Philosophy and Theology

Volume 34, Issue 1/2, 2022

James B. Gould
Pages 265-296

Heavenly Healing of Disability and the Problem of Preserving Identity through Radical Change

The traditional elimination view affirms that people with intellectual disabilities will be healed in heaven when God restores all things to what they were meant to be. Several contemporary scholars, however, have put forth a revisionist retention view claiming that people with intellectual disabilities will not be healed in heaven. While the elimination view has strong biblical and theological credentials, it faces a significant philosophical difficulty. Heaven must maintain identity so that individuals exist as the same people they were in life. But post-mortem healing appears to disrupt the identity of people with intellectual disabilities. In this paper I reject this charge. I argue that for individuals with mild or moderate intellectual disabilities heaven preserves personal identity, while for individuals with profound intellectual disabilities heaven creates personal identity. These conclusions rest on an emergentist anthropology which I describe.