Is Pure Consciousness Possible?

Some practitioners of meditative disciplines or people who have had mystical experiences claim to attain a state of “pure consciousness” (PC). PC is supposed to be a state where one is conscious, but is not conscious of anything. That is, it is completely objectless, or if it has any object at all, the object is nothing but consciousness itself. I see two problems with the idea of PC. The first is that I have doubts that such a thing is possible, and the second is that if it were possible, it wo … [Read more...]

Why I Do Not Equate Religious Belief with Mental Illness

I'm not a psychiatrist, but as a teenager I worked for an elderly woman who I later found out was a paranoid schizophrenic with organic brain decomposition. (As an aside, if you have any empathy at all, it's impossible to get to know someone like this and not find their situation heartbreaking.) I agree that you cannot talk the mentally ill out of their delusions, hallucinations, etc. But this would only be relevant to the claim that all religious belief is mental illness if it were the case t … [Read more...]

What are Atheists For?

What are atheists for? Hypotheses on the functions of non-belief in the evolution of religionDominic Johnson* Politics and International Relations, University of Edinburgh, Scotland, UKAn explosion of recent research suggests that religious beliefs and behaviors are universal, arise from deep-seated cognitive mechanisms, and were favored by natural selection over human evolutionary history. However, if a propensity towards religious beliefs is a fundamental characteristic of human bra … [Read more...]

Is HADD Evidence Against Theism? Part 1

I've been thinking lately about whether HADD, on the assumption that it exists, is evidence for or against the existence of God. I'm starting to think it is neutral, but I'm posting this here for feedback.ContextBefore diving into the details, let's review a few items for context.First, let's address terminology. HADD is an acronym which stands for "Hypersensitive Agency Detection Device." HADD is a theory in the cognitive science of religion which says that most humans seem to be … [Read more...]

Religious Belief Systems of Persons with High Functioning Autism

Abstract:The cognitive science of religion is a new field which explains religious belief as emerging from normal cognitive processes such as inferring others' mental states, agency detection and imposing patterns on noise. This paper investigates the proposal that individual differences in belief will reflect cognitive processing styles, with high functioning autism being an extreme style that will predispose towards nonbelief (atheism and agnosticism). This view was supported by content … [Read more...]