Posts

Showing posts from June, 2018

God Bestows Meaning

Image
Jason Thibodeau writes a long article, "Can Humans Create Meaning? Can God?" [1] I will concern myself  with only a  small part of the article, the argument that God cannot create meaning. Jason argues: "The conception of meaning is not altered by whether God, or any other supernatural entity, exists. Whether life is meaningful depends on whether there are, in our lives, things that matter." [2]
He sets up a dichotomy in arguing that God bestowing meaning is an ambiguous claim:

The claim that God makes life meaningful is ambiguous. There are two different things that it might mean:
(A) God creates the things in life that are valuable and worthwhile (and that, in virtue of being valuable and worthwhile, give our lives meaning).
(B) God makes it the case that the things in life that are valuable and worthwhile are valuable and worthwhile. Thus, by making these things valuable and worthwhile, God makes it the case that our lives are meaningful.This is a false dichotomy an…

A Tribute to Elliot Miller

A few weeks ago, we received the sad news that a dear friend and colleague had passed away. Elliot Miller was the chief editor of the Christian Research Journal, and for many years he was an active presence in apologetics for the Christian Research Institute. Elliot was also a good friend of mine, and he and our wives would get together at least twice a year in person to enjoy our shared interest in natural wonders and hiking at state parks. He and his wife were also among the only people we knew who also enjoyed visiting museums and other informational exhibits. 

We met this past weekend with his wife to see her one last time before she moved back to California (though we also plan to visit here there in coming months). He and Corinne had moved to Florida some years ago, to semi-retire, which is how we started the tradition of meeting twice a year. They lived down on Florida's southeast coast, a two hour drive away from us. 

Elliot had a great sense of humor. I showed him a few of …

The Empirical Study of Mystical Experience (2) : Brain Structure Objection

Image
The major objection to the universality argument stems from a vast movement that has arisen just since the turn of the century, the rapidly expanding field of Neuro-theology (or Cognative Science of Religion):

In recent years a number of books have been published in the United States which argue that religious experiences and activities can be measured as neural activity in the brain...these theories purport to explain why there are common patterns of religious behavior and experience across culture which are observable in the field of comparative religion..Most such theories assert that as our understanding the brains activities develop through exploration of its underlying structures and mechanisms so the origin of religious experiences and ritual behavior will be revealed...These theorioes purport to explain why there are common paterns of religious behaviors and experience across cultures.[1]

R. Joseph states, “that The brain underlies all experience of living human beings is an abs…

The Christian Inmates Myth

Though I wrote this years ago, this is a canard that continues to be repeated by fundamentalist atheists, so it's worth another look.

**

A favorite fundamentalist atheist myth over the years has been that prison inmates are overwhelmingly Christian, and that this in some way proves that Christianity is bad for morals. As a former prison employee myself, and having written an article for the Christian Research Journal on the subject of inmates and spirituality (see link below), I’d like to collate some of my findings and observations on this claim, as well as comment on a response that has been issued by a group called Errant Skeptics. 

The atheist case builds on statistics reputedly obtained on March 5, 1997. The statistics indicate that some 83% of inmates with a known religious affiliation profess for some faith in the Judeo-Christian tradition. 

There are a few problems, initially, with what relevance this data has. 

First, it represents a very small sample from a very lim…

The Empirical study of Mystical Experience

Image
Dr, Ralph Hood, University of Tenn, Chattanooga, inventor of the M scale.



Part 1: The "M" Scale



This article is a summary my book, the Trace of God by Joseph Hinman (available on Amazon). I recentlyposted essays showing that the true Christian concept of Supernatural is mystical experience nothing more. Now I show mystical experience is empirical, thus SN is empirical. I wrote this for an academic conference,  it was accepted. I posted it in two parts that's I'm uniting them here. First I will Discuss how to study it empirically then Ill talk about the three arguments I make out of that.



The argument from religious experience is deemed too subjective to be of any real interest to rationally minded skeptics. Yet over the last 50 years, a huge body of empirical scientific work has emerged in peer reviewed journals that strengthens the case for religious experience as a God argument. Unfortunately, this body of work is largely confined to psychology of religion and is virt…