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I have put together the framework of a systematic natural theology by examining different branches of Christianity from a cognitive perspective and have posted a series of essays written to a reasonably high standard. Most of these essays start with the analysis of a book but use this as a starting point for framing a systematic theology. There is a Protestant look at Catholic theology, a cognitive analysis of the traits of God, a look at American evangelical Christianity, an essay on American Catholicism, an essay on Orthodox Christianity, a cognitive analysis of Pentacostalism, a cognitive analysis of Reformed theology, and an analysis of Anabaptism, the branch of Christianity in which I grew up. These seven essays have a combined length of over 350 pages. Additional material can be found in the shorter, earlier essays on Calvinism and open theism mentioned lower down on this page.

I have also uploaded an essay on Jonathan Edward's Religious Affections as interpreted by Gerald McDermott, a cognitive analysis of the theology of N.T. Wright, an overview of Bill Gothard's attempt to combine cognitive analysis with American fundamental Christianity, and a look at James Loder's attempt to use the Chalcedonian formula to integrate Christianity and science.

My latest project has been analyzing books of the New Testament from a cognitive perspective. I have discovered that it is possible to use the theory of mental symmetry to analyze entire books at a verse by verse level, looking at the original Greek, and including the symbology. I have come to the conclusion that the Bible should not be viewed as a holy book but rather as a technically accurate textbook of cognitive development. I can now state with considerable confidence that the Bible is not an archaic description of myth and narrative, because it contains a more advanced comprehension of cognition than any other book that I have studied.

So far, I have analyzed the first half of the Gospel of John, Matthew 24 and parallel passages, 1 Corinthians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 John, and the Revelation of John.

When I starting doing research in mental symmetry back in the early 1980s, I had no intention of developing an integrated theory of Christianity. Instead, I had encountered a system of cognitive styles that seemed to explain human behavior and I wanted to explore it further. Yes, it is true that the list of seven cognitive styles comes originally from the twelfth chapter of the Biblical book of Romans, but then the inspiration for Carl Jung's psychological types was his Red Book, and that does not stop people from using MBTI.

However, I was only trying to decipher how the mind works, and hopefully develop a model which would help to understand the human brain better. But, I am an engineer and not a scientist. Give me a computer, and I want to see what can be done with it, how it can be fine-tuned and programmed so that it functions at total efficiency.

So, once I began to understand how the human mind functions, and observed how others were using and misusing their mental computers, I began to work out how one could program this computer, and how one could start from the empty but working computer of the infant and reach the totally functional mental computer of the adult.

And that is when the Christianity started appearing. I didn’t look for it, it showed by itself. Point by point, one Christian doctrine after another became obvious. Eventually I came to the conclusion that Christianity is simply a plan for developing the mind—described using the language of the child. Yes, the attitude of fundamentalism ends up twisting the content, but both the attitude and the content can be analyzed using the diagram of mental symmetry.

Since then, I have discovered that analyzing Christianity from a cognitive viewpoint tends to annoy people. The fundamentalist Christian is suspicious of any approach which does not start by 'quoting the Bible', even if the content is the same as the Bible. Theologians have attempted--and only partially succeededed--to analyze Christian doctrine for so many centuries that it has become an article of faith that core Christian doctrines cannot be understood by the human mind. Thus, when an individual without a PhD in theology comes along and suggests that these doctrines can be rationally analyzed, then this assertion tends to be regarded with suspicion. Meanwhile, the typical lay believer cracks open my book, reads a few pages, and then declares that it is too complicated to understand.

As for the secular audience, the typical scientist, with his focus upon empirical evidence, assumes that Christianity is not worthy of rational analysis. While the cognitive science of religion does use rational thought to analyze religion, it uses the theory of evolution to analyze folk religion and typically regards theology as irrelevant.

All I can say is that it fits. It is possible to use a cognitive model to explain Christianity rationally. I am not talking about a rationalization that explains away Christian belief or a postmodern deconstruction that questions the concept of Christian theology. instead, I am talking about a translation of Christianity into cognitive language that respects the biblical text, preserves the meanings of words, emphasizes the same fundamental concepts, includes the same path of personal transformation, and can handle the existence of both a real God as well as non-physical reality. I have recently released a 450 page book that contains the latest and most complete version of this cognitive model, entitled Natural Cognitive Theology. Working out the details of this analysis took some time, and you can access some earlier versions of my analysis as well as supplementary material.

The first version was entitled ‘Biblical Christianity—derived from a diagram.’ It is somewhat simplistic and disconnected, lacks references, and suffers at times from attitude problems, but it is also easy to understand.

The entire text of that book is available here or can be downloaded from the Downloads section. I have divided it into four sections so that it is more manageable on the web:

Biblical Christianity—derived from a diagram, Part 1

Biblical Christianity—derived from a diagram, Part 2

Biblical Christianity—derived from a diagram, Part 3

Biblical Christianity—derived from a diagram, Part 4

In late 2011, I put together a comprehensive 90 page summary of the theory of mental symmetry including what was at that time the latest version of my analysis of Christianity. The current extended version is contained in the book God, Theology & Cognitive Modules, available on Amazon in either hard copy or Kindle form.

Since then, I have attempted to expand my analysis of Christianity by looking at different branches of Christian theology.

You can find an early look at the relationship between Christianity and Kant here.

I added a brief look at open theism. Looking at the other side of the doctrinal fence, I attempted to analyze Calvinism with its focus upon the sovereignty of God here, and I took a look at a rebuttal written by Calvinist theologians against open theism. For those who are not familiar with this theological controversy, it basically involves reconciling human free will with divine sovereignty. In secular language, this describes the relationship between infinite and finite, or between big structure and human individuality. This is an issue with which we all struggle, especially in today's world of globalization. in simple terms, how can one preserve order without attacking personal freedom, and how can one protect the individual without leading to anarchy.

A friend of mine took a class in Christian ethics, and so I took the liberty of analyzing the textbook for the class.

Ravi Zacharias is a Christian apologist who uses rational thought to defend Christianity. He presents a number of interesting arguments, but because he lacks a cognitive model, he is unable to come up with a rational explanation for core Christian doctrines. An analysis of Beyond Opinion can be found here.

The books mentioned here deal with Christian theology. However, I have also tried to look at Buddhism and I am somewhat familiar with Judaism. In order to expand my analysis to include Islam, I added a 38 page analysis of Islam in May 2012.

In general terms, I suggest that Buddhism and Islam, like Christianity, are mentally natural religions. Buddhism is the religion that emerges when mystical worship is taken to its ultimate conclusions, while Islam emerges when a religion fully pursues blind faith.

Herman Dooyeweerd is a Dutch philosopher who died in 1977. He attempted to put together a Christian philosophy, and his system contains a number of interesting concepts. However, it is also a hybrid model which combines mysticism with rational thought. In October 2012, I put together a 60 page analysis of Dooyeweerd, in which I attempted to place the main concepts of Dooyeweerd within a more integrated package.