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October 29, 2009
Since the publication of Raymond Moody's Life After Life in 1976, several investigators have performed outstanding studies of the incidence and properties of near-death experiences. Unfortunately, many authors have enticed readers to accept uncritical supernaturalistic or paranormal explanations for NDEs, causing many good studies to languish unread by mainstream scientists. Despite over 30 years of public interest and scientific endeavor, many promising lines of research have not even been touched upon, while others have not been followed up. This article considers a select inventory of the gaps in our current knowledge of the causes and genesis of the NDE, with particular emphasis on whether NDEs represent scientific confirmation of life after death, or simply manifestations of brain function. The latter is implied by what is germane to the NDE itself, the psychological and sociocultural influences on NDEs, and what it would take to make it possible for something to leave the body during out-of-body experiences and see and hear events going on in the physical world.
October 26, 2009
New in the Bookstore: Muslim Women Reformers: Inspiring Voices Against Oppression (2009) by Ida Lichter.
"We are dealing with an influential fundamentalist international that has a clear strategy. In order to secure women's rights, we need a democratic international of women otherwise we have absolutely no chance of conquering this beast. Not only Algerian, but Sudanese, Iranian, and Afghani women know what I am talking about. They know the horror of God's State all too well. But alone, without your support, without the women's and human rights movement of the countries of the West, we are losing this battle of life and death." - Khalida Messaoudi, Algeria
October 20, 2009
New in the Kiosk: Interpreting Evidence: An Exchange with Christian Apologist JP Holding (2009) by Kris D. Komarnitsky
Did some of the early Christians at Corinth doubt the reality of Jesus' resurrection? Was Paul trying to defend the reality of Jesus' resurrection in his first letter to the Corinthians? Komarnitsky says "yes" on both counts; JP Holding says "no." Those who think the only way to interpret the evidence is that Jesus resurrected from the dead might want to take a closer look at each point of evidence.
October 16, 2009
Added Review of Religion and Morality (2009) by Stephen Sullivan to the Divine Command Theory page under Arguments for the Existence of a God in the Modern Documents section of the Secular Web Library.
In Religion and Morality, Christian philosopher William J. Wainwright provides a thorough, thoughtful, and generally rigorous and fair-minded discussion of the relationship between religion and morality. He considers moral arguments for God's existence, divine command theories of morality, and possible tensions between "human morality and religious requirements," among other things. In this review Stephen Sullivan focuses his remarks on several of Wainwright's debatable claims concerning the divine command theory of ethics and the Euthyphro question, offering a few additional criticisms about Wainwright's methodology.
October 10, 2009
New in the Bookstore: Against All Gods: Six Polemics on Religion and an Essay on Kindness (2007) by A. C. Grayling.
Do religions have an inherent right to be respected? Is atheism itself a form of religion, and can there be such a thing as a "fundamentalist atheist"? In a series of bold, unsparing polemics, Grayling exposes the dangerous unreason he sees at the heart of religious faith and highlights the urgent need we have to reject it in all its forms, without compromise.
October 8, 2009
New in the Bookstore: The Constitutional Rights, Privileges, and Immunities of the American People (2009) by Arnold Guminski.
The Constitutional Rights, Privileges, and Immunities of the American People explores the idea that the Supreme Court should radically revise its general theory of constitutional rights and discusses various aspects of some special theories of constitutional rights in order to ensure a sufficient universe of discourse. Although Guminski is an unbeliever (more precisely, a metaphysical naturalist). he holds to an accomodationist theory of the establishment clause; a theory understood to mean that certain historically sanctioned practices, such as are neither exploitive, coercive, nor proselytizing, do not necessarily constitute instances of an establishment of religion.
October 1, 2009
"Dr. Jill Taylor's book, My Stroke of Insight is the story of a neuroscientist who experiences a stroke and loses the faculties of the left side of her brain. Her stroke became a mixed blessing as it transformed her into a spiritual person. Her story provides wonderful insights into right-brain functions, the brain that deals with the mysteries of creativity as well as spirituality. I feel optimistic that Jill Taylor's book can develop a bridge between religious, spiritual and secular people so that they can develop insights into those practices and experiences that are traditionally discussed in religious and holy books, and develop a language that can be used to share experiences and insights."