Saturday, July 17, 2010

Blackmore vs. Foster on the radio (UK)

I have to give Justin Brierly credit for getting two serious experts in the studio this time around, and giving them the chance to discuss in some detail about the science and subjectivity of mystical experience. Also, he gets credit for the only mention of the phrase "anally raped by dinosaurs" on Christian radio, anywhere at any time.

Charles Foster argues for the veracity of personal religious experience, describing his own encounter with the numinous and saying that "I came away full of something..." Here, we can all agree, though perhaps not as to particulars. He also argues that the correlation of particular brain states with particular mental states (e.g. mystical experiences) ought not be taken to mean that the mind is merely a function of brain activity as opposed to the experience of a genuine transcendence. Sue Blackmore argues that certain kinds of mental states can be artificially induced, thus giving us a reason to believe that mystical mental states are in fact the result of unusual but natural neurological conditions. They then get down into the details, and have a really decent give and take, backing up their arguments with peer reviewed studies and personal experiences. They talk of subjective experiences, the nature of the self and the possible explanatory power thereof. Overall, it is an excellent discussion and one well worth hearing.

1 comment:

- Tim Sormin - said...

Link to audio can be found here: