Archive for the ‘ Thoughts ’ Category

Let’s Do This

CARM has questions

It looks like research and that leads to education, so I’m in… I don’t have any thought provoking introduction. Education is always the answer, well, it is if the question is not ‘does that saber tooth tiger’s tonsils look inflamed to you?’

ED: It turns out that the questions were not as interesting as I had first thought them to be. Several seemed rather silly.

 

  1. How would you define atheism?
    The lack of belief in gods or the supernatural
  2. Do you act according to what you believe (there is no God) in or what you don’t believe in (lack belief in God)?
    There is no god to believe in so there is no reason to act with reference to that, god’s don’t enter into how I live just like the easter bunny and tooth fairy.
  3. Do you think it is inconsistent for someone who “lacks belief” in God to work against God’s existence by attempting to show that God doesn’t exist
    No, acting against harmful and dangerous ideas is not inconsistent with lack of belief in gods.
  4. How sure are you that your atheism properly represents reality?
    As sure as the evidence will allow me to be. As sure as the lack of a god’s presence warrants. Where I am infinitely more certain that there are no gods than I am certain it’s possible for a god to exist.
  5. How sure are you that your atheism is correct?
    As certain as the facts will allow one to be. There has never been credible evidence for the existence of a god. Atheism is the right position in light of that lack of evidence.
  6. How would you define what truth is?
    That which is not shown to be false and which has high probability of being true. That said, true has several meanings. People want to give the value ‘truth’ metaphysical meaning but there is no such thing. Newtonian physics was truth until it wasn’t. It still is truth but not for all situations.
  7. Why do you believe your atheism is a justifiable position to hold?
    Because there has never been credible evidence for the existence of any god.
  8. Are you a materialist or a physicalist or what?
    materialism
    As a theory, materialism is a form of physicalism and belongs to the class of monist ontology. As such, it is different from ontological theories based on dualism or pluralism. For singular explanations of the phenomenal reality, materialism would be in contrast to idealism, neutral monism and spiritualism.

    Monism is the philosophical view that a variety of existing things can be explained in terms of a single reality or substance
    I am a monist, atheist, anti-theist, existential nihilist, mechanical atheist and so on

  9. Do you affirm or deny that atheism is a worldview?  Why or why not?
    Atheism is not a world view. It is a single point view – relating only to the existence of gods and the supernatural
  10. Not all atheists are antagonistic to Christianity but for those of you who are, why the antagonism?
    Christianity and Abrahamic monotheism is caustic to society, it is dangerous and deluded. It seeks to harm those that will not submit and assimilate.
  11. If you were at one time a believer in the Christian God, what caused you to deny his existence?
    The utter lack of evidence, starting with the way that believers act, then onto the ridiculousness of the bible and doctrine, then to how it is claimed that god intercedes – strictly through nature. Starting in Genesis we have a string of stories that are without evidence and completely unbelievable on the face of them.
  12. Do you believe the world would be better off without religion?
    Yes, see number 10
  13. Do you believe the world would be better off without Christianity?
    Yes, see numbers 10 and 12
  14. Do you believe that faith in a God or gods is a mental disorder?
    I may not be qualified to diagnose a mental disorder, but if mental disorders are the temporary or permanent incapacity to think critically and interact in nominal ways with society without causing harm, then yes, it is a mental disorder.
  15. Must God be known through the scientific method?
    If a thing cannot be known via the scientific method, it cannot be known. Otherwise Christians would have to admit that Vishnu is real, the FSM exists, and so on. Christians would not accept on faith alone the existence of other non corporal beings.
  16. If you answered yes to the previous question, then how do you avoid a category mistake by requiring material evidence for an immaterial God?
    If the god can interact and intercede in the physical world it can be physically verified. This is not a category mistake. If a god cannot interact with the physical world why pray to it?
  17. Do we have any purpose as human beings?
    Yes: eat, breathe, drink, procreate, sleep, repeat … any order you prefer
  18. If we do have purpose, can you as an atheist please explain how that purpose is determined?
    This purpose is found in all living things. It is minimal for survival of a species.
  19. Where does morality come from?
    Morality is always subjective, it comes from our own intuition and experience.
  20. Are there moral absolutes?
    Absolutely not.
  21. If there are moral absolutes, could you list a few of them?
    See number 20.
  22. Do you believe there is such a thing as evil?  If so, what is it?
    A really good plot point. The ‘evil’ would be an absolute… evil does not exist.
  23. If you believe that the God of the Old Testament is morally bad, by what standard do you judge that he is bad?
    The same standard by which I judge everything: my own internal ethics… just as you and all believers do.
  24. What would it take for you to believe in God?
    I have a couple of posts on that. Consider what it would take for you to believe that Zeus and Thor are real? That might work for me in the case of your god.
  25. What would constitute sufficient evidence for God’s existence?
    If the evidence were to convert all non-believers and all other religion believers unequivocally — that should do it.
  26. Must this evidence be rationally based, archaeological, testable in a lab, etc., or what?
    No, YHWH can come on down to the mall on Friday night and start his campaign there. If it’s not enough to convert Muslims on the spot I’m probably not going to buy it.
  27. Do you think that a society that is run by Christians or atheists would be safer?  Why?
    Safer for who? The answer is that theists by definition will curtail the liberties of others. It is not the safer options.
  28. Do you believe in free will?  (free will being the ability to make choices without coersion).
    Yes. I’ve written quite a bit about it
  29. If you believe in free will, do you see any problem with defending the idea that the physical brain, which is limited and subject to the neuro-chemical laws of the brain, can still produce free will choices?
    I have no problem defending the brain being the source of mind and free will.
  30. If you affirm evolution and that the universe will continue to expand forever, then do you think it is probable that given enough time, brains would evolve to the point of exceeding mere physical limitations and become free of the physical and temporal and thereby become “deity” and not be restricted by space and time?  If not, why not?
    No, see number 29. Universe expansion does not mean brains will expand. There are limits to how much brain matter the body can support. There is no dieties… brains are not going to become deities.
  31. If you answered the previous question in the affirmative, then aren’t you saying that it is probable that some sort of God exists?
    I did not, and no it is not probable that some sort of god exists.

 

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.

Does Transubstantiation Work?

Apparently not

Tip number 7 (at the link above) for gluten free communion wafers:

7. Once more: contamination is the number one concern. For me, ingesting a product with gluten in it is the same a ingesting something with poison in it. Many others suffer similarly.

So, there it is. It’s bread before it gets to the church. It’s bread when they hand it to you. It’s still bread when you eat it. Not even the glory of god almighty can neutralize the dangers of gluten.

 

I Don’t Know What Love Is …

In the last few days I’ve found myself thinking about or talking about love several times. One comment made should be a post.

For all I’ve done and seen and experienced, I do not know how to reconcile my thoughts against what the world professes as the meaning of love. If you asked 100 people you will probably get 114 answers. To me, love is the stuff that happens when you’re keeping a commitment to another person.

 

 

The commitment does not have to be marriage and the other person does not have to be your lover or spouse. Certainly you can make such commitments without love so it is not the commitment that is love, but I think it might be described as the ransom and tribute given to the other party as promissory note or collateral. It is not this act or that act as many people describe ‘true love’ is to me the act of giving deeply personal collateral for the loan of honesty from another being. In this way, I think the description also applies to dogs. How the repayment is arranged depends on the other particulars of the relationship… it’s not something that a person can only do with one other being. I don’t know what love is but I understand the collateral and commitment to repayment involved to create it.

Gods that do not reveal themselves cannot make a commitment and they cannot love us.

The supposed ‘almighty creator god’ cannot even do what a dog can do.

 

Does this make sense? What does love mean to you?

Hell Is Real…

It’s called Alzheimer’s Disease.

Recently I found a blogger that thinks the mind creates the brain. That person is an idiot. Watching a vivid character and mind waste to nothing is the most disheartening thing I can possibly think of. I can’t imagine the hell of not being able to remember 5 minutes ago. My mother is becoming like many animals… living only in this moment but able to remember her college GPA to three decimal places. She can’t remember what she ate last night but she can remember long term stuff like the back of her hand. It’s a torture that I can see taking its toll on her and soon on the family. If prayer would work I would pray for her. It gives me physical pain to see that beautiful woman and mind reduced to such confusion and pain. Hell is real. It is the loss of your mind.

When she faces her god, she won’t remember if she has sinned and can’t repent of them if she did. If this is a god’s perfect plan I want to beat that god to death with a hammer. This was his plan? Torture her here and then condemn her after? I really want some believer to explain their god to me now. I want to know why their god wants me to feel such pain. I want to know why their god wants to torture my mother and my family. I want an explanation or for religion to shut the fuck up. Religion has no explanation and this just happens. It is part of life and if fucking sucks. I cry for the woman who does not know what my tears are for. Tell me you religious believers, what are my tears for? What is my family’s suffering for? What part of god’s perfect plan does this support? I’m listening…

Illusions? Who Are You?

We are not enslaved to the illusions of our memories nor trapped within them.

It is only marginally correct to say that we are afraid to reach outside of them.

 

If the truth is to be told, we are frightened of living without them.

 

Not because change is stressful, but because without them we do not know truly who we are.

 

If there is but one thing more frightful to humans than living without their illusions

 

 

it is to find out who they really are.

 

Who are  you?

 

What are  you afraid of?

Near Death Yet? Have An Experience? Want To Share?

Near death experiences give people some odd bits of experience and science has yet to pin it down as to what is going on. That part is no surprise. In the track of my mechanical atheism and decidedly dedicated desire to divine the direct dope on near death dreams I decided to devote this ditty to declaring delineated decisions derived from my dunce cap stand.

Duh!

Near Death Experiences or NDE have increased since we became more successful at resuscitating people. How Stuff Works  has a piece on NDE and there are lots of posts on the internets to help you get confused over what is going on with these things. I will approach this from the atheist and anti-theist, monist, materialist, nihilist point of view. Oh, I know, nothing special but I’ve got to give the old college try.

Yes, there are those that think it is a religious experience and I’ll tell you that this idea invalidates their religious experiences as something other than natural phenomena.

Your body is a machine. Sure, it’s organic, but it is a system of interrelated systems working together to support the brain that is you.

I urge you to read “My Stroke Of Insight” by Jill Bolte Taylor. She describes what happened when she had a major brain haemorrhage that shut down half of her brain. No, it’s not an NDE though it could have been. She is a neuroscientist and took some good notes on what was happening to her. There is a TED talk to make it a short trip.

She talks about how parts of her brain shut down and what experiences she had from that.

In an NDE the body begins to shut down. Lack of oxygen being circulated means that malfunction begins. It will begin in the extremities first. Your body will strive to keep your brain functional for as long as possible. Your brain has the capacity to function for a certain amount of time before shutting down. While those last moments tick along your brain will lose contact with sensory inputs, and various parts of your brain. This will create an unreal world where nothing ‘feels’ right, and things seem to be odd. In this state your brain will continue to process data as fast as it can with whatever sensory data it can find.

You will lose sense of time, sense of position, and sense of synchronized data. That is to say that the sensory data from one source will not match up to other sensory data. It will be out of synch and give us a distorted picture of the world that we believe we are seeing.

As your brain starts shutting down, memories will be what is available for the simulation in your head. Vision will go and only memories will provide visual data. Everyone familiar with ‘stream of consciousness’ thinking will know that given a chance, most people will scream through random thoughts at any given point of the day. We mostly suppress them to ensure that thoughts synchronize to external sensory data.

Jill Bolte Taylor describes what happens when we lose these brain synchronizations.

In cardiac arrest, we go straight to this shutting down state. It is our experiences and memories and simulator rules that define what our brain will be doing to try to make sense of what is happening. Because of this, there is no way to predict what your NDE might be like. What is known is that these general conditions and symptoms express themselves as dream like experiences in the memory of those who experience an NDE.

There is no magic, no spirits, nothing special… it’s what happens when you unplug your brain. Awesome and frightening in one step. It is what you will experience after that last breath.

Are you looking forward to it?

I Have A Heavy Metal Drill…

I was in the drive for a smoke and the garage light kicked off… the lights on the drill battery charger made it look like the heavy metal orb was underneath my workbench… yikes

If that’s not enough, just 2 minutes ago the dogs went to the door to investigate. Something was trying to turn the knob. This is odd I thought. So, with caution, I opened the door slightly after turning on the light. There stood a very confused Hindu woman with a baby bag and one sandal. The other was half way down the walk and she appeared intoxicated.

To tell you the truth I think I would have preferred to find the orb in my garage!

 

Science, Because It Works…

You can talk about prayer all you want but the world has never seen this in a church and never will. This won’t happen with prayer and never has. When it does happen it happens not with a book and a choir but with lab coats and a medical chart. If you haven’t seen this yet, set back, grab a tissue…

 

 

Someone please tell me again how prayer works and how this woman never managed to pray the right way or to the right god in all her life. Then explain how loving your god is… and don’t forget to explain why it is that your god would give doctors such skills but make this woman wait a lifetime to hear her own voice.

 

It’s a tear jerker alright and damnit, at least she can hear her sobs.

Can’t We All Just Get Along?

The never ending discussion on the compatibility between science and religion asks if they can get along and coexist. The argument, no matter how it is stated, comes down to this: Science has facts, religion has faith. As long as religion has faith it will remain incompatible with both science and reality. Believers might argue that their faith is compatible with science yet they will not allow for someone else’s faith being compatible with their own. When believers can’t even get their ‘faith’ coherent but decide to disagree with the best method we have of knowing the world around us then it is completely incompatible with science.

A religion that is not incompatible with science would be one that requires no faith. Would that be a religion?

Can’t we all just get along?

NO, we can’t as long as you are unwilling to be a full participant in reality.

Before anyone thinks I’m calling all believers stupid, just stop. This is a reaction to the discussion of compatibility and not simply your particular point of view. That said, if you want to feel offended, that is your prerogative, just don’t expect an apology.

 

 

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