Brian Malley

The sacredness of God

One of the difficulties I run into in expounding Pascal Boyer's theory of the minimal counterintuitiveness of religious concepts ("MCI theory") is that many people feel that the critical feature of god concepts—the gods’ sacredness or ultimacy—is not explained by the ...

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Heaven before the space age

or How I grew up with two parallel cosmologies Much has been said in cognitive approaches to religion about the co-existence in believers of beliefs that may seem blatantly inconsistent. The way religious ideas about the heavens co-exist with Space Age understanding the Universe is an interest...

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Is the “problem of evil” universal?

Reading a book recommended by my brother, Gregory Boyd's God at war (1997), I have recently been thinking about the problem of evil. Boyd suggests that the problem of evil arises because Christians believe that God is both good and in direct control of all things. People in many other societi...

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Cross potatoes

  "It was 7:30 PM, December 4th, 2005. The second Sunday of advent, in Joshua Tree, California. Personal Chef Karin Winkler started to prepare dinner. While thinking about upcoming Christmas, she was peeling and cutting a potato. Everything appeared to be normal. When she was ...

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Golden bell and Iron shirt

In some traditions there is an interesting gap betweeen what people think they are going to learn from the tradition and what actually ends up being transmitted. Recently I found a nice example of that while practicing Qi Gong. In his classic Seventy-two arts of Shaolin (Zhong, 2004) Jin Jing ...

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A question about polemics

Recently I came across a quotation that expressed, with wonderful clarity, something that I kind of half-knew but had not articulated so well to myself.  The historian John P. Meier, in the course of an argument about the historical Jesus of Nazareth, made the following generalization (Meier ...

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g Tum-mo heat meditation

Preparing for a lecture on homeostatic mechanisms, I came across a surprising phenomenon, g tum-mo heat meditation, that raises an interesting question about human enculturability. Homeostatic mechanisms are those that maintain our bodies (or our lives) in a state of balance between two (or ...

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The quest for Jesus

One of my interests is the history of Christianity, particularly the first few centuries, when there were some interesting varieties of the religion—my religion—quite unlike anything we see today, or will probably ever see again. Figuring out what exactly happened back then is no easy ...

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Scylla and Charybdis

Some of the most enduring kinds of cultural traditions have been interpretive in nature. My research has focused on the interaction of cognition and culture surrounding the Christian Bible, but in this series I am explore a broader general model of interpretive traditions. This is the fifth and ...

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Attribution

Some of the most enduring kinds of cultural traditions have been interpretive in nature.  My research has focused on the interaction of cognition and culture surrounding the Christian Bible, but in this series I am explore a broader general model of interpretive traditions.  This is the ...

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The interpretive process

This is the third installment of a series of posts on a cognitive approach to interpretive traditions (Part One - Part Two). One of the things people do with texts is read them. This is certainly not the only thing people do with texts, nor, I would argue, is it the primary thing people do with ...

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The interpretand

This is the second installment of a series of posts on a cognitive approach to interpretive traditions. The aim of this series is a general framework for the analysis of interpretive traditions. When I began to study the use of the Bible at Creekside Baptist Church, I tried to proceed systemat...

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