Man as Material and Immaterial?

I’ve been learning a bit more about Christians who take the physicalist view of humans.  In other words, they do not believe that humans are made of material and immaterial substances.  When it comes to the Bible’s teachings on this subject, there are some questions that come to mind.

1) What does the Bible mean by “spirit” and “soul”?  Would a Jew writing or reading those words have defined it in the same way that Plato or Descartes would have?  Do the Greek words they’re translated from denote some kind of immaterial substance?

2) A big motivation for dualism seems to be free-will and consciousness.  A brain made of matter alone would be subject to the cause and effect relations in the universe, so it wouldn’t have libertarian free-will.  Also, consciousness or mind cannot be produced by the brain, so it must be immaterial (I know I’m simplifying these things too much).  However, if it is the case that a physical substance cannot have free-will and consciousness, what makes us think an immaterial substance can?  What is it about being immaterial that makes it possible to have free-will and consciousness?

Those are the question on my mind.  I wish I could take philosophy of mind here at MU, but they aren’t offering it this year!

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