Science and religion get us no closer to the truth.

Oct 3, 2013


Discussion by: Tash

Science, the study of the physical and natural world will one day in the future help mankind know down to the smallest particle, everything in our vast universe. We will be able to create, destroy, manipulate and control time/space, matter and energy in ways that even the most forward thinking men and women of today would be bewildered by. I believe it is our future to become fully aware of our world, universe and our reality.  In doing so we will be creating a new reality for ourselves as each generation in the past has and as long as there are possibilities there will be progress and new discovery. Considering that the universe and life itself is in a constant state of evolving new possibilities are forever being born.

So what if through science and technology, everything that exists in the universe becomes known to us and in a sense we become masters of our universe able to do and achieve what would seem like magical miraculous events. Would we know all there is to know about our world? Would we know everything there is to know about ourselves?? Whether we like it or not – not a single person who has lived, is living or shall ever live will know the answer to what happens to us when we die. No scientist. No religion.

Science can look at what happens to our physical remains and talk about the various stages of death and decay through differing conditions. Religion it seems can make up whatever suits them or makes sense for the period of time that the religion exists in and in my opinion has an agenda for power – at least science is based on fact but I’m sure there are still many hidden agendas in various scientific studies especially medicine…

Science and religion brings us no closer to knowing if there is a form of existence outside our physical universe bound world. Religions are not revealing the truth about god/gods and the afterlife and science is not revealing the truth that there is no god/gods and the absence of an afterlife. So why is it that throughout evolution there has been the idea that there is more to us than this one solitary life? Extreme atheism is not very different from many of the religions that it objects to in the sense that it makes assumptions based on belief rather than logic and fact. To say with certainty that there is no other form of life after death seems to me to be the same sort of crazy thinking that there is a god in the clouds waiting to judge us or reward us for our faith. Religious belief does exists, it is fact, perhaps it its purely a man made invention to explain the unknown, control the masses and make vast fortunes for the people who dictate these beliefs. Maybe there is more to it, many people are now experiencing the freedom to believe in their own form of self-religion, I would put myself and atheism into this category. It is based on what they feel is right for them because it comes from inside them and not an outside source or organized religious environment.

I believe that as human beings bound to a physical realm we will never know what, if anything, exists after death, science will teach us everything there is to know about the physical world given the time and opportunity to explore it but it will never take us beyond that. Organized religion is repugnant; ideally I would rather see the world embrace freethinking and religious belief should be as diverse as the number of people who are on the planet. I cant help but truly feel that the fact that I have a deep sense, and have since I was a small child, that there is more to me than my physical and mental condition. That there is a timeless, formless, limitless part of me that has always existed and always shall exists.

Living in a world that denies the possibility of an afterlife is just as ignorant as living in a world that presents the afterlife as fact.

68 comments on “Science and religion get us no closer to the truth.

  • A few problems with your thinking:

    1. You can’t know everything about every particle, because you would have to store that information somewhere. You would need a spare much larger universe for data storage.

    2. Remember physicists around 1900. They thought they had basically figured everything there was to know. They might measure things more accurately, but physics held all the excitement of actuarial tables. There was this anomaly of hot bodies giving off the “wrong” colour of light, but was not important. Of course it lead to quantum mechanics and a massive explosion in study.

    3. Imagine the physics of an ant or dog. They may figure they have it all together, but they miss out on a lot because of their limitations to even understand the problems. We humans are stupid too relative to what is required to fully understand the universe. We will have evolving artificial intelligences who can keep finding deeper and deeper problems.



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  • Living in a world that denies the possibility of an afterlife is just as ignorant as living in a world that presents the afterlife as fact.

    You do have an afterlife, of a sort, if you breed. One of your eggs or sperms will join with an egg or sperm of someone else, and start dividing and having a life. This being will live perhaps 30 years longer than you. All its cells can be directly traced back to a cell that once lived as part of your life. This process can continue indefinitely, giving at least one cell of your body a sort of eternal life (until non breeding/early death)

    But that is not what you meant by afterlife. You meant something magical, completely outside known science posed by the bible, some sort extended life for your personal consciousness. Atheists do not claim to have proof or evidence that such a strange existence is impossible. They state instead that there is no evidence for it. It is in the same realm as fairies or bigfoot. They will state that since there is no evidence, and there would be all kinds of evidence if it did exist, then it seems highly probable it does not exist. As soon as there is evidence, everything changes.

    Afterlifes could in theory exist with or without punishments, with or without gods, with or without earthly reincarnation, without or without eternal life. Just because you found evidence for an afterlife is not necessarily evidence for Jehovah and his hell.



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  • 3
    Ben_Griffith says:

    I also would disagree with some of your points.

    1. First and most importantly, Science definitely DOES get us closer to the truth. If by truth, you mean specifically what happens to us when we die, it has provided us plenty of truth on the matter.

    2. Of course not all scientists search for truth purely for the sake of knowledge. There is nothing wrong with a scientist using a scientific discovery for profit. They deserve it.

    3. Atheism and Science do not deny the possibility of an afterlife.

    And a question: What are you referring to when you say “there is more to me than my physical and mental condition”?



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  • 4
    This Is Not A Meme says:

    “Living in a world that denies the possibility of an afterlife is just as ignorant as living in a world that presents the afterlife as fact.”

    Logical impossibilty is a technical distinction. Denying the logical possibility of a four-cornered triangle is not ignorant. This is absurd nihilism. You can’t know the truth? Then why are you talking? Are you the one source of truth immune to the epistemic limitations you define science and logic by? Of course not. You haven’t thought this out. Take your diatribe here as a lesson in error.



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  • 5
    Seraphor says:

    This is the common fault with self proclaimed agnostics or religious apologists.

    You’re right in that science can never uncover any ‘truth’ pertaining to a supernatural afterlife, however this does not mean truth cannot be obtained, if the truth is that there is no afterlife.

    Of course we can never be certain of that, but we don’t need to be, it only needs to be beyond reasonable doubt. You say it would be just as crazy to believe with certainty that there is no afterlife, as it would be to believe that there is one.
    Would it be just as crazy to believe with certainty that there is no such thing as tooth-faries, as it would be to believe with certainty that there are? There’s no evidence either way.

    The simplest hypothesis is often the most accurate, and the one for which the least amount of evidence is required is usually the most plausible.
    On the one hand you have no evidence for any kind of afterlife, and evidence that any ‘feelings’ people have pertaining to an afterlife are an illusion. Near death experiences, your ‘feeling’ of timelessness and limitless existence, neither have any grounding in reality and can be explained away with neuroscience.
    On the other hand you have a magical plain of existence that requires us to believe that, without any form of evidence and in fact evidence to thecontrary, that we have some kind of ‘soul’, a part of us that, uniquely different from everything else in the universe, is both tangible (as legitimate part of us and not completely unrelated) and completely intangible (cannot be measured, and exists independently from out physical bodies).

    It’s not a matter of certainty, it’s a matter of doubt.
    I doubt tooth-faries exist, just as I doubt an afterlife exists.

    Is it a problem that science will never be able to prove that tooth-faries don’t exist? Or do we just accept that they don’t and move on?



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  • 6
    Seraphor says:

    Tash:

    I have a deep sense, and have since I was a small child, that there is more to me than my physical and mental condition. That there is a timeless, formless, limitless part of me that has always existed and always shall exists.

    Could i just ask what you think this part of you would be like, can you describe it in any way?

    We already know that memories and personality arise directly from the structure of our brains. People with brain damage have lost memories, sometimes their whole life, and damage to the frontal lobe can cause complete changes in personality, and can even turn you into a different person altogether.

    If your ‘soul’ does not contain or is not responsible for your memories or your personality, what exactly is left that you are able to call ‘you’? What part of ‘you’ survives into the afterlife that isn’t your personality or memories? And if it’s not your personality or memories, how can you claim that it’s still you?

    Can I also ask why you think that you, or human beings as a species, have this element to them completely unique to the rest of matter in the universe, that somehow surpasses time and space as we know it?
    Why has this ethereal energy form latched on to the bodies of a certain species of animal on a certain peice of rock orbiting an ordinary star?
    Because if this part of us is timeless and limitless then it must have existenced before you did, and so it must be an external agent that sought out a physical host. Again, this would imply that it’s not actually “you”, if you’re the body and the mind, this ‘soul’ is something else entirely.



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  • 7
    Simon Tuffen says:

    I cant help but truly feel that the fact that I have a deep sense, and have since I was a small child, that there is more to me than my physical and mental condition. That there is a timeless, formless, limitless part of me that has always existed and always shall exists.

    Unless you define what you talking about beyond your “physical and mental condition”, it’s a totally meaningless and uninteresting claim.



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  • 8
    Pauly01 says:

    Well,

    Your argument is all presupposed that there could be another realm, an afterlife. I honestly don’t think its relevent what science does with regards to the afterlife. I believe there will never be evidence that states that there is an afterlife, just as i believe that there will never be evidence that states there is no afterlife or God. So i live my life as if this is my only life, that there is no after life. That there is no God. Sounds reasonable.

    Once you realise that this life does not give 2 shites if you believe in God. It gets easier. All the musings of god is more about how you as a person feels about yourself.



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  • 9
    disillusioned hippy says:

    well thanks a lot! after reading this discussion i thought “i’ve read a book (novel) on this subject.since i could not remember either the author or title i was forced to spend the last 4 hours on google and bookfinder sites tracking it down.anyway it was “Immortality Inc” by Robert Sheckley.seem to recall it covered the proving of an afterlife by science at some future date and its effect on people,mind you i could be wrong as it was about 40 years ago that i read it 🙂



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  • 10
    adiroth says:

    I am surprised that no one have asked our friend Tash this question: “Can you back up any of your claims with valid evidence?” Metaphysical musings are only as good as the evidence it contains.



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  • 11
    Seraphor says:

    In reply to #10 by adiroth:

    I am surprised that no one have asked our friend Tash this question: “Can you back up any of your claims with valid evidence?” Metaphysical musings are only as good as the evidence it contains.

    I was under the impression that assumption was made at the start, that there is no evidence for any claims about the afterlife.

    Tash’s proposal seems to be that ‘because’ there is no evidence (either way) that either position is plausible and therefore probable. I say ‘probable’ and not ‘possible’ because Tash appears to give the notion of an afterlife more weight than say, the idea that we’re all in some kind of computer program.

    I and others have already addressed the problem with this, skipping over the question you would like to ask as it is implied within the discussion topic.



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  • 12
    SaganTheCat says:

    Science and religion get us no closer to the truth.

    science gets us as close to any defined truth as you can imagine. religion doesn’t except where it accepts science. assertions such as this don’t

    I cant help but truly feel that the fact that I have a deep sense, and have since I was a small child, that there is more to me than my physical and mental condition. That there is a timeless, formless, limitless part of me that has always existed and always shall exists.

    yes. it’s called egocentrism and you may grow out of it one day. do you think the bacteria that will finish you off has always existed and will always exist? or when you talk about “life” you are actually only referring to your own consciousness

    Living in a world that denies the possibility of an afterlife is just as ignorant as living in a world that presents the afterlife as fact.

    this world doesn’t deny the possibility of an afterlife. in fact such possibilities are often a point for scientific debate and with technology it may happen. living in a world that denies one nebulous concept of an afterlife is just another way of saying living in a world where your opinions need backing up with evidence, is in no way ignorant.

    just because reality is sometimes harsh and not what you want to hear, doesn’t mean it has to be wrong.

    you wanna quit hogging the joint now?



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  • 13
    Peter Grant says:

    After life is death. What is it with religion and this obsession with oxymorons?

    Square circles could exist too, but I have no idea what they might look like.



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  • 14
    godzillatemple says:

    Right now, I would say there is little or no good evidence or other reason to believe (other than simply wanting it to be true) that consciousness survives after death, but plenty of evidence that it doesn’t. If science ever gets around to conclusively showing how consciousness can arise solely from biological processes, it will probably become pretty evident that there is no possible way for consciousness to survive after death.



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  • 15
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #14 by godzillatemple:

    Right now, I would say there is little or no good evidence or other reason to believe (other than simply wanting it to be true) that consciousness survives after death, but plenty of evidence that it doesn’t. If science ever gets around to conclusively showing how consciousness can arise solely from biological processes, it will probably become pretty evident that there is no possible way for consciousness to survive after death.

    There are projects which are making great strides in that direction, with 3D neuro-imaging at high resolution.

    Reconstructing the Human Brain – https://www.sciencemag.org/content/340/6139/1472.abstract

    Reference brains are indispensable tools in human brain mapping, enabling integration of multimodal data into an anatomically realistic standard space. Available reference brains, however, are restricted to the macroscopic scale and do not provide information on the functionally important microscopic dimension.

    We created an ultrahigh-resolution three-dimensional (3D) model of a human brain at nearly cellular resolution of 20 micrometers, based on the reconstruction of 7404 histological sections.
    “BigBrain” is a free, publicly available tool that provides considerable neuroanatomical insight into the human brain, thereby allowing the extraction of microscopic data for modeling and simulation.
    BigBrain enables testing of hypotheses on optimal path lengths between interconnected cortical regions or on spatial organization of genetic patterning, redefining the traditional neuroanatomy maps such as those of Brodmann and von Economo.



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  • 16
    Len Walsh says:

    Tash

    I’m sure there are still many hidden agendas in various scientific studies especially medicine

    Closer the Truth may be that doctors and scientists are jealous, greedy types, terrified of after-lifers and their deep (ity) sense of the agenda these murderously evil, techno-medicos try to conceal from us. Their sinister plan is to exclude the spirits of after-lifers from claiming any stake over the physical world. Apparently non-after-lifers conspire with extreme atheists to trick scientists and doctors into collaboration designed to discredit after-lifers as being crazy thinkers.

    An extremely suspicious-looking scientist told me the after-lifers have already ruined the supernatural world, through excessive methane emissions and introduced pests. Now they want this planet back too.



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  • 17
    zengardener says:

    I know that it is irrational to assume that life in any form survives the destruction of my body.
    There is no reason to assume that a universe completely separate from this one exists without evidence. With evidence, it would be irrational to deny it,

    If your definition of atheism is claiming to know something that is unknowable, you are going way out on a limb and you are mostly alone.



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  • 18
    crookedshoes says:

    The difference is that one side presumes to know EXACTLY what happens and the other is supposed to stop asking questions.



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  • 19
    SaganTheCat says:

    In reply to #16 by Len Walsh:

    Tash

    I’m sure there are still many hidden agendas in various scientific studies especially medicine

    Closer the Truth may be that doctors and scientists are jealous, greedy types, terrified of after-lifers and their deep (ity) sense of the agenda these murderously evil, techno-medicos try to concea…

    it’s a shame that the article “Are Millitant Atheists Poisoning Angels with Chemtrails” has been pulled from the net. I found this though



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  • Tash, It may be that all moments of our lives exist eternally if one agrees with physicist Brian Greene’s interpretation of the theory of special relativity.

    The following quote is from his book “The Fabric of the Cosmos”:

    “So, if you buy the notion that reality consists of the things in your freeze-frame mental image right now, and if you agree that your now is no more valid than the now of someone located far away in space who can move freely, then reality encompasses all of the events in spacetime. The total loaf exists. Just as we envision all of space as really being out there, as really existing, we should also envision all of time as really being out there, as really existing, too. Past, present, and future certainly appear to be distinct entities. But, as Einstein once said, “For we convinced physicists, the distinction between past, present, and future is only an illusion, however persistent.” The only thing that’s real is the whole of spacetime.

    In this way of thinking, events, regardless of when they happen from any particular perspective, just are. They all exist. They eternally occupy their particular point in spacetime. There is no flow. If you were having a great time at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, 1999, you still are, since that is just one immutable location in spacetime. It is tough to accept this description, since our worldview so forcefully distinguishes between past, present and future. But if we stare intently at this familiar temporal scheme and confront it with the cold hard facts of modern physics, its only place of refuge seems to lie within the human mind.

    Undeniably, our conscious experience seems to sweep through the slices. It is as though our minds provide the projector light referred to earlier, so that moments of time come to life when they are illuminated by the power of consciousness. The flowing sensation from one moment to the next arises from our conscious recognition of change in our thoughts, feelings and perceptions. And the sequence of change seems to have a continuous motion; it seems to unfold into a coherent story. But-without any pretense of psychological or neurobiological precision-we can envision how we might experience a flow of time even though, in actuality, there may be no such thing.”



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  • 22
    achromat666 says:

    A tremendous amount of assuming and conclusion jumping here.
    Example:

    Science, the study of the physical and natural world will one day in the future help mankind know down to the smallest particle, everything in our vast universe. We will be able to create, destroy, manipulate and control time/space, matter and energy in ways that even the most forward thinking men and women of today would be bewildered by. I believe it is our future to become fully aware of our world, universe and our reality. In doing so we will be creating a new reality for ourselves as each generation in the past has and as long as there are possibilities there will be progress and new discovery. Considering that the universe and life itself is in a constant state of evolving new possibilities are forever being born.

    I want you to really sit down and think about the implications of what you’re assuming in this first paragraph alone. Things like being able to create destroy time/space, full awareness of the universe (whatever that would actually mean) and a host of other outlandish assumptions even science itself wouldn’t be so presumptuous in assuming.

    Science has and will continue to discover amazing and world changing things, but that is primarily because despite all the things we assume to be great about ourselves, we are indeed a very limited species. Which leads me into your ideas about knowledge of life after death and such…

    Science never pretends to know what it cannot. It speculates and theorizes but does not assert something it has no proof for, especially regarding things such as the non corporeal existence of what was human life. Something we have no way of knowing. Religion doesn’t offer evidence, it offers stories. Many fantastical and often fear based ideas on the afterlife that reflects a deity they absolutely cannot prove. And proving it of course is not their business, it is a means of gathering people to think like them and act in accord to their doctrines. So I feel that any such comparison fails because only one side of this equations purports any such ideas of life after death.

    But to the heart of the matter, what does it matter what happens after you die? Mankind has been obsessed with the idea not because we have any tangible idea of what death is like, but because we fear dying. Because we fear the unknown. So much of our ancient culture is littered with countless examples of people concocting crazy ideas about protecting oneself from spirits, shades, ghosts and other unseen forces that threaten us from beyond the grave. Our current world religions are merely echoing the same sense of urgency those in the remote past had because they don’t want to die, and have no idea what awaits when they do. Nothing new under the sun and all that.

    So no, not believing in an afterlife is not as ignorant as making one up. It’s all based on the same fears of the unknown.



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  • 23
    steve_hopker says:

    Of course there is far more to ourselves and the universe than we currently know. It is important to have ‘blue sky’ thinking. Hoping to extend our knowledge into what is currently mysterious is the core aim of investigative science and what makes science such a marvellous project.

    But I think the question underlying the OP boils down to: is it possible to know more than we possibly can know?

    The answer, plainly, is no. We cannot know what we cannot know. If there is life after death that we cannot find out in this life about, then we cannot find out about life after death in this life. If there are things beyond what we can ever see, detect or infer from this universe then we will never see, detect or infer such things from this universe.

    Obviously, if we do not know there is not an afterlife then we do not know there is not an afterlife. Not knowing if there is an afterlife means that we do not know if there is an afterlife. But what use are these speculations? There might be an infinity of things that might or might not exist. We could use immense amounts of time and energy thinking about what might be but which we cannot know: but when would we have the time and energy to live a useful life, including trying to learn about what we might be able to know?

    I can’t subscribe to Buddhism as such (rebirth, deities etc etc). But ‘the Buddha’ is supposed to have said words to this effect. If a man is shot by a poison arrow he does not refuse to have the arrow removed until he knows who shot him, or what kind of wood the arrow is made of and so on. He will want the arrow out as soon as possible. (I suppose knowing what the poison was could be useful later).

    There are many important things to learn, some urgent (eg cancer cures), some longer term (particle physics). Knowing ourselves – and our surroundings – as well as we can is crucial to success and making a better world. Imaginative research is vital. But confecting speculations less substantial than candy floss, thinking that we can think about things we cannot think about, is s terrible waste of the short period of sentience that we have. Sadly there are still many who divert large amounts of time and money into such fictitious exercises.



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  • 24
    Neodarwinian says:

    ” that there is more to me than my physical and mental condition. That there is a timeless, formless, limitless part of me that has always existed and always shall exists.

    Sure, recycled star stuff! Not formless, perhaps limitless!

    ” Living in a world that denies the possibility of an afterlife is just as ignorant as living in a world that presents the afterlife as fact.”

    Bit of a problem here. The statistical term is….a vanishingly small probability of an after life, not the absolutist position of denial. of said afterlife. Certainly, to the point of banality, it is ignorant to present the afterlife as fact.



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  • 25
    Alan4discussion says:

    Living in a world that denies the possibility of an afterlife is just as ignorant as living in a world that presents the afterlife as fact.

    Maybe all those spiritual organisms living in bacteria, virus, fish, amphibian, reptilian heaven, and insect heaven would support this view! (If they exist!)

    Or ..As the android Kryten put it on the TV series ‘Red Dwarf’, ‘No silicon heaven’? Preposterous! Where would all the calculators go?”



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  • 26
    hemidemisemigod says:

    “Extreme atheism…”

    There’s no such thing. If a person doesn’t believe in gods then that’s all there is to it being an atheist. I hate to bring up the stamp collecting analogy but what’s the difference between someone who mildly doesn’t collect stamps and someone who doesn’t collect stamps in an extreme manner?

    “To say with certainty that there is no other form of life after death seems to me to be the same sort of crazy thinking that there is a god in the clouds waiting to judge us or reward us for our faith.”

    There’s no evidence that life continues after death and a lot of evidence that, when parts of the brain die, parts of the functioning consciousness dies. So it follows that when the whole brain is dead, the whole personality is dead. For what reason would we expect something new and magical to happen? It’s just wishful thinking.

    Try these for size:

    To say with certainty that the sun will rise tomorrow seems to me to be crazy thinking.

    To say with certainty that I’m not going to be abducted by marshmallow-headed aliens in the next five minutes seems to me to be crazy thinking.

    Why should believe in these or any other of the infinite number of possibilities that the universe might be completely improbable? It probably isn’t.

    To say with certainty that we can never be certain about anything seems to me to be crazy thinking!



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  • 27
    Docbrew says:

    If that’s not a fake then we have a few seriously messed up people out there. Wait….We do have a few seriously messed up people out there. In reply to #21 by Red Dog:

    In reply to #19 by SaganTheCat:

    it’s a shame that the article “Are Millitant Atheists Poisoning Angels with Chemtrails” has been pulled from the net

    Google Cache to the rescue: (note: it may take a few seconds to retrieve)

    Are Militant Atheists Using Chemtrails to Poison Angels?

    BTW, I think th…



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  • 28
    QuestioningKat says:

    Damn! I would have to read this.

    I cant help but truly feel that the fact that I have a deep sense, and have since I was a small child, that there is more to me than my physical and mental condition. That there is a timeless, formless, limitless part of me that has always existed and always shall exists.

    Can someone put this guy under anesthesia for a few days? Let’s see if this does the trick.



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  • 29
    Len Walsh says:

    In reply to #19 by SaganTheCat:

    In reply to #16 by Len Walsh:
    it’s a shame that the article “Are Millitant Atheists Poisoning Angels with Chemtrails” has been pulled from the net. I found this though

    Thanks for looking and I enjoyed (if that’s the right word) reading about chemtrails and their relationship to angels and extreme atheism. Aliens from UFOs have to be involved… expert generals confess… area 51… pilot saw it… advanced technology providing unlimited power from water is hidden from us… paranoid psychoticism differentiates this primate species?

    steve_hopker said: I think the question underlying the OP boils down to: is it possible to know more than we possibly can know?

    I agree and feel the underlying cause may be the residual effects of childhood indoctrination. Most survive but some seem to develop over-active limbic systems, don’t they? Their fight/flight module appears to be excited by their confusion and sense of inferiority. Dunno! Temperament is fairly stable and largely inherited but religion, even in small doses during critical developmental stages, appears to leave an indelible impression of some people. Perhaps they’re born jumpy and religion amplifies their feelings of insecurity, despite becoming ostensibly atheistic.



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  • 30
    Billy Joe says:

    Foll-de-roll, I smell a Troll :-((

    And I thought this was a site for Reason and Science!

    Do we need to respond to posts like this?



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  • 32
    Neodarwinian says:

    In reply to #30 by Billy Joe:

    Foll-de-roll, I smell a Troll :-((

    And I thought this was a site for Reason and Science!

    Do we need to respond to posts like this?

    For the fence sitter guests that visit this site.



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  • 33
    Billy Joe says:

    In reply to #32 by Neodarwinian:

    In reply to #30 by Billy Joe:

    Foll-de-roll, I smell a Troll :-((

    And I thought this was a site for Reason and Science!

    Do we need to respond to posts like this?

    For the fence sitter guests that visit this site.

    At times I forget about them. Perhaps I was a bit hasty. Should know better than rushing to judgment!



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  • 34
    mmurray says:

    In reply to #32 by Neodarwinian:

    In reply to #30 by Billy Joe:

    Foll-de-roll, I smell a Troll :-((

    And I thought this was a site for Reason and Science!

    Do we need to respond to posts like this?

    For the fence sitter guests that visit this site.

    As the mods have to approve Discussions before they appear I assume that is their thinking as well.

    Michael



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  • 35
    steve_hopker says:

    I have myself wondered about the number of posts to the effect that ‘I’m basically an atheist – but….”, or the posts from overt theists or supernaturalists that are more directly challenging.

    On the other hand, if all the threads were along the lines of ‘There is no God’, ‘Evolution is the best model we have’ or ‘Isn’t science amazing?’, I suspect the threads would soon run out for lack of debate. It might even be that the moderators select these bits of grit in the hope of getting some pearls?

    In reply to #34 by mmurray:

    In reply to #32 by Neodarwinian:

    In reply to #30 by Billy Joe:

    Foll-de-roll, I smell a Troll :-((

    And I thought this was a site for Reason and Science!

    Do we need to respond to posts like this?

    For the fence sitter guests that visit this site.

    As the mods have to approve Discussions before th…



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  • 36
    mmurray says:

    I believe that as human beings bound to a physical realm we will never know what, if anything, exists after death, science will teach us everything there is to know about the physical world given the time and opportunity to explore it but it will never take us beyond that. Organized religion is repugnant; ideally I would rather see the world embrace freethinking and religious belief should be as diverse as the number of people who are on the planet. I cant help but truly feel that the fact that I have a deep sense, and have since I was a small child, that there is more to me than my physical and mental condition. That there is a timeless, formless, limitless part of me that has always existed and always shall exists.

    As regards things “beyond” the physical world either we can interact with them — in which case they are not beyond but part of the physical world or we can’t interact with them in — in which case they are completely irrelevant to us. So effectively there is no beyond.

    As regards a soul or afterlife we already know from the standard model all the particles that can interact with the brain. There is no magic in there. There is no way for the mind to move beyond the brain. Sean Carroll explains this very clearly.

    As for your feelings I would suggest you read up on the mind and how it works. Vision is a good place to start. Many things we feel about vision are false. The recent Oliver Sacks book on Hallucinations is also good. Our feelings about what are true about our mind are an appallingly bad guide to what is actually true.

    Michael



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  • 37
    Reckless Monkey says:

    Extreme atheism is not very different from many of the religions that it objects to in the sense that it makes assumptions based on belief rather than logic and fact.

    Tash, I’d like to address this bit of your post. To whom are you referring? As has been pointed out it is nonsensical to put the adjective ‘extreme’ on atheism. Atheism is the belief that there is no god. This is the rational position until some evidence is presented in favour of a God/s. Extreme atheism or fundamentalist atheism would only exist if there were evidence and said atheist denied it. So far this hasn’t been a problem.

    Perhaps you are referring to the so called New Atheists, Harris, Dennett, Hitchens and Dawkins etc. Well I’ve read their books and watched the debates and they all acknowledge it is impossible to know there is no god. So I’m curious as to whom these sudo – religious zealots are? I think they are a phantom invented by the religious, theologians and religious apologists determined not to irritate the former with awkward questions and demands to keep their dogma out of our lives. As always happy to be proved wrong, so care to name an example and give evidence to prove this position?



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  • 38
    Outrider says:

    Until someone presents some evidence to suggest that there might be something to life beyond the physical, or some reason to think that something of what we are might continue beyond the death of the body, there’s no basis for any discussion, no reason to think that there might be any ‘truth’ to the concept of an afterlife. It’s like suggesting that neither scientific enquiry nor religion will be able to tell us how spells work – unless and until there’s a reason to believe that they do work, there’s no need for an explanation. Unless and until there’s a reason to think that there is an afterlife, there’s no need for a scientific (or, indeed, any other) explanation for one.

    Science (and perhaps some lines of religious thought) can, conceivably, help us to understand why people are so desperate to presume or uncritically accept the idea of an afterlife, though…



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  • 39
    jburnforti says:

    As regards the objections to trolls, I don’t see the problem. If someone comes to the site with an entertaining or provocative question, what do the motives of that person matter? Unless he/she reveals them, their motives can only be surmised. Many of the atheists and scientists who post here are extremely well able to argue their positions and informed support for the RDFRS could and need hardly be stronger. So, if the definition of a troll is someone who has arrived under false pretences to wreak havoc, how far is he/she likely to get unless the idea is sufficiently interesting to be worth debate anyway – in which case, what havoc? And as for it meaning endless, tedious re-runs of previously-multiply-debated ideas, that’s moderator territory.



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  • First I’d like to start by clearing a few things up in regard to my rather brash post. This was something I had written a long time ago (before I had even heard about RD)… I posted in here a couple of weeks ago and to be completely honest I didn’t expect the moderators to post it. As most if not all of you have gauged it’s a bit like approaching a hornet’s nest and having a good poke at it with a stick – not the best form I know.

    I am an atheist in that I do not believe in a god, christian, jewish, catholic, muslim or any of the thousands invented over years. I don’t believe in a deity creating our existence, I support evolution. Perhaps some may think I’m more agnostic but I don’t doubt god’s existence because I do not believe a god or higher power or whatever anyone wants to call it, has ever existed. I know we are governed by natural and physical laws and even though my post didn’t express it, I think science and scientific discovery is a commendable and amazing endeavor. It is not infallible. We could suppose that it isn’t because people are fallible and that we come by this is many areas of our lives both individually and as a collective.

    So what was the point of my post? Well mostly the same as anyone one else, to open it up for discussion, to hear what others think good or bad. If I could imagine any reason for us to be here (alive) it is to learn, to care about one another because we are capable of doing so and to not make the mistake so many have done in being rigid, stubborn and self-righteous (not referring to anyone here just in general). I do make mistakes, kind of minor in respect to some of the atrocities that have plagued our world but regardless of this, learning from our errors helps us evolve – if not physically then at least mentally and one can hope morally.

    When I wrote “extreme atheism” I was referring to the preaching style approach that an increasing number of people take on. In recent years I have seen more fight from atheists defending their non-belief by being completely intolerant, condescending and out right nasty to anyone whose opinion doesn’t match up with what they know. At no point did I say “militant atheist”. I included it in full, what I had written a long time ago, because I still feel today that these kinds of attitudes infringe on agendas that should be more positively geared.

    Not being a scientist myself I may have over reached the mark on saying human beings have the potential, in the future, to know everything that exists in the universe. I hope that we get the chance to come close to it, to know what dark matter and dark energy is and to be able to apply that knowledge, to invent quantum computers, fusion energy generators, global warming solutions etc. I’d much rather talk about an exciting future ahead for people than join the ranks of the doomsday sayers.

    In regard to some of my personal philosophy I understand what many have said here and some very good points were made. I still think that even if we know how something works doesn’t mean we know why. We are all free to think what we choose for our own reasons and it really does come down to the fact that it is the ultimate mystery of life.

    Cheers



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  • 42
    crookedshoes says:

    Tash,
    I enjoyed reading this thread. If you’ve got any more of these “conversation starters” tucked away, do share.



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  • 43
    Red Dog says:

    In reply to #41 by Tash:

    . I still think that even if we know how something works doesn’t mean we know why.

    I haven’t been really following this thread much so this has probably already been covered but IMO that statement indicates a fairly easily explained misunderstanding that many people have that (like a lot of philosophical questions) is really nothing but a by product of the imprecise way we use language.

    When we make a distinction between “how” and “why” it usually involves some kind of purposeful behavior. So if I ask “how does democracy work” I would be asking for an explanation of the basics of governments. Elections, checks and balances, different branches of government, etc. If I ask “why does democracy work?” that could mean “why is democracy better than other forms of government?” or it could mean “why do we have government in the first place?”

    So I think that when some people say “science can’t answer why questions” that is just not true. Of course science can answer why questions, they just have to be phrased precisely. So for example I think Steven Pinker’s recent book The Better Angels is good science and provides good answers to both questions: why is democracy better than other forms of government and why do we need government in the first place.

    Now, to get to your question, I think the distinction you are making here isn’t so much between what and how questions, rather you are claiming (as many such as Steven J. Gould have) not that science can’t answer why questions but that science can’t answer questions about value. Are there rational justifications for ethics? Is there scientific data that can help us understand why we sometimes feel fulfilled with life and sometimes not?

    I think one of Prof. Dawkins greatest achievements is to refute the intellectual dogma promulgated by Gould that science can’t have anything to say on these value (aka why) questions. In the last year I’ve read several books that have a lot to say about questions of human values and morality and that are good science. Issues such as kin selection, reciprocal altruism, self deception, etc. This is not to claim of course that science has all the answers. I’m not even claiming that science can provide all the answers, I think we don’t know nearly enough to guess about the ultimate limits of our knowledge. But I do think its misguided to think that the same techniques that work so well in helping us understand the physical world have to be thrown out when it comes to questions of human value.



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  • 44
    Alchemy says:

    If we have enough scientific progress might we stop dying. I’m unsure why a god would tell you the answer after death if you might not die. Or at least not die until you were sick of existing. Only to magic you somewhere you can never leave.

    The discussion also talked about Atheism and its conclusions not being nice. Reminds me of the exact opposite message by Richard Dawkins in “Nice guys finish first” Video link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I71mjZefg8g . A reaction to those who read the selfish gene by title only.



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  • 45
    jburnforti says:

    There’s a lot bundled up in your last sentence. Normally I abhor the insistence on definition that’s so often found in these columns but I think you’d really need to specify the techniques and human values which you think can have a partnership with each other. If you refer to, say, evidence, precision, falsifiability and the rest of the criteria we expect science usually to use, I think you’d be straining at gnats for many years to come in relating them to Beauty, Kindness, Happiness, Love and so on. Last year, I read Sam Harris’ book on similar themes and was left so unmoved by it, I don’t even remember the title. One of the objections I have to what, I admit, I’m reading into your remark, is that while Science is able to advance by building, in effect, an edifice whose outlines, even if they change with time, recognisably develope from earlier ones, being better at its work and proposals than previously and more able to make accurate assertions etc than before, human values have made little definite advance over the last thousands of years; I don’t mean that pessimistically, I mean that for thousands of years we have had powerful, clear minds as able to deal with issues of human values as we have today and yet don’t have the kind of certainty we can point to in science, and certainly not the universal agreement we could find with a multitude of scientific achievements. Perhaps you’d like to clarify?. In reply to #43 by Red Dog:*

    In reply to #41 by Tash:

    . I still think that even if we know how something works doesn’t mean we know why.

    I haven’t been really following this thread much so this has probably already been covered but IMO that statement indicates a fairly easily explained misunderstanding that many people have t…



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  • 46
    jburnforti says:

    Cut through my previous waffle. How do you propose using these techniques?In reply to #43 by Red Dog:

    In reply to #41 by Tash:

    . I still think that even if we know how something works doesn’t mean we know why.

    I haven’t been really following this thread much so this has probably already been covered but IMO that statement indicates a fairly easily explained misunderstanding that many people have t…



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  • 47
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #41 by Tash:

    When I wrote “extreme atheism” I was referring to the preaching style approach that an increasing number of people take on.

    I think this is a myth put about by ignorant theists who see any debunking of their mythology as “militant” or “aggressive”.
    Most fundamentalists are extremely ignorant of just about everything, including the history of the Bible or the history of their own religion!

    In recent years I have seen more fight from atheists defending their non-belief by being completely intolerant,

    I think you are confusing atheism with science here. – again having picked up a strawman image from “faith-thinkers”!

    Science and scientists do not consider the “feelings” of those running failed experiments. False information and mistaken views are discredited and debunked in science – regardless of the standing of those presenting them. Relying of false scientific claims causes accidents and disasters. Establishing true information, comes before easing the feelings of those in error. Those who value science welcome the corrections of their errors!
    The stupid ignorant, resent corrections and sit in denial persisting with asserting their errors!

    When “faith-thinking” is used in engineering, the record of events is usually entitled “ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION REPORT”. Sympathy for the technician who supposedly did the checks or calculations while hung-over from a night on the booze, or the cowboy finance director who directed corner cutting on safety, is not on the agenda!

    condescending and out right nasty to anyone whose opinion doesn’t match up with what they know.

    So yes! – scientists and investigators are blunt and condescending to the arrogant, posturing, sloppy and incompetent, who spread dangerous disinformation or cause accidents and injuries. All opinions are not equal! Ignorant personal opinion is not equal to well evidenced expert scientific opinion.

    At no point did I say “militant atheist”.

    I have absolutely no problem with “militantly” putting down wilfully dishonest creationist pseudo-scientists who posture as scientific experts. Contempt and ridicule is the best that they can expect for wilfully spreading and persistently repeating dangerous lies! Their audience is entitled to be told that they are telling dangerous lies.

    Atheism is simply a lack of belief in gods.
    The alleged “militancy” is almost always directed at scientists who debunk nonsensical mystical and superstitious claims. ( Such as those of faith-healers who persuade people to stop taking cancer or HIV medication or vaccinations.)

    “Militant atheists”, are simply the ones who cannot be intimidated or bullied by theists posturing with airs of authority while spouting their ignorance! Theists who are used to addressing servile congregations who accept what ever they say without question, deeply resent atheists, who can take them on debunking their pseudo-authoritative claims and fallacious thinking.

    If a bishop is talking utter drivel about medical issues such as contraception, the fact that he is wearing fancy dress and a funny hat identifies him as a clown – not an authoritative medical expert. He will no doubt be “deeply offended” by this challenge to his ignorant assertions, – but a science duffer posturing as an expert – IS a clown – and a danger to the community via the gullible people around him!

    So briefly:- A “militant atheist” is someone who is prepared to knock a posturing theist clown off his high horse for the good of the community!



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  • 48
    Red Dog says:

    In reply to #46 by jburnforti:

    Cut through my previous waffle. How do you propose using these techniques?In reply to #43 by Red Dog:

    I don’t think there is one answer to that question. For so long almost everyone in the humanities and even most scientists took it for granted that science didn’t have much to say on value issues so we really are starting at almost the beginning here. And we have to sweep away a lot of crud. IMO a lot that masquerades as knowledge in relation to value or why questions is just pseudoscience. It sounds impressive but is virtually meaningless. I’m talking about post modernism, marxism, Freudianism, and of course Theology.

    So to start with get rid of the crud. What to replace it with is very much an open question which is why I find this stuff so interesting, it’s really a new frontier in science. If I had to summarize the “big ideas” that I’ve come across so far that I think have the most potential they would be two related concepts: evolutionary psychology and the modular mind. These are opposite sides of the same coin. Specific authors I’ve read in this camp are: Steven Pinker, Scott Atran, Marc Hauser, Robert Kurzban, and Pascal Boyer. I would also include Sam Harris and Dan Dennett although Harris I don’t think agrees with the modular mind concept. Also, Noam Chomsky (his linguistic work not political of course) is really the person who started this approach with his work on language and all the other authors (except Harris) quote Chomsky often.

    Evolutionary Psychology is the idea that we can analyze the mind as a functional system the same way we have analyzed other systems such as vision. We can look at what functions is it trying to perform, how did they evolve, and how does that knowledge inform us about every day life and our own choices. Note that I said mind instead of brain because we are analyzing a functional system not a physical organ. So just as people who do work on Vision don’t just look at the eyes or the brain the mind isn’t necessarily just about what goes on in the brain.

    It probably sounds obvious to say that the mind should be explained in terms of evolution, just like vision or other systems but it was and to some extent still is controversial in a lot of psych literature and departments.

    The Modular Mind is the term that explains the concept people have come up with, it’s really just a very high level idea at this point, but it’s a first cut at describing what a functional architecture of the mind might look like. The idea is that the mind consists of various modules that communicate with each other — but not necessarily perfectly or accurately. A lot of things in psychology that are hard to explain can start to be explained this way.

    For example, Harris makes a big deal about the neuropsych result that brain activity can be detected before the subject is even aware of their conscious decision. For Kurzban, this isn’t a surprise at all, it’s an expected consequence of having multiple modules communicating. Or the classic question “why do people lock their refrigerator doors at night?” Kurzban explains that as different modules within the mind competing with each other. On the one hand you have the short term modules from our evolutionary past that tell us to crave sugar and fat. On the other hand you have more rational modules that tell us we should watch our weight and stay in shape. Locking the refrigerator door at night is a way for the rational module to protect itself from the sugar-fat module which the rational module knows gets stronger late at night as the person get’s hungry. A lot of examples of self deception, lack of will power, split brain experiments, can be explained using this paradigm. Kurzban’s book is the best intro.

    I’m not really doing justice to the idea, it’s hard to summarize in one comment. I should say there are alternatives. Meme theory is in some ways an alternative to the modular mind approach. Atran has written a fascinating paper explaining research he did that he thinks shows Memes aren’t a good model for this kind of work but the modular mind is.

    One last thing, there is a lot of fascinating research summarized by Marc Hauser on how people actually make moral decisions. Even if this modular mind stuff turns out to be all wrong, I think the research that just shows “people say X is moral but Y is not but the consequences of both are the same” are extremely useful. They clarify how we really make moral decisions which is clearly not how most of us think we do. There is a guy named Haidt that I don’t agree with completely but he has done ground breaking work here as well.



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  • 49
    Red Dog says:

    In reply to #47 by Alan4discussion:

    I think this is a myth put about by ignorant theists who see any debunking of their mythology as “militant” or “aggressive”.

    I agree with you on a lot of things but not on that. Before I came to this site I would have agreed with that but no longer. I regularly see comments here that I can only classify as militant or fundamentalist atheist. To me if someone says to deface a bible, or that all people of faith are stupid or that religion is the source of all evil or that nothing good ever came from religion, all that is militant atheism. If you judge people only on their religious beliefs then you are a fundamentalist. It doesn’t matter if I agree with your value decision, I just don’t agree that looking at the question “atheist or theist?” is the sole or most important metric for evaluating people.

    To put it another way, it seems to me that some atheists look at the behavior of the worst theists and decide “if they do that to us we can do it to them”. I think that’s wrong and I think doing that is reasonably called fundamentalist or militant atheism.



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  • 50
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #49 by Red Dog:

    I regularly see comments here that I can only classify as militant or fundamentalist atheist. To me if someone says to deface a bible, or that all people of faith are stupid or that religion is the source of all evil or that nothing good ever came from religion, all that is militant atheism.

    I would agree that it can be militant bigotry. I am not at all sure that it can be attributed to their atheism! We see exactly these sorts of positions from theists disparaging competing religions or denominations.

    If you judge people only on their religious beliefs then you are a fundamentalist. It doesn’t matter if I agree with your value decision, I just don’t agree that looking at the question “atheist or theist?” is the sole or most important metric for evaluating people.

    I certainly isn’t, but surely it is the content of comments which count in an argument. Of those atheists on this site with these tendencies, I have not seen much difference in the dogmatic style of their comments regardless of if their disagreements are with theists or with other atheists. I think some of the attributes you mention are personal militancy, rather than features of atheism.



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  • 51
    jburnforti says:

    I have a problem with what I infer from your reply because I believe that once an idea is in the arena, its origins don’t matter and so replies which address those origins are, mostly, irrelevant. But, like you, I think I need to hedge my bets a little. If I were with an adult who believed in Father Christmas, I’d be thinking of treatment rather than rational persuasion (though I hope that doesn’t mean I won’t be getting any presents this year). But, generally, the trend you describe seems clear enough and I don’t agree with it as far as I (and you) yet understand it. I haven’t read Harris on the detection of brain activity re decision making but Dennett covers the same ground and left me unconvinced that that will solve the problems he thinks it will. My objection is the, roughly speaking, ideological one that I raised earlier about ideas existing independently of their origins; which, if correct, IMO means science’s present approaches won’t take us any closer to solving the sort of abstractions I quoted earlier. At any rate, I don’t see how the sorts of science you’ve referred to present an approach to tackling the ideas. It would be incredibly useful to identify the “God Spot” and a powerful weapon indeed in the fight against religion – but it wouldn’t actually refute the idea. In reply to #48 by Red Dog:*

    In reply to #46 by jburnforti:

    Cut through my previous waffle. How do you propose using these techniques?In reply to #43 by Red Dog:

    I don’t think there is one answer to that question. For so long almost everyone in the humanities and even most scientists took it for granted that science didn’t ha…



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  • 52
    Reckless Monkey says:

    In reply to #41 by Tash:

    First I’d like to start by clearing a few things up in regard to my rather brash post.

    When I wrote “extreme atheism” I was referring to the preaching style approach that an increasing number of people take on. In recent years I have seen more fight from atheists defending their non-belief by being completely intolerant, condescending and out right nasty to anyone whose opinion doesn’t match up with what they know.

    I get you are concerned at this proposed rudeness of atheism, but to whom are you referring? Please provide an example.

    As I cannot assume what answer you might give I will work off the assumption you are referring to New Atheists (for all I know you may be referring to someone that I might agree is rude)

    So in absence of an example let’s look at what the likes of Hitchens who was not above a witty barb at another’s expense. Hitchen’s was always arguing for people to thing for themselves and not rely on dogma. He was not preaching (not preaching at all in fact) any particular position he was arguing against a position others held. The Catholics for example believe that I will go to hell and burn forever in a lake of fire! That Homosexuals are twisted sinners, that contraception is an act of murder, that cancer suffers are condemned to die in agony because to shorten their lives painlessly at a time of their choosing would likewise be murder. Now you are concerned that Hitchens calls them out on this and makes the occasional joke at their expense? The Catholic church (for example) came under fire from Hitchens for protecting child rapists by moving them to different locations where they continued to inflict other children with mental scars that last a lifetime. Is this intolerance, condescension to do so?

    I believe firmly that all of the so called New atheists would be perfectly happy for people to believe whatever they liked provided they a) did not require our tax dollars to do so b) they do not inflict their ideas on children but allow them to make up their own minds when old enough c) they seek to support a secular, pluralist state instead of trying to use their numbers to impose their beliefs on the rest of us. Until they do this atheists will make a noise, but doing so is not intolerance, it is not condescension it is simply argument if you think believers are so delicate they can not handle anyone disagreeing with them and explaining exactly why they are wrong then the condescension is coming from you.



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  • 53
    God fearing Atheist says:

    You are out of date. Science already has the answer. Ken Wilson got a Nobel for it in 1982. Our minds cease to exist at death, and our bodies rot.

    Please pay careful attention to this video:- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vrs-Azp0i3k

    If you think you can do better, do the physics, collect your Nobel, and then get back to us.



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  • 54
    Billy Joe says:

    On reflection. Atheists have heard it all before. For myself, yes, religiots are indeed at least foolish and frequently stupid to the point of denial of facts. When Faith trumps evidence, leave me out of the waffle that follows. Wherever you were pre- conception, that’s probably where you’re headed back to, baby; so suck it up and belay the drivel. For doG’s sake, get some guts and face death with courage!



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  • 55
    Stevehill says:

    OK, we don’t know there is an afterlife, because nobody’s died and come back again to tell us about it (i’m discounting one or two exaggerated religious claims on this point).

    But we are pretty clear on the fact that your body is made up of a collection of chemicals and they stop working when you die and get buried or cremated. For you to “continue” in any meaningful sense requires some mass/energy to continue as a separate existence outside your now non-functioning body.

    We have never noticed any of this stuff departing bodies, despite, often, the presence of highly scientifically trained people at the moment of death.

    Your atoms just become another part of the universe you came from, and eventually get incorporated into something else.

    The balance of evidence is weighed heavily against you on this one.



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  • 56
    OHooligan says:

    why is it that throughout evolution there has been the idea that there is more to us than this one solitary life?

    There have been ideas throughout evolution?



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  • In reply to #47 by Alan4discussion:

    In reply to #41 by Tash:

    When I wrote “extreme atheism” I was referring to the preaching style approach that an increasing number of people take on.

    I think this is a myth put about by ignorant theists who see any debunking of their mythology as “militant” or “aggressive”.
    Most fundamentalis…

    Again when I wrote extreme atheist (not militant atheist) I wasn’t referring to it from a theist point of view, what I am talking about is the strictness in attitude some atheist exert – as you yourself wrote “Atheism is simply a lack of belief in gods.” I am seeing more and more that this isn’t just the case and certain rules and codes of conduct being instilled. Things like “don’t make any claims that you cannot back up with any scientific evidence what so ever”, even when they are not claiming their point as view as fact or evident and they are not trying to indoctrinate someone else into believing what they are saying. Someone else said (I think in this forum) something like “philosophy is masturbation for the brain” a derogative statement to disqualify that philosophy has any use in understanding the human thought process. While I would support that persons right to their opinion it seems to me there are walls being put up and I cant say I agree with that especially when so many also promote “freethinking”.

    I don’t feel I am confusing it with scientific processes at all. Science is in search for truth through systematic observation, measurement, and repeatable experiment, it is intended to be objective, it is not in search for certainty – so we both seem to agree on, “Those who value science welcome the corrections of their errors!” I would add that human knowledge is fallible and therefore uncertain, which is why we all should question. What separates us from other forms is that we have self referential we are able to use imagination and we are driven by curiosity. It is often referred to as being egotistical when we talk about our uniqueness both as a species and individually, I often hear things like “what make us think we are so special anyway?” but there are many “special” qualities within Homo sapiens, this does not override that we are also flawed.

    I also agree with you in regard to “”militantly” putting down wilfully dishonest creationist pseudo-scientists who posture as scientific experts. Contempt and ridicule is the best that they can expect for wilfully spreading and persistently repeating dangerous lies! Their audience is entitled to be told that they are telling dangerous lies.” I myself, rejected organized religion around the age of 10 and spent my teen years being openly anti-christian, some of the best debates I had with christians involved reciting their own scripture to point out the lunacy of their beliefs and watching them squirm and wriggle out admitting biblical fallacy. I recently had a good friend of mine tell me he is seriously considering baptizing his 12 year old daughter because his mum is concerned she wont go to heaven otherwise, I asked him what kind of god did he believe in if that god would allow his beautiful daughter to spend an eternity in hell being punished and tortured? It is upsetting to me that people can still hold these beliefs and they should be openly opposed.

    Oh and yes I realise from my first post why you all seem to be on the offensive, most atheists do want to reject the idea of an “afterlife” based on lack of evidence and the fact that most concepts are derived from religious teaching. It is more rational to think otherwise but IMO human beings are not just rational or even logical and the pursuit of this sort of perfection isn’t entirely realistic.



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  • In reply to #56 by OHooligan:

    why is it that throughout evolution there has been the idea that there is more to us than this one solitary life?

    There have been ideas throughout evolution?

    I could say back to you – has evolution ended? And hope you get my point.
    By ideas I suppose you mean those of a religious or philosophical nature…

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_religion

    Science should be the way we move into the future I don’t question that at all but for those that are interested, looking into the past can also tell us allot about ourselves.

    Cheers



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  • In reply to #54 by Billy Joe:

    On reflection. Atheists have heard it all before. For myself, yes, religiots are indeed at least foolish and frequently stupid to the point of denial of facts. When Faith trumps evidence, leave me out of the waffle that follows. Wherever you were pre- conception, that’s probably where you’re headed back to, baby; so suck it up and belay the drivel. For doG’s sake, get some guts and face death with courage!

    What is there to be courages about if we die and that is it? I never once said I am afraid to die or fear death you came to that conclusion all on your own baby. I accept that it is most likely when we die we die, I have no faith only thoughts and the freedom just the same as you, to think them as I will.



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  • 61
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #58 by Tash:

    It is more rational to think otherwise but IMO human beings are not just rational or even logical and the pursuit of this sort of perfection isn’t entirely realistic.

    We should always remember that atheism does not necessarily confer rationality or scientific understanding. These are learned skills, so atheists, like other sections of communities represent a spectrum of humanity.

    Again when I wrote extreme atheist (not militant atheist) I wasn’t referring to it from a theist point of view, what I am talking about is the strictness in attitude some atheist exert – as you yourself wrote “Atheism is simply a lack of belief in gods.” I am seeing more and more that this isn’t just the case and certain rules and codes of conduct being instilled. Things like “don’t make any claims that you cannot back up with any scientific evidence what so ever”, even when they are not claiming their point as view as fact or evident and they are not trying to indoctrinate someone else into believing what they are saying.

    We should be careful on making assumptions about things like this. It is very difficult to tell the difference between an unsupported claim, and an opening statement which will subsequently be heavily supported by evidence. It is known to regular posters on this forum, that certain honest, well informed, scientifically minded people, here, will back up their statements with massive evidence when challenged.

    Someone else said (I think in this forum) something like “philosophy is masturbation for the brain” a derogative statement to disqualify that philosophy has any use in understanding the human thought process.

    There are various misunderstandings of what is presented as “philosophy”!

    Natural philosophy or the philosophy of nature (from Latin philosophia naturalis) was the philosophical study of nature and the physical universe that was dominant before the development of modern science. It is considered to be the precursor of natural sciences such as physics.

    In the modern world many aspects of what was once “philosophy”, are now studied in science departments or history/anthropology departments.
    What is taught in many theology (especially fundamentalist) colleges as “philosophy”, is actually fallacious thinking accommodating religious apologetics, Young-Earth-Creationism etc.

    While I would support that persons right to their opinion it seems to me there are walls being put up and I cant say I agree with that especially when so many also promote “freethinking”.

    There are therefore, some inferences based on experience of the evidence of the contents of posts, as to the nature of those presenting themselves as “philosophers”! What is taught as “philosophy” on some courses of that name, bears little resemblance to the original intellectually challenging subject.

    Someone else said (I think in this forum) something like “philosophy is masturbation for the brain” a derogative statement to disqualify that philosophy has any use in understanding the human thought process.

    This is not merely a derogatory comment, but is an accurate description of the content of a “philosophy course” in Young-Earth-creationism!

    Apart from the study of psychological delusions, YEC thinking has no use in understanding human thought processes. – It denies much of psychology and neuroscience.



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  • 62
    OHooligan says:

    In reply to #59 by Tash:

    In reply to #56 by OHooligan:

    why is it that throughout evolution there has been the idea that there is more to us than this one solitary life?

    There have been ideas throughout evolution?

    I could say back to you – has evolution ended? And hope you get my point.

    There’s no sign that evolution has ended. No, don’t get your point. Though you do raise an interesting question, maybe this is the one you mean: when was The First Idea?

    Do single celled organisms have ideas, or does it need something more complex? Some human-chauvinist people claim “animals have no souls” and so distance us from them, allowing us to mistreat or disregard them with a clear conscience. Soul is another idea, and who knows when that one got started.

    And sometime – presumably after The First Idea – comes the first time there’s the idea of “more to us than this life”. That takes an awareness of death, something that is observed in some animal species. It also takes an awareness of self, and putting these together: self + death = what happens to ME when I die? An obvious question once these two items are in place. And where there’s a question, there will be someone with an answer, and an agenda (Boy do I have a deal for you: the Afterlife. Sign up here for Guaranteed Good Seats. Pay in advance.)



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  • 63
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #58 by Tash:

    “Atheism is simply a lack of belief in gods.” I am seeing more and more that this isn’t just the case and certain rules and codes of conduct being instilled. Things like “don’t make any claims that you cannot back up with any scientific evidence what so ever”,

    That would be a code of scientific integrity rather than a feature of atheism. – (Not necessarily understood by all who quote it!)
    Scientific claims should have a status: (opinion, speculation, hypothesis, theory etc).



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  • 65
    aquilacane says:

    You will never know my locker combination from high school. You will never know my potential as an athlete, had I applied myself. There is no magic way to know everything. Some information is beyond our capacity to acquire, some does not exist. We know what happens after death, most don’t want to accept it. Imagining an alternative does not create a reality we can pursue. One truth you can accept knowing is that you know barely anything and you will die that way.



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  • 66
    Verticalling says:

    You can’t know everything about every particle, because you would have to store that information somewhere
    This is incorrect. We can know everything about everything – but not as information. Information is simply data manufactured and ordered by a limited perceptive apparatus (the human brain). You are the Universe. Know thyself.



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  • 67
    OHooligan says:

    In reply to #65 by aquilacane:

    You will never know my locker combination from high school.

    But I do! And I know what you kept in there. Mwahahahahahah <- (evil genius laugh)



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  • 68
    Malaidas says:

    Hi,

    Firstly I would like to counter a claim in your arguments: No true scientist will ever tell you that there is conclusively no life after death. Rather that we have no evidence for such, and therefore any discussion of which is purely philosophical. However we would argue that in the absence of evidence there is NO reason to believe that it is the case. A rational belief of truth can only be based on evidence, or logical conjecture from this, anything else is abstract conjecture for which the truth cannot be assessed. We would also argue that you are free to have your own opinions in this case, so long as you are not selling this to others as truth.

    Secondly I’d like to draw your attention to psychological and neural biology evidence which can provide provisional answers as to why you feel the way you do. Texts such as Richard Wiseman’s Paranormality (Why see what isn’t there) are a good start into this. Truth is that your brain has mechanisms which whilst vital to our success as a species, can also trick us a lot of the time. reading what Dawkins writes is also interesting. whilst this doesn’t disprove your belief, it does show that there are scientific answers. The intentional stance is one of the most interesting things, your ability to read intent and purpose into things and even a consciousness. Even when its purely nonsense and you know it. As example I bring you the relationship we have with our cars. We care for them, feel bad when they have to go to the tip, worry about their ‘feelings’. The thing is that despite this, you know they are inanimate objects, they don;t care what you do. but you feel it anyway, this is part of what makes you human, its a natural biological function which probably evolved perhaps as a side effect of something else, but never the less evolved to allow us to more quickly respond to complicated behaviour of other people, but it misfires at times, indeed regularly.

    The end of the day though, yes you are free to believe what you want and do so rationally when there is no evidence and there is no good rational reason to reject on the absence of evidence. However to ascribe to this belief some sort of absolute truth is always irrational.



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