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Theism/atheism debates

Re: Theism/atheism debates

Postby finley » 03 Mar 2016, 10:16

How on earth has a thread on communicating with god, religious brain circuits, super beings and their worldly concerns, or finding moral values in anarchic nature gotten so weird?

:lol: Religious threads tend to do that.

I bought the book that was mentioned. Personally, not overly impressed. I find myself skating over whole paragraphs of hand-waving of the sort BrentGolf dismisses as pseudoscientific. And he's right. The authors conveniently mark these out by starting with 'we believe that', 'we suspect that', 'it seems likely that', etc etc. I've got nothing against hand-waving per se, but it's frustrating to see so little experimental data and so much opinion. Science isn't about what seems likely. It's about what fits the facts, and hasn't been disproved by experiment.

Making things worse is that the authors don't seem to be very good at actual experimental design. For example, early on they describe making people meditate for 12 minutes a day, giving them memory/cognitive skill tests before and after. Since the results 'after' are better, they conclude that it's the meditation what done it. Unfortunately they had no control group. They should have had another group of people sitting quietly for 12 minutes, or perhaps going for a walk around the block; something other than meditation. Ideally, they should have had a third group of people who did exactly what they normally did, with all other aspects of the experimental protocol in place (tests, consultation with the experimenters, etc). The point of group A is to find out how important the meditative movements/sounds are to the effectiveness of the ritual, and the point of group B is to control for the well-known effect whereby people always improve their results simply because they're part of an experiment.

On the questionnaire experiment, where they are gauging religious attitudes, I wanted to scrawl "conclusions not supported by data" all over their research paper. They say:

"I wanted to know how tolerant people were when they encountered individuals with different religious beliefs ... we discovered that nearly 30% of those queried had difficulty accepting others who held different religious beliefs. In fact more people were willing to marry someone of a different race than someone with a different religious orientation".

They then quote the actual questions.

Are other religions correct, even though they differ from my own?
Would you marry someone outside your religion or spiritual belief system?
Would you marry someone who does not share your racial or ethnic heritage?

The first problem here is that the possible options are "definitely agree", "tend to agree", "tend to disagree", "definitely disagree". One slap on the wrist for the fact that answer categories do not make sense in the context even of these three questions (never mind the other however-many). Questionnaire design is incredibly hard, and this is just pure sloppiness.

Second problem is that, if someone accepts a specific religious doctrine, then by definition those doctrines which are in conflict with it cannot be "correct". A monotheist could not truthfully say that a polytheistic religion is also correct. However, this is not the same thing as accepting the person who holds those conflicting beliefs as a human being deserving of respect, fair treatment, etc. Similarly, just because you would choose not to hitch your wagon to someone you know has a radically different outlook on life doesn't mean you'd give them an impromptu lecture about the fires of hell.

I had to switch off at this point to do some deep breathing exercises and let my sphincter unclench.
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Re: Theism/atheism debates

Postby Mucha Man » 03 Mar 2016, 11:44

Which book?
“Everywhere else in the world is also really old” said Prof. Liu, a renowned historian at Beijing University. “We always learn that China has 5000 years of cultural heritage, and that therefore we are very special. It appears that other places also have some of this heritage stuff. And are also old. Like, really old.”

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Re: Theism/atheism debates

Postby finley » 03 Mar 2016, 11:52

um .. the one you reviewed? :D

"How God Changes your Brain".

Have I bought the wrong one...?
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Re: Theism/atheism debates

Postby Mucha Man » 03 Mar 2016, 12:11

finley wrote:um .. the one you reviewed? :D

"How God Changes your Brain".

Have I bought the wrong one...?


This is the book I was talking about:
http://www.cambridge.org/ca/academic/su ... ?format=PB

Amazon.com has it for rental as an ebook.
“Everywhere else in the world is also really old” said Prof. Liu, a renowned historian at Beijing University. “We always learn that China has 5000 years of cultural heritage, and that therefore we are very special. It appears that other places also have some of this heritage stuff. And are also old. Like, really old.”

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Re: Theism/atheism debates

Postby finley » 03 Mar 2016, 12:39

oops :oops:

I thought you were referring to the one in the newspaper article.
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Re: Theism/atheism debates

Postby Mucha Man » 03 Mar 2016, 12:40

finley wrote:oops :oops:

I thought you were referring to the one in the newspaper article.


Oh sorry. No, I just followed the quote you gave and found the author of that, Patrick McNamara.
“Everywhere else in the world is also really old” said Prof. Liu, a renowned historian at Beijing University. “We always learn that China has 5000 years of cultural heritage, and that therefore we are very special. It appears that other places also have some of this heritage stuff. And are also old. Like, really old.”

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Re: Theism/atheism debates

Postby finley » 03 Mar 2016, 12:43

ha ... I just went back and had a look at the original post. Can't even follow my own links. :doh:
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Re: Theism/atheism debates

Postby Mucha Man » 03 Mar 2016, 12:45

finley wrote:ha ... I just went back and had a look at the original post. Can't even follow my own links. :doh:


Plus you never check your pm inbox. :wink:
“Everywhere else in the world is also really old” said Prof. Liu, a renowned historian at Beijing University. “We always learn that China has 5000 years of cultural heritage, and that therefore we are very special. It appears that other places also have some of this heritage stuff. And are also old. Like, really old.”

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Re: Theism/atheism debates

Postby triceratopses » 04 Mar 2016, 00:34

Tempo Gain wrote:It doesn't matter. Scientists don't agree on these highly theoretical questions. Dennett who you have brought up repeatedly is a philosopher for crying out loud. You have no grounds to even try to tell me what I have to believe with regards to the subject. Again, this is a pathetic way to try to demonstrate the value of a position.


Last time I'm saying it. If you don't know that the standard view of 99% of scientists is scientific materialism, meaning that mind is an emergent property of the brain, meaning that mind as an actual subject experience (qualia) is 100% an unequivocal illusion, then you just don't know what you're talking about. I'm sorry, keep studying, you will eventually run into this extremely standard non-controversial obvious point.

I throw out names like Dennett Searle the Churchlands etc because they are leading authorities on this subject matter. If you want to have a rational discussion on this topic yet contradict and belittle them you are on shaky ground. And stop repeating this notion that "scientists don't agree on these highly theoretical questions". It has been the standard view for a long time. There is NOT EVEN SLIGHT CONTROVERSY THAT MIND IS AN ILLUSION. And there is no point bringing in quantum physics to back up your claim. Try to find a neuroscientist that does not assert mind as an emergent property. That would actually mean something.

The only one is Chalmers and everyone ridicules him.



The mind is entirely the brain, and we are able to use that mind to make moral judgments. Simple. Everything you've introduced to refute that is besides the point, entirely.


OK lets see if that's true. Does making a moral judgement depend on actual subject experience, or is subject experience merely an illusion?

Talk to anyone majoring in neuroscience, they will all give the same answer. What's your answer? And how do you think they will answer it?


MikeN wrote:This can be duplicated under controlled conditions?


1 week in absorption is a relatively simple attainment. Being able to remain on your chosen object through the use of concentration to the point that your flesh burning does not interrupt you is still yet a lower level of concentration. So if that vietnamese monk could remain on his object while burning, how in the f*** is a "skeptic" going to harm anything in any way.
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Re: Theism/atheism debates

Postby Tempo Gain » 04 Mar 2016, 02:50

triceratopses wrote:Last time I'm saying it. If you don't know that the standard view of 99% of scientists is scientific materialism, meaning that mind is an emergent property of the brain, meaning that mind as an actual subject experience (qualia) is 100% an unequivocal illusion, then you just don't know what you're talking about. I'm sorry, keep studying, you will eventually run into this extremely standard non-controversial obvious point.


Is that a promise? Anyway, errr yes, so what?

Early on you said:

Therefore there is ZERO distinction between well-being, ripping all the skin off the faces of young children for fun, and living and dying, outside of pointing to each and saying "in this case the particles are moving this way, and in this case the particles are moving that way".


Essentially, this is my point: this does not follow from your statement above.

I throw out names like Dennett Searle the Churchlands etc because they are leading authorities on this subject matter. If you want to have a rational discussion on this topic yet contradict and belittle them you are on shaky ground. And stop repeating this notion that "scientists don't agree on these highly theoretical questions". It has been the standard view for a long time. There is NOT EVEN SLIGHT CONTROVERSY THAT MIND IS AN ILLUSION. And there is no point bringing in quantum physics to back up your claim. Try to find a neuroscientist that does not assert mind as an emergent property. That would actually mean something.


In another post, you said:

Our current actions were determined and set in motion 3/10000000 of a second after the big bang.


I have pointed out that there is dispute about this statement--which has nothing to do with what you state in the topmost quote--among scientists, and that it is a highly theoretical question with little application to our daily reality, even if true. You're going back and forth among these wildly different concepts. Trying to talk to you about this is like watching a tennis match. I only made the last mention of Dennett (who indeed has a great many interesting things to say) because as a philosopher he would not seem to be qualified to comment authoritatively on that question.

OK lets see if that's true. Does making a moral judgement depend on actual subject experience, or is subject experience merely an illusion?

Talk to anyone majoring in neuroscience, they will all give the same answer. What's your answer? And how do you think they will answer it?


It doesn't matter. We are in fact capable of making moral judgments, which is all I said. Are you denying that we are capable of making moral judgments?
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