Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Defining Hallucination


           What does one think when one hears the word “hallucination?”  Unfortunately, it somewhat varies.  Usually NT Scholars when peer reviewing proponents of the hallucination theory have to define what hallucination means. [1]  Webster Thesaurus puts the following words as being synonymous with hallucination including,” delusion, ignis-fatuus, illusion, mirage, phantasm, apparition, fata-morgana, phantom, wraith.”[2]  The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines a hallucinatory moment as, “experience a seemingly real perception of something not actually present.” [3]  Webster dictionary 1st definition of what a hallucination is a,” perception of objects with no reality usually arising from disorder of the nervous system or in response to drugs (as LSD)” [4] with the second definition being, “the object so perceived.”[5]  The latter definition in Webster somewhat concurs with the Oxford’s, but not to the point of reasonable clarity.  Baker Encyclopedia of Psychology and Counseling defines a hallucination as,”… sight or sound events that have a compelling sense of reality but are not attributable to external stimulation of sensory organs.”[6]  Baker disagrees with Webster’s assessment that hallucination is synonymous with “illusion” as noted earlier. Baker asserts that illusions are,” misperceptions or misinterpretations of actual external stimuli” where as hallucinations are not.[7] NT Historians Gary Habermas and Micheal Licona lean in the direction that Baker does that there is a difference between hallucination and illusions, but they tack on that delusions are in their own category.  There definition of illusion[8] essentially agrees with Baker,[9] but they expand on what a delusional state is espousing it is a, “false belief held with the conviction that it is true in spite of evidence that invalidates its truth.”[10]  For the definition of hallucination, they essentially agree with Webster, Oxford, and Baker.  However, it is not synonymous with “illusion” or “delusion.”[11]  NT Historian and Philosopher William Lane Craig would agree with Habermas and Licona.  In one of his debates with German NT Scholar Gerd Ludeman (who adheres to a version of the hallucination theory), Craig outlines what hallucination means saying; “… hallucination is a non-veridical vision. It is an appearance to its percipient that has no extramental correlate and is a projection of the percipient’s own brain. It is therefore purely subjective and corresponds to no reality.”[12]  Craig has to outline what he means by hallucination because as he says,” I am not using the word hallucination pejoratively, as some of our commentators assume.”[13]  Craig is explicit that he does nto mean to use the word in a negative connotation sense.  By offering a explanation as to what he means by hallucination and that he does not mean it in a negative sense he implies he does not want to attack a straw man, and neither do I when peer reviewing naturalistic theories on the Resurrection such as the somewhat different variations of the hallucination theories. [14]  I pray defining terms continues for robust and respect peer reviews.  


[1] Philosopher of Religion Stephen Davis says that no one he has read has really explained what a”spiritual resurrection” means. Davis, Stephen. "James D.G. Dunn On THe Resurrection Of Jesus." In Memories of Jesus: A Critical Apprasail of James D.G. Dunn's "Jesus Remembered", by Robert Steward and Gary Habermass, 263. Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 2010; NT Scholar Micheal Licona writes, ‘In order to eliminate ambiguity and vagueness’ and to convey Goulder's hypothesis clearly, I will refer to his term "conversion vision" as a hallucination unless he employs it in a different sense. I do not tend to convey the ‘trivializing and pejorative associations’ Goulder fears. By hallucination, I mean a "sensory experience such as seeing persons or objects, hearing voices, and smelling odors in the absence of environmental stimuli.’ “Michael R. Licona. The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach (Kindle Locations 9956-9959). Kindle Edition; After a explaination of NT Historians John Dominic Crossan and Marcus Borg(Fellows of the Jesus Seminar) views on the bodily’s ness of Jesus’ Resurrection is Gary Habermas able to conclude, “But obviously, these scholars struggle with the bodily nature of the appearances.” Gary R. Habermas, The Historical Jesus: Ancient Evidence for the Life of Christ (Joplin, MO: College Press Publishing Company, 1996), 136. 
[2] Inc Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Thesaurus (Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, 1996).
[3] Catherine Soanes and Angus Stevenson, Concise Oxford English Dictionary, 11th ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004). 
[4] Inc Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary., Eleventh ed. (Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, Inc., 2003); in some other dictionaries hallucination is defined as the following with enough difference that if one was to develop a argument against the hallucination theory one needs to know how contemporary culture approaches what an hallucination is.   This is due to moderate, but significant enough differences that terms have to be defined by NT scholars such as Habermas, Licona, and Craig have had to do in response of the theory  as I discuss later in the body of this paper.  In the other dictionaries  hallucination is defined as “the alleged perception of an object when no object is present,occurring under hypnosis, in some mental disorders, etc.” hallucination. Dictionary.com. Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition. HarperCollins Publishers. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/hallucination (accessed: October 05, 2012); “False or distorted perception of objects or events with acompelling sense of their reality, usually resulting from amental disorder or drug.” Hallucination. Dictionary.com. The American Heritage Stedman's Medical Dictionary. Houghton Mifflin Company. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/hallucination (accessed: October 06, 2012); “A false perception that appears to be real, as when, for example,a man dying of thirst in a desert thinks that he sees a lake.”  hallucination. Dictionary.com. The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2005.http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/hallucination (accessed: October 07, 2012).
[5] Ibid
[6] Baker Encyclopedia of Psychology & Counseling, ed. David G. Benner and Peter C. Hill, 2nd ed., Baker reference library (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1999), 1252.
[7] Ibid
                [8] Gary R. Habermas and Michael Licona. The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus (Kindle Locations 963-964). Kindle Edition.
[9] Ibid, As far as I can tell in there endnotes in the chapter called “Mind Games” they use the same edition of Baker as I am.  Mine is in electronic format used on Logos 4.
[10] Ibid
                [11] Habermas and Licona sum up their explanation of what the difference is between the three categories of what a illusion, delusion, and a hallucination is writing, “An illusion is a distorted perception. A hallucination is a false perception. A delusion is a false belief.” Gary R. Habermas;Michael Licona. The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus (Kindle Locations 967-968). Kindle Edition.
[12] William Lane Craig, Gerd Lüdemann, Paul Copan and Ronald K. Tacelli, Jesus’ Resurrection: Fact or Figment?: A Debate Between William Lane Craig & Gerd Lüdemann (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 188.
[13] Ibid; 187-88.
[14]Philosophers Geisler and Brooks define the informal fallacy known as a straw man as being, “…to draw a false picture of the opposing argument.” Norman L. Geisler and Ronald M. Brooks, Come, Let Us Reason: An Introduction to Logical Thinking (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1990), 101; See footnote 7 above on how Licona has to explain his peer review to Goulder’s version of the hallucination theory in order to address Goulder’s concerns of the negative connotations behind the word “hallucination” in which he replaces with the term “conversion visions” 

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