Certain passages in the Bible seem to support Dualism, while others seem to support Materialism.

Definitions of Dualism and Materialism: I do not know where I pasted this from, but as curiousdanni says it is word for word the same as Wikipedia, which I do not use since it is open to editing by anyone.

Dualism is the concept that our mind is more than just our brain. This concept entails that our mind has a non-material, spiritual dimension that includes consciousness and possibly an eternal attribute.

Materialism holds that everything in our universe is made from physical materials including the human mind or brain and that spiritual attributes do not exist in the universe. This concept holds that our mind and brain are one and the same.

Examples in Scripture:

For Dualism:

John 9:39 KJV

And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind.

Matthew 13:13 KJV

Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.

Matthew 13:14 KJV

And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive:

Matthew 13:15 KJV

For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

As I read these Scriptures Jesus is using parables to awaken the Spiritual consciousness of those he is addressing.

And in the following Scriptures he is telling his disciples that they have all of the material evidence they need, Since everyone knows how the human body processes food, and since he took a small amount and fed a multitude. Thus he was proving his deity with all of the material evidence necessary and there was no need for Spiritual understanding.

Matthew 15:17 KJV

Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught?

Matthew 16:9 KJV

Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?

In John 9:39 and Matthew chapter 13 it appears to me that Jesus is hinting that there is a Spiritual component to Understanding Heavenly things, yet in Chapters 15 and 16 of Matthew it appears that he is saying that they should know from just what they have seen.

Is it possible that materialism is for Earthly knowledge, and Dualism is necessary for Heavenly knowledge?

  • 3
    I don't understand why you think Matthew 15:17 and Matthew 16:9 support materialism. Certainly a Christian worldview recognizes a spiritual realm in the universe.
    – Ben Miller
    Dec 10, 2013 at 16:13
  • @ Ben Miller I feel that you are misunderstanding my question. I certainly agree with the Christian concept of Spirituality, but my question is the apparent disparity between those scriptures.
    – BYE
    Dec 10, 2013 at 16:52
  • 4
    Yes, I agree that I do not understand the question, because I don't see a disparity between those scriptures, and I don't see what they have to do with Dualism or Materialism.
    – Ben Miller
    Dec 10, 2013 at 17:02
  • @ Ben Miller As I see it In the first examples Jesus is saying that even though the people are totally aware of all their surroundings, Earth, Trees, and etc. They still are not aware that those are indicative of God, and in the second set of Scriptures he is saying that even though they have witnessed those miracles their mind does not comprehend the obvious. So the first examples say that in order to understand what is said things are in earthly perspectives, due to lack spiritual understanding,second set is saying that they do not need any supernatural knowledge to comprehend those things.
    – BYE
    Dec 10, 2013 at 17:48
  • 2
    @CecilBeckum "Dualism is the concept that our mind is more than just our brain." Well, the Scriptures do support this if you believe that the consciousness is separate from the brain. After all, people died, leaving behind their brain matter, but are still conscious after death. See Luke 16:19-31 for an example of this, which is the story of the rich man and Lazarus.
    – Steve
    Dec 10, 2013 at 19:04

2 Answers 2


Of course, in philosophy, all of these terms are contested. That is what philosophers do. Philosophically, there is a problem about what exactly is meant by "physical" or "material". If the intention is to exclude the soul, God, etc., then it is certainly incompatible with Christianity, however the definition is made. Still, it's a tricky business to actually write the definition.

Also, "dualism" is a loaded term because it has often been used to refer to a very strict separation between mind and body. This detachment is not an essential feature of the Christian view. For example, life after death could be explained by saying that the body dies but the soul survives, or else by divine reconstruction of the consciousness in a new form. The latter version is not dualistic, but it is a decent match to, say, Paul's account of the raising of the spiritual body.

Materialism or physicalism has been held to be inherently atheistic, because God is understood to be a spiritual being, and therefore beyond the realm of material or physical inquiry. Moreover, Christianity asserts that God reveals truths to humans which were otherwise inaccessible1, whereas the whole point of physicalism is that every truth is deducible (in principle) from physical observation and reason, or else it is unknowable. (Here, I mean something less formal than "doing science" - I'm not saying that materialism is tied to any methodology, but that it's a metaphysical position about how we come to know things. Hence it is basically the same thing as asserting the materiality of the mind: our consciousness being purely physical means that everything about the mind can be explained by the material conditions of the world.) As an axiom of metaphysics, this does not find Biblical support.

As your examples show, the Bible does support the idea that knowledge can be obtained as a result of observation and reason. God is forever saying "look at this!". But that doesn't mean that's all there is to it. Even if we can explain certain things by physics - the way that light enters the eye, and nerve signals reach the brain - the divine hand is not necessarily absent. We learn from Scripture all about the continuous divine command over the natural world. (Let's not worry about determinism, though! We have enough problems already.) So we may be able to form a world-view where the production of material knowledge is still due to God; the physical account ("it's all because of quantum") does not destroy the spiritual version ("God did it"). Natural law theories are a good example.

1. Actually, I suppose this might be a contested point. Certainly there are things we don't know (1 Cor 13:12 is as good a proof-text as any) and things which have been revealed (the Bible, passim). Perhaps John 6:44-46, quoting Isaiah 54:13, is enough to show that certain things taught by God could not have been known to us without the action of God. Longer example passages include Hebrews 11 (faith in things not seen) and 1 Corinthians 2 (God reveals things we have not imagined) quoting Isaiah 64:4 (nobody has heard or seen).

  • @ James T Apparently I misunderstand what duality means and possibly what materialism means. I was under the impression that the difference between the two was whether or not Spiritualism was present or not. I would never have imagined that the question would so divide people and have the negative results that it has elicited. I would withdraw the question if I could knowing the answer to what I thought I was asking is not worth the dissention it has caused.
    – BYE
    Dec 10, 2013 at 20:20
  • @CecilBeckum On the contrary I think you have the right general idea about these terms, but part of the problem is that the Bible just isn't in the same genre as Wittengstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. The pushback you are getting may be due to people thinking that the answer is obvious because Christianity posits God, souls, etc. But there are still deep questions, as the ref. to natural law shows - if things were so obvious then Thomas Aquinas's books would have been much shorter.
    – James T
    Dec 10, 2013 at 20:28

What is the problem with dualism? Dualism means the belief that there are two equal and independent powers at the back of everything, one of them good and the other bad, and that this universe is the battlefield in which they fight out an endless war A universe which contains things that are obviously bad and apparently meaningless; however containing creatures as ourselves who know what is bad and meaningless verses what is good and righteous. There are only two views that face all the facts. One is the Christian view that this is a good world that has gone wrong, but still retains the memory of what it ought to have been. In modern Christianity, it usually expressed that all visible reality is corrupted by sin. The world around us (including your human body and its desires) is distorted, insufficient, and evil. Fortunately, there is a spiritual reality that is good. This alternate good reality includes everything that is unseen (God, Heaven, the human spirit).

I believe that when Christianity is dominated by dualistic thought, it does terrible damage to God’s purpose for His people. Subscribing to dualistic Christianity causes us to find little value in this world (except to lead others to Christ and spread the gospel before going to Heaven). The goal within this dualistic view of reality is to escape the corrupted physical world and enter the perfect spiritual world. Dualism causes us to see beauty as meaningless, to find no value in art, to abandon any need to preserve nature, to see science and discovery as futile, to view any attempt to ease the physical suffering of other humans as empty, to see pleasure as a distraction from our ultimate destination, and to see our personality as something to overcome, rather than embraced.

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    – user3961
    Sep 8, 2014 at 5:27

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