Made in God's Image: A Multidisciplinary Study of Personhood and Faith




Heady, Sarah

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The question "what is a person?" haunts countless disciplines and debates, from theology to neuroscience, abortion to artificial intelligence. For Christians to engage meaningfully in such areas in a way consistent with their religious ideals, they must have a carefully considered perspective on personhood. In this project, I present a model of how to consider such a challenging topic. I first establish a biblical anthropology consisting of twelve principles of personhood derived from Scripture. I next present three different perspectives on personhood – traditional theological, emergent, and reductionist – which originate from the disciplines of theology, sociology, and neuroscience, respectively. I analyze the compatibility of these three perspectives with the established biblical principles of personhood. From this, I conclude that the traditional theological perspective is most compatible with Scripture. However, I more significantly argue that one should adopt the perspective on personhood that bears the greatest consilience with both Scripture and other forms of knowledge, while giving priority to Scripture. I ultimately conclude that the traditional theological perspective is the most consilient of the three perspectives with Scripture and the wider body of knowledge.



Personhood, Emergence, Reductionism, Theology, Boethius, Aquinas, Richard of Saint-Victor, Richard of St. Victor, Christian Smith, Francis Crick, Antonio Damasio, Patricia Churchland, Consilience, God's Image, Imago Dei