Religious Studies

Van Inwagen, Zimmerman, and the materialist conception of resurrection

a1 Philosophy Department, State University of New York at Buffalo, 135 Park Hall, Buffalo, NY 14260–4150


Peter van Inwagen's brand of materialism leads him to speculate that God actually removes the deceased at the moment of death and replaces the corpse with a simulacrum that decays or is cremated. Dean Zimmerman offers an account of resurrection that is loyal to Peter van Inwagen's commitment to a materialist metaphysics, with its stress on the earlier life processes of an organism immanently causing its later ones, while maintaining that resurrection is possible without involving God in any ‘body snatching’. My contention is that Zimmerman's account is metaphysically impossible. His alleged ‘solution’ is at odds with the principles governing the ways in which an organism can assimilate new parts. Instead of providing a scenario where we can be resurrected, Zimmerman has merely sketched a scenario where we are duplicated. An alternative materialist account of resurrection is offered, one in which immanent causation is not necessary.