Thursday, December 9, 2010

Fringe and Mind Body Dualism

Fringe is my favorite show on television right now for several reasons. First, I love sci-fi, and there aren't enough shows that do it as well as Fringe does. Second, it addresses philosophical issues in a profound way. It gets you to consider different philosophical issues by opening up the imagination and exploring how certain things could be if certain other things were true. Like how should personal identity be thought of if there are alternate versions of yourself in a parallel universe. Third, Joshua Jackson has the best five o'clock shadow thing going on ever.

Tonights episode, Marionette, brought up a subject that I am somewhat interested in, and that impacts Christianity. An obsessed admirer of a suicide victim collects all of her organs that were donated to other people and puts them back in her body. Then, in an homage to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, he revives her.

What I thought was very interesting, and am surprised that the writers actually got right, was that when she was revived, it was clear she wasn't human, or at least wasn't what she once was. Later, the guy who revived her said that he looked in her eyes and knew what he brought back wasn't who he loved. I think this is obviously a recognition that the mind and the body are not one in the same, which the Bible constantly affirms. It also is interesting that the episode makes clear that it isn't possible for us to reunite these two things; the mind and the body.

Scripture teaches that one day, all who have died will be returned to their bodies and be judged by Jesus (Revelation 20:11-15). Those who are found to be in Christ will live with Him forever. Those not found in the Book of Life are cast into the lake of fire.

So in the end, the separation of soul and body will be rectified, and when we're resurrected we won't be empty husks like the girl in this episode of Fringe.


Anonymous said...

That's so interesting! Never heard of this show before - we'll have to check it out. I always wonder, when cloning and whatnot get to be a big deal, what minds/souls will be able to inhabit those bodies? It's a slightly freaky thought for me - or maybe I'm just silly! Either way! :P

bossmanham said...

There are a couple of different paths of thought on how the soul is generated. Some think God alone creates the soul. Others think that the conception event and God both have a hand in it, which is what I think. If either is the case, then I don't think cloning changes when and how the soul is created.

Marcus McElhaney said...

Great post as always, Brennon! I think it's also becoming increasingly obvious that mind and brain aren't the same thing either. Neither is soul and spirit.

bossmanham said...

Thanks Marcus! I may not entirely agree about soul and spirit, but I haven't read up enough on it to make a dogmatic conclusion.

Walter said...

I can remember watching Star Trek as a child, and wondering what happened to the souls of the people that were using the transporters. The transporters were basically destroying the original body and reassembling a replica down on the planet. I often wondered what would happen if the transporter were used to make several copies of yourself--would each copy have a soul?

I did not realize until much later that Gene Roddenberry was an atheist.

bossmanham said...


THE Walter? From Fringe? J/k.

I think that does bring up some interesting questions. How would personal identity transfer with the body in that situation? Would the immaterial mind be transported with the material body?

Someone should look into this.

Marcus McElhaney said...

Do you guys remember the Star Trek: Next Generation where it was discovered the same thing happened to Will Riker - a transporter accident caused a duplicate of Riker to materialize on a planet from which the original was transporting. The clone was not a lifeless husk. IT was an interesting episode because the other Riker was still in love with Deanna. Oh well. The was a book called the "Metaphysics of Star Trek" that dealt with these questions.

Marcus McElhaney said...

Brennon, one of the reasons why I don't think soul and spirit are not the same thing is because of the Discussion of human and animal spirits in Ecclesiastes. IF you swap "spirit" with "soul" I think you have some problems.

Marcus McElhaney said...
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