Edward Teach Mark Twain, Ernest Hemmingway, Fredrick Nietzsche, and Thomas Edison should be put in the same category as Westboro Baptist Church and those mean reindeer? Mathematics and the laws of physics remain in effect whether one believes in talking reindeer, water walkers raised from the dead, telekinesis, or ESP. Nothing wrong with saying so... Galileo was imprisoned by the superstitious. Good minorities keep their mouths shut. The minority thing is why this analogy is an extremely poor one. The reason it is inoffensive when a black comedian makes a joke about white people and offensive when a white comedian makes fun of black people is because white people have historically been an oppressive majority and on some level we admire the black comedian for fighting back. In other words, mouthy atheists would represent Rudolph giving the bully reindeer hell.
XXXXXX The laws of physics may very well be the laws of physics, but when you break physics down to the fundamental levels even Physicists don't understand why the universe is so crazy. Even much of physics doesn't follow common sense rules but when it does, I don't think we can completely disregard a higher meaning to it all. I will agree though that most religions miss the mark on the lesson, and have been misused, misinterpreted, and separated one another, in addition to blindly believing some pretty crazy things. However, if religions are looked at beyond the hocus pocus and the typical view points, most of it says the same thing, "how to love" . The point that I find most important in the message is that people that are Christian, Muslim, Atheist, Reindeer (lol), Mathematicians shouldn't be dick heads no matter what they believe, and the only thing worthwhile of truly learning in this life is love, kindness, empathy, compassion, and forgiveness. The very fact that as a society we fight constantly and are always on the defensive is sad, however the humor part of it is healing.
Edward Teach True that at the quantum level things are... very weird. Likewise, on the macro level, space is very weird. These objective marvels, accessed through the rigors of science and math, are are amazing to me beyond any egocentric imaginings of the human mind. And, on both the micro and macro levels, all evidence points to a universe governed by laws (even though the laws can be markedly different depending on how tiny or how huge the arena) and completely random. We are pattern seeking, answer seeking animals. When no pattern exists, we imagine patterns (a cloud may look exactly like a rabbit). When the answers are not present, very difficult to understand, or unsatisfying to our collective egos, we may comfort ourselves with supernatural answers. But, every material human advancement (including medicine, electronics, architecture, textiles, dentistry, ophthalmology, use of electricity, this laptop, and every man made item in your immediate field of vision) are the products of the scientific method. Really, all the scientific method is is a procedure to eliminate human bias. Science bases answers on evidence, and some of those answers are certainly not to my liking. Supernatural answers are based on feelings and almost always meet some psychological need. It would make me feel better to believe that the people I love never really die, they just assume a supernatural form. However, denying reality in that way seems dishonest and phony and actually downright impossible to me.
Edward Teach I agree that religion was designed to help people live together in harmony (and as a mechanism to control the many by the few) and that love (and contempt for money) was Jesus' primary message. However, one may love deeply without any religion at all. I would say that real morality does not come from a book or guru, but from a commitment to empathy and fairness. No religion needed for that. And, in addition to love (an abstract that people have trouble with) religion also includes concrete rules (people do very well with the concrete stuff) to live by. For the most part, these represent the social norms and primitive understandings of the time that the rules were written. As a result, the rules of religion are often not only absurd, but harmful to people who are weak, of minority status, or who don't conform to social norms so easily.
XXXXXXX The scientific method is a human creation with human minds at work. We as humans use very little of our brains and our brains are just chemicals and signals that pump energy to pump thought. Energy is eternal. It is possible that energy does not create thought, but it creates vibrations that have cause and effect on other vibrations. When you look at matter, time and space and energy and try to define the boundaries of where and what and how it all exists that is more than we as humans truly understand with our little brains. Much of our scientific knowledge is constantly changing and the scientific world is governed by tangibility. The things we view with our eyes and hold in our hands can't be explained in the metaphysical realm and takes science to a deeper and intangible level. Also, many laws of the universe can be seen as planned, mathematical, repetitive and seen as proof of divine creation, it just depends on how you view things. Things are not completely random either, sometimes they are random and other times they are symbiotic and other times they are very patterned. I don't think it can be proven that their is more after death or discounted that there is not either, until we reach that place the world will never know. As for myself, I can accept the possibility that there is nothing but darkness in the coffin waiting for me, I can think of way worse things that can happen to me. Personally though, I choose to keep an open mind to ALLl the possibilities, to seek truth in the world, the people of the world, and all it includes. I think that if the rabbit hole leads somewhere else, then I want to find it, I want to know what my un-used brain thinks, and that is the path I choose, and possibly, one day, with that mindset, I will break on through to the other side.
Edward Teach Human thought and perception are manifestations of the brain. This is easily proven by studies on brain damage. Thoughts, perceptions, cognitive abilities, emotions, sensations, personalities are all affected by tampering with the brain. Cut out a chunck of brain and see how well the mind holds up. An absolute cause and effect relationship has been established. The brain causes thoughts and perceptions. Physical laws in the universe in no way implies a creator or divine intelligence. A clock requires a creator, but if the clock falls from a ledge and breaks during an earthquake, the broken item that was once a clock did not require an intelligent creator. Items in the universe tend to follow physical laws, like the gravity that broke the clock, but the events in the universe not initiated by living things occur randomly. We see a beautiful sunset and say, "There must be a creator." This is an expression of ego thought limited by the tininess of human experience. It is our nature to extrapolate from our own life experiences. "my grandpa smoked three packs a day and lived to 102, therefore smoking is not unhealthy." My parents created me, most of the objects I use in daily life were created... therefore EVERYTHING must have a creator. However, our limited experiences as humans on Earth do not represent the big picture. Check out this site: http://scaleofuniverse.com/
Scale of Universe - Interactive Scale of the Universe Tool -
Edward Teach Metaphysics: "I don't know, therefore, ... magic." I'm using "magic" as meaning events that operate outside of the laws of nature. Metaphysical answers were once used to explain everything from human illness to weather. Science has gradually provided better answers and limited the areas assigned to metaphysics to a handful of issues (what happens after you die? what is infinity?). Since the advent of science, areas explained by metaphysics has been an ever shrinking bubble of ignorance. That said, science is often wrong. But, that is the beauty of science. It never says, "This is the way it is," only, "This is the best explanation with the information we have at this time." Which is why we constantly have to modify our ideas about a healthy diet! Because science modifies its position whenever opposing evidence weighs more heavily, and because science does everything it can to eliminate bias, the scientific mind is the ULTIMATE open mind. When evidence is contrary to your position and you change your position regardless of your feelings and intuitions, you are being open minded. When you maintain your position in spite of overwhelming contradictory evidence, you are being closed minded.
Edward Teach Trillions of organisms have lived and died on this planet. It is possible that every amoeba, earthworm, and human who died have been reabsorbed into some greater consciousness. I can't prove otherwise. Neither can I prove that we are cooked into a cosmic pumpkin pie. Or, that our essence is transmitted into space by the pyramids. Because I can imagine it, does not increase the likelihood that it is true. The human mind can conjure up any number of absurdities... and they ALL have the exact same complete absence of evidence. Science uses evidence and has a magnificent track record. Metaphysics uses feelings and intuition... and a very poor track record.
XXXXXXX You can say that it all came together by chance and that things were made and that is that. Things are awfully perfectly structured if that is how it is though wouldn't you say? Like you said though, everything starts with creating, creation, and a creator. And I never thought I would say this but, "size is not important (lol)". Of course I am referring to what we currently know about the scale of the universe. However it is possible that random chance drifted into this perfectly structured existence but it is possible it didn't also. In fact you may cut out a piece of cerebral cortex from an adult and you no longer have the same person, however, there have been children that have had half their cerebral cortex removed and they learn to use more of the other side of their brain to function and express themselves. Just because you remove a piece of brain does not mean you have remove the person, they very well may still be in there somewhere but their ability to function in this world has been limited. It too can be said, that there are many egocentric atheists that derive great pleasure in devouring other peoples beliefs in attempting to prove their own disbelief. Why not keep an open mind to more options and truly try to see their point of view? I would say that science has not given us any proof or disproof that there is or isn't more to life. If that were true, then wouldn't every scientist be either religious, spiritual, or atheist depending on that proof?. Also to say that atheism is the "way it is" would be a closed minded way and not the scientific way of exploration. That is only one of many great possibilities out there, why be limited? It could also be said that atheist too derive their belief system from fear. Maybe the belief that nothing happens after this life brings some solace, finality, and security.
Edward Teach I agree that I can never say that atheism is the way it is, and I will happily change my position if/when evidence supporting alternative views manifests. I did not come to atheism because I wanted to. I came to it after years of searching and studying and practicing Christianity, Buddhism, Taoism, and assorted New Age metaphysics. My commitment is to evidence and logic and this is what lead me to atheism. I am completely open to alternative views, but only if those views satisfy reason, NOT to satiate my intuition and desire for there to be "something else." I am atheist in spite of fear, desire, and social norms. I am atheist because, until proven otherwise 2+2=4... whether I like it or not. Because a thing is possible (that is, it can be imagined) does not in any way make it likely.
Edward Teach I would definitely prefer to continue existing. And, the thought of being completely removed from the opportunity to experience is horrifying to me. But, I can not accept rationalizations, myths, or other imaginings to placate myself. 97% of the Academy of Science are atheists.Being a skeptic means accepting assertions only when they are supported by evidence. My motivation for accepting an assertion that is not supported by evidence will always be my own bias. Thus far, all secrets to the Universe formerly hidden from human knowledge have been unveiled through science. Metaphysics, religion and intuitive knowledge have typically been an obstacle to such understanding. I don't think that accepting an assertion without evidence demonstrates an open mind. In fact, I think there is strong evidence that folks who have accepted ideas based on faith rather than reason, have done a lot of harm and actually define closed mindedness. If I accept a position based on faith, then reason and logic have been removed from the equation, so the position remains in tact no matter how objectively inaccurate it may be. That is what closed mindedness is.
Edward Teach BTW, enjoying the debate!
Edward Teach On the brain damage stuff, neuroscience explains the phenomena you cited... with no referral to metaphysics. Research on feral children has shown that without human contact, the human mind hardly develops at all. All of these unfortunates have the following traits in common: They don't talk. They don't walk upright. They don't have any sense of empathy. They eat, sleep, void, and masturbate. They are incapable of understanding the emotional lives of others.
XXXXXXXX I will get back to you soon but I have a party tonight that I am getting ready for. Also enjoying the debate. I will say that there is lots of research that states alternative points of view to the science listed. There are feral children that become normal with work for example. There is nothing wrong with not existing if that is what happens. Nothing is nothing, it doesn't hurt, you don't remember etc. There is nothing horrifying about it. What is more horrifying is an existence filled with pain and agony, for example loosing my child for me would be worse than the thought of feeling nothing and not existing and many other things I can imagine worse in life. It is only because you and I both have a good life that existence is a pleasure. So the pleasure of existence is just an illusion created by the mind which an atheist would believe is nothing more than a physical process if I understand correctly and the fear of not existing would be too.
Interactive version of the Birthday Paradox: http://betterexplained.com/articles/understanding-the-birthday-para... A poor understanding of probability lead...
Edward Teach l Due to the closing of developmental windows, the work done with feral children has yielded minimal change. There are critical periods for learning when, if the information is not programmed in, it is either impossible or extremely difficult to do it successfully at a later time. Young children easily absorb language concepts, once childhood has passed, learning language becomes increasingly difficult. We can relate to having difficulties as adults trying to learn a new language, but the underlying concepts of language are already well developed in us. Historically, an adult who has had no exposure to language concepts during childhood has never become fluent in any language. Likewise, the core understanding of empathy is easily developed in childhood, but demonstrating even the most basic levels of empathy has never been achieved by someone who was a true feral child. http://www2.brandonu.ca/hillman/feral
Occasionally throughout our history, civilized society has come across a "wild child" who has grown up in isolation with virtually no human contact. Many researchers believe that we're born with the principles of language, but if a first language isn't acquired by puberty it may be too late -- we j...
Edward Teach Hmmm, I would say that pleasure, fear, or any other state in the emotional spectrum are subjective experiences, but not illusions. I would not want to live a life without emotion. Emotion gives life color, and flavor, and texture. Emotion is just a poor instrument for discerning accurate answers to questions about the nature of things. Meaning in life is subjective... and beautiful. In this random, meaningless existence, we have the blank canvass onto which we paint our subjective experience. I can choose a pre-existing mythology, or I can come up with my own. The subjective nature of human existence is an opportunity to create! The trouble comes when I mistake subjective meaning for objective truth. Choosing to live by the moral code of Christianity, or the US Marines, or the Hindus is fine and good until one assumes that his/her chosen subjective philosophy is an objective truth sent down from on high. When this happens, the door to explore, discover, and create is slammed shut.
Feral (wild) Russian child Oxana Malaya, abandoned by (alcoholic) parents and reared by dogs
XXXXXXX When one also assumes that life is an objective, random, and meaningless blank canvass and take that as an absolute truth, it limits the possibility to truly explore subjective possibilities. "The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing"-Socrates
http://oasishd.ca/ - Water -- just a liquid or much more? Many researchers are convinced that water is capable of "memory" by storing information and retrievi...
XXXXXXX I do respect and appreciate how you see things, however I can also see things from a completely different perspective. If scientists one day can truly show and prove that they there is no divine reason or purpose to life and we are merely star dust then I will join the atheists, but there is nothing in life that suggests that. I think life suggests the contrary of randomness. Things are aligned in the universe with purpose and structure, this suggests that there is purpose, meaning, and structure to life. I don't know if that means there is a creator or a god but it suggests that something in the universe put structure and meaning here.
Edward Teach Hmmm.... The universe has physical properties, therefore human life has objective meaning? I don't really see how those two things have anything to do with one another. The universe behaves like the universe, period. As humans, we anthropomorphize. It is the byproduct of a giant brain. "Meaning" is a concept invented by us to meet a psychological need. Animals with smaller brains live and die with no thought of meaning. The physical laws that all life forms have in common are survival and propagation. No other "meaning" necessary... that is, unless you have a giant brain and find that the universe operates without concern for you and your needs. In Freud's "The Future of an Illusion," he explains that, as children, we are small, and ignorant, and vulnerable. Fortunately, we have parents who love us. They are wise, and powerful, and they understand the world in ways that we do not. When we become adults, we find ourselves in the same predicament. We are small, and ignorant, and vulnerable. So, we invent imaginary parents in the sky who love us, know all things, and are all powerful. We have a need for external meaning. In the absence of it, we contort things to our liking. Gravity is a measurable phenomenon external to me. The existence of external phenomena does not imply anything about the human need for meaning. It is not about us. Our nature is egocentric, so we connect dots that have nothing to do with one another and make it about us. The nature of most plants is to seek light. To the plant it might seem that the sun exists to give the plant what it needs. The Sun, on the other hand, goes about its business with no awareness of the plant. The nature of humans is to seek meaning. We assume the universe is here to provide us with meaning. Meanwhile, the Universe goes about its business with no awareness of humans.
Edward Teach There will never be proof that there is no god, just like there will never be proof that there are no talking marshmallow people who breathe helium. Should I believe in the marshmallow people until the proof comes in? The burden of proof is on he/she who makes the claim. If I say I have a hundred dollar bill in my pocket, the burden of proof is on me to show you. If you invent concepts like god or external meaning, then the burden of proof is on you. I would call a sense of "meaning," a feeling state, therefore, always subjective. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE subjective meaning, and the only proof needed is that I feel it. Without objective meaning, we are free to create tailor made meaning that works just for us. Birds need nests and humans need a sense of meaning. Let both species create what they need. If objective meaning were ever proven (and I can't imagine how it ever would), I would consider it constricting and dull.
Edward Teach Emoto is selling snake oil (or snake... uh... water crystals )... None of his results have ever been replicated and his methods do not meet basic standards for legitimate research. Here is a well researched review of his work http://is-masaru-emoto-for-real.com
When I first heard of Dr. Emoto’s amazing work with water crystals through his book “The Hidden Messages in Water” I was absolutely stunned. I then saw the movie “What the Bleep do we Know” and became thoroughly intrigued. I set off to conduct a research project in the chemistry department of Castle...
Edward Teach Excellent video on Oxana Malaya. Fascinating stuff! Though horribly neglected by being kept in a dog kennel for 5 years, she was recovered when she was 8 years old (still developmentally young enough to be trained). She also had regular, albeit minimal, human contact during her 5 years in the dog kennel.