Antony Flew, famous for his conversion from atheism to Christian belief, delivered the Gifford Lectures at the University of St Andrews in 1986–87. The subject––the logic of mortality––is a long standing philosophical interest throughout Flew’s work, and this collection of lectures forms a sequel of sorts to the previous year’s lectures, delivered by Richard Swinburne, on The Evolution of the Soul. The principle topic for Flew’s lecturers is the two-fold idea of personal survival and personal immortality, past the point of corporeal death. To examine this idea, Flew advances and critiques three common arguments, which he labels the ‘Reconstitutionist,’ the ‘Astral Body’ and a ‘Platonic-Cartesian Argument.’ In essence, these are the ideas that the body will be remade by God, the idea that there will be no body but a conscious soul or we may have an astral body of some form––an idea familiar enough from any number of supernatural fictions.
Whilst outlining and critiquing all three of the arguments it becomes clear that the Platonic-Cartesian argument is preferred. However, Flew closes the lectures by diverting from the rather austere style of British philosophy in which the majority of the text is delivered, investigating the realm of parapsychology. Whilst acknowledging the flaws and lies of parapsychological researchers, there are drawn out some interesting Cartesian dualisms which seek to separate the mind and the body. Flew asserts that we are irreducibly connected to our bodies––that in fact, the very best image of what the soul may be is our human form. Whilst a fascinating lecture series, exploring the implications of a vital question, the focus on parapsychology seems somewhat anachronistic, making the volume perhaps more useful as a record of Flew’s own thought as a philosopher and the wider state of natural theology and philosophy in the late 1980s.