/ Ignorance

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john arran 26 Feb 2020

Why is it that people in general are so reluctant to accept that they don't know stuff? Not stuff that is well catalogued but they just haven't learned it, but stuff that simply isn't known yet and perhaps may be unknowable. People seem to have a very strong urge to substitute something - anything - in place of knowledge, in order to mask an ignorance which often is perfectly reasonable and justified.

I was reminded of this by a recent thread, where somebody had decided that small falls were proportionally as bad as big ones for rope damage, just that you needed more of them in a particular proportion. AFAIK there is no data whatsoever to indicate this, but instead of accepting that, a theory was concocted and implemented, the implication apparently being that any answer must surely be better than no answer, especially if it sounded intuitively plausible.

But the question is a much broader one: We see odd-shaped lights in the sky and people create whole worlds of UFO explorers to explain them. We see life disappear from people as they die and people create whole heavens, hells and purgatories to explain where the 'life' may have 'gone' to.

Why do we find it so hard to accept justified ignorance?

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plyometrics 26 Feb 2020
In reply to john arran:

> Why do we find it so hard to accept justified ignorance?

I don’t know. 

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balmybaldwin 26 Feb 2020
In reply to john arran:

Fear of the unknown

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cb294 26 Feb 2020
In reply to john arran:

The answer is, as usual, evolution.

Attributing agency and finding an explanation for that weird noise at the cave entrance (or, later, what time of sowing makes our wheat grow better...) has been positively selected for ever we made a mental map of our surroundings. As collateral damage his explains our propensity for religiosity as well as our tendency to instinctively prefer a BS theory over no theory.

CB

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wintertree 26 Feb 2020
In reply to john arran:

> Why do we find it so hard to accept justified ignorance?

Because a proto-human species willing to accept ignorance and without a drive to understand the world would have died out long ago or at least not risen to the point it could debate these things instantly with people half a world away.

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john arran 26 Feb 2020
In reply to cb294:

> The answer is, as usual, evolution.

Do you know that, or have you just latched onto a plausible answer? ;-)

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john arran 26 Feb 2020
In reply to wintertree:

> Because a proto-human species willing to accept ignorance and without a drive to understand the world would have died out long ago or at least not risen to the point it could debate these things instantly with people half a world away.

I said nothing of a drive to understand the world; only of an inability to accept the limitations of that understanding.

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Baz P 26 Feb 2020
In reply to john arran:

You are assuming that there are limitations. You are better than this. 

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wintertree 26 Feb 2020
In reply to john arran:

> I said nothing of a drive to understand the world; only of an inability to accept the limitations of that understanding.

To me that’s the same thing.  Accepting limitations is giving up.  Quitting.  Loosing.  Being out evolved.  Huddling behind a rock giving in to hypothermia whilst someone else doesn’t accept that they’ll never learn how to make fire.  

I would say the problem is rather than people aren’t good at recognising when they hit and pass the limits of their own ability to understand and accurately extrapolate.  I myself have been told on this very forum that I don’t recognise the bounds of my own intellect for example...

Post edited at 09:48
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john arran 26 Feb 2020
In reply to wintertree:

> To me that’s the same thing.  Accepting limitations is giving up.  Quitting.  Loosing.  Being out evolved.  Huddling behind l a rock giving in to hypothermia whilst someone else doesn’t accept that they’ll never learn how to make fire.  

> I would say the problem is rather than people aren’t good at recognising when they hit and pass the limits of their own ability to understand and accurately extrapolate.  I myself have been told on this very forum that I don’t recognise the bounds of my own intellect for example...

Accepting limitations is certainly not giving up, although I agree it can be. We certainly can accept that the limits of current knowledge do not conclusively explain the initial creation of the universe, without giving up trying to further our knowledge as to how it happened.

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Baron Weasel 26 Feb 2020
In reply to john arran:

During English little Johnny was asked for the difference between ignorance and apathy, to which he replied 'I don't know and I don't care'. 

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Hardonicus 26 Feb 2020
In reply to john arran:

The age of experts is long passed. Hail the zeitgeist.

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muppetfilter 26 Feb 2020
In reply to john arran:

Look how far being gobby and confidently bullshi**ing can get you. Every level of management in every industry is peppered with aggressive ignorant individuals who got there by not knowing what they are doing loudly  with confidence and conviction.

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krikoman 26 Feb 2020
In reply to plyometrics:

> I don’t know. 


Why not?

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krikoman 26 Feb 2020
In reply to john arran:

It's an in-built response in a lot of people, I might well be one of them

A recent trip to the wall exemplifies this sort of self defence response,:

Me, "You've back clipped there mate"

Mate: "No I haven't!!"

Many of us don't like criticism, ignorance can be just another form of criticism for some people.

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john arran 26 Feb 2020
In reply to Baz P:

> You are assuming that there are limitations. You are better than this. 

Every known law of physics tells us that cows cannot jump over the moon. We accept that limitation.

The Many Worlds hypothesis in quantum mechanics is by definition unknowable. We accept this limitation.

Limitations, where justified, are necessary and useful.

One of my favourite quotes of all time is "Argue for your limitations and sure enough they're yours" (Richard Bach).

But it doesn't work the other way around; you cannot remove genuine limitations simply by refusing to accept they exist, any more than you can claim knowledge simply by making something up and believing in it.

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Anotherclimber 26 Feb 2020
In reply to john arran:

Bliss.

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Baz P 26 Feb 2020
In reply to john arran:

But I was taught from the age of 1 that the cow jumped over the moon. 

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Archy Styrigg 26 Feb 2020
In reply to john arran:

> One of my favourite quotes of all time is "Argue for your limitations and sure enough they're yours" (Richard Bach).

"A man's got to know his limitations." - Harry Callahan.

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SteveX 26 Feb 2020
In reply to john arran:

> We see life disappear from people as they die and people create whole heavens, hells and purgatories to explain where the 'life' may have 'gone' to.

Why are atheists or whatever, so evangelical? If someone wants to believe in something that gives them comfort, and crucially, does not bother anyone else with there beliefs, what concern is it of yours.

I have been very very near death more than once, and in position of knowing that I may die. Believing in something, kind of helps me, and you calling me ignorant, I think is a bit ignorant.

 

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Eric9Points 26 Feb 2020
In reply to john arran:

The example you gave may well have some merit to it actually. It sounds like you're describing Gerber's cumulative damage law. That sort of supposition is how engineers get to an understanding. Observe what's going on, see if it seems like something you already know about, do some tests and or calculations to see if you're on the right track.

As CB said earlier it's efficient way of gaining an understanding.

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Bob Kemp 26 Feb 2020
In reply to SteveX:

I don't think John is calling anyone ignorant. He's drawn attention to the way people feel a need to rationalise and come up with explanations for things that are currently unexplainable. In other words, people don't like feeling ignorant. There is an implied criticism of these kinds of explanations there but it's hardly a full-scale attack on religion.

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wercat 26 Feb 2020
In reply to Baz P:

and it's not hard if you  use perspective creatively ..

> But I was taught from the age of 1 that the cow jumped over the moon. 


At dawn or sunset given the right landscape it is quite easy to photograph someone jumping over the sun.

And who hasn't seen an airliner fly over the rising moon?

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Archy Styrigg 26 Feb 2020
In reply to wercat:

ET couldn't manage it, and he was an alien from outer space.
He only managed to get about half way up.

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Rob Exile Ward 26 Feb 2020
In reply to SteveX:

I've had a few near death experiences of my own, on a couple of occasions sufficiently in slow mo to have the opportunity to pray... And I couldn't. I knew the universe didn't care. Which is fine.

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Stichtplate 26 Feb 2020
In reply to SteveX:

> > 

> Why are atheists or whatever, so evangelical? If someone wants to believe in something that gives them comfort, and crucially, does not bother anyone else with there beliefs, what concern is it of yours.

Can you point me to any major religion that's managed to 'not bother anyone else with their beliefs'?

> I have been very very near death more than once, and in position of knowing that I may die. Believing in something, kind of helps me, and you calling me ignorant, I think is a bit ignorant.

I've also been near my own death a couple of times and other people's deaths lots of times. Rational problem solving and science stuff has been, quite literally, life saving. Sky Fairy stuff; about as much use as sucking my thumb.

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JLS 26 Feb 2020
In reply to john arran:

>”Why do we find it so hard to accept justified ignorance?“

I don’t know. Why do you ask?  

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HansStuttgart 26 Feb 2020
In reply to john arran:

Are we really anything at all without the stories we tell ourselves?

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SteveX 27 Feb 2020
In reply to Stichtplate:

> Can you point me to any major religion that's managed to 'not bother anyone else with their beliefs'?

No, to be honest, I do not really do religion, I just kind of believe there is something. As far as religions go its the people at the top who cause the problems, the people after power, just the same as in politics and business, those are who cause the problem, most people just want to live a reasonable life.

> I've also been near my own death a couple of times and other people's deaths lots of times. Rational problem solving and science stuff has been, quite literally, life saving. Sky Fairy stuff; about as much use as sucking my thumb.

Belief is a personal thing and the sky fairy phrase is quite rude, but when the doctors come to you and say we do not know what is causing this and we cannot keep bringing you round, belief helps, and if there is nothing, I will never know.

Something amusing is the number of people who come back from Nepal and India and other places with a more spiritual attitude, who comment on how happy the people are, even in the face of adversity. I consider this is because they draw contentment from the spiritual and the internal, rather than the secular and more external.

I became much much happier and content once I accepted that I will die. You may laugh at this, but I think a lot of people never truly accept this until the very very last moments before death, think about it.

Oh and the sky fairy stuff, if you do not believe, thats OK, but try not to be rude about other peoples beliefs if they are not hurting you

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DubyaJamesDubya 27 Feb 2020
In reply to SteveX:

> > 

> Why are atheists or whatever, so evangelical? If someone wants to believe in something that gives them comfort, and crucially, does not bother anyone else with there beliefs, what concern is it of yours.

> I have been very very near death more than once, and in position of knowing that I may die. Believing in something, kind of helps me, and you calling me ignorant, I think is a bit ignorant.

Why do you feel this is evangelical?

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summo 27 Feb 2020
In reply to SteveX:

> Oh and the sky fairy stuff, if you do not believe, thats OK, but try not to be rude about other peoples beliefs if they are not hurting you

I don't think anyone is being rude about your unproven supreme being etc... The problem is most religions either aren't now or haven't in the past existed without hurting someone. They claim to follow strict ethic codes, but many don't. 

Imagine if the Catholic church was a large sports club, many of the leaders, dead and some alive were found to be pedos committing horrendous acts on kids. But the leader says he forgives them and takes no action. Would anyone still attend said sports club? The tolerance the church shows to those within it who've committed horrible acts, whilst often having no tolerance for other religions is amazing. 

Yes folk might seem happy in the Asian slums... The dream of a better life after death is probably the only thing they have to look forward too, as they flog away, day after day. They are probably just thankful they are healthy enough to work so they don't starve. 

And Yes, I'll die, to date death has had a 100% success rate in our species(indeed all species). I'll just focus on making the best use of my time whilst I'm still alive. 

Post edited at 08:31
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Stichtplate 27 Feb 2020
In reply to SteveX:

> No, to be honest, I do not really do religion, I just kind of believe there is something. As far as religions go its the people at the top who cause the problems, the people after power, just the same as in politics and business, those are who cause the problem, most people just want to live a reasonable life.

I spent 3 years working for a family firm where the owners and most of the bosses all belonged to the same evangelical Christian church. Us non-believers were definitely looked down upon by the hierarchy despite the fact that their own ranks were riddled with affairs, fraud and bigotry to an extent I've never encountered in any other organisation.

> Belief is a personal thing and the sky fairy phrase is quite rude, but when the doctors come to you and say we do not know what is causing this and we cannot keep bringing you round, belief helps, and if there is nothing, I will never know.

Why do you find 'sky fairy' rude? There have been thousands of names for our supposed supernatural overlords and personally speaking, I find their various demands and strictures, from genital mutilation, to human sacrifice, to institutionalised homophobia and misogyny, far more offensive than a bit of humorous nomenclature.

> Something amusing is the number of people who come back from Nepal and India and other places with a more spiritual attitude, who comment on how happy the people are, even in the face of adversity. I consider this is because they draw contentment from the spiritual and the internal, rather than the secular and more external.

I came back from 2 months in India thanking my lucky stars that I'd been born in the West and pondering how the various forms of sclerotic social control had successfully kept so many people down for so long. I always found it funny how many of the tie dyed gap year tourists kept banging on about the spirituality of the place while oblivious to the families of professional beggars mutilating their own children, generation after generation. Another interesting fact about modern India; the country is home to the world's largest population of slaves.

> I became much much happier and content once I accepted that I will die. You may laugh at this, but I think a lot of people never truly accept this until the very very last moments before death, think about it.

Thanks for the slightly patronising 'think about', I have thanks, it's a fairly big part of my job.

> Oh and the sky fairy stuff, if you do not believe, thats OK, but try not to be rude about other peoples beliefs if they are not hurting you

What's so rude about sky fairy? Lots of different beliefs out there, with lots of names for God, am I not allowed my own preference?

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john arran 27 Feb 2020
In reply to summo:

>  to date death has had a 100% success rate in our species(indeed all species).

Not strictly true. I know lots of people who have thus far failed to die. ;-)

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summo 27 Feb 2020
In reply to john arran:

> >  to date death has had a 100% success rate in our species(indeed all species).

> Not strictly true. I know lots of people who have thus far failed to die. ;-)

We can revisit this thread in 120years? I'd bet you a fiver, but I doubt it'll buy you very much by then. 

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john arran 27 Feb 2020
In reply to SteveX:

> > We see life disappear from people as they die and people create whole heavens, hells and purgatories to explain where the 'life' may have 'gone' to.

> Why are atheists or whatever, so evangelical? If someone wants to believe in something that gives them comfort, and crucially, does not bother anyone else with there beliefs, what concern is it of yours.

I'm struggling to see anything evangelical in my post. Most religions differ greatly on their vision of an afterlife so it follows that, as a minimum, all but one such vision has been created by people. I'm simply asking why so many people in so many societies choose to create such fabrications.

> I have been very very near death more than once, and in position of knowing that I may die. Believing in something, kind of helps me

Which is actually a good answer to my question; a tangible benefit. The follow-up question would be: why do we feel reassured by believing in something that any reasoned critique (at least by statistical likelihood of being the 'correct' vision out of many, if not in and of itself) would conclude is highly unlikely to be true?

> and you calling me ignorant, I think is a bit ignorant.

May I suggest you reread my post less defensively? Believing in an afterlife is almost the opposite of ignorance, as it implies a knowledge that people like me don't have. I'm actually implying that (justified) ignorance is a positive thing worth embracing. So yes, in one sense I'm happy to be called ignorant, but not for the reason you appear to be inferring.

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SteveX 27 Feb 2020
In reply to Stichtplate:

> What's so rude about sky fairy? Lots of different beliefs out there, with lots of names for God, am I not allowed my own preference?

It's slighty patronising.

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SteveX 27 Feb 2020
In reply to john arran:

I am sorry, I do not follow your reasoned critique.

Everyone has or will die.

Not one has comeback*, and said there is or is not "something" else.

One day I will find out, I will post on UKC with a destination article, if the article does not appear, you woz right 🤔

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dunc56 27 Feb 2020
In reply to john arran:

There's maybe an undercurrent here that you are right and everyone else is wrong ? You think that is valid comment ? 

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Stichtplate 27 Feb 2020
In reply to SteveX:

> It's slighty patronising.

You think that’s patronising? Try this for size:

On a Facebook group that I’m a member of, an American (natch) paramedic posted how he’d found himself attending a dying patient. This clinician took the patients hand and started praying, at which point the patient said he was an atheist. The paramedic responded “that’s ok, I have faith enough for both of us”, or words similar.

I find this not only deeply patronising but also completely intrusive and unprofessional.

I’ve never seen anyone, unbidden, thrust their atheism on anyone but I’ve come across countless occasions of “I’ll pray for you”, “they’re in a better place” or “everything happens for a reason”, where someone has taken it upon themselves to impose their belief in ‘woo’ onto others.

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cb294 27 Feb 2020
In reply to john arran:

There was and old issue of The Journal of Irreproducible Results (the same lot that initiated the IgNoble prizes) that recommended a genetic route to immortality (if not for you then hopefully your offspring):

First step, to maximize your chances, mate with someone who is is not yet actually dead...

CB

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cb294 27 Feb 2020
In reply to summo:

> And Yes, I'll die, to date death has had a 100% success rate in our species(indeed all species).

Animals and plants, yes. Unicellular organisms like protozoans of fungi (yeasts) also have a naturally limited life span. Bacteria, hard to say, but it can be argued that they are essentially immortal (of course thy can be killed, but they do not die because they have done their three score and ten).

CB

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SteveX 27 Feb 2020
In reply to Stichtplate:

> You think that’s patronising? Try this for size:

> On a Facebook group that I’m a member of, an American (natch) 

Natch, why natch?

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Stichtplate 27 Feb 2020
In reply to SteveX:

> > 

> Natch, why natch?

Are you aware of American rates of Christian religious observance compared to the U.K.?

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Pefa 27 Feb 2020
In reply to john arran:

> I'm struggling to see anything evangelical in my post. Most religions differ greatly on their vision of an afterlife so it follows that, as a minimum, all but one such vision has been created by people. I'm simply asking why so many people in so many societies choose to create such fabrications.

Well we create a fabrication called matter yet no one has found it yet so why do you accept that fabrication? And are the various religions view of an afterlife or a god etc really that different? 

> Which is actually a good answer to my question; a tangible benefit. The follow-up question would be: why do we feel reassured by believing in something that any reasoned critique (at least by statistical likelihood of being the 'correct' vision out of many, if not in and of itself) would conclude is highly unlikely to be true?

How do account for near death experiences then? Look at the case of the neurosurgeon on the golf course that got zapped by lightning and ended up standing watching as people were giving his body cpr. 

> May I suggest you reread my post less defensively? Believing in an afterlife is almost the opposite of ignorance, as it implies a knowledge that people like me don't have. I'm actually implying that (justified) ignorance is a positive thing worth embracing. So yes, in one sense I'm happy to be called ignorant, but not for the reason you appear to be inferring.

Perhaps you are not open enough to experience what people who do experience the spiritual experience. And you just need to open up a bit. 

Post edited at 11:48
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john arran 27 Feb 2020
In reply to dunc56:

> There's maybe an undercurrent here that you are right and everyone else is wrong ? You think that is valid comment ? 

I'm finding it hard to see how being happy to admit when "I don't know" can be seen as being right or wrong.

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Sir Chasm 27 Feb 2020
In reply to Pefa:

> Well we create a fabrication called matter yet no one has found it yet so why do you accept that fabrication? And are the various religions view of an afterlife or a god etc really that different? 

Are you claiming there is no physical stuff?

> How do account for near death experiences then? Look at the case of the neurosurgeon on the golf that got zapped by lightning and ended up standing watching as people were giving his body cpr. 

He imagined it.

> Perhaps you are not open enough to experience what people who do experience the spiritual experience. 

Perhaps we all experience very similar experiences and some describe their experiences differently. 

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john arran 27 Feb 2020
In reply to Pefa:

> Well we create a fabrication called matter yet no one has found it yet so why do you accept that fabrication? And are the various religions view of an afterlife or a god etc really that different? 

Not sure what you're getting at regarding matter but scientific knowledge follows a long established process of hypothesis, practical confirmation and refinement. And yes, reincarnation on earth, purgatory and numerous waiting virgins are really quite different. You'd have to be trying pretty hard to unify them.

> How do account for near death experiences then? Look at the case of the neurosurgeon on the golf course that got zapped by lightning and ended up standing watching as people were giving his body cpr. 

> Perhaps you are not open enough to experience what people who do experience the spiritual experience. And you just need to open up a bit. 

The whole point of the thread is that I don't feel the need to account for everything!

I'd suggest it's more 'opened up' to accept ignorance and keep an open mind than to profess knowledge on the basis of extremely poorly understood phenomena.

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summo 27 Feb 2020
In reply to cb294:

> Animals and plants, yes. Unicellular organisms like protozoans of fungi (yeasts) also have a naturally limited life span. Bacteria, hard to say, but it can be argued that they are essentially immortal (of course thy can be killed, but they do not die because they have done their three score and ten).

Depends if you define differing bacteria as species. Because they can be killed, but do divide and multiply..  yeah it is possible that some on earth have always existed for as long as earth. Then you get into interstellar travel, life on meteorites etc.  Or could bacteria survive earth's destruction and be some how flung off into space. 

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Pefa 27 Feb 2020
In reply to john arran:

> Not sure what you're getting at regarding matter but scientific knowledge follows a long established process of hypothesis, practical confirmation and refinement. And yes, reincarnation on earth, purgatory and numerous waiting virgins are really quite different. You'd have to be trying pretty hard to unify them.

No one has found matter yet you believe in it.

Because the nature of a God/consciousness is so difficult to comprehend it is spoken of in metaphors and most are pretty similar if you look at what the enlightened beings from all religions say. The teachings of enlightened beings were embraced by various empires who then used them as moral underpinnings for violent imperialism which is the ego using the spiritual to enhance the ego which is the opposite of the spiritual. You know? 

> The whole point of the thread is that I don't feel the need to account for everything!

> I'd suggest it's more 'opened up' to accept ignorance and keep an open mind than to profess knowledge on the basis of extremely poorly understood phenomena.

Maybe you are saying we should remain ignorant when it comes to matters that are not materialist only and the reason is that they don't fit in with how you see the world, no? I mean you seem pretty antagonistic toward anything that is not materialist yet you are very happy to believe in matter, even when it has never been found. 

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cb294 27 Feb 2020
In reply to Pefa:

We CREATE matter? I would refute you thus (kicks stone) but it seems someone had that idea before.

Near death experiences, and especially out of body experiences, are easily recreated using drugs and, even more reproducibly and precisely by electrical stimulations of specific parts of the brain. It is not surprising that they can also occur by physiological malfunctions of the brain under extreme stress, hypoxia, ... .

That the guy saw himself laying prone from a virtual viewpoint just proves that what we experience visually is NOT the raw input from our eyes, but a computed, processed, modeled whole, where gaps are filled in by our brain as needed to generate a consistent image with predictive value. Close to death, and after getting fried, that processing simply failed and gave the wrong visual experience.

We know as much also from optical illusions, no need to invoke a soul floating over a corpse.

Full floating experiences are actually rare. Much more common is a narrowing of the visual field (the famous "tunnel towards light" illusion), which is rather common under hypoxia, e.g. when some guy chokes you out on the judo mat, as I have experienced myself.

CB

edit: extended 3rd para so it now hopefully makes sense

Post edited at 14:21
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Liamhutch89 27 Feb 2020
In reply to cb294:

> out of body experiences, are easily recreated using drugs

> Full floating experiences are actually rare.

There's plenty of Saturday night research confirming the first statement as accurate and the second as inaccurate.

Post edited at 15:15
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dunc56 27 Feb 2020
In reply to john arran:

> I'm finding it hard to see how being happy to admit when "I don't know" can be seen as being right or wrong.

I think I've got you mixed up with jkarran - sorry  

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johang 27 Feb 2020
In reply to Pefa:

> No one has found matter yet you believe in it.

Everybody, every day, "finds" matter. It is literally anything with rest mass. There was a long search for the Higgs boson which is responsible for matter to have mass. Maybe if you had made this comment pre-2012 it could have had some validity along the lines of "nobody has found the particle responsible for mass yet, but you accept the hypothesis that it exists with no proof..."

TL;DR of course we believe in mass. I am some and I am sitting on some right now.

As an aside if you want the scientifically correct, but potentially rude way of asking how much someone weighs, you should ask them how massive they are .

> Maybe you are saying we should remain ignorant when it comes to matters that are not materialist only and the reason is that they don't fit in with how you see the world, no? I mean you seem pretty antagonistic toward anything that is not materialist yet you are very happy to believe in matter, even when it has never been found.

I haven't read this view point in any of John's posts. Generally it looks as though he requires some form of verification before he accepts something as fact. I have a similar outlook. I am willing to accept that there are many things we don't know, but I classify them as beyond the limits of my knowledge. Is this not what the OP was about in the first place? Have the humility to understand and say when you don't know something.

-------------------------------------------------------

I've read quite a few responses along the lines of "you shouldn't accept limitations because otherwise we'll never advance".

No.

I agree that we (as a species) shouldn't place absolute limits on ourselves because of incomplete knowledge, but there has to be an acceptance of known unknowns and unknown unknowns. The search to understand these is how we progress, so I would say that knowing the limit of your knowledge, and then trying to extend that limit, is in fact the best way to progress.

----------------------------------------------------

To respond to the OP: not sure, probably something to do with being taught that being wrong is the biggest sin you could possibly commit. It takes a while to break the habit, but when you can say "I don't know, let me try and find out/do you know and could you explain x to me" I find life becomes very rewarding.

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cumbria mammoth 27 Feb 2020
In reply to Stichtplate:

> You think that’s patronising? Try this for size:

> On a Facebook group that I’m a member of, an American (natch) paramedic posted how he’d found himself attending a dying patient. This clinician took the patients hand and started praying, at which point the patient said he was an atheist. The paramedic responded “that’s ok, I have faith enough for both of us”, or words similar.

> I find this not only deeply patronising but also completely intrusive and unprofessional.

> I’ve never seen anyone, unbidden, thrust their atheism on anyone but I’ve come across countless occasions of “I’ll pray for you”, “they’re in a better place” or “everything happens for a reason”, where someone has taken it upon themselves to impose their belief in ‘woo’ onto others.

At least that paramedic is trying to give some compassion to someone who he might reasonably have (mis)judged wanted some. It's probably the social norm to offer a prayer at a time of crisis in parts of America whereas it wouldn't be here. 

It's hard to see you jumping in with the belittling term "sky fairy" as anything other than an attack. It's a signal of your supposed superiority so yes it was a bit arrogant and rude. To be fair that's the way of the internet but there's no point in protesting about being called rude when that's the way you came in. There's often a self congratulatory theme going on in these types of thread where people like to celebrate their own lack of curiosity as to whether there could be a spiritual aspect to the universe.

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john arran 27 Feb 2020
In reply to cumbria mammoth:

> There's often a self congratulatory theme going on in these types of thread where people like to celebrate their own lack of curiosity as to whether there could be a spiritual aspect to the universe.

Do you not think it possible that some people are indeed highly curious as to whether there could be a spiritual aspect to the universe, but fall short of believing in any particular spiritual explanation due to the evidence for it being somewhat short of compelling?

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Stichtplate 27 Feb 2020
In reply to cumbria mammoth:

> At least that paramedic is trying to give some compassion to someone who he might reasonably have (mis)judged wanted some. It's probably the social norm to offer a prayer at a time of crisis in parts of America whereas it wouldn't be here. 

The patient had called for a paramedic, not a priest, so it's a safe bet that what he wanted was a clinical intervention and not a divine one. Put it another way, you're scared that you might be dying and the clinician you've called to help you doesn't start working, he starts praying. How terrifying do you think that would be?

> It's hard to see you jumping in with the belittling term "sky fairy" as anything other than an attack. It's a signal of your supposed superiority so yes it was a bit arrogant and rude. To be fair that's the way of the internet but there's no point in protesting about being called rude when that's the way you came in. There's often a self congratulatory theme going on in these types of thread where people like to celebrate their own lack of curiosity as to whether there could be a spiritual aspect to the universe.

Right, so your Christian values have left you so thin skinned that some random on the internet referring to Zeus or Apollo or Jehovah or whatever as 'sky fairy' leaves you feeling deeply insulted. Note this wasn't a personal attack on anyone, just a mild bit of fun poking at a concept. You on the other hand reach deep into the well of love and understanding that your religious teachings have instilled in you and get very personal with the attacks. So I'm arrogant, rude, superior, self-congratulatory and incurious. 

Weirdly, unlike your kind self, I find myself entirely able to follow Jesus's advice and turn the other cheek.

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cumbria mammoth 27 Feb 2020
In reply to john arran:

> Do you not think it possible that some people are indeed highly curious as to whether there could be a spiritual aspect to the universe, but fall short of believing in any particular spiritual explanation due to the evidence for it being somewhat short of compelling?

Certainly but the people who throw the belittling term "sky fairy" around are not displaying any curiosity as the term would imply a type of God that I've never heard anybody who has thought about spirituality describe. We are not talking about a magical being in the sky, we are talking about the conscious force which created and sustains the entire universe within which all things are connected.

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cumbria mammoth 27 Feb 2020
In reply to Stichtplate:

> Right, so your Christian values have left you so thin skinned that some random on the internet referring to Zeus or Apollo or Jehovah or whatever as 'sky fairy' leaves you feeling deeply insulted. Note this wasn't a personal attack on anyone, just a mild bit of fun poking at a concept. You on the other hand reach deep into the well of love and understanding that your religious teachings have instilled in you and get very personal with the attacks. So I'm arrogant, rude, superior, self-congratulatory and incurious. 

> Weirdly, unlike your kind self, I find myself entirely able to follow Jesus's advice and turn the other cheek.

No one's deeply insulted, a bit rude and arrogant is all that has been said. I agree, it was mild fun poking but that is still fairly described as an attack (albeit a mild one). What's the difference between fun poking at a concept and fun poking at the person you are talking to who has just expressed their heartfelt belief in the concept you are poking fun at? You asked SteveX why he felt what you said was a bit rude, I'm just trying to explain.

> The patient had called for a paramedic, not a priest, so it's a safe bet that what he wanted was a clinical intervention and not a divine one. Put it another way, you're scared that you might be dying and the clinician you've called to help you doesn't start working, he starts praying. How terrifying do you think that would be?

You know the circumstances better than me so maybe you're correct. Maybe though the paramedic had done his job fully but had just had to deliver the awful news and had gone on to offer a prayer of solace in a culture where that would be the normal thing to do in such circumstances?

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Stichtplate 27 Feb 2020
In reply to cumbria mammoth:

> Certainly but the people who throw the belittling term "sky fairy" around are not displaying any curiosity as the term would imply a type of God that I've never heard anybody who has thought about spirituality describe.

Err, no. Using the term sky fairy doesn't imply a lack of curiosity. It implies that curiosity has resulted in different conclusions than your own. But then closed minded dogmatism has always been synonymous with the religiously credulous.

https://www.spectator.co.uk/2016/12/why-im-telling-my-son-about-the-sky-fairy/

https://www.patheos.com/blogs/atheology/2015/11/in-defense-of-the-christian-god-as-magic-sky-fairy/

>We are not talking about a magical being in the sky, we are talking about the conscious force which created and sustains the entire universe within which all things are connected.

Err, nah mate. That very much sounds like baseless 'woo' to my ears.

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Stichtplate 28 Feb 2020
In reply to cumbria mammoth:

> No one's deeply insulted, a bit rude and arrogant is all that has been said. I agree, it was mild fun poking but that is still fairly described as an attack (albeit a mild one). What's the difference between fun poking at a concept and fun poking at the person you are talking to who has just expressed their heartfelt belief in the concept you are poking fun at? You asked SteveX why he felt what you said was a bit rude, I'm just trying to explain.

OK, so the religious have a free pass to express their heartfelt beliefs but atheists have to button it about theirs? That doesn't seem very fair. 

If you want examples of stating your beliefs in a rude and hurtful way, the best place to look is places of worship. 

> You know the circumstances better than me so maybe you're correct. Maybe though the paramedic had done his job fully but had just had to deliver the awful news and had gone on to offer a prayer of solace in a culture where that would be the normal thing to do in such circumstances?

That's an awful lot of maybes there mate. Unsurprising really, after all, take away the maybes and religion hasn't got many places left to hide.

Edit: and the point stands. I made no personal attacks, but you did. Not very Christian now, is it.

Post edited at 00:10
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kamala 28 Feb 2020
In reply to cumbria mammoth:

> Maybe though the paramedic had done his job fully but had just had to deliver the awful news and had gone on to offer a prayer of solace in a culture where that would be the normal thing to do in such circumstances?

Starting to pray may be excused the way you suggest, but being told that your victim is an atheist and then insisting on continuing to pray is insensitive, officious and inexcusable, the action of someone who prefers their own psychological comfort to that of the person they're supposed to be helping.

Harsh? Maybe, but it seems to be common enough that someone needs to stand up for those who don't want to be force-fed prayer.

Something similar happened to my mother, too. She was seen by two palliative care doctors, one of whom was great and could trade appropriate philosophical quotes ("If I knew that tomorrow the world would fall to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree today" - Martin Luther, so a religious source but a sound philosophy).

The other one was technically competent but appalling in that she tried to force prayer on my mother. We children were by her side at the time and we could see it was absolutely not helpful.

As an aside, one reason my mother was not religious was because of the way the church she used to belong to treated her when she married a non-Christian - another fine example of religious tolerance (/sarcasm).

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cumbria mammoth 28 Feb 2020
In reply to Stichtplate:

> OK, so the religious have a free pass to express their heartfelt beliefs but atheists have to button it about theirs? That doesn't seem very fair. 

> If you want examples of stating your beliefs in a rude and hurtful way, the best place to look is places of worship. 

> That's an awful lot of maybes there mate. Unsurprising really, after all, take away the maybes and religion hasn't got many places left to hide.

> Edit: and the point stands. I made no personal attacks, but you did. Not very Christian now, is it.

You didn't start off by laying out your heartfelt beliefs, you started off by ridiculing someone else's in direct reply to that person. If that can't be described as a mild personal attack then I don't know what can?

Here's what the considered atheist in the link you provided says about use of the term "sky fairy".

"When it’s used, it can hardly be considered a good-faith conversation starter. Instead, it seems to function almost solely as a sort of shibboleth for (at least a subset of) atheists: an in-group code word that the person using doesn’t expect to be challenged on, by a faction that’s given it currency as a safe and familiar expression of shared ideology—one bound up in ridicule."

My comment to you was personal and can also be fairly seen as an attack. I hoped I had been careful enough to take any sting out of it but obviously this was unsuccessful so I'm sorry for that. It's difficult to say someone has been rude without it coming over as an attack but crucially you did ask and then you didn't seem to understand when you were told which is why I decided to become involved.

Anyway, there's a more interesting discussion on this thread than who has been rude to who so apologies for an unwelcome diversion.

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Irk the Purist 28 Feb 2020
In reply to johang:

No-one has directly observed the Higgs. The evidence for its existence is about as indirect as you can get and it famously, literally has a confidence interval attached to its existence.

So that's an odd example to choose for scientific certainty.

Carry on.

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Stichtplate 28 Feb 2020
In reply to cumbria mammoth:

> You didn't start off by laying out your heartfelt beliefs, you started off by ridiculing someone else's in direct reply to that person. If that can't be described as a mild personal attack then I don't know what can?

Fair(y) enough. You see the mere use of the phrase 'sky fairy' as a direct attack on a person's heartfelt beliefs worthy of a response characterising me as arrogant, rude, superior, self-congratulatory and incurious. I saw my use of 'sky fairy' as light hearted short hand for "I haven't got a lot of time for 'woo'". I find it hard to grasp how anybody sees this as faith shaking or even as a direct attack on them personally, but if they do, apologies, and I'd further advise them not to read any science more recent than the last 300 years.

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summo 28 Feb 2020
In reply to cumbria mammoth:

> Certainly but the people who throw the belittling term "sky fairy"

It's only belittling if you are a sky fairy and it's used negatively. If neither applies, then are you being offended on the behalf of sky fairies. 

What about fairies at the bottom of gardens? 

> we are talking about the conscious force which created and sustains the entire universe within which all things are connected.

Give me proven examples of;

This conscious force.

Sustaining the universe.

Is everything in the universe connected? They might follow the same laws of physics, but how are they connected? 

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DubyaJamesDubya 28 Feb 2020
In reply to summo:

> We can revisit this thread in 120years? I'd bet you a fiver, but I doubt it'll buy you very much by then. 

You are forgetting that we will soon be able to upload our consciousness to the web!

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captain paranoia 28 Feb 2020
In reply to Stichtplate:

> I find myself entirely able to follow Jesus's advice and turn the other cheek.

You'll be wanting this thread, mate...

https://www.ukhillwalking.com/forums/off_belay/all_good_things_bowel_scope_screening-716318

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Bob Bennett 28 Feb 2020
In reply to muppetfilter:

Including the current PM

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cumbria mammoth 28 Feb 2020
In reply to kamala:

> > Maybe though the paramedic had done his job fully but had just had to deliver the awful news and had gone on to offer a prayer of solace in a culture where that would be the normal thing to do in such circumstances?

> Starting to pray may be excused the way you suggest, but being told that your victim is an atheist and then insisting on continuing to pray is insensitive, officious and inexcusable, the action of someone who prefers their own psychological comfort to that of the person they're supposed to be helping.

> Harsh? Maybe, but it seems to be common enough that someone needs to stand up for those who don't want to be force-fed prayer.

> Something similar happened to my mother, too. She was seen by two palliative care doctors, one of whom was great and could trade appropriate philosophical quotes ("If I knew that tomorrow the world would fall to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree today" - Martin Luther, so a religious source but a sound philosophy).

> The other one was technically competent but appalling in that she tried to force prayer on my mother. We children were by her side at the time and we could see it was absolutely not helpful.

> As an aside, one reason my mother was not religious was because of the way the church she used to belong to treated her when she married a non-Christian - another fine example of religious tolerance (/sarcasm).

No, not harsh if that's the way it happened. Neither of us know the particular circumstances of that case.

Sorry to hear about your own bad experiences. Christians are flawed humans too.

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cumbria mammoth 28 Feb 2020
In reply to Stichtplate:

Can I clarify? A post can be rude but that doesn’t mean the person is rude in general. It’s just the post that came across as arrogant, rude, and superior. It was mild and I wouldn’t have felt it worthy of a mention except you had actually asked. We’ve all been rude and regretted it. I’m sure any mild offence caused was unintended.

I should have put more effort into my own post which I'm sure could have been done a lot less provocative. At the very least the self-congratulatory and incurious bit should have been separated out because that was to the thread in general as I have seen threads go that way before. That bit was not aimed at you so sorry again for that.

Post edited at 22:56
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Gordon Stainforth 28 Feb 2020
In reply to Bob Bennett:

> Including the current PM

I wish you would put "PM" in quotes, because he doesn't seem like a PM at all because of his absenteeism and lack of leadership (with both the flooding and corona virus crises). One rumour is that the reason we're seeing so little of him is that he's working to a publisher's deadline and he'll have to repay his advance if it's not met. This sounds very plausible to me.

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Stichtplate 28 Feb 2020
In reply to cumbria mammoth:

> Can I clarify? A post can be rude but that doesn’t mean the person is rude in general. It’s just the post that came across as arrogant, rude, and superior. It was mild and I wouldn’t have felt it worthy of a mention except you had actually asked. We’ve all been rude and regretted it. I’m sure any mild offence caused was unintended.

> I should have put more effort into my own post which I'm sure could have been done a lot less provocative. At the very least the self-congratulatory and incurious bit should have been separated out because that was to the thread in general as I have seen threads go that way before. That bit was not aimed at you so sorry again for that.

Cheers mate, no worries. So I've just got to work on the arrogant, rude and superior part.

Jeez, you Christians, you're just 100% peace, love and forgiveness. Or something.

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cumbria mammoth 28 Feb 2020
In reply to summo:

> It's only belittling if you are a sky fairy and it's used negatively. If neither applies, then are you being offended on the behalf of sky fairies. 

> What about fairies at the bottom of gardens? 

It’s belittling to the person you are ridiculing by characterising their belief as akin to belief in fairies at the bottom of gardens. Thinking that your own belief system is superior is one thing but starting off like that is not signalling to the person you are engaging in conversation that you are going to give their views a fair hearing.

Anyway, thanks for the opportunity to get on topic.

> Give me proven examples of;

> This conscious force.

> Sustaining the universe.

> Is everything in the universe connected? They might follow the same laws of physics, but how are they connected? 

I find it interesting that people who have had spiritual experiences, every holy teacher from all traditions, people who have had near death experiences, people who meditate, people who have taken certain psychoactive substances, typically report something along the lines an enlightenment experience of the conscious force which created and sustains the entire universe within which all things are connected. They also report that the ego completely vanishes, not in a soft sense whereby you choose to engage in good deeds for others (although this is often an outcome of the experience as the experience can be life changing), but in a more profound way whereby your sense of self is completely dissolved and there is a complete sense of unity with everything in the universe.

These spiritual experiences can be reproducible with training, and drugs can be used to simulate them which allows scientific investigation to take place into these experiences.

As for the laws of physics, relativity would suggest that space and time as we experience them are illusions. At the speed of light space itself collapses to zero so from the perspective of light itself all objects must be in some way connected as they are actually occupying the same space from that perspective.

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RomTheBear 28 Feb 2020
In reply to wintertree:

> To me that’s the same thing.  Accepting limitations is giving up.  Quitting.  Loosing.  Being out evolved.  Huddling behind a rock giving in to hypothermia whilst someone else doesn’t accept that they’ll never learn how to make fire.  

Well, that's the thing, you can know nothing about fire as a phenomenon but still, be able to make one and use it.

Us humans are very good at dealing with what we don't know and have been able to survive on this earth very well without knowing shit. There are many successful strategies we can use to deals with what we don't know.

The danger is when we think we know when we don't, this creates the potential for catastrophic mistakes.

Post edited at 23:30
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captain paranoia 28 Feb 2020
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

> I wish you would put "PM" in quotes, because he doesn't seem like a PM at all because of his absenteeism and lack of leadership

Well, he's not the leader, is he? That's the other PM; the Puppet Master...

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Gordon Stainforth 29 Feb 2020
In reply to captain paranoia:

Yup, sadly, scarcely believably, and terrifyingly.

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summo 29 Feb 2020
In reply to cumbria mammoth:

> I find it interesting that people who have had spiritual experiences, every holy teacher from all traditions, people who have had near death experiences, people who meditate, people who have taken certain psychoactive substances, typically report something along the lines an enlightenment experience of the conscious force which created and sustains the entire universe within which all things are connected. They also report the ego vanishes....

You are joking..  yoga gurus, mindfullness and so... they are worse than vegans for telling you all about it and themselves. They are imaginary patches over their own insecurities. 

> As for the laws of physics, relativity would suggest that space and time as we experience them are illusions. At the speed of light space itself collapses to zero so from the perspective of light itself all objects must be in some way be connected..

Do explain more?

Light reached earth, still is, from the largest ever recorded explosion in space 250million years ago. Why wasn't it instant? 

How does space collapse? Describe what or why it collapses? 

Post edited at 06:22
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petemeads 29 Feb 2020
In reply to summo:

Relativity: At the speed of light, time stops. From the photon's perspective, light got here instantly. And everywhere else. Distance is nothing to light as far as it is concerned. Similarly, all the electrons in the universe seem to know of each others states, instantly. Or so Brian Cox says...

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summo 29 Feb 2020
In reply to petemeads:

> Relativity: At the speed of light, time stops. From the photon's perspective, light got here instantly. And everywhere else. Distance is nothing to light as far as it is concerned. Similarly, all the electrons in the universe seem to know of each others states, instantly. Or so Brian Cox says...

Yes, everything is relative. But for us the light(anything in the EM spectrum) still took 250million years to travel that distance. It wasn't instant. This also doesn't in anyway mean all things in the universe are connected, which was CMs  claim. 

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cumbria mammoth 29 Feb 2020
In reply to summo:

It's not just that time stops (which is mind boggling enough in itself) but distance actually contracts to zero in the direction of motion from the perspective of an object moving at the speed of light. Infinite separation is reduced to zero in that perspective.

It doesn't make any difference what this looks like from our perspective, no frame of reference is more real than another. Time, space, and matter are fundamentaly not as we experience them to be. To me, our view of reality is an interpretation created by our animal brains to try to simplify the complexity of our world enough so that we  have advantages in life over competing animals.

That doesn't necessarily mean that spiritual experiences give us any truer experience but I do find it all very interesting. And back to the OP, this is why people fill in the blanks, because it is very interesting to speculate and the implications of many of the possibilities are profound.

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summo 29 Feb 2020
In reply to cumbria mammoth:

But none of that has anything to do with God/s, creator/s or sky fairies. The existence of relativity, even ignoring the fact we don't yet have a unifying theory, does nothing to prove the existence of any beings other than those we observe on earth.

Whilst it's easier to assign a religious solution to the laws of the universe, it's mind boggling vastness, or indeed the incredible smallness of individual particles, because it's complex isn't prove of anything else's existence either. It's just a simpler solution. 

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wercat 29 Feb 2020
In reply to captain paranoia:

PM in the Boris context means Puppet Mouthpiece

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wercat 29 Feb 2020
In reply to summo:

if there is anything in the idea of more dimensions than 4 (where the extra dimensions are still tiny) it means that everywhere in our 3d space is in fact almost one with everywhere else as regards distance in the tiny dimensions.  This could, for instance explain the "spooky action at a distance" of entangled particles, which in fact could be a single entity linked through those rolled up dimensions but looking far apart in our limited 3d view of space

The implications of that would be that we are all one in one place, a singularity except in our 3dimensions

Post edited at 11:30
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Timmd 29 Feb 2020
In reply to john arran:

> Accepting limitations is certainly not giving up, although I agree it can be. We certainly can accept that the limits of current knowledge do not conclusively explain the initial creation of the universe, without giving up trying to further our knowledge as to how it happened.

On the personal level, accepting limitations can be an act of wisdom or self awareness, so that one doesn't become burnt out and what have you.

Post edited at 15:16
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bouldery bits 29 Feb 2020
In reply to john arran:

You lot seem to know a lot about not knowing a lot.

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Rob Exile Ward 29 Feb 2020
In reply to bouldery bits:

That may because we think about it a lot.

I know I do... I never cease to wonder that the universe exists... What was there before?

But try as I might, I cannot believe in any sort of god that might be responsible, who at the same time is remotely interested in human affairs.

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Timmd 29 Feb 2020
In reply to Rob Exile Ward: I think I find there's less pressure involved in deciding (realising) I don't know a lot, to do with the meaning of life and what's going on generally. It frees up the mind space to realise what I actually do know almost.

Post edited at 19:00
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Archy Styrigg 29 Feb 2020
In reply to Timmd:

This being a climbing forum .........

I discovered my rock based limitations within a few of hours of taking it up.

Never made the front cover of On the Edge, but I'm still here.

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Trevers 01 Mar 2020
In reply to john arran:

It's worth remembering that scientists are just as susceptible to ignorance and superstition as everybody else. The history of science is riddled with examples of prominent scientists struggling to accept new theories which were incompatible with their preconceptions. The most famous example is perhaps Einstein himself, who spent much of his life trying to understand the consequences of the two advancements he is best remembered for, General Relativity and Quantum physics.

He realised that General Relativity implied that the Universe must either be in a state of expansion or contraction. The consensus at the time was that the Universe must exist in a steady state. Einstein introduced a Cosmological Constant into his equations to try to recover a static Universe, but thanks to Hubble we now know that the Universe is indeed expanding. In fact Einstein was doubly wrong - the static equilibrium his extra term produced is unstable to even tiny perturbations.

As for quantum physics, Einstein was disturbed by its philosophical implications, in particular the apparent violation of the principle of locality. Following many famous debates with Neils Bohr, he put forward the EPR paradox, which attempted to demonstrate the absurdity of quantum mechanics with the example of a quantum entangled pair of particles which have been separated by some distance. A measurement of one particle must immediately determine the state of the second, violating relativity. Due to reasons that I don't really understand, Einstein is now considered to have been wrong on this front too.

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Stichtplate 01 Mar 2020
In reply to Trevers:

> It's worth remembering that scientists are just as susceptible to ignorance and superstition as everybody else.

Not really. Scientists are actively involved in battling ignorance and dispelling superstition. It's almost part of the job description. They certainly aren't in the business of reinforcing ignorance and superstition, that seems to be the preserve of religion.

https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/tags/miracles

I mean, come on!

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Timmd 01 Mar 2020
In reply to Trevers:

> It's worth remembering that scientists are just as susceptible to ignorance and superstition as everybody else. The history of science is riddled with examples of prominent scientists struggling to accept new theories which were incompatible with their preconceptions...

This is an aspect of human nature which all of us share to varying degrees, Einstein being no exception. Where science is strong is in there being numerous voices which challenge one another about theories towards finding out what is true from the evidence around us, with theories changing as knowledge about the evidence does. Contrast science, where even Einstein being respected has is was/is has in certain aspects been found to be wrong by other scientists, with Catholicism (of which faith I'm lapsed/no longer follow) where everybody within that faith looks to the Pope to tell them how to be Catholics. 

Scientists treat dinosaur fossils as evidence of animals which were around a long time ago, while religions treat them as evidence of things put there by god to test their belief in him. Or, science looks at lesbians and homosexuals as being different kinds of sexual behaviour which are interesting (with regards to why people do what they do), while religions treat them as immoral even when nobody comes to any harm - with harm being the root (generally speaking) of all things we deem immoral, just because a few men with a dislike of sexual variety wrote that it is in a book approx 1500 years ago (or whenever those bits were added).  

Science is the approach in which theories are changed in the face of new information...

Post edited at 15:17
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Pefa 01 Mar 2020
In reply to Timmd:

When it comes to consciousness science hasn't a clue. I mean it's the most fundamental part of life and yet science wants to think consciousness is in the body when the opposite is true. But don't tell this to a scientist or they will go off their head and spit the dummy by inventing all manner of nonsensical theories about that whilst dismissing you and calling you names.

It is wrong to think there is no blind faith or dogmas in science and that they don't react in exactly the same way as many religious folks do when their beliefs or orthodoxies are challenged. Obviously I'm not talking about extremist religious reaction here just the ordinary human reactions of dismissing,sneering, isolating, smearing, ridiculing, name calling etc in a debating situation. 

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Timmd 01 Mar 2020
In reply to Pefa:

> When it comes to consciousness science hasn't a clue. I mean it's the most fundamental part of life and yet science wants to think consciousness is in the body when the opposite is true. But don't tell this to a scientist or they will go off their head and spit the dummy by inventing all manner of nonsensical theories about that whilst dismissing you and calling you names.

How do you know the opposite is true?

> It is wrong to think there is no blind faith or dogmas in science and that they don't react in exactly the same way as many religious folks do when their beliefs or orthodoxies are challenged. Obviously I'm not talking about extremist religious reaction here just the ordinary human reactions of dismissing,sneering, isolating, smearing, ridiculing, name calling etc in a debating situation. 

 Trevers: ''It's worth remembering that scientists are just as susceptible to ignorance and superstition as everybody else. The history of science is riddled with examples of prominent scientists struggling to accept new theories which were incompatible with their preconceptions...''

Myself ''This is an aspect of human nature which all of us share to varying degrees, Einstein being no exception. Where science is strong is in there being numerous voices which challenge one another about theories towards finding out what is true from the evidence around us, with theories changing as knowledge about the evidence does.''

I alluded to what you say, but I should probably clarify it with the the scientific approach can be summed up as  'What has been observed to be true, to the best of our understanding of the evidence, thus far'. 

Post edited at 15:35
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Stichtplate 01 Mar 2020
In reply to Pefa:

> When it comes to consciousness science hasn't a clue.

Maybe read up a bit on the current state of neuroscience with regard to observing brain function. In fact, you don't need to be that current since doctors have been well aware of how the physical structures of the brain shape consciousness and personality for over 150 years now.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1114479/

>I mean it's the most fundamental part of life and yet science wants to think consciousness is in the body when the opposite is true.

If you don't think consciousness is in the body try a little experiment. Drink 8 pints of bitter and see what effect it has on your level of consciousness.

Post edited at 16:08
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captain paranoia 01 Mar 2020
In reply to Pefa:

> I mean it's the most fundamental part of life and yet science wants to think consciousness is in the body when the opposite is true.

Really? Where exactly is it, then...?

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Sir Chasm 01 Mar 2020
In reply to Pefa:

> When it comes to consciousness science hasn't a clue. I mean it's the most fundamental part of life and yet science wants to think consciousness is in the body when the opposite is true. But don't tell this to a scientist or they will go off their head and spit the dummy by inventing all manner of nonsensical theories about that whilst dismissing you and calling you names.

If consciousness isn't in the body I wonder where it is, any ideas? Have you checked behind the door? 

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Trevers 01 Mar 2020
In reply to Stichtplate:

> Not really. Scientists are actively involved in battling ignorance and dispelling superstition. It's almost part of the job description. They certainly aren't in the business of reinforcing ignorance and superstition, that seems to be the preserve of religion.

I am a scientist (or I'm trying to be). I like those examples because it's useful to remind myself that being a scientist doesn't automatically mean I'm above silly human weaknesses.

The scientific method of course is about validation, skepticism and refinement. But scientists aren't always rigorous in their adherence to the method.

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Timmd 01 Mar 2020
In reply to Stichtplate:

> If you don't think consciousness is in the body try a little experiment. Drink 8 pints of bitter and see what effect it has on your level of consciousness.

In my struggles with insomnia and dodgy sleep patterns, I've found that there's a really quite tranquil mental state of being 'agreeably without thought', which is right before it feels like the brain is shutting down and you really need to sleep. 

I think she might mean that there's a collective consciousness out there in the ether or something, which we all tap into when we meditate or something like that?

Post edited at 20:38
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wintertree 01 Mar 2020
In reply to captain paranoia:

> Really? Where exactly is it, then...?

A very interesting question.  For all the neuroscientists claiming to have answers, and for all the hundreds of millions of dollars spent on giant supercomputer brain simulations, testable hypotheses remain thin on the ground - for now.

”Emergent” in this case is kind of a smokescreen for “well we see it but we don’t have a testable hypothesis yet.

All the mainstream theories I’ve seen on the brain have it as a - very complicated - piece of classical mechanics.  Gödel’s incompleteness theorem and free will are not compatible with such a machine.  Neuroscientists will dodge half of this by claiming that free will is an illusion again without a strongly testable hypothesis.  My take is that some form of nonclassical effect has to be involved, which might be truly random noise or something less probable from “non-trivial” quantum effects.  
 

My experience of trying to solve a difficult problem is that almost every time my attempts to solve it fail, they do train up some part of my subconscious to recognise the solution, then when my mind is somewhere totally different a solution pops up in my brain. If I haven’t spent a lot of time trying to solve it and so training my subconscious to recognise a solution, this doesn’t happen.  This kind of pattern is particularly strong with highly visual problems for me – for example linear maths in the guise of matrix operations.  My best interpretation is that I’m training the neural networks in me up for pattern recognition with apexes of a solution, then when my conscious isn’t feeding crap ideas in to them, something else is using randomness to explore the parameter space guided by feedback from the pattern recognition.  This works particularly well at 4 am when I’m asleep and wakes me up with a solution.

Until someone builds a machine that develop something recognisable as consciousness and that at least believes it self to have free will, I think it is wise to keep an open mind and not get ahead of the evidence…

Post edited at 20:37
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Stichtplate 01 Mar 2020
In reply to wintertree:

But Pefa wasn't making an argument about the nature of consciousness, which is certainly up for debate, she was making the case that consciousness is incorporeal. 

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wintertree 01 Mar 2020
In reply to Stichtplate:

> But Pefa wasn't making an argument about the nature of consciousness, which is certainly up for debate, she was making the case that consciousness is incorporeal. 

But until the nature of consciousness is proved by testable hypothesis we don’t actually know it’s corporeal.  It seems highly likely but it’s not settled.  

There’s some fascinating research emerging on a triple point effect in the membrane around ion channels, and how this is the lynch pin of general anaesthesia, also explaining pressure reversibility of some general anaesthetics.   This disabling of certain ion channels turns consciousness on and off like a switch, but doesn’t apparently disrupt or alter the consciousness.  I’ve a feeling this is the key to understanding it, not all the overly simplified energy burning computer based simulations that miss out lots of other signalling pathways with different topologies like diffusion signalling molecules and blood flow/energy drain.

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Timmd 01 Mar 2020
In reply to Stichtplate:

> Not really. Scientists are actively involved in battling ignorance and dispelling superstition. It's almost part of the job description. They certainly aren't in the business of reinforcing ignorance and superstition, that seems to be the preserve of religion.

> I mean, come on!

Yes, it's like the last Pope asking people to pray for rain, a relative said it almost sounded like something from the middle ages.

As George Carlin put it, if God has a plan, prayer won't help if it's for something outside his plan, and if it's for something that's a part of his plan, why would one need to pray anyway? 

Post edited at 22:26
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Sir Chasm 01 Mar 2020
In reply to wintertree:

That is fascinating, are you saying it supports the idea that consciousness resides outwith our bodies?

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cumbria mammoth 01 Mar 2020
In reply to summo:

> But none of that has anything to do with God/s, creator/s or sky fairies. The existence of relativity, even ignoring the fact we don't yet have a unifying theory, does nothing to prove the existence of any beings other than those we observe on earth.

> Whilst it's easier to assign a religious solution to the laws of the universe, it's mind boggling vastness, or indeed the incredible smallness of individual particles, because it's complex isn't prove of anything else's existence either. It's just a simpler solution. 

Agreed, that's pretty much what I said in my last paragraph. And, maybe there's a connection or maybe there isn't, but spiritual teachers have told us for millennia that our everyday existence is merely a shadow of a truer reality and now cosmology and particle physics is also telling us this.

The premise of discussions like this is why did people feel the need to invent God? Well they didn't, people have always had direct spiritual experiences which they characterise as an enlightenment. They experience a universal consciousness and a complete dissolution of the sense of self and a complete sense of unity with everything in the universe. They see this as a divine encounter.

Post edited at 22:34
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Sir Chasm 01 Mar 2020
In reply to cumbria mammoth:

> Agreed, that's pretty much what I said in my last paragraph. And, maybe there's a connection or maybe there isn't, but spiritual teachers have told us for millennia that our everyday existence is merely a shadow of a truer reality and now cosmology and particle physics is also telling us this.

> The premise of discussions like this is why did people feel the need to invent God? Well they didn't, people have always had direct spiritual experiences which they characterise as an enlightenment. They experience a universal consciousness and a complete dissolution of the sense of self and a complete sense of unity with everything in the universe. They see this as a divine encounter.

People (some people) may think they experience a universal consciousness. But because they think that doesn't mean they do, or that one exists.

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captain paranoia 01 Mar 2020
In reply to wintertree:

> Gödel’s incompleteness theorem and free will are not compatible with such a machine. 

In a UKC thread from October 2007, I suggested Godel was an argument for free will (vs determinism). And suggested an information-theoretic approach to consciousness. It's a shame the thread is no longer available (I do have an archived copy...).

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Stichtplate 01 Mar 2020
In reply to wintertree:

> But until the nature of consciousness is proved by testable hypothesis we don’t actually know it’s corporeal.  It seems highly likely but it’s not settled.  

I think we can put that one to bed. Considerable research into ESP, remote viewing, astral projection and all that related malarkey has been fairly conclusive. If you want to put something into someones consciousness you're going to have to engage their actual physical senses. Nobody every learnt German through the power of 'Woo'. Likewise we can now measure the physiological changes caused by psychological disorders like PTSD.

Lots of great kit out there for observing how the brain works hand in hand with the body. Zero evidence that consciousness occasionally buggers off on holiday and brings back any tangible souvenirs. 

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Stichtplate 01 Mar 2020
In reply to Sir Chasm:

> People (some people) may think they experience a universal consciousness. But because they think that doesn't mean they do, or that one exists.

It's a shame Pefa has bowed out. I was going to ask her how she feels about 'being one' with the entire Tory party

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wintertree 01 Mar 2020
In reply to Sir Chasm:

> That is fascinating, are you saying it supports the idea that consciousness resides outwith our bodies?

It certainly caught my mind that consciousness apparently disappears when external input to the brain is shut down.  It fits my fuzzy idea that the randomness in the world is what breaks the brain out of being a purely deterministic Newtonian system incapable of true creativity.

Mostly I think that general anaesthesia is going to be at the core of some testable hypothesis that gives us some answers.  To me it says that consciousness is surprisingly persistent for a supposedly emergent phenomenon.  Consciousness apparently retains no memory at all of being under anaesthesia unlike dreaming when asleep.  Off and on like a light - this implies to me a very clear separation of consciousness from key parts of the brain.  It’s very “unbiological” for something to just appear and disappear without a sliding scale.  If you fragment the brain by disrupting communication between the hemispheres you end up with separate consciousness on each half - ask a question in writing to one eye and only the associated hand can write an answer for example.  This says consciousness is divisible and so perhaps doesn’t need a critical mass of interconnected brain to “emerge”, so as the brain is balkanised by anaesthesia so should consciousness be.  But it goes off like a light.

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wintertree 01 Mar 2020
In reply to Stichtplate:

I’m going to disagree with you more on principle then out of my own judgement and belief...

> I think we can put that one to bed. Considerable research into ESP, remote viewing, astral projection and all that related malarkey has been fairly conclusive. If you want to put something into someones consciousness you're going to have to engage their actual physical senses.

Sure - but there are unknown unknowns and what ever experiment we try is rooted in known knowns.  So until we understand the basis of consciousness we can’t do a compelling experiment.  

> Lots of great kit out there for observing how the brain works hand in hand with the body. Zero evidence that consciousness occasionally buggers off on holiday and brings back any tangible souvenirs. 

There is evidence though.  If a brain is nothing but neural networks effectively doing computation it is bounded to that which is computable, but there have been leaps in mathematics that have been shown to be non compatible.  Which is perhaps a fancy way of saying “what about free will”. 

For sure we must be bounded by rational interpretation of evidence, but part of that evidence is the fact we don’t currently understand what the hell is going on and until we find out what lack of knowledge is preventing us from understanding, we shouldn’t close our minds.  Test everything and leave the woo behind, but remember we infer from a position of gross ignorance.

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Sir Chasm 01 Mar 2020
In reply to wintertree:

> It certainly caught my mind that consciousness apparently disappears when external input to the brain is shut down.  It fits my fuzzy idea that the randomness in the world is what breaks the brain out of being a purely deterministic Newtonian system incapable of true creativity.

> Mostly I think that general anaesthesia is going to be at the core of some testable hypothesis that gives us some answers.  To me it says that consciousness is surprisingly persistent for a supposedly emergent phenomenon.  Consciousness apparently retains no memory at all of being under anaesthesia unlike dreaming when asleep.  Off and on like a light - this implies to me a very clear separation of consciousness from key parts of the brain.  It’s very “unbiological” for something to just appear and disappear without a sliding scale.  If you fragment the brain by disrupting communication between the hemispheres you end up with separate consciousness on each half - ask a question in writing to one eye and only the associated hand can write an answer for example.  This says consciousness is divisible and so perhaps doesn’t need a critical mass of interconnected brain to “emerge”, so as the brain is balkanised by anaesthesia so should consciousness be.  But it goes off like a light.

And it sometimes (maybe most times) goes off like a light when we go to sleep (not that i think claiming that we have no consciousness under anaesthetic is credible). But, if you're proposing that consciousness resides outside the body and that it's something we tune in and out of, you're going to have to flesh that out a little. 

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Stichtplate 01 Mar 2020
In reply to cumbria mammoth:

> The premise of discussions like this is why did people feel the need to invent God? Well they didn't, people have always had direct spiritual experiences which they characterise as an enlightenment. They experience a universal consciousness and a complete dissolution of the sense of self and a complete sense of unity with everything in the universe. They see this as a divine encounter.

Some people have said they've had these experiences, quite crucially they haven't come back from 'complete unity with the universe' with anything useful. No cold fusion, no cure for cancer, no directions to recover the holy grail. You'd think if someone had achieved complete unity with everything the least they could manage would be next weekends lottery numbers.

I've chatted with two blokes who thought they were Jesus and another who was convinced that Donald Trump was making him watch porn. The brain's ability to fool us is a wonderful thing, but without evidence, believing the fantastical tales of others is just foolish.

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wintertree 01 Mar 2020
In reply to captain paranoia:

> > Gödel’s incompleteness theorem and free will are not compatible with such a machine. 

> In a UKC thread from October 2007, I suggested Godel was an argument for free will (vs determinism). And suggested an information-theoretic approach to consciousness. It's a shame the thread is no longer available (I do have an archived copy...).

Slightly before my UKC entrance unfortunately.  Recently I was teaching the (horrendously mis-named) concept of Maxwell’s displacement current; information theory provides (to me) a very satisfying way of arriving at the mathematical description of it and not for the first time brings me back to the question “is information fundamental?”.   The recent (and not so recent) concepts of entropic gravity fascinate me, the idea that gravity is a manifestation of the inherent thermodynamic interactions of information.  In particular, Verlinde’s presentation of thermodynamic entropic information manifesting not only as the Einstein field equations but modified to produce the effects commonly attributed to dark matter but without any free parameter tuning.  It all comes down to fundamental information.  It’s tempting to speculate that if spacetime is an emergent property of thermodynamic information, so is consciousness.  

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wintertree 01 Mar 2020
In reply to Sir Chasm:

>  But, if you're proposing that consciousness resides outside the body and that it's something we tune in and out of, you're going to have to flesh that out a little. 

Not that it resides outwith the body, but that whatever parts of the brain are responsible for it can only work fully with some source of true (non computed, non Newtonian) randomness, which normally sleets in through our senses in abundance.

> not that i think claiming that we have no consciousness under anaesthetic is credible

If you re read my post you’ll see that I said “ Consciousness apparently retains no memory at all of being under anaesthesia”.  I rather carefully did not claim that we have no consciousness under anaesthesia.

Post edited at 23:07
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Timmd 01 Mar 2020
In reply to cumbria mammoth:

> Agreed, that's pretty much what I said in my last paragraph. And, maybe there's a connection or maybe there isn't, but spiritual teachers have told us for millennia that our everyday existence is merely a shadow of a truer reality and now cosmology and particle physics is also telling us this.

This would appear to be true, but it remains to be seen whether the 'deeper reality' which people talk about experiencing while meditating, is the same as the hidden/truer/deeper reality which cosmology and particle physics uncovers. How would one go about proving that the subjective experiences of people who feel like they're being spiritual, no disrespect to them intended, are tallying with what particle physics and cosmology uncover about the nature of the universe?

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Sir Chasm 01 Mar 2020
In reply to wintertree:

> >  But, if you're proposing that consciousness resides outside the body and that it's something we tune in and out of, you're going to have to flesh that out a little. 

> Not that it resides outwith the body, but that whatever parts of the brain are responsible for it can only work with some source of true randomness, which normally sleets in through our senses in abundance.

Well, I don't think anyone is suggesting that our brains need no input, I don't know how that would work. So all you're saying is that the brain needs information gathered via our senses, well, yes, I agree (although I don't know what your sleets refers to). 

Post edited at 23:25
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Sir Chasm 01 Mar 2020
In reply to wintertree:

> If you re read my post you’ll see that I said “ Consciousness apparently retains no memory at all of being under anaesthesia”.  I rather carefully did not claim that we have no consciousness under anaesthesia.

I read it, but it doesn't really make any difference. 

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wintertree 01 Mar 2020
In reply to Sir Chasm:

> Well, I don't think anyone is suggesting that our brains need no input, I don't know how that would work. So all you're saying is that the brain needs information gathered via our senses, well, yes, I agree 

Not information - the antithesis of information.  I wonder if our brains need noise.  Information free randomness.  For the non computable we need something; true randomness can be shaped into something useful; the Nelder-Mead simplex is an example.  Genuine randomness that wasn’t computed is the loop hole in Godel.  Perhaps that’s what feeds our subconscious’ ability to solve the computationally unsolvable.  Or perhaps I’m just proxying the problem of free will on to random numbers.  Not a bad plan, it’s solved all sorts of problems for me over the years...

> although I don't know what you're sleets refers to

Think of a constant storm of information-feee noise slamming into your body like sleet in a storm.  It’s a turn of phrase but now I’m racking my mind to think where I picked it up from, it doesn’t seem common.

Post edited at 23:21
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wintertree 01 Mar 2020
In reply to Sir Chasm:

> I read it, but it doesn't really make any difference. 

It does.  I never claimed that consciousness goes away under anaesthesia, just that eg my consciousness now has no access to any thoughts or memories made by my consciousness when I was under anaesthesia 34 years ago.

I very much didn’t claim the thing you call “not credible”, I rather suspect from some studies of EEG data that consciousness is actually smashing off the walls during anaesthesia but doesn’t remember it.  Perhaps I misunderstood your post.

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Sir Chasm 01 Mar 2020
In reply to wintertree:

> Not information - the antithesis of information.  I wonder if our brains need noise.  Information free randomness.  For the non computable we need something; true randomness can be shaped into something useful; the Nelder-Mead simplex is an example.  Genuine randomness that wasn’t computed is the loop hole in Godel.  Perhaps that’s what feeds our subconscious’ ability to solve the computationally unsolvable.  Or perhaps I’m just proxying the problem of free will on to random numbers.  Not a bad plan, it’s solved all sorts of problems for me over the years...

What? What is the opposite of information? You're coming out with gibberish (it's still information, just useless). Just because something might be random doesn't mean it isn't information. 

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wintertree 01 Mar 2020
In reply to Sir Chasm:

> What? What is the opposite of information? You're coming out with gibberish (it's still information, just useless). Just because something might be random doesn't mean it isn't information. 

There is no information in randomness.  Randomness is the opposite of information.  Information is structure and locally reduced entropy.  Randomness has maximal entropy.  If it’s “useless”, what information does it contain?

The Shanon entropy is a measurable quantity that tells you how much information something holds.  Information is a measurable quantity.  It can be zero.

Post edited at 23:31
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Sir Chasm 01 Mar 2020
In reply to wintertree:

> There is no information in randomness.  Randomness is the opposite of information.  Information is structure and locally reduced entropy.  Randomness has maximal entropy.  If it’s “useless”, what information does it contain?

> The Shanon entropy is a measurable quantity that tells you how much information something holds.  Information is a measurable quantity.  It can be zero.

Rubbish. If I roll a die and it comes up 3 that's random, and it's still information. 

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wintertree 01 Mar 2020
In reply to Sir Chasm:

> Rubbish. If I roll a die and it comes up 3 that's random, and it's still information. 

It’s information because it reports on the result of an experiment you ran.  You have context for the number and taken together there is information.  That context is the probability distribution it is drawn from from which include it’s possible range of values.

If a total stranger just send you a message that read “3”, the only information it would contain is that they’re a total nutter with access to the postal system.


It’s also not random because - within any sane bounds - it results from a purely deterministic Newtonian mechanics system so it’s computable.

Post edited at 23:45
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Sir Chasm 01 Mar 2020
In reply to wintertree:

> It’s information because it reports on the result of an experiment you ran.  You have context for the number and taken together there is information.  That context is the probability distribution it is from which include it’s possible range of values. 

So it's information. 

> If a total stranger just send you a message that read “3”, the only information it would contain is that they’re a total nutter with access to the postal system. 

So, contrary to your assertion, it's still information. 

> It’s also not random because - within any sane bounds - it results from a purely deterministic Newtonian mechanics system so it’s computable.

Pick anything you want, come up with something you consider random, what you get will still be information. 

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wintertree 02 Mar 2020
In reply to Sir Chasm:

> Pick anything you want, come up with something you consider random, what you get will still be information. 

“Useless information” as you called it.   

To explain from a different angle, for a random unit that makes endless binary choices with 50/50 probabilities the some total of information the unit contains is it’s probability distribution.  More information doesn’t just appear out of thin air as the bitstream is emitted (*) The sum total of information an output stream from the unit contains is the probability distribution of the unit. The longer that stream becomes the less information is contained per-bit in that stream.  For even a short stream, the information carried per bit is tending to zero.  The only thing I can infer from the bitstream is the low information probability distribution of the unit producing it.  Yet I can use those random numbers to solve all sorts of problems, but the solution was never encoded as information in those numbers.  But there are classes of algorithm that can do things with randomness.  

Pedantically you are almost right - the only time when the entropy of randomness is really maximal and the information content is really zero is the heat death of the universe.

(*) You might claim you can interpret the zeros and ones in the random stream is information but you have to make choices and therefore bring information to do so, it wasn’t in that stream. 

Rather than argue this endlessly, you said earlier “. So all you're saying is that the brain needs information gathered via our senses,” - I didn’t say that at all and I think we’ve gone down a tangent trying to clarify.  I wondered without stating it as fact (“say”) if the presence of randomness - which you have termed “useless information” - is important.  When you said “information gathered via our senses” you took my “randomness” and expanded it to all information gathered which was a clearly preposterous extrapolation and one not at all compatible with what I wrote.

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Kean 02 Mar 2020
In reply to muppetfilter:

> Look how far being gobby and confidently bullshi**ing can get you. Every level of management in every industry is peppered with aggressive ignorant individuals who got there by not knowing what they are doing loudly  with confidence and conviction.

My favourite cognitive bias! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Kruger_effect

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summo 02 Mar 2020
In reply to cumbria mammoth:

> The premise of discussions like this is why did people feel the need to invent God? Well they didn't, people have always had direct spiritual experiences 

Well they did invent God. Name any other species on the planet that spends a proportion of its life worshipping, talking about, building structures etc..  for something entirely in their imagination? Are you suggesting the human species is special? 

I've had loads of spiritual experiences, usual mid crux above less than ideal gear, but I have no religious beliefs. 

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Sir Chasm 02 Mar 2020
In reply to wintertree:

> > Pick anything you want, come up with something you consider random, what you get will still be information. 

> “Useless information” as you called it.   

Yes, because it is of no use, not because it isn’t information. I could tell you that the sun is shining here, you don’t know where here is so that information is of no use to you, but the fact the sun is shining here is still information.

> To explain from a different angle, for a random unit that makes endless binary choices with 50/50 probabilities the some total of information the unit contains is it’s probability distribution.  More information doesn’t just appear out of thin air as the bitstream is emitted (*) The sum total of information an output stream from the unit contains is the probability distribution of the unit. The longer that stream becomes the less information is contained per-bit in that stream.  For even a short stream, the information carried per bit is tending to zero.  The only thing I can infer from the bitstream is the low information probability distribution of the unit producing it.  Yet I can use those random numbers to solve all sorts of problems, but the solution was never encoded as information in those numbers.  But there are classes of algorithm that can do things with randomness.  

> Pedantically you are almost right - the only time when the entropy of randomness is really maximal and the information content is really zero is the heat death of the universe.

Pedantically, you know that just because something is random does not mean it contains no information.

> (*) You might claim you can interpret the zeros and ones in the random stream is information but you have to make choices and therefore bring information to do so, it wasn’t in that stream. 

No, the stream is the information. How you interpret that information, or how you utilise that information is a step down the line.

> Rather than argue this endlessly, you said earlier “. So all you're saying is that the brain needs information gathered via our senses,” - I didn’t say that at all and I think we’ve gone down a tangent trying to clarify.  I wondered without stating it as fact (“say”) if the presence of randomness - which you have termed “useless information” - is important.  When you said “information gathered via our senses” you took my “randomness” and expanded it to all information gathered which was a clearly preposterous extrapolation and one not at all compatible with what I wrote.

I did say that. And in response you said “Not information - the antithesis of information.  I wonder if our brains need noise.  Information free randomness.”. But, as we’ve established, just because something is random doesn’t mean that it is free of information.

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jcw 02 Mar 2020
In reply to john arran:

JFK put it quite succinctly : "We enjoy the comfort of our opinions without the discomfort of thought."

Post edited at 09:13
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jcw 02 Mar 2020
In reply to jcw:

Correct the quote to read "Thé comfort  of opinions without..."

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DubyaJamesDubya 02 Mar 2020
In reply to Pefa:

> When it comes to consciousness science hasn't a clue. I mean it's the most fundamental part of life and yet science wants to think consciousness is in the body when the opposite is true. But don't tell this to a scientist or they will go off their head and spit the dummy by inventing all manner of nonsensical theories about that whilst dismissing you and calling you names.

You must be meeting some very odd scientists.

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Pefa 02 Mar 2020
In reply to Stichtplate:

> Maybe read up a bit on the current state of neuroscience with regard to observing brain function. In fact, you don't need to be that current since doctors have been well aware of how the physical structures of the brain shape consciousness and personality for over 150 years now.

To use a metaphor if you damage a part of a radio it is going to affect the output however the signal going to it/consciousness is still there. Same when you are dreaming or in deep sleep. Plenty of people have come out of medical situations where they are supposedly not conscious with great experiences. 

> >I mean it's the most fundamental part of life and yet science wants to think consciousness is in the body when the opposite is true.

> If you don't think consciousness is in the body try a little experiment. Drink 8 pints of bitter and see what effect it has on your level of consciousness.

What have you ever experienced that is not in consciousness? 

What have you ever experienced that is not in your body? 

How can dead stuff called ' matter' become conscious? 

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Pefa 02 Mar 2020
In reply to Sir Chasm:

> People (some people) may think they experience a universal consciousness. But because they think that doesn't mean they do, or that one exists.

They don't think it they experience it

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Pefa 02 Mar 2020
In reply to Sir Chasm:

> If consciousness isn't in the body I wonder where it is, any ideas? Have you checked behind the door? 

If consciousness is in the body then everything outside the body is not in consciousness. So what do you know of that is outside of your consciousness or could be outside of your consciousness? 

Post edited at 17:59
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Pefa 02 Mar 2020
In reply to Stichtplate:

> But Pefa wasn't making an argument about the nature of consciousness, which is certainly up for debate, she was making the case that consciousness is incorporeal. 

Which is the same thing. Can you touch consciousness? If it is matter then what is it? 

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Gordon Stainforth 02 Mar 2020
In reply to Pefa:

Sorry, what just do they experience? Telling us that they 'think they experience a universal consciousness' is just not good enough. It means sweet FA. It's just the sort of crap I might say if I were cornered and pissed at the same time, at a party.

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Pefa 02 Mar 2020
In reply to DubyaJamesDubya:

> You must be meeting some very odd scientists.

I don't meet any I'm referring to people who question the materialist orthodoxy in the scientific community who do get a lot of slagging off. As do ordinary folk who are usually from a spiritual /non-materialist view in ordinary debates with ardent materialists who get just as touchy, wound up and defensive as anyone else when their beliefs are questioned.

I should know as I was one of those militant atheists for years who gave all people who believed in God a really hard time online. That was my whole point. 

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john arran 02 Mar 2020
In reply to Pefa:

> I'm referring to people who question the materialist orthodoxy in the scientific community who do get a lot of slagging off.

It's one thing to "question the materialist orthodoxy"; it's quite another to claim, with no substantive evidence whatsoever, that it's wrong.

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Pefa 02 Mar 2020
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

You don't think you experience it you know you experience it. 

If you experience something directly then you don't think it happened do you? You know it happened. 

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Pefa 02 Mar 2020
In reply to john arran:

> It's one thing to "question the materialist orthodoxy"; it's quite another to claim, with no substantive evidence whatsoever, that it's wrong.

So what is consciousness? How can dead ' matter' become conscious? What have you experienced that is outside of consciousness? Science doesn't ask these simple questions because it cannot answer them and it shakes the whole materialist foundations to the core. 

Post edited at 17:56
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Stichtplate 02 Mar 2020
In reply to Pefa:

> Which is the same thing. Can you touch consciousness? If it is matter then what is it? 

Yep, you can certainly 'touch consciousness'. Many years ago I touched someone quite forcefully causing them to lose consciousness. More recently, I've several times pumped glucose into peoples bloodstream and brought them back to consciousness. I've seen people die and lose consciousness forever as a result of physiological damage. I've even seen a nice middle class lady swear like a sailor and become (by her husband's estimation) unconscionably aggressive, after suffering concussion following a fall from her horse. 

All perfectly natural and explicable. I've never noticed any aspect of consciousness that's made me go 'Wooo'.

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Timmd 02 Mar 2020
In reply to Pefa:

> You don't think you experience it you know you experience it. 

> If you experience something directly then you don't think it happened do you? You know it happened. 

To be fair, when in a dark place during my teens, I had paranoia that I was being followed or monitored by people driving taxis, which was obvious untrue, but at the time it felt real enough. 

Or, at Spanish classes, I used to ponder that while it was one class happening, everybody would go home with their own individual perception of what had taken place, and of the teacher himself, he'd be the same person but filtered differently through each person's personality and psychological make up (we'd have different perceptions of other members too). They could individually say that he was an 'X kind of person', and know that to be so, and while they'd be valid in their opinion, it'd be inherently subjective too, and wouldn't be the entire picture of who he was in that scenario.

We can't 'know' that we're on a spiritual level of shared consciousness outside of our bodies, we can only 'feel like' that's what is happening. Our senses and minds are not infallible. Anything which gives somebody a sense of peace and a quiet mind isn't to be knocked, however - absolutely not. 

Post edited at 18:14
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Pefa 02 Mar 2020
In reply to Timmd:

> We can't 'know' that we're on a spiritual level of shared consciousness outside of our bodies, we can only 'feel like' that's what is happening.

How do you know? 

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summo 02 Mar 2020
In reply to Pefa:

> You don't think you experience it you know you experience it. 

> If you experience something directly then you don't think it happened do you? You know it happened. 

Nope. Everything could be entirely in our mind!? Dreams are as real at the time, as the real world. 

Perhaps you, we, everyone are just in some massive simulation of sims meets the matrix.. Everything you think, feel and do is really what a teenage geek decides for their character, or AI..

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Stichtplate 02 Mar 2020
In reply to Pefa:

> How do you know? 

Experience? Knowledge? Recognition of mental illness, self deception and common place delusions?

You're coming across like an impressionable sixth former whose just discovered shrooms, Carlos Castaneda and the grateful dead's entire back catalogue

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Pefa 02 Mar 2020
In reply to summo:

> Nope. Everything could be entirely in our mind!? Dreams are as real at the time, as the real world. 

> Perhaps you, we, everyone are just in some massive simulation of sims meets the matrix.. Everything you think, feel and do is really what a teenage geek decides for their character, or AI..

And yet you want to slag people off who believe in a big consciousness or God? 😉

Post edited at 18:40
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Pefa 02 Mar 2020
In reply to Stichtplate:

> Experience? Knowledge? Recognition of mental illness, self deception and common place delusions?

That's muddled, what have you been taking 😋 it's the wrong stuff. 

> You're coming across like an impressionable sixth former whose just discovered shrooms, Carlos Castaneda and the grateful dead's entire back catalogue

I served my apprenticeship on the teachings of Don Juan and those wee nipple capped Autumn wonders but imho the GD were not very talented. 

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john arran 02 Mar 2020
In reply to Pefa:

> So what is consciousness? How can dead ' matter' become conscious? What have you experienced that is outside of consciousness? Science doesn't ask these simple questions because it cannot answer them and it shakes the whole materialist foundations to the core. 

I'll take this opportunity to remind you of the OP. I don't feel it necessary to believe I have an explanation. I'm content with not knowing, if the alternative is being convinced of something without genuine and good reason to do so.

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summo 02 Mar 2020
In reply to Pefa:

> And yet you want to slag people off who believe in a big consciousness or God? 😉

To date, there is absolutely zero evidence for either. But it's not impossible, we have no idea what lies beyond the universe, happened before the big bang etc.. it doesn't matter if you are Stephen hawking, the pope or Brian Cox..  it's all guesswork and speculation, with zero information to go on. 

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Stichtplate 02 Mar 2020
In reply to Pefa:

> I served my apprenticeship on the teachings of Don Juan and those wee nipple capped Autumn wonders but imho the GD were not very talented. 

That's three things we have in common then

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Pefa 02 Mar 2020
In reply to john arran:

> I'll take this opportunity to remind you of the OP. I don't feel it necessary to believe I have an explanation. I'm content with not knowing, if the alternative is being convinced of something without genuine and good reason to do so.

Sorry constable, I'll move along now. 

🙂

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john arran 02 Mar 2020
In reply to Pefa:

You may make light of it, but it was a real point I was making.

You asserted a position based apparently on gut instinct, or 'feeling', and apparently it was then up to others to explain convincingly, with evidence, why your assertion should not be  relied upon as representing any kind of objective reality. When actually it should be up to you to be sceptical as to how such feelings should or even could be accepted as universal fact without any plausible explanation as to where and how such a collective consciousness may exist and be communicated.

Surely, if you believe the evidence for personal, brain-based consciousness is less than convincing, the logical step would be to suspend any firm belief until such time as there is firmer evidence to support it; not to jump on any intangible hypothesis simply because it fits with your 'alternative' preference in how you like to be viewed?

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In reply to john arran:

John, have you been on Mars for the last 3 years...? 
 

jumping on any intangible hypothesis simply because it fits with your alternative preference isn’t just the philosophy of the moment, it’s pretty much government policy these days... 

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cumbria mammoth 02 Mar 2020
In reply to Sir Chasm:

> People (some people) may think they experience a universal consciousness. But because they think that doesn't mean they do, or that one exists.

How many on here have performed the double slit experiment and personally verified the results? We accept the reports of the experiences of people who have studied and had their findings confirmed by their peers. Likewise, many people have devoted their lives to the spiritual experience and the reports of their findings are confirmed by their peers. It's a reproducible experience available to anybody who wants to verify it.

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cumbria mammoth 02 Mar 2020
In reply to Stichtplate:

> Some people have said they've had these experiences, quite crucially they haven't come back from 'complete unity with the universe' with anything useful. No cold fusion, no cure for cancer, no directions to recover the holy grail. You'd think if someone had achieved complete unity with everything the least they could manage would be next weekends lottery numbers.

> I've chatted with two blokes who thought they were Jesus and another who was convinced that Donald Trump was making him watch porn. The brain's ability to fool us is a wonderful thing, but without evidence, believing the fantastical tales of others is just foolish.

Experiencing a connection to everything doesn't mean you attain all knowledge of everything and yes, it is foolish to believe fantastical tales so it comes down to the credibility of the people who are reporting it and ultimately it is an experience you can have for yourself.

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Stichtplate 02 Mar 2020
In reply to cumbria mammoth:

> Likewise, many people have devoted their lives to the spiritual experience and the reports of their findings are confirmed by their peers. It's a reproducible experience available to anybody who wants to verify it.

I could smack myself in the head and magically see stars, or I could do a couple of lines of coke and magically turn myself into the most interesting person in the room. These are reproducible experiences available to anybody who wants to verify them.

They're still bollocks though cos nobody is seeing actual stars and cocaine never made anyone interesting.

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cumbria mammoth 02 Mar 2020
In reply to Timmd:

> This would appear to be true, but it remains to be seen whether the 'deeper reality' which people talk about experiencing while meditating, is the same as the hidden/truer/deeper reality which cosmology and particle physics uncovers. How would one go about proving that the subjective experiences of people who feel like they're being spiritual, no disrespect to them intended, are tallying with what particle physics and cosmology uncover about the nature of the universe?

I don't know how you would test that hypothesis, there is a long way to go before anyone gets to that stage I think. The interesting thing is that the spiritual experience is reproducible and can be synthesised so it is possible to study scientifically. The first step I think is to verify what is common to all people who have the experience, and what varies, and to describe how this manifests itself in the brain?

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Stichtplate 02 Mar 2020
In reply to cumbria mammoth:

> Experiencing a connection to everything doesn't mean you attain all knowledge of everything and yes, it is foolish to believe fantastical tales so it comes down to the credibility of the people who are reporting it and ultimately it is an experience you can have for yourself.

Go on then, I'll give it a go. How do you suggest I go about having a connection to everything? 

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cumbria mammoth 02 Mar 2020
In reply to summo:

> Well they did invent God. Name any other species on the planet that spends a proportion of its life worshipping, talking about, building structures etc..  for something entirely in their imagination? Are you suggesting the human species is special? 

> I've had loads of spiritual experiences, usual mid crux above less than ideal gear, but I have no religious beliefs. 

I'm not suggesting that at all actually. How do you know that animals don't go about their lives giving praise to God? I think that this understanding of a connection to all things is the natural state but that as we go about our lives we humans train our ego and as the ego takes over it removes us us further and further from the spiritual life.

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Stichtplate 02 Mar 2020
In reply to cumbria mammoth:

> I'm not suggesting that at all actually. How do you know that animals don't go about their lives giving praise to God?

You've obviously never cohabited with a cat

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In reply to cumbria mammoth:

> I'm not suggesting that at all actually. How do you know that animals don't go about their lives giving praise to God? 

 

and how do you know there isn’t a teapot orbiting the sun somewhere out past Neptune?

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Sir Chasm 02 Mar 2020
In reply to cumbria mammoth:

> How many on here have performed the double slit experiment and personally verified the results? We accept the reports of the experiences of people who have studied and had their findings confirmed by their peers. Likewise, many people have devoted their lives to the spiritual experience and the reports of their findings are confirmed by their peers. It's a reproducible experience available to anybody who wants to verify it.

I didn't know that the double slit experiment only worked if you screw your eyes up tight and really, really believe. 

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Gordon Stainforth 02 Mar 2020
In reply to Sir Chasm:

OMG, I haven't chuckled so much for a long time.

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Pefa 03 Mar 2020
In reply to Stichtplate:

> > Likewise, many people have devoted their lives to the spiritual experience and the reports of their findings are confirmed by their peers. It's a reproducible experience available to anybody who wants to verify it.

> I could smack myself in the head and magically see stars, or I could do a couple of lines of coke and magically turn myself into the most interesting person in the room. These are reproducible experiences available to anybody who wants to verify them.

> They're still bollocks though cos nobody is seeing actual stars and cocaine never made anyone interesting.

I once jumped down 9 steps in an old close I lived in when I was wee and hit my head on a bit of the slopey roof that jutted out and I can confirm I seen stars when I hit it. Just like out of a Tom and Jerry cartoon. 

And that gabby sherbet can make the shyest, quietest introvert look the life-and-soul of the party, sharp, confident and witty when in social situations to other people who don't know anything about it. Just look at all the TV and movie stars etc who hammer it as it makes them look extrovert, sharp, confident and witty. No? 

Post edited at 01:21
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Pefa 03 Mar 2020
In reply to Sir Chasm:

> I didn't know that the double slit experiment only worked if you screw your eyes up tight and really, really believe. 

Is that what you do when someone tells you that things exist outside consciousness? 

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DubyaJamesDubya 03 Mar 2020
In reply to Pefa:

> You don't think you experience it you know you experience it. 

> If you experience something directly then you don't think it happened do you? You know it happened. 

A police officer may 'know' someone is guilty and sometimes decide that the evidence available needs to match their beliefs. A stalker may 'know' that a person loves them so deep in their soul that it drives them to do strange things in spite of all evidence to the contrary. How is that any different to what you describe?

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DubyaJamesDubya 03 Mar 2020
In reply to Stichtplate:

> Experience? Knowledge? Recognition of mental illness, self deception and common place delusions?

> You're coming across like an impressionable sixth former whose just discovered shrooms, Carlos Castaneda and the grateful dead's entire back catalogue

You may be being a bit harsh on the Grateful Dead!

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DubyaJamesDubya 03 Mar 2020
In reply to Pefa:

> I once jumped down 9 steps in an old close I lived in when I was wee and hit my head on a bit of the slopey roof that jutted out and I can confirm I seen stars when I hit it. Just like out of a Tom and Jerry cartoon. 

> And that gabby sherbet can make the shyest, quietest introvert look the life-and-soul of the party, sharp, confident and witty when in social situations to other people who don't know anything about it. Just look at all the TV and movie stars etc who hammer it as it makes them look extrovert, sharp, confident and witty. No? 

And, presumably, you are happy to assign those experiences to the physical and chemical. So why so certain that other types of experiences are due to the supernatural?

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summo 03 Mar 2020
In reply to cumbria mammoth:

> we humans train our ego and as the ego takes over it removes us us further and further from the spiritual life.

It's this ego that creates religion, that makes us think that some how in the vastness of time and the universe we are of some relevance or importance in the bigger scheme of things. 

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Sir Chasm 03 Mar 2020
In reply to Pefa:

> Is that what you do when someone tells you that things exist outside consciousness? 

Maybe. I’ve got a kitchen table at home, when I’m conscious the table is there, when I’m unconscious I don’t know if the table is there, but when I’m conscious again the table magically reappears. Now, maybe the table does disappear when I’m unconscious, or maybe the table is there all the time and exists outwith my consciousness.

But as you don’t think matter exists I suppose there is no table. But if there is no table all that crap on it is going to fall on the floor.

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Duncan Bourne 03 Mar 2020
In reply to john arran:

I have observed that the same people on my newsfeed who post stupid Brexit memes and anti-labour memes are the same ones posting anti-Greta and climate change memes and name and shame memes of alleged thugs they've never met.

At the opposite end of the spectrum you have Saint Corbyn and if you are not vegan you are a murderer memes.

Are people completly incapable of fact checking?

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Timmd 03 Mar 2020
In reply to Duncan Bourne: You too?  That's a pretty good summation of the polar ends of my feed. 

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Pefa 03 Mar 2020
In reply to DubyaJamesDubya:

> A police officer may 'know' someone is guilty and sometimes decide that the evidence available needs to match their beliefs. A stalker may 'know' that a person loves them so deep in their soul that it drives them to do strange things in spite of all evidence to the contrary. How is that any different to what you describe?

A scientist, an entire global scientific community and an entire population of a few billion who have been taught a prevailing materialist orthodoxy through a few centuries may think they know beyond question and beyond every doubt that matter exists outside consciousness because from a young age they are told it does when in reality if they are asked what matter exists outside consciousness they cannot - through their own direct experience - answer and thereby confirm a preconceived faith ingrained in them by a scientific orthodoxy from a very early age that it unquestionably does. 

Post edited at 17:03
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Pefa 03 Mar 2020
In reply to DubyaJamesDubya:

> And, presumably, you are happy to assign those experiences to the physical and chemical. So why so certain that other types of experiences are due to the supernatural?

Is consciousness supernatural? Is it beyond science and nature?Or is it that science orthodoxy wants to make the most natural thing we know and make it look unnatural to fit a world view that is at odds with our reality? Surely consciousness is what we can confirm before we can confirm anything else. Am I aware of being? Its the most fundamental provable part of life as it is primary before all, an ontological primative and as such should be the starting point around which everything is built because as Descarte stated its the only thing we can be sure of. 

Post edited at 16:57
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cb294 03 Mar 2020
In reply to Pefa:

AAARGGGHHH!

There is a RWOT, and you, like everybody else, act like you subscribe to this fact it all the time. You do not walk onto a busy road just because you believe that it cannot be proven that the cars you seem to experience within your consciousness are made of matter and have mass.

You happily use the bloody internet invented by the very people trying to figure out what this RWOT is made of.

Presumably you use satnav or your phone has a GPS app that would not work if our conceptions of the material world were not largely true (even though clearly relativity is only an effective theory and not the full story, but then again nobody claimed that).

Your phone and computer have been designed keeping quantum mechanics in mind. The list is endless.

The proof is always in the pudding, and there simply is no spiritual technology. We still hover using helicopters, not psychic levitation.

Coming from the biology rather than physics side, we now can implant, edit, or fake, and delete memories, very precisely in lab animals, but also in experimental therapeutic settings in humans, e.g. for treating PTSD victims. All the scientific progress leading to such interventions is based (is part of the same coherent set of ideas we call the scientific world view)  physics, chemistry, biochemistry, molecular and cellular biology, neurobiology, psychiatry.

Yes, things are difficult in certain areas of science or technology (controlled fusion power, quantum gravity, consciousness, you name it...), either practically or conceptually, but that is no excuse to crawl back to some god in the gaps, or some pan-whatever model that by its pan-ness alone has no predictive power.

The claim that we do not understand cosnciousness is an urban myth anyway. We certainly do not have the full picture yet, but what we understand now does not even bear comparison to, say, 30 or 40 years ago. All due to technological progress, again!

Gotta run, no time for more dummy spitting, I am off to whack some innocents at judo class.

CB

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johang 03 Mar 2020
In reply to Irk the Purist:

Erm, ok. Apart from that part of my response was more to do with how "noone has ever found matter", which is just plain false as a statement.

Re Higgs boson: I'm assuming you're a particle physicist? You're more informed regarding particle physics than I am in that case, so fair enough. I thought it was generally accepted that the Higgs had been observed, albeit indirectly (see below).

I'm not really sure what you're getting at with the confidence interval? All scientific results have confidence intervals attached to them (although for many reported results it's hopefully close to 1).

However, a statistical significance of five standard deviations above background expectations seems fairly close to conclusive to me. Would you agree?

http://cms.web.cern.ch/news/observation-new-particle-mass-125-gev

Am I ok to carry on?

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Pefa 03 Mar 2020
In reply to cb294:

Our consciousness is the most fundamental part of the RWOT as it is what we can confirm before all else whereas science has looked outward so much toward all the objects in our consciousness to such a degree and with such creativity it must be said that it has gotten lost in them. And by doing so made them more real than what we know and directly experience as real. 

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Stichtplate 03 Mar 2020
In reply to Pefa:

> Our consciousness is the most fundamental part of the RWOT as it is what we can confirm before all else whereas science has looked outward so much toward all the objects in our consciousness to such a degree and with such creativity it must be said that it has gotten lost in them. And by doing so made them more real than what we know and directly experience as real. 

Yeah, what have all those scientists ever done for us? apart from everything from wiping out smallpox to sticking men on the moon. All those faith healers, spiritualists, cranks and snake oil salesmen on the other hand... real assets to humanity

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Timmd 03 Mar 2020
In reply to Stichtplate:

> Experience? Knowledge? Recognition of mental illness, self deception and common place delusions?

Yes, that's it to a T. It's why I don't knock people who like to go on spiritual retreats and things, following the weirdness of paranoia a quiet mind is treasured. I can stop annoying tunes at will after having successfully unboggled my head  

I couldn't do before, now there's no ear-worms...

Post edited at 19:06
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Timmd 03 Mar 2020
In reply to Pefa:

> > We can't 'know' that we're on a spiritual level of shared consciousness outside of our bodies, we can only 'feel like' that's what is happening.

> How do you know? 

I could turn it around, and ask how do you know that there 'is' a shared consciousness outside of our bodies, and in what ways does knowing of this shared consciousness manifest itself once it's discovered...can you gauge what others are thinking from hearing their thoughts - or pick up on something else in other people which you couldn't before and have been surprised and gratified to find that you were right and by your new greater understanding of other people, that is, a more effective way of communicating? What I'm asking you to do, is to define what is meant by a shared consciousness beyond saying that you know that one exists. If a consciousness is having thoughts and sensing things - a shared consciousness must surely be a way of thinking communal thoughts and sensing things communally in a way which didn't happen until you became aware of it?

Post edited at 19:05
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Pefa 03 Mar 2020
In reply to Stichtplate:

> Yeah, what have all those scientists ever done for us? apart from everything from wiping out smallpox to sticking men on the moon. All those faith healers, spiritualists, cranks and snake oil salesmen on the other hand... real assets to humanity

Science/materialism tells us we are nothing but a material body that is destined for oblivion which creates much suffering in the world. When you experience the knower behind that which is known you know you are not subject to the life span of the body which creates immense relief from the materialist belief.

Again its not either or we need a healthy balance between objects/materialism and subjects/consciousness which we don't have at the moment as they are in conflict as we can see here. Materialists need to be less snooty and stop thinking they know all the answers when their most fundamental foundation is wrong.

Tim, objects in consciousness? Are all the objects in your consciousness.

BTW when I asked you earlier "How do you know?", I didn't mean it cheekily as in How do you know? But just how do you know? Just want to clear that in case if any misunderstanding. 

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Stichtplate 03 Mar 2020
In reply to Pefa:

> Science/materialism tells us we are nothing but a material body that is destined for oblivion which creates much suffering in the world. When you experience the knower behind that which is known you know you are not subject to the life span of the body which creates immense relief from the materialist belief.

> Again its not either or we need a healthy balance between objects/materialism and subjects/consciousness which we don't have at the moment as they are in conflict as we can see here. Materialists need to be less snooty and stop thinking they know all the answers when their most fundamental foundation is wrong.

Nope. I don't require a balance between reality and woo. I'm far too old to play make believe and I'm happy to accept the gaps in human knowledge without filling them with comforting fairy tales.

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john arran 03 Mar 2020
In reply to Pefa:

> Science/materialism tells us we are nothing but a material body that is destined for oblivion which creates much suffering in the world. When you experience the knower behind that which is known you know you are not subject to the life span of the body which creates immense relief from the materialist belief.

If you or anyone else finds thoughts like that comforting then I'm not about to deny you the pleasure and reassurance. But trying to argue that it's in any sense an objective reality is patently futile.

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Pefa 03 Mar 2020
In reply to john arran:

> If you or anyone else finds thoughts like that comforting then I'm not about to deny you the pleasure and reassurance.

You have no fear of dying? 

> But trying to argue that it's in any sense an objective reality is patently futile.

Is reality objective? Or subjective? 

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Pefa 03 Mar 2020
In reply to Stichtplate:

> Nope. I don't require a balance between reality and woo.

Ah you want to maintain a faith in that which is demonstrably false to your own direct experience. 

> I'm far too old to play make believe and I'm happy to accept the gaps in human knowledge without filling them with comforting fairy tales.

Yet it is you who is believing in the materialist fairy story of matter outside of consciousness. 

Post edited at 20:16
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Pefa 03 Mar 2020
In reply to Timmd:

My original point Tim is that it's not about feeling its about knowing. Feeling is experienced as another fleeting object in an awareness which is always aware.

And no I cannot read someone's thoughts, that is beyond any of my experience. 

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Stichtplate 03 Mar 2020
In reply to Pefa:

> Ah you want to maintain a faith in that which is demonstrably false to your own direct experience. 

> Yet it is you who is believing in the materialist fairy story of matter outside of consciousness. 

I've given you lots of examples and real world evidence as to why your position is false. In return this clip seems to nicely sum up your own evidence.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFnul4k5hUM

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cumbria mammoth 03 Mar 2020
In reply to Stichtplate:

> I could smack myself in the head and magically see stars, or I could do a couple of lines of coke and magically turn myself into the most interesting person in the room. These are reproducible experiences available to anybody who wants to verify them.

> They're still bollocks though cos nobody is seeing actual stars and cocaine never made anyone interesting.

Yes, those experiences are distortions of mental perception and nobody would verify them to be true.

The spiritual experience of dissolution of the sense of self, however, is usually reported as an an enlightenment or a revelation of the truth. Now, you are entitled to be sceptical about the claims but why do the same reports come from all sorts of traditions, including from people who weren't looking for a spiritual experience? People who anyone would consider rational except for in this respect they are challenging the dominant worldview. 

> Go on then, I'll give it a go. How do you suggest I go about having a connection to everything?

Well first let me say that as a Christian, meditation isn't a mainstream practice and I have only recently come to see it as a valid part of the Christian experience, so I'm no expert on this. I'm convinced that the early Christians practised it though. 

So, meditation is the answer, where you probe at the borders of your conscious experience and with practice find that the edges blur and there is no border between the self and the world. The more this is practiced the more the illusory nature of self sinks in. Eventually there can come an experience, which is usually described as an ultimate truth, where there is no concept of the self, just a oneness with the universe that is beyond our ability to describe. 

> You've obviously never cohabited with a cat

Ha, I see what you mean. Snowy was a good lad but yes, probably some animals have more ego than others.

Post edited at 23:55
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Pefa 03 Mar 2020
In reply to summo:

> It's this ego that creates religion, that makes us think that some how in the vastness of time and the universe we are of some relevance or importance in the bigger scheme of things. 

Do you think you or your loved ones or any other being is important? The ego says I am seperate and more important than all others which is the opposite of the enlightened teachers who state we are all one and the same and no being is better or more important than another and as such we should live accordingly in love and peace.

I'm not saying having a big ego is evil or anything but it is a limitation of our full capacity and ultimately an illusion. 

Post edited at 00:03
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Stichtplate 04 Mar 2020
In reply to cumbria mammoth:

> The spiritual experience of dissolution of the sense of self, however, is usually reported as an an enlightenment or a revelation of the truth. Now, you are entitled to be sceptical about the claims but why do the same reports come from all sorts of traditions, including from people who weren't looking for a spiritual experience? 

Because human physiology is the same regardless of tradition of culture.

> Well first let me say that as a Christian, meditation isn't a mainstream practice and I have only recently come to see it as a valid part of the Christian experience, so I'm no expert on this. I'm convinced that the early Christians practised it though. 

Early christians practiced all kinds of zany stuff, from flagellation to self isolation to self starvation. Beat yourself bloody, sit in a desert cave for 6 months or stop eating for weeks on end and most people would experience an altered state of consciousness. Factor in that you'd probably need to be a little unbalanced to subject yourself to such ordeals and all of a sudden mystical experiences don't seem quite so mystical.

> So, meditation is the answer, where you probe at the borders of your conscious experience and with practice find that the edges blur and there is no border between the self and the world. The more this is practiced the more the illusory nature of self sinks in. Eventually there can come an experience, which is usually described as an ultimate truth, where there is no concept of the self, just a oneness with the universe that is beyond our ability to describe. 

Meditation usually requires attaining a state of non-thought or mental quietude, a suspension of normal thought processes. You're effectively depriving an organ whose whole purpose is information processing, of any information to process. Are you surprised that it starts doing stuff to keep busy? Remove normal parameters and we start doing unusual stuff; if we get too cold we start to feel too hot and strip off, too hungry and we're happy to eat stuff that'd make a goat hurl, too thirsty and we'd fight  BG for his last snakeskin of pee and the list of stuff that sends our heads trippy is almost endless.

For me the final proof is the results of the process. If people are really able to get in touch with God or the Universe or whatever, how come they never come back with any answers to fundamental problems and how come the deeply religious are so often the least compassionate towards those who don't share their particular vision of God?

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Pefa 04 Mar 2020
In reply to Stichtplate:

> Because human physiology is the same regardless of tradition of culture.

> Early christians practiced all kinds of zany stuff, from flagellation to self isolation to self starvation. Beat yourself bloody, sit in a desert cave for 6 months or stop eating for weeks on end and most people would experience an altered state of consciousness. Factor in that you'd probably need to be a little unbalanced to subject yourself to such ordeals and all of a sudden mystical experiences don't seem quite so mystical.

So all the great sages like Guatama Buddha, Jesus, Dalai Lama and countless others who enquired inwardly to find out our essence were mentally unbalanced because you say so? You who with utmost respect cannot face a simple basic truth because it conflicts with your blind faith in something demonstrably false are telling those who devote, indeed sacrifice their entire lives to exploring our true nature for the benefit of us all that they are all nuts. It's not a good argument is it? In fact it's insulting but is I suppose more of a defensive reaction. 

> Meditation usually requires attaining a state of non-thought or mental quietude, a suspension of normal thought processes. You're effectively depriving an organ whose whole purpose is information processing, of any information to process. Are you surprised that it starts doing stuff to keep busy? Remove normal parameters and we start doing unusual stuff; if we get too cold we start to feel too hot and strip off, too hungry and we're happy to eat stuff that'd make a goat hurl, too thirsty and we'd fight  BG for his last snakeskin of pee and the list of stuff that sends our heads trippy is almost endless.

Sorry but where is your proof that the endless chatter of the mind is 'normal'? You are effectively saying that unless the mind is kept busy incessantly chatting to itself then it will start dreaming and creating fantastical things meaning we have no control over our minds, they are untamable wild animals that we are stuck with. In reality the normal state for the mind is to be in the now as only the now exists so rather than constantly thinking about the past or future in constant thought it's natural position is at rest in the moment. 

> For me the final proof is the results of the process.

You haven't given any proof. 

> If people are really able to get in touch with God or the Universe or whatever, how come they never come back with any answers to fundamental problems and how come the deeply religious are so often the least compassionate towards those who don't share their particular vision of God?

How many people do you hear of - especially Christians in America - who are willing to forgive someone who has murdered their loved one? That must be one of the hardest things to do yet it happens a lot. Yes a huge proportion of religious people don't or haven't experienced actual spiritual experience so are rooted in a tribalism of religious empires frightened of the other one and that gets complex. 

What message do you want people to come back with from ultimate reality? The overall knowing experience is of unity, eternity, complete peace, happiness and love, so what greater message is there? 

And when you shut off the incessant monkey mind noise insights arise, insights that have given answers and solutions to scientific and practical problems. 

Post edited at 02:23
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Stichtplate 04 Mar 2020
In reply to Pefa:

> So all the great sages like Guatama Buddha, Jesus, Dalai Lama and countless others who enquired inwardly to find out our essence were mentally unbalanced because you say so? You who with utmost respect cannot face a simple basic truth because it conflicts with your blind faith in something demonstrably false are telling those who devote, indeed sacrifice their entire lives to exploring our true nature for the benefit of us all that they are all nuts. It's not a good argument is it? In fact it's insulting but is I suppose more of a defensive reaction. 

I didn't say anything about self induced 'mystical' states being a result of mental imbalance. There are multiple ways to fool the human brain into believing things that just aren't true; pharmaceuticals, physical damage, exhaustion, sensory deprivation even simple magic tricks, the list goes on and on. You can either accept that's true or you can invent the supernatural. It's pretty simple, one explanation has a solid scientific explanation and one is a fairy tale.

> Sorry but where is your proof that the endless chatter of the mind is 'normal'? You are effectively saying that unless the mind is kept busy incessantly chatting to itself then it will start dreaming and creating fantastical things meaning we have no control over our minds, they are untamable wild animals that we are stuck with. In reality the normal state for the mind is to be in the now as only the now exists so rather than constantly thinking about the past or future in constant thought it's natural position is at rest in the moment. 

You do understand the meaning of 'normal' ?

> You haven't given any proof. 

I've given you replicable, observable, science based explanations. All you've done is stamp your foot and insist on the supernatural.

> How many people do you hear of - especially Christians in America - who are willing to forgive someone who has murdered their loved one? That must be one of the hardest things to do yet it happens a lot. Yes a huge proportion of religious people don't or haven't experienced actual spiritual experience so are rooted in a tribalism of religious empires frightened of the other one and that gets complex. 

US Christians? Google 'an eye for an eye'

> What message do you want people to come back with from ultimate reality? The overall knowing experience is of unity, eternity, complete peace, happiness and love, so what greater message is there? 

If it's 'ultimate reality' they're coming back from, I'd expect at least something even vaguely tangible rather than the sort of guff anyone can spout after dropping a microdot.

> And when you shut off the incessant monkey mind noise insights arise, insights that have given answers and solutions to scientific and practical problems. 

Like what?

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john arran 04 Mar 2020
In reply to Pefa:

> You have no fear of dying? 

None whatsoever, from an 'I don't know what's going to happen next' perspective, as I can't see any reason to believe any such outcome. Neither am I afraid of turning into a double-decker bus tomorrow afternoon.

> Is reality objective? Or subjective? 

Well reality is pretty much how we define objective, so unless one is being particularly obtuse or abstruse the answer to that one is clear.

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john arran 04 Mar 2020
In reply to Pefa:

> Yet it is you who is believing in the materialist fairy story of matter outside of consciousness. 

"I was the world in which I walked, and what I saw
Or heard or felt came not but from myself;
And there I found myself more truly and more strange." Wallace Stevens

A lovely poem, but philosophy has nowhere to go and nothing further to say once that path is followed.

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john arran 04 Mar 2020
In reply to cumbria mammoth:

> So, beer is the answer, where you probe at the borders of your conscious experience and with practice find that the edges blur and there is no border between the self and the world. The more this is practiced the more the illusory nature of self sinks in. Eventually there can come an experience, which is usually described as an ultimate truth, where there is no concept of the self, just a oneness with the universe that is beyond our ability to describe. 

FTFY ;-)

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DubyaJamesDubya 04 Mar 2020
In reply to Pefa:

> A scientist, an entire global scientific community and an entire population of a few billion who have been taught a prevailing materialist orthodoxy through a few centuries may think they know beyond question and beyond every doubt that matter exists outside consciousness because from a young age they are told it does when in reality if they are asked what matter exists outside consciousness they cannot - through their own direct experience - answer and thereby confirm a preconceived faith ingrained in them by a scientific orthodoxy from a very early age that it unquestionably does. 

You said in an earlier reply that you don't know any scientists and what you have written seems to confirm this.

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cb294 04 Mar 2020
In reply to Pefa:

> So all the great sages like Guatama Buddha, Jesus, Dalai Lama and countless others who enquired inwardly to find out our essence were mentally unbalanced because you say so?

Not because we say so, but because of the content of their writings.  I am most familiar with examples from the bible, but quite a few of these guys must have smoked some good stuff, or more likely, suffered from mental illnesses like paranoid schizophrenia. Ezekiel and John (the revelations guy) first come to mind. Also, virgin birth, anyone? Conversion of wine into blood and bread into flesh (literally, if you ask the Pope)? In my sport I have been whacked often enough to know what a mouth full of blood tastes like!

Jesus was just another eschatological Guru who were sprouting like mushrooms after the Roman conquest seemed to signal the end for God's chosen people. Tracing how this specific set of ideas became dominant is highly interesting from a historic perspective, it certainly was not because it contains the ultimate truth.

I absolutely agree that inquiring inwardly, as you put it, is a good thing in principle. However, you are only ever going to learn something about yourself (or change something, e.g. become calmer through meditation).

Hoping that you can learn something about the external world, or connect to some supranatural shared consciousness, is doomed from the outset. The external world very much exists without our consciousness, it does not emanate from it. Instead, our consciousness has evolved to model, interpret, and make sense of the real external world. Look inside, and you may be able to see or modulate that processing. Nothing more, but granted, also not less.

CB

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Wyn 04 Mar 2020
In reply to wintertree:

> >  But, if you're proposing that consciousness resides outside the body and that it's something we tune in and out of, you're going to have to flesh that out a little. 

> Not that it resides outwith the body, but that whatever parts of the brain are responsible for it can only work fully with some source of true (non computed, non Newtonian) randomness, which normally sleets in through our senses in abundance.

> > not that i think claiming that we have no consciousness under anaesthetic is credible

> If you re read my post you’ll see that I said “ Consciousness apparently retains no memory at all of being under anaesthesia”.  I rather carefully did not claim that we have no consciousness under anaesthesia.


I think that Roger Penrose is also involved in research on this (In conjunction with the Anaethetist that you allude to).  It's his current belief that it may lie in the cerebellum, some cells called Tubusomethingorother).  There's a very good interview with him on the Joe Rogan Experience.

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wercat 04 Mar 2020
In reply to john arran:

you seem to be at some variance with Brian Greene, he of the Fabric of the Cosmos/Elegant Universe, who said today that he saw a role for religions in addressing questions about existence that were not the domain of science

Having read some of his books I give more credence to his opinion than faith baiters here

Post edited at 14:52
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john arran 04 Mar 2020
In reply to wercat:

> you seem to be at some variance with Brian Greene, he of the Fabric of the Cosmos/Elegant Universe, who said today that he saw a role for religions in addressing questions about existence that were not the domain of science

> Having read some of his books I give more credence to his opinion than faith baiters here

If you'd care to explain his idea of what such a role could be then I'd be pleased to address it. Or is your post merely a call to authority?

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john arran 04 Mar 2020
In reply to wercat:

From his Wiki page: "Greene has stated that he sees science as incompatible with literalist interpretations of religion and that there is much in the New Atheism movement which resonates with him because he personally does not feel the need for religious explanation. However, he is uncertain of its efficacy as a strategy for spreading a scientific worldview.[26] In an interview with the Guardian he says "When I’m looking to understand myself as a human, and how I fit in to the long chain of human culture that reaches back thousands of years, religion is a deeply valuable part of that story." "

From which it would appear that he sees value in religion from a cultural perspective, which is a view I can sympathise with, although for me it would be in terms of progressive transition to a world less focused on religion in any practical sense. But in any case his views appear to be a very long way from supporting any of the non-corporeal ideas expounded above.

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Pefa 04 Mar 2020
In reply to Stichtplate:

> I didn't say anything about self induced 'mystical' states being a result of mental imbalance.

You stated they 'probably need to be a little unbalanced ', and I dont think you were referring to their skills on a tightrope

> There are multiple ways to fool the human brain into believing things that just aren't true; pharmaceuticals, physical damage, exhaustion, sensory deprivation even simple magic tricks, the list goes on and on. You can either accept that's true or you can invent the supernatural. It's pretty simple, one explanation has a solid scientific explanation and one is a fairy tale.

I totally agree as I have been pointing out throughout this thread that you and the other materialists on here who faithfully devote yourselves to the materialist fairy story ' woo', that matter exists outside of consciousness 😉 are very much living in a pretend world because some people tell you to believe in it even against your own experience. That takes blind faith to uncharted levels of wilful denial and delusion. 

> You do understand the meaning of 'normal' ?

No, I use lots of words and then just hope I'll get some of them right. 

> I've given you replicable, observable, science based explanations. All you've done is stamp your foot and insist on the supernatural.

But it is you who is saying there is matter outside of consciousness not I so can you make that 'replicable, observable', with a 'science based explanation' please? 

Oh and without any foot stamping. Thanks. 

> US Christians? Google 'an eye for an eye'

I'm not saying they are perfect but many have compassionate qualities that a great deal of us would struggle with. 

> If it's 'ultimate reality' they're coming back from, I'd expect at least something even vaguely tangible. 

> rather than the sort of guff anyone can spout after dropping a microdot.

Right ah, because after a tab it screws up your ability to faithfully believe your wee fantasy that matter exists outside consciousness. 

Post edited at 16:18
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Pefa 04 Mar 2020
In reply to john arran:

> None whatsoever, from an 'I don't know what's going to happen next' perspective, as I can't see any reason to believe any such outcome.

What outcome? Are you aware not just intellectually of what dying means but emotionally to? I mean anything can happen but one thing for sure is that it may not be a pleasant physical experience in fact it could be that horrifically painful that it, well kills you. And you won't find many sentient beings who are not scared of that. Edit- even one's who know our consciousness cannot die. 

> Neither am I afraid of turning into a double-decker bus tomorrow afternoon.

Just a single decker then or one of those bendy buses? 

> Well reality is pretty much how we define objective,

' We', used to think the earth was flat and the Sun went around the earth. 

> so unless one is being particularly obtuse or abstruse the answer to that one is clear.

You would be taking obtuse to new levels by ludicrously suggesting there is matter outside of consciousness when there is none. 

Post edited at 16:43
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Sir Chasm 04 Mar 2020
In reply to Pefa:

Did your god exist before you decided to believe in him?

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john arran 04 Mar 2020
In reply to Pefa:

I concede defeat, it being quite impossible to debate anyone who is so hell bent on confirmation bias for positions for which no justification has been presented.

I'm out.

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Pefa 04 Mar 2020
In reply to cb294:

> Not because we say so, but because of the content of their writings.  I am most familiar with examples from the bible, but quite a few of these guys must have smoked some good stuff, or more likely, suffered from mental illnesses like paranoid schizophrenia. Ezekiel and John (the revelations guy) first come to mind. Also, virgin birth, anyone? Conversion of wine into blood and bread into flesh (literally, if you ask the Pope)? In my sport I have been whacked often enough to know what a mouth full of blood tastes like!

I'm not familiar with any of that tbh so I went and looked at one of your points to find that the current Pope doesn't see it the way you think he does - 

​The pope points to the word “give.” This, he says, “tells us something very beautiful. Bread is not only something to be consumed; it is a means of sharing. Surprisingly, the account of the multiplication of the loaves does not mention the multiplication itself.” Jesus emphasizes the sharing, not the multiplying. “Jesus does not perform a magic trick; he does not change five loaves into five thousand and then announce: ‘There! Distribute them!’” No, says Francis. “Jesus first prays, then blesses the five loaves and begins to break them, trusting in the Father. And those five loaves never run out. This is no magic trick; it is an act of trust in God and his providence.”

> Jesus was just another eschatological Guru who were sprouting like mushrooms after the Roman conquest seemed to signal the end for God's chosen people. Tracing how this specific set of ideas became dominant is highly interesting from a historic perspective, it certainly was not because it contains the ultimate truth.

Sorry that gives me nothing to debate. It's like saying well Einstein was nothing as scientists were 10 a penny then. 

> I absolutely agree that inquiring inwardly, as you put it, is a good thing in principle. However, you are only ever going to learn something about yourself (or change something, e.g. become calmer through meditation).

We all experience consciousness and know we are conscious yet by manifesting in a world of objects we appear to be seperate and alone which creates fear, unhappiness and longing. We long to be one again which is happiness, love and peacefulness but we are thrust into this manifestation that fools us into thinking we can only be happy through objects and only for a short time before we go back to a natural seperated state of longing and fear. 

I have had fun on here showing how what materialism shows us requires even more faith than what we can realise if we study the subject, but it isn't a materialist matter only as they are just telling us how things appear to us when we are manifested in this existence. However, when you look not outward but inward you are not only looking at your essence you are looking straight at the essence of every sentient being because the very illusion that makes you think you are seperate, an individual :,a body,thoughts, objects, the ego, is no more. So you are left with the essence of existence that is what we all are. And that is eternal, infinite, pure love, total peace and complete happiness and you experience it, you know it beyond all else, it is like coming back home to that which you have always been yet have been temporarily seperated from. I think this is why Christians probably called it God, a father in old times, as if you are returning back home to where you came from after a difficult journey. 

> Hoping that you can learn something about the external world, or connect to some supranatural shared consciousness, is doomed from the outset.

If I can butt in there. That is an expectation only and has nothing to do with what we find when we look deeply and drop all the objective illusions. 

> The external world very much exists without our consciousness, it does not emanate from it. Instead, our consciousness has evolved to model, interpret, and make sense of the real external world. Look inside, and you may be able to see or modulate that processing. Nothing more, but granted, also not less.

Which stuff exists outside of your consciousness? 

Post edited at 17:43
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Pefa 04 Mar 2020
In reply to john arran:

I'm not trying to win anything I can assure you because to win is to lose, I am merely debating what I find to be the most profound and only true subject and that is the subject of the subject then applying that to the objects. 

Post edited at 17:55
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cumbria mammoth 04 Mar 2020
In reply to Stichtplate:

> Because human physiology is the same regardless of tradition of culture.

> Early christians practiced all kinds of zany stuff, from flagellation to self isolation to self starvation. Beat yourself bloody, sit in a desert cave for 6 months or stop eating for weeks on end and most people would experience an altered state of consciousness. Factor in that you'd probably need to be a little unbalanced to subject yourself to such ordeals and all of a sudden mystical experiences don't seem quite so mystical.

> Meditation usually requires attaining a state of non-thought or mental quietude, a suspension of normal thought processes. You're effectively depriving an organ whose whole purpose is information processing, of any information to process. Are you surprised that it starts doing stuff to keep busy? Remove normal parameters and we start doing unusual stuff; if we get too cold we start to feel too hot and strip off, too hungry and we're happy to eat stuff that'd make a goat hurl, too thirsty and we'd fight  BG for his last snakeskin of pee and the list of stuff that sends our heads trippy is almost endless.

If I can indulge in the speculation that the OP rails against then we live in a universe that fundamentally doesn't behave as we think it does. This could be because our everyday experience is created by the brain which interprets the input it receives in order to simplify and give us an advantage in life over competing animals. Perhaps the spiritual experience that people describe is not a description of anything supernatural at all? Perhaps when we put effort into bypassing the filter of the brain we are able to get a glimpse of reality as it really is? 

> For me the final proof is the results of the process. If people are really able to get in touch with God or the Universe or whatever, how come they never come back with any answers to fundamental problems and how come the deeply religious are so often the least compassionate towards those who don't share their particular vision of God?

I'm sure you will find that in general, religious people as a group are highly motivated to engage in charity and to work for others but I can agree with many of the criticisms of organised religion that are so often expressed by many on here. The reason for the sectarian problems you describe is because the message has been distorted and religion for a many has become an identity and the following of rules and rituals. This promotes the ego and a sense of separation from other groups of people and is the opposite of the original message.

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cumbria mammoth 04 Mar 2020
In reply to john arran:

> > So, beer is the answer, where you probe at the borders of your conscious experience and with practice find that the edges blur and there is no border between the self and the world. The more this is practiced the more the illusory nature of self sinks in. Eventually there can come an experience, which is usually described as an ultimate truth, where there is no concept of the self, just a oneness with the universe that is beyond our ability to describe. 

> FTFY ;-)

Ha, agreed. I have found that 2 pints is the perfect amount for contemplation of the universe and putting everything right. It begins to deteriorate after that. 

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Stichtplate 05 Mar 2020
In reply to john arran:

> I concede defeat, it being quite impossible to debate anyone who is so hell bent on confirmation bias for positions for which no justification has been presented.

> I'm out.

Me too. Reasoned debate is only possible if both parties understand what reasoned means.

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Stichtplate 05 Mar 2020
In reply to cumbria mammoth:

> If I can indulge in the speculation that the OP rails against then we live in a universe that fundamentally doesn't behave as we think it does. This could be because our everyday experience is created by the brain which interprets the input it receives in order to simplify and give us an advantage in life over competing animals. Perhaps the spiritual experience that people describe is not a description of anything supernatural at all? Perhaps when we put effort into bypassing the filter of the brain we are able to get a glimpse of reality as it really is? 

I agree, the universe is full of mysterious and inexplicable stuff and as human knowledge advances so to do areas which non-plus us. But rather than confirm the existence of the supernatural, science continually finds evidence that the supernatural doesn't exist. 

Just because I don't know what's under my bed doesn't mean I should assume its home to the bogey man.

> I'm sure you will find that in general, religious people as a group are highly motivated to engage in charity and to work for others but I can agree with many of the criticisms of organised religion that are so often expressed by many on here. The reason for the sectarian problems you describe is because the message has been distorted and religion for a many has become an identity and the following of rules and rituals. 

I'm sure you will find that in general,  atheists as a group are highly motivated to engage in charity and to work for others too. Can't really say I've noticed much difference in levels of altruism according to faith, or lack of it. What I have noticed is religion providing a basis for judging the lifestyle choices of others, maybe not so much in the good old C of E (does CofE still count as a religion?) but judgment of others is certainly a big part of many world religions. 

>This promotes the ego and a sense of separation from other groups of people and is the opposite of the original message.

Who's original message? Many religions are historically predicated on the basis of "We are the chosen, everyone else is wrong, damned and destined to burn in Hell" 

Post edited at 00:19
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cb294 05 Mar 2020
In reply to Pefa:

> Sorry that gives me nothing to debate. It's like saying well Einstein was nothing as scientists were 10 a penny then. 

But doomsday preachers were indeed ten a penny then, and only one's ideas went on to become the dominant religion (you can even include Islam in that which is pretty much a spin off). It is interesting to see how that happened, especially if as an atheist you cannot simply assume that JC had insight into some fundamental truth that his contemporaries did not.

That is the key difference to Einstein, who indeed had insights others did not (or at least not yet. Relativity, to an extent, was an idea whose time had come). More importantly, these insights led to progress, because they had predictive power. It does not matter that his theories are incomplete, that is the nature of science.

> Which stuff exists outside of your consciousness? 

Everything. My conscience is totally irrelevant, things that materially exist don't stop existing even if I am knocked unconscious or dead. My ideas, emotions, memories etc. die with me.

Assuming that matter, which necessarily includes other life forms, say e.g. you, only exist because they are manifested in my consciousness is blatantly ridiculous. Even if you draw back on some shared, universal consciousness, the idea is essentially solipsistic.

That concept leads nowhere: If I can make up a world inside my consciousness I can just as well make up a different one. No insights are gained. Also, nothing derives from this position ethically. If all things and beings are figments of my consciousness it does not matter how I treat them. Anyway, as Russell (IIRC) already observed, noone has ever talked to a solipsist who took his philosophy seriously in real life.

Have you read "Against a dark background" by Iain Banks? Its cast contains a bunch of solipsists trying to live their idea, to bizarre consequences....

CB

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Rob Exile Ward 05 Mar 2020
In reply to cb294:

Dr Johnson dismissed anti-materialism as too ridiculous to even discus,and  kicked a stone saying 'I refute it THUS'

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Pefa 06 Mar 2020
In reply to cb294:

> But doomsday preachers were indeed ten a penny then, and only one's ideas went on to become the dominant religion (you can even include Islam in that which is pretty much a spin off). It is interesting to see how that happened, especially if as an atheist you cannot simply assume that JC had insight into some fundamental truth that his contemporaries did not.

Guatama was spreading enlightenment teachings similar to Jesus yet 500 years before Jesus and the Upanishads and Vedas were written two or three hundred years before Guatama so Jesus nor anyone else had a monopoly on the truth. 

> Everything. My conscience is totally irrelevant, things that materially exist don't stop existing even if I am knocked unconscious or dead.

Of course when we die others live on but if there was no conscious beings then we do not know because there is no one to know. If there is no dreamer there can't be a dream. 

> My ideas, emotions, memories etc. die with me.

You seem sure of that, I say - and in the spirit of John Arran's thread- that I don't know. 

> Assuming that matter, which necessarily includes other life forms, say e.g. you, only exist because they are manifested in my consciousness is blatantly ridiculous. Even if you draw back on some shared, universal consciousness, the idea is essentially solipsistic.

Wow! Massive and incorrect assumption made by you there as at no point have I given any indication whatsoever that I do not believe other sentient beings are conscious. So you are either trying to make me fit into a solipsist label or have not read the many times I have stated how we are all conscious beings and therefore the same which goes against solipsism. I find the idealist position suited to what I experience. 

> That concept leads nowhere: If I can make up a world inside my consciousness I can just as well make up a different one. No insights are gained. Also, nothing derives from this position ethically. If all things and beings are figments of my consciousness it does not matter how I treat them. Anyway, as Russell (IIRC) already observed, noone has ever talked to a solipsist who took his philosophy seriously in real life.

See above. 

> Have you read "Against a dark background" by Iain Banks? Its cast contains a bunch of solipsists trying to live their idea, to bizarre consequences....

No need as I am not a solipsist. 

Post edited at 04:02
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cb294 06 Mar 2020
In reply to Pefa:

But if you argue that we are all part of some higher level consciousness which we can access by looking inward, then we all are just manifestations of that one, true consciousness. That is just higher level solipsism, and suffers from the same problems.

As for your first part, I guess one problem is how to define truth. I would argue that we can only establish something as true if it fits into a coherent theory, has predictive power, can explain all previous observations, and has been tested over time. Of course, all those "truths" will be incomplete until we have a full description and understanding of the universe or humanity (depending on discipline), and can be superseded or limited to a smaller realm of validity (e.g. Newton's theory holds "true" for small masses and speeds much slower than light speed).

Philosophy or religion can never deliver that. Personal experience during prayer or meditiation is no proof, and while spiritual experiences are real experiences they are purely internal (until some angel pops up in person). In that sense neither Gautama, nor Jesus, nor the prophets had any objective insight in the world, unless you accept that they were indeed sock puppets for some higher consciousness.

That they in part preached stuff that I would agree with and gave instructions that would, if adhered to by their followers, lead to a better society (again very much in part) does not make their teachings "true" in any reasonable sense.

CB

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cumbria mammoth 06 Mar 2020
In reply to Stichtplate:

> I agree, the universe is full of mysterious and inexplicable stuff and as human knowledge advances so to do areas which non-plus us. But rather than confirm the existence of the supernatural, science continually finds evidence that the supernatural doesn't exist. 

> Just because I don't know what's under my bed doesn't mean I should assume its home to the bogey man.

> I'm sure you will find that in general,  atheists as a group are highly motivated to engage in charity and to work for others too. Can't really say I've noticed much difference in levels of altruism according to faith, or lack of it. What I have noticed is religion providing a basis for judging the lifestyle choices of others, maybe not so much in the good old C of E (does CofE still count as a religion?) but judgment of others is certainly a big part of many world religions. 

> >This promotes the ego and a sense of separation from other groups of people and is the opposite of the original message.

> Who's original message? Many religions are historically predicated on the basis of "We are the chosen, everyone else is wrong, damned and destined to burn in Hell" 

The original message that everyone who has ever had a spiritual experience confirms. As Jesus put it...

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength" and "Love your neighbour as yourself."

Whether you think the experience is a delusion or not, the divine encounter with the universal consciousness within which all things are connected, and the complete loss of a sense of self, is an experience that has been confirmed by many and leads to the message above and is what I have been arguing that religions are historically predicated on the basis of.

People didn't invent God to explain gaps in scientific knowledge, people believe in God because of direct experiences of the divine.

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Stichtplate 06 Mar 2020
In reply to cumbria mammoth:

> The original message that everyone who has ever had a spiritual experience confirms. As Jesus put it...

> "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength" and "Love your neighbour as yourself."

Afraid you're way off the mark there. I was 18, feckless and naive, living in the North West, ground zero for the second summer of love in 1988. Me and most of my mates had countless spiritual experiences, of one type or another, over a period of 3 years or so. It left the majority of us more compassionate towards our fellow man, but in the long run, a fair bit more cynical. It absolutely did not leave us loving the Lord our God... well, hippy Matt did become a Buddhist for all of 3 days after mistakenly mixing ketamine (he thought it was MDMA) with acid at Coventry's Eclipse club. It soon wore off though.

> Whether you think the experience is a delusion or not, the divine encounter with the universal consciousness within which all things are connected, and the complete loss of a sense of self, is an experience that has been confirmed by many and leads to the message above and is what I have been arguing that religions are historically predicated on the basis of.

Yep, a great many have had just that experience. A great many more have put their heads in that space and come back with totally different conclusions to your own. Ahh, you will probably say, but my spiritual experience was better than yours, to which I can only offer a shrug of the shoulders.

> People didn't invent God to explain gaps in scientific knowledge, people believe in God because of direct experiences of the divine.

But a direct experience that only occurs inside somebody's head, which has no measurable effect and brings no tangible benefit, just doesn't carry much weight. It's great if you find comfort and strength in your faith, but I'm sorry, my faith is bound up in what I can hold in my hands or see with my eyes.

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Gordon Stainforth 07 Mar 2020
In reply to Rob Exile Ward:

> Dr Johnson dismissed anti-materialism as too ridiculous to even discus,and  kicked a stone saying 'I refute it THUS'

It's still one of the best answers, isn't it? If I trip on something and fall flat on my face, get badly bruised in the process, it's not because I've imagined it. Nor are the bruises imaginary. They have appeared most inconveniently, and entirely unwanted.

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Gordon Stainforth 07 Mar 2020
In reply to cb294:

> ... Philosophy or religion can never deliver that. 

Philosophy has never been about 'delivering' anything. It looks at what is, the way things are, and how people value them, how they argue, and the validity of their arguments, etc, etc, etc. It's 'about' all subjects in the broadest sense.

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Gordon Stainforth 07 Mar 2020
In reply to cumbria mammoth:

> People didn't invent God to explain gaps in scientific knowledge, people believe in God because of direct experiences of the divine.

I think this idea of 'a direct experience of the divine' could be sheer fantasy. I'm not saying it's impossible, but it's certainly playing with words grandly and recklessly. How does it differ, for example, from me at a previous address lusting after my next door neighbour's wife? Seeing her getting into her car each morning to go to work seemed pretty much like 'an experience of the divine' to me.

My point is that there is no (or totally insufficient) distinction between metaphor and reality here, when it could all just be metaphor.

Post edited at 00:35
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Pefa 07 Mar 2020
In reply to cb294:

> But if you argue that we are all part of some higher level consciousness which we can access by looking inward, then we all are just manifestations of that one, true consciousness. That is just higher level solipsism, and suffers from the same problems.

No because it is totally different since other sentient beings are conscious whereas solipsism states they are not. 

> As for your first part, I guess one problem is how to define truth. I would argue that we can only establish something as true if it fits into a coherent theory, has predictive power, can explain all previous observations, and has been tested over time. Of course, all those "truths" will be incomplete until we have a full description and understanding of the universe or humanity (depending on discipline), and can be superseded or limited to a smaller realm of validity (e.g. Newton's theory holds "true" for small masses and speeds much slower than light speed).

Right, and as so your direct experience which is confirmed by everyone else reasonably quickly, tells you and us that matter does not exist outside of consciousness. Which is' coherent, predictive ' and' can explain previous observations ' and' can be tested over time' in fact tested at any time. 

So where is your problem? Everything is simple, beautiful, parsimonious and 100% natural. And it also solves the hard question of consciousness which materialism finds impossible. 

> Philosophy or religion can never deliver that. Personal experience during prayer or meditiation is no proof, and while spiritual experiences are real experiences they are purely internal (until some angel pops up in person). In that sense neither Gautama, nor Jesus, nor the prophets had any objective insight in the world, unless you accept that they were indeed sock puppets for some higher consciousness.

So don't look to meditation or prayer then, just look to direct experience of your own consciousness and have a completely open skeptical scientific mind. Then ask relevant questions. 

> That they in part preached stuff that I would agree with and gave instructions that would, if adhered to by their followers, lead to a better society (again very much in part) does not make their teachings "true" in any reasonable sense.

You intuitively agree but your conditioned mind doesn't want to so perhaps the problem is your conditioned mind and not the real you. 

Post edited at 05:13
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cb294 07 Mar 2020
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

> Philosophy has never been about 'delivering' anything. It looks at what is, the way things are, and how people value them, how they argue, and the validity of their arguments, etc, etc, etc. It's 'about' all subjects in the broadest sense.


It delivers insight.

CB

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summo 07 Mar 2020
In reply to Pefa:

> You intuitively agree but your conditioned mind doesn't want to so perhaps the problem is your conditioned mind and not the real you. 

My mind is open to anything, I even tried to eat tofu (once), but I still think all religions are b@llocks

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Pefa 07 Mar 2020
In reply to summo:

I completely agree with you and Stitchy on religions as they have behaved horrifically and still do in many matters but that doesn't mean the enlightened people who they follow were not speaking the truth you know. 

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cumbria mammoth 09 Mar 2020
In reply to Stichtplate:

> Afraid you're way off the mark there. I was 18, feckless and naive, living in the North West, ground zero for the second summer of love in 1988. Me and most of my mates had countless spiritual experiences, of one type or another, over a period of 3 years or so. It left the majority of us more compassionate towards our fellow man, but in the long run, a fair bit more cynical. It absolutely did not leave us loving the Lord our God... well, hippy Matt did become a Buddhist for all of 3 days after mistakenly mixing ketamine (he thought it was MDMA) with acid at Coventry's Eclipse club. It soon wore off though.

> Yep, a great many have had just that experience. A great many more have put their heads in that space and come back with totally different conclusions to your own. Ahh, you will probably say, but my spiritual experience was better than yours, to which I can only offer a shrug of the shoulders.

> But a direct experience that only occurs inside somebody's head, which has no measurable effect and brings no tangible benefit, just doesn't carry much weight. It's great if you find comfort and strength in your faith, but I'm sorry, my faith is bound up in what I can hold in my hands or see with my eyes.

Ok, you're ahead of me anyway because I haven't dabbled in these drugs and I haven't got there through meditation. There certainly are a lot of people affirming this experience to be "the ultimate truth" though.

You say it did make you more compassionate to your fellow man but it didn't leave you loving the Lord your God. I wonder how much this is a matter of the label used? When you see God in terms of this universal consciousness within which all things are connected then love the Lord your God ties in with the experience described. God is supposed to be omnipresent after all.

I think the drugs and the meditation and the near death experiences are probably all giving the same experience but the circumstances in which you get there will make it much easier to dismiss it as fake when it has come with your head scrambled than when you have maintained clarity of mind throughout the process. Even more so when you live in a culture where the dominant view sees belief in a creator as feeble mindedness.

I'm not claiming that everyone who is religious has come to it through direct spiritual experience, I think this is at the root of all religion though.

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Sir Chasm 09 Mar 2020
In reply to cumbria mammoth:

Is this supposedly omnipresent god also omniscient and omnipotent?

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cumbria mammoth 09 Mar 2020
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

> I think this idea of 'a direct experience of the divine' could be sheer fantasy. I'm not saying it's impossible, but it's certainly playing with words grandly and recklessly. How does it differ, for example, from me at a previous address lusting after my next door neighbour's wife? Seeing her getting into her car each morning to go to work seemed pretty much like 'an experience of the divine' to me.

> My point is that there is no (or totally insufficient) distinction between metaphor and reality here, when it could all just be metaphor.

I think the difference in that example is just the difference between different usages of the word "divine" but yes, it could in theory just all be an illusion in the head. However, many people have reported it as divine in the most supreme and sacred sense of the word and the reports are that this is a truth more real than our day to day existence.

It is possible to write them off as self delusional but the most credible reports come from all sorts of people and the method used to get there is one of not reduced but heightened awareness. 

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Stichtplate 09 Mar 2020
In reply to cumbria mammoth:

There's not a lot in there I can really disagree with. The universe is too big and weird for anyone to claim they understand it and keep a straight face.

At the same time though, I can't really get on board with any 'ultimate truth' because the human experience is far too varied to allow for such a thing. As for God; my concept of God is too tied into the Christian ideal of 'all powerful and all loving' and I can't understand anyone who's aware that there are children's hospices and still swallow that line. But I still think the Quakers are pretty cool.

Post edited at 23:53
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Gordon Stainforth 10 Mar 2020
In reply to cumbria mammoth:

I'm still not clear quite what you mean by 'credible' here. Yes, we all have times of 'heightened awareness' (e.g. in extremis in the mountains), or 'godlike' moments. At about the worst moment of my life, worse even than falling to what seemed like certain death in Norway in 1969, I prayed roughly along the lines of 'If there is a God, please, please get me out of this mess,' and what happened over the next few hours was quite astonishing. It really seemed as if 'God' had heard my voice, because it was just so unexpectedly marvellous. A real marvel. I literally couldn't believe my eyes. I kept putting my hand on the object in question (a key component in that misadventure) to make sure that I wasn't just imagining it. But that to me still wasn't an instant 'proof' of the existence of some kind of god. Because I knew perfectly well that it could simply have been an extraordinary coincidence, or an almost inexplicable mistake made my 'my opponent' in that situation. (Sorry to be vague about this. It was so bad that I'll only talk about it more fully in very old age, if ever.)

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cumbria mammoth 10 Mar 2020
In reply to Stichtplate:

> There's not a lot in there I can really disagree with. The universe is too big and weird for anyone to claim they understand it and keep a straight face.

> At the same time though, I can't really get on board with any 'ultimate truth' because the human experience is far too varied to allow for such a thing. As for God; my concept of God is too tied into the Christian ideal of 'all powerful and all loving' and I can't understand anyone who's aware that there are children's hospices and still swallow that line. But I still think the Quakers are pretty cool.

Yes, I'm not a churchgoer but when I've looked into whether I should go to one the Quakers are the one I'm most interested in. The concept of God that I've been trying to get across is the Christian God as far as I'm concerned.

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cumbria mammoth 10 Mar 2020
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

> I'm still not clear quite what you mean by 'credible' here.

I'm just saying you could take the accounts of the spiritual experience and line them up in order of credibility. It will be easy to dismiss those that come from drug addled hedonists but some accounts will be more plausible because the people giving the account are trustworthy. You are of course free to dismiss all accounts if you want to. 

> Yes, we all have times of 'heightened awareness' (e.g. in extremis in the mountains), or 'godlike' moments. At about the worst moment of my life, worse even than falling to what seemed like certain death in Norway in 1969, I prayed roughly along the lines of 'If there is a God, please, please get me out of this mess,' and what happened over the next few hours was quite astonishing. It really seemed as if 'God' had heard my voice, because it was just so unexpectedly marvellous. A real marvel. I literally couldn't believe my eyes. I kept putting my hand on the object in question (a key component in that misadventure) to make sure that I wasn't just imagining it. But that to me still wasn't an instant 'proof' of the existence of some kind of god. Because I knew perfectly well that it could simply have been an extraordinary coincidence, or an almost inexplicable mistake made my 'my opponent' in that situation. (Sorry to be vague about this. It was so bad that I'll only talk about it more fully in very old age, if ever.)

I'm already looking forward to the film coming out of this story! I was excited enough about the object but the knowledge that there is an opponent has sent me over the edge! ;-)

There will always be another possible explanation, there's no point in looking for proof of God. If you want to find God you have to be open to finding God.

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cb294 10 Mar 2020
In reply to cumbria mammoth:

What is your reason for invoking god at all? All those personal divine experiences could be (and I assume are) generated internally in the brain, as backed up by FMRI studies: People who experience two way communication during prayer do indeed activate their language processing centres, even though nothing comes from the auditory circuits from which these centres usually get their input.

Now, what is more likely, the experiences being generated in the language processing centre (or prayer/meditatio screwing with the input at some earlier stage of processing), or some supernatural entity bypassing all known input pathways to share its ideas?

I grew up as a protestant, German Lutheran Christian, and culturally it is still important for me. This clearly is where I, and more importantly the society I am embedded in, come from. But as an explanation for my existence and human condition? This set of crude bronze age superstitions should have been discarded by society long ago, same as I discarded it (in that role) for me.

That said, I appreciate, say, the importance of religiosu ritual. We, as a society, would not have made the progress we have without it, and not even the reactionary stance of the church on essentially anything could f*ck this up. The specific dogmata are probably irrelevant.

As a consequence, no year would e.g. feel complete for me if I could not listen to a Bach passion before Easter. Do I believe the words? Certainly not. Am I moved by the combination of words and music? Absolutely.

CB

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cumbria mammoth 10 Mar 2020
In reply to Sir Chasm:

> Is this supposedly omnipresent god also omniscient and omnipotent?

The concept of God that I am contemplating is that he pretty much is the conscious universe. So yes.

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Stichtplate 10 Mar 2020
In reply to cumbria mammoth:

> I'm just saying you could take the accounts of the spiritual experience and line them up in order of credibility. It will be easy to dismiss those that come from drug addled hedonists but some accounts will be more plausible because the people giving the account are trustworthy. You are of course free to dismiss all accounts if you want to. 

Why's it easier to dismiss the spiritual experiences of those who self medicate over those who self hypnotise? Both routes have thousands of years of historical use in religion and ritual and you've experienced neither, so what are you basing your judgment on?

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Sir Chasm 10 Mar 2020
In reply to cumbria mammoth:

> The concept of God that I am contemplating is that he pretty much is the conscious universe. So yes.

I suppose corona virus (rape, murder, child abuse, cancer etcetera, etcetera, etcetera) are therefore things he made that he could stop if he chose. 

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Gordon Stainforth 11 Mar 2020
In reply to cumbria mammoth:

> I'm just saying you could take the accounts of the spiritual experience and line them up in order of credibility. It will be easy to dismiss those that come from drug addled hedonists but some accounts will be more plausible because the people giving the account are trustworthy. You are of course free to dismiss all accounts if you want to. 

Let me make this quite clear to you: I am a complete agnostic, which means I remain completely open minded as to the possible existence of 'some higher intelligence'. Which means that the very last thing I'll ever do is sneer at people with religious beliefs. In fact, the phenomenon is so huge, that I take it at least seriously as the atheistic side of the argument.

> I'm already looking forward to the film coming out of this story! I was excited enough about the object but the knowledge that there is an opponent has sent me over the edge! ;-)

I really would like to talk about this but can't because it's a spine-chilling story involving  one of the 'highest echelons' of our establishment. And in my naivety, I got on the wrong side of them. What it amounted to, overall, was a kind of terror campaign to shut me up for ever, because I'd stumbled across something very dodgy and unsavoury ... that I was foolish enough to report to the police. That's all I'm going to tell you.

> There will always be another possible explanation, there's no point in looking for proof of God. If you want to find God you have to be open to finding God. 

I think we can agree on that. At a logical level, it's obviously nonsense.

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Rob Exile Ward 11 Mar 2020
In reply to cumbria mammoth:

'The concept of God that I am contemplating is that he pretty much is the conscious universe. So yes.'

So, let me get this straight. You imagine god as an entity with a recognisable attribute of consciousness that comprehends and controls the entire universe, and at the same time takes an interest in - and can affect - every individual within it. (What level of organism is included, by the way? Are extra terrestrials included?)

I'm sorry, I just don't understand how people turn off their critical faculties - their scientific analysis of their environment and experience - and the common sense that has enabled them to navigate into adulthood - and believe this 'non-sense'. Not very open minded or charitable of me, I know. 

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wercat 11 Mar 2020
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

can't you write it as fiction?

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Gordon Stainforth 11 Mar 2020
In reply to wercat:

Yes, I had thought of doing that. Setting it in Russia perhaps. But it's a long way down any list of books I want to write (no. 4, after my present book, to be precise, so may never get there.)

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cumbria mammoth 11 Mar 2020
In reply to cb294:

> What is your reason for invoking god at all? All those personal divine experiences could be (and I assume are) generated internally in the brain, as backed up by FMRI studies: People who experience two way communication during prayer do indeed activate their language processing centres, even though nothing comes from the auditory circuits from which these centres usually get their input.

It's the other way around. I'm not invoking God to explain those spiritual experiences or anything else. The existence of God is one of my foundational beliefs and I am fascinated by the idea that there may be a way to experience God directly.

> Now, what is more likely, the experiences being generated in the language processing centre (or prayer/meditatio screwing with the input at some earlier stage of processing), or some supernatural entity bypassing all known input pathways to share its ideas?

If the existence of God is taken for granted, as it is for me, then the latter is certainly plausible.

> I grew up as a protestant, German Lutheran Christian, and culturally it is still important for me. This clearly is where I, and more importantly the society I am embedded in, come from. But as an explanation for my existence and human condition? This set of crude bronze age superstitions should have been discarded by society long ago, same as I discarded it (in that role) for me.

I'd be very interested to know why you felt you had to discard the concept of God? Fair enough, religions over the ages have become corrupted and have attached a number of superstitions to the core message, that you can use your judgement to discard, but I'm not aware of any evidence that there is no creator. If you were to start out as a blank slate I think the rational position would be to be agnostic on the issue (although fence sitting is not always a virtue) but if you start out with a belief in God I don't see any compelling reason to discard that belief.

> That said, I appreciate, say, the importance of religiosu ritual. We, as a society, would not have made the progress we have without it, and not even the reactionary stance of the church on essentially anything could f*ck this up. The specific dogmata are probably irrelevant.

> As a consequence, no year would e.g. feel complete for me if I could not listen to a Bach passion before Easter. Do I believe the words? Certainly not. Am I moved by the combination of words and music? Absolutely.

> CB

I agree, there have been some great artistic contributions that have been driven by religion, but the art and the ritual are unimportant. Their purpose is to remind people of their need for a personal relationship with God.

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cumbria mammoth 11 Mar 2020
In reply to Stichtplate:

> Why's it easier to dismiss the spiritual experiences of those who self medicate over those who self hypnotise? Both routes have thousands of years of historical use in religion and ritual and you've experienced neither, so what are you basing your judgment on?

Agreed and I'm interested in both. For balance I was trying to think of a snappy term for a self appointed guru that you might not consider trustworthy either but nothing came to mind so I didn't put that in. 

What I was trying to say is that while it is easy for a skeptic to write off some of the accounts, it is less easy to write off some of the others.

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wbo2 11 Mar 2020
In reply to cumbria mammoth: au contraire - I've spent nearly 40 years studying geology and earth history and I have never seen a  need to invoke a creator.  I'm not going to try to get you to change your belief but it isnt a very good 'default ' to me 

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cumbria mammoth 11 Mar 2020
In reply to Sir Chasm:

> I suppose corona virus (rape, murder, child abuse, cancer etcetera, etcetera, etcetera) are therefore things he made that he could stop if he chose. 

We create our own hell by ignoring Gods message. Rape, murder, child abuse, and even Covid 19, are created by the choices of mankind. Even the suffering caused by cancer could be lessened if as a society we made better choices.

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cumbria mammoth 11 Mar 2020
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

> Let me make this quite clear to you: I am a complete agnostic, which means I remain completely open minded as to the possible existence of 'some higher intelligence'. Which means that the very last thing I'll ever do is sneer at people with religious beliefs. In fact, the phenomenon is so huge, that I take it at least seriously as the atheistic side of the argument.

> I really would like to talk about this but can't because it's a spine-chilling story involving  one of the 'highest echelons' of our establishment. And in my naivety, I got on the wrong side of them. What it amounted to, overall, was a kind of terror campaign to shut me up for ever, because I'd stumbled across something very dodgy and unsavoury ... that I was foolish enough to report to the police. That's all I'm going to tell you.

> I think we can agree on that. At a logical level, it's obviously nonsense.

This really is going to make a great film!

Does your first sentence not contradict your last though? I think agnosticism is the rational viewpoint but I also think that sometimes there is a need to make a decision.

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Stichtplate 11 Mar 2020
In reply to cumbria mammoth:

> We create our own hell by ignoring Gods message. Rape, murder, child abuse, and even Covid 19, are created by the choices of mankind. Even the suffering caused by cancer could be lessened if as a society we made better choices.

And now you've totally lost me. So at the final reckoning God gets to turn to the raped child, the blameless cancer victim, etc, shrug his shoulders and just say "tough, mankind should have made better choices". If that sort of God wants my praise and devotion, he can shove it up his arse.

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cumbria mammoth 11 Mar 2020
In reply to Rob Exile Ward:

> 'The concept of God that I am contemplating is that he pretty much is the conscious universe. So yes.'

> So, let me get this straight. You imagine god as an entity with a recognisable attribute of consciousness that comprehends and controls the entire universe, and at the same time takes an interest in - and can affect - every individual within it. (What level of organism is included, by the way? Are extra terrestrials included?)

> I'm sorry, I just don't understand how people turn off their critical faculties - their scientific analysis of their environment and experience - and the common sense that has enabled them to navigate into adulthood - and believe this 'non-sense'. Not very open minded or charitable of me, I know. 

If you can't comprehend a God then it won't make any difference whether I describe him as universal or as this sky fairy that people want to characterise belief as.

If you are willing to at least explore the concept then yes, it has to be along the lines of what you have described there better than I have put it. What else does omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient mean? I would speculate that God would take an interest in all conscious organisms including any extra-terrestrial ones.

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Rob Exile Ward 11 Mar 2020
In reply to cumbria mammoth:

Takes an interest? Where was he/she when Nazi victims were thrown, fully conscious, into crematoria? Where was he/she when children were torn from their parents and sold to different slave owners? Where is he/she when children die of incurable and agonising diseases?

There's only two possible explanations. He/she doesn't care. Or he/she doesn't exist. I know which I believe.

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jethro kiernan 11 Mar 2020
In reply to john arran:

I fine example of ignorance on a topical subject, the Catholic Church doing its it bit during the Spanish flu epidemic 

“Inevitably, people found it easy to revert to more mystical, and more fatalistic, explanations of what was happening. In the deeply pious Spanish city of Zamora, for example, the local bishop defied the health authorities by ordering a novena – evening prayers on nine consecutive days – in honour of Saint Rocco, the patron saint of plague and pestilence. This involved churchgoers lining up to kiss the saint’s relics, around the time that the outbreak peaked. Zamora went on to record the highest flu-related death rate of any city in Spain, and one of the highest in Europe.”

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Sir Chasm 11 Mar 2020
In reply to cumbria mammoth:

> We create our own hell by ignoring Gods message. Rape, murder, child abuse, and even Covid 19, are created by the choices of mankind. Even the suffering caused by cancer could be lessened if as a society we made better choices.

But as you say god is omniscient and omnipotent he knew we would make those choices and he could stop it (or have made it never happen). So presumably he wants a world with rape, murder, child abuse etc. That's quite messed up. 

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In reply to cumbria mammoth:

> We create our own hell by ignoring Gods message. Rape, murder, child abuse, and even Covid 19, are created by the choices of mankind. 

 

covid 19 is created by mankind’s choice to ignore god’s message?

you’re going to have to help me out a bit on this one

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john arran 12 Mar 2020
In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs:

> covid 19 is created by mankind’s choice to ignore god’s message?

> you’re going to have to help me out a bit on this one

It's just one of the logical contortions that end up being necessary in an attempt to evade proof-establishing contradiction, given the starting point of an axiomatic god.

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wercat 12 Mar 2020
In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs:

He did say "the choices of mankind".  Which is exactly what scientists were saying about the origins of the current outbreak in China.  People's choices to hold the kinds of animal/food markets that they do.  I'm not sure you can refute that COVID19 point.

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cb294 12 Mar 2020
In reply to cumbria mammoth:

> It's the other way around. I'm not invoking God to explain those spiritual experiences or anything else. The existence of God is one of my foundational beliefs and I am fascinated by the idea that there may be a way to experience God directly.

Taking something as a "foundational belief" includes invoking its existence.

> If the existence of God is taken for granted, as it is for me, then the latter is certainly plausible.

And if not, it appears like a ridiculous leap of faith that you would never make in any other context. Why discard the principles of parsimony and likelihood that you, like everybody uses all the time in real life once we start "looking inward"? Is it really a car that is driving towards me or just a hologram or a hallucination? I know which explanation is favoured by Darwinian selection.

> I'd be very interested to know why you felt you had to discard the concept of God? Fair enough, religions over the ages have become corrupted and have attached a number of superstitions to the core message, that you can use your judgement to discard, but I'm not aware of any evidence that there is no creator. If you were to start out as a blank slate I think the rational position would be to be agnostic on the issue (although fence sitting is not always a virtue) but if you start out with a belief in God I don't see any compelling reason to discard that belief.

Parsimony/Ockham's razor. Assuming the existence of a god, especially one that interferes in our affairs adds no explanatory power. Once I understood that, I made my choice. Regardless of what others say, you cannot be religious and a scientist without amazing levels of Orwellian double think (or Douglas Adams' electric monk).

Pick any religion and you will find bullshit dogma (virgin birth, bodily resurrection, reincarnation,...). Actually I think it is important for religions to include such bizarre concepts so people accept the double think as normal and suspend their critical faculties.

> I agree, there have been some great artistic contributions that have been driven by religion, but the art and the ritual are unimportant. Their purpose is to remind people of their need for a personal relationship with God.

No, the purpose of rituals is to promote social structure and coherence, which is why every single society has developed concepts and rituals that even today shape our lives (seven day weeks, religious festivals marking out the seasons, ideas about "sin" and morals, etc....).

Even modern, atheist societies need ritual, perhaps even more so because they lack a shared, abstract faith that helps keep society together. The specific content of the ritual is indeed almost irrelevant.

CB

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cumbria mammoth 12 Mar 2020
In reply to recent posts on the topic of evil/suffering in the world:

Seeing as God is omnipresent he is suffering along with the rest of us. We clearly don't live in heaven but we are promised a better existence to come. God is sovereign over everything that happens, but he is not responsible for evil. Evildoers are responsible for their sins and will face judgement.

God lets us make choices then we allow bad things to happen and then we blame God. It seems that many want God to be a dictator who forces his will on mankind.

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cumbria mammoth 12 Mar 2020
In reply to cb294:

I don't see a need for the existence of God to have any explanatory power. It's intuitive knowledge that is shared by many people who feel that there is a spiritual side to existence. It isn't an explanation for gaps in our scientific knowledge. I don't think God interferes in our affairs other than by perhaps giving us ideas which we are free to accept or reject. Belief in God doesn't make any other knowledge any simpler or more complex.

Post edited at 22:13
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Sir Chasm 12 Mar 2020
In reply to cumbria mammoth:

> Seeing as God is omnipresent he is suffering along with the rest of us. We clearly don't live in heaven but we are promised a better existence to come. God is sovereign over everything that happens, but he is not responsible for evil. Evildoers are responsible for their sins and will face judgement.

Are you now saying god didn't create everything? 

> God lets us make choices then we allow bad things to happen and then we blame God. It seems that many want God to be a dictator who forces his will on mankind.

Would you end child abuse if you could? 

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Stichtplate 12 Mar 2020
In reply to cumbria mammoth:

> Seeing as God is omnipresent he is suffering along with the rest of us. We clearly don't live in heaven but we are promised a better existence to come. God is sovereign over everything that happens, but he is not responsible for evil. Evildoers are responsible for their sins and will face judgement.

> God lets us make choices then we allow bad things to happen and then we blame God. It seems that many want God to be a dictator who forces his will on mankind.

So God doesn't do bad stuff. Presumably he doesn't do good stuff either. So if we can't see him and he doesn't do anything, how is this any different from him not existing at all? and if he does exist WTF is he for?

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captain paranoia 13 Mar 2020
In reply to cumbria mammoth:

> We create our own hell by ignoring Gods message. Rape, murder, child abuse, and even Covid 19, are created by the choices of mankind. Even the suffering caused by cancer could be lessened if as a society we made better choices.

Wow. I don't think we've seen such a dogmatic view of religion on here since the days of the UKC Holy Wars.

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cb294 13 Mar 2020
In reply to cumbria mammoth:

Intuitive knowledge? Yeah sure....

CB

edit: This reply was a bit short and flippant. Here is the longer version. The concept of intuitive knowledge sounds completely mad. Knowledge must be derived from some basis, and it must be clear how you get there. It cannot just appear. Any knowledge also must have explanatory or predictive power. It must account for all we know in the field where it applies, and be able to explain stuff better than other or previous ideas. Yes there are concepts hard wired into our brains such as the concept of agency which presumably underlies our intuitive tendency to adhere to some faith, but that is not "knowledge".

For me it is hard to understand how anyone can at the same time accept the findings of modern science, and be religious at the same time. This is most pertinent for me as a scientist, but also applies to everyone who in their daily life accepts that modern sciences like biology or physics largely get things right, e.g. anyone who trusts their satnav, uses the internet, or believes that the current pneumonia wave is caused by a virus rather than witches that can be conveniently burned.

In this context, postulating the existence of an active God that places ideas in our brains seems ridiculous. Most religions even attribute human properties like names, powers, character traits etc. to these unseen entities, which seems particularly weird.

To argue that the same rational approach we accept in all other contexts becomes invalid if only the questions are "deep" enough appears like a deliberate act of lying to yourself.

CB

Post edited at 09:21
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Rob Exile Ward 13 Mar 2020
In reply to cb294:

I had (have?) a friend who was a great engineer … and also belonged to a weird sect that believed the literal truth of the bible. 

When we had a discussion about evolution his argument was that he didn't believe in geological time, and I couldn't prove it existed. I.e. as the world was only 6000 years old there wasn't time for evolution to have occurred. I thought about that for a while and thought, yes I probably can: I can measure the speed of light, I can calculate how far stars are away, and therefore how old the images that we are seeing today are... in short, there is a huge matrix of interrelated phenomena that correlate with one another and form a (more or less) coherent whole. To not believe in say,  geological time, means the whole edifice crumbles and nothing makes sense.  

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In reply to wercat:

> He did say "the choices of mankind".  Which is exactly what scientists were saying about the origins of the current outbreak in China.  People's choices to hold the kinds of animal/food markets that they do.  I'm not sure you can refute that COVID19 point.

People didn’t create the coronavirus, it was part of the natural world. Therefore presumably created by God in CM’s world view. And if God is omniscient then he knew that by creating this virus, and creating people who eat meat, including the animals that the virus would naturally infect, then it would be inevitable that human infection would follow. I find it tricky to see what the point of a just and caring God creating such a virus would be.
 

And yes, people’s behaviour has been the source of the outbreak. And if there was an explicit stricture in some religious text that people had transgressed, ‘thou shalt not eat pangolins, be they ever so tasty, on pain of a terrible plague being visited on the world’, then he may have a point. But there isn’t, that I’m aware of. And even if there was, the morality of pensioners in Italy dying because people on the other side of the world ate an animal they’d never even heard of would be pretty skewed. 

Could it be a judgement on the behaviour of the Chinese communist party leadership? If so, then the collateral damage is pretty severe. A bit like the sentence handed down for murder being the nuclear bombing of the whole country the murderer lived in. Again, I’m struggling to square that with the concept of a God of love and compassion. 

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Coel Hellier 13 Mar 2020
In reply to Rob Exile Ward:

> I thought about that for a while and thought, yes I probably can: I can measure the speed of light, I can calculate how far stars are away, and therefore how old the images that we are seeing today are...

You're not up with your theology are you?   God simply created the light half way towards us, giving the appearance of an older universe.  

This was worked out by theologians in the 19th century, discussing whether Adam was created with a belly button or not.  See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omphalos_(book)  

Indeed we're told that fig leaves in that-era depictions of Adam and Eve were not so much about modesty, but more about covering the location of the navel, so that the artist didn't have to make a theological statement about that issue. 

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cb294 13 Mar 2020
In reply to Rob Exile Ward:

Precisely, and much better phrased than my attempt.

To accept the modern world view that makes a coherent whole and to enjoy its derivative, technology, but to then arbitrarily add deities, demons, shared consciousnesses, chakras, spirit animals, crystal powers, angels, and whatever else comes to mind, is not an intellectually defensible position.

CB

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In reply to cumbria mammoth:

> Seeing as God is omnipresent he is suffering along with the rest of us. We clearly don't live in heaven but we are promised a better existence to come. God is sovereign over everything that happens, but he is not responsible for evil. Evildoers are responsible for their sins and will face judgement.

who is responsible for this then?

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Onchocerciasis

> God lets us make choices then we allow bad things to happen and then we blame God.

the children blinded by this infection didn’t make a choice to be born in a location where this organism lives. I’m having a hard time pinning the blame on them.

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cb294 13 Mar 2020
In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs:

Forget ethics and guilt, if there was a creator or intelligent designer he should be censured for incompetence.

My favourite example is the digestive system of rabbits and their ilk: First the creator forgot to equip them with enzymes able to break down plant cell walls, bodged that by enlisting the help of gut bacteria and protozoa that are housed in a fermenter (the enlarged diverticulum), didn't spot that he then placed this fermenter at the wrong end of the small intestine, so the rest of the gut cannot absorb the nutrient released by the gut bacteria, forcing the poor animals to eat their shit if they want to avoid starvation.

The solution he came up with for horses was a bit better (ah well, lets equip a bit of the large intestine with resorptive cells), and that in cows and their relatives even better (let's put the fermenter upstream of the small intestine, even if we then have to chew vomit).

Guess rabbits were created early Monday morning, after a hard Sunday night.

"And on the eighth day god created Rabbits, but they were a bit shit. And God thus spoke: Oh well, lets have go with something a bit bit bigger tomorrow..."

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cb294 13 Mar 2020
In reply to cumbria mammoth:

And to add something more serious to my earlier replies: You asked me above when I "lost" my childhood belief.

IMO the argument about coherence also works the other way around: As soon as I was old enough to spot that some concepts presented in the bible are bullshit I rather quickly came to the idea that these stories cannot be taken literally and that we should look for the underlying ideas. However, where do you draw the line? The creation stories (two contradicting ones!), merely metaphor? Virgin birth? Resurrection? An immortal soul? Angels? Pull out any of these, and the whole structure collapses.

Eventually I decided to just bin the whole idea as a collection of left over, bronze age superstitions that were succesfully retained because they established power structure in society. Life makes much more sense without them.

I am not ridiculing people thousands of years ago for not knowing better, and the topics addressed by most religions are really core problems of the human condition: Where do we come from? How do we fit in with others? Where do we go? In that, tracking the history and development of religious ideas, and stuying (and enjoying) its spin offs in, say, art and music is interesting, but does not give us answers to the questions religion claims to address.

CB

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cumbria mammoth 13 Mar 2020
In reply to cb294:

I agree that intuitive and experiential knowledge of God is not verifiable enough to be included as part of the body of scientific knowledge but I am not arguing for that. Scientific knowledge is the most reliable part of the body of knowledge, but still only a part of it. As they say, “I think therefore I am” is all anyone can absolutely know but everybody intuitively knows that to be bollocks. Only with that intuitive knowledge can you be sure that other people and phenomena exist. The foundations of our knowledge are self evident. Intuitive knowledge also allows people to come up with falsifiable hypotheses which can then be tested.

The scientific approach is a reliable method that allows us to correct mistakes because if measurable experiential knowledge can be reliably reproduced then it can be classed as scientific knowledge, a more reliable tier of knowledge. People do acquire knowledge through experience though and there are many accounts of people who have had an experience of God. You offer another plausible explanation for those experiences.

You have that intuitive knowledge that other people and phenomena exist, I also have an additional intuitive knowledge that God exists and I am interested to find out about the experiential knowledge that others tell of. We each have much more intuitive understanding of the way the world works than we do scientific knowledge.

I think very few Christians read the bible literally and its purpose is not to give us scientific knowledge either. Personally I treat the words of Jesus Christ as truth and then look cautiously for the underlying meaning in the other parts of the bible.

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cumbria mammoth 13 Mar 2020
In reply to replies on topic of suffering:

God is our creator and our purpose is to serve God not the other way around. So suffering is part of the world that he created and seeing as he is perfectly good, omnipotent and omnipresent, then I can only conclude that the ultimate good is not our pleasure or our freedom from pain. Those that suffer in this life (all of us) have a promise of that perfect existence in the hereafter. God made way for the potential of suffering in this world but mankind’s choices have amplified it terribly.

Some posit that God’s purpose is not actually good. Well let’s look at what he wants from us –

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength”. And “Love your neighbour as yourself”.

When you remember that the Lord your God is omnipresent so the first is an exhortation to love everything in the interconnected universe, and the second exhorts you to give as much opportunity, comfort, and fulfilment out of life, as you would want for yourself, to those you can affect. It seems to me that this is what any ethicist would recognise as the ultimate good that we can achieve at least.

Post edited at 23:26
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Sir Chasm 13 Mar 2020
In reply to cumbria mammoth:

> God is our creator and our purpose is to serve God not the other way around. So suffering is part of the world that he created and seeing as he is perfectly good, omnipotent and omnipresent, then I can only conclude that the ultimate good is not our pleasure or our freedom from pain. Those that suffer in this life (all of us) have a promise of that perfect existence in the hereafter. God made way for the potential of suffering in this world but mankind’s choices have amplified it terribly.

What's the point? Why make your children suffer just so after you've killed them you can say "sorry about the murder and torture and cancer I gave you,  but isn't this nice now?"? 

And you still haven't explained why god made evil. 

> Some posit that God’s purpose is not actually good. Well let’s look at what he wants from us –

> “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength”. And “Love your neighbour as yourself”.

> When you remember that the Lord your God is omnipresent so the first is an exhortation to love everything in the interconnected universe, and the second exhorts you to give as much opportunity, comfort, and fulfilment out of life, as you would want for yourself, to those you can affect. It seems to me that this is what any ethicist would recognise as the ultimate good that we can achieve at least.

So if the ultimate good is to give comfort, why does god deliberately torture people? Is torture good for us? 

Post edited at 23:38
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Stichtplate 13 Mar 2020
In reply to cumbria mammoth:

> God is our creator and our purpose is to serve God not the other way around. So suffering is part of the world that he created and seeing as he is perfectly good, omnipotent and omnipresent, then I can only conclude that the ultimate good is not our pleasure or our freedom from pain. Those that suffer in this life (all of us) have a promise of that perfect existence in the hereafter. God made way for the potential of suffering in this world but mankind’s choices have amplified it terribly.

I've had the misfortune to come across people who have beaten the crap out of their partners/pets/children. Invariably with the same reasoning either "it's for their own good", or "their behaviour meant I had to do it".

Every one of these evil shits was a weak minded coward seeking to boost their own low self worth through inflicting suffering on others. I wouldn't piss on a god like that if he was on fire, let alone worship him. 

To be completely blunt, if that's the sort of god you want to devote your life to, then I worry for your state of mind.

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colinakmc 13 Mar 2020
In reply to john arran:

I think it’s an intrinsic part of human psychology. Hence religion. On a more gormless level, anytime I’m coming off a hill in the gathering  dark, I tend to find that the right time to put my head torch on is when the rocks, bushes etc start turning into moving animals - my brain is reinterpreting the insufficient information my eyes are transcribing.

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captain paranoia 14 Mar 2020
In reply to cumbria mammoth:

> Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength”. And “Love your neighbour as yourself

Well, if we're quoting Matthew...

Matt 22:37 love the lord thy God with all thy heart and all thy soul and all thy mind
-  does this give any ethical guidance at all? or is it merely an enforcing function, keeping you 'within the faith'?
Matt 22:39 love thy neighbour as thyself
- aka 'do unto others as you would have them do unto you'
Matt 22:40 on [this] commandment hangs all the law
- that's it; that's all you need (Matt 22:39). You really don't need any of the other nonsense, including God. Think about how you would like to be treated, and treat people that way.

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cumbria mammoth 14 Mar 2020
In reply to captain paranoia:

> Well, if we're quoting Matthew...

> Matt 22:37 love the lord thy God with all thy heart and all thy soul and all thy mind

> -  does this give any ethical guidance at all? or is it merely an enforcing function, keeping you 'within the faith'?

> Matt 22:39 love thy neighbour as thyself

> - aka 'do unto others as you would have them do unto you'

> Matt 22:40 on [this] commandment hangs all the law

> - that's it; that's all you need (Matt 22:39). You really don't need any of the other nonsense, including God. Think about how you would like to be treated, and treat people that way.

It is all you need and it's much stronger than you think it is. You are being asked to 'love your neighbour as you love yourself'How much time and effort does each of us put in to looking after ourselves? Our health, our comfort, our family, our social status, accumulating possessions, experiences and learning, our safety, etc. To comply you would need to expend all that time and effort into others. It's a much stronger commandment than 'do unto others as you would have them do unto you'.

And yes, 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength' is ethical. When you understand God as omnipresent, the universal consciousness within which all things are connected, then this is telling you to love all of creation with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.

Think of this spiritual experience that people have, the divine encounter with the universal consciousness within which all things are connected, and the complete dissolution of the sense of self. It is not a matter of following some laws and rituals, Jesus is telling us that the way to God is that we need to completely disregard the self and live entirely for others and the rest of creation.

This is the standard that we are meant to be striving for.

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cumbria mammoth 14 Mar 2020
In reply to Stichtplate: Sir Chasm

If you want to characterise the omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient, etc, God as evil then good luck to you.

I know that God exists and I know that suffering exists. I don't consider myself as so important that I shouldn't have to suffer when even the almighty God is prepared to suffer. I don't consider that my ethical standards and learning are better than those of the mind as big as the universe either. So the only thing left is that there is a more important purpose to this existence and I look forward to the end of suffering that God promises for us in our future existence.

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Gordon Stainforth 15 Mar 2020
In reply to cumbria mammoth:

> I think agnosticism is the rational viewpoint but I also think that sometimes there is a need to make a decision.

Why on earth? ... when one cannot establish what one is making a decision about? i.e. can't even formulate a coherent question? It's a bit like asking me to make a decision (as a non-scientist) about string theory, when a lot of top physicists doubt their existence. Why on earth is it important to the way I run my life? I often 'hedge my bets', as it were, and behave as if there were a god, but that's the best I can do, I'm afraid. I really can't waste time fruitlessly thinking about the existence of a possible 'higher being', and think it's rather better to concentrate on trying to do ones best in this life, contributing to the world, helping people, etc, rather than pondering about other worlds, and even more absurdly, some kind of afterlife. (I can't even think of any possible afterlife that would be remotely tolerable, anyway.)

PS. I'm happy enough to think (like Spinoza) that nature *IS* 'god'. That's good enough for me.

Post edited at 01:04
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wercat 15 Mar 2020
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

There was a school of thought that at some time in the future an omniscient God could be constructed "by the Universe - ie conscious parts of or existing in it) which, by being outside time, would thus be existing at the start of the Universe as well.

A bit like CS Lewis imagining a God that has all eternity to hear the prayer of an airman as his plane crashes in flames because it exists outside time.

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krikoman 15 Mar 2020
In reply to cumbria mammoth:

> I know that God exists and I know that suffering exists. I don't consider myself as so important that I shouldn't have to suffer when even the almighty God is prepared to suffer.

When did God suffer, and from what?

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Sir Chasm 15 Mar 2020
In reply to cumbria mammoth:

> Sir Chasm

> If you want to characterise the omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient, etc, God as evil then good luck to you.

I didn't claim god is evil. I asked why god created evil.

> I know that God exists and I know that suffering exists. I don't consider myself as so important that I shouldn't have to suffer when even the almighty God is prepared to suffer. I don't consider that my ethical standards and learning are better than those of the mind as big as the universe either. So the only thing left is that there is a more important purpose to this existence and I look forward to the end of suffering that God promises for us in our future existence.

There's a funeral in our village next week, it's for a 4 month old child who died of cancer, your god sounds like a bit of a shit.

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Pefa 15 Mar 2020
In reply to Sir Chasm:

>> The concept of God that I am contemplating is that he pretty much is the conscious universe. So yes.

> I suppose corona virus (rape, murder, child abuse, cancer etcetera, etcetera, etcetera) are therefore things he made that he could stop if he chose. 

For consciousness to localise into a subject as in being born is a fascinating play because we are removed from our oneness, peace and happiness and shoved into an incredible, exhilarating yet scary existence.

I fully remember when everything in my long daily meditation practice started bearing true fruit and the clouds parted to awakening,to infinite ultimate reality for the first time. Then again after and I remember after meditating once at that time thinking this is it, finally! this is the Nirvana the ultimate that I have always wondered about, but I seen that with this new found reality I had a decision to make. 

Everything I had fun with before from games, sports, politics even sex, in fact all the things we get a great buzz from,the agonies and the ecstasies, all the ego stuff that we love so much as it gives us that temporary feel good fix was seen for what it is and you are faced with a decision : do I carry on into real reality or do I fall back into the games, the complaints, desires that I know and love. 

It was a really tough one because you don't know if all the activities you have spent your life loving and hating are now going to be of no interest to you anymore and the only thing that will be is to either help others by spreading your spiritual experience or just live as a quiet aesthetic, but what of my relationship!!!Will I lose my crazy but fun personality? Will I become boring? I am in love for 12 years and don't want that to stop either,do I really want to lose my desires or do I love all the agonies and ecstasies too much? 

Eventually you realise that the shift is not that you don't still have fun with games, activities, relationships anymore or lose your mischievous nature or sense of humour but that you do not need them to give you happiness, peace and love and nor do you have any interest in anything ego related. Amongst many many other things to. 

Don't ask me how but I wonder if we are manifest (are born) because we want to be, because something, perhaps a strong desire for objects (feelings etc) that comes from previous strong experience and desire for objects pulls us back into a body. 

And by manifesting, manifesting requires a split it requires two: a subject and an object and a consequence of manifesting is in order to experience the sweet we must also by definition experience the sour,pleasure must be accompanied by pain. Pain reminds us that this is not right and we long to be as we truely are which is one again and pleasure shows us our true nature of oneness but it is also a bitter fruit as to seek true happiness in objects is like drilling holes in water. And since this duality is a prerequisite then the great enlightened teachers tell us that to be born is suffering (Buddha) or to be born is to be in sin (Jesus). 

Ultimately though you are not a subject and objects but all one and the same so it is an illusion but we need to live, experience and experiment before we can suss that out and hopefully before we go back to oneness (die) we can suss it out. And then your desires to come back again (be born) are quelled hence Nirvana. 

Post edited at 16:52
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Rob Exile Ward 15 Mar 2020
In reply to cumbria mammoth:

'So the only thing left is that there is a more important purpose to this existence and I look forward to the end of suffering that God promises for us in our future existence.'

I'm always struck by the paradox that although Christians purport to believe in life after death they are equally keen to pray to avoid it for as long as possible. It's almost as if they don't really, really believe as much as they say... 

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Pefa 15 Mar 2020
In reply to Rob Exile Ward:

During an epic on a mountain in atrocious winter weather you think you will die and never see your loved ones again so you pray to God the weather clears. We have all experienced similar situations but that doesn't mean for a Christian you don't have faith that when death does come that there is an afterlife, it just means that you would prefer for it not to happen now. No? 

Post edited at 23:01
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Gordon Stainforth 17 Mar 2020
In reply to Pefa:

> During an epic on a mountain in atrocious winter weather you think you will die and never see your loved ones again so you pray to God the weather clears. We have all experienced similar situations but that doesn't mean for a Christian you don't have faith that when death does come that there is an afterlife, it just means that you would prefer for it not to happen now. No? 

Your answer is most peculiar, because 'you' in your first sentence seems to apply to everyone, but in the second, simply to Christians. Plus you add a third thing: a belief in an afterlife. So the whole thing doesn't fit together at all, i.e. it doesn't work as an argument. We're just left with a jumble of interesting-sounding words.

Your final comment (that we'd rather not die now, but later) is a truism that doesn't help your 'argument' in any way that I can see.

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Pefa 17 Mar 2020
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

I set up a scenario that believers and non-believers have probably all experienced to some degree where matters are as they say, in the hands of the gods,so you find yourself issuing forth a wee prayer to help save you from a premature death so that you can continue to live and see loved ones etc.

In this situation if a Christian does the same it doesn't necessarily mean that he/she doesn't believe in an afterlife in fact it's probably more likely that he/she feels the need to live longer for other reasons ie.your still young, have Kids, partner, other loved ones, life etc hence the prayer ye know?

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stp 17 Mar 2020
In reply to john arran:

Great question John. If I'm honest I don't know the answer but forget that. Instead I prefer to make something up so here goes.

My guess is that we're probably hard wired to do so. If we don't have an answer to something it's difficult to make decisions. So we if we don't know we make up something so we can decide what to do and move forward.

Of course this doesn't apply to many things today but if we think over the thousands of years of human evolution such a habit might be more advantageous than not. Knowledge is power. Even it's totally wrong (like some God or religion) people will respect you if you have the answers.

But as I said at the beginning, who knows really?

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cumbria mammoth 17 Mar 2020
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

> Why on earth? ... when one cannot establish what one is making a decision about? i.e. can't even formulate a coherent question? It's a bit like asking me to make a decision (as a non-scientist) about string theory, when a lot of top physicists doubt their existence. Why on earth is it important to the way I run my life? I often 'hedge my bets', as it were, and behave as if there were a god, but that's the best I can do, I'm afraid. I really can't waste time fruitlessly thinking about the existence of a possible 'higher being', and think it's rather better to concentrate on trying to do ones best in this life, contributing to the world, helping people, etc, rather than pondering about other worlds, and even more absurdly, some kind of afterlife. (I can't even think of any possible afterlife that would be remotely tolerable, anyway.)

> PS. I'm happy enough to think (like Spinoza) that nature *IS* 'god'. That's good enough for me.

Why? Because if there is a creator then the next question is what are we created for (if anything)? I don't have that answer but what I am pretty certain of is that our lives are meant to be a struggle against the ego.

Your nature is God idea is not far away from the type of God I am describing. I said earlier that a lot of people intuitively know that there is a spiritual aspect to existence. I think this is more common than it would seem at first appearance. In our society, where such belief is looked down on, a lot of people won't admit to a belief in God, but many will say that they believe in some sort of a higher power.

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cumbria mammoth 17 Mar 2020
In reply to krikoman:

> When did God suffer, and from what?

As I've already said, the omnipresent God is suffering along with each of us who suffers. Then there is the ultimate act of wilfully undergoing suffering on behalf of others when he submitted to be tortured by evil men and took his execution on the cross, despite having done no wrong.

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Archy Styrigg 17 Mar 2020
In reply to cumbria mammoth:

What a f*cking man!!!

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cumbria mammoth 17 Mar 2020
In reply to Sir Chasm:

> I didn't claim god is evil. I asked why god created evil.

God created a world which includes the existence of suffering for reasons I do not know. God didn't create evil, that comes from mankind's choice to rebel against God.

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cumbria mammoth 17 Mar 2020
In reply to Rob Exile Ward:

> 'So the only thing left is that there is a more important purpose to this existence and I look forward to the end of suffering that God promises for us in our future existence.'

> I'm always struck by the paradox that although Christians purport to believe in life after death they are equally keen to pray to avoid it for as long as possible. It's almost as if they don't really, really believe as much as they say... 

Most, if not all, people have a fear of death at some level don't they. Some, like the apostle Paul, may welcome death but feel they have unfinished work to do in this life, there may be dependants. An existence after death is not necessarily a comforting thought, what happens if you come face to face with the divine and have not managed to overcome your ego? We all have doubts.

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Archy Styrigg 17 Mar 2020
In reply to cumbria mammoth:

No no no, it's always man's fault isn't it? Never the God that created man with the will to rebel against his creator.

God went to the wrong school of Goodness if you ask me. Or has he just got a 2000 year grudge against us because we nailed his dubiously spawned son on some bits of wood?

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Gordon Stainforth 17 Mar 2020
In reply to cumbria mammoth:

> Why? Because if there is a creator then the next question is what are we created for (if anything)? I don't have that answer but what I am pretty certain of is that our lives are meant to be a struggle against the ego.

> Your nature is God idea is not far away from the type of God I am describing. I said earlier that a lot of people intuitively know that there is a spiritual aspect to existence. I think this is more common than it would seem at first appearance. In our society, where such belief is looked down on, a lot of people won't admit to a belief in God, but many will say that they believe in some sort of a higher power.

I can't get my head at all easily round your first paragraph, which could frankly be the subject of several whole books.

In your second paragraph I think we have more than a modicum of agreement, happily. What you say there is important, substance of which is all too easily sneered at by many.

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cumbria mammoth 17 Mar 2020
In reply to Pefa:

> >> The concept of God that I am contemplating is that he pretty much is the conscious universe. So yes.

> For consciousness to localise into a subject as in being born is a fascinating play because we are removed from our oneness, peace and happiness and shoved into an incredible, exhilarating yet scary existence.

> I fully remember when everything in my long daily meditation practice started bearing true fruit and the clouds parted to awakening,to infinite ultimate reality for the first time. Then again after and I remember after meditating once at that time thinking this is it, finally! this is the Nirvana the ultimate that I have always wondered about, but I seen that with this new found reality I had a decision to make. 

> Everything I had fun with before from games, sports, politics even sex, in fact all the things we get a great buzz from,the agonies and the ecstasies, all the ego stuff that we love so much as it gives us that temporary feel good fix was seen for what it is and you are faced with a decision : do I carry on into real reality or do I fall back into the games, the complaints, desires that I know and love. 

> It was a really tough one because you don't know if all the activities you have spent your life loving and hating are now going to be of no interest to you anymore and the only thing that will be is to either help others by spreading your spiritual experience or just live as a quiet aesthetic, but what of my relationship!!!Will I lose my crazy but fun personality? Will I become boring? I am in love for 12 years and don't want that to stop either,do I really want to lose my desires or do I love all the agonies and ecstasies too much? 

> Eventually you realise that the shift is not that you don't still have fun with games, activities, relationships anymore or lose your mischievous nature or sense of humour but that you do not need them to give you happiness, peace and love and nor do you have any interest in anything ego related. Amongst many many other things to. 

> Don't ask me how but I wonder if we are manifest (are born) because we want to be, because something, perhaps a strong desire for objects (feelings etc) that comes from previous strong experience and desire for objects pulls us back into a body. 

> And by manifesting, manifesting requires a split it requires two: a subject and an object and a consequence of manifesting is in order to experience the sweet we must also by definition experience the sour,pleasure must be accompanied by pain. Pain reminds us that this is not right and we long to be as we truely are which is one again and pleasure shows us our true nature of oneness but it is also a bitter fruit as to seek true happiness in objects is like drilling holes in water. And since this duality is a prerequisite then the great enlightened teachers tell us that to be born is suffering (Buddha) or to be born is to be in sin (Jesus). 

> Ultimately though you are not a subject and objects but all one and the same so it is an illusion but we need to live, experience and experiment before we can suss that out and hopefully before we go back to oneness (die) we can suss it out. And then your desires to come back again (be born) are quelled hence Nirvana. 

Just to underline to the thread that, even if Pefa doesn't necessarily label this as an experience of God, this would seem to me to be pretty much the same message that Jesus is giving us where he says "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength”. And “Love your neighbour as yourself", and where he talks of being born again and says things like “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

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Gordon Stainforth 17 Mar 2020
In reply to cumbria mammoth:

There's a huge problem in this thread, in that it's about a direct clash between sincere beliefs and logical truths. They just don't mesh. I really respect and will never sneer at sincere beliefs, but scientific theories and facts (thus far verified) are something very different again in that they have to be empirically verified. But then, even when that level of certainty seems to have been achieved, there always remains the possibility that the whole postulate might be overturned by some future scientific advance. So, one has to concede that the empirical side can be a bit wobbly too. 

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Pefa 18 Mar 2020
In reply to cumbria mammoth:

> Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

That's an excellent quote thanks for sharing. 

To manifest in a body you seek the pleasures of a body, it's senses and all the wonderful experiences of life which could be the meaning behind the twin sayings that life is suffering (Buddha) and life is sin (Jesus). Because to manifest you must suffer and you will sin until you realise your ultimate nature - big consciousness /God. 

I mean big consciousness is where mind ends, it is beyond the understanding of mind as mind needs duality and in big consciousness /God there is no duality as all is one.Which is why Christian teachings and Buddhist as well as Vedantic are full of metaphors because you are trying to describe something that is beyond describing. 

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Pefa 18 Mar 2020
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

If science is on the side of verification and logic then why does it have a faith that matter exists outside of consciousness when a kid or anyone else can show you it doesn't? 

Post edited at 01:34
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freeflyer 19 Mar 2020
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

> There's a huge problem in this thread, in that it's about a direct clash between sincere beliefs and logical truths. 

Belief is all about agreement.

The great power of science is that it provides a formal way to agree what you are talking about. it's a massive leap forward in human thinking.

However your point is that this agreement is still that  - just an agreement that something is so, and can be superceded at a stroke by (in your words) a future scientific advance. In other words, a different description that gives more insights.

We think of faith as something different, but really it's the same. We try to agree that our inconsistent beliefs help us to make sense of the world. If those beliefs work for lots of people, they become a "religion". In this context, science is a religion, although that description is not helpful as it tends to polarise the discussion!

I often despair at the polarised conflict between evangelists and atheist scientists, because they totally fail to understand one another, however I shouldn't be surprised, I guess.

Terry Pratchett remarked that belief is what makes us human; it makes the difference between the sun rising, and a mere flaming ball of gas illuminating the world.

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Gordon Stainforth 19 Mar 2020
In reply to freeflyer:

Thanks for that very interesting answer. I'm mulling on it – it's a bit too late at night now to reply to it.

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Rob Exile Ward 19 Mar 2020
In reply to freeflyer:

'The great power of science is that it provides a formal way to agree what you are talking about. '

I'm sorry I really don't agree with that. The great power of science is that is assumes that the universe can be understood, and it provides an iterative mechanism to achieving that; it really is rather more fundamental than 'agreeing what you are talking about.'

Science isn't just another way of looking at the world, with the same status as a religious world view: it's a way of changing the world; and it has  delivered. It has given us unprecedented life expectancy, trips to the moon, humble(!) jet airliners, an extraordinary level of comfort and sensory fulfilment. Despite thousands of years trying, religion hasn't of itself shifted a single grain of sand 1 mm; try it for yourself if you like. There have been scientifically conducted  experiments where 1,000s (or is it millions?) have prayed for the health of sick individuals - it has never bl**dy worked! Ever.

I 'believe' in science because I can see the effect it has when I fly in a plane, or take medicine; religious belief is, by definition, where despite all your experience screaming that it makes 'no sense' - people still purport to suspend their common sense and fall back on the myths they were comforted with as children. 

The difference really is rather more profound than different ways of communicating..

Post edited at 10:00
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freeflyer 19 Mar 2020
In reply to Rob Exile Ward:

I also 'believe' in science.

> science assumes that the universe can be understood.

This is a belief. Actually I disagree with your formulation, as I would say instead that science is a great way to model the universe in a way that we can benefit from. Your iterative corollary is spot on.

The key word in my description is the word 'model'; in my previous post, I called it 'a formal agreement that something is so'. There may be a correlation between the model and reality (whatever that is) but we can't know for sure. If the model works and allows us to do useful things like make aeroplanes, that gives us confidence that there is a connection of some kind. When the Wright brothers developed their techniques for aerodynamic control, they weren't aware of Navier-Stokes and used the Smeaton coefficient; two different models for lift each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Smeaton isn't accurate but it was good enough - their rationale as practical engineers was to make the machine fly like a bird!

My point is that whether your understanding of the world conforms to reality is irrelevant to your ability to prosper as a human being. I would say that probably it does not, but that's just my opinion; it's a philosophical discussion about beliefs.

And so we come to religion. None of the above is at all important in religious belief, which is about your emotional and philosophical connection with yourself and the world around you.

You've probably asked yourself, why do people believe in all this weird stuff?? I've sat in with groups who believe that the bible should be interpreted literally; each black and white page contains the literal truth. They really struggle. So why do they do it? Arguably there are as many rationales for religious belief as there are human beings, but I think there is some interesting common ground:

- I want to feel secure in my place in the world, that there is a reason for me to be here, and that something or somebody is looking after me.

- I feel scared about what will happen when I die - indeed, that I will die at all.

- I want to be part of a community and to be told what to do, how to fit in, and how to live my life so it can be improved.

- I want to help others and have them join my community, as that will help to increase my confidence in the above.

- I am threatened by groups that are not part of my community, as they decrease my confidence in the above.

I hope you can see that all the above can easily be applied to scientific communities, without diminishing their pursuit of science. This is why I draw parallels between them and religious communities, although as I previously said, to call science a religion is probably not helpful. It does tend to lead to interesting debate though

Oh dear, sorry for the long post - back to work now.

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Sir Chasm 19 Mar 2020
In reply to cumbria mammoth:

> God created a world which includes the existence of suffering for reasons I do not know. God didn't create evil, that comes from mankind's choice to rebel against God.

Hang on, you claimed that god is omniscient, so he knew that we would rebel against god and be evil. You can't then honestly claim that that isn't god creating evil. And if god created everything, but didn't create evil, then perhaps you mean he only created every nice thing and someone else made bad things. 

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cumbria mammoth 19 Mar 2020
In reply to Archy Styrigg:

> No no no, it's always man's fault isn't it? Never the God that created man with the will to rebel against his creator.

> God went to the wrong school of Goodness if you ask me. Or has he just got a 2000 year grudge against us because we nailed his dubiously spawned son on some bits of wood?

Sir Chasm:

> Hang on, you claimed that god is omniscient, so he knew that we would rebel against god and be evil. You can't then honestly claim that that isn't god creating evil. And if god created everything, but didn't create evil, then perhaps you mean he only created every nice thing and someone else made bad things. 

God is ultimately responsible for all that occurs but it is mankind that actually makes the choice to cause evil. Evil and suffering is permitted in our world for a reason I don't claim to know. What good does it do you or anyone to resentfully speculate as to the motive of God (especially if you don't believe)? Better to work to remove suffering in this world as we have been called to do.

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Sir Chasm 19 Mar 2020
In reply to cumbria mammoth:

> Sir Chasm:

> God is ultimately responsible for all that occurs but it is mankind that actually makes the choice to cause evil. Evil and suffering is permitted in our world for a reason I don't claim to know. What good does it do you or anyone to resentfully speculate as to the motive of God (especially if you don't believe)? Better to work to remove suffering in this world as we have been called to do.

I'm not speculating as to god's motive, it's you who believes in god so I'm asking you about him. You now seem to be saying that god did create evil (because you think he created everything), and that god created people knowing that they would behave evilly (he must have known that because you think he's omniscient). You're also saying that god created suffering and then commanded his creation to remove the suffering he created. Can you see that this might all come across as a little incoherent? 

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john arran 20 Mar 2020
In reply to cumbria mammoth:

> God is ultimately responsible for all that occurs but it is mankind that actually makes the choice to cause evil. Evil and suffering is permitted in our world for a reason I don't claim to know. 

Have you ever stopped to question why you apparently have absolute certainty of the 'facts' while remaining happily ignorant of the reasons or motives, when there's clearly an identical lack of evidence for both?

Post edited at 06:41
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cumbria mammoth 20 Mar 2020
In reply to Sir Chasm:

Ok then, what good would it do for me or for others if I was to to resentfully speculate as to the motive of God? Better to work to remove suffering in this world as we have been called to do.

My knowledge of the existence of God is fundamental, other knowledge fits around that in my worldview. There is no scientific knowledge that I have come across that has ever made me doubt the existence of God (and I am as interested in the findings of science as anybody) but I will admit that the philosophical problem of suffering is indeed challenging, and it seems to be the key barrier to faith for many.

As for me, I know God exists, I know suffering exists and, as God does no wrong, I know that, when all his works are seen, suffering will be abolished and the universe will feel and know that he is just.

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cumbria mammoth 20 Mar 2020
In reply to john arran:

I have, everyone has doubts.

Sorry, I have elaborated on this thread because people have asked me to and there may have been some drift from the topic. My main point is on topic and it is that God isn't invented to fill a gap in knowledge, the existence of God is a foundational belief originating with direct experience.

Where I have elaborated, these beliefs come from scripture, a collection of writings by people who I trust also had direct experience of God and the filter of millennia of review by others, who I trust also had direct experience of God, ensures that the most important messages have survived. This is not as reliable as scientific knowledge and personally I treat the words of Jesus Christ as truth and then look cautiously for the underlying meaning in the other parts of the bible.

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freeflyer 20 Mar 2020
In reply to cumbria mammoth:

Suffering is a great Christian pastime. They absolutely adore it - follow in the footsteps of your master!

It is totally misunderstood by the vast majority of Christians, and they are not helped by their apostles. Paul said: "we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope".

Oh my god.

Don't get me wrong though, Paul was a great leader and thinker, and said a lot of better things; also his writing was in the context of a persecuted people fighting for survival, so I'll give him some slack.

However Jesus would not have stood for it. Shame he did the martyr thing really, because he had a brain, and a real understanding of the human predicament. He focused on the inner Christian, and understood that your relationship with God (or the world around you if you don't believe in that stuff) is based on your relationship with yourself. *You* are the treasure in the field; God loves *you*. In non-religious terms, what that means is that you have a place in the world which is rightfully yours and is constructed by all the natural science that has lead to where you are now. You are ok, no matter what your opinion on the subject may be.

The buddhists have totally tamed suffering, because they make a distinction between suffering and pain. Pain is what happens when you have the coronavirus; suffering is what happens when your mind runs riot because you're worried you might die, and so on. You can have control over suffering if you have a spiritual practice of some kind.

And (before some Christian posts it), there is the question of suffering that is 'out there'. No. There is no suffering out there. There is only suffering in your head. That is what suffering is; other people may experience pain or suffering, but that is their fate. No doubt Pefa would prefer me to say karma

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Gordon Stainforth 21 Mar 2020
In reply to freeflyer:

Wow, thanks for that beautiful discourse on 'suffering'.

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cumbria mammoth 25 Mar 2020
In reply to freeflyer:

Some interesting points there but I think I should put the following points to you.

Jesus did understand the human predicament and our relationship with God because he was both human and God. He did love us and was willing to suffer and die for us. All through that suffering there was no hint that the father did not love him and it is no different for us. It's not right to say that a Christian adores suffering though, more a Christian can be sustained through the pain with a deliberate focus on the knowledge that suffering prepares us for our salvation.

Jesus doesn't say you are ok no matter what either, his reason for coming was to warn us of the suffering that comes from being separated from God. It was this separation that made Jesus cry out on the cross, not the nails being driven through his hands and feet. This separation does not come because God is angry and has turned his back on us, instead we separate ourselves from him by our pursuit of the ego and, like the father of the prodigal son who humiliated and rejected his father, and left, God scans the road and keeps the door open hoping that we will one day choose to come back him.

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Sir Chasm 25 Mar 2020
In reply to cumbria mammoth:

But if Jesus was god then he'd planned to be nailed up and knew he couldn't be separated from god because he was god. Jesus/god (being omniscient, as you've told us) must have known that people would separate from god/Jesus because he made us. So Jesus/god got himself nailed up to prove a point? 

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Rob Exile Ward 26 Mar 2020
In reply to cumbria mammoth:

You don't really believe all that do you? I mean, you do understand that all the business about 'the trinity' was invented by monks trying to reconcile mutually exclusive, contradictory biblical passages - and their own prejudices and religious traditions?

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cb294 26 Mar 2020
In reply to Rob Exile Ward:

Not only that, but the nature of trinity as enshrined in the Nicean creed was largely the outcome of power struggles within the Byzantine court of the 4th to 6th centuries, where various emperors and empresses (Theodosia, Pulcheria) projected power by throwing their support behind one faction or other: Orthodox catholics vs. Arians. vs. Nestorians vs. Monophysites, vs. who knows. When things came to a head every now and then, the emperor assembled all the bishops he could his hands on to councils (Chalcedon, Nicea,...) where he (or the empress) schemed to have one faction dominate proceedings.

The suppesedly contentious issue between all these factions was the nature of christ as divine, human, or various kinds of mixtures between the two, but the main point was control of the imperial administration.

This particular topic was pretty much irrelevant in the west, where the chosen topic for this power scheming was the path to salvation (see Augustine).

CB

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freeflyer 26 Mar 2020
In reply to cumbria mammoth:

That's a perceptive summary of Christian doctrine! Please excuse my simplifications.

Atheists might want to substitute "separated from God" with "separated from our feeling of belonging in the world".

I don't know about you, but I find "pursuit of the ego" difficult to explain to people. Everyone seems to feel it's a good thing in moderation, essential even to their survival!

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cumbria mammoth 27 Mar 2020
In reply to Sir Chasm:

> But if Jesus was god then he'd planned to be nailed up and knew he couldn't be separated from god because he was god. Jesus/god (being omniscient, as you've told us) must have known that people would separate from god/Jesus because he made us. So Jesus/god got himself nailed up to prove a point? 

Basically yes. It's all part of Gods great plan. He let us make our own choices and by living humbly as a man with us and suffering at the hands of mere men on the cross, he made sure we had the knowledge and the means to turn back to him when we do see the error of our ways.

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cumbria mammoth 27 Mar 2020
In reply to Rob Exile Ward:

> You don't really believe all that do you? I mean, you do understand that all the business about 'the trinity' was invented by monks trying to reconcile mutually exclusive, contradictory biblical passages - and their own prejudices and religious traditions?

If we start from the fact that I and many others have no doubt about the existence of a creator then this does beg the question of why are we created and does the creator want anything from us?

I have been brought up culturally as a Christian so I haven't had to work out these answers from scratch, I have started with an idea of the answers and have had to look into how much of this is true and how much should be discarded. One of those questions is of course what is the role of the Son of God?

The relationship of Jesus to God is one that people have always struggled to get their heads round so of course medieval monks have turned their attention to it. In the Gospel of John, dating from around 80AD, Jesus is the Word of God through whom the world was created and who took on human form, and Jesus frequently claims to be God.

If Jesus is reduced to a divinely inspired human who happens to claim to be God then he is not a great teacher but he is either a madman or the devil. Neither of these options ring true to me for a man who inspired thousands of followers in his own time by expressing the truest ethical philosophy that the world has ever heard. When you look at this spiritual experience that people have through meditation, they come out of it humbled with diminished ego, they don't come out of it filled with pride claiming to be God. I believe Jesus is who he claimed to be - God.

God was not absent from Heaven during those 30 odd years because time is an illusion and God exists throughout all of creation – time and space. This is very incomprehensible to human minds but “Son of God” is a good way of expressing it in natural language.

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cumbria mammoth 27 Mar 2020
In reply to freeflyer:

> That's a perceptive summary of Christian doctrine! Please excuse my simplifications.

> Atheists might want to substitute "separated from God" with "separated from our feeling of belonging in the world".

> I don't know about you, but I find "pursuit of the ego" difficult to explain to people. Everyone seems to feel it's a good thing in moderation, essential even to their survival!

I see what you're saying, I've been trying to describe that a relationship with God is the same as a relationship with everything in the universe all through this thread.

I am convinced that the ego is not good in moderation, I think the words ego/evil/sin are interchangeable and that the whole point of our existence is a battle against our ego. Yes, the ego does aid each individuals own earthly existence but everybody living entirely for others would enrich everybody's earthly existence.

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freeflyer 28 Mar 2020
In reply to cumbria mammoth:

I'm sorry not to have read the whole thread! I have been watching the last fifty or so posts out of curiosity and got drawn in

Ego is not in good in moderation, or indeed at all.

The buddhists describe ego as suffering incarnate and would not disagree fundamentally with your post. Ego is an inevitable part of human existence, unless you are able to arrive at a place where it has no effect on you. That place is sometimes called 'centre', or more traditionally, 'enlightenment'.

Some teachers go to great lengths to describe the process of being in the world, being pulled and pushed around by the forces that shape our lives and our emotions, as opposed to a state of being separate from those forces, and letting them 'blow straight through you', while at the same time being compassionate with those around you who are ruled by them.

Meditation is seen as the main spiritual practice required to understand how to do this, but it's important to understand that the state of mind achievable during meditation is not the goal; instead the goal is to be 'at centre' during your daily life. You might wish to draw a parallel between this and Christian prayer, the goal of which is to find peace with yourself and with God, rather than moving a speck of sand from A to B, or preventing the world from dying, in my opinion.

The Christian ideas of evil/sin and closeness to God are directly comparable to these ideas. However modern secular westerners tend to dismiss eastern religious philosophy as inscrutable rubbish and western religious philosophy as historical rubbish so it can be an uphill battle if you try to convince them that their lives might be improved by an understanding of it. And especially if you point out to the science brigade that their understanding of science is also affected by it in subtle but important ways, as well as their personal lives.

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Sir Chasm 28 Mar 2020
In reply to cumbria mammoth:

> Basically yes. It's all part of Gods great plan. He let us make our own choices and by living humbly as a man with us and suffering at the hands of mere men on the cross, he made sure we had the knowledge and the means to turn back to him when we do see the error of our ways.

But he didn't live humbly as a man, you've told us that Jesus was god. You've also told us that god/Jesus was omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent, so he knew that his creation would choose to forsake him. So Jesus/god got himself nailed up knowing that we would do that to him and knowing that it didn't matter anyway because time is an illusion and that he created pain and suffering because they're good for us. 

Post edited at 22:10
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cumbria mammoth 29 Mar 2020
In reply to freeflyer:

Agree.

When you equate the interconnected universe with God then this place you're calling "centre" is the same as "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength", and "Love your neighbour as yourself" is the result of that state of being.

Post edited at 21:43
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cumbria mammoth 29 Mar 2020
In reply to Sir Chasm:

Jesus was God living humbly as a human with human limitations, so the way I see it, as Jesus he would not have been omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent. 

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Stichtplate 29 Mar 2020
In reply to cumbria mammoth:

> Jesus was God living humbly as a human with human limitations, so the way I see it, as Jesus he would not have been omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent. 

No. He was a very naughty boy

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Sir Chasm 29 Mar 2020
In reply to cumbria mammoth:

> Jesus was God living humbly as a human with human limitations, so the way I see it, as Jesus he would not have been omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent. 

But you told us that god was jesus. And even if jesus wasn't god but was some ever so humble human then god made him that way and knew what we would do to him. Whichever way you want to cut it god must have known what would happen, ergo he either wanted it to happen or didn't give a shit.

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freeflyer 30 Mar 2020
In reply to cumbria mammoth:

I think we understand each other

The problem is, how to get that message across. However the irritating easterners have something to say about this also, which is diametrically opposed to the evangelical west.

They say that each person has their own spiritual path, and to suggest that you can somehow help them in their quest is not only a falsehood, but a source of some amusement. Typically if a visitor asks a monk desperately "how can I become enlightened?" they burst into laughter.

Each person is responsible for their own fate, and to realise that is a first step. I may, of course, decide to try and help, but that is my ego at work.

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