Category Archives: Gods

A paper showing a link between belief in gods and intolerance of strangers (outside your own group). LESS belief in gods equals MORE tolerant behavior towards strangers (immigrants).

By directing magnetic force – so-called TMS, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation – towards the posterior medial frontal cortex (pMFC) of the brain, scientists from the University of York have found a relatively strong link between religious faith and intolerance. Anyone surprised?

The targeted region of the brain is associated with detecting and solving problems that threaten the individual’s security. The threat in this study was being reminded of death and mortality. Thinking of death and mortality normally lead to stronger beliefs in divine beings and afterlife.

But after the targeted brain region – pMFC – was temporarily shut down, the subjects were instead less inclined to reach for comforting religious ideas. In fact, they reported 32.8 per cent less belief in God, angels, or heaven after having their pMFC turned down! And at the same time they were also 28.5 per cent more positive in their feelings towards an immigrant who before the TMS treatment had criticised and derogated their native country.

The explanation? People often turn to ideology when they are confronted by problems. That is, they embrace – by trial and error learning and/or priming – a system of ideas and ideals, and this system then becomes their primary tool to reduce the fear factor (anxiety)  in their lives. Individuals of the same group (community) often learn from each other how to handle what causes fear and/or anxiety (in this case initiated by worry of death/mortality).

So belief in divine beings – as well as intolerance towards strangers threatening the harmony witihin a group of people – can be seen as a spin-off effect from ordinary problem solving. 

Read more about this interesting experiment here: http://scan.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2015/09/03/scan.nsv107.abstract (or here: http://escholarship.org/uc/item/0kj9w0km#page-1 ).

Finally the abstract:


People cleave to ideological convictions with greater intensity in the aftermath of threat.
The posterior medial frontal cortex (pMFC) plays a key role in both detecting discrepancies between desired and current conditions and adjusting subsequent behavior to resolve such conflicts.Building on prior literature examining the role of the pMFC in shifts in relatively low-level decision processes, we demonstrate that the pMFC mediates adjustments in adherence to political and religious ideologies.

We presented participants with a reminder of death and a critique of their in-group ostensibly written by a member of an out-group, then experimentally decreased both avowed belief in God and out-group derogation by down-regulating pMFC activity via transcranial magnetic stimulation.

The results provide the first evidence that group prejudice and religious belief are susceptible to targeted neuromodulation, and point to a shared cognitive mechanism underlying concrete and abstract decision processes.

We discuss the implications of these findings for further research characterizing the cognitive and affective mechanisms at play.

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Important question: When did the rebellion in Heaven take place? Original title: Incompetence or malevolence: the failure of the Christian narrative.

John Zande, the man behind the blog “The superstitious naked ape”, is one of my favorites in the blogosphere.

Not only is he clever, but he also often finds new angles to debunk and refute silly God arguments.

In this blog post he argues that Lucifer (a.k.a the Serpent in the Garden of Eden and the Devil) had defected from God and therefore been cast out from Heaven down to Earth. So Adam and Eve were not the first sinners ever among the entities created by God Almighty. In fact, God’s own divine and elaborated creation plan was already soiled by Lucifer’s pride, envy and wish to be equal to God.

The weakest link in John Zandes reasoning is the answer to this important key question is: When was the Devil cast out from Heaven?

Unfortunately the Holy Scripture is a bit vague about the exact date the rebellion in Heaven happened.

The following is known: 1) Lucifer is an angel. 2) All the angels were created before the earth (Job 38:4-7). 3) Satan must have fallen before he – disguised as a Serpent – tempted Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:1-14).

Conclusion: Satan’s fall must therefore have occurred somewhere after the time the angels were created and before he tempted Adam and Eve in Paradise.

But whether Satan’s fall occurred a few minutes or millennia before he tempted Adam and Eve in the garden is unfortunately not specified in the Scripture.

But we know that many church fathers and Christian philosophers and theologians have pondered this important question.

For example, Saint Augustine relates the fall of the evil and rebellious angels to the book of Genesis: “And God saw the light that it was good, and he divided the light from the darkness” (Genesis 1:4).

We also know that Thomas Aquinas picks up this allegory from Saint Augustine, and identifies the separation of light from darkness as the day (date) the evil and rebelling angels were separated from the good, loyal and obedient ones uo in Heaven.

And who am I to question what Saint Augustine and Thomas Aquinas consider being the truth about when the rebellion occurred in Heaven?

So John Zande seems to be right in his conclusions. His views expressed in this blog post are -as we can see – supported by two so extremely respectable and revered persons that the Catholic Church once honored them as not only saints but also as Doctor of the Church, thereby indicating that both Saint Augustine and Saint Thomas still today are considered the Catholic Church’s greatest theologians and/or philosophers ever!

Need I say more?

Read more about Saint Augustine and Saint Thomas, and their dating of Lucifer’s fall, here: http://taylormarshall.com/2013/11/how-did-lucifer-become-satan-thomas-aquinas-answers.html .

lucifer_212759“God’s creation was perfect; there was no sickness, pain, or death. But this perfect creation did not last long.” (Ken Ham)

The Christian narrative is erected upon the basal claim that Man corrupted Yhwh’s perfect Creation and is therefore diseased and in need of a cure. That cure is, of course, Jesus, who sacrificed himself, to himself, to save humanity from himself.

It’s a stunningly ridiculous plot, the absurd work of ferociously unimaginative men, and it is made all the more outrageously idiotic by the fact that the bible doesn’t even support the cardinal claim upon which Christianity is built: that Man corrupted Creation.

By the bibles own chronology of events, the angels were created before the earth, and the earth before man (Job 38:4-7). Evil, however, entered Creation before the earth, and therefore before man… an event witnessed in the fall of Yhwh’s most beautiful creation, Lucifer…

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Religious Trauma Syndrome: How Some Organized Religion Leads to Mental Health Problems

The existence of a Religious Trauma Syndrome (RTS) is often denied by true believers and others who support religious beliefs and think that religious faith is good for humanity.

But the RTS is, indeed, for real. Many tears have been shed because of that sort of traumas.

So, please, read Valerie Tarico’s take on this important topic very carefully.

Also read Marlene Winell’s take (in three parts) on that same subject on the Ex-Christian blog:

Part 1 = http://new.exchristian.net/2011/06/religious-trauma-syndrome-its-time-to.html .

Part 2 = http://new.exchristian.net/2011/07/understanding-religious-trauma-syndrome.html .

Part 3 = http://new.exchristian.net/2011/11/trauma-from-leaving-religion.html

It’s not going to extremes calling religion a poisonous method that obstructs and complicates people’s endeavours to find a high quality of life. It also hinders you from becoming a really “free” thinker, one who is allowed to study any books s/he likes.

Many philosophers, politicians and scientists have expressed their gloomy ideas of religion and its future.

For example, Karl Marx said: “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people”.

Frederick II once said: “Religion is the idol of the mob; it adores everything it does not understand”.

Napoleon Bonaparte said: “Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich”.

Friedrich Nietzsche said. “In Christianity neither morality nor religion come into contact with reality at any point”.

He also said: “The Christian resolution to find the world ugly and bad has made the world ugly and bad”.

Albert Einstein (who didn’t believe in any personal God of the Abrahamic kind) said. Science without religion is lame, [but] religion without science is [also] blind.
At the same time he also said: “The religion of the future will be a cosmic religion. It should transcend personal God and avoid dogma and theology. Covering both the natural and the spiritual, it should be based on a religious sense arising from the experience of all things natural and spiritual as a meaningful unity”.

If Albert Einstein had been alive today, I think he would have stated: Things about religion seemingly have to become worse before they at last can be transformed to a non-poisonous life philosophy. There is still a very long way to go for today’s religions all around the world.

BTW, talking of promoting science and reason, have a look at this blog post: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/about-thinking/201510/what-can-we-learn-ben-carsons-brain .

From that blog post we learn that, unfortunately,neither intelligence nor (high) education is able to promote ‘good thinking’.

And finally, my own take on this:

Religious cults are nowadays mostly confined to having to rely on ‘God of the Gaps’ arguments. The primary goal for today’s cult leaders has become to try to convince their ignorant and incredulous followers that science is, always, wrong, meaning that it’s, also always, better to believe in what holy scriptures like the Bible and Koran say is the truth. That strategy is also known as intellectual dishonesty.

AwayPoint

Religious Trauma Syndrome- AnguishAt age sixteen I began what would be a four year struggle with bulimia.  When the symptoms started, I turned in desperation to adults who knew more than I did about how to stop shameful behavior—my Bible study leader and a visiting youth minister.  “If you ask anything in faith, believing,” they said.  “It will be done.” I knew they were quoting the Word of God. We prayed together, and I went home confident that God had heard my prayers.

But my horrible compulsions didn’t go away. By the fall of my sophomore year in college, I was desperate and depressed enough that I made a suicide attempt. The problem wasn’t just the bulimia.  I was convinced by then that I was a complete spiritual failure. My college counseling department had offered to get me real help (which they later did). But to my mind, at that point, such help…

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How sexually perverted is God? A peek at the twisted, warped and kinky sex acts in the animal kingdom.

At least all Christians know that God Himself prefers virgins. We also know that God hates homosexual copulation. And He loathes all masturbators.  (So whom does God really love? Are there any left deserving to be loved by God? Does anyone out there in cyber space know the answer to that question? The comment field below this post is open for you. Please, let me hear your take on this.)

By reading tn today’s post, about sex among (other) animals (than humans), I hope all of my readers will soon understand that God must be a very pervy divine creator entity.

At least if we suppose He (in most ways, though of course He is perfect) is like us humans. After all, God created us humans “in imaginem Sui”, in His own image. In Genesis 1:27 we can read: “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”

Click this link – http://www.livescience.com/42295-animal-sex-tales.html – and you can read about how black widow spiders do it. All human descendants of Adam should praise the Lard for not having created Eve like that.

Here’s a quote from that arcticle: “With his sperm deposited, the male [spider] hightails out of [the coitus], lest he becomes a post-sex snack — at least for [such spider] species [females] that prefer a post-coital meal.”

Or what had God in His mind when He created the kangaroos, you know the Australian animals who came hopping all the way from today’s Australia to the Middle East to embark Noah’s ark to evade the Flood (the story recorded in Genesis 6–8).

Here’s another quote from the article: [Kangaroo] females have three vaginas — two for sperm and one in the middle for birthing. Males have long, double-headed penises to inseminate the lateral vaginas.” (Maybe kangaroo males are closely related to snakes, who knows – but God Almighty?)

And here’s a quote about how chimps do it: If a female is interested in a male, she’ll put her swollen bottom right up in his face. When a male wants sex, he shakes a tree branch or displays his erect penis to a female.
For more information about sex habits in the animal world, also see: http://www.livescience.com/52476-would-aliens-have-sex.html

In that article you can read this thrilling piece of information: Not all life on Earth requires sex for reproduction. Amoebas, yeast and millimeter-long freshwater hydra all manage to create offspring solo, as do many invertebrates. So do some surprisingly complex animals: Virgin births have been reported in Komodo dragons, pit vipers and sharks.

And this: In amoeba sex, for example, the cell partitions off packets of genetic material and then recombines them, either with another amoeba or with packets from other amoebas. Sexually reproducing yeast cells find each other, grow projections, merge and mate. The hermaphroditic C. elegans worm wiggles its body against another worm until it finds the vulva and then inserts needlelike structures called spicules into the opening to deliver sperm.

Who can deny that God must be a very creative divine entity? And,  seemingly, particularly interested in sex. Yes, it almost looks like God must be addicted to pervy sex habits.

But in that case, does this also mean God is taking care of all species He created in a good, benevolent, and loving way? I’m not so sure of that.Are you? The comment section below is meant for you.

In that same article I can read the following two sentences:

One stress that might prompt the evolution of sex […] might be […] parasites. Researchers reporting in 2011 in the journal Science found that, when given the choice, organisms pick sex over asexuality when parasites threaten, likely because sexual reproduction gives them more genetic weapons to use in the evolutionary arms race against their parasite foes.

Huh!? Sounds like God apparently created parasites to give Him a reason to also create sexual propagation.

But dear, God, Could you not find out a better way than creating deadly parasites to do that? I’m sorry, God, but now I feel an intensive urge for asking you the following question in my prayer to you tonight at the bedside: Is it, after all, true, Almighty God, what can be read about you in the Old Testament? That you are the greatest Killer who ever walked on the surface here on planet Earth?

Please, God, answer my prayer!

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Magical thinking springs up everywhere, and language is its accomplice. How language can and does deceive us.  

The human language came into existence with the help of the more primitive intuitive information processing system in our brains, the one that is specialized in, and focused on, magical and religious (bullshit) thinking. For details, see this blog post, https://bbnewsblog.wordpress.com/2015/07/02/the-two-information-processing-systems-ipss-in-your-brain-one-is-woo-ish-the-other-is-rational/ ; and read this Wikipedia article,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magical_thinking .

Magical thinking springs up everywhere. The phenomenon is in a way related to pareidoiia, our tendency to see human faces in patterns created by mould fungi or tree stumps, (see: http://www.livescience.com/25448-pareidolia.html ).

Emotional stress and events of personal significance push us strongly toward magical meaning-making.

Another important factor is time – or rather lack of time.

The IPS #1 is much faster than the rational and logical IPS #2 system. So if you are in a lack of time – i.e. when you have to make a quick decision – you tend to prefer teleological conclusions instead of more critical and questioning ones. If you can’t detect any visible cause, your IPS #1 has no problem inventing HCAs, Hidden Causal Agents. Cf. the invention of imaginary playmates in childhood or the creation of more or less omnipotent and omniscient divine beings in adulthood.

Our language is strongly influenced by the supposed – or at least presupposed – existence of HCAs. We use verbs that dupe us to think teleologically.

Let’s think of, for example, the verb “create”. Here are some synonyms: breed, bring about, build, cause, construct, contribute to, design, develop, engender, establish, fabricate, form, foster, generate, give rise to, initiate, launch, lead to, make, produce, promote, result in, set up, shape, sow the seeds of – need I mention any more?

Questions starting with a HOW, a WHAT or, above all, a WHY likewise prime your brain to think teleologically.

And, my third and last example, think of word constructions like “(in order) to”, meaning “used as a means of achieving a specified end/goal”.

If you don’t see my point by now, you must be blind on both eyes. 🙂 .

So no wonder we are ALL primed to think teleologically.

You can test yourself by pondering this simple sentence: “The sun is shining today and I feel warm.”

This sentence implies that the sun has – or at least may have – the intention, the purpose, to make me feel warm.

From there the next step can easily be to begin thinking of somewhat – or someone – that can explain WHY I feel a warming effect of the sunshine. For example a  divine being caring for me.

That’s the story behind Hidden Causal Agents that are created by your mind, with the help of magical and religious IPS #1 in your brain.

After this rather long introduction it’s time to recommend my readers to have a look at this interesting analysis, a blog post written by one of the bloggers I follow regularly, Tom Rees:  http://www.patheos.com/blogs/epiphenom/2015/10/a-world-by-design-even-atheists-intuitively-think-the-natural-world-has-a-designer.html .

Here is a quote from his article:

Research over the past few years has shown that many people intuitively think that things in the natural world exist for some ulterior purpose – almost as if they had been designed that way. We have a tendency to agree with statements such as ‘water condenses to moisten the air’, or ‘the sun shines in order to keep us warm’.

And finally, here are the conclusions of the study that Tom Rees is referring to:

[1] These data strongly support the idea that humans have a natural tendency to see the natural world as having a designer.

[2] Even more strikingly, they suggest that atheists are not naturally immune to these intuitions. Rather, they  teach themselves to actively overcome them!

I myself would like to add: And true believers teach themselves – on their own or by the help of a pastor – to actively prime their minds that there must be a Creator and a first cause of everything that happens.

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Refuting ICR (Part I): “Cause and Effect”

A very good article about arguments used on the ICR website to prove the existence of God – and how they can be refuted.

ICR stands for the Institution for Creation Research, probably one of the most famous – or rather notorious – sites on the internet, promoting creationism and other religious true believer bullshit.

Rounaqb is, as I have written before, an unusually clever blogger and, as such, also good at logical reasoning, which you all can see, if you read his newest blog article, which is now reblogged my me.

Because the most important of the ICR God arguments revolves round cause and effect, I think my own comment, given in the comment field below rounaqb’s blog, can be seen as a kind of summary of what is at issue here (at least some aspects thereof). So I choose to re-use the content of my comment also here in this “introduction”, to my own readers, of rounaqb’s refutation arguments.

I wrote: If something has a cause it’s pretty easy to believe that this same cause also has a meaning.

Why being a cause without having a meaning as well?

Being a cause, which is often bothersome in itself, without any meaning at all, wouldn’t that be “meaningless”, almost a waste of time and energy?

I think evolution has given us a brain that is constantly searching for causes. AND, therefore, meaning, too

If you can’t find any visible cause while looking around you, then the brain tries to invent Hidden Causal Agents (HCAs).

Your brain seems to prefer HCAs capable of also conveying, at the same time, an “attached” message of meaning.

It looks, according to your brain, like the HCA does this to you to reward or punish you.

Thereby you can imagine – and feel – there is a locus of control located inside yourself. Or in other words, it seems, at last partly, that it’s up to you if the HCA causing/originating the cause will choose to reward, or punish, you for your deeds.

When in doubt, you can always ask the sage of your tribe/group/community.

That sage has often many similarities to a medicin man, a shaman or a priest (a.k.a. god interpreter).

With that said, I hope you are going to acquaint yourselves with rounaqb’s own arguments.

I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

Refuting God

cause-effectGoogling ‘evidence for God’, the first suggestion Google gives(at least in my location) is the official website of The Institution for Creation Research. The title seemed quite interesting to me, probably because I thought that here I will get most of typical theistic arguments, well presented. It didn’t disappoint me in that sense. I got what I expected. There are three ‘lines of evidences’ ICR has proposed. The law of causality, “the triune universe” and “design and purpose”. So, I am introducing this series, through which I will try to refute the proposed arguments from ICR. So, let’s begin.

1.Everything has a cause.
The article starts with “In ordinary experience, one knows intuitively that nothing happens in isolation”. This statement is true, as it clearly mentions ‘ordinary experiences’ and ‘intuition’. Of course, our ordinary experiences always tell us the an effect must have a cause, like…

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The Individual, Family, and Tribe: An Essay about the Evolutionary Origin of Homo Sapiens.

This is a quite impressive – yes, I would call it an excellent – blog post about the evolutionary origin of our own species, Homo Sapiens.

The blogger, Charles Rogers, ponders, above all, the question: Who are we? But he is also interested in this question: Why are we like we are?

Related to that second question is this one: Why are we constantly striving to trying to find the “Holy Grail”, i.e. the meaning of our lives? (The answers can probably be found inside ourselves, in our brains, how they are wired. And that wiring is, in turn, best explained by looking back at our evolutionary origin/history.)

Charles Rogers is constantly looking for the answers of such questions by reading a lot of books, both fiction and non-fiction ones. He is obviously eager to come across what others have found in their quest of explanations.

Among his references can be found – just to mention only a few of them – a philosopher (Friedrich Nietzsche), a neurologist and psychiatrist/psychologist (Viktor Frankl), a professor of chemistry (Addy Pross), and, above all, the world famous neuroendocrinologist, professor of biology, neuroscience, and neurosurgery, Robert Sapolsky.

So it should go without saying that this blog post is very interesting to read and mull. It’s not only concerned with the question: From where do we, Homo Sapiens, originate?

Another important question is this one: What is the meaning of our lives?

Charles Rogers’ own take on this seems to be: “It is clear to me that the basic ‘Why’ is our family and our tribe.”

That is, we are strongly connected/related to each other. (That’s why Mr. Rogers himself, a professor emeritus, uses his own blog in order to build (symbolic) bridges thereby trying to make it easier for people all over the world to connect with each other.

So I’m not at all surprised to find this quote among his “mantras”: “We think we are separate, but we are one.”

Unfortunately I miss at least ONE important aspect of the human evolutionary history in this blog post. I want more facts and opinions of the evolution of religion, man’s perpetual companion.

But maybe Mr. Rogers will discuss that matter in another blog post later on? Let’s hope that will be the case.

Suffice it to say, in this comment of mine, that evolution seemingly has wired the human brain to look for, and easily find, a more or less strong correlation between teleological thinking and preference for religious motives.

In short, our human brains intuitively perceive purpose-driven design in the world around us.

The stronger this quest for (finding a) purpose is, the stronger our pro-theist preferences become.

If we can’t see whose purpose/intention it is that/when something happens, we are extremely prone to invent Hidden Causal Agents (HCAs) to find the reason behind all that happens to us and in our environments.

If you are interested, you can read more about these ideas here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magical_thinking . And/Or here: https://bbnewsblog.wordpress.com/2015/07/02/the-two-information-processing-systems-ipss-in-your-brain-one-is-woo-ish-the-other-is-rational/ .

Charles Clanton Rogers

shutterstock_178937369

Introduction:

“We think we are separate, but we are one.”  

 “He who has a Why to live can bear almost any How” (1)

It is clear to me that the basic “Why” is our family and our tribe.

I. Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go (2) : You can live without someone who says: you are mine; You can not live without someone who says: ‘I am yours”  May you be blessed with at least one such person in life!”  The family and tribe is at its best when several individuals feel this ownership to one another. Ishiguro on platonic love is reviewed in the two links:

http://therogerspost.com/2015/09/14/never-let-me-go/

http://therogerspost.com/2015/09/16/never-let-me-go-2/

II. Addy Pross, What is Life, (3)  How Chemistry Becomes Biology.   

  th-7

In the beginning, non-living carbon-based chemicals joined to become “living” nucleic acids (DNA) manifesting a new force.This effect is characterized by an irrepressible self-replication…

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Just face the facts, there is no soul, there is no afterlife. It’s your wishful thinking that deceives you.

In the autumn of 2014 Dr. Sam Parnia’s long awaited AWARE study about the authenticity of Near-Death Experiences (NDEs) as evidence of a surviving soul was published.

Dr. Parnia’s study can, at best, be described as very disheartening and depressing for those believing that NDEs are evidence of a soul that survives the bodily (physical) death.

Almost exactly a year ago I posted this blog focusing that interesting subject, see: https://bbnewsblog.wordpress.com/2014/10/07/as-i-said-before/

Now, a year later, I think it’s about time to have a new look at the NDE phenomena and how they can be explained without involving religious bullshit concepts like god(s), soul(s) or afterlife.

Let me start by asking you this question: Are you acquainted with a blog named “Imperfect Cognitions”?
Anyhow, it’s a site where all kinds of delusional beliefs, hallucinations and distorted memories are discussed:
In today’s newsletter from “Imperfect Cognitions” I found this blog post, written by Hayley Dewe, a PhD student from the School of Psychology at the University of Birmingham. The title is: “Debunking Dualist Notions of Near-Death Experiences”.  You find her article here:  http://imperfectcognitions.blogspot.se/2015/09/debunking-dualist-notions-of-near-death.html .
Hayley Dewe’s research is based in The Selective Attention and Awareness laboratory, directed by Jason Braithwaite. Her research focuses on the neurocognitive correlates of anomalous (for example hallucinatory) experience, specifically pertaining to the ‘self’, embodiment, and consciousness.She explains NDEs in the following way:

NDEs are striking experiences that typically occur when one is close to death or exposed to life-threatening situations of intense physical and/or emotional danger (first coined by Moody 1975, Life after Life. New York: Bantam Books). This unusual experience includes a variety of aberrant components such as: sensations of peace and vivid imagery, bright flashes of light, the sensation of travelling through a dark tunnel towards a bright light, a disconnection from the physical body (a shift in perspective: the Out-of-Body Experience), and the sensation of entering a light / visions of an ‘afterlife’ etc.

And she continues:

From a parapsychological (or survivalist / supernatural) perspective, NDEs are understood as mystical and spiritual experiences that expose the individual to another world (or afterlife). This is taken as evidence for the survival of bodily death (i.e. dualism); that the mind/consciousness is not dependent on the brain.

In stark contrast is the scientific/neuroscience perspective. Here, it is argued that NDEs are hallucinatory phenomena, generated by a disinhibited and highly confused, dying brain (known as the ‘dying brain account’).

After this introduction she argues that:

#1: There are a host of logical fallacies and methodological discrepancies within the parapsychological literature.
#2: There appears to be no objective study validating the presence of an entirely inactive human brain with the simultaneous occurrence of an NDE!
#3: Even if there were evidence of a completely inactive brain, and subsequent recollection of an NDE, how could one pinpoint the precise time frame during which the NDE components occurred? That is, the NDE itself may well have occurred before levels of brain activity became ‘inactive’ (or ‘flattened’), or even experienced and recalled afterwards, during recovery.
#4: No component of the NDE is actually unique to the ‘near-death’ experience.
#5: As a matter of fact, you needn’t necessarily be ‘near to death’ to experience NDE phenomena.
So the only reasonable and likely conclusion seems to be: Dualist / Survivalist arguments of NDEs are, at the very best, flawed.
And I myself want to add here: They are not only flawed. They are completely wrong, built as they seem to be on wishful magical and religious bullshit thinking .
In short: THERE IS NO SOUL! Forget what you’ve read or heard about that religious bullshit concept.
And if souls don’t exist, the corollary must be: YOU’D BETTER FORGET ABOUT THE BELIEF IN AN AFTERLIFE, TOO.
For more details, see: https://www.skeptic.org.uk/magazine/onlinearticles/497-braithwaite-dying-brain (Towards a Cognitive Neuroscience of the Dying Brain), and:  https://www.academia.edu/10060970/Occams_Chainsaw_Neuroscientific_Nails_in_the_coffin_of_dualist_notions_of_the_Near-death_experience_NDE_  (Occam’s Chainsaw: Neuroscientific Nails in the Coffin of Dualist Notions of the Near-death Experience [NDE]).
In the coming weeks or months I hope to have time to blog about the non-existent soul and non-existent afterlife.
But for the time being I have to confine myself to recommend all (true) soul believers – that is those who refuse to abandon their bullshit ideas of soul and afterlife – to study the contents in blog posts like these: https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2011/05/26/sean-carroll-we-dont-have-immortal-souls/ , http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/2011/05/23/physics-and-the-immortality-of-the-soul/#.Vgrou3qqqko , and http://jayarava.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/there-is-no-life-after-death-sorry.html .
Need I say more? Yes, I think I also need to say that true believers are not so easily convinced that soul and afterlife are typical religious bullshit concepts. Sacrosanct beliefs, anchored in religious faith, are unfortunately extremely difficult to eradicate. For more details, see: https://victorianeuronotes.wordpress.com/2015/09/08/are-brainwashing-techniques-in-the-bible-and-strategically-used-in-churches/ .

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The Argument from Consistency (and Justice)

This blog post, reblogged from a blog called The Superstitious Naked Ape, is a good example of how capricious, evil, malicious, rancorous, malevolent, unjust, partial – you name it – the imaginary friend up in the sky, with omnipotent and omniscient powers, is. An imaginary friend and crackpot who calls himself I am that I am (Exodus 3:14), but is called God Almighty by his worshippers.

The author of the reblogged post, John Zande, also demonstrates how inconsistent this Almighty God is, especially when it comes to punishing people committing sins.

John Zande starts his analysis by retelling a story in Acts 5 about a couple in the early Christian commune, Ananias and his wife, Sapphira.

Both Ananias and Sapphira were killed by God for not telling the truth about what happened to some money they had had at their disposal.

Because Ananias and his wife were dishonest, God decided to kill them. Not only does God hate sins; he hates sinners as well, maybe even more than the sins.

This story in Acts 5 reminds me of what can be read in 2 Kings 2:23-24:

And [God’s beloved prophet Elisha] went up from thence unto Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head. And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the LORD. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them.

Those two verses bring up the question of how a prophet chosen by God Himself is allowed, by that same God, to call a deadly curse down upon a group of kids for taunting him about something as insignificant as baldness.

And maybe worst of all, Almighty God consents, without hesitating the least, to his prophet’s wish and uses/forces two she bears to accomplish the killing.

Anyhow, this is not the first time God kills children for misbehaving.

Here are four more examples:

#1: Deuteronomy 21:18-21 (demanding that children who refuse to obey their parents must be executed).

If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them: Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place; And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.

#2: Exodus 21:15

He that smiteth his father, or his mother, shall be surely put to death.

#3. Exodus 21:17

He that curseth his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death.

#4. Proverbs 30:17

Children who mock their parents will have their eyes plucked out by ravens and eaten by eagles.The eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it.

IMHO it’s one of life’s biggest riddles how on Earth there can be people who still worship such an evil, vengeful and inequitable God, who at the same time is so full of inconsistencies and biased partiality.

IN GOD WE TRUSTThe god of the Pentateuch does not exist. This is not news. The entire premise of such a being is as Jeremy Bentham would have said, “Nonsense on stilts”[1]… and we should all be very, very pleased that such a creature does not exist. The god of the Pentateuch is a bad god, and we can prove that here by something I’m calling The Argument from Consistency, or perhaps more accurately, The Argument from Consistency in Justice

A story is recounted in Acts 5 where a couple in the early Christian commune, Ananias and his wife, Sapphira, were killed by Yhwh for the (victimless) crime of lying.

Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’…

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REBLOGGED: Bible vs Quran—Test Your Knowledge of Who Deserves Death in Which Religion. About the correlations between religion, xenophobia, racism and violence.

About the correlations between religion, xenophobia, racism and violence

According to the social sciences religion increases trust among congregants (i.e. among those who already know each other by belonging to the same group). But at the same time religion causes trust to drop towards unfamiliar people (i.e. those outside the congregation or group).

That’s why religion (religious faith) correlates so well with xenophobia and racism. For more details, see http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/Xenophobia.aspx .

Here’s an interesting quote from that article:

[I]t is sometimes difficult to make a clear distinction between racism and xenophobia because they exhibit similar motivations for exclusive behavior designed to demean others and the exercise of political violence. However, there is one element missing in racism that is often present in xenophobia: religious identity. Manifestations of xenophobia occur not only against people with different physical characteristics but also against those of similar background who are believed to hold different and presumably dangerous and hostile religious convictions.

When it comes to the point of relationship, specifically, between religion and violence, see for example http://atheism.about.com/od/religiousviolencecauses/ .

OK, I admit that not all pundits agree with my somewhat simplified correlations that seem to show how toxic religious faith can be with regard to interpersonal relationships. Karen Armstrong, for example, is of a different opinion, see this review of one of her books: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/25/-sp-karen-armstrong-religious-violence-myth-secular .

But if I am to be accused of being a cherry-picker, then all those denying or minimizing the correlations between religion, xenophobia, racism, and violence clearly must be cherry-pickers as well.

As a matter of fact, my views on this relationship are more mainstream than Karen Armstrong’s. Have a look at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_violence#Abrahamic_religions .

Let me quote from that Wikipedia article:

Some critics of religion such as Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer argue that all monotheistic religions are inherently violent. For example, Nelson-Pallmeyer writes that “Judaism, Christianity and Islam will continue to contribute to the destruction of the world until and unless each challenges violence in “sacred texts” and until each affirms nonviolent power of God.”

Hector Avalos argues that, because religions claim divine favor for themselves, over and against other groups, this sense of righteousness leads to violence because conflicting claims to superiority, based on unverifiable appeals to God, cannot be adjudicated objectively.

Similarly, Eric Hickey writes, “(t)he history of religious violence in the West is as long as the historical record of its three major religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, with their involved mutual antagonisms and struggles to adapt and survive the secular forces that threaten their continued existence.”

Regina Schwartz argues that all monotheistic religions, including Christianity, are inherently violent because of an exclusivism that inevitably fosters violence against those that are considered outsiders. Lawrence Wechsler asserts that Schwartz isn’t just arguing that Abrahamic religions have a violent legacy, but that the legacy is actually genocidal in nature.

Bruce Feiler writes that “Jews and Christians who smugly console themselves that Islam is the only violent religion are willfully ignoring their past. Nowhere is the struggle between faith and violence described more vividly, and with more stomach-turning details of ruthlessness, than in the Hebrew Bible”.

(END OF QUOTE)

Anyhow, it would have been very interesting to ponder how Karen Armstrong and her followers would have answered, and commented on, this quiz of 30 holy verses, taken from the Bible or Qu’ran that Valerie Tarico, one of my favorite bloggers, wants her readers to take.

You don’t even need to take the quiz to understand that Abrahamic religions have caused many sufferings and wrong-doings both past and present.

So, thank you very much, Valerie, for this disclosing quiz and blog post!

AwayPoint

quran vs bible 2The world has watched in horror while members of ISIS justify the next mass murder or icy execution with words from the Quran, followed by shouts of Allahu Akbar—God is the greatest! If beliefs have any power whatsoever to drive behavior—and as a psychologist I think they do—there can be little doubt that the Quran’s many endorsements of violence play a role in how exactly ISIS has chosen to pursue religious and political dominion.

At the same time, it should be equally clear a sacred text filled with violence is insufficient to trigger mass brutality unless other conditions are present as well. Culture, empathy, education and empowerment—and other factors that scholars understand only in part—appear to have a protective influence, safeguarding even most fundamentalists against the worst teachings of their own tradition. We know this in part because the Bible contains commandments and stories that are as horrific as…

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