Posts Tagged ‘ Sam Harris ’

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.




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.


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)


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…

What Is Human Consciousness?

I know I keep at this topic almost relentlessly and I seem to have to draw it out as I think about it. Today’s thought is brought to you by our cousins.

If human consciousness is to have special meaning, which I do not ascribe to it, we should see some differences between human apes and all other animals. Clearly humans and elephants are not going to be similar in any physical way. Likewise, this is so with most other animals. What are the ways that we are similar though?

  1. Mammals
  2. same body plan for many of us
  3. social creatures
  4. wake/sleep cycles
  5. …. well, in fact we seem to have quite a few things in common even though we humans don’t think of things that way very often

When we look at animals that save other animals we see a trend in their behavior. They act in altruistic ways. They react to danger, not out of loyalty to the endangered being, but from some ethical nature. Their reaction requires thought, some level of planning, free will to execute the plan, and the cognitive ability to adapt the plan to achieve a goal.



I can use my dog as an example. He does not like to see animals or people fight. In the dog park, if two dogs face off he will run fast as he can to get in between them and use just enough force to prevent the fight. This has so far only required physical presence and a dominant behavior. He has never attacked any being. He uses minimal action to achieve a goal of his own making…. not rage or fury, but minimal means to achieve the goal.

If dogs and other animals show compassion, altruism, thought,  planning, ethics, free will … what is left for us to explain with our big brains?

Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness (2012)

The absence of a neocortex does not appear to preclude an organism from experiencing affective states. Convergent evidence indicates that non-human animals have the neuroanatomical, neurochemical, and neurophysiological substrates of conscious states along with the capacity to exhibit intentional behaviors. Consequently, the weight of evidence indicates that humans are not unique in possessing the neurological substrates that generate consciousness. Non-human animals, including all mammals and birds, and many other creatures, including octopuses, also possess these neurological substrates.

Cambridge University, UK.

Whatever consciousness is, humans are not alone in possessing it.



If I’m right, whatever thoughts are, humans are not alone in possessing them.

If I’m right, whatever morality is, humans are not alone in possessing it.




There are many more videos of animals exhibiting ethical behavior that requires thought and planning etc.

So what is it then that we do with this big brain we have? It would appear that pre-modern humans were conscious and intelligent beings, with ethics and free will. .. the very things which we think make us special. We do not attribute animals with a soul nor think they have some external cause making it look like they think thoughts at all, yet they do think and plan and choose to execute, and modify the plan during execution, to achieve a chosen goal. This flies in the face of Sam Harris’ statements about we humans having no free will. It flies in the face of those claiming ethics come from a deity. It flies in the face of those thinking humans are a special species regarding cognition.

I suggest here that whatever is true for humans regarding consciousness and cognition must also be true for the animal world. The thought that we have a controlling soul is hubris in this light. Deductively then, we can reason that cognition and consciousness is an emergent property of the animal brain.

Do you have any thoughts on this? I would love to know them.


Random Things – Apr 03 2013

To go along with my adulation of the venerable earthworm  I just couldn’t help but think of this song. Enjoy


This Is Why…

This is why you should, at best, find religion a doubtful set of myths and superstitions.


Ask yourself why your pastor or priest is not telling you these things. Ask why your religion does not explain about the universe other than to say your creator god did it. Why doesn’t your holy text cover black holes, nuclear energy, electricity, and so many other things in your daily life. For all you know, driving in a car could be one of many unforgivable sins but they didn’t cover that in the holy text so you won’t know.

Oh sure, these are different times, but why didn’t the most powerful and omniscient being in the world see fit to explain some of the stuff from the future so as to truly be a guide to his special friends? He could have given them some useful stuff, like forks or perhaps better sailing ships, or maybe even an accurate depiction of the solar system and it’s place in the galaxy. There are millions of ways that such a deity could have improved the lives of those special friends he supposedly put on this planet. Yet your deity did none of them. Why is your church not telling you about this? What happened when you asked? Post in the comments about what the reaction was from your church.

Why is it that your pastor or priest etc. will not show this video before their Sunday preaching? Why? You might as well ask why your pastor or priest etc. doesn’t want you to ask the questions and doesn’t want to answer them if you do.

I challenge believers to present this video to their church leaders and ask them what their response is. I’d be happy to post those responses here or have you post them in the comments.

Free Will – The Sequel?

There is a review by The Barking Atheist of Sam Harris’ book ‘Free Will’ and a bunch more reviews here.

Why, oh why, why would you mention so many reviews, I hear you ask. (deep breath) Having posted about it, it seems to be my destiny to read it. Mind you I’m still slogging through “The Moral Landscape” at the moment. Just the same I will post a review of his book in my own style when it is done. In the mean time there are all other other ‘unoriginal’ reviews that you can read 🙂

I guess the point of this is to say that yes, I will read the book since it’s ‘hot’ and I’ve already posted so much on free will and how I perceive it.

I want to also thank all the new readers/followers for stopping by.


And now… a chicken

I’m watching you!

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