Open thread on AXP #827, with guest, Rob Poole, MB BS, FRCPsych

I’ve embedded a number of links below, and I would urge you to explore them. I initially had included far more quoted material, but the post became too long, and I finally decided that links and brevity were best. However, the linked information is highly relevant. Most of the links are to summaries or small items I think you can investigate without too much time lost—so please review them if this topic interests you.

[Read more…]

Being an atheist doesn’t excuse you from doing your homework

Over on Camels With Hammers, Daniel has reminded us of several temptations that atheists should watch out for. It’s excellent advice, starting with this.

We atheists need to remind ourselves that figuring out that the interventionist gods of the major religions are false is a fairly easy intellectual discovery. We are not geniuses or especially smarter than the average religious believer simply on account of our ability to figure this out. We have just, for whatever combination of reasons, either assiduously avoided or managed to escape the emotional, social, and identity entanglements that cloud the minds of otherwise smart religious people. We need to recognize it is just stupid to call religious people stupid just because their ideas are ridiculous.

In general, I like to promote what I refer to as “atheist evangelism” as much as I can. But there are traps that atheists can fall into, when we get overconfident and lazy in the belief that atheism makes us smarter and less prone to errors. Recently I’ve made a similar point in a number of replies to the show’s email which I would like to share.
[Read more…]

Another, “I just can’t believe what my brain can do”

Kind of the same stuff. If consciousness, then afterlife. But this person wants to know what atheists think, and asserts nobody has offered a satisfactory answer. I will fully admit I may be pleasantly surprised, but up to now what this usually translates to is “I don’t understand/accept the findings of neuro scientists, and potentially have some misconceptions regarding things I’ve read about popular physics.” Genuinely hoping I’m wrong, I leave you with this…


Dear atheists,

I have a question for you on some of your world views that I cannot find good answer from any atheist. First I would introduce myself if its any matter of interest to you. Im 28 years old guy from Scandinavia, I used to be a believer to age 18 or something but never went to church or anything and constantly doubted my faith along the way because the lack of evidence. To some point I stopped believing when I realized there just isnt enough evidence to continue belief but still maintained some kind of agnostic view on world but I wont bore you to death on the matter why I became agnostic and not full atheist. I have academic, financial and technical background. I have always been somehow interested to find “truth” about this reality and spent alot of time in my freetime to find at least some answers. Last two years I have been really active in this matter and when I actually took true, dedicated dive in this world Ill have to say that everything is even more confusing to rational mind that I could have ever thought. Now I finally know truly that I know nothing.

In this journey I have found a philosofical and mathematical problem on life ending after death. As some hardcore atheists claim to “know” or at least to some degree as certainty that life ends when our physical body dies I beg to differ solely based on probability. Ok, heres the problem that you have been waiting for if ever read it this far.

1. Lets say we have one life in this universe and our consciousness dies permanently, what is the probablity you living right at this moment in an universe that has sustained life at least last few billion years your appr. 75 year long lasting life?

1.1 Ill add more to this. When something is, the potential of it has to be and at least the potential of it cant be destroyd, so lets say matter comes quantum fluctuation, it has been always this way and will be so there have been infinite number of universes before this and still exists. In an infinite amount of time you living your only life at this very moment is practicly 0 when you divide 75/infinite. Ok, there is a probability this isnt true, but its the most likely theory that you cannot destroy a potential of what can be proven to exist.

2. You say you have no spirit or I would call this consciousness if you will since its something that is not our physical body. Spirit as a term can be misleading here because I understand you point of view but try to go beoynd it. You can prove to yourself that you exist at this very moment since you can experience, vision, smell, touch, thought etc.. You probably have no clue how you can even exist “to yourself” and still you are. So at least you have to exist as a potential in this infinite universe even if your consciousness stops experiencing or shuts down as your physical body dies. I dont think consciousness cannot be in a state of not experiencing but that would go extremely deep to philosofical matters so I wont bore you with that at this moment.

2.2. You might think you are “illusion” to yourself but that is the most ridiculous explanation I have heard by atheists (or theists doesnt matter what you believe if you can do this) and requires very cunning trick of mind to do that since you can only prove that you exist at some form this moment. You might not be anything more than just an observer but go figure it out. Just wanted to point this out that you dont give me lazy ass asnwer to this question but think it through.

2.3 Defining consciousness as your body is extremely hard since your body changes every single cell many times in its lifetime and still you dont cease to exist as an “observer”. If you go deep enough you would need to define yourself as electricity since you cannot find consciousness in matter. Electricity is movement of electrons so you are experiencing movement of electrons and nothing more. There are many, many problems theorising that you are the atoms and/or electricity in your body but wont go to details here. Basicly this theory would suggest that any electric movement would experience something, no matter if it can recognize itself or have any “intellect”, this doesnt matter. Intelligence is just subproduct of our physical manifestation, perhaps.

3. Nothing can exist outside consciousness. There cannot be anything without consciousness since it doesnt exist to anyone. This is a philosofical matter at least at this point but there is truth to it. You have universe that exists to no-one can we say it exists? If it even exists in our mind in any way we can already say it exists. This goes really deep in to philosofical thinking but is a sort of a conclusion I have come to. Everything is consciousness, nothing “real” can exist beoynd it and everything that exists to consciousness is in a way real. Theres no laws that govern what is real or not but the law of consciouss observer that defines it.

I recognize I could be wrong in every single statement I have made above and this can be extremely hard to rationalize with our monkey brains but also there is deep logic to every single statement there is.

Since Iv been watching your show for entertaining purposes mostly Iv seen that you are rather intelligent but step to the same traps as religious people do like in this matter, what happens after we die, making assumptions without going beoynd them. Im hoping to get feedback from you guys as these are matters that not many want to go in to or give only lazy thoughtless answers. Also I would like to hear more insightful arguments why you believe we cease to exist after physical death. Im always glad to hear opposing arguments.

As last words I want to say these thought are anything but calming to me and are not wishfull thinking but more of a rationalizing with open mind and accepting the “truth” as it reveals itself. Consciousness seems to me seems to be indestructible and we have come infinite way to this point and continue to exist. There are lots of topics to be discussed in this matter but I dont expect them to discussed with you. I only want the answers to these few claims that you make and present in your show.

Best regards,

Another pseudorationalizing Stardust Space Monkey

History Channel Show about Newton and Bible Prophecy

So, we have a guy posting to the list who really, really, REALLY wants to talk to someone about a show on History Channel that he says involves Isaac Newton and Bible Prophecy. Martin wrote back noting this is the same channel that airs Ancient Aliens, but the correspondent continues to write asking if someone will give up an hour of their life to watch this so he can discuss it with them. I’ve seen History Channel’s offerings in recent years go from very well cited war documentaries to programming that the Ghost Hunters would laugh at. So, that person–who will kill an hour of their life for this–is not me. However, out of a sense of helpfulness, if anyone reading this blog has seen this show and is willing to talk to someone about it, please help. I’ll send the writer a link to this post to let him know I’ve put out a call.