The God of the Reptile Brain

Evolution is a blind tinkerer, lacking the foresight of human engineers. Rarely, if ever, does it discard established designs and start over fresh, even when that would be more efficient. Instead, it builds on and around past adaptations, using the old as a foundation for the new. This is true throughout the biosphere, and it's especially true of one of the most complex structures ever evolved, the human brain. The physical architecture of the mind shows, through and through, the evolutionary … [Read more...]

Do Near-Death Experiences Prove the Soul Exists?

"A qualitative and quantitative study of the incidence, features, and aetiology of near death experiences in cardiac arrest survivors." Resuscitation 48 (2001): 149-156.In my most recent post on Case for a Creator, I mentioned that Lee Strobel referenced a February 2001 paper which allegedly provided proof that people had conscious experiences during the time that their brains were not functioning. I have a copy of that paper now, thanks to several helpful readers, so in this post I'm going to … [Read more...]

The Case for a Creator: TV Sets and Tennis Shoes

The Case for a Creator, Chapter 10I was going to wrap up my review of chapter 10 with my previous post, but looking back over my notes, I see that Moreland and Strobel made a few more claims I wanted to address. Mostly, these consist of assertions that there's evidence for the ability of the soul to leave the body and have thoughts and experiences in a disembodied state. Moreland doesn't dwell on these at length, possibly because these sorts of claims are usually more identified with New Age … [Read more...]

The Case for a Creator: Science by Armchair

The Case for a Creator, Chapter 10Science is hard work. Normally, to make any significant contribution to human knowledge, a scientist really has to get their hands dirty - experiments in the lab, research in the field, long days and longer nights, and the meticulous testing of hypotheses. But J.P. Moreland must be an especially brilliant scientist, because he doesn't even need any of those trappings. In this chapter, Strobel interviews him not in a lab or an office, but at his own … [Read more...]

The Case for a Creator: Why We Lost the Vietnam War

The Case for a Creator, Chapter 10In this section, J.P. Moreland (with the help of softball questions obligingly lobbed by Lee Strobel) continues to pour scorn on the idea that the brain could produce consciousness. As in the last installment, his rhetorical strategy is to attack only the weakest and most simplistic hypothesis of how this could occur - to set up a straw man that he can easily push over - and when he's done this, he declares victory and concludes that he's proven human beings … [Read more...]

The Case for a Creator: Belief and Decision

The Case for a Creator, Chapter 10The essence of science isn't test tubes or lab coats, but a special kind of scrupulous intellectual honesty. It's the willingness to try to prove yourself wrong, to subject your own ideas to the most rigorous, make-or-break tests you can conceive of. Equally as important, it's the willingness to consider every plausible alternative and weigh them all fairly - and if a competing hypothesis explains the data better than your own, to acknowledge that and respond … [Read more...]

Popular Delusions: Out-of-Body Experiences

Most religious people believe in the soul, an ethereal locus of consciousness that separates from the body upon physical death and travels elsewhere to receive its reward. To people who hold this belief, it's a natural next step to guess that the soul or spirit could sometimes leave a person's body while they're still alive and travel to distant places on its own initiative. Such is the belief in out-of-body experiences, the subject of today's Popular Delusions post.Belief in OBEs is probably … [Read more...]

Mystery Does Not Equal God

By Sarah BraaschWhen I was about seven years old I almost died. It wasn't the only time I almost died, but it was one of my most colorful near death experiences. I had acquired some sort of flu bug or food poisoning or I don't know what, but my mother, in her either infinite ignorance or indifference, failed to procure anything in the way of medical attention for her ailing child. In all fairness, at first, I attempted to minimize my illness in order to be able to participate in a planned trip … [Read more...]

How to Think Critically: Memory & Confabulation

The reliability of eyewitness accounts is one of the bedrock beliefs of our society. In ancient cultures - and in some modern cultures that still follow ancient laws - some crimes could only be proven by eyewitness testimonies. One of the most infamous examples was Pakistan's Hudood Ordinances, which mandated that allegations of rape could only be proven by four eyewitness accounts; otherwise, the woman was to be punished for making false accusations. Even in our supposedly more enlightened … [Read more...]

A World in Shadow VI

In 2006 and 2007, I wrote several entries in a series called A World in Shadow, bolstering the atheist's argument from evil by describing particularly shocking or egregious instances of natural and moral evils. However, I haven't written any new entries for this series in some time.To be honest, I stopped writing these posts because I found them too upsetting. There are more than enough - far too many - examples of tragedy and catastrophe in this world to make the case against a benevolent … [Read more...]