Category Archives: Science

Words Can Literally Change Your Brain & Perception Of Reality

A little while ago I wrote this post on my own blog: https://bbnewsblog.wordpress.com/2015/10/14/magical-thinking-springs-up-everywhere-and-language-is-its-accomplice-how-language-can-and-does-deceive-us/ .

Now I notice that also my knowledgeable cyberfriend Victoria Neuronotes has written a post about how words literally can change the brain wirings and the way we perceive and interpret what is going on in the world (called reality) we all live in.

Not only are words able to offend or encourage, they also deceive and prime our brains. They influence our salience, that is our (mostly) unconscious need/habit to decide (also unconsciously) what is more valuable – or less valuable – to us.

Words also contribute to make us more biased. Especially religious people are very good at paraphrasing. That’s why they so easily can worship a God like the Abrahamic evil and punishing God and even claim, in a spirit of ecumenical and monotheistic understanding, that the God of the Muslims, Jews and Christians actually is the same God – a claim that is logically false. (Also consider the difference between monotheism and monolatrism/monolatry, where monolatrism is the recognition of the existence of many gods, but with the consistent worship of only one of all these deities, while monotheism is the doctrine or belief that there is only one real and true God.)

Victoria NeuroNotes

In 2011, on New Year’s Eve, I started thinking about all the years I spent in church listening to preachers talk dirt about humanity. I recalled the years I had a negative self-image. I knew why.

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17 not-so-stupid questions for Atheists

I found this nice and lovely post on Tiffany’s Non-Blog (run by Tiffany267, a “professional” bullshit debunker and, at the same time, pearl finder); see: https://tiffany267.wordpress.com/2015/10/21/questions-for-atheists-asked-and-answered/

Tiffany267 tells her followers that the original post can be read here: https://boldquestions.wordpress.com/2015/10/19/17-not-so-stupid-questions-for-atheists/

She also gave this motivation for “reblogging” the post: “One of my favorite atheist bloggers shared this list of questions targeted to atheists and some wonderful responses. Please enjoy!”

I just say: Hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I – and seemingly Tiffany267 – did.

From now on I’m following this “Question With Boldness” blog.

Question With Boldness

Godless Mom was contacted by a christian student with a series of questions.  And, surprise, instead of being “gotcha” questions, they seem to be actual genuine questions, a real effort to understand non-belief.  So I’ll answer them here, and also cross-post them in the comments to the original blog entry, here:

http://godlessmom.com/questions-for-atheists-from-a-college-student-answer-them-yourself/?utm_content=buffera2f92&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

Other bloggers and commenters have answered them, but I’m going to give my own answers without comparison to theirs.  So I apologize if this comes out as repetitive.

1. Why are you an atheist?

Because I don’t have enough evidence to warrant belief in any god.

2. Have you ever believed in a Higher Power?

Sure, I was raised liberal Protestant, and it was just the assumption everyone made.  God’s in charge, Jesus loves you, so let’s sing some more songs about love.  I was the kid that was involved in everything – Sunday school, youth group, youth…

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Science vs. religion: How to evaluate evidence. Original title: What Did The Atheist Say To The Elephant?

This blog post is entitled “What Did The Atheist Say To The Elephant?”

Nevertheless this scholarly essay-like post should be tagged as belonging to the religion vs. science debate.

So the elephant (or elephant metaphor) isn’t the important thing here. Instead, it’s much more about evidence and how to interpret evidence of divine beings a.k.a. gods or Hidden Causal Agents (HCAs).

I’ve written a long comment to Charles Rogers’ blog post. And that comment I’m going to insert as an introduction and complement on my own blog.

Here is my comment almost in extenso:

In the introduction you wonder what an atheist would say after he had examined your elephant. You suggest that maybe the atheist would say: “There is no elephant.”

No, I don’t think so. If I were the atheist, I would instead say the following (fasten your safety belt because it will be a very long, and partly bumpy, ride):

Now I enter the podium to give my “TED Talk”:

Listen. folks! No one knows enough to prove – in an objective way – what this object (called, by some, an elephant) is we have in front of us.

Yet your claims of what some of you have found and concluded, by examination of the object, are of the absolute kind. You show no relativism at all in your theory buildings. That I would call a preposterous and presumptuous take on this special matter.

If your hypothesis (your theory building) can be shown to be wrong in some detail (or some details), then your hypothesis can’t be totally correct. And then it’s no longer an absolute hypothesis; It has become a relativistic one.

That is, for sure, not good for the credibility of a hypothesis claiming to represent the absolute TRUTH.

Therefore, if I can show you, maybe even convince you, by demonstrating in a theoretical way that some details your hypotheses rely on can’t be correct, then that in turn must mean – and the conclusion be – that I have invalidated your hypotheses and that you are obliged to elaborate more in order to face the challenges they don’t meet at the moment.

Wait, don’t leave me now. I’ve got more to tell you. Please, be seated again, don’t leave.

Let’s look at your hypotheses from yet another angle. If you agree that you are all damn sure just your interpretation of the object is the only correct one, then you also insist that only you are the one who has got the absolute TRUTH about this object we all have examined here today.

So, what does that implicate? If more than one of you insist just they have found the absolute TRUTH, of course all of you (claiming that you’ve found the absolute truth) can’t be right. N’est-ce pas (Isn’t it)?

Now I want to paraphraze Christopher Hitchens. He used to say this: Let’s suppose there are 3,000 religions in the world. If 2,999 of them are deemed false by you, would it not then be more honest if you admitted that this indicates that also the 3,000th religious faith probably is a false one?

Or why should just your religious faith be the one winning the top lottery prize?

Some of you (who claim you’ve found the absolute TRUTH) MUST, are bound to, be wrong, Only one can, by definition, win the top lottery prize. Either you win it – or you don’t. Tertium non datur (meaning there is no middle alternative in which more than one can win. But at the same time it’s possible that no one wins the top lottery prize because it’s possible the winning ticket remains in the tombola).

The conclusion must therefore be like this: Two existing religious claims of having found the absolute TRUTH can’t both be correct at the same time, i.e. either the claim X is right and claim Y is wrong – or claim X is wrong and claim Y is right. And, as said in the paragraph above, of course nothing prohibits that both claim X and claim Y are wrong at the same time.

Oh, I see that some of you seem to be ready to leave the room now. Please, don’t! Instead continue listening, folks, because I’ve got some more interesting things to say.

Have you heard of something called science – and scientific research?

Good!

Then you should know that science is not about claiming to have found any absolute TRUTH. All real science is relativistic. It conveys no absolute TRUTHS. That’s how science works.

Rather, it accumulates empirical evidence for or against various hypotheses. By doing this, science can show – even demonstrate – that some phenomena must be incompatible with the laws of physics (at least in the way we currently understand them).

And believe me, we understand those physical laws better and better.

This also shows the great advantage of science: It accumulates empirical evidence for or against various hypotheses.

So, If I can show you that religious (faith) ideas are incompatible with the laws of physics as we currently understand them today, by having accumulated empirical evidence for them during hundreds of years, then the probability is very high that they actually are correct, since they are supported by all this evidence.

Please notice I’m now talking of probabilities, not absoluteness. That’s how science works.

In fact we all rely on and have trust in probabilities.

For example. let’s say I invite you to play the lethal game of Russian roulette (just as an example, don’t try this at home) and offer you two different revolvers, one with one of its six chambers loaded with a round and the other six-shooter loaded with five rounds. Then I’m pretty sure you’ll choose to use the revolver with only one round in its six chambers. N’est-ce pas?

So probability is something we all have to deal with in our daily lives. And we rely on what probability tells us.

As a matter of fact, because scientific data are based on not only observations but also on experimental data, we should be allowed to regard science to be more reliable than religious faith, since such faith is based solely on subjective emotions and feelings, and we know today that emotion-based knowledge is very unreliable (just as memories and testimonies are).

In short, there is a constantly increasing amount of evidence supporting the view that those people who believe in gods (i.e. have a religious faith) probably have fallen prey to unreliable inner experiences/feelings, false memories, unreliable testimonies from others, different kinds of biases (like confirmation bias, wishful thinking and so on).

So religious faith and science are like two boxers in the boxing ring. In one corner you find a boxer who trusts the laws of physics (finding them very reliable because they have been tested so many times by so many different scientists and by such an enormous number of rigorous and high-precision experiments that they leave no room for religious beings driven by as yet undiscovered kinds of energy).

In in another corner of the boxing ring you find the religiously true believer, who says, “I trust my gut feelings and they tell me to believe there is a divine entity governing and/or guiding our lives.

Their boxing gloves contains arguments. These arguments are used to knock out the opponent.

The scientific boxer is supported by a coach who tells him: IF there still are undetected forms of energy “out there”, that must mean those new kinds of energy have to interact with the already known energy forms. But this – as you have seen – does not happen. Take the GPS as an example. Thanks to the GPS we can find out pretty exactly where we happen to be on the surface of Earth. If there were still undetected energy forms, they should interact with the GPS. But we can’t find any traces of such interactions.

And the coach continues: Spoon-bending is another good example. Spoons are made of atoms (exactly as all other objects are). Today’s physicists know exactly how much energy is available in a spoon. They also know the masses of the atoms (forming a spoon). They also know the kinetic energy of thermal motions within the metal the spoon is made of.

In short, and taken together, we can say without hesitating the least, that any new particles, or hidden energies, that might exist within a spoon would have been detected long ago in experiments made by physicists all over the world. BUT THAT IS NOT THE CASE.

The scientific boxer becomes dull of confidence that he’s going to win the boxing match.

The coach of the religiously true believer tells his client. Just believe in God. And if you also pray to God between the rounds, you can’t lose. God never desert His believers. And if He does, and you lose the boxing fight, then there is a meaning behind that godly decision, maybe to make you a humbler man or something like that.

Now I reach the end of my lecture.

Therefore I decide turn to KK, the medicine man of this RWT community/group, directly.

Dear, KK, My answer to your question how an atheist would describe the elephant-like object can be summarized in the follopwing way:

I believe the four well-known natural physical laws are correct. They have been validated in millions of experiments over the years.

These four natural physical laws leave no room for beliefs in divine entities.

So either the physical laws are correct (using that adjective in the scientific way). and the belief that we are surrounded or at least influenced by divine entities is wrong.

Or else all the accumulated knowledge that physics has gained and validated so far (during many centuries) must be thrown in the dust-bin and be considered more or less worthless.

It this were the case, then today’s physicists would advise us not to rely on the GPS. And the physicists should admit that, of course, spoons can be bended spontaneously, by themselves, and that, also of course, a broken window can be whole again (by reversing the time arrow) etc.

I myself find it much easier to believe in Santa Claus than to believe that all accumulated and validated data in the field of physics should be thrown in the dust-bin.

Concerning your elephant metaphor, KK, i tell you this: I didn’t get the opportunity to examine the whole elephant-liek object, neither did the other examinators get that opportunity. So I avoid expressing my thoughts of what constitutes the elephant-like object. And I find it impossible to make a complete and all-encompassing statement about your elephant-like object. No absolute TRUTHS can be said of that object.

Therefore I choose to criticize all the other examinators for trying to launch absolute explanations of what the object really is. By doing that, they are not honest people. Cf. the saying “Lying for Jesus”, Even the church fathers had a long tradition of lying for Jesus. See for example:https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index;_ylt=A7x9UnwBIBVWwgIAURU_Ogx.;_ylu=X3oDMTByaGwzcXNvBHNlYwNzcgRwb3MDOARjb2xvA2lyMgR2dGlkAw–?qid=20090125072821AA3Fv7m

I hope you are satisfied with my answer, KK.

BTW, I recommend you to read this article: http://www.livescience.com/52364-origins-supernatural-relgious-beliefs.html. It’s about the plausible origins of supernatural/magical and religious beliefs. A very interesting article, also summarizing today’s knowledge of the matter.

Please, tell me your thoughts of what can be read in that article.

Charles Clanton Rogers

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Six blind men were asked to determine what an elephant looked like by feeling different parts of the elephant’s body. The blind man who feels a leg says the elephant is like a pillar; the one who feels the tail says the elephant is like a rope; the one who feels the trunk says the elephant is like a tree branch; the one who feels the ear says the elephant is like a hand fan; the one who feels the belly says the elephant is like a wall; and the one who feels the tusk says the elephant is like a solid pipe. At the risk of offending someone, I suggest That Moses, Jesus, and other iconic giants describe a part of the elephant.[1]  What did the Atheist say after his examination? “There is no elephant”?

I wrote, “The Individual, the Family, the Tribe.”(2)

http://therogerspost.com/2015/10/03/individual-tribe/

My friend and sparring…

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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

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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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Life Is Even More Inexplicable – New findings about orphan genes and promiscuous proteins.

My highly valued cyber friend Charles Rogers is a very interesting blogger. He combines both knowledge and wisdom.

In this specific blog he and I discuss/debate questions about (the genetic and evolutionary aspects of) life, especially its still unknown, at least partly, origin.

I hope our debate will be of great interest for my blog followers, too.

The topics discussed and penetrated also show that religion and science will never meet and probably can’t be reconciled with each other.

For safety’s sake I feel a need to clarify that Charles Rogers -a.k.a. the blogger clanton1934 – is NOT a creationist. We both belong to the scientific “team”. So, please, don’t jump to any premature conclusions.

Instead, start your own quest for the “truth” by reading and pondering – BOTH the blog post AND the comments.

Charles Clanton Rogers

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On August 5, 2015, I published a blog post, “Life Is Inexplicable”, reviewing contrasting views on the origin of life (Addy Proos and Richard Dawson).   I received a lot of interest in that post. The link to that post is:

http://therogerspost.com/2015/08/05/life-inexplicable/

My discussions in “Life Is A Journey” further discussed these questions; see this link

http://therogerspost.com/2015/08/16/life-process/

My opinion remains contrary to the random-mechanism scientists, (Dawkins and Hoffman), (9, 12) who believe life rose by only random, physical encounters of, first, organic chemicals, then “living molecules”. These scientist believe that living DNA replicates itself,  and all life by random mistakes without a purpose. I concluded that in spite of remarkable findings in nano technology, I believe a mystery remains. This mystery is: from where does Dr. Proos’ “engine” came?  What continues to drive “the engine in the car” (the living cell) uphill against Newton’s  Second Law of Motion. Furthermore what has sustained this…

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Explanatory Theories of Religion And Religious Thoughts (by Cris Campbell)

Have a look at  Explanatory Theories of Religion ( http://genealogyreligion.net/explanatory-theories-of-religion ). I found that article on Cris Campbell’s blog. 

There are many explanatory and evolutionary theories of how magical and religious thoughts (and different religions) emerged among our ancestors.
In this reblogged article we can read about Cris Campbell’s take on that topic. 

Cris holds advanced degrees in anthropology, philosophy, and law. He’s apparently very interested in the origin of magical and religious thoughts. And he obviously knows a lot – and I really mean a great deal; he’s a scholar! –  about the many hypotheses and theories that try to explain how it became possible for our ancestors to invent divine spiritual beings of different kinds.

His blog readers get a very good resume of how this “religification process” may have looked like. Here are some quotes taken from Cris Campbell’s blog article:

This is not, of course, a simple question and no single theory provides a definitive answer. Since 1990 (i.e., the beginning of the modern era of evolutionary theorizing about religion), scholars have proposed so many different varieties of “cognitive byproduct” and “social adaptive” theories that simply surveying, sorting, and analyzing them is a considerable challenge. Synthesizing them is an even greater challenge and, given their differing premises, may be impossible.
[…]

Seeking clarity, last year I decided to conduct an intensive review of all previous theories (i.e., those predating 1990) that could variously be characterized as: (1) explanatory, (2) developmental, and/or (3) evolutionary. The latter category can be confusing because many scholars working within a post-Darwinian evolutionary paradigm tend to conflate biological withcultural evolution. Such scholars may also prefer non-Darwinian explanations, but they are still working within an evolutionary or developmental paradigm. When this occurs, I refer to them as “evolutionist.”

My richly rewarding review resulted in a great deal of writing, most of which has appeared here in scattered posts over the past year. Now that the review is nearly finished, I want to gather all those posts and links on a single page. The theorists are listed mostly in chronological order of their appearance. I chose this arrangement not just for convenience. One thing I discovered is that the scholars working within the developmental-evolutionist tradition were fully aware of previous work and were responding to their predecessors or contemporaries. If you read these scholars’ original works in serial order, you will find yourself eavesdropping on a brilliant conversation that lasted for well over 100 years.


BTW, here’s an interesting TED Talk video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c7vH4rgdmxw .

The speaker is Yuval Noah Harari, author of the book “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind”. For a short review of that book, have a look at   http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/sep/21/sapiens-brief-history-mankind-review-yuval-noah-harari  

Harari suggests that our ancestors became “human” when they acquired the ability to think in symbolic “terms”, i.e. to create imaginary realities and not only accept the physically real reality. 

As an atheist I especially like Harari’s take on money and gods. Suggest to a chimp that if he gives me one of his bananas, I’ll give him some paper money in return, and the chimp would, maybe, wonder if you’ve gone insane.

The same thing goes for gods and heavens. If you pay tithes to your church, your priest/minister promises you that he’ll do all he can to help you entering Heaven through its Pearly Gates.

A chimp would NEVER buy that concept, that imaginary and creative symbolic idea.

Neither would I.

But many fellow religious True Believer humans seem to accept that kind of deal without any hesitation at all.

How about you? 

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Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Rosa Rubicondior has written and published a book entitled The Light of Reason: And Other Atheist Writing.

Rosa Rubicondior: So I’ve Written This Book….
At last!

In response to numerous requests, Rosa Rubicondior has finally produced an ebook, based on a selection of her Atheism and Science blogs. The inspiring title is “The Light Of Reason: And Other Atheist Writing”.

I’m darn sure this ebook will enlighten many atheists’s lives.

The articles are arranged into four sections, each dealing with a different aspect of Atheism and science and the interface between science and religion.

Those sections are:

#1: Religion and Atheism, which looks at the reasons why Atheism is the position of choice for critical thinkers and people who allow the evidence to determine their beliefs and who suspend judgement in the absence of evidence.

#2: Evolution and Other Science, which deals with aspects of science which normally feature in creationist and other religious apologetics and about which most creationists are ignorant or at least feign ignorance.
#3: Religious Apologetics, dealing with the common apologetic fallacies (and believe me, there are plenty of them to be ridiculed.
#4: Silly Bible, exposing the utter nonsense and implausibility of the stories found throughout the Bible.
I guess section #4 will become my personal favorite part of Rosa’s ebook since the Bible (a.k.a. the Holy Scripture) is really a silly book, with lots of even more stupid narratives – like the talking (and maybe lisping) and upright walking Serpent in the Garden of Eden. 
 
Hey, hold the horses! Wait a sec. An upright walking Snake? Yes, obviously it must have been that way; i.e. after the Fall God seemingly felt revengeful (although what happened in the Garden of Eden couldn’t have come as a surprise to Him) and therefore commanded all snakes from now on to become crawling reptiles on the ground. Otherwise it’s very hard to understand and accept what can be read in Genesis 3:14: And the LORD God said to the serpent, Because you have done this, you are cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; on your belly shall you go, and dust shall you eat all the days of your life:” 
 
(Hence, before that the snakes weren’t crawling on the ground.)  
 
Back now to Rosa’s ebook. There is no plot to follow in it, so so the table of contents each article can be read independently of the others. 
 
Click the link above to get more information about Rosa Rubicondior’s ebook. 
 
I haven’t yet bought Rosa’s ebook, so the table of contents is unknown to me. But I’m pretty sure this article will be included, http://rosarubicondior.blogspot.se/2015/04/origin-of-adam-eve-myth.html .
 
The Kindle version of Rosa’s ebook consists of 747 (!) pages, so you’ll get a lot of knowledge for a small amount of money. Don’t hesitate to buy it. I bet your atheist life will be much funnier to live afterwards, because Rosa Rubicondior is an unusually “divinely” gifted writer.

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Life is Still Inexplicable – Subjective Versus Objective Characterizations

I just reblogged ONE of clanton1934’s many interesting and intriguing blog post about life and its meaning (if there is any at all).

Now it’s time for me to reblog another of clanton1934’s blog articles. I choose this one because the two fit so well together.

Here’s a quote from this second (by me) reblogged article:

In my view, these objective observations and descriptions do not, however, explain: what is the source and nature of the force which drives the biochemistry and biological systems forward in spite of the natural characteristics of disorder and chaos. Lacking objective answers to this question, we are in the subjective arena. Some scientists believe these replicative forces toward complex structure and function, are the products of an enormous number of random encounters of non-living chemicals over extremely long periods of time.

[…]

Several prominent scientist insist that “evolution” does not mean “improvement”. Dawkins proposes that Darwin’s “descent with modification” is explained by random errors in DNA replication with some products having greater survivability than others. In this explanation, we humans are not an improving, higher form of life, just different from our deep ancestors, with, perhaps greater, on average, better survivability . These scientists deny a teleonomic character.

Pross disagrees and believes that both the structure and the behavior of all living things lead to an unambiguous and unavoidable conclusion— living things have an ‘agenda’ (Pross’ word). Living things act on their own behalf. The Pross “agenda”, I believe is an idea which should be in the subjective arena and not in Pross’ objective analysis..

Pross uses an analogy of an automobile without an engine (pre-life) and a car with an engine (life) to describe the replicating entity. “The entity with an energy-gathering capability is now like a car with an engine— it can go uphill too. That means that a replicating system with an energy-gathering capability would appear to have an agenda. It would seem to be acting purposefully, as it would no longer need to be confined to the downhill thermodynamic path, which we interpret as objective behaviour, but rather the path toward systems of greater organization and function, which could involve the equivalent of rolling some way uphill.”

This analogy does not answer the question: where did the “engine” come from and what makes the engine run?

Charles Clanton Rogers

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Review: Addy Pross, What is Life (1)

“TV’s  Talking-heads” frequently start their position statement: “I’m not a scientist but….” Then they proceed to inform you, in the manner of a peddler, that he is “right” and you are “wrong”. This is the ageless Zero-Sum Game:(2)  “I win – you lose!” 

Unlike those  sellers, this author is  a scientist and a physician.  What is  unfortunate in this “pseudo-debate”,  looking at both sides of the biological controversy –those from the faith-based discussants  and those employing observations  and reasoning, – each is playing the tired and ancient game: Zero-Sum.  

In my view, neither side needs to defeat the other in order to win, with what they are defending. My view is that just as oxygen and nitrogen can occupy the same space, the subjective (faith-based) and theobjective (science-based) are not mutually exclusive. In my view, an intelligent…

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Life is a Journey

Some people sport what I’d prefer to call encyclopedic knowledge. They remind me of polymaths.

And yet they are so humble, so non-egotistic.. They really lack inflated ideas of their own importance and “omnipotence”.

The fact is these polymaths usually know so much that they are able to explore and investigate Nature (and its “sibling” Life) on their own.

During their explorations they strive to build bridges between all the different branches of knowledge that, in a holistic view, constitute Nature and Life.

Knowledge used in that way leads to – and causes – wisdom.

I want do define that word/concept as “the quality of having enough knowledge and life experiences to make good and empathetic judgments, and to give coherent and sensible good advice to people in need of a helping hand.

The other day I came into contact with a blogger called Charles Rogers (a.k.a. clanton1934). His knowledge is of the encyclopedic kind. And his blog is full of both knowledge and wisdom.

That’s why I’m going to reblog two of his blog posts here on my own blog. He definitely is worth following and, of course, being read. He is absolutely worth being listened to.

Here’s a quote from his blog post: Clanton1934 calls it a “Conclusion”. Personally i’d prefer to call it Clanton1934’s credo or statement of belief(s). Anyhow, it’s very nice and inspiring to read:

Conclusion:

A parting question: Consider this: the greatest scientists who share Dawkin’s and Hoffman’s solely mechanistic, random-chaos view of the origin of life, have manifested in their encyclopedic study and meticulous manuscript authoring, an enormous motivative force driving their work. This force is not objective. Is not this the inexplicable subjective force of life which science can not explain (but some deny)?

Addy Pross’ conclusion serves to give us sound attitude: “Each individual is part of a nuclear family, which, in turn, is part of an extended family, which is part of a local community, which is part of larger groups of the human organization. The survival of the community requires far more than the individual. Reproductively speaking, individuals are incomplete. Biologically speaking, our individuality is actually non-existent.” That’s why a new pregnancy catches our attention. That powerful and compulsive news resonates with our fundamental selves.

“Just as importantly, we are also emotionally incomplete. Various psychological elements also connect us to the network. We obsessively need to be with others. We think of ourselves as individuals, but we are really just components of a network. Our “lifeboat” is not just many individuals, but an ever-expanding living network. The irrepressible force of life leaves no stone unturned in seeking ways to extend the invaluable larger life of which we are the stewards. We obsessively need to be with others. We think we are separate, but we are one. We think of ourselves as individuals, but we are really just components of a network.”

Life has a purpose; the purpose is the process; the process is the product.

Charles Clanton Rogers

Freedom_train_in_ga7THE FREEDOM TRAIN 1947  “Life is a journey, not a destination” (1)

Not everything that can be counted counts. Not everything that counts can be counted.” (2)

I have had an epiphany about Life. Now I see Life is a Process. The purpose is the process; the process is the product.

Here is a true story which has given me an analogy to this epiphany:  In 1947, a very special train was assembled to contain the nation’s greatest treasures and wisdom, among which was the originals of  The Declaration of Independence and The Constitution of The United States.  (3)  The Freedom Train traveled to cities across the country carrying this wisdom-treasure. The train passed through the small towns without stopping. A teacher from such a community, upon learning that these jewels of wisdom would not stop, persuaded the conductor to at least go slowly through their station in order…

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Pseudoscience and science – bullshit vs. rational thought

Don’t miss this article, Pseudoscience and science – bullshit vs. rational thought.

The blogger Skeptical Raptor gives his many (and now also my few) readers a brilliant lesson about how to spot, identify and unveil woo-ish & pseudoscientific (usually on wishful thinking based) research.

Here’s a brief excerpt from the article. describing and dissecating the “pseudoscientific research method” in detail, and thereby demonstrating to you what to look for and focus on.

Skeptical Raptor writes,

To identify pseudoscience, there are six reliable clues that shout out “pseudoscience.” Almost always, you can find all six in any pseudoscientific claim.

  1. Use of vague, exaggerated or untestable claims.  Essentially, pseudoscience makes “scientific claims” that are vague and variable, rather than the precise scientific claims made with statistical analysis, usually a hallmark of the specificity associated with scientific research. Moreover, pseudoscience uses complex, implausible assumptions with their claims.
  2. Extreme reliance on confirmation rather than refutation. Pseudoscience relies upon assertions that do not allow the logical possibility that they can be shown to be false by observation or physical experiment–falsifiability. Pseudoscience also asserts claims of predictability when it has not been shown to be predictive; “scientific” claims that do not confer any predictive power are considered at best “conjectures”, or at worst “pseudoscience”.
  3. Lack of openness to testing by other experts. Pseudoscience researchers evade peer review before publicizing results, occasionally using press conferences to share their ideas. These pseudoscientists will claim that their ideas contradict the scientific consensus, so they must avoid the peer review process because that process is biased towards the established paradigms and consensus. They will also claim that their results cannot arrive from the scientific method. Thus, they get to avoid the feedback of informed colleagues.They will also appeal to the need for secrecy or proprietary knowledge when an independent review of data or methodology is requested. Of course, many agencies and institutions that fund real science research require authors to share data so it may be evaluated independently.
  4. Absence of progress. Pseudoscience usually fails to progress towards providing or even searching for additional evidence of its claims. Astrology is an example of a pseudoscientific concept that has not changed in 2000 years. Real science is constantly adding data through scientific progress.
  5. Personalization of issues. Pseudoscience is often composed of closely tied social groups, and usually includes an authoritarian personality, suppression of dissent, and groupthink. This social construct can enhance the adoption of beliefs that have no rational basis. In an attempt to confirm their beliefs, the group tends to identify their critics as enemies.Pseudoscience also make false assertions or claims of a conspiracy on the part of the scientific community to suppress results that support the pseudoscience. Finally, they attack the motives or character of anyone who questions the claims, the argumentum ad hominem.As an example, the anti-vaccine crowd has invented numerous claims about Dr. Paul Offit, one of the great researchers in vaccines, just to attack him personally. They’ve done the same with Bill Gates.
  6. Use of misleading language. They try to create scientific-sounding terms to add weight to claims and persuade non-experts to believe statements that may be false or meaningless; for example, a long-standing hoax refers to water by the rarely used formal name “dihydrogen monoxide” and describes it as the main constituent in most poisonous solutions to show how easily the general public can be misled. More often, pseudoscientists use established technical terms in idiosyncratic ways, thereby demonstrating unfamiliarity with mainstream work in the discipline.

And here’s another tip to my readers: Please visit Skeptical Raptor’s blog and use the excellent search function that is available there. Skeptical Raptor is a very prolific and clever blogger! A brave warrior not afraid of fighting pseudoscientific magical and (pseudo)religious woo-bullshit thinking (for instance the crazy antivax movement; you know the morons telling their neighbors that if God according to His special plan of creation has decided that your little girl or boy must die at an early age, then you shouldn’t try to stop the fulfilment of this divine plan by vaccinating your child against contagious and dangerous, life threatening diseases, because that would be seen as blasphemy and insubordination by Almighty God – and who wants to make God pissed off?).

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