Does Science Have Anything to Say About the Soul?

I have a short article up at On Faith this week (“What Does Science Tell Us About the Soul?”) that introduces some of the problems posed by brain science to the traditional idea of the soul. The short version of it: “everything we associate with the human soul may just be happening in our heads.” I go into a little more background to it over at The Discarded Image, but if you want to cut straight to the article, here you go:

“….Last year, a Harris poll discovered that 64 percent of Americans believe in the survival of the soul after death, with 68 percent convinced of a heaven and 58 percent of hell. Many beliefs are discarded over time, but the existence of the soul isn’t likely to disappear anytime soon. There are good reasons, however, to think it should….

…When philosopher René Descartes said, “I think, therefore, I am,” he probably hadn’t considered the development of Brain Control Interfaces (BCI). For a while now, scientists have worked to create brain-to brain-interfaces, with initial success coming in the form of a remotely connected human moving a rat’s tail. That was quickly followed by other research, with the most recent being two remotely connected human brains, with one playing a videogame through the hand of another person…” Read the full article at On Faith.


Inside Higher Ed: Lessons on Leaving My Full-Time Faculty Position

My first piece (“Know When to Walk Away”) for Inside Higher Ed is up this week. If you read this blog, you know that on July 31, 2014 I left my full-time faculty position. It was a decision that I think was right and was the result of both personal reflection and conclusions I came to after writing a Consider No Evil: Two Faith Traditions and the Problem of Academic Freedom in Religious Higher Education.

My article at IHE offers three questions every faculty member should ask when trouble breaks out at an institution. Surprisingly, I don’t think many actually ask these, but they could save you a world of heartache.

For an Evangelical school, the statement of faith is the first job qualification. A search committee may have the perfect candidate, but ultimately, if the person cannot sign the faith statement, he or she is disqualified. This faith distinction is often what’s behind news reports of faculty at Evangelical schools losing their positions over views of LGBTQ rights and identity or creationism.

When stories like these hit the news, non-academics often ask me: if these faculty aren’t a good fit, why don’t they just leave and pitch their tents elsewhere? It’s a valid question.

But it’s also extremely complicated. As a professor who just voluntarily gave up his faculty position at a Christian seminary, primarily over a faith statement, I can explain why it is so difficult to leave. Read the full article at Inside Higher Ed….


Finding that Middle Grade Wonder

When I was a kid, my imagination plundered middle grade fiction. I had a wild imagination. My father likes to tell the story of when my teacher asked he and my mother if there was a way to keep me from talking in class. He suggested she move me away from the other student encouraging the talking.

“That’s the problem,” she replied, “he’s talking to himself.”

Apparently, I had a thing for pretending my pencil was a rocket—including making noises related to said rocket—and that does not mix well with math lessons. Continue reading…