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BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God

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Subject: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Jack the Sailor
Date: 09 Aug 11 - 11:11 AM

NPR interactive special on God and the Brain.

What ever it is, religion is more than a scam. Are we hard wired for religious experience? Do most people "need" religion? What a bout quasi religion like Yoga, Astrology, Tea Party politics? (I am semi-serious about the latter and yes, there are similar faith based affiliations on the "left")

In my humble opinion. I don't think that Dawkin's idea to ban religion is destined to work. Whether God exists or not, we need to study the biological mechanisms and know a lot more to make misguided religion a less destructive force in out politics and global economy.

I know many of you have thought on this and have your own ideas. Please share them. Try to be nice.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Musket
Date: 09 Aug 11 - 11:24 AM

I agree that banning religion won't work. if it didn't exist, it would soon be invented..

Religion seems to be one of two things.

A personal creed, using your faith to give yourself a moral compass with which to give your life fulfilment.

Or

A tool for oppressing others for your own benefit.

Me, I prefer to consider myself irreligious. Not atheist, because that can be a belief system in itself by proclaiming everybody has got it wrong. No, I just don't want to be a member of the club. any club.

Oh, I am hard wired for religion I suppose. I have been a supporter and season ticket holder at Sheffield Wednesday since I was seven years old. No matter how bad they play, no matter how humiliating the relegation, no matter how pathetic some of the boardroom tussles have been over the years... They are the best team in the world, no team can hold a candle to them and no, I am not interested in your statistics that may show Man Utd have more silverware, that's blasphemy at my church, (Hillsborough S6.)


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Amos
Date: 09 Aug 11 - 11:30 AM

IT's more than a scam because, when all the persiflage and chatter is subtracted, there is always the small still link to our spiritual side, buried but undead. And following up on that leads to contemplating the things and actions we think of as Goddish.

It becomes a scam rapidly because that order of direct perception is not something most folks can sustain, and they relax back into the clutter of entropy-driven struggles and mechanics, pictures, alterations, arbitrary construc6ts, semantic bubble-wrap and emotional vulcanism which is the human condition. The result is a "religion" in the organizational sense of the word.

The two things are dissimilar--like the difference between a crisp morning sea-breeze along the 100-fathom line, and a dissertation on semantic nuances deriving from cultural influences on Coleridge as manifested in stylistic choices in the Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

VIVA la difference!!


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 09 Aug 11 - 11:35 AM

Just as a general point: nobody is "hard-wired" for anything.

Everyone has genetic predispositions and potentialities. But unless they're stimulated by the environment, they may or may not kick in.

The relevance to this discussion is that some people claim that "because" religion is "hard-wired" (based on the observation that parts of the brain light up when stimulated by religious states of mind), Someone did the "hard-wiring" to make people notice that Someone.

And there is a second fallacy at work. If Someone did "hard-wire" the brain for religion, everybody would be religious. They'd have no choice and, like eating and breathing, they wouldn't question it (though they might still be able to choose what religion they preferred).


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Jack the Sailor
Date: 09 Aug 11 - 11:41 AM

From my own experience, I have found that the associations, unrelated to the influencing events can have undue influence. The first big concert I went to was Muddy Waters and his band. It was fantastic. That was also my first time smoking something.

I ended up smoking significant quantities of something, trying to get that feeling back.

I wonder about a kid who goes to a mega church, enjoys the music and the fellowship and all, then is shown fighter jets, the flag, the national anthem and told that Democrats are evil. No amount of education or information is likely to undo that kind of conditioning.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Amos
Date: 09 Aug 11 - 11:42 AM

I am pretty sure that there is such a thing as hard-wiring--meaning an inherent biochemical predisposition to certain sensory, emotional and even cognitive loops. Such loops are not our finest and best reflections, though, and often detract sadly and sometimes tragically from our capabilities.


A


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Jack the Sailor
Date: 09 Aug 11 - 11:43 AM

I think that almost everyone is "religious" about something. Your mileage may vary.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: frogprince
Date: 09 Aug 11 - 11:54 AM

I'm very skeptical about man being biologically "hard wired" for religion, but really have no more case against the concept than my feeling that it's something of a stretch.

Certainly there is no end of examples of people who wouldn't touch traditional religion with a ten foot pole, but at the same time hold other beliefs with fervor indistinguishable from that of the deeply religious.

I've seen one example that strikes me as particularly odd, and a bit inane, among nudists. For the most part, I've found most of them to be folks who just find it pleasant to relax in the open air, or water, sans clothing. But there are a minority who are highly doctrinare; it's typical for them to lambast a "clothing optional" approach, insisting on consistent total nudity, much the same as fundamentalists won't acknowledge liberal believers as true Christians.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Jack the Sailor
Date: 09 Aug 11 - 11:59 AM

Fair enough frogprince. If you get some time, have a gander at the link I provided in the first post. It probably will raise a lot more question than it answers. But nevertheless, I find it very interesting.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Jack the Sailor
Date: 09 Aug 11 - 12:00 PM

"During epileptic seizures, sufferers often claim to hear the voice of angels or of God. Some epileptologists believe that many of the great religious figures, such as Moses and St. Paul, had epilepsy. Now neurologists believe they've found the sweet spot for spiritual experience -- in the temporal lobe. Some scientists say the temporal lobe, which is associated with emotion and memory, is the seat of spirituality. It's also where epileptic activity takes place."


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Jack the Sailor
Date: 09 Aug 11 - 12:02 PM

I think that the explanation for Moses especially goes way beyond mere epilepsy. It's one thing to have visions. It is another to convince others, thousands of followers and Pharaoh for example, that they are real.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 09 Aug 11 - 12:03 PM

Is it a case of biological hardwiring, though? It could simply be the fulfillment of a deep-rooted psychological need to feel that there's something more out there than This. That after all an individual has created and learned and battled to achieve in a lifetime we don't just face permanent extinction when our threescore and ten is up. That somewhere somehow someway all the injustices and horrors and wrongs and cruelties will in the end be put right. That we'll see our lost loved ones again. These are all part of the human condition and there is a need to make sense of them. The alternative is a random universe and terminal loss.

I would not ban religion either, though I hate some of the things that are done in its name. But I've also seen people draw huge power and support from it, becoming more than the sum of their parts because of their beliefs, and giving strength to their communities. This often happens in a million small ways which are too undramatic to make the news, but it's part of the glue that holds society together. The ethics of right vs. wrong that the major religions teach are as vital to us as air and food. (For the record, I believe in the practical teachings of Christianity, and try my best to live by them, but struggle with the supernatural aspects.)

Anyone who thinks we don't need some external system of values and ideals to anchor us, just log onto YouTube and watch London burn. This isn't being done by poor kids who have nothing. Poor kids who have nothing don't steal 42-inch plasma screens, they steal food. Poor kids who have nothing don't communicate with each other via their Blackberrys and laptops. These people - for whatever reason - do not feel for those whose lives they have destroyed, or even seem to think they're doing anything wrong. That's why we need religions.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Jack the Sailor
Date: 09 Aug 11 - 12:30 PM

Though not exactly on topic. I think this article belongs in the discussion.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 09 Aug 11 - 02:41 PM

Does Richard Dawkins really want to ban religion? I would be very surprised if that were true. Do you have any supporting citation? (I assume you mean a more pervasive ban than just banning religion from schools or from other government-sponsored, tax-supported activities. That's already pretty much the law in the US, although there are places where the fundamentalists are still fighting to keep a toehold in.)

Even if you could prove that people have a biologically-based proclivity to believe in God, that wouldn't constitute evidence that God exists. Showing that people (or other animals) have an innate fear of snakes doesn't prove that all snakes are evil.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: gnu
Date: 09 Aug 11 - 02:55 PM

Christmas snakes.

JtS... you wait'll Little Hawk gets here. >;-)


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Jack the Sailor
Date: 09 Aug 11 - 03:36 PM

Sorry, I was thinking about Hitchens. Who argues that religion is evil as compared to Atheism, IE that there is no path from Atheism to atrocity. While the path from religion to atrocity is clear.

Please pardon me for mixing the two.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Jack the Sailor
Date: 09 Aug 11 - 03:48 PM

OK Gnu, I'll play along.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: josepp
Date: 09 Aug 11 - 04:32 PM

I'm hardwired to be an atheist.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Little Hawk
Date: 09 Aug 11 - 04:33 PM

A lot to talk about here...but I don't have the time today. I also need to live a life!


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Amos
Date: 09 Aug 11 - 04:42 PM

You'll have to do better than that, LH!! At least copy some of your earlier screeds and paste them here to instruct and improve our struggling minds for us!


A


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 09 Aug 11 - 04:43 PM

If *all* people had an *innate* aversion to snakes, that would certainly convince humanity that snakes were, if not necessarily "evil," at least always and innately bad.

But all people don't have such an aversion, and it's stronger in some than in others. If necessary, the aversion can be overcome.

Presumably, everyone who has a serious aversion to snakes was frightened by them as a small child - if not by an actual snake, then by scary parental warnings about poisonous snakes.

I think snakes are fine.

Just don't get bitten by a poisonous one. You could die.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Jack the Sailor
Date: 09 Aug 11 - 04:43 PM

We are looking up to you for enlightenment!!


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Jack the Sailor
Date: 09 Aug 11 - 04:45 PM

sorry lighter, talking to lh.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: olddude
Date: 09 Aug 11 - 05:09 PM

Brain on God works a whole lot better for me anyway


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Alice
Date: 09 Aug 11 - 06:09 PM

RE: epilepsy and religious experience.

The cult leader, Elizabeth Clare Prophet, who had a new age dooms-day sect and claimed to speak for god and being higher than Jesus, had life-long epilepsy with untreated seizures. All the notions she came up with in her delusions were marketed across the world, convincing thousands of people to leave their families and join her group in the USA. People abandoned their jobs, children, countries, education, everything, to follow her, working as unpaid slaves (chelas) living in overcrowded trailers, sleeping on the floor, handing over all their assets to her "new religion".

Yes, if the person is charismatic enough, narcissistic enough, their own hallucinations and delusions can be used to inspire many other vulnerable people who gravitate to what the ideas that are being sold to them.

In the case of Elizabeth Clare Prophet and her Summit Lighthouse A.K.A. Church Universal and Triumphant, Alzheimer's disease eventually killed her, but even now, she still has followers and the cult continues on, because some people just cannot let go of the indoctrination that they believe. Her cult is smaller, but still continuing at its headquarters just north of Yellowstone Park, and still selling itself across the world and drawing new people in.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 09 Aug 11 - 06:22 PM

Yeah, somebody had to think up the Aztec blood-religion too.

The continual wars and human sacrifices to keep the sun shining took place over period of about a hundred years, starting suddenly around 1430. Whoever started it (one of the royal counsellors is frequently mentioned) had the power of the throne behind him - one more inducement to believe, if any were needed.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Stringsinger
Date: 10 Aug 11 - 10:47 AM

Most people who talk about Dawkins have never read him. I suggest that they so so.

As a species, we are susceptible to superstition, imaginary and unreal views of the world,
becoming turgid in our thinking processes, and delusions. Mental institutions are filled with people espousing religion and god.

Yes, religion is more than a scam, it's a delusion.

Look at the foundations of most wars, this is your brain on god.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 10 Aug 11 - 10:55 AM

>Look at the foundations of most wars, this is your brain on god.

You mean atheists wouldn't have wars?


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Alice
Date: 10 Aug 11 - 11:02 AM

Stringsinger said "most wars", not all wars.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Jack the Sailor
Date: 10 Aug 11 - 11:04 AM

Yeah, of course not. Stalin and Mao had no wars. Quiet, non violent self-described atheists.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Jack the Sailor
Date: 10 Aug 11 - 11:08 AM

Most people in history have had religion. It stands to reason that most wars would have involved it.

But the only officially atheist governments in history have bloody hands. No offense stringsinger, but your argument does not hold water.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Bobert
Date: 10 Aug 11 - 11:11 AM

Well, me and God got a nice little thing going and that's how I know that the Tea Party and Christian Right are Godless... God don't think they way these people think... God is about love and sharing and good and those folks are about hate, greed and evil... And thems is God's words coming thru me...

BTW, God also told me that George W. Bush was no more Christian than the Pope is a Baptist...

B~


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Jack the Sailor
Date: 10 Aug 11 - 11:14 AM

I think the Tea Party believes in GOD, the Sodom smashing God, THe flood sending God, not the Jesus sending God.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: josepp
Date: 10 Aug 11 - 12:01 PM

////Yeah, of course not. Stalin and Mao had no wars. Quiet, non violent self-described atheists.////

No they were not. Neither had an atheistic state. They simply replaced the concept of god with the state (i.e. themselves). They were just another cult of personality--a.k.a. religion.

Whether or not there's ever been an atheist state and whether or not it ever started a war is immaterial. Your examples do not hold water but that's not so very surprising, is it?


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Jack the Sailor
Date: 10 Aug 11 - 12:10 PM

They were just another cult of personality--a.k.a. religion.

So Brittany Spears is a religion?

They said that they were atheist. They told their people not to believe in God. They told their people to work for each other and the good of the state. It's pretty tortured logic to call that religion. Even though Hitchen's does.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: josepp
Date: 10 Aug 11 - 12:19 PM

////So Brittany Spears is a religion?////

If she had the apparatus of the state to make an example of anyone who said anything bad about her--yeah, she would be.

/////They said that they were atheist. They told their people not to believe in God.////

Why not? Then you don't have to share power with some damned church. They probably studied the European model for what not to do. Then make themselves god and cut out the middle man.

///They told their people to work for each other and the good of the state.////

Bingo. They ARE the state.

////It's pretty tortured logic to call that religion. Even though Hitchen's does.////

It's tortured not to.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Jack the Sailor
Date: 10 Aug 11 - 12:21 PM

OK you win.... Black is white. Up is down. In is out. Religion = State. The English language is just meaningless sounds.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Bill D
Date: 10 Aug 11 - 12:24 PM

I have posted here thousands of words on god, religion in general and the science & culture that supports or denies various concepts and ideas. MY brain is full of interwoven strings of analysis, exploration, explanation and conceptual variables on the issue... You got a few weeks for me to lay it all out?

No?...Well, then...a short introduction.

There IS, as Jack's links show, more & more evidence that various physical-chemical 'wirings' of the brain can well affect a person's tendencies toward certain belief systems...or towards a basic skepicism towards all 'belief systems' in general. Maybe that's why *I*, having been brought up as a Methodist, gradually gravitated to skepticism.....but *IF* I am sorta hard-wired to NOT believe, maybe others are sorta wired TO believe.

My basic point is: Because there are no absolutely solid, hard facts supporting ANY position, the only sane position is to BE an open-minded doubter/skeptic. There is a reason why we say someone believes in a god...or gods. Belief means 'not proven'. We don't have to 'believe' in turkeys, Turkey, turnips or Turner (the painter). Even capitalizing a word and saying that one 'believes' OR 'disbelieves' in *God* is an implicit assertion that there IS such a thing, and one is only stating their personal acceptance of some particular view of Him/Her/It. Just look at the thousands of conflicting views of what a 'god' is all about and what one should DO with the concept!

I don't understand why, in this day & age, it is not clearer to more people how religion naturally developed in out remote ancestors...and why the enormous variety of religions and 'god concepts' might just indicate that it IS only a cultural adaptation to various brain functions...some of which MAY well be semi-hard wired.

   Now.... because various religious concepts do have such profound consequences when acted on -(both good and bad)- there is no way to 'ban' folks from thinking that way. The only thing that can clarify the situation is to promote and teach (and that means TEACH...early and carefully) reason, logic and 'thinking' in general. It does NOT mean to teach/argue for or against gods or religion....just give people the ability to see beneath their own impulses and to seriously examine the very basis of what **evidence** means when trying to decide what to believe or accept or deny.

(I don't want much, do I? )

We know that the concept of 'god' is more or less present in various societies, and may well be partially controlled by physiochemical brain functions.... which may mean that my idea of 'teaching' is gonna be harder in some people & societies. What can you do when 2 seemingly intelligent people can look at exactly the same facts, evidence, arguments and history ...and come to diametrically opposed positions? What you can do is show them that that very situation shows something about the danger OF 'belief' and perhaps allow them to examine more closely their own prior assumptions about what is and is not relevant.


(I couldn't help typing all that...my brain was hard-wired to do it..........maybe.)


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Little Hawk
Date: 10 Aug 11 - 12:27 PM

Every state IS a state religion...about itself. (regardless of whether or not it is a state religion devoted to God or to some holy book or tradition).

On the one hand, josepp's statement that Stalin and Mao replaced the concept of God with themselves (and their political system) is quite correct. On the other hand, josepp's statement does not fairly address what Jack said about officially atheistic (meaning anti-God) governments committing atrocities just as heinous as theocracies do.

You appear to be arguing both sides of the issue, josepp, and using mutually exclusive examples to somehow prove that Jack is "wrong".

And yet you both agree that Stalin and Mao:

1. committed atrocities, and...
2. were opposed to traditional religions, therefore were officially "atheistic" (being against the idea of a "theos", meaning against the idea of a non-human spirit-based God of some kind).

Why not stop trying to just prove that the other guy is "wrong", josepp, and focus on that which you two obviously agree on instead????

Or would that just be too agreeable? Would it not provide you the satisfaction of being "right" and making Jack "wrong"?

It's a very interesting point Jack made way back in this thread that all people are religious about something! Yes, they are. Only question is, what is it that they are religious about?

Going by my own observations I'd say that the majority of people in this society are religious about...in descending order of importance...

1. themselves! (their ego, I mean) They ARE the God of their little cosmos...and they defend that God in their every utterance.
2. money! They'll do virtually anything for enough of it.
3. material possessions
4. good looks and youthfullness
5. fame
6. popularity
7. the many social customs they take for granted
8. the many laws they take for granted
9. the political parties they take for granted
10. their government and nation and flag
11. and finally...limping along at the dusty end of a very long procession of dominating ideas in their mind....their religious beliefs about "God...OR...their fervent anti-religious beliefs to the effect that there bloody well IS no God!!!! (despite or perhaps because of the fact that they worship their own ego on a daily basis)

And there you have it. Those are the major religions ruling present day society. The number one is self-worship. The number 2 is worship of the dollar. You can probably come up with a few more that I missed, but those were the ones I was able to come up with on short notice.

Most of them are just as foolish and exaggerated as the worst forms of traditional, fundamentalist religion, but people think it's okay, because they're used to worshipping all that stuff they bow down to, and they would never question it.

And their standard routine is to attack anyone who doesn't share their particular set of mental idols....


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 10 Aug 11 - 12:34 PM

//Even capitalizing a word and saying that one 'believes' OR 'disbelieves' in *God* is an implicit assertion that there IS such a thing//

Well, I don't believe in Hobbits. Do you consider that an implicit assertion that there is such a thing?

Maybe I'm hard-wired to be a skeptic. I am even skeptical of arguments and evidence that lead to conclusions that I basically agree with.

But by "hard-wired" I don't mean I was born that way. Skepticism is a useful skill developed by lots of practice.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Amos
Date: 10 Aug 11 - 12:37 PM

I would have thought that by now the insatiable theology-addicts in this community would have learned that you enter a squirrel-cage without end when you start an argument using one word to mean multiple, very different, things, and fail to define your terms.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Little Hawk
Date: 10 Aug 11 - 12:48 PM

I forgot a few other things that a vast number of people are religious about in today's society...

- technology
- science
- mainstream medicine
- legal drugs
- illegal drugs
- various forms of psychotherapy and related approaches to dealing with mental health issues

If they give anything their unquestioning obedience and faith....without having actual knowledge of it, withouth having actual experience of it or without having direct and clear evidence of it...then they are being religious about it. They're adopting a form of dogma that was passed on to them by someone else.

If they give it unwarranted influence in their lives, and in an unthinking and dogmatically unrealistic manner...then they are being religious about it.

If they credit it with infallibility or with powers considerably beyond what it really has...then they are being religious about it.

I've observed people worshipping all of the above things. It's very common behaviour. They don't question, they simply swallow whatever is doled out to them as long as it comes from a peer group they are in with or an official authority hierarchy that they have decided to trust.

*****

The road to personal freedom is first to question EVERYTHING. Don't believe it just because someone told you to. Re-examine it. Test it out in the field of actual experience. Find out firsthand. See if it works for you. See if it feels right for you. Don't take anyone's word for it, don't take any book's word for it, don't take any government's or church's or club's or party's word for it, don't take any guru's word for it, don't take your parents' or teachers' word for it....find out for yourself.

Your parents may be right. Your teacher may be right. Your church or your government may be right. (about something) But you'll never find out for sure unless you find out for yourself by your own actual experience.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Little Hawk
Date: 10 Aug 11 - 12:58 PM

Jim, everyone knows perfectly well that the Hobbits were created as fictional creatures in a book that was clearly written by its author AS fiction from the start and was never intended as anything but fiction and allegory.

Therefore it's not a suitable example to illustrate your point.

Skepticism is indeed a useful skill. That's why I bring a certain amount of it to what ANY authority system or peer group tells me...not just the traditional religious authority systems.

The shortcoming of the average so-called "skeptic" is that he is only vigorously skeptical about things in certain mental boxes that he has already labelled in his mind as "unreal"...such as the "religious" box or the "UFOs and aliens" box...or the "spirits and ghosts" box or the "existence of a soul" box, etc. He has an antipathy toward those certain subjects, and he directs his skepticism just at those subjects while he fails to be equally rigorous in his skeptical approach to a whole host of far more conventional mental boxes that he takes for granted, such as the box of conventional science, conventional medicine, conventional politics, conventional social customs, etc.

His skepticism is not parcelled out in a fair and equal fashion acorss the board. Prior prejudice directs it only into certain specific areas of life and spares the rest.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Little Hawk
Date: 10 Aug 11 - 01:01 PM

Yeah, it's an endless rabbit-hole, Amos.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Jack the Sailor
Date: 10 Aug 11 - 01:45 PM

I don't find calling any thing that has something in common with religion a religion very useful. Though Lord of the Rings fandom has a lot in common with some aspects of religion, it is not a religion in any normally defined or practical sense. Likewise communism.

People could read and follow the dictates of Mao's little red book without believing him to be a God. I think that most did.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 10 Aug 11 - 01:45 PM

//Therefore it's not a suitable example to illustrate your point.//

If it's not a suitable example, then how do you know what my point was? If you don't know what my point was, how can you tell whether it was a suitable example?

By the way, what WAS my point anyway?


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Jack the Sailor
Date: 10 Aug 11 - 01:46 PM

I know about the Rabbit Hole. But I enjoy talking to many of you about it. Not being a beagle, I simply need to spend a little less time chasing the rabbits.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Jack the Sailor
Date: 10 Aug 11 - 01:49 PM

I thought your point was about capitalization, and taken on its own it made perfect sense. But Bill was making a distinction between god and *God*, which seemed to be a different point than distinguishing between hobbit and Hobbit.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Jack the Sailor
Date: 10 Aug 11 - 01:51 PM

I would ask you all to please stick to the current, generally accepted, definition of religion.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Amos
Date: 10 Aug 11 - 01:59 PM

Goddiness means so many things to so many that the discussion always reverts to the scenario described in the tale of the blind men and the elephant.

Goddiness is a verb.

Goddiness is an anthropomorphic figurehead generating moral strictures.

Goddiness is an endless pool of mystic beingness without form, shape or location in spacetime.

Goddiness is the principle that forms female psyches here on Earth.

Etc., etc.

Goddiness is tantamount to giddyness.


A


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 10 Aug 11 - 02:03 PM

If it doesn't appeal to usually invisible, mostly incomprehensible forces beyond the natural world, and claim that earthly reality is less important than what happens on or through the operation of some other plane of existence, it isn't a religion.

No amount of special pleading affects that basic premise. Every culture on earth recognizes it. The Communists who banned religion could obviously tell the difference, even if some people have convinced themselves there is none.

Atheism is not a religion. Agnosticism is not a religion. A sociopolitical system is not a religion. Britney Spears is not a religion. Aztec cosmic paranoia was a religion.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 10 Aug 11 - 02:19 PM

No, my point was that the statement was nonsense: I mean the statement that saying you don't believe in something somehow confirms that the thing you don't believe in actually exists. I don't see how that statement can be anything BUT nonsense. Forget capitalization.

What if I didn't know that Hobbits were meant to be fictional? Would that mean I couldn't disbelieve in them?

Would it make any difference if I had said "Zeus and Hera" instead of "Hobbits?" I don't believe in them, either, although as far as I know, Zeus and Hera weren't originally conceived as fictional characters.

I assume by mentioning Zeus and Hera I am sticking to the "current, generally accepted, definition of religion." After all, there are any number of books and articles about "Religion in ancient Greece."


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Jack the Sailor
Date: 10 Aug 11 - 02:39 PM

Jim that comment about the accepted definition was not meant for you. You were not broadening the definition to make your point.

The current difference between Hobbits and for that Matter "Zeus and Hera" is that there are currently about 2.5 people who believe, one way or another in the God of Abraham. Also I believe another 1.5 billion in India and elsewhere, including my wife and I imagine, Amos and possibly Little Hawk who believe in what I consider to be different aspects of that same God.

Maybe it is just brain chemicals as some of the articles I linked to suggest.

Maybe it is as Joseph Campbell suggested, a manifestation of the collective unconscious of the human race.

Maybe it is a combination of natural forces we have not yet discovered.

Maybe it is a Freud suggested, and Dawkins after him, a massive delusion. (Though Freud's view of psychology and the world was so flawed that I have trouble taking anything he said seriously except to apply it to a small, frankly crazy minority.)

Maybe there is only one God and his name is Allah.

Maybe nearly everyone is right, Maybe only the Quakers or the RC Church is right.

I don't know. I am just trying to find my own way.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Jack the Sailor
Date: 10 Aug 11 - 02:43 PM

Lighter, you make good points, I would add one more to it. It is how the adherents are kept in line.

If you toe the line because of a belief in some supernatural reward or punishment, Karma, Heaven, Hell, "God's blessing making you rich" It is a religion. If you toe the line because you are afraid of the secret police. It is something else.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Amos
Date: 10 Aug 11 - 03:26 PM

Actually, it occurs to me that a massive delusion would be a good argument for something more than material connection in the species which opens the door to all the spiritual woes that the befuddled mind of man is heir to.


A


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Little Hawk
Date: 10 Aug 11 - 03:27 PM

Jim, just refer back to your own post, read it carefully, then read my response to it equally carefully, and all your questions will be answered.

Or not!

As the case may be....

(It depends on whether you're willing to bother trying to understand anything I said in a reasonable manner or whether you're just out to "win" an argument with me.)

These threads always end up in a hopeless muddle, because too many people are all talking at once, most of them are trying to "win", very few of them are listening with any real intent to find common ground, they're just trying to score points on each other. If I really wanted to talk about this in any depth and have a reasonable time doing so, I'd do it in PMs to Jack, and we could then discuss it as two individuals and probably get somewhere useful in understanding one another's thoughts. Here it's just like being in the middle of a raving football crowd and they're all yelling about something...

And why? Because they haven't got anything else to do at the moment, I guess...it's a way of keeping one's idle mind occupied.

I'm actually rather interested in what Jack is talking about here...and I'd be interested in talking to him about it...but like I say, I'll probably do it in PMs instead.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Jack the Sailor
Date: 10 Aug 11 - 03:32 PM

No need for pm LH. I like to hear from everyone. I can filter out what I need.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Little Hawk
Date: 10 Aug 11 - 03:53 PM

Yeah, Jack, but I'd like to talk to just one person about it...namely the one who started the thread...without having to deal with a whole bunch of other people charging in at the same time. It gets too conflicted.

Accordingly, I have PM'd you.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Bill D
Date: 10 Aug 11 - 04:49 PM

I posted my long comment several hours ago, and later Amos said: " ...you enter a squirrel-cage without end when you start an argument using one word to mean multiple, very different, things, and fail to define your terms."

   That's interesting because just last night we had guests from my old college days in Philosophy. Unlike myself, he made a career in Philosophy and was once chairman of a Dept. We were talking about what philosophy was good for, even NOT using it in teaching everyday, and I commented that I used knowledge of the informal fallacies on a regular basis....(yes...like in debating on Mudcat) and we agreed that *equivocation*, which is the technical term for Amos' point, is one of the very most common errors people make in trying to defend...or attack.. some position.

To reply to Jim Dixon who quoted me:
//Even capitalizing a word and saying that one 'believes' OR 'disbelieves' in *God* is an implicit assertion that there IS such a thing//

and replied: "Well, I don't believe in Hobbits. Do you consider that an implicit assertion that there is such a thing?"

No, and that misses my point. There is a difference between asking or asserting about a being we know and can prove was only a literary concept, and asking about a being whose conceptual origins are so ancient that the very concept has been subsumed as part of human language and is widely 'taken for granted'.
   Thus, "Do you believe in *God*?" is grammatically & conceptually 'almost' equivalent to asking: "Do you accept the truth of God?". The implicit answer is included in the question!
Stated this way, the question is usually loaded and comes as a dare or confrontation.   (This brings in a couple more of the 'informal fallacies', such as circular reasoning and 'assuming the consequent'.)

It is NOT the same as asking: "Do you think there might be some sort of being who 'made everything' and is personally concerned with how we behave?" This allows discussion and comparing of views.

Everyone either believes that 'there is no doubt about God', or knows someone who believes that way. What gets interesting is comparing how they believe 'god' is relevant and what 'it' does and what we should do about it.....which is why equivocation is at the heart of many discussions. Many people argue about the nature of God and proper religious behavior in spite of flatly not using the same terms and definitions! *sigh* Others define the term so broadly & generally (I have teased Little Hawk about this for years) that the concept becomes so vague and fuzzy as to be almost trivial, except as a poetic way of expression.

...and with all this confusion, we have a pile of politicians running for president who wear their 'faith' as a badge, even though most of them can't really explain the basis of their own beliefs!


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Stringsinger
Date: 10 Aug 11 - 05:47 PM

Jack, Hitler was raised a Catholic. Stalin and Pol Pot thought they were gods. You could look at those movements as a kind of "religion".

Atheists, for the most part, don't start wars. They have no axe to grind.

The religious mindset tends to see things in black and white, making them vulnerable
to ideologies that they think they need to defend with violence.

Atheists on the other hand tend to weigh their actions carefully, seldom agree on much,
are aware that they can be targeted and hence are more judicious.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 10 Aug 11 - 06:55 PM

>Atheists, for the most part, don't start wars. They have no axe to grind.

Declared atheists, for the most part, haven't controlled enough governments for their warlike or pacifist tendencies to be evaluated in comparison with religiously observant rulers and leaders who did everything they could to follow the Golden Rule.

I hear laughter. Is it because that description covers almost no one we've ever heard of, no matter how religious they professed to be?

Nevertheless, your statement suggests that atheists in power would just naturally be less ambitious, less greedy, less paranoid, less violent, than their religious counterparts.

Why should that be? They might not launch wars for religion, but there are so many other reasons to choose from.

It's true that Hitler was raised a Catholic, but so what? He gave up on religion at an early age, and Blitzkrieg wasn't sold to the Germans as religiously inspired. (Nazism itself came closer, but it didn't involve gods or postmortem rewards.)

Whether Stalin and Pol Pot "thought they were gods" in the supernatural sense (the only kind that counts) seems dubious, to say the least.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Jack the Sailor
Date: 10 Aug 11 - 07:13 PM

Lighter again makes a good point. Whether or not the leader thinks he is a god matters not. It is when the followers consider him a god that makes it a religion.

"your statement suggests that atheists in power would just naturally be less ambitious, less greedy, less paranoid, less violent, than their religious counterparts."

Which makes me wonder how and why they would gain power in the first place.

And blaming war on religion is a dog that won't hunt as well. Most wars have been about power, land or money.

Do you think that the Spanish would have killed the Inca for religion alone?


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Smokey.
Date: 10 Aug 11 - 08:17 PM

"Most wars have been about power, land or money."

Most religions have too, though maybe not always exclusively.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Amos
Date: 10 Aug 11 - 08:40 PM

I think there is a HUGE difference between a religion and a neurotic obsession.


A


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Bill D
Date: 10 Aug 11 - 09:05 PM

I see I need to make shorter, pithy posts.... ☺


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: GUEST,999 Sorry again!
Date: 10 Aug 11 - 09:13 PM

Looking at fundamentalists (that's what they call themselves. I always figured fundamentalists believe in one law: do unto others as you would have them do unto you), people like Bachmann and those damned TV preachers, I figure that the whole g/God thing is like the commercials,

"Your brain on dope/crack/heroin, etc." I figure the Bachmanns and TV evangelists have shown us all what your brain on God does. I'm not sure that's a good thing.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: josepp
Date: 10 Aug 11 - 09:31 PM

////On the one hand, josepp's statement that Stalin and Mao replaced the concept of God with themselves (and their political system) is quite correct. On the other hand, josepp's statement does not fairly address what Jack said about officially atheistic (meaning anti-God) governments committing atrocities just as heinous as theocracies do.////

Actually I did. I said that it is immaterial whether any such atheistic govt has ever existed (which I do not believe to be the case and perhaps you could enlighten us if there ever was one), Stalin and Mao do not represent such a govt.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 10 Aug 11 - 09:34 PM

Anyway, brains on God vary.

You've got your Pope, your Dalai Lama, your imams, your megachurch ministers, your orthodox rabbis, your Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, your Mormons, your Desert Fathers, your Universalist-Unitarians, your Sufis, your Raelians, your snake-handlers....

You've got Jesus, Moses, Mohammad, Mary, Mother Teresa, St. Francis, Bernadette of Lourdes, John XXIII, Martin Luther, Martin Luther King, Jr., the Aztec high priests, Emmanuel Swedenborg, Joan of Arc....

You've got Jim Jones, Warren Jeffs....

The nice folks next door....

What have they got in common?

Without religion, their personalities would have come out some other way.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Jack the Sailor
Date: 11 Aug 11 - 01:30 PM

"Actually I did. I said that it is immaterial whether any such atheistic govt has ever existed (which I do not believe to be the case and perhaps you could enlighten us if there ever was one), Stalin and Mao do not represent such a govt. "

Stalin was "Comrade" Stalin, in an officially atheistic state. He was not Pope Stalin or God Stalin. His rule was enforced by the security services. Not by the promise of heavenly rewards or punishment. There are man flags here and statues of historical figures and pictures of people on the stamps and money. That is nationalism, not religion in any conventional sense. The concept could hardly be simpler.
What is below is from Wiki, I have read it elsewhere and studied it in University. But feel free to keep pulling things from your butt, as I will feel free to ignore the things you pull from your butt.

The Soviet Union was the first state to have as an ideological objective the elimination of religion[1] and its replacement with atheism as a fundamental ideological goal of the state.[2][3] Toward that end, the communist regime confiscated religious property, ridiculed religion, harassed believers, and propagated atheism in the schools.[4] The confiscation of religious assets was often based on accusations of illegal accumulation of wealth.

State atheism in the Soviet Union was known as "gosateizm,[5] and was based on the ideology of Marxism–Leninism. As the founder of the Soviet state V. I. Lenin put it:

    Religion is the opium of the people: this saying of Marx is the cornerstone of the entire ideology of Marxism about religion. All modern religions and churches, all and of every kind of religious organizations are always considered by Marxism as the organs of bourgeois reaction, used for the protection of the exploitation and the stupefaction of the working class.[6]


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Jack the Sailor
Date: 11 Aug 11 - 01:32 PM

Again, Lighter makes a good point. Without religion, the psychos would find another ploy.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Jack the Sailor
Date: 11 Aug 11 - 01:47 PM

There are man flags

There are many flags


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: John P
Date: 11 Aug 11 - 03:33 PM

Little Hawk says: These threads always end up in a hopeless muddle, because too many people are all talking at once, most of them are trying to "win",

Nope, you're wrong. Try again. Or not. But you've been wrong every one of the other 100 times you've said the same thing in other discussions. Boring . . .

On the atheist government thing: It's a pointless discussion. People are people. Some religious folks are mass-murdering megalomaniacs. Some aren't. Some non-religious people are mass-murdering megalomaniacs, some aren't. Most people with a desire for that much power are corrupt. Some aren't. Religion or the lack thereof doesn't enter into it, except sometimes as an excuse.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 11 Aug 11 - 06:30 PM

I don't know why people find it so difficult to allow others to believe as they choose, without calling them stupid or deluded.

I don't frankly give a damn what any of you choose to believe, and I don't expect you to give a damn about what I choose to believe. It simply isn't that important.

What is important is the separation of beliefs into two categories, neither of which should be encouraged to interest itself in the affairs and activities of the other.

Category 1. The Spiritual!

This is the realm of religion, dealing fundamentally with the human soul, the existence of God (or Allah, Jehovah, the Cosmic Pixie, or whatever turns you on) and other spiritual concepts.

Category 2. The Material!

This is the realm of everyday worldly existence, dealing with physical events and is the proper domain of science.

Now I'm not saying that a belief in science should exclude a belief in God or a religious order, that would be ridiculous.

But we should all be able to figure out which system would apply in any specific circumstances, and apply it accordingly.

This would automatically preclude the involvement of any religion in the purely material matters of government.

The biggest single advantage would be the savings made in bandwidth by removing the need for Catters to call each other stupid or deluded, which has produced such a huge archive of threads devoted to converting the unconvertible.

Don T.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Amos
Date: 11 Aug 11 - 06:46 PM

Psychos find refuge wherever they can. Some choose religion, some UFOLogy, some numerology, and so on. Each of the domains they use as retreats from their own pathetic inadequacies is ALSO peopled by intelligent, curious, relatively competent people. None of this is in itself grounds for name-calling or excoriation. There's a whole lot of not-knowing in play, after all, to which no definitive solution exists. The dominance of empirical science in our culture is no more evidence of its absolute dominion than is the advanced nature of, say, our culinary arts. THe culture tends to make it look that way by denying anything of comparable magnitude for comparison.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Stringsinger
Date: 12 Aug 11 - 06:00 PM

"And blaming war on religion is a dog that won't hunt as well. Most wars have been about power, land or money. "

And all of those have contained some element of religious fervor or fanaticism.
Most wars have roots in religion.

I would like to see those who weren't beholden to religious ideologies able to become leaders in politics.

The dog that won't hunt is denial about the role of religion in violence. Check history. Crusades, Reformation, Shintoism in Japan, Manifest Destiny against "godless savages", Islamic dictators in Africa, Mid-East problems, the Troubles in Ireland, The Languedoc invasions, Afghanistan, Iraq, the bible (lots of wars there based on religion)
and the list goes on. I could take up a whole page with these.

If you think non-believers would not make more rational political decisions, prove it.
Vote a non-believer into a position of leadership.

Put a non-believer in the White House or in Congress and you will have a more rational person making decisions ; if you don't believe that, look at the lineup for the next American election, Perry, The Apostolic Reformer, the two Mormons, the faith-based Obama, Bachmann (need i say more), Palin, the rest of the GOP lineup, all these excluding perhaps Obama, are religious nut cases. You don't think any of them will put the US into extended wars? Dream on.

Superstition, imaginary friends, anti-science, faith-based congressional interrogations,
pulpit pounding politicians, bible verses on gun sites, Tea Party zealots, (no non-believers there) and where are the rational people these days?


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Amos
Date: 12 Aug 11 - 07:39 PM

I think what it is about religions and political leaders is they are driven mad by religious postulates that don't match reality, and forced to stick to them by social pressure, resulting in extreme cognitive dissonance. Those who survive the pressure do so by intelligently compartmenting, realizing that a bogus set of religious tenets is not applicable in solving secular issues.

This is NOT to assert that there is no such thing as a set of religious tenets that could align with observed and experienced reality. But buying the Old Testament sure ain't it.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Joe Offer
Date: 12 Aug 11 - 08:26 PM

Still, Amos, the Old Testament is a very interesting collection of writings, and even contains some fascinating folktales. The stories of Job and Jonah are two of the best, and include a nice touch of humor and an interesting lesson.

I think that most of what is said here is true of some religious people, those people who see their religious beliefs as unquestionable truths and a reason for condemnation of all who do not adhere to those truths.

But many religious people hold to religious traditions as a context within which to explore the mysteries of life - love, peace, death, the world that surrounds us, and life itself. Certainly, these mysteries can be explored without a religious tradition, but why not allow for the possibility that people should be allowed to explore the mysteries of life however they wish and without condemnation?

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: GUEST,Mrr at work
Date: 12 Aug 11 - 09:04 PM

Oh, I am going to have FUN here as soon as my home internet is back!


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Joe Offer
Date: 12 Aug 11 - 09:19 PM

Be kind, Mrr. ;-)

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Amos
Date: 12 Aug 11 - 10:29 PM

Understanding folktales and metaphors for what they are, of course, does not produce cognitive dissonance. It is when the data becomes fixed ideas, and you try to use them to gauge a volatile, dynamic, human situation, that your brain cells start to surrender en masse.

A


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: josepp
Date: 12 Aug 11 - 10:30 PM

A true atheist state would be the purest form of democracy. It is laughable to say the least to point to a dictatorship and call it atheist. That's a dog that cannot and will not hunt if there ever was one. There are no gods be they religious or secular, nothing sacred, no one person can have the power of life and death over others, and therefore everyone is equal and has an equal voice and will go down in defeat only by their own inadequacies.

America's fear of atheists in the state machinery while allowing mad dogs as Palin, Bachmann and Perry free reign into the political ring is a sign of sheer stupidity on the part of that society. And a society that stupid deserves to burn to the ground as it is in the process of doing.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: frogprince
Date: 13 Aug 11 - 12:00 AM

saying that a statw which holds atheism as a basic tenet is not an atheistic state, because it does not meet the ideals of an American atheist steeped in democracy, is doubletalk motivated by wishful thinking. The world has too many peope who believe that only Christiana can be decent human beings. The same attitude from atheists is no more realistic or constructive.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 13 Aug 11 - 08:23 AM

If by "atheists" Stringsinger means "humanists" he might have a stronger case.

A "humanist" by definition is concerned with humanity. An "atheist," not necessarily.

History shows, however, that "humanists" rarely achieve political power, largely because they have other interests.

Lincoln was both a religionist in a conventional sense and a humanist in a broad sense. Which side of his brain gets credit or blame for what?

The discussion about who causes wars conveniently overlooks the fact that all wars have multiple intertwined causes. When the U.S. went into Vietnam, for example, it wasn't either to encourage or to protect Christianity. Japan didn't attack China for Shinto, and Germany and the USSR didn't invade Poland to save souls. Gaddafi didn't go after the rebels because they he thought they were being bad Muslims.

Old Testament slaughters, Aztec Flower Wars, the Crusades, and various Jihads are the obvious exceptions, but even they weren't exclusively about religion, and they remain exceptions. (Note too that ethnicity is no guarantee of pacifism.)

If a bellicose leader calls on religion to whip up his (or her) followers, that isn't religion's fault. Few religious doctrines prefer war to peace.

Experience teaches that any idea that atheists are just nicer is baloney.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Stringsinger
Date: 13 Aug 11 - 10:44 AM

GUEST,Lighter Actually I really don't care for the term Atheist. I much prefer and use FreeThinker. Atheist still has theism in it. As to the idea that by definition an atheist isn't concerned with humanity is simply misguided propaganda. Most atheists I've talked to are very concerned with humanity and the human condition and how that has been corrupted by religion.

When the US went into Vietnam, there was the religious support for it because it involved the reaction of the "other", something that religion always inculcates in its followers.
There was the "Anti-communist Christian Crusade" still active during Vietnam. The general pervading mood of the political system under LBJ was religious. There was virtually no outlet for any American to object to Vietnam legally without the "Supreme Being" litmus test.

Japan attacked China because they believed differently, a different culture and religion.
You have to remember who Tojo and Horohito were. What about the Kamakaze tea ceremonies? Remember the fanatics who were like Muslim extremists who flew their airplanes into enemy targets?

Einstein wanted to use the a-bomb on Berlin and was shocked when it was used in Hiroshima. A hidden religious component is there.

The USSR invaded Poland to save souls, communist souls. Gaddafi is probably thinking that the rebels are bad Muslims.

Old Testament slaughters, etc. are the rule rather than the exceptions and they were about religion. Saying "it ain't so" doesn't make it so. History tells us a different story.

If a bellicose leader calls on religion to whip up followers, there must be something wrong with that religion for allowing this to happen. From Constantine to Rick Perry, that is evident.

Most religious doctrines call for war, not peace. That's why there are so few conscientious objectors compared to willing participants in the military. Pacifists on religious grounds are definitely in the minority. God loves war. in the bible, he's created so many of them.

Atheists are not necessarily nicer but they are more rational.

Religious people are not nice because of their religion. In fact, most often they turn into little monsters.

Fortunately, today, young people are turning away from religion towards secularism. The growing interest and defection of young people from churches and religious institutions has been statistically documented.

Older people who are entrenched with their social, religious and political ideas find it hard to adapt to new thinking. Religion is unsustainable.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Jack the Sailor
Date: 13 Aug 11 - 11:03 AM

"Religion is the opium of the people:" Karl Marx is that not clear enough?

Religionists get accused of making up data to support their arguements. Apparently when "Free thinkers do that." its free thinking.

The USSR invaded Poland because in most ways the government was a continuation of the imperial system under the Tsars. If they were trying to "save souls" they were trying to save them FROM religion.

I will post this again. If you need any of the words or concepts explained. I will be happy to do it as I am sure most others would.

______

The Soviet Union was the first state to have as an ideological objective the elimination of religion[1] and its replacement with atheism as a fundamental ideological goal of the state.[2][3] Toward that end, the communist regime confiscated religious property, ridiculed religion, harassed believers, and propagated atheism in the schools.[4] The confiscation of religious assets was often based on accusations of illegal accumulation of wealth.

State atheism in the Soviet Union was known as "gosateizm,[5] and was based on the ideology of Marxism–Leninism. As the founder of the Soviet state V. I. Lenin put it:

    Religion is the opium of the people: this saying of Marx is the cornerstone of the entire ideology of Marxism about religion. All modern religions and churches, all and of every kind of religious organizations are always considered by Marxism as the organs of bourgeois reaction, used for the protection of the exploitation and the stupefaction of the working class.[6]


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Stringsinger
Date: 13 Aug 11 - 11:28 AM

Jack, FreeThinkers do not make up data. That's religious propaganda.

The Soviet Union did not realize the ambitions they set out for themselves because they created the god of Stalin and the religion of Communism. Karl Marx was not a politician but an economist and they used his ideas to further their own political ambitions.

Karl Marx is often misunderstood by his statement "Religion is the opium of the people:"
and no it is not clear enough. He never intended that statement to be derogatory. He made an observation about the role of religion but actually never condemned it ideologically. Many people who quote Marx have never read him and have missed much of what he really had to say.

What needs to be understood, here, is that when an ideology takes over a country, any other "religion" needs to be abolished as an enemy. Communism is a "religion", an ideology that has worshipers and followers who blindly adhere to its precepts. Remember also that Lenin's role in the USSR has gone through various changes in terms of his acceptance as a result.

The only reason that modern religions and every kind of religious organization is rejected by Communist ideology is the same way that Christians reject Muslims, Islam rejects Christianity, Judaism rejects Islam and vise versa, it's all a kind of "religious" ideology that guides this exclusionary thinking.

It is wrong headed to think that USSR was trying to save souls from religion. They were merely trying to supplant their ideologies for other "religions".

Atheists, or as I prefer, FreeThinkers are not Soviet style Communists but are skeptics and question any ideology that covets mass thinking. They are like the speaker in Monty Python's "Life of Brian" who exhorts his followers to "think for themselves" creating the irony of the crowd chanting the same idea parroting the speaker. FreeThinkers do not chant ideologies. That is pure unadulterated religious propaganda. To use Marxian applications by the Soviet Union as an example of true FreeThought is specious thinking.

Apparently, Jack, you don't know many real what you call atheists or your claims would be risible. You should really get to know them.

The problem with religionists is that they try to make complex issues simplistic to defend their viewpoints without really successfully examining them for their validity or veracity.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: josepp
Date: 13 Aug 11 - 01:14 PM

Jack is quoting Marx to discredit atheism via Stalin despite there being nothing but the most tenuous connection between the three.

Atheism is, at its root, anti-authoritarian because authoritarianism leads directly to the fallacy of believing in god as this divine creature that knows all and controls all. Therefore a state cannot be atheistic if it is totalitarian. Period. When a religious tenet holds that everything belongs to god, that is no different than the totalitarian tenet that everything belongs to the dictator, it is the same belief. There are no gods--religious or secular. Therefore, one cannot serve as a replacement for the other and be acceptable to the atheist. One person cannot play this god and hold the power of life and death over everyone else.

Someone ridiculed me for saying that an atheist state would represent the purest form of democracy but there is no argument. I specifically said "The purest form of democracy" and not simply the so-called democracy practiced in the United States. I am referring to "pure democracy" not some diluted, hack-up republicanism contaminated inextricably with capitalism.

From Meriam-Websters:

Main Entry:pure democracy
Function:noun
Date:1656

: democracy in which the power is exercised directly by the people rather than through representatives

Representatives generally become authority political figures and leads to a tangle of bureaucracy that eventually finds itself in the hopeless condition of eating itself to maintain itself. Just as in atheism where each person must think for himself and not rely on religious figures, officers or scriptures for truth, the people must govern themselves and not rely on others to govern them. To do so is to allow themselves to be controlled and that is the ultimate goal of atheism--to fight outside control. If that is not the goal of atheism then it has no real purpose.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Mrrzy
Date: 13 Aug 11 - 01:54 PM

The problem here where I live is the idea that because you have freedom of religion we have freedom from facts. Insistence that demonstrated reality isn't real or demontrated, and that myths must be given equal credence as the known world. And that freedom from biology and history and geology and cosmology and physics classes for their children, and the insistence even in materials for humanities, which I would have thought secular, that Christian mythology be stated as historical fact while other, even Abrahamic mythologies are given as possible beliefs. Busts my chops and I don't even have sideburns.

I don't see how this can be argued as benign.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Mrrzy
Date: 13 Aug 11 - 02:00 PM

Oops. I seem to have hiccupped. Editing a word I think eliminated a line somewhere. Still read OK above but a little ungrammatical...

Here is what I thought I'd typed "But wait - there's more! That freedom from biology and history and geology and cosmology and physics classes for their children be not only allowed but assumed to be normal, and the insistence even in materials for humanities, which I would have thought secular, that Christian mythology be stated as historical fact while other, even Abrahamic mythologies are given as possible beliefs... it busts my chops.

(Are the chops referred to being busted actually mutton chops?)


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Jack the Sailor
Date: 13 Aug 11 - 02:19 PM

Stringsinger, you are making up your own nuanced definitions of commonly understood words and getting upset because others do not accept your definitions. I am sorry but that is a waste of my time.

josepp, You are doing the same, but more so. I have no interest in discussing either of the lines of argument you each have brought up. If someone else wants to, feel free, but please start your own thread.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: GUEST,Josepp
Date: 13 Aug 11 - 02:53 PM

That's funny, Jack. I post the exact definition found in Meriam-Webster and that's somehow me manipulating definitions. Damn, I'm good!


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Bill D
Date: 13 Aug 11 - 03:02 PM

It was clear to ME, that the subject was the 'possible' relationship of brain chemistry and DNA to religious orientation.... but it often happens that a couple of 'hot button' words like 'God' and 'religion' trigger reflexes in some folks, and it's like asking a politician a question about 'X' and getting a lecture on 'XA'..or even Y.

We know 'thread drift' is a more potent force than the tides in The Bay of Fundy, but Jack oughta have his thread go kinda the way he planned.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 13 Aug 11 - 03:32 PM

The phrase quoted by Josepp is not a definition. It's an example to show how the word can be used in a sentence.

The latest online Merriam-Webster recognizes two related but distinct meanings of "democracy" as a form of government:

"a : government by the people; especially : rule of the majority

"b : a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections."

Democracies can thus be "direct" or "representative," or a mixture of the two.

The realities of life make direct democracy impossible in complex societies with countless issues to be decided and a population too big to fit into an amphiteater.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 13 Aug 11 - 03:34 PM

Bill is right, and I apologize for moving from religion to politics.

But we do need to know what we mean.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Joe Offer
Date: 13 Aug 11 - 10:20 PM

So, Mrr, where do people fit in who accept and treasure myth as myth, and not as scientific fact - people who see myth as pointing to a deeper truth that cannot be contained by words?

Take creation stories, for example - I see them as illustrating the profound beauty and value of what is called "creation." While I accept evolution and the "big bang" theory as the most credible scientific explanation, the various creation stories give me a deeper appreciation of the wonder of all this.

I'm reading a fascinating book by Garry Wills titled Head and Heart: American Christianity. Wills, a history professor at Northwestern University in Chicago, sings the praises of Lincoln as the most original theological thinker of his time. The prevalent U.S. religion was Evangelical, but Lincoln was not an Evangelical despite the fact that he was viewed as a man of the people. He wasn't exactly a Transcendentalist thinker, either. Wills sees Lincoln as akin to Herman Melville, Emily Dickinson, and particularly his black contemporary Frederick Douglass. Evangelicals (both North and South) saw the U.S. Civil War as apocalyptic, a divinely-inspired cleansing that would result in bringing the nation to Christ. Wills says that Lincoln and the other three held themselves aloof from the organized churches of the day, although they we certainly influenced by Transcendentalism. Both Lincoln and Douglass described the struggle against slavery in biblical rhetoric, but neither was bound by the religious ideology of the day. Lincoln referred to Jesus Christ rarely, and then only indirectly. Somehow, Lincoln was able to rise above all the ideologies and take a different view of slavery as a fault that must be overcome, no matter what the cost. Wills saw Lincoln as believing in the ideals set forth in the Declaration of Independence, superseding the condonement of slavery in the Constitution.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Amos
Date: 13 Aug 11 - 11:07 PM

Joe's point is a very good one indeed; even our scientific tradition is riddled with "projection from story". Sometimes the story is the prior-assumed result. I know this is not how scientific process is supposed to work, but it often does. And almost every situation where ordinary humans --even educated ones--have to make judgement calls on insufficient data involves the same mechanism.

If our minds are geared to depending on story wherever there is a data gap, then the question becomes, "Which stories are the preferable, or more useful, or more widely dependable?"

In order to even POSE that question, though, we would have to be willing to release our fixed ideas and review with humility our own appetite for myth, legend, story-line and dramatic arc.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: josepp
Date: 13 Aug 11 - 11:20 PM

////The phrase quoted by Josepp is not a definition. It's an example to show how the word can be used in a sentence////

I'll post the whole thing verbatim one more time. It is a definition. Nowhere is the term "pure democracy" being used in a sentence.

Main Entry:pure democracy
Function:noun
Date:1656

: democracy in which the power is exercised directly by the people rather than through representatives

This is distinct from the definition of "democracy":

Main Entry:de£moc£ra£cy
Pronunciation:di-*m*-kr*-s*
Function:noun
Inflected Form:plural -cies
Etymology:Middle French democratie, from Late Latin democratia, from Greek d*mokratia, from d*mos + -kratia -cracy
Date:1576

1 a : government by the people; especially   : rule of the majority b : a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections
2 : a political unit that has a democratic government
3 capitalized   : the principles and policies of the Democratic party in the United States *from emancipation Republicanism to New Deal Democracy — C. M. Roberts*
4 : the common people especially when constituting the source of political authority
5 : the absence of hereditary or arbitrary class distinctions or privileges

Now, really, do some homework instead of pulling something like that out of your ass.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: josepp
Date: 13 Aug 11 - 11:30 PM

////Wills says that Lincoln and the other three held themselves aloof from the organized churches of the day, although they we certainly influenced by Transcendentalism.////

Wm Herndon relayed a story about Lincoln when both men were law partners in Springfield. It had just rained during a cloudburst and the street was muddy with puddles but the sun was coming out. Herndon and Lincoln were walking to their offices talking about business. In front of law office, a black shoeshine boy named Willie was playing in the mud. Lincoln gently scolded him saying, "Willie, you shouldn't be playing in the mud, you know your mother will be angry if you go home with muddy clothes."

Willie replied that he was being careful not to get muddy and that his mother would approve of his activity since he was making a church.

"A church?" exclaimed Lincoln, "What kind of a church, Willie?"

Willie showed him. "There's the walls, see? There's the pews, the pulpit and the steeple."

Lincoln studied Willie's sculpture intently and finally said, "Well, it all seems to be there, Willie, except for one thing: the preacher. Can't have a church without a preacher, Willie, so where is he?"

Willie innocently replied, "Laws, Mr. Lincoln, I didn't have enough mud for that!"

Herndon said Lincoln threw his head back and laughed so hard that Herndon had to help him up the stairs to their offices. According to Herndon, who was a lifelong friend of the president's, Lincoln retold that story hundreds of times until the year of his death never failing to laugh heartily.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Joe Offer
Date: 13 Aug 11 - 11:37 PM

Amos asks, "Which stories are the preferable, or more useful, or more widely dependable?"

Ah, but Amos, I think that the best stories are those that enable us to think our own thoughts more deeply and more broadly, rather than leading us to think in a certain way dictated by another source - and that is something that myth can do, if we accept myth as myth.

It's interesting to see how many religious people deny this biblical truth: "And God saw that it was good." To me, that's the most important message of the creation stories - that we are surrounded by goodness and beauty that should be treated with awe and respect.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Amos
Date: 14 Aug 11 - 02:32 AM

Joe:
Well, I applaud that perspective; it may be our very best stories are of the Hero Who Thinks for Himself.


A


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 14 Aug 11 - 10:58 AM

What you say is clearly taken from a different edition of Merriam-Webster.

I meant to type "looks like an example."

But the complete entry still entails that democracies can be either direct or representative.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Stringsinger
Date: 14 Aug 11 - 11:04 AM

Hi Joe,

Myths are able to teach us something but they are not necessarily true in the way science establishes truth. People can read all kinds of things into myths and disagree as to what they mean. Take the bible, for example.

Creation stories seem like bad comic books to me. Not only are they unbelievable but they present an agenda, an attempt at teaching something that has erroneous meanings.

Lincoln was a politician so that he would say and do what needed to be done to get and stay elected. Biblical rhetoric was the common grammar of the day because FreeThought was impossible during that period and the tyranny of the language of the church dominated the conversation at that time.

As you have pointed out, Lincoln was ambivalent about slavery and wouldn't have used the passage in the bible that condones it as a political device. Lincoln evolved in office as we hope other future presidents will do to embrace humanist ideals such as abolition and women's rights.

Obama seems to be a throw-back to earlier modes of thinking whereby he pushes faith-based tax supported organizations.

Even the Constitution contains language that was commonly accepted in its day without regard to the implications of its meaning, which is being fortunately challenged today.

Amos,

There is a lot of junk science out there and these "stories" are part of those memes.
Insufficient data will always be with us but should not be given a special credence.

Stories that are bad science are not useful but obscurant. There can be mythical stories that are compatible with good science, (that which has been verified and accepted by the scientific community as immutable theorums or scientific laws. The fixed ideas often come from bad science, that which is unsubstantiated and used as an agenda-driven manipulative tool.

The stories of the future will enhance rather than oppose the scientific method and show that science when practiced through discipline, rigor, intelligence and enthusiasm
can open the floodgates to an appreciation of the world in which we live and knock into a cocked hat these speculative posturing ideas that dominate the religious world.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Musket
Date: 14 Aug 11 - 11:07 AM

"And God saw that it was good."

Sorry Joe, that for me has always knocked the idea that he is omnipotent. Either he is or he isn't. Either he made the sunset beautiful and the starving African baby wretched, or he didn't.

I love to see things that are good too, and I like anybody else can push the bad things to the back of my mind, but if the god character has such human emotions, then I suggest those who interpret and dictate his will come to an understanding as to what the hell he is, because if he can be so human, why put him on a pedestal?

Or put another way, if he is capable of emotion, he is capable of making the nasty people go away...


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Jack the Sailor
Date: 14 Aug 11 - 11:47 AM

"And God saw that it was good."

Ian, I am pretty sure that Joe just made the point that if you read the bible as stories that illuminate us then the reason God said that was to help us appreciate beauty.

This is and article on the psychology of negativism
Some people are predisposed to be alarmed by the negative aspects of a phenomenon. Some are more encouraged by the positive aspects.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Bill D
Date: 14 Aug 11 - 12:55 PM

...and in classic equivocation, when you ask many negative people if they are FOR anything, rather than just AGAINST stuff, they will answer.. "Sure, I am for lots of things!" ...and then give you a list of things which, when analyzed, involve denying various rights & freedom to others.

"I am 'for' acknowleging the Christian God, and 'for' the Right to Life, and 'for' the rights of a businessman to choose who he must serve, and 'for' the rights of a business to regulate itself, and 'for' parents right to discipline their own children...." etc.

I'm sure everyone could add many more examples of superficial descriptions of 'positive' attitudes which are barely disguised restrictions and indicate a basic negativity and desire to reject ideas & rights which they deem unacceptable.
   In some cases, it takes some careful sorting and extraction to see what is really being said.
   All that is yet to be worked out is how much of this attitude is, as Jack suggests, 'predisposed', and how much is culturally inculcated by family, school, church...etc.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Jack the Sailor
Date: 14 Aug 11 - 01:03 PM

I didn't predisposed from birth, I meant from before they see the stimulus at hand.

And it works both ways. There are a lot of people much more alarmed by the negative aspects of religion in some others than inclined to enjoy the beauty it provides.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Bill D
Date: 14 Aug 11 - 01:21 PM

And to anticipate the reply that: "You are as negative as I am! You are in favor of big government and regulation and restriction on business and against churches being able to preach the Gospel!"
   I reply: "Gee...you can't really see the difference between 'regulations' that essentially ARE restrictions on the freedom of others and regulations that help prevent such restrictions.

The Constutution says that we shall not favor any religion. It does not say that 'freedom to practice your religion' means you are allowed any & all means to proselytize and integrate your religion into all daily life and institutions.
   It's a complex, multi-layered argument to get across, and I wish I had done it better...but it is crucial.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Donuel
Date: 14 Aug 11 - 02:03 PM

One thing is certain, it sells TV and books... and causes zealotry in the hearts of otherwise fine people.

VISA LA DIFFERENCE


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Jack the Sailor
Date: 14 Aug 11 - 02:24 PM

I'm really not looking for an argument for any particular point of view here. That has been done plenty of times on the Cat. I am simply interested in exploring the neurochemical aspects of religion.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Bill D
Date: 17 Aug 11 - 11:19 PM

Well... see this MIT study

""These results underscore the importance of determining whether, as in the C. elegans nervous system, a diversity of biogenic amine-gated chloride channels function in the human brain," said H. Robert Horvitz of the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT and senior author of the study. "If so, such channels might define novel therapeutic targets for neuropsychiatric disorders, such as depression and schizophrenia."

If there are analogous channels to us in various test animals, and various psychiatric disorders can be treated by altering neurochemicals, it is kinda reasonable that many negative behaviors and attitudes ARE a result of imbalances.
   Of course, some will argue that selfishness, aggressiveness and drive to control & dominate are simply survival adaptations and perfectly 'normal'. *I* know why that's a bad argument, but obviously, a brain thus constituted will, by definition, NOT agree with me.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Bill D
Date: 17 Aug 11 - 11:39 PM

more info on chemicals and mood

and more... as relates to sexual orientation

There are dozens...if not hundreds... of pages found with a search on "neurochemicals in the brain", most of which indicate that we ARE in many ways at least 'inclined' towards various attitudes. What is special about humans with our large, complex brain, is that we can reflect and study and moderate our own behavior....including our inclination towards religious impulses. But we can also refuse to try to understand, and THAT 'refusal' may also be partially controlled by neurochemicals!

Who was it said "A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside of an enigma."?


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Mrrzy
Date: 18 Aug 11 - 12:15 AM

I hope I'm never mean, Joe!

So, Mrr, where do people fit in who accept and treasure myth *as* myth, and not as scientific fact - people who see myth as pointing to a deeper truth that cannot be contained by words?

Unclear what you mean, sorry - but if you mean people who believe in their particular deity but nonetheless live in the real world and do not hide their children away from knowledge, then, I just wonder why they believe in their particular deity but I have no problem with them as human beings.

I think that the dogma-or-else style of deniers (that is people who deny, not people who help with corpses - denyers, maybe) are causing undeniable harm to their children if they keep them from sources of learning, as well as failing their own humanity, and thus humanity, by their steadfast refusal to question.

And, Joe, I did rephrase something a lot more barbed!


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Amos
Date: 18 Aug 11 - 12:34 AM

I consider the brain more of antenna and shock absorber than a computational center--yes, it is a neurological servomechanism with a lot of nodes of control as far as body mechanics is concerned, but the only impact it has directly on what passes for thought in some circles is in modulating the refried thoughts of the past. I think some psychedelic compounds open up pathways that make for wider band reception, which can be very interesting or very chaotic and disruptive, as with any receiver.

I believe it was Neal Stephenson's definition that cyberspace was "where you are when you are on the telephone". I think this notion intersects with poor old Robert Pirsig's life-long wrestling match with "qualitas", the zone of the non-innumerable whatness of things perceived. Some novels bring this out most elegantly--the permeating container within the thing contained. These are not easy notions in a culture whose vocabulary has evolved from millenia of struggling with material form and force and measure, and striving to survive in what is still a pretty dangerous sort of universe overall.

Kick-start reactions to signals from the material environment are what the brain does best, but they are not the best and highest product of the mind.


A


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Bill D
Date: 18 Aug 11 - 02:07 PM

"... the only impact it has directly on what passes for thought in some circles is in modulating the refried thoughts of the past."

Umm.... "only"? Isn't that enough? And I do wonder which 'circles' you refer to....and what thoughts there are which don't pass for thought.

I am somehow reminded of an old line...and allow a slight modification of it: "I know you believe you understand what you think you said, but I'm not sure that what you meant is anything I can ummm..."    *mumble, mumble* does not compute


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Amos
Date: 18 Aug 11 - 02:50 PM

Refried thoughts are stimulus-response displays, Bill.

They involve creativity only at the lowest quality and to a minimal degree.

ANd your objecting to your own reparsing of what I said, which is inaccurate, is a strawman AND a paper tiger both. L:D

There are thoughts that occur on automatic, and there are original thoughts born of looking without reacting. An instinctive dislike of certain kinds of people, for example, is based on reacting to triggers which are associated with things usually not part of the present but refried from past events. People are capable of much greater kinds of thought--analytical and creative--than that.

Your hard-core materialist perspective has the amusing component of including creative thought dedicated to the idea that thought is mechanistic. I am reminded of a teaching from someone that ran along ther line of "You experience what you reallly believe. If you believe this is not so, you will experience it as being not so."

A


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Bill D
Date: 17 Aug 11 - 06:19 PM

ummm... I was not 'reparsing', I was parodying in order to indicate fuzziness of clarity....so 'strawman' is not relevant.

I agree with your clarification of different types of thoughts and that there are 'greater' sorts. I simply (as you well know) don't accept1 that the greater ones somehow participate in some ethereal realm apart from the neuro-chemical interactions.

   I think it is perfectly possible that we will ultimately be able to explain our 'ideas' of God and other metaphysical concepts by deeper understanding of them boring physio-chemical interactions . It even seems to me like a way out of a dilemma.



1. ("don't accept" is not the same thing as 'deny'. You keep accusing me of being a "hard core materialist" when I merely require more evidence than interesting phrasing.)


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Mrrzy
Date: 17 Aug 11 - 07:23 PM

In certain cases don't accept is the same as deny - say, if you don't accept that the holocaust is factual history then you are a deny-er, no?


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Bill D
Date: 17 Aug 11 - 10:08 PM

Hmm.. I see your point, Mrrzy....but that is mostly a linguistic distinction. One might be reluctant to 'accept' because one didn't know enough facts about history to be sure.
'Deny' is generally a statement that one thinks they DO have enough evidence to positively reject a theory....so "in certain cases"...maybe.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Musket
Date: 18 Aug 11 - 04:45 AM

Jack the Sailor wrote ;Ian, I am pretty sure that Joe just made the point that if you read the bible as stories that illuminate us then the reason God said that was to help us appreciate beauty.

Yes, but that's my point. If he is omnipotent then he would want us to appreciate ugly too. If he did the lot, who are we to distinguish between the view from the top of a hill in The Lake District and the image of a baby in a transit camp in Mogadishu breathing his last breath?

So, I reckon we must be hard wired because there are many people who will thank him for the good bits and push the bad bits to the back of their mind. I too am hard wired, by faithful allegiance to a football team who have started the season as appallingly as ever....

As an aside, the faithful seem to realise the God argument must be getting a bit thin. I was at a christening in a church a few weeks ago. A church that sang modern hymns with electric guitar and drums. The words were all repetitive "He is Great!" and variations on that theme with a liberal dose of "So praise him unconditionally" and other such twaddle.

Two points there;

1. Charles Wesley must be spinning in his grave.

2. Having to repeat such things so much in a song sounds like desperate measures to keep people brainwashed from where I was sitting.

3. There isn't a 3.

4. But if there was, it would be that the smiles were all a bit forced too.

It appeared to me to be negotiating the path from omnipotent to impotent.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: GUEST,Sally Brown
Date: 18 Aug 11 - 06:53 AM

I am having trouble here sorting the linguistics from the feelings (and whatever else). Perhaps tomorrow will be better.

My thoughts:
1. Lincoln was a Marfan. It influenced his thinking, his brain, and his religion. (So was Amenhotep IV - check out his religion some time.) He was known at times to speak truth as he saw it, and to see it differently than some others.
2. Primate behavior studies are surely important to this discussion. Humans seem to be hardwired to small communities, and to us-them thinking. This is ideally useful for a politician or religion that wishes to create a following just by separating us-good from them-bad.    I am not sure we can outgrow it.
3. An introduction to Carolyn Myss would be good as well. She began by studying how humans used their available energy, and explaining it very well. Then she (a Catholic) tried to bring religion on board, but was lost studying the difference in Catholics who used all their energy in belief, and those who gave it over as something for their God to worry about rather than themselves, and allowed something else to take over.
4. There are, IMHOP, clearly defined inner-directed and outer-directed individuals who will never be able (perhaps) to understand each other. It seems to be built in. You can put an inner-directed person in an outer-directed fundamentalist family, and the person will just grow up and walk away. The reverse is also true. If someone is looking for an external guide, he or she will find it.
5. Religion can mean too many things. Either experience or belief in many categories. I can speak for hours here, and perhaps will.
6. Some people choose politics for power/prestige/money -outer directed goals, some for what they see as human betterment - inner directed goals, or self-delusion. Choosing to appear to support a particular religion that many are already trained in is an ideal door for those who wish to profit from already trained followers.
Am I staying on subject?


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: GUEST,Sally Brown
Date: 18 Aug 11 - 08:31 AM

Regarding Lincoln: I realized I was not clear. There are lots of places I can point to regarding Lincoln and Marfan Syndrome, but none that have been able to define the unique thought pattern, and only a few that mention it. Marfan involves connective tissue, which is everywhere. The best I can tell you about thought patterns is that the usual thought system uses feelings to make decisions quite rapidly, and logic to justify the decision later. Marfan people usually don't have good access to feelings, and are more apt to make slower decisions beginning with logic. Some suggest it is a form of autism, related to Aspergers syndrome. As autism can run the gamut of how severely one is affected, so can Marfan. It is a very hard thing to judge.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Amos
Date: 18 Aug 11 - 11:47 AM

Lincoln's condition, we are advised by a Wikipedia article, may not have been Marfan; "according to a 2007 theory, it is perhaps more likely that he had a different disorder, multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2B, that caused skeletal features almost identical to Marfan syndrome."

In any case, Marfan is diagnosed by physiological symptoms rather than autistic behaviors, as far as I can tell.

An interesting side-topic. Thanks for bringing it up!

Bill's skepticism is chronic, and although he may not be a hard-over materialist he is certainly among those who subsume their own knowing within their datasets, which leads to a very similar place. The knower is not a container within the thing contained, to use Thurber's humorous phrase for it. I recommend, dear friend Bill, that you closely parse Robert Pirsig's second book, Lila yclept, for a more philosophic exposition on this troublesome duality.


A


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 19 Aug 11 - 09:22 AM

We all believe in causes and effects.

I blame the Big Bang for the chains of causation that lead straight to what we're thinking now.

It seems to us that our thoughts are creative only because that's part of how Big-Bang neurochemistry works.

Of course, you could "decide" to believe differently. But that's how Big-Bang neurochemistry works too. It wouldn't make your belief true.

Maybe Big-Bang neurochemistry fools us into believing in causation when in reality causation itself is an illusion. Maybe belief in the Big Bang itself is the neurochemical result of some other influence.

If you believe in God, can you tell whether it's because of God "programming you," or the Big Bang? If you don't, is your answer any different?


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Stringsinger
Date: 19 Aug 11 - 01:37 PM

It's significant that neuroscientists can induce religious feelings by stimulating different areas of the brain.

Science can reveal much about the nature of religion especially the new research that is being done on the brain. The more religion is tested, the more freedom we can have from its prison.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Stringsinger
Date: 19 Aug 11 - 01:55 PM

There is no scientific evidence to support a dichotomy between the brain and the so-called "mind", even if philosophers jump up and down to support the latter.

Every idea is subject to interpretation and as semanticists have argued, there are often no conclusive agreements as to definitions of words or the meaning of sentences although that there are is often taken for granted.

This is why there is such warfare over religious ideas. Who can agree on something untestable and unproven?


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Mrrzy
Date: 19 Aug 11 - 02:05 PM

Yes, I have a friend with right-temporal lobe epilepsy from a car crash, and he loves having seizures.

Marfan would not have made Lincoln *think* differently. It's a body thing.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Joe Offer
Date: 19 Aug 11 - 02:12 PM

Stringsinger says: Creation stories seem like bad comic books to me. Not only are they unbelievable but they present an agenda, an attempt at teaching something that has erroneous meanings.

I dunno, Frank. I think the agendas and the erroneous meanings were superimposed on the creation stories long after the stories came into being. I think that in some ways, our modern, "scientific" society has lost the ability to understand a story. Were Native American creation stories meant to tell the "facts," or were they meant to express the wonder and mystery of the world that surrounded the storytellers?

Somehow, in the midst of all our scientific knowledge, we need to maintain a sense of appreciation and wonder. I think that myth can help us do that. In the first century of the Industrial Age, that sense of wonder and appreciation was lost, and humankind wreaked ecological havoc. Both religious and non-religious people developed rationalizations that allowed them to destroy so much. Luckily, we've largely returned to an attitude of respect for Mother Nature (another myth, but a useful one).

As fro the difference between "brain" and "mind," I have to say that our definition of "brain" is inadequate. The idea of firing synapses does not do justice to the wonders of the cognitive ability of a human being.

I think many atheists have the same shortcoming as do fundamentalist religious people - they think that they can fully know something, to the point that there is no mystery left. I think there's always something more, something deeper that we can learn.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Stringsinger
Date: 19 Aug 11 - 04:56 PM

Joe, science is a way, the more you study it, to develop that sense of wonder and appreciation.

Mythology has its place as a story to teach. Joe Campbell made this very clear.


I don't see any return to a respect for nature (Mythical Mother or otherwise), but a disregard for scientists who agree that global warming is man made and a serious catastrophe ahead.

I disagree that the study of firing synapses and the intricacies of the working of the brain
don't do justice to wonder. The brain is a marvelous entity and the more we study it,
the more marvelous it becomes. The "mind" however is undefinable and there is no legitimate location for it.

I think there is something more that can be learned that is deeper than we know now and modern science is helping us to do that.

I don't think you can paint all atheists or FreeThinkers (I prefer the latter term) with the same brush. I don't think that there is any claim by any atheist that I know that they fully know something whereas religion deals in absolute "knowledge" and allows for no deviation or new information; the beauty of science over religion is that there is always new information to be made available.

If by fully knowing something, you mean the rejection of religion, this is not a matter of the acquisition of pertinent knowledge but a rejection of an ideology that can't be proven and is so mystical that there is no agreement about what it is. This is not useful mystery.

Cosmology, quantum mechanics, neurobiology, physics. biology, evolution, archaeology, genetics and ethology.............these are the realms of mystery and wonder to be
explored and offer lifetimes of useful learning.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Joe Offer
Date: 19 Aug 11 - 05:03 PM

whereas religion deals in absolute "knowledge" and allows for no deviation or new information

Ah, but Frank, that is not universally so - and never has been. Only fundamentalist religion deals in absolutes.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Amos
Date: 19 Aug 11 - 05:50 PM

Frank, it must somehow have occurred to you, even with your dedication to science-as-way, that all science is within the mind(s) of its practitioners. The capacity for creative thought, however, does not seem to appear within science. This is simple set theory at work. The endless generation and parsing and swimming back and forth of and exchanges of data--mental constructions of maps of presumed "reality" do not seem to explain themselves very well by referring to a subset of that data. (Or, for that matter, even the whole set!).

This is by no means a closed and fixed subject, I am pretty sure. :D

Warmest regards,


A


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: GUEST,Sally Brown
Date: 20 Aug 11 - 04:44 AM

I am a nidiot and an ucklehead. I was afraid I had killed a perfectly good thread. There is very little more enjoyable than a (useless) argument. need a new word (Here)
I will not interfere further, except to correct impressions regarding marfan. It is a body and mind thing. The researchers primarily look at the physical stuff, because it is easier to measure, and more deadly. There is still a major argument going on about how to diagnose it, and research is primarily being done with mice and sheep.
The IQ bell for marfan is higher than the bell for non-msrfan, and you will find, in your reading, many references to "different" thinking. Only recently have some tried to move it into the aspergers spectrum The very small and very early research will not be published I would guess for years.
Methinks it unproductive duality thinking to try to separate the body and the mind.
All the early "spiritual" teachings are about the breath. (inspire, respiration) Yoga and Tai Chi and Chigong still start with the breath. Meditation is about breathing and focus. It takes Western dualistic thought to try to separate out body mind and spirit, and affect one without the other. That sort of thing is about power, not religion. Mostly, I think, about male dominance of the military sort.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Mrrzy
Date: 20 Aug 11 - 01:50 PM

No, you're fine, guestSB.

What do you mean the bell is higher - are they more intelligent, ona verge?


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: GUEST,Sally Brown
Date: 20 Aug 11 - 07:30 PM

Not necessarily more intelligent, just place higher on IQ tests. There is still a bell curve, but the average scores are higher. No one has looked at why. There are numerous genetic issues where a lower IQ is common. I have not seen much on why there, either. The mind is a mysterious and wonderous thing.



If Humankind created God, or vice versa (or both)in their own image, surely it follows that God is a part of Humanity, and the idea of externalizing this supreme being is more unnecessary dualistic thinking. If the supreme being is part of the human, then all answers must be correct in some way, and only my poor flawed thinking makes some answers more right than others. Thus my pleasure in public debate.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 20 Aug 11 - 10:11 PM

The original linked article is exceedingly vague, but apparently alludes to a fairly significant area of research that has been somewhat popular with certain people.

The premise of such tests, where the testing has been actually documented is that:

1. You wire someone up to see where activity is present in the brain.

2. You have the someone "think something mysterious" and see if different parts of the brain show activity.

3. You observe activity where it's otherwise unusual.

4. You conclude that there's a "god part" of the brain.

A difficulty is that about 3 decades ago, people were doing the same kinds of studies of brain activities. The measurement of activity, and isolation to a particular part of the brain was more difficult, and in some cases "invasive," whereas now it can be done by purportedly "non-invasive" things like CAT scans, but there has been little real progress in the ability to isolate and identify site-specific activity, other than "fewer deaths in the test subjects," perhaps.

In earlier tests, it was fairly conclusively shown that "meditative practitioners" diverted activity from the usual active foci, and "other parts" increased activity.

In the earlier tests, they also found that bored assembly line workers frequently "zoned" into a trance-like state, in which the heard voices of unknown people, "remembered" things they apparently never knew, and had a much more pleasant experience than when unnecessarily confining attention to "pick up bolt, screw in hole, pick up next bolt" - with changes in the foci of activity identical to the ones who meditated. With the "bored" there generally was no "mystical" connotation that they associated with the wanderings of their "hallucinations." The suppression of the normal conscious thinking - that wasn't really necessary - allowed activity in brain parts normally suppressed when a "more deliberate" thinking was needed. There was nothing particularly abnormal or amazing about the processes involved, and no connection to specific "kinds of thoughts" in the "zoned" (or entranced?) brain.

Singing hymns, and "chanting" (or participating in recitations) produced the same results. It's not at all an unpleasant thing, and it works at making people more receptive to "directed thinking" so it's very common in virtually all religions and philosophies. I would expect similar results with those who claim to "zone in the mood" at rock concerts, but that wasn't as common when the earlier testing was reported.

There may have been some, but I haven't seen a documented test recently in which other than "mysterious" stimuli were applied to invoke the "mysterious" brain activity. Those tests cannot "prove" that the mystery even exists. Until such comparisons are presented, the basic methodology is fatally flawed.

An additional factor is that nearly all such recent testing that I've seen reported (even incompetently) has been done exclusively by people looking for and expecting to find a specific "god effect." Nothing has been proved.

The rest of the discussion here is in places vaguely interesting, but is mostly just rehashing the SOSO.

John


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Lighter
Date: 21 Aug 11 - 09:53 AM

Lots of people (but hardly all) who've dropped acid or ingested mescaline are sure they've had a mystical experience, seen God, or the like, and say it changed their lives.

What do we make of that? Some possibilities:

1. It doesn't take much to light up the "god part" of the brain.

2. God operates through the "god part," but people can't tell the difference between God's influence and a chemical reaction in the brain.

3. Since God set the brain up that way, that's how He wants it.

4. Some people have religious experiences on drugs that they can't have ordinarily. Since God set the brain up that way, that's how he wants it.

5. It's impossible for people to distinguish between an experience of God and the chemical effect of a drug - except that people who experience God without having taken a drug know that they haven't taken one.

6. Perhaps all experiences of God are illusions generated by random neurochemical activity that is much the same as what can be induced by drugs.

7. Perhaps experiences of God are genuine, whether induced by drugs or not. If so, God must want some people to have those experiences, even when they're artificially induced, but doesn't want others to have them under any circimstances.

There may be further possibilities as well.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Stringsinger
Date: 21 Aug 11 - 01:05 PM

Creative thought plays an important role in the advancement of science, in fact the only way significant breakthroughs have ever occurred. Thinking otherwise is a gross misunderstanding of the scientific process.

Delusion is easily induced by doctrine and dogma. Scientific proof is need to debunk
this. Newest tests in psychiatry have shown that the notion of a god is man made.
Check out the studies of John Bowlby and expanded by Mary Ainsworth in the 1940's.
Brain-imaging studies at the National Institutes of Health determines that morality is an adaptive mechanism handed down by natural selection that has been hijacked by religion.
We have tribal or groupish tendencies found in our DNA that create enmities between
religious factions such as Protestant vrs. Catholic or Sunni vrs. Shiite.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Aug 11 - 01:16 PM

>We have tribal or groupish tendencies found in our DNA that create enmities between religious factions such as Protestant vrs. Catholic or Sunni vrs. Shiite.

DNA implies genes, and there are no genes for enmity. AFAIK.

If there were, there'd be even more of it.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Amos
Date: 21 Aug 11 - 02:51 PM

The capacity for knowing is used by all individuals to various degrees. When groups are formed predicated on agreement about what to know and how to know it, you get sects, cults, camps and schools and so on. All of these have collections of data which they acvcept and sometimes assert as what should be known.

Very few of them, though, consider their own capacity for knowing as one of the things that might be looked at. If their agreed-upon data includes arbitraries and authoritarian data points (as most of them do) it becomes difficult to maintain the "rightness" of such datapoints when you include your own viewing and knowing in your understanding. Data gets a lot more relative, and illogical inclusions get a lot more obvious.

Brain imaging, for example, is worthy proof if you assume that thought is born in the brain. I have seen nothing to prove that this is so. It is, I think, what we would have to call a convenient assumption, or a comfotable fiction, or at best a working postulate. I think there is a lot of thinking going on in the universe well outside the skull casings of living humans. But it is a safe retreat to limit one's investigations to the material and the neurological. Asserting such as "truth", however, is far-fetched and presumptuous, IMNSHO.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Mrrzy
Date: 21 Aug 11 - 09:16 PM

What evidence is there that thought could possibly come from anywhere else?


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Amos
Date: 21 Aug 11 - 10:46 PM

Well, for one thing, sheer bits of information are of a completely different order. Most theories duck this issue on the basis of unspecified "complexity" but I find that unsatisfactory. When you have exhausted the limits of your imagination, which can generate terabytes of information in microseconds at will, you will have gone so far past the imaginable storage capacity of the human nervous system as to boggle the mind.


There are other reasons, as well. Experience itself, for one thing. The ability to intend. Understanding in a deeper sense. The capacity to "be there".

I have yet to see any sign that these things can be attained through neurochemical signal processing.


A


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 22 Aug 11 - 09:43 AM

I have yet to see any sign that these things can be attained through neurochemical signal processing.

Either you're not looking very hard, or you're insisting that everything has to be in the preconceived "language" that you perceive is the only way to explain anything.

John


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 22 Aug 11 - 10:48 AM

Consciousness certainly "seems" to be radically different from a result of chemical activity, but the sun, moon, and stars certainly "seem" to circle the earth.

Every bit of confirmed new evidence that is discovered supports material explanations over spiritual ones. It's been going on, uninterrupted, since Galileo.

That's just the way it is.

What are the chances, then, that there'll be a huge uncovering of new, coherent evidence that not only runs the other way, but actually discredits what we already know?


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Stringsinger
Date: 22 Aug 11 - 11:18 AM

Amos, why should your thoughts and experience be any more realistic or true than anyone else's? What you deem as true for you might be false for someone else. And yet, if you were to subject yourself to neurological manipulation, I would bet you that you could change your tune.

There are so many today who rely on their own conscious experience as being some kind of unassailable truth, many in mental institutions though I'm not saying Amos is crazy, but many of these personalized experiences are hearsay and not supported by concrete evidence, not allowed, for example, in a court of law which requires evidential testing.

Personal experience is not a legitimate argument to substantiate a real event. There have been instances when eye-witnesses to a crime have been wrong, inconsistent and have not agreed as to what they saw. This is why genetic testing, physical evidence and scientific expertise is used in courtrooms.

There is no legitimate scientific argument for the separation of "mind" and the brain.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Amos
Date: 22 Aug 11 - 11:54 AM

Personal experience is not a legitimate argument to substantiate a real event.

Please; I am not trying to push personal experience of mine down anyone's throat. I am making a point that experiencing as such is qualitatively different from transmission and receipt of signal. As for "real event", you seem to be insisting on the objective stage as the only acceptable locale for a "real" event. THis despite the fact that when you start looking into what people refer to as "spiritual" (granted, a very loose term) phenomenology, the very premise of objectivity is left in the wake. Yet the amount of individual awareness, data and imagery in the subjective field far outstrips the content and scope of individual "objective" awareness, a point you yourself make in stressing the inaccuracy of eye-witness testimony.

Believe me, I quite understand that in phsyical science and engineering, the subjective is a highly suspect source for reliable data.

And brain science, of course, MUST bind itself to this tradition, or risk being thrown out with astrology, and dowsing, and other marginal interactions between the subjective and the physical.

But I think you are a little too hasty in your conflation of scientific with this sense of objectivism. The mind is far richer in its dimensions and capabilities than can be wholly described by entropic systems of signal transfer, it seems to me.

Your bald assertion about what constitutes scientific argument about the mind side of the brain-mind complex is premature, IMHO.

Sorry I can't extrapolate and pontificate further just now.

A


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Paul G.
Date: 22 Aug 11 - 08:41 PM

Oh my god (please excuse the hyperbole) -- but this is a wonderful thread! I am non-religious but intensely interested in the neuroscience of belief and thought processes (though a neophyte at best among this sage community of discussants). The mere civility of the discussion here, relative to others I have encountered, deserves visualization via fMRI. So having just now read through from top to bottom, I come out of lurk mode to simply say thank you. I shall continue to read, and learn, and perhaps follow that thought around the next corner...........


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Amos
Date: 23 Aug 11 - 11:06 AM

The earlier remarks on mescaline and other psychedelic chemicals bring up a point worth making.

It would be foolish for me or anyone to try and assert that human thought does not involve the brain. As has been said here and elsewhere the annals of experimentation are legion showing that brain stimuli occur in various patterns of thinking.

I would make an important distinction between originating thought and acting as a bandpass filter of some kind.

A cellphone does not originate hundreds of different conversations, but it would be easy to fall into that belief without taking into account the invisible waves of high-frequency energy coming from cell towers. Old hat to us, of course. But to a semi-superstitious clan of unindoctrinated hooligans, it would be an easy mistake.

I think absolute materialism is a comparable error.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Mrrzy
Date: 23 Aug 11 - 01:20 PM

I have yet to see any sign that these things can be attained through neurochemical signal processing.

Like I asked, is there ANY evidence that it could have come from anything else?


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 23 Aug 11 - 01:51 PM

All the cell-phone analogy shows is that it's possible to imagine that some mental activity is really transmitted from elsewhere.

But we already knew that was possible to imagine: that's why we're having this conversation.

What's more, we know from experience that phone calls *don't* originate within the phone. We don't know that about any kind of brain activity. In fact experience (all experiments in this case) suggests just the opposite. Belief in transmission from elsewhere was more justifiable, merely as a hypothesis, before brain experiments were possible.

The only "evidence" so far that any mental activity originates from some non-material source outside the body is the brain's proven, ancient ability to imagine that that's the case. But the brain can imagine lots of untrue things. And has. Mine does it every day.

Mrrzy's question is crucial. The material evidence is not only evidence *for* a material explanation, it's also evidence *against* non-material explanations. Where is the non-material evidence - other than feelings - to counterbalance and contradict it?

I'm not saying that a non-material influence is logically impossible, only that there's no objective reason to believe in one. If believing in one makes a person feel better, that's a good thing. If it makes a person do objectionable or dangerous things, like hating people or blowing himself up, that's different.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Mrrzy
Date: 23 Aug 11 - 02:42 PM

(What about feeling better about blowing people up?)


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Amos
Date: 23 Aug 11 - 02:43 PM

Lighter:

I think it would be as logically sound to assert that the only evidence that thought rises from matter in the brain is the spirit's ability to imagine that is the case.

As for there being no objective reason to consider non-material sources, that's tautological, obviously.

Furthermore the annals of borderline non-material experiences collected by a wide array of authors (e.g., V. Zammit, Melvin Morse, M.D, KEnneth Ring, Moody, Dr. Robert Crockall , Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, etc.) is ignored on the grounds that it is non-objective. A Gallup poll in 1992 found that 5% of US adults had had a NDE. That's a lot of purely circumstantial non-evidence, if you work the numbers out. Here are a collection oftheir tales. If you can get over the instinctive repulsion toward anecdote, you'll find some interesting common denominators. See also Michael B. Sabom's 1982 "Recollections of Death". Here are some more such tales. I am not going to do anymore homework for you, though.

The value of these anecdotal collections is not in their empirical proof of anything, but in the distribution across the species of certain kinds of experience not readily accounted for by existing models. They are anomolies, from the perspective of a hard-core material paradigm and they are extremely uncomfortable because of thenumber of questions that would be raised if the primary agreed-on paradigm were to be invalidated, or its limits recognized.

Of course you can resort to whole-cloth rebuttal of all these people by saying it just ain't so. That way lies intellectual redneckery of the first order. It would make sense to me to allow the unknown to exist.

I am reminded of Dylan singing "Something is happening here but...".


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Mrrzy
Date: 23 Aug 11 - 03:07 PM

Near-death experiences have a lot of stuff in common, all of which can be explained by the functioning of the brain.

See a tunnel with a light at the end of it? What else would you perceive as your sight fades?

Feel euphoria? You get that when you're freezing to death, too, and a lot of other physiological approaches to death.

And so on.

Out-of-body experiences? They can be generated in the lab now. And that was fascinating, if I find the link to the article (I *think* it was NPR) I'll post it.

Right-hemisphere epilepsy is answering a lot of other questions, too.

Again, there is no evidence that anything experienced isn't brain.

Doesn't mean it isn't the flying spaghetti monster doing it - just that there is no reasonable reason to posit the possibility.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 23 Aug 11 - 03:42 PM

Feeling good about blowing yourself up is bad because it could lead you to end your otherwise acceptable life prematurely and/or injure or kill perfectly innocent people who have a right to keep on living unharmed.

It's an ethical question, so it's tangential to this thread.

However, somebody who really, really wants to blow up will probably be very difficult to reason with anyway.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Stringsinger
Date: 23 Aug 11 - 05:18 PM

Not so tangential because it is motivated by religious extremism.

The cellphone is not a brain. The brain simulates virtual reality as well as what we think of as objective reality. The cellphone is an instrument produced by the brain and requires one to have a brain to use it.

Cellphones don't make calls, people make calls (to paraphrase the NRA).

"Materialism" is a philosophical construct that makes no sense in a scientific frame.
The word is ambiguous because what it generally means is anything that is metaphysical in concept is a contrast. Metaphysics is a philosophical construct that can't be scientifically observed or verified. You can argue for it mathematically but that's about it.

There is plenty of scientific data to support the manipulation of the brain to produce "religious" feelings through neurological stimulation.

The antiquated argument of "mind" versus "brain" goes back to the mythology of Des Carte's "homunculus".


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: wysiwyg
Date: 23 Aug 11 - 05:26 PM

I opened this thread to see if it had devolved yet into the usual MudCycle around religion discussions, and BOOM, that was when the earthquake hit central PA. (Did God send it, or did Boberdz?) ;~)

It tickled. I kinda liked it. But then I think God is good, all the time.

~Susan


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Mrrzy
Date: 23 Aug 11 - 06:19 PM

Hee hee! I think it was the one that hit Virginia about 25 miles from my house... LOUD mofo! Missed me, though, I guess, now does god have to kiss me?


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Amos
Date: 23 Aug 11 - 07:33 PM

SIgh. I am thrilled to be in such astute and certain company. I am glad to hear the the universe is not a hologram, but a shoebox inside of which everything thought or seen somehow fits, and I will be glad to let Karl Pribram know he was badly in error. Or, maybe I will wait on that for a bit. I do think there is a huge gap in qualitas between the way things seem to us and the way we appreciate their seeming, to put it another way. But I have said my say on all that, and still hold you all in the highest esteem. OF course, there's no evidence for that other than my say-so. Maybe its subjective and you'll just have to take my word for it.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 24 Aug 11 - 09:32 AM

I'm not certain about very much. I'm almost certain, though, that the universe isn't a hologram. Or a shoebox. Or anything but itself.

We learn about it by examining what it does and how rather than imagining that it operates in ways we'd like it to.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Bill D
Date: 24 Aug 11 - 10:47 AM

Amos said: "If you can get over the instinctive repulsion toward anecdote,..."

Perhaps there's a good reason for being repulsed..(or at least, wary).. of anecdote(s)?

There are many anecdotes of folks being 'spoken to' directly by God... and anecdotes of BigFoot.... and of visitations by aliens or ghosts. What is hard to study is how many memories of those experiences were influenced BY other anecdotes. An anecdote says there was 'something' that was experienced, but similarities in anecdotes could mean only that we process & interpret certain subjective happenings in similar ways...partially by comparing them to stories we have heard.
Then, there are the non-anecdotes.....that is, all the millions of people who shrug and say "gee...nothing like that ever happens to ME!"

Point being, there are many ways to interpret certain seemingly similar experiences, and it is not necessarily the most interesting way that proves closest to correct.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 24 Aug 11 - 12:45 PM

There's also the issue of the comparative strength of the evidence.

In 1412, let's say, you'd probably have to be insane to believe that the earth revolves around the sun. The best possible evidence was just the opposite: everybody could see with their own eyes what was going around what. Later, when Copernicus suggested the opposite, it was mainly because the theory that the earth is the center required - he thought - too many complicated movements of the stars and planets. Copernicus bet that God operated more simply and directly than that. He showed that imagining the sun at the center of the solar system was a simpler and more elegant pattern. Of course, he couldn't prove it was true.

Since then, the success of countless calculations based his idea, including moon landings and space probe successes based on them, have proved that he was right.

However, the contrary evidence still exists: I see the sun going across the sky every day, and so does everybody else. What's more, we have several billion more witnesses than in 1412!

But it doesn't matter. You have to go with the more powerful evidence, and science has always provided more powerful evidence than strong beliefs and conjecture.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: GUEST,Sally Brown
Date: 24 Aug 11 - 04:49 PM

I just finished (blush) the last of the very terrible Jean Auel series. She suggests that the beginings of the male god image came from men deciding to take control of female reproduction.
I have thought that the impulse toward the supernatural is an inborn thing that some brains have and some don't, and that it is related to feelings rather than logic.
My interest in religion and politics has more to do with the male image of god - surely counter-intuitive, since reproduction is a female thing. So is co-operation, something the female brain is more given to than the male.
I had presumed that the male god image was the product of the warrior cultures, and that they would overcome the more peaceful goddess cultures in battle, and, incidentally, produce a power-centered rather than cooperation centered form of government.
I have read many fairly early pieces which seem to refer to a time of conflict. For instance, the Christian bible, which refers to the snake - symbol of the goddess - as evil, and the Authurian tales, which refer to the battle between the new way, represented by Gwenevere, and the old way, represented by Morgana in which Morgana is represented as evil. There are, of course, many references between the two, but the number of centuries represented suggest that it took a very long time for the male god image to become pre-eminent.
Spoke to spouse, who believes that the male god image is all about a stronger male, envious of the more magical female, choosing to own the females, and the female magic. I guess it all sounds like part of a pattern, but is the left and right leaning government which, in the USA, can't even speak to each other part of the same pattern?
Is it all ownership - cooperation as a basic battle?


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Stringsinger
Date: 24 Aug 11 - 07:00 PM

Fortunately, women have always been for the most part the civilizing part of society.

The notion of masculinity is one of the big mythical constructs that have lead our country into war and denigrated the rights of women.

This is reinforced by all of the world's leading major religions. The bible, torah and the koran have kept women down as slaves to the male masters. Women as subservient to men is a major problem and fostered by shooting- herself- in- the- foot Bachmann.

The male brain on god has run wild with violence and punitive punishment and Bachmann will not be able to pray it away.

This supersedes the left and right politically in the country because male chauvinism
is practiced on both sides of the political aisle; the crowning jewel of this decadence can be shown in the anti-abortion issue.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Mrrzy
Date: 24 Aug 11 - 09:20 PM

Well, at least she isn't shooting from a helicopter!

Yeah, but, then again, there were cutures where the one place prisoners didn't want to end up was given over to the women...


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Joe Offer
Date: 24 Aug 11 - 11:01 PM

Stringsinger says: The bible, torah and the koran have kept women down as slaves to the male masters.

Well, Frank, what you say worries me. It feels like you'd like to have these books suppressed. The Bible, Torah (first five books of the Bible), and Koran are sacred books, but they are only books. It's people who have oppressed women, and it's people who have the power, intelligence, and responsibility to end that oppression. The books have been written, with their faults. I see no reason why they should be changed or suppressed.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Mrrzy
Date: 24 Aug 11 - 11:21 PM

Nothing that he said even hinted at a thought of suppressing the books - why would you think something like that from his description of their treatment of women?


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Joe Offer
Date: 25 Aug 11 - 01:58 AM

Read what I said again, Mrr. I worded it carefully.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Stringsinger
Date: 25 Aug 11 - 10:06 AM

No Joe, I think people should have access to all books be they "Mein Kampf", "The Manifesto" or any of the religious books. I have read the bible because it is an index into
the popular mind. I have read a little of the koran and the torah as well. I even have read some of the Tea Party tracts and other stuff I definitely don't agree with. I am not in favor of changing any books but I don't have to agree with them especially since they are given status as "books".

I am not in favor of banning books so that can't be pinned on me.

It's the same old tautology, Joe. "Books don't write books, people do."

Books are often used as weapons and that's exactly why they should be read.

Once read, then they can be rejected if need be.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Stringsinger
Date: 25 Aug 11 - 10:08 AM

I recommend North Carolina Professor, Bart Ehrmann's scholarly books on the bible.
It's a real insight on how these myths are created.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Lizzie Cornish 1
Date: 25 Aug 11 - 10:36 AM

Has Stephen Dawkin worked out where The Black Hole came from yet?

Just askin'.....


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 25 Aug 11 - 11:05 AM

Has anybody "worked out" where God came from?

If God can exist without being created, why not the Cosmos itself?

How do we know that the totality of all the elements and energy that exist required creation? And if they did, why doesn't God require having been created? And if He does, where did he come from? But if He always existed, why can't that be just as true of all that exists?

The difference between the idea of an eternal Cosmos and the idea of an eternal God is that God cares about you, and the Cosmos couldn't care less.

(The Greek and Roman gods cared about people too, but that was definitely a mixed blessing.)


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Amos
Date: 25 Aug 11 - 11:52 AM

God came from the imagination of a long series of tool-users, who projected their talents on the universe (as humans have done for millenia). At least, "God" in the current cultural sense of an individual viewpoint responsible for Creation. Although I think this mythic definition is flawed and easily made toxic, I think like all myths there may be a germ of some sort of truth behind it--but very far behind. I do not personally think that any actuality behind the myth could even be defined with anything as facile as a verbal label, and almost every conversation I've heard on the subject becomes, for this reason, a wheel spinning exercise, performed on a vicious circle of Klein-bottle dimensionality.


A


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Bill D
Date: 25 Aug 11 - 12:00 PM

...well, now that we have all THAT cleared up.


("Stephen Dawkin"??) *grin*


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Mrrzy
Date: 25 Aug 11 - 05:29 PM

No, no, it's a fun roller-coaster ride on a Klein bottle! What a great analogy!

At least, nobody has been vicious yet, and I haven't even had to restrain myself much...

I'm just glad that neuroscience is answering more and more of the hitherto-thought-to-be-unanswerable questions about the mind. So cool. Doesn't teach a rationalist anything about the nature of deity... but it may take care of the agnostics... the faithful will still believe, the rationalists already knew, but the research might just take care of any lingering doubts for the doubters.

I just don't understand why some believers have to deny the science - isn't it enough for this to be the way the world was created?


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Joe Offer
Date: 25 Aug 11 - 05:36 PM

So, Amos, WHAT was that you said????

[grin]

love,

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Bill D
Date: 25 Aug 11 - 05:52 PM

No....for many it is not nearly enough. When one has their entire life and psyche committed to a particular view... and all the religious art and music and stories of several thousand years as inspiration, it makes little difference what science claims to discover. We humans are 'special' in being able to rationalize and have 'opinions' about facts. We CAN invent stories that satisfy our psychological needs, so we do. It isn't even surprising.

Just make a list of things that are-- or have been-- 'believed' in our 35,000 years of progress towards rationality...from Heliocentric universe to flat earth to Astrology to ghosts to..... well, you know.... It is so pervasive that *I* would not wish a sudden universal revelation about truth, logic and reason to overwhelm 70% of humankind. The shock & upset, I suspect, would cause much chaos. Since we 'probably' will not ever see the ultimate metaphysical mysteries 'solved', I'd rather see succeeding generations come around gradually to my attitude.
All I worry about for now is preventing those with 'agendas' based on specific belief systems from taking over any more of the socio-political landscape than they already do!


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Mrrzy
Date: 25 Aug 11 - 07:00 PM

But why commit your entire life and psyche to a particular view that has already been demonstrated as false?

There are countries in Europe who are giving up religion...

And it's hardly sudden. These data have been accumulating for hundreds of years. Granted, religions have been around for millenia, but what choice do the ignorant [of science] have but to believe in thunder gods? Haven't we outgrown our fairy tales?


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 25 Aug 11 - 07:24 PM

>But why commit your entire life and psyche to a particular view that has already been demonstrated as false?

Because you don't grasp the basis of the other argument, or because what you already believe feels really good, or you just feel smarter than the opposition, or you prefer to hang on to a very doubtful but very appealing possibility.

In any case, you don't *feel* that your view has been "demonstrated as false." Hence the saying, "Well, what's true for you isn't true for me."

And remember: in the world of the unknowable, *anything* is at least remotely possible.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Bill D
Date: 25 Aug 11 - 08:06 PM

Lighter has said it succinctly.... I would write 10 paragraphs.

"Demonstrated as false" is simply one of those things people who don't WISH to hear, will not hear.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 25 Aug 11 - 09:08 PM

Even if it is true. :)


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Mrrzy
Date: 25 Aug 11 - 09:20 PM

Of COURSE it's "remotely" possible - so is the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Pastafarians notwithstanding, I wouldn't "commit my life and psyche" to it.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Amos
Date: 25 Aug 11 - 10:15 PM

In the present subject, a lot of "demonstrated as false" is just as wishful as a lot of the religious claims made at the opposite extreme. The reasons have been hammered and yammered back and forth on these threads a dozen times. Physical science limited to physical data sets up a self-asserting system of logic. A predisposition for that system of logic leaves you firmly within its pale, just as a predisposition for accounting for ALL unknowns as attributable to Xanathassinon the Infinite and Mild would land you up in that camp.

There is a sort of facile willingness by the matter-mind set in these threads to believe (if not on faith, then on extrapolation which is very similar sometimes) that matter can create, and that understanding itself is just a particular twist of a complex set of molecules. As anyone who has been on any of these threads knows, I see this as a bridge too far, and not a conclusion consistent with what I see in the combined data.

But I also think that in the wide spectrum of different phenomena ranging from the most banal physical detection to the most abstract exaltation of inspired beauty, every individual will find his own place. Consciousness does not come from prescription, or even description, no matter how energetically asserted.

Eppur si muove.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Bill D
Date: 25 Aug 11 - 10:16 PM

Well, Mrrrz...obviously we need to clone you.. *grin*... and send all of you to vote OUT Rick Perry, who does think that way.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Bill D
Date: 26 Aug 11 - 12:01 PM

I've been thinking about Amos' statement..."Physical science limited to physical data sets up a self-asserting system of logic."

That's really an exaggeration/distortion of what physical science does. It simply measures and weighs what can be measured & weighed, and does not attempt to go beyond that. (If some individuals assert that they KNOW there is nothing else, they thereby implicitly go beyond what science qua science does.) The 'system of logic', properly understood, is not meant to refer to anything except its own parameters.

This does not mean that there must BE something beyond what science can measure, but only that we can conceive of the possibility. To define that concept as 'existing' because we name it is an equivocation on 'existence'.

Those who, like Amos, assert that 'mere' matter cannot give rise to all of the 'experiences' we have linguistic references for, must bear the burden of defending hypotheses that go far beyond the 'measurable'. "The burden of proof..." etc.
   It seems to me that metaphysical entities and realms can, by definition, only be explicated by using linguistic conventions that, when approached closely, react metaphorically much like physical stuff such as cotton-candy and blue smoke.

It is not science, but (some)metaphysics, which sees in conciousness some conditions which involve self-referential logic.

Eppur si muove indeed...and we can now measure what Galileo saw... but Eppur si cogito is a bit more elusive.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 26 Aug 11 - 01:10 PM

Nobody says that matter can create. But maybe what goes to make up matter, antimatter, dark matter, energy, gravity, etc., simply exists and, in the process, creates and destroys by reason of its nature.

What's been "demonstrated as false" is not belief in God, just the assumption that the existence of God, and His interest in individual human beings, is needed to explain the universe.

The existence of the Greek and Roman gods, BTW, has not been disproven either.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Amos
Date: 26 Aug 11 - 02:58 PM

Asserting that there are some phenomena that most everyone experiences--understanding, and creativity, for example--that are of a different order qualitatively than any chemical or electrical signal transfer system or compound of them--has nothing to do with divinity, which is just (IMHO) a hobgoblin and a strawman, and an easy kill. In the history of mankind there have been millions of insights and experiences which would have to be placed in the general order of spirituality, ranging from simple intuitions to colorful cultural icons endowed with cosmic powers, and everything in between. Let us work our way free of superstition by all means, and make ourselves more aware by all means. But let us neither throw out the baby with the bathwater nor drown him in it. ;>)

A


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Bill D
Date: 26 Aug 11 - 04:24 PM

Let us also not assume what the essential differences are between the baby and the bathwater. Maybe that primordial bathwater was 'enlightered'.

(...my metaphor is no better than your metaphor, but it's different. ;>)


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 26 Aug 11 - 04:51 PM

Maybe there is no baby, just different degrees of bathwater.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Amos
Date: 26 Aug 11 - 05:00 PM

Well, if nobody says matter can create, and yet humans can create, it follows that nobody says humans are only matter. OF course there are many people (some even here!) who would prefer to think and say it, but Lighter has assured us that no-one is saying it.

I like Bill's metaphor--enlightened bathwater. We are not made of godstuff, but of the bathwater of the gods. Hmmmm.


A


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Bill D
Date: 26 Aug 11 - 05:24 PM

I never met-a-phor I didn't like.

Bill--channeling Will Rogers


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Jack the Sailor
Date: 26 Aug 11 - 07:04 PM

Gods without believers whither and die.

The usefulness and belief in any god depends on two things, explaining the inexplicable and providing instructional stories and metaphors for our own lives.

Greek storytelling lives on in our science, especially psychology and philosophy. But the belief in probability theory, has replaced them as causal agents.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: GUEST,Mrr
Date: 26 Aug 11 - 08:44 PM

I think you meant "wither" and die... hee hee!

And don't neglect one of the basic premises of chaos theory - SENDOIC:
SENsitively Dependent On Initial Conditions.

Cuold start the same but won't end up the same!


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Amos
Date: 26 Aug 11 - 09:09 PM

A man's reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a meta for?



A


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: gnu
Date: 26 Aug 11 - 09:43 PM

I'll give ya three.... maybe three twenty five.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Bill D
Date: 26 Aug 11 - 10:31 PM

Sometimes when a man's reach exceeds his grasp, he is grasping at 'straw men'.

Bill o' the Wisp


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Jack the Sailor
Date: 26 Aug 11 - 11:46 PM

Who will grieve for the Gods who have expired?

We understand electricity. Thor has no relevance. But as a concept he was so cool. Will he only live in comic books and movies?


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Amos
Date: 27 Aug 11 - 12:23 AM

I think you will find them when needed, within. That's where they came from, after all.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Bill D
Date: 27 Aug 11 - 11:53 AM

"Then one old greybeard of a god spoke, saying: "I am the Lord your God. Thou shalt have no other gods before me!"

...and all of the other gods died laughing."

   Nietzsche: "Thus Spake Zarathustra"


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Stringsinger
Date: 27 Aug 11 - 12:36 PM

"Physical science limited to physical data sets up a self-asserting system of logic."

Scientific "Logic" is always tested and changing. Religion sets up a self-asserting system of logic that is frozen, rigid, never changing and uncreative.

The baby in the bathwater turns out to be the unsupportable assumptions that religion gives us; characterizing this as a baby is oxymoronic because this baby will never grow or evolve, it will remain dormant and still-born.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Amos
Date: 27 Aug 11 - 03:03 PM

Here's a funy piece on a collateral issue:

What Non-Christians Want Christians toHear.

Frank, I think your stern and adamant opposition to "religion" (at least as it has mostly been practiced in groups here) is admirable and I applaud it.

However the bathwater of which I was ambiguously speaking is not religion, but the possibilities of spirituality without a mess of labels or categorical mandates attached to it. This is a very different proposition.

I have never proposed or suggested anything remotely like what you are combatting against. Will you please notice, in the excerpt you tried to rebut, that I did NOT say scientific logic--I said physical science limited to physical data.

If you take a population survey and find that --just for a madeup example--80 per cent of those surveyed--with a large base population reporting--have experienced a distinctly telepathic event, or an out-of-body perception, it is pretty poor science to reject the whole collection of data on the grounds that it requires more than a purely physical explanation.

The possibility that you have a spiritual nature broader in scope and capacity than that defined by your body is not an unsupportable assumption, and is not beyond science's logic. Just its current practices and general bias.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Jack the Sailor
Date: 27 Aug 11 - 03:12 PM

Stringsinger,

You are saying that religion does not evolve or change? LOL. Carry on!


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Mrrzy
Date: 27 Aug 11 - 03:45 PM

I think it's more the humans who cling to superstition and deny demonstrable reality who will not be able to evolve or grow...

But the "unsupportable assumptions" (which i have called demonstrably false) have to be the bathwater, not the baby, unless you want to throw out the baby and keep the bathwater for some unknown reason, maybe hurricane prep, we are supposed to be having water at hand (doesn't it occur to anybody that the hurricane brings a lot of water with it?)...


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Amos
Date: 27 Aug 11 - 04:18 PM

LOL, Mrrz!

Metaphors certainly do cloud the air don't they? Yet a huge per cent-age of our cognitive machinery is built out of these non-specified parallelisms or pattern-assertions which we call analogies and metaphors. You can take that to the bank!! :D


A


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Bill D
Date: 27 Aug 11 - 05:50 PM

When people engage in various religious ritual, *knowing* that they are employing icons and metaphor to help them focus on their attempts to cope, they often manage quite a lot without buying into literal interpretations of the texts and 'heroes'.
   I know one person who, when they have a personal issue to sort out imagines a Little Blue Angel sitting on her shoulder, offering advice and whispering comforting thoughts. She KNOWS it is a metaphor and an idealized entity, but it seems to help to have a sounding board, even when you are playing both parts.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Mrrzy
Date: 27 Aug 11 - 06:12 PM

Amos, remember the Star Trek aliens who spoke only in metaphor?

And I like the little voices in my head...


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: wysiwyg
Date: 27 Aug 11 - 10:11 PM

(hi Bill)

~S~


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Stringsinger
Date: 28 Aug 11 - 10:30 AM

Hi Amos,

Population surveys show that the human brain is active with superstition and remember what happens when people react on the basis of their "instinct" or "gut". (Does Bush foreign policy come to mind?) This 80 per cent is not valid data because it hasn't been legitimately tested. It's the old fallacy in classical logic, "People have always believed".

"Spirituality" is one of those words that can't reasonably be defined because as it suggests, it is made of, well, spirit which is some kind of air or "nothingness".

Jack the Sailor,
Laugh all you want but the nature of religion is fixed upon ideology, and if it changes, it does so by becoming diversified by competing fixed ideologies,
hence we have wars, tribal feuds, auto-da-fes, Crusades and internecine struggles between sects of one particular religion. Why people fight over religion is that the more it is accepted, the more authoritarian it becomes. One way it changes for the better is when people begin to see what it is and reject it. It would be enlightening for people to become adults and lessen their dependency on father figures, angels and sky gods.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Stringsinger
Date: 28 Aug 11 - 10:49 AM

P.S. Scientists are not known to have interpersonal feuds that lead to bloodshed.
Their competition is to evaluate and fight for acceptance of new ideas, not rigid,
frozen ones, and when new discoveries occur, they are eventually accepted in the scientific community.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 28 Aug 11 - 01:23 PM

A scientist who "fights for" the acceptance of a new idea is probably a pretty bad scientist.

Scientists analyze, experiment, and report. If new findings are replicable by others, they're ultimately (and tentatively) accepted.

If they're not replicable, and the "discoverer" continues to "fight for" them without refining the experiments further, he or she may well be deluded.

Visionaries, religionists, and politicians "fight for the acceptance of new ideas." Scientists don't care if an idea is new or old, so long as experimentation shows that it best describes and predicts reality.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 28 Aug 11 - 01:31 PM

Just to prevent misunderstanding: simply proposing and refining a new theory isn't quite the same as "fighting for" it.

If fighting is really necessary (as it occasionally is), it's secondary to what scientists usually do, and it's done through more analysis, experimentation, and reporting.

It isn't done through propaganda, for example.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Bill D
Date: 28 Aug 11 - 01:56 PM

(Hi, Susan) (it never ends, huh?)


" Why people fight over religion is that the more it is accepted, the more authoritarian it becomes. "

Sadly, this is too often true. Right this minute we have WAY too many politicians who are trying to ride the coattails of very conservative ideology into higher & higher office. There is no doubt in my mind that, notwithstanding the Constitution saying "..no law " "respecting an establishment of religion,", there are forces at work that would favor one basic religion until the situation was indistinguishable from 'establishing'. There are lines in the Bible that, taken literally, demand that serious believers make every effort to make sure that everyone else 'believe'.
   I simply don't know how to answer those whose reasoning is circular, "I really accept the Bible as the **word**, and it tells me to spread the word....thus, anything done in the name of 'truth' is justifiable!"

ummm... it is also an interesting question to ask 'moderate' believers.."Why is the bible-thumping fundamentalism NOT the way to go?"

I really, really expect religious 'faith' to endure & prosper for many centuries...so the real question is: 'How can we co-exist sanely?' There ARE religions ...and many of the religious... who do NOT demand I believe as they do and are content to worship quietly and treat MY non-religious attitude with respect. I can...and do.. deal with them regularly. But when I see the political upheaval these days, I am worried that a Rick Perry or MIchelle Bachmann WILL win and try to do unholy ummmm...holy.. things to the 1st amendment.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Jack the Sailor
Date: 28 Aug 11 - 02:01 PM

So stringsinger you are saying that religious ideas never change. Except when they do. But that change doesn't count because the change is from one "fixed" state to another?

Religion does change. In Christianity denominations are constantly evolving with and reacting to the times.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Paul G.
Date: 28 Aug 11 - 05:07 PM

"In Christianity denominations are constantly evolving with and reacting to the times."

Entities evolve to assure survival of the species, no? So the evolution of a belief system, a non-biological, but institutional process, must be to maintain momentum -- power -- relevance. Seems to me that if a belief system needs to evolve then it needs to be discarded, like the earth-centric view of the solar system...


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Mrrzy
Date: 28 Aug 11 - 05:09 PM

Of course religions change what their ideology says - what doesn't change is that it is an ideology. It it were a reality, it wouldn't require religion to believe in it.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Jack the Sailor
Date: 28 Aug 11 - 08:16 PM

Please take the snide remarks and religion bashing to another thread.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Mrrzy
Date: 28 Aug 11 - 08:48 PM

Oops, sorry, didn't mean to have my tone creep over into that one. But stringsinger is not saying what is being argued, and I was trying to clarify something obvious to me. No reason to be snotty about it, though, you're right.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Amos
Date: 28 Aug 11 - 09:08 PM

If new findings are replicable by others, they're ultimately (and tentatively) accepted.

This naive porposition reflects a sad ignorance of the actual history of science.

"Better to err with Galen that be right with Harvey" is the classic representative remark.

Thehistory of Ignaz Semmelweiss, ridden out of town for discovering the contagion vectors causing childbed fever, is another grand example.

Look up the initial scientific responses to thetheory of tectonic plate shift, as well. These three examples are just off the top of my head and they are representative of thousands of other case histories.

Science has a fine upstanding theoretical ethic and method to it, don't get me wrong. But don't confuse the way it is "supposed to" happen with the way it actually goes down . There are too many exceptions to the rule.


A


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Mrrzy
Date: 28 Aug 11 - 09:42 PM

the quote is "ultimately" - not necessarily in their lifetime. Look at plate tectonics (40+ years) or galileo.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Stringsinger
Date: 29 Aug 11 - 10:57 AM

Jack, religion is not predicated on change. The ideology remains the same.
It maintains an immutable set of principles which are inflexible. The only change that can come is when those principles are abandoned or altered. If they are altered, they become a new fixed set of principles that are not based on science.

Science is changing all the time as new discoveries are made.

A religious ideology by its very definition doesn't change; it is an arbitrary construct by someone's idea of either what the bible or other holy book is, usually a person designated to be an authority by those who advocate for the religious point of view.

The point of religious ideology is to keep everyone in line with a specific type of thinking.
Otherwise, why have it? It's a control mechanism effectively used for political purposes through the ages.

I do not advocate violence against those who have religious convictions such as those being employed against Muslims in the US. Here, I disagree with Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens.

Guns and bombs will never change minds. We should learn that lesson instead of trying to Christianize Iraq or Afghanistan by methods being employed by the elite US military.

The same goes for Judaism and Islam as these religions are being used to oppress others.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Mrrzy
Date: 29 Aug 11 - 12:22 PM

Judaism less so. For some reason Abraham doesn't tell the jews to go out and conquer the way he seems to for christianity and islam. You have to be born jewish, maybe. I do know that Israel is busily outlawing converting away from judaism so that if you are, you must be...

But then again they are also trying to decriminalize murder if the victim isn't jewish, so they have their moments as well.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 29 Aug 11 - 02:20 PM

Amos, your examples have nothing to do with science and everything to do with the smug stupidity of some non-scientists, no matter what they call themselves.

BTW, I notice too that Semmelweis ex. is 150 years old, the Harvey exx. even older than that. I can't recall any twentieth- or twenty-first century scientist receiving remotely similar treatment either by a few by the scientific community in general.

That community wound up accepting the discoveries of Harvey, Semmelweis, Darwin, Einstein, and many more.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Lizzie Cornish 1
Date: 29 Aug 11 - 03:32 PM

I've always found it hard to understand why Stepen Dawkin is regarded as some kind of God by those in the Scientific world. What makes him so assured that he is right, when he no more has the answer than anyone else?


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Jack the Sailor
Date: 29 Aug 11 - 04:57 PM

Lighter, You talk about a small minority of Believers. Amos about a small number of scientists. Seems proportional.

I have no doubt that there are thing which are outside scientific orthodoxy now that will eventually, buts since it normally takes generations, how are we to know which ones?


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Amos
Date: 29 Aug 11 - 05:28 PM

Lighter:

Believe me, I have every respect for those who understand the discipline of science and apply it with an open mind. They make the world go 'round.

Although my classic examples were definitely archaic, I think you will find the tendency to stay within existing paradigms even at the cost of rejecting data points not consistent therewith is pretty well still alive and popular.

A


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 29 Aug 11 - 06:34 PM

> the tendency to stay within existing paradigms even at the cost of rejecting data points not consistent therewith is pretty well still alive and popular.

True, but real data can't be ignored forever. And there are so many more scientists working today with so much more and better equipment (and so eager for Nobel Prize) that paradigm-shifting information is less likely than ever to be shelved for decades or centuries.

Also, whatever short-sightedness and conservatism exists in scientific circles today is hardly equivalent to the treatment given Bruno, Galileo, and others - mainly by people who had no scientific training and who were 100% committed to an unshakable dogma.

They were afraid that if the earth were not the center of motion and of the universe, all religious belief would be undermined, because humans would no longer seem to be the focus of the Scheme of Things.

They were right about that much. Ironic, isn't it?


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Amos
Date: 29 Aug 11 - 07:27 PM

Well, droll for sure.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Bill D
Date: 29 Aug 11 - 09:11 PM

Lizzie... are you asking about Stephen Hawking the physicist, or Richard Dawkins the writer & atheist? Both are pretty smart....


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Stringsinger
Date: 30 Aug 11 - 01:02 PM

Lizzie, Richard Dawkins is a trained scientist and you have probably never read any of his books so are not qualified to evaluate him. You didn't even spell his name right if that's who you meant, not considered a god by anyone. If you mean Hawking, he is a genius on a par with Einstein, not a god.

The reason both have answers to questions is that they are educated and intelligent men, not some loud-mouth ignoramus that spouts garbage.

I am not including you in the last statement, but I do think you should be better informed before trashing those of which you obviously know little about.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Jack the Sailor
Date: 30 Aug 11 - 01:07 PM

Stringsinger

I asked when this thread stated for people to be nice.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Stringsinger
Date: 30 Aug 11 - 01:08 PM

"A scientist who "fights for" the acceptance of a new idea is probably a pretty bad scientist.

Scientists analyze, experiment, and report. If new findings are replicable by others, they're ultimately (and tentatively) accepted."

This is not necessarily true. Many new theories have had to be fought for by bucking the prevailing scientific community. Sometimes it takes a good fight to even have certain testable theories (or to use Dawkin's term, theorums) accepted. Eventually, after a good fight and overcoming the static nature of some in the scientific community, someone looks into the telescope. Charles Darwin, vilified, rejected but ultimately prevailed because of the fight for him of his contemporaries and friends such as T. Huxley.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Bill D
Date: 30 Aug 11 - 01:24 PM

Stringsinger... as one who largely agrees with you, I must echo JtS request to 'be nice'. It is possible to counter arguments without personal attacks. My post right above yours makes the same point about Hawking & Dawkins without calling someone names.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Mrrzy
Date: 30 Aug 11 - 01:35 PM

Well, such fights aren't usually fisticuffs... although there were those about the plate tectonics. But, they DO move...


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: GUEST,John
Date: 30 Aug 11 - 02:35 PM

Gee...

The world of religion that I live in is a world of love, peace and service.

The "ideology" that I subscribe to is in service to those ends. My faith strengthens me when those ends seem elusive and give meaning to my small successes.

Those ends, and the strength to pursue them seem so obviously "good" to me that I don't doubt that we are hard-wired to pursue them. How could we be human and not devoutly wish for these things?

I appreciate that rationality is very precious to many posters and that the resolution of faith and rationality is challenging. My recommendation is to try very hard to resolve them. We have lots of work to do and scarce strength to do it.

God bless.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Mrrzy
Date: 30 Aug 11 - 02:44 PM

The world of religion that I live in is a world of love, peace and service. Must be a nice place. Haven't visited it yet...

Those ends, and the strength to pursue them seem so obviously "good" to me that I don't doubt that we are hard-wired to pursue them. How could we be human and not devoutly wish for these things?

We are also hard-wired to lie, cheat and steal. Doesn't mean we have to nor should we, devoutly or otherwise, pursue them.

I am human and do not "devoutly wish" for anything that I can think of... but strive, yes. Hope, yes. Wish for, even, but not "devoutly" I guess.

Picky, picky. I have papers to grade and am stalling...


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Jack the Sailor
Date: 30 Aug 11 - 03:07 PM

"We are also hard-wired to lie, cheat and steal."

I don't believe that we are. I think that we are inadvertently taught those things by the behavior and example of others.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Mrrzy
Date: 30 Aug 11 - 03:38 PM

No - we evolved deceit and detection of deceit together. The emotion of righteous anger evolved to punish the deceivers who got caught, and that of guilt to keep those who get away with it under control.

Look at any other ape- you'll see.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Jack the Sailor
Date: 30 Aug 11 - 05:09 PM

I have seen other apes. I see no evidence that the are born liars and thieves. They are also capable of learned behavior, especially in psychology labs. Even so, it is quite an unscientific leap of faith to presume that each one of the other ape's behaviours is proof of some "hardwired" ability and tendency in people.

If people were "hardwired" to lie, wouldn't they be better at it? Certainly lies are simple enough to detect, especially in children.

I think lying cheating and stealing are more like swimming, than say breathing which certainly is hardwired.

People do not die because they don't know how to breath. But lots of people die for the lack of the ability to swim.

Can apes swim? I think so. But many would probably have to be taught how.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Mrrzy
Date: 30 Aug 11 - 05:34 PM

I didn't say they are born liars and thieves - just that they do deceive and detect deceit, and have emotions ready-made for deceit-based situations. All apes, including us, have those emotions, and communicate those emotions in ways that cannot be learned as they (facial expressions of emotions in humans) transcend culture.

And no, we aren't better at it because we are ALSO hardwired to *detect* deceit. The two abilities go hand in hand - or gene in gene, as the case may be.

There is some evidence that SIDS deaths can be caused by not knowing how to breathe as the glottis changes shape from allowing eating and breathing at the same time, as in infants, to the adult shape that allows choking to death on food, which we are also hard-wired to do by the very shape of our throats. But it's still a bad idea!


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Jack the Sailor
Date: 30 Aug 11 - 05:46 PM

I think that you are confusing coincidence with causality. But you are entitled to your opinion.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 30 Aug 11 - 06:07 PM

Deceit may be an evolved ability, but that doesn't make it "hard-wired." It may "evolve" under the press of circumstance on the individual rather than the species level.

What may be "hard-wired" in apes and humans is a general ability to solve problems in novel ways. (Whether humans can ultimately solve any problem remains to be seen.) If a problem can be solved through deceit, that doesn't make deceit, in and of itself, a "hard-wired" (i.e., instinctual and ineradicable) component of the human mind.

I can feel like fooling someone, but I can also decide not to. "Hard-wired" deceit would just kick in, like breathing. Whether apes can "stop themselves" from deceiving, once they get the impulse, I don't know.

Also, humans are not apes.

Just something to keep in mind.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Mrrzy
Date: 30 Aug 11 - 07:13 PM

Define hard-wired, then. I call it built in by the genes, which includes pretty much all evolved things. And just because we are hard-wired to do something doesn't mean we have to - WE have free will. Other apes may or may not.

And, yes, sorry, humans ARE apes. Look it up.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Jack the Sailor
Date: 30 Aug 11 - 08:37 PM

The article is saying that hard wired means that there are chemical receptors that "sense" "God" if we were "hard wired" to lie we would do it instinctively or there would be specific neurochemicals for lying. In my experience, I would have to agree with lighter's take.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Mrrzy
Date: 30 Aug 11 - 09:00 PM

But we Do lie instictively, or at least, out of reflex, mostly to protect ourselves - any child only exposed to truths will say they didn't do it when they did. And some people take to deceit better than others.

Hard-wired means a *lot* more than having a receptor for a particular chemical. We don't have a receptor for babies but we are hard-wired to have them.

I wouldn't say we are hard-wired for hamburgers just because we can taste their chemical components, either.

I don't know if there are specific neurochemicals, my guess would be yes, since we do know that there are different parts of the brain involved... I can look up some of that work for you, if you like.

There are different neurochemicals, for instance, for righteous anger as contrasted to frustration anger, and righteous anger is specifically triggered by the detection of deceit. The more I think about it, the more likely that appears, actually.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Jack the Sailor
Date: 30 Aug 11 - 09:38 PM

There are many hormones, receptors and other bodily chemicals involved in motherhood. You have heard of puberty? That's when the hardwiring begins.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Bill D
Date: 30 Aug 11 - 09:55 PM

Chimpanzees often engage in bullying, murder, stealing, deception for personal gain (especially in sex)...etc...Bonobos much less. (Bonobos use sex to defuse potential conflicts "Make love, not war!" )
It is not clear whether this involves DNA/hard-wiring, evolution, or a primate type of situational ethics. Perhaps a little of each. We certainly see aspects of ourselves when we observe them. Since 98% or so of our genes are the same, who is surprised?


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Amos
Date: 30 Aug 11 - 10:36 PM

I am sometimes puzzled by the energy with which people reject their better natures. Humans have always enjoyed an innate ability to contemplate ethics and right action, and to bother to choose an ethical path or a just decision in spite of impulses or habits. So if those lower impulses are "hard-wired". perhaps there is a part of our makeup that is not wired at all.


A


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 31 Aug 11 - 11:31 AM

To call humans "apes" serves only to blur the defining characteristics of each.

But you might as well call a German shepherd a chihuahua. I mean, how do *they* differ? I mean, really? Unlike apes and humans, they even belong to the same species.

Humans and apes may be grouped together under "Hominidae" for the purposes of cladistics, but that doesn't make their brains or their thinking or their spirituality (if any) the same. All it means is that apes and humans are more closely related than humans and monkeys, for example.

Try talking to a bonobo about symphonies or sports standings or the meaning of the universe and you'll see a difference right away.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Bill D
Date: 31 Aug 11 - 11:41 AM

You mean..*gasp" Desmond Morris deceived us all?

"The Naked Ape, which was serialized in the Daily Mirror newspaper and has been translated into 23 languages, depicts human behavior as largely evolved, to meet the challenges of prehistoric life as a hunter-gatherer (see nature versus nurture). The book was so named because out of 193 species of monkeys and apes only man is not covered in hair."

I am shocked!


(ummm...perhaps it's because it is so much easier to type 'ape' than "Hominidae" or "higher primate")


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Amos
Date: 31 Aug 11 - 12:52 PM

Confusing hardware with function is a deep error, IMHO. A dumptruck is not a Ferrari, and a buckboard wagon is not a rollerskate. An obsessive focus on structure instead of function would assert that they were all closely related as four-wheeled devices, a useless bit of associative thinking.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 31 Aug 11 - 12:58 PM

I agree, Amos and Bill.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Mrrzy
Date: 31 Aug 11 - 04:01 PM

Goodness, kindness and charity etc are all hard-wired too - we ARE a social ape.

Oh Bill - no more "higher" and "lower" since we got rid of the ladder metaphor for evolution - We Pedants prefer Older and Younger species - we are young. Of course, bonobos and chimps are younger, since they split from each other after the Hominidae split off from the rest of the apes... so that doesn't put us at the edge of any diagram... but that's OK with me!

But you can still (or, rather, again) use the word Primitive, since it means Like the first, which doesn't have any judgmentalicity (?) to it.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Bill D
Date: 31 Aug 11 - 04:12 PM

I can? Really? Can I refer to certain people as 'Primitive' also? . There are a few I know who stretch the concept of 'evolved'.

As a card-carrying Pedant (4th order Brown Belt) I begs yer pardon....


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Joe Offer
Date: 01 Sep 11 - 03:04 AM

I think I'd say that all beings are "hard wired" to seek what they deem to be good - first their own good, then the good of their community, then their species, and then (perhaps) their environment.
Lying and stealing may sometimes be deemed as "good," I suppose, but I'd like to think not usually.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 01 Sep 11 - 09:01 AM

Joe, if "hard-wired" has any useful meaning at all, it can only mean "genetically determined or encoded."

That means no choice. Your body makes the decision, and every functioning individual in the species does the same thing under the same conditions. They need to breathe, eat, digest, etc. Nurture and external conditions have little effect on genetically determined activities.

There is very little in conscious human behavior that could be interpreted as hard-wired.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Amos
Date: 01 Sep 11 - 09:24 AM

Some beings use bodies, others simply settle in and identify with them. Others,some of each. Hard-wired predispositions can be overridden when the necessity arises.


A


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Mrrzy
Date: 01 Sep 11 - 11:38 AM

I see it this way:

We are hard-wired for the MOTIVES (which are provided by our evolution) but have a choice, provided by our intelligence, when it comes to whether to exhibit the BEHAVIORS thus motivated, or other behaviors, or none. And it is the degree to which we exercise those choices that determines the degree to which we are civilized.

And *that* is my main argument against the fundies - that they voluntarily, seemingly, abandon that very capacity for evaluating and deciding, by choosing dogma over reason. It's dehumanizing, and that's what makes it so wrong to me. It's as if they have to revert to some atavism in order to deny evolution, and they thus make it true that they, at least, are refusing to evolve with the rest of humanity.

Because our current knowledge of the biologies is astounding, and we can bring all that knowledge to bear on a lot of important decisions that fall under the category of Should we act upon our urges.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Amos
Date: 01 Sep 11 - 11:38 AM

In fact, if hard-wired were all of that, there would be no such thing as a psychosomatic remission, a well-documented phenomenon. There would be no placebo effect. There would be no case histories of heroism under duress. It would be a pthetic little belief system indeed. Not impressive.


A


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Mrrzy
Date: 01 Sep 11 - 12:18 PM

How does the placebo effect mean our motivations aren't bred into us?


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 01 Sep 11 - 12:48 PM

Sure, the mind may be "hard-wired" to experience motivation. In fact, without motivation and motives, we'd be motionless and utterly apathetic. No mammal can survive that way.

But there are an endless number of motives and motivations. Some are beneficial to others, some neutral, some destructive, some very mixed. No particular motive or motivation is hard-wired into the species; in other words, inevitable and insuperable for everybody.

People starve themselves in hunger strikes, and kill themselves in other ways, including, as Amos points out, for altruistic purposes,so (evidently unlike most other creatures not in the act of protecting their young) humans are not even hard-wired for individual physical survival.

Certainly most of us are strongly inclined in that direction, but talk about hard-wired or genetically encoded thought and behavior (beyond the mere ability to think and behave at all) just muddies the waters.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Mrrzy
Date: 01 Sep 11 - 02:33 PM

Oh, come on. I mean, I respectfully suggest that there are basic emotions hardwired enough to have universal facial expressions - like disgust - which evolved to communicate important things like Don't eat what I just tried. How could you go from a sensation - a sight, a sound, a taste- to a complex series of muscle movements automatically without hardwiring?

There are other basic feelings, like righteous anger, which evolved to punish dishonest behavior. Not to mention fear, a really useful one you can use on so many occasions.

All humans *naturally* weep from sorrow and all humans can *naturally* distinguish between sorrowful and other crying jags through sound and sight...

...and the fact that many humans set themselves on fire which must be about a zillion times worse than a hunger strike doesn't make the fact that there are basic harwired eMOTIons, which evolved as MOTIves, to MOTIvate goal-directed behaviors, conducive to replication of the DNA that is doing all the wiring of which we speak disappear. It just makes our ability to choose, despite all these moti words, whether or how to BEHAVE, more obvious.

And *that* is what the fundies are trying to take away. The ability to have the knowledge to make that decision intelligently. The ability to choose to behave as your educated conscience dictates and not as your leaders tell you. The *desire* to have that choice.

It's dehumanizing, and it's wrong, and wish noone would prefer enforced ignorance over the abundant use of knowledge, it seems to me, just because the last several thousand years have added to the knowledge base we had back when their holy books were written.

I wonder how to be kinder in asking, what did they expect was expected of them?

And yes, there is robust scientific literature on everything I've stated, which you'd find online I'm sure if you'd like to read more on what I'm talking about


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Joe Offer
Date: 01 Sep 11 - 03:01 PM

Lighter, I don't really like the term "hard-wired," but I used it because that was the term being used.
Still, I think that every sentient being (not just human beings) has a natural tendency to move toward "good." Yes, we're free to make other choices - but I think our natural tendency is to choose what we perceive as good. I suppose that puts me at odds with the fundamentalists, with their belief in the "total depravity of human nature." Certainly, there is dysfunction and evil in the world, but I don't see the world as a whole as evil or dysfunctional.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Mrrzy
Date: 01 Sep 11 - 03:40 PM

Right, Joe, the world just IS (and isn't that amazing).

I don't mind the term hard-wired any more since I've learned a lot more about molecular biology and how DNA actually *constructs* different beings, when all it can tinker with *directly* is prenatal/hatching development, that is, the going from one cell, usually protected by something made of tissue (eggshells and moms and sometimes dads and other stuff/beings), to an organism in direct contact with whatever's outside itself once it's out of whatever it was in before it was born/hatched/whatever into the actual *world*. (Not to say that we don't keep developing after birth or metamorphose from an eating to a sexual form, we being DNA products. But I digress.)

After sexual maturity, it's up to products OF the DNA to do stuff to replicate DNA within that world.

And *we* get to say, Overruled! like Fred Gwynne to Joe Pesci in My Cousin Vinnie. I just *love* that.

And the movie too.

Anyway, in our case, our software (anything that rewires hardware through learning and postnatal experience) can result in behavior *other than* our hardware would dictate if we couldn't decide for ourselves.

I find it interesting that after we split off from the line ancestral to the chimp/bonobo line, said line split into two, each of which now exhibit a preponderance of using the behavior associated with one particular such basic emotion to run their society, each choosing one of the 7 deadly behaviors of humanity, if you will, in that they are those feelings which occur naturally and should be overriden by a civilized adult.

It's possible that their shared ancestor of chimps and bonobos, who is descended from our (all three of us current species)' shared ancestor, had both such strong motivations, and that it's the very exploiting different *behavioral* niches that split the line *int* chimps and bonobos.

Chimps are descended from those who were better at using Anger than Lust. Which means they were actually *better at reproduction* through something, anything at all, other than Lust. Think of that.

The bonobos, much more sensibly I think we all agree (kidding! kidding! about the agree part I mean!), are descended from those who were better at using Lust.

Humans seem to have started using both Sloth and Gluttony to excess - we already know it's likely we had both Anger and Lust already, we'd not have survived as a species without them nor had we not learned to handle them "appropriately" - whatever that means to the society into which we get softworn (I like that erm, I just made it up).

If we were bonobos, it would mean having sex all the time, without thinking about it.

If we were chimps, it would mean having fights all the time, without thinking about it.

I prefer thinking about it.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Amos
Date: 04 Sep 11 - 03:26 PM

I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.

Max Planck, As quoted in The Observer (25 January 1931)


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Amos
Date: 04 Sep 11 - 03:30 PM

The ability to have the knowledge to make that decision intelligently. The ability to choose to behave as your educated conscience dictates and not as your leaders tell you. The *desire* to have that choice.

Hear, hear!! I don't know about wiring but I believe this reflects some of the deepest impulses of consciousnessness --whether organic or not--and one of the fundamentals of civilization as it could become.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Stringsinger
Date: 05 Sep 11 - 12:09 PM

"If people were "hardwired" to lie, wouldn't they be better at it?"

Jack, U.S. presidents and some dictators have been very successful at it. Have you looked at US Congress lately? Doesn't that make you wonder? :)

Lighter, genetic potential doesn't mean that genes determine everything. IE: an alcoholic potential might be genetically transferred but this doesn't mean one with those genes would automatically become alcoholic. It's a genetic potential and not a fixed outcome, here.

There is a lot of misunderstanding about the "hard wired brain" which is yet to be discovered by scientists who are working on it.

One thing that seems to be in our DNA is behavioral adaptability. Which genes win out over centuries may be conditioned by the way our species behaves.

Can the genes of those who use violence and aggression to control and destroy other members of their species hold out over time?   I argue for adaptability and survival, not war and specialization.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Bill D
Date: 05 Sep 11 - 12:32 PM

"Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.

Ummm...Planck was a really bright guy, but I don't think he was up to speed in the details of philosophic logic.

His statement above is, as it stands, 'trivially true' in that we must BE conscious in order to "talk about" anything. Planck is no longer with us, and presumably not 'contemplating' anything, but we still contemplate him. If I could have interviewed him..(I was only 8 when he died).. I would have asked him what he thought 'existed' before we came along to experience it.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 05 Sep 11 - 01:31 PM

>Lighter, genetic potential doesn't mean that genes determine everything.

That's what I've been saying. That's why "hard-wired" is so misleading, even though newspeople like to say it on TV reports about evolutionary psychology, especially in questions: "Does that mean we're actually hard-wired to cheat on our spouses/ eat candy bars/ go to war/ drive fast, etc.?"

The answer is no.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Amos
Date: 05 Sep 11 - 03:08 PM

Bill:

It would be arrogant to assume that consciousness means "we"; and besides Planck did not attempt that thorny issue; he said what he said, and IMHO it is far from trivial. But philosophically I think quite removed from your own sense of reality.

A


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Stringsinger
Date: 06 Sep 11 - 02:00 PM

Consciousness, a product of gene pools, building blocks of proteins that find itself in brain construction, given to species mankind, who know that they die, know that they are born, is limited to that brain function, not outside of it.

Your brain on any god is a product of your brain and not outside of it, which has never been proven to be manifested scientifically.

When the brain dies, all notions of god(s) disappear and what is left in the collective gene pool remains to be questioned by future human generations.

This doesn't mean that we can't all be moral, decent people, with values, embracing our role as benefactors in human society.

This is probably inherent in our gene pool because it ensures our own survival, a kind of collaborative "selfish gene" (hello Dawkins).


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Mrrzy
Date: 06 Sep 11 - 06:56 PM

But we ARe hardwired to do all those things - we are ALSO hard-wired to think for ourselves and decide not to do what we're hardwired to do. Doesn't mean it isn't hardwired, like planes that are built to send out distress calls when they crash not meaning that they are built to crash.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: autolycus
Date: 06 Sep 11 - 07:00 PM

I have been given to understand that there is no wiring in the brain.


A religious belief is a brilliant idea simply because, at a stroke, by being a believer, you solve to your own satisfaction, some of the deep problems of life. Thus you save yourself any amounts of worry, agonising and thinking for yourself.

You no longer have to worry about why you're here, what life's for or how to live.

Imo.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Amos
Date: 06 Sep 11 - 07:05 PM

Frank: With all due respect, sir, your certainty about the event of death might just mean you have forgotten all of your own experience with it.

A


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 06 Sep 11 - 07:18 PM

By definition, you cannot decide not to do what you are supposedly "hard-wired" to do. You cannot decide, for example, to stop your blood from circulating just by concentrating on it. Circulation of the blood is genetically encoded; driving fast and eating candy bars are not.

If, for some reason, you want to use "hard-wired" simply to mean "able unless one would rather not," no one will stop you. But that will only add to the confusion.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Mrrzy
Date: 06 Sep 11 - 09:11 PM

Those things we would do automatically without thinking if we had no education or manners are still hardwired. What teaching kids manners does is allow them to use their will to *overcome* their hardwiring.

If they weren't hardwired, it would not take education or manners to stop those behaviors. People just wouldn't do them.

Rape, for instance, is hardwired into men, as it should be if we are to survive as a species. So is staying with batterers hardwired into women, again, to the greater survival ability of the species.

Rape is condemned by human *society* but that doesn't make it not hardwired. It just makes it reprehensible *in an educated, civilized adult* (but not in those with neither manners nor education, for whom it would simply be normal). And the degree of education it takes for a woman to leave her batterer is even greater - and sometimes not enough. That is why we have safe houses and intervening friends.

And the brain is the ONE organ we have where the "wiring" can be seen as it is closest to literal!


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Mrrzy
Date: 07 Sep 11 - 01:53 PM

There are no genes that directly make your blood circulate; rather, the genes that build you, do so with a circulatory system. One could say that circulation is less genetic than homosexuality, for instance, where there actually is a candidate gene or gene cluster that directly impacts hyoperfertility in female carriers and homosexuality in male carriers.

Yes, you cannot choose whether to be gay or not, only whether to behave as if you were in or out of the closet. But that's all I've been saying - that nurture gives us the choice to override our natures.

It should have the chance make that choice intelligent and educated, not dogmatic nor out of fear of authority.

Especially if such authority will not manifest till after your death, one would think.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Jack the Sailor
Date: 07 Sep 11 - 10:03 PM

>>Rape, for instance, is hardwired into men, as it should be if we are to survive as a species. So is staying with batterers hardwired into women, again, to the greater survival ability of the species.<<


I am sorry, but that is a silly idea.

Raping women is about the least reliable way to pass on one's genes. Fatherhood and bread winning is what we have evolved to.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Mrrzy
Date: 08 Sep 11 - 12:36 PM

JtS, you are a sweetheart.

Raping a 900 women a year (roughly three a day, which is maintainable), and taking care of one you don't rape, gets you a LOT more genes into the next generation than just taking care of the one you don't rape. And both rape and its proscription are human universals.

And women are wired to keep the strongest man around - and who is showing strength, the one who beats you or the other one? But you didn't argue with that one...


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: autolycus
Date: 08 Sep 11 - 07:26 PM

Action replay.


I have been given to understand that there is no wiring in the brain.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Mrrzy
Date: 09 Sep 11 - 11:13 AM

Neurons are closer to literal wires than probably anything else in the body...


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: autolycus
Date: 13 Sep 11 - 05:15 AM

...so you're correct, there is no wiring in the brain :-)


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Mrrzy
Date: 13 Sep 11 - 09:58 AM

Now you're just baiting me!


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Amos
Date: 13 Sep 11 - 10:20 AM

SOme the notions you say we are hard-wired for are kind of outside the pale of social interaction there, Mrrz. Besides.,..I think blaming the wires for an unsuccessful system call is like blaming the janitor for bad code in the operating system.

SOmetimes one can get so interiorized into playing with data and pictures that he loses sight of who is doing the observation and the considering thereof, and can spin into total meatballery. The fact that sucvh a state of mind can be rationalized and justified to a faretheewell does not earn it the cachet of truth.


A


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: autolycus
Date: 13 Sep 11 - 12:59 PM

"Now you're just baiting me! " [sorry, don't know how to italicise.]

I'm really really not. I simply want the maximum of clarity on this point, 'tis all.

I've often heard about this, that or the other thing being '[hard-] wired in the brain' yet I gather, not being a biologist myself, that there haint no sich thang.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Lighter
Date: 13 Sep 11 - 01:23 PM

If rape and spousal abuse were hard-wired and so beneficial to evolution and survival, it's hard to understand why, after more than 10,000 generations of human evolution allegedly "selecting for" such traits, most all men aren't rapists, most all women in abusive relationships want out, and rape is legislated as a crime in every modern society.

Legislated, I should add, historically by men.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Amos
Date: 13 Sep 11 - 01:33 PM

I think protecting one's spouse and young in orde to assure future survival is as hard-wired as any other instinct.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Mrrzy
Date: 13 Sep 11 - 01:34 PM

Rape was legislated as a crime in ancient societies too. Both rape and sanctions against rape are human universals.

Not everything that works is the only thing that works so there is no reason for it to take over. But it *does* work and it *is* a human trait. No need to

All battered women, I would think, *want* to leave. Nonetheless, unfortunately, most of them stay. Learned helplessness, say the psychologists. Certainly, say the evolutionary psychologists, just as it's easier to acquire a phobia of snakes than of butterflies, it's easier to learn some things than others. Preparedness, it's called.

Doesn't excuse anybody *choosing* the *behavior* of rape. Never said it did. But it *does* show why all modern societies *need* safe shelters for battered women... it's harder to UNlearn phobias of snakes than butterflies, too.

Also, and this is not a quibble, we've had a LOT more than a few hundred thousands of generations of evolving, even from the other apes!

And Amos, I was kidding! BG! Don't do emoticons...


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: autolycus
Date: 14 Sep 11 - 03:17 AM

Amos, can you give any evidence that instincts are hard-wired?


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Ed T
Date: 14 Sep 11 - 07:58 AM

""Rape was legislated as a crime in ancient societies too. Both rape and sanctions against rape are human universals"".

I question whether rape was broadly legislated in "ancient times", or a "human universal" (verses a social norm). This may need a bit more context and definition for consideration of "rape" and "legislation" (a crime), or "social taboos".

Many "more recent" human soceties legislated against rape. However, I suspect the definition of rape and when and where it was (is) not a crime differs. For example, it seemed acceptable in some societies as long it does not involve members of that society. Additionally, laws against rape within a union (marriage) seems silent in some societies.

I recall reading that in many ancient societies, the taking slaves from the opposing side and rape during or following conflict seemed quite common.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Amos
Date: 14 Sep 11 - 09:44 AM


Amos, can you give any evidence that instincts are hard-wired?


Nope.


A


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Lighter
Date: 14 Sep 11 - 10:24 AM

Rape in ancient societies was generally considered to be one of the worst of crimes.

As long as the victim was a member of that society.

The enslavement (and rape) of foreign women taken captive in war was regarded as perfectly normal.

With "instinct," "hardwiring," "genetic determinism," "genetic survival mechanisms," etc., all supposedly working together for thousands of years in a nearly ideal environment for success, how on earth did men ever legislate any kind of rape to be any kind of a crime?

Answer: because rape isn't hardwired into the human brain.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Mrrzy
Date: 14 Sep 11 - 12:23 PM

If it weren't, then there would be no need to legislate against it as it wouldn't happen...

Want some data? It helps if everyone has more facts to shout at each other... (I am misquoting somebody with tongue firmly in cheek)


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Lighter
Date: 14 Sep 11 - 12:33 PM

If it were, no legislation would work.

A tendency is not a determined factor.

But maybe you're claiming that *everything* an individual does is "hardwired," i.e. genetically determined. That would include all posts on this thread and everything else that anybody has ever done.

Fair enough. In that case, all free will is simply an illusion. Also fair enough.

However, we do live in a world where, illusion or not, free will appears to operate. But maybe that's also an illusion. Doesn't matter. In that case, genetic determinism has determined that we act and feel as though free will were real.

That makes the entire discussion about free will and determinism and hardwiring and everything else pointless. The operation of free will becomes indistinguishable from the operation of determinism.

Either way, there's no way out.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Amos
Date: 14 Sep 11 - 01:21 PM

<> all free will is simply an illusion. Also fair enough

No, it is not "fair enough". IF life, collectively, has any opponent in the universe it is the forces of entropic reduction and solidity that militate against creativity, ideals of any kind, ethics, and communication. If all these things are illusions, then we have complete justification for apathetic nihilism. Joy is just matter tricking itself. Ptui.

THis kind of mechanistic slavishness is pathetic in the extreme. There are better ways to live than getting stuck to the movie screen like a piece of mindless glitter.


A


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Bill D
Date: 14 Sep 11 - 03:40 PM

"Joy is just matter tricking itself."

It may be...and it may not be. The questions of whether it feels like that or not is distinct from the question of whether it actually IS.

Even IF we learn all there is to know about genes and DNA and brain chemistry, the ultimate resolution of the free will/determinism issue is probably not any more solvable than "Why is there 'something' rather than 'nothing'.'
We can construct a philosophic system to explain how free will might be derived (in fact, Alfred North Whitehead made a start at one) but it seems to be kind of technically impossible to measure/view/diagram the point at which 'freedom' happens....like running around behind yourself and observing your own motives as they are happening.

All we can say for sure is... it FEELS like we have some free will in certain areas, and we need to act as though we do, or most of our other actions lose relevance.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Amos
Date: 14 Sep 11 - 04:07 PM

HEre's the thing, Bill. You can flog a tiny word like IS around and you can mean some very different things by it. SOme people, for example, mean "is" to imply material existiance, and others use it to include experiential existence. Thought forms--the myriad architectures of the soul contemplating existence in all its many funny corners--do not exist in a material framework, yet they inform all our feeling and doing.

As Mister Clinton so sagely put it, it all depends on what you mean by "is".


A


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Lighter
Date: 14 Sep 11 - 04:37 PM

>All we can say for sure is... it FEELS like we have some free will in certain areas, and we need to act as though we do, or most of our other actions lose relevance.

But, Bill, we have no choice. If we have free will, fine. If we don't -as I tried to explain before - we don't, but one of the strange consequences of that kind of absolute determinism is that it has made us feel that we do and has given us no choice but to act as though we do.

So whether we have free will or not becomes entirely moot.

Because it is counter-intuitive (like the earth going around the sun), this seems to be a difficult concept for many people to grasp.

If someone decides they have no free will and everything they do is genetically determined, how do they know (and how do we know) whether that decision is the result of determinism or their own free will?

They can't and we can't.

Suppose someone does decide that they have no free will. In what way will their behavior change? They might begin to think, "Therefore I am a zombie and free to do whatever I want." But obviously that's wrong, because if they have no free will, as they've decided, they can't do *anything* they want. Their rejection of free will was 100% determined genetically. But so is someone else's acceptance of free will.

There's no way out of this loop. If you decide one way or the other, your decision is either determined or it isn't. But there is no way to know which it is. And no one else, including the jurors who try you for various crimes, can escape the same issue: do *they* have free will? If they find you guilty, did they choose to? Or did their genes force them to? If they have free will, so do you, and presumably you're guilty, because you decided of your own free will to act like a lawless zombie. But if you don't have free will, neither do they, and your guilty actions and their verdict were predetermined by everyone's lack of free will. Net practical result: you're found guilty and punished either way. Or cleared either way.

There's no way out, but fortunately the consequences of each view are, weirdly, identical.

...unless you *do* have free will, but decide it's a myth and decide freely to act as though you're a soulless robot - and then it turns out there's a Deity Who punishes those who try to renounce their free will, even though it's hard to know precisely what "renouncing your free will" means. (If you have free will, and choose to renounce it, you're doing something that's practically meaningless because you'll continue to have free will whether you like it or not.)

The Deity (if any) presumably has free will by definition, but what if He doesn't? If He doesn't, He wouldn't know it any more than we do. Surely He wouldn't take away your free will just because you were stupid enough to renounce it on the basis of a belief in hardwired brains, would He? But that's a different can of worms.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Amos
Date: 14 Sep 11 - 04:50 PM

Well, you certainly can ACT as though you have free will, by examining your decisions and seeking right action and right conduct, and using some standard of ethics, and fostering some sort of ideals to steer by.

If you do that you tend to live happier whether it is "true" in some synthetic sense of the word or not.

Lighter is completely correct that you are not going to find objective measures and proofs of these phenomena, because they don't operate in the objective sphere. There is no object called "will". There are by products in brain and CNS and muscle and glands and so on when it is exercised, but intentionality comes from the other side of the Great Divide between thought and matter.


A


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Ed T
Date: 14 Sep 11 - 05:32 PM

Consider this, iwhen you feel that rape is a universal human taboo:

""Sexual abuse (Rape) of children (India)

In 2007 the Ministry of Women and Child Development did a survey of children and young adults. [5] 53.22% of children reported having faced sexual abuse. 5.69% had been sexually assaulted (oral sex or penetration of vagina or anus). 21.90% of child respondents faced severe forms of sexual abuse including assault, exposure or being photographed in the nude. 50.76% reported other forms of sexual abuse including sexual advances in travel or marriage situations, exhibitionism and being forced to view pornographic material. 50% of abusers were known to the children or in a position of trust and responsibility. Most children had not reported the matter""



Source


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Mrrzy
Date: 14 Sep 11 - 09:35 PM

We have the will to override our biological urges. Some people are better at it than others, which is why there is still rape. Among other things. Like kindness, which some people also override.

Other apes' brains make decisions for them. We have minds and can make up our own, and then still decide to behave yet another way.

I love living in an era with fMRI. We are learning so much about our brains it's getting absolutely ridiculous. They can tell if you're thinking like a conservative or a liberal, and all kinds of fun stuff now.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Amos
Date: 14 Sep 11 - 10:23 PM

Compassion is also natural. It may actually have evolved into the genes, as it demonstrably aids survival by building stornger groups.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Bill D
Date: 15 Sep 11 - 11:16 AM

I don't think the import of my post differs significantly from that of Lighter or Amos. It IS (whatever you mean by 'is') a conundrum to even say: "I don't believe I have free will." In that philosophical sense, as Lighter says, "But, Bill, we have no choice"
   We either DO or we do NOT. In THAT sense we have no choice. But we all act as though we do, even if we posit a claim that we do not. (I have a good friend with whom I have been debating this for about 40 years. He 'thinks' that ultimately, we do not...but everyday he 'chooses'.)

My point, and the thesis of my unfinished Masters thesis, was that the ultimate answer is **by definition** not subject to 'proof'.

We can ...ummm... 'choose'.... premises such that within that logical system either answer is true, and as I said above, we can show how (as Whitehead did with his concept of "actual entities") free will might work. But since 'actual entities' are only a theoretical construct (no matter how much they seem to resemble quarks or other sub-atomic thingies ), we can only weave words that support whatever theory each of us supports....whether we chose it freely or not.

Ain't it fun?


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Bill D
Date: 15 Sep 11 - 11:17 AM

I 'think' I chose to get the 300th post....but....


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Mrrzy
Date: 15 Sep 11 - 12:49 PM

Quarks and thingies being, of course, also theoretical constructs...

And yes, it's fun as all getout.

Some nonhuman apes will go hungry rather than do something that would both get them food and hurt another member of their species. Don't know if they would starve or avoid non-conspecific's pain.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Amos
Date: 15 Sep 11 - 03:33 PM

On the other hand, to mistakenly consider an aggregate of actual entities as a final reality is to commit the Fallacy of Misplaced Concreteness [see below]; Descartes was guilty of this fallacy when he identified mind and matter as two distinct kinds of reality.


Oh, really. Remembering where you were on 9-11, or your thirteenth birthday, first kiss, or last triumph, for example invokes images that are clearly real (whether because they are believed or because they are experienced) and yet they are clearly not of the same order of concretude as films, holograms made in light, video pictures, or any other sort of material picture. Wherein lies the fallacy? Or are you going to commit the ultimate arrogance of asserting that these things are not real (except for yours) because they can't be objectified?


A


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Mrrzy
Date: 15 Sep 11 - 05:14 PM

Justice isn't an object, and may not be real, but injustice sure is real though not an object either!

Who was it said I can't tell you what it is but I know it when I see it?


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Bill D
Date: 15 Sep 11 - 05:34 PM

Take it up with Donald Sherburne, Amos. HE said Descartes was guilty of that fallacy. I simply point to the complexity of the argument.

" Or are you going to commit the ultimate arrogance of asserting that these things are not real (except for yours) because they can't be objectified?"

Perhaps the PENULTIMATE arrogance is being sure that you have the final clarification of what is...or is not... 'objective'. As I said, if you pick the right premises, you can defend any concept and its status in reality. God can be defended from certain premises...and memories can be defined in several ways, some of which partake of 'reality', and some otherwise. I know I 'have' memories, and I also know that some of them are flawed & incomplete. I have my opinions as to where they 'are' and why they are so vague & nebulous at times...and clear in other instances.
I presume that when I die, the 'reality' of my memories will be even more fuzzy. Does what others remember of what *I* told them count as my memories?Nawwww... I don't think so. I think they are gone...but if they are not, I can't imagine what kind of realm they 'exist' in.

(I have most of those books on Whitehead mentioned in the article...you read some of those articles and then "Process and Reality" and you are not sure what is real.) (Present company excluded, of course...*grin*)


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Ed T
Date: 15 Sep 11 - 05:49 PM

""We have the will to override our biological urges. Some people are better at it than others, which is why there is still rape.""

Seems just too simplistic to me. I believe research (social and other)indicates much more complexities than that.

I suspect there are many reasons for rape It would include abusive behaviour by adults on children(including sexual) which can contribute to abusive behaviour (including sexual)by the abused when they become adults.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Amos
Date: 15 Sep 11 - 06:41 PM

Bill:

I was arguing with his statement, not with you.

I hasten, too, to make an important distinction: my protesting arrogance because of an obvious exception to some bald assertion on his part is in no way equivalent to my asserting I have final clarification on what is objective. Individual certainty of seeing images of the past is --as far as I know-- universal. At least, everyone I have talked to about it--some hundreds of people--have it.

A


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Bill D
Date: 15 Sep 11 - 09:33 PM

Yup.. we all DO seem to "see images of the past", but too differing degrees. It is just not clear how real ANY of them are.

(I don't really consider that identifying one philosophic attitude as fallacious constitutes 'arrogance'. One can either affirm or deny the supposed fallacy...but on logical grounds, not as 'arrogance'.)


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Amos
Date: 15 Sep 11 - 10:29 PM

The issue is that someone can step forward and assert that others' images, hopes and thought-constructs are not "real" because they do not meet that person's criteria. If that ain't arrogant, I don't know what is. It's downright unAMerican, is what!! :D Calling it philosophy doesn't excuse it. It arrogates the sovereign ownership of the individual mind and its contents.

As to how real those things are, what do you mean when you say it is not clear "how" real any of them are? Are you asserting a gradation of realness with the "most real" being the most physically solid?

Clarity and solidity may be totally independent variables, I would suggest. It could be that certainty should be the index of reality, in which case love or truth might step right up tot he top of the scale above buckyballs and ball bearings.

I am not saying the material reality is not widely agreed-upon. Does that make it the senior echelon of "real"ness?

Man up, sir Billiam, and name your position!!


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Bill D
Date: 15 Sep 11 - 11:30 PM

Oh, I DO admit that 'agreement' is not the prime determanent. We can all name things that were agreed on, that later needed some UNagreement.

Now...as to "... someone can step forward and assert that others' images, hopes and thought-constructs are not "real" because they do not meet that person's criteria. That is not exactly what the gentleman said. He said that **Descartes** committed a logical fallacy. Descartes hisself weren't American, so....

"...the sovereign ownership of the individual mind and its contents." I'm not eggactly sure how a tautology shows "arrogating". Of course each of us 'owns'...whatever that can mean... the content of our minds. The philosophical point refers to the concept qua concept! Is it a reasonable concept to attribute 'reality' to "images, thoughts and hopes"? Obviously, we have referents when we use those terms, but many (yeah, like me) kinda think we need more flexible linguistic terms to clarify what 'reality' means when comparing 'hopes' and 'unicorns' and 'rocks' buckyballs. (Did you ever hear Bucky speak? I did... he makes this discussion seem dull...)

What IS my position? The shortest form at this hour...(remember, it's 3 hours later here).. is that there are words bandied about that have purty shaky credentials! My position is that the is a WHOLE lot of equivocation going on, and we need to be a lot more careful.

Further, (at this hour) deponent sayeth not


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Lighter
Date: 16 Sep 11 - 08:18 AM

Rocks are real. Frogs are real. Are they equally real? Sure seems like it.

My thought are real - to me anyway. Are they just as real as rocks and frogs?

Suddenly I can't be sure. Can you?

Are there various "levels" of reality? If so, what does that mean about everything else? If not, then thoughts are as real as rocks, frogs, and 747s. But what does *that* mean?

I can get the thought of a 747 into my head but not a real 747! What the...???!!!!!


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Amos
Date: 16 Sep 11 - 10:22 AM

Descartes was not the point; the point was calling him on a fallacy because he posited a duality between mind and matter. S. calls the fallacy "misplaced concretude". WTF is he talking about? It is of course such a fallacy to believe your pink elephants are real, but why assign the fallacy to Descartes?

A


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Mrrzy
Date: 16 Sep 11 - 12:20 PM

Descartes walks into a bar and orders a whisky. Bartender asks, want a chaser with that? Descartes answers "I think not" and poof! he disappears.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Lighter
Date: 16 Sep 11 - 12:27 PM

That would pretty much prove the "cogito" business.

True story?


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Bill D
Date: 16 Sep 11 - 01:01 PM

Yes.. in 6-7 years as a philosophy major, I heard most of the variations on the Descartes lines... "I think I think, therefore I think I am....I think."

["Putting Descartes before de course."]

The Kant & Hegel jokes are a bit more obscure....


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Amos
Date: 16 Sep 11 - 01:52 PM

Up against two or more of the most fundamental questions in human discourse, the Cat once agains slips off into third-hand puerilities.

Posited: that for one human to ascribe unreality to the thoughts of another arrogates the individual right to define his own mind. True or False? Discuss.

Posited: that mental images and constructs are real, but are not physical. True or false? Discuss.

A


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Lighter
Date: 16 Sep 11 - 04:47 PM

> Posited: that for one human to ascribe unreality to the thoughts of another arrogates the individual right to define his own mind. True or False? Discuss.

False. Should other minds exist - as I presume they do, Individual B can keep on defining his own mind in any way likes. Individual A can't "arrogate" anybody else's right to what's in their head. If anything.

> Posited: that mental images and constructs are real, but are not physical. True or false? Discuss.

Currently impossible to determine. If they're real (in the sense that they truly exist), they may or may not be "physical" (in some sense). Or they may be somewhere in between. Thoughts may be "physical" in the sense that they result entirely from neurochemical activity, but they *seem* not to be physical in the sense that they aren't clearly constrained, within themselves, by space and time. That's why I can think of a 747 even though it's bigger than my head. But what's in my head isn't a "physical 747" in the sense of a "real [uh-oh] 747." It's only an image. The unanswered question is whether that image is "real" in the same sense that actual 747 is "real." Another good question is, what's the connection between the two? My imagined 747 can do all sorts of neat things that a physical 747 can't. Like morph into the "Spirit of St. Louis," for example. And it's cheaper and easier to "fly" than either.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Ed T
Date: 16 Sep 11 - 05:05 PM

We've got five years, stuck on my eyes
Five years, what a surprise
We've got five years, my brain hurts a lot
Five years, that's all we've got
We've got five years, what a surprise
Five years, stuck on my eyes
We've got five years, my brain hurts a lot
Five years, that's all we've got
We've got five years, my brain hurts a lot
Five years, that's all we've got
Five years
Five years
Five years
Five years

Or, as David Bowie predicted in (you got it) Five Years


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Mrrzy
Date: 16 Sep 11 - 07:30 PM

Posited: that for one human to ascribe unreality to the thoughts of another arrogates the individual right to define his own mind. True or False? Discuss.

Nonsense. If you believe unicorns are real and not mythological or imaginary,. and you're not thinking of rhinos or dinos or anything but the mythical unicorn we all agree upon, my knowing that you're wrong (in believing unicorns exist) doesn't mean your thoughts are unreal, just that I know that what you think is real, isn't. And yes, I *can* know stuff like that. And I can know that I know it. And that you're wrong. So what?

Posited: that mental images and constructs are real, but are not physical. True or false? Discuss.

Oh, I don't know. If I think about dogs, dogs are real but my thought is imaginary, isn't it? And I can think about unicorns, which aren't real but my thought is, no? And how does this relate to the actual thread, which was about the neurology of faith, since you seem to be rebuking us for thread creep?


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Amos
Date: 16 Sep 11 - 08:39 PM

I hate it when my posts get swallowed.

The question is where do you draw the line between "real" and "not real". Are perfect circles, ideals, justice and beauty, intuition, to be dismissed because they are not physical? How about numbers? Real? Betcha can't find me a three anywhere. Not to mention the sqrt of -1. Not real? Hmmmm.

Your physical definition of what is real can only go so far in describing all that is, and it falls very short of the whole.


A


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Bill D
Date: 16 Sep 11 - 09:38 PM

Amos... at the risk of repeating some points I have made before in these discussions, I will again suggest that there is a LARGE linguistic confusion quotient at work.

Here is a famous classic example, from William James and the link below mentions some other examples.

http://mauricefstanley.com/bewitch/48.html


"William James told the story of a group of hunters in the forest. One of the men sees a squirrel on a tree, and the squirrel sees him. The squirrel scrambles to the opposite side of the tree from the man. The man circles the tree, and the squirrel cautiously stays on the opposite side of the tree from him, and around and around they go, The other hunters disagree. One says the man goes around the tree and the squirrel, and another objects that the man goes around the tree, but not the squirrel. They turn to James to get the opinion of a philosopher. "It's all a matter of defining your terms," James answers. "If by 'going around' you mean 'going east, south, west, north, east, etc.,' then the man certainly goes around the squirrel. But if by 'going around' you mean 'going from side to back to side to belly to side, etc.' then the man does not go around the squirrel.""

Now I KNOW this is not something that will directly address your supposition, Amos, that somehow 'ideas' and mental constructs have a real 'existence' apart from the material 'stuff' that juggles them, but it does address the pragmatic issue of what various people mean by 'reality'. Plato's notion of a realm of 'eternal forms' has led to several thousand years of ...ummm... semantic bantering over what such a realm might 'be'. *I* can appreciate the interest, but I can't see how it can ever be anything except a way to play with language...or justify religious concepts such as 'heaven'.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Amos
Date: 17 Sep 11 - 12:27 AM

Your premise is as problematic as your conclusion, Bill, and tyour hunter is is a similar quandary to your own. I wasn't asking about Platonic forms, merely about ideals, Platonic or otherwise. Do you think there is such a thing as justice, or beauty in existence? Or do you think a perfect circle unreal? Let's take something more personal like affinity. Do you think affection and admiration are real?

I am not asserting, as you have me to do, that ideas and mental constructs have a concrete existence. See my remark earlier about pink elephants. But it is also true that there is a gradient of mental creations that is less or more agreed-on by fewer or more viewpoints.

I have no argument that physical things are real. But I take strong exception to rejecting all the certitudes of the mind simply because they are not physical. My exception or protest is centered on the use upthread of the word "real", and it obviously has one meaning--material--that applies in this exclusion, and another--actual, valid, existing--which does not. I KNOW your thoughts are real, and that the hopes and imaginings of your most remote landscapes of thought are real; that is, I know they exist, and I know they have some import to you, and may have tangible visual form, and even palpable energy connected with them. I know this even though youhave not shared them with me, just as surely as I know something if not much about the Tatooine-like planet recently described in the press.

This is not just a matter of subjectivity, ewither. Everyone has had a dream, even if they are wildly different in content. Everyone has had a hope. Most people have had a disappointment. None of these things are physical but their existence in the general sense is widely agreed-on.

ANd really, there is no "somehow" about it; the existence of thoughts, imaginings, and concepts is pretty well universal amongst humans and possibly other organisms. Surely there is no need to imply it is a far-fetched notion!

A


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Lighter
Date: 17 Sep 11 - 09:14 AM

> the existence of thoughts, imaginings, and concepts is pretty well universal amongst humans and possibly other organisms. Surely there is no need to imply it is a far-fetched notion!

Well, yeah, but a more basic question is what we mean by "exist." In a broad sense, they all obviously "exist." But except for the experience of perceiving it in your mind, does the *idea* of a 747 exist in the same way, or to the same degree, as a *physical* 747?

There seems to be more than one kind of existing, but "seems" isn't quite the same as "is." Advances in neuroscience certainly appear (that means "seem") to show that all thought is merely neurochemical activity, but I confess that that's so counterintuitive as to be unbelievable. Much like the fact that the earth goes around the sun seemed five hundred years ago.

Mathematics is another problem. While I can't find you a "three," I admit that evidence of "threeness" etc. is everywhere in nature. Mathematical quantities and relationships are certainly "real": not only do they exist in our minds, they can actually be manipulated to bring tangible results in the material world. And they include concepts like sqr -1 that, in and of themselves, seem to be irrational and impossible.

If words have any meaning at all, "2 + 2 = 4" is true for all time (where 2 and 4 represent integers that don't all melt together as when 2 raindrops plus 2 raindrops can equal 1 big raindrop on your windowsill, for example). Two dinosaurs and two dinosaurs equalled four dinosaurs even if there was no one around to notice.

So mathematical rules certainly seem to have been part of the Big Bang, even though they are essentially abstractions. Thus some abstractions can certainly "exist" and be "real," realer in fact than my mental image of a 747, which doesn't interact with the outside world at all.

But were mathematical rules equally independent of all things physical at the moment of the Big Bang, or did they arise from some unknown physical principle or material that blew itself out of existence in the first fraction of a nanosecond?

Beats me.

The point is that what's material is certainly "real," and immaterial mathematics is also certainly "real," though seemingly not in quite the same way. Maybe other things, like thoughts, are "real" in some other way or ways. Anything's possible, but the wisest course is to stick to what evidence there is and remain undecided about what's utterly unknown.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Bill D
Date: 17 Sep 11 - 12:41 PM

I am still sorting out exactly what you complain about re: "My exception or protest is centered on the use upthread of the word "real", and it obviously has one meaning--material--". Did I say or imply that? Or just others in general? I suppose we'd ...ummm... 'really'...have to have a symposium and carefully decide on how terms are to be employed before we can even approach the core question(s)....but that being not easily organized...I will again venture some ideas...

"Do you think there is such a thing as justice, or beauty in existence? Or do you think a perfect circle unreal? Let's take something more personal like affinity. Do you think affection and admiration are real?"

Ummm...yes....but saying 'yes' doesn't deal with the obvious & long-standing conceptual variance you & I have debated. Near the end of your post, you assert..."None of these things are physical ...".
Now I realize that one does not weigh and measure 'thoughts & hopes & dreams', but your statement **seems** to linguistically skirt the issue of whether those abstract (or at least non-weighable) concepts are only products and manifestations OF something physical. It also **seems** to leave open the possibility of their 'essence'(whatever that might mean) being independent of neurons and chemical agents and such-like physical stuff.

I have no problem with using the poetic affirmations of our mental constructs as truly amazing and reflexively satisfying aspects of this complex situation that evolution has wished on us, but I also have no problem with shrugging and watching biochemical research find more & more evidence of how those faculties operate IN a physical system. It still 'feels' awesome to experience love and beauty and to discuss 'justice' and 'altruism', no matter where the ultimate location of them is considered to 'be'.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Amos
Date: 17 Sep 11 - 01:44 PM

Well, there's a question well-begged. sir. I certainly agree with your sentiment regarding poetic affirmations.

I think you have put your finger on the difference between our perspectives. I think life, or elan vital, operates material structures. You seem to think that physical structures are the source of life. In this respect, I am more of a Bergsonian, and you more of a Marxist. :D



A


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Ed T
Date: 17 Sep 11 - 01:44 PM

Can our personal sense of the real (physical or theoretic) world and all that is in it (including our thoughts and feelings), be more real and reliable than our thoughts of the world from which it is abstracted? How can we even communicate about it without involving some non-abstract elements?

Signed,
"Confused and wondering"
(not to be confused with wandering)


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Stringsinger
Date: 17 Sep 11 - 02:11 PM

Language engenders physical responses in the brain. Terms, which are usually not specifically agreed upon but serve as some method of communication are a product of the brain's language mechanism. Terms such as "justice", "beauty" and other concepts may be on the surface mutually agreed upon but as semanticists tell us, not everyone is on board with the same meanings. Existential or experiential "ideas" are manufactured by the individual brain of those who have them. Many philosophers insist that these abstract and sometimes absolute concepts exist outside the brain but as we evaluate these concepts, we see that the meaning of what is perceived differs slightly from one person's brain to another.

In the gene pool, selectivity is not just for brawn, not a total measure of survival, but abilities that extend to different intelligences. These may be attractive to members of opposite sexes and thus create a unique gene pool.

What appears to be "hard wired" are basic needs but variation exists even among these.
The brain can sometimes be conditioned to change what is considered to be "hard wired" as in an Indian Fakir who can control the flow of his blood after having his body punctured by nails on a bed.

What is "hard wired" however is language which influences behavior and emanates from the physical brain. This language determines behavior.

The physical properties of the gene building blocks can be said to be hard wired into the unit that is being built. As Dawkins has pointed out, it is necessary to separate the notion of a unit (being or body) from the genes that create it. The genes, not the bodies control survival.

I don't think there is a god gene because the notion of worshipping an abstract being is compounded by a lack of agreement as to what or who that is. There is however, as Dawkins has pointed out, a "meme" which is a viral idea that self-replicates as an accepted notion. Religion is one of these.

Religion seems to be a Manichean construct contrasting good and evil which are linguistic concepts and these terms are not well-defined unanimously by every person (brain).
This is why there is not one religion unilaterally. Many of these religions have tenets that are in opposition to one another as well as those considered to be underlying agreements.   "Good" and "Evil" are not mutually agreed upon by everyone.

Take the issue of capital punishment for example.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Mrrzy
Date: 17 Sep 11 - 02:26 PM

And contraception and birth control, including abortion.

But this is still off-topic, no?


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Bill D
Date: 17 Sep 11 - 08:52 PM

"I think life, or elan vital, operates material structures. You seem to think that physical structures are the source of life."

I think you are close to the distinction between our perspectives, Amos.... but Bergson & Marx as examples? Me? Marx? You got me there.

I'll confess I never read Bergson in any detail, and I know there are seldom courses directly about him, since it was more 'fun' to study how Sartré developed Bergson's themes. I've been scanning some generalizations about him, and I still don't see exactly how your approach fits. The approach to "Mind Energy" perhaps? Bergson is a complex fellow, and not easy to summarize. You must point me to passages sometime.....


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Amos
Date: 17 Sep 11 - 11:05 PM

Stringsinger's thesis lies along the line of well-established materialist arguments:molecules rule and produce brains which produce thoughts by neuro-electronic means, and the thoughts are perceived by other neuro-electronic means and the whole thing is just a set of complex loops of molecules dancing.

The counter-thesis asserts that qualitative differences exist between signals and understanding, between electrochemical kicks and intent, and between perception and reaction.

Therein lies the Great Divide. Oddly, both of these schools depend on sort of self-fulfilling loops and it escapes me how any external evaluation comparing the two could occur.


A


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Mrrzy
Date: 18 Sep 11 - 11:48 AM

Elan vital? Are we back to medieval beliefs, now?

Nobody thinks that the brain's activity which gives rise to our experience, and the experience we are thus given, aren't qualitatively different. Just because it *is* molecular/atomic at the molecular level doesn't mean that is our experience of whatever it was at the level of perception, nor is that experience qualitatively the same as our cognitions *with* those perceptions.

So both agree, if they are understood, no?


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Stringsinger
Date: 18 Sep 11 - 06:07 PM

Henri Bergson, philosopher, coined the term "Elan Vital" in his book (1907), Creative Evolution. His idea was based on his interpretation of the second law of thermodynamics, the whirlpool approach to life.

The concept of vitalism:
1. a doctrine that the functions of a living organism are due to a vital principle distinct from biochemical reactions
2. a doctrine that the processes of life are not explicable by the laws of physics and chemistry alone and that life is in some part self-determining.

The British biologist Julian Huxley remarked that Bergson's élan vital is no better an explanation of life than is explaining the operation of a railway engine by its élan locomotif ("locomotive driving force")

The great divide is red-herringish since Darwin's theory which is by the way not a theory to be contested as not having been established by science. Dawkins refers to this
type of theory, a theorum in that it has been essentially proven.

There are those who claim that there are "gaps" in Evolution since a continuous line of evolving can't be shown by artifacts and archaeology but in fact the continuous line of development can be assumed due to carbon 14, dendrochronology and DNA sampling.

What happens in the brain, stays in the brain. (to paraphrase Las Vegas)

Show me someone who is brain dead that has experiences and can recount them.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Ed T
Date: 18 Sep 11 - 06:42 PM

I expect that there have been many cases where people have been declared dead (as to the clentical definition of death and even brain dead), who have regained conciousness. I also suspect they have tales to tell. A Google search comes up with quite a few.


?


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Amos
Date: 18 Sep 11 - 07:23 PM

Sigh. You guys!! Your first premise is so persuasive to you that you repeatedly claim that it proves itself because it is true. Round and round in a closed circle of materialist fixed thought.

If Rank really wanted to study cases where brain death had been recovered from, he would have no trouble finding them.

The notion that you can get a system of molecules to perceive--as distinguished from reacting, or to postulate something by deciding it will be -- is, to my way of thinking, so self-contradictory as to be laughable and just as unreasonable as the most extreme hijinks of dogmatic theism.


A


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Mrrzy
Date: 18 Sep 11 - 07:59 PM

Well, nobody is claiming that it's the molecules that perceive, Amos. Not to call you Shirley, but what do you think is in the brain that isn't molecular in basic structure? (I'm not counting electrical processes as they arise from those molecules).


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Amos
Date: 18 Sep 11 - 10:36 PM

Nothing, obviously.


A


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Mrrzy
Date: 19 Sep 11 - 12:41 PM

Um, didn't mean to completely quash you. Seriously, what is laughable about it?


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Amos
Date: 19 Sep 11 - 03:08 PM

THe notion that any chain of signals, piled no matter how high and deep, will constitute perception, as distinguished from reaction or stimulus. THe notion, embedded in all this materialistic science, that perception IS a stimulus, as distinct from an ability that is applied to or uses stimuli. The notion that an array of mechanical objects (or electrical fields or currents) can constitute understanding. THis much for starters.


A


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: GUEST,Mrr at work
Date: 19 Sep 11 - 05:21 PM

Perceptions are only stimuli for people. We have a twisted brain where the frontal portions got too close to the back ones.

Again, though, if it isn't molecules, what is it?


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Wesley S
Date: 20 Sep 11 - 11:53 AM

If you haven't seen this yet I'm sure you'll enjoy it.

Patton Oswalt on "Sky Cake"


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Amos
Date: 20 Sep 11 - 02:41 PM

An interestring examination on quantum physics, self-determinism, free will and changing the past from Scientific American.

If it isn't molecules, what is it?

There's the 64$ question. The materialist quandary is that such behaviors as knowing, perceiving, etc., appear to point to something else other than material elements, out past the end of the chain of S-R signal links. From the viewpoint of space-time-energy measures, it appears to be a "nothingness" with capabilities.

A


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Amos
Date: 20 Sep 11 - 03:05 PM

I LOVE that piece on Sky Cake!! Cracks me UP!!



A


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Lighter
Date: 20 Sep 11 - 03:11 PM

> probably not any more solvable than "Why is there 'something' rather than 'nothing'.'

Or, contrariwise, how there could be "nothing" rather than "something."

> it FEELS like we have some free will in certain areas, and we need to act as though we do, or most of our other actions lose relevance.

How would you act if you were acting as though you didn't have free will? Even deciding to take a nap would be acting as if you had it. Or deciding to go cataleptic like Queequegg in Moby Dick.

You might be OK as long as you were truly cataleptic, however.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Lighter
Date: 20 Sep 11 - 03:24 PM

Just got back from the "Class Warfare" thread, which got me to thinking.

The laws of mathematics seem to be "built into" the Big Bang. By that I simply mean they were present and have remained in force. Those laws include the laws of economics - supply and demand, the value of investment, etc.

But the laws of economics ultimately result in extreme poverty for most of the world's people and extreme wealth for an (>ack! cough!<) precious few.

An omniscient Creator would have known that. What do we make of this?

(Remember that the laws of mathematics are not dependent on free will.)


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Bill D
Date: 20 Sep 11 - 04:36 PM

"How would you act if you were acting as though you didn't have free will? "

It's not really how you would act, but how you would justify & defend certain actions. "The devil made me do it." is a not uncommon defense in courts.
David Hume said he could sort of 'prove' his ideas of solipisim, but in a footnote he confessed that he acted everyday as if 'others' were really there. Hume said it was often a problem reconciling what felt real and what his logic told him.

(The "why is there something rather than nothing" line is directly from Heidegger, who called it the basic, fundamental philosophic question. When you really contemplate it, it does 'seem' like a prior concept.....since we usually imagine all things we have experience of as 'being made' somehow, the idea of 'before matter' leads to 'why & what & when' matter began..........even if we can never answer such questions.)


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Mrrzy
Date: 21 Sep 11 - 01:45 PM

Um, Stephen Hawking had a pretty good shot at that in whatever that little book was called where he explains why there is something at the non-quantum level rather than nothing.

And "if it's not molecules, what is it" is not the $64K question, as there appears to be no reason to posit anything but molecules in the first place. The question would instead be What in the data makes you wonder if there is anything other than molecules. Key phrase being "in the data" as usual.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Amos
Date: 23 Sep 11 - 03:46 PM

Dead man comes back at wife's request. Flatlined with no response, but she got through to him.

Go figger.


A


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Amos
Date: 23 Sep 11 - 03:48 PM

I suppose you have a workable definition for a datum that is independent of the viewer of same?

Nahhhh.....


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Mrrzy
Date: 23 Sep 11 - 04:03 PM

Datum: replicable unit of information. Can be considered independent of the viewer, singular, as before being promoted to datum from finding, it has to be replicated, making the singular viewer moot.

And even to be a finding it has to be found, rather than hypothesized or desired.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Ed T
Date: 23 Sep 11 - 04:16 PM

Just when we think we know it all, and have sound footing?


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Ed T
Date: 23 Sep 11 - 04:31 PM

Should one not take a hermeneutic approach rather than a henomenological one in consideing and discussing the thread title?


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Ed T
Date: 23 Sep 11 - 04:33 PM

Oops, I meant to say

Should one not take a "hermeneutic" approach rather than a "phenomenological" one in consideing and discussing the thread title?


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Amos
Date: 23 Sep 11 - 04:47 PM

A replicable unit of information without a viewpoint considering it does not exist.

However, some units of information enjoy wider agreement than others. As far as I can see that is the sole difference.

Additionally the moment you take a bit of information and try to derive meaning from it --which can only be done by comparison with other units of information--you multiply the subjectivity by several orders of magnitude as the complexity of the array of "units" increases.

Omitting the viewpoints engaged in the viewing of the information from your assessment makes the whole thing highly abstract, but it does not make it truer.


A


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Stringsinger
Date: 23 Sep 11 - 04:51 PM

The jury is still out because the neutrino speed must be verified but it looks like a promising refutation of Einstein.

The laws of "who's" economics is important here. The resultant economic gap between wealth and poverty is due more to a lack of understanding of economics given by various sources.

Behaviors of "knowing", "seeing", "perception" are a function of the brain, not anything outside of it, as evidenced by testing, behavioral modification through electronic means,
and the inability to concretely observe metaphysical theories through empirical ways.

No brain, no signals.

The active "nothingness" can't be substantiated as scientifically valid.

That's enough for me to say that it doesn't exist.

A creator can be posited as a multi-concept, why does it have to be unitary?
Probably because it represents the child's need for a father figure, usually a sole powerful
person that the child relies on for sustenance and survival. Mother figures don't find their way into contemporary Christianity as a rule with maybe the exception of a Mother Mary who is usually given less status in the Hierarchy.

In a different culture where the delegation of authority is spread around in a family unit, pantheon deities spring up such as in Hindu, Shinto, early Greek or Roman.

Whether it's a pantheon, a monolithic deity, an earth-bound figure, a ghost or spirit of some sort, none of this has been verifiable through scientific consensus.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Ed T
Date: 23 Sep 11 - 05:01 PM

""No brain, no signals.""

Or, at least logically, no signals that can be detected by current technology:)

There was a time (and possibly still is) when technologies could not detect many signals we know are present today.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Lighter
Date: 23 Sep 11 - 05:27 PM

By "laws of economics," I don't mean economic theories of redistribution or local adjustments or a quest for "economic justice" or the morality of taxes or "sharing the wealth." It isn't a question of "whose" economics.

Its the fundamental mathematics that makes such considerations worth thinking about at all. If we could all multiply loaves and fishes at will, there'd be a lot less hunger and poverty. If we could turn forty bucks into four thousand by investing it at 3% for a year, ditto.

But we can't. Mathematics (and other, somewhat less primal reality factors) won't let us. The real world is different.

But the math has been built in from the start. Overall, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. If the social system collapses, for whatever reason, the pattern just begins again. In general and over time, the post-apocalyptic crowd with more resources will increase their resources far faster than those with few.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Ed T
Date: 23 Sep 11 - 05:39 PM

""In general and over time, the post-apocalyptic crowd with more resources will increase their resources far faster than those with few.""

But, if you have everything in the world, where would you put it all?
(a quote, I believe, from Steven wright)


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Lighter
Date: 23 Sep 11 - 05:48 PM

If you had everything in the world, that would include the world. So you'd have all the room you needed.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Ed T
Date: 23 Sep 11 - 06:08 PM

You got a point there, Lighter


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Bill D
Date: 23 Sep 11 - 06:30 PM

"A replicable unit of information without a viewpoint considering it does not exist."

Is this a variation on the "tree falls in the forest" conundrum? What, do you consider to BE the difference between "A replicable unit of information" and some sort of conglomeration of atoms/molecules, organic or 'merely' inorganic?

If I read the statement above correctly, you are asserting that a 'viewpoint' somehow creates and/or defines reality.

Sort of makes the Descartes "I think not"...'poof'! joke take on a interesting new life.....


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Ed T
Date: 23 Sep 11 - 06:55 PM

Maybe we got it all wrong, it's not your brain, but your gut?

what-your-gut-tells-your-brain-


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Ed T
Date: 23 Sep 11 - 06:57 PM

Let's try that again


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Amos
Date: 23 Sep 11 - 08:43 PM

A datum is a mental construct, a facsimile of states of being, or not being, or motion or motionlessness.

No mind, no data.

Frank, with all affection your argument about what exists and how it is proven to exist is completely circular.

A


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Lighter
Date: 23 Sep 11 - 09:16 PM

> No mind, no data.

But "data," even as you employ it, is not equivalent to "objective thing."

You seem to suggest that before the appearance of relatively sophisticated animal life on earth (choose your favorite species) nothing existed because no mind was there advanced enough to experience it.

But perhaps God was there.

But perhaps not.

Do you mean to say that without a universal mind like God nothing really exists? One could make that case with a little ingenuity, but one could make the opposite case with, perhaps, a little less.

Either way, it's beyond final proof.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Bill D
Date: 23 Sep 11 - 09:37 PM

"One could make that case with a little ingenuity, but one could make the opposite case with, perhaps, a little less..."

*grin*...and I spent years reading the details of those with lots of ingenuity. Hegel one day, C.S. Peirce the next, then Kant & Hume and Strawson after that...then Wittgenstein & Kierkegaard & Sartré and Husserl and....oh my! Then we got to comparative religion!

What *I* cling to is the solace provided by the basic logical principle that: "From false premises, anything follows!". It doesn't DIS-prove any particular idea, but it sort of indicates that IF your conclusions seem to head in strange directions, you might want to re-examine your basic premises.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Ed T
Date: 23 Sep 11 - 09:44 PM

How does the opposite hold up?

"No data,no mind?

Likely, not so well.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Bill D
Date: 23 Sep 11 - 10:52 PM

♫♪When I lost my data, I al-most lost my mind.♫♪

...with apologies to Pat Boone, Hank Snow, and many others...including Ivory Joe Hunter, the original author of "When I Lost My Baby"


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Lighter
Date: 24 Sep 11 - 08:34 AM

Actually, Ed, it may hold up better.

With no data (if, like Amos, you mean reality), there's certainly no mind, because the mind is a part of reality.

With no data (contents of the mind), there's arguably no mind, even if the mind is in a separate reality.

That is, I suppose you could have some sort of "outline" of a mind with no contents at all, but that doesn't sound like a "mind."

Just a potential mind.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Ed T
Date: 24 Sep 11 - 08:44 AM

If a person were to die for a short period of time (let's say in cold water) and clentical evidence that the mind is no longer putting out data (or, at least current receptors cant pick anything up). Then, the persons is somehow revived.

There was no data (at least, for a period), but it does not hold that there was no mind?


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Lighter
Date: 24 Sep 11 - 08:53 AM

Bill, I spent more than 10 years teaching college freshmen "critical thinking" in the context of a general liberal arts program. Naturally we never got into the heavy-duty Wittgenstein-Heidegger-Husserl stuff.
Lucky for me.

However, that experience convinced me that the natural tendency of the human mind is to believe what it wants to believe, until that belief is proved to be false.

For example:

Jill believes she can fly. She flaps her arms and gets nowhere. Jill realizes her belief was wrong.

Jack believes Sarah Palin would make a swell President. No disproof is readily available. So he keeps believing it.

A few years back I saw the world's most profound bumper sticker:

"Don't Believe Everything You Think."

Theory: The universal human tendency is never to examine one's own opinion. "If it weren't true, I wouldn't have thought it." Until adverse, external events prove someone's wrong, they'll keep on believing.

I'm not talking about maintaining your opinion after testing and examining it, as best you can, against alternatives. I'm talking about never examining it in the first place.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Ed T
Date: 24 Sep 11 - 08:55 AM

Lighter -In developing a "universal" statement that has a hope of "holding up in time" we should not rule out the possibility that non-functioning brains may be revived, and possibly repaired in some future time.

As to related "quality of life" issues, that is another discussion.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Bill D
Date: 24 Sep 11 - 01:43 PM

"Theory: The universal human tendency is never to examine one's own opinion. "

Probably pretty close... after all, we are only 35,000 or so years beyond a primate who NEEDED to believe just what he saw... and then began to invent stories to explain what he couldn't directly observe. The moon & stars & fire and death were mysteries...so we 'explained' them to each other. Some stories were more interesting and were embroidered more elaborately, until there was built-in value in being the one(s) who interpreted the stories.

Corollary to your theory: "Examining one's own opinion could lead to examining OTHER'S opinions, which can easily be counter-productive."

-------------------------------------------

" Naturally we never got into the heavy-duty Wittgenstein-Heidegger-Husserl stuff.
Lucky for me.
"

Me too... as a grad student, I 'taught' only a few sections of phil. 101 for 2 years. I about beat my head on the wall trying to get a simple bit of CS Peirce across. Most of the freshmen were just filling a core curriculum requirement. They were NOT interested in challenging their basic beliefs.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Amos
Date: 24 Sep 11 - 03:47 PM

I did not say reality=data. A datum is abstracted from a reality that happened. "Pi=3.xxx" is a datum; "Gloria hates men who smoke" is also a datum. Neither of those data would exist without someone thinking it.

Maps are not territory and data is not the substance it relates to.

A


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Lighter
Date: 24 Sep 11 - 03:58 PM

> Corollary to your theory: "Examining one's own opinion could lead to examining OTHER'S opinions, which can easily be counter-productive."

But, interestingly enough, examining OTHERS' opinions doesn't usually lead to examining one's own. At least not automatically.

Dormant brains can be revived, but usually they don't want to be.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Lighter
Date: 24 Sep 11 - 04:13 PM

> I did not say reality=data. A datum is abstracted from a reality that happened. "Pi=3.xxx" is a datum; "Gloria hates men who smoke" is also a datum. Neither of those data would exist without someone thinking it.

But then aren't you just saying that a thought can't exist without a mind to think it?

That seems obvious. I'm not sure where it leads to.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Ed T
Date: 24 Sep 11 - 04:15 PM

""Neither of those data would exist without someone thinking it.""

Maybe yes, maybe no? It may depend on who/what is defined as someone and where/when it applies?

Where broad statements like these are put forward to serve as "a rule", careful consideration is needed on defining boundaries.

It is indeed true that ""the word is the bird"" :)


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Amos
Date: 24 Sep 11 - 04:52 PM

It is as obvious as hell to me, Lighter, but it seems someone upthread was quite sure a datam was its own substance, strange as that may sound.

Ed, let me rephrase: the datum is a generated facsimile of some aspect of some universe. For the datum to exist it must be generated and perceived.

OF course it is also possible for an individual to hold data in his mind he has generated and is no longer wiling to perceive, but that's another can o'worms altogether.


A


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Ed T
Date: 24 Sep 11 - 05:01 PM

Much bettwe Amos

{pssibly the bird is the word. That one always confuses me.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Bill D
Date: 24 Sep 11 - 07:30 PM

Ahhh.. now we see.. datum IS the abstract concept. Which, as noted, leads to a fairly obvious 'truth' when defined that way....in fact, 'data', which I carelessly call 'facts'- are most numerous 'entities' in the Universe.

"On a planet going round a star, 327 million light years away, there is a small piece of rock which is 27.39 cm. from a slightly larger rock."

Well, probably, anyway.

We don't need to go that far. Every relationship of every atom here on Earth to every other atom is, I suppose, a 'datum' if someone contemplates it. What being an ...ahem.. advanced life-form is all about is defining and relating to the relevant data, and then composing conceptual statements ABOUT those relationships, thus creating new data....in an endless spiral. Now THAT is what the idea of is good for!

   So...I am willing to concede that definition of a 'datum' as something that doesn't 'exist' without a mind holding it. The 'relationship' of one atom in the Universe to another is still there, whether it is 'conceptualized' or not. Perhaps you'd wish 'datum' to indicate something conceptually different from 'fact'...*shrug*. Once we have defined these things... then what?

(All these things AS data, mean job security for philosophers...and THAT makes it all relevant!)


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Mrrzy
Date: 24 Sep 11 - 07:36 PM

Amos, I know you're being silly, but people can take you seriously.

Just because nobody in the world is thinking of something at a given time doesn't mean that something suddenly ceases to exist for that given time, nor that it then suddenly blinks back into existence if someone across the world remembers it.

Just because everybody in the world believes something doesn't make that true, either. But if it is demonstrable, then they are silly not to, IMH.

Reality *is* what we're talking about, right?


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Amos
Date: 24 Sep 11 - 10:54 PM

A datum is not always a fact. People compute about life all the time on speculative notions, wishful thoughts and postulates, assertions of purpose--all data on which they compute but which may not be factual. Concluding that "men are all rotten" may be a perfectly fine datum to some women, but not to others. Vice versa, too.

"Last night I dreamed of Marienbad" is a datum in the mind of the dreamer. It has no correspondent substance in the material universe, but it sure fits into her calculations about life.


A


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Amos
Date: 25 Sep 11 - 10:57 AM

On the subject of relative "realness", here's an amusing tidbit from Science News relating to the recent report of neutrinos at FTL speeds:

"An experiment that creates particles called neutrinos has called into question Einstein's theory of special reality. Even though few believe that these results will ultimately hold up, their implications have stirred up quite a fuss.

After painstakingly checking and rechecking their data, physicists working on Italy's OPERA experiment say they have clocked neutrinos traveling faster than the speed of light. According their calculations, there's only a one in a billion chance that what they're seeing is a statistical fluke.

But that doesn't make it real. "...


From this perspective it becomes real when enough agreement is established.

This is a tempting definition.



A


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Bill D
Date: 25 Sep 11 - 11:09 AM

"Neutrinos 'clear the way' for photons thru the 'dark matter' of the Universe, thus they MUST travel a tiny bit faster than the photons."

There you go... one new 'datum'! I eagerly await agreement and my certificate of 'reality'.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Lighter
Date: 25 Sep 11 - 11:56 AM

> ... there's only a one in a billion chance that what they're seeing is a statistical fluke.

>But that doesn't make it real."


>From this perspective it becomes real when enough agreement is established.

Depends on what you mean by "make it real." The principle of agreement is a classic definition of what we can believe is "true." Something that's true is, in theory, open to verification by anybody who takes the trouble to look far enough into it. (That may involve taking ten years of physics courses, etc., etc., so admittedly it isn't very practical.)

What we can reasonably believe to be true, however, is not *necessarily* objectively true. Remember, you could be a brain in a vat in the thirty-ninth century. How would you know?

If it's a statistical fluke, it's still a statistical fluke, regardless of the odds. The only way to determine whether it really is a fluke is to recheck the experiment. Against such long odds, they'll be rechecking for a long time, as well as rechecking the odds that their estimate of the odds is correct.

My prophecy: If the finding is substantiated, certain parties will announce, "Darwin is next!"


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Stringsinger
Date: 25 Sep 11 - 12:23 PM

Amos, at the risk of a tautology, mind is brain, not outside. When brain is gone, mind is gone for that person.

As to reality, it is variable and that's why I am a FreeThinker, not wedded to absolutes about what reality is.

The idea that there is a consciousness outside the human perception by the brain is an argument that has no basis in scientific fact, either by consensus through scientists who have evolved to that point of view through testing and verification or by examining the perceptions of those who claim otherwise.

Darwin, like any scientific " theorums" (using Dawkin's term here) is evolving in the manner of Darwin's own dangerous idea (with a bow to Dennett). What makes this dangerous for those advocating an absolute, here, based on some mystical or theoretical idea is that reality is evolving, not cast in concrete, as we know more about how our universe operates. Genes, however, we are finding are real as we can possibly define the term and create the building blocks for the brain and hence thinking and the mind.

In the meantime, the language has degenerated to include the capitalization of such words as "Consciousness", a "Creator", and "Spiritual" which defy precise definitions so as to be like the character in Alice and Wonderland who says, "It means exactly what I say it means.", which is pure sophistry.

An intelligent discussion requires a unanimity of terms and not some vague wandering into a never-never land of meaning.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Amos
Date: 25 Sep 11 - 03:29 PM

<1>=Something that's true is, in theory, open to verification by anybody who takes the trouble to look far enough into it.

Well that's perfectly valid for the material universe, whose agreements are deeply embedded in every mind.

In the individual's own universe of created things--his own ideas and his dreams and visions and goals and so on--things are true which are true for him, and may be perfectly true despite disagreement from thousands of others. In that sphere, using agreement to over-ride an individual's sense of truth can be destructive and unconscionable.

In the universe of agreements among people outside the physical universe, such as cultural agreements on beauty and correct conduct, for example, truth is a much slipperier commodity.

These different spheres have their own data and their own "truth". I would not want to be too arrogant about which is "more valid" than which, although it is pretty obvious that the material sphere is the most widely shared.

A


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Amos
Date: 25 Sep 11 - 03:34 PM

Frank:

Your conviction that mind and brain are synonymous, more or less, is interesting. There is a lot of experiential data that indicates that thought occurs separately from the brain, such as the various OOB experiences and NDE's that have been discussed here in different threads. Just upthread from here there is a link to a case of a man who was totally flat-lined--brain-dead as far as the instruments could tell--but who was called back to life by pleas from his wife.

I am just saying that your hard-over conclusion might be a bit premature.

There are a lot of possible reasons for not wanting to consider anything spiritual about an individual and to lock onto the materialist interpretation, but I don't think they are good reasons.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Bill D
Date: 25 Sep 11 - 04:50 PM

"different spheres"

"There is a lot of experiential data that indicates that thought occurs separately from the brain,..."

And this data, by definition, only exists when it is being contemplated?

Or do we have an equivocation on what is or is not 'data'? Is experiential data different from experimental data?

Is the past tense of 'think'....'*thunk*?

"Oh what a tangled web we weave
When first we practice to ...perceive."


Sorry, my brain... mind... data producing system is rambling again.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Ed T
Date: 25 Sep 11 - 05:40 PM

""The idea that there is a consciousness outside the human perception by the brain is an argument that has no basis in scientific fact""

I suspect that clearly leaves out a large number of living entities on earth,(the non human forms), and the possibility that non human life could possibly exist elsewhere(not yet detected by lifeforms currently on Earth). That does not seem too "sciency" to me.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Mrrzy
Date: 25 Sep 11 - 09:38 PM

What evidence is there that thought exists separate from the *body*, including the brain?

I used to faint. Once I fainted very deeply because the idiots at work in whose presence I fainted on stairs going up didn't lower my head or raise my feet, and when I was awake again I had been hiding in my hindbrain for a lot of the time. Long story if you want to read it:
I fainted at work, like I said, and that they had time wonder what to do, decide to call 911, and for an ambulance to get there and for the EMTS still not to be able to find a pulse, and the reason I know this is that I was there. That is, pretty soon after fainting and so for most of this "I" had "come to" but "I" wasn't there, I was a point of light with intelligence. I remember thinking "there should be stimuli impinging" and then immediately "that's redundant. There should be stimuli" and there was nothing. I thought this was interesting.
Then after a while, all of a sudden, I could hear voices and understand them and knew that they were speaking English, who they were, *and* the sound was coming from something felt as "above" but had no other sensations, nor did I seem to have a body but I didn't really notice that in particular at the time. I was too busy believing I was talking, remembering my boyfriend's phone number by visualizing the dial (with no eyes, which I noticed later also by realizing that it had never once occured to me that I had them to open, so I never tried), and then thought I was telling the phone# to the people (turns out I never made a sound or motion or breath, although I *did* remember the #). I didn't really wonder why I didn't hear them responding, by now I had realized kind of in so many words that I had no body but was now a point of light with rays mostly, well, radiating out in a circle, not a sphere, and they "felt" about a foot long.

While everone was waiting for the ambulance, I kind of tuned them out as interesting things were happening around my radiating point of light. I slowly came to realize that my there was cold somewhere very close by, which kind of came to feel as if it were on my face, leading me to conclude aha! I have a must have a face! a while before what I actually felt *being* a face. By then the cold was also hard, and it kind of felt refreshing, both in the temperature and in the feeling of something firmly pressing into my face (a cold wet washcloth? how nice of them!). Eventually, through the same process of first feeling cold, then cold hard hardness, at several points that resolved themselves into a kind of line down which a kind of awareness went from my point of light-with-hearing-and-a-face-with-something-cold-being-pressed-against-it going farther away and in the other direction from where the face-feeling was coming from (there was a lot of spatial awareness). First they arranged themselves along a plane, then slowly (there was a lot of time without changes before the next development throughout) which also first identified themselves somehow as ankle, knee and hip before I felt that I actually *had* these joints. I had also concluded from their planar arrangement that they there was actually only one cold hard planar thing pressed against all these joints, so I it was likely the cold floor and I was likely to be lying on it, but when it actually eventually resolved itself into *feeling* as if I inhabited a body which was lying on the cold hard ground I was surprised to realize that my face was also pressed into the ground and it wasn't a washcloth after all.

So I lost contact between my core consciousness and my motor and sensory systems, including feedback loops that should have told my I wasn't speaking, and when my body reassembled itself around me, I had been in my hindbrain. At least, that was where that which had been "me" which was being experienced as a point of light with hearing-and-all-that-comes-with-it, including understanding one ENT saying to the other that she couldn't find a pulse, and him answering "hey! I think she was my TA!" with pleasure in his voice so "I" "relaxed" since if he'd made it through my course with happy memories he was a hard worker and smart and nice.

I didn't finish waking up till I was on the guerney heading out.

From this I concluded, personally that hearing evolved first, and it evolved to tell you where atmospheric disturbances were coming from, or rather locate other organisms causing them, so you could locomote appropriately. Language, using this core faculty, came with. I wonder if I'd been a deaf signer how long it would have taken me to have hands again. Anyway, I also think that detection of temperature developed next, then detection of hardness, and that we evolved from navigating in a flat, 2d world of head/tail and limbs while perceiving "above" and below" (just not locomoting into them) into a full-fledged 3-D world of up/down front/back left-right later.

This isn't exactly ontogeny that recapitulated phylogeny, but consciogeny, I guess.

Basically, once they got me on the gurney and lowered my head my vasovagal response went off and I was fine, but they took me to the ER anyway AND never called my boyfriend (since I still thought I'd told them to) so it was a whole ordeal getting home... but it was, absolutely and without question, incredibly interesting and informative.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Ed T
Date: 25 Sep 11 - 10:19 PM

A very interesting experience, Mrrzy. Thanks for saring it with us.


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Amos
Date: 25 Sep 11 - 10:52 PM

Interesting indeed!! Only one thing about it puzzles me. You concluded you had spent this period "in your hindbrain" and I am not clear what that means to you. How did that seem to you. at the time? Did you know what it was at the time?

Thanks for going to the trouble of describing what you experienced. Very interesting.


A


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Subject: RE: BS: Your Brain, Your Brain on God
From: Mrrzy
Date: 25 Sep 11 - 11:34 PM

Well, when my body resolved itself around my point of light, the point of light had been located where my hindbrain ended up being. That is, my face was a little in front of it and my ankles, knees and hips were progressively farther away in the other direction. It felt as if my body kind of reappeared around me, and as it did, it did it from the back of the inside of my brain outwards and then down my body. Or, my awareness refilled my body flowing out from my hindbrain first forward into my face and then backward/outward to my toes. But since it was my awareness, that isn't how it was experienced.

It took me a long time to figure out that the reason I stayed so deeply fainted and with no peripheral pulse is that it was the only time I'd fainted kind of uphill and stayed that way till I was lifted onto the gurney, at which point I must have seemingly suddenly awakened. To me, it was more that I was able to tell them that I was awake.

I don't faint any more from needles, or from the idea of needles, which was all this had been, can you believe it?


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