Politics, God and Religion vs. Science


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The Utility Muffin Research Kitchen
Mar 26, 2014 - 03:03pm PT
Okay, not possible thus far, then.

So, sure, the Academie Topo can now turn its attention to defining sentience, but keep in mind what that's up against:


Not to mention the sneaking suspicion that this might just be another bait & switch sophist dead end. But it's sure to be entertaining, anyway.

So yeah, let's get this party started.
paul roehl

Boulder climber
Mar 26, 2014 - 05:02pm PT
Charles Darwin wrote:
"Our ancestor was a hairy quadruped furnished with a tail and pointed ears, probably arboreal in his habits."

Matthew Arnold in his famous debate as to whether or not the classics should be taught at the college level, acknowledged that “I’m not a scientist and therefore don't dispute such a claim, but I did want to point out that even if that were true, with regards to this good fellow, there must have been a necessity in him that inclined him to Greek. And would always incline him to Greek. After all, we got there, didn't we?”

Did we get there by accident? Likely, but if the very structure of the universe enables such an accident, perhaps even leads to such an accident then what can we say with regard to that structure? Where is the certainty of accident?

What is too often dismissed here is the great mystery of human consciousness, which stands in a state of equality to the mystery of the universe itself.

That human consciousness seeks to understand itself, what it is in relation to itself, is a staggering mystery. That the universe, in the strangest sense, might be so compelled to know itself is just a bit mind boggling.

The notion that chemicals and biological machinations are explanations enough is just such an anemic response to a mystery that some seem to recognize and some don’t. It’s anemic precisely because it comes up so short in its understanding of experience.

No doubt, most religious doctrine is a shortcut to explanation, but that doesn’t negate the constant mystery behind such doctrine motivating the consuming desire to know.

To say the universe is without direction ignores the laws of physics and the constant nature of number. In the broad physical world numerical relationships are nothing short of eternal. Why?

To say that morality is simply relative ignores its universal nature. Morality is couched in different inflections throughout the world but underlying those inflections are far more similarities than differences. A product of evolutionary need? Perhaps. Morality is a social necessity, but as well it grows out of a deep-seated empathy and “einfuhlung,” the universal notion that “I and the other are one.” Human immorality is precisely the proof of an abiding and universal morality, because we recognize it.

The real irony is that those claiming the absolute relative nature of morality so often declare those who believe other wise and who might impose their morality as immoral!

An absolute relativism imposes its own moral demands.

Recognizing the power of science and its ability to inform us shouldn’t camouflage what is a real understanding of the parameters of a mystery barely understood and a moment much too early for the drawing of definite conclusions.


Mar 26, 2014 - 05:35pm PT
Lotsa gobblygook there, Paul, but suffice to say that

mystery = something we don't know

I'm not how the existence of things we don't know informs this debate or provides evidence for magic.

Is the universe eternal? No one knows, of course. If, in fact, it is - is eternity 'proof' of the supernatural? Of course not.

Eternity is simply proof of something we don't know. We may one day know it, or we may not.

After all, there are things we can never know (according to our current physics) - what lies beyond our light horizon, or whether Betelgeuse went nova today, for example.

There are plenty of big things we may be able to know but don't - the fundamental nature of gravity, what dark energy is, what most of the matter in the universe is, what the true nature of our universe is (just one bubble in a bubblebath?), the true nature of time itself, to name just a few.

Not one of these daunting mysteries causes me to reach for anything other than science as a tool with which to attempt to unravel them, in as much as it may be possible to do so.

If, however, you're more comfortable making something up instead - well, the universe is your oyster.

paul roehl

Boulder climber
Mar 26, 2014 - 05:52pm PT
Goblygook? More unintended humor? Very good.

You argue nothing and with absolute certainty.

Let's see, your certainty is solidly based on uncertainty or I can't know so I know.

Remarkable, and my guess is your not unintending humor.

Turn off the TV.


Mar 26, 2014 - 05:55pm PT
The meaning of that post may eternally remain a mystery.

Mar 26, 2014 - 06:05pm PT
Tvash -- "If, however, you're more comfortable making something up instead"

You do that a lot here, Tvash

Paul your post was really good and not goblygook.

Everything is goblygook to Tvash unless it fits into his narrow little world .....

Mar 26, 2014 - 06:10pm PT
Does this mean that I won't be allowed to tuck into Season 2 of 'Vikings'?

Trad climber
Mar 26, 2014 - 06:13pm PT
Werner: The stop and red lights at the intersections are ultimately totally meaningless laws according to Mike L.

I think that qualifies as mental speculation, or at least a partial view. All mental speculations are interpretations. Ultimately, every one of them are wrong.

Does the earth or the ground commit a moral error when it shudders, and we feel an earthquake? Is a tiger immoral when it ravages other life? When a star explodes and vaporizes neighboring planets and all that they might hold, has there been a legal transgression? When a woman chastises her husband or children for their behavior, is she right, wrong, neither? When societies implode from their economic policies or from warring tribal conflicts, are their ethics bad?

Things just are. They can be no other way. When you are centered and aware, you will see exactly that. Be still and quiet, and the universe will surrender to you. Quit picking and choosing.

. . . but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.…
(1 Corinthians 13:11-13)

BB: So I ask you, what should be our goal?

No goals. You don't need them. They always lead down a longer path. Everything will show up--in you and outside of you--as it should if you are patient, open, unattached, and absent of yourself. Worried about bringing up those "young'ins?" Don't be. If you are calm, centered, and at peace with the universe, then you will do what you need to do--naturally, without thought, without contrivance, instantaneously. You will do all that is in you, whatever is possible for you to do. And your being will learn, develop, evolve.

What more could you possibly want? To be perfect? To make "the right decision?" No one can do more than they are capable of. Indeed, no one can do more or less than what circumstances and conditions have laid-out for them. So, . . . quit struggling; there is no point to it.
paul roehl

Boulder climber
Mar 26, 2014 - 06:21pm PT
"The meaning of that post may eternally remain a mystery."

Let me splain Lucy: gobbledygook looks like that. The word you made up, frankly, I've never seen before.

The certainty with which you make your statement stands in stark contrast to the statement you made. You are certain that science is the only way to understand a universe that may or may not be understood. How can you be certain of the method required to understand it? Certainly at the eventual point of not understanding, if that's the case, science will have failed you. This has nothing to do with magic and everything to do with simply making sense.

You write in non-sequiturs.

Yeah go back to the TV. Vikings... makes sense at last.

Mar 26, 2014 - 07:15pm PT
I've made up lots of words.

It's fun.

Ask Bill Shakespeare. He was into it, too.

Probably a bit better at it, though.

In any case, I think the very nature of gobbledygook lends itself to the practice, no?

Your 'certainty' is my 'clarity', apparently.

Mar 26, 2014 - 07:16pm PT
Shakespeare didn't make up sh!t.

The guy was brilliant.

He was connected to reality .....
paul roehl

Boulder climber
Mar 26, 2014 - 08:12pm PT
"Your 'certainty' is my 'clarity', apparently."

No...your "clarity is un-certain. and your certainty lacks clarity"

Isn't Seinfeld on yet?

When Bill made up those words he did it on purpose. And, I suppose, in "one fell swoop."

Mar 26, 2014 - 08:33pm PT
Leap frogging over your comment, are you going to make fun of my favorite color or other matters of personal taste now Paul? Would that inform the discussion in your opinion?

Wait, there really IS a beast with two backs?
paul roehl

Boulder climber
Mar 26, 2014 - 09:50pm PT
Yes, wouldn't it be nice to just have a discussion. I find the topic really interesting... unfortunately that would mean posting ideas without trying to insult those you're posting for, and for some that just wouldn't be enough would it?

I believe Shakespeare also came up with the word "twit," and if he didn't, he should've.

Mar 26, 2014 - 10:49pm PT
As that your best try at being part of the solution, Paul?

Boulder climber
Mar 26, 2014 - 11:53pm PT
So, sure, the Academie Topo can now turn its attention to defining sentience, but keep in mind what that's up against . . . Not to mention the sneaking suspicion that this might just be another bait & switch sophist dead end (Cin)

What? . . . WHAT!!! I refuse to believe that this is anything less than sincere! Sentience is a nut we must crack!


Trad climber
Santa Cruz Mountains and Monterey Bay
Mar 27, 2014 - 01:51am PT

Does The Soul Exist? Evidence Says ‘Yes’
New scientific theory recognizes life’s spiritual dimension
Published on December 21, 2011 by Robert Lanza, M.D. in Biocentrism

The reality of the soul is among the most important questions of life. Although religions go on and on about its existence, how do we know if souls really exist? A string of new scientific experiments helps answer this ancient spiritual question.

The idea of the soul is bound up with the idea of a future life and our belief in a continued existence after death. It's said to be the ultimate animating principle by which we think and feel, but isn't dependent on the body. Many infer its existence without scientific analysis or reflection. Indeed, the mysteries of birth and death, the play of consciousness during dreams (or after a few martinis), and even the commonest mental operations – such as imagination and memory – suggest the existence of a vital life force – an élan vital – that exists independent of the body.

Yet, the current scientific paradigm doesn't recognize this spiritual dimension of life. We're told we're just the activity of carbon and some proteins; we live awhile and die. And the universe? It too has no meaning. It has all been worked out in the equations – no need for a soul. But biocentrism – a new ‘theory of everything' – challenges this traditional, materialistic model of reality. In all directions, this outdated paradigm leads to insoluble enigmas, to ideas that are ultimately irrational. But knowledge is the prelude to wisdom, and soon our worldview will catch up with the facts.

Of course, most spiritual people view the soul as emphatically more definitive than the scientific concept. It's considered the incorporeal essence of a person, and is said to be immortal and transcendent of material existence. But when scientists speak of the soul (if at all), it's usually in a materialistic context, or treated as a poetic synonym for the mind. Everything knowable about the "soul" can be learned by studying the functioning of the brain. In their view, neuroscience is the only branch of scientific study relevant to understanding the soul.

Traditionally, science has dismissed the soul as an object of human belief, or reduced it to a psychological concept that shapes our cognition of the observable natural world. The terms "life" and "death" are thus nothing more than the common concepts of "biological life" and "biological death." The animating principle is simply the laws of chemistry and physics. You (and all the poets and philosophers that ever lived) are just dust orbiting the core of the Milky Way galaxy.

As I sit here in my office surrounded by piles of scientific books, I can't find a single reference to the soul, or any notion of an immaterial, eternal essence that occupies our being. Indeed, a soul has never been seen under an electron microscope, nor spun in the laboratory in a test tube or ultra-centrifuge. According to these books, nothing appears to survive the human body after death.

While neuroscience has made tremendous progress illuminating the functioning of the brain, why we have a subjective experience remains mysterious. The problem of the soul lies exactly here, in understanding the nature of the self, the "I" in existence that feels and lives life. But this isn't just a problem for biology and cognitive science, but for the whole of Western natural philosophy itself.

Our current worldview – the world of objectivity and naïve realism – is beginning to show fatal cracks. Of course, this will not surprise many of the philosophers and other readers who, contemplating the works of men such as Plato, Socrates and Kant, and of Buddha and other great spiritual teachers, kept wondering about the relationship between the universe and the mind of man.

Recently, biocentrism and other scientific theories have also started to challenge the old physico-chemical paradigm, and to ask some of the difficult questions about life: Is there a soul? Does anything endure the ravages of time?

Life and consciousness are central to this new view of being, reality and the cosmos. Although the current scientific paradigm is based on the belief that the world has an objective observer-independent existence, real experiments suggest just the opposite. We think life is just the activity of atoms and particles, which spin around for a while and then dissipate into nothingness. But if we add life to the equation, we can explain some of the major puzzles of modern science, including the uncertainty principle, entanglement, and the fine-tuning of the laws that shape the universe.

Consider the famous two-slit experiment. When you watch a particle go through the holes, it behaves like a bullet, passing through one slit or the other. But if no one observes the particle, it exhibits the behavior of a wave and can pass through both slits at the same time. This and other experiments tell us that unobserved particles exist only as ‘waves of probability' as the great Nobel laureate Max Born demonstrated in 1926. They're statistical predictions – nothing but a likely outcome. Until observed, they have no real existence; only when the mind sets the scaffolding in place, can they be thought of as having duration or a position in space. Experiments make it increasingly clear that even mere knowledge in the experimenter's mind is sufficient to convert possibility to reality.

Many scientists dismiss the implications of these experiments, because until recently, this observer-dependent behavior was thought to be confined to the subatomic world. However, this is being challenged by researchers around the world. In fact, just this year a team of physicists (Gerlich et al, Nature Communications 2:263, 2011) showed that quantum weirdness also occurs in the human-scale world. They studied huge compounds composed of up to 430 atoms, and confirmed that this strange quantum behavior extends into the larger world we live in.

Importantly, this has a direct bearing on the question of whether humans and other living creatures have souls. As Kant pointed out over 200 years ago, everything we experience – including all the colors, sensations and objects we perceive – are nothing but representations in our mind. Space and time are simply the mind's tools for putting it all together. Now, to the amusement of idealists, scientists are beginning dimly to recognize that those rules make existence itself possible. Indeed, the experiments above suggest that objects only exist with real properties if they are observed. The results not only defy our classical intuition, but suggest that a part of the mind – the soul – is immortal and exists outside of space and time.

"The hope of another life" wrote Will Durant "gives us courage to meet our own death, and to bear with the death of our loved ones; we are twice armed if we fight with faith."

And we are thrice armed if we fight with science.

You can learn more about Biocentrism at www.robertlanzabiocentrism.com and www.robertlanza.com

Social climber
joshua tree
Mar 27, 2014 - 02:30am PT
Thanks Tom for that! I think?..


Social climber
joshua tree

Mar 23, 2014 - 12:51pm PT
I think the one, and main thing the scientist are leaving out of the conversation of sentience is the Soul. My belief is at conception our body's are assigned a soul. Some people are called "old wise souls" because they seem wiser than their years. Even infants that can't talk yet show understandings beyond their years. We have our mind and conscious that grow up and mature through our years, and we know that they are our exclusively patented through our personal experiences. But wouldn't you agree there is always another voice(or feeling) deeper down always there just waiting to be heard? The voice that rises up just before you stick that candybar in ur pocket without paying. The voice that even sometimes provokes you to go visit that neighbor, and when you get there you realize that it was practically clarevoyent
Or meant to be. There's many more examples. And I'm not doing such a great job cause I'm hurrying. Got to get back to pouring concrete.

Where does the Soul mix into sentience?


Experiments make it increasingly clear that even mere knowledge in the experimenter's mind is sufficient to convert possibility to reality.

This one I asked about, about 2yrs ago,


Trad climber
Mar 27, 2014 - 09:57am PT
Werner: Shakespeare didn't make up sh!t. The guy was brilliant. He was connected to reality .....

No matter what you write, you always touch on the truth.

I was told that Shakespeare was a writer who wrote for a living (money). He had (found himself in?) a role to play, and he played it brilliantly. ("All the world is a stage . . . .") His personhood, his individuality, was apparently fully expressed in his role. Oddly enough, according to the old curmudgeon who taught me Shakespeare's plays, Shakespeare never took himself to be an artist. If that were true, then Shakespeare is perhaps one of the greatest exemplars for the profundity of leading a regular life. We need not be great to be fulfilled; we only need to be fully here and now. The rest takes care of itself.


You always find interesting statements.
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
U.N. Ambassador, Crackistan
Mar 27, 2014 - 10:33am PT
I'm open to -some- ideas, but not all. I respect divergent ideas so long as the person is not recruiting. It's fine to say or propose ideas of personal perspective. It's quite another to project the benefits if your beliefs on to others. I am sorry but I reject the Preachermans message. She DOES NOT.... Possess special knowledge or powers. Does NOT. I will not entertain otherwise. If that closes mind to some ultimate truth so what? When y'all start walking on water or raising the dead ir some modern version of supernatural, when you've pierced the veil darkly and returned to tell the tale lemme know ok? I'm sorta practical so less ethereal and more material if you please.

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