This essay has been significantly revised to reflect updates that were published in the Journal of Near-Death Studies in 2007. Several points have been streamlined for clarity and to remove unnecessary verbiage. The section on psychophysiological correlates has been rewritten to be much more accessible, and now ends on a discussion of what is implied by the influence of medical factors on NDE content. A discussion of circumstantial evidence of temporal lobe instability among NDErs has been added to the section on the role of the temporal lobe in NDEs. A few points have been incorporated into the main text from Augustine's replies to Journal commentaries where they elaborate on points in the lead essays, such as a discussion of why cross-cultural diversity undermines a survivalist interpretation of NDEs. That argument is followed up by a similar one, cut for space from the Journal discussions, about the meaning of the apparently random distribution of pleasant and distressing NDEs. Additionally, a large number of new endnotes have been added to this essay. Most of these summarize the most important points of the Journal exchanges (notes 1-6, 10, 17, 20, 23, 28, and 30-32), but a significant number also concern other issues or recent developments (notes 5, 7, 8, 11-16, and 22).
Published on the Secular Web
The first part of this essay discusses what naturalism in the philosophy of religion should entail for one's ontology, considers various proposed criteria for categorizing something as natural, uses an analysis of these proposed criteria to develop theoretical criteria for both the natural and nonnatural, and develops a set of criteria for identifying a potentially supernatural event in practice. The second part of the essay presents a persuasive empirical case for naturalism based on the lack of uncontroversial evidence for any potential instances of supernatural causation, with particular emphasis on the lack of evidence for supernatural causation in our modern scientific account of the history of the universe and in modern parapsychological research.
A review of Whatever Happened to the Soul? edited by Warren Brown, Nancey Murphy, and H. Newton Malony. The book attempts to reconcile Christian theology with the scientific evidence against the existence of a soul.
William Alston's Perceiving God argues that some mystical experiences should be regarded as perceptions of God analogous to the perception of physical objects in sense experience. I conclude that there are several reasons for doubting that mystical experience generally—or Christian mystical experience specifically--can be a form of perception, even given Alston's epistemic commitments.
In this article, Keith Augustine responds to Theodore Schick, Jr.'s arguments against the subjectivity of moral values in his Free Inquiry article "Is Morality a Matter of Taste?"
In this article, Keith Augustine provides an argument that objective moral values probably do not exist if naturalism is true and defends the coherence of moral subjectivism.
An argument against the existence of God based on the lack of evidence for God's existence where, given God's nature, we would expect to find such evidence. (Reprinted from the May 1997 edition of the Campus Freethought Bulletin, a publication of the Campus Freethought Alliance.)
An analysis of the philosophical arguments and scientific evidence against life after death, one which weighs the parapsychological evidence for survival of bodily death against the physiological evidence for the dependence of consciousness on the brain This essay is divided into four main sections: Defining the Problem; The Philosophical Case Against Immortality; The Scientific Case Against Immortality; and Postscript on Survival.
By simply being reactive, nontheistic debaters have allowed religious organizations to set the agenda. The time to create a freethought debate circuit, where both sides have fair legal representation and adequate debate preparation, has finally arrived!
This essay considers whether life is inherently meaningless if death is the permanent end of our conscious existence and our lives are not part of a higher purpose. If a sentient God existed, Augustine argues, then the value that he would attribute to our lives would not be the same as the value that we find in living and thus would be irrelevant. Therefore, we must create our own meaning for our lives regardless of whether or not our lives serve some higher purpose.
In this half-hour talk, Edouard Tahmizian chats with Keith Augustine, Executive Director & Editor-in-Chief of Internet Infidels, about why the future looks bright for secularism and the adoption of a naturalistic worldview in light of the rapid secularization of the United States since the 1990s.
Does the afterlife exist? In this episode of the Armchair Atheism podcast, Taylor Carr explores the evidence for life after death and some of the questions surrounding it with philosopher and skeptic Keith Augustine.