Politics, God and Religion vs. Science


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Social climber
joshua tree
May 31, 2013 - 11:07pm PT
Ed, I think we are actually on to something now..

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
May 31, 2013 - 11:19pm PT
I think I know what you're talking about Ed as I've experienced something similar to both. In my most recent cases I have been working on complicated abstract puzzles involving Sherpa kinship, linguistics, and DNA. In all three cases when considered separately or apart, I was thinking of them in terms of symbols, colors, and spatial distributions which may be the key.

I run through all the issues with the discursive mind, and then just let my mind "float", often doing a simple rhythmic household chore, or better yet, walking the dogs, trying not to think of anything in particular (a mantra helps me in this situation). Eventually the answer or at least a new conception leaps out at me. Obviously the unconscious mind was hard at work, though I was not aware of it. Perhaps as jstan suggested earlier, not thinking about it, opened up alternative channels or levels for processing, brain paths not usually taken, at least in waking consciousness.

In my case the answer first comes in colors, symbols, maps, overlapping charts like the old color transparencies from anatomy books. Later I try to translate it into words that someone else can understand.
Ward Trotter

Trad climber
May 31, 2013 - 11:38pm PT
The important questions regarding these extraordinary mental states remain the same whether they are the qualia of subjective experience or the process of intuitive leaps in abstract concentration.
Are these states mythological descriptions of neural processes? Is consciousness itself a sort of epiphenomenon of biological neuro-processing?
Or do they stand outside of biological functioning?

With Largo's descriptions of experiential subjectivity these descriptions do not contain or convey objective validity.The state he refers to cannot be really described per se, but only framed by what it isn't, namely, symbolic discursive cognition .We must trust him that they even exist at all, or go through the algorithmic procedure to attain the states which he describes, without any real assurance we have not simply been hallucinating emptiness , or merely experiencing a low-cycle brain wave state.


Hebrews 1:3
Jun 1, 2013 - 06:44am PT
I just read this and is how I see Jesus...

God has never made a person he didn't love. Everybody matters to him.
When Jesus stretched his arms out wide on the cross, he was saying, "I love you this much!"
The Bible says, "For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all." (2 Cor 5:14)
 Rick Warren

...WOW, I don't why God chose to reveal Himself the way He did in the bible, give us the freewill to choose Him or not, and that He had to send His Son Jesus and die on the cross to Show His love for us? But I know He Loves us for sure!
Dr. F.

Big Wall climber
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 1, 2013 - 06:59am PT
I think Largo is doing something similar as far as leaving the known world. It may just be that he doesn't get anywhere and isn't interested in getting anywhere in the process.

Largo is not leaving his brain nor the known world, it happens in his brain, nothing leaves or enters his brain other than normal senses, he is not connecting to something beyond his brain, it's just unexplainable in words, nothing more.

If he was connecting to something beyond, he could answer questions about what he is connected to.

It really doesn't further anything of importance, he has admitted that it will not aid in achieving anything beyond what a normal person can achieve.

He won't say it's enlightenment, it won't end suffering or stop the karmic cycle,
It could be called experimenting with his brain, like young people do with drugs

I take back the sponge analogy, maybe more like a python waiting for weeks in a state of suspended animation for a deer to walk by. Then he wakes back up. kidding..

The Utility Muffin Research Kitchen
Jun 1, 2013 - 07:11am PT

Hebrews 1:3
Jun 1, 2013 - 08:02am PT

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Jun 1, 2013 - 10:30am PT
Ed, I'm not being discursive, but simply am pointing out what has always been assumed about meditation, and that is you can "arrive" at the same non-place through a cognitive or thinking (however vague) exercise, and that "place" will be the same. Not in my ewxperience.

I don't see this as "my state is beter than yours" in any way. Note how people are scrambling aroiund trying to freame what I'm saying in familiar or known terms. That's what the discursive mind does - contrasrts and compares to what is in the file cabinet. But what I'm talking about is not there. And it's not anti-matter.



Jun 1, 2013 - 12:15pm PT
That's what the discursive mind does - contrasrts and compares to what is in the file cabinet. But what I'm talking about is not there.

How do you know that what you are talking about is not in the discursive mind of another individual? Your discursive mind may be different from someone else's.

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Jun 1, 2013 - 12:42pm PT
Ed, the only thing I have repeatedly said to you and others, in so many words, is simple a reitration of, "You can't think your way to heaven."

From where I'm sitting, virtually everyone on this thread simply does not believe this is so. When peole continually come back at me qustioning this basic premis, that dislcursive reasoning is a dead end per certain aspects of consciousness work, my answer is not going to suddenly change to - well, yes. In this instance, you really CAN merely think your way there. I'm not saying that you "don't get this," I'm simply saying that you don't believe it in your heart of hearts.

Lastly, what I have been driving at here is not in the discursive mind because it is not content, not a thought or juju or whatever.

At this point, having repeated these basic ideas for gonig on two years, I'm pretty convinced that people understand the basic concepts, but for the lack of direct experiencs that would counter their discursive reasoning, they don't believe any of it is so, and so are not motivated to find out for themselves. Trying to finagle people to make that effort is feeling like trying to talk people into wall climbing. If the spark ain't there, you can't impose it. But i did think that in some cases somebody would be interested enough to have gone out there and done some little work, and reported back. But in two years, we've seen no movement in that direction. And that amazes me given that this is a thread full of adventurers.


Jun 1, 2013 - 02:58pm PT
The best part of math research is the speculative part, the "what if" part from which exploratory efforts can be formulated. Since retirement in 2000 I've played with mathematical concepts in lieu of carving wooden ducks, and Here is an example: open the second note on Zeno Integrals and read about halfway down "Now, imagine a function . . ." , which opens a path of exploration. Trivial stuff but great fun.

Any kind of intense concentration can produce this selfless state and it's a kind of everyman's contact with something greater than himself (his "I")

the only thing I have repeatedly said to you and others, in so many words, is simple a reitration of, "You can't think your way to heaven."

This still appears to suggest that the "emptyness state" (ES) is superior to other states of consciousness. I disagree.

But in two years, we've seen no movement in that direction. And that amazes me given that this is a thread full of adventurers

OK, JL is talking about the ES I suppose. There are many other unusual states of consciousness that I contend are of "equal value" if that makes any sense. One is the state arising in math or physics research, in which the hours fly by and great satisfaction or great frustration may occur. Another is the "flow" climbers enjoy in the right circumstances. And another is one I've mentioned before and asked John for his opinions: the separation of "I-consciousness" from the physical body (or the sensation thereof).

When I had this experience a number of times years ago I felt the most amazing freedom, as if I were pure will untethered to the constraints of the physical world but nevertheless in it in some way. I viewed my sleeping body as I would view any other bit of common matter. It seemed dead, but I knew it wasn't. This would seem to be the polar opposite of John's experience of the "I" melting away leaving one in some sort of exquisite vacuum. I contend my experience was just as profound as John's. And neither really brought us closer to any kind of fundamental reality.

And I realize that in esoteric meditation practices my experience was an illusion common at some point, to be overcome if "progress" was to be made. Again, I disagree. The stage I experienced was just as "valid" as a more "advanced" stage. Merely different. Neither IMHO is anything more than mental phenomena.


Somewhere out there
Jun 1, 2013 - 03:00pm PT
For us to resurrect the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and to plead His blood is the most powerful power in the universe. And it should not be discussed lightly.

 Blueblocker - Let's not fool ourselves into thinking that we are in anyway more than just mere human beings. And…. Let us not forget that we are posting this shite on a climbing website forum… That, to me, is as "lightly" as it gets.

Nice word play, though. If only this statement could have any real meaning behind it. Things like "to resurrect the resurrection" and "most powerful power in the universe" are most meaningless of meanings.


You speak in such heavy symbolism with a vast pallet of metaphor…

Problem is… it goes nowhere without a human being involved. In other words a human isolated in a box does not know this vast and unequaled "super-knowledge" that you got that none of the rest of us have (even with all the knowledge being readily available to all who seek to know the knowledge).

Jibber-jabber speaks to me just the same as any true believer and the believers always fail to say anything meaningful to anyone other than themselves…..

Just like me…. Just like any other human being.
Ward Trotter

Trad climber
Jun 1, 2013 - 03:33pm PT
Sometimes when I write poetry I enter this state in which I can almost hear a voice urging me to suspend all resistance to the flow of words. When this happens, if only rarely, the words suddenly are already there. The words, and sometimes entire lines ,are effortlessly automatic. I hurry to get them out lest the magic is interrupted and I am back to ordinary sifting and garden-variety calculation.
This happened to me on this very site while penning this poem not long ago:

The Mountains of My Dreams

The highland Santa Lucia
breaches the bench of earth and sky
with ancient crests framed in
scrub outlines
and open slopes.

It was from that world above
atop the grand and open vistas
where once dreams were fetched
from dark profiles
and deep slumbers

I must have dreamt the unmoving
mist as it gathered near
an unnamed summit
drawing to itself the lighter fragments
of motion and light

It was a mist concealing
a spirit once speaking not in words
but in unfathomable contours ,giving way
to even deeper contours downslope
beyond the oaken ridge.

Was it the language of my
childhood mind as I sought to
wrangle a meaning from this alien
landscape ,so as to make it
my own?

If so, where did I sleep?
how did I enter that magical terrain
how did I know its depth
like I know the
flat of my open hand?

These are the mountains of my dreams
rising in one solitary tone
in consort with a thousand unheard voices
voices that out - sing
even the sea.

Credit: Ward Trotter

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Jun 1, 2013 - 04:19pm PT

This still appears to suggest that the "emptyness state" (ES) is superior to other states of consciousness. I disagree.

I never said that for the simple reason that emptiness is the fundamental nature of the mind. States have to do with the perspective or content or point of view. Emptiness is only a state when the discursive mind tries to frame it by virtue of what it is processing or how it is processing.

I have actually only made two declarative assertions.

A: There are realms for which you can NEVER arrive by way of discursive reasoning or processing or thinking.

B: Most people don't believe this atg all, though this disbelief is, strangely, never based on direcdt experience with non-discursive realms, but is in fact more speculation based on discursive reasoning or experiences in cognitive adventures. Here lies the closed loop nobody wants to break.

I would just point out that this is not "you" saying so. The discursive mind simply does not believe that there is anything out of its reach or purview. Nothing. So naturally you'll think what the discursive mind tells yo to say: That what I am talking about is "known" by all, experientially, but though a cognitive process.

I understand this, loudly and clearly, that you believe this is entirely the case.


Jun 1, 2013 - 05:43pm PT
There are realms for which you can NEVER arrive by way of discursive reasoning or processing or thinking.

How do you know? How much do you know about discursive reasoning/processing/thinking in minds other than your own?

Jun 1, 2013 - 06:10pm PT
There are realms for which you can NEVER arrive by way of discursive reasoning or processing or thinking

OK. Assume I accept that. But I don't see why that makes it attractive to seek those realms. Of psychiatric value perhaps? What makes those realms significant? Do they show us our "true" nature? I hope not, for that leaves us completely helpless and vulnerable in the physical world.

Is it possible this ES was discovered ages ago and revered as an escape from a cruel social and physical environment?

Just curious.

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Jun 1, 2013 - 08:01pm PT
I'll try and reply to these questions tomorrow when I have more energy but for the moment, simply note that here we have a totaly eruption of the rationalist stance which once and for all is challenging the notion that there is any limitation to discusive reasoning.

A pasting idea: Ed talks about empiricism but what he means is the John Locke article. Some time back, this meant that knowing "comes only or primarily from sensory experience." Modern empiricism emphasizes evidence (or content) as discovered in experiments. That is, all hypotheses must be tested against observations of the material world. Put differently, empiricism in this light is a discursive process to discover things about things, and when the topic of the mind is brought up, quite naturally the reflex is to posoit the mind as a thing and to have the discursive mind have at it.

The problem with this is that while this is the only way to wrangle physical reality, it never lets you exit the discursive loop, and so we're left in a kind of trance state believing that the dimension or nature of mind is calibrated after a fashion on content and rationality, with a few interesting other things tossed in like awareness and choice and self direction.

And so the first order of business is to get some detachment from the rational mind so you can watch it and see what's up. If you never manage this, you will swear up and down that discursive mental processes are the ne plus ultra of the whole shooting match.

Not so.

More later.



Trad climber
Santa Cruz Mountains and Monterey Bay
Jun 1, 2013 - 10:52pm PT

The "Dark Flow" & the Existence of Other Universes --New Claims of Hard Evidence

Is our universe merely one of billions? Evidence of the existence of 'multiverse' revealed for the first time by a cosmic map of background radiation data gathered by Planck telescope. This past week, the first 'hard evidence' that other universes exist has been claimed to have been found by cosmologists studying the Planck data. They have concluded that it shows anomalies that can only have been caused by the gravitational pull of other universes.
"Such ideas may sound wacky now, just like the Big Bang theory did three generations ago," says George Efstathiou, professor of astrophysics at Cambridge University."But then we got evidence and now it has changed the whole way we think about the universe."

Scientists had predicted that it should be evenly distributed, but the map shows a stronger concentration in the south half of the sky and a 'cold spot' that cannot be explained by current understanding of physics. Laura Mersini-Houghton, theoretical physicist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Richard Holman, professor at Carnegie Mellon University, predicted that anomalies in radiation existed and were caused by the pull from other universes in 2005. Mersini-Houghton will be in Britain soon promoting this theory and, we expect, the hard evidence at the Hay Festival on May 31 and at Oxford on June 11.

Dr Mersini-Houghton believes her hypothesis has been proven from the Planck data that data has been used to create a map of light from when the universe was just 380,000 years old. "These anomalies were caused by other universes pulling on our universe as it formed during the Big Bang," she says. "They are the first hard evidence for the existence of other universes that we have seen."

Columbia University mathematician Peter Woit writes in his blog, "Not Even Wrong," that in recent years there have been many claims made for “evidence” of a multiverse, supposedly found in the CMB data. "Such claims often came with the remark that the Planck CMB data would convincingly decide the matter. When the Planck data was released two months ago, I looked through the press coverage and through the Planck papers for any sign of news about what the new data said about these multiverse evidence claims. There was very little there; possibly the Planck scientists found these claims to be so outlandish that it wasn’t worth the time to look into what the new data had to say about them.

"One exception," Woit adds, "was this paper, where Planck looked for evidence of 'dark flow'. They found nothing, and a New Scientist article summarized the situation: 'The Planck team’s paper appears to rule out the claims of Kashlinsky and collaborators,' says David Spergel of Princeton University, who was not involved in the work. If there is no dark flow, there is no need for exotic explanations for it, such as other universes, says Planck team member Elena Pierpaoli at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. “You don’t have to think of alternatives.'"

"Dark Flow" sounds like a new SciFi Channel series. It's not! The dark flow is controversial because the distribution of matter in the observed universe cannot account for it. Its existence suggests that some structure beyond the visible universe -- outside our "horizon" -- is pulling on matter in our vicinity.

Back in the Middle Ages, maps showed terrifying images of sea dragons at the boundaries of the known world. Today, scientists have observed strange new motion at the very limits of the known universe - kind of where you'd expect to find new things, but they still didn't expect this. A huge swath of galactic clusters seem to be heading to a cosmic hotspot and nobody knows why.

Cosmologists regard the microwave background -- a flash of light emitted 380,000 years after the universe formed -- as the ultimate cosmic reference frame. Relative to it, all large-scale motion should show no preferred direction. A 2010 study tracked the mysterious cosmic 'dark flow' to twice the distance originally reported. The study was led by Alexander Kashlinsky at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

"This is not something we set out to find, but we cannot make it go away," Kashlinsky said. "Now we see that it persists to much greater distances - as far as 2.5 billion light-years away," he added.

Dark flow describes a possible non-random component of the peculiar velocity of galaxy clusters. The actual measured velocity is the sum of the velocity predicted by Hubble's Law plus a small and unexplained (or dark) velocity flowing in a common direction. According to standard cosmological models, the motion of galaxy clusters with respect to the cosmic microwave background should be randomly distributed in all directions. However, analyzing the three-year WMAP data using the kinematic Sunyaev-Zel'dovich effect, the authors of the study found evidence of a "surprisingly coherent" 600–1000 km/s flow of clusters toward a 20-degree patch of sky between the constellations of Centaurus and Vela.

The clusters appear to be moving along a line extending from our solar system toward Centaurus/Hydra, but the direction of this motion is less certain. Evidence indicates that the clusters are headed outward along this path, away from Earth, but the team cannot yet rule out the opposite flow.

"We detect motion along this axis, but right now our data cannot state as strongly as we'd like whether the clusters are coming or going," Kashlinsky said.

The unexplained motion has hundreds of millions of stars dashing towards a certain part of the sky at over eight hundred kilometers per second. Not much speed in cosmic terms, but the preferred direction certainly is: most cosmological models have things moving in all directions equally at the extreme edges of the universe. Something that could make things aim for a specific spot on such a massive scale hasn't been imagined before. The scientists are keeping to the proven astrophysical strategy of calling anything they don't understand "dark", terming the odd motion a "dark flow".

A black hole can't explain the observations - objects would accelerate into the hole, while the NASA scientists see constant motion over a vast expanse of a billion light-years. You have no idea how big that is. This is giant on a scale where it's not just that we can't see what's doing it; it's that the entire makeup of the universe as we understand it can't be right if this is happening.

The hot X-ray-emitting gas within a galaxy cluster scatters photons from the cosmic microwave background (CMB). Because galaxy clusters don't precisely follow the expansion of space, the wavelengths of scattered photons change in a way that reflects each cluster's individual motion.

This results in a minute shift of the microwave background's temperature in the cluster's direction. The change, which astronomers call the kinematic Sunyaev-Zel'dovich (KSZ) effect, is so small that it has never been observed in a single galaxy cluster.

But in 2000, Kashlinsky, working with Fernando Atrio-Barandela at the University of Salamanca, Spain, demonstrated that it was possible to tease the subtle signal out of the measurement noise by studying large numbers of clusters.

In 2008, armed with a catalog of 700 clusters assembled by Harald Ebeling at the University of Hawaii and Dale Kocevski, now at the University of California, Santa Cruz, the researchers applied the technique to the three-year WMAP data release. That's when the mystery motion first came to light.

The new study builds on the previous one by using the five-year results from WMAP and by doubling the number of galaxy clusters.

"It takes, on average, about an hour of telescope time to measure the distance to each cluster we work with, not to mention the years required to find these systems in the first place," Ebeling said. "This is a project requiring considerable followthrough."

According to Atrio-Barandela, who has focused on understanding the possible errors in the team's analysis, the new study provides much stronger evidence that the dark flow is real. For example, the brightest clusters at X-ray wavelengths hold the greatest amount of hot gas to distort CMB photons. "When processed, these same clusters also display the strongest KSZ signature -- unlikely if the dark flow were merely a statistical fluke," he said.

In addition, the team, which now also includes Alastair Edge at the University of Durham, England, sorted the cluster catalog into four "slices" representing different distance ranges. They then examined the preferred flow direction for the clusters within each slice. While the size and exact position of this direction display some variation, the overall trends among the slices exhibit remarkable agreement.

The researchers are currently working to expand their cluster catalog in order to track the dark flow to about twice the current distance. Improved modeling of hot gas within the galaxy clusters will help refine the speed, axis, and direction of motion.

Future plans call for testing the findings against newer data released from the WMAP project and the European Space Agency's Planck mission, which is also currently mapping the microwave background.

Which is fantastic! Such discoveries force a whole new set of ideas onto the table which, even if they turn out to be wrong, are the greatest ways to advance science and our understanding of everything. One explanation that's already been offered is that our universe underwent a period of hyper-inflation early in its existence, and everything we think of as the vast and infinite universe is actually a small corner under the sofa of the real expanse of reality. Which would be an amazing, if humbling, discovery.

The Daily Galaxy via Peter Woit, New Scientist, and JPL.

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Jun 2, 2013 - 01:26am PT
I think jgill brings up some very interesting questions about meditation and altered states..

Why is the emptiness state considered superior to any other extraordinary state?

The only answer I can give is that the system of evaluation was set up by people who had been through all the states and concluded that the last one reached was the best. Of course people tend to become attached to what they have invested the most time in. All systems seeking enlightenment as opposed to a dualistic experience of God, say that the last attachment to be overcome before enlightenment is the desire for enlightenment. Those who focus on a deity, say that the relationship with the deity is egoless and naturally accompanied by enlightenment.

Eastern schools of thought in particular, believe that we have many lives to get there so whatever experience or level we are at in a given lifetime, is the right one for us in our current state of consciousness. From my own observations what all states have in common is that they give us freedom from our identification with our habitual patterns of mind.

What is the point of it all?

This depends on the individual meditator. Everything from improving sports performance, to greater personal happiness, to an idealistic search for ultimate reality to a sense of adventure to a sense of elitism based on doing what the masses can't or won't. Also included are a perceived love of God and the wish to get closer.

Is it a form of escapism?

It can be for some people and attachment to zoning out in meditation is said to be a detrimental attachment to those who are attracted to it. Most people feel that meditation enhances them and their mundane life in some way whether through perceptions, cognition, creativity, athletic performance, spirituality or whatever.
Dr. F.

Big Wall climber
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 2, 2013 - 07:20am PT
But is it just another dead end?
I say it is. (IMO)
The Eastern Religions claim you must reach enlightenment to find the ultimate goal.

Apparently they were wrong, there is nothing to find there, because you can never reach that point, it doesn't exist.

Like the Western Religions, the basic premise is based on mythology.
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