Comparative Religion Books for Kids?

Question from Crystal:
Hello! Hoping you can help me. I am an atheist and my son, who is 7, is, without knowing the word, already an atheist. Not because of me but just because he is smart, logical, scientific. Which is great! But I want to teach him to be tolerant of others’ beliefs. Also I want him to be able to understand, on some level, some of the biblical references in literature. Can you recommend a comparative religion book for kids that is NOT written from a Christian perspective? he is very bright and not a typical 7-year-old boy so can understand “young reader” type books. I’m looking for something written at a higher level than a kid’s picture book. thanks!

Answer by SmartLX:
That’s the right question to ask. Many books on comparative religion are written by Christian theologians, who can’t resist adding to the basic message: “These are all the major religions and what they believe…and here, here and here is why each of the others is wrong.” We get a lot of visitors from people in Christian courses that use these kinds of books.

A good start is Our Religions, which covers seven major religions and has seven different authors (plus one collator). The section on Christianity is written by a Christian theologian, the section on Islam is by an Islamic scholar, Taoism is covered by a Taoist and so forth. The authors are there to write introductions, so while they may state their cases against each other they are still required to provide good information. While it’s not specifically aimed at kids, its introductory nature encourages simplicity.

Beyond that one, I can’t recommend any books as neutral with much confidence, but that doesn’t mean good books aren’t out there. An Amazon search can be very enlightening, though. Each of the books featured has a few bad reviews saying what people don’t like about it; people of a given religion are quick to point out when a book appears biased towards one of the others, or gives incorrect information about their own. If you want something not Christian-centric, look for the one fundamentalist Christians hate.

Finally, I should mention The Heathen’s Guide to World Religions by William Hopper, which is basically an atheist humourously tearing them all down equally and not even trying to be neutral. At least it’s honest.

Childhood Religion When Parents Disagree

Question from Michael:
I’ve been in a relationship with my girlfriend for about 2 years now. Everything has been great for the most part. We often like to discuss things early on before they erupt later when we’re married. When we first got together I was an agnostic, then converted to Islam (which she was very happy about). My girlfriend is Jewish, but isn’t very strict in practice. She prays every night, goes to temple whenever she can, and prays before eating. That’s about the extent of it. After about a year of being Muslim I decided it was all a load of crap and became atheist (that story is much longer, but I don’t want to get off topic). She was very upset at this initially, but after I explained my reasoning she seemed to accept it.

The only issue that comes up for me is CHILDREN. I want to marry this woman, but I’m very afraid of raising religious kids. She’s VERY insistent on the children being raised under Judaism. I was raised Christian, and I know it differs a bit from Reformed Judaism, but I know how much pressure a child can have when introduced to a religious life. I really do not want my kids going through this. Just to end the argument I decided to let her win and allow the kids to be raised Jewish, but deep down inside it still bothers me. What should I do? I don’t want to break up with her over some silly superstition, but shes not going to see it done any other way.

(Also, her mother always wanted to raise her more religiously, so that’s why she feels the need to raise our kids that way.)

Answer by SmartLX:
I have a fairly devout Catholic mother who raised me and my sisters as Catholics. My father’s an atheist, and mentioned it a grand total of twice. Two out of us three kids turned out atheist, and the other believes but is hardly religious at all. While of course kids’ upbringing has an influence, you never can tell.

You could do a lot worse than Reform Judaism. Jews have no solid concept of (or at least no emphasis on) Hell, so the kids will be spared that particular trauma. Reform Judaism is one of the more liberal branches, going so far as to say that it’s up to the individual whether to subscribe to its practices and even its beliefs (outside of a few central ones, like God of course).

A big reason why your girlfriend wants to raise your kids as Jews is because Reform Judaism doesn’t consider them to be Jews even in the hereditary sense unless they’ve been raised that way. This means that their hypothetical Jewish upbringing will likely concentrate on all the things Jews ought to know (for demonstrating to family and other Jews), not what they ought to believe. This might actually be good for the kids to some extent, because they’ll be very culturally aware. Even secular Jews keep up this kind of education.

As for eventually bringing them out of it, the number one thing I can suggest is to make them aware of other religions early on. The simple fact that there are people out there who believe completely different things or have no equivalent belief is very powerful, and every bit of religious doctrine has to be seen in that light afterwards. Just the idea that religions can be compared, and therefore individually evaluated, can plant seeds of doubt.

All this is assuming that your girlfriend will stay as religious as she is now, which isn’t a given. We can go into the reasons for her belief if you’d like to comment, but speaking generally most of the atheists in the Western world were once religious, so there’s always a chance for a voluntary deconversion.

“What will my parents think?”

Question from Amanda:
Well I’ve finally decided, after many years, to tell my parents I don’t believe in gods. The only problem… I have no idea how. Any ideas that will help them understand and not hate me for the rest of my life?

Answer by SmartLX:
I get asked this question a lot, or something similar. Here and here are two of my previous answers.

The problem is that everyone’s situation is different. You’ve obviously got religious parents or you wouldn’t need to ask about this, but even if I knew as much about them as you I couldn’t reliably guess how they’ll react if you tell them. Since I don’t know whether you still live with them, I can’t say what the consequences might be if they react badly. Still, you’ve already made up your mind and you’re only asking how to go about it, so I guess I can make a few suggestions.

A pretty good rule is to try to avoid the word “atheist” (or any other similar identifier like “freethinker” or “bright”). Don’t deny it if they bring it up, but don’t start off by confronting them with a bold label you’ve given yourself. That makes it sound like you’ve fallen in with a bad crowd (as if you’d gotten a gang tattoo) and you need to be isolated and “rescued” or “deprogrammed”.

Since it’s all about you, and you’re not just the victim of evil godless propagandists, put it in terms of what’s actually happened to you: if you ever believed in gods, you don’t now, and all the church in the world won’t change that because insufficient or ineffective preaching isn’t the reason you don’t believe. Once the simple fact is out there, you’ll get a pile of questions the nature of which will give you a good idea how to proceed. If they’re to do with the horrible stigma attached to non-belief, you’ll have a chance to dispel some myths about it. If they’re aimed at actually bringing you around, you can give them a taste of some straightforward counter-arguments – not to destroy them in debate there and then, but simply to demonstrate that you’ve thought this through.

Through it all, emphasise that you’re still their daughter, you’re still you, and that you don’t think any less of them for thinking differently than you do (implying, of course, that neither should they think less of you). Recognise that if they do have a strong reaction, it will be largely motivated by genuine concern for your wellbeing, stemming from fear both of God in Heaven and of the anti-atheist discrimination you’ll suffer on Earth. Reassure them as much as you can.

Only the most extreme fundamentalist parents would refuse to have any kind of relationship with a child who’s made what he or she sees as a rational decision to be open about lacking a God-belief. If you’re even hopeful that your parents can be made to see reason in your position, they’re probably not that type, so I reckon you’ll be all right. Come back and let us know how it went in a comment, if you like. It’ll be educational to others, one way or the other.

Slender Man, Aliens, and Kids, Oh My!

Question from Jourdua:
Are there any skeptics out there who have done research on slender man, aliens, and alien abduction?

Are pictures of slender man fake?

Can you give me any information on skeptic research on this topic especially slender man and child abduction?

Answer by SmartLX:
In the Slender Man, we have a rare opportunity to witness the birth and early dissemination of what we know for a fact to be an urban myth. As explained on Know Your Meme, the first images of Slender Man were created as entries for a Photoshop contest on Something Awful, the object of which was to deliberately fabricate images of paranormal phenomena. (The KYM link even has an interview with the creator.) The images captured the imagination of the online community, which started cranking out videos, games, cosplay and every other conceivable kind of contribution to the Slender Man mythos.

Right now nearly everyone knows it’s made-up, but who can say how long it’ll be before a significant number of people have heard of the Slender Man without also hearing that he’s not real? At that point, he will become a bonafide mythical humanoid creature alongside Bigfoot and the Mothman – which goes to show how easily those could also have been made up years ago. The important thing, though, is that real children have nothing to fear from this new blank-faced boogeyman.

Aliens and alien abduction are of course a much broader subject, and one to which skeptics have devoted considerable effort, especially since the idea was massively popularised by The X-Files. An overview of the subject can be found on RationalWiki, and here for instance is an active forum (aligned with world-famous skeptic James Randi) devoted to analysing any such claims that may surface. The consensus at the moment is that there’s no credible threat to children or anyone else from alien monsters. Sadly, there are plenty of ordinary but monstrous humans capable of being as cruel to children as any imagined creature.

Really, the skeptical material on aliens is all over the place if you do a simple search. As they say down here, get amongst it.

Breaking Free

Question from Josh:
I’m making a big decision. For many years, I have been attracted to the same sex, but I have also been a church-goer all my life and a convinced born-again Christian since I was 9. I’m now 17 and have made the decision to stop fighting the “sin” and free myself from the guilt and restrictions of Bible Christianity.

My mom is a Christian and she is very strict when it comes to what I can and cannot do. I see nothing inherently wrong with homosexuality, and the fact that I’ve been attracted to men for so long shows me that it cannot be helped. I see that now!

My problem is that I’m still living at home right now and I’m probably going to end up going to a Bible college. Not that there’s anything bad about that. I can still get a good education, but the rules tend to be very strict. My mom would rather me not go to secular college, but she does say it’s up to me, and my dad couldn’t care less.

My question is: as I decide to switch over to homosexuality and release myself from the bounds of religion, how can I overcome the guilt that comes with going against what the Bible or Christianity says?

Answer by SmartLX:
The short answer is to hang in there. If it doesn’t quickly wear you down and drag you back to the church, post-religion guilt (I call it faithdrawal) will fade over time. The constant religious reinforcement to which you’ve subjected yourself for eight years is a big part of why you’ll feel guilty; when you’re not getting that anymore and you have a chance to think, you’ll be surprised how differently and how much less strongly you feel about it all.

Speaking of which, I wouldn’t recommend going to a Bible college.
– Depending on your major, being a Bible college degree might be a real liability when you’re going for a job. The most obvious examples are majors in areas with faith-fueled controversy, like biology or meteorology. (If you’re doing law it’s a double-edged sword; some firms might be wary but Liberty Counsel or the Alliance Defense Fund would welcome you.)
– Most everyone around you would be immersed in the kind of fundamentalist Christianity you’ve just chosen to escape. Besides the possibility of being sucked back in through peer pressure and propaganda, it can only be a distraction from your studies. Also, if word gets around that you’re leaning away from “Biblical Christianity”, there could be a general effort by your teachers and peers to re-convert you, avoid you or drive you out.
– Some Bible colleges expressly forbid homosexual orientation or activity, and even those that allow it generally frown upon it. You up for four years in the closet, or four years fending off “ex-gay” recruiters?

I can’t speak from experience, but I gather that starting to live openly as a gay man isn’t easy even without all the religious crap. You’re in for a tough time, but you’re going in with your eyes open so I reckon you’ll be all right.

Ghosts On TV

Question from Chris:
What would you say about ghosts and paranormal activity?
It is hard to deny the existence of ghosts or haunted places. There are many videos like this –
– that show ghosts on tape and such.
How can you as an atheist explain this?
There are many documented cases of ghosts. Assuming that there is no God then how are there ghosts and spirits?

Answer by SmartLX:
There are many documented claims of ghosts, but not one confirmed actual ghost. Shows like Ghost Adventures in the video above do everything they can to convince viewers that that supernatural experiences occur, but with all the “evidence” they supposedly accumulate after multiple seasons they never bother to take their case to mainstream scientists for analysis. You eventually have to wonder whether the hosts and producers are at all sincere. (To their credit, the Ghost Adventures guys essentially filmed a retraction after their night vision camera caught a guest very obviously faking a poltergeist event. Whether or not they’re honest ghost hunters, that had to be embarrassing or at least annoying.)

There are indeed many videos purporting to capture ghosts or ghost activity, but they fall into two categories: those which have not been proven to be genuine, and those which have been proven not to be genuine. There are so many of them because not only are there many ways to fake such a video, there are many reasons to fake such a video. Many of these reasons, though not all, have to do with money. I’ll let you work out what they are. In the end there is just no available, substantive evidence for ghosts, so there’s no more reason to believe in ghosts than in gods. If you know of a particular video or story which you think does constitute substantive evidence, link to it in a comment and we’ll discuss it.

We actually have had a few people write in who claim to be atheists and yet believe in ghosts. Most of the time it’s because they’ve had an unexplained personal experience which convinced them, which is no good for then convincing anyone else but is very effective for creating belief in one person. The resulting rationales tend to posit that souls and an afterlife do exist but they’re not created or controlled by anything resembling a god, instead relying on supernatural energies and other non-divine phenomena. These atheist spiritualists therefore have a very decentralised concept of the afterlife, and of whatever non-ex-human spirits may exist in addition to ghosts. I say the same thing to them as I say to believers in gods: produce your evidence.

Consciousness Without a Brain?

Question from Lukas:

I came across one thing which I had a really hard time explaining and still can’t find the answer.

I hope it doesn’t bother you SmartLX that I have so many questions but I come from Slovakia where there are many people who desperately want to believe in magic and I as a non-believer sometimes must face their challenge. Secondly I want to thank you very much for the answers and this site and I hope you will never stop doing this because its like a shelter for those who want to keep a rational mind in a sometimes irrational world. Thanks very much but now for the question.

The thing I came across is case of Nickolas Coke who according to the media had some form of consciousness:

Nickolas had anencephaly, meaning he was only born with a brain stem. Most babies with that condition are still born or die shortly after birth. But Nicholas lived a remarkable life.

Some of the final images of Nickolas Coke show him smiling at a pumpkin patch. “He was laughing because he thought it was funny that we couldn’t get him to stay still enough to roll off the pumpkins,” said Sherri Kohut, Nickolas’ grandmother.

Taken from:

How this is possible that he has some form of consciousness?? When people with anencephaly is usually blind, deaf, unconscious, and unable to feel pain. Some individuals with anencephaly may have a partial brain stem, which means that certain reflex actions (such as breathing or responding to touch or sound) may occur. However, the lack of a working cerebrum entirely rules out the possibility of ever gaining consciousness.

Taken from:

I even posted this on the Skeptic Society forum. They told me that the grandmother could have interpreted this as a smile and laugh because grandmothers think of their children this way.

Here is the link:

I would like to know your thoughts about this because dualists take this as evidence of their survival hypothesis – because they are taking it that there is no brain but there is a form of consciousness.

Thanks for reading this and your time. Have a nice day.

Answer by SmartLX:
Hi Lukas. Successive questions aren’t a problem, especially when we’re not otherwise busy, and it’s great to provide answers when and where they’re needed.

I might have been more impressed by the story of Nickolas Coke if I hadn’t just come back from the local Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, where I was reminded of the story of Mike the Headless Chicken. Briefly, in 1945 a rooster was left with most of his brain stem intact after he was clumsily beheaded for the dinner table, and continued not only to survive but to act exactly like a rooster. He walked, jumped, perched, even tried to preen and crow with the beak he didn’t have. His owners worked out how to feed him through the neck with an eyedropper, and he lasted another 18 months. Very complex behaviours clearly required only a very small and relatively primitive part of the brain. (I just hope the hatchet robbed Mike of the ability to register pain.)

Compare this with Nickolas Coke, who had about as much brain as Mike and apparently did a lot less. There’s video of the kid in your first link; his eyes were open, his mouth and body moved, but his responses to stimuli don’t appear to extend beyond instinct. During the pumpkin patch episode, for example, the fact that they were trying to keep him still might have meant they were physically touching him enough to provoke a primal response to that alone.

There was doubtless some neural tissue in the brain stem performing some of the work of a complete brain (as with Mike) but, as the Society suggests, only a mother could think there was any kind of mind there. In the undeniably fascinating case of Nickolas Coke there nevertheless is little support for mind-brain dualism, so I wouldn’t worry about it.

Short, but not so simple…

Questions from Avi in bold, answers by SmartLX following each one:

Short and simple answers to these questions, having a hard time to answer, voices tend to question my thoughts into confusion. Please don’t waste time, answer it objectively and simple.
Thank you.

I’d bloody well better do short and simple answers, because some of these questions touch on such huge subjects I could take hours to answer them properly.

– Why is there a large growth of Christians in Philosophy, People like Alvin Platinga, Richard Swinburne, John Lennox, William A. Dembski, Nicholas Wolterstorff, William L. Craig, Tim O’Connor?
There have always been a huge number of Christian apologists, compared to any other type. There are a large number of newly publicised apologists now because there’s money in it. These guys sell books, tickets to seminars and other appearances, subscriptions to their regular publications…and some get huge donations from politicians for tacitly endorsing them.

– Are they stupid and delusional, must we force them out of education?
No Christian is necessarily stupid or clinically delusional. They are simply very likely to be wrong, and whenever this can be established with confidence the incorrect teachings should be kept out of the relevant parts of school curricula, for instance biology.

Is it possible to reduce a mental event into a physical events?
Are they interchangeable?

In the naturalistic, materialistic view, a mental effect is a physical effect as the brain is a physical part of the human body, but not all physical effects are mental effects because some of them have nothing to do with the cognitive areas of the brain.

– Can we only define pain as C fibres?
Pain is a signal that travels from parts of the body to the brain, and the reaction that signal creates. C fibres are merely the conduit for the signal.

– Can we as individuals have privileged access to other individuals?
If that’s the way things are arranged, sure. There’s a sci-fi convention coming up in Australia where you can pay through the nose for a small amount of quality time with William Shatner and Richard Dean Anderson. Try getting in for an autograph if you haven’t got a ticket.

– Can reality only be known through the 5 senses?
There are way more than five senses, but anyway, reality may not be known even through the senses. Some idea of reality can only be inferred from the information we receive through our senses, whether we experience things directly or we analyse evidence of past or remote events, but it might all be wrong. We can only amass enough information to reach a certain level of confidence in our opinion of what’s really going on around us. To declare any more surety than that is to delude oneself, which we all commonly do.

– Why is ID allowed in the scientific community in China, why is it free there?
Negligible copyright enforcement has a lot to do with it; English-language books advancing ID and denouncing evolution can be freely translated, copied and sold for a buck, but really I’ve got no evidence that ID is regarded in China’s scientific community any better than in America’s. Some scientists like Professor Paul K. Chien are advocating it there, just like Michael Behe does in the US, but is there any indication that it’s catching on?

– Is it ok to be a Christian? Why are Christians delusional?
As I said, Christians are likely to be wrong in my opinion, and there’s nothing wrong with being wrong except that you have an opportunity to correct yourself. Maybe they were raised with the idea, or they fell for some complicated apologetics, or they had some personal experience which they ascribed to the divine, but every believer has some reason to believe. The question in each case is whether it’s a good reason.

– Do we have to kill Christians in the very end in order to have a free, peaceful and open society?
Even if the existence of Christians absolutely precluded the existence of freedom and peace, killing them wouldn’t be the only answer; they could be persuaded that Christianity is false, for example. So without even discussing whether Christianity is compatible with freedom and peace, the answer to your question is no.

– If nihilism is true in the very end, where did value, and purpose come from? Should we force Christians into nihilism?
We humans place value on things and people ourselves, and we decide what our purpose is. Christians do the same, ultimately, but they attribute their values and perceived purposes to their God long after the fact. There’s no real motivation to force Christians into another philosophy, firstly because it’s almost impossible to change someone’s philosophy by force and secondly because just being Christian isn’t doing the majority of Christians (or everyone else) much harm. It’s the actions of Christians that occasionally do harm, and these should be addressed first.

– Why do I exist, Why am I here, Why do children have value? Why do I love? < Scientific view point
You exist because your parents had sex. There is a line of causality stretching from the fact of your existence to as far back as we can reasonably look into history. The ultimate prime reason for your existence may be the same as everyone else’s, or the line might go back forever. We don’t know. You love because your brain is equipped to form that kind of attachment to other people and living things, and that has a lot to do with why people give children the high value they have in today’s society.

– Do we force our mind into atheism and nihilism?
I certainly didn’t. I didn’t decide to be an atheist at all, I realised I was one already after not seriously thinking about it for more than a decade. You really don’t have to force it.

So, go chew on that lot.

Near Death Extrapolations

Question from Chris:
There are many near death experiences where the person goes to heaven and comes back.
How does this happen?
Are they making it up or what?
There are stories of people with the brain completely shut off so that there is no memory or ability to dream.
Any help would be great and I love your web site. Keep up the great work.

Answer by SmartLX:
Betty Bowers’ site is down right at the moment, but Bowers herself is actually a fictional character in a larger satire of fundamentalist religion called the Landover Baptist Church. There are plenty of real people with similar claims though.

Perhaps some are making it up for their own reasons (to make money selling books about their experiences, for example) but many are just describing what they think happened. Dreams and hallucinations during periods where the brain is almost dying can produce experiences which to the victims are indistinguishable from real supernatural out-of-body events.

The problem with the claims of zero brain activity is that if they’re telling the story, their brain function obviously returned at some point. Brains go through transitional states; between the initial loss of consciousness and the total cessation of brain function there’s at least a short period of partial brain function, and between restarting the brain and regaining consciousness there’s another period of partial function. If a claimed NDE happens in one of these two transitional periods, an unconscious victim with no sense of time might later think it happened right in the middle. It doesn’t make for good evidence of personal experiences not requiring brain function.

As I said in the previous post, I had a huge argument about this five years ago, and little has changed since then. Check it out if you like.

Michael Prescott Tries Theology

Question from Lukas:

First of all I want to thank this site for the answers I received so far. It really helps in discussions with believers.

Now to my new question which is rather long. A friend of mine who is a believer sent me a web address of a blog where he gives his reasons why he is a believer – he is a fan of Michael Prescott. I could not find good answers for these things:

(Shortened for quick reading, but see the full piece here)

1. The anthropic principle and cosmic coincidences. It is now a commonplace of astrophysics and cosmology that our universe appears to be “fine-tuned” to be orderly and habitable.

2. The origin of life. The old idea that the first living cell came together spontaneously by pure chance is no longer seriously argued, now that scanning electron microscopy has shown us the fantastic complexity of even the “simplest” cell.

(Points 1 and 2 are the ones that apparently persuaded Anthony Flew.)

3. All attempts to ground morality in naturalistic laws or brute physical facts have (in my opinion) failed, leaving us with two choices: either moral values are subjective and arbitrary, or they are objective but grounded in something outside nature.

4. Materialism, the view that the physical world is all that exists and that mind is, at best, only an epiphenomenon (i.e., trivial side effect) of matter, leads to a debased view of human beings, who are seen as mere animals, machines, robots, or vehicles for genetic reproduction. The dignity of man is incompatible with philosophical materialism.

5. On a personal level, I feel that life simply has no meaning if “this is all there is.”

6. In studying history, I became aware of the very large contribution to human happiness, well-being, and moral advancement made by religion.

7. Finally, after being an extreme skeptic with regard to paranormal phenomena, I began to study the field and found that much of the evidence was unexpectedly strong. This includes evidence for life after death, such as near-death experiences and the better-documented cases of apparitions, deathbed visions, and mediumship.

If you could please answer these questions I would be very glad.

Also thanks again for your time and this site its really great. Thanks for the answer and have a nice day.

Answer by SmartLX:
Your friend has thrown everything but the kitchen sink at you, and it only took him one link. Let’s dive into the pile, and see if crime writer Prescott has uncovered any real-life mysteries.

1. See my pieces on the fine tuning argument together here. Some of the main points:
– The term “fine-tuned” presumes a tuner in the first place.
– The fact that life is only supported on one tiny world within light years suggests that if it’s tuned at all it’s very poorly tuned.
– Some of the “tuned” constants could actually vary by a great deal and still allow life to form.
– We know at least one universe exists, and a multiverse hypothesis merely posits the existence of more of them. A god is completely without precedent in science and observation.

2. Prescott is just plain wrong here. The idea that the original proto-biology coalesced without being directed to do so is seriously argued, and there are a number of quite detailed models currently in play. He’s also wrong about the unlikelihood of new information emerging from disorder without a capital-M Mind to guide it, because it happens all the damn time. I recently argued this very point here.

3. We can argue about religious vs secular morality, but when you get down to it Prescott is just arguing that if there’s no god there’s no objective morality and this would be bad. Something is not more or less likely to be true based on whether it’s good or bad for us; an earthquake that kills millions is just as real as the discovery of a vaccine that saves millions. To suggest otherwise is a well-recognised logical fallacy called an argument from consequences.

4. Similarly, here he’s only saying that it’s better not to look at ourselves from a materialistic perspective (I disagree), and not bothering to actually argue that materialism is false. Same issue as #3.

5. If he can only find meaning in life if there’s a god, that’s his problem. To say it’s an actual argument supporting the existence of one, even to himself, is a third argument from consequences. Besides, I can find meaning in life without a god, and so can others.

6. Even if he’s right about the historical benefits of widespread religion, it’s a total non-sequitur to say that means there’s a god. Religion can have done everything it’s reliably recorded as having done over the millenia without the assistance of a single real deity. Such is the power of human belief and cooperation, for good or ill.

7. Even if paranormal phenomena were real, he’d have a lot of trouble linking them to any particular god. As for near-death experiences, that consciousness survives death is exactly the claim which lacks empirical evidence. I had my biggest discussion of this almost exactly five years ago on the old site (now archived, so don’t try to comment there) and in my estimation little of relevance has changed since.

So, all up there’s not much “philosophy of religion” from Prescott which is new. If Prescott is happy to use this stuff to convince himself, fine, but it doesn’t convince me.