Month: August 2010

112. Christian Apologist Dr. Gary Habermas Skeptical of Near Death Experience Spirituality

Interview with resurrection of Jesus expert Dr. Gary Habermas reveals challenges facing Christians encountering near death experience science. Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for and interview with distinguished professor of Apologetics and Philosophy, and best-selling author, Dr. Gary Habermas.During the interview Dr. Habermas discusses how we should examine evidence of supernatural phenomena like NDEs, “… let's just say that we've agreed that it looks like Naturalism is the odd man out, so, you go, this is a religious world… where should we go? One thing I would caution against is getting too far away from the evidential paradigm where we say okay, just because there's a supernatural world it doesn't mean that everything that's supernatural has equally good data in its favor.” Habermas also asserts that while Christian claims of the supernatural resurrection of Jesus are well established, other supernatural claims may not be, “we have specific evidence for specific doctrines, like the Resurrection of Jesus would be the best example, but there are others... but when we're saying that John has a near-death experience and John perceived that he went to Heaven and met Shiva or met an angel and John's Jewish and he interprets that in his Jewish context. What is the evidence that John was in Heaven? I could have evidence that John was seeing something down the street and that brains don't work that way in a Naturalistic context. So now I have some ideas about mind being beyond the brain. But where is the evidence that John spent time with an angel in Heaven? Most of the take-away type experiences and most of the transcendental-type experiences are without evidence. There's virtually no evidence that NDEs in another world are evidence. Let me put it this way. What if I had a thesis—now this is not my thesis—but what if I had a thesis that said when I have this-worldly evidence I can make a this-worldly conclusion. But when I have other-worldly data without evidence, then I have to let that hang out there until I get some data to distinguish As from Bs. Otherwise, they're just nice stories.” Dr. Gary Habermas Play it: Download MP3 (75:00 min.) Read it: Alex Tsakiris: We're joined today by Dr. Gary Habermas, a distinguished professor of Apologetics and Philosophy and Chairman of the Department of Philosophy and Theology at Liberty University in Virginia. He's a best-selling author, lecturer, and frequent debater, very open to debating his views in a very entertaining and open-minded way. He's best known in the fields of the historical Jesus and New Testament studies, and he frequently appears on major radio and television outlets. Thanks for much for joining us today, Dr. Habermas. Dr. Gary Habermas: Glad to be with you, Alex. I'm looking forward to a good chat with you.


111. Parapsychology Researcher Dr. Stephen Braude Battles Against “Sleazy Arguments”

Interview with Dr. Stephen Braude reveals challenges and opportunities of controversial psi research into mediumship and psychokinesis. Research into controversial topics like psychic mediums is tough, but some researchers find it’s made even tougher when skeptics favor the weakest cases over the strongest. Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for and interview with Professor of Philosophy and psi researcher, Dr. Stephen Braude. During the interview Dr. Braude recounts his entree into psi research, “… there was all this other stuff that had been happening outside the lab from séances and anecdotal reports and I figured if I was an honest intellect I at least needed to become acquainted with it before I rejected it summarily. So I first studied the evidence for large-scale, and physical mediumship in particular. That was a momentous event because the evidence blew me away… I discovered that the evidence was much cleaner than people made it out to be.” Braude continues, “The usual arguments about the evidence being easily dismissed because of poor observation or poor conditions of observation demonstrated really a lack of command of the evidence. One of the things that struck me was that people were dismissing the non-experimental evidence by appealing to the sleaziest of arguments. They would focus on the weakest pieces of evidence and then generalize from that, which is simply straw man reasoning. The principle on which I operated all along is that the cases that matter from outside the lab have to be the strongest cases, the ones that are the hardest to explain away.” Dr. Stephen Braude Adam Curry at Psyleron, a company that explores the connection between the mind and the physical world. Update from Dr. Sam Parnia Play it: Download MP3 (31:00 min.) Read it: Adam Curry: So Steve, can you give me a little capsule about who you are?


110. Christian Atheist, Dr. Robert Price, Champions Fairness In Argument Against Bible Accounts

Interview with Dr. Robert Price reveals why biblical scholar, and former Baptist minister, turned  away from Christianity. With battle lines in the culture war over science and religion firmly entrenched some Biblical scholars are still hashing out the Bible facts with logic, reason and historical scholarship. Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for and interview with noted biblical scholar and Christian-doubter Dr. Robert Price. Dr. Price is a noted theologian and writer who well known for his debates with Christian apologists (those who defend the faith on intellectual grounds). While Price doesn’t take a stand on the possibility that miracles and paranormal events like those described in the Bible can happen, he’s firmly against the position most Christian theologians take, “they argue again and again that if miracles are possible theoretically, then legends are impossible, which doesn't follow… there approach is that if we can say miracles might have happened then there should be no problem in accepting all the ones the Bible mentions and none of the ones in any other scriptures. Wait a minute. What you're really saying is you just want us to believe what the Bible says, period. You're not really suggesting any new method of inquiry.” While Price is skeptical of traditional Christian theology he remains opens good arguments, “fairness in argument and getting all the evidence together and trying to address it, that was crucial to me because even as a college sophomore, junior, Apologist, I was reading all this inter-Varsity stuff and such. I wanted to witness and I did witness to people about my faith and tried to defend it. But I felt like I have to be honest about this. I'm only going to present it if I find it convincing. And to do that I'm going to have to put my faith on the side for the moment… then when I was getting into my master's program at Gordon-Conwell Seminary I realized this has been misrepresented. These arguments are just bad.” Dr. Robert Price Play it: Download MP3 (90:00 min.) Read it (abridged transcript... more good stuff in the audio version): Alex Tsakiris: Welcome to Skeptiko, where we explore controversial science with leading researchers, thinkers, and their critics. I'm your host, Alex Tsakiris. On today's show I have an interview with Dr. Robert Price, who despite having two Ph.D.s in Biblical Studies, describes himself as a Christian Atheist.