Neuroscience Explanations For ‘Spiritual’ Experiences – Part 2

Is it offensive to call religious belief a mental disorder (which, by the way, is not the same as saying it is a mental illness or mental disease)?

Then I recommend you take part of this blog post written by the outstanding Victoria Neuronotes.

When you’ve read her blog post and looked at all the videos she links to, why not try to delve into this fascinating topic even more?

Here are some links to articles I can recommend for those of you longing for more information:

1) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schizotypal_personality_disorder ;

2) http://mic.com/articles/45811/religious-fundamentalism-is-a-mental-illness-that-could-soon-be-cured#.V8uFB0SbD (Ideas conveyed by famous Oxford University neuroscientist Kathleen Taylor and Philip Zimbardo, Professor Emeritus of Psychology at Stanford University);

3) http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forums/index.php/topic,21992.0.html (a forum thread called: Schizotypal personality disorder and religion; based on famous Stanford neurobiologist Professor Robert Sapolsky.);

4) https://millicentandcarlafran.wordpress.com/2009/06/07/why-sapolskys-take-on-schizoid-personality-disorder-and-religion-is-wrong/ (A critical review of Professor Sapolsky’s take on the connection between schizotypal personality disorder and religious – and/or woo-ish – faith/beliefs; is Professor Sapolsky way too oversimplistic when promoting his message?).

But I urge you to start by looking at Victoria’s own videos in her brilliant blog post above.

BTW, don’t miss this wonderful video by world famous neuroscientist Vilayanur Ramachandran: 

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In this video Professor Ramachandran tells his audience about one of his patients, a man who after split-brain surgery ended up with one brain hemisphere being atheistic and the other one theistic.

Professor Ramachandran wonders, and speculates: Where will that man end up? In Heaven or Hell?

Maybe his soul will have to be one week in Heaven and then move to Hell to stay there for one week? A switch repeated over and over again. Now and for evermore.

What do you think thereof? I’m curious to know.

Victoria NeuroNotes

Something Else To Think About

“A man in his late 20s with paranoid schizophrenia explained during a neurological evaluation that he could read minds and that for years he had heard voices revealing things about friends and strangers alike. He believed he was selected by God to provide guidance for mankind.

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The sad news: Americans’ beliefs about Christmas and “secular” evolution

65 per cent of U.S.adults believe in all four of these key elements of the Christian Christmas story: 1) that baby Jesus was laid in a manger; 2) that wise men, maybe (but not necessarily, three, came to Bethlehem, guided by a star, bringing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to baby Jesus: 3) that an angel announced the birth of baby Jesus to shepherds; and 4) that baby Jesus was born to a virgin.

Maybe even worse, according to this Gallup poll – see: http://www.gallup.com/poll/145286/Four-Americans-Believe-Strict-Creationism.aspx – 40 percent of Americans believe that God created mankind around 10,000 years ago; another 38 percent believe in intelligent design.

That is, (40 + 38 =) 78 percent of adult Americans doubt the scientific view of “secular evolution”!

Apparently they don’t read the blog posts here on the WEIT (Why Evolution Is True) blog. It’s a pity.

Why Evolution Is True

Sophisticated Theologians™ tell us all the time that only Biblical literalists or fundamentalists believe the stories in the Bible. God is, they say, much more “nuanced,” and most believers are closer to Kierkegaard than to Ken Ham.

Well, I call bullshit on that. Look at a new Pew Poll giving “Five Facts about Christmas in America.” Most of the survey is about whether we see Christmas as a cultural or religious holiday, our views on gift-giving, how we wish people happy holidays, and so on, but there’s one bit of interest to readers. That’s encompassed in this figure:

FT_15.12.23_5factsXmas4

Got that, David Bentley Hart and Karen Armstrong? Got that, Terry Eagleton? Got it, all you atheist atheist-bashers who say we’re attacking a straw man? 65% of US adults believe all four of these Christmas myths.  No, not all Americans are Biblical literalists about everything, but nearly all Americans are…

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The Benefits of Music. 16 Reasons Music Education Is Required And Therefore Should Be Promoted.

Who invented music?

Maybe the right question to ask is, rather, this one: Who discovered music?

Nature is full of rhythms. And rhythms are the embryo of what we today call music.

Certainly music has some evolutionary benefits.

Charles Darwin believed music was created as a sexual come-on.

Today evolutionary biologists are more inclined to see music as an attempt at social glue, a way to bring early humans together into a close-knit community.

We all know that music has a unique ability to influence the mood and behavior – often in the same way – of many people at once, at the same time.

Because of that, music makes it easier to mold individual beings into a coordinated group. Just think of military music, or music played at sports games, and, why not, ritualized drumming in order to experience altered states of consciousness (think of shamans, and Christian liturgical worship).

In his brilliant and scholarly essay – now to be reblogged by me – my friend Charles Clanton Rogers enumerates 13 positive effects of listening to music and/or playing musical instruments.

In short, he shows – by referring to research – that music had a variety of health benefits:

1. Learning music has a positive effect on teenagers’ brains.

2. We can all be taught how to achieve perfect pitch…

3. … but neurological factors can stand in the way of true mastery. “

4. Music can help improve patients’ recovery after surgery…

5. …as well as improve the surgeon’s performance.

6. Our musical taste can effect how we think.

7. The way we respond to music is largely universal.

8. Singing can promote social bonding better than just about any other activity.

9. Synchronized dancing can be great for one’s health.

10. Personality traits can predict one’s musical aptitude.

11. Music can help quell testing anxiety.

12. Men and women have different capacities to regulate anxiety through music.

13. Music developed to bring people together.

To “complete” – or rather add to – the list I can enumerate three more benefits of music:

14. Music can relieve chronic back pain.

15. Music can improve your bodily workout and make it feel easier to do, less strenuous.

16. Music can help people remember better. Slow down the memory loss in patients suffering from Alzheimer’s.

The issues #1-13 are explained in professor Rogers’ own blog post (now reblogged by me). For more details about the issues #14-16, have a look at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-137116/Why-listening-music-key-good-health.html .

Charles Clanton Rogers

Art is the most nearly true mirror of our culture and our heritage. One requires music and art to celebrate our culture and heritage.

Art is our oldest recorded history; an unvarnished record of History, ccr

INTERNATIONAL BLOGGING   – Supplement for Financial Support of The Music Education 

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I.B. MUSICAL EDUCATION SPECIAL EDITION

This is dedicated to my personal musical Troika:

Evan Rogers, director of operations , composer, and guitar

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Jessica Abel, soprano, director, development/fundraising

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Steven Rogers, teacher, director, and saxophone

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Why do we make music?  How does it affect our emotions? What role does it play in our lives? [1]

This year’s studies produced some fascinating answers. Yet, each bit of research only prompts its own set of further questions. In August, we compiled seven of year’s most intriguing studies. Those appear again here, along with six additional studies that further elucidate the power music exacts over the human mind.

1. Learning…

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On Artificial Intelligence, Creativity, Morality, Consciousness, and Soul.

This is a very interesting paper: Morphological Evolution of Physical Robots through Model-Free Phenotype Development: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0128444 .

It’s about artificial intelligence (AI). And about Creativity and intelligence. And, at least in an indirect way, about morality, consciousness, and (the religious and/or woo-ish bullshit concept of) soul.

Unfortunately not easy to understand for a layman. But, please, don’t stop reading now.

The abstract goes like this: Artificial evolution of physical systems is a stochastic optimization method in which physical machines are iteratively adapted to a target function. The key for a meaningful design optimization is the capability to build variations of physical machines through the course of the evolutionary process. The optimization in turn no longer relies on complex physics models that are prone to the reality gap, a mismatch between simulated and real-world behavior. We report model-free development and evaluation of phenotypes in the artificial evolution of physical systems, in which a mother robot autonomously designs and assembles locomotion agents. The locomotion agents are automatically placed in the testing environment and their locomotion behavior is analyzed in the real world. This feedback is used for the design of the next iteration. Through experiments with a total of 500 autonomously built locomotion agents, this article shows diversification of morphology and behavior of physical robots for the improvement of functionality with limited resources.

But, please, don’t despair. There actually is a summary of the paper available for laymen. Have a look here: http://theconversation.com/how-we-built-a-robot-that-can-evolve-and-why-it-wont-take-over-the-world-52506 .

And no allow me to summarize the experiments made by Luzius Brodbeck, Simon Hauser and Fumiya Iida in an even easier way. OK, I admit i oversimplify a bit. But at the same time, the trend is still there, intact. It’s for real, can’t be denied..

The experiments described  are all about artificial intelligence (AI). How a mother robot can be programmed to build “her” own robot children. Without any help from humans (except for the instructions given to the mother robot of generation #1).

In order to imitate natural selection – one of the key ingredients, or features, of ordinary evolution of life (according to the Theory of Evolution) – the mother robot was instructed to make small changes every time she constructed a robot child. The mother robot herself had to decide what changes to do, to test.

Some of her robot children were better adapted to their environment than the robot mother herself was. Some were less effective. Because each robot generation is, say just one day or one week. That means 365, or (in the other scenario) 52, generations a year. Cf. new human generations; they need at least 25-35 years to grow up and replace their mother generation.

So IF robot generation #1 (the mother robot) is instructed to destroy/kill all “offspring” but the “fittest” one, and then destroy/kill herself, some good and, hopefully, important improvements  could be seen in the “virtual DNA” of the surviving robot generation #2.

Then the survivor of the fittest robot child (belonging to generation #2) would continue this evolutionary process by constructing – “creating” – her own children (= robot generation #3), and the process is reiterated. Over and over again.

A quote from the article above (not the paper):

 
By allowing the mother to restlessly create hundreds of new shapes and gait patterns for her children, she produced designs that a human engineer might not have been able to build. The most interesting and important thing about this is that she effectively demonstrated creativity.
 
Read that last sentence again. About how the original mother robot (= generation #1) showed a high level of creativity. In fact MUCH higher than the creative skills of human engineers!


And remember: The mother robot (= generation #1) was able to autonomously construct/”create” her robot children WITHOUT ANY INFLUENCE by human designers. That’s why the mother robot was able to “invent” novel designs that human engineers not even had thought of before. That is, the mother robot lacked the inhibitions of human morality, which enabled her to test unconventional solutions whenever a problem appeared. Was the solution a bad one, then just destroy (kill) the offspring. (Humans rarely do that, at least not in the western civilization, any longer.)

 
I think – or at least I hope – you understand what I mean. A human engineer gives some instructions to the mother robot (= generation #1). Then the mother robot is left to rely on the tools of Darwinian evolution. 
 
See the many similarities to the creation story in Genesis? 
 
Creativity can be likened to problem-solving capacity. That’s one, often used, definition of intelligence. 
 
Who is in need of a divine being, a God, here? Development by (Darwinian) evolution.
 
Why shouldn’t we expect also consciousness to develop, emerge, by later robot generations? Along with new moral codes (for instance not kill all offspring but the best one).  
 
Also consider the often proposed links between the religious/philosophical concept of soul and consciousness. 
 
Creativity is an impressive force. Belonging to, being an integral part of, the intelligence spectrum. Particularly when used together with the powers of “ordinary” Darwinian evolution. 
 
Let me finish this post by quoting yet another pair of sentences taken from the article above: 


The aim of our research is to engineer the underlying mechanisms of creativity. We wanted to know how machines can handle unknown objects, how new ideas and designs can emerge from a statistical process, and how much time, energy, raw materials and other resources are needed to create anything truly novel.

The key words in that second quote are, in my opinion, “emerge from a statistical process”. Cf. the term algorithm, the process – or the precise set of rules – to be followed in calculations or other problem-solving operations.

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How did Sigmund Freud and William James’ opinion on religion differ?

To put it in the simplest terms, Sigmund Freud stated clearly he saw religion as pathological and studied it as a kind of mental disorder. *How I like that explanation.*

William James on the other hand saw the religious feeling as a legitimate part of human mentally, something to be understood and studied and not dismissed. *In a way, I like that explanation too.*

William James became famous as the psychologist who studied the religious experience, Sigmund Freud only dismissed it.

Here’s my own question: Do you who read this post prefer the answer from Sigmund Freud or the answer from William James? Maybe you prefer just one of the two proposed answers? In that case, which one do you think can be dismissed as kind of bullshit?

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Mind-blowing and amazing facts about a) the human brain and b) pregnancy.

A: SOME AMAZING FACTS ABOUT THE HUMAN BRAIN. 

Physical Attributes

The weight of your brain is about 3 pounds.

Your skin weighs  twice as much as your brain.

Your brain is made up of about 75 percent water.

Your brain consists of about 100 billion neurons.

There are anywhere from 1,000 to 10,000 synapses for each neuron.

There are no pain receptors in your brain, so your brain can feel no pain.

There are 100,000 miles of blood vessels in your brain.

Your brain is the fattest organ in your body and may consist of at least 70 percent fat.

The Developing Brain

At birth, your brain was almost the same size as an adult brain and contained most of the brain cells for your whole life.

A newborn baby’s brain grows about three times its size in the first year.

Humans continue to make new neurons throughout life in response to mental activity.

The first sense to develop while in utero is the sense of touch. The lips and cheeks can experience touch at about 8 weeks and the rest of the body around 12 weeks.

Brain Function

Your brain uses 20 percent of the total oxygen in your body.

If your brain loses blood for 8 to 10 seconds, you will lose consciousness.

While awake, your brain generates between  10 and 23 watts of power — or enough energy to power a light bulb.

The old adage of humans only using 10% of their brain is not true. Every part of the brain has a known function.

The brain can live for 4 to 6 minutes without oxygen, and then it begins to die. No oxygen for 5 to 10 minutes will result in permanent brain damage.

A study of 1 million students in New York showed that students who ate lunches that did not include artificial flavors, preservatives, and dyes did 14 percent better on IQ tests than students who ate lunches with these additives.

Psychology of Your Brain

You can’t tickle yourself because your brain distinguishes between unexpected external touch and your own touch.

There is a class of people known as super tasters who not only have more taste buds on their tongue, but whose brain is more sensitive to the tastes of foods and drinks. In fact, they can detect some flavors that others cannot.

The connection between body and mind is a strong one. One estimate is that between 50-70 percent of visits to the doctor for physical ailments are attributed to psychological factors.

Memory

Every time you recall a memory or have a new thought, you are creating a new connection in your brain.

You have around  70000 thoughts per day.

Memories triggered by scent have a stronger emotional connection, and therefore appear more intense than other memory triggers.

While you sleep at night may be the best time for your brain to consolidate all your memories from the day. Lack of sleep may actually hurt your ability to create new memories.

Dreams and Sleep

Most people dream about  1-2 hours a night and have an average of 4-7 dreams each night.

You are not dreaming if you snore.

Studies show that brain waves are more active while dreaming than when you are awake.

Some people (about 12 percent) dream only in black and white while others dream in color.

While you sleep, your body produces a hormone that may prevent you from acting out your dreams, leaving you virtually paralyzed.

B. SOME AMAZING FACTS ABOUT PREGNANCY.
When a friend of mine got pregnant we talked a lot about babies and as well as pregnancy itself. We googled some mind-blowing facts I would like to mention (some were quite fascinating ;)):
  1. During pregnancy the uterus stretches from the size of a peach to the size of a medium watermelon.
  2. A woman’s placenta from a pregnant woman can produce more estrogen in one day than a non-pregnant woman in three years.
  3. The possibility of multiple birth will increase with tall or overweight mothers.
  4. In 90% of the cases skin tone will change during pregnancy.
  5. Pregnant women and new mothers can lactate when a baby is crying – even if it’s not their child.
  6. Pregnant women develop an enhanced sense of smell. Thereby she can avoid food which may be harmful to the baby.
  7. Nearly 75% of all conceptions miscarry. That means most women have been pregnant at some point in their life. A miscarriage can happen without knowing it. It happens just like a normal period.
  8. In the second half of pregnancy, the baby will urinate about a liter per day. After they drink it.
  9. Baby’s fingerprints are formed in the first three months of pregnancy.
  10. Babies cry in the womb for practicing for their big day 🙂
  11. Babies are able to crawl immediately after birth. Therefore a baby can crawl on mom’s chest and find food (breast milk).
  12. Newborns are quite strong. A newborn can grasp so strong that it would be able to hold its whole body with its fingers.
  13. Newborns do not have the ability to swim – but they have reflexes that make it look like they can swim. Newborns also have another reflex, which is called the bradycardic. That makes babies hold their breath and open their eyes when submerging in water.
  14. Newborns kneecaps are made out of cartilage (like shark bones!). After a while it converts to bones.

Find more exciting statistics here: https://www.quora.com/What-are-some-mind-blowing-amazing-facts-about-the-human-body .

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How the Brain Creates the Experience of God

A very good article – among many others – from the blog victorianeuronotes.wordpress.com. About how our human brain functions and how it creates an experience – a sensed presence, or rather delusion – of divine beings.

Victoria Neuronotes’ blog is also full of valuable and important information about what is often called the religious trauma syndrome (RTS).

Victoria Neuronotes describes herself like this:

Victoria is a secular humanist and an advocate for human and animal rights, brain injury awareness, seizure disorders, and the environment. She blogs about the brain’s role in religious type experiences, and the numerous ways the environment impacts gene expression, brain development and human behavior.

BTW, here’s another blogger who is an expert on the religious trauma syndrome: Valerie Tarico. I strongly recommend blog too – see for example http://valerietarico.com/2013/03/26/religious-trauma-syndrome-is-it-real/ – for those of you who want to learn more about how dangerous and poisonous religions – or rather religious people – can be. And believe me, they ARE, indeed, dangerous.

Victoria NeuroNotes

Peter: When I used to read the Bible I sort of assumed that God spoke to the people of old in a very clear way that could not be misunderstood. Why didn’t he speak to me so clearly? A lot of people claim to hear from God now. However when really pressed on the matter,

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There is No Life After Death, Sorry.

There is No Life After Death, Sorry.

That’s the title of a very interesting blog post written by Jayarava.
In it, Jayarava debunks the idea of life after death.

He takes off from an argument proposed by Sean Carroll, the famous physicist (cosmologist). You can read more about him here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sean_M._Carroll .

Carroll’s argument against a surviving soul and/or a surviving consciousness begins with a series of four propositions:

1) The mind is the brain;

2) The brain is made of atoms;
3) We know how atoms work.

4) When you die there is no way for the information that was you to persist.

Jayarava also argues that this argument put forward by Sean Carroll effectively says – leads to the conclusion – that an afterlife would be a kind of miracle because it breaks the laws of physics.
And then we should remember the famous philosopher David Hume and his essay Of Miracles (see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Of_Miracles ).
In it, Hume gives us a useful criterion for assessing the testimony for miracles: “No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of a kind, that its falsehood would be more miraculous, than the fact, which it endeavours to establish.”

Jayarava doesn’t stop here. Instead he tries to describe the dynamic of afterlife beliefs. And he does it, meritoriously, like this:

i) The fact of universal death creates cognitive dissonance.

ii) According to testimony, certain experiences appear to demonstrate that consciousness is not tied to the body, but can exist independently.
iii) So the idea that something might survive the death of the body and continue to “live” seems plausible.
iv) Emotional weighting of facts (salience) makes this seem probable, and the finality of death improbable.
v) Since the finality of death causes intense cognitive dissonance, post-mortem survival seems preferable.
vi) We make the leap from probable/preferable to actually true; and it feels satisfying because we have resolved the dissonance created by the fact of death and been consistent with our other beliefs.
In the remainder of his well-written blog post Jayarava analyzes the four points of Sean Carroll’s argument and debunks his six own summarizing points of the dynamic of afterlife beliefs.
His conclusion can’t be other than: THERE IS NO LIFE (AND NO ETERNAL SOUL AND NO SURVIVING NONLOCAL CONSCIOUSNESS) AFTER DEATH. IT’S NOTHING BUT WISHFUL THINKING.
Read Jayarava’s blog post in extenso by clicking this link:  http://jayarava.blogspot.se/2015/01/there-is-no-life-after-death-sorry.html .

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The Observer Effect…God?

I’ve not read all your blog posts, rounaqb, but this one just has to be one of your best ever! And here’s my motivation for saying so:

1) You start by describing the phenomenon called “the observer effect”

1.a) You define it as “Observation changes reality”.

1.b) You even give us a textbook definition of the phenomenon: “In science, the term observer effect refers to changes that the act of observation will make on a phenomenon being observed.

Very good!

2) For those wanting deeper information I can recommend this link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/If_a_tree_falls_in_a_forest .

2.a) In that Wikipedia article you can read this (I quote): Albert Einstein is reported to have asked his fellow physicist and friend Niels Bohr, one of the founding fathers of quantum mechanics, whether he realistically believed that ‘the moon does not exist if nobody is looking at it.’ To this Bohr replied that however hard he (Einstein) may try, he would not be able to prove that it does, thus giving the entire riddle the status of a kind of an infallible conjecture—one that cannot be either proved or disproved.

2.b) And you can read this (another quote from the article): The anthropic principle suggests that the observer, just in its existence, may impose on the reality observed. However, most people, as well as scientists, assume that the observer doesn’t change whether the tree-fall causes a sound or not, but this is an impossible claim to prove. However, many scientists would argue as follows, “A truly unobserved event is one which realises no effect (imparts no information) on any other (where ‘other’ might be e.g., human, sound-recorder or rock), it therefore can have no legacy in the present (or ongoing) wider physical universe. […]

2.c) The British philosopher of science Roy Bhaskar, credited with developing critical realism has argued, in apparent reference to this riddle, that: If men ceased to exist sound would continue to travel and heavy bodies to fall to the earth in exactly the same way, though ex hypothesi there would be no-one to know it.

End of quotes.

I would say that you summarize all this very well in your blog post, rounaqb!

3) Some believers in the concept of a Cosmic Intelligence (or Divine Being) may object and call the given explanations a misrepresenting simplification of the matter.

They seem to mean that the implications of the “observer effect’ are much more profound than we humans are able to understand.

3.a) According to such New-Age-ish believers, the “observer effect”, if true, must be considered to mean that before something can manifest in the physical universe it has to become observed by someone ore something.

3.b) A corollary of that statement could be as follows: Presumably observation cannot occur without the pre-existence of some sort of consciousness to do the observing.

3.c) That is, the “observer effect” seems to imply that the physical Universe is the direct result of ‘consciousness’.

3.d) This notion, by the way, has a striking resemblance to perennial esoteric theory which asserts that all phenomena are the result of the consciousness of a single overriding intelligent principle, seemingly full of awareness.

3.e) This is, IMHO, just another way to refer to the Mind of God.

4) Anyhow, rounaqb, you outline the problem with the “observer effect” by breaking it down into three basic components:

4.a) First, you focus on the measurement process in itself. Claiming that it is the measurement per se, not the observer, that causes what is called the “observer effect”.

4.b) Then you claim that humans are not necessary to make a measurement. For example, it is possible for robots or computers to make measurements, and in a near future we can expect that robots and/or computers will be capable of assembling new copies of themselves. Either with or without a consciousness of their own.

4.c) Which immediately takes us to your point #3, that consciousness is an ill-defined concept.

Especially if you are looking for similarities between a consciousness and an eternal soul. Or expressed in a simpified way: From where does the robot, or the computer, get its eternal soul? Did the Divine Being (or Cosmic Intelligence) create also robots or computers “in imaginem Sui” (In Its image)?

5) I can also recommend you, rounaqb, and all who are interested in this subject, to have a look at what is written here on this site: http://van.physics.illinois.edu/qa/listing.php?id=1228 .

It’s a Q&A site. The answers given to the questions posed about the “observer effect” – and its possible consequences – complement your eminent blog post very well.

6) Finally, I want to thank you, rounaqb, for taking your time to address this interesting question of what the “observer effect” really is and what it means – and doesn’t mean.

You did an excellent job! Now let us both wait for the God believers to have their say.

Refuting God

I remember the time when I was a total Cosmology geek, I read a joke where he says, “Oh Jenny, I love you and only you.” and she replies, “But, in a quantum world, how can you be sure?”

Really, this is kinda the situation now. One often hears the creepy statements like “Observation changes reality” or “The moon is not up there if you don’t look at it”, and the ironic part is that these statements mostly come from certain physicist’s mouth or from some famous science show, which usually have their own biases and love catching phrases and thus use certain strawmans to state opinions as facts. I cannot dream of claiming that I am somehow unbiased and authentic in my practices, but I hope to make a reasonable case for my own bias of scientific skepticism in this article. I shall also clear that this is…

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The Teleology Challenge a.k.a. the Evil God Challenge

In this blog post John Zande focuses a hard nut to crack for all theists.

In a way it all boils down to the biblical view that everything that happens in our universe is determined by the Creator of this universe, and therefore a part of His creation plan.

This must lead to the conclusion that this same Creator, of course, has foreseen all atrocities that have taken place around the world/universe from the start of this creation process.

Or, in the words of the Holy Scripture: Psalm 139:16 (the New International Version, NIV):

“Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

Can it be expressed in a more distinct and evident than in that Bible verse? (I would call that a rhetorical question.)

And now I quote directly from John Zande’s scholarly blog post (that is the one I’m now going to reblog):

God, by definition, is maximally competent, and to propose anything less is simply preposterous.

God, by definition, is maximally efficient. There are no mistakes. There can be no mistakes, no missteps, no lapses or miscalculations.

What exists, exists because it was envisaged by the Catalogue of Catalogues that is the mind of God.

We are not, therefore, starting from a position that claims the machine—Creation—is broken.

[Instead w]e must assume the apparatus has not malfunctioned, and Creation is unfurling exactly as designed by the mistake-free Creator.

So what have theists to say in defence of their God/Creator? Do they worship a benevolent and loving divine entity or a malevolent and evil one?

John Zande has, so far, received more than 260 comments to his post. But still no real answer to that question posed in the paragraph above this one. How come? Can’t those believing in the Abrahamic God distinguish between benevolence and malevolence?

The_Pied_Piper_of_Hamelin_by_ChrisRawlinsSince its publication in June this year, not a single intelligible rebuttal has been offered to the general thesis presented in The Owner of All Infernal Names: An Introductory Treatise on the Existence, Nature & Government of Our Omnimalevolent Creator.

In its most trimmed down presentation, that thesis presents a diverse library of evidences which support the conclusion that this world was brought into existence by what a human mind would call a perfectly wicked, malevolent Creator; a maximally powerful being whose arousal and stimulatory needs are satisfied best by the suffering which pervades all of Creation, and whose single-minded objective is to amplify His pleasure-taking over time. To these ends, the Creator has (demonstrably) structured His most notable of creations, the universe itself, to perform as a monumental pleasure-generating mechanism: an intelligently designed, deceptively natural, appallingly efficient complexity machine where the naturally unravelling consequences of its single instruction—to…

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