Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Spiritual Brain gets Award of Merit at Write! Canada, plus Mario gets tenure

At Write! Canada's 2008 Gala, June 11, The Spiritual Brain received an Award of Merit in the Leadership/Theoretical category of the Canadian Christian Writing Awards.

It had been shortlisted in three categories, a fact that offended some persons. I said at the time that it was a darn tough field and the offendees should be just as steamed about the other entries.

I also received an Award of Merit for “Anti-God books: The God they don’t believe in is certainly not great”, which appeared in the St. Michael's (University of Toronto) Alumni Magazine, and is posted here. The whole awards list is here.

The big news: Lead author Mario Beauregard got tenure! For any young academic, that is a worry, but he says "The tenure battle is behind me now: I will be able to finish my neuroscience career at the University of Montreal (I am very glad)." And so should they be, in my view.

Also, while Bradford McCall's review of The Spiritual Brain in the American Scientific Affiliation's journal, Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, won't be out for a while, here's an excerpt that especially pleases me,
Beauregard concludes with the contention that though studying what occurs within people’s brains cannot directly prove or disprove spiritual experiences (or, for that matter, the realities that said experiences point to), they nonetheless can give credence to such extrapolations. I heartily advocate the purchase of this book.
Yes, of course the review pleases me because, in it, he is encouraging people to buy our book. For one thing, I want to write another book, and selling this one is a key step. But also, McColl grasps our key point: We are not saying that we can prove that people who have spiritual experiences contact a reality outside their physical selves. We say that there is good evidence for that, so it is reasonable to believe it.

As for proof, well, it is actually very difficult to prove anything at all outside of mathematics. Someone will always raise an objection, perhaps one that sounds reasonable from his point of view but unreasonable from yours. (For example, "Maybe the whole universe is just a dream I am having.")

So the only available approach to most questions of fact is to assemble the evidence on both sides and see which model fits best.

(Note: Dr. McCall is with the Divinity Department of Regent University, Virginia Beach, VA.)

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