Discussing a concept, any concept, is doomed to failure until and unless it is clarified. It must have a clear definition. It must be differentiated from other concepts; it is this and not that. It is either “A” or “non A”. Logic must guide the process into non-contradictory identification. Any attempt at conceptualization which fails to meet this standard does not rise to the level of a concept. Rather, it is a nebulous notion.
“Inspiration” is one example of the failure to rise to the level of a concept. I am using the term in the sense of religious parlance somehow having authority to provide knowledge not otherwise knowable.
What is it? Everybody is using it as though the audience just sort of “knows” what is being discussed. Its root, “inspire”, indicates the action of a third party upon a sentient mind, but what is that action? How does it work? How is it verified? Can it be falsified? How would it be differentiated from hallucination? Since the brain is a receptor and organizer of sensory perceptions, how does inspiration operate in bypassing the senses to convey direct knowledge? How does one see without using the eyes or hear without using eardrums? In the case of “holy writings”, why should anyone believe the extraordinary claim? Why would anyone assume that writings (most biblical documents) which don’t even claim “inspiration” must somehow be so only because they were gathered together by persons unknown with unknown motives, and simply stamped “authoritative”, that is, canonical.
As Don McAdams notes, faith is required to accept inspiration, but that faith must be directed toward the claimant; in essence, taking someone’s word for it. One cannot bypass the claimant and simply conclude that an angel or a god conveyed the information. No, one must directly exercise faith in the self-proclaimed prophet. Doesn’t that seem a bit sketchy for information deemed to be vital?
The word lacks definition and has become useless in discussing any matter of gaining knowledge or having authority. I would challenge anyone to give a clear conceptualization of “inspiration”. Also show how we would know it if presented with a claim. It amazes me that so-called “inspiration” is elevated above reason in the minds of so many, although to my own embarrassment I once held that perspective.
PS, in the attempt to define and conceptualize the term, it would be helpful to do so using other words and concepts which themselves have clarity, rather than terms such as “spirit”, “supernatural”, etc which are equally conceptually meaningless. I believe there is a term for this phenomenon in paranormal studies; ESP, extra-sensory perception.