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Religion Dispatches: Toward a Zombie Theology

My latest entry at Religion Dispatches, this time for their blog, is now available. In includes some thoughts related to the final episode of the AMC series The Walking Dead, in a post titled “Toward a Zombie Theology.” The piece connects zombies, theology, and neuroscience. After discussing the episode titled “TS-19,” and mentioning its Christian overtones, I turn to discussion of brain-based consciousness and connect this to developments in theology.

This is not the first time that the zombie has crossed paths with the ideas of Christianity. Italian zombie cinema can be read as including a subversion of aspects of Roman Catholicism, including bodily resurrection. And the often-neglected zombie comedy Fido, also includes plenty of material for theological reflection in relation to critique of the Christian concept of resurrection and the afterlife.

From the post at RD after raising the questions about TWD setting forth a brain-based consciousness view while also referring to zombie reanimation as a “resurrection event”:

So does this leave theology out in the cold? The dominant theological understanding for anthropology in Christianity is still dualistic, a synthesis of the physical body and an immaterial spirit or soul, but in recent years those advocating a monistic view of human nature have arisen, articulating a perspective they call “nonreductive physicalism.” This view, advocated by scholars like Fuller Seminary’s Nancey Murphy, recognizes the significance of the cognitive neurosciences that have cast doubt on philosophical and theological concepts of the soul, but argues for human significance and the divine as opposed to materialist interpretations in the field.

The post can be read here.

Update: On December 20, John Blake, writing for CNN’s Belief Blog, referenced my essay in RD in an article titled “The ‘zombie theology’ behind the walking dead.” He also mentioned the piece in a radio interview shortly thereafter, and gave credit to my piece and RD for inventing “zombie theology.” Since then the post has made the rounds on various places, from RealClearReligion to BeliefNet. Of course, I am not the first or only one to connect zombies and theology, or to write about it, but it is good to see this topic receive greater exposure.

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