Category Archives: Soul

Feeling sad today? Then have a look at Rosa Rubicondior: The Wit and Wisdom of Deepak!

Rosa Rubicondior: The Wit and Wisdom of Deepak!.

This is hilarious reading. Thank you, Rosa! You made my day!

A QUOTE: It has been said by some that the thoughts and tweets of Deepak Chopra are indistinguishable from a set of profound sounding words put together in a random order, particularly the tweets tagged with “#cosmisconciousness” [sic!]. This site aims to test that claim! Each “quote” is generated from a list of words that can be found in Deepak Chopra’s Twitter stream randomly stuck together in a sentence.

Why not take the test yourself?

See if you can pick out the genuine Deepak Chopra quotes taken at random from his twitter feed, from the randomly generated fictional Deepak Chopra quotes from this site.

Enjoy sentences like: A compassionate heart, tapping into the inner ocean of unconditional acceptance, flows in waves of love.

Oh yeah! Peace & Love upon that. 

What about this one: Each one of us is created with an inherent light within – a light made up of limitless spiritual power.

Oh yes! Halleluiah! Amen to that.

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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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Can you trust the Ouija board as a means to connect with the spirit world? (SPOILER: No, of course not!)

Have a look at this YouTube video,  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PRo8TytvIDw .

How come the spirits can’t deliver other than gibberish, if the participants around the table are blindfolded?

The American psychologist Ray Hyman is but one who has answered that question. Forget about spiritual or paranormal forces, or mysterious “energies”. It’s all about a phenomenon called ideomotor action.

This phenomenon is well known to psychologists. It explains how suggestions, beliefs or expectations are enough to cause unconscious muscular movements.

Here are two of professor Ray Hyman’s conclusions, I quote from this article, http://www.relativelyinteresting.com/do-ouija-boards-really-work-spoiler-alert-they-dont/ :

[1] “Honest, intelligent people can unconsciously engage in muscular activity that is consistent with their expectations”; and

[2] “They also show that suggestions that can guide behavior can be given by subtle clues.”

In other words, when people go to play the Ouija board, they know in advance of what it’s supposed to do. They expect the Ouija board to give them some sort of results. And subconsciously, the participants guide the pointer so that it gives the wanted “answers” (cf. wishful thinking).

An almost similar phenomenon is Facilitated Communication.

Let me quote from the Skeptic’s Dictionary ( http://skepdic.com/facilcom.html ),

“Facilitated Communication (FC) is a technique that allegedly allows communication by those who were previously unable to communicate by speech or signs due to autism, mental retardation, brain damage, or such diseases as cerebral palsy. The technique involves a facilitator who places her hand over that of the patient’s hand, arm or wrist, and guides a finger to letters, words, or pictures on a board or keyboard. The patient is allegedly able to communicate through his or her hand to the hand of the facilitator which then is guided to a letter, word, or picture, spelling out words or expressing complete thoughts. Through their facilitators, previously mute patients recite poems, carry on high level intellectual conversations, or simply communicate. Parents are grateful to discover that their child is not hopelessly retarded but is either normal or above normal in intelligence.”

Read more about FC by clicking this link, http://www.apa.org/research/action/facilitated.aspx .

In short, these phenomena are part of the True Believer Syndrome, where mass delusions – as usual in the woo belief paradigm – play an important role.

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19. What evidence is there that humans have a spirit? Part 1: The Science of the Soul

This article I found at the blog “500 Questions”. It’s about concepts like “spirit” and “soul”.

The article has the following subheading, “The Science of the Soul”.

That subheading looks like an oxymoron to me. I’d not even call it “The Pseudoscience of the Soul”.

To me the soul concept is so full of bullshit, contradictions and misunderstandings that it should be tossed into the rubbish-heap immediately.

BTW, here’s an article discussing the similarities and differences between Islam and Christianity in their view of the soul, http://www.123helpme.com/islamic-beliefs-on-the-soul-view.asp?id=163194 .

I quote from the end paragraphs of that article,

Muslims and Christians both believe that a person is not just made from his or her mind and body, there is also the soul. They both believe that each person has an immortal soul (cannot die) which cannot be seen and makes people different from each other, however Christians believe that only humans were given souls as they were in the image of God whereas Muslims believe that humans, plants and animals have souls too. Christians believing that animals don’t have souls allows them to eat meat normally, but because Muslims believe that animals do have souls, they have to sacrifice the animal properly in order to eat the meat. Christians believe that people were made in the image of God meaning that God put something of his own divine and everlasting nature into each person, which is the soul, but Muslims don’t believe that exactly as they believe animals and plants have souls too. Both Muslims and Christians both believe that the soul was put into the body during birth, and the soul leaves the body at death.

Muslims and Christians both believe that a person is not just made from his or her mind and body, there is also the soul. They both believe that each person has an immortal soul (cannot die) which cannot be seen and makes people different from each other, however Christians believe that only humans were given souls as they were in the image of God whereas Muslims believe that humans, plants and animals have souls too. Christians believing that animals don’t have souls allows them to eat meat normally, but because Muslims believe that animals do have souls, they have to sacrifice the animal properly in order to eat the meat. Christians believe that people were made in the image of God meaning that God put something of his own divine and everlasting nature into each person, which is the soul, but Muslims don’t believe that exactly as they believe animals and plants have souls too. Both Muslims and Christians both believe that the soul was put into the body during birth, and the soul leaves the body at death.

In other words, almost the same bullshit is taught to Muslims and Christians.

500 Questions about God & Christianity

As much as we talk about the idea of the spirit, you’d think it was a well documented fact, but is there any empirical evidence that proves spirits actually exists?

The Science of the Soul

Since science usually limits itself to studying that which can be observed, measured, and experimented upon, there’s seemingly little work that can be done in the area of the spirit; but there have been a few studies (oft labeled “pseudo-science” by skeptics) that infer the existence of a spirit, such as near death experiences, out of body experiences, communication with the dead, the mind/brain connection, reincarnation, etc.

That’s a lot of ground to cover, so let’s dig in…

21 Grams – Weighing the Soul

In the 1880s, pictures of ghostly images caught on film were once used as evidence for the soul. And later, in 1911, the x-ray machine was even used to try and photograph the…

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20. What evidence is there that humans have a spirit? Part 2: Near Death Experiences (NDEs)

Very good summary of the NDE delusion. But as always, comforting lies are preferred to unpleasant truths.

500 Questions about God & Christianity

I confess. I once spent a couple of years as an absolute NDE junkie. In my early search for evidence of the soul, NDE survivors seemed to have the proof I was searching for. I read everything I could get my hands on; I was hooked by all the similar and compelling stories… at least for a while.

My interest in NDEs eventually waned after reading a book by Christian cardiologist Dr. H. Leon Greene.  In his book If I Should Die Before I Wake, Dr. Greene reports having revived hundreds of patients, none of whom ever reported having a single NDE. This, along with his distaste for non-Christians having positive NDEs, led him to write a thorough and critical examination of the NDE. While biased by Christianity, his arguments against the NDE were nonetheless logical and compelling.

Still… all the people who report having NDEs seem so sincere and…

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NDE: Spirituality vs Religiosity

Very good blog article about the difference between THICK BOUNDARY and THIN BOUNDARY personality types.

A quote from the article: Thick boundary types would prefer organized religion because it’s clearly defined in its social structure and in its belief system. However, thin boundary types prefer more open-endedness and inconclusiveness which goes against most organized religion, especially of the highly organized variety such as the Catholic Church.

Research shows that thin boundary types are more open to non-ordinary experiences (i.e., spiritual, paranormal; et cetera). An NDE, by definition, is a thin boundary experience in that it’s a very personal experience of thin boundary between life and death.

Also have a look at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boundaries_of_the_mind .

Here’s a quote from that article:

Relationship to other personality traits: The Boundary Questionnaire has been related to the Five Factor Model of personality, and “thin boundaries” are mostly associated with openness to experience, particularly the facets of openness to fantasy, aesthetics, and feelings, although some of the content was correlated with neuroticism, extraversion, and low conscientiousness. Scores on the questionnaire are also positively correlated with absorption, transliminality, hypnotisability, and suggestibility. Thin boundaries are also associated with the Feeling and Intuition scales of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.

Marmalade

Last night, I was listening to Coast to Coast AM. The host mentioned a study in passing which caught my interest. The study was about the impact of NDEs on spirituality and religion. He said the results of NDE experiencers was the opposite of those church attenders who never had an NDE. After their NDE, experiencers were increasingly interested in spirituality and yet their church attendance decreased. On the other hand, non-experiencers over time (as they aged?) became less interested in spirituality all the while attending church more often.

I tried to find this study, but was unable to find it. NDEs is the topic of tonight’s show on Coast to Coast Am. The guest is Pin van Lommel who has written about the topic, but I don’t know if the study is discussed in one of his books. I did find other research which was related. In the following paper, I found a description of research…

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The Paranormal and Psychology: Personality traits correlated to SPEs ( Subjective Paranormal Experiences)

Very good overview of personality traits (and personality theories) applicable and relevant to people prone to magical & religious woo-bullshit thinking.

Marmalade

A hallucination may occur in a person in a state of good mental and physical health, even in the apparent absence of a transient trigger factor such as fatigue, intoxication or sensory deprivation.

It is not widely recognised that hallucinatory experiences are not merely the prerogative of the insane, or normal people in abnormal states, but that they occur spontaneously in a significant proportion of the normal population, when in good health and not undergoing particular stress or other abnormal circumstance.

The evidence for this statement has been accumulating for more than a century. Studies of hallucinatory experience in the sane go back to 1886 and the early work of the Society for Psychical Research[1][2], which suggested approximately 10% of the population had experienced at least one hallucinatory episode in the course of their life. More recent…

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Q: When does the human fetus become a conscious being? A: When the thalamus is able to connect to the cortical regions of the brain.

I just reblogged two very fascinating articles from the blog Emergent Cognition, see

1) https://bbnewsblog.wordpress.com/2015/07/07/emergent-complexity-collage-emergence-the-complex-the-complicated-and-the-chaotic/ and

2) https://bbnewsblog.wordpress.com/2015/07/07/emergent-cognition-collage-the-emergence-of-fractals/ .

I recommended this site, http://www.quora.com/Is-consciousness-an-emergent-property-of-the-brain-or-a-fundamental-property-of-matter , too.

Now, if you’re interested in how the human fetus develops awareness and consciousness – I hope and think you should be –  then I strongly recommend you to read this neuroscientific paper, The Emergence of Human Consciousness: From Fetal to Neonatal Life (by Hugo Lagercrantz and Jean-Pierre Changeux, and published in Pediatric Research (2009) 65, 255–260; doi:10.1203/PDR.0b013e3181973b0d .

The full text is available here,   http://www.nature.com/pr/journal/v65/n3/full/pr200950a.html .

Here’s the abstract:

A simple definition of consciousness is sensory awareness of the body, the self, and the world. The fetus may be aware of the body, for example by perceiving pain. It reacts to touch, smell, and sound, and shows facial expressions responding to external stimuli.

However, these reactions are probably preprogrammed and have a subcortical nonconscious origin. Furthermore, the fetus is almost continuously asleep and unconscious partially due to endogenous sedation.

Conversely, the newborn infant can be awake, exhibit sensory awareness, and process memorized mental representations. It is also able to differentiate between self and nonself touch, express emotions, and show signs of shared feelings.

Yet, it is unreflective, present oriented, and makes little reference to concept of him/herself. Newborn infants display features characteristic of what may be referred to as basic consciousness and they still have to undergo considerable maturation to reach the level of adult consciousness.

The preterm infant, ex utero, may open its eyes and establish minimal eye contact with its mother. It also shows avoidance reactions to harmful stimuli. However, the thalamocortical connections are not yet fully established, which is why it can only reach a minimal level of consciousness.

They also mention that most neuroscientists argue that consciousness is a progressive, stepwise, structural, and functional evolution of its multiple intricate components.

And the authors conclude, A pending question is the status of the preterm fetus born before 26 wk (<700 g) who has closed eyes and seems constantly asleep. The immaturity of its brain networks is such that it may not even reach a level of minimal consciousness. […]

[Furthermore,] the timing of the emergence of minimal consciousness has been proposed as an ethical limit of human viability […].

Here’s my own conclusion: If you after reading this paper still believe in a soul (brought to us by a divine being), then you seemingly must be a pure (pseudo)religious woo. The concept of soul is a mass delusion a.k.a.magical & religious woo-bullshit thinking.

That’s my humble opinion. ;o)

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Emergent Complexity | Collage: Emergence – The complex, the complicated, and the chaotic

The scientific evidence is on the side of consciousness being an emergent property. Also have a look at

1) http://www.quora.com/Is-consciousness-an-emergent-property-of-the-brain-or-a-fundamental-property-of-matter

2) http://emergentcognition.com/2015/06/12/emergent-cognition-collage-the-emergence-of-fractals/

The idea that consciousness is a “fundamental property of matter” is mostly built on pure ontological speculations and wishful thinking that life is a gift from some divine being and thus must have a “higher” meaning and goal.

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