What Taxpayer Funds Will Support in Louisiana »« Barton Loves PhDs. Except When He Doesn’t.

The Deepak Chopra School of Prayer

Wow, this column in an Idaho newspaper really has to be seen to be believed. It’s from a local resident, writing in response to the Cranston prayer mural controversy, and there is some serious fertilizer being spread. It reads like something straight out of a Chopra lecture:

In the 1920s, the esteemed Harvard psychologist William McDougall suggested that religious miracles might be the result of the collective psychic powers of large numbers of worshipers. Michael Talbot’s book “The Holographic Universe” acknowledges this, as well as documenting several cases where meditative thoughts, intensive prayer, and strong faith in the goodness of humanity all interconnect for healing in various interesting ways that our scientific and spiritual leaders are just beginning to understand at the fundamental levels.

Some spirit-minded scientists speculate that prayer mysteriously creates far-reaching subatomic particles embedded with hopeful intentions. However, molecular levels of exactly how prayer works will probably remain a deep mystery for a long time. And that’s fine, because if we didn’t have some mystique in our lives, it would probably be pretty boring.

Pinning down precisely how the mystery of prayer operates on the quantum mechanics level proves to be elusive, and ironically that elusiveness itself is an element of the great mystery, as documented in fine detail by Martin Gardner in his groundbreaking classic “The Trickster and the Paranormal.” As some pet-owners tease cats with laser beams and the cat never quite catches it, I believe that we are floating in a similar boat under the godly stars within these unexplained realms.

This being said, and as frequently as we encounter prayer, religion, belief, and paranormal phenomena in our daily lives and media, it’s surprising that more public high schools and universities don’t offer deeper studies into these mystical matters. Not only should our public schools permit students to pray in school, if they so choose to do, but I would also encourage that more public schools offer intensive elective studies of kindness, religion, the paranormal, and other related intuitive languages of our hearts and souls.

Martin Gardner, one of the great skeptics this country has ever produced, must be rolling over in his grave at being cited in such an idiotic screed.

Comments

  1. John Hinkle says

    Some spirit-minded scientists speculate that prayer mysteriously creates far-reaching subatomic particles embedded with hopeful intentions.

    As a computer scientist, I am often spirit-minded. Why just yesterday I had a vodka martini. It is after a few of these that I start to contemplate far-reaching subatomic particles embedded with hopeful intentions.

  2. says

    Wow! That is weapons-grade woo!

    Martin Gardner would have gotten a good chuckle out of this, too. While he was a theist (just barely), Gardner was a vigorous skeptic who disdained this kind of bafflegab.

  3. Doug Little says

    Some spirit-minded scientists speculate that prayer mysteriously creates far-reaching subatomic particles embedded with hopeful intentions.

    Shit that means that the particle zoo just got a lot larger. So now we have another set of particles that can be characterized by hopeful intentions, lets call the family Choprinos. We have the

    Cheerful Choprino
    Hopeful Choprino
    Calm Choprino
    Upbeat Choprino
    Elated Choprino
    Enthusiastic Choprino
    Buoyant Choprino

    Notice that there are 7 of them coincidence I think not. Also these particles have the interesting property of not having any antiparticles as this would just bum everybody out.

  4. Michael Heath says

    Ed makes the perfect descriptive reference in his blog post title.

    This is not a rare type of argument. Here the advocate starts off attempting to falsely convey they’re coming from the dispassionate informed perspective of the expert, merely citing the sufficiently framed set of premises (facts). While that’s the style one can see where the argument is headed with this premise:

    meditative thoughts, intensive prayer, and strong faith in the goodness of humanity all interconnect for healing in various interesting ways that our scientific and spiritual leaders are just beginning to understand at the fundamental levels

    A related argument is a standard-issue conservative viral email that starts out with a picture of some cool military hardware. It then segues into a dispassionate, seemingly non-partisan analysis of prudent military hardware investments vs. poor choices – where some now-dead conservative is spanked for favoring supposedly bad gear. A sacrifice to beef-up the advocates claim to credibility they’re a dispassionate expert merely seeking the truth and where it leads. This analysis then sets the stage for a typical ‘argument from outrage’ rant about Obama or the favorite non-conservative target, no better than this faux-intellectual’s conclusion seen above:

    Not only should our public schools permit students to pray in school, if they so choose to do, but I would also encourage that more public schools offer intensive elective studies of kindness, religion, the paranormal, and other related intuitive languages of our hearts and souls.

    Another similar argument is related to Ed’s post about Barton loving PhD’s, except when he doesn’t. That argument has the conservative Christian, often the pastor or another elder, citing some singular study. Often the article is some new explanation of findings which won’t necessarily achieve a consensus with experts, which the advocate may also mangle, all the better to arrive at his conclusion. And all in order to promote one of their favorite preconceived positions. Confirmation bias at its finest.

    What’s so hypocritical about such arguments is their in no way applying such an approach consistently and yielding to consensus findings and explanations which convincingly falsify their strongly held beliefs. Like Sarah Palin, they’re living in the moment and using whatever.

  5. dingojack says

    “And that’s fine, because if we didn’t have some mystique in our lives, it would probably be pretty boring”.

    As a long-time X-Men geek, I’m not sure coming home to Mystique would be a thought I’d relish. I’ll take boring thanks.

    Dingo

  6. Michael Heath says

    I wrote earlier:

    What’s so hypocritical about such arguments [loving scientific findings except when they don't] is their [sic, conservative Christians] in no way applying such an approach consistently and yielding to consensus findings and explanations which convincingly falsify their strongly held beliefs. Like Sarah Palin, they’re living in the moment and using whatever.

    I should have pointed out there is a direct response from some conservative Christians to this criticism where Albert Mohler regularly makes it. That’s the argument Christians should accept scientific findings which are consistent with Biblical claims or don’t challenge or falsify biblical claims, and reject those which contradict or challenge biblical claims. Mr. Mohler openly concedes the circular argument that the Bible is true because it asserts its truth though I’ve yet to see him concede this is a circular argument. He just argues that Christians must reject all findings (facts) and explanations which falsify or challenge his understanding of the Bible.

  7. imrryr says

    The tone of Ed’s commentary has bombarded my spirit with meanness neutrinos. As a result, my body is currently emitting sad radiation at the rate of an estimated 0.4 rems per hour :(

  8. Doug Little says

    That’s the argument Christians should accept scientific findings which are consistent with Biblical claims

    Just out of interest what scientific findings are consistent with biblical claims. I though that pretty much all truth claims in the bible that can be tested using empirical methods are pretty much falsified.

  9. Stevarious says

    Martin Gardner, one of the great skeptics this country has ever produced, must be rolling over in his grave at being cited in such an idiotic screed.

    I can’t remember where I saw the idea, but didn’t someone come up with a plan to generate energy by hooking up these spinning graves to a turbine somewhere?

  10. Mr Ed says

    So the folks at CERN would have better luck with the Higgs-boson if they were happier? Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle states that the more accurately we know the mood of a particle the less accurately we know its position. Science needs to develop HTML tags for face palm.

  11. eric says

    I thought ‘holographic universe’ referred to the weird physics finding that our 3-D universe could be produced by information on the 2-D surface of a sphere containing it. Which has absolutely nothing to do with miracles.

    I haven’t read any Talbot so I don’t know if he’s a crank or legit, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the letter-writer got ‘holographic universe’ as wrong as he gets Gardner.

  12. Sastra says

    “Some spirit-minded scientists speculate that prayer mysteriously creates far-reaching subatomic particles embedded with hopeful intentions. However, molecular levels of exactly how prayer works will probably remain a deep mystery for a long time.”

    No, it won’t remain a “deep mystery” because religious/spiritual people are already starting out with their answer and rejecting what’s coming out of science. The division between naturalism and supernaturalism can I think be derived from how one answers the question “Does mind come from matter, or does matter come from mind?”

    If you answer the first way — that consciousness, values, emotions, and intentions are products of, and can ultimately be reduced to, matter in motion — then you’re a naturalist. If, on the other hand, you think matter, energy, atoms, and quarks somehow came out of a more basic, prior mental state — or that such things are irreducible to anything other than themselves — then you’re a supernaturalist. The Foundation of Reality is “Love.” Or Creativity. Or God. Or some other reified abstraction which grounds everything in a human-like mind-like concern for meaning and morality.

    This means that, at the molecular level, “hopeful intention” would have to be its own molecule — or, more likely, a pure “energy” or force in itself. The minute you start reducing it down to something that isn’t hope-like or mind-like you lose that super special intuition that Like comes only from Like. You become a dreaded materialist who thinks that hope and intention and love and meaning are all “just” mindless bits of matter and energy. The horror. They won’t do it.

    “… I would also encourage that more public schools offer intensive elective studies of kindness, religion, the paranormal, and other related intuitive languages of our hearts and souls.”

    Oh, isn’t this cute. I love the way the writer just sort of threw “studies of kindness” into the mix of nonsense so that now it sounds like this idea is just such a GOOD idea — because hey, who could object to kindness?

    Typical deepity strategy.

  13. Doug Little says

    eric @12,

    I thought the exact same thing, probably at exactly the same time. OMG we are quantumly connected via our holographic projections.

    Seriously though, getting back to Marcus at @8, I would argue that the holographic principle is a fine candidate for woo meisters as well.

  14. Reginald Selkirk says

    spirit-minded scientists

    Hilarious.

    And that’s fine, because if we didn’t have some mystique in our lives, it would probably be pretty boring.

    Because reality and science are so ****ing boring. Landing a nuclear-powered science lab on the surface of Mars is so ****ing boring.

  15. Reginald Selkirk says

    as documented in fine detail by Martin Gardner in his groundbreaking classic “The Trickster and the Paranormal.”

    After spending a WTF moment, I did a quick search and came up with The Trickster and the Paranormal by George P. Hansen, which contains a chapter about Martin Gardner. You can find that chapter easily with a web search.

  16. Doug Little says

    Landing a nuclear-powered science lab on the surface of Mars is so ****ing boring

    Adding to this the fact that that we have figured out that our sun is a third generation star and all the heavy elements that we are made up of were either born in the hearts of other stars during their lifetime or during their deaths via supernova should be enough wonderment to last a lifetime.

  17. matty1 says

    kindness, religion, the paranormal, and other related intuitive languages of our hearts and souls.

    What is kindness doing in that list? I’m not aware that being nice to people involves any claims about ‘spiritual’ matters.

  18. Larry says

    subatomic particles embedded with hopeful intentions

    How does one detect and quantify hopeful intentions in subatomic particles? Are the intentions subject to the Heisenberg Uncertainty principle? Given the duality of nature, may we assume that there must also be particles with evil intentions and they must balance with the good intentions to neutralize each other? Maybe prayer temporarily unbalances the ratio of these particles thus creating happy or grumpy elements and molecules.

    The answers to these questions should keep the PhD candidates at the top religious schools busy for years!

  19. busterggi says

    I wish the woomeisters who invoke quantum physics would go back to invoking fairies & pixies – they made more sense back then.

  20. Michael Heath says

    Doug Little writes:

    Just out of interest what scientific findings are consistent with biblical claims. I though that pretty much all truth claims in the bible that can be tested using empirical methods are pretty much falsified.

    The findings I’ve seen most touted are from psychologists regarding human behavior. Usually it’s something intuitively obvious that was mentioned in Proverbs or by other authors/editors referring to human nature.

    In these scenarios the advocate argues this is proof God informed his people of a finding which took science thousands of years to eventually discover. It helps promote the larger meme that scientists have yet to catch up to the Bible’s truth, a beautiful illustration of psychological projection regarding who the primitives are.

  21. thisisaturingtest says

    However, molecular levels of exactly how prayer works will probably remain a deep mystery for a long time.

    I guess that’s one way* to do science- leapfrog entirely over the question of whether prayer works at all to the question of how.

    *Of two- the right way and the wrong way.

  22. uzza says

    “if we didn’t have some mystique in our lives, it would probably be pretty boring.
    This is SO true. My life is so boring I’m reduced to watching real-time videos of an unexplored planet beamed to me from 350 million miles away. No mystique here.

  23. Pieter B, FCD says

    Reginald Selkirk:

    as documented in fine detail by Martin Gardner in his groundbreaking classic “The Trickster and the Paranormal.”

    I did a quick search and came up with The Trickster and the Paranormal by George P. Hansen, which contains a chapter about Martin Gardner.

    Thank you for saving me the trouble. I am fairly familiar with Dr Gardner’s books, and I’d never heard of that one. I WTFed as well when I saw that.

  24. Pieter B, FCD says

    if we didn’t have some mystique in our lives, it would probably be pretty boring

    The use of “mystique” to mean mystery or uncertainty is as much an abuse of the language as the reference to quantum mechanics is an abuse of science.

    mystique

    noun

    an aura of mystery, power, and awe that surrounds a person or thing ⇒ “the mystique of the theatre”, “the mystique of computer programming”

  25. lofgren says

    As a long-time X-Men geek, I’m not sure coming home to Mystique would be a thought I’d relish.

    Depends on Mystique’s mood, really.

  26. caseloweraz says

    “As some pet-owners tease cats with laser beams and the cat never quite catches it, I believe that we are floating in a similar boat under the godly stars within these unexplained realms.”

    So, in addition to possessing a confusive force of almost 120 Chopras, this article reaches 8 on the Bulwer-Lytton 10-point scale of metaphor misuse.

  27. RealityBasedSteve says

    Ok, let me see if I’m tracking here…. I’m floating in a boat while somebody is using a laser pointer to send hopeful particles at me that I can’t catch, but that’s ok, due to the quantum mystique of the intuitive language of my heart and soul?

    I’d continue posting, but I’ve got a quiz coming up in Kindenss 132 (Applied Kindness).

    RBS

  28. escuerd says

    Larry @20:

    How does one detect and quantify hopeful intentions in subatomic particles?

    With a hopeful intentions detector. It’s a device designed by one of the pioneers of QM, and involves a photomultiplier, a hammer, a cat, and a vial of poison (works best with toxins taken from a therapeutic foot bath).

    Are the intentions subject to the Heisenberg Uncertainty principle?

    Yes, they’re an eigenvalue of the hopefulness operator, which is complementary to the sarcasm operator (whose eigenvalues are, of course, measured by sarcasm detectors). It’s possible to measure how hopeful a particle is, or how sarcastic it’s being, but not both simultaneously. The exact units of these quantities are an ineffable mystery, but sophisticated theologians have faithematically proved that sarcastosity is the Fourier transform of hopefulness.

    And I have to agree with the author. It’s a shame that schools aren’t teaching these fundamental concepts about the quantum mechanics of the spiritual realm (no wonder skeptics are always so unsophisticated).

    We need students to learn important life skills like prayer, not to be indoctrinated in the religions of reductionism and materialism which attempt to deny or remove all the mystery in life.

    ;)

Leave a Reply