Interest in the nature of religious and mystical experiences (henceforth RMEs) is old. Recently, this interest has shifted toward understanding the relationship between brain function and RMEs. In the first section, I introduce neurocognitive data from three experiments that strongly correlate the report of religious mystical experiences with specific neural activity. Although correlations cannot be considered as “absolute” proof, strong correlations provide us with inductive grounds for justifying the belief or nonbelief of some proposition. These data suggest that the human (...) brain plays a key role in having an RME and will provide support for the claim that our explanations for phenomena should be located in the natural world. In the next section, I explore the meaning of an RME from a Jamesian perspective and discuss the use of RMEs and the apparent design of the world as proof for God’s existence. My point is to show that the whole enterprise of using phenomena “that only God could have brought about” as the proof for God’s existence is inherently question begging and so is no proof that God exists. In the third section, I lay out in detail my assumptions for my main argument in the final section. There, I argue that belief in the supernatural is not justifiable given the data we have from contemporary science and basic rules of reasoning. (shrink)
In the book A Secular Age, Charles Taylor argues that: (1) modern secularism carries in it more than a trace residue of the explicitly religious way of thinking that it supersedes, and (2) the secular ensemble would not survive if the residue were filtered out. Modern secularism is not, in short, exclusively humanistic. Many who profess exclusive humanism, even perhaps the majority, are therefore—according to Taylor—exclusive humanists in name alone. My position is that Judeo-Christianity, in its teachings about men and (...) women, is humanism. Humanism is what Western religion is all about at its core. This I defend by close examination of Taylor’s argument and by exposing some of the philosophical core of the Bible. (shrink)
What Neoplatonism and scholasticism did for Plato and Aristotle, Renaissance humanism did for Cicero and Epicurus. Renaissance humanists were critical of efforts to reconcile Plato and Aristotle with Christianity, yet their own efforts to reconcile philosophy with Christianity were hardly faithful to the originals. Plato’s idealism was easily appropriated for Neoplatonist dualism. Aristotle’s metaphysics became orthodoxy for the scholastics. The Renaissance humanists transformed Stoic constancy into acquiescence, academic skepticism into learned ignorance, and Epicureanism into an affirmation of material pleasure without (...) the philosophical materialism. The further from Plato’s idealism, the more obscurantism was required to reconcile philosophy with dualist theology. (shrink)
According to a (once) venerable tradition, our knowledge of the external world is crucially dependent on divine favor: our ability to obtain knowledge of the world around us is made possible by God’s having so ordered things. I argue that this view, despite its unpopularity among contemporary philosophers, is supported by a certain inference to the best explanation: namely, it provides an effective way of reconciling two widely held beliefs that, on the assumption of naturalism, appear incompatible: (1) that knowledge (...) is incompatible with the kind of luck present in Gettier scenarios and (2) that arguments for external world skepticism can be effectively rebutted by “shifting” them in the style of G. E. Moore. (shrink)
Naturalism is normally taken to be an ideology, censuring non-naturalistic alternatives. But as many critics have pointed out, this ideological stance looks internally incoherent, since it is not obviously endorsed by naturalistic methods. Naturalists who have addressed this problem universally foreswear the normative component of naturalism by, in effect, giving up science’s exclusive claim to legitimacy. This option makes naturalism into an empty expression of personal preference that can carry no weight in the philosophical or political spheres. In response to (...) this dilemma, I argue that on a popular (but largely unarticulated) construal of naturalism as a commitment to inference to the best explanation, methodological naturalism can be both normative and internally coherent. (shrink)
Paul Gould has recently defended Quentin Smith’s conceptualist argument for a single omniscient mind by developing a sub-argument for a crucial premise of Smith’s argument, namely, a premise that asserts that, necessarily, for any proposition p, p must be the effect of a mind. In this paper, I argue via reductio that Gould’s argument for this particular premise fails.
This article seeks to re-conceptualize Rawlsian public reason as a critical tool against ideological propaganda. The article proposes that public reason, as a standard for public discourse, must be conceptualized beyond its mandate for comprehensive neutrality to additionally emphasize critique of ideologically driven ignorance and propaganda in the public realm. I connect uncritical hospitality to such ideological propaganda with Harry Frankfurt’s concept of bullshit. This paper proposes that philosophers have a unique moral obligation to engage bullshit critically in the public (...) sphere. The obligation for such critique, I argue, represents philosophy’s essential moral component in a society committed to the protection of free speech and deliberative democracy. (shrink)