Archive for the ‘ atheist ’ Category

The Bourne Connection

Amnesia (from Greek ἀμνησία from ἀ- meaning “without” and μνήμη memory) is a deficit in memory caused by brain damage, disease, or psychological trauma.[1] Amnesia can also be caused temporarily by the use of various sedatives and hypnotic drugs. Essentially, amnesia is loss of memory. The memory can be either wholly or partially lost due to the extent of damage that was caused.[2] There are two main types of amnesia: retrograde amnesia and anterograde amnesia. Retrograde amnesia is the inability to retrieve information that was acquired before a particular date, usually the date of an accident or operation.[3] In some cases the memory loss can extend back decades, while in others the person may lose only a few months of memory. Anterograde amnesia is the inability to transfer new information from the short-term store into the long-term store. People with this type of amnesia cannot remember things for long periods of time. These two types are not mutually exclusive. Both can occur within a patient at one time.

I was going to start out with something different but I can’t remember what it was … badump pa ching

 

In the Bourne Identity we find a man suffering amnesia. He cannot remember who he is and begins to rebuild or reconstruct his life with what knowledge he does retain and any new knowledge gained. He lost only personal memories of himself. So he wakes up one day and does not have a history or identity. He is, for all intents and purposes erased. A fully trained blank.

If he were able to slowly regain his memories all would be well but as we know, that is not how it works out. He remains blank until suffering another trauma. What if he had regained his memories within days of waking up? Would he have been a blank slate during that time, or simply ‘just recovering’ for a bit? What if it only took hours to regain the memories? Would he have been considered the blank slate in that time? What if it took only a few seconds to regain his memories? Would he have had amnesia?

How long does it take you every morning to regain your memories? Are you a blank during that time? Are you sure?

If you think about it, you wake up blank but with quick easy access to your memories and full body integration your brain quickly puts everything back in place… it quickly integrates both memory and current sensory data. You go from blank to yourself, identity regained in just seconds. The process is not smooth all the time. Think about experiences you’ve had waking up which were not easy or pleasant. Did you experience instant reintegration? Did it take a few minutes for every process to come back on line?

When you are not conscious, you are not you. A blank with the amazing ability to reintegrate memories and body experience. In effect, your brain reprograms itself every time you regain consciousness.

 

 

Here’s a bit from someone that might come to exactly that conclusion. It’s a bit of a read, but I recommend it. She wonders if we are but I say we are, over and over and over again. When the simulator in our heads starts running our brains reprogram themselves to be us.

Science writer Jennifer Ouellette explores the emerging science of the self, a body of research that examines not just who we are, but also…if we are.

More Failed Logic From The Believers

I found this stuff at Fide Dubitandum

I don’t even feel like replying to the post. It seems pointless. Having said that, it is fair game for me to post about my reaction to it.

They start with a quote:

“The only way, really, to pursue a godlessness in good conscience is to forget history.”

- David Bentley Hart

It’s no surprise that Mr Hart is a theologian. Fide begins with:

In context, I found this a deeply penetrating statement about the condition of the current discussion between theists and materialists. What is that context? I highly recommend the full talk, but it can be summarized as follows:

It was, in many ways, understandable that Enlightenment thinkers would believe that a society liberated from all belief in transcendence would achieve new heights of prosperity and morality–that enough education, or the right social programs, would do what religion could not.

What he left out was the undeniable idea that religion has had its chance and created nothing but bloodshed, pain, and anger. There is no point in mentioning that because it kind of ruins his post. There is no reason to believe that a world bereft of religion would be a wonderful place with no problems but there is plenty of reason to think that a world without religion would be a better one than the world we have now.

Now that we are living in the wake of the bloodiest century in all of human history, it takes a deep lack of curiosity (or downright willful ignorance), to believe that a godless society is the unqualified good to be zealously persued.

This guy has clearly not acquainted himself with the work of Steven Pinker… he should.

He points out that Nietzsche’s fear of the “last men”–of those who have no deep truth to speak, no rational basis for morality, and therefore no meaning in their lives–now seems rather quaint. This idea has gone from a horrific and seemingly wild proclamation to a banal, almost tedious, observation the facts.

Yes, because without religion the world will crumble to one huge Mad Max film set. This kind of thinking gives zero credit to human nature and the idea that we are all basically good, willing to help, compassionate and often going well out of our way to help others. To such apologists as Fide these things are to be ignored or blamed on the remaining shards of religion in the world. This cynical denial of human nature is, at its root, disgusting in as much as it denies any goodness in any human except that they believe in a god.

The fact that so many, from the New Atheists to an all-too-large group of theists, have such a distorted, shallow view of what it is that Christianity actually claims is only the most recent evidence that ours is an age which has become so used to living without transcendence that far too many of us don’t even understand the word.

It is fair to say that IF non-believers have a distorted view of what Christianity claims it is because the claims are distorted and shallow. Many new atheists are reformed Christians who know all too well what Christianity claims and offers. To deny this is to simply ignore the facts and that is generally thought of as telling lies.

We can’t, of course, correct the problems sparked by the naivety of the Enlightenment thinkers simply by insisting that their view of reality was perfectly correct. And, whether they realize it or not, this is exactly what Dawkins and his fans are doing.

Right! Because nobody alive today has had a new idea or learned from past mistakes. Again, this intolerance of the idea that humans by nature are good and industrious as a group is disgusting. It denies all that is good in the world except that which is borne of religion. This is patently untrue and even this forked tongue apologist will admit that many atheists are good and that human nature is good but it doesn’t stop him from spouting just the opposite to make claim to righteousness and moral high  ground.

I, for one, think there are very good reasons to dismiss materialism as false. But, if it is true, it is a catastrophic truth–a bearer of meaninglessness and death. Those who speak as if it were, in some unspecified way, a glorious triumph have simply ignored the facts.

Here he speaks as if he ‘KNOWS’ that there is meaning to life and that there is more than death at the end of each human life. There is no evidence offered to support the claim and he further claims that the ‘facts’ do not support materialism. The trouble is that the facts do support materialist views. Non-materialist views have no credible evidence to support believing there is more to live than what materialism has to offer in that respect. This is presupposition pretending to be rationality. Pure bunk.

Evolution Evidence Breakthrough

I know that you know that I know that I’m not an evolutionary biologist but I just found this and it’s amazing.

Instructions

First prepare to play the video.

Turn up the volume.

Press play as you stand to get a coffee from the kitchen.

Next, Sam Harris will explain in evolutionary terms why babies look like they do. (no peeking, just listen)

 

Evidence That A God Exists …

There has been a lot of banter about evidence between theists and atheists and I’m sure agnostics got into the fray as well. It is a troubling issue. We can all agree that France exists, that belief that France exists is a true belief and that there is plenty of evidence to support this. Oddly, when it comes to deities the same evidence we use for the existence of France is not acceptable or somehow not valid to the discussion.

There might be a lot of reasons for this: Evidence for god is not as visceral as a pile of god crap to examine; gods are meant to be ‘not of this world’ and so on. If we’re to get to the bottom of all this there must be a better way to evaluate evidence for and against. I’m not saying that the way courts do so is wrong but it doesn’t seem to work where belief is involved so we need to examine what it means to have evidence and what it might mean in real terms.

In the case of the existence of gods who is the defendant? I will argue that the defendant is the groups who say, to the persons claiming that gods exists, that there is no credible evidence for such a claim. In this picture we can easily see that evidence is not necessarily always about proof. This works in the theists favor, or could.

Problematically, the design of the scales example does not require absolute or objective evidence and this is where much of the argument happens. Theists do not have absolute evidence while non-theists tend to use only what is the best knowledge available which includes all the physical evidence available to theists.

The Premise – there is more than one

When the theist asks what evidence a non-theist needs to believe it is assumed that both absolute and subjective evidence will work. When the non-theist asks for evidence, subjective evidence will not work. Over time theists have offered a great many arguments as evidence and these have been rejected for as many reasons if not more. This dichotomy of understanding drives the question in different directions and I’d like to examine the question as asked by the theist: what evidence is necessary to prove the existence of a god.

I’ve seen several attempts to example what kind of evidence would prove the existence of a god to an atheist, yet theists are never happy with that answer. Here I want to try to make the answer palatable, even if they can’t provide the evidence.

To provide ‘proof’ or evidence we can see from the picture that it need only outweigh the counter evidence. Seems simple enough but it is complicated by the sheer number of arguments made in favor of the existence of a god and the counter arguments against it. This is not a simple action of dealing with one claim that has one argument such as I believe Shelly has an Aston Martin. For this we would simply go to Shelly’s house and take a ride in the Aston Martin, argument over.

For the existence of a non-physical being to be proven the evidence will have to outweigh all the argument against such a claim. At no time in recorded history has such ever been achieved. As an example lets look at Answers in Genesis’ claim that the Earth is less than 10000 years old. The profession of geology argues against this. We can assess the success of AiG’s arguments and evidence in a simple but truly effective manner: How many PhD geologists convert to young earth creationism every year? I don’t mean how many believe in YEC, but how many convert to it? If ALL geologists converted to YEC on viewing the evidence then we can be reasonably sure that the evidence is compelling. This is not happening because AiG would not keep such news a secret for more than a couple of microseconds. The evidence for YEC does NOT outweigh the counter evidence.

With that example set, I will say that evidence for the existence of a god would have to counter all arguments against the existence of a god. Not just one counter argument or even some counter arguments but ALL of them.

The reason for this seemingly unbearable burden is simple, if there is truth to the claim that a god or gods exist then that truth will disprove all counter arguments. If you think you have evidence or an argument for the existence of a god it will need to be able to disprove all counter arguments. That is the level of evidence required.

Before you bother me with arguments you should spend a little time on the Internet to find out what those counter arguments are. If you don’t I will continue to cut your arguments into pieces and hand them back to you. Remember, your evidence has to disprove ALL counter arguments to be objective truth. A feeling you have is not evidence.

So there is the bar, the ‘thing’ that I would call evidence for the existence of a god. Good luck with that…

Here Is A Prophecy For You…

It always cofounds me. Believers in the god of Abraham will tell you they have free will but then turn around and tell you the end times are already decided, what will happen to satan and yhwh as well as what they will do. This is not free will for if even the deity is predestined to perform certain acts then the souls of all who hope to enter heaven have been predestined to go to either heaven or hell and not one bit of arguing or complaining will change it. From this we can determine that prayer and worship are useless…

Think About It For A Minute …

Think for a minute about the single minded consumption that the god of Abraham demands.

  • Kill your child – Genesis 22 and Judges 11
  • Cut your genitals off – all over the Old Testament
  • Sacrifice your Wealth – Matthew 19:24
  • Sacrifice your family and belongings – Job

These are just the tip of the iceberg here. The idea here is that to be a good follower or worshiper of YHWH you must be fully consumed by single minded obedience and dedication to winning a slave’s life for eternity at his feet. Do any evil asked of you, even to the ones you love and care for, so that you can spend eternity in paradise.

Is there a more self centered and selfish act of evil ever known in the history of humanity than to murder your own child in the name of a faceless god and the pursuit of a better next life?

Perhaps your sect does not promote such behavior but if you’re a christian adherent this is what your god asks of you… that you be so selfishly focused on obedience that you would commit any kind of atrocity in pursuit of your god’s love for eternity… that you be willing to trade your dignity and self worth to gain a ticket to heaven.

You can claim ‘new covenant’ all you want. Your unchanging god is the very Jesus christians worship and at once is he the very god who demands such evil be present in you.

Thoughts?

Who Is The Bad Guy Again?

I was going to write a post about Alzheimers disease   …    but I forgot what I was going to write.

Oh yeah… it’s a death sentence with years on death row while you are cared for by your family. I just found out that my mother has been given that death sentence. She will slowly and painfully begin losing all the abilities of her mind that I am so interested in learning about. As I learn, she will lose.

Oh yeah, happy holidays.

Did I mention she is a devout believer? Now there’s some meaning to life for you. We’re only here long enough to raise progeny and then we’re gone. We were on our way out when we were raising those kids…. just didn’t realize it.

No, there is no moral here, no lesson to be learned. Life is… and then it isn’t.

I can’t think of another thing to say.

Well, there’s this:

One day, about forever ago, I was visiting my mother’s mother. She dies of this disease. While visiting, on late evening she got confused about putting something or other away. I was standing there and talking with her while it happened. She turned, looked me straight in the eyes and earnestly asked me “Do you think I’m crazy?” I’ve never been able to forget that moment.

You Don’t Know … So Here You Go, You’re Welcome

There is not much that I can add to this except that Sam and I don’t agree on all things but on this video mashup, we’re in synch all the way.

Enjoy… then go buy presents for people that already have more than they need…

All Your Thoughts, Dreams, And Fears …

are but bits and bytes in the simulation. Never shall they themselves echo in the universe or wander the seemingly empty voids of existence. No, they are forever locked inside your head and there they will comfortably stay till you unlock the passage and loose them on the unsuspecting world around you. Nay, they will not escape and infiltrate the universe on their own, they cannot. The cold, harsh, uncaring universe would best like them kept locked in your mind… should it ever begin to think on its own.

Just random fluctuations of chemicals and electricity, chemistry in action… meaningless to the entirety of existence while confined to the bits of matter between your ears. They say you can’t kill an idea, but you can. An idea without expression is still-born, in a manner of speaking.

Should we paint everything with green and orange giraffes? Not hardly, but you’re getting the idea. Combine known items with items not usually associated with them – now you have some thoughts. Consider further how this combination would interact with other items in the known existence and you have more complete thoughts. If one of the possible interactions leads to a result you do not or will not like, you have a fear … or maybe many of them. Combine them in a way that leads to desired consequences and you have a plan. If that desired consequence is seemingly unlikely, you have a dream or a hope. If someone comes along and acts in a way that disturbs your connection chains from now to a desire result, you have anger.

Wait, are you saying that I/we can be separate from our anger and hopes etc.?

Yes, I am.

But wouldn’t that make us dispassionate and distant?

Yes, yes it would.

That’s bad right? It’s not good to not have feelings, right?

I guess that depends on how painful your feelings are. When you are torn with grief, would you rather be dispassionate, or would you rather walk around inside that pain and suffering?

Wait, can’t I just be sad? Does it have to be painful?

Well, if you want your emotions to function the way that evolution designed them, yes, it has to be painful. Really, I mean it has to be painful. If we did not feel pain at the loss of our in-group we would not have survived. That is why it is thought strange or even sinister if one does not grieve the loss of their in-group.

Wait, are you saying that emotions are just chemical reactions to bits of information?

Yes, I am. The simulator running in your head releases chemicals based on the electrochemical reaction of bits of data in your brain. So, with some stimulus your brain floods your body with hormones and with other stimulus it floods your body with depressants. The loss of a loved one causes actual pain to be felt. It’s just bits of data in your brain, but you ‘feel’ it just the same… not because there is physical damage, but because there is chemical alteration to the sensors which normally indicate damage.

Did you just say that my body produces falsified physical feelings based on electrochemical actions in my brain?

Yes, yes I did. How does that make you feel? (I’ll be here all week)

Okay… I don’t understand, how does my brain do this magic stuff?

Electricity and chemical reactions. In short, biology. Chemistry becomes biology when the interactions become coherent over time and across reproductive cycles.

Wait, this is about sex too? I’m pro-life, I don’t have coherent reproductive cycles or whatever you call it.

 

 

Stay tuned readers… How is the next stop. ‘What is a thought’ is the end of the line, all passengers must change destinations at the end of the line.

You Don’t Know Jack, Or YHWH, Or Jeshua

There are a few things that simply rub me the wrong way, not  because I’m a disagreeable sort (and I am) but because they simply don’t mesh with logical thinking.

Prayson Daniel posted an article about CSLewis (who I have little respect for) but I don’t

Descartes’ God, wrote Harry G. Frankfurt, is “a being for whom the logically impossible is possible.” (Frankfurt 1977, 44) God, for Descartes, is ex les. His power is beyond our reason and morality.  God, in this view, can bring about any state of affairs. If this is true, then contrary to Lewis, God could have created higher creatures with free will that freely and voluntarily choose the right things only.

The problem, with adopting Cartesian absolute power of God that could even bring about logical impossible states of affair, is that the problem of pain and suffering disappears with it. If God can bring about logical impossible states of affair, then it would follow that God could bring about what atheologians believe to be logically impossible, namely the coexistence of pain and suffering and omnicompetent and benevolent God.

I don’t actually want to address Prayson’s article or CSLewis per se. The article touches on a couple of subjects which twiddle the irritation switch in my head.

In the first paragraph we see the problems born of switching or losing context. There is no agreed upon definition of what ‘god’ is or can do. We have only the imagined facets of a being that is supposed to be existent outside of space and time. Think that through for a minute. If something is completely outside the confines of all that humanity has or does know and beyond the scope of our ability to experience, then we cannot know what that being is like nor what magic powers it might possess. It is illogical to think that we can imagine something not confined to the existence we know of and further that we know what that being is like…. pure bullshit. If a thing is defined as beyond imagination or understanding then that is exactly what it is… stop trying to change it or the context of the conversation. If god is not know-able, then stop telling me you know him. If the mind of god is not knowable, stop telling me you know what it is. If the powers of your or any god are not knowable, stop telling me what they are and what limitations the god has. In this I side with DesCartes,

Now the second paragraph which tries to put limits on infinity…. so to speak. The problem seems logical, except that it is not. It injects context to the proposed equation which is limited to human experience and understanding. To say that an omnipotent and omnibenevolent god would not allow pain and suffering is to say that benevolence demands alignment with human understanding of such. There is the contradiction that invalidates the argument. Who is to tell an omnipotent deity what benevolence is? Once you create such a being, you don’t get to tell it how to behave, and in being that sort of being it will decide for all creation what is benevolent and right and moral and just. While this does clear the one argument, it beguiles another: If the deity decides what is moral and just there is no objective morality etc.

Without objective morality the purpose of such a being becomes exponentially more dubious and worrying. Just ask Abraham or Joshua about objective morality. They both have a few words on the subject.

If your god is confined to the behaviors and emotions which reside within the realm of your understanding and scope of your experience, then your god is no god at all… unless that is the label you give to wishful thinking. If your deity is such a being as described, then it is very improbable that you, as a human, will be able to comprehend the deity — and as such, there is no point to worship for you cannot even know if this is desired, useful, or if it is something which will actually earn you eternal torments. In short you can know nothing of such a being…. Now, if you simply made up a story about such a being you’d be able to describe it and it’s behavior etc.

Perhaps that is what has happened?

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