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Strong claims have been made for emergence as a new paradigm for understanding science, consciousness, and religion. Tracing the past history and current definitions of the concept, Clayton assesses the case for emergent phenomena in the natural world and their significance for philosophy and theology. Complex emergent phenomena require irreducible levels of explanation in physics, chemistry and biology. This pattern of emergence suggests a new approach to the problem of consciousness, which is neither reducible to brain states nor proof of a mental substance or soul. Although emergence does not entail classical theism, it is compatible with a variety of religious positions. Clayton concludes with a defence of emergentist panentheism and a Christian constructive theology consistent with the new sciences of emergence.
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Philip Clayton is Ingraham Professor, Claremont School of Theology; Professor of Philosophy and of Religion, Claremont Graduate University.
Endorsement: Philip Clayton provides here a carefully considered and closely argued defence of the idea of strong emergence in relation to both the natural sciences and the human mind. The erudite argument is well-grounded in the relevant literature and solidly related to the evolutionary process whereby complexity has come into being. The book will be an indispensable reading for those concerned with the `big questions' related to the human mind, such as issues of agency and freedom.
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