Professors Warren Brown, Joel Green, and Nancey Murphy Share New Works
Three Fuller professors shared their latest work Wednesday, February 18, at a book signing and celebration at Fuller's Pasadena campus, sponsored by the Baker and Templeton publishing houses in conjunction with the seminary. The event featured lively jazz music, refreshments, book raffles, and brief presentations by Nancey Murphy, Joel Green, and Warren Brown. The three professors, who had previously worked together on Whatever Happened to the Soul: Scientific and Theological Portraits of Human Nature (Fortress, 1998), each recently released a book pertaining to the relationship between the body and the soul from philosophical, theological, and psychological perspectives.
"We needed to tackle the problem of neurobiological reductionism," explained Professor of Christian Philosophy Nancey Murphy in reference to her new book Did My Neurons Make Me Do It? (Oxford, 2007), which she coauthored with Warren Brown. If physical systems are governed by the laws of science, many ask, how are human thought and behavior any more than the product of these laws? Murphy and Brown investigate the idea of agency, ultimately arguing that free will is possible in the midst of these physical processes. "We become free when we ask what is driving our behavior and evaluate that behavior in light of abstract concepts," Murphy said, "allowing us to partially reprogram ourselves for the future."
Joel Green, professor of New Testament interpretation, believes our understanding of the relationship between body and soul also has deep implications for our soteriology, missiology, and ecclesiology. "In many evangelical circles there is an assumed distinction between 'social gospel' and saving souls. But can we even talk in those terms?" His book, Body, Soul, and Human Life: The Natureof Humanity in the Bible (Baker Academic, 2008), rejects Cartesian dualism and notes the remarkable similarity between recent findings in neuroscience and what Scripture tells us about being human.
Lastly, Warren Brown, professor of psychology and director of the Lee Edward Travis Research Institute, presented Neuroscience, Psychology, and Religion: Illusions, Delusions, and Realities About Human Nature (Templeton, 2009), Co-authored with Malcom Jeeves, the book explores areas such as evolutionary psychology, the neuroscience of morality, and the neuroscience of religion in a manner accessible to both graduate students and undergraduate students. "We try to provide some clarity for persons of faith in an area of rapidly expanding knowledge," said Brown. In his eyes, the three books--while looking through various disciplinary lenses--share a common goal: "We want readers to know that we are bodies, we don't just have bodies. We are embodied persons."