Last week, October 25-27, students and faculty from hither and yon met in Wheaton for the 48th conference in the series. The theme was "Immortality and the Philosophy of Mind;" the keynote speaker was Peter van Inwagen, author most recently of Ontology, Identity, and Modality: Essays in Metaphysics (Cambridge University Press, 2001) and John Cardinal O'Hara Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame. Papers were given by a half-dozen other scholars as well.
Of all these riches I was only able to take in van Inwagen's second lecture, Friday night, "'I Look for the Resurrection of the Dead and the Life of the World to Come.'"
We've been hearing a good deal lately from Christian philosophers about the resurrection of the dead. Many are eager to enlist this doctrine in their battle against dualism. They reject the most popular current understanding of the afterlife, the view that I've been taught since I was a child: that the soul of the believer ascends to heaven at the time of death, to be united with a glorious new body at the general resurrection.
As I listened to him, I recalled a recent piece in The New Republic by Leon Wieseltier, who observed in the aftermath of September 11 that:
Mourners can be imbeciles, too. "[M]any of those people who died this past week," Billy Graham instructed the prayer service at the National Cathedral on September 14, "are in heaven ...1
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