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Irrelephant
October 25 2012, 01:03:38 AM
Just read this article (http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2012/10/07/proof-of-heaven-a-doctor-s-experience-with-the-afterlife.html).

tl;dr: Neurosurgeon contracts rare bacteria that shut his neocortex completely down for 7 days. Deep coma as a result. No neocortex should mean no consciousness, yet he reports the opposite after waking up. His book (http://www.amazon.com/Proof-Heaven-Neurosurgeons-Journey-Afterlife/dp/1451695195/) is on amazon since a couple of days.


Today many believe that the living spiritual truths of religion have lost their power, and that science, not faith, is the road to truth. Before my experience I strongly suspected that this was the case myself.

But I now understand that such a view is far too simple. The plain fact is that the materialist picture of the body and brain as the producers, rather than the vehicles, of human consciousness is doomed. In its place a new view of mind and body will emerge, and in fact is emerging already. This view is scientific and spiritual in equal measure and will value what the greatest scientists of history themselves always valued above all: truth.

Pretty much confirms my view gained after countless psychedelic sessions and years of meditation. I guess one can still argue that all of his experience happened in those split seconds while his neocortex turned on again. Thoughts?

Rudolf Miller
October 25 2012, 01:34:20 AM
When I read it, honestly what I think happened is he found consciousness in his subconscious. And it's not anything we can really interpret.

But that was just my reaction.

Synapse
October 25 2012, 07:48:04 AM
I don't really care what happened to some neurosurgeon. Without :science: this is just lecture circuit and book sales.

If that's really how it works, science will get you there.

Edit: read the article. Some lying, a lot of "I promise it happened!" and no goods.

Smuggo
October 25 2012, 09:23:45 AM
While that book looks like garbage, there was an interesting episode on death in Dawkins' latest TV series (should be able to catch it on 4od).

A lot of stuff about how we struggle to think of our conciousness as an evolved, biological construct that aids our survival. Children come to believe this and in the presence of the soul from a very young age, and it's something even the most logical of people will find difficult because it is so thoroughly ingrained in so many aspects of our culture.

Irrelephant
October 25 2012, 10:16:47 AM
I don't really care what happened to some neurosurgeon. Without :science: this is just lecture circuit and book sales.

If that's really how it works, science will get you there.


Usually i would agree on the book sales/lecture circuit part, in his case i don't see the motivation tho. Take a look at his CV (http://www.eternea.org/PDF/CV_Eben_Alexander_III_FACS.pdf), the guy is certainly in the upper echolon of academics. Publishing this kind of stuff is putting >25 years of academic success on the line.



Edit: read the article. Some lying, a lot of "I promise it happened!" and no goods.


Care to elaborate on the lying part? The science goods are rather low yes, but then again it's not exactly a field we can measure yet. His point is that he should not have been able to experience anything because his neocortex was completely shutdown. Or in other words, consciousness is not created by the brain.

Lallante
October 25 2012, 10:22:04 AM
Seems incredibly dumb - is he claiming he died and went to heaven? If so why did he come back? Did he trick god?

Timaios
October 25 2012, 10:23:31 AM
Well meningitis and encephalitis aren't really particularly rare diseases. However, without the MRI's, it's hard to evaluate to what extent his cortex was infected. This happens, and on occasion, brief coma is a result.

Now, it's very strange to claim that neocortex is somehow responsible for consciousness, as you can lose consciousness even without widespread damage to the neocortex - but of course we need to discuss on what the consciousness is in that case. There are studies in, e.g. cats, that have had their cortices removed prenatally, and that can still function somewhat adequately and, for example, learn to navigate a maze (e.g. Bjursten et al., PDF here). (http://www.mv.helsinki.fi/home/ejpartan/Bjursten.pdf) Since the studies show that learning can still occur even without the neocortex, and learning can be understood as the formation of long-term memory traces, it seems plausible that the events described by the doctor can perhaps be explained in an another manner. For example, language and conceptual information is generally seen to be stored cortically (e.g. broca's and wernice's areas for speech sounds and connections between words and their meanings), it could be argued that what the good doctor was missing was merely the ability to interpret his events using the memory traces associated with the linguistic or conceptual capacity. Furthermore, learning is not uncommon in minimally conscious state (e.g. Lancioni et al., PDF here (http://www.mv.helsinki.fi/home/ejpartan/Lancioni.pdf)), and even brain responses usually associated with cognitive processes often occur during comatose, when their elicitation can be interpreted as a predictor for waking up from the coma (e.g. Vanhaudenhuyse et al., PDF here (http://www.mv.helsinki.fi/home/ejpartan/vanhaudenhyuse.pdf)).

While the doctors' vivid memories cannot be completely discounted, I would like to point out that many of the experiences listed in the article are very emotional in nature; he talks of joy, beauty, being beyond all love and friendship, and so on; he even points out that the linguistic interpretations for his visions came later when he retrospectively analyzed his experiences. Now, it could be plausible that many of the memories he has are such in nature due to the thalamus and amygdala, structures which are, among other functions, associated with formation and interpretation of emotions (and emotional memories), and also not part of the neocortex.

tl;dr: I'd say all that is just emotional processes in a comatose state that after waking up, are given conceptual and linguistic interpretation.

whispous
October 25 2012, 10:24:40 AM
Is this the same kind of thing as a lot of modern artists being the biggest trolls of the last hundred years?

telephone

Lallante
October 25 2012, 10:39:43 AM
The more I read about this the more of an impression I get that this is a massive cash-in with decidely unscientific basis. He states early on in the book that his "neocortex was incapable of any activity and had been severely damaged" and then later on miraculously recovers. This makes no sense - damage to the neocortex should be permenant (and in any case, couldnt be repaired in a week). If his neocortex was damaged enough to completely eliminate consciousness, then he would have been a permenant vegetable - this physical damage would still be there REGARDLESS of the existance of heaven, his visits truth etc.

Unless he is claiming that he not only went to heaven, but god miraculously healed the physical damage as well?


Much more likely is that there wasn't any actual damage to the neocortex (or very limited damage), and instead, perhaps, some swelling that subsided after a week allowing him to regain consciousness.

Lallante
October 25 2012, 10:46:20 AM
PS: the same guy in interviews has been shilling for a "binaural beats" company known for aggressive marketting of its pseudo-scientific woo products. He is a disgrace to science.

Dark Flare
October 25 2012, 11:05:51 AM
Guy is an idiot or is very sure of what he's doing (making monis).

If he's scientific in any way whatsoever he knows that first hand non-repeatable non-provable evidence is worth less than my poops. Also, let's not forget that he had a BRAIN PROBLEM and woke up THINKING DIFFERENTLY. Is that a surprise? :lol:

Timaios
October 25 2012, 11:29:53 AM
The more I read about this the more of an impression I get that this is a massive cash-in with decidely unscientific basis. He states early on in the book that his "neocortex was incapable of any activity and had been severely damaged" and then later on miraculously recovers. This makes no sense - damage to the neocortex should be permenant (and in any case, couldnt be repaired in a week). If his neocortex was damaged enough to completely eliminate consciousness, then he would have been a permenant vegetable - this physical damage would still be there REGARDLESS of the existance of heaven, his visits truth etc.

While I agree with your assessment, this is not entirely true. There are several conditions, for example PRES (posterior reversible encephalopathy syndrome (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Posterior_reversible_encephalopathy_syndrome)) in which the neocortex is drastically damaged and cognitive functions deteriorate, while patients usually still make a full recovery (hence, reversible). Encephalitis and meningitis often work in a similar manner (of course meningitis should not even attack the neocortex, but the meninges of the brain, hence the name): while in the acute stage the damage may be extreme (e.g. complete inability to remember any linguistic information), in many cases much of the function may return.

In any case, we can't really tell without the MRIs. But the cortical damage can be reversible, and such a thing is common in the condition he is claiming he had, so please do not discount that as a possibility.

Lallante
October 25 2012, 02:34:28 PM
The more I read about this the more of an impression I get that this is a massive cash-in with decidely unscientific basis. He states early on in the book that his "neocortex was incapable of any activity and had been severely damaged" and then later on miraculously recovers. This makes no sense - damage to the neocortex should be permenant (and in any case, couldnt be repaired in a week). If his neocortex was damaged enough to completely eliminate consciousness, then he would have been a permenant vegetable - this physical damage would still be there REGARDLESS of the existance of heaven, his visits truth etc.


While I agree with your assessment, this is not entirely true. There are several conditions, for example PRES (posterior reversible encephalopathy syndrome (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Posterior_reversible_encephalopathy_syndrome)) in which the neocortex is drastically damaged and cognitive functions deteriorate, while patients usually still make a full recovery (hence, reversible). Encephalitis and meningitis often work in a similar manner (of course meningitis should not even attack the neocortex, but the meninges of the brain, hence the name): while in the acute stage the damage may be extreme (e.g. complete inability to remember any linguistic information), in many cases much of the function may return.

In any case, we can't really tell without the MRIs. But the cortical damage can be reversible, and such a thing is common in the condition he is claiming he had, so please do not discount that as a possibility.


PRES involves swelling not damage - PRES sufferers don't lose consciousness afaik.

What I can't get my head around is a condition that :
- causes damage so severe that the subject not only loses consciousness but is absolutely physically incapable of consciousness (this is an incredibly high bar)
- can recede completely in a week.

I just dont think there is such an ailment.

Irrelephant
October 25 2012, 04:00:16 PM
Well meningitis and encephalitis aren't really particularly rare diseases. However, without the MRI's, it's hard to evaluate to what extent his cortex was infected. This happens, and on occasion, brief coma is a result.


From what is said in the article the neocortex was completely shutdown:


Very early one morning four years ago, I awoke with an extremely intense headache. Within hours, my entire cortex—the part of the brain that controls thought and emotion and that in essence makes us human—had shut down. Doctors at Lynchburg General Hospital in Virginia, a hospital where I myself worked as a neurosurgeon, determined that I had somehow contracted a very rare bacterial meningitis that mostly attacks newborns. E. coli bacteria had penetrated my cerebrospinal fluid and were eating my brain.

When I entered the emergency room that morning, my chances of survival in anything beyond a vegetative state were already low. They soon sank to near nonexistent. For seven days I lay in a deep coma, my body unresponsive, my higher-order brain functions totally offline.

All the chief arguments against near-death experiences suggest that these experiences are the results of minimal, transient, or partial malfunctioning of the cortex. My near-death experience, however, took place not while my cortex was malfunctioning, but while it was simply off. This is clear from the severity and duration of my meningitis, and from the global cortical involvement documented by CT scans and neurological examinations. According to current medical understanding of the brain and mind, there is absolutely no way that I could have experienced even a dim and limited consciousness during my time in the coma, much less the hyper-vivid and completely coherent odyssey I underwent.

You seem to know quite a bit on the subject, would you say "there is absolutely no way that I could have experienced even a dim and limited consciousness during my time in the coma" is a false claim given his above description? It's pretty much all he has for "proof". The fact that he was treated by his own colleagues would suggest he got a bit of extra care in the monitoring department.



Now, it's very strange to claim that neocortex is somehow responsible for consciousness, as you can lose consciousness even without widespread damage to the neocortex - but of course we need to discuss on what the consciousness is in that case. There are studies in, e.g. cats, that have had their cortices removed prenatally, and that can still function somewhat adequately and, for example, learn to navigate a maze (e.g. Bjursten et al., PDF here). (http://www.mv.helsinki.fi/home/ejpartan/Bjursten.pdf) Since the studies show that learning can still occur even without the neocortex, and learning can be understood as the formation of long-term memory traces, it seems plausible that the events described by the doctor can perhaps be explained in an another manner. For example, language and conceptual information is generally seen to be stored cortically (e.g. broca's and wernice's areas for speech sounds and connections between words and their meanings), it could be argued that what the good doctor was missing was merely the ability to interpret his events using the memory traces associated with the linguistic or conceptual capacity. Furthermore, learning is not uncommon in minimally conscious state (e.g. Lancioni et al., PDF here (http://www.mv.helsinki.fi/home/ejpartan/Lancioni.pdf)), and even brain responses usually associated with cognitive processes often occur during comatose, when their elicitation can be interpreted as a predictor for waking up from the coma (e.g. Vanhaudenhuyse et al., PDF here (http://www.mv.helsinki.fi/home/ejpartan/vanhaudenhyuse.pdf)).


Well that cat pdf was a interesting read. They also find that the decorticated cats were essentially reduced to reflex animals. No signs of affection or social behaviour etc. To me it looks like they only showed Pavlov like conditioning can work without a neocortex.



While the doctors' vivid memories cannot be completely discounted, I would like to point out that many of the experiences listed in the article are very emotional in nature; he talks of joy, beauty, being beyond all love and friendship, and so on; he even points out that the linguistic interpretations for his visions came later when he retrospectively analyzed his experiences. Now, it could be plausible that many of the memories he has are such in nature due to the thalamus and amygdala, structures which are, among other functions, associated with formation and interpretation of emotions (and emotional memories), and also not part of the neocortex.

tl;dr: I'd say all that is just emotional processes in a comatose state that after waking up, are given conceptual and linguistic interpretation.

It's all very emotional for sure, he also acknowledges that he is fully aware of how delusional this all sounds. The thing is the guy has credentials in the field and despite the overly sensational book title, which very well could be publisher induced, he does sound like a rational guy to me.



1993 Elected to "Ten Outstanding Young Leaders" (TOYL) by Greater Boston Jaycees
1995-96 Who's Who Among Outstanding Americans
1997-99 Listed in "Best Doctors in America -- Northeast Region"


I know, doesn't mean jack if he went bonkers in 2008, but he was still working as clinical director after his coma.


PS: the same guy in interviews has been shilling for a "binaural beats" company known for aggressive marketting of its pseudo-scientific woo products. He is a disgrace to science.

Source? My google fu appears to be weak. It's ofcourse welcome meat for new age freaks and hc christians, him endorsing that pseudo stuff would be a good hint.

DevilDude
October 25 2012, 10:07:32 PM
the derp is strong with this one.

TheManFromDelmonte
October 25 2012, 10:15:16 PM
A lot of stuff about how we struggle to think of our conciousness as an evolved, biological construct that aids our survival.

You should read Blindsight:
http://www.rifters.com/real/Blindsight.htm

It's available as a book and ebook published by Tor too. I won't post spoilers.

Timaios
October 26 2012, 08:34:14 AM
What I can't get my head around is a condition that :
- causes damage so severe that the subject not only loses consciousness but is absolutely physically incapable of consciousness (this is an incredibly high bar)
- can recede completely in a week.

I just dont think there is such an ailment.

I get the impression that you consider there to be two distinct types of ailments that affect the neocortex: the swelling type of damage (e.g. PRES, most contusions) and "physical" damage in which I assume you mean neurons or connections between the neurons are damaged (e.g. strokes, DAI, neurodegenerative disorders - alzheimer, parkinsons' and so forth). But if we consider coma, then it can follow from a variety of causes which all "cause damage that the subject - - is absolutely physically incapable of consciousness"; it may be swelling-related (contusions), result from intracranial hemorrhage, or infections (meningoencephalitis). We must remember that consciousness is a function of the cortex and the reason why we are unable to retain consciousness can have a variety of causes; as an analogy, your game of XCOM may not start because you have insufficient memory, your graphic card may be outdated or you may not have the latest directX installed. Of course, we don't really know what consciousness is, and as such, doctors usually have a few classifications which don't use the consciousness as a term; there's the Glascow Coma Scale, there's the minimally conscious state, or permanent vegetative state.

Here's some more stuff about coma/MCS/PVS (http://www.mv.helsinki.fi/home/ejpartan/mayo_editorial.pdf).

If we go towards philosophy, then, for example, Antonio Damasio has some case examples of people losing consciousness without neocortical damage while still continuing to do ~stuff~ (Damasio: the feeling of what happens). But let's not go there.

As such, I don't discount the actual story of the doctor at all. I just think that he is, like many have said, after big money by talking about god, heaven and stuff while there are other plausible explanations for his experiences. But with the examinations done to him (neurological examinations, CT scans), we cannot really know what happens in the cortex during that time (no EEG/MEG/functional imaging); we just see it's state. All we know that he was in a coma.

To go back to the issue "is consciousness possible without the cortex", we'd need to think what consciousness is. I wholly agree that consciousness is predominantly a neocortical thing (for example, google the locked-in condition), but some features of conscious state (ability to process external stimuli, form memories) can be present in the comatose state as well, and they predict waking up from coma. Also remember, that there are plenty of animals who do not possess a neocortex at all - only mammals do.

Lallante
October 26 2012, 09:55:37 AM
Well that cat pdf was a interesting read. They also find that the decorticated cats were essentially reduced to reflex animals. No signs of affection or social behaviour etc. To me it looks like they only showed Pavlov like conditioning can work without a neocortex.

It shows a lot more than that - visualisation (walking in direct lines towards openings in walls, attempting to get through plexiglass covered openings) and abstract reasoning (using a paw to test a surface before climbing down). Its hard to argue the cats weren't capable of "imagination" given these facts.



Source? My google fu appears to be weak. It's ofcourse welcome meat for new age freaks and hc christians, him endorsing that pseudo stuff would be a good hint.

http://www.btci.org/bioethics/2012/videos2012/vid3.html Hemi-Sync is the company he is shilling for.

Diicc Tater
October 26 2012, 01:06:18 PM
eyewitness testimony means fuck all in science as far as I know..

Al Simmons
October 30 2012, 03:34:47 PM
One commenter on the article has most of the truth of it, I think.


This article is absolutely ridiculous, especially from a scientific perspective. It is an excerpt from Dr. Eben Alexander's new book "My Proof of Heaven," in which the neurosurgeon shares his near-death experience and how it proves there is a higher power and an afterlife. It is insulting on many levels, but let's highlight a couple:

1. His "scientific" proof is based entirely on an empirical experience, which is unique to only him and cannot be replicated, or even properly explained, which goes against just about every tenant of the scientific method. He never believed that near-death experiences that offered an experience with the afterlife were valid, until he himself had one. How is that in any way scientific? Something is invalid until you yourself can claim to have experienced it, and because he happens to be a neurosurgeon yourself suddenly it becomes proof? He could not even properly describe his experience with "god" and kept saying over and over how powerful it was, but because it was so very powerful one could not understand how it felt without experiencing it yourself… seriously? If he wants to share his spiritual experience and chalk it up to a belief in a higher power, fine, go right ahead. But do not present it under a veil of scientific discovery just because you are a neurosurgeon. Unless you can offer real, concrete scientific proof that this was the doing of a higher power don't present it as such.

2. His proof is predicated on the fact that he is a neurosurgeon, yet his validation for his evidence is based on scientific knowledge that isn't entirely complete. He argued that there is no way the mind could have been active in order to have experienced what he had, that he must have been in the afterlife. He claims that because his cortex had entirely shut down… according to the CT scans and neurological exams administered at the time of his coma. But as scientist, and a research one at that, shouldn't he recognize that current scientific technology cannot always accommodate and measure brain activity and that they may not accurately show what's really going on in the brain? Scientific technology is always advancing, what was immeasurable only a couple years ago is now graspable today, and thus what we cannot measure today may show up on newer tests tomorrow. He cannot say with certainty that the tests done on his brain prove without doubt that his brain had shut down to the point that he could not have had the capacity to have the dreams/experiences he described as undoubtedly the afterlife.

3. Even if these experiences were the result of a higher power and not neurons firing off randomly, how can he say with absolute certainty that this was a result of a rendezvous with "God?" The leaps this man takes are pure delusion and made in order to prove his own religious agenda. They are all the more insulting because he insists in their validity because he himself is a scientist, and a scientist of the brain, at that. It is even insulting to other religious people because he's basically positing that the experiences of the afterlife of others was completely invalid, but because he is a scientist his experience is the proof required to legitimize claims of the afterlife and a higher power.

It seems like a bit of a grand cosmic joke to give a neurosurgeon a week-long magical mystery coma tour tbh. Though I think his religious background colours things somewhat, that religious shit they pump into your head as a child has an awful way of showing up where you least expect it. Even if you're "lapsed", I suspect a traumatic event like a brain injury might easily be enough to allow your subconscious to conjure up fantasy worlds out of half-remembered religious imagery.

I've certainly had some similar experiences to what he describes while in psychosis, though thank my country that i'm not in the kind of place where that could be turned into a religious experience and *pafoomf* me into a born-again Christian. I have to say that honestly, the concept of a scientist who is also a Christian completely baffles me. These people make closet cases look well adjusted, with the labyrinths of bullshit they create to justify their faith and claim it doesn't impinge on their work.

Irrelephant
October 30 2012, 07:18:42 PM
Well that cat pdf was a interesting read. They also find that the decorticated cats were essentially reduced to reflex animals. No signs of affection or social behaviour etc. To me it looks like they only showed Pavlov like conditioning can work without a neocortex.

It shows a lot more than that - visualisation (walking in direct lines towards openings in walls, attempting to get through plexiglass covered openings) and abstract reasoning (using a paw to test a surface before climbing down). Its hard to argue the cats weren't capable of "imagination" given these facts.


Might all be still part of their "genetic program", the decorticated cats only deviated from the normal cats after the first 1-2 months, which would suggest things like, for example, the classic pounce play of kittens is in the genes. I might be terribly wrong on this tho. Maybe Timaios can shed some more light on this.


http://www.btci.org/bioethics/2012/videos2012/vid3.html Hemi-Sync is the company he is shilling for.

Thanks. I have mixed feelings on this one, i do think that he is honest in what he describes and it is quite normal after a spiritual experience of this magnitude that you want to get the word out. On the other hand he talks about proof when he has very little and together with the misleading book title it could also very well be a cash op. Anyways no proof makes it just another near-death experience.



I have to say that honestly, the concept of a scientist who is also a Christian completely baffles me. These people make closet cases look well adjusted, with the labyrinths of bullshit they create to justify their faith and claim it doesn't impinge on their work.

Bible christian yes, religious/spiritual not so much. Einstein for example believed in a creator. Just not a personal one that cares about good or evil. Or take a look at quantum physics where things get rather philosophical. Some quotes from Einstein on the subject:



A human being is a part of a whole, called by us _universe_, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest... a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.

Pretty much buddhism in a nutshell.



The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.




Einstein referred to his belief system as "cosmic religion" and authored an eponymous article on the subject in 1954, which later became his book Ideas and Opinions in 1955.[36] The belief system recognized a "miraculous order which manifests itself in all of nature as well as in the world of ideas," devoid of a personal God who rewards and punishes individuals based on their behavior. It rejected a conflict between science and religion, and held that cosmic religion was necessary for science.[36] He told William Hermanns in an interview that "God is a mystery. But a comprehensible mystery. I have nothing but awe when I observe the laws of nature. There are not laws without a lawgiver, but how does this lawgiver look? Certainly not like a man magnified."[37] He added with a smile "some centuries ago I would have been burned or hanged. Nonetheless, I would have been in good company."[37]


Eben desribes pretty much the same if you dont let yourself confused by him labelling it heaven, a deep sense of unity filled with unconditional love for all of creation. No big white bearded daddy in the sky. At the core all major religions are the same, some just got more abused then others over the course of history. To be fair tho, Einstein did not believe in the immortal soul.

Dorvil Barranis
October 31 2012, 05:50:08 AM
Read a book called Life after Life www.lifeafterlife.com as a young, easily influenced Christian. Seems like the same sorta shit people were selling books about 25 years ago, with the added bonus of "trust me I'm a scientist."

Al Simmons
October 31 2012, 11:04:22 AM
Oh, I don't discount the possibility of an "other" up there somewhere that we can't quite sense or detect. If you've read the Hyperion and Endymion books by Dan Simmons, I quite like his treatment there of what he calls "the void which binds". Which is sort of a series of layers of energy and psychic energy made up from the consciousnesses of every living creature in the universe, alive and dead. It's a bit like a spiritual version of string theory and brane theory in that there may be layers of extra dimensions wrapped up inside or around our visible universe.

Mi Lai
November 5 2012, 10:26:19 PM
Care to elaborate on the lying part? The science goods are rather low yes, but then again it's not exactly a field we can measure yet. His point is that he should not have been able to experience anything because his neocortex was completely shutdown. Or in other words, consciousness is not created by the brain.

From what I gather, we only have his word on what he may or may not have experienced. Human memories are notoriously unreliable, so even if he believes he experienced all kind of things while being technically braindead, unless it was somehow monitored / reproducable I wouldn't take his word for it. I've awoken from dreams that seemed so realistic, I had to check twice that I actually just woke up in my own bed at the time. Yet as a normal non-scientist person, I won't write a book about my unprovable sexual experience with Condoleeze Rice.

Also, if consciousness is not created by the brain, where do you believe it comes from? The heart? The liver?

Irrelephant
November 6 2012, 07:30:30 PM
From what I gather, we only have his word on what he may or may not have experienced. Human memories are notoriously unreliable, so even if he believes he experienced all kind of things while being technically braindead, unless it was somehow monitored / reproducable I wouldn't take his word for it.

All fine and dandy, i just don't see how you could call him a lyer on that tho, unless you can actually prove it? I was hoping Synapse actually had some points when he said 'some lying'. In his own words the experience was nothing like a dream as it was completely coherent. Even on the few occasions i was lucid dreaming the experience was anything but coherent. I know, where is the proof! He can't. All you can do is look at his background, what he describes and possible motivations and then decide on your own if you choose to believe his story.



Also, if consciousness is not created by the brain, where do you believe it comes from? The heart? The liver?

I spent the first half of my life in a communist country so no religious background at all, never been to church etc. One of the first things i learned in physics was that nothing can be created out of nothing, which in my mind leaves only one logical conclusion: there has to be some kind of infinite creator from which all things come. Which leads to the classical question, if there is an almighty creator why does he let bad things happen in the world? When i look at the human body i see a machine. Lot's of pipes, oil, sensors, needs energy to function, etc. Yet we don't act anything like machines. How can a machine have feelings or act as irrational as we do? Ask parents and they will tell you that their baby already had a disctinctive personality the moment it popped out.

At this point in time this is what makes the most sense to me in a very condensed form: The universe is an infinite hologram, created for the sole purpose of exploring an infinite amount of possibilities. The human brain/body is just one interface of many to take part in this exploration. Evolution is an expression of that exploration. From the most simple forms of consciousness on to awareness of self and who knows what is next. In a sense we are god that chose to be not aware of himself for the sake of exploring freedom of will. After all, can an aware god truly explore/experience things like sadness? Like with every hologram even the smallest part contains the image of the whole. Historic figures like buddha, jesus, etc found access to the whole, or at least parts of the whole, picture so to speak, simply by looking inside.

Mi Lai
November 6 2012, 10:08:11 PM
All fine and dandy, i just don't see how you could call him a lyer on that tho, unless you can actually prove it? I was hoping Synapse actually had some points when he said 'some lying'. In his own words the experience was nothing like a dream as it was completely coherent. Even on the few occasions i was lucid dreaming the experience was anything but coherent. I know, where is the proof! He can't. All you can do is look at his background, what he describes and possible motivations and then decide on your own if you choose to believe his story.

As long as he is making a pretty remarkable claim, he should bring convincing evidence. Pretty much the same as religious and other supernatural experiences: some people very close to me believe for instance in things like Jesus, claivoyance, ghosts, etc.. I want to believe them, as I hate calling them lyers, but unless they got decent evidence, I find it hard to go with their believes.






I spent the first half of my life in a communist country so no religious background at all, never been to church etc. One of the first things i learned in physics was that nothing can be created out of nothing, which in my mind leaves only one logical conclusion: there has to be some kind of infinite creator from which all things come. Which leads to the classical question, if there is an almighty creator why does he let bad things happen in the world? When i look at the human body i see a machine. Lot's of pipes, oil, sensors, needs energy to function, etc. Yet we don't act anything like machines. How can a machine have feelings or act as irrational as we do? Ask parents and they will tell you that their baby already had a disctinctive personality the moment it popped out.

At this point in time this is what makes the most sense to me in a very condensed form: The universe is an infinite hologram, created for the sole purpose of exploring an infinite amount of possibilities. The human brain/body is just one interface of many to take part in this exploration. Evolution is an expression of that exploration. From the most simple forms of consciousness on to awareness of self and who knows what is next. In a sense we are god that chose to be not aware of himself for the sake of exploring freedom of will. After all, can an aware god truly explore/experience things like sadness? Like with every hologram even the smallest part contains the image of the whole. Historic figures like buddha, jesus, etc found access to the whole, or at least parts of the whole, picture so to speak, simply by looking inside.

I know there are still plenty of things we / scientists can't yet prove. While the concept of 'something created out of nothing' or perhaps it is 'something that allways was', or something even weirder to our current understandings is hard, I find it hard to then automatically assume an allmighty creator.
You mentioned evolution. From what I understand from evolution, it allways is the simple building blocks that evolve into more complex structures (from a simple single light-sensitive cell to something as complex as eyesight in more advanced species). To assume something we can't yet explain should have come into existence (something from nothing) from even something infinitely more complex as an allpowerfull creator seems actually illogical to me. It also doesn't answer the question on where this creator comes from. Did he/she/it evolved from a simpler allmighty creator? Is there another bit-more-allmighty-creator that created it?

When going into the part 'being an interface to take part in exploring the hologram', I think that is going more towards philosophy. More on what is the meaning of life and the universe, and not on the why / how is there life and the universe. I'm pretty uncomplex in that regard: I'm here because my parents had sex, and I end up doing what my combination of genes, psychological disturbances and surroundings point me to.

Pacefalm
November 6 2012, 11:37:44 PM
I think it should be pretty obvious that, despite the claims that this man has made, the idea that there is consciousness after death is still very much a belief rather than a science.

Personally I think that there is no such thing as a 'soul' or consciousness after death, and I think that the brain is the direct cause of the existance of consciousness. Take away the brain and there is nothing. I won't condemn anyone for thinking one way or another about this matter, but please refrain from calling this experience in any way scientific.

Tangent: it is quite possible in physics to make something out of nothing, in fact it happens all the time. Matter/antimatter pairs spontaneously spring into existance, often annihilating almost instantly. However in some sense matter is more stable than antimatter which caused the abundance of matter in the universe. Exact reasons for this are not yet understood, but it is still quite firmly in the realm of possibility of physics.

Irrelephant
November 7 2012, 03:05:54 PM
As long as he is making a pretty remarkable claim, he should bring convincing evidence. Pretty much the same as religious and other supernatural experiences: some people very close to me believe for instance in things like Jesus, claivoyance, ghosts, etc.. I want to believe them, as I hate calling them lyers, but unless they got decent evidence, I find it hard to go with their believes.


The problem is there is currently no way to proove or disproove that he indeed had or not had this experience while his neocortex was disabled. So instead of calling him a lyer why not take it as a possibility. If it sounds all to crazy for you thats fine.
The believe that there is no god is just as much a believe that there is one. Until either side can proove their view, which is unlikely to happen anytime soon.



I know there are still plenty of things we / scientists can't yet prove. While the concept of 'something created out of nothing' or perhaps it is 'something that allways was', or something even weirder to our current understandings is hard, I find it hard to then automatically assume an allmighty creator.
You mentioned evolution. From what I understand from evolution, it allways is the simple building blocks that evolve into more complex structures (from a simple single light-sensitive cell to something as complex as eyesight in more advanced species). To assume something we can't yet explain should have come into existence (something from nothing) from even something infinitely more complex as an allpowerfull creator seems actually illogical to me. It also doesn't answer the question on where this creator comes from. Did he/she/it evolved from a simpler allmighty creator? Is there another bit-more-allmighty-creator that created it?


It is the classic chicken-egg paradox. Without assuming there is something infinite that was always there you will always run into the problem that at some point something had to get created out of nothing. I think this is the point where Einstein came to the conclusion that science needs religion.


Tangent: it is quite possible in physics to make something out of nothing, in fact it happens all the time. Matter/antimatter pairs spontaneously spring into existance, often annihilating almost instantly. However in some sense matter is more stable than antimatter which caused the abundance of matter in the universe. Exact reasons for this are not yet understood, but it is still quite firmly in the realm of possibility of physics.

From the same page you appear to have quoted from:
"In particle physics, things pop into and out of existence all the time from so called nothing. But "nothing" is an illusion. There is a thing called "vacuum energy" that is not understood. What appears to be nothing is teaming with energy."

Mi Lai
November 7 2012, 09:41:48 PM
The problem is there is currently no way to proove or disproove that he indeed had or not had this experience while his neocortex was disabled. So instead of calling him a lyer why not take it as a possibility. If it sounds all to crazy for you thats fine.
The believe that there is no god is just as much a believe that there is one. Until either side can proove their view, which is unlikely to happen anytime soon.
[/QUOTE]

A mate of mine was absolutely convinced he was taken out of his bed one night, flown over to Calgary where he performed in a Skinny Puppy concert, flown back, and was put back in his bed the morning after. I wasn't with him at the time, nor have I spoken to people that were, so I have no way to disprove his claims. The part of my brain that tries to deal with logic got in a twist, as I wondered how on earth this could be possible, considering things like flight time, the fact he didnt knew the bandmembers personally, why the band would need the skills of a fellow Dutchman specifically that night, etc. The more cynical side of me was considering he might have had a dream, taken a bit to much drugs that evening or he wanted for whatever reason to lie about the event. It's a bit like Russel's Teapot (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russell's_teapot).

If someone claims something extremely improbable, I tend to stay on the safe side, and accept tried and tested rules of nature. If individuals, like that guy want to believe otherwise, I don't really have a problem with it, and at the time it was a good laugh among other people in the group.
When someone with influence claims extremely improbable things, like for instance a respected scientist or clergyman, I tend to react a bit peeved. I think accepting things without solid evidence can be a danger (suicide-bomb some unbelievers so the allmighty creator will shower you with pornographic gifts for instance).



It is the classic chicken-egg paradox. Without assuming there is something infinite that was always there you will always run into the problem that at some point something had to get created out of nothing. I think this is the point where Einstein came to the conclusion that science needs religion.

I'm more of an optimist. In my opinion, religion has been invented by people to deal with things they can't explain or accept. Just like we discarded the god of lightning when we discovered the true causes of it, we will do so with the gaps we have in our knowledge one day.

Pacefalm
November 7 2012, 10:31:04 PM
Tangent: it is quite possible in physics to make something out of nothing, in fact it happens all the time. Matter/antimatter pairs spontaneously spring into existance, often annihilating almost instantly. However in some sense matter is more stable than antimatter which caused the abundance of matter in the universe. Exact reasons for this are not yet understood, but it is still quite firmly in the realm of possibility of physics.

From the same page you appear to have quoted from:
"In particle physics, things pop into and out of existence all the time from so called nothing. But "nothing" is an illusion. There is a thing called "vacuum energy" that is not understood. What appears to be nothing is teaming with energy."

It was actually from memory. I don't often quote without citing sources if I have them :p

Sacul
November 7 2012, 10:31:25 PM
Oh, I don't discount the possibility of an "other" up there somewhere that we can't quite sense or detect. If you've read the Hyperion and Endymion books by Dan Simmons, I quite like his treatment there of what he calls "the void which binds". Which is sort of a series of layers of energy and psychic energy made up from the consciousnesses of every living creature in the universe, alive and dead. It's a bit like a spiritual version of string theory and brane theory in that there may be layers of extra dimensions wrapped up inside or around our visible universe.

Well look at that i agree with a al simmons post.
I liked simmons idea aswell. When i was younger i was ffascinated with people like rupert sheldrake, so hard to prove but so close.
I dont believe in a god and i am baffled yearly by how the universe works and cant imagine its all evolution and chance, i want to think it has a grand design but feel its just my little brain not being able to cope with the interconnections, complexity and grand or micro scales.

I have a buddhist mind set, zen. I want there to be something transcendental thart goes beyond dead, the mortal coil. I want it, cant proof it. The idea gives me solace tho. It makes me extend my own mortality, and that gives comfort.

Irrelephant
November 8 2012, 04:23:51 PM
When someone with influence claims extremely improbable things, like for instance a respected scientist or clergyman, I tend to react a bit peeved. I think accepting things without solid evidence can be a danger (suicide-bomb some unbelievers so the allmighty creator will shower you with pornographic gifts for instance).


Blindly following believes can and will easily be exploited yea, the lesson is to think on your own. Gobble up all the informaton you can find then decide on your own and accept the fact it might all get crushed tomorrow.



I'm more of an optimist. In my opinion, religion has been invented by people to deal with things they can't explain or accept. Just like we discarded the god of lightning when we discovered the true causes of it, we will do so with the gaps we have in our knowledge one day.

In parts you are right, the base for that is mostly fear. But if you look for example at buddhism it is nothing like that, prolly the only major religion that was not abused for propaganda and control. I was lucky enough to end up at the right place at the right time somehow and got my own little experience of what i truly am. Once you feel it you know beyond doubt that there is more to the universe then just random chance. Prolly the reason i can relate easier to such stories.


I dont believe in a god and i am baffled yearly by how the universe works and cant imagine its all evolution and chance, i want to think it has a grand design but feel its just my little brain not being able to cope with the interconnections, complexity and grand or micro scales.

I have a buddhist mind set, zen. I want there to be something transcendental thart goes beyond dead, the mortal coil. I want it, cant proof it. The idea gives me solace tho. It makes me extend my own mortality, and that gives comfort.

Hard to respond to that without coming off as a 'oh im so enlightenend' jerk. If you want the truth you have to seek it. Best to put away the doubts and just start working, try the methods provided by zen and observe the results. Do you sit?

Rami
November 9 2012, 12:29:50 PM
This might be a very pragmatic view but it appears our consciousness is a natural stage in the connected series of energy exchanges that make up our synaptic patterns. At a certain stage, sufficient data storage, parsing and transport capability leads to the ability of self-inspection and eventually sentience. In that view, the realisation of an AI is inevitable, though how far off we are is hard to define at this stage. It's important to view what happens in our brain, in a pure and abstract forn, as an exchange of energy at a rapid pace. Why is there a need for the supernatural?

Our bodies are mortal, and the vessel for the energy exchanges, i.e. our brain, which defines our thoughts and memories degrades over time. So the patterns are eventually lost, and with what I currently know, they appear to be gone forever. It's an unfortunate thing, but perhaps a necessity due to the complexity of the human organism and the youthful stage in our evolution. With technology, or time, we might evolve to a stage where we can store, maintain and expand these exchanges of energy, thus achieving sentient immortality (hopefully in our body but hey who knows).

I can see reasons why people would wish that there is something more, and perhaps it's possible! Why, it could be that these exchanges of energy are also happening on say (purely hypothetically) on a 'hyperspace' level, whatever that may be or not be. And those exchanges continue on that level and not in the normal 4D space we live in. Is there any evidence of this right now? Not at all, there's that wishful thinking and the unfulfilled possibility which mostly comes from our inability to cope with finality. A lot of people feel the urge for there to be a *point* to existence.

I don't think that there being no explicit *point* makes the universe or sentient life any less attractive. It is still a beautiful thing, and if death is final that is not as horrible to me as some seem to make it look. People are always entitled to their own ideas, and beliefs. If the belief that something continues after physical death comforts you, great, at least that belief serves a purpose. That doesn't mean that to me, such a belief seems as sensible as a caveman seeing a streetlight and being convinced it is of a divine nature. That is born, quite frankly, from ignorance, not inspiration. Personally, I am content to wait until I die physically, and if there is something beyond I will marvel and the energy that is me might continue in some form. Obviously I will ponder and question, always, but I will not debase myself to a level where I feel I must cling to some unprovable concepts purely because I am afraid.

To cling to the idea that some things in our universe are unexplainable is foolhardy! If our consciousness is a form of energy exchange that allows us to examine ourselves and the universe around us, and our universe is one big pot of energy interactions (and lack of energy) then there is nothing in our way to know how anything and everything works. Just time.

Irrelephant
November 9 2012, 10:30:39 PM
Good post. Just a few points as food for thought. Pragmatism is always good and your view on things was pretty much the same as mine when i was in my early twenties.


I don't think that there being no explicit *point* makes the universe or sentient life any less attractive. It is still a beautiful thing, and if death is final that is not as horrible to me as some seem to make it look. People are always entitled to their own ideas, and beliefs. If the belief that something continues after physical death comforts you, great, at least that belief serves a purpose. That doesn't mean that to me, such a belief seems as sensible as a caveman seeing a streetlight and being convinced it is of a divine nature. That is born, quite frankly, from ignorance, not inspiration.


Before i made up my mind i read up on the major religions. Christanity and islam mainstream looked rather derp at first glance. Buddhism however had a coherent concept where you are not at the mercy of some god, it was up to the individual to do the work. So i gave it a try. Ordered the smallest book on practial meditation i could find and gave it 6 months before i made my verdict. 10 minutes a day is not much of an investment after all. After 6 months the daily session was up to 60 minutes that felt like 5 minutes. The effects were just as described. Less thought clutter, a deep calmness that allowed excellent focus. It became apparent how much useless junk was taking up valuable cpu time before, so to speak. The longer session times were made up by only needing 6 hours of sleep as i slept like a baby after 3 months. Even the dreams cleared up to the point were i was in a meditative state during my rem phases. The whole experience made me a rather spiritual person as the journey went on. My point is, not everything in religion is based on fear or the unexplainable, there are practical approaches that everyone can try for themself. Dismissing those without trying could also be considered ignorant. Though it is understandable with all the surrounding mess. Believe gets you nowhere, seeking truth does.


Personally, I am content to wait until I die physically, and if there is something beyond I will marvel and the energy that is me might continue in some form. Obviously I will ponder and question, always, but I will not debase myself to a level where I feel I must cling to some unprovable concepts purely because I am afraid.

The easy way out tbh. :p In a perfect world it wouldn't matter, but the believe that death means game over can be rather dangerous for society. It implies that as long as you don't get caught there are no consequences for your actions. I'm not talking about any hell/heaven concept here. Why ponder and question and wait for death or science if you can start exploring on your own. It's your own mind. Experiment with avaiable methods, observe, conclude. Science! Except you can't proove shit. But atleast you know for yourself.



To cling to the idea that some things in our universe are unexplainable is foolhardy! If our consciousness is a form of energy exchange that allows us to examine ourselves and the universe around us, and our universe is one big pot of energy interactions (and lack of energy) then there is nothing in our way to know how anything and everything works. Just time.

I fully agree except i would say everything is explainable but not everything is expressable. I don't believe we will ever be able to put love in an equation. We can describe it, measure the reactions in our bodies as we feel it, but in the end you have to feel it on your own to truly understand.

Pacefalm
November 10 2012, 03:22:26 PM
The easy way out tbh. :p In a perfect world it wouldn't matter, but the believe that death means game over can be rather dangerous for society. It implies that as long as you don't get caught there are no consequences for your actions.

To be honest, I would argue this reasoning is much, much more dangerous for society than the idea that death is game over. A moral person will not do bad things because it is against his morals. There is no need for a religion or afterlife to prevent people from being evil, in fact, I think religion removes the moral reasoning in lieu of an action/reward system.

For example, what if (hypothetically speaking) someone came out and found undeniable proof that god does not exist? The nonreligious people will not be affected and will live their life as before. The deeply religious people will think the reasoning you gave above, that no consequences mean you can do whatever you want, and they will do whatever they want despite it not being morally right.

This is in addition to the "religiously right = morally right" idea that causes people to touch little boys, go on crusades or blow themselves up for religion. The more you are taken in by religion the more you see it as the only truth, and people lose their morals along the way.

I remember a quote that seems fitting for this reasoning: a good man will do good, an evil man will do evil. But for a good man to do evil, that takes religion.

I do not know if buddhism has the same type of fanatics/fundamental extremist as christianity or islam (certainly I dont hear of them often) but the reasoning above is dangerous no matter what belief system you follow. The goodness or evilness of actions does not need to be graded by its consequences.

SAI Peregrinus
November 10 2012, 10:19:13 PM
Buddhism has the unity of all things as a core concept. To harm others is to harm everything, including yourself.

Most of the other large religions have the concept as well, but they tend to pack a lot of extra stuff in, and it gets obscured.

I think you can easily discover it in science as well, everything interacts with everything else. All actions by an observer have an effect on that observer as well as on the observed.

But life after death? To me it's a horrifying concept. The idea that the inherent morality of your actions is only judged after you die is terrifying. You could use the concept to convince people to do anything (and indeed horrible things have been done for the hope of a reward in an afterlife.)

Rami
November 12 2012, 10:52:17 AM
Before i made up my mind i read up on the major religions. Christanity and islam mainstream looked rather derp at first glance. Buddhism however had a coherent concept where you are not at the mercy of some god, it was up to the individual to do the work. So i gave it a try. Ordered the smallest book on practial meditation i could find and gave it 6 months before i made my verdict. 10 minutes a day is not much of an investment after all. After 6 months the daily session was up to 60 minutes that felt like 5 minutes. The effects were just as described. Less thought clutter, a deep calmness that allowed excellent focus. It became apparent how much useless junk was taking up valuable cpu time before, so to speak. The longer session times were made up by only needing 6 hours of sleep as i slept like a baby after 3 months. Even the dreams cleared up to the point were i was in a meditative state during my rem phases. The whole experience made me a rather spiritual person as the journey went on. My point is, not everything in religion is based on fear or the unexplainable, there are practical approaches that everyone can try for themself. Dismissing those without trying could also be considered ignorant.

Begging your pardon, but not being in my early twenties anymore myself, I can put your mind at ease and say I've studied more than just the mainstream religions in details. Taking meditation aside for a moment, as I heartily agree it provides some major benefits, Buddhism has a lot of 'packaging' (as I term it) designed to make it easier to ingest and process. Karma and rebirth are also taken in a far more precise context than I'd care to agree to right now. Whilst the energy we consist of, on the physical level, is always 'recycled' there's nothing to point out that it somehow keeps an aspect of ourselves or is singularly returned in some new life.

Now back to meditation, I'd happily recommend it myself although perhaps without the spiritual packaging. If anything I'd consider it, in crude terms, to be analogue to a defrag and shutting down unwanted thought processes.




Personally, I am content to wait until I die physically, and if there is something beyond I will marvel and the energy that is me might continue in some form. Obviously I will ponder and question, always, but I will not debase myself to a level where I feel I must cling to some unprovable concepts purely because I am afraid.

The easy way out tbh. :p In a perfect world it wouldn't matter, but the believe that death means game over can be rather dangerous for society. It implies that as long as you don't get caught there are no consequences for your actions. I'm not talking about any hell/heaven concept here. Why ponder and question and wait for death or science if you can start exploring on your own. It's your own mind. Experiment with avaiable methods, observe, conclude. Science! Except you can't proove shit. But atleast you know for yourself.


Pacefalm was exemplary in expressing the views I share on this point (in most aspects). There are never any consequences unless you get caught, or unless you weren't convinced of your own actions but that's for you to live with then. Society polices itself and needs no divine baton to keep things in line (or should not anyway).

On the notion of probing what death could be like, I'm fairly certain only death can truly do that. There's an absolute stop of brain activity, no more neural activity. As far as I know that's not something you can induce and then come out of, so the true test is a once-off. If you mean explore what the mind can do, and where the limits lie, then I heartily agree once more. It was very interesting to note how psychotropics worked on the senses and perception of time and your surroundings (in Amsterdam of course). Still, you have to be careful with altering your mind state too much, the main way is drugs and we're all well aware of the dangers those hold.

Irrelephant
November 12 2012, 12:26:27 PM
The easy way out tbh. :p In a perfect world it wouldn't matter, but the believe that death means game over can be rather dangerous for society. It implies that as long as you don't get caught there are no consequences for your actions. I'm not talking about any hell/heaven concept here.

To be honest, I would argue this reasoning is much, much more dangerous for society than the idea that death is game over. A moral person will not do bad things because it is against his morals. There is no need for a religion or afterlife to prevent people from being evil, in fact, I think religion removes the moral reasoning in lieu of an action/reward system.


Added the part you forgot to read in my quote. Hell/heaven or action/reward is exactly not what i was talking about. My point simply was that the believe that death is final makes it very easy to conclude that everything is fair game. If you give up your morals because a religion tells you to do so thats obv stupid. Same as going to war and killing people because your government told you to do so. It's a general problem. As Einstein said so well: "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity".

You seem to confuse actual religion with the historical and ongoing abuse that happened to christianity and islam. At the very core they are good and true, both got claimed for power and control. The mockery that both are today is really not worth calling a religion. The word cult comes to mind. If you are in religion for anything else then self improvement you are doing it wrong. It is easy to dismiss christianity with the way things went, i did so myself initially. Years later a christian friend me gave some material with actual quotes from jesus and while it's way more metaphorical then for example buddhism it is all the same.



Why is there a need for the supernatural?


I think this sums up the common misconception quite nicely. There is nothing supernatural about religion. Essentially it is about raising your awareness. Evolution of the mind so to speak. Jesus, Buddha, etc became aware of how things really are and tried to help their fellow people to achieve the same. Thats all there is to it. There are countless ways to do it, meditation, arts, drugs, rituals, prayers, running a marathon, freak accidents like the doctor had. Some will only give you a glimpse while the slower methods are more reliable and lasting.



But life after death? To me it's a horrifying concept. The idea that the inherent morality of your actions is only judged after you die is terrifying. You could use the concept to convince people to do anything (and indeed horrible things have been done for the hope of a reward in an afterlife.)

The only judge can be yourself, how is that different to while you are alive? It will only be terrifying if you lived your life without judging your actions. There is no place for right or wrong in unity, only lessons to be learned as our consciousness evolves in this splendid illusion we call universe. This is the optical delusion Einstein was talking about. Isn't it worth to ponder why one of the most renowned scientist and the teachings of buddha come to the exact same conclusion of what reality is?

Rami
November 12 2012, 01:31:52 PM
I think this sums up the common misconception quite nicely. There is nothing supernatural about religion. Essentially it is about raising your awareness. Evolution of the mind so to speak. Jesus, Buddha, etc became aware of how things really are and tried to help their fellow people to achieve the same. Thats all there is to it. There are countless ways to do it, meditation, arts, drugs, rituals, prayers, running a marathon, freak accidents like the doctor had. Some will only give you a glimpse while the slower methods are more reliable and lasting.


I would happily consider the *possibility*, having circumvented the notion whether or not these individuals existed, that they were exceptional in their time in seeing the world from a bigger picture. Jesus, Buddha, etc are not religion, they are the focal objects OF religions. There is plenty supernatural about claiming a single divine entity created everything (in some cases as little as 6000 years ago) and all the various malarkey that goes with it. Granted, perhaps the original authors of such obviously fantastical musing thought it was the only viable tool to transfer the very simple but valuable lessons at the center of it. However, in reality these concepts were grabbed and abused, transformed into tools for the cunning to wield as power.

In the terms lived by the majority of practitioners, the mainstream religions are followed in their entirety and the core messages either fall far into the background or are lost altogether. Man has come far enough that these fantastical wrappings are no longer required, yet millions still cling on to them for dear life.

That being said, I have no problem with Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, etc who do as you say, and use their beliefs as a tool for introspection and trying to make sense of the world around them. If they need this mental crutch, so be it, not everyone can 'walk' unaided. The issue arises when these beliefs are no longer the guide, but the 'truth', and when actions are taken based purely on these truths. That's, indeed, when good men do evil things.

Your definition of religion is far different from what the term is commonly used for, and I do not think it equivocally necessary.





But life after death? To me it's a horrifying concept. The idea that the inherent morality of your actions is only judged after you die is terrifying. You could use the concept to convince people to do anything (and indeed horrible things have been done for the hope of a reward in an afterlife.)

The only judge can be yourself, how is that different to while you are alive? It will only be terrifying if you lived your life without judging your actions. There is no place for right or wrong in unity, only lessons to be learned as our consciousness evolves in this splendid illusion we call universe. This is the optical delusion Einstein was talking about. Isn't it worth to ponder why one of the most renowned scientist and the teachings of buddha come to the exact same conclusion of what reality is?

I live my life because it is worth living, for myself and for those around me. I don't worry about a finally tally at the end. Morality was born from our multitude. Were you alone in this universe as a single being, you would need no stick by which to measure your actions. But we are not alone, we might all be made from the same energy, but for now our consciousness is our own for all intents and purposes. Society requires moral standards and the bigger it grows the more complex they must become.

When it was just 20 of us living in small communities surviving on the lands, we needed only simple rules: do not harm each other, work to feed all, do not endanger our livelihoods or housing. There probably was little concept of stealing, everything belonged to everyone and there was little to be jealous of (or time to worry about it for that matter). Now that we range in the billions, we need complex laws to govern the vast array of situations that can occur between ourselves. In that regard, we are judged by society, and rightfully so as we choose to live in it. There is no final answer either, society will evolve and the moral standards will evolve as they always have.

Perhaps the only standard we can all feel some relation to is the desire to maintain life. Is it because there is so little of this complex energy exchange that we can find (so far) in our universe? Or maybe it's from the base fact that our universe started with low entropy, and we as beings strive to keep entropy at bay since we rely on order?

Irrelephant
November 12 2012, 03:10:05 PM
Begging your pardon, but not being in my early twenties anymore myself, I can put your mind at ease and say I've studied more than just the mainstream religions in details. Taking meditation aside for a moment, as I heartily agree it provides some major benefits, Buddhism has a lot of 'packaging' (as I term it) designed to make it easier to ingest and process. Karma and rebirth are also taken in a far more precise context than I'd care to agree to right now. Whilst the energy we consist of, on the physical level, is always 'recycled' there's nothing to point out that it somehow keeps an aspect of ourselves or is singularly returned in some new life.

Now back to meditation, I'd happily recommend it myself although perhaps without the spiritual packaging. If anything I'd consider it, in crude terms, to be analogue to a defrag and shutting down unwanted thought processes.


Sorry if that came off as patronizing. With old teachings you have to take into account the times they were written at. Karma in essence is a law of balance, if you look at the physical laws it is very much the same. I can agree with that. We have nothing to measure our consciousness. The question that arised for me is that if we are nothing but biological robots, how got energy aware of itself to the point that it became a creator in this universe? How can simple physical reactions drive a process as genius as evolution? And where do those laws come from in the first place? Random chance i find hard to assume.

Meditation is all about raising your awareness. Once you become aware of the useless thoughts you become rid of them, no need to surpress or shutdown. You become aware that you are not the sum of your thoughts. You are still there when there are no thoughts. And from there realizations about your true nature become possible. They cannot be thought, they can only be felt deep down in our consciousness and this is what Einstein means when he said science needs religion.



On the notion of probing what death could be like, I'm fairly certain only death can truly do that. There's an absolute stop of brain activity, no more neural activity. As far as I know that's not something you can induce and then come out of, so the true test is a once-off. If you mean explore what the mind can do, and where the limits lie, then I heartily agree once more. It was very interesting to note how psychotropics worked on the senses and perception of time and your surroundings (in Amsterdam of course). Still, you have to be careful with altering your mind state too much, the main way is drugs and we're all well aware of the dangers those hold.

Wasn't really meant as what death would be like. I don't really think about what happens when i die, gonna happen anyway so why bother. What you can do is explore what you are right now. In a controlled setting the use of psychedelic drugs is fairly safe, but yea it's only worth to gain a quick glimpse. As a hippie once said: "Meditation and drugs is like walking by feet and taking a plane. You go faster with the plane but you will miss all the details." Drugs is not the main way and never should be. Daily training of the mind is far more effective in the long run.


That being said, I have no problem with Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, etc who do as you say, and use their beliefs as a tool for introspection and trying to make sense of the world around them. If they need this mental crutch, so be it, not everyone can 'walk' unaided. The issue arises when these beliefs are no longer the guide, but the 'truth', and when actions are taken based purely on these truths. That's, indeed, when good men do evil things.


Mental crutch is kinda mean, but yea whatever works for you to raise your awareness is good. An external religion is not needed.



Your definition of religion is far different from what the term is commonly used for, and I do not think it equivocally necessary.


Maybe i should say spirituality, but that has it's own stigmata.



I live my life because it is worth living, for myself and for those around me. I don't worry about a finally tally at the end. Morality was born from our multitude. Were you alone in this universe as a single being, you would need no stick by which to measure your actions. But we are not alone, we might all be made from the same energy, but for now our consciousness is our own for all intents and purposes. Society requires moral standards and the bigger it grows the more complex they must become.

When it was just 20 of us living in small communities surviving on the lands, we needed only simple rules: do not harm each other, work to feed all, do not endanger our livelihoods or housing. There probably was little concept of stealing, everything belonged to everyone and there was little to be jealous of (or time to worry about it for that matter). Now that we range in the billions, we need complex laws to govern the vast array of situations that can occur between ourselves. In that regard, we are judged by society, and rightfully so as we choose to live in it. There is no final answer either, society will evolve and the moral standards will evolve as they always have.

Perhaps the only standard we can all feel some relation to is the desire to maintain life. Is it because there is so little of this complex energy exchange that we can find (so far) in our universe? Or maybe it's from the base fact that our universe started with low entropy, and we as beings strive to keep entropy at bay since we rely on order?

It's amazing and kinda funny how much we are seeing things the same and yet come to a very different conclusion. Morality was born from our multitude is exactly right. The question is, how can multitude arise in the first place if not from unity. And how can unity arise from nothing if you were to assume it was not infinite.

Rami
November 12 2012, 04:10:56 PM
Well I think we get theoretical there, in terms of quantum physics, string theory (being the leading contender for a theory of origin). That our universe started with low entropy and thus a positive arrow of time could merely be due to the position on the multiverse brane that our universe was created (if theory holds). Evolution itself is quite simple, and quite elegantly explains how such complexity comes to be.

As for intelligence, as per my first post on this topic, I think it's a natural stage in evolution of energy-exchange mechanisms (i.e. life). I truly think that sentience can exist in any form that has the ability to store information/energy, form pathways for it to go and senses to accept external stimuli. It's certainly marvelous that it is here, but I don't think mystical in any way. If we're asking how come even small organisms started to reproduce, I think it's simply because any organism that came to be which didn't perpetuate itself died out extremely quickly (in one generation).

Irrelephant
November 13 2012, 02:08:25 PM
Well I think we get theoretical there, in terms of quantum physics, string theory (being the leading contender for a theory of origin). That our universe started with low entropy and thus a positive arrow of time could merely be due to the position on the multiverse brane that our universe was created (if theory holds). Evolution itself is quite simple, and quite elegantly explains how such complexity comes to be.


The funny thing is that most of those theories would not invalidate religion, in fact many support the illusionary nature of our universe. When i think about it seems to me that most of science is only focused on exploring the realm of effect (the universe), while religion explores the cause (consciousness). As illustrated by the quote below:


Questions regarding why the universe behaves in such a way have been described by physicists and cosmologists as being extra-scientific (i.e., metaphysical).

The marriage of science and religion does not mean conflict or a lowering of scientifc standards. It would be a perfect synthesis (effect&cause). I have no doubt that science on it's own will be able to fully explain the nature of the universe, but it can never explain the cause. Assuming that consciousness is effect is the cardinal error and could be solved quite easily if only science cared to even consider the possibility that it is the other way around.



As for intelligence, as per my first post on this topic, I think it's a natural stage in evolution of energy-exchange mechanisms (i.e. life). I truly think that sentience can exist in any form that has the ability to store information/energy, form pathways for it to go and senses to accept external stimuli. It's certainly marvelous that it is here, but I don't think mystical in any way. If we're asking how come even small organisms started to reproduce, I think it's simply because any organism that came to be which didn't perpetuate itself died out extremely quickly (in one generation).

By that logic running a computer with enough data storage should produce sentience and even consciousness at one point. A computer never knows or truly understands. It defies all we know about science afaik. The best synthesis between sciene and religion i have read so far is by Walter Russel. Books: http://scribd.com/collections/2873582/Walter-Russell?page=1 I hope you can look behind the copius amounts of praising god, some really interesting stuff in there.

Edit: The religion as a mental clutch analogy you made yesterday, i still agree that is not needed but would add that it is the same as expecting every person to discover the laws of nature again on it's own.

Rami
November 13 2012, 09:50:40 PM
The funny thing is that most of those theories would not invalidate religion, in fact many support the illusionary nature of our universe. When i think about it seems to me that most of science is only focused on exploring the realm of effect (the universe), while religion explores the cause (consciousness). As illustrated by the quote below:


Questions regarding why the universe behaves in such a way have been described by physicists and cosmologists as being extra-scientific (i.e., metaphysical).

The marriage of science and religion does not mean conflict or a lowering of scientifc standards. It would be a perfect synthesis (effect&cause). I have no doubt that science on it's own will be able to fully explain the nature of the universe, but it can never explain the cause. Assuming that consciousness is effect is the cardinal error and could be solved quite easily if only science cared to even consider the possibility that it is the other way around.

Why should it not be able to explain the cause? I think that's not giving enough credit to sentient life. And if we are part of the box and therefore can not view the box, why does that make religion 'right' all of a sudden? Just because we are not able to see for ourselves, does not mean we should start making up things to fit there. It is a convenient lie, but still a lie, as you have nothing to substantiate it. To have blind faith in something is to deny truth, and to deny truth is to deny life. If there truly is a multiverse, then it also consist of some form of energy, and right now we can't exclude that sufficiently advanced beings could take that extra step.



By that logic running a computer with enough data storage should produce sentience and even consciousness at one point. A computer never knows or truly understands. It defies all we know about science afaik. The best synthesis between sciene and religion i have read so far is by Walter Russel. Books: http://scribd.com/collections/2873582/Walter-Russell?page=1 I hope you can look behind the copius amounts of praising god, some really interesting stuff in there.

Edit: The religion as a mental clutch analogy you made yesterday, i still agree that is not needed but would add that it is the same as expecting every person to discover the laws of nature again on it's own.

How does it defy all science? And yes, given *sufficient* resources and processing power a computer would indeed achieve sentience. Look at the google x-labs results where an AI learned to recognise pictures without being given any rules whatsoever to begin with. Humans have the advantage that the heuristics with which our brain forms, transmits and stores thought has been refined through thousands upon thousands of years of evolution. Make no mistake though, our brains are extremely complex but on the abstract level they use a specific ruleset to handle data. We're only at the beginning of trying to create sentience ourselves. The x-labs example could be called a proto-sentience, but it is still miles from achieving self-awareness.

The problem I have with religion is that it constantly tries to fit in the still unexplained gaps that science hasn't ventured.

'oh you can't explain lightning, must be god' *we explain lightning*
'oh you can't explain earthquakes, must be god!' *we explain earthquakes*
'oh you can't explainhow things got so complex, must be god!' *darwin comes along*
ad infinitum, ad nauseum

Right now it's 'oh you can't create sentience, only god can!', well hang on there johnny, we're getting there. Philosophy is fine, blind faith is a horrible thing. I can fully appreciate there is a possibility that:

a) a sentient being of immense capabilities created the universe with great care
b) a sentient being of immense capabilities merely initiated the start of the universe (if there is one)

If that is the case, and you term it 'god', then we can one day become god ourselves (an anathema in most religions!). We can't prove it, we can't disprove it, but probability wise there is nothing to suggest right now that is the case. Whilst it might merit some thought, it doesn't merit obsession, we are leagues away from being able to verify this. I fully understand why the fear of the unknown works as a vacuum in the minds of some and they *must* fill it with something, no matter how nonsensical it might be, but that does not make it 'ok'. It's a tolerable willfull ignorance as long as it doesn't harm others, but it continuously does. And that is my problem with religion in general.

Irrelephant
November 14 2012, 06:16:43 AM
Why should it not be able to explain the cause? I think that's not giving enough credit to sentient life.


The cause is not measurable, we cannot explain what we can not measure. Though i'm sure there would be no shortage of theories, but we can not know. That is no discredit to sentient life, sentient life is consciousness and as such has the ability to experience the cause, in a sense it is part of the cause.



And if we are part of the box and therefore can not view the box, why does that make religion 'right' all of a sudden? Just because we are not able to see for ourselves, does not mean we should start making up things to fit there. It is a convenient lie, but still a lie, as you have nothing to substantiate it. To have blind faith in something is to deny truth, and to deny truth is to deny life. If there truly is a multiverse, then it also consist of some form of energy, and right now we can't exclude that sufficiently advanced beings could take that extra step.


You are again so right in many aspects. But why do you blindy believe that science is the only answer then? At the very least religion should have the same chances as other concepts that we cannot proove. Works like from Walter Russel above lay out a picture that should not be ignored just because it has aspects of religion and even more so as it does not exclude science in any shape or form. A bit unfortunate that he chose to write it the way he did tbh. Allegedly Tesla told Russels to keep his works private for a thousand years or so until mankind is ready for it.



How does it defy all science? And yes, given *sufficient* resources and processing power a computer would indeed achieve sentience. Look at the google x-labs results where an AI learned to recognise pictures without being given any rules whatsoever to begin with. Humans have the advantage that the heuristics with which our brain forms, transmits and stores thought has been refined through thousands upon thousands of years of evolution. Make no mistake though, our brains are extremely complex
but on the abstract level they use a specific ruleset to handle data. We're only at the beginning of trying to create sentience ourselves. The x-labs example could be called a proto-sentience, but it is still miles from achieving self-awareness.


All a computer does is thought. Instructions process data. It's instruction set might have learning capabilities on how to process and categorize data but i don't see how it could become aware of itself as it processes data. Thought can never understand or know or feel. Only consciousness can, and for it to become aware of itself it would have to be there in the first place. The x-labs stuff is certainly interesting, but still they use a premade learning algorithm as a base.



The problem I have with religion is that it constantly tries to fit in the still unexplained gaps that science hasn't ventured.

'oh you can't explain lightning, must be god' *we explain lightning*
'oh you can't explain earthquakes, must be god!' *we explain earthquakes*
'oh you can't explainhow things got so complex, must be god!' *darwin comes along*
ad infinitum, ad nauseum

Right now it's 'oh you can't create sentience, only god can!', well hang on there johnny, we're getting there. Philosophy is fine, blind faith is a horrible thing.


I thought we already cleared that up, that is not religion. As i said earlier believes get you nowhere. More on that in a sec.



I can fully appreciate there is a possibility that:

a) a sentient being of immense capabilities created the universe with great care
b) a sentient being of immense capabilities merely initiated the start of the universe (if there is one)

If that is the case, and you term it 'god', then we can one day become god ourselves (an anathema in most religions!).


If you are willing to go that far you should also come to the conclusion that this creator has to be infinite. As such the creation can never leave the creator. God is everywhere. In us. Around us. We already became co-creators in this universe when our consciousness became aware of itself. It will only get better from here when we start taking responsibiltiy as co-creators. You could say when you reach nirvana in buddhism you become indeed god.



We can't prove it, we can't disprove it, but probability wise there is nothing to suggest right now that is the case. Whilst it might merit some thought, it doesn't merit obsession, we are leagues away from being able to verify this. I fully understand why the fear of the unknown works as a vacuum in the minds of some and they *must* fill it with something, no matter how nonsensical it might be, but that does not make it 'ok'. It's a tolerable willfull ignorance as long as it doesn't harm others, but it continuously does. And that is my problem with religion in general.


And it is exactly the problem everyone should have with religion. It is easy to dismiss given the way history went, but again, everyone can experience and as such know for themself. In the case of christianity you have to sift through alot of bs to get to the meat, but as with every good propaganda it is based on truth. For example "seek, and ye shall find". The same message you find in buddhism. So religon tells us it is up to the invidiual to find out, an internal process so to speak. No one can do the work for you. Without that initial step of actively seeking everything else is just believe.

So if you want to seek, what would science do? Observe! Accept that you do not know, believe nothing but your own observations. It does not mean that you have to give up your job and social life. You do not need to become obsessive. Just become aware of your thoughts and your actions and the results will come on his own. Balance is the name of the game. It truly is a natural evolving process that does not need anything supernatural. Techniques as provided by buddhism are there to speed up the process and get you out of that misery of doubt by enabling you to experience the truth for yourself. I assure you that it is reproducable for everyone. Don't believe me, find out on your own.

Rami
November 14 2012, 08:39:19 AM
You are again so right in many aspects. But why do you blindy believe that science is the only answer then? At the very least religion should have the same chances as other concepts that we cannot proove. Works like from Walter Russel above lay out a picture that should not be ignored just because it has aspects of religion and even more so as it does not exclude science in any shape or form. A bit unfortunate that he chose to write it the way he did tbh. Allegedly Tesla told Russels to keep his works private for a thousand years or so until mankind is ready for it.


I do not blindly believe science is the only question. The origin of our universe is an unknown to scientists, and they *propose* methods which *may* have caused it. As they are not sure of these theories, and can not provide the necessary evidence, science ever adapts these theories as new information is gained. Religion sees this gap too, and simply fills it with 'truth', irrevocably, without any base to stand on.

That is a huge difference, science is you standing before a closed room and trying to learn what is inside by putting your ear to the door and peeking through the keyhole. Religion is a burly squat man who tells you what is inside and expects you to believe it, and you are not deemed worthy to find out for yourself (although I recognise that you see 'religion' as a form of self exploration which is far more valid and I have no issue with).

To focus on your form concept of religion, it bears far more relation to science than the normally accepted form of religion. That is, science aims to understand the world in such a way that it can explained and proven to any sentient being. Religion as a form of self-perception is something that can never be explained to another human, but may perhaps yield results of its own. I'm more than happy to support both, but science isn't as self-centered.



All a computer does is thought. Instructions process data. It's instruction set might have learning capabilities on how to process and categorize data but i don't see how it could become aware of itself as it processes data. Thought can never understand or know or feel. Only consciousness can, and for it to become aware of itself it would have to be there in the first place. The x-labs stuff is certainly interesting, but still they use a premade learning algorithm as a base.

Well, the first few machines that can pass the turing tests are here, and that was traditionally a test for consciousness. That being said, your view is sort of denying evolution. We evolved from very primitive organisms, which were by no definition sentient or conscious (and I mean single celled organisms etc). Consciousness was achieved much later, and sentience was probably not achieved more than 100k years ago (or maybe much earlier, not a paleontologist). I'm not implying your standard intel PC with 4 GB of RAM and an SSD will ever achieve sentience but a machine certainly can.

We are an organic machine, one of brilliant complexity that took millions of years to come to fruition. You could say that even now there are severe limitations to the human machine. Take our inability to control muscle mass on a more refined level, or fight-or-flee instincts which we don't need anymore for their original intents. All that doesn't remove us from the fact that we are just as much a machine as a computer is, we are carbon based organics and current computers are mostly silicon based (though that is evolving rapidly). It doesn't demean us to look at it like that either.



If you are willing to go that far you should also come to the conclusion that this creator has to be infinite. As such the creation can never leave the creator. God is everywhere. In us. Around us. We already became co-creators in this universe when our consciousness became aware of itself. It will only get better from here when we start taking responsibiltiy as co-creators. You could say when you reach nirvana in buddhism you become indeed god.


Well I'll disagree on the point of not being able to exceed the being, if it exists, that set our universe in motion. I don't see any hard limit like that at the moment, and this being would certainly not need to be infinite in power. There is still a finite amount of energy in our universe which is, if the multiverse theory is correct, a trifling speck of energy compared to the larger whole.



And it is exactly the problem everyone should have with religion. It is easy to dismiss given the way history went, but again, everyone can experience and as such know for themself. In the case of christianity you have to sift through alot of bs to get to the meat, but as with every good propaganda it is based on truth. For example "seek, and ye shall find". The same message you find in buddhism. So religon tells us it is up to the invidiual to find out, an internal process so to speak. No one can do the work for you. Without that initial step of actively seeking everything else is just believe.

So if you want to seek, what would science do? Observe! Accept that you do not know, believe nothing but your own observations. It does not mean that you have to give up your job and social life. You do not need to become obsessive. Just become aware of your thoughts and your actions and the results will come on his own. Balance is the name of the game. It truly is a natural evolving process that does not need anything supernatural. Techniques as provided by buddhism are there to speed up the process and get you out of that misery of doubt by enabling you to experience the truth for yourself. I assure you that it is reproducable for everyone. Don't believe me, find out on your own.

I think we agree on this, but probably from different view points.

ps: I'm quite enjoying this, and if I seem antagonistic it's only the conviction of my thoughts showing and not an attempt to demean you :)

Pacefalm
November 14 2012, 09:40:59 AM
The cause is not measurable, we cannot explain what we can not measure. Though i'm sure there would be no shortage of theories, but we can not know. That is no discredit to sentient life, sentient life is consciousness and as such has the ability to experience the cause, in a sense it is part of the cause.
But theories is all we have, we cannot truly 'know' anything with 100% certainty, because doing so would invalidate the scientific method. The scientific method depends on being able to question your answers, and being 100% sure of something does not fit in that. Even mathematical proofs are only undeniable within a certain fixed set of axioms. Also we (read: science) can explain a lot of things we cannot measure, and have seldom been unable to explain things that we CAN measure.


You are again so right in many aspects. But why do you blindy believe that science is the only answer then? At the very least religion should have the same chances as other concepts that we cannot proove. Works like from Walter Russel above lay out a picture that should not be ignored just because it has aspects of religion and even more so as it does not exclude science in any shape or form. A bit unfortunate that he chose to write it the way he did tbh. Allegedly Tesla told Russels to keep his works private for a thousand years or so until mankind is ready for it.
This might be the main difference between us. I blindly believe that science is the only answer, exactly because I know that it takes a lot of evidence and support for a theory to become accepted, and if someone proves it wrong it will get rectified. This does not happen with religion, which is very subjective by nature. Although in both cases you are not able to 'prove' a certain viewpoint, science (to me at least) has more credibility simply because everyone is able to study up on it and say "wait, this is bullshit right here" and it will have to go back to the drawing board. When something about religion gets called out as being nonsense, suddenly it becomes "well it was probably meant metaphorically!" or similar excuses.


All a computer does is thought. Instructions process data. It's instruction set might have learning capabilities on how to process and categorize data but i don't see how it could become aware of itself as it processes data. Thought can never understand or know or feel. Only consciousness can, and for it to become aware of itself it would have to be there in the first place. The x-labs stuff is certainly interesting, but still they use a premade learning algorithm as a base.
The question of wether a computer can become sentient/intelligent/conscious is a very philosophical one, as the question is directly tied to the definition of 'sentience'/'intelligence'/'consciousness'. What is intelligence? If it is 'being able to calculate 5^4' then a computer is intelligent and a dolphin is not. But what would the definition have to be, for it to exclude computers and include dolphins (generally considered intelligent creatures)? Being able to 'feel', is that necessary for intelligence? It is a very fundamental question, and very subjective, so the answer is not the same for everyone.

Do you call an ant intelligent? Most people would not. They say "the ant is just following a small set of instructions and you can accurately predict his movements just by looking at his surroundings", like the ghosts in a game of pac-man, they would not be called intelligent. Then we move up, is a goldfish intelligent? A mouse? A dog? At which point does it become "intelligence" and at which point is it just "following a fixed set of rules"? Imagine if there is an alien race, billions of times smarter and faster than us, looking down at earth. When they look at humans, do they see "intelligence"? Or are we like ants to them, following just a fixed set of rules (although a much larger set than ants')?

A rising viewpoint at the moment, is that 'sentience'/'intelligence'/'consciousness' are not inherent properties of a being, but rather that they are purely descriptive terms. That is, a dolphin is not by itself intelligent, but it becomes intelligent because people call it intelligent. The same can be said about computers. So in this viewpoint, is a computer intelligent? It does not depend on the computer. It is intelligent only if we call it that.

There is no clear answer to this, but I definitely believe that at some point in the near future, there will be computers that we call intelligent. Maybe a bit further into the future we can call computers sentient or conscious. I don't know when, but I have no doubt that these moments will come.




I can fully appreciate there is a possibility that:

a) a sentient being of immense capabilities created the universe with great care
b) a sentient being of immense capabilities merely initiated the start of the universe (if there is one)

If that is the case, and you term it 'god', then we can one day become god ourselves (an anathema in most religions!).


If you are willing to go that far you should also come to the conclusion that this creator has to be infinite. As such the creation can never leave the creator. God is everywhere. In us. Around us. We already became co-creators in this universe when our consciousness became aware of itself. It will only get better from here when we start taking responsibiltiy as co-creators. You could say when you reach nirvana in buddhism you become indeed god.
But just because there is a possibility, does not mean that it has to be true!
Disregarding the question of consciousness (see above), there are some leaps in logic here that I don't quite follow. Why does a creator have to be infinite, just to create the universe? The universe itself is not infinite, in fact we can make a rough estimate of the total energy in the universe. It is something we can calculate.
Next, why does the creation have to stay with the creator (or vice versa)? IF such a being exists and created the universe, why can't it just go someplace else? I don't see why it has to stick around.


And it is exactly the problem everyone should have with religion. It is easy to dismiss given the way history went, but again, everyone can experience and as such know for themself. In the case of christianity you have to sift through alot of bs to get to the meat, but as with every good propaganda it is based on truth. For example "seek, and ye shall find". The same message you find in buddhism. So religon tells us it is up to the invidiual to find out, an internal process so to speak. No one can do the work for you. Without that initial step of actively seeking everything else is just believe.

So if you want to seek, what would science do? Observe! Accept that you do not know, believe nothing but your own observations. It does not mean that you have to give up your job and social life. You do not need to become obsessive. Just become aware of your thoughts and your actions and the results will come on his own. Balance is the name of the game. It truly is a natural evolving process that does not need anything supernatural. Techniques as provided by buddhism are there to speed up the process and get you out of that misery of doubt by enabling you to experience the truth for yourself. I assure you that it is reproducable for everyone. Don't believe me, find out on your own.
The basis that everyone is able to experience and reproduce the truth is very close to what science aims to achieve, and is worthy of some praise. However, the difference is that this case is still a very subjective matter, and what one person experiences can be different from what the other experiences. Buddhism may not rely on 'blind faith' as much as christianity or some other religions, but faith does play a part in it. For example, in a meditative state you say you find 'the truth'. Why is that the truth? Because Buddhism says you can find the truth by meditation. Someone who never heard of Buddhism and who meditates, might experience the exact same thing as a Buddhistic person experiences, but come to a different conclusion. They might simply call it a state of mind, or a dream, or anything. In that sense there is still a some blind faith attached even if happens subconsciously.

Edit: Rami beat me by a little over a minute.

Irrelephant
November 14 2012, 11:22:51 PM
I do not blindly believe science is the only question. The origin of our universe is an unknown to scientists, and they *propose* methods which *may* have caused it. As they are not sure of these theories, and can not provide the necessary evidence, science ever adapts these theories as new information is gained. Religion sees this gap too, and simply fills it with 'truth', irrevocably, without any base to stand on.

That is a huge difference, science is you standing before a closed room and trying to learn what is inside by putting your ear to the door and peeking through the keyhole. Religion is a burly squat man who tells you what is inside and expects you to believe it, and you are not deemed worthy to find out for yourself (although I recognise that you see 'religion' as a form of self exploration which is far more valid and I have no issue with).

To focus on your form concept of religion, it bears far more relation to science than the normally accepted form of religion. That is, science aims to understand the world in such a way that it can explained and proven to any sentient being. Religion as a form of self-perception is something that can never be explained to another human, but may perhaps yield results of its own. I'm more than happy to support both, but science isn't as self-centered.


Let me shorten that even further. I do not blindly believe is the only question. Was really just to make a point to keep an open mind. It may seem that religion simply fills gaps with some imagined and convenient truths, but if you look at the origin of religion it comes down to individuals that found higher awareness through different ways. They are much the same as those genious few scientists we had in history that pushed the boundaries on how we percieve this universe. The thing they all had in common was that they seeked and asked the right questions. Science wants to figure out the truth of our surroundings, religion wants to figure out the nature of our self. The dilemma religion has is that the realization what the self is can only be achieved by the self. The body of evidence can only be experience gained through observation. Science enables the general public to relax and let others do the work to figure things out so we all can profit from new information concerning the universe we live in. You don't have this luxury with religion. Everyone needs to do his part to reap the fruits.



That being said, your view is sort of denying evolution. We evolved from very primitive organisms, which were by no definition sentient or conscious (and I mean single celled organisms etc). Consciousness was achieved much later, and sentience was probably not achieved more than 100k years ago (or maybe much earlier, not a paleontologist). I'm not implying your standard intel PC with 4 GB of RAM and an SSD will ever achieve sentience but a machine certainly can.


For a more complete view along those lines i recommend reading Russell, he goes very much into details on such topics. It does not invalidate evolution as science observed it.



We are an organic machine, one of brilliant complexity that took millions of years to come to fruition. You could say that even now there are severe limitations to the human machine. Take our inability to control muscle mass on a more refined level, or fight-or-flee instincts which we don't need anymore for their original intents. All that doesn't remove us from the fact that we are just as much a machine as a computer is, we are carbon based organics and current computers are mostly silicon based (though that is evolving rapidly). It doesn't demean us to look at it like that either.


We can only hear 1% of the accoustic, or see 1% of the electromagnetic spectrum, limited senses indeed. Our bodies are machines no doubt, the question is who/what is it that watches the machine from inside? This is where our views part.





If you are willing to go that far you should also come to the conclusion that this creator has to be infinite. As such the creation can never leave the creator. God is everywhere. In us. Around us. We already became co-creators in this universe when our consciousness became aware of itself. It will only get better from here when we start taking responsibiltiy as co-creators. You could say when you reach nirvana in buddhism you become indeed god.


Well I'll disagree on the point of not being able to exceed the being, if it exists, that set our universe in motion. I don't see any hard limit like that at the moment, and this being would certainly not need to be infinite in power. There is still a finite amount of energy in our universe which is, if the multiverse theory is correct, a trifling speck of energy compared to the larger whole.


The problem with a finite creator is that the next logical question is how that creator came to be. You can run this chain as long as you like. As long as the infinite is not assumed it will always come back to the classic chicken-egg paradox. Energy can become matter, but how can energy, or whatever it is you assume to be first, pop out of nothing? It's interesting to note that physical science does not deal with the nothing at all. Everything is assumed to have properties. To me that implies infinity. The multiverse theory goes very well with religion, a self balanced hologram realizing an infinite amount of possibilities. Consciousness is the creator and by multitude the explorer.

By that logic it is ofcourse not possible to surpass the creator, nor is there a point to it.



ps: I'm quite enjoying this, and if I seem antagonistic it's only the conviction of my thoughts showing and not an attempt to demean you :)


I have turned some stones i haven't touched in a long time, so for a second imagine myself being your avatar, tipping his hat in your direction.


But theories is all we have, we cannot truly 'know' anything with 100% certainty, because doing so would invalidate the scientific method. The scientific method depends on being able to question your answers, and being 100% sure of something does not fit in that. Even mathematical proofs are only undeniable within a certain fixed set of axioms. Also we (read: science) can explain a lot of things we cannot measure, and have seldom been unable to explain things that we CAN measure.

If you want to get past the doubts of a theory you have to apply said theory to practice and see if it holds true. Same goes for religion. You deny yourself the knowledge if you are content with believe.



Next, why does the creation have to stay with the creator (or vice versa)? IF such a being exists and created the universe, why can't it just go someplace else? I don't see why it has to stick around.

Try to imagine infinity. How can at any point something exist outside of infinity. The creation would always be inside. As such it is not unlike a dream or hologram. Fun fact: the word buddha means "he woke up".



Buddhism may not rely on 'blind faith' as much as christianity or some other religions, but faith does play a part in it. For example, in a meditative state you say you find 'the truth'. Why is that the truth? Because Buddhism says you can find the truth by meditation. Someone who never heard of Buddhism and who meditates, might experience the exact same thing as a Buddhistic person experiences, but come to a different conclusion. They might simply call it a state of mind, or a dream, or anything. In that sense there is still a some blind faith attached even if happens subconsciously.


There is no faith in observing. Meditation is about raising awareness through observation. If you manage to let go of what you believe the truth is or what you are, and just observe, the truth will emerge on its own. You will see for yourself, you will feel for yourself. There will be no doubt.

SAI Peregrinus
November 15 2012, 04:10:55 AM
Try to imagine infinity. How can at any point something exist outside of infinity. The creation would always be inside. As such it is not unlike a dream or hologram. Fun fact: the word buddha means "he woke up".


Let's imagine infinity. It's fun. It also shows you haven't thought very deeply about infinity, but most people never do since it's a hard subject.
Let's begin with a simple infinity: the natural numbers. {0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, ...}. There are infinitely many of them. By your reasoning no number can exist outside of this infinity; we can always create a one to one mapping of other infinities onto the natural numbers. Let's try some!

How about the even numbers? Pretty easy: {0, 2, 4, 6, 8, 16, ...) -> {0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, ...}. Sure, the evens grow faster than the natural numbers, but the 1:1 mapping is the same size, There are exactly as many even numbers as there are even + odd numbers.

How about the integers (natural numbers and negative numbers)? That's not difficult either. {0, -1, 1, -2, 2, -3, 3, ...} -> {0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, ...}. There are exactly as many integers as there are natural numbers.

What about the reals (decimal numbers)? Turns out it's impossible. There are more reals than integers. The infinity of the real numbers is larger than the infinity of the integers, so things exist outside an infinity.
Proof:
Construct a list of infinite decimal numbers, eg:
1: 0.001215654...
2: 0.168798951...
3: 0.184646772...
4: 0.000000001...
5: 0.101010101...
6: 0.165499548...
etc
.
Now, add one to the first decimal place of the first number, wrapping around from 9 to 0 if needed. Do the same for the second place in the second number, the third place of the third, etc. EG:
1: 0.101215654...
2: 0.178798951...
3: 0.185646772...
4: 0.000100001...
5: 0.101020101...
6: 0.165490548...

From the new list, take the first digit of the first number, the second digit of the second number, etc, and form them into a new number. This number does not occur in the first list, even if that list is infinitely long and all entries are infinitely long. It is different from each and every number in the first list, and thus cannot be present in that list.
1: 0.001215654...
2: 0.168798951...
3: 0.184646772...
4: 0.000000001...
5: 0.101010101...
6: 0.165499548...
7: 0.175120...

You can repeat this as many times as you like, and you will NEVER be unable to add a new number that isn't on the list. There are more real numbers than there are integers. There are infinitely many real numbers between any two integers, indeed between any two real numbers. This sort of infinity is bigger than the infinity of the integers. In fact, there are infinitely many sorts of bigger and bigger infinities, each larger than the last. Thus, it's very, very easy to imagine things outside any given infinity.





Buddhism may not rely on 'blind faith' as much as christianity or some other religions, but faith does play a part in it. For example, in a meditative state you say you find 'the truth'. Why is that the truth? Because Buddhism says you can find the truth by meditation. Someone who never heard of Buddhism and who meditates, might experience the exact same thing as a Buddhistic person experiences, but come to a different conclusion. They might simply call it a state of mind, or a dream, or anything. In that sense there is still a some blind faith attached even if happens subconsciously.


There is no faith in observing. Meditation is about raising awareness through observation. If you manage to let go of what you believe the truth is or what you are, and just observe, the truth will emerge on its own. You will see for yourself, you will feel for yourself. There will be no doubt.

There is no faith in true things. Faith is wasted on reality. If I stop believing that my chair exists it will still be there for me to sit in. The world does not change based on what you believe. Faith matters for constructs of the mind. If I believe in enacting a pattern of thought that pattern will exist so long as I am enacting it. When I cease to have faith and thus stop enacting it the pattern ceases to exist. If I have faith in the Goddess she exists, if I stop she ceases to be. Gods, Goddesses, and other constructs of the imagination require faith to exist. They change based on what you believe. These things, the imaginary things, are what make up religions. They're often useful, or fun, or amusing, and just because they're not real doesn't mean you can't find truth in them, just that the truth will not always apply to the real world.

Science makes a model of the real world. Buddhism makes a model of the mental world. There are other models of the mental world, and even if they contradict Buddhism they can also be true. Whereas models that contradict the observations of the real world cannot be true. Faith is fun, since everything is true and false and meaningless and meaningful.

Mu.

Rami
November 15 2012, 11:22:58 AM
The problem with a finite creator is that the next logical question is how that creator came to be. You can run this chain as long as you like.

Yep, there lurks infinite regression, and is commonly used to show the error in the design viewpoint. So the only possible options are that either there is no creator, or said creator comes from a finite chain at the beginning of which is pure and simple evolution. There is no infinity in the physical world :3

Hatepeace Lovewar
January 3 2013, 04:14:07 PM
I'm on the same side of the fence as Existentialists when it comes to this sort of thing, albeit rather reluctantly. I'd love for there to be some sort of proof for dualisim as the concept of death and loss of conciousness is the most terrifying thought and one I basically just bury deep in me and it only really surfaces when some one I know dies. Was hoping for some thing really interesting here when the article mentioned 'proof', but I was sorely let down, to call that in any sort of way a scientifc study is an insult to the scientific method. Sorry OP, I appreciate this is SrsBuisness and don't in any way want to offend you with my opinion of this, but it's a bad article and wreaks of Pseudo science.

That being said the thread has sparked my interest in the subject once again, does any one have any interesting material on this, I'm specifically after a documentary or article whereby the approaches to answer the question of the source of consciousness is hard science? I'm at work currently, so can't really do any googling because most sites are blocked, I'll have a look myself when I get home though and post here if I find any thing.

SAI Peregrinus
January 3 2013, 08:09:43 PM
[QUOTE=Hatepeace Lovewar;670460I'd love for there to be some sort of proof for dualisim as the concept of death and loss of conciousness is the most terrifying thought and one I basically just bury deep in me and it only really surfaces when some one I know dies.[/QUOTE]

Interesting. I find the idea of eternal life to be one of the most terrifying thoughts. To me Hell would be running out of things to learn and do, being bored. Eternal life in a finite system will eventually result in an eternity of Hell.

Pacefalm
January 4 2013, 02:06:22 AM
I would argue that eternal Hell is better than nothingness

Diicc Tater
January 4 2013, 01:42:00 PM
Gervais posted a tweet some time ago.... "What the afterlife is like? Remember all the years before you were born...just like that"

I don't really care if there is something after this life since I'll find out in the end anyway.
Fear of death (as a concept) is fear of the inevitable.
(fear of painful and/or violent death I can understand)




The problem with a finite creator is that the next logical question is how that creator came to be. You can run this chain as long as you like.

Yep, there lurks infinite regression, and is commonly used to show the error in the design viewpoint. So the only possible options are that either there is no creator, or said creator comes from a finite chain at the beginning of which is pure and simple evolution. There is no infinity in the physical world :3

Turtles all the way down

Irrelephant
May 4 2013, 02:38:12 PM
Necrotime! Had to abandon forums as work left me with no time for walls of text last couple of months, and now that i finally got myself some holidays the manflu got me good. :<

Interesting tho to come back to this thread after such a long time, when i intially posted this i thought the description of the doctors experience coupled with that fact that he, by our medical science, should not be able to experience anything at all
could spark some interesting discussion. Some negreps and laughter were kinda expected :neverchange: and there are some very good posts later on, tho it all comes down to that experience can not be proven and as such the doctors experience is irrelevant. Not much room for debate there, but i just wanted to reply to some of the posts made after my abrupt departure.




Try to imagine infinity. How can at any point something exist outside of infinity. The creation would always be inside. As such it is not unlike a dream or hologram. Fun fact: the word buddha means "he woke up".

Let's imagine infinity. It's fun. It also shows you haven't thought very deeply about infinity, but most people never do since it's a hard subject.

<snipped maths>

Thus, it's very, very easy to imagine things outside any given infinity.


We are talking two different things here, given infinity and absolute infinity, or duality and oneness. I thought the context implied that.







Buddhism may not rely on 'blind faith' as much as christianity or some other religions, but faith does play a part in it. For example, in a meditative state you say you find 'the truth'. Why is that the truth? Because Buddhism says you can find the truth by meditation. Someone who never heard of Buddhism and who meditates, might experience the exact same thing as a Buddhistic person experiences, but come to a different conclusion. They might simply call it a state of mind, or a dream, or anything. In that sense there is still a some blind faith attached even if happens subconsciously.


There is no faith in observing. Meditation is about raising awareness through observation. If you manage to let go of what you believe the truth is or what you are, and just observe, the truth will emerge on its own. You will see for yourself, you will feel for yourself. There will be no doubt.

There is no faith in true things. Faith is wasted on reality. If I stop believing that my chair exists it will still be there for me to sit in. The world does not change based on what you believe. Faith matters for constructs of the mind. If I believe in enacting a pattern of thought that pattern will exist so long as I am enacting it. When I cease to have faith and thus stop enacting it the pattern ceases to exist. If I have faith in the Goddess she exists, if I stop she ceases to be. Gods, Goddesses, and other constructs of the imagination require faith to exist. They change based on what you believe. These things, the imaginary things, are what make up religions. They're often useful, or fun, or amusing, and just because they're not real doesn't mean you can't find truth in them, just that the truth will not always apply to the real world.

Science makes a model of the real world. Buddhism makes a model of the mental world. There are other models of the mental world, and even if they contradict Buddhism they can also be true. Whereas models that contradict the observations of the real world cannot be true. Faith is fun, since everything is true and false and meaningless and meaningful.
Mu.

That is such a mix of right and wrong. :p I would agree that faith is believe in a model. Buddhism gives you indeed a model of the metaphysical and techniques to apply it. If all you do is believe that this is true it may give you comfort but in the end you will be none the wiser. As in science you need to apply the model to 'reality' and see if it holds true. Only then can faith turn into knowing. As i pointed out earlier in this thread, the believe that only what is measurable by external means is real is being faithful just as every other religious people on the other side of the spectrum. At this point in our evolution we cannot exist without some form of faith. The scientific mind should regard everything not disproven as a possibility, everything else is blind faith imo.



The problem with a finite creator is that the next logical question is how that creator came to be. You can run this chain as long as you like.

Yep, there lurks infinite regression, and is commonly used to show the error in the design viewpoint. So the only possible options are that either there is no creator, or said creator comes from a finite chain at the beginning of which is pure and simple evolution. There is no infinity in the physical world :3

The third possibility would be an infinite creator who always was there and will always be there. That infinite intelligence religion calls god simply created the laws for a self balancing system in which to experience an infinite amount of possibilities. Man is god fallen, fallen by choice. Doesn't it make you wonder when a brilliant scientific mind like Einstein says that where there is law there is a law giver? Or in other words, there is a god.

Interesting article on what nothing is, or if nothing is even possible: http://science.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/03/24/17441356-what-is-nothing-physicists-debate?lite
A finite universe would require some form of nothing to be in, im not even sure how that would work out. A universe floating in nothing? By what laws?



That being said the thread has sparked my interest in the subject once again, does any one have any interesting material on this, I'm specifically after a documentary or article whereby the approaches to answer the question of the source of consciousness is hard science? I'm at work currently, so can't really do any googling because most sites are blocked, I'll have a look myself when I get home though and post here if I find any thing.

I can't imagine there will be ever scientific proove on that. I can only suggest to read up on all kinds from all sources on this type of subject. Then pick a poison and start applying it. Observe. Conclude. Each of us has to walk the walk to find out as the truth on this matter can only be experienced.

Some food (of the more unusual kind) for thought:

http://scribd.com/collections/2873582/Walter-Russell - Tesla allegedly said to this guy to lock up his books for a thousand years until mankind is ready for them
http://www.lawofone.info/results.php?s=13 - yes, channeled communication by some higher intelligence, quite interesting models laid out tho
http://incunabula.org/greyloge-occult-review-archives/ - ignore the alien soap opera stuff and go for the old texts, some gems and leads to be found there amongst the mud

For actual practise i have found nothing better then meditation, it is the slowest method of them all but also the most reliable and riskfree one. Our main problem in understanding our selfs is a lack of awareness, training is necessary.



I'd love for there to be some sort of proof for dualisim as the concept of death and loss of conciousness is the most terrifying thought and one I basically just bury deep in me and it only really surfaces when some one I know dies.

Interesting. I find the idea of eternal life to be one of the most terrifying thoughts. To me Hell would be running out of things to learn and do, being bored. Eternal life in a finite system will eventually result in an eternity of Hell.

Not if eternal life is veiling itself in finite matter for a limited amount of time, starting with a near blank each time to keep the experience fresh. ;)



I don't really care if there is something after this life since I'll find out in the end anyway.
Fear of death (as a concept) is fear of the inevitable.
(fear of painful and/or violent death I can understand)


Fear of death is fear of nonexistence and to our minds existence is all you truly have in this world. It is a very core fear in all of us. But i agree that one should not be overly concerned with such questions, the moment is all that matters.

Sponk
May 4 2013, 02:54:17 PM
An alternate take: a beginner's guide to immortality (http://www.ribbonfarm.com/2013/04/10/a-beginners-guide-to-immortality/)

Pacefalm
May 4 2013, 07:15:39 PM
We are talking two different things here, given infinity and absolute infinity, or duality and oneness. I thought the context implied that.
Well, the word "infinity" has a specific scientifically accepted meaning. I would not assume that by context alone people are able to determine what you mean by "infinity". If you want another example that should more closely resemble your original post, imagine a wall of infinite length. While the wall is infinitely big, it is possible to be on either side of the wall. Hence the fact that the wall is infinite does not imply that the wall is everywhere nor that there could be nothing outside of the wall.
The same goes for creation as well. It is not very hard to imagine things that exist outside of an infinity.


That is such a mix of right and wrong. :p I would agree that faith is believe in a model. Buddhism gives you indeed a model of the metaphysical and techniques to apply it. If all you do is believe that this is true it may give you comfort but in the end you will be none the wiser. As in science you need to apply the model to 'reality' and see if it holds true. Only then can faith turn into knowing. As i pointed out earlier in this thread, the believe that only what is measurable by external means is real is being faithful just as every other religious people on the other side of the spectrum. At this point in our evolution we cannot exist without some form of faith. The scientific mind should regard everything not disproven as a possibility, everything else is blind faith imo.
You contradict yourself here. You say that if your model of reality holds true, you can turn faith into knowing (read: logical positivism). But then you claim the scientific mind should regard everything not disproven as a possibility (read: Popper). If you believe the second statement to be true, then you can never _really_ know anything, as opposed to the first statement.

I think we as a species can easily exist without any faith at all. Especially in science there is no need for any belief or faith if you follow an instrumentalistic world view (incidentally, I do :p).

The third possibility would be an infinite creator who always was there and will always be there. That infinite intelligence religion calls god simply created the laws for a self balancing system in which to experience an infinite amount of possibilities. Man is god fallen, fallen by choice. Doesn't it make you wonder when a brilliant scientific mind like Einstein says that where there is law there is a law giver? Or in other words, there is a god.
That is a possibility, but the question becomes: "Why would you even call that a God at all?". A universe with physical laws could just as well exist without a being of infinite intelligence (incidentally, how would you determine if something had infinite intelligence?). If the creator did nothing but set the laws of the universe and let the rest unwind on its own, how would you distinguish this universe from an identical one where the laws of physics just came into being during the Big Bang? In this situation, would not Occam's Razor tell us that the second scenario is the preferred one?
Also, just because someone has a brilliant mind does not make everything they say the truth. For instance: a lot of brilliant people have disagreed over a lot of things (this being no exception).


http://scribd.com/collections/2873582/Walter-Russell - Tesla allegedly said to this guy to lock up his books for a thousand years until mankind is ready for them
Tesla was a showman first and an inventor second. There is a reason people invent conspiracy theories about him. A brilliant mind, but people very often give him way too much credit (unfortunately so, I think his actual achievements stand well enough on their own without needing fiction to be added). Also, again the same argument holds as with Einstein.


Fear of death is fear of nonexistence and to our minds existence is all you truly have in this world. It is a very core fear in all of us. But i agree that one should not be overly concerned with such questions, the moment is all that matters.
I totally agree :)

For further reading I recommend http://huijiaibphilosophy.wikispaces.com/file/view/Godfrey-Smith+%27Theory+and+Reality+-+An+Introduction+to+the+Philosophy+of+Science%27.p df
It is a good book and should provide some other points of view on reality, objective truth, etc.

walrus
May 4 2013, 08:33:15 PM
The third possibility would be an infinite creator who always was there and will always be there. That infinite intelligence religion calls god simply created the laws for a self balancing system in which to experience an infinite amount of possibilities. Man is god fallen, fallen by choice. Doesn't it make you wonder when a brilliant scientific mind like Einstein says that where there is law there is a law giver? Or in other words, there is a god.
That is a possibility, but the question becomes: "Why would you even call that a God at all?". A universe with physical laws could just as well exist without a being of infinite intelligence (incidentally, how would you determine if something had infinite intelligence?). If the creator did nothing but set the laws of the universe and let the rest unwind on its own, how would you distinguish this universe from an identical one where the laws of physics just came into being during the Big Bang? In this situation, would not Occam's Razor tell us that the second scenario is the preferred one?

My problem with a creator is simply: who created the creator (repeat ad infinitum).

Tarminic
May 6 2013, 06:07:24 PM
The problem I have with the conflict between religion and science is that they, by definition, have exclusive fields of inquiry.

Science attempts to explain the natural world - what we can observe, quantify, and measure.

Religion attempts to explain the super-natural. By definition, science has no opinion on it, because by its nature it can't be observed or quantified.

The conflict arises when, due to the advancement of technology or understanding, what was previously supernatural becomes natural, and that previously-supernatural explanation is part of religious doctrine.

Irrelephant
May 7 2013, 01:22:30 AM
Hence the fact that the wall is infinite does not imply that the wall is everywhere nor that there could be nothing outside of the wall.
The same goes for creation as well. It is not very hard to imagine things that exist outside of an infinity.


It is the same given or defined infinity as the math example, and while it is indeed very easy to imagine things outside of that, it is impossible to do so for absolute infinity. There is no wall, no numbers. Only oneness. Infinity. For many this seems terrifying as it invalidates duality and our minds are of a dual nature. Me and all the rest. Oneness is a great paradox to our minds as everything is nothing and nothing is everything. Duality is oneness divided infinitly, duality can not exist without oneness and the creation of something out of nothing defies our scientific models of this world. As linked in my last post we are not even sure if nothing exists. Going by Occam's that makes the infinite creator model the more plausible one to me.

When religion speaks of this infinity it says god, or 'our father'. We are humans, we like naming shit. :p By letting go of the concept of duality one can gradually experience this oneness as everyone and everthing is part of this oneness. Everything is interconnected. It can not fully be expressed in words which is why religion fails so often so hard. One has to experience it for himself. I found the description of that black void in the doctors description very interesting.



You contradict yourself here. You say that if your model of reality holds true, you can turn faith into knowing (read: logical positivism). But then you claim the scientific mind should regard everything not disproven as a possibility (read: Popper). If you believe the second statement to be true, then you can never _really_ know anything, as opposed to the first statement.

I think we as a species can easily exist without any faith at all. Especially in science there is no need for any belief or faith if you follow an instrumentalistic world view (incidentally, I do :p).


As an example, we flew with incomplete calculations based on Newton to the moon. It did the job, but once the scale got bigger and smaller on both ends of our scientifc models these calculations did not work anymore. So yes, i would say before the absolute truth is known there will always be some sort of faith involved and even needed. We know and we do not know has always been the mindset that enables progress. We do not know of the nature of what we percieve as our self. Are we a random electric current produced by bionic machines that by random chance evolved out of nothing? Or is there some truth behind stories of certain people that say to have experienced otherwise? Whichever side one chooses, if he declares that the absolute truth without disprooving the other side he is following his faith blindly. Blind faith hurts progress as one denies himself opportunities for learning.



That is a possibility, but the question becomes: "Why would you even call that a God at all?". A universe with physical laws could just as well exist without a being of infinite intelligence (incidentally, how would you determine if something had infinite intelligence?). If the creator did nothing but set the laws of the universe and let the rest unwind on its own, how would you distinguish this universe from an identical one where the laws of physics just came into being during the Big Bang? In this situation, would not Occam's Razor tell us that the second scenario is the preferred one?


Because you end up in infinite regression of 'what was before that?', unless you say the universe popped out of nothing at some point. The infinite creator model solves that problem and does not deny science.



Also, just because someone has a brilliant mind does not make everything they say the truth. For instance: a lot of brilliant people have disagreed over a lot of things (this being no exception).


That is a given, being human and all. :) Still those brilliant minds spend more time thinking about those questions then most of us. Worthy of digesting and pondering imo.


The problem I have with the conflict between religion and science is that they, by definition, have exclusive fields of inquiry.

Science attempts to explain the natural world - what we can observe, quantify, and measure.

Religion attempts to explain the super-natural. By definition, science has no opinion on it, because by its nature it can't be observed or quantified.

The conflict arises when, due to the advancement of technology or understanding, what was previously supernatural becomes natural, and that previously-supernatural explanation is part of religious doctrine.

Historically correct, but it does not need to be that way. At it's true core religion is the science of the self or the source. All the other crap surrounding it is like the bad scientists who fake reports for cash or position. Unfortunatly religion is a much better playground for crooks as proof can not be given. Only models along with methods to experience that model. In many of the old religions that knowledge is wrapped in allegories which makes it even easier for misinterpretation and abuse. While that seems like a bad idea it also has it's benefits as the meaning of those allegories changes as the perception of the reader does.

Pacefalm
May 7 2013, 09:01:25 PM
Hence the fact that the wall is infinite does not imply that the wall is everywhere nor that there could be nothing outside of the wall.
The same goes for creation as well. It is not very hard to imagine things that exist outside of an infinity.


It is the same given or defined infinity as the math example, and while it is indeed very easy to imagine things outside of that, it is impossible to do so for absolute infinity. There is no wall, no numbers. Only oneness. Infinity. For many this seems terrifying as it invalidates duality and our minds are of a dual nature. Me and all the rest. Oneness is a great paradox to our minds as everything is nothing and nothing is everything. Duality is oneness divided infinitly, duality can not exist without oneness and the creation of something out of nothing defies our scientific models of this world. As linked in my last post we are not even sure if nothing exists. Going by Occam's that makes the infinite creator model the more plausible one to me.

When religion speaks of this infinity it says god, or 'our father'. We are humans, we like naming shit. :p By letting go of the concept of duality one can gradually experience this oneness as everyone and everthing is part of this oneness. Everything is interconnected. It can not fully be expressed in words which is why religion fails so often so hard. One has to experience it for himself. I found the description of that black void in the doctors description very interesting.
I must admit that indeed I do not understand what you mean. By duality, do you mean perhaps Descartes duality of the mind? It is something I do not think to be valid.




You contradict yourself here. You say that if your model of reality holds true, you can turn faith into knowing (read: logical positivism). But then you claim the scientific mind should regard everything not disproven as a possibility (read: Popper). If you believe the second statement to be true, then you can never _really_ know anything, as opposed to the first statement.

I think we as a species can easily exist without any faith at all. Especially in science there is no need for any belief or faith if you follow an instrumentalistic world view (incidentally, I do :p).


As an example, we flew with incomplete calculations based on Newton to the moon. It did the job, but once the scale got bigger and smaller on both ends of our scientifc models these calculations did not work anymore. So yes, i would say before the absolute truth is known there will always be some sort of faith involved and even needed. We know and we do not know has always been the mindset that enables progress. We do not know of the nature of what we percieve as our self. Are we a random electric current produced by bionic machines that by random chance evolved out of nothing? Or is there some truth behind stories of certain people that say to have experienced otherwise? Whichever side one chooses, if he declares that the absolute truth without disprooving the other side he is following his faith blindly. Blind faith hurts progress as one denies himself opportunities for learning.
You can still be without faith. The trick is never to claim to have absolute truth. There are basically 2 things that I base my philosophy on:
1: absolute truth is impossible but also unnecessary to have. Just follow the hypotheses that have proven to be useful, without claiming that it is objective truth.
2: Occam's Razor. If more that one explanation is available, assume the one that requires the least assumptions to be the correct one.
Hence it is logical to follow Newton's laws (which have proven useful) for most situations. Are they 'correct'? No. But for daily household situations it does not matter that time dilates or energy is quantized. Then we go further, we can follow relativity or quantum mechanics in situations where they are applicable. Are they 'correct'? Are quantum mechanics/general relativity complete and consistent and are they the absolute truth? Again, it does not matter! So long as it correctly predicts the outcome of a situation, it is useful to have around. And so it is with everything.
This way you do not need any faith at all. I don't have to 'believe' in quantum mechanics, relativity, imaginary numbers or whatever. I use them simply because they have proven useful in the past. At the same time, Occam's Razor prevents me from falling into superstitions. For example, if I walk under a ladder and see a black cat then get into a horrible accident, based on the first rule alone this experience might teach me to avoid doing those things in the future. However, this requires the assumption that walking under the ladder and seeing the cat somehow related to the accident. Another explanation would be that it was pure chance, and that explanation requires no other assumptions.

Based on this, I do not think that it is rational to believe in a creator or god. One explanation is that the Universe operates by a given set of rules and laws which are specific to the Universe we live in. Another explanation is that the Universe operates by a given set of rules and laws, and there is an infinitely powerful being that we cannot see or measure, but it is everywhere, and if we meditate or pray really hard the neurons in our brains (but not animals' brains) can somehow connect to it, and it created these laws and makes sure those laws are upheld. I think that the first scenario requires fewer assumptions.

As a pet peeve of mine: evolution is not "random chance" at all! Not trying to go off on a tangent, but I had to mention it.




That is a possibility, but the question becomes: "Why would you even call that a God at all?". A universe with physical laws could just as well exist without a being of infinite intelligence (incidentally, how would you determine if something had infinite intelligence?). If the creator did nothing but set the laws of the universe and let the rest unwind on its own, how would you distinguish this universe from an identical one where the laws of physics just came into being during the Big Bang? In this situation, would not Occam's Razor tell us that the second scenario is the preferred one?


Because you end up in infinite regression of 'what was before that?', unless you say the universe popped out of nothing at some point. The infinite creator model solves that problem and does not deny science
But do you not see that the infinite creator model does not solve the infinite regression problem at all? To the contrary, it is one of the best known examples of a case where infinite regression is a problem! "Who created the infinite creator?" is just as valid a question as "What existed before the Big Bang?". Science admits it has no answer for now, but religion says "it just happened this way and do not question it".

SAI Peregrinus
May 7 2013, 10:16:23 PM
I think faith is useful. It's silly to have faith in things that are likely true, but if believing things that you can't prove or disprove and that Occam's Razor would indicate you shouldn't believe in can give you comfort without causing harm then I think it's good to have faith.

I have faith that I should not eat hot dog buns, for such was the solace of the Goddess when confronted with the Original Snub. I have faith that the Goddess has commanded us to go out and partake joyously of a hot dog in a bun on Fridays. It's fun, it comforts me, and the only real harm is a slightly higher fat content in my diet.

I know that the Commandments are contradictory. They can't all be real, they're nearly certainly all false, and it doesn't matter, because they still work as a source of amusement. Since there is no real consequence either way of believing in a creator deity and not believing, I chose not to believe. It's simpler not to, and not particularly fun to do so.

Irrelephant
May 9 2013, 03:42:57 AM
I must admit that indeed I do not understand what you mean. By duality, do you mean perhaps Descartes duality of the mind? It is something I do not think to be valid.


Duality is all things that are divided. Atoms and consciousness, good and evil, beginning and end, or that infinite wall, if you can name it it is duality. Without duality there is only absolute infinity. You may call that nothing, oneness, the almighty father, concepts are a lost cause to grasp absolute infinity. That oneness is the source of all duality.



You can still be without faith. The trick is never to claim to have absolute truth.


That's not a trick but the very acknowledgement of faith, the things you don't know are filled by your mind with believe or faith. In your case you believe that science can give all the answers and because of that religion is a waste of time. I believe that external and internal science are equally important.



There are basically 2 things that I base my philosophy on:
1: absolute truth is impossible but also unnecessary to have. Just follow the hypotheses that have proven to be useful, without claiming that it is objective truth.
2: Occam's Razor. If more that one explanation is available, assume the one that requires the least assumptions to be the correct one.


Nothing i would disagree with.



Based on this, I do not think that it is rational to believe in a creator or god. One explanation is that the Universe operates by a given set of rules and laws which are specific to the Universe we live in. Another explanation is that the Universe operates by a given set of rules and laws, and there is an infinitely powerful being that we cannot see or measure, but it is everywhere, and if we meditate or pray really hard the neurons in our brains (but not animals' brains) can somehow connect to it, and it created these laws and makes sure those laws are upheld. I think that the first scenario requires fewer assumptions.


The first explanation you give is really more of an observation than anything else. The universe is there but why and from what source? And the second explanation a very distorted one. Evolution of physical bodies and consciousness goes hand in hand. I believe consciousness has many physical bodies over the course of it's evolution. How much would you weight your own experience over external sciene if you had an event of some sort like the doctor in the op? Or if you actually tried meditation and found it to be working as described? Would that change your faith even tho science can only say, don't know, prolly random brain malfunction?



But do you not see that the infinite creator model does not solve the infinite regression problem at all? To the contrary, it is one of the best known examples of a case where infinite regression is a problem! "Who created the infinite creator?" is just as valid a question as "What existed before the Big Bang?". Science admits it has no answer for now, but religion says "it just happened this way and do not question it".

We are still talking two different kinds of infinite. Oneness or absolute infinity is the infinite creator. As such the infinite regression problem is solved. Time or beginning and end did not exist before duality happened. True religion says, that's how it is and this is how you can get there. That motivation is the source of any good religion. It is easy to dismiss in general based on crap like scientology, the history of christianity and it's current state, or any other cult which prime motive is to collect money for the prophet. But that does not invalidate the truth that has been offered by the few. It's like with music, you have to wade through alot of crap to find the few pearls. And sometimes what you thought was crap turns out to be really good years later. Like you weren't ready for that album yet.


I think faith is useful. It's silly to have faith in things that are likely true, but if believing things that you can't prove or disprove and that Occam's Razor would indicate you shouldn't believe in can give you comfort without causing harm then I think it's good to have faith.

I have faith that I should not eat hot dog buns, for such was the solace of the Goddess when confronted with the Original Snub. I have faith that the Goddess has commanded us to go out and partake joyously of a hot dog in a bun on Fridays. It's fun, it comforts me, and the only real harm is a slightly higher fat content in my diet.

I know that the Commandments are contradictory. They can't all be real, they're nearly certainly all false, and it doesn't matter, because they still work as a source of amusement. Since there is no real consequence either way of believing in a creator deity and not believing, I chose not to believe. It's simpler not to, and not particularly fun to do so.

That other day someone told me that everyone is god. Interesting, where is your proof? I asked. I have none, but you can experience it for yourself with a little practice he said. Yeah right, proof or gtfo. What a fool.

I suck at this but i hope you get the point.