, whether that which was then in use in Baptisme, or that which was in use at our transmigration, and passage out of this world, the body was anointed, that the soule might be consecrated; Caro signatur, (saies Tertullian still) ut anima muniatur; The body is signed with the Crosse, that the soule might be armed against tentations; And againe, Caro de Corpore Christi Vescitur, ut anima de Deo saginetur; My body received the body of Christ, that my soule might partake of his merits. He extends it into many particulars, and summes up all thus, Non possunt in mercede separari, quæ opera conjungunt, These two, Body, and Soule, cannot be separated for ever, which, whilst they are together, concurre in all that either of them doe." [Posted June 2005, ALG]