Thursday, February 15, 2024

The Key To History

"Now God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other. That is why it is just no good asking God to make us happy in our own way without bothering about religion. God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing. That is the key to history." (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity [New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2021], approximate Kindle location 763)

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

The Departure Material In John

I've written about what I've called the departure passages in scripture and how they relate to issues like the papacy and sola scriptura. See here, for example. Acts 20, 2 Timothy, and 2 Peter have been discussed a lot, but I want to expand on John's material, which has been neglected.

Sunday, February 11, 2024

Widespread Reports Of Near-Death And Out-Of-Body Experiences

Regardless of whether or not these things [near-death experiences, out-of-body experiences] veridically occur, people around the world have been reporting them throughout recorded history and regarding them as being in a separate category to everyday occurrences. This pattern of consistent ascription is an important indicator of the cross-cultural stability of such experiences….

People often also change their beliefs following their own NDE [near-death experience]. Notably, that includes atheists who neither believed in an afterlife nor expected to have an NDE….

In whatever culture it occurs, the OBE [out-of-body experience] is by definition always and unambiguously considered a dualistic state in which consciousness is separated from the body….

Not only are explicit descriptions of OBEs found in Eastern and Western narratives throughout history, but mind-body dualism, often exemplified by descriptions of OBEs, is a common element of nearly every branch of Egyptian, Ancient Near Eastern, Zoroastrian, Graeco-Roman, Hindu, Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, and numerous other theologies (see, for example, Badham 1997, Bremmer 1983, Couliano 1991, Metzinger 2005, Pilch 2011, Zaleski 1987). Dean Shiels (1978: 699) found that of the 67 small-scale indigenous societies he reviewed, 95 percent believed in OBEs, and they were consistently described in remarkably similar ways. He concluded that the most likely explanation for this wide cross-cultural occurrence of OBE belief was that it "results from a common experience of this happening" (Shiels 1978: 699). McClenon's fieldwork (1994, 2002: 106-31) provides a mass of cross-cultural evidence that demonstrates that NDEs and OBEs often lead directly to beliefs in an afterlife and in mind-body dualism.

From a neuroscientific perspective, Thomas Metzinger (2005: 57) also theorizes that dualistic beliefs cross-culturally originate in OBEs. He stresses that OBEs "can be undergone by every human being and seem to possess a culturally invariant cluster of functional and phenomenal core properties." They "almost invariably lead the experiencing subject to conclude that conscious experience can, as a matter of fact, take place independently of the brain and the body." Metzinger (2005: 78 n. 8) cites other studies that support his hypothesis, including one (Osis 1979) in which 73% of survey respondents claimed that their beliefs had changed as a result of their OBEs, and another (Gabbard and Twemlow 1984) in which 66% claimed that their OBEs caused them to adopt a belief in life after death.

(Gregory Shushan, The Next World [United States: White Crow Books, 2022], approximate Kindle location 3474)