This conversation is closed.

Why for so many is it science or religion with no room inbetween for honest existential consideration?

For many people it is science and nothing else. There is no afterlife, no free will and no greater meaning or morality than the reality we see directly in front of us.

For many other people it is the seemingly unexamined adoption of a religion, a pre-set construction of beliefs, rituals, values and morality. One of many which on its face is equally as likely to be a true representation of reality as any other as well as any other possible but yet unseen constructed set of beliefs in the infinite landscape of thought.

Either of these seems almost as lazy and flawed as the other.

Why is it so uncommon for people to start from the existential beginning (I exist) and work their way up to their own logical conclusions?

Is it because most people don't truly care and just want to live their life?

Why are people so averse to thinking for themselves?

  • Jan 13 2012: I don't think most people are against thinking for themselves, I think this is mostly about whether most people are busy surviving, or whether their curiosity died long time ago. Anyway, we might have started within a family with such and such traditions, and mostly grew up believing with few if any challenges to whatever they way we learned that life is and should be. Reinforcements of beliefs by ceremonies and persuasive argumentation, and forgetting to use the brain and challenge something just because we have already taken it for granted.

    Add to that that in most countries just having enough to eat might be a daily struggle.

    Anyway, curiosity and skepticism seem to die for most of us at some point in our lives. I doubt we really know why. That leaves few who have the time, energy, and guts to take deep looks into what they have grown up believing and taken for granted.

    As for animosities, well, in my case, I detest certain religious groups (and so many other sources of misinformation) because they construct rhetorical devices and propaganda machinery and predate on the lack of education and mental preparedness of the masses. But it is certainly easier for those predators to produce misinformation that it is for educators, such as myself, to produce educational materials. For deception all you have to do is imagine crap. For education you have to investigate and understand the issues. Much more work. Then on the side of the masses, it is much easier for them to buy the crap, which is so much more abundant, than to investigate and invest the mental resources demanded by educational material. In other words, producing and getting an education requires many times more effort than producing and buying bullshit. I call this the theory of social entropy.
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      Jan 16 2012: Hi Gabo,
      I agree with your perception that people may be "busy surviving", and maybe don't have the time or energy to explore information. Or perhaps many people have gotten lazy? They have maybe found their "comfort zone" and will stay in that place that seems comfortable no matter what information is presented? That is my belief...that people become comfortable with what they think/feel is "truth", and they will stay with that belief because it is too frightening or vulnerable to seek more information. When that "comfort zone" is challenged for some people, it becomes necessary for him/her to "prove" their "truth" as s/he has embraced it. I believe that is why there is no room "between" for some people to explore other information. I believe that skepticism and curiosity becomes buried under what we believe to the point where some people will try to protect his/her belifs no matter what information is brought forward. It is frightening and vulnerable to look at the fact that what we have embraced as the "only" turth may not be "truth" at all?I agree that sometimes people's interpretations or teachings of religious dogma create "rhetorical devices" as a way to control people, and in that respect, the mis-information is frustrating. I don't agree that it is easier to "produce misinformation" than it is to produce "educational materials". In my observation, you are choosing to participate in conversations here on TED, with people who are pretty "stuck" in believing that his/her beliefs are "the one and only beliefs". How about joining the conversations where there is a more open, accepting dialogue?
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        Jan 20 2012: "I don't agree that it is easier to "produce misinformation" than it is to produce "educational materials". In my observation, you are choosing to participate in conversations here on TED, with people who are pretty "stuck" in believing that his/her beliefs are "the one and only beliefs". How about joining the conversations where there is a more open, accepting dialogue?"
        A dissension without sufficient backing, followed by an assessment of character, both of which are completely inconsequential. Gabo was astute in pointing out that fabricated, unfounded information is effortless to promulgate--all you need is a good imagination (and a strong will to internalize the guilt you feel towards the fact that you are spewing fallacious disinformation). Many journalists wrestle with this on a daily basis, especially the ones that work for the "gatekeepers" of history (i.e. New York Times, Fox, etc). These journalists must grudgingly accept the fact that their superiors are forcing them to cover only certain stories--the truth must never be revealed, a true American democracy can only exist under the auspices of a misinformed population.
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          Jan 21 2012: Mr. Martinez,

          I must say, I have difficulty understanding your comments. Not because of you, but because, I fear, my vocabulary is lacking.

          This one however, I not only understood, but I agree with.

          It seems that today, anyone can type away and say anything they want on line, hence the danger of accepting something as truth, when in reality it is opinion. I also find that at times TEDsters comment and give opinion, then it is followed by someone assessing their character, how sad.

          In reality, we do not know who exactly is commenting, or what are their credentials to speak with such authority.

          You join a group like TED to discuss different topics and perhaps see something from a different perspective. The best conversations, I find, are the ones that originate after having watched a TED talk.

          Where else, on-line, can one find a place to have conversations which are open, and with accepting dialogue?

          Anyways, reading your comment brought all of the aforementioned to mind, I spewed the ideas out as I thought about them.

          Please continue to comment on this site. I enjoy reading your perspective of things, even though I struggle with the vocabulary.

          Hope I've made some sense. Loved the quote: "a true American democracy can only exist under the auspices of a misinformed population". Is it yours?
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        Jan 22 2012: Yeah, I actually thought it up on the spot. I was feeling particularly glum regarding the current state of affairs. As the clock ticks on, the dream that was once an independent republic free from the yoke of British empire has slowly transmogrified itself into a police state--a regime of terror that has committed unspeakable acts of state sponsored terrorism.
    • Jan 16 2012: ..Pete and Gabo are going at again in the right hand corner.... Pete takes a low blow to the gut.... Gabo is ticked off.... Pete takes an uppercut to the upper chest.... Pete strikes back... a good blow to the shoulder.... Oh no... Pete is on the mat... Gabo has his foot on Pete's throat... Gabos jumping up and down on Petes throat..... The crowd is going wild here folks.... Petes up and on his feet again... delivers a hard blow to Gabs head.... the crowd is still going wild here in the arena folks... Gabo's up against the ropes... oh no... Pete goes down hard...
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        Jan 22 2012: I like it!

        • Jan 22 2012: Hi Peter, just being funny ;-) Glad you liked it ! We need to laugh much more often than we do. It's good medicine for the soul and spirit!

          I feel like I fall in the middle of the two polarities that Luke opened on. I am not in either corner of the ring... you might say.

          I have a perspective on life that is without a doubt spiritual. This being said, I get a lot of the evolutionists on my back because they can't swallow that word for some reason or another. ... I think there really afraid of ghosts or something...

          But I can't go along with the creationist either. I think that things are much more complicated than that.... much more complicated...

          You and Gabo can really go at it ! I think Gabo away for the weekend. I tried to engage him in a discussion about something called "Devolution" Have you ever heard of it? It's what I can best describe as the "holding back" of the purely growth forces on individual traits or characteristics of individual species. Furthermore, what one sees as the awakening of "consciousness" in different species has this holding back effect. There is a lot that I don't know about but the little bit that I have read opens a whole new book on the theory of evolution.
          The consciousness that develops in species of animals on the earth works as a polar opposite to the growth forces or life forces that one can see working, for example in the reproduction of the different species. As you might look at certain lower animals in this respect, you could see a fish, that has a very high number or eggs, reflects a lower level of consciousness in that species. Take for example a human being, with usually just one offspring, reflects a higher level of consciousness in that species. This again I repeat is something I know very little about, but it seems very interesting. You wont find much written about it either. Google it if you like. Maybe you can find something out there on the net.
          Got to get to bed here. Catch up tomorrow.
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        Jan 23 2012: Hi Daniel.

        I have come across devolution, but in a different context to yours.
        Gabo believes that we are "evolving" ie our dna blueprint is getting more sophisticated as time passes. Consequently we are getting smarter & healthier.
        I believe we are "devolving" ie our dna blueprint was perfect at the start but is being damaged by copying. Consequently we are getting dumber & sicker.

        Of course there are more of us now, we are well organised, & we have learned through experience how to combat illness. This is a poor substitute for not getting ill in the first place.

        Awaking of consciousness sounds very trendy, but what does it mean ? Each creature has a degree of self-awareness, & we like to think we are top of the league in that respect. I have read that some folks think that the human race has stopped evolving because we are smart enough to dispense with natural selection. I can go along with that because I don't think we evolved (in the species-species sense) in the first place.

        Don't understand the concept of something being much more complex than creation. How can we get something more complex than the work of an infinitely powerful/smart creator ?

        • Jan 23 2012: Hello Peter!
          What I mean by devolution I will get back to. It is without a doubt in a different context than what you have heard of before. It relates more to what one might see as a polarity between consciousness and the material. One might look at the way the human being is different than the animals in respect to our bodies being very "non-specialized". The animals are pretty much specialized to perform a few basic functions.. that helps them to survive. While mankind is without much hair on his body to keep him warm, without sharp claws to defend himself or dig after food, not especially a fast runner, no wings for flight, more or less without any "tools" to keep us alive. Except for the one most important with you have surely guessed by now. ... thinking!
          What I put into the word consciousness is again perhaps not the traditional meaning of the word. Self consciousness and its main tool is, the way I see it... thinking. I would say that animals have a very limited degree of self consciousness, at least when comparing it with the human being. Animals have more of a "group" consciousness. This is very evident in a flock of birds or a school of fish. They move as one. Their consciousness is not individualized as the human beings. We have the ability to turn our "view" inward. Inward on our own soul being. Our feelings and emotions become objects of perception. Even our own thoughts can become objects of our own perception. This is what makes the human being free. Or at least "free" to the extent that we strive to "know thyself" .... the famous words, yes! All that we are and what we have become through the course of time can be looked at, observed, studied and eventually changed by our own free will. Now I know there are a lot of people out there that don't like to hear those two words but there is no other creature that can do this. We are free to change our minds and our feelings... with a little inner work of course.
        • Jan 24 2012: Pete,

          I don't believe that our DNA is getting more sophisticated. That would be silly. I do think however, that we continue to evolve. But evolution is not a continuously upgrading spiral. It can go any way. In some environments the evolutionary response is simplification, in other environments it is more complex stuff, in some other environments some gees might degrade, other genes gain new functions. It all depends on the environments. WHat would be an advantage in one environment, might be a disadvantage in another.

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        Jan 23 2012: Hi Daniel

        This is a different perspective certainly. Physically we are non-specialised, but our consciousness can use that to advantage, I think I see your point; our bodies have possibly devolved from a more specialised creature, while simultaneously our mental capacity has increased. Is that how you see it? Where does that put you on the God v science spectrum ?

        • Jan 23 2012: Hi Peter,
          No, our bodies are not developed from a more specialized creature. Our bodies are, one could say held back from the specialization. Our bodies could almost be seen to be embryo like... as strange as that may sound. Our physical development is very slow compared with the animals. Many animals are on their feet and ready to roll after just a few minutes. While the human being has a long period where he is totally dependent on the mother/ or parent. So our physical development in general is very slow. Sexual maturity is very slow compared with the animals. These are a few of the factors to look at. So I guess what I'm trying to say is that there is something important going on here.

          As to your question about God v science. Well, I am for the scientific "method" 100% But the method stops short of the true reality of the spiritual. Science has in a way defined its own limitations by more or less containing its study and research to the purely physical. When the spiritual reality is right in front of their noses. Take the lecture here on "Connectomes" I see science going deeper and deeper into .... what ?... empty space. ..they find all kinds of fancy names for energies and synapses etc.etc. But sooner or later they are going to wake up and say to themselves.. "Hey, there is something going on here we cannot explain, cannot weight, cannot measure... It seems like they are trying to catch a fleeting thought on film or something... or try to find out exactly where in the human brain that memory you had when you rode your first bicycle. It's all so materialistic.
          As to my religious views, well, I'd need a few more characters than I have left here so I wont go into that at the moment.
          Get back to you later! Take care
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        Jan 24 2012: Hi Daniel.

        I understand what you mean by science having it's limits. These are largely self imposed by an insistence on everything being explained by material solutions. I also see a problem with inferences. It is one thing to infer gravity by an apple falling from a tree, but quite another to infer the big bang from red shift & background radiation.
        The whole evolution scenario from stardust to mankind has been inferred from observable natural selection within species to help them adapt. My belief is that god made all the kinds of creatures with sufficient built-in options to cover most eventualities. I guess that would cover your observation that man doesn't follow the more common 'specialist' route.

        • Jan 24 2012: Hi again Peter,
          As the theory of evolution relies solely on material evidences for its basis of understanding the human being, it can never get a clear understanding as to the real nature of our being. There are just too many questions left unanswered. Evolutionary theory shoots itself in the foot without taking into account the development of consciousness, especially self-consciousness with its incredible tool of thought. ... I mean, to deny the self-conscious human being, to be consequent, you almost have to deny thinking as well. To deny thinking is thus to shoot oneself in the foot. Every theory, every observation of a phenomena must include the faculty of thinking.
          As we also observe in the animal world but to a much lower degree than we have in the human being. As our thinking develops in each and every one of us... so develops an awakening of the spiritual in man. Thinking IS the "spiritual activity" of man. Although confined and restricted by the physical bondage of our brains and bodies, our true spiritual self is steadily gaining knowledge and insight into the way we have come into being. I think we still have a long way to go though before we, both science and religion can really say that we have a true spiritual essence within us that lies far beyond our imaginations.
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        Jan 25 2012: Hi Daniel.

        I agree with much of what you say. Our spirit cannot be examined by a microscope, so it is out of bounds to the materialist.

        "so develops an awakening of the spiritual in man."
        So what in your opinion is the source of our spiritual side; where did it come from ?

        "Although confined and restricted by the physical bondage of our brains and bodies,..."
        If spirit is non-material, why should it be restricted by a material body ?

        Let's assume that the spirit requires a body/brain in order to function, could the same spirit be transferred to a new body when this one wears out ?

        • Jan 25 2012: I sent you an e-mail Peter,
          As Colleen has told us, and many others that have had NDE, .. Jill Bolte Taylor video "A stroke of Genius" .. the transition from the physical bondage to the non-physical or what Coleen calls energy body is like night and day I believe. We are bogged down in the physical... caged... our consciousness is dampened... slow and unclear.
          I believe reincarnation to be a fact, yes.
          We "reincarnate" every morning when we wake up....
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          Jan 25 2012: Hi Daniel,
          I just want to clarify something:>)

          I don't feel, and I have never said that I feel in "physical bondage", nor do I feel "bogged down in the physical...caged...dampened...slow and unclear".

          When we live the life experience mindfully aware on many levels, we are "comfortable in our own skin" to speak. I am in physical form for a reason, and to feel bogged down, caged, dampened, slow and unclear would be a waste of energy. For me, the best practice is to realize, accept and appreciate all "parts" of myself because I am HERE...NOW...and that is the most important place for my energy at the moment:>)
        • Jan 25 2012: A response to Colleen and Peter too,
          Didn't mean to misquote or misrepresent you Colleen. I did say "I believe" there. But nice to have you here anyway. Perhaps you can share again with us the feeling that you had while having a NDE? As I recall from Jill Bolte Taylor's sin lecture, she called it .. la la land. A sort of nirvana. I am very curious as to how you experienced your "self" and the world around you while in that state of beingness....
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          Jan 25 2012: Thanks Daniel:>)
          I was/am an energy being....a mass of energy. I think Jill Bolte Taylor and I agree on that:>)And the energy moves through the body and occupies it at the moment:>)

          The topic of this discussion..."Why for so many is it science or religion with no room inbetween for honest existential consideration?"

          As you might have noticed with many of my comments, I see a LOT of room for existential consideration. I am very grounded in this human existence and very aware of the way I AM in this world.

          I was never a very religious person, although I've studied and researched several religions and even practiced some on occasion, I never embraced a particular religious belief. Having been born into a Catholic family, and indoctrinated in that religious belief with 12 years of catholic schooling, I feel that religions often tend to control and limit people and our beliefs.

          Interestingly, I find the scientific aspect of the NDE/OBE fascinating. It is amusing to me that for the first part of my life, I was considered right brain dominant (creative, performing artist, among other creative adventures). After the NDE/OBE I was/am more interested in the science of the experience. Perhaps the left brain got adjusted??? LOL:>)

          Seriously, I think/feel that the NDE/OBE simply expanded the ability to explore the life experience on many different deeper levels of understanding. To do that, it's important NOT to get stuck in either science or spirituality, but rather to see the interconnectedness of everything. Part of the definition of existential is: "concerned with or involving an individual as radically free and responsible"....that's me:>)
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        Jan 25 2012: Hi Daniel.

        Thanks for the e-mail, it helps me to understand. Feel free to e-mail anytime. I like to keep my comments public, in the hope that others may gain from it, even if they don't want to join the rough & tumble. On this site we will take flack unless we tow the company line. I look on it as a good sign, it shows the arguments are weak.

        Your worldview seems to be based on portions of the bible. I have to ask; why not just accept the bible for what it is ? If you trust the parts that you use to build your worldview, then why not the rest ? Surely you must have been taught this by someone ? It's totally new to me.

        • Jan 25 2012: Yes, my world view is not of the usual sort, on that I can agree. And yes, I have been studying from a particular source. These ideas are not mine originally no... but I have over time adapted them as my own the best I can. The fact that they are so very different and so far from the traditional way of seeing things is perhaps the main reason that I would like to hold my cards a little close to my chest. They fall in neither category of the creationist nor the evolutionist. Because so many people here on TED are so negative to the whole idea of the spirit, its just as well not to go too deeply into it. But it fit at least very well into just this discussion it seems. Their is more of a middle way. But without taking into account the spiritual nature of man as a starting point in the discussion... or at least a discussion where people are open to the idea, it just seems to end up in argument.
          As for the bible, I find that my interpretations are usually far from the traditional interpretations. Because of this, discussions can again quickly lead to arguments....
        • Jan 26 2012: Hello Adriaan and Peter,
          I have heard of Swedenborg. There was a lot to read there on your link. I will take a closer look at it towards the weekend. It appears to be the general area of thought where I am also coming from but I will confer that after going deeper into what he says.
          The spiritual element of our being, in my understanding, is more connected with consciousness, especially self-consciousness and thinking. While the soul elements are connected with feelings, perceptions of both emotional and physical pleasure and pain, desires, etc. The higher spiritual element in us is the observer, the watcher, the thinker What most people don't like about this is that it seems to falsely assume a spiritual element that cannot be "proven" Self-consciousness and thinking are merely "emerging properties" they would argue. But I see these elements as real active principles flowing in and through our entire being. .. not in just the brain or between the ears.
          The spiritual as well as the soul nature of our being are also steadily going through an evolutionary process of extreme proportions. Reincarnation is a reality. We return to the earth continually after a longer pause in the spiritual world.
          But the s. and s. have not "arisen" from the material nor the animal kingdom. They are pre-existent to the material body. We have gradually, over a long "period of times" "incarnated" .or ..fallen. if you will, (garden of eden) more and more deeply into the physical bodies that we have today. The reason that archaeologists and geologist never find traces of our really ancient ancestors is simply because their bodies were too soft to leave behind any physical remains.. What is discovered t is the hardened bone substance that withstand the course of time. The physical bodies of the atlantean times were simply too soft to leave any physical remains. ...and their were even civilizations long before the great flood of Atlantis.... This perhaps sound pretty strange to you..?
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          Jan 26 2012: Dear Daniel,
          Just an observation...with sincere caring and respect for you and your exploration:>)

          Do you ever feel like you complicate thoughts/feelings for yourself? You know I agree with some of what you write, and sometimes it feels contradictory to me. I think/feel it is your attempt to put all the thoughts/feelings in an organized pattern?

          You often seperate things/thoughts/ soul comes from here...consciousness is from there...physical reality is from over there....see what I mean? It appears that the seperations you ponder, are ways for you to identify various elements?

          Then you say...."I see these elements as real active principles flowing in and through our entire being....".
          Flowing through our entire being....this is what I believe, Daniel, and I do not percieve any "elements" as seperate. It seems that with your exploration, you are seperating the "elements", and also recognizing the connectedness of it all? How about letting go of the need to seperate? My life and death experience, shows me that it is with the belief in interconnectedness, that we experience the "inbetween for honest existential consideration". Again...with respect for your exploration:>)
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        Jan 26 2012: Hi Daniel & Adriaan.

        You both have a similar approach. Both belief systems are bible based, but both your founders appear to have designed religions totally at odds with biblical teaching. There are loads of these systems out there, how on earth would one choose ? Two questions for you both.

        1. If you believe that the bible is accurate & truthful, why don't you follow it 100% ?

        2. If you don't believe it 100% then why base your belief on it at all ?

        What do I think about my spirit ?
        It is non-material. The best analogy I heard was with a computer program. Our bodies are built & run on DNA instructions, or computer program. The spirit is like the command sequence, it affects what happens even though it has no material component. It is like knowledge, but it is not a book, only when it is paired with paper & ink does it make sense.
        So we are the essence of our bodies; if I could be transferred to another body, that new body would become me as it's DNA was reprogrammed to my essence. Get it ?
        Now when I trust in my creator, some of His spirit merges with mine, & I am changed. Spiritually I become a new person/ spirit. Ultimately when my body gives out, I need a new home. Time for a major upgrade. All my bugs are eliminated & I get a body that leaves the biggest Mac for dead. My spirit merges with my creator & all my brothers & sisters FOR EVER. That is what I understand from my bible, & it sure puts a smile on my face.

        • Jan 26 2012: Colleen and Peter,

          Life IS complicated, there's no way around it. We are and have parts of a whole and not just the whole. To have a working understanding of the human being we must examine the parts. This Colleen helps me a great deal. But as we are all different, we have each our own way down the road of life... I suppose..
          Peter, as I said earlier, there are many ways of interpreting the Bible. My way is as I said very far away from the traditional middle of the road understanding.
          Greetings from Daniel

          ;-) Tit tit.. here I am again Colleen. I couldn't respond to you below your last comment so I did it up here. Thanks Colleen, no offense at all.
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          Jan 26 2012: Daniel,
          In my perception, we can make life less complicated. I agree that we all have our own way down the road of life, which is why I continue to let you know that I respect your exploration, and I answer your questions to the best of my ability. I sincerely hope I did not offend:>)

          Here I am again too Daniel. Thanks for letting me know:>)
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      Jan 17 2012: Gabo :

      How do you explain that some very honest people right on such advices like : ''be good' '' forgive eachother'' ''have patience'' 'they construct rhetorical devices and propaganda machinery and predate on the lack of education and mental preparedness of the masses '? There are some possibilities : either they are hypocrites or they are also idiots/don't think ? but if they don't think they can't construct propaganda machineries , and if they are hypocrites why they are so without no real profit .
      they do that just because they are bad?
      Of course, I put this question about the people who don't have consistent profit from their propaganda.
      I don't know of any religion whose followers are all fool and idiots , don't you think we notice when someone is hypocrite but we still believe in that 'propaganda' , how do you explain this ?

      I agree there are some religions made up only from propaganda , if you talk only about them don't take in consideration my comment .
      • Jan 17 2012: Hey Eduard,

        There is also the honest ones who have not learned that nice sounding is not the same as logical. They buy the propaganda. But sure you know that lots of evangelists do have quite the good living out of deceiving their public. It is not just the propaganda-built religions, the quacks must be there in any religion. No reason why not.

        Actually, I usually gave them the benefit of the doubt precisely because I was expecting them to hold to such things as ''be good' '' forgive eachother'' ''have patience'' But they take little time in disappointing me. It took a while before I decided on their dishonesty. Sure one quack can initiate the lies and propaganda, while others would repeat the propaganda out of ignorance. But the profs, just look at them and you might notice.
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          Jan 20 2012: Hi Gabo:

          Well , giving what you said I understand your atheism .
          Of course there is the honest ones who have not learaned .... and buy the propaganda but there is also honest ones who are logical , who know what they believe and who don't tolerate the propagnada , I try to be one of them and you know why ? because we find something very interesting and good and logical in religion .
          It can't be all who disappointed you/and disappoint usually , why to look at the ones who dissapoint and draw conclusions from it and not at the ones who are honest and logical?
          I think you agree that the proofs we find depend on where you look after them .
          Shortly said : there are religious ,logical and honest people who don't have reasons of any kind to leave what they believe ; what answer do you give to them regarding your atheism ?
          May I guess ? :-that they should have reasons ?
      • Jan 20 2012: Hi Eduard,

        Well, my atheism does not come from the dishonest quacks. While I found that the arguments for gods, when looked carefully enough, had flaws in their logic, that alone was not the motivation, but one among many. Example, finding contradictions between "God" being described as "just" and "good," while those who did not believe in this god would go to hell, despite that such was not a fault of their own, example being born under a different religion. Then noticing that no matter what the religion all believed their god to be the right one. Then that the "answers" to these problems did not make sense either, other than using beautiful rhetoric, such as "Who are we to judge God?" or "They don't go to Hell for not believing, but for their sin!" Regardless that "we" had committed the same sins, only we believed in the right God and thus got salvation, which is an accident of birth, so those would still go to Hell because they did not believe in the right god, and the "answer" was only adding steps in-between before we could reach the very same conclusion. That made "God" unfair and evil. But that's only a bit of many problems I were finding. But it was me alone noticing the problems and how the answers were not answers (there was no such thing as internet).

        Of course, there were many other things besides religion-gods did not make sense. Example, learning how much we anthropomorphize natural phenomena when we don't understand ...

        So, honest people can have reasons for believing, but that does not mean that their reasons make sense. Lots of people never go deeper to notice that "they go to Hell for their sin" does not solve the problem, for example. So, people can be honestly deceived. But in the end, I concluded, all you can have for believing is a god that nobody has understood yet, which you kept believing for no real reason other than having grown up believing that there had to be some god out there. Not very satisfying, so why believe it at all?

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          Jan 21 2012: "But in the end, I concluded, all you can have for believing is a god that nobody has understood yet, which you kept believing for no real reason other than having grown up believing that there had to be some god out there. Not very satisfying, so why believe it at all?"
          Certain neurologists have made crucial discoveries regarding the nature of the "religious experience"--experiments like the "god helmet" shed some much needed light upon this issue. To a certain extent, religion seems act in a practical capacity: people need to believe in a fabricated sense of constancy, the thought of death is too problematic for the masses. Religion, and gods gives people the invisible crutch they need in order to live. When scholars begin to look at certain religious dogmas, and certain philosophical schools of thought, intersections can seen. The golden rule is something that is seen both in religious and secular traditions--of course, the intersections are much more numerous. The unfortunate fact of the matter is that the average individual has not taken a long hard look at themselves, trying to figure out what the best way to live is; in other words, said individuals simply accept prefabricated cut-outs of ideological belief systems--i.e. an adult keeping the faith their parents taught them.

          Religion, generally speaking, tries to mold believers into moral actors in a society/theocracy. Ethics does the very same thing through a wholly different mechanism (i.e. logical methods, and hypothetical thought experiments like Kant's categorical imperative). Though I use this figure cautiously, Aquinas mentioned that we can go about--roughly speaking--it either by being humble, and pious or by being intellectually inclined. Ultimately, the bookish folk along with the religious folk will agree that their respective paradigms, though fundamentally different, attempt inculcate moralistic modes of thinking within its member bases.
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          Jan 21 2012: There is nothing rethorical if you understand well what the Bible says : to believe means not only to be fully convinced of something but also to practice it .
          the bible is a urge to holiness ; everthing is very simple .

          I knnow there are many problems but i think they all can be solved .

          (I removed my last two comments from obvious reasons.... sorry for inconveniencies ).

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          Jan 21 2012: Eduardo :

          Frankly : all you said is just bullshit : 'crucial discoveries' , 'the thought of death is too problematic for the masses ' , really , why is it problematic ? because the masses usually don't think ? they live more like the animals do ? ......... 'religions and gods gives to the people the invisible crutch... '' .
      • Jan 21 2012: Eduard Ghiur,

        I told you, that was but one example of the many things that got me doubting. I did not say that single thing was "my argument." Whether you can rationalize that bit or not, does not matter. I told you, the story is much longer, such as figuring out that we are believing something that looks awfully like mere fantasy. Invent and reinvent the Christian god, and it will still be fantasy (and filled with contradictions from the very root). You seem to have forgotten that I have shown you that this god is a square circle, and that you gave me a thousand nonanswers, like the ones I was talking about above. Being as it is that gods look so awfully like fantasies, reinterpreting "al gusto" will not make this god, nor any other, a reality.

        (Your answer lacks a lot, and assumes too much, but I rather not start a discussion I will not have time to attend for a while.)

        (I don't remember asking why you believe.)
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          Jan 24 2012: Gabo:

          I know there are many things that got you doubting , I didn't intend to let the impression you got so only because of a reason ; about you argument : you presented a problem I tried to solve it .

          I think and I find reasons for which God don't looks 'awfully like a fantasy' . I think I can answer the all contradictions , you are one who unlike many from here see the contradictions and knows more or less to make distinction between an argument and a nonargument ; this is why I try to have a converstation when I spend my time here on TED .

          I know many of my answers were nonanswers .

          My answer was simple (too simple): to believe means to practice while you are mentally convinced of the truth of what you believe (this solve the rethorical problem ) . Everything else I said is a filling .

          (to the similar () : sorry for confusion ).
  • Jan 15 2012: Luke,
    Thanks for the interesting discussion.
    For the first thing I would like to say that most people do the best they can. We are all striving towards the truth along each our own path. One persons path may be the scientific and another persons may be the religions or even the artistic path where the two perhaps may meet... and throughout the complexity of our being this is happening within us each and every day. Our attention is focused on music, art, business matters, traffic, family relations, making dinner... our daily activity demands of us that we are somewhat attentive to our environment. Some are more attentive than others. Our focus and our individual abilities are very different.... all with different starting points in life. Lazy or flawed are not very positive words .. The degree of intensity we search for answers in life... the will towards the truth.. to constantly try to find the true answers to lifes mysteries is demanding to say the least. We all have our day to day lives. Some have more time and interest than others to dwell on life's mysteries.
    But I can interpret by your questions in the introduction you wrote that you are an open and seeking person. This is a great starting point! Take along wonder on your journey. Wonder can lead you to many truths. Take along a strong thinking.. it will keep you on the path towards truth.
    Even the most conservative "religious" believer can't really deny the scientific method. We use it of course in every waking moment... even though we are always not so aware of it. Our own judgments in everything we do are based on our own little inner scientist in all that we do... Sooner or later our little scientist will come to certain conclusions about life and then rest in these ideas.. perhaps resting the rest of ones life. While others are not so easily satisfied with the same answers and feel the need to go deeper... below the mere surface of things.
    There is an awakening going on all around us.
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    Jan 14 2012: In my opinion, there can never be a confortable seat only behind the line of "the all science and nothing else" or "only the bible, or nothing else".

    The question should be what's a religion and the role of science in religion?

    Any vast movement of belief can turn into a religion as the founder or inspirator set rules to follow and a system of worshiping. Religion is a creation of human beings because we always seek for security in front of the unknown. That's the reason we live in communities, in tribes, ect...

    What science bring us is the explanation of this unknown, so that it be known and no more fearful. That's the understanding that I am having of it. All the religious facts that are being supported against the theories of sciences can not be proven, as between different religions the facts are changing according to the interpretation they are giving to the situation.

    In regard of science, what I can say about the big flood is that it may have been for sure as certain scientists have proven traces of flood thousand of years ago in certain areas of the middle-east. But at the same moment, there were signs of flood in many other places in the world in different times. Every year, we are having big floods, we had the tsunami that caused disasters a couple of years ago, we have the flood in Thailand just a few months ago.

    So the flood is not the problem? But could a flood affect the whole earth at once? That I doubt and there is where we should apply scientific theories.

    I believe the flood of Noah to have happenned, but it concerned a region, and the people concerned are the people of a particular community. For what concerns the Arc, I put it at a simple metaphysical level of understanding.
    We human are trying to do the same things today; scientists are collecting and gathering "souches" of most spieces living on earth; we are experimenting all sort of insemination, ect... that may be put in parallel with building an arc to prevent disparition of Life
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    Jan 13 2012: Hi Luke

    Like you, I suspect most people don't give a whit about either science or religion. For the rest of us we arrive at our present positions through the cocktail of learning, experience, & peer pressure in our lives to date. My cocktail is unique, as is yours. Most folk interested enough to contribute here seem to have followed their particular furrow quite a way,& consequently have chosen sides. However the science & religion stereotypes are not as well delineated as you suggest.

    I am a Christian because I believe that the bible reflects the reality of our situation. I do not recognise the childhood indoctrination/crutch/politics/mentally unstable/etc stereotype. There are folks who may fit some of these, but they are not motivators for the majority. I am happy that there is no conflict between my belief & empirical science, if I thought there was then I would have to reconsider, but as yet that hasn't been an issue.
    When we find a fossil in the ground we can measure it, analyse the chemistry, categorise it etc. What we cannot do is tell how it got there. We will all have opinions of course, complete with good reasons for thinking that way. But the bottom line is that we do not know! The trouble is that we are asked to take a scientists opinion as sacrosanct. The opinion has become 'science' in it's own right, & to have a different opinion is to be anti-science. We have every right to be grateful for science, but the practice itself must continue un-affected by the scientist's mood,religion, worldview, or hat size. If that means that we have to say "I don't know" now & again, then that's fine. Nobody 'knows' how our fossil got there, there
    Was no witness, it's unknowable. Let's not brand anyone a heretic for having their own opinion.

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      Jan 13 2012: Hi Peter, Good new year to you too.

      As we find a mammoth in the ice as we did a few times, haven't you a clue how it's got there?What do you think?
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        Jan 14 2012: Hi Frans

        One guy i know who made a stab at this problem is Kent Hovind (link below). He calls it the Hovind theory so that no-one else gets the blame. Some of these mammoths are found upright, & with fresh vegetation in their stomachs frozen solid in the ice. He asked a few frozen food manufacturers how he could freeze an elephant & preserve it's stomach contents. In order to freeze it fast enough the temperature would need to be lower than any recorded on earth. So he has a theory which involves a close call with an ice comet; perhaps flying through the tail. He links it to Saturn's rings, & canyons on Mars.

        He doesn't of course know, he's guessing, but it's a good theory. More at link, if you're interested.

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          Jan 14 2012: You always know a guy with a weird backup story.

          The remark you made was that no one knows how fossils got somewhere. I think the mammoth just walked there like all other animals we found fossils from. Adam and family did a good job to destroy all these animals within a few thousand years.
          Or it was the great flood? Then the mammoth got extinct after that flood for otherwise it wouldn't be preserved. Did the ark have sufficient space you think for about 60 Mammoths which is the minimum for a species to avoid interbreeding.
          In Europe we have caves where people pictured the animals on the walls that they hunted on, dated back up to 35.000 years. Do you have an explanation for that?

          If I think of that Noah, do you think he got time to gather animals large and tiny from Australia, Brazil, Sulawesi and the high mountains of Tibet?

          Let me hear some logic please?
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        Jan 14 2012: Frans
        You know I'd love to chat about Noah & stuff, but TED would just delete me for going off-topic. Start a discussion & I'll be happy to join in.

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          Jan 14 2012: We never were so right on topic before Peter, with our little demonstration about: "Why for so many is it science or religion with no room inbetween for honest existential consideration?
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        Jan 15 2012: Maybe you've been lucky, I've had lots of posts deleted while answering questions which were off topic, & it's not nice. is an open forum on the subject if you want to go there then it should be ok.

    • Jan 13 2012: I'm not sure I understand what you're suggesting.

      I thought it was a pretty natural and safe assumption that the fossils got there because they belonged to an animal that died. I'm willing to entertain alternate possibilities but what other possible explanation is there?
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        Jan 14 2012: Hi Luke,

        You need to do a bit swotting up. There are two possibilities. 1) The layers of rock were deposited, complete with fossils over millions of years. OR 2) The layers of rock were deposited over a year or two during a worldwide flood. This controversy has been going a couple of hundred years, & has a bearing on the age of the earth as well. BTW I am for 2; most other folks here are 1.

        Hope that clarifies.

        ""Why is it so uncommon for people to start from the existential beginning (I exist) and work their way up to their own logical conclusions?""

        That is what most folk do, but by the time you get to my age (61) many are at the stage of logical conclusions.
        • Jan 14 2012: Has anyone ever come to the conclusion that the earth is 6000 years old and that there was a great flood which wiped out the dinosaurs that wasn't also religious?

          I ask because if there was compelling evidence for this conclusion then we would see people that have come to this conclusion without having even heard of the bible.

          If there are not then I'm led to believe that the only real reason that anyone believes as such is because it says so in the bible.
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        Jan 15 2012: Hi Luke
        Prior to Darwin, just about everyone believed that the world was young, & that there was a great flood that produced the fossils. As far as I know the scientific establishment & the bible were in agreement.
        Today evolution is taught as fact in our universities, so it is not surprisingly the belief of our graduates. With the discovery of DNA & the intricacy of the cell etc. many scientists are having second thoughts & joining the intelligent design movement. This is a non-religious group, although their findings do have religious implications.

        • Jan 15 2012: Prior to Darwin there was no scientific evidence to consider so it was either the bibles answer or none at all and people cannot accept not having an answer. They did not adopt the belief because of compelling scientific evidence; they adopted it because it was impressed upon them by a society dominated by religion.

          Isn't intelligent design just an oblique way of saying god? I suppose the idea itself doesn't necessarily have to be associated with any particular religion and could even stand on its own but the sceptic in me suspects that most advocates of intelligent design are using it as a stepping stone argument for their preferred religion.

          Either way; the intelligent design argument doesn't really need to conflict with evolution. There is no reason why an intelligent designer could not have used evolution as the mechanism to create sophisticated life.

          Additionally the intelligent design argument itself has no bearing on the age of the world, whether the great flood occurred or whether the great flood itself was the cause of mass extinctions.

          Whether the world is 6000 years old or 6 billion, you can still just as easily have an intelligent designer.

          I don't see how any of the things you've mentioned might lead you to the conclusion that the earth is 6000 years old or that the great flood is the cause of a mass extinction event.
        • Jan 17 2012: This is false Pete. The ID movement was initiated and continues to feed on creationist quacks. It has never been about scientists abandoning "darwinism" (whatever that's supposed to mean) because "DNA is too complex, and the cell too intricate." Maybe that's what they have sold you, but it is clear that the movement is a planned strategy from creationist quacks to get creationism into schools. They modified a textbook on creationism by exchanging "creation scientists" to "design proponents." What else would you need to acknowledge this?
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        Jan 16 2012: Hi Luke

        I don't think the flood per se was a mass extinction event, although possibly many species could not survive in a post flood world. This is where ted usually deletes me for going off-topic, but I'll risk it since it is your conversation.
        Age of the earth is a massive subject. Length of recorded history / Number of corpses / Earth's slowing rotation / Shrinkage rate of the sun / Increasing lunar orbit / Human population graph / ruggedness of mountains / Helium in the atmosphere / C14 in the atmosphere / Presence of comets / Silt in the oceans / Decay of magnetic field.....etc. These are all debatable & folks come down on both sides. Good subject for a new conversation.

        What intelligent design is saying is that there are features in nature that require intelligence. If you found an arrowhead you would know instinctively that it had been caused by an intelligence. We are now seeing computers & complex machinery beyond our comprehension in living creatures, and we are being asked to believe that they got there without any intelligent assistance. As a species we have a very strong aversion to God. That is obvious on many of these pages. IF god is at the bottom of all this, then so be it. If it were not for our god fobia would we really be positing a non intelligent source for such complex machinery ? The IDers are only scientists who are saying that as far as they are concerned the Darwinian story is impossible; intelligence of some sort is required. What conclusions you draw are up to you.

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          Jan 16 2012: Peter, I ask you: how can anybody have an aversion towards anything that doesn't exist?
          Or at least doesn't exist in the way you would describe it.

          Some see God as the good things in life, the ideal of love, harmony and beauty that almost anyone believes in.
        • Jan 16 2012: I don't think you're off topic, the rationality for your beliefs is well related to the topic and I don't think we can debate the topic effectively without getting into nitty gritty specifics.

          In relation to the age of the earth or the age of anything; light coming to us from stars or galaxies which are billions of light years away would suggest that the universe is billions of years old since that is how long the light has would take to get here. Unless you question the speed of light itself, it's hard to imagine a solid argument for a young universe which doesn't involve the deliberate placement of misleading information by god himself.

          Again; I don't believe ID conflicts with evolution.

          Assuming that you're right that the complexities of life are impossible without intelligent intervention, there is still no reason why that intelligence could not have created evolution as a mechanism for allowing change while simultaneously guiding evolution or even outright manipulating species when needed.

          Your religion states that god is "perfect" and that would suggest to me that he would have only needed to act once in the creation of life since he could predict exactly how any starting configuration would evolve over time.

          I don't find the idea of a god itself objectionable but I do find the overly specific versions of god suggested by the religions of the world objectionable simply because I see the probability that any one of them is correct as practically 0%.

          As soon as you start saying god wants your to do this and god doesn't like it when you do that, you've ventured so absurdly far outside of reasonable speculation that you might as well just say "I want you to do this" and "I don't like it when you do that".
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        Jan 16 2012: Hi Frans
        You know, it's a funny thing. Most people get on ok with Jesus. His command is to love him & love one another. I do just that & most folk (apart from a few temporarily worried husbands) get on fine with me. However when debating some Atheists you would think that the Twin Towers was something I performed on my day off. Once you come out as "religious", then all the world's problems are down to you & your god. Now I think of it, my boss encountered the same sort of problem.
        The only reason I can come up with is that we are dealing with a reality here that is offensive to some.

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        Jan 16 2012: Hi Luke.

        there are several attempts at explaining the light years problem. The most comprehensive is explained in a book called Starlight & Time. We know that time is not constant, & the speed of light is not the constant it used to be. Let's say God made the universe in a smaller space & expanded it at what at that time was light speed, which in turn was almost instantaneous; would that cover it? I don't know; not smart enough; lots of possibilities.

        I agree ID & evolution are compatible. Only when you try to nail the creator that problems arise.

        Any dad would try & teach his children. You can pick any god you like, it's a free world. Best if it's the real one though, check candidates very carefully.

        • Jan 17 2012: The problem I have with a convoluted explanation like this is that I know where it comes from.

          Do you believe that anyone would be arguing that the Earth is 6000 years old if the bible said that it was 20 billion? If there really is physical evidence specifically for a 6000 year old Earth then there would be.

          Would you be arguing for a 6000 year old Earth if the bible said the universe was 20 billion years old?
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        Jan 17 2012: Hi Luke

        I guess it's a double edged sword. We wouldn't be facing increasing billions of years if we didn't have to incorporate evolution.
        Atheists used to believe that the universe was eternal. It always has & always will exist. Now science has obliged them to admit that the universe had a beginning, & will have an end. So now we have the Bib Bang.
        There was a famous saying that the present is the key to the past. We can look at present processes & extrapolate into the past. Now most folks agree that there have been catastrophes in the past so extrapolation is not so safe. Eg there are no large fossil beds being laid down today. Why not, if it's been common for millions of years.

        Of course the bible is a factor. Time has shown it to be pretty reliable over the bit. It has been consistent while scientific estimates on the age of the earth grow like topsy in line with current evolutionary theory.

        • Jan 18 2012: Are you suggesting a conspiracy between biologists and cosmologists in which one manufactures a conclusion to suit the other regardless of evidence?

          I'm not sure I understand why evolution requires a beginning or how an eternal universe is in contradiction of evolution.

          In regard to fossil beds, isn't that just when an animal dies in conditions which happen to preserve it? There are still plenty of animals dying and I'm sure there are still conditions under which their remains will be preserved and I see no reason why in 100 or 1000 years people might not dig up fossils from our era.
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        Jan 18 2012: Hi Luke

        No not a conspiracy; science just hadn't worked things out yet, and so assumed that the universe was eternal. The bible of course claimed it had a beginning, so was presumably mocked for such an unscientific view at the time.

        Evolution would work in either scenario as long as it had sufficient time. I don't believe it did of course, but the theory only requires a few billion years.

        For fossilisation to work the carcass has to be buried very rapidly. An animal just lying on the surface would rot long before it fossilised. Even in a shallow grave it would rot. We have to seal it from oxygen. The fossil beds we have typically contain millions of fossils; even such things as jellyfish, which wouldn't survive a day on the surface. We have clams on Mt. Everest fossilised in the closed position. They normally open at death, so were buried alive. Something very out of the ordinary formed our fossil beds.

        It is thought the best chance for modern fossil beds are on the seabed. Surveys to detect this sort of activity have been carried out, but to no avail. Millions of Buffalo were killed a couple of hundred years ago in the US; ever heard of any Buffalo remains being dug up ?

    • Jan 13 2012: No Pete, there is no such thing as asking anybody to take some scientists' opinions as facts. What you have mistaken for that is what results after examining several lines of evidence. Not mere opinion, but data and their analysis. We start with some question, we find some clues, we infer from the clues, if this is so, then we should also find this kind of thing, we continue searching, we find that the other thing is so, and so on. That's how we got at evolution, at an age for our planet much older than 6,000 years old, and so. There is plenty of corroborating evidence, not just opinion.

      So yes, you are anti-science. Only you get your anti-science disguised by rhetorical arguments such as the one you just presented.

      (And this is exactly why we have an unsurmountable divide, I witness what Pete denies out of being convinced that all is evil interpretation, thus the bible is scientifically accurate. How can that be reconciled with reality? No way. How could educators like myself just shrug at the existence of the kind of quackery that Pete listens and then propagates?)
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        Jan 14 2012: Hi Gabo

        Sorry we can't agree on this, but we all have opinions, & so far at least we are free to express them. You are well aware that most evidence needs interpreting. It's a bit like Global Warming. Last week it was a bad thing, this week it's saving us from an Ice Age; next week .....?

        • Jan 15 2012: Pete,

          I did not say you had no right to express your opinion, but if you say that science is just a matter of opinion, I have the right to give my testimony that it is not. Evidence needs interpreting, but scientists can't go around making ad hoc interpretations for each piece of evidence so that it fits whatever they want it to fit. The reason for scientific debate are precisely conflicting pieces of evidence (when referring to some proposed hypothesis or some strong theory, does not matter).

          Whenever I publish something, I make sure to include several lines of evidence. I try hard to be the one to find the piece that breaks my hypothesis. If the evidence holds to what I am proposing then I can publish the idea, but if there is something I was not able to test, I say so. I don't publish forcing every piece of evidence to match my hypothesis (creationist quacks, on the other hand, never hold back to making absurd statements and pick quotes out of context to prove their points).

          A common line of rhetoric by creationist quacks is that the scientifically estimated age of the earth "changed" with time, just as you complain about global warming. Of course it did. As more data and new technologies appeared, it became evident that the age had been underestimated (actually Lyell held himself back because he did not want to contradict the Bible too much). That's how it works. Methods become more precise and powerful. If new evidence yells that it was not millions but billions, we have to accept the evidence. If we find the evidence wanting, then we try and find ways to confirm that the error is there, and whether we can correct it. You have all the right to be skeptical. But saying that it is mere opinion is insulting and ignorant (often also dishonest).

          (To the interested reader I recommend this:

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        Jan 15 2012: Hi Gabo
        Interesting article. My worldview is shattered at the earth being pear-shaped seeing as how the bible says it's a circle.:)
        Not so sure about evolution though. Back through history we have the two views, with opinions swinging from one to another. With the geologic column & the age problem, we have total conflict & it's difficult to see how slow advancement by either or both sides can rectify that. We live in hope.


        • Jan 16 2012: Pete,

          Do you think that the idea of the link was to shatter your worldview? I ask because I thought I was talking about the false idea that scientific understanding was a matter of opinion.

          The "two views" about evolution are a scientific one (it is a fact), and the quackery/creationist one consisting on denying, misquoting, and misrepresenting the science. The geologic column and the age of our planet are also solved. The planet is billions of years old. Again, the "conflict" is one of religion against science, and science has the evidence, while religion has lies, more lies, and more lies about the science. There is no rectification to make. Any refinements will give us a more precise age of the planet. But it will not go to 6,000 years ever. The 6,000 years is but a religious stance never supported by any scientific evidence.

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        Jan 16 2012: Gabo my friend

        Don't you recognise that calling into question the credentials & sincerity of the opposition is not a valid argument ? These guys have done the same spadework as yourself; I never hear any of them slagging off the evolutionary scientists.

        Slag me all you like; I've got a thick skin & I like you; but not these poor guys who have put their careers on the line for what they believe to be true.

        • Jan 16 2012: Pete,

          I am not slagging you. I am calling quacks by their name Pete. I am a scientist, I have exchanged with your quacks. They showed to be exactly that, quacks. I am not calling into question their credentials. They have none. They show so. They happily do the misrepresentation and lying. I know because I have talked to them. They have not put their careers on the line (for one, nobody gets discriminated for their beliefs, but we do have an issue with cherry-picking, misrepresentations, and lying). They have made a career out of such misrepresentations. They have decided to live out of the ignorance of the masses in the same way a lemon-car salesman decides on making a career out of selling lemons by lying about their qualities.

          As for the actual arguments showing them from being wrong to lying, I have tried to explain a few of the reasons before to you, just as I have done with them. In their case, they happily ignore and then misrepresent what I have told them in my very face. So to speak. I started very patiently actually thinking that they might just be ignorant but well-intended. Now I am convinced that ignorant is not what they are. They worked hard to convince me so. The last thing I want to conclude when I talk to someone is dishonesty. But dishonesty is what they have.

          For starters, those guys appear to think that quoting is a research method. A trained scientist would not think such a thing.

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        Jan 17 2012: Hi Gabo
        Don't know if you've watched this talk.

        Should be of interest, as is his website. Seems to be 'one of yours', didn't really say. His excellent animations drive home the mechanical nature of the biological processes. I understand mechanical processes quite well, & these are awesome, not least because of there size.
        What impresses me is the complexity, beauty, & symmetry of it all. If scientists are of the opinion that this arose by Darwinian processes, then my question is : How would we identify a mechanism that had actually been designed ?

        • Jan 17 2012: Thanks for the link Pete, I had not seen this one. I will use it in class this friday.

          I am also impressed by the complexity. I could complain about a bit of inaccuracy, but the complexity is undeniable. Yes, the whole thing arose by evolutionary processes (not all Darwinian, but perhaps mostly). You pose an excellent question, and there is no easy answer. How can we identify something that was actually designed? This very question has had SETI, for example, arguing for a very long time. Anyway, I think that for us to be able to propose designers for something, we have to be able to show that the designer(s) was/were there to begin with. With SETI, for example, it starts with things we have not seen any natural process doing, yet, it does not end there. Then you have to figure out whether there is any plausibility that there could be some intelligent beings close to whatever you found. I would say that there is no definitive answer to your question. But I understand why you would be inclined to think of a designer for these little machines. After all, that's what you know. Me, I have witnessed some pretty amazing results from directed evolution, I understand evolutionary mechanisms and the roles of energy, random events, and natural phenomena enough to be able to accept that this is not beyond nature. But I concede that even some scientists who understand evolution might take pause at things like this. Yet, lest you could misunderstand me, I know that the quacks are not among such scientists, and that the pause would not be about common ancestry, but about the origin of the machinery. [EDIT: and that the pause might lead to more research, rather than a mere god(s)-did-it.]

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    Jan 10 2012: To be honest, not sure if I want to jump in here, because it does appear the waters are already murky, but I am concerned that the primary question is not being fully discussed. Personally, I believe that science is merely a way to describe God's miraculous creation; however I agree that most people seem to believe that there is absolutely ZERO middle ground between the two.

    I propose that this is a fault of culture. Over the past ew decades, I've noticed a growing tendency toward radicalization of beleifs and a dampening of open-mindedness.

    Quite frankly, fundamentalism in religion does no service to God; in fact, it completely alienates those whom we are ordered to love. A religious person's refusal to accept the theories of science shuts that mind to discovering the secrets of creation. However, most organized religion is mind-control, co-opted by an oligarchy determined to keep minds subdued - a dulled mind is easily controlled . . . (and forgive me for sounding like a conspiracy theorist!)

    OK - first paragraph: why do many believe only in what can be proven? I would venture to say that scientists are much more open to believing in God than we might suspect. The more I hear about the expansion of the universe, about the possibility of neutrinos that can travel FASTER than the speed of light, about the Higgs-Boson "The GOD particle" the more I am convinced of the brilliant intricacy of the Creator God. Seems to me that anybody who promotes Science OVER Religion probably has been attacked by religious fundamentalists so much that they find the very idea of religion distasteful.

    I hope that my comment has stayed on topic, and not ventured into "this or that is right or not" but rather, offered something to the debate as to why people position themselves in one camp or the other.
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      Jan 10 2012: I agree Verble,
      Although I do not practice a religion, nor do I believe in a god, I do believe that everything is interconnected, so I see no reason why we cannot consider information provided by all available sources. I would not deny myself the opportunity to have all available information as a guide for this life journey:>)
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        Jan 11 2012: To your reply please permit me to offer a humble "amen!"
    • Jan 10 2012: I think you make a assumption which voids your argument, one in which there is a "god" (which you name God) at all. To go from "I don't know" to a magical being which created everything and lives outside space and time is a monumental claim which requires monumental evidence, of which there is none (zero).

      I could claim invisible blue dancing monkeys in my living room and it would hold just as much weight as your claim, maybe more weight, seeing as my living room exists, monkeys exist and invisible things exist, all of which can be measured. A claim of a god is untestable and has no evidence, therefore one cannot make a logical leap to even believe in such a thing.

      Can a god exist? It is possible in the same way unicorns and fairies are possible. Except when people believe in unicorns and fairies they are widely accepted as mentally ill. Why the double standard? I say it exists because a majority have become mentally ill.

      In summary, an argument without evidence is simply another snake oil claim. do you have any evidence to provide of a god existing? Because if not, everything logically concluded after that assumption is null and void.

      The original poster mentioned:

      "There is no afterlife, and no greater meaning than the reality we see directly in front of us."

      I see this line as entirely accurate, until it is proven otherwise.

      "the possibility of neutrinos that can travel FASTER than the speed of light"

      Even if this were true, it still wouldn't prove, or even indicate, a god. It would indicate things can travel faster than light.

      "Higgs-Boson "The GOD particle" "

      To quote the people who are best equipped to describe it:

      "Calling it the 'God particle' is completely inappropriate" said Pauline Gagnon, a Canadian member of CERN's ATLAS team

      Science is the concept of "I don't know, but I'll find out"; Religion is "I'll take a wild guess, practice confirmation bias and ignore all competing data" and the two are entirely mutually exclusive.
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        Jan 11 2012: Thank you very much for your response, but I'm afraid you have missed my point. Yes it is true that I believe in a creator God and that Jesus Christ is the author and perfect or of our faith, and yes, I won't back away from it. But nor will I try to force anyone else to believe it.

        What I was trying to say as a sidenote with that comment was that most people consider scientists to be atheists: I am proposing that the very nature of their exploration may make them more apt to believe in God than we suppose.

        My main points were these: that laypeople who believe in empirical science do so because religious zealots have turned them off, and religious zealots refuse science because they are being controlled. We are not debating the existence or non-existence of God in this post, we're discussing why peoplle are polarized with no middle ground, to which I think your reply is evidence. But why are we so polarized? I think your closing sentence points toward the polarized points of view, but I'd like to explore how we got there.
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      Jan 11 2012: Verble, if there is a creator then science helps explain creation. Although I note science struggles to explain god and other religious concepts and conflicts with some religious interpretations.

      If there is no creator god, then science still helps to explain the amazing universe and life. Along with other pursuits such as philosophy, literature, art etc helping us understand the human condition.

      Agree scientists are likely to be a mix of atheist, religious, spiritual, and everything in between. I vaguely recall that a relatively high proportion of elite scientists especially biologist are atheists. Also high IQ (Mensa members) have a higher proportion of atheists than the general population.

      I would suggest the more scientific knowledge you have, the less superstitious, on average.

      Disagree that religious zealotry is the key driver putting lay people off religion. These days we are exposed to more science and see many more religions (living and dead ones) than we would have 2000 years ago. With our modern perspective religions look like manmade social constructs, products of their time that have developed and evolved somewhat over time. However, the ancient scriptures and many of their teachings conflict with modern values, human rights and science.

      Not all fundamentalists are dangerous zealots, although seeing them try to reconcile or ignore bronze age and medieval scriptures with today's knowledge is almost laughable if it wasn't sad. But I kind of emphathise with the concept its either all true or it all rubbish.

      It's kind of bizarre how others pick and choose from their cultural religious heritage or religious environment mixed in with science and not see this is still so much an accident of birth and what you have been exposed too.

      With 80% of people/parents believing in god and death facing all of us I guess it's not that strange that we
      absorb religious belief. I expect that being seen to be religious is a positive in society for the majority
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    Jan 7 2012: "Either of these seems almost as lazy and flawed as the other."

    Unfortunately that's where you're wrong. Science is based on evidence, fact and rational hypothesis which can be debated and disputed. Religion is based purely on speculation, superstition and imagination, and therefore cannot be disputed. Therefore to say it's flawed for scientists to choose not to debate religion is incorrect.

    The strongest debate for religion is as follows:
    "I believe in X."
    "Because I do!"

    If we take your mention of "the afterlife", we cannot discuss "what happens to us after we die" any further than "our bodies decompose" because there's no evidence to suggest that anything else does happen.

    If you'd like we can discuss what we would like to happen to us after we die? But, of course, the answers would be purely subjective/opinion-based and therefore cannot really be disputed.

    EDIT: I should add, that's not to take away the personal right of a person to believe in something "religious". If someone feels they have a strong inner conviction, or their version of God(s) has sent them a message then by all means, believe away...but alas, they still cannot be debated.
    • Jan 7 2012: Well actually, Stuart he stated "For many people it is science and nothing else". His comment, as I understand is that some people are closed to anything else but science for answering questions of life. And he goes on stating some people don't think or question religion details.

      I have the same question or curiosity on this thread. For some, it is all or nothing. And I agree there are many who seemingly do nothing but take off the "silver platter" passed to them for religion details. It's like an authority tells you what to "eat" and don't question.

      Consider that the common man did not learn to read or write until the recent thousand years. Common folks were unlearned and therefore a priesthood had responsibilities to teach and it is the learned ones who did most of the discussion and vetting to develop religions. All religions developed differently, but the so called average person had to be told what to believe. This is changing!

      We are so blessed to have freedom to think and choose. Are we able to truthfully report all people enjoy this freedom? I think not.

      Keep the discussion going on this one, Luke. You are a thinker!

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        Jan 7 2012: "Well actually, Stuart he stated "For many people it is science and nothing else". His comment, as I understand is that some people are closed to anything else but science for answering questions of life. And he goes on stating some people don't think or question religion details."

        Either I don't understand your line of thought, or I stand by my original point. Why attempt to debate religion? It's not possible. And so therefore the reason it's "science and nothing else" is because we cant debate that something else. As soon as we can (in other words, when there's evidence to support it) it will be called "science".
        • Jan 7 2012: My understanding is he is not debating religion. He's not debating anything. He is wondering why people don't think for themselves and form their own conclusions.

          I don't want to debate either. Let's just share what we think to be true and let it soak in mind for awhile.
      • Jan 8 2012: You're right.

        Science certainly has its place but I don't think it is the only avenue through which to discover truth and I think it is thoroughly detrimental when people close themselves off to philosophy itself because it cannot be measured in a beaker.
        • Jan 9 2012: There appears to be confusion as to philosophy being unmeasurable, yet that is precisely what it is based on, measurement.

          Philosophy is the search for truth in things, and truth is a verified or indisputable fact. The keyword being verified, which means reproducible, which requires measurement.

          Jumping from a verified or indisputable fact to a magical being outside space and time is beyond description as to its illegitimacy as a claim.

          "Truth" is not a magical escape from facts, it is representative of the most unquestionable of them. Please stop using it as a means to avoid using the word "fact".
    • Jan 8 2012: I didn't mean to compare religion with science or to suggest that science itself is lazy or flawed. I agree with you, we can't debate religion, faith is not a matter open to logic or reasonable discourse.

      I wish you hadn't chosen the afterlife since it hard to explain my thoughts on the matter and with a 2000 character limit I'm going to have to summarise in a way that isn't necessarily going to be easy to follow.

      I don't think the afterlife is beyond reasonable discussion.

      Starting from the beginning; I know I exist and I'm going to assume that I'm not alone in existence since I don't control or understand every facet of my reality and my experience. There must be at least one other entity with which I share existence.

      I will argue that the existence of at least two entities requires a mechanism of separation between them. Most people think about this in physical terms, we are separated by the space between one brain and another but I see that physical separation as an arbitrary one. An army of robots could be thought of as one entity if they are connected and controlled by a central source and while it might seem like a stretch we are connected to one another by our verbal and non-verbal interactions just as our neurons are connected by synapses. Physically we are not separated or disconnected from that which is around us. There is a continuum of matter interacting on a microscopic level going from my brain to every other brain on this planet.

      Assuming I'm right that there must be a mechanism of separation for two existential entities to exist then it cannot be a physical construct but instead, I would call it an extra-causal construct which allows us to act with free will.

      Assuming that I'm right, that extra-causal construct might continue to exist after our physical form dies and that would suggest that an afterlife does exist.

      You're right that I can't begin to speculate what that afterlife might be but I don't think it's existence is beyond analysis.
      • Jan 9 2012: "we are separated by the space between one brain and another but I see that physical separation as an arbitrary one."

        I'd like to hear how separate independently functioning masses are considered arbitrary.

        "An army of robots could be thought of as one entity if they are connected and controlled by a central source"

        It could be, but the "thinker" would be wrong. They would be a group of individual robots, which are a group of components, which are a group of elements, which are a group of atoms, which are group of electrons, protons and neutrons, which are a group of quarks. Making a grouping of individuals doesn't negate the individuality of each entity. Calling a group of trees a forest doesn't make the trees magically meld together in an inseparable fashion. In fact, the ability to replant a tree elsewhere or a person to walk away from another while both are able to continue functioning is exactly what determines an individual entity. Remove your head from your neck and you will be able to scientifically measure how non-arbitrary the measurement is.

        The same argument could be made of all of the matter we excrete which becomes compost, which becomes plant life, which becomes fruit or vegetables or wheat consumed by cows, which become burgers, which other people eat, which becomes part of them. If you wish to stretch the definition of afterlife to its very limits, yes, everyone has many, many after lives, as many, many living things live off what we leave behind (pun intended). It certainly makes me giggle when I realize the phrase "Eat excrement and die" happens to everyone on a daily basis. ;)

        Though fun to think about, this is hardly the idea of 'afterlife' being debated. Thanks for the mental excursion, though. It was a fun trip.
        • Jan 11 2012: I don't think there's any further explanation I could give that would ever sell you on the idea and I accept that, my ideas in regard to the afterlife are convoluted and it's probably not the best poster child for my argument.

          A better avenue of debate would probably be free will since there are interesting quantum events which lend themselves to the idea that reality itself on the smallest scale is not absolutely deterministic. There is the double slit experiment and bells theorem among other things.

          I'd rather not get into a free will debate in this particular conversation because I actually have a lot of things to say on the subject and I intend to make a debate conversation specifically for it when this one has begun to die down.
  • Jan 24 2012: Evidence does not require belief and belief does not require evidence. If the evidence regarding my prospects in life are sufficiently negative and overwhelming, I think belief would look like an excellent alternative. If my belief system has failed me consistently and negatively, I think I'd start demanding a little more evidence. Which side of the fence we fall on is largely beyond our conscience control. Whatever gets you through the night . . .
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      Jan 24 2012: You make a comparation to something what it's not a usual thing , to the work of god; to believe means evidence. .
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    Jan 17 2012: Hello there. Every messenger of God has a miracle, right? Well, Muslims believe that one of their prophet's God-given gifts was the ability to split up to Moon.
    • Jan 17 2012: Are you suggesting that at some point there is going to be a prophet which will break the moon into two or more pieces?

      If someone ever manages to break the moon into two or more pieces, I'll certainly be giving them a lot of consideration.

      That would be a miracle worthy of it's name.
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        Jan 18 2012: We believe the Moon has already been split up by our prophet in the past. Scientific evidence to this are the cracks apparent on the Moon's surface.
        It sure is!
        • Jan 18 2012: Is there any before and after pictures to suggest that the moons surface actually drastically changed at some point due to a prophet?

          If not then it wouldn't be unlike me saying that there was a prophet which split up the earth and then giving the grand canyon as evidence for my claim.
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    Jan 16 2012: That may be the case in other religious institutions, but in the Muslim World science and religion are pretty much connected. Modern science has proved many religious claims made by Islam, such as the splitting up of the Moon, how did a Pharaoh die etc. Followers of the religion are always encouraged to seek knowledge since it "lights up the way to Heaven."
    • Jan 16 2012: What do you mean by splitting up the moon?
    • Jan 16 2012: ...uhhh....I think Omar is on another planet....
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    Jan 15 2012: I like your question!
    May I suggest that Ignorance is the greatest mystery in the Universe. As the One Mind, or that which we call God is All knowing, Omniscient, Omnipresent, etc., One is forced to ask where then does ignorance come from ?

    Ignorance is perpetuated when we Judge by appearances. I think the the Existential I AM is our unique Truth of Being as an individual, who called to live and move and have our (its) being in Devine Reality.

    Our thoughts are validated existentially when they bear good fruit, enhance our awareness of what is good, wholesome and uplifting etc., These thoughts are called existentially valid thoughts. I think it was Jesus who said "you shall know them by their fruits"

    To conclude, I am learning that I am not a thinker as such, but rather a living unit of awareness. Thinking blocks spontaneity, and therefore ones freedom and at-one-ment with Devine Reality/Existential awareness.

    If I 'think' before placing my left foot in front of my right foot I would be paying all my attention to walking and would never get anywhere. I would not be living spontaneously but in my Ego, and that would separate me from awareness of reality.
    • Jan 15 2012: Patrick,
      Thinking is without a doubt the highest developed organ that we have. If you ask yourself just what is it that has led you to the conclusion that ... "I am not a thinker as such, but rather a living unit of awareness"... or that... "Thinking blocks spontaneity"... well.... it is of course your own thinking that has lead you to these conclusions... agreed? I can go along with your way of seeing things to some degree as to how thinking can hinder ones will activity... ie. walking, running, playing music, etc. But we are always corrected and re-corrected by the highest part of our being... Thinking! You just can't get away from the fact that activity of thinking is continually setting us on the straight and narrow path... again and again.
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      Jan 17 2012: ''the ignorance is the greatest mystery of our universe '' if there is ignorance , why it to be a mystery : it's a logical contradiction . A mystery is something is unknown by us but can be known , in ignorance there is nothing to know because it's ignorance .
  • Jan 13 2012: "with no room in between for honest existential consideration"

    I think the key word here is 'honest'. Having two competing conceptions of knowledge makes the very idea of intellectual honesty dubious in itself. The epistemological game played by philosophy of trying to justify belief from opinion was never going to hold much water against a competing conception that demanded testable results. One might even see empirical science as the bullwork against a natural reason that contains within itself a dishonest bent? So the question is which is the most honest. One process, transparent, that can demonstrate results or one opaque, that cannot and demands blind faith!

    Just how dishonest 'faith' might be can only be imagined, [even while not questioning the sincerity of those who hold it] but the scriptural record has a lot more to say about it that one will ever hear from a pulpit. And the question itself only arises because of the long standing theological presumption, upon which all monotheism is founded, that a definitive proof of God, one subject to the kind of scrutiny associated with science is not possible. And so the dichotomy remains unresolved . . . for the moment.

    The first wholly new interpretation for two thousand years of the moral teachings of Christ is published on the web. Radically different from anything else we know of from history, this new teaching is predicated upon a precise and predefined experience and called 'the first Resurrection' in the sense that the Resurrection of Jesus was intended to demonstrate Gods' willingness to reveal Himself and intervene directly into the natural world for those obedient to His will. So like it or no, a new religious claim, testable by faith, meeting all Enlightenment criteria of evidence based causation and definitive proof now exists. Nothing short of a religious revolution maybe getting under way! More at or
  • Jan 13 2012: Evidential observations which are reproducible by other people versus faith. This is why there is a clear division between these polar opposites. It makes no sense for a scientist to hold viewpoints based on guesswork, superstition or belief for the scientist must test every hypothesis and validate it either as evidence or falsified. In contradistinction; religion requires nothing from the practitioner other than belief.

    The ascription 'lazy and flawed' is inappropriate in both cases. Religious belief may require the person to read widely all of the religious works which are deemed pertinent to the religion in question. Somewhat unkindly, this could be viewed as brainwashing the willing or the wilfully dumb. I will settle for the notion that people who shuck off the responsibility for their lives are usually happier if some religion will take up that responsibility and thereby absolve them from any further involvement in their own lives... aka 'God's plan for me'.

    Scientists will propose a hypothesis and test it to destruction in order to validate or falsify the proposition. I don't see how this can be described as 'lazy and flawed'. My view may be more than a little jaundiced to a Jehovah's Witness, a Catholic, Jew or Muslim. My clinical experiences suggest that religious ministers are of absolutely no value at all, during a medical emergency and the question is why not... with such powerful gods at their sides, why do religious ministers fail to be useful every time?

    If god exists, why is there such confusion about the identity of him/her/it and why are there so many different religious beliefs? It should not be beyond the wit of god to make it clear to mankind as to which is the single religious belief to follow.
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    Jan 11 2012: You know Luke, I'm kind of glad I'm alive these days, with access to modern science, awareness of so many possible belief systems and not trapped in a particular religion. Nice to have soap, secular government, human rights, running water, antibiotics and the internet too.

    It's good people have more choices through greater knowledge on which to make sense of life the universe and everything, even if they don't make the most of this freedom and opportunity.

    Guess most of us run on autopilot most the time and have an inbuilt dissonance reducer. If we see something that challenges our framework we tend to work around it.

    Cultural and social connections are often a big factor for religion as is childhood programming.

    On the atheist side, maybe there are more of us who are open to hybrid, non literalist 'spiritual'beliefs than you think. Maybe some have looked at souls, spiritual connections, god concepts etc and see them as speculative. We all pick and choose to some extent. I meditate, imagine my body healing but think astrology, crystal healing etc is rubbish.

    There are so many interpretations of ''god''. From the anthropomorphic Zeus and actual human beings (Jesus/God kings) to some vague all knowing all powerful everywhere. Suggest from an one atheist viewpoint after considering all the more specific and more creating god in our image (Zeus, Jesus, God kings) are the most bogus. The cosmic creator and connector concepts are less obviously bogus than anything with specific scriptures and details, but also seem speculative and just another way to make sense of the universe that can make sense just as easy without this invisible additional presence.

    Even with science and discounting coincidence, literal religious interpretations, accepting that a creator that is outside time and space is poor way of answering how it all began, accepting our perceptions and psychology can come up with all sorts of weird and wacky, there are some mysteries on the edge of science
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    Jan 9 2012: Thinking about life, what it is, what's the meaning, what's after it etc. is hard and it needs to be alone and think intensively. Such thinking is extremely depressive; can't it be not depressing?
    Why to think and get depressive emotions when something like the answer, which is so attractive, is already given???!!
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        Jan 10 2012: What I want to say after reading this is OH MY GOD! That's an expression I would like to delete in my talk but it's very expressive.
        Firstly, thinking about how to pass your free time is not depressing usually, but thinking what's the meaning of life, why I'm here, what was the start of everything and other existential questions ARE depressing so much that they may depress one to an insanity, of course if the one does not presumes from the very beginning that there is necessarily something immortal in every person. I'm talking from my own experience, if it's not depressive for all, then, people really are very different.
        The second thing is that my last sentence was THE IRONY. I was guessing the answer to the question why people do not think. So ask all those questions about punishing, slavery, killing to the believers!
        Well, it makes me very sad and nervous like you, I see, when I think about that multitude of people who are chained by the traditions and traditional thinking. It seems there's no chance for this world to change, or OK there is, after hundred of years, naturally, but that means many people still will be living their blind lives for a quite long while.
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        Jan 10 2012: Wow. You did not understood what I wrote at all, plus, the answer is full of mockery, OK, as you like.
        I like saying 'I don't know' when I don't know; for example, if you'd ask 'is there a life outside the Earth', I would say 'I don't know' and I would be alright about this. I find depressing THE PROCESS of the thinking on such subjects, not 'not knowing' something.
        I wrote 'why I'm here' with the meaning 'what's the meaning of me being here'.
        I'm happy you do not go very deep into the existential questions, because that might be a little harmful. (I do not reject the possibility some of those questions are silly, have no reason and are raise by false perception people have; but people, not all of course, do raise and think of them.)
        Thanks for some unasked and needless life lessons, but I tend to 'work my way up to my own logical conclusions'. Many of them are quite similar to yours, but it doesn't matter I'm "depressed and in dilemma was it the stork or was it not the stork!"
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        Jan 10 2012: I'm an adult.
        It is very interesting to get a question 'what is the process of thinking?', that's even a little amusing. It is something like when you sit and think. Or you walk and think. I mean thinking 'to yourself'.
        To think on the existence is depressive because it is very likely to end in no answer you look for, or might come to a perception everything is meaningless. What's the point in helping a friend, reaching the highest goals etc. if you die. Simply die.
        There might be some other 'results' of the thinking on this, too.
        Sorry, maybe I did not choose the right word for this, instead of 'meaning' there could be 'sense'. To me it's more like 'for what I'm here'.
        I absolutely accept the fact of 'every species exists today, through reproductive cycles over billions of years' and evolution.
        I do not look for supernatural. Some pieces of what people call as supernatural do not exist, some may be explained by science in the future, for example, as work of unconscious. So, there is no supernatural, just something we create or something what may exist and be explained (I'm mainly about some strange 'power' some people have).
        Yes, the debate is on this; so I wrote my guess; is it not a very nice idea that you won't disappear and you may live 'somewhere' in a wonderful wonderful place forever after the death than perceiving the death in a way more DEPRESSIVE way, OK OK OK, for you it's absolutely not depressive and for me it's a little depressive but not too much. The worst thing that similar ideas of eternal life with a religion come by the tradition, they habituate poor child in the childhood, then, many children find no other possibilities, because it's clear - it's like this and like this.
        Also, quite many people are not 'active' believers, hardly related to a religion, but they consider themselves as believers, because again, the idea is very attractive.
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          Jan 10 2012: @ Edward Webber

          It has become difficult to reply directly on your comment, you may have noticed this.

          Maybe it helps you to see what reality is. It isn’t that what is in front of you but what you become conscious of. Your senses deliver the codes from which your consciousness derives meaning as result of the experiences made by the long line of your ancestors. The patterns you become aware of did serve survival by finding food in nature and provide safety for a period long enough to procreate.

          Following the same process other animals developed their own sensory system in relation with their specific surroundings. Thinking this through it is obvious that what we see is a selection that corresponds to our needs and tells much about our species and little about what’s there for real.

          This is what I call logic on a deeper level than being superficial. If we follow the cosmological understanding reality develops from a singularity which indicates that every particle it brought forth was intricate related with all other particles forming all moments as different expressions of one being that by necessity had to lead to human consciousness.

          This kind of deliberations you call supernatural while in truth it is the most natural base to get to any understanding of that what is.
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        Jan 10 2012: Quote: "It saddens me people are already enslaved to such a delusion."

        Don't get depressed by what other people love.
        Enjoy the reality of your world like everyone and don't talk faster than your thoughts can follow.
        Looking deeper than evidence isn't looking for the supernatural or any invention, it is just less superficial.
        • Jan 10 2012: "Don't get depressed by what other people love."

          Psychological illness (which delusion is) affects more than the person believing it.

          "Looking deeper than evidence isn't looking for the supernatural or any invention, it is just less superficial."

          Can you provide an example of looking deeper than evidence which isn't based on supernatural belief?

          I argue without evidence of something, there is no reason to look for it. The exact purpose of this debate.

          The original poster mentioned:

          "There is no afterlife, and no greater meaning than the reality we see directly in front of us."

          And I argue beginning from "I exist" logically can only come to the above, and those who divine up more than "the reality we see directly in front of us" are not basing it in logic at all and, indeed, are simply being lazy and believing whatever makes them feel good, ignoring whether or not it is true, and this is detrimental to all, not just them, as you propose.

          And the topic of sex is perfectly connected to this topic, as that is the reason for "why I exist", a question some are bringing to the table as somehow a reason to leave logic behind and remove critical thinking from the equation. Asking "why" is not synonymous with "beyond reality", nor is finding the answer in reality 'superficial'.

          You give unsolicited advice and provide a single sentence claim of my being wrong with no supporting evidence.

          This is a debate section. A "nuh uh!" answer is not sufficient.
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      Jan 10 2012: Julija L.
      Sorry I cannot get this response closer to your question/statement I am responding to:

      Your question/statement:..."Thinking about life, what it is, what's the meaning, what's after it etc. is hard and it needs to be alone and think intensively. Such thinking is extremely depressive; can't it be not depressing?
      Why to think and get depressive emotions when something like the answer, which is so attractive, is already given???!!"

      Pondering the questions you ask does not need to be depressing. Sometimes, when we are trying to find the "right" answers, it becomes confusing to consider all the possibilities, and when we are confused, it may at times feel depressing. As humans, we would like to have the answers to all our questions NOW. Sometimes, being unsure of ourselves, or unable to answer the questions, feels less secure, and may feel depressing. That is why, in my life experiences, I think/feel it is very important to be open to ALL information, whether from science, religious teachings, or whatever! We have the ability to sift through the information to find our truth. As open hearted, open minded, intelligent individuals, we take in information, evaluate it in relation to our own life, and use the information as we choose:>)
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    Jan 9 2012: I think you gave the answer. It is that most people don't really care. They use the paradigm they live in for that is opportune.
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    Jan 9 2012: Hi Luke,

    I am not sure if you realize it but both science and religion entail philosophy or you can even state that you cannot even have the two without the influence of philosophy.

    I do understand what you are saying given that philosophy does not seem to have a big impact in the world but I do think that its a misconception. It may not be big in the academic domain but to be quite honest life is philosophy.

    Everyone may not have some sort of philosophical training but I do think everyone to a degree is an existentialist and have some sort of philosophy about life.

    I really think it is a matter of being able to have the privilege to have discussions like this that really makes a difference. So perhaps to answer your question maybe things seem like its science or religion because these are easily accessible and really are the major players in the world but both would not exist if it was not for philosophy.
  • Jan 9 2012: It should be added, Einstein, even if he were correct *every single time he told you something*, would not guarantee he would be correct the next time. This is a common flaw in believers' thinking. Even if a religious person read every part of their holy book which could be interpreted as correct, based on observation and evidence, this does not mean the rest is correct as well. To believe this is making a massive assumption, and one which has been dis-proven time and again in every holy book out there. To even consider a book 'holy' is making an assumption, which renders the rest of the argument void.

    It is a logical fallacy to believe in any part of religion, as to do so means you believe in a god, to which there is zero evidence. To call everything unknown in the universe "god" is making up a word for the phrase "I don't know", and nothing more. If I were to call a tree a unicorn, that would not make unicorns exist, it would make a new name for a tree.

    Please note, this post is not meant to be offensive, as I have no control over whether or not someone is offended by factual statements. If a statement of mine is incorrect, I do invite corrections, as I would hate to have my logic corrupted by incorrect facts.

    I hope that answers some anticipated questions and rebuttals.
    • Jan 11 2012: You bring up a very interesting point with calling a tree a unicorn.

      The most common consequence of attaching a label like god to that which is unknown is to create willful ignorance but I'm not sure that must absolutely always be the consequence.

      Before we understood what lightning was, it was probably explained as god's farts or something but that doesn't stop you from being curious about what god's fart actually is. If anything that should really make you more curious and willing to try to understand the physical process of lightning since then you would exploring god.

      Historically I doubt it actually played out like that very often but with modern scientific understanding and the pervasive belief that any physical process can be understood if you study it, people are more willing than ever to adopt a label like god and still investigate with an open mind.

      None of this is really an argument for religious belief though, at best I'm saying that sometimes it wont be as harmful as it has the potential to be.

      I didn't really intend for this to be a argument against religious belief though, I think we're all painfully aware of most of the arguments against it by now.
  • Jan 9 2012: The reason is quite simple: You believe based on prior evidence, and there is no (zero) evidence to back religion, magic, gods, demons, ghosts, curses, damnation, heaven, hell or otherwise.

    An example was made using Einstein. The reason most reasonable people would trust Einstein is because he wasn't one to make statements without evidence and research. His track record was good, so your trust in what he says is *probably* true is reasonable, scientific even. You discern if it *is* true through repeatable objective observation and measurement. This has never been the case in religion.

    You do make a common mistake in grouping far too many distinct items together.. Morality is not based upon religion, nor is it mutually exclusive to science. There are objective morals which can be observed throughout a species. Morals, as such, are hardly limited to humans, either.

    Meaning, on the other hand, is merely a construct of religion, like gods and magic. Science observes actions, and there is no observation of meaning, gods or magic. Based on the most basic principles of science, there is no reason to believe any of the three, seeing as there is no prior evidence, so the probability is essentially zero. Yes, it is possible they could exist, in the same way unicorns, Santa Claus and leprichauns may exist. All of them have the exact same thing in common, they are exceptional claims made with no (zero) supporting evidence.

    So, yes, there is no such thing as a believing scientist. You can either practice science or not. Science isn't grey area, it is based on evidence and reproducible objective observation. You either have those qualities, which can be peer reviewed and reproduced, or you don't.

    I hope that answers your question. Feel free to rebut any of this and I will try and explain it further
  • Jan 9 2012: after finaly reading all your comments, i'm quite tired :P.
    and I'm not going in between your discussion, i will just show my oppinion about the science vs religion point.

    i used to be christian when i was 12, i didn't had many conserns at that moment, i just thought of god is there for me and all others, and this feeling was great.

    later on i became interested in Paleontology (dinosaurs), and i couldn't talk about this with any other christian, they just rejected it, or told me stories about men and dinosaur living together in the past. this made me laugh off christianity and tried to find my own answers by watching documentaries, talking with people who were close to me, and a bit of thinking of myself.

    but finding creative answers by ourselfs is almost inpossible, the reason is; people close to us effect us far to powerfull, same as watching sientists tell their story about life, and how it like it is today.

    i think the black and white situation is because to take away our religion, or our science is to take away our identety of why we life, how we life, and why we do what we do. it would take away our reason for everything we did in the past, and it would change everything will do in the future.

    but to be gray is not impossible, i may not believe in any god or so-ever, i do still believe in the afterlife. even thorough this is not proved by science. and i do believe in a purpuse of our life, my life purpuse woud be to serve as many and help as many people as possible, a kinda karma thing to be honest (Budism).

    it's great to believe in a dream (religion), but at the same time we have to understand reality (science). and most religius people are just dreamers of that better life they get when they die. we are all afraid for those things we don't understand, and we all feel attached to those people who think the same as we do. and we are scrared of those who test our trust in our believes.

    believing is easy, knowing is harder,starting all over is the hardest
    • Jan 10 2012: I'm quite tired from having written them all :P

      Are you suggesting that changing a belief is difficult because it represents both an emotional investment and an investment in their identity? That makes a lot of sense to me.

      To an extent you might even be able to argue that they are right to hold onto their beliefs.

      Homosexuals have to endure an unfortunate and unfair stigma in society. Lets say, hypothetically, that science invents a genetic treatment which can reverse homosexuality in an adult. Homosexuals would then be faced with a choice of taking the treatment in order to avoid the stigma.

      Obviously a lot of them would choose not to take the treatment and the reason they would give is that there is nothing wrong with who they are or being homosexual.

      If, hypothetically, you could be born into and exist in a state where you are neither heterosexual nor homosexual and you have no drive at all and then be given a choice at a certain age to choose your orientation, I imagine that a lot of people would choose heterosexuality simply to avoid the stigma.

      I think the reason someone would choose to remain homosexual given the choice is because they have constructed an ego and identity with which they can function comfortably publicly and privately. The construction of that identity came at the cost of a lot of time and mental effort during formative years. Discarding that identity would be far more costly than the endurance of societies stigma will ever be.

      Religious beliefs are not as fundamental to someones identity as sexuality but I think the same logic can easily be applied to those with religious beliefs.

      Even if their beliefs could be proven wrong, discarding them will come at a cost to their identity and a cost benefit analysis may never actually favor changing their mind.
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    • Jan 9 2012: One reason that I have considered is that the mind cannot be all things at once.

      What I mean is that to become a master at something takes a lot of your time studying and practicing. People often spend a lot of time developing their social engineering techniques by keeping up with trivialities like celebratory gossip, sports or whatever else but also by analysing their interpersonal interactions. Taking the time to develop their own sophisticated system of belief takes time and energy away from something which very directly effects their ability to function and survive in society.

      I think a better answer is to recognise that there are certain kinds of thinkers. For example I am a programmer and I have a very specific way of thinking about things which heavily lends itself to both my job and to philosophy.

      Obviously society will not function as efficiently with just one kind of thinker because there will be weaknesses.

      Could it be that the benefit of having a balance of types of thinkers in society was enough to create an evolutionary pressure that creates an aversion in everyone's mind to concepts or information of certain types depending on the type of thinker they are meant to be?

      If someone has a brain wired for social engineering then philosophy might be largely irrelevant.
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        • Jan 9 2012: You're quite right that I look at all things as systems but I don't think in a binary way, I understand very well that all things are a shade of gray.

          I find your suggested dichotomy quite interesting but it leads me to wonder; which of these lends itself to independent thought and a personal system of belief?

          Wouldn't you naturally assume that the creative and unstructured mind is more likely to break from tradition and create it's own system of belief?

          If you would then doesn't this conversation defy expectations since as a system based thinker, I shouldn't be the one advocating independent thinking?
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        • Jan 9 2012: Are you suggesting that any complete mind must incorporate a healthy balance of each to be effective?

          Does that mean that the probability of truly independent thought is dictated by that delicate balance?
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        • Jan 9 2012: I think emotions are seen in a very romantic way and are quite misunderstood.

          I think the distinction between logic and emotion is deeply flawed. Emotions are logical, if I'm attacked I get angry, if I'm shown compassion, I feel affection... etc

          Emotions come to us quickly and often without an understanding of why they exist and they are often taken with some measure of faith and reverence but I see emotions as a simplified logic engine which feeds us a conclusion without the rationality behind it for the sake of expedience.

          Emotions enable us to react quickly and that is important for time critical situations.

          I still accept your distinction between creativity and structure but I don't think that distinction is the same as the distinction between thought and emotion.

          I wasn't really thinking about artificial intelligence, to say that we are a long way from creating an AI for which the considerations of this conversation matter would be a gross understatement.

          In terms of balancing creativity with structure, I think the only method that could ever work is trial and error. We progress through life, we succeed and we fail and we suppose reasons for it all. We hope that our changes allow us to meander progressively toward an improved self.
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        • Jan 9 2012: The experience of emotion is unique and they are very physiological. Many emotions will cause the fight or flight response and that alters your mind state heavily but even if the fight or flight is not involved, other physiological changes often come with the emotion. I think the physical feeling caused by the emotion is often confused with the information that the emotion itself carries and perception of the event becomes a confused mess.

          That is part of why it is hard for people to explain an emotion.

          When I say that emotions carry the conclusion without the rationality I would compare it to a maths problem. If you have a maths problem there may be steps of working out involved and then you have the actual answer to the question. I'm suggesting that the part of your brain that generates an emotion goes through a logical and rational process to come to a conclusion and that there are steps of logic involved but that it only sends the conclusion to your conscious mind. As I said, I believe one of the big reasons for this is simply for the sake of time saving itself. If your conscious mind only has to deal with the conclusion then you can understand more things at once in an emergency situation and you can act in a quick and sophisticated way.

          That is the other reason why it is hard to explain since you know what you need to do but not why and consciously it seems so irrational but somehow you know and trust your feeling.

          Feeling alive is an interesting concept and it is more of a chemical reward to promote certain behaviour than anything else.

          Maybe you're right about emotions being associated with creativity, I often find with programming, I can feel what the solution should be before I fully consciously understand what it actually is.

          Either way, I still strongly believe that emotions are very often perceived and discussed in faulty way.
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        • Jan 9 2012: "I disagree (respectfully :p) for the reason that what may have worked before or failed before won't necessarily work or fail "now" or "in future", I've got a "feeling" (teasing lol) that this applies to almost anything."

          We do our best to contextualise our conclusions very specifically and to a large extend, I believe that saves us from applying the wrong conclusion to the wrong situation.

          "You can sometimes "feel" that something is wrong and not be able to explain it, think about it, or rationalise it. In my personal experience (which obviously wouldn't necessarily apply to you or anyone else) that has been the method that has enabled me to "pull through"."

          That's exactly what I'm suggesting emotions are, a conclusion without the rationality. Rationality was used to generate the conclusion but the working is not passed onto the conscious mind.

          "Sorry mate, it's late here, and I need sleep, I'm aware that some of what I'm writing isn't very "clear" lol."

          Not a problem, I'm not sure If I've responded to all your points because I'm not sure I've understood them all. Please accept my apology and feel free to reiterate them if I have missed something :).
      • Jan 10 2012: I believe you would do well in the field of psychology as well. You have wonderful insight.

        I agree people can be wired differently; some are more prone to deny the realities of life. I believe that is how religion gains so much traction. You take a child, tell him an all powerful being hates his very nature, instilling fear in him, then offer him 'salvation' and the promise of a magical afterlife of love and beauty, where nobody has the misery which life can sometimes bring, couple this with the authoritarian life of being a helpless child under parents he has no choice in or escape from and you have a convert for life. The mental damage will be sewn into the fabric of their psyche and takes years, sometimes decades to uproot and repair.

        The child is taught independent thought is forbidden and will lead to perpetual torture in some imaginary afterlife. He never again dares look outside his fabricated reality. To say the world was intelligently designed is poetic in a very sad way for these kids, as their world was created, very cleverly, and escaping it becomes more difficult every passing year.

        As an outsider watching this happen, remaining objective while these travesties are happening is near impossible for anyone with a heart. The original poster asks why some people never give the other side any thought. Indoctrination, threats and empty promises ensure people don't use the rational mind they were born with. No child is born thinking there is anything more than reality, it takes a barrage of intimidation and betrayals of trust to sow that seed. The worst dictators on the planet have used the same method to great success. Tried and true, the enslaving of minds.
        • Jan 11 2012: "I believe you would do well in the field of psychology as well. You have wonderful insight."

          I'm flattered :)

          I would be interested to see what the world would look like if religion didn't exist.

          I agree with you that aggressive indoctrination is a big player in the prevalence of religion but religion for many is a comfort they seem to need in their life.

          If religion didn't exist, would they invent another mechanism of comfort? Would they develop obsessive compulsive behaviors in an effort to control the reality they know can hurt them?

          Would we see an increase in anxiety disorders?
  • Jan 8 2012: Science has shown itself to be the most consistent, and reliable method with which to comprehend observable phenomenon. To rely entirely on science to understand is not to cripple. It is, if anything, to empower yourself. You mentioned philosophy, but philosophy is in a sense a science. Its the science of logic, and the science of human behavior.

    The scientific approach to the afterlife is not that it doesn't exist. In the same sense, we have no scientific proof there is not a tea pot orbiting Uranus, as Dawkins put it in his TED talk. We're pretty sure there isn't, but frankly its in the same position the afterlife is. There is no scientific evidence that either is true. That doesn't mean it isn't true, but it just means there is no reason to believe it from a scientific standpoint.

    "I will argue that the existence of at least two entities requires a mechanism of separation between them. Most people think about this in physical terms, we are separated by the space between one brain and another but I see that physical separation as an arbitrary one. An army of robots could be thought of as one entity if they are connected and controlled by a central source and while it might seem like a stretch we are connected to one another by our verbal and non-verbal interactions just as our neurons are connected by synapses. Physically we are not separated or disconnected from that which is around us. There is a continuum of matter interacting on a microscopic level going from my brain to every other brain on this plan"

    I feel there is a flaw with this train of thought. The atoms in your brain are not interacting with the atoms of another's directly. The atoms in your body are not flying off you, except maybe dead skin cells and the such. They do interact, but not in such a way that fits with the direction you are going with this. There is a structural consistency to your body that makes it possible to know where you begin and end.
    • Jan 8 2012: The atoms in your brain don't directly interact with the atoms in your feet; the interaction is a flow of information. The same is true for an atom on one side of your brain and on the other.

      There is a structural consistency to our body but the very same flow of information connects you to the people around you.

      The most obvious example being when you speak; it is a very direct and deliberate form of information but it is just one of countless. Every time you twitch or breathe you are sending out waves of information into the atmosphere which interact with everything around you.

      If consciousness itself is a flow of information then you're very much connected to everything around you, you're just not consciously aware of it.
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        Jan 11 2012: Luke, if I understand correctly your are suggesting the idea that the universe is a conscious entity of itself. We don't have anyway of knowing this currently. Seems to be seeing the universe in our image.
        What makes you think the universe has a consciousness?

        I like the implications - what happens when the universe thinks or changes it's mind.

        I've also heard a variant of this that given we are conscious and we are part of the universe, the universe is a conscious being. Poor logic. Buster is a dog, Buster is part of the universe, so the universe is a dog.

        I recall that we can detect noise from the shockwave of the big bang that has expanded outwards at the edge of matter and energy. While we can see back billions of years, I don't recall anyone suggesting that the electromagnetic radiation from the actual big bang is currently reaching earth or will in the future.

        If there was a star that existed 10 billion years ago that doesn't now and the light has passed us by before earth even formed - we'll never know of it's specific existence - of course it existed.

        Rabbit hole: Maybe setting myself up here but suggest a conscious entity does not need to observe something specific or measure/detect some evidence for it to exist or have existed in the past. The elements in earth were made in an earlier star(s) that no longer exist. They did. Can we be specific about how many individual stars and where they were no. Not enough information.

        I'm not an expert on the big bang theory. I understand the theory has developed and probably is still developing. I guess they looked at the evidence such as an expanding universe, what we know about physics etc and tried to come up with theory explain what we see that aligns with what we know.

        No one saw my teenage band play, but it existed. No one has detected god, but she could also exist, but suggest there is more evidence for the big bang than god.

        I suggest some stuff happened in the past before
        • Jan 11 2012: I'm not really trying to suggest that the universe is a conscious entity, rather that it's a more useful concept philosophically than how people usually think of god.

          If it's the simplest version of the concept of god then it seems like the best place to start analysing whether it's might actually be true.

          The preposition that the universe is a living entity may even be scientifically measurable one day.

          What I'm saying is lets work out if the universe is a conscious entity (logically or scientifically) before we start building churches and sacrificing goats.

          I'm also saying lets take the simplest version of god and attack that before we dismiss it completely.

          I think it's silly to dismiss the idea of god because of the overly specific religious versions.
        • Jan 12 2012: Relating to Buster the dog, the Schrodinger's Cat experiment does, in a sense, prove to the dog that he is the universe. That is how people see the interactions of everything around them; centered around themselves because all they can view is themselves. They are limited to the specific scope directly affected by the data inflow from senses. This includes reading, talking, feeling, smelling, etc. I guess some of the poor logic there is that I can exist in a world quite different than I perceive, such as one where I am the only real human being, and everyone else is a test person designed to understand how I work. This is not a scientifically disprovable hypothesis because of the lack of reputable data involved with hiding from robots. Putting aside elementary logic, It is conceivable that we could try and communicate with this universal consciousness and test to see if "it" has any effect on the real world. This is testable. Are we certain to get very good results? In my viewpoint, no. But it is still a theory.
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        Jan 11 2012: Luke, this is a very tenuous relationship/link you mention.

        How do you know there is energy reaching me from every thing going on in the universe. Maybe it all got absorbed before it reached me. There comes a point where the twitch has no impact on the air beyond my immediate vicinity. Air is actually quiet viscous. The air close to me will absorb the energy of my twitch and have no impact on you or the sun or the next planet with sentient life. Suggest it is not an every diminishing but never quiet ending wavefront of energy/matter.

        Maybe the photons from a star in a distant galaxy miss any planets with life entirely.

        Not sure how a rock in a vaccum a billion light years away is connecting with me.

        Neutrinos from the sun pass straight through matter with no effect. Maybe they don't get absorbed, but if they don't interact, no real communication, and who know if living creatures are getting hit with any from every star.

        The further aware, the weaker the link, the longer the communication lag.Suggest there is no meaningful link with something very far away unless the communication happens faster than light. Am I really connected to a star as it exists today if what I am seeing was the light emitted before I was born.

        Is the point of this just being able to say everything is interconnected? On reflection this seems false if related to matter or energy. I vaguely recall of quantum connections/pairings over vast distances but not connections between everything. A qualified physicist might set us right.

        Suggest consciousness is more than information flow. Depending on your definition my recall is it usually involves awareness of self etc.
        • Jan 11 2012: Well I guess I had two different purposes for the suggested interconnectedness of matter and information.

          For the purpose of rewording the tree falling question I think it's best to assume as broad as possible the interconnectedness of matter and information so once we've reworded it, we can consider the concept without logistics getting in the way.

          For the purpose of my proposed line of logic from existence to an afterlife we have to question the interconnectedness of matter and information since that is the basis of my argument.

          I accept that it is a tenuous link and it's something that I've flip flopped on a couple of times as I have come to understand different things.

          One of the big scientific questions which I think has a major baring on my argument is whether the range of gravity is infinite or not.

          The equations suggest that there is no limit to the range of gravity but if it is unlimited then it would have the potential to carry a smaller force than any other elementary force.

          Without a unified theory such concepts are unfortunately still a matter of speculation.
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        Jan 11 2012: Gravity - good refinement. Newtons formulas I recall had m1m2/D^2 I think. I'm a bit rusty but as the distance approaches infinity the force has denominator of infinity squared which is approximately 0 force I guess.

        Maybe some of the electromagnetic forces are similar.

        Not sure what Einstein and others more recently have to say on this.

        Interested how you get from every bit of matter exerting gravity on each other to an afterlife.
        Is this is a spiritual afterlife - not matter and energy (light and dark)?
        I have to admit I have doubts about spiritual stuff outside known physics
        • Jan 11 2012: Well the logic is still the same as in my other post in reply to Stuart Cameron.

          The summarised version being;

          I know I exist because I am experiencing existence. (I think therefore I am)

          I assume that I'm not alone in existence because I cannot control or understand every facet of my experience. (This assumption also relies on the falling tree question)

          If there are at least 2 existential entities then there must be a mechanism of separation between them.

          People think of this in physical terms, the space between our brains is the mechanism of separation but I consider that an arbitrary one. If all matter in the universe is connected by gravity or any other force then without our conscious awareness there is an unbroken flow of information between every person and everything that exists.

          Assuming that the physical mechanism of separation is insufficient then there must be what I would call an extra-causal mechanism of separation. Most people would call it a soul or a spirit but I dislike those terms because they carry a lot of baggage.

          If there is an extra-causal mechanism of separation then there might also be an afterlife since when our physical form dies, the extra-causal construct might continue to exist.

          I will openly admit that this is speculation and I have made a lot of rather large leaps of logic.

          This is my example of how one might consider the possibility of the afterlife.


          That wasn't a very good summary, i think it was longer than the original :P lol
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        Jan 11 2012: I agree that the some beliefs around gods etc are more dubious than others.
        Agree all concepts of god should not be thrown out because of the extremely dubious beliefs.
        Not sure god as the conscious universe is 'simpler' than Zeus or Jesus.

        Probably less issues by working back from what we know now rather than trying to fit bronze age and medieval concepts with current science etc. Bit like apologetics for god concept.

        Not sure why you need to search of a god concept that fits what we know other than (1) as an intellectual exercise or (2) you intuitively think that there is a god.
        • Jan 11 2012: I don't think a god is required or helpful in explaining the existence of reality since it just shifts the creation problem from one level to another.

          It's not that I intuitively think that there is a god. I spend time considering different possibilities and sometimes the concepts unintentionally resemble a simplified version of god.

          If I am the only person that is truly experiencing conscious reality and everyone around me is just a biological robot then am I god?

          If everything I experience is generated by just one other entity then is that my god?

          If every living being is a separate entity, what is the space between them? Is that god?

          I'm not suggesting that the answer to any of these questions is yes but when I encounter questions like this it makes me believe that linguistically the word god would be more useful if it were to mean a lot less than it does now.
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        Jan 11 2012: Thanks Luke. I've enjoyed the discussion and got a few new insights.
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    Jan 8 2012: Luke, I assume you mean a lot of people either choose scientific explanations or religious ones where they overlap or contradict. Both are just parts of human experience. Sure everything may come down to the quantum or cosmic scales, or creation but we also shape our beliefs and values on literature, observation, conversation, reflection, history etc as best as our monkey brains can manage.

    Suggest there are plenty of scientist with "religious beliefs that they acknowledge sit outside or "science. Others that see the scientific picture and refine their religious beliefs in line with this.

    Lots of non scientists believe in god(s), non or psuedo scientifc spiritual concepts, afterlife etc very differently from any particular religious dogma.

    Sure there are those that try to believe in one creed/dogma/sect/interpretation or another. However, many of these also believe science and religion are not mutually exclusive. Even young earth creationists believe science supports their belief the world is 6000 years old.

    Sample size of 2. My wife believes in god , some vague being, with Christian overtones, but not mainstream Jewish, Christian , Muslim, Mormon, JW etc, and that we have spirits that are not mass or energy.

    All the existing and dead religions I'm aware may hold some insights into the human condition but are completely man made. None are literally correct. There are probably no spiritual beings gods, angels, elves or fairies, or unknown immaterial conscious entities. Astrology is rubbish etc. There is a lot we still don't know (or at least I don't know or fully comprehend). Maybe dark matter based life. However, I take what makes sense from other even religious sources. I meditate. I've seen some freaky things that I'm not aware of science including physiology explaining.

    Why do so many others choose ready made religions. I'm guess you have an opinion just frustrated. We are social animals, nurture, education, environment full of religions etc.
    • Jan 8 2012: You're right, there are also plenty of reasonable people who do make an effort to construct their own system of beliefs. They would be the people that I am not referring to with my question :).

      I'm glad you brought up god because that's a topic that I think is heavily clouded by religion.

      When people think of god they think of heaven and hell, worship and faith, morality and meaning but the concept of god doesn't have to have anything to do with any of that.

      If you strip away all the speculative specifics of religion, I think the simplest idea of god is that existence itself is a consciousness.

      Going back to my previous train of thought, the simplest explanation for the facets of reality that I cannot explain might be to say that there is in fact exactly two entities. Everything that I experience that I do not control or fully understand could be explained by saying that it generated by that one other entity and to me that one other entity would be my "god".

      I don't believe that is true but I think that line of logic shows how the concept of god is a useful one philosophically if you drop all of its baggage.

      We've all heard the question "If a tree falls in the woods and nobody is around to hear it, does it make a sound?".

      The interconnectivity of matter and the persistence of information makes it impractical for people to consider the actual intended meaning of this question but I think it's a very important and fundamental one.

      In everyday life we operate, out of necessity, on the assumption that yes it does make a sound but that is one assumption that I question heavily.
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        Jan 9 2012: Thanks for the feedback Luke.
        The word god is loaded with many different meanings.
        The god of the gaps is a long standing theme.
        As your knowledge and understanding grows I suppose your god concept diminishes.
        Not sure why you associate a consciousness with these knowledge gaps.
        I also never understood the tree thing. Do we have to be present and aware of everything for it to be real?
        • Jan 9 2012: One common theme of god is that god is omniscient and omnipresent and it makes natural sense to me that the best way to satisfy this condition is to say that god is existence or reality and that to me just suggests that reality has a consciousness and a will.

          The very first problem with this idea is the consistency of our reality. If reality has a conscious will then you might expect it to "change its mind" and for reality to change with it.

          I don't really have a solution to this problem yet.

          The problem with the tree example is that no matter how far away in time and space an entity might be from the tree that falls, the information transmitted from its fall will eventually be experienced. For example the pressure shockwave will disrupt the atmosphere and someone on the other side of the planet might feel a infinitesimally stronger breeze at some point because of it. If the butterfly effect is to be accepted then you might even see that disruption be just the push needed to trigger the formation of a hurricane.

          It's important to remember that information travels through time and space to reach its observer. Presumably there were no life forms present during the big bang to experience the event since the environment was both new and incredibly hostile. We are able to predict the big bang because while the information of it might have been distorted by the great distance of time and space that it has travelled to get to us, it does still exist and it has reached us.

          What is the difference between seeing something right in front of you and looking up in the sky at a star or galaxy some thousands of light-years away? The light which comes from the event right in front of you will be influenced by the atmosphere around you and you vision will be slightly distorted just as the light from the star or galaxy will be distorted. The only true difference is the time and space that it has travelled to reach you, but does that matter?

          Out of characters...
        • Jan 9 2012: Similarly any information from the big bang will have been heavily distorted by time and space but we are experiencing it as an event with everything we do because everything that exists came from the big bang and is a peice of information from it.

          I would suggest this might mean that potentially everything that is happening in the universe will be experienced by a living entity eventually whether they are consiously aware of it or not.

          What if somehow the big bang simply disappeared for some reason before the formation of life? Then it would be an event which has not been experienced and then we truly have the intended meaning of the question "if a tree falls...".

          If the big bang did disappear and was never experienced, can it truly be said to have happened?