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Masterclass in Neurotheology

NEUROTHEOLOGY Masterclass

hosted by the Center for Interdisciplinary Research  (www.thecir.info)

Sept. 10 – Dec. 10, 2016

 

This advanced interdisciplinary course meets for eight 3-hour Saturday morning sessions over a 3-month period.

 

No background in theology or science is required, but a commitment to reading the notes, which are drawn from Ron Choong’s PhD dissertation, is expected.

 

This inaugural CIR Master-Class will feature Ron Choong’s doctoral work submitted as an interdisciplinary PhD dissertation in 2009 to Princeton Seminary.

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UPDATE: “Confessions” – Book IX: Chapters 1 – 6

 

Here are our essays for the first half of Book IX of the Confessions.

We covered the role emotions play to religious and spiritual practices; how conversion changes our view of others and the world around us; the use and place of the Bible in a believer’s life; and whether or not non-believers will be rewarded for good works in the afterlife.

 

 

“Confessions” – Book VIII: Chapters 1 – 6

 

“Born Again” by Dean Kermit Allison

 

After bit of a break we’re back once again.  We will cover Book VIII: Chapters 1 – 6.

 

At the start of this book, Augustine has achieved an understanding of God and the humility to accept Christ, but still has reservations about being fully committed to the Church.

 

This is the beginning of his conversion experience.

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UPDATE: “Confessions”: Book VII – Chapters 11 – 21

 

article_images/10.9.JesusReallyOnlyWay_150299367.jpg

 

This past week we concluded Book VII of “Confessions” by covering chapters 11 – 21.

We had good conversations about human reason and the (Neoplatonic) discipline of focusing on spiritual things to draw closer to God; is Jesus the only way? and religious pluralism; the nature of Jesus; the nature of evil; the distinction between Creator and creation; the influence of Platonic thought on Christian education throughout the centuries and its problems.

We also had a stimulating discussion centering around the questions, “Who is Jesus?”  One can easily spurt out, “Oh, he’s my Lord and Savior.”  But if you trip away the “churchy” language everyone uses and really, really ask yourself who he is to you and what he really means to you (if anything), it might be harder than you think it is.  One reason I believe that it is so hard is because that question is also a very personal question as well.

You can read our essays here.

 

 

“Confessions” Book VII – Chapters 11 – 21

Plotinus with his disciples. Looks like an early Christian relief doesn't it?

Plotinus with his disciples.

 

We will finish Book VIIChapters: 11 – 21 for this week.

Please read an outline of Neoplatonic philosophy here and some of the videos here on the impact of neoplatonic thought on Augustine.

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Is Religion the Driving Force Behind Human Civilization?

In a brief article in the ‘Opinion‘ section of New Scientist titled “Should We Thank God for Civilization” recently discusses how the current model of how civilizations first developed in human history is being challenged, namely with the discovery of Göbekli Tepe in Turkey.

As the article states:

The answer once seemed clear: food. Farming was more efficient than foraging and so people gravitated towards it. Cities, writing and organised religion soon followed… Yet the people who built them were nomads, not farmers. So the radical suggestion now is that it was not agriculture that drove the revolution, but religion. Some archaeologists oppose this idea, arguing that the ruins could have been domestic buildings, or were once surrounded by dwellings that did not survive. But the ceremony-first model is in the ascendancy, supported by further evidence unearthed in the Levant.

Keep in mind that Göbekli Tepe dates back to around 11,000 BCE.  That in and of itself is amazing.

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Do Animals Believe in God? Animal Spirituality

 

The Entry of the Animals into Noah’s Ark (1613) Jan Brueghel the Elder (1568-1625)

“But ask the beasts, and they will teach you;
    the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you;
or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you;
    and the fish of the sea will declare to you.
 Who among all these does not know
    that the hand of the Lord has done this?
 In his hand is the life of every living thing
    and the breath of all mankind.”

– Job 12: 7 – 10

 

 

Came across a brief yet interesting article about the possibility of animals having a religion or a sense of God or the divine.

 

Although this might be highly speculative, I do not find it would be surprising at all if some animals had some rudimentary form of religion.  Also, I have no problems at all with God communicating with animals in ways that only they can understand but we cannot.  Just as animals cannot understand our ways of spirituality, it might just well be the case that we cannot understand their specific ways of worshiping God.

 

If it is proven that animals have a true sense of the divine (a sensus divinitatis), what would that mean for human spirituality and religion?

 

How would our ideas and theologies about God, creation, and our (human beings’) place in the universe change in light of this?  How would we treat animals – particularly those that we eat as food – in light of this?  Would it make a difference?  How would it impact the theories of how religion came about in mankind or in general?

 

I haven’t seen much writing or studies on animal spirituality or religiosity, but I’m intrigued to find out more about it.

 

Abstract on Do Animals Have Religion? Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Religion and Embodiment”.

 

 

40 Maps that Explain the Middle East – vox.com

 

How the Middle East gave Europe religion, three times

Map on how the Middle East gave Europe religion, three times

 

If you want a crash course on the history of the Middle East through maps from 9000 BC to the present day, then check out this site.

 

Highly informative in my opinion.

 

 

Through the Wormhole: Did We Invent God?

 

Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman is one of my favorite series to watch on tv that’s on the Science Channel.

 

From time to time, they’ll show episodes concerning God and science.

 

This episode explores the latest research done in psychology and neuroscience about where the origins of human belief in the supernatural may have come from.

 

This episode poses interesting questions, such as:

  • Does God only exist in our minds?
  • Is a belief in God “hardwired” within us?
  • What is required to believe in a God or supernatural entity? Can animals believe or sense the divine? (i.e. at the bare minimum you need a theory of mind as far as we can tell.)
  • Is belief in God just a remnant from our evolutionary past to explain what’s going on in our world?
  • Is it just childish superstition that we haven’t outgrown?
  • Did God create us? Or did we create God?

 

 

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