SOURCE: Vision Media

November 20, 2007 03:00 ET

Vision.Org Philosophical Issue: What Makes Us Human?

Man as Defined in Religion & the Bible Accords With Neuroplasticity: Changing the Wiring of the Brain With Conscious Thinking

PASADENA, CA--(Marketwire - November 20, 2007) - Monday, October 22, 2007, saw the official launch of a new book which examines the philosophical issue, 'What Makes us Human?', to which Vision publisher, David Hulme, was asked to submit a chapter. The book is edited by, and is the brainchild of, Dr. Charles Pasternak, a retired Oxford biochemist, who directs the Oxford International Biomedical Centre (OIBC) based near Oxford, England.

A Multifaceted View

In the spring of 2006, OIBC co-hosted with the Royal Institution (RI) its seventh spring seminar in Oxford, entitled "What Makes Us Human?" Out of that seminar came the idea to assemble the text of the talks, together with other commissioned articles, into a book that could reach a much wider audience.

The outcome is a 200-page paperback with seminal contributions from 12 authors who range widely across such fields as anthropology, biochemistry, medicine, neuroscience, philosophy, psychology and religion. This results in a tantalizing, multifaceted view of our humanity. What is it that makes us so very different from other life forms? Is it our cognitive abilities, our use of tools, our story telling, our beliefs, our curiosity, our ability to cook, or our culture that makes us human?

The Hebrew Perspective

Dr. Hulme chose as his subject the difference between the Greek and Hebrew perspectives on the nature of humans. Entitled "Material Facts from a Non-materialist Perspective," he begins with the current state of scientific research, which admits that human consciousness remains a mystery. Yet despite this, much of the world has moved away from the idea of the soul as a non-materialist explanation of what makes us human. Dr. Hulme shows that the Greek idea of an immortal soul apart from the body, which has dominated our Western mindset -- both religious and secular, may have originated within magic and the occult.

He then invites the reader to consider an alternative non-materialist explanation, originating in Religion & the Bible as recorded in both Old Hebrew and New Testaments. This leads to an in-depth examination of man as a living soul, possessing the "spirit in man," "not an amalgam of perishable body and immortal soul, but a psychophysical unity who depends on God for life itself" (Jewish Study Bible). Dr Hulme concludes his chapter with a fascinating discussion of neuroplasticity -- the capacity of the human brain to be rewired by conscious changes in thinking.

The philosophical issue of what makes humans unique from a Hebrew perspective is "the spirit in man, the spirit of God, and the capacity to change for the better that flows from self-directed, conscious, willed action."

"What Makes Us Human?" is published by One World Publications, Oxford, and is available from and all good booksellers.

Contact Information

  • For more information contact:
    Edwin Stepp
    626 535 0444 X100
    or visit