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THEOLOGY > Man > Nature of Man > Miracle of Matter  


On the one hand, it can be argued that man is characterized by dualism: material (body, or matter) and immaterial (soul, or mind); on the other hand, the unity of man can be affirmed as the only valid concept of man’s nature. It is true that these two perspectives depict the Greek view of man and the Hebrew-Christian view of man.

If the Hebrew-Christian view, which affirms the unity of man, is accepted, then what is the relationship of the material and the immaterial dimensions of man? Is it even a valid consideration? If the two dimensions are viewed as matter and mind, then what is the association between the two?

Does mind evolve from matter?
Does mind occupy matter?
Is mind an illusion?
Are mind and matter identical?
Does mind influence matter?
Does matter influence mind?

Perhaps all of the questions are improper because they do not convey the proper perspective by which to view the material and the immaterial dimension of man. From Scripture there is a suggestion of the two dimensions: “And the Lord God formed man out of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being” (Gen. 2:7). There is “dust” and “living being”; in other words, there is the material and the immaterial, the body and the soul, matter and mind. What is to be made of these concepts? And what is the correct correlation of the two?

Instead of considering two different concepts or entities, it appears that the more Biblical approach is to seek unity between the two, really not a unity of the two, as much as seeing that the two are one.

The idea is that the one became the other,
the one was transformed into the other;
so there is harmony or continuity between the two.

No separation exists between the two concepts, they are even connected in their historical appearance: first the material and then the immaterial, first the body and then the soul, first the matter and then the mind.

The material was animated into the immaterial; the body was animated into the soul, the matter was animated into the mind.

The text affirms that something “became”;
the “dust” became “being”—
through the; animation of God, the creative act of God,
matter became mind!

Man is thus body with life, a material part and an immaterial part, distinct and yet intricately related; the union of the two is really a mystery—dirt with life, dirt that is life.

There is no dualism here or component parts that are placed together with the result being a man; from beginning to end the subject is man—man as body and then man as animated body.

It is not what was placed within the body
but it is what the body became—
the body became animated,
the body came alive.

The animated body is referred to as:

“a living soul” (KJV, ASV);

“a living being” (NKJV, NASB, RSV, NIV, CSB);

“a living creature” (ESV);

“a living person” (NLT).

The soul or person, the mind or self, is simply the body living and functioning. This is a miracle; this is Creation; this is God!

The miracle of matter is that God made matter into mind.

Mind is matter living,
and matter, in the case of man,
is mind at work.

Return to Nature of Man; Next Article: An Intricate Unity

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