Bernard White


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What theological implications does the "Psychology" and "Neuroscience" (and possibly biology) of religion (or "God(s)") have?

I'm very interested in people's opinions on this matter.
I would just like to say, as I have said in the past, this debate is not to make mockery of "God". It is just honesty enquiry.
Yet as I have explored with my other debates in the past, it seems we must first define (or describe to the best of our limits) what we mean by "God(s)" and "Existence". Otherwise the debate "Does God exist?" becomes slightly meaningless.
Now that's done.
I was reading much about the psychology of religion, and found that due to articles like :
“Thinking Style and Belief In God” - Art Markman
Link :
"We are programmed to believe in a god" by Jesse Bering.
"Is God an Accident" by Paul Bloom :
that had many theological implications!
And made me think :
- There is a strong correlation with a "Theory of mind" and belief in God. Animals don't really have a "theory of mind", does this mean other animals can't experience "God(s)"?
- Psychologists can now artificially create a "God experience", Doesn't this make the "Religious experience" argument rather dubious?. Link :
And there are probably many more Tedsters could think of!
However I do think it is worth mentioning that :
As Justin L. Barret said, that the psychology and neuroscience of religion (God) doesn't (dis)prove that God isn't real. For it wouldn't make much sense if a God who wanted to be in a relationship with us, didn't give us the ability to conceive such a God.
Another great quote by him :
"Having a scientific explanation for mental phenomena does not mean we should stop believing in them. “Suppose science produces a convincing account for why I think my wife loves me — should I then stop believing that sh

  • Keith W

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    May 16 2013: Religion is a byproduct of evolution and is a result of and a function for many different things. Humans are the most social of all creatures, we are a creatures whos very survival rests on cooperation and compliance. Its been suggested by anthropologists that religion in its most rudimentary sense began with ancestral worship. It makes sense if you think of the evolutionary advantage of conformity and the inherent inclination to have reverence for those who are older and wise. Long story short religion itself evolved as society and human demands changed. Humans also are the only species aware of their own mortality another role religion has to keep us from being traumatized by our inevitable fate. With that said God however you may define him, is more likely to be a psychological and cultural construct and not a reality, although a God might actually exist in some abstract way. Pretty much it seems to be even if there is a God its not a God or the God that we conceive.
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      May 16 2013: " God however you may define him"
      Pantheism : God = Universe.
      Is the universe part of our imagination?
      I disagree with your views on the evolutionary reasons for religion. Yet I can see the logic to them! :-)
      Religion has many other advantages except for "conformity". Like the sense of "meaning + purpose" it brings people, the sense of a loving community (/ family). Most religions encourage altruistic deeds, and God(s) act as the deterrent to "force" you to do them. There are many other clever mechanisms within religion, e.g "resisting temptation" = An increase in willpower. Religion also acts as a moral reminder (the cross) and the concept of confessions is proven to increase honesty. Some religions even encourage introversion, and a sense of humility.
      "even if there is a God its not a God or the God that we conceive"
      I agree. Yet what happens if it is a God we have conceived yet we just don't know about?
      • Keith W

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        May 16 2013: All good qualities of religion you pointed out all have evolutionary advantages. I wasn't
        saying conformity was the only advantage.
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          May 16 2013: Yet I must admit the "Psychology + Neuroscience" and "Evolutionary biology" of religion / "God(s)" doesn't prove nor disprove the claim "God(s) Exist". (After of-course you do what Carlos Marquez calls "The Bernard Test", where you have to define (or describe to the best of your ability) what "God(s)" and "Existence" actually are!)
          I find the Christian God hard to believe in (the omnibenevolent omnipotent omniscient God), due to there being too many logical paradoxes (e.g "the problem of evil"). Yet in an odd way I can't "disprove" it.
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      May 17 2013: Wow . . . Mr. Wessman, I admire your thought on this matter. Your comments are complete, brief, and to the point.
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      May 24 2013: Just to say.
      I never got to say : That was a really good comment! :D
  • May 31 2013: Bernard,

    Great topic to consider. I find your question quite ironic because this is what I am looking to study throughout my time in graduate school.

    It is hard to understand the psychology and neuroscience of religion and or this, "god factor" because relatively little research has been done on the topic. There's a great documentary on the topic called, "God on the Brain" which I think you might find interesting. It mentions a study based of the University of Wisconsin (I believe) that studied buddhists in deep meditation and Catholic nuns who while immersed in meditation and prayer, activated certain areas of the brain. There are others who tackle this question as well, especially in regards to aesthetic experiences. One such person is John Richmond, who is a bit dated but worth looking at.

    It is my view that it is important to look at anthropology, sociology, and politics when talking about religion. All of these factors can help explain the formation of religion in regards to its purpose in creating community. However, the quote you provided by Barrett provides some type of foundation for arguing that our brains might be hardwired for an experience that we then label as being either religious, aesthetic, or God. The truth is that religion is a complicated topic, but quite fascinating when we start to look deeper than whats on the surface.
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      Jun 1 2013: Sorry for my late reply!
      Thank you for your insightful opinion.
      Part 1 : (:P)
      The only psychology (and neuroscience) I know about religion comes from these two books :
      - "The Belief (or God) Instinct: The Psychology of Souls, Destiny, and the Meaning of Life" (By Jesse Bering)
      - "The Believing Brain: From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies---How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths" (By Michael Shermer)
      Where both books argue that religion can be reduced to psychology.
      I view they (both) explain religion with three main psychological mechanisms :
      - Our theory of mind (or as Michael Shermer calls it "Agenticity"). Which enables us to extend a mind towards certain patterns.
      - The other one is our ability to form patterns. (By Classical + Operant conditioning, and facial recognition, or just our general ability to find patterns).
      Also both form a compelling case that there is a correlation with an external locust of control (or self-learned helplessness) and the ability to find patterns. Due to it reduces anxiety, due to it giving the illusion of "control".
      This in-turn has produces a correlation with well-being of countries and religiosity.
      - The last one is "telo-functional reasoning", which is simply put : people think that something exists for a preconceived purpose rather than simply came to be as a functionless outgrowth of physical otherwise natural processes.
      However Michael Shermer goes into the "outer body" experience aspect. Jesse Bering tackles the evolutionary adaptation of religion (to reduce gossip).
      Both agree though, that if our ability to find patterns is primed for a belief in God. We are more likely to find patterns that confirm our belief in God(s). Which results in "Confirmation Bias".
      That's all I really know!
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      Jun 1 2013: Part 2 :
      While it is interesting to note that a "Theory of mind" is correlated with a belief in God. Due to studies done in children (
      However it is interesting to note, that Michael Shermer books seems more in-depth. Consideirng he makes refernce to the "God Helmet" (
      I personally view that Jesse Bering's book deserves more recognition. While the both seem to agree on a lot of things! Such as the fact it is our theory of mind, which enables us to be inherent dualists.
      Kind regards,
      I would love to knwo if you have any more book recommendations on the matter! :D
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    May 23 2013: Does anyone here know the difference between debating an issue and squabbling about it? If debate cannot persuade others to your leanings, it is just squabbling. The purpose of debate is to persuade others to your cause or understanding. Anything you say that does not assist in performing this end is useless and unnecessary. It is important in a debate to understand the views of the other parties/party.

    Debating is not competition. There are no winners in a (practical) debate. It is a means to an end.

    It doesn't matter how strongly you feel about your ability to flap your arms and fly. If you jump off a cliff the result will be the same, no matter your belief. ~ John Ray
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      May 24 2013: Great comment! It saddens me to realize that we may indeed just be "squabbling". (Probably me included).
      It seems not much progress is being made with this debate.
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        May 24 2013: Don't be sad :)

        We all do it. Most of you guys are much younger than I. I'm 62 years old and I still squabble. :) I'm starting to see a new, younger, generation of tedsters around TED. This is a good thing. Most of us older types have talked and debated just about everything there is to discuss. It's refreshing to see both new and common ideas arising in younger minds. It makes all our work appear worthwhile.

        I have a dog. His name is Merlin the wizard puppy. He understands some English words and obeys my commands. It took quite awhile to get him to do this, but he does understand a lot of things. He both accepts emotional contact and expresses it also. He is an animal. We don't expect animals to express emotions and feelings, as humans do, but I can't help but think that Merlin does to a small degree. Of course he is highly domesticated. I sometimes wonder if dogs will evolve to be similar in some ways to humans with a more evolved brain. Is it possible, I wonder that dogs with no opposing thumbs, fingers, or ability to express human works like language, art, etc to evolve just because they are taken care of by humans? We do many things for our pets. As a result, they may not need to work their way up the ladder as mankind has. Children, paralyzed at a very young age, still turn out to understand all things human.

        I have a pet fish, a Betta. I tap on the side of his tank and he comes a running, because he knows that means feeding time. If we can train a simple animal like a fish to come to the dinner table, does this imply that we don't know as much as we should about animals, mental abilities?

        I hope your generation can answer these simple, perhaps, insignificant, questions. I recommend to all young people that they read Spinoza. He's a philosopher and a Jewish heretic from the 1600's. I think his way of thinking was pretty modern for a person in his time period. Descartes is also good to read. Also, Helen Keller.

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          May 24 2013: Personally I view Spinoza in a very high light.
          It's ironic (to me) that you just mentioned him, because I was reading the book "Religion for Atheism", where Alain de Botton talks about Spinoza briefly how he got consolation from the view that his problems were irrelevant from the grandeur of the universe. (Is this correct?)
          You can watch his TED talk even : "Atheism 2.0"

          Kind regards,
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          May 24 2013: John,
          I suggest grabbing a copy of Karen Pryor's "Reaching the Animal Mind"

          Once you open a real line of communication, you'll be on a journey will animals that reaches and opens YOUR mind in was you cannot yet imagine.

          When you start to see Merlin as a being and not an animal, as a being within the organism., you may weep with realization. You may also see that Merlin is not inferior in any way. He can teach and train you. Merlin has natural night vision, super hearing, can see magnetic fields (auras), can sense disease in others and natural disasters. Know any humans like that?

          I have been handing out Karen's book "Dont Shoot the Dog" since it was published and am excited when people like you come to the place where they ask these questions like yours. I am enthused because you are just a few steps from discovering something amazing.

          I can promise you- within the first few days of working with Merlin, there will be a moment when Merlin looks you in the eye and thinks, "Wait! You can understand me!? We can communicate!?" and off you both will go on a never ending adventure. You may never see animals the same again. All you do is initiate the communication.. then throw the books away and just communicate. Karen's techniques simply open the connection.. Im not sure that even she knows the true majic of what she has uncovered.
          Soon enough you will see every motion of Merlin and translate it. He licks his whiskers isnt just "a dog thing", he looks at something- it isnt just him looking- its all communication.

          Thanks for the opportunity to share. I hope this inspires you to further investigate your questions and unlock the being inside Merlin : ) (The Betta can be reached and communed with also)
          I apologize for the drift in conversation in advance.
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    May 19 2013: If there is one thing religion studies and theology has proven in culture sciences, it is one key idea: humans are naturally 'religious.' (keywords: religious naturalism, [cognitive] psychology of religion, AND memetics)

    WE group-orientate (most important factor), have rituals, have patterned rationalities, need others to 'feel' as though we 'know' and vice versa, develop dogmas and taboos, create belief systems from the former factors, and then the practical usage of the above (with or without conscious awareness).

    Besides the question of a 'creator-God' there are other questions religions worry about, which seem to be innately metaphysical concerns of people: the beginning, the end, the purpose, the reason, and where the 'self' comes into play...

    Practicing a religion, and enjoying it, is natural to human beings. With that can come fundamental or non-fundamental images of God and answers to the above questions, but truly it has never been a question of God that plagues religion... It is the question of the morality championed within the religion. What God is, is unique to every individual that describes God... But what is right and wrong can more easily recorded and made into data, than that of what everyone believes 'God' is or is not.

    But, no matter to who, denying truth and morality is always a negative...

    The question of evolution makes the God-question all the more interesting, beautiful and wonderful...Not resolved or in jeopardy. To reject this 'reality' is in a sense, to me, rejecting God in the most basic principle: "We are made in the image of the image-less one." This fundamentalist practice of any religion will show high levels of irrationality in optimism and band-wagon reasoning. If we are designed to grow and develop in the 'image of God' that also takes understanding God and what we use to understand God - ourselves, others and knowledge.

    Whatever theology has done, it hasn't done enough to change the mind sciences for the better, yet.
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      May 23 2013: "... If there is one thing religion studies and theology has proven in culture sciences, it is one key idea: humans are naturally 'religious.' (keywords: religious naturalism, [cognitive] psychology of religion, AND memetics).."

      Doesn't this imply that non-religious people are somehow unnatural human beings? What, in the natural sense, is the difference between a non-religious person and an religious person. Without speaking to either, how could you determine their stance on, religious or non-religious belief.

      In nature, we can look at two different plants and state one is different from the other. We can measure the atom and determine is is made up of electrons, protons and neutrons. This is because they have certain, natural attributes we can measure or discern. We can look at two different people and see they may have different physical characteristics but not what they think about anything.

      By religious preference, if a non-believing and believing human, each do good in their life and responsibly seek the betterment of their fellow humans, what would be the natural difference between them?
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        May 24 2013: John,

        Did you at bare minimal wikipedia the phrases I posted?

        If we are naturally religious, this just ask what is being religious? Well, patternicity, group-orientation, rituals, traditions, metaphysical conquest, dogma, and more (these are qualities of what humans do, that can be seen in groups of humans). Religious behavior is a type of group-thinking which is innate in our developing psyches in order to develop and respond to our predestined conditions. In another sense, what it is to be religious is natural and therefore must be investigated as such - and when such is being investigated, one will realize the dependency an individual has on those that surround the individual - others.

        We are nothing without others - we NEED others in order to have a functional and developed mind - or at least a good enough mind to work in that particular society.

        Now, the question could be "is it not easier to just say we are naturally group-oriented?" Well yes, but that does not give justice to the gravity of the situation. The fact is we are OVERLY group-oriented by nature - like mirror neurons to evolve and grow or self actualization in society to feel accepted.

        It's not simply a matter of rejecting the term 'religious' - and, if someone is non-religious they are still going to conform to other standards in which irreligious/non-religious can be practiced. Hence all my constant non-sense about 'neo-atheist' - it is a new age religion, not organized, no shared rituals, but dogmas, metaphysical conquest, group-orientation, tradition, and patternicity.

        It is HOW you look at something that counts, yes. But we cannot say humans are not GROUP creatures, and to suggest they are non-religious naturally is innately flawed. We are designed to develop within groups, and develop in response to said groups.

        This particular response is not in the mindset of morality, but after this mindset is made - morals are all the more clear. A non-anthropocentric attitude, helps a lot
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          May 24 2013: Well, yes. I would say we are oriented towards grouping together. In fact, from an evolutionary perspective, this is exactly what the first bio-proto-particles did. They grouped together and via, some type of symbiotic process, merged to become a living, metabolizing cell. Perhaps it is ingrained oin our very DNA.

          “Hence all my constant non-sense about 'neo-atheist' - it is a new age religion...”

          I can agree with that. I think atheism is consistently moving to organize and standardize their total focus on destroying the religious domain. Not all atheists, but there are some really serious Atheists out there -as serious as some Theists.

          In the beginning of our Universe, it is said that a single proton, became the foundation of all the elements we know to exist. It was able to accomplish this by grouping together with other protons, increasing their total gravity, and become more dense and heavy. Ultimately, they exploded to become suns and the process of Universal creation was on it's way.

          Grouping, in this view, has been the constant motivating force of the entire universe.

          My question is: how does this fit in with multi-deminsional-parted-question that Bernard White posted?

          I imagine that little baby is getting bigger N. L.? I don't remember you posting a comment directly to me. Did I miss something?

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        May 24 2013: " My question is: how does this fit in with multi-deminsional-parted-question that Bernard White posted?"


        We need unitary alliances with academics, not privatization. We understand the universe evolves because of an interconnected system! But we do not design systems and paradigms to be interconnected so easily! It's maddening to think the goal of all scientist, researchers, theologians, theorist, writers, historians, etc are all trying to do the same thing (TO KNOW) but disconnected at the point of WHO KNEW FIRST and WHAT DO WE DO WITH THE KNOWLEDGE!

        Your last sentence is confusing, the baby, my cousin, is doing just fine. I don't think you missed anything John

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          I'm afraid I still don't understand what it is you are trying to say.

          This is the first time I've heard from you in a long while. I remember your comments. You used to have a picture of you and a baby on the couch. That's where I'm coming from with the last sentence. I can edit that out if you like.

          What we need and what we can afford or have the ability to produce is far different from what we have and are capable of producing. I would suggest you form an alliance of your own towards producing these types of productions. You could become a leader.

          Saying the same thing louder or with more veracity will not help get the intended message across if your audience didn't understand it the first time you said it. Perhaps rewording it might help.
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        May 24 2013: I am limited with options of how to alter text: TEXT, 'text', "text", (text) ... maybe even *text*

        CAPS isn't yelling it's making a distinctive point.

        In any research there is a want of an unified theory. This can only happen from looking at the same problem in many different ways, and we see this in cognitive science. Multiple disciplines making solutions to collective problems. This mentality should be done in every aspect of life, not just our in our research sciences.

        So for the couch warmer - basically, when you hear information, look for how others also work with and deal with that information. This anticipation will let someone know the vastness of the applicability of their knowledge.

        The best perspective comes from having many perspectives, not from building off of one.

        I do not know how else to explain this, but maybe examples drawn from research?

        Check out the paradigm of 'evolutionary cognitive neuroscience' - something I am still learning about and proves troublesome because neuroscience's terminology is very rough (to memorize ALL of the parts and their functions, sucks). But in a rough definition - the idea in which the study of the mind/individual should be practiced in light of the evolution of cognitive development - which is something dependent on sociological factors rather than only individual (psychological) factors.
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          May 24 2013: Nicholas, my suggestion to you is that you try to make just one point and offer some supporting evidence to back it up. Check for redundancy in your sentences. Don't use the same word twice in one sentence. Use a thesaurus.

          One point, well made, is more important than a whole paragraph filed with multiple points that only add discussion to the debate. Unless, of course, it is your intention to cause confusion.

          You say, "The best perspective comes from having many perspectives, not from building off of one"

          I would counter that the best perspective is the one that offers the most closure on the issue being discussed or gives greater detail because of the perspective. For instance: a man on a hill ( vertical and broad sweeping perspective) might have a greater view than multiple people on the ground (horizontal, narrow perspective).
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        May 24 2013: Indeed, in my attempt to be simple proves redundant at times, but at this point I do not know what I am breaking down for you?

        What you feel causes confusion, I feel does broaden the debate. Which is more important than being right... To show where boundaries do not exist.

        The best disclosure comes from discussing the greater details (having many perspectives). Closure suggest certainty but while 'certainty' exist, what certainty applies to is not certain... Yes, words are my limitation. Your example is useful, but who interprets the perspective is still many of others not on the hill... A constant battle of communication is where all of this ties together, I guess.
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      May 30 2013: Actually there is still the question of whether a particular religious god or goddess concept is correct, whether the dogma and scriptures are from a god or goddess, whether the interpretations are correct.

      Then there is still the question is there any god.

      If god believers believe in different god concepts they can not all be correct.

      Humans seems to have a hyperactive agency assumption. We not only believe in gods, but nature spirits, faerie, aliens, little people, demons, evil spirits, guardians, kami, hidden worlds etc. The strength of science is it relies on evidence not intuition.
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        May 30 2013: Indeed, a lot of God-concepts were made into deities figures later on but stem from philosophical positions like 'change' 'destruction' 'birth' or 'divinity'

        And yes, today there are different interpretations of the same type of Judea-Christian God that varies from each different Christian Tradition. But, individuals being correct about "God" isn't the concern of neuroscience (or at least shouldn't be), the concern should be what is their state of mind like when they are thinking God? Does that state of mind stack up with the other states of mind on God? How? Where? When? (These questions are being illuminated today)

        All and all these issues do not need to be left solely to the philosophies and theologies, but to the mind sciences. However to dismiss religious studies and experimental philosophy is not in anyway going to resolve these issues... By suggesting "science" is the answer - which just reminds me of the South Park episode of 'Go God Go' - overstatements of "science" is just as bad as overstating words like "God" and "religion" nothing gets done in debate.
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    May 11 2013: I suggest this type of knowledge is showing us that god beliefs could be leveraging cognitive processes such as agency detection. That the what is perceived as religious experience could be in a product of natural processes.

    Many kids have imaginary friends. We have the cognitive machinery to imagine these, goblins, fairies, spirits and gods etc.

    That it all comes down to interpretation. If I experience seeing Napoleon in the flesh, then culturally it might be judged a hallucination. But a similar experience seen in a cultural religious context gets classified a different way.

    This does not disprove the supernatural, just that it may be all natural processes.

    We see the brain is active when praying. No one can prove whether there is some supernatural connection or not. It is speculation to assume it is, imo.
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      May 11 2013: Your thoughts are very similar to mine on this matter.
      This is one of the reasons I remain agnostic about (almost all forms) of deities.
      However, to me it raises interesting theological questions, as mentioned in the description! :D
      (Nice to see you again Obey No1Kinobe! :D)
      Kind regards,
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        May 12 2013: Hi Don

        1. If you are talking about wireless messages via electromagnetic radiation, no. I understand many modern technologies may be considered magical to those with no understanding. But it is a phenomena in the natural world, light, energy, matter etc. Whereas connecting to some being not part of the natural world and via thought only is supernatural. I'm not sure if you consider our ability to send radio messages evidence that humans can send thoughts to beings outside time, space, matter and energy?

        2. For brevity and because I am aware of reports of scientific testing that shows certain parts of the brain active during prayer. Its also relevant.

        I could have mentioned many other examples e.g. similar tests on Buddhist moks show parts of their brain action during meditation.

        Now they may be making some mystical connection to the universe also. We don't know. That is the bit we can not test. We just know brain activity is part of the prayer and meditation experience.

        Similar for psychoactive substances. I have heard people saying LSD helps them connect to God. It could. We don't know. We only know it does physical and chemical changes on their brain that impacts their perceptions and cognition.

        In ancient times the worship of Bacchus involved imbibing alcohol, that helped establish a mystical connection or perceptions. In the Americas similar with hemp and peyote.

        You lock a human in a completely dark and silent room and they start hearing and seeing things

        The dervish spin around to touch god.

        At most evangelical churches there is music, emotion, and the release of some social inhibitions.

        We enter a mild trance watching TV.

        We reasonably know the brain is involved in all these. We don't know if people are connecting to supernatural spirit realms and being or they are just natural cognitive functions and brain state outcomes given the stimulation or activity.

        I think it most likely all these are natural, not connecting to God, as far as we knw
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    Jun 7 2013: It fascinates me how atheists are open to hatred and ridicule and are still accused of devil worshiping and hating freedom. And then as soon as someone not even ridicules, they just question someone's god, they get worked up and sometimes leave the room without disputing anything.

    The neurological processes in someone's mind to perform such horrible and inhumane hypocrisy is confusing. Their very own consciousness is what they actually believe to be the Voice of God. Psychologically speaking, they assume all of their beliefs based on first instinct. There have been studies that children and religion share a common point to decision making. When they want to prove something right, they only look for things that go right.

    For example, if you pray for rain and it rains, then God seems likely. If it doesn't then it doesn't do bad, you just dismiss it. It doesn't falsify your beliefs. But why not? Coincidences are not in their equation. This illusion builds upon itself. This is why it is easier for young people to become atheists. They don't have all of these years of experiences of them disregarding truth built upon themselves. Fresh minds are the most brilliant minds.
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      Jun 7 2013: "are still accused of devil worshiping"
      Well just tell that to Don Wesley ("It seems Bernard that you and Jimmy Strobl (and probably Colleen Steen), are in grip of the Devil.")
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        Jun 7 2013: well, bernard, i did not bother continuing that thread because he appears to be incapable of rationality.
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          Jun 7 2013: He is! It's what I've been saying all along. There are some people that hang around here that are completely incapable of rationality. Don is one if them.

          We're all the devil and should suffer in eternity if we don't agree with him or his view on God.
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        Jun 7 2013: I'm popping in to confirm your statement Bernard. Yes, I and many other folks have been called the devil, representative of the devil, evil, etc. many times by Don Wesley. It seems to be his pattern to give the label of devil to those who do not agree with him, and it is also his pattern to say that he is a representative of god, and god speaks to him, guiding him. Doesn't make for a very interesting conversation!
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          Jun 7 2013: Do you agree that life begins at Conception?
          No, you think that life begins at birth?
          You are siding with the Devil, and are the Devil's mouthpiece!
          That is what Don's logic feels like to me.
          I'm tempting to close this conversation down, considering it is leading to non-constructive comments!
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        Jun 7 2013: Bernard,
        I believe the life energy changes form many times. The egg is part of life energy and the sperm is part of life energy, and when they connect, it forms another part of life energy.

        When a person continually contradicts him/herself, it appears that there is no logic. You know you can flag comments right?
  • Jun 6 2013: I started out to say there's a lot of evidence that "faith" or "spirituality" is genetic, inborn, as it were. Probably because religious leaders all the way back to the first shamans have chosen who lives and dies, who eats meat and who gets nothing but potatoes, and they have given everybody else a reason and a right to cheat, exile, even slaughter non-believers like the possibly millions of women who were murdered en mass in Europe for refusing to stop worshiping goddesses and only worship male gods (the famous tripod: god, the son of god and the holy spirit)
    We have been bred by the killing of the less malleable, less "faithful" among us, for thousand of years. No wonder so many of us follow the teachings of whoever is in charge of the current religion. It so much safer.
    So yes, I think there is ample historical evidence that we're bred to be believers, whatever the religion.
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    Jun 6 2013: For a few that understand the paradox and need to solve it it will have implications, for religion as a whole it won't matter much. They'll just accept it and people will forget that they were ever against its. Much like the discoveries of Galileo Galilei when he made his discoveries. Only when he did it it was one of the first proofs that the bible wasn't completely correct, now we have that proof everyday, a simple mind change made religion immune to these kinds of things.

    I did stumble across a Youtube channel with a former christian who was now an atheist and psychology and biology has helped him understand his emotions and thoughts towards God and the whole structure of religion.
    Really good stuff actually:
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      Jun 6 2013: Damn! I'm out of thumbs up for you! :D
      I know I have recommended these two books to a lot of people on TED, but here I go again.
      Two really good books (I'v read) about the psychology of Religion :
      - "The God Instinct: The Psychology of Souls, Destiny and the Meaning of Life" (By Jesse Bering):
      - "The Believing Brain: From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies---How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths" (By Michael Shermer):
      You can watch his TED Talk :
      "Michael Shermer: The pattern behind self-deception"
      Personally science (specifically evolution) never really influenced me very much in views regarding religion and the concept of a God. I just explored some arguments for, and against and came to a conclusion (agnosticism). I wanted to see the evidence (and reason) both sides produced, and found they were both lacking. Both the sides being "Strong Atheism", and "Strong Theism".
      On another note, I recommend you the book "Religion for Atheists" (, or you can watch his TED talk :
      "Alain de Botton: Atheism 2.0"
      Just to say if you have any books you could recommend me, it would be much appreciated!
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        Jun 6 2013: Sadly I only read a couple of books every year so I have no books for you if afraid. But I have seen both Talks and I enjoy them very much. ^^

        Thanks for the positive feedback!
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          Jun 6 2013: I hope you find the time to read them all!!! :D
          At the moment I am reading these two books :
          - "God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything" (By Christopher Hitchens)
          - "The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason" (By Sam Harris)
          Personally I am not enjoying "The End of Faith", due to it advocating an extremly polarized view of the world. It also goes to distort the Koran (or Quran), and describes it as a books where every page is hateful. However this well-informed TED talk :
          "Lesley Hazleton: On reading the Koran"

          Give me a very different view. Then he goes onto argue that all religions are evil, and religious moderates are just as bad as religious fundamentalists. He then (Ironically) goes onto argue that eastern religions like "Buddhism" and "Jainism" are really good.
          However it is worth mentioning that I am enjoying "God is not great".
          Sorry for my little rant.
          Hope you didn't mind!
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        Jun 6 2013: You are free to rant as much as you wish, if I wanted to I could just top reading (I didn't!).
        I've watched very much from Hitchens and Harris on Youtube and they're (Hitchens was) really good at making the point i think.

        I don't know about the Koran, I only got 50 pages once...
      • Jun 6 2013: Hi there. This is partly another rant.

        I loved "The Book of J" (which is probably out of print and hard to find). It's a correction of a mis-translated biblical text. The correct translation: "Man shall be above woman with joy." meaning sex between men and women will be enjoyable.
        This line has been mis -translated (purposely?) to mean that men must be the boss in all things and women must obey men no matter what. That mistranslated line is still included in many christian wedding vows (women must vow to obey their husbands) and is still used to justify men beating their wives.
        I've been reading everything I could about religion since I was a kid, long ago. The problem: whoever is preaching has a pulpit to inflict misery on other people and to teach children that it is okay to hate, okay to hurt, okay to deny other people freedom, rights, jobs, even life itself based solely on what that preacher claims is religiously "right".
        Anyone can start a religion, call themselves a prophet, claim an inside track to an all powerful being who tells only them what is right, who is good, who should live or die.

        Another misery from twisting religious texts is the hatred preached against homosexuals. There is almost nothing about homosexuality in the torah or the bIble. Homosexuality is not in the ten commandments, so it's not as bad as working on the sabbath or coveting another man's ass. And homosexuality is not a deadly sin, like sloth, gluttony, greed, etc.. It's a minor matter, an abomination like eating shrimp, that is used by preachers, priests, rabbis, imams and so on, to justify anti-homosexuality laws, beatings, even killings.
        Religion really is like a powerful drug that is OFTEN used to justify injustice. It's dangerous.

        Richard Dawkins' and Christopher Hitchens' books are really good.
      • Jun 7 2013: I vomit in revulsion at alain de whatever and his atheism 2.0.
      • Jun 8 2013: 1. Alain presents the secular world and atheists wrongly. He exaggerated many things to make his points.
        2. Alain exaggerated on the merits of religions while cartooning the "alternatives."
        3. I would truly detest having atheism into something even remotely similar to a religion. If someone wants the kind of nonsense that happens in religious ceremonies in their lives while they don;t believe in gods, they can have it. Only I rather not have them do so in the name of atheism, because then I will be mistaken to be like those crackpots.
        4. I refuse to be definable by what I don;t believe. Should atheism 2.0 "catch" then atheism would be perceived to be much more than what it is. I would have to find another word. I tried to get rid of being called an atheist. But then it was useless. I don;t believe in gods, but that's not what defines me.
        5. Sure, we should take the best of anything, including religion. I have never been against that. Therefore Alain misrepresented my views by presenting atheists as if we were all some people who opposed everything coming from any religion, which is false even about such people as Dawkins. I know I don't, and hate been misrepresented.
        6. At least some of the things Alain wants to take from religion are simply ridiculous, like that repetition crap. Understanding gets you to knowledge. Mere repetition doesn't. I still know automatically many things I had to repeat from my religious days, but they were and are just memorized sounds to me. Not knowledge.
        7. religions are not the only one source we could take good things from. All human culture belongs to us. Let's examine everything and take from anything. Forget about doing so "with respect." That remark is both unnecessary and dumb.
    • Jun 6 2013: Hi Jimmy, Glad to Meet You!
      Good points! I feel no need to defend 'the bible' (or any other resource), but I do feel that 'in power' political paradigms are often interpretations of religious sources that are helpful to them in maintaining their power positions. For example; the belief that the pope is "infallible" when it comes to maintaining allegiance to that power/belief political structure system. The actual source may often be used out of context or misinterpreted (a deliberate deception), to maintain the status quo.
      Example two; Galileo (a Catholic), inviting Catholic priests to look through his telescope, but they refuse to do so for personal and political paradigm protection reasons.
      Religions make me nauseous :|
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  • Jun 4 2013: Hey Bernard and ALL!
    Oh, my fingers are beginning to get a little sore now! But I wanted to make an observation that may be helpful (and a bit of naughty fun, too), :) Newer sciences often come out of amalgamations of existing ones. For example, 'socio-biology', 'astro-biology', 'astro-physics', 'social-psychology', etc. ... etc. ... etc. :P
    In a lot of cases (human nature being what it is), this is a call for outrage over a new turf war to be fought! :D Scientists (being all too human), feel THEIR 'turf' is being invaded, over-taken, misused or stolen by interlopers. To be human is to be political. Period. These political fights can be fun to watch, but are not very productive for any one! The scientists who accidently (or deliberately), fuse different disciplines together to further research that the individual, separate disciplines have missed usually get lots and lots of rocks thrown at them - by both or all sides :D Having to play 'dodge rock' is probably not fun, but is inevitable.
    But, it is those brave souls like David Bohm, Karl Pribram, Sir Roger Penrose, Charles Tart, Fred Allen Wolfe, Dean Radin, Russell Targ, Gary Schwartz, Rupert Sheldrake ... and the list goes on and on ... that have actually been the kinds of intrepid souls that have spawned our subject of discussion at hand!
    This reminds me of an expression that I offered to a friend earlier today about gathering data to consider. To not be afraid to 'cast a broad net' - to look for a large haul of evidence to consider. The more the better ... and then to weed out the less than useful. Inductive as well as deductive reasoning are both useful tools to apply to lots of gathered potential gems of data for potential personal discovery.
    Cheers To All!
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      • Jun 6 2013: Hi Don, Good Buddy!
        Thanks for the interesting link! And your kind encouragement - very, very much!!
        Sounds as if you have accepted my apology for me being such a dumb block head - I very much appreciate your understanding!!
        In relation to my contribution above, I have long thought that there is a strong relationship between paradigm 'train wrecks' (which I am very acquainted with personally :( ), corresponding cognitive dissonance, the inevitable emotional distresses which results from this process - and the 5 stages of grief recovery described by the pioneer psychologist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross's work. She describes in her land mark book "On Death and Dying". Some folks manage to get through these stages o:k and immerge stronger and wiser. For some folks, it takes longer than others, depending I think, on how many life tools they have in their emotional coping skills tool boxes. And some poor souls get stuck in one or another of these stages - sometimes for years or forever!
        I think this is noted well by Nobel Prize winning quantum physicist Max Plank's observation (from his personal experience with academic politics), about how science progresses; "A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it."
        Anyway, food for thought.
        Again, Thank you for your kindness and patience.
      • Jun 6 2013: Hi Don, Good Buddy!
        Thanks again! I think our observation concerning the rough and tumble reality of academic politics (and money), - experienced first hand by Max Plank, Russell Targ, Rupert Sheldrake and many more (whether they are ultimately proven right or wrong), illustrates two common expressions very nicely; "the bleeding edge" and "OUCH!!!" :D
      • Jun 8 2013: Hi Don, Good Buddy!
        Thanks for the link - will check it out soon!
        Here is a very interesting talk related to our discussion about interdisciplinary turf wars.
  • Jun 4 2013: Hi Bernard,

    Thanks for the information. Will definitely be sure to sure to check some of what you have provided out. I do know of one book that was recently written by a Harvard Neurosurgeon that said that he saw heaven upon his NDE. The book is called Proof of Heaven and has become as National Bestseller in the States. However, it's a personal account.

    We shall see where the field of cognitive science takes in the future...some have coined it neurotheology but I'll be sure to post some new information as this pioneer science is taking root.
    • Jun 4 2013: Hi Evan!
      Pleasure to meet you! I don't have a strong biology or physics background, but I have had the same concretely real experience in an OBE exploration as Dr. Alexander. I have spent many years exploring other dimensional energy systems and following the theoretical and experimental work of consciousness researchers to begin understanding how these kinds of phenomenon work.
      I can only think of a few researchers who came to this area of study because of personal experiences like mine (if you wish, you can read about my experiences at my site consciousness researchers come to this area because they had begun to hear about multiple data confirmation by multiple experiments from different labs. Some good example are physicist/mathematician Sir Roger Penrose, Oxford Univ.; Dr. Stuart Hameroff, Univ. of AZ; physicist Russell Targ, SRI, Dean Radin, Phd. Princeton Univ. PEAR program and Prof.Gary Schwartz,PhD. Harvard, Yale director of physiology and psychiatry and Yale Psychophysiology Center ... as just a few examples. If you are familiar with any of these folks then you realize that this is an inter-disciplinary field of study. New eyes from outside a narrow view of study has often been useful. There are several theories in this area, just as in ... say, cosmology - between 'big bang' and 'inflationary' schools of thought. time will tell which (if either), are correct. Consciousness research as a science began back in the 1940s and 50s with scientists such as one of the fathers of quantum physics, David Bohm and psychologist, Karl Pribram, again - an inter-disciplinary beginning.
      Have fun and 'happy hunting' :) !
      • Jun 4 2013: Hi Jordan, just a short post as I'm just called to a dining-out.
        Love the subject and also becuase my wife and a NDE
        This is my favorite link to Swedenborg's input on the subject. Dr. Kenneth Ring agrees with me :)

        Will be back tomorrow morning
        • Jun 6 2013: Hi Adriaan, My Friend!
          Sorry to take so long to get back to you! Hope you had a fun dinner! Thanks very much for the link - I'll check it out very soon!
          I envy my wife who had a chance to study with Dr. Ring at the University of Connecticut, before he retired. He began the first international center for the study of NDEs, located at UConn.
          I hope that your wife is doing very well and that her NDE was an affirming and encouraging experience for her!
          If you've had a chance to check out my website at ,You will understand my work (and interest in Swedenborg), which is to teach ordinary folks to have Swedenborg-like experiences of the after-life, Divine dimensional realms for themselves. So that they can know that they know what is real, for them selves. People who work with me won't need to rely on 'blind faith' or religious belief or hopes. this easily explains why early 'believers' would volunteer to be martyred by the Romans in their arenas.
          As my friend and our distance from each other I would be glad to work with you on helping you follow Swedenborg (and my humble self), into the Divine realms for yourself - gratis. We can do this privately by Email. It is work that demands desire, discipline, patience and commitment to accomplish, but I can't think of study that could be more life and faith affirming!
          You could also consider the "Gateway" program by the Monroe Institute, in Virginia. I did a version of this program some years ago - it was very fruitful. They have an CD (home study), version that is well worth its price!
          Without these kind of experiences, it is impossible to really grasp how completely concrete and immediately real God truly is.
      • Jun 6 2013: Thank you Jordan for your kind reply. What I've really appreciated were the TV shows done by the medium John Edward. So many times he could 'proof' to people that he was connected to their ancestors. He had information that no one could possibly know. Often they were people that drove someone else to the place or someone behind the camera.
        I have no need of more proof of God than just looking at the world around me. But yes, I'll visit your site this afternoon.
        One thing Swedenborg warns against regarding connecting with the spiritual world, and that is because when a spirit connects to our spirit they use our memory and feelings. So it is then that what they 'tell' us becomes truth in our mind. The thoughts are connected to the feeling making us convinced of their truth.
        More about that later, got to go
        Very best wishes to you
        • Jun 6 2013: Hi My Friend!
          I agree with your interest in the work of legitimate mediums (my sweet wife of 25 years is a very talented medium). I've seen first hand, her ability to acquire amazing information about many folks on the other side and their work to help those still on this side. A large part of her empowerment is her deep connectedness to the Divine herself! We have no natural-born children of our own, but the Divine has (largely through her deeply loving, motherly heart), blessed us with short-term care-taking of lost and wounded energy-children, to love and help until their time to move into their loving Divine care. Our home is full of children's toys, cute stuffed animals and children's books, of their choosing. As you will read on my site, energy-children especially love to be read to! This amazing Divine blessing is open to anyone the Divine has available to nurture these precious little ones, who the Divine will never, ever neglect!
          2 books you will love! "The After-Life Experiments" - G. Schwartz, "Glimpses of Eternity" - R. Moody.
          Your reference to Swedenborg's warning is very, very important! It echoes the warnings given by the Apostle Paul about 'testing the spirits to see that they are of God'. As you will see (as you go through my site), I make this most important part of the process a top priority, using a variety of tools and skills. I will note Paul's discussion of those (who I believe included Paul, but, he wished to not boast), who were able to ascend up into the "third heaven" (Paul used a Grk. paradigm), hear and experience things that were not possible to express in words. This is what you will experience (which ever system you choose to go with). Frankly, my system is more efficient in helping folks visit our Divine Lover AND avoid possible deceptions by low level entities, who can try to do so, with unschooled folks. So, do we really trust God to love and protect us or not? "It" just loves visitors - "It" sees visits as gifts!!!
  • Jun 2 2013: Hi Buddy!
    Ugh! I can't respond at your response area any more, so I have to go to the top here :(.
    Yes, I did read both of Shermer's articles. They illustrate what I've been saying, very nicely!
    When I referred to a quote by Joe McMoneagle as an 'anecdote', it represents a first hand account by a credible witness who received a congressional certificate of merit for discovering a new, unknown (by all western intelligence agencies), class of Soviet submarine (the Typhoon class), through RV. If only to me, I would call him an exceptional witness with direct, inside knowledge. Even 'skeptics' will often use the term "placebo effect" as an explanation for what they can't explain with a electrochemical model of consciousness. But, they can't explain how THIS works either! This is the religion of Scientism" at work. Shermer's materialist/atheistic zeal is telling. As usual, he takes a very small number of studies (which support his paradigm), then extrapolates them into a rationalization and then into proof of his correctness. He has simply gone from an "evangelical" (Christian?), to a evangelical atheist. Which is why ALL religions give me nausea.
    Again, Shermer has left you with another false impression as to how many top researchers actually do see relationships between quantum field dynamics and consciousness functioning. As years have gone by (since I first began looking at this question), I have seen a large increase in both the number of researchers publically open about their work in this area and the amount of media exposure it is receiving.
    As for Shermer's assertion that Sheldrake is trying to have it both ways (or as you put it Freudian psychology), May I suggest that (when your exams are concluded, with GREAT SUCCESS !), that we look at some 'observer entanglement' studies and research together?
    Nobel Laureate physicist Max Plank said; 'science progresses one death at a time'. He was right in his work and his observation of scientific progress.
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      Jun 3 2013: :-)
      I shall try!
      However I suppose the best thing to confirm it all, is ask a Quantum physicist I know!
      Depending on his answer, I shall decide.
      • Jun 3 2013: Hi Buddy!
        That sounds like a great beginning! May I suggest that you consider conversing and reading the research of multiple sources to round-out your view of the scientific landscape. I would also ask you to consider talking to any Transpersonal Psychologists who would be familiar with quantum-based theories of consciousness to get a fuller outline of this area of thought and research.
        It is good for all of us to remember that theories are always 'in process'. Cracks are now seemingly appearing in Einstein's General Relativity. Evidence compounds or may change - in structure or direction. We simply need to be open and let the evidence (as a whole), guide us, over time. There is nothing for us to fear.
        If ANY (including 'Yours Truly'),of us begin to feel emotions of discomfort or defensiveness to alternative views or evidence - we should (in my opinion), immediately look within, for the presence of our old friend 'cognitive dissonance' and ask ourselves "Are any part of my thinking, views or positions emotionally security-based?" Scientists are all human and also prone to all the weaknesses of all us 'talking monkeys' :D
        I am concerned though that this impassioned line of inquiry could distract you from your important studies and exams. We have plenty of time to ponder and look at this set of questions and research findings!
        Thanks again for your friendship!
      • Jun 3 2013: Hi Bud!
        Oh, sorry to pester you again. I was just reminded of a way-cool experiment currently being done!
        I'm sure you're acquainted with 'quantum tunneling' and 'quantum teleportation'. All of the past confirmations have been confined to just a distance of a few km (city to city). But now a new group is beginning to setup experiments between earth and the ISS (International Space Station), for 'quantum entanglement' of photons which will be about 500 km (and 1000 km when considering return confirmation), away! This should be very interesting!
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          Jun 4 2013: Well.
          I got round to asking one of my best friends, who was a retired Quantum physicist.
          Who said that Rupert Sheldrake research doesn't have much to do with Quantum physics, and that Quantum physics especially has no relation to the after-life, or consciousness.
          He claimed it was like saying "Special relativity" proves there is an after-life, when "Special relativity" has no relation at all to the after-life, or the consciousness.
          It is just a branch of physics (he said), like any other. Also he gets angry when people talk about Quantum physics, considering so few understand it. He claims that people like to think Quantum physics is something "special". When it really isn't. His favoutire quote : "If you think you understand Quantum physics, you don't understand Quantum physics".
          Do Newtonian mechanics have anything to do with the after-life as well?
          To him it is like saying this.
          When he did research it a bit more, he claimed that it was just like Michael Shermer had said :
          It wasn't really testable, considering the "skeptics dampen the morphic field’s, whereas believers enhance it". He also thought the after-life wasn't really a testable thing, considering to test the after-life you need to be dead...
          Also he said that there were far more reasonable explanations requiring less assumptions (Occam's Razor) for the Dog's behaviour, such as the Dog would have better hearing + Smell.
          So I think I can safety conclude that Quantum physics has nothing to do with the after-life, unless of-course this retired professor (in Quantum mechanics) is wrong! (Who is a dear friend of mine!)
          Kind regards,
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        Jun 4 2013: The quantum physicists I know say the same and also get annoyed when people appropriate the terminology of quantum physics to support an agenda that quantum physics does not support. One can often trick people with such a gambit, because people tend to defer to those who seem to understand science, even if they don't actually understand the area they are invoking at all.
      • Jun 4 2013: Hi Buddy!
        So, you will not agree to look into this area with me because a very good friend, a retired quantum physicist (who happens to agree with your current outlook), says not to ? Really? Isn't that 'loading the dice' or 'wish fulfillment' in action? It's good to remember that most new sciences come from inter-disciplinary approaches.
        More to the point, If you only have good friends who agree with you - that means that I am in BIG, BIG trouble !!! :D
        Let's stop and think about this a bit. I KNOW you are a very intelligent fellow. I am not afraid that you can or would be deceived or mislead - should you decide to venture out into deeper waters. This is why I think Bernie Segal was right about paradigms being emotional addictions - to a comfort zone? Only you can know how you feel inside. Your quick, 'knee jerk' like action of dismissing my offer so immediately, looks a bit defensive to me. Remember, I said we have lots of time after your studies and exams to look at this together! Hey, I don't want to be deceived or mislead either! I know first-hand how it feels! I'm very cautious with data and theoretical frameworks. Theories and interpretation of data are always open to examination, reinterpretation and revision. That's science!
        I'll propose a little 'thought experiment' for us - that would make Einstein proud! Suppose you and I had the pleasure of being students together. Our biology professor takes us to a pond and asks us to find all the different species of fish in this pond :(. You and I look at each other in horror! How do we do this? We could drain the pond (and kill all the cute little fishies)! Bad idea! :( We could get fishing rods (and hope for the best?). Or, as is said; we could 'cast a broad net'. This last option seems best to me. Much more efficient (safer for our little fishies, too!) :)
        I Think you will agree that 'casting a broader net' would also be better for looking for good data and theoretical frames works, too!
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          Jun 4 2013: Hmm.
          I'm not really sure what to say...
          Considering I do "wish" there was some form of after-life, however I see no conclusive evidence (or reason) to assume so!
      • Jun 5 2013: Hi Buddy!
        Yes, I think understand your situation here. That is why I suggest that we consider 'casting a broader net' - WHEN you have the time (after your important studies and exams), are completed. This process will take time and energy to do. I assume most people "wish" there is an after-life. But, wishing and assuming (as we both know ), means nothing in terms of finding an understanding that is closer to what is really ... err, real :D
        You simply haven't had an opportunity to cast this 'broader net', yet - should you choose to do so.
        To be truthful, we are talking about a life-time pursuit of evidence and research - in order to just gain a framework to work with. And still this is still just an intellectual (second hand), acquaintance with a theoretical handle to manipulate and work with. So, we will still have to ask "what the hell does this really mean to me, personally any way?"
        This brings to the other equally important area of personal exploration for evidence gathering.
        I hope I'm not being indiscrete (if I am, please correct me), but you once said that you sometimes prayed and felt as if answers were given. You tended to assume that these answers were wish fulfillment or pareidolia. This conclusion may well be reasonable (or maybe not). May I suggest WHEN your studies and exams are over, another thought experiment - which would take some time and effort.
        What if, over a period of time, you were to ask 'It' "That if 'It' is real, that "It' prove "It'-self to me in a series of ways that are impossible for me to mistake as illusion or wish fulfillment by me"?
        If 'It' exists and cares to be known by you - because you care to know "It', then this could be an insightful personal consciousness experiment.
        Best wishes for your studies! And ...
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    • Jun 4 2013: Hi LaMar!
      Good to meet you! You've made good points. Religion is a paradigm of blind faith. And often in power - figuratively and often literally! It is their deep-seated insecurities (blind faith has no personal, experiential foundation), that often causes groups to enforce observance of their beliefs on others or seek to end others all together.
      Religions makes me nauseous, but I have had personal, powerful experiences that have convinced me that there is a powerful, benevolent source of conscious understanding at the center of reality. 'It' exists in an underlying level of energy information that is far below our scale of usual, 'physical' perception. But, It can and does have the ability to radiate Its energy out and 'up' into our usual visual frame of reference as It chooses to.
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    May 30 2013: I'll have to quote here (again) from something I said here earlier:

    [This] was inspired by something Stephen Hawking said about DNA.

    DNA contains information. For each species today, DNA contains a living record that is as old as three billion years. Procaryote, primitive cellular life has DNA. And DNA works like a computer program. Computer programs are updated & changed & patched. Same story for DNA. Every evolutionary change to DNA; every mutation that worked (and a good few that didn't or don't) are enshrined in the DNA record. DNA is a very real record of three billions of years (or more) of the evolution of life on Earth. And we are only now learning to read that record in some detail.

    Religion is a 4000 year old paradigm. We've been at it a long time. If we look carefully at religion from the perspective of psychology, sociology, anthropology, politics, law, economics etc. we find a record of who we are as human beings. And the way we humans have used religion and religious thought to say who we are and how we view the world is instructive. Religions, all of them taken together, give a fascinating view into the fundamentals of human experience on this earth.

    One of the most fascinating findings in Social Psychology, seems to validate some of the more obscure teachings of Jesus. Luke 6:29 "And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloak forbid not to take thy coat also."

    I'll keep looking for a specific reference, but we are starting only now to develop tools for analysis of these issues. Religion is a repository of social theories that WORKED in the past & present. Another example? Look at the 10 Commandments: 7 day week w/weekend; respect Mom & Dad; don't murder, steal, lie as a witness, or cheat on your spouse. Also respect other people's property. These are laws we still have today. And they started w/Moses (and a few others). Why? Because it worked! And religion/belief was part of that!
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      May 30 2013: :-)
      A very interesting (wise) insight you have!
      I only wish I had the ability to carry it out!
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      May 30 2013: Juan don't forget the bits that don't work anymore like attributing floods and disease to gods.

      Like committing genocide and stealing land because your god said so.

      Like murdering your new wife in front of her father if she is not a virgin.

      Like animal sacrifices.

      Like murdering homosexuals, adulterers, unruly children and people who work on Saturdays.

      Like having slaves and beating them is okay, as long as they don't die within 2 days of the beatings.

      Religion was part of that as well.

      Religion is a social technology that works for good and bad.

      People still kill and hate in the name of religion. The fact that some ignore the bronze and iron age religious morality is due to their societies moving forward morally despite the many old religious beliefs.

      I have no issue cherry picking the good stuff, but when the bad stuff is believed to be a gods word, it can be dangerous
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        May 30 2013: Ok, Mr. Obey-no-one, I get your point.

        But in the larger context of the conversation here, it is all about Science and scientific evidence. I have made post after post after post on this conversation where Science is all I talk about. And I talk specifically about a Scientific approach in the analysis of Belief as a phenomena of the human species.

        I also talk about faith in a larger, ethical context. The article by Paul Bloom (The Atlantic) cited by Bernard White in the intro to this conversation is the best discussion I've read as to how Science evaluates human behavior and thought on the issues of Religion. There is some good science there. In 2012, Paul Bloom generated an article in which he states as follows:

        " I conclude that religion has powerfully good moral effects and powerfully bad moral effects, but these are due to aspects of religion that are shared by other human practices. There is surprisingly little evidence for a moral effect of specifically religious beliefs."

        Here is a link to the abstract:

        Yea! yea! Hurray! Epiphany! Just had a Religious experience! More about that later. I must commune immediately with as-yet-unidentified angelic beings! Peace out!
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    May 30 2013: I can see why Paul Bloom is a full Professor of Psychology & Linguistics at Yale. He has read much and thought much

    and I deeply appreciate the scholarly content of his article. He definitely takes the view of "God" being an artifact of our childhood psychological development. Although his academic credentials are impeccable and his scholarship unquestioned, he may not go far enough. In fact, I would at least suggest, as I do below, that he doesn't give enough credit to 4000 years of written human history and God(s) figuring as a prominent player in exactly that. I guess my retort would be this: "Yes, the idea of God may start out as an accident of our cognitive development, but look at what 4000 years of written human thought have done with it." Because he's a linguist, I am sure he gets it. But I can't quite get there on the issue of "accidental" and God.
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    May 30 2013: Art Markman's Psychology Today article does a better job of approaching the cognitive side of things. He addresses thinking style and the implications of cognitive psychology as a tool to look at human belief in God.

    I like the way he ends the blog article. He gives respect to several millennia of Theological debate on similar issues. I prefer that to Jesse Bering's insight as to his own Atheism. He makes a rather common "Atheistic" mistake in his fundamental "Scientific epiphany" that there is no PROOF of God Almighty!

    Right! So Aristotle, Archimedes, Euclid, Homer, Vergil, Moses, Maimonidese, and an endless list of other "great thinkers" -- who accepted the existence of God(s) as fundamental. All of their insights into how the world works (even when they were wrong) became academic foundation for all that followed. These were smart people; at least as smart as Jesse Bering. They weren't up to speed on the elements of modern science. But I'd dare anyone to go to University and announce their intention to ignore all these old guys (the great thinkers of antiquity) before the entire faculty. They wouldn't get far. There is nothing new about doubt or questioning or debate over the existence of God. It happens every day over beer at the pub. I've found it all quite comforting to know that men regarded as "Great Thinkers" suffered similar anxiety/angst in contemplating death, the end of consciousness, and the dissolution of our being. Many of them wrote about it in antiquity. And their first thought on those issues should at least influence ours.
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      May 30 2013: I do agree with Jesse Bering (and many other psychologists like Michael Shermer, and Paul Bloom) that do study God it would be wise to act as an atheist. Considering it would be hard to study God anyway.
      However I do agree with you...
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    May 23 2013: Poor science. If it had a voice it would scream: "stop question my authenticity and saying whether I'm right or wrong".
    (In my humble opinion)
    Science, in its core, is a method by which you observe. Results are 'better' and can always become better if we keep improving the initial method. And believe me, there ALWAYS is room for improvement. You can't ever establish The Perfect Method.

    God is Absolute and Perfect, so you will need a perfect method if you want to comprehend/question him. Which is impossible. Sorry to rain on your parade but you can't understand God, no one can [unless God want someone to...].
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      May 24 2013: What happens if God wanted these psychologists to understand him? :-)
      Out of interest, how do you know "God" is perfect?
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        May 24 2013: If God wanted them to understand Him. Then no one/nothing can stop them from understanding Him.

        I FIRMLY believe Quran is word of God and Muhammad Peace be upon him was the last prophet from God. According to Quran and Muhammad: God is perfect
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          May 24 2013: Interesting opinion Kareem......

          If you had an infinite number of paths you could take in life, based on each decision you made, then at least one of them would be the perfect path, leading to the perfect location. It would be the perfect perfect life path.

          So, even with infinity, it is possible to walk the perfect path in life. Or, perhaps because of infinity. I'm Jewish...... :) Shalom.
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          May 24 2013: :-)
          I personally, from what I have heard, admire the Koran (or Quran) and the lessons it preaches. However (as you can probably guess) I am not a Muslim.

          All I (properly) know about Islam mostly comes from these two TED Talks :

          - Lesley Hazleton: On reading the Koran

          - Bobby Ghosh: Why global jihad is losing

          So I do think what Islam preaches is admirable (if what they say is true), forgive me for saying, yet it seems today as if the Koran (or Quran) has been distorted a lot today (by people like Sam Harris, and those who dislike Islam due to various events like 9/11).

          However I think it is worth mentioning that I do find it strange that (as you say) Muhammad would be the last prophet of God. Why is this? Why wouldn't God let their be other prophets? (I apologise for my ignorance.)

          Out of interest, if you don't mind me asking, why choose the Koran (or Quran) over the Bible?
          What makes your experience (or perception) of God more valid than a Christians experience (or perception) of God?

          Kind regards,
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        May 24 2013: @Bernard White: It is a sad fact that many organism (who call themselves Muslims) have distorted The Message. Muslim people, especially 'naive' youth are target of these people. These people manipulate young minds and fill them with hatred. But their goals are strictly political. Outcome of their dreadful *ter*rorist* acts only benefits themselves. These people have nothing to do with Islam or Muslims.

        "Why choose Quran over Bible?" Well, we Muslims believe both books to be word from God. But Bible was modified and people altered its verses to their interests. [ ]
        "What makes your experience (or perception) of God more valid than a Christians experience (or perception) of God?" Christians associate God with humans (they say God has a son...) but God is above human values/associations/perceptions []
        @John Moonstroller:
        Thanks for reply. You are theoretically corect. But life IS NOT infinite, neither can one undo his/her actions. You can't try ALL paths. Time is precious.

        Shalom :)
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          May 24 2013: So (if you don't mind me saying) what is to say God can't become incarnate?
          Considering your God is above human values? Surely this doesn't exclude the possibility of God coming into a 'perfect human form'? How are we defining 'human values'?
          Yet if this true, that God is beyond human perception, how do we know certain things (like its attributes) about it?
          Edit : Another question, is that : How did the writers of the Koran (or Quran) know that God was perfect? Doesn't perfection imply 'without mistake'? Can a perfect being make mistakes?
          Are there any other qualities of this 'being', other than perfection?
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        May 24 2013: "So (if you don't mind me saying) what is to say God can't become incarnate?"
        He can do whatever He wants to. He, clearly, says in Quran he has no sons etc.

        "Considering your God is above human values? Surely this doesn't exclude the possibility of God coming into a 'perfect human form'? How are we defining 'human values'?"
        You can't compare or associate God to humans.

        "Yet if this true, that God is beyond human perception, how do we know certain things (like its attributes) about it?"
        We know His attributes because His prophets told us about Them. These attributes are also written in Quran which is His Book.

        "Edit : Another question, is that : How did the writers of the Koran (or Quran) know that God was perfect? Doesn't perfection imply 'without mistake'? Can a perfect being make mistakes?"
        Quran wasn't written by humans it was revealed to us.

        Are there any other qualities of this 'being', other than perfection?"
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          May 24 2013: So the Quran is the source of all we know about this perfect being?
          Why didn't he make other books?
          How do you know Mohammed was a valid source of information?
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        May 24 2013: "So the Quran is the source of all we know about this perfect being?"
        Yep. The absolute book. The ultimate everlasting message it is!

        "Why didn't he make other books?"
        He sent more books. [read here: ]

        "How do you know Mohammed was a valid source of information?"
        You gotta have FAITH in what he said in order to become Muslim.
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          May 24 2013: Thanks for all the links!
          I'll make sure to read them all soon, once I have expect a 'reply'.
          See you soon! :D
  • May 19 2013: "For it wouldn't make much sense if a God who wanted to be in a relationship with us, didn't give us the ability to conceive such a God."

    The problem being that if this was the case we would have to ask why this ability seems to err so much assuming divinity to so many natural processes rather than properly identify and conceive the "real" gods. Why would this ability lead us to think that gods are imagination inspired by ignorance and mental states that can be prompted by almost any kind of experience that are far from divine, like taking drugs, some of them that alter the mind in dangerous ways.

    The studies on inclinations to superstition might not prove that gods are false. But they sure convince that religious experiences are far from being proof that there's gods. However, the whole picture is quite convincing that gods are the result of vivid imaginations, ignorance, and poor logic. Therefore false.
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      May 19 2013: To be honest I agree with you to a certain extent.
      I just can't see any way to (dis)prove such a concept as a "God".
      I still personally debate with myself, regarding the Christian God, as to whether I should call myself an (philosophical) "atheist" (due to the many logical paradoxes the Christian God suffers from) or an "agnostic".
      As Bertrand Russell once said when asked what he would say to God (if God existed) once he died : "Not enough evidence God! Not enough evidence." And it is rumoured (yet I'm unsure) that he said (to paraphrase) : "God made me with a rational mind, so why not let me use it?" (That quote may be very wrong though!).
      I think to explain what I am getting out is, as Bertrand Russell summarised brilliantly, is "Russell's teapot".
      As the saying always goes : "An absence of evidence is not evidence of absence".
      Kind regards,
      P.S : I'm a big fan of Bertrand Russell! :D
      A great read, which I believe would benefit you is :
      "Am I An Atheist Or An Agnostic?"
      Link :
      Read it before you reply! :D
      • May 19 2013: I understand. And the point is the same as yours, except that it clearly identifies gods as false. Only stopping because of the lack of a philosophical background to deny the existence of the gods more explicitly. To me, the teapot example alone would allow me to say atheist, rather than agnostic. There's also the historical deformation of these terms. Today, most those who call themselves agnostic are inclined to be more theists, than atheists, and will use the word "God" with capital "G", and call everybody else an ignorant. (I said most, not all). Thus, I rather distance myself from such idiocy. Also, I would think, contrary to Russell, that the Homeric gods are more "probable" (though ridiculous to believe), than the Christian god, because the Christian god has so many versions, that they cannot correspond to any reality. Then each of them contains unsurmountable contradictions. Even if you said, well, maybe the Christian god exists, but it is not like any of the Christian gods we have imagined. Maybe it is one without any of the contradictions. Well, if so, then that would not be the Christian god to begin with. It could be a god, but not the Christian one. But even before answering the question that way, I would be in square one: you are imagining a situation in which some god would be valid, but you have nothing but your imagination to blame. therefore that god is imaginary and thus nonexistent.

        I don't see any way around. Gods are evidently imaginary, therefore false.

        Could there be beings so powerful that they would be gods in our view? Maybe. But they would not be any of the gods we have imagined, and therefore that's not what any human is talking about. When we talk about gods, we talk about mere mental machinations. Nothing else.
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          May 19 2013: I'm still unsure as to whether God's are "Completely" imaginary.
          Have you heard of an argument called the "Ontological argument", which basically goes :
          God is the (maximally) greatest being (or essence) we can imagine (or conceive).
          It is greater to exist, than not to exist.
          Therefore God exists.
          Personally I view this argument is false. Yet interesting nonetheless.
          However it is worth considering, as Sir David Attembrough points out, that it may not be within our cognitive abilities to "perceive" the true "essence" of "God"...
          A great read I would recommend you is :
          - Is God Imaginary? (By Reasonable Faith, run by "William Lane Craig")

          P.S Sorry for my brief responses! I shall edit this response later to address your points in more detail when I find the time! :D
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          May 23 2013: We can look through a telescope and see the universe if huge. We can look through a microscope and see it is also very small. What do we look through to see that God does not exist?
      • May 20 2013: Did that ontological nonsense really sound convincing to you?

        So if we can conceive of a greatest something, and it is greater to exist than to not exist, therefore that thing exists? If I can conceive of a maximally greatest coffee maker in my kitchen, and to exist is greater than to not exist, then the maximally greatest coffee maker exists in my kitchen? Incredible that someone would think that being able to imagine something makes it objectively real.

        The site you linked is a treasure of nonsense: "Unless he [the atheist] can provide good reasons for his disbelief, one may confidently answer the question “Is God imaginary?” with a resounding no."

        That phrase could be the encyclopedic example of a non-sequitur. Unless I can show evidence for disbelieving peter pan, then the question: is peter pan imaginary? can be answered with a resounding no?

        But let's not forget that Craig talks about the Christian god, and therefore he is talking about a painfully obviously false god. While I agree that absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence, and besides I gave you plenty of evidence that gods are imaginary, the Christian one has the added bonus of being ridiculously nonsensical.
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          May 20 2013: Did you read the link fully? :-)
          "Did that ontological nonsense really sound convincing to you?"
          You should try and read what I say more : "Personally I view this argument is false."
          I view it isn't logical and assumes far too much. Considering it actaully assumes that "God is great", and that it is genially "greater to exist than not to exist". Both of which are assumptions.
          Also the fact we may have different "great(est)" beings we can imagine. And with this argument you can bring most things into existence, for example the "greatest island".
          Yes I remain an agnostic about "Peter Pan".
          I remain an agnostic about all mythical creatures, considering I can't disprove their existence. Yet find them very unlikely nonetheless.
          Please define (or describe to the best of your ability) what you mean when you say "Existence" and "God".
          P.S : When William Lane Craig talks about "atheist", then he usually he referring to the "Philosophical" definition your taught. Where atheism isn't "a lack of belief in God", because this definition includes many philosophical positions regarding God. What he means by atheism is the assertion that God does (and can) not exist.
          So yes what he says is true. You would need to provide a reason for asserting that God does (and can) not exist. Some reasons (in the articles) posted in the description are available.
      • May 20 2013: Bernard,

        OK then. I agree on how you show the ontological crap to be wrong. But your point seemed to be that the ontological argument was somewhat valid, since you wrote it just after you said that you were not sure that "God's" are "Completely" imaginary.

        I read the whole thing by WL Craig, and nowhere did I see any justification for a "resounding no" as an answer to the question: is "God" imaginary? I repeat too that I presented lots of reasons to know that gods are imaginary. Also being nonsensical renders things false. Square circles do not exist. Same goes for this god.

        But let's get this one straight. You said: "So yes what he says is true. You would need to provide a reason for asserting that God does (and can) not exist."

        So are you really saying that unless I can do that the answer to the question "is God imaginary?" is a resounding no? A resounding no? In the absence of evidence you can justify a definitive answer like that? Really?

        So if I ask you to prove that the invisible dragon under my bed is imaginary and you can't provide any evidence to the contrary then the dragon is definitely not imaginary regardless the lack of evidence that the dragon is there? Mind you, this is a magical dragon, it does not want you to know it is there, and can trick you so that you won't find it.

        I mean, I understand how you would remain agnostic of fantasies, it's a common philosophical mistake, but a resounding no?

        (I do not understand though, why you would not understand that nonsense is necessarily false.)
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          May 20 2013: Well. Very simply yes.
          I can't prove (with absolute certainty) that your "dragon" is imaginary.
          What do you think I am arguing?
          I am arguing that there is no way to disprove (with certainty) the existence of a God, and prove that God's are completely imaginary. Considering there may genially be a "mind" (and purpose) behind certain events. Which I admit I find very unlikely, considering I haven't really come upon a convincing argument for "God" yet.
          It's interesting how in your mind "God" is compared to "nonsense"...
          Actually it would really help me if you could define (or describe) what you mean by these terms :
          - Imaginary
          - Existence
          And how something "imaginary" can't exist.
      • May 20 2013: Imaginary: it's a mental representation. Mental representations can be about real things, but by definition mental representations are not real. They can correspond to real things, but they don't necessarily do. They don't when all we have is made up fantasies.

        Existence: It's the most basic axiom. To be.

        Something imaginary can't exist except as the molecules and physical chemical reactions that make the mental representation possible. Being able to imagine my dragon does not make it real.

        What do I think you are arguing for? You said that you agreed with WL Craig when I said that this was obviously wrong: "Unless he [the atheist] can provide good reasons for his disbelief, one may confidently answer the question “Is God imaginary?” with a resounding no."

        You said that you agreed with WL Craig. Therefore you think that unless I show that "God" is imaginary (which I did by the way), then the question can be answered with a resounding no. Did you really read the crap in that link you posted?

        The Christian god compares to nonsense because it is nonsense. Not every god is as obviously nonsensical, but the very fact that to shield the god(s) you have to imagine a different god(s) reveals them to be mere fantasies, therefore false.

        Example that makes the Christian god nonsensical are many, from how the bible conflicts with reality, to how it contradicts itself, to the very starting premises about this god. Example, this god makes a "perfect" creation, yet, one sin, and the whole creation goes to waste. Mind you, this is a god who knows everything, so not only he made a crappy creation (contradicting the all-powerful part), but he knew he was making a crappy creation whose main defect would be to make a humanity so prone to sin that it can't help it. Not only that,because this god knew, it had no option but to make a shitty creation. Now this is also a good/loving god who created this way despite it knew, that it would condemn billions to the fires ...
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          May 20 2013: I suppose I am arguing that I can't be sure whether this "mental representation" of "God" is true of not.
          I swear everybody has a rather tautologous definition of what "existence" is. Considering have defined "existence" as "to be". Which is like saying (to me anyway) goodness is "being good".
          I would remind you to not use words like "crap" and "shitty".
          Many Christians I know don't fully believe that there is a hell, some I know don't even believe that Heaven exists has a physical place...
          Here is something which summarise my views :

          When in the bible does it state a "perfect being" must create a perfect creation?
          As Michio Kaku and others like Carl Sagan (with your example of the "invisible dragon) have said : (to paraphrase) "It's very hard to disprove a unicorn".
          (The dragon in my garage)
      • May 20 2013: It just goes from twisted to twisted to twisted. The more excuses are made for this god's contradictions, the more nonsense is introduced into the mix. I have done the exercise, and it's impossible to find a way to have this make sense. The only way out is to recognize that it's all myth(s). A bunch of superstitious stories.
      • May 20 2013: Chris,

        I erased a comment I had written for you because I don't think that we can have a meaningful conversation.

        I can tell you this though: I have no disdain for imagination. I have full respect for creativity, I have full respect for our ability to fantasy, and for the important role imagination can have in our lives. I love mine. I can understand perfectly how it has helped me solve problems, enjoy a good book, enjoy music, painting, learning, create fantasy, huge et cetera. However, I also recognize that there's a basic difference between the imaginary and the real.
      • May 21 2013: "swear everybody has a rather tautologous definition of what "existence" is."

        Reason being that is can't be defined any other way. It's an "irreducible primary." Axiomatic. It is not like goodness, or redness. It's much more basic.

        So you really don't see anything wrong with just redefining the Christian god despite it's many nonsensical items? I told you, I have visited all kinds of redefinitions (yes, the one you mention too, even some where the believer claims that this god is not good, but sovereign: it does whatever it wants because it's his creation), and none goes unblemished. All lead to nonsense. Look at the whole of what I said. My argument was not just about lack of perfection in the creation.

        The Christian god is not like the dragon in your garage. It's completely nonsensical. The dragon in your garage is still false. There's nothing you can do about it. I will say it's false, and false it will remain. It might be very hard to "disprove it," but we can reason that it is false regardless. But it does not matter, the Christian god is in much worse shape than this dragon.

        Anyway, this will not advance much more. We would just continue in circles. So I'm gone now. Enjoy the rest of the conversation. Maybe I'll read you in another one.
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          May 21 2013: Oh no!
          I'v just realized I haven't been thumbing up your replies.
          I forgot to mention, even though we "partially" disagree, I'v had fun! :D
          Yet I do agree with you (of-course) that I find a "God" very unlikely for multiple reasons. And that using Occam's razor is it more reasonable to assume that God doesn't exist.
          However this doesn't rule the possibility of it existing... (Which is what I was trying to argue).
          To rule out the possibility of it existing you must provide a logically (valid) argument disproving the existence of such a "God".
          It is important to note that I disagree with you regarding defining (or describing) what "existence" is. I feel I can't comment properly unless I know a valid definition of existence, which rules out the possibility of "God". Or for that matter a valid definition of "God".
          For instance take this tautology you can do with definitions :
          Existence = All that has energy or mass. In other words is "material".
          God = An immaterial being, which has neither mass nor energy.
          Therefore God does (and can) not exist. Unless of-course God has energy.
          For instance take the "all powerful" problem. Many define "all powerful" as meaning "to be able to do anything". Therefore they logically conclude God couldn't exist, due to it not being able to create a "square circle". While (I believe) Thomas Aquinas decided to argue that "all powerful" meant the most powerful it logically could be, without contradicting itself. Unless of-course God is beyond the realm of comprehension or logic, then I feel I can't really comment on it.
          Considering logic "now" doesn't apply to it.
          I hope you understand me better now.
          Maybe it would have been easier to put it this way :
          I accept it is most probable God are probably by-products of evolution, yet this doesn't out rule the possibility of their existence (or essence).
          Ironically Steven Hawkins problem with God is his view that a "timeless space less BEING" could not actually (logically) exist.
      • May 22 2013: Hi Bernard,

        I had fun too. Anyway, wouldn't your redefinition of a god to make it not subject to logic (which would actually be self defeating as a defence for the gods, once you started thinking of the implications) be the same as defining existence just so that it excludes gods?

        For existence as an axiom, I suggest you to read about the classic laws of logic, and about metaphysics proper (philosophy rather than the blabber presented by mystics).

        See ya.
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          May 23 2013: My redefinition of God?
          The definition of "all powerful" Aquinas argued?
          However with existence, I still need some form of definition (or description) to even comment...
          I mean if existence is, as you say, "being". Then do rocks exist?
          I'm not sure whether rocks have "being". Does "being" mean the soul?
          Because I find the soul logically impossible...
      • May 24 2013: Bernard,

        Seriously? OK, I'm out.
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          May 24 2013: :-(
          I'm still a bit confused!
          Unless I have drastically misunderstood something.
          Considering I still don't know what you mean by "being"...
          However Aquinas view on all-powerful (meaning the most powerful it could be without logically contradicting itself) is perfectly possible.
      • May 24 2013: Hi Bernard,

        You should not be confused, read what you wrote then my answer. I'm not referring to Aquinas (and no, even his god is not logically possible because the stories are contradictory, the god nonsensical and obviously imaginary), but to your comment about defining gods as being outside of logic. Actually, I find the gods can't make a square circle as cheap arguments against gods, besides being unnecessary since it's much easier to conclude that gods are imaginary and nonsensical.

        Of course rocks exist. Of course rocks are. (I did not use the word "being")

        See ya Bernard. Not much to say. I told you, we are just going in circles.
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          May 24 2013: Yes we are just going in circles aren't we.
          I was going to say that Aquinas God was logically possible by the definition of it : 'The most powerful being without logically contradicting itself....'
          'Existence: It's the most basic axiom. To be.'
          To be is being. Is this not correct? So if rocks can not 'be' therefore they don't exist.
          'it's much easier to conclude that gods are imaginary'
          Yes we are definitely going in circles. :P
          Yes easier. Yet not the truth of it.
          The truth (as I see it) is that it is more likely they are imaginary. Yet I can't prove this with certaintity. That is all I am saying. Considering they 'could' all be different perceptions (or experiences) of the same Deity / Deities.
          Just I find this unlikely....
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    May 15 2013: "Suppose science produces a convincing account for why I think my wife loves me — should I then stop believing that she does?"

    you thinking your wife loves you is not the same as your wife loving you. there is no causal connection between these two.

    As for "thinking god exists" and "god existing"... same goes. So I think I follow the parallel here.
    A and B can be independently true or false.

    The understanding (neurological/psychological, biological, sociological,...) of how we humans think and act as such does not need to have any other implication as "nice to know".

    If you wish to uphold beliefs that are not contrary to truth, and here i quote John Stuart Mill:
    "In the opinion, not of bad men, but of the best men, no belief which is contrary to truth can be really useful"

    And that has some sincere implications!
    It means that you must reject all your superstitions and false beliefs (as soon as they appear to be so, (given likelihood, &c...)) even if you actually liked them or intuitively lean to believing them and wanting to believe them.
    (you can feel god exists, while knowing god does not exist...)

    As for your belief that your wife loves you: Even if she doesn't, that does not need to change the way you feel about her.
    You still can feel she loves you, while knowing she doesn't.
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      May 15 2013: However what happens if you "know" God genially does exist?
      What happened if I changed that quote slightly (by Justin L. Barret) to : "Suppose science produces a convincing account for why my wife loves me".
      What does that suggest? :-)
      Just because you can explain a "belief" it doesn't effect the truth of that claim in anyway.
      Do you agree?
      Or have I misunderstood?
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        May 17 2013: if we know god exists, like we know cows exist, there would be no reason for discussion.

        If you know why your wife loves you... then all the better. There is immense beauty in knowing that (imo).

        knowing how a belief works (like knowing how cows produce milk), does not change that belief (it might, but not necessarily). [am I answering the question?] It does not alter the truth value of the claim you believe in either.
        I can believe in X, I can understand how "believing in X" works, and we might be able to estimate whether X actually refers to reality and to which extent.

        So I can believe my wife loves me, I can understand how my belief works, and I can know that she loves me (given sufficient proof &c)
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          May 17 2013: Fair enough.
          I agree. :-)
          EDIT : Actually it would be interesting to see how you would respond to the question, of why is a "cow" more probable than a "God"? If your argument is that we can "observe" and experience a Cow. Many religious people would argue that they could "experience" God.
          Kind regards,
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        May 17 2013: People who argue they can experience God like you can experience a cow: please bring me some god-milk please!

        I would argue that they are speaking metaphorically.

        If you really wish an answer to why a cow is actually an observable fact, living creature, obeying the same laws of our cosmos and from the same particles as us, and genetic material is similar to ours,... what we can describe as a cow and what not a cow is... and why a god: an un-measurable (no sensor, apparatus, sense, no observable influence,...), unknown, underdefined concept is not...

        There is a difference between experiencing something that is psychically out there, and experiencing something that is NOT out there.
        Would a religious person go so far as to claim that both are the same? If so, let them imagine still having all their money after giving it all to me.
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          May 17 2013: Haha! ;)
          Great answer by the way!
          I suppose what I was more trying to argue is that we can experience a cow, by observing it. In the way we experience (or observe) reality. Does that make sense?
          I agree God is a poorly defined concept... (And the definitions (or descriptions) given have many logical paradoxes!)
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        May 19 2013: Dear Don,

        If you have a reason to assume that intuition is "smarter" than logic, you should be able to prove that claim in order for me to believe that.
        If you say some things are better than logic, but different, then you assume that something illogical is better. I don't accept illogical reasoning as that will end up in pure nonsense.

        Intuition is "something you think is true but don't know why".

        If you accept that you, yourself must have some form of logical reasoning in order to convey messages to other people, you might be able to accept the consequences of logical thinking.

        I know about Van Lommel and he is seriously biased and makes some unfounded assumptions.

        Other than that, I have a slight impression that you are not coherent in your post. But maybe you don't need to be coherent, as you reject reason and logic (or want to step out of it)
        I can't reason (pun intended) with people who reject reason in the first place.
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        May 23 2013: Dear Chris Kelly,

        1) was a typo, thanks for pointing that out.

        2) We, humans, by making inferences and using inductive reasoning can see the likelyhood of something not existing, and hence agree that something that (probably) does not exist. Like we agree the godess Aphrodite, Russel's teapot or the great spaghetti monster does not exist (for example)

        I think that if you take inductive reasoning into account, your arguments evaporate.
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    May 15 2013: Don,

    Thank you , for pointing out J Wesley, and still having to many "Christianities" is not a meaningless problem to me, but is the supernatural what do I know?,
    Agreed self knowledge is the key to progress in many ways.
    I'll pass on T Murphy and the "God Helmet" contraption, Thanks.
    Will we live longer by praying to a God?, OK we need data, define God(s), then what God(s) to pray to, in its particular style etc in order for the benefit to show . That is still beyond me.

    Thanks Don,

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      May 15 2013: "Will we live longer by praying to a God?, OK we need data, define God(s), then what God(s) to pray to, in its particular style etc in order for the benefit to show ."
      That's basically the "Bernard Test"! :-)
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        May 15 2013: Bernard,

        Indeed a fine use of the "Bernard Test(BT), thanks for pointing that out so succinctly.

        Best regards friend,

        "those pesky details"
        --Who knows?.

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          May 15 2013: Can't give you any more thumbs up! :(
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          May 16 2013: Carlos Marques,
          I was wondering if I could have your advice on this "theological" issue I have been having.
          Is whether to describe myself as an "Agnostic" or an "Atheist".
          I am a great fan of Bertrand Russell, and read his "Am I An Atheist Or An Agnostic?" Link : (Great short read by the way!).
          I can't decide whether God(s) are actually logically possible. For it would make more sense to assume they are just a by-product of evolution, and the "psychology of religion" makes this hypothesis seem more creditable. Yet on the other hand, I feel this doesn't "disprove" any form of deity, for you could equally argue they put these psychological mechanisms into us.
          However from the 4 arguments I have explored, which are :

          - The (Kalam) cosmological argument.

          - The moral (objective moral values and duties) argument.

          - The teleological (or fine-tuning) argument

          - The ontological argument.

          Yet have never found any of them to be "logically valid" or convincing for this matter.
          And do find that a "omni-benevolent omniscient omnipotent" God, is quite hard to fathom logically for me. As I explained in an earlier reply with the :
          A Omnipotent God should be able to do anything.
          It could not make a boulder it couldn't lift, nor make a square circle. (Unless it can defy logic).
          Therefore there is a slight logical inconsistency.
          Or the problem of evil, for a omni-benevolent God.
          So in this sense (unless I have missed something) the Christian God is logically impossible. Therefore It would be perfectly valid to call yourself an "atheist".
          However I am struggling with this.
          For I have always labelled myself an "agnostic" on principle I could never (dis)prove "God(s)".

          However it is important to note that the "Bernard Test" (of definitions (or descriptions) of what are "Existence" and "God(s)" (?)) raise many issues on their own...
          Remembering the tautology I told you could do with definitions.

          So which am I?
          Atheist or Agnostic?
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        May 17 2013: Bernard,
        Thanks for trusting me with such a request I shall do my best.
        Atheism is the absence of the belief in any God(s)/Agnosticism is not about belief in god but, about Knowledge, that a person could not claim to Know for sure if any God(s) exist or not. Observe that you can believe in God(s)without claiming to Know for sure that no God(s) can or do exist; the result is agnostic theism. Or you can disbelieve in God(s) without claiming to Know for sure that no God(s)can or do exist the result is agnostic atheism.
        Using the Bernard's Test against the claim God(s) exists,stops the conversation dead on its tracks. For if you are not convinced by the claim you are not believing it, then you are without belief in God(s). Until the Bernard's test is passed and you are convinced, you are A(without)-theist(belief in God(s),Atheist.
        You my friend, have created a litmus test(BT).

        On your last post I see there is no fault to your reasoning, it's solid. I know there is a social cost attached to the Atheist label (at least in the USA),talk it over with the significant persons in your life and this view should not hinder your capacity to care for others, to have compassion, love & to lead a fulfilled life. Way to go Bernard!

        "What is wanted is not the will to believe, but the will to find out, which is the exact opposite."
        -- Bertrand Russell, Skeptical Essays (1928)

        Have a pint for me!

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          May 17 2013: Thanks for your reply! :-)
          Personally I have always been taught (in philosophy classses) that "Atheism" was the assertion that "God(s) did not exist".
          I have spoken to quite a few people about this, and I find it odd myself. For it is an odd debate.
          Here is a good question which sums it up :
          If something is logically impossible, should you still believe (in some form) it is possible?
          For instance you can't (dis)prove it with empirical evidence, yet with logic you can?
          And is it even possible to know whether such a thing as "God" (or gods) are logically impossible?

          I must admit the "Bernard Test" does raise far too many issues... :P
          Kind regards,
          EDIT : Watch this :

          I mean I can accept what Sir David Attenborough is saying, that we may not have the "cognitive abilities" to actually realize there is a God. I could accept that. Maybe God is beyond all rationality.
          Yet the irony in this, is as Bertrand Russell said (to paraphrase) : "God gave me with a rational mind, and I concluded "it" did (most probably) did not exist"
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          May 18 2013: True! :-)
          I'm not really sure why...
          I guess even if it make the conversation more confusing, it can still be a great contribution!
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          May 19 2013: Don,
          My condolences on the Mason that passed on.


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    • May 14 2013: Don
      I have watched the Todd Murphy – Neurotheology lesson number One. It seems very logic and a better way of studying the true value of praying
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      May 15 2013: Thanks for the clarification.

      Are you asserting there may be some supernatural telepathy going on in animal group behaviours?

      Could be.

      Sense of being stared at is interesting. Not sure if we have conclusive scientific evidence of this phenomena let alone an understanding of what is going on.
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    May 12 2013: It seems to me that people hold to a need to understand God. That will never happen. God is not a Being. God is the ground of being. We cannot refer to God as if God has attributes. God is Alpha and Omega. A circle if you will. God is love and wisdom. I happen to be a panentheist. I believe the cosmos is an incarnation of God. I believe that each human being can incarnate God. Do you know what dark matter is ? We can see the effects of dark matter. Apparently it has something to do with energy. Does it really exist ? As of yet it is undefinable. We see only what it does and not what it is. There are other unanswered questions scientists are pursuing still. To disregard a God made in our (man's own) image is certainly reasonable but to say definitely that God does not exist ??
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      May 13 2013: Helen,

      The issue with the God Hypothesis as I posted before is that mankind defines out of existence ( see my other posts). The God search via scientific method is an intellectual cul-de-sac. indeed is true that cultures throughout history have worship Deities,is evidence about the human psyche tendencies but not default evidence for the existence of God(s).
      "God is not a being is the ground of a being", Helen that is very poetic but what does that means? "...refer to God as if God has attributes" Again you lost me there but looks as if you have an operational definition of God(s) , Alpha, Omega circle (2d? Sphere 3d?) I do not follow. God is love wisdom, the cosmos an incarnation of God, and every human can incarnate God, Helen I still don't know what you mean by all the above.
      I know where I can sink my teeth when you talk about the postulate of Dark matter, But DM is not the same case as God(s), , Or God to exist because we don't understand the cosmos in every which way.Or even if the whole lot of science were to belly up it would not be an immediate evidence for the existence of God(s).
      "...definitely that God does not exist?" There is not credible evidence to support the existence of a God(s)./

      In the other hand I respect your right to believe as your see fit.

      And I still claim God is a delusion , an intellectual dead end.

      Best regards Helen,

      Ab imo pectore,

      I don't believe in God because I don't believe in Mother Goose. -- Clarence Darrow

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        May 13 2013: Hi Carlos.....Glad to hear back from you and we cannot really talk because we are not on the same wave length. But just to clarify...this is what I believe. I have no empirical evidence to show you. In my view what I believe is reasonable and will never conflict with any scientific findings. Regards, Helen
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          May 13 2013: Helen,

          Au contraire, I think this is a conversation worth having from all points of view, all wavelengths. Do question everything including our core beliefs. It is not about right or wrong, but is about growth, yours ,mine as we learn from each other. Of course I am not looking to create converts to my point of view, this is but a journey .
          Nothing should be immune to inquiry, specially unreasonably so, (As the novelist Naipul said) we should distinguish the difference between the death of an ordinary ox of concern to no one, may be put quickly out of its agony, from that of a sacred cow, which must be solicitously guarded so that it can die its agonizing death without any interference.

          Be well Helen,

          "Sacred cows make the best hamburgers"
          ---Mark Twain

          Cheers then!
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      May 15 2013: Helen,

      In what asset does the assumption of a panentheistic god differ to not assuming such a god?

      [The reason I ask is because:
      I think the conflict with science is the (in?)famous Occam's razor: if "A explains X" and "B explains X" then choose A over B if A has less assumptions (needs less code, is simpler, has lower entropy)
      i.e. if B= A+redundancy]
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        May 15 2013: Hello Mr. Cop.....Gosh, I had to read that a couple of times to grasp it. I am familiar with Occam;s razor. I hope I am on the right track. When a child I was taught that God was totally and completely out of the known cosmos. When panentheism came on the scene, that seemed to satisfy my reason. I see God as a beginning and no form...a consciousness that always existed. My jury is still out on the subject of matter being created. I don't think that pure energy needs a creator., so I will go with that.. I believe that love is a force for good and I once asked myself "Why does love exist ?". It took me a long time to come to some sort of answer. And one day I had an "epiphany" and I thought that Love is it's own excuse for being. I see God as love and I know I am rambling but the word asset puzzles me. ??
  • May 12 2013: RH
    I enjoy reading Carl Jung.
    • May 12 2013: Hi George!
      I don't believe I've talked with you before. Nice to meet you !!!
      I also enjoy reading about Jung's explorations too. Have you had an opportunity to read Gary Lachman's book; "Jung The Mystic" ? In fact Lachman himself is a very interesting person also. He is in the 'rock & roll hall of fame', as a founding member of the new wave band Blondie. He is incredibly well read and a prolific writer who writes extensively on the subject of metaphysics.
      I'll leave you with a salient quote by Jung for our conversation topic; "I shall not commit the fashionable stupidity of regarding everything I cannot explain as a fraud."
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    May 11 2013: Bernard,
    et al

    I've been rather busy, but I see you have quite a sticky wicket here. With the hope to not offend any sensitivities nor to be considered an emissary of Satan ( which I have been referred to in the topological manifold, yet all cleansed after the 3rd ale by my spiritual friends!), I must say that the scientific method(SM) is the best decoder of reality (not perfect, just the best), common sense and its senses need SM in order to obtain a more coherent, complete, simple (and quite elegant too) understanding of reality. And given what we presently know about the universe it is fair to say that God is not required as part of the explanation or description of present standard models.
    I dare say that the Sm -faith issue is a false inherently incompatible binary relationship. Religion, whether part of an evolutionary-psychological process required for our survival is being replaced(evolved away from) by Sm (slowly, but surely)
    The path is rather clear, no God required.

    "The church says the earth is flat, but I know that it is round, for I have seen the shadow on the moon, and I have more faith in a shadow than in the church."
    --Ferdinand Magellan, (1480–1521), Portuguese navigator: discoverer of the Straits of Magellan 1520 and the Philippines 1521.

    Cheers then!
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      May 11 2013: Hey Carlos Margues!
      Great point! :D
      However :
      Would it be fair to say that even if God was not required as part of the explanation, this does not have an impact on the truth of the claim "God exists"?
      Or have I misunderstood?
      Kind regards,
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        May 12 2013: Dear Bernard,

        Yes it has a crushing impact, if A exists in our universe then A is natural and measurable phenomena , like you and me or the spring rain. The concept of God, the supernatural, beyond space & time, not bound by any physical laws, not temporal, not spatial virgin births, water to wine ...etc..I mean Bernard is like taking away any measurable qualities then assigning existence by default (special pleading, why?), that dear friend is delusional. At the end you en up wit a tautology: God is not detectable because we define him to be undetectable. How is defining God in those terms(space less,timeless,undetectable etc) any different from negating its existence? Actually I think that from that frame of reference the God hypothesis defines itself out of contention. Its an intellectual dead end; for as you posted before in another TED debate that: any talk about God(s) will by necessity require a succinct definition, and there is none to date. Nothing but thousands of interpretations, variations, subjectives, all very metaphysical all as good as to prove the green dragon in my garage.
        There is no postmodernist view at play that sates that ALL views are equal and valid for we Know that moon rocks are Not made out of cheese.
        The explanatory power of religion is inversely proportional to the square of the distance (given by time as a linear axis in this case) to their origins , In other words mankind Knows more now than in the iron or bronze age, superstition is not a necessity any longer. I do agree that some moral concepts are universal but from that to the Transubstantiation (Catholicism) well Bernard that is when I get of the train.

        "God is a comedian playing to an audience too afraid to laugh"

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          May 12 2013: "superstition is not a necessity any longer"
          Do you mean this in terms to explain certain things?
          However here is a nice tautology (from definitions) :
          - Existence = All that has mass or energy.
          - God(s)= Immaterial being(s).
          - Immaterial being(s) do not have mass, nor energy.
          - Therefore God(s) do (and can) not exist.
          However it is important to note, that not everybody defines existence and God this way.
          Or another things you can deduce, how can a "space less,timeless" "Being" actually exist? Considering a "being" is usually a form of living organism.
          Many would also argue an "all powerful" being was logically impossible, for an "all powerful" being should be able to do anything. It could not "make a boulder it could not lift", therefore it couldn't do "everything". And many argue that the "problem of evil" discredits the perception of a "God(s)" being "all-loving".
          Unless this God is outside the realm of comprehension or logic, and that to know anything about you must experience it first.
          Or with that quote do you mean, that we don't need the deterrent of "God(s)" any-more to promote empathetic behaviour?

          However I do agree with you, that if you define God (ironically) as being either : "Indefinable" or "undetectable", then you can't really comment on it very well.
          And you "have" to be an agnostic.
          Sorry to have gone for a while.
          Kind regards,
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          May 14 2013: Hi Carlos....We will never understand God as there is no empirical way to detect God. There never will be. What do you have to say about spirit ?
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        May 12 2013: Bernard,

        In this cosmic theater we all play a role in what it may be the biggest joke ever, as we search for a non-existent meaning with a non-existent being juxtaposed against the innards of our collective psyche , and to top it mankind is afraid to look at that frame of reference and chuckle, after all God made hyenas and crows.(Did he?) ( that's why I added Voltaire)

        "Once miracles are admitted, every scientific explanation is out of the question."
        -- Johannes Kepler

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        May 13 2013: Bernard,

        I would like with your permission to nominate for my personal use "The Bernard Test" which postulates that in any philosophical or scientific attempt to speak about God(s) in a coherent manner will require a definition of the of the definiendum (God(s)) 1.simple easy to understand, 2. specific, that is:by reading the definition only, it should ideally not be possible to refer to any other entity than the definiendum , 3.measurable, 4 Reflecting current scientific knowledge.
        After the definition is agreed upon the conversation will have a leverage point to gain traction upon.

        Please feel free to edit this version

        Thank you for keeping the forum open Bernard!

        "Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities, truth isn't"
        --M Twain

        Cheers then!
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          May 13 2013: Yeah that's fine.
          I'm not altogether sure on 3, and 4. Yet I can see where you are coming from!
          Because what happens if God(s) are genially "undetectable"?
          Kind regards,
          Your friend : Bernard.
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          May 13 2013: I feel I should encourage you to join my other debate as well :
          "Does creationism indicate bad education? (If so how can we fix this, and should it be taught?) Does Creationism have any credibility to it?"
          Link :
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        May 12 2013: Don,

        Are you saying that via praying (for which there is at least more than 1 method depending what version of Christianities is applied) , I will attain the most cherished "unseen" needs, which are intuitive in nature excluding math induction.?

        I do respect the right of all to believe as they so desire, and will defend such a right.

        That said I propose that holding the notion of the supernatural as real is delusional. I gather that religion has used through the ages imagination & belief two diametrically opposed mental tools to paint in the mind's canvas an internally justified self delusion, Imagination involves creativity and invention, whereas belief involves unadulterated conviction. To believe in something which one has imagined is to intentionally put one’s faith in falsehood. However, since falsehood of it comes from within the mind of the believer, the believer cannot help but accept the false belief with conviction. In this way imagination and belief are consistent with each other.

        I've also seen (like you have) firsthand the horrors of warfare, which has plagued mankind since its inception to the world stage.I've also have seen the evils perpetrated by organized religions throughout the world in the name of a God... More the reason to cherish love , compassion and good will to one another and also knowledge , reason without all these indefinables . I just don't need God to do it good to my fellow man. And some people need God to do evil ...

        Thanks Don,

        Over 33,000 Christianities and one or three God(s)
        With a vast array of Holy Books
        and over 2,000 years old and still going strong,
        and served daily...


        Cheers then!
  • May 9 2013: Hey Buddy!
    I wish you the very best in your exam preps. and your exams - knock 'em out of the park !!! :D.
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        May 10 2013: " Bernard, maybe good; but not quite good enough for the "Church of God" "
        What do you mean by this? ;)
        Kind regards,
        P.S : I'm probably undecided as to who I am with "C.S. Lewis or Freud". :P
        • May 11 2013: "Hi Bernard, this is your conscience speaking - are you having difficulty getting away from the keyboard and 'hitting the books' for your exams?" :D. Naughty boy! :D .
          Best Wishes!, Do Us Proud!

          Oh, PS I've gotten through "A Mistake Was Made ..." . It is very good!
          In fact I have added it near the top of the bibliography section of suggested reading for my students at my site. Thanks again!
          Now ... back to your studies :D!
      • May 11 2013: Ha Ha, Thanks Don! :)
        Our mutual buddy Bernard is doing the best he can I believe! He does (as I know you'll agree), have a lot on his plate right now. I feel he is on the right path - though he may do a lot of kicking and screaming along the way - as we all have :) In fact, I still kick and scream at the Great Center on a fairly regular basis ;| . The real problem is the ted organizational paradigm which is (purposely I'm starting to believe), is choosing to hide from the reality of the last 50+ years of consciousness research. This is the consensus of the members of ted who were looking forward to the talks by some of the 'big guns' of consciousness research, the esteemed experts due to present their research and the press - who have been giving ted real hell over their foolishness, also. I will be chatting with Bernard privately when he has time. I know of his personal integrity, concern and support for everyone who is participating in his talks.
        Now in regard to my "conceptual self portrait" - no, I not kidding! That is what it really is. It is a drawing I did early in my career (I'm a sculptor). I'm very attached to this drawing. It is part of the personal aesthetic visual vocabulary that all artists develop in their careers.
        But, there is an other reason I have chosen to use this drawing extensively. I tend to too often offend folks with my polite but direct questions enough as it is already! Now, just imagine if they were to see me as I actually appear! I see no reason to frighten children and the sensitive folks among us by revealing my horrifying visage! If I were to be given a pointy little hat, I would surely be assumed to be a very frightening garden knome :) ! If you are worried that I may be ted (Bundy's) evil twin, you can read all the sordid details at ;) .
        Great to hear from you buddy!
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          Jun 1 2013: Out of interest Jordan, are you sure you are not seeing "false" patterns?
          Considering (after reading the "Believing brain") I have become even more sceptical of conspiracy theories! (I mean no offence)
          I say this due to this line "The real problem is the ted organizational paradigm which is (purposely I'm starting to believe), is choosing to hide from the reality of the last 50+ years of consciousness research." What would TED have to gain from hiding the reality?
          Isn't TED about "Idea's worth spreading"?
          Think about the amount of people which would have to be involved, and the necessary requirements.
          Yet it is worth noting that I trust you Jordan.
          So I do take you word for it...
          However I am confused (that's all) as to what's TED's motives would be doing such a thing!
          That is why I strongly recommend you the book "The Believing Brain: From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies---How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths".
          To get a little bit of where I'm coming from read these three (short) articles (from Michael Shemer).
          "The Believing Brain"



          Then watch his TED talk :
          "Michael Shermer: The pattern behind self-deception"

          Please reply once you have watched (+ read) all.
      • Jun 2 2013: Hi Don, Good Buddy !
        I'm sorry for not responding to your kind words about my inter-dimensional energy exploration site sooner :( ! My only excuse is that I was trying to catch up on our topic quickly and failed to return to respond to your kindness.
        YES, for me - having my work considered "very interesting" is probably the highest compliment I can think of! Especially from an interesting person, such as yourself!
        I do have a rather personal question for you - which you should feel no need to respond to publically here. If you should wish to respond, ask for clarification or have additional questions - please feel free to contact me through my site at and we can talk at leisure.
        In light of our mutual admiration for Emanuel Swedenborg - Have you taken the plunge into inter-dimensional energy system exploration yet? As has been said; 'imitation is the sincerest form of flattery' (or admiration).
        No, I'm not trolling for students. I'm fairly busy already. But, I (if you are open to it), suggest the "Gateway" program at the Monroe Institute, Virginia. I did a version of this program very early in my search for evidentiary experience for beginning my evidence-based model of reality. It was very, very helpful! The format for their findings is different than mine developed to be, at this point. But, their findings are vary similar to mine! (Oh, and if you are not able to participate in person, they also have a CD version of the "Gateway" program, more than worth its price!)
        (Mine turned out to resemble a more Kabbalah like framework, even though I personally deplore religions (blind faith), and am not Jewish.)
        I really hope you don't see this as being too pushy - my enthusiasm for exploration is obviously high.
        My point is this; I am not well suited for this sort of endeavor. I'm a very ordinary, sort of person. So, if I can do, it so can anyone!
        I'm very willing to work with you privately - gratis, if you like.
      • Jun 3 2013: Hi Don, Good Buddy!
        I did return to your profile as you invited me to do. You have an extremely impressive resume' of experience (personal and professional), as well as social and managerial skill sets !!!
        When I thanked you for your interest in my work because you were an especially interesting person - I had already looked at your profile. I really mean it - you are quite an amazingly capable person!
        The last I looked, Google had not yet picked-up my site. Glad to know Google got around to finding me - at least in Canada. They are branching off into other web ventures, as I'm sure your aware. It appears that Bing (Microsoft), has tried to move into the area of web search services.
        Thanks again for your friendship, Buddy!
      • Jun 5 2013: HI Don ,Good Buddy!
        Oh I've blundered - once again. I can easily be a real dope :(
        I have another good friend here who IS interested in Swedenborg's work. But, my poor brain did a woopsi on me, once again!
        I'm sorry. You still must be scratching your head about me :| !
        I ask your forgiveness for my thick skull.
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      Jun 1 2013: Anyhow.
      I look forward to your reply.
      • Jun 2 2013: Hi buddy !
        I (as you can see), have failed miserably at not being wordy :) !
        To your main concern, which I appreciate completely - an important question. Yes, I feel that Chris Anderson has a paradigm (with all of its associated filters and biases), against modern consciousness science which does permeate the organization. In any organization paradigms are enforced, top - down. In a letter to subordinates he warned them against a "fusion of science and spirituality". So what the hell is "spirituality"? Consciousness research is pointing toward natural mechanisms operating on a sub-quantum, non-local levels of energy information, organizational processes. The 'supernatural' is natural. 'Metaphysics' is physics and the 'paranormal' is just normal. There is (as in any valid science), reliable, repeatable evidence from many different labs verifying the evidence. But, these facts are to be over-looked, at all costs to protect the paradigm and its proponents.
        Here is a quote from a speaker who is apparently a close ted associate: "It may sound as if I am about to preach atheism. I want to reassure you that that's not what I am going to do. In an audience as sophisticated as this one, that would be preaching to the choir. No, what I want to urge upon you is militant atheism ..." - Richard Dawkins
        So, this certainly appears to be an example of the so open minded, impartial and reasonable ted paradigm. I can't know (the so-called ted 'science' board is kept anonymous), but it would not surprise me that Dawkins would be an example of ted's impartial, fair and unbiased 'science' board. I don't have another explanation for why important researchers such as Russell Targ would be deemed unsuitable. He certainly has the credentials and data from years of research to backup any claims he may make!
        We can continue to talk about this if you wish. I'm willing to be convinced otherwise, but ... Until then why not check the links I provided, to see what you missed!
  • May 9 2013: Hi Bernard, Ol' Buddy!,
    Sorry its been two weeks since last talking with you. You mentioned you would be busy w/ work for a few days, so I decided it would also be a time for me to catch up with some work also. A few days turned into two weeks ...Yikes !!! :s
    This sounds like an interesting topic to work with. But, I do have some preliminary questions I'd like to pose that came to the front of my diminutive cranium during the last couple of weeks that I would like to share.
    While working I came across a classic that I decided too reread. I had not read "The Holographic Universe", by Michael Talbot since it was released in 1991, Talbot was kind of our (U.S.), version of your (and our), beloved fiction and science writer, Arthur C. Clarke - equally at home in both worlds. He was one of the first writers able to write a cohesive compilation of the science of consciousness research which was already well established in the early 1970's, but not yet popularized. He was friends with many of the pioneers of the field like; physicist David Bohm, neuroscientist Karl Pribram, physicist Russell Targ, physicist Fred Allen Wolfe, Yale surgeon Bernie Segal, psychologists Stanislav Grof, Stanley Krippner, Charles Tart and Kenneth Ring (whom my wife had an opportunity to study with). This modern classic has been available continuously and was republished in 2011.
    It is foundational reading for any cogent discussion of this area. So, I would highly recommend it for a discussion that is going to be more than just a chat about opinions or feelings of this area.
    Which brings me to my second question; This science predated ted by several decades, yet ted's paradigm deliberately excludes this body of work from serious discussion - a new permutation of the 'flat earth society? (see huffingtonpost 3-18-13 article "dear ted, is it 'bad science' or a 'game of thrones'?") I personally had references or links to this science censored by ted.
    End of part 1, Sorry, I'm a windbag :(
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      May 9 2013: :D
      Nice to see you again Jordan Burrill.
      I have quite important exams in the next three weeks (wish me luck!), so I won't be able to be as "active" as I would like to be.
      Yet I will try to make the effort to spare some time to respond to the feedback from this debate! :P
      I hope you don't mind!
      Kind regards,
      Your buddy Bernard.
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    R H

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    May 9 2013: Alright. Let me give it a go. Science vs. Faith. Scientists, using the technological skills of their craft, are attempting to find God, as yet to no avail, so therefore they deduce that God doesn't exist because they can't find God. Science then, as crafty as they are, 're-create the God experience' as proof of the artificiality of faith. This 'knock-off handbag' approach for me is like saying since I can copy a Louis Vuitton there is no LV. which is true. Now, all that remains is the 'idea' of LV and all of the people who perpetuate his idea. But it's also false because there was a LV because we can prove it. As of yet, we cannot scientifically prove God, therefore it must be true (there is no God) because the false statement (we can prove God) is not valid. One of my favorite observations is: 'Science is constantly catching up with reality'. There are many, many practitioners of 'the spirit', with nearly as many versions. Much post-modern science is discovering new realities that de-bunk previously held sacrosanct scientific 'truths'. Therefore it is reasonable to assume that science may one day discover a 'God-like' entity or phenomenon, currently beyond the capabilities of the tools at their disposal.
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      May 9 2013: Nice to meet you R H! :D
      So are you basically saying (if I understand correctly):
      "An absence of evidence is not evidence of absence"
      And that one day we may indeed find evidence for such a deity?
      I agree with this to a certain extent, that is partly why I label myself as a "Ignostic (strict) agnostic".
      However to me, it still remains unknown as to whether there is a "God" considering I can't "predict" the future with a 100% accuracy.
      Kind regards,
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        R H

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        May 14 2013: Thanks Bernard, same here. In response: Not exactly. I'm not saying that that 'since we cannot prove there is no God' then there is one. I'm saying we don't know. And if we discover one day a 'deity', it may have little semblance to how we've envisioned one. But there is also the possibility we may not find one. With that said, I also inferred, and I think most people would agree, that there is much much much more for us to discover and learn, and the result of those discoveries may shed light on quandaries of today.
    • May 9 2013: I think RH has the right idea here. If there is a God, He's going to be found, not defined by us. It makes no sense for us to define God, because then it's a construct, not an actual existence. Science has as of yet produced no evidence for or against the existence of God. Maybe it can be done sometime in the future, I have no idea. But I do know that it is possible to know of the existence of God personally. We can communicate with God and He talks back if you're listening. I have a personal relationship with God. I can't prove it to you, but I can tell you how to start your own connection with God by yourself. Those who really want to know can know. A lot of people don't. That's their decision and no one else can make it for them. Kind of sad in my opinion though, they're missing out :)
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        May 9 2013: Did you check out the link about how you can artificially create a "God experience"?
        What are your thoughts on this? :P
        Surely if we can't "define God" then there is point giving it attributes like "all-loving, all-powerful, and all-knowing"? (If you do indeed mean this!).
        What is "God" like? How does he "communicate" with you? Through events in your life?
        Because then it would be helpful if you could look up something called the "Confirmation Bias".
        Kind regards,
        However :
        I am willing to accept that there is a God, and I "believe" I used to have this experience as well. Yet I do not think this implies the existence of a "Personal God" at all, and even more so that you know what it is "like". (E.G : Its will, its name, its gender ect).
        I would just need sufficient reason (or a piece of "observational or experimental evidence".)
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          May 9 2013: Hi Bernard..
          What we have to remember is that He is God & we are His creation. He came to earth & died for us; & He left us the bible to learn from. I have been a Christian almost 30yrs & He has done awesome things in my life. I am in no doubt as to His existence.
          He honours humility & obedience, which is contrary to your present attitude. He is a spiritual being; we are spiritual beings. Nothing is contrary to physical reality, but only the spirit allows us access to God. Should we honestly expect that access to the Creator of the Universe should be on OUR terms?

          Sufficient reason? Eternal Life with a Creator who loves you; that's just so off the scale of incentives. Life is so short & insignificant in comparison. Would you rather win a bunch of paper on the lottery?

        • May 9 2013: You know, I can't prove anything to you. You can explain away anything I say, and I can explain away anything you say. I watched your youtube video, but all it really proves is that you can influence the brain with magnetic waves. A typical experience with God that I have frequently is I'm faced with some decision I'm not sure about. I'll think it out, then pray and talk to God about the choice I'll make. He'll talk back to me through a mixture of feelings, thoughts, and impressions that don't come from me. The answer sometimes completely surprises me, sometimes I get a simple confirmation it's the right thing to do. Those decisions always work out. Sometimes I ask open-ended questions and the answer will pop into my head, or fill a couple journal pages as the words stream into my head. It's always right. Maybe I'm struggling to accomplish something and suddenly I'll get the strength to change or the knowledge of how to do it will come to me. I'm not alone in this phenomenon, in fact I personally know hundreds of people that all experience this on a daily basis. It's like a constant presence with you.

          I can't prove any of this to you. I have no evidence. You can bring up the placebo effect, confirmation bias, conditioning or any number of explanations. You also have no evidence that what I'm experiencing isn't communication from God. I've found that debates about this topic rarely go anywhere. The beliefs are too deeply held on both sides. What I do know is that if someone has an open mind and a sincere desire to know if God is there, all they have to do is ask Him and He'll start talking up a storm. I've taught people with no religious background how to do this. I've also taught people with a non-Christian background how to do this as well. It always worked for them too. All it requires is sincerity and an open mind.
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          May 11 2013: Scott, I guess the problem is when you imagine you are taking to your god concept, receiving impressions, words, feelings, you have not way to prove they are not just from your unconscious mind.

          I guess followers of Bacchus or Maduk had the similar experiences praying to their god concepts. Or maybe I do if I meditate on something, or wake up in middle of the night with a new insight or possible solution to a problem or decision.
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        May 10 2013: "I can't prove anything to you"
        What do you mean by this? Me being able to explain why you view certain things doesn't effect the truth of them in any way.
        I mean if I found out how you perceive reality, does that change anything?
        I mean I can prove to you that there are no "married bachelors", because by definition a "bachelor" can't be "married".
        "You also have no evidence that what I'm experiencing isn't communication from God."
        Well I suppose Jesse Bering would argue it was just a "cognitive illusion" your experiencing.
        However :
        I don't have any evidence either to suggest you are indeed "communicating" with God.
        Out of interest :
        How do you know it is a "Him"?
        I find it odd that God would feel the need to reveal this to you.
        Yes I just remain an pure simple agnostic concerning the existence of God.
        However you still need to define (or describe) what you mean by "God" and "Existence".
        Kind regards,
        EDIT : I'm always ready to accept that "God" "Exists".
        • May 13 2013: All I meant by "I can't prove anything to you" is that I have no evidence. By scientific evidence or logical debate, it's impossible for me to prove anything. That's why this debate is often just both sides spinning their wheels.

          Ok, so a description of God. This is what He has said concerning Himself: He is the father of the spirits of all men. He has a body, human in shape but perfect and eternal. He has a wife. Before this life we lived with Him as spirits, and in order to grow up we came to this earth to experience things we couldn't in heaven, like pain and hardship. We also gain a body here. The end goal is for us to learn from our mistakes and change to become more perfect, more like God. Eventually (long after we're dead) we'll become gods in our own right. Here in this life we forget all about our previous life and we have to struggle to return to Him. This is by design. This life is just like an extremely challenging class. If it wasn't hard, there would be no point. To help us out here He has two people who work with Him to be liasons with us. Jesus Christ allows us to change, repent of sins, and do good that we couldn't do just on our own. The Holy Ghost allows us to communicate with God and receive His guidance directly.

          Of course I haven't gotten all this simply from my own inquiries. What's above is a simple summary of what my church believes, and we believe it because that's what God's prophets have said. Prophets are just people that have gotten to the point spiritually that they can receive this kind of detail from the Holy Ghost, and they tell us about it so we don't have to work 70 years just to know. What is simple enough to do though is ask God if these men really are prophets or not. That's how I know all of the above is true. I asked God if what I had been taught was true, and He said yes. I choose to believe it. If I can't trust myself and my experience, I certainly can't trust what other people say.
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      May 11 2013: R H, I'm not sure Scientists are trying to find any supernatural artificer.
      What makes you think they are.
      It seems they are just showing religious type experiences can be artificially induced etc.
      They know they can not prove any supernatural connections, because they could just be interpretation, and are untestible.

      If we find evidence of something deserving to be a called a god, then I suggest that is the time to believe. At the moment it is just a possibility, like lots of supernatural or metaphysical things you want to imagine, like the transmigration of souls between humans and other animals, or Hades etc. Can't disprove them.

      Absence of evidence for or against is not a strong case for the assertion.
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        R H

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        May 14 2013: Hi Obey. There is an article in 'Scientific American Mind' by Richard Wiseman, Dec 2011, called 'Wired for Weird' where he basically makes the assertion that those who 'believe' are weird, and goes on to demonstrate that religious experiences can be reproduced in a lab. The implication is those who are unaware of his interpretation are fools, and that phenomenon cannot exist outside the abilities of scientific proof. This is pretty close to an artificer. I made no assertion that there is a 'deity'. My assertion is only that we cannot know whether there is or isn't through current science. The keyword was 'may'. Thnx for responding.
  • Jun 8 2013: Hey Folks!
    May I suggest that anyone that uses ANY religion or belief paradigm to abuse or oppress others is in the grip of evil?
    Cheers To All!
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    Jun 7 2013: Thanks for the recommendations. I have copied them to a permanent file on my computer. I plan to grab them and read them as soon as I am able . . .

    The internet is such a wonderful way to communicate. Not only that, but the content has gotten so much better over the past 15 years.

    Any time you can find as many as 15 lectures by Nobel Prize winners on Youtube -- life is good. And there are more than that available from just one guy - the late Richard Feynmann.
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      Jun 7 2013: Good!
      Well their all the best books I'v read regarding the "Psychology of Religion".
      Just to say Jesse Bering is one of the leading researches into "Religious cognition".
      Would be nice if you have some books to recommend to me!
  • Jun 7 2013: Hey Don!
    Thanks again, Bud!
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          Jun 7 2013: Yes. I am in the grip of the Devil... (I'm interested you resort to such feeble insulting tactics)
          Well as the saying goes : "Heaven for the atmosphere, Hell for the company".
          It's ironic you state "There in no argument that can be made against", yet I think you must have made arguments "for" the "Great Architect Above".
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          Jun 7 2013: There's no reasonable arguing with him, I have been in many heavy debates with fundamentalists like him through the years here.

          So you see, we are the devil (or possibly influenced by him) and if we don't turn to God we will suffer for eternity in hell, and Don thinks that it's right that we suffer, after all it is Gods will.
          Unless we submit our will to got hell is the destination we're going.
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      Jun 7 2013: YOU are the devil Don!

      (Two can play this game)
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    • Jun 8 2013: Hey Don, Buddy!
      I would like to check this link out soon, too - in the interest of 'casting a broad net'. I personally, was forced to toss out 'creationism' because it was a 'blind faith' - based belief. I found a that a personal, evidential experience-based process (to build a flexible, model of reality - open to growth as I, hopefully grow).
      But, you may wish to check into work by MIT trained cosmologist and mathematician, Gerald L. Schroeder, PhD. He has a theory that suggests that the original "six days" of creation was from the point of view of the creator only. And through the processes of cosmic inflation and the resulting time dilation, that the 14.5 billion years of our universe that we see from our end is entirely reasonable.
      I certainly can't verify his theory for evidence of proof, simply because I couldn't begin to understand his CONFOUNDFING MATHMATICS !!! :( ... :D
      You may wish to read his "The Science of God" - if you promise not to let studying this give you a headache ! :D
  • Jun 4 2013: Hey Bernard !
    There is a great group of women vocalists (if you like historically inspired music), called Mediaeval Babes. And they are located on your side of the pond! We never miss them when they are over here! You can find examples of their work on youtube to check out.
  • Jun 1 2013: Hey Buddy!
    You've made some good points which everyone should always be on guard against. The usual (I guess technical term for it), is Pareidolia. It is something that I always warn students to be cautious of, hence our need for continuous introspection when evaluating experiential evidence gathered in OBEs, etc. explorations.
    (I'll have to get back to you soon as I can, to finish my response - I have to go to the land-fill this afternoon before it closes!).
    I have looked over "The Belief Instinct" and I'm interested in sitting down with it as soon as I am able to - looks good!
    But, I am well familiar with Shermer through readings and interviews and I'm not impressed by his position or paradigm (filters). Over the years I've found holes in his thinking and research citing's big enough to drive a truck through. His paradigm only works from inside itself.
    We can talk more a little later - after I've 'done my duty' :D
    Now, ... get your nose back into those books!:D
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      Jun 1 2013: I personally admire Michael Shermer.
      It seems me and Don Weasly had an unpleasant disagreement regarding Michael Shermer.
      Considering he viewed that "Rupert Sheldrake" was right.
      I viewed he was wrong, citing Michael Shermer (my reply) :
      "Read Michael Shermer on "Rupert Sheldrake" :
      I'm afraid it seems like Rupert Sheldrake doesn't have a very good "theory".
      "skeptics dampen the morphic field’s, whereas believers enhance it."
      Seems like a very odd theory to me, if being sceptical of it makes it less true."
      Which he responded to rather negatively.
      So I'm interested, why do you share the view with Don Weasley that Michael Shermer is wrong (or not impressive).
      Kind regards (as always),
      • Jun 1 2013: Hi Buddy !
        Whew !!! My husbandly duties are done (?), for now and the land fill is now fuller! :)
        There are a number of issues for us to chew over here from our previous talk today as well as the question you just asked. I'll try (probably in vane), to not be too wordy.

        First, Shermer.. The people who are at the biggest disadvantage are those who believe they have no paradigms - with the associated filters that block potential, contrary evidence. I think it is an unconscious attempt to avoid the discomfort of our old friend 'cognitive dissonance'.
        A model of reality is important to have as a 'place keeper' to act as a foundation for asking further questions, only - it must be tentative and always open to amendments and alterations. The less evidential value there is for a paradigm, the more assertive, dogmatic and even deceptive its adherents can be - this is my personal observation of self and people watching history.
        Case in point; Shermer's crony Joe Nickell recently wrote a typically deceptive book called "The Science Of Ghosts". [ Not too long ago Nickell was trotted-in as a 'skeptic' in a tv program about a haunting case being investigated by numerous others also. In this program nickel said; "There is no such thing as ghosts. When you're dead, you're dead." ] On the back cover of this book by Nickell (which I bought to illustrate paradigm bias to students), Shermer writes a typical endorsement; "This is it - the definitive book on ghosts from a scientific perspective, written by the world's foremost science-based ghost hunter. Nickell is the go-to guy for all things paranormal, and with this book he has once again asserted himself as a fair and careful investigator whose conclusions we can trust." REALLY? :D

        Second point; Sheldrake's assertion is not improbable. Modern Consciousness Research is a science where repeatable results matter, as in any science. The research does have solid data that the 'intension' of participants can affect outcome.
      • Jun 2 2013: Hi Bernard, Good Buddy!
        I think I left you hanging a 'bit' (pun intended :D ), regarding your question of Rupert Sheldrake's posit of the "intension" / 'entanglement' proposition. This is a commonly observed, universal phenomenon in quantum level physics experiments - where the observer is inextricably 'entangled' in the experiment and can (and has been documented to), effect the out come of an experiment. This is the 'new' reality we live in.
        Only those who stubbornly cling to their old, discredited materialistic paradigm for comfort reasons resist our contemporary understanding of reality - like Shermer.
        I read a book in the mid 90's about the possible future of quantum computers. There was great excitement about its potentials. But, serious doubts they could ever be developed - because of the problem of the "observer" changing the results of output data by merely observing the results! Fortunately, ways around this problem have been found and quantum computer science developments continue. It has lead to unbreakable quantum codes that are impossible (at this point), to break by an unauthorized 'observer'!
        And now quantum computer science is developing technology for memory storage based on research that was first proposed by eminent consciousness research scientists like Rupert Sheldrake, PhD; Stuart Hameroff, PhD. and Sir Roger Penrose, a mechanism to help explain how documented (and tested by multiple labs), consciousness phenomenon beyond the 'Physical' body may operate.
        Even 'retro-causality' has been observed and documented by multiple labs working independently! It is a new world!
        Here is an anecdotal (and documented), story by RVer, Joe McMoneagle. A skeptic congressman agreed to participate in a RV session. He failed to obtain positive results and trumpeted this as vindication of his paradigm. Until he was shown that he had actually scored way below random chance!
        We can discuss this more after your studies.
        Yours - As Always,
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          Jun 2 2013: Did you read Shermer's (two) articles(?) :
          "Rupert's Resonance"


          (Read the "Quantum Consciousness" bit!)
          "Anecdotal". I don't find that reliable evidence.
          Considering from what I know the "theory of morphic resonance" is a bit like Freudian psychology.
          If you claim it isn't real, then your suffering from it.
          Or in other words, to quote : "skeptics dampen the morphic field’s, whereas believers enhance it". If you go against it, it's still true. If you go with it, it's still true.
          Also if it was "true", then why don't people know about it?
          Why don't (all) scientists confirm it? Why do many scientists dismiss it?
  • May 31 2013: Hey Bernard, Ol' Buddy!
    How did your exams go? I bet you did great!
    If it would not be too nosey of me, what courses did you have and what is your major? I think everyone would be interested to know about your pursuits!
    I also really like your new (should I say ?), conceptual self portrait! Very interesting in deed!
    My work load is getting heavier and we only have a few days left for this talk. So, as much as I enjoy conversation, I'm thinking I (if ted allows), to just offer some interesting thoughts and references - if that is o:k with folks?

    I think I will leave the above link as a surprise for curious folks to enjoy and ponder. It has an interesting history in relation to the history of modern consciousness research (which is older than ted), and its implications to our topic at hand.

    As I've mentioned before, there is considerable evidence for non local (or inter-dimensional?), components to consciousness. So, I will end my blathering for now this rather ironic quote.
    "the solution to the riddle of life in space and time lies outside space and time."
    - Ludwig Wittgenstein, logician

    Cheers and Best Wishes to All!
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      Jun 1 2013: It would be helpful if you could ask more (personal) questions in an email about me. Rather than in a "public" conversation.
      Sorry! Just my paranoia! :P
      Kind regards,
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    May 31 2013: Oops . . .wrong box to write in.
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    May 31 2013: I've heard "Namaste" before. Is it Japanese or from an African language? Google translate won't decode it for me.

    I hate it when Google won't google for me!
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        May 31 2013: Thank you Colleen & Chris, 'er, Colleen & Chris -- It is hard to keep things in order here when comments get all nested together. Also, it can get crowded too! I like being in a crowd. Especially being an a crowd of such smart/wonderful people.

        To Colleen Steen: I guess that 500+ beside your name really does represent a significant contribution to TED! I can now see how in the larger context of this conversation -- to: "declare [myself or someone] insane and leave it at that . . . " is NOT a supportive statement for anything. I respect the fact that you have taken it upon yourself to both discover and nurture a lot of good thoughts here on TED -- and if TED-at-large doesn't appreciate that, I guess I'll step up and do just that. THANK YOU!

        There is a story behind that other statement I made (the one you objected to). And that involves the "very responsible & careful" people I mentioned before. I am the one who made that objectionable statement in frustration over my own circumstances. And for this conversation, the context was really bad. All you did was point that out to me. So, you got it right. Me, I just didn't get it until I took a second look. I am not the only one here who reads these things, so your words to me were instructive on that point.

        The nicest thing about how this "nested post/response" thing works here on TED is simple. As I write this, I stare at your smiling face and see the words "You're welcome Juan:>)" So I'm cheating. I already have your response here before me.

        Maybe it's unfair for me to give myself the last word on this. But I don't think you'd begrudge me just this much. You're really good at this! Really! When I back up and look at the entire conversation; You both have (and deserve) a world-wide following. It's been a privilege, Colleen!
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          May 31 2013: You're welcome Juan:>)
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          May 31 2013: Dear Juan,
          This is a response to your edit to the previous comment.

          I notice that you deleted your comments from the other conversation that you refer to.

          I agree with you that... "to: "declare [myself or someone] insane and leave it at that . . . " is NOT a supportive statement for anything".

          Thank you for your kind words and I have gotten feedback from TED

          I didn't really "object" to your statement, I simply did not agree. We are free to write whatever we want on TED as long as it complies with the TED terms of use agreement....respectful and on topic.

          I don't "begrudge" you anything Juan. Thanks again for your kind words:>)
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    May 30 2013: Some days I do so love it when we disagree . . . or do we agree? I paraphrase your last here:

    "I do agree with many other psychologists like Michael Shermer, and Paul Bloom that do study God it would be wise to act as an atheist."

    You can make a case that this much would limit experimenter bias; except in the case where the bias of an Atheist or Agnostic could skew or risk a confounding of the scientific data collected. Bias can go either way. And and even the possibility of bias in rigidly controlled, rigorously conducted scientific experiments is a hotly debated topic. In Science, even the suspicion of bias can make or break your academic career. Bias is something that everyone wants to get RIGHT! So that's the first thing they look at. Scientists don't bother even to argue the point. BIAS of any sort is always evaluated/eliminated; along with every other possible source of error in the data!

    Buy why should you argue with me? Can an Atheist do better Science than a theist? If (as) you are an Atheist: I suppose maybe so, if you -say-so; but I would prefer that without regard for any personal choice as to religion, we just do the Science. That is what Scientists do! Every Scientist brings a personal bias into every systematic, empiric, inquiry they conduct. THAT is a given! They have committees to look at that before the research starts & before submission for publication! That is why, when using the methodology of Science, every possible confounding source of error or bias is fully evaluated. That, is why good science must be peer reviewed both before and after publication. That is also why good science must be reproducible. Some post-graduate fellow somewhere has to be able to reproduce your results and independently prove your data as valid. And in that follow-on study, they ask the same questions about bias and confounding error, and the validity of the data collected, every single time.

    And any Scientist would know that.
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      May 31 2013: To be honest I have no problem, as long as you do good science! :D
      I agree that no matter as to regards concerning your religious (or lack of) beliefs doesn't affect your science in any way really...
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    May 30 2013: At moments like this I almost wish I was an artificial intelligence. I could suck an entire encyclopedia & entire libraries of books out of the Ether (via that internet thing) and digest them in mere seconds. I could then quote from everything and BAFFLE everyone here on TED!

    Also, "Despair not, but if you despair, work on in your despair." a quote from Robert Louis Stevenson.

    And in the meantime, I shall work on. JV
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    May 30 2013: Here is proof of MY agreement with YOU on that topic:

    The 4 Postulates of God:
    1. No supernatural phenomena will ever be discovered or validated by science.

    2. There will always be more that is unknown than known.

    3. Our initial experience at birth includes elements of both the Unknown & Faith. And that comes from a newborn infant's healthy, primal scream(s) of both unmet need(s) and total helplessness.

    4. Religion is the original DNA of Civilization. The goal is to minimize the screaming by maximizing the needs met.

    Maybe all that Religion does is animate/activate the Limbic System in our brain -- and thereby pacify our Reptile Brain (By which we destroy ourselves & civilization in only seeking our next meal or our next aspirational procreative experience. You can go to jail for that, you know!)

    But the utility of these 4 postulates SEEMS at least to get the dialogue started. If I identify myself as a "Believer," even the most hard-core Theist accepts my 4 Postulates of God as a "Worthy-thought-experiment." And that was my goal.

    On the other hand, even a hard-core Atheist (like Christopher Hitchens) would view these 4 Postulates of God as evidence of my submission to "Scientific Rigor." And maybe that only as homage to this evidence of my own feeble effort to rid myself of "Religion" as a 'diseased affliction!"

    So let's kick this around a-bit and see if something comes of it. It can't hurt at this point!
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    May 30 2013: The best explanation for what Jesse Bering is talking about comes not from his rather mundane reference to Freudian

    wish-fulfillment theory; or even a Freudian "Illusion." The best evidence offering an explanation for what he tackles in his brief article: the God Illusion, lies with both cognitive and developmental psychology. We are born helpless. And as infants our only means of communication is a good healthy scream. Clearly Jesse Bering is not a parent of children. Or if he is, he's never changed a diaper. Our very survival in infancy is dependent upon making contact with a very real, very powerful, very warm, welcoming, and encompassing external consciousness: Mother. Specifically my mother for me and your mother for you. If he'd taken a broader view of the work of Sigmund Freud, he wouldn't have missed something so basic. Infants are not self-aware. And a great deal of work has been done in both Cognitive Psychology and Developmental Psychology in evaluating the experiences of helpless infants and the developing consciousness of healthy children. Look at the work of Swiss Psychologist, Jean Piaget. As our brains develop, we learn to believe in & interact with Mom & Dad and/or Care Givers. And that is the source of much of our inner superstitions about God.

    It is VERY clear that Jesse Bering has never studied any theology or history of religion. In mapping out the cognitive and developmental stages of human thought from infancy to adulthood, Piaget develops paradigms of thought that resemble theology. Preoperational an (Pre)operatory thought exactly mirror what Jesse Bering calls the God illusion. "It is instinctive for us to seek a grand, moralistic mind that is not there. God is the default stance." Yes, to a point, and Piaget with other workers in the field have examined this issue thoroughly.
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      May 30 2013: Please show me the data Piaget found. I am a great fan of Piaget.
      If you have any links (or books) to give, please tell me.
      However I do think (in his book) Jesse Bering does a great job of explaining why people believe in God(s).
      I personally view Wish-Fulfilment theory plays a part, yet isn't the "whole story". Considering many believers take suffering in the view that some will spend "eternal damnation". Also you can turn "wish-fulfillment theory" on it's back, to mean that the Atheists (like Hitchens and Harris) wish there is no God... (As C.S.Lewis argued.) Which is quite plausible.
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        May 30 2013: The Paul Bloom article from the Atlantic is the article that I wish I had read first. He cites current research in both cognitive & developmental psychology that both validates & extends the original work of Piaget. Amazon has all of Piaget's books.

        Freud may have addressed the issue of eternal damnation. If not Freud then Jung. Some are so inclined that damnation itself is a form of wish fulfillment. As I recall, Freud addressed that. I'm curious.

        "Wish fulfillment on it's back" -- sure Atheists might wish there is no God. Given the Rushdie Affair and the 9/11 attacks, I'm inclined to agree with the late Christopher Hitchens on that point. And Chris could make a point . . . .

        But it seems that we must accept Belief in God as factual; & that without regard for proof sufficient as to God's existence. Sam Harris seems to think that religion is losing its argument with science. But why argue? Why bother, when religion has already proven itself an excellent source for raw data upon which science can analyze and experiment? 4000+ years of written religious history, mythology, & archaeology is a whole lot of data. Data is data. And Science is how we analyze data. So forget about whether God exists. Lets' work on how to reconcile a conflict of religious ideas that will kill us: 9/11.

        The events of 9/11 make this much clear. We are in the midst of a conflict of religious ideas. And the conflict is deadly. Let's learn to manage and reconcile this conflict. And if we can't use science to do that, we are in trouble.

        People believe in God! Accept that. Period! Now lets study THAT and learn so we don't destroy ourselves. Marx called religion an opiate. Maybe we need that opiate to anesthetize our reptile aggression! Religion may be our only hope. If so, Science must tell us that as science always does. That will take an investment of time and research. But we have no other choice.
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        May 30 2013: Bernie,

        You gave me a "thumbs up" for that last comment. Now you're starting to worry me.
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          May 30 2013: Why?
          It was well-argued!
          I don't have to necessarily agree with you to recognise it was well-argued. And made some very good points.

          I don't know whether this will be really random, but the best two books I have read explaining why people believe in God(s) are here :
          -The Belief (or God) Instinct: The Psychology of Souls, Destiny, and the Meaning of Life

          - The Believing Brain: From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies---How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths

          Both of these books basically agree (and compliment eachother) on what causes us to believe in God(s). Both agree that it humans abilities to do three things :

          - Have a theory of mind (which Michael Shermer calls Agenticity). As well as our inherent dualism (which enables a belief in the after-life). The theory of mind is " the ability to attribute mental states—beliefs, intents, desires, pretending, knowledge, etc.—to oneself and others and to understand that others have beliefs, desires, and intentions that are different from one's own.".

          - Our ability to see patterns (e.g I pray then God answers). Which Michael Shermer calls "Patternicity", also our ability to see faces.

          - Our ability to see purpose in events, the fancy word(s) for this is : "“artificialism” (as a seen in Piaget’s “theory of cognitive development”) or otherwise known as “telo-functional reasoning” (which is simply put : people think that something exists for a preconceived purpose rather than simply came to be as a functionless outgrowth of physical otherwise natural processes.)

          Ironically this is study made Piaget say this : “A semi-educated man may very well dismiss as “contrary to science” a theological explanation of the universe, and yet find no difficulty in accepting the notion that the sun is there to give
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      May 29 2013: God is out of our internal reality, isn't it?
      I do find science the most reliable method of knowing...
      As Daniel Gilbert said : "Science is the worst way of knowing, except all the other method we have tried".
      Personally I find God just to be an amazing and wonderful cognitive illusion, considering the 4 arguments I have explored :
      - Cosmological (or first cause) argument.
      - Ontological argument.
      - teleological(or design) argument.
      - Moral (objective duties) argument,
      Have all proven to not be logically valid and make far too many assumptions, in my view that is! So I can safety assume there probably is no God. I suppose I would ask you how do you know God is "grace" (or the traits for God that matter)? Why (on earth) is God a positive experience?
      It is worth mentioning that if you make either of these arguments :
      - The argument from intuition. I would ask you to consider the possibility that your intuition is often wrong about many things (considering physics and behavioural economics).
      - The argument that God is beyond all possible comprehension. Then I would like to ask you, how do you know anything about God "is beyond all possible comprehension"? Also if you go onto state "God is beyond logic", then I can claim anything about the nature of God and it would be consistent...
      A nice little question (which would be helpful if you could answer) would be "Is God bounded by the laws of logic? Or does God precede the laws of logic?"
      Also I have explored the arguments for the After-life (and reincarnation) and after reviewing the arguments and evidence for them. I find it very hard to "believe".
      "Have you ever actually read the Bible?"
      Yes. I did Religious Studies for A-Level! (:P)
      Anyhow I am stressed for time.
      Do you mind if I continue this later?
      Kind regards,
      P.S: I hope I am not being patronizing in anyway! It is not my intent if I am. However it is worth mentioning that I would be grateful if you could reply to this in "one reply", if possible of-course.
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          May 30 2013: Chris, don't go! I enjoy your opinions and your perspective on faith. I even enjoy your 'Bible quotations. Clearly you enjoy a rich spiritual life, and I appreciate that. Your life is richer and you are happier thereby. I get angry when both Atheists and Agnostics simply "announce" that there is no proof that God exits! Fine! Your conclusions are irrelevant. The question you need to answer is WHY? Why do people choose to believe? What do people experience in their faith that they cannot get from any other source? Is that bad?

          How about Santa Clause? People believe in HIM! But no Atheist gets a knot all up in their shorts debating whether or not Santa exists! I love Santa! I won't celebrate Christmas without him! What's more, no Atheist tells me I'm crazy when I say that!

          If some want to eliminate Religion as superstition, fine! What do we replace religion with? Those idiots don't even get what's going on with religion! They just say: Not REAL! Delusional! Fake! It's all a fairy tale! But how'd you feel on 9/11? The people who flew those planes into the towers hated us. All because some Damn Atheists were disrespectful of fundamental beliefs that gave others peace & joy. Yeah, there are elements there that scare the crap out of me. But I have yet to find any TEDster Atheist/Agnostic types willing to address this issue in any meaningful or scientific way.

          Santa is a fairy tale I can dump if I need to. Religion & faith are a much more serious issue. You want proof of God? Don't look at me for that. I ain't got it. But can you prove that those who believe are wrong to believe? If so, why? It isn't about making something real that isn't real. It's about something else entirely. And if Science had done a better job of studying and examining and addressing that issue, we might actually have known enough, soon enough to have avoided the events of 9/11 and two subsequent wars entirely. Think about it. And come back. I need you.
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      May 30 2013: Great link on the Reptile Brain. What follows here is solidly based on science and not just my opinion.

      That Reptile Brain theory is solidly a part of neuroscience and is taught in medical schools as a paradigm to understand the human brain. The reptile brain is anatomically similar to the actual brain of living reptiles today. All of our basic functions from breathing, eating, drinking, eliminating (bathroom X2), sleep cycle, sight, sound, smell, touch, walking, running, balance, jumping etc. It all comes from the reptile brain. Scientists have tracked out the neural pathways and have identified the neural circuitry for almost all of this. The Rules of the Reptile Brain are simple. There are Two Default states: 1. Awake/Not Awake; & 2. Hunting/Waiting. There are 3 Basic Behaviors:
      First: 1. Will it Kill me? if yes: Fight/Flight; if no: default state. This is Fight/Flight.
      Second: 2. Can I eat it? if yes: Kill/eat; if no: default state. This is Hunting/Feeding.
      Third: 3. Can I procreate w/it? if yes: mate; if no: default state. This is /Fecundity-Fertility
      Consciousness REQUIRES Reptile Brain management. Otherwise the cooperative pack behavior of wolves and the herd behavior of cows, horses & zebras is impossible. Also, cooperative civilization is impossible. We can't have people degenerating into lizards and eating each other. That doesn't work.

      Another example? Look up Ceasar Milan on wikipedia. The paragraph link entitled "4. Principles" summarizes dog-behavior very clearly. And, incidentally, gives a good model for the way that our dog-friends have developed adaptive behaviors for managing the reptile brain within them. We can learn a lot from dogs. And every dog-owner loves their dog!
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    May 29 2013: Here is an alternate view. Religion existed to control man before we had laws and science to explain the natural world. Now we have laws and science - do we need religion and God? Not my call. I do not believe in organised religion, as for God - the jury is out.
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      May 29 2013: Do we need religion & God? I don't know. But I am reasonably confident that all us people & God will get together soon and work it all out. Maybe God will host a TED conference themed on the issue: The Future Direction of the Man/God Paradigm? Is it relevant? Is it Real? Is it Essential?

      Inquiring minds want to know! Or so they say!

      Seriously, it helps to keep it light here sometimes. I find that I can justify both faith and my belief in God by looking at a whole variety of evidence. First, 4000 years of human history cannot be entirely wrong. Until the 20th Century, absolutely ZERO civilizations or governments or cultures existed that outright denied the existence of God or Gods. The Red Chinese, the Soviet Union, Cuba, a handful of East European States; they all tried to do it w/o God. Or rather, they tried to build a civilization based upon the denial of God. Even Adolph Hitler's Nazi's did not do that! But even today, one of the most powerful political blocks inside of Russia is centered upon the Russian Orthodox Church. Think about it. When the physical remains of the Romanov family were buried at the Kremlin, all the former Komisars/Komrades showed up for the religious ceremonies. Vladimir Putin was filmed crossing himself in reverence. And he did it more than once!

      China is even worse. China is a massive, populous state with multiple languages/cultures/subcultures. And up until January 2012 -- more Chinese people lived in villages than in cities. And village dwellers tend to retain the culture & superstitions of their forefathers. Although China is officially Atheist, the reality is that God or Gods remain(s) alive & well in the hearts of the people.
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        May 29 2013: Juan if God hosts as TED event will it be here or in heaven? If here, I am in. If in heaven, can I go on the stand by list :-)
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          May 30 2013: LOL (Laugh out Loud!!) Good one Brian!
          Keep me on the standby list too! I've always thought, "If Heaven is such a wonderful place, why don't we all just leave this Earth and Go!" My grandma got really upset with me when I asked her about that! Now I know why!
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          May 31 2013: Good one on the "stand by list":>)

          You're saying that your god would not host a TED event because that god will not enter an unclean temple? Well, perhaps we can find another god to host the TED event!!!
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      May 30 2013: Furthermore, I make an analogy about religion that was inspired by something Stephen Hawking said about DNA.

      DNA contains information. And for each species today, DNA contains a living record that is as old as three billion years. Procaryote, primitive cellular life has DNA. And DNA works like a computer program. Computer programs are updated & changed & patched. Same story for DNA. Every evolutionary change to DNA; every mutation that worked (and a good few that didn't or don't) are enshrined in the DNA record. DNA is a very real record of three billions of years (or more) of the evolution of life on Earth. And we are only now learning to read that record in some detail.

      Religion is a 4000 year old paradigm. We've been at it a long time. If we look carefully at religion from the perspective of psychology, sociology, anthropology, politics, law, economics etc. we find a record of who we are as human beings. And the way we humans have used religion and religious thought to say who we are and how we view the world is instructive. Religions, all of them taken together, give a fascinating view into the fundamentals of human experience on this earth.

      One of the most fascinating findings in Social Psychology, seems to validate some of the more obscure teachings of Jesus. Luke 6:29 "And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloak forbid not to take thy coat also."

      I'll keep looking for a more specific reference, but we are starting only now to develop tools for analysis of these issues. Religion is a repository of social theories that WORKED in the past & present. Another example? Look at the 10 Commandments: 7 day week w/weekend; respect Mom & Dad; don't murder, steal, lie as a witness, or cheat on your spouse. Also respect other people's property. These are laws we still have today. And they started w/Moses (and a few others).
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    May 29 2013: Why does that always happen to me? I read one of these conversations. It gets me thinking. That gets me writing. And TED gives me the opportunity to write. Also, posted here -- I get to be a PUBLISHED author. It isn't the same as having an Editor(s) approve of my writing and then invest a million or so Euros in printing and marketing a book I wrote . . .

    But it's still in the realm of ideas. It does involve the written word. And, yes, it is writing. But then I visit one of these threads and nobody ever comes back to see what was said. Oh well! It's here until TED dumps the server.
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    May 27 2013: I was exposed to what follows in University. And that was 30 years ago. Anyone know who first published this?

    These are the 4 Postulates of God:

    1. No supernatural phenomena will ever be discovered or validated by science.

    2. There will always be more that is unknown than known.

    3. Our initial experience at birth includes elements of both the Unknown & Faith. And that comes from a newborn infant's primal scream(s); Screams arising of both unmet need(s) and total helplessness. The infant is totally unable to do anything for themselves; they cannot meet their own basic needs; and noise is the only means they have of notifying anyone that assistance is needed.

    4. Religion is the original DNA of Civilization. DNA is evolutionary record of what worked. Religion incorporates the memory of Civilization as to what worked in the past. As in #3 above, the goal was/is to minimize the opportunity for screaming by maximizing the needs met.

    Science divides our Consciousness into two basic parts: Perceptions & Thoughts. Our thoughts are both our conclusions and imaginations. And for as long as thought is internal, and perceptions are external, we will be forced to admit that the forces that shape our choices are most often external to ourselves or are otherwise not under our complete control. We react more than we are privileged to act or initiate.

    And their MIGHT be a 5th postulate:

    And when we find that “external consciousness,” we find the beginning of all human knowledge. Knowledge is a collaboration. Knowledge is intended to be shared. Teaching is a big part of this, and that too may reside in our DNA.

    The 6th postulate is propositional only and contradictory to all of the other postulates: God Exists. At least (only?) as a phenomena of Human Consciousness, History and Experience. God does exist.
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    May 24 2013: Bernard White said: "Personally I view Spinoza in a very high light....".

    I reviewed the transcript of "Atheism 2.0", given by Alain De Botton:

    I failed to find any mention of Spinoza. But, I'm surprised there was not. Spinoza was a stout, secular minded individual. In fact, he was branded a heretic by the Jewish Communities in Amsterdam. Expunged and expelled, he was forced to move. He did not, however, recant his philosophical views about God and reality. I haven't read Botton's book: "Religion for Atheism".
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      May 24 2013: No. I meant in his book 'Religion for Atheists', Spinoza is mentioned! :P
      Maybe I said it wrong?
      I know a little about Spinoza, how he was rumoured to be the first (or one of many) 'Pantheist(s)'.
      (Is this correct?)
      To paraphrase Einstein : "I believe in the God of Spinoza...."
      He was definitely not mentioned in the TED Talk.
      I didn't know about the history of the man though! :D Thanks for the information.
      Kind regards,
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        May 24 2013: My last sentence referred to this possibility. Obviously it was too ambiguous. I apologize.

        Yes, he was one of many Pantheists in his time.

        As you probably can tell, I'm a student and hero worshiper of Albert Einstein. :)

        Spinoza is a hard read, using the grammar of his time. Considering Einstein's statement, and, hopefully you will read more about Spinoza, try to comprehend exactly what his view of "God" was.

        To me, he left the question open to interpretation but most think he is equating the whole of nature as being the essence of "God".

        You can download his eBook writing: "The Ethics", or simply Ethics, on amazon for free is you are a member. Otherwise, I believe it is freely available on the internet somewhere. Don't forget about Descartes (The Father of Modern Philosophy), and his works :"Meditations on First Philosophy ". He was a must read in Spinoza's time and still is today. Spinoza's lifetime overlapped Descartes.
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          May 24 2013: Thanks for the recommendation!
          I'll add to my (very long) reading list. :-)
          Pantheism appeals to me greatly.
          However many accuse pantheistic of playing semantics...
          How would you respond to this?
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    May 23 2013: On the whole, I don't think that the study of Creationism offers any tools that can be used to substantiate the existence of God or debunk the notion of Evolution. The scientific method is, and always will be, the only method that enables us to describe the actions and interactions of the reality around us.

    As a result, I don't think studying creationism is something to fear as a philosophy that will disestablish Evolution as a method of creating life. Evolution does not attempt to debunk the notion of God or stand in the way of one practicing their religion and finding satisfaction in that pursuit. Science, in and of itself, does not answer all the questions that cause people to ask why and from whence, came the reality we are all immersed within. Creationism is not a Science, has no method of discerning reality, nor can it dispel the fundamental truths that are expressed in pure science.

    Creationism as a philosophy may have something to offer, if taught as a philosophy, but not as a method of science. Science, as taught, does not define if there is, or is not, a God. Science is not a religion and cannot be compared to a Religious notion of creation. It's an apples and oranges debate.

    In my opinion, any religious order that seeks to debunk science as a means to create and establish knowledge, is a movement, more so than a Religion. Creationism, as defined and established in America today, is such an organization, not a religious order of any kind.

    It's an order like the Messianic Jews, which is a contrary, descriptive term, that seeks to disestablish the Religion of Judaism, by associating themselves is such a way they appear to be correlated in some fashion. In truth, you cannot be a Jew and a Christian at the same time. Christians believe in the holiness of Jesus and Jews do not. You are either one or the other. Creationism cannot be both Science and Religion. It either is or is not.
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      May 19 2013: Will delete this reply once you have read it.
      It would be worth while (if your interested) in checking out my other debate at this current monent in time :
      "Does creationism indicate bad education? (If so how can we fix this, and should it be taught?) Does Creationism have any credibility to it?"
      Link :
      "I would no sooner trust a 'scientist' on matters of God than I would hire a lawyer to fix my plumbing."
      Just to say it is worthwhile you read the articles (the three articles in the description that is), and watch that 5 minute video. It will only take you roughly 20-30 minutes. (And a worthwhile 30 minutes at that!)
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          May 23 2013: Okay I have now found some time to properly reply.
          I do feel that due to science (specifically (evolutionary) psychology and neuroscience) being able to explain how we are even able to perceive a "God" reduces the probability of their being a God independent of our thoughts. However, like I said, I am open to reason to believe that there is genially a God (or Gods).

          I found it interesting that you thought the origins of the experience (hence artificial) made you think that the experience wasn't valid. Considering I'v always been confused why it being "artificial" would invalidate the God experience at all.

          There are two big implications of these experiments, if you accept God (or Gods) do exist. 1. Psychologists found that roughly 20% of people couldn't have this God experience you talk of. To me that suggests God doesn't want some people to know about his existence. Hence (may be wrong, yet there is data supporting this) that is why autistic people usually find it difficult to believe in a "personal God".
          2. Can animals experience "God"?

          "Through higher levels of consciousness, one raises their vibration and can willfully control their bodily functions."
          Are you basically talking about a form of introspection, or willpower. Enabling us to have the "illusion" of more control. (I personally don't believe we have free-will...)
          Also I feel the "higher levels of consciousness" seems a bit vague, and reminds me too much of certain aspects of Scientology.

          I'm very confused by the rest of this reply. When you start mentioning vague terms like "a false sense of God" and "Gates of Heaven"...
          What makes you more right about your perception of God(s), than other people. Why is there only one "God". Would help also if you define (or describe) as simply as you could what you mean by "God(s)".

          "The brain does not generate, nor does it store; it processes." Are you advocating a form of dualism?

        • May 23 2013: Bernard,
          List verse is not a reliable source as there are many flaws in it. Though I struggled to understand what you are saying as I know very little about psychology., I'do agree with what you say. However on the last line, that quote is true apart from the fact that the brain does form memory cells
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          May 27 2013: Hey Chris I haven't seen any reply from you!
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          May 27 2013: Other than working for a living and, perhaps, having fun at doing so, what do you think a scientiests agenda is?
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      May 23 2013: You were doing outstanding..... then you said this:

      "...It is only through psychological comprehension of self that ones soul can be saved, because the soul is the mind; the psyche, in all its levels. Holy doctrine exist to help us understand our human nature, specifically how being incarnate on this Earth can help us evolve, or ascend, our soul beyond this Earthly 'realm of return'...

      How do we psychologically comprehend ourselves? How does psychology, define the soul? How does it define the mind? How do you determine if a doctrine is holy or unholy?
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    May 19 2013: Bernard,

    Please take a look at Traci Harris 3 jar experiment in reference to H Potter quote.

    Be well!
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    May 19 2013: Don,
    Is the present Justice system (USA) perfect?: NO.And not so long ago slavery was legal, but now is not. And with the advancements of forensic science say DNA for example we have steps in place to minimize errors. Or Interracial marriage which now is a common happenstance. Not perfect, no I have my issues with the concept of Justice as well. If we seek Perfection from the justice system you and I will be disappointed.

    Past thinkers? maybe I'm old school, Who knows?

    I hope I kept this one clear.
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      May 18 2013: I'm sorry to keep saying this.
      But it would really help me if you could "Reply" to him. Rather than posting a comment.
      Because I don't think he gets the notification!
      Just press "reply" (in the top right , left to the "Thumb up" sign).
      You could delete these comments, and do that now.
      Kind regards,
      P.S : You haven't replies to my most recent comment to you! :-)
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        May 18 2013: Done as requested!

        I'll be back this evening to reply to other comments.

        Be well !
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    May 18 2013: Don,
    Def :Contraption: A mechanical device, a gadget
    Is the word contraption pejorative?, In science many gadgets and mechanical devices are used daily.

    If you refer about Tom Murphy I know, he is an associate Professor in the Physics Department at USCD and a member of the Center for Astrophysics and Space Sciences. Currently he is working on an ultra-precise test of General Relativity using the technique of lunar laser ranging. You are correct this man is Not dumb,Tom Murphy.

    Be well!
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      May 18 2013: I'm very interested in your thoughts on the matter of the "God-helmet" (what do you want me to call it?)
      Considering the inventor of the helmet himself (I think, may be wrong), called it the "God helmet".
      What implications do you think it has? :-)
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      May 18 2013: "Evolution not needed!"
      What do you mean by this?
      If I was Christian, I would view it was "God's" way of "wiring" in a "God instinct".
      I agree with you on the culture shaping the perception of a "God".
      However what is to suggest one (culture's) perception of "God" is better than another one?
      Yet I do have a problem with the perception of God being Omni-benevolent due to the "problem of evil". While it is worth mentioning I don't believe we have "free-will", and even if the "free-will" argument was correct. Then it still doesn't explain natural disasters! Yet I am still open to being convinced.
      Also I have problem with the perception of a God being "Omnipotent". (Defining Omnipotent being "all powerful"). Due to this logic.
      - (This could be an assumption) An all powerful being should be able to do anything.
      - Could it make something which defies logic (or in other words which is impossible) such as make a "square circle" or (the classic) create a boulder it could not lift?
      I personally think these are important (logical) paradoxes which needs dealing with.
      Also the five arguments I have studies (for the existence of God) don't seem very logically valid.

      One big question (I may have asked you this before) is :
      How do you know that God "warns us about liars", "we have in our relationships he also leaves to us"? I find this very hard to believe that you "know" what God is like...
      However, what is "God" in your opinion? (Or "existence" for that matter?)
      Kind regards,
      P.S Phew! Hopefully that will provide some food for thought.
      While it is worth mentioning. That I find the God of the Bible has a very odd way of revealing himself (is it even a he?) to the world. Considering he does it through Christ, and then that gets recorded in a book.
      Now my question is:
      Why did God make that book so hard to inter pet? Why do we need such people as "biblical scholars" to understand it? Why not make it simple?
      What happened to everybody before God revealed himself?
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      May 19 2013: Dear Don,

      I have no way to connect with god, as it is totally unclear to me as what you are referring to.
      Do you mean that you can direct yourself to an imaginary girlfriend and talk to her?

      As for the claim that people who assume there is no god are liars... I think that you are accusing a lot of people without any good reason.

      Are you really dogma-free?
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    May 17 2013: We are invisible to the termites not only due to their senses , which to me are evolutionary tools to help all species survive, I mean take for example UV radiation we know it exists as part of the electromagnetic spectrum but we cannot detect it with the unaided eye. Now if the termites had a scientific method they would have discovered things past the limitations of their senses , new concepts of what is real, pushing the boundary of ignorance with testable knowledge. And that to me is the big difference that besides logic alone, you would have a mechanism (SM) that albeit not perfect is pretty darn effective ( It'll get those termites solar power!)

    Logic/imagination built the Michelson-Morely experiment trying to detect the relative motion of matter through the "aether wind"(another construct of logic) and you know the rest of the story...

    Take another example: If A=B and B=C, then A=C, that's if indeed A=B and B=C (Bernard's Test). Data collection and experimentation, is a necessity as well as peer review. As far as individual basis regarding the God(s) issue to paraphrase Franklyn you will have to shut down the eye of reason and give a wink as the Hypothesis passes by. Thanks for the video link , very nice BTW I side with the Dawkins view at the end.

    PS: Please watch:, referring to ID and education in USA

    "Science may set limits to knowledge, but should not set limits to imagination"
    --Bertrand Russel

    Cheers then!
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      May 17 2013: With regards to Neil Tyson (glad you brought him up!) watch : "Neil deGrasse Tyson: Atheist or Agnostic?"
      I think I side with Sir David Attenborough, mostly out of principle. I mean what (as mentioned before) if a "God" is genially out of our cognitive abilities... (?)
      And we do, as many religious people often say, have to "experience" it. Yet I must admit, I do find the "religious experience" argument rather dubious. (Considering other animals probably can't "experience" a "God", and we can artificially create a "God experience".)
      However I don't feel these finding (dis)prove a "God".
      I do agree with you though! That "if" termites had the ability. But they don't. (Does that make sense? :D)

      If you don't mind me asking, do you believe "logic" exists independent of the human mind? And if so : Why?
      EDIT : In response to the Bertrand Russell quote.
      I would like you to contemplate this quote : "Of Course It’s Happening in Your Head, But Why on Earth Should That Mean It’s Not Real?" (Yes I know a "Harry Potter Quote" :P Still has fun implications if true!)
      • May 19 2013: Hi Bernard,

        Actually, I think that animals also have "religious" experiences. They happen in many circumstances (running a marathon, finally understanding how something works, exploring a religion other than your original, meditation, weight lifting), and, as you said, they can be artificially made. That does not prove that god's don't exist, but they do render the religious experience "proof" invalid. The most logical conclusion is then that gods are mere imagination.

        There's an important point to make about logic. As a conceptual system of thought, it exists only in human minds. But there's another aspect of logic that exists, and that starts with existence itself. To exist is to be something, and to be something is to have identity. Identity has been identified as the cornerstone of logic. Therefore the connection with reality. Other organisms have their "logics" from purely mechanical to our conceptual one.
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          May 19 2013: ...
          I really don't think animals can have a "religious experience"! :P
      • May 19 2013: Why not? Do you really think that something like drugs act so specifically that humans and only humans would be affected? Do you think that endorphin release happens only in human brains?
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          May 19 2013: Very simply because humans have many cognitive mechanisms other "animals" don't.
          Such as the the extent to which the humans have developed a psychological mechanism called "Theory of mind". No other animal have the ability to use a "theory of mind" quite like we can. This is one of the few unique human features...
          Also the fact we can "imagine" (not predict) the future. Events which we have not experienced, nor witnessed. You can watch Daniel Gilbert's TED talk where he explains that our ability to imagine is one of the few (other) things which separate us.
          It is worth mentioning that these "psychological mechanisms" are caused (if I can say that) by certain parts of the brain, other animals don't really have. And considering a "theory of mind" is correlated with a belief in God. And animals don't have a "theory of mind", you can safetly assume animals can't have a "God" experience.
          Unless of-course you "re-wire" their brain.
          Make sense? :D
      • May 19 2013: Bernard,

        I think that you are mistaking religious experience for a precise experience, but many experiences have the very same nature, and they share with religious experience so many factors that I just put them together. Other animals do have these experiences even if they won't be able to describe them as religious or godly.

        Other animals have one or another feature, and surely, despite we have evidently a mix with levels that no other animals have, they do display some levels of such. I would advice that you read a bit of animal ethology, and pay close attention to your pets, and to studies in those animals the closest to us. I have been astounded in the flesh by chimps and gorillas. Also by my dog.
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      • May 19 2013: I think that the problem is not that there's no good thinkers today, but rather that good thinkers' voices can't be heard because of the many dubious thinkers noises.
      • May 22 2013: I'm not a good Christian Don. But I was agreeing with you, with the exception that I think there might be good thinkers today, only we can't hear them because of the noise made by the bad thinkers. Yes, I agree too that there's a whole spectrum, but I have witnessed that bad thinkers are there in over-abundance.

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    May 15 2013: Helen,

    Thanks for keeping in on!, Spirits?, well when you say that I think psychology and the pathological personality, but is beyond my scope. Now that said I feel that Ray Charles music has "mojo", a je ne sais quoi quality to it, could that be spirit?, And if I read you correctly you speak about a non-corporeal part of me that is the seat of emotions?
    Allow me to turn this around , How do you experience your spirit? How do you communicate with it? For this I will assume that the entity does exists and I will listen to your extrapolations.

    Best regards,

    "pure Logic is the ruin of the Spirit"
    -- Saint-Exupery

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    May 13 2013: Don,

    You are right there is a vast difference between Voltaire , Magellan and T Murphy & Sheldrake. I love the irreverence of Voltaire and the uncanny intelligence of Magellan (so easy to confirm his findings!) .
    Now Neurotheology, God(s) helmets, Telepathy makes for good sales at Barnes & Noble but as of now that 's just about it. In the Scientific community all the above postulates have been measured and they were found wanting .Take for example the double blind study conducted by Pehr Granqvist from the University of Uppsala, Sweden that concluded "revealed main-effects of personality parameters indicative of susceptibility to suggestion but no effects from magnetic field application."( this is DR. Granqvist email if you are interested Don)

    A "new language will require new distinctions (Eskimos have a large number of words for snow). I'd say let's use what we have as in: I cannot detect a non existent being .

    I appreciate your kind offer to repent to avoid being stalled in another plane of existence.
    Death to me is simply a part of life, as mankind became self aware of living then---> "nothing" ...that crude fact creates angst, even agony.
    Religion figured that fear could be used to control masses, to have faith beyond reason and that's why many want to find comfort in pseudoscience(or religion) to calm the dissonance of knowing that we all shall die.The individual needs to believe even thou there is no certainty ( not even in percentages) really it's that's the crux.

    PS Wasn't Sheldrake censored by TED? Why? Do you have any info?

    “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes
    our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot
    alter the sate of facts and evidence"---J Adams

    Best regards Don,

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        May 18 2013: : Don,
        We can disagree, but calling people dishonest? There, there,. How about exposing my dishonesty with a brilliant discourse that dismantles my veil of twisted arguments ( according to you) (do I sense ad hominem?)

        Please enumerate " the list of facts is known by scholars to be dishonest argument."

        Heading to the beach!
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        May 20 2013: "Your smile Carlos Marquez, makes me feel suspicious, I am inclined to say ego-centric.
        Not likely acceptable to be a Mason."

        My smile, well perhaps is not my best picture, what can I say? Maybe I should try an oxford and a tie with a cardigan?
        I have met many a Mason in my days worked and trained with them, good men.
        I agree Don , there is a lot to do in order to protect our environment.
        "...until something changes tour wilful blindness." you mean your willful blindness. So it is a requirement for me to hear answers to my questions to have a predisposition to believe in what you or Will are stating beforehand.Or you want me to suspend judgment concerning your "dissertations", what you really want from me is willing suspension of disbelief (Coleridge 1817, I know another old philosopher!)
        And back to the subject of our debate Associate Professor Peter Granqvist in Sweden performed a double blind on the "Koren Helmet" have you looked at it?

  • May 12 2013: Hi There Obey No 1 !!!
    It's been a while since we've had a chance to chat! How are things? :D
    You've made some good points concerning data found by researchers who have observed 'natural' 'physiological' processes in subjects during subjects' involvement in 'spiritual', 'metaphysical' or 'psychic' experience or practice. I would like to expand on your observations and perspective - based on my personal, experiential perspective.

    I've added this "Hi There !" to the top of the chat because I think others could be interesting also. I think that a significant difficulty in our quandary concerning this topic is a false paradigm. I think it is interesting that Yale surgeon and researcher Bernie Segal considers 'paradigms' (in and of themselves), to be emotional addictions - used to filter out information that could lead to the discomfort/anguish over a cognitive dissonance experience.
    I believe that this false paradigm is often responsible for folks often being unable to avoid 'talking at cross purposes'. I think it has its roots in a Cartesian separation dynamic, which became a dualistic paradigm. Rene' de Carte was put in the unenviable position of trying to do serious work on epistemological dynamics and methods - while at the same time, trying not to get burned at the stake for 'heresy'!
    So, we have researchers discussing 'natural', 'physiological', 'physical' or 'real world' information/phenomenon on one hand; and 'spiritual', 'psychic', 'paranormal' or 'mystical' experience/phenomenon on the other.

    I again suggest that interested folks read the classic historical, theoretical summation book "The Holographic Universe", by Michael Talbot. It was first published in 1991 (republished in 2011), to make this research (which had begun in the 1940s and 1950s), accessible. It's that important!

    Consciousness Science has 2 roots, physics and psychology; Bohm, Davies, Targ, Penrose to Pribram, Groff and Schwartz.
    Their point is, it's ALL 'natural'!

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    May 9 2013: @Peter Law.
    Did you read those articles I linked in the description.
    Please do! :D
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      May 10 2013: Hi Bernard.
      Had a go, but have heard it all before. This is not a school, it is a forum for an exchange of ideas. Please engage with me on specifics; alternatively read " The Long War against God" by Herny Morris & get back to me.

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        May 10 2013: Hello Peter Law! :D
        Nice to meet you!
        Don't worry.
        I just wanted to make sure!
        It seems two people have said "This is not a school" (or something similar) on this conversation.
        I just wanted to "exchange the idea" of the "theological implications the "Psychology / Neuroscience" of religion has!
        I shall try and read the book thanks! :D
        Now to address your actual comment :
        "He came to earth & died for us; & He left us the bible to learn from"
        My initicial question would be : "How do you know he came to earth and died for you?". Then your would probably answer "The Bible tells me". I don't find this a convincing argument though, considering there are many other "Holy books" giving stories of their own "God(s)". And the Bible isn't completely historically accurate, and is quite "vague" on certain matters.
        "He honours humility & obedience"
        How do you know this?
        "Eternal Life with a Creator who loves you"
        Again how do you know that the creator :
        1. What behaviours he rewards?
        2. He rewards it with "Eternal life"?
        3. He loves us?
        "scale of incentives"
        A slight version of "Pascal's Wager". Wouldn't God honour my honest scepticism?
        "OUR terms"
        Not at all. I would just want to know what reason you have to assume all these attributes about "God"?
        I'v always said :
        You could convince me of a "God(s)" with a good deductive argument, or a piece of "observational or experimental" data that God exists.
        Yet it would be incredibly hard to convince me :
        - You know its will. (What it likes)
        - You know its name, and its origins.
        Kind regards,
        P.S :
        If I have been patronizing, it was not my intent. ;)
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          May 10 2013: Hi Bernard.
          Your objections seem to hinge on the reliability of the bible. The bible is actually a library of 66 books written over some 1500 years by 40, or so authors. It is uncanny the way it totally integrates into the one narrative. No human could have organised this. It also accurately fortells the future history of the planet; this can be verified by events. There are loads of sites where this can be studied.... ....will give a flavour.

          It is not really for me to prove God's existence to you. The whole creation attests to His existence. If you chose to believe that the wonderful creation around us is the result of random natural forces, then what can I say? If you are willing to start with a clean slate & examine the evidence in an open handed manner, then there is hope..
          He has proven His Love for me many times; but firstly I had to surrender my life to Him. Wasn't too hard for me, as the evidence seemed incontrovertible to me, but I know others struggle.

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          May 11 2013: Sorry Peter, but from my perspective the bible and Quran etc look entirely like something humans could do. Nothing to stop people referencing or building on older stories and traditions.

          As to your god concept not having actual evidence for its existence, and not having to be user friendly to humans that it reasonably exists, it could have done a better job to differentiate then the writings and ramblings of men, like so many other belief systems. No magic floating crystals or words written on the moon. Just ink and paper. Nothing we can point to and test and observe as miraculous. Not even an amputee healed.

          I guess some of us also see a poor fit between many parts.

          I guess we also have different standards for what qualifies as a miraculous prediction or evidence of miracles. I love how some try and retrofit history or current events into vague scriptures.

          And then any miraculous event if reasonably proven does not make the associated interpretation correct. A donkey speaking is not proof of a god, or that a god did it. Even a resurrection is not proof of a god or that a god did it. You would just have a mystery.

          A prediction that would qualify as amazing also does not the rest of the bible correct, unless you want to believe.

          In fact you don't know if the whole bible was inspired by a god just as a trick. And another god inspired the quran. Physic aliens could have inspired the Buddhist scriptures. Evil thetans could have got involved and twisted some of the stories mixed in with good old human creativity, subjectivity and cultural programming.

          Much in the bible is reminiscent of older or contemporary beliefs about other god concepts. Even resurection stories.

          Did you know one old Greek philosopher guessed the sun and the stars are fiery stones, just that the stars were further away. Others theorised atoms. Quite amazing and a better fit with reality than the Jewish creation stories IMO. Does that make all his other teachings correct?
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        May 10 2013: I feel you misunderstand me! :)
        I would personally describe myself as an "Ignostic (strict) agnostic", which means I view you can't really know (at this present moment, maybe for-ever) whether such a "God" exists. An Ignostic, due to the fact even if God did exist, I would find it hard to accept anybody telling me that they know what "God" wants, without sufficient reason to!
        All the arguments for such an essence, never convinced me. I have made quite an effort to do so! The arguments I have researched are :
        - The Ontological argument.
        - The (Kalam) Cosmological argument.
        - The Teleological (or design / fine-tuning) argument.
        - The Religious experience argument.
        - The (objective) Moral argument.
        And found none of them convincing.
        Kind regards,
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          May 14 2013: Mr. White.....We cannot really say anything about God. We don't have a point of reference. I cannot KNOW anything ....I live by faith. If said "thing" contributes to wefare and works for me, I believe it. (:>)
  • May 9 2013: Hi Bernard!
    Yes, Its 'yours truly' with the quick :) end to my blathering ... YEAAAAH !!! :D.
    Since my two week hiatus (sabbatical ? :) , I have had a chance to check out several other online discussions in this area of research interest which are much more open to other paradigms and research. (interesting side note, Bernie Segal considers paradigms to be emotional addictions).
    So, even though I would greatly miss you and all the wonderful folks I have met here - why should I have to jump through hoops to avoid the censors here? :(
    I suppose I can provide references and or links via my email at trueascensionllc. But should I have to go through this - just to talk to folks?
    I'm really sorry to end my first contribution to your new talk with such a down expectation for its future. I really appreciate your invitation to this new chat and I don't take your friendship lightly, nor am I just going away or rejecting you or all the great folks I've met here. I'm just expressing to you how I'm feeling, sorry.

    Your Buddy,
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      May 9 2013: How does "TED" censor you?
      Please send your links by email.
      I'll PM (Personal Message) you my email.
      I am confused about this!
      Kind regards,
  • May 9 2013: Reread my favorite Emperor Marcus Aurielius also the movie the Mahabaratu The Bible The Rig Veda That's enough, but don't forget the Budha and Zoraster and Melmut. God is Great.
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      May 10 2013: Hi George. I am a great fan of MA. I read, and refer to, his 'Meditations'. I am very familiar with the Bible. I have read the Buddha and Zoroaster. I believe there is more than what we know, and have had experiences - that I have duplicated - with faith. I believe our concept of the universe is a speck in the infinity of Creation, and there are those who inhabit such a place. I love science, and I can't understand why those who practice that craft are so exclusive of the unknown possibilities.
      • May 11 2013: Generally true but Jung had some interesting thoughts.
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          May 11 2013: Oh yea. But what do you think?