Saturday, January 27, 2007
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Monday, January 22, 2007
Unafortunadamente, creo todos que dice aqui.
Yes, I believe everything Pinker says here. I think NDEs are no more evidence for LAD than schizophrenic episodes. I think consciousness is extinguished with death. I think that the radio analogy does not work, because the core signal can be altered by tampering with the brain, whereas the core signal cannot be altered by tampering with a radio. Therefore, it seems logical that the brain creates conscious experience. Every single thing we learn about the brain points to this conclusion. No number of amazing spiritual experiences adds up to an iota of a reason to believe otherwise, without tangible evidence. There is none, never has been any, and I think it's safe to say there never will be any. Long after our deaths, the materialist position will be the only viable position left as new information accumulates. Only the ignorant or the uneducated will still believe that spiritual experiences argue for a transcendent soul. By the turn of the century I predict that it will be effectively proven (in the same way that the non-existence of Zeus has been effectively proven to all reasonable people) that there is no human soul.
Saturday, January 20, 2007
Only a Zen master could write the following:
The Courage to Question
"Spiritual seekers are some of the most superstitious people on the planet. Most people come to spiritual teachers and teachings with a host of hidden beliefs, ideas, and assumptions that they unconsciously seek to be confirmed. And if they are willing to question these beliefs they almost always replace the old concepts with new more spiritual ones thinking that these new concepts are far more real than the old ones."
Hahaha, a complete debunking of every popular spiritual teacher. Now, if only zen masters learned something about neuroscience and biology they could be great atheist scientists.
Adyashanti (above) wrote that. Funny thing is, if you take all of the bullshit out of spirituality and religion, there's literally nothing left-
Adyashanti debunking humanity
"There's no solution in your born nature, only adaptation"
"Your body and mind is nothing but conditioning. If conditioning drops out of your body and mind we call it death"
Shit, he's just Dawkins without the education.
Thursday, January 18, 2007
VermontBard, you must have designed this thing yourself! Andrew Sullivan is having an open email debate with Sam Harris on beliefnet. The debate is concerning religious modernism with Sullivan seemingly in defense of it. This is not as hostile as the Dennis Prager fiasco (so far) as both agree on the problem with religious fundamentalism. The opening salvos were not salvos, just clarifications. Sam's second post is clearly argued and beautifully written and I am forced as always to just wholeheartedly agree with him- why not just utterly dispense with Christianity entirely?
If Sullivan is going to try using Christianity as his moral template or his template for universal "mystery", he has to cherry pick to the extreme. After so much cherry picking, at what point does a reasonable person just admit that the entire thing is unnecessary? As Harris points out, they could develop a better spiritual system in the course of an email exchange than the entire bible offers. I just can't see any reason to be a moderate within the "great" religions, and I think it is indefensible. And I think that Sullivan is probably rare amongst the moderates he is defending. His reply post should deliver his best argument to change Harris' mind (and mine).
Saturday, January 13, 2007
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
When I look at an infant, when I see a mother holding a child, when I witness the humanity and compassion of people, a loving family like the one that supports you...I cant help but think that that enduring love comes from something, it doesn't come from reason, I think it comes from God, but you think that love comes from evolution?
Monday, January 08, 2007
I was losing my consciousness and I was completely aware of it. But I was not afraid. I thought, "So this is what it is like to die. This isn't that bad!"
Then I felt a great, loving warmth, an intensely bright light, and a presence. Telepathically, I heard the presence say, "Well Cheryl, what do you think now?"
I knew exactly what the question meant. It was a reference to neglect of my spirituality.
My years of practice in ED and med/surg had made me cynical, made me lose faith in God. I just could not understand why good people had to die such untimely or horrible deaths, or suffer needless trauma at someone else's hands. My inability to reconcile my faith with the horrors I saw made me leave hands on nursing for utilization review. But when that presence spoke, I immediately came to a realization. It wasn't that God deserts us in our time of need. Rather, he is there for us when we die; we are not alone.
With this new understanding I begged to go back to my life on earth. And the presence agreed.
I remember waking up so joyful. I couldn't wait to tell others what I had learned. But I couldn't share my experience with anyone right away - not even the nurse who had remained by my side throughout the ordeal. When I finally did tell her, two days later, she was so positive and supportive I felt relieved. But when I told my doctor he dismissed me and my story. He said the whole experience was caused by Demerol, and wrote me a new order for Xanax.
Sunday, January 07, 2007
Last night I went to my parent's house to watch the Seattle Seahawks. I brought beer, because I expected it to be the last game of the year for this battered and beat up pale shadow of a team from what they were last year. They won one of the strangest, most dramatic games I've ever seen. And something else happened that was strange.
My mother was reading a book and she looked up and said "Oh, I had an out of body experience the other night". I knew she wasn't kidding, the way she said it. My mother knows nothing at all about OBE's. She only knows that I have had a big interest in OBE's and NDE's.
She had a classic OBE. Laying in bed, she heard the cat whining at the door. Most people who have cats know how they whine at your bedroom door in the morning. She wanted to get up and open the door and felt an intentional desire to do so. Suddenly her entire body started to tingle. Next moment she found herself "hovering" by the bed, fully aware of the cat whining and my dad snoring next to her (he snores like a banshee). She was sort of surprised that she was so aware of the cat and the snoring even in this state.
My mother currently has dyed short blonde hair.
The first thing she did "out of body" was panic and start screaming. She could mentally feel herself screaming out of sheer panic, but there was no sound of her screaming. Then she felt her long brown hair wisp over her face as she was screaming. She felt her body was younger as well. Interestingly, when she was younger she did have long brown hair. A believer in the reality of astral projection would point out that most OBErs have an astral body like they had in their youth. I would suggest that after a certain age, people still see themselves as how they were when they were younger. My mother was suddenly in her body again. Nothing else happened.
I find 3 things fascinating. She felt the classic tingling vibrations that immedately preceed most OBE's people describe. Second, she found herself hovering. Why not standing? Maybe because there is no sensation of pressure on the feet people immediately assume they are floating. Third, she was in a youthful body again, althought she admits that she did not think to observe her body.
Important fact- my mother does not give a shit about religion, OBE's or NDEs and she generally leaves the room and goes somewhere else when my dad and I start talking about something like this.
Saturday, January 06, 2007
Dear Readers – Some of you may have noticed an article about me that is now running on Alternet.org. The writer, John Gorenfeld, has taken a ninety minute telephone interview, along with selective passages from my books, and made of them a poisonous of mash of misquotation and paraphrasis for the purpose of portraying me as an evil lunatic. While some level of innocent distortion can be expected in print interviews, this case appears genuinely malicious. You can find Gorenfeld’s account of me here. Please feel free to post comments of you own to the site. If you want to alert the management at Alternet of your displeasure, the contact page can be found here. As you will see, Gorenfeld distorts my views on torture, spiritual experience, and the paranormal. For the record, I have summarized my views on these subjects on my website.
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
"...The God Delusion, a book that never squarely faces its opponents. You will find no serious examination of Christian or Jewish theology in Dawkins's book (does he know Augustine rejected biblical literalism in the early fifth century?), no attempt to follow philosophical debates about the nature of religious propositions (are they like ordinary claims about everyday matters?), no effort to appreciate the complex history of interaction between the Church and science (does he know the Church had an important part in the rise of non-Aristotelian science?), and no attempt to understand even the simplest of religious attitudes (does Dawkins really believe, as he says, that Christians should be thrilled to learn they're terminally ill?)."
From Dawkins' website:
"I'm afraid that when I read H. Allen Orr's criticism of The God Delusion in the NY Review of Books, all that popped into my head was a two-word rebuttal: Courtier's Reply. You would be amazed at how many of the anti-Dawkins arguments can be filed away under that category.That's all you'll get from me on Orr's complaint—it's another Courtier's Reply. If you want a more detailed dissection, Jason Rosenhouse provides it.
The Courtiers Reply
Monday, January 01, 2007
The Reverend William McD. Tully has been rector of St. Bartholomew's Episcopal Church in New York City since September 1994. The first professional calling of the "On Faith" panelist was to journalism, and he worked as a copy boy and local reporter at the Los Angeles Times.
"OnFaith" carried another response by notable professionals to a particular question of whether we can have a dialogue. Richard Dawkin's piece was particularly hillarious. He spends have his essay questioning whether we can have a dialogue between Athorists and Vallhallans, and that we need to consider and be respectful to the believers in thinking that lightning is from the mighty hammer as opposed to electrical charges in the clouds, which is afterall, just a theory. I responded to this William Tully essay with a forceful statement. I don't dislike Mr. Tully at all, but I think it's time we treated the question exactly as Dawkin's has in reference to Thor. It's time for people to stand up en masse and say that we are no longer going to stand silent in the face of this horrible self-abuse of literalism. It's time to call a spade a spade. I've made a New Years resolution to do this in my private life to friends and family. Not forcefully, but just point of fact- making it known that I do not believe in these things and that I do not have, nor should I feel obliged to have, respect for these beliefs.
All religious people struggle with their faith. Otherwise they would not need such strong reinforcement from their church communities. It certainly takes faith to believe in a deistic god or pantheism. But to believe in a theistic God takes ignorance and self-deception.
I often wonder how an educated grown adult could not move from theism to at least some form of deism or pantheism like I did as I grew up and learned more about the world. Fear is certainly a component. The social glue of a religious belief is another component- strength in numbers, follow the flock wherever they go. As Sam Harris has said, religion allows people to believe by the millions what only a lunatic would believe alone. This idea can be transferred onto many sorts of organizations who ignore obvious reality in order to cohere.
Why do people uphold religious faith in the face of nature's crystal clear refutations? Faith is a unique meme in that it rewards itself for existing without merit. The religious are expected to fight a battle against their own unbelief, and they consider it courageous to continue finding reasons to believe in the face of the obvious.
You will never go to a bookstore and find a book titled "How to lose all your hopes, dreams, aspirations and desire to live in just 15 minutes a day for 30 days". Why? Surely a book like this could be created. It could be well argued, maybe even with more compelling arguments than a book of it's opposite.
But instead, we find books that encourage hope at bookstores. What point is publishing books on hopelessness, even if a case for it could be easily made? Even if it were perfectly clear that nihilism was the most coherent world-view, the bookstores would still be jammed full of books that inspired and gave hope. Exchange the word hope for "faith" and you can see that even if it were perfectly clear that faith in a theistic religion is false (which it is to any unbrainwashed observer), the bookstores would still be packed with books cavalierly refuting honesty.
My point is that there is no intellectual honesty in theistic faith, and this seems to me to be sinful, even in religious terms. Honesty would be to enter a bookstore with the attitude of "I need to learn more about my world so I can decide whether to continue believing in my faith". But for the dishonest believer in religious faith (they are all either dishonest or ignorant by definition), the attitude is "I am struggling with my faith due to the obvious contrary evidence bombarding me from every direction every time I open my eyes, therefore I need to go to the bookstore and fuel my faith, inundating my consciousness with heaps of rationalisations and fact excluding cherry picked balms of forced self-deception that make me feel safe and comfortable, then persuade as many people as I can that this circular loophole of unreason is good because humanity couldn't possibly live without it."
When I read essays like this I can't agree more with Sam Harris in saying that "God's enemies are more honest than his friends".
Dishonesty is a sin.
The religious are caught in a logical bind because it is sinfully dishonest to continue having faith in these things unless one is grossly ignorant.
Posted January 1, 2007 3:01 PM
3 years or so ago I started a personal tradition of reading every entry in "the edge" question center that comes out right at the start of the new year. Even 2 months ago I found myself anticipating this. Notable scientists from a wide variety of fields write a small essay to answer a theme question. One year it was, "what is your dangerous idea?"
This year it is- "What are you optimistic about?".