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May 31, 2023

Added Toward a Naturalized Spirituality (2023) by Sam Woolfe to the Psychology of Religion page in the Modern Documents section of the Secular Web Library.

Among secular rationalists, the term spirituality is often criticized as being vague or meaningless at best, or pseudoscientific at worst. But secularists can acknowledge a rational middle ground between these two extremes. Building upon eminent psychologist Abraham Maslow’s lesser-known concept of “self-transcendence” atop his more famous original hierarchy of needs (whose pinnacle is self-actualization), Sam Woolfe weaves concepts from humanistic psychology and the philosophy of psychedelics to advance a concept of spirituality grounded in the realization of our innate capacities within awe-inspiring experiences that situate us fully in the present moment and allow us to transcend our normal personal identity in ways that lead to meaningful improvements to our well-being and life satisfaction. A metaphysical naturalist can thus reasonably understand the process of transcending limitations for the sake of oneself and others as fundamental to leading an authentic spiritual life without any need to posit the existence supernatural entities, forces, or realms.

New in the Kiosk: Courtroom Apologetics: You Call Them Eyewitnesses? (2023) by G. P. Denken

In “Courtroom Apologetics: You Call Them Eyewitnesses?” G. P. Denken critiques a genre of popular evangelical apologetics that he labels “courtroom” apologetics. Courtroom apologists are recognizable by the way that they season their arguments with courtroom jargon and analogies. Denken highlights three apologists who make their cases by relying heavily on the four “eyewitness” accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Though the apologetic authors seek verdicts from their jury of readers in favor of Christianity, Denken offers a rebuttal case in their imaginary trial. He discusses how these apologists have not only misidentified the Gospel authors, but ignored how their proposed authors could not have been eyewitnesses to many famous scenes in the canonical Gospels.

Recommended reading: On Disinformation: How to Fight for Truth and Protect Democracy (2023) by Lee McIntyre

The effort to destroy facts and make America ungovernable didn’t come out of nowhere. It is the culmination of seventy years of strategic denialism. In On Disinformation, Lee McIntyre shows how the war on facts began, and how ordinary citizens can fight back against the scourge of disinformation that is now threatening the very fabric of our society. Drawing on his twenty years of experience as a scholar of science denial, McIntyre explains how autocrats wield disinformation to manipulate a populace and deny obvious realities, why the best way to combat disinformation is to disrupt its spread, and most importantly, how we can win the war on truth. McIntyre takes readers through the history of strategic denialism to show how we arrived at this precarious political moment and identifies the creators, amplifiers, and believers of disinformation. Along the way, he also demonstrates how today’s “reality denial” follows the same flawed blueprint of the “five steps of science denial” used by climate deniers and anti-vaxxers; shows how Trump has emulated disinformation tactics created by Russian and Soviet intelligence dating back to the 1920s; provides interviews with leading experts on information warfare, counterterrorism, and political extremism; and spells out the need for algorithmic transparency from Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. On Disinformation lays out ten everyday practical steps that we can take as ordinary citizens—from resisting polarization to pressuring our Congresspeople to regulate social media—as well as the important steps our government (if we elect the right leaders) must take.

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