Atheist's NDE

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Offline Titanscape

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« on: 01/02/2008 06:57:21 »
What do you make of NDEs and OBEs, and this former atheist's testimony?

www.aglimpseofeternity.org

http://Http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-5979215757846504940
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Offline neilep

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« Reply #1 on: 01/02/2008 13:24:33 »
What do you make of NDEs and OBEs, and this former atheist's testimony?

www.aglimpseofeternity.org

http://Http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-5979215757846504940


Let's have your opinion Bren to give us something to feedback to you !
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Offline that mad man

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« Reply #2 on: 01/02/2008 17:05:57 »
Reading the story I don't think he was pronounced clinically dead and could have been suffering hallucinations from the stings. Also reading the story its debatable whether he was an atheist in the past.

Experiments with LSD and other hallucinogenics shows that lots of people who suffered hallucinations believe that they have been spoken to by God or had visions of God. Timothy Leary did many experiments of this kind. Most of the people who had a God like experience were ones that either have a belief or weren't sure of what they believe in.
The most famous dreamers in the past were the prophets who in trance like states saw God or supernatural beings in their dreams.


I have a friend who did die when he was 14. He was knocked off his push-bike and rushed to hospital where after a time he was pronounced clinically dead. After several minutes he was then moved to another room when it was noticed that some of his muscles were "twitching" and resuscitation was started again. Although badly injured he survived the ordeal.

You can understand that this is something he does not talk about much but I know bits of what happened.

He is now 31, suffers from depression and is a self harmer. From talking to him what annoys him most is that his life before the accident is completely blank. Its as if all his memories of childhood etc have been wiped from his brain.

I know he feels "robbed" and gets upset sometimes as he cant remember growing up.


But, back to the story.

I have difficulty believing anyone who believes in visions however induced.





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Offline Titanscape

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« Reply #3 on: 04/02/2008 01:55:35 »
I met Ian and heard him after I chose the same faith. It encourages me, the description of resurrection power in his soul.

The idea there is something underlying his conscious mind that is much bigger interests me, could there be such a thing? Id?

He was badly stung.

Spiritual people think hallucinogens are a way to communicate with the dead, such as in necromancing.

He is intelligent and is sure years later that he met Jesus, as do otheres who died by heart attack... and others have similar OBEs like www.GaryOates.com

I met a Lutheran pastor who died on the operating table. And a friend died a nd went down a tunnel, to alike a WW1 battlefield, with people crawling around on a smokey, pitted, barren landscape.

He desribes being healed of the parchedness of his heart and being accepted by an intelligent person who knew the scriptures. I am sure it was not an hallucination. For six weeks after he read the scriptures.
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Offline _Stefan_

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« Reply #4 on: 04/02/2008 10:13:25 »
When a person is in an altered state of consciousness their brain is far more likely to misperceive the already fabricated reality it presents to the mind. The brain does not represent reality perfectly. It makes a simulation which is under careful regulation, but when something like a drug, injury, near death experience, or anything else that impairs or changes the normal operation of the brain, it's more prone to error. It is extremely probable that it will imagine things that aren't really there, and mistake them for being real, and extremely improbable that the "visions" experienced during a NDE accurately represent reality. There is a lot of research being done into this area of brain science.

Hallucinations, visions, or experiences of a supernatural theme, are not evidence for the existence of the objects of the hallucinations. They are evidence for the delicacy and fallibility of the human brain.
Stefan
"No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind, that its falsehood would be more miraculous than the fact which it endeavors to establish." -David Hume

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Offline Titanscape

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« Reply #5 on: 06/02/2008 09:32:42 »
In the difficult state of being poisoned, it can lead to error of interpretation, but people having the same dreams, more so hallucinations, and hearing things they can check in the scriptures, and compare dreams with others? How can it be?

So after they recover, and discern, they still believe what they saw. Years later.

Is there some super parts to the mind, greater than the conscious mind? And why would the wisest most powerful components be shown up in hallucinations rather in duress, and life threatening situations?



« Last Edit: 06/02/2008 09:35:07 by Titanscape »
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Offline _Stefan_

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« Reply #6 on: 06/02/2008 10:30:41 »
Our brains all have similar basic structures and functions, and these can be altered in similar ways. Sleep, dreams, hallucinations, etc. are altered states of consciousness. In altered states of consciousness our perception is very unreliable. No sane person should trust anything they experience if it can't be verified by independent sources. The brain is really good at making things up. In altered states of consciousness, very few restrictions are placed upon it (i.e. few external stimuli or conscious mental checks), so it runs wild.

I would ask what kind of dreams you claim have been experienced by multiple individuals. My guess is that they are very common dreams, or only vaguely match each other, or have similarities simply because of exposure to the same cultural references, e.g. bright light at the end of a dark tunnel.
Stefan
"No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind, that its falsehood would be more miraculous than the fact which it endeavors to establish." -David Hume

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Offline Titanscape

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« Reply #7 on: 06/02/2008 14:05:25 »
Ezekiel, Gary Oates, Ian McCormack, there are books full of testimonies.

But is our mind the same thing as our brain?
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Offline that mad man

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« Reply #8 on: 06/02/2008 15:24:17 »
One thing I do find in common and also strange is that these people seem to have some sort of perfect recollection of their dream states.

Dreams by their nature are normally fragmented and for most people very difficult to recall. What I find common with all this is that most of these people with perfect recollection are also selling or promoting something, either a book or themselves.
Like you say "there are books full of testimonies" and I presume all are for sale. 

This sort of thing I also find suspicious:

"If you feel lead to support the ministry financially we certainly do appreciate it. If you do feel to send us a love gift, please send it in the form of either a cheque or money order to the following address:-"

      Ian & Jane McCormack


Then we have the Gary Oats promotion.

"A two day supernatural healing summit @ $390 single and $790 double, meals and lodging included."
Then there is the Transformation Summit @ only $1690 per person plus a number of mp3's for sale and...

I would have more respect for these people if they truly embraced their belief and did it for free!

Our mind when vulnerable can be easily tricked and as with hypnosis we normally have a belief first that it is possible.


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Offline _Stefan_

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« Reply #9 on: 06/02/2008 21:29:58 »
The mind is what the brain does. It's the only reasonable conclusion.
Stefan
"No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind, that its falsehood would be more miraculous than the fact which it endeavors to establish." -David Hume

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Offline Titanscape

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« Reply #10 on: 07/02/2008 03:07:10 »
I read that the for every action of the mind there is a corresponding action in the nervous system.

If we didn't give offerings to pastors, they'd have to work part time instead of minister full time. I saw Gary Oates, night sessions are free usually, in most all churches.

These phenomenon are more than dreams. They are OB perceptions.
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Offline _Stefan_

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« Reply #11 on: 07/02/2008 12:05:28 »
OB experiences are being studied and are likely a failure of the brain to incorporate the mental world into the physical body correctly. Please correct me if I'm wrong.
Stefan
"No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind, that its falsehood would be more miraculous than the fact which it endeavors to establish." -David Hume

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Offline Titanscape

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« Reply #12 on: 22/08/2009 17:28:09 »
This link has a documentary. Science of the brain and mind. People see themselves being operated on, and recall details. A blind woman, sees for the first time. Blind when recovered.

Psychology and physiology, relativity... apply. People's brains in NDEs have died and no longer function.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_I9-XxBAEsQ
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Offline demografx

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« Reply #13 on: 22/08/2009 23:07:51 »

What I find more difficult to explain away are the similarities amongst all the NDE's, the tunnel, the white light, the dearly departed, the observation of final moments from above, etc. Are there good explanations for these NDE similarities?

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Offline demografx

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« Reply #14 on: 22/08/2009 23:12:50 »

Chronologically ordered flashbacks of life events in near-drownings also seem odd. Are they just examples of brain misfirings?

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Offline Variola

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« Reply #15 on: 23/08/2009 02:12:59 »
Quote
Are there good explanations for these NDE similarities?

Yes, it is what we expect to see.

Think about it...
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Offline Titanscape

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« Reply #16 on: 23/08/2009 06:51:46 »
An interesting similarity yes. Especially when a woman born blind sees the same things in her NDE. She could not have expected it.

Also the similarities here are conscious observations in sight and sound of their operations, tools and tool boxes... while the brains are dead, in several cases. Questioning what generates consciousness...
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Offline Don_1

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« Reply #17 on: 24/08/2009 07:30:31 »
Was this man so badly stung? Maybe, maybe not, but one thing's for sure, he's making a fortune out of stinging others now.

If there's one extra thing to put me off religion, its people like this.
If brains were made of dynamite, I wouldn't have enough to blow my nose.

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Offline glovesforfoxes

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« Reply #18 on: 24/08/2009 09:05:42 »
i really am bored of religious adaptation to the new unexplained phenomenon. can't people just accept that spiritual and scientific domains should just not cross? the correct scientific and the correct religious way of viewing things do not necessarily coincide, because one is interested in truth, and the other is interested in the correct moral standard.
The animals of the world exist for their own reasons. They were not made for humans any more than blacks were made for whites, or women for men. - Alice Walker

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Offline Madidus_Scientia

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« Reply #19 on: 24/08/2009 11:16:38 »
What do you mean by "correct moral standard" ?

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lyner

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« Reply #20 on: 24/08/2009 12:04:04 »
I think it's used as a convenient shorthand to describe the sort of behaviour which makes the human species survive best.
The short term needs of the individual must often, clearly be subservient to the needs of the majority  for H. Sapiens to do best. The "majority" must also include other species, too, of course. Cooperation is at least as important as competition throughout Evolution.
This explains why 'Green-ness' and altruism are necessary, innate qualities which we all need to have evolved. This was clear, in a non-academic way, throughout our history and Religions would have been the only way to communicate it in the past. The modern 'intellectual', Humanist,  approach is probably just as fraught, as a way forward; we're all human, after all.
As we all know, once a group of individuals starts to promote a particular version of this "correct moral standard", it gets out of hand and we have the Spanish Inquisition, the Taliban and the Born Agains, none of whom are spotless.

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Offline glovesforfoxes

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« Reply #21 on: 24/08/2009 12:49:12 »
yup, sophiecentaur phrased it well. [:)] i'd like to add that as an extra safeguard, nearly all major religions advise some form of humility in their followers. they're really quite good for emotional wellbeing.

letting science influence moral conduct to a large degree is very much a mistake. it's why i dislike dawkins' musings about religion.. it seems to me that he sees religious people as idiots - they are not, he is just judging them from different standards than you're supposed to with religion. worse, it promotes this tension between religion and science that just isn't necessary, and makes them seem like opposites. they're no more opposites than apples and oranges are opposites - they are just different versions of belief (and i use that word with the widest possible definition)
the problem is much greater than one man though!

i guess what really bothers me about the religious adaptation to science is that they feel it is necessary to stay credible. if they stayed in the domain of what they're meant to teach about, rather than what they think they know about, it would be much simpler to be a scientist and religious without being called an idiot, having both a spiritual and intellectual side that are fulfilled instead of just the intellectual that we see in a lot of cases today..

for the record, i am not religious, but i do like buddhism quite a lot [:P]
« Last Edit: 24/08/2009 12:52:20 by glovesforfoxes »
The animals of the world exist for their own reasons. They were not made for humans any more than blacks were made for whites, or women for men. - Alice Walker

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Offline demografx

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« Reply #22 on: 28/08/2009 04:55:49 »
Quote

Are there good explanations for these NDE similarities?


Yes, it is what we expect to see.

Think about it...


Expected? Well, maybe 'dearly departed', yes, or 'religious figures' (if I were religious)....but before I ever heard of NDE's, I don't think I would have expected seeing "indescribable light" (which I have seen in a lucid dream), passing through a dark tunnel, or seeing myself from above.

This doesn't mean I'm a believer, but I wish I had the time to investigate more those 'unexpected' items.

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Offline RD

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« Reply #23 on: 28/08/2009 06:36:53 »
... I don't think I would have expected seeing "indescribable light" (which I have seen in a lucid dream), passing through a dark tunnel, or seeing myself from above.

This doesn't mean I'm a believer, but I wish I had the time to investigate more those 'unexpected' items.


http://www.thenakedscientists.com/forum/index.php?topic=25110.msg271134#msg271134

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Offline Variola

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« Reply #24 on: 28/08/2009 09:25:59 »
Quote
Expected? Well, maybe 'dearly departed', yes, or 'religious figures' (if I were religious)....but before I ever heard of NDE's, I don't think I would have expected seeing "indescribable light" (which I have seen in a lucid dream), passing through a dark tunnel, or seeing myself from above.

This doesn't mean I'm a believer, but I wish I had the time to investigate more those 'unexpected' items.


Most people have heard of NDE's and what happened with them, indeed most people have an idea of what 'heaven' would be like, a bright light, a tunnel etc. It has been portrayed in numerous different films.
If it is imprinted in the brain, then when the event has passed the brain can attribute a memory to it to process and understand what has happened. The brain is surprisingly impressionable, as in the case of false memory syndrom and eye-witness testimony.

RD has given a good description of the physcical affets of hypoxia in his link too.
  A potty-mouthed, impertinent female who thinks she is God's gift to men" -JimBob

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lyner

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« Reply #25 on: 28/08/2009 11:52:12 »
glovesforfoxes

I agree about the negativity of Dawkins, even though he talks an awful lot of sense. What he fails to do is to empathise with Joe public who may not have the intellect that he has and certainly doesn't have the time  for such a cerebral approach.

But 'religions' have a particular problem these days. Because this is the Age of Science they, too, feel the need for evidence - which doesn't exist - so they have to fabricate it or mis-interpret it. That just discredits them.

What is the alternative tho', if we want a 'better world'?

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Offline that mad man

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« Reply #26 on: 28/08/2009 16:57:50 »
I think the clue here is that they are NDE's, NEAR death experiences and as such the people involved were not dead so its not a very valid argument anyway.


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Offline glovesforfoxes

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« Reply #27 on: 28/08/2009 17:04:03 »
Quote from: sophiecentaur
I agree about the negativity of Dawkins, even though he talks an awful lot of sense. What he fails to do is to empathise with Joe public who may not have the intellect that he has and certainly doesn't have the time  for such a cerebral approach.

But 'religions' have a particular problem these days. Because this is the Age of Science they, too, feel the need for evidence - which doesn't exist - so they have to fabricate it or mis-interpret it. That just discredits them.

What is the alternative tho', if we want a 'better world'?

i wouldn't know what to do to solve it. it reaches far across the western world, and i simply do not know a better way of handling it.

i'll give it a go though. i think the attitudes towards science and religion and their relationship needs to change. again, this is a problem much, much greater than one man to handle. i'm not sure if there can be a pleasant relationship between the two, culturally.. even my little education in the history of the last 2.5 thousand years has told me that they are scarcely best friends.

scientists could set a great example by recognising that attacking religion or being a.. well let's call them passionate atheists with science is just as futile, as seen from the eyes of religious people, as attacking science with religion is just as ridiculously futile from the point of view of scientists. it's a tricky grey area though, that's for sure. passions won't be contained once built up. so i think one of the best, most constructive things an individual person can do to have a happy life is to reduce confirmation bias and extremism by exposing themselves to many people of many backgrounds - this get rid of helps racism, sexism, and everything else that's a negative -ism, because you eventually recognise that every human being is just like yourself - and this way, you'll also protect yourself from fear of others, from grief, from anxiety.

it's so strange to me that scientists consider applying the scientific method to many difficult tasks but don't apply the same thinking to their own hearts. examining your own feelings, and what gives rise to them, followed by step by step elimination of the conditions that give rise to the unpleasant ones seems like a sensible, extremely beneficial idea to me.
« Last Edit: 28/08/2009 17:22:28 by glovesforfoxes »
The animals of the world exist for their own reasons. They were not made for humans any more than blacks were made for whites, or women for men. - Alice Walker

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Offline demografx

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« Reply #28 on: 28/08/2009 18:16:45 »

Not sure I understand the physiological explanation of "the tunnel" in NDE's. I don't see tunnel vision (loss of peripheral vision) as being the same as "the tunnel", which to me is like an extended underground cavern. One that we are allegedly whisked through.

Nor do I see the tunnel as an 'imprinted' folklore characteristic of the afterlife. The religious afterlife I think of as depicted in children's books, films, etc., is more built around angels, halos, harps, clouds, pitchforks, fire, and a grandfatherly figure sitting on a throne.

But no tunnels.


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Offline graham.d

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« Reply #29 on: 28/08/2009 19:42:26 »
Well the original testimony is a nice story and, if it happened to me, even as a sceptic and devout atheist, I may be convinced. But this is a lot, as an outsider, to be convinced about. One has to be sceptical about the veracity of the story for lots of reasons. If we accepted such individual testimonies, no matter how convincingly told, then we are in the realms of belief in ghosts, fire-breathing dragons and numerous types of flying saucer visitations. Some of these may throw doubt on the honesty of the observers, but many do not; we have to accept that personal subjective observation is fallible. It would seem to me that, if there were a God, then allowing the odd individual a chance to have such a conversation (and remember it) about whether he should live or die seems a somewhat bizarre and random act, but then He is said to move in mysterious ways so I guess anything goes. It seems a shame that you probably would not get such a chance if your means of destruction happened to be a large bomb or a bullet in the head.

Glovesforfoxes, you made some interesting comments about Dawkins' approach towards religions. I have some sympathy with your position because I think Dawkins deliberately underplays the complexity of the arguments and, as a result, implies that religious people to be fools. I think he does this partly because that is his style of arguing and partly because he is trying to establish a stronger argument for a negative position. I think he feels that people who say that X is true because they (and millions of other people say so) can be rather persuasive, whereas the scientific position of X may or may not be true but we have no evidence (and probably can never have any evidence) that can say one way or the other, is not. I think that from a scientific point of view, the existence of God, as previously defined throughout history, has been repeatedly, and effectively, disproved, only to be replaced with a new and more diffuse version that is conveniently placed outside the realms of scientific investigation. I think Dawkins is really just trying to point this out.

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Offline glovesforfoxes

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« Reply #30 on: 29/08/2009 00:08:56 »
Quote from: graham.d
Glovesforfoxes, you made some interesting comments about Dawkins' approach towards religions. I have some sympathy with your position because I think Dawkins deliberately underplays the complexity of the arguments and, as a result, implies that religious people to be fools. I think he does this partly because that is his style of arguing and partly because he is trying to establish a stronger argument for a negative position. I think he feels that people who say that X is true because they (and millions of other people say so) can be rather persuasive, whereas the scientific position of X may or may not be true but we have no evidence (and probably can never have any evidence) that can say one way or the other, is not. I think that from a scientific point of view, the existence of God, as previously defined throughout history, has been repeatedly, and effectively, disproved, only to be replaced with a new and more diffuse version that is conveniently placed outside the realms of scientific investigation. I think Dawkins is really just trying to point this out.

i already have said i don't think that god exists and scientifically it's nonsense to believe in. dawkin's complex arguments are really unnecessary to anyone who can understand the only sensible conclusion to this question: why believe in something that you can never know truly exists while alive?

my main problem with believing in the power of that question that without any other knowledge about the value of christianity is that it doesn't take into account the advantages of religious belief. god doesn't exist objectively, sure, but he definitely does subjectively. i used to think that attempting to try to persuade someone out of their beliefs was acceptable because i didn't really get why they did - like i've said before, it's not about truth, reason, or science. it's about emotional comfort. so dawkins can use all the logic in the world, but it won't matter to religious people. i doubt he has even persuaded a single person, and even if he has, did it actually do them any good? are they happier now? do they have more hope?

so it's not really that religion is "conveniently placed outside the realms of scientific investigation". it's that it is to the followers of that religion. the religious feeling isn't anything rational, and you can't change the minds of religious people with a rational argument. all that happens when you try this (at least nowadays) is the further alienation of science and religion. is that helping anyone? do scientists know any more or feel better? do religious people? i don't think so..

arguing for peaceful coexistence is not really about who's right or who's wrong. it's about the benefits and the costs. how many fruitless hours have the atheists and religious people spent arguing over belief, and then to come away not having change a single thing, besides their good mood into a bad one? how much tension is there between the groups? what could they do together that neither can do alone? surely they could learn from each other. a widespread adoption of this kind of thinking in scientists - the compassionate, understanding kind - would definitely help the world become a little better. i truly hope one day that the wall between the two groups comes crashing down, but i don't expect it. all i can do is present my reasoning to people in the hope they too will understand and spread the message. in social matters, it's not truth that matters!

oh and as for the NDE: once again, something outside the realm of scientific testing is used to support religious belief in an attempt to make scientists understand. they won't. it's a feeling they don't have. teach them about it, making sure they understand it as a feeling rather than a scientific, rational, truthy thing and they will be more open to it. or perhaps they won't, because of lack of that feeling, be unable to see it from an emotional point of view. i hope they can.

« Last Edit: 29/08/2009 00:15:43 by glovesforfoxes »
The animals of the world exist for their own reasons. They were not made for humans any more than blacks were made for whites, or women for men. - Alice Walker

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Offline graham.d

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« Reply #31 on: 29/08/2009 10:02:55 »
Don't you think that Dawkins is really not trying to change the minds of believers so much as balancing their apparent certainty with rationality for the benefit of the undecided? Why are whole nations largely swayed by such irrational beliefs except for the fact that every generation only ever gets a one sided view presented to them from a very young age?

I also have no problem with the ethical teachings of religions or even of humanistic laws. It may well be that there are good scientific reasons for these too, but there is enough flexibility in the theories here that this would not be a sound method on which to base are ethical beliefs. I think the third reich had a go at this. My only problem is the mumbo-jumbo aspects.

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Offline glovesforfoxes

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« Reply #32 on: 29/08/2009 12:38:11 »
Quote from: graham.d
Don't you think that Dawkins is really not trying to change the minds of believers so much as balancing their apparent certainty with rationality for the benefit of the undecided? Why are whole nations largely swayed by such irrational beliefs except for the fact that every generation only ever gets a one sided view presented to them from a very young age?

Quote from: glovesforfoxes
RELIGIOSITY IS A FEELING

QFE

you can teach rationality. you can't teach someone to not believe in god.
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Offline JimBob

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Atheist's NDE
« Reply #33 on: 29/08/2009 12:49:02 »
This discussion is all very unscientific as it dismisses states of being without an investigation into them and relies on opinion rather than investigation and observation.

Ever since I was a child, and a very young child at that, before inculcation could have begun, I have had experiences somewhat similar to these which indicate the existence of a larger dimension to our lives than is normally thought of in human culture. As I age these experiences  become less and less frequent. 

I was both troubled and fascinated by them. Thus, I have read literally hundreds of volumes about these experiences which have been treated as just brain farts by those who do not take time to investigate them.

It is my opinion these experiences have root in reality. I am not alone. Psychologists have, since the inception of the investigation into the human brain, studied these for well over one hundred years. One of the early works of which I am aware is "The Variety of Religious Experiences" by William James. It has been well developed by Abraham Maslow in his book "Religions, Values and Peak-experiences" (1964) and the investigative work continues today.

These experiences are due to a difference in brain chemistry. For instance, here in the states, The Science Channel has a series on right now entitled "Super Humans." It examines people who are consciously capable of changing their body and brain chemistry. One person profiled and tested scientifically this week was able to withstand being up to his neck in ice for 20 minutes and was able to maintain his core body temperature above 97 degrees F. This has never been documented before. In all humans it was considered invariably fatal. - HOW? Training the individual's mind. This person was a yogi. Other feats are documented, such as inserting sharp objects through the body without any damage. These are most often the tongue or the cheek but cases where the abdomen has been penetrate without harm, as documented in x-rays, are known.

I believe that this training taps into the deepest part of the human psyche - that part which existed before we were conscious beings. This is what enabled we humans to evolve. We as a species have lost the acute senses and talents we needed to survive - at least lost the awareness of these senses because they are untrained. It is these senses which allow us to "feel" connected to the rest of reality in which we participate.

How did we escape predation before intelligence evolved? With super-human hearing, eye-sight, senses and strength. These are documented realities obtainable by extreme training. Why can we not include that which is beyond our ken into our world, instead of just dismissing it as fake or just the brain dieing? It isn't scientific - in fact it is counter to the measurable science of today. In these experiences the mind is reverting to an earlier state of evolution. As the conscious mind shuts down we experience these states of being. These states are survival states but are interpreted in a religious code as there are no words to describe them. We have lost the ability to shut off our mind at will and just be.

Are these states real? Definitively. Heightened awareness and insight into life? Yes. Animalistic - most assuredly.

It is extremely easy to dismiss the experiences of others we ourselves have not had. It is impossible to dismiss them if we have had them.

The mind is like a parachute. It works best when open.  -- A. Einstein