Belief Analysis—

How to get an accurate assessment of your beliefs

So, you’ve decided to join (insert worthy cause or religion here) but your not sure if you really understand everything just the right way. A friend finally tips the scale with some wise words—”what the hell, just give it a try and see what’s up—you’ve got nothing to lose”. So you employ the time tested wisdom of the ages, deciding on hormones and a hunch.

This is the very scientific technique most humans use to abandon using the scientific method of inquiry. This is how my parents joined the John Birch society back in the 60’s. It was a perfect fit as all their fears were realized by highlighting everything the group opposed, as central to the doctrine.

Hatred is the most accessible and comprehensive of all the unifying agents. Mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a god, but never without a belief in a devil.”—Eric Hoffer, 

It is important now and then to scrutinize your own beliefs to make sure you are fearing the right things, but how to be objective in this process requires two things. First, find out what the opposition says and vehemently disagree with it. Second, convince yourself these are your beliefs that simply mirror the group—or is it the other way around? Now you forget (a pinch of doubt stirred, can go a long way, trust it)

Can anyone for one moment be the Buddha, unbelieve for a time and be the observer? Hardly likely, but the key to clarity is unbelief, so what to do? Employing the scientific method to belief (the problem) is a difficult task. For one, you have already decided the outcome by belief, skewing the interpretation of data. No, if you want to know what you believe, we must ask someone who doesn’t believe it.

To continuously evaluate whether a being is good requires moral judgment, which requires moral autonomy, therefore it is not possible to continuously evaluate if a being is good while also worshipping it. Therefore, worshipping necessarily requires abandoning one’s moral responsibility, which is immoral“—James Rachel

Surpassing belief, which is simply withholding judgement until the outcomes of those beliefs are scrutinized by a third party (falsification) is the first step to liberation. Unless you’ve scrutinized your beliefs with the scientific method, an opposing view and an outcome based analysis, your beliefs are merely cans of hot air—in fact they are not even yours, or you, but the views of the group that through osmosis has hijacked your mind by a meme you’d swear was your own—until it isn’t.

To identify the real you, we must step away from belief mode—and like magic you will see the things you believed and fought for were not you at all. So distance a moment and relax—letting hormones make your decisions in haste adds a whole extra layer of insanity to conformity.

Surpassing belief mode and it’s limitations is likely the greatest challenge ever facing humanity. The appeal to belief in faith as a virtue appears to be the root problem of all problems.

Author: jim-

One minute info blogs breaking the faith trap.

109 thoughts on “Belief Analysis—”

      1. Proof – if that is the same meaning from the earlier translations – is useful only in a axiomatic system (that is, a self-contained body of knowledge… like geometry). If we know the axioms, then we can ‘prove’ a theorem. But that explanation resides inside the axiomatic model being used.

        That’s not science. That’s math.

        So although we encounter the word ‘proof’ in scientific literature, this is used so that most people can understand what is meant, namely, that some claim about reality has a very high degree of probably that the explanation/model is the case. The actual word for that same meaning is ‘theory’ in scientific parlance, and what often goes unnoticed is that the claim/explanation/model is conditional. Nothing is certain in science because uncertainty is a virtue and not a vice when it comes to trying to figure stuff out.

        Proofs are certain (given the axioms, like a right angle is always 90 degrees) whereas theories (the highest possible confidence) remain probable. That’s why the religious often use the term ‘proof’ as if to compare and contrast the certainty in the truth of their faith-based beliefs versus the uncertainty in science… with the assumption that uncertainty is the vice and certainty the virtue!

        The probability in science is conditional on evidence that supports the understanding used, meaning the more evidence and aligned applications, therapies, and technologies that work reliably and consistently well means we can claim knowledge about whatever. Knowledge has to do with facts, information, and skills that are practical…. that is to say, some understanding that can be demonstrated to work to effect. Religion has no such restraint, which is why you can find the most ridiculous claims being made in the name of religion that no one could possibly justify from reality.

        So the quote to hold onto that which is good is like telling people to do what is right. In neither case is the advice informed with meaning other than what people bring to it. In other words, you only get out of scripture what you import to it… and then, of course, the person claims the understanding is ‘knowledge’ from ‘God’ rather than what it actually is, a preference/presumption/assumption/assertion imported by the ‘believer’ but sold as coming from a divine agency accessible to the religion’s leadership. Church Lady, again: “How conveeeenient’.

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  1. I believe Jimi Hendrix is the best rock/blues guitarist ever to have lived, and as I have a reasonable understanding of music I reckon I could present a pretty good argument using evidence, to defend this point of view.

    I do not believe that the biblical tale of Moses and the Exodus has any verifiable / reliable evidence to support it, yet I am still open-minded enough to allow anyone who does believe this tale to present evidence.

    Meanwhile:
    ”Fall mountains, just don’t fall on me …”

    If 6 was 9

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    1. Much as I like Jimi (and I like him a lot), I think (as opposed to believe) his skills were overrated in terms of “best of” guitarists. Muddy Waters, Gary Moore and David Gilmour can express more emotion in one bent note that JH could in one thousand.

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            1. I have pretty much most of what di Meola has recorded since he was with RTF, and I’ve heard it suggested that Carlton’s solo on Steely Dan’s Kid Charlemagne is one of the most melodic over such a complex series of chord changes. I have the CD and no doubt it is a superb piece of soloing.

              Again what Hendrix did, and the way he played still makes him the best blues/rock guitarist in my book.
              As I said, evidence for this can be provided, but there are Youtube videos that will explain why and save me all the time and effort.

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  2. The trick, of course, is to NOT JOIN, period. But joining is subtle. How many people who declare themselves to be “an atheist” realize that this means they are in, or have joined, a group? Any “ism” is by definition a group mind. It doesn’t have to be officially recognized, although there are atheist “churches” in existence. I do not believe IN God but that does not make me an atheist because I didn’t close the barn door when the divinities were kicked out. The door is open and I know they’re out there in the fields sucking the life out of believers. They exist. Billions of believers support the idea, therefore on that level it has powerful validity. Atheism is denial that God or any gods, exist. Believers have no proof, atheists have no proof, just lack of evidence which does not constitute proof. Therefore my conclusion is that atheism is based on faith and to arrive there one had to join a certain denial mindset. I imagine that circle telling me how much of my hard drive is used up. Say the red part is taken up, the blue part is available. Apply the same idea to belief versus negative belief and you see the red part – atheism – growing – and the blue part correspondingly shrinking. You will never fill the entire circle with red, probably never get much past half way, but you’ll still be on the same circle, circumscribing the same issue, sharing information on the same drive if in different folders. You’ll still be an Earthian sharing one world, confronted with the same problems and whatever “solutions” you will come up with, they too will be saddled with their share of new problems requiring solutions that your, say, science, cannot resolve and you will see your grandchildren returning to faith in divinities because they will have nothing else left. That’s the problem with groups, with isms. Individuals however always find some solution to some specific problem of the moment. I bought a new lawn mower. It stalled and wouldn’t start. I checked it – it has an “auto choke” which obviously failed and flooded the engine. So I opened the air cleaner, saw the closed flapper, inserted a nail to push it open and… voila: start on first pull. We solve problems by our own intelligence, not by being part of groups, or by belonging to particular think tanks. (PS: I didn’t have to “Google it”!)

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    1. Sha’Tara, you say, “Atheism is denial that God or any gods, exist. Believers have no proof, atheists have no proof, just lack of evidence which does not constitute proof. Therefore my conclusion is that atheism is based on faith and to arrive there one had to join a certain denial mindset.”

      This is circular reasoning; you are assuming the conclusion in your premise. First you say atheism is (a) denial and then ‘conclude’ that one must have a denial ‘mindset’ to ‘arrive’ there! What if your premise is wrong? How might you check it out before assuming it is true?

      I don’t know how many times non believers in gods or a god tell you that BECAUSE there is a lack of compelling evidence to believe in every god they have been told exists, they CONCLUDE they don’t exist. PLEASE note the order of this process because it’s the same order you use to not believe ALL KINDS OF CLAIMS that have no compelling evidence to back them up. You don’t have a ‘denialist mindset’ to not believe something is true or descriptive or accurate… I mean, seriously Sha’Tara, there is an infinite number of beliefs you don’t hold… not because you deny anything as a starting position but because you have no good reasons (yet) to believe whatever. Atheists (literally, not a theist) are no different. It’s not a denialist mindset at all but simply a rational and reasonable approach to an infinite number of possible beliefs.

      To turn it around, one must be so open-minded and gullible to assume ALL beliefs are true and accurate and descriptive unless compelling evidence can be assembled to offer proof that some of that may not be. That’s a mug’s game, spending one’s entire life disproving every possible belief one ever encounters. That’s a burden too heavy for anyone to use, which is why the burden is PROPERLY placed on those who claim this, that, or the other belief is true, descriptive, and accurate. Show… don’t assume. Assumptions without justification will more often than not lead you away from finding out. And not believing what atheists say about their non belief but supplanting their clear and consistent answers with your own assumptions is not helpful, either. That’s a method guaranteed to fool yourself.

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    2. I am most definitely part of the non-stamp collectors group, and we don’t meet every Thursday to talk about not collecting stamps.
      In truth the reason I am part of this non group is to pick up chicks.

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  3. Jim, great insight here! Well done Sir. 🙂 My four favorite Jim insights:

    1) It is important now and then to scrutinize your own beliefs to make sure you are fearing the right things, but how to be objective in this process requires two things.

    2) …the key to clarity is unbelief.

    3) No, if you want to know what you believe, we must ask someone who doesn’t believe it.

    4) …your beliefs are merely cans of hot air—in fact they are not even yours, or you.

    #1 — I would only humbly add “Oppositions,” plural. Likely what you meant, but just for my OCD self I prefer to be uncommonly precise in terms/definitions when it comes to existential discussions/debates. When I’ve had serious discussions on these topics, I have found that many people have multitudes of terms with their own subjective perceived definitions. And I spend (necessary?) time negotiating mutually agreed definitions of terms.

    #2 — I know what you mean by “unbelief,” but sometimes a person might require (need) a less betraying term, perhaps? Maybe temporary neutrality might be less intrusive for them? 😉 Just a thought Sir.

    #3 — Here I connect or parallel my #1 above with this #3 and I would tweak “someone” with many diverse someones, so to speak.

    #4 — This one is spot-on Jim. Not long after our very first breath out of Momma’s womb we are TOTALLY dependent on her, father(?), family, extended family(?), and then immediate community, in that order. Generally speaking, our ability to question, test, explore what we’ve grown up with doesn’t start happening until at the earliest 6-yrs or 7-yrs(?) of age, give or take a year/two(?) of a child’s personality, parents/family, and genetics. Then through those adolescent years into teenage years, as a father yourself you and I know that teenagers-to-young adults believe they know EVERYTHING, right!? Lol That is when some/many adolescents/teenagers develop self-identity; some better than others. Bottom-line, environment starts influencing malleable minds, hearts, and bodies more and more. That is NOT to say that all environments are truly virtuous, healthy, or pious, not in the least! But the Nature vs. Nurture debate can NEVER be ignored. In fact, in many cases, people are HEAVILY molded by their immediate environments, wouldn’t you say?

    It is at the point of suspended self—or as you put it, unbelief or full liberation or abandonment (temporarily?) of everything you once thought was rock solid, suddenly isn’t. That is not all a bad thing! In fact, as you allude to… ‘wiping the slate clean’ is a fantastic idea to become more objective. 😉

    Great post Jim!

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    1. That is a stand alone comment🎯. A billion points for those 4. It was a blessing to me, to have a clean slate. It’s an eye opener to be able to see your own religion the same way you see every other one. I’ll gladly analyze your religion for you, if you are having trouble. Hehe

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      1. 😆 BWAHAHA! Great comeback Sir! And you are too kind. I was simply playing off your coat-tails, dancing on YOUR shoulders Mr. Sharpness, or as ZZ Top jams to and sings… “Sharp dressed Man.” 😉 😛

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        1. Hahaha. I’ve learned a lot here by all of you. It amazes me frequently where you all take the discussions, and the insights and various points of view are varied and though provoking. Always a pleasure Profesor of the Taboos. I still like that!

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          1. Hehehe 😈 The pleasure is mine my wise Friend.

            Double, double toil and trouble;
            Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.

            By the pricking of my thumbs,
            Something wicked this way comes.
            Open, locks,
            Whoever knocks.

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  4. Objectively examining one’s beliefs isn’t easy, else everyone would be doing it. Faith is seen as a virtue because it allows people to make decisions when they need them instead of waiting for more information. And people often have to make decisions before they can honestly evaluate what’s going on.

    I think this is why zealotry isn’t monopolized by faith anymore. There are other forms, from conspiracy theorists to extremism to whatever else is going around the Internet these days. It’s easy to tell people they haven’t thought something out. It’s hard to sufficiently convince them of it.

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    1. Faith is seen as a virtue because it allows people to make decisions when they need them instead of waiting for more information.

      SB, this is an excellent assessment of trauma-induced Faith conversions! Just think of everyone you know who has been thru one or a number of life-altering traumas and come away with God, Jesus, Mohammed, Our Lady of Fátima, Unified Consciousness, etc, etc, HOWEVER, many traumatized victims wrestle with their Fight-or-Flight impulse for stability, recovery, and a higher purpose. This psychological process indeed offers renewed zest for life, yet at the expense of all influencing variables, many completely INDEPENDENT forces of physics in our Cosmos—as we are only tourists here, not ultimate Movers. 😉

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  5. In an uncertain world the comforting illusion of certainty on offer from competing narratives for life’s mysteries are simplistic, convoluted, heady and apparently satisfying. The narratives favoring questioning and examination are complicated, conditional, exhilarating and apparently satisfying. Bridging the dichotomy in the two narratives is a challenge but hay, look at the success of all of religious texts have had in shaping civilizations. It’s time for The Book of The Questioning, Reasonable, Rational, Evidences Demander. Get off your knees, question everything and be satisfied with conditional consensus.

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  6. I tend to be skeptical of the “real self” arguments. I don’t think there is some clandestine real self to be discovered. Nothing practical would change for me if I decided I was an atheist tomorrow. I would pretty much continue doing what I have always done and believed.

    Human beings are a product of their genetics and environmental factors in which religion is one of many environmental factors. They’re part of your experiences that make up you.

    Even if one deconverts, it’s not like everything up to that point was just practice or a trial run to get to your real self. Now you can finally live your real life! You are your actions and your experiences. What you did in the past, what you are doing in the present (whoops there it goes ::waves:: now that’s the past) and what you choose to do in the future are all authentic parts of you. Or so it seems to me.

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    1. Well of course I can only speak for myself, but when I lost faith and as a consequence, religion, all my views changed in a day. I was amazed and horrified at the things I said and believed about other people. Granted there are other ways to liberation, but do you really think these social media posts and canned, party-line arguments are the real you, when all they’re doing is repeating a bunch of bias nonsense?
      I would offer a standing challenge to anyone—to disconnect from everything, the news, the threads, all of it for a year or two and just ponder and observe the natural world. I guarantee the person that comes out the other side will be more the real you than one can imagine. For me it was four years in the jungle, and what emerged was not anything like I thought I was. Everything became very clear how unimportant and involved the world is in the life of the meme, carrying bad ideas like viruses, and that isn’t really who any of us are.

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      1. I do understand that for many people changing their belief about God or dropping their religion can be a big change. I shared my point of view as another perspective on that issue to show such a drastic change wouldn’t always happen and not a denial of anyone else’s experience. Which social media posts did you have in mind?

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        1. My feeling is the realization of atheism is more or less a springboard to self examination. Without anyone influencing me what everything is all about, I was able to express my real self as much as possible. I understand there is baggage, but I believe none of that either. It’s a bit humbling to realize everything you ever attached to, was not me at all.
          I posted the idea of my last post in an old friend from high schools Facebook meme about all lives matter. He and another old friend went ad hominem on me, calling me names and criticizing my intellect as a “grade school liberal”. I have been accused by both sides though, but have not followed news or watched tv for 14 years. I have no political affiliation. These are also people I went to church with. They know nothing about this blog, and they turned on me without hesitation, to burn a friendship over political beliefs that aren’t even their own ideas.

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  7. what is a belief, but a thought? and the fact that you (or something) can observe the thought, proves that you are NOT the thought. in fact, you can even ignore the thought. you say ‘i chose to believe this’, tomorrow you say ‘i chose not to believe this’.

    how is that reality or truth? nothing that changes is real. the real CANNOT change.

    that brings us to ‘who or what observes the thoughts?’ who sees the mind changing all the time?

    where is the person, if the thought is not looked at? when the thought is let go, the person goes. indeed, the ‘person’ is a thought.

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    1. I found untangling that mess took a few years in the jungle, disconnected from the pervasive influences to realize the key to seeing all sides clearly was unbelief.

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        1. MT, you say “… but unbelief itself can become a ‘belief’. (A)n atheist believes in no-god.”

          Turning non belief into another kind of belief is like changing a bicycle into a non-fish. It makes no linguistic sense. This should be an indicator that something is wrong here, that this line of thinking is self-refuting and therefore a new path need to be found.

          Jim’s point – that one can become morally autonomous only by dropping the borrowed morals that define religious belief – is accurate. Non belief in this regard means not only must one formulate one’s own moral code BUT one also has to be responsible for it. That is the ONLY way to become autonomous, to accept responsibility for one’s self. Pretending non belief in gods or a god is just another kind of religious belief is the same linguistic trap one hears from the Woke all the time, that to protect freedom of speech means we have to impose censorship, that freedom of the Press means we need to align the Press with imposed ideological regulation, that to promote diversty we must impose equity results, that to improve diversity we must impose group-based quota systems, that to get rid of racism we need to establish race as a meaningful characteristic for these quotas, and so on.

          When you encounter the kind of thinking that insists
          non belief’ is really another kind of ‘belief’, that ‘up’ is really another kind of ‘down’, that ‘white’ is another kind of ‘black’, you have entered the modern – I should clarify, post modern and woke – version of the Twilight Zone.

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          1. there is a possibility beyond accepting the existence of a god, or denying the existence of a god. both states are mind states, reason why this logic makes no linguistic sense. language itself is a tool created by mind, for the mind only.

            the space i’m interested is beyond such dualism.

            what i’m pointing at is that taking a stand as one of these position or another automatically limits reality when one identifies with it. you will find people who label themselves ‘non-believer’ can be as adamant and rigid as those who call themselves believers. so… what have they gained? another idea (belief)

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            1. MT, you are confusing a person (who may not believe in gods or a god and holds that position forcefully) with the position (one that does not grant any probability to something that offers no good reasons, no compelling evidence, no probability of it being true beyond being told it is). You conflate the two in order to call the combination a similar kind ‘belief’ to the religious kind. No. The former is a non believer. The latter is non belief. Two very different things.

              You then confuse the ‘mind state’ of concluding not believing in gods or a god (because there’s no reason to) with a position of first denying the possibility. You’ve got the order backwards. Religious belief in gods or a god has to be passed on from one person to another (usually from an adult to a child) because reality itself does offer anyone the means of concluding such a critter exists (with that particular religion’s applied characteristics to the believed-in god/s). There is no evidence encountered in reality to come to these conclusions independently. That’s why no one is born a Baptist in Tehran or a Jainist in Iceland or a Mormon in Nepal; these ideas have to be transmitted. And sure enough, if you draw a map of believers, you will see the primary cause is geography and not theology!

              So the ‘state of mind’ you speak of in order to believe what amounts to the unknowable is almost always a state of dependence and vulnerability and not one’s state of minds that is simply open to new experiences and possibilities. Non belief is the default and it one that is wide open to believing stuff if there are goods reasons – compelling reasons – to do so. You seem to imply that non belief is related somehow to a closed mind or one unwilling to consider possibilities. That’s rarely true; most non believers I know do not assume anything but when told about gods or a god, pixies, unicorns, aliens, monsters, or the Toronto Maple Leafs, they ask for compelling reasons to believe and have yet to be offered any. That’s not the action of a mind that is closed.

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            2. says who ‘non-belief’ is the default?
              it seems to me some form of divinity or search for god, or deity, or worship, has existed as far back in history as we can see.

              you see, people today take it for granted that the scientific way of finding truth (or whatever you wanna call it) is the ONLY way or the truest way.
              so, man observing, analyzing, and drawing conclusions is that way.
              is it not possible that there is an altogether another way of knowing reality?

              and because the believer in god has no proof of the existence of god, is considered delusional.
              but, does the person refuting the existence of god have proof for the non-existence of god?

              and it is because, in our days, we take the scientific way as the truest means of obtaining knowledge, that we dismiss the believer, and support the unbeliever. but to me, they are the same.

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            3. People start with non-belief in a God for the same reason they have non-belief in the genie from Aladdin. Unless they are somehow convinced otherwise they will continue to not believe in said `thing`. To insist otherwise would mean that babies are somehow programmed to believe in certain dieties from birth, which… good luck finding evidence for that.

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            4. thanks for reading my comment. you presume many things: that god is a deity, that it is somehow exterior, and that there is requirement of some interference for you to be aware of its existence.
              with so many preconceived ideas, have you not already decided on your reality?

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            5. Yes I assume those first three points you made.. I mean the word ‘God’ is synonymous for deity, that’s just a matter of semantics, unless I am missing something? If there is no requirement of ‘interference’, whatever that means, then you shouldn’t have confidence in said God existing. What can you base your belief on then? If it’s ‘faith’, do you apply this to other areas of your life?
              So yeah I assume the first three points, but so what?

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            6. If I might just jump in here for a second, what if there was a technique for you to see the underlying reality of what the world is? From this particular point of view, it is not the search for empirical evidence, but a discipline to catch a view of what underlies the illusion of life—simply for the sake of enjoyment and for no other reason than to do it for its own sake.
              There are certain forms of meditation and disciplines the unlock this central mystery of what lies behind the scenes.
              Throughout the ages there have always been a select few in the know that have possessed this discipline, but once in a while someone catches hold of it and takes on a role of self importance—then they start a church, without the required discipline to understand what it is they saw. And what they see is that we are it. That everything is God (for lack of a better term) Not in the sense of a monarchial boss, or an entity, but the whole works is us.
              Things that are pleasing to the mind and enriching to pursue for the sake of themselves.

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            7. I’m trying to understand what you’re saying here. So you’re saying there’s a way to gain some special knowledge or perception about the universe around us and ourselves?

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            8. First of all, I do not practice any of these disciplines, but nave studied them quite a bit. What is interesting to me is what I might call “evidence” just by the sheer number of common descriptions in all the corners of the world. From the Native American shaman like crazy horse, who was also a great warrior, to the Filipino baylan, the Eskimo and the Kofan, Kogi, as well as the Tibetan Buddhist, Japanese Zen, the Hindu guru etc, it’s a long list, all tell a very similar story, that life is an illusion of sorts, and the real world is right under our noses, that we are all god, and that everything is “god” but not in the Hebrew sense. A common response at the height of this process, often leads to laughter because it becomes so obvious that it’s all a game. We’re it, all of it.
              So essentially you’re living it as a way to experience and manifest you. It’s to be entertained (not all entertainment is happy) and to be lost in the drama of a never ending play, all pert of one consciousness self. It would be no wonder why it is so hard to identify yourself, when you’re not yourself at all, any more than I am. Or should we say, I AM. Haha.

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            9. We are either all God, or none of us are. I think I can see what you’re saying, We are all one, and interconnected. Humans, organisms, dirt, we all depend on each other and we are all just as important as each other. I tend to look at this more from a scientific viewpoint though (well I try to), and I don’t like the use of the word ‘God’, since to me it implies deity like Yahweh etc, but I think I can see where you’re coming from. I don’t ascribe any special beliefs at the moment but I still consider us special. The natural world is something to be in awe of.

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            10. Well, according to the scientific approach which is where I currently am, the only thing that can be known, is what you can put into words. Lets say you love someone. Can you adequately prove this by putting into words? Maybe you could convince us if you are very good at it, but what if you’re not very good at it? Is your love dependent on your ability to express it properly? Physics does this. But you do in fact know you do love, yet can never verify it by the scientific method. To assume all things can be verified by science is tricky ground.
              We can check the disbursement of hormones that are typically released during thoughts of love, but those same hormones are at play when people purposefully practice their faith as well. It is tricky to say one is valid and one is by deception, or are your feelings of love a deception too?

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            11. Hmm feelings are a difficult one, to be honest I don’t know, and I’m not sure if science has an answer to that (yet?). ‘Love’ is quite an abstract word though, which I’m not sure is something you can concretely define. Like we can agree on examples of things which are considered as proof of ‘love’, but everyone has their own ideas on what it should be. So with this in mind, it is difficult to say if your feelings are legitimate or not, perhaps that lies in your intentions.

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            12. so you want to see ‘god’ according to your own terms, possibly as you see an icecream truck on the road. so you can touch it, and feel it, and possibly even cut out a little piece so you can show your friends ‘look, god is real!’
              maybe even get some benefits like a nice new car, no?

              pretty ridiculous, isn’t it? if you were god, would you bother with petty attitudes like this? so, you already set yourself up for failure.

              the universe does not spoon-feed 😉

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            13. I didn’t say that, that’s a lovely strawman argument you have there. If you’re going to respond, stop assuming things and at least try to respond to my actual points. My initial point was that we start off with a blank canvas when it comes to our beliefs – our beliefs in anything. It is our experiences which shape our beliefs, regardless of how true they are or not. My second point was that if God were real, then there must be some way of determining this, using the available senses we have. This is regardless of whether said God wants to reach out or not, or whether or not we already have compelling evidence for their existence. People tend to use different special criteria (eg faith, strong emotions) which gives them belief in a God than they do for everything else. The criteria should be the same in my book.

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            14. ponder this: do you know your own being, the undeniable fact that you are, by your senses alone ?

              do you use your senses in your dream? in your deep sleep? … if not, are you not there during sleep?

              why should god (whatever or whoever that is) be limited to experience by senses?

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            15. As for the first question, that’s a big rabbit hole to go down lol. To be honest, I don’t know. I would say that it’s not my senses alone but the collective senses of myself and others which verify my existence, Regardless though, I think our senses are all we have to go on (and the data which is extrapolated from it) to be able to verify things.

              If God is outside this realm of our senses, then it is going to be difficult to verify that this is indeed the case.

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            16. OK I see where you’re going with this. Our existence doesn’t depend on direct observation (using our senses), so therefore a being (eg some kind of God) doesn’t require us to be able to detect them using our senses. OK fair enough. I look at it like this way: if there is a ‘God’ out there like this (I’m being loose here in my definition of God), then either they interact with our universe or they don’t. If they interact with our universe, then, using the scientific method we should be able to (eventually) determine that said interactions were not caused naturally. If they don’t interact (or they are wanting to hide for some reason), then there is little consequence of how we live our lives in regard to this ‘God’.

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            17. There may be some limiting factors here in your comment that hinder a broader scope. You’ve just defined an acceptable way to learn, then when you consider god, it is most likely the authoritarian god of the Hebrew Bible—the monorchial boss recording your deeds? Based on your terms I could argue that nothing exists. Then, how much do we need to know before we determine what is real? It would take years if collaboration and volumes of text to adequately describe a blade of grass, then the physicist comes in and determines it is composed of energy. Waves and particles that we detect, but cannot see. It it therefore, real?
              E=mc2 is the equivalent of saying energy and mass are the same thing. They are interchangeably equal. What is real here, when someone like Niels Bohr says, “Everything we call real is made of things that cannot be regarded as real.” Is there a line that can be drawn? Can you be considered real when scientifically you are not?

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            18. Sure there will be some limiting factors there, when I use the term ‘God’, I am specifically meaning some deity, be that Zeus or Yahweh. Well the blade of grass is real because you can see and feel it for yourself, and other people will be able to verify this. Of course, there are things I consider ‘real’ but you may not be able to directly observe it yourself, but there is peer reviewed data which verifies it. The flipside to this is, just because science hasn’t verified something yet, doesn’t mean it isn’t real either. I would be fascinated if some scientists determined me to be not real Jim 🙂 . Perhaps you see differently, but the way I see it is, one can believe whatever they like, but to give said belief weight, there must be some kind of yardstick which both you and I can use to validate it (or not). For me, our physical senses and collective observations are all we have to go on. Maybe my beliefs on that will change someday, who knows? Maybe we have some extra senses, but for now, it’s this.

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            19. Well, only in the Abrahamic religions is god a deity, so maybe that’s a clue. Every premise in Christianity is a contradiction, so maybe the opposite is what we’re looking for? I really don’t know what to think about it, but it is interesting.

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            20. Well, there are a lot of points you make, MT. I usually refute each in turn but I’ve done it so many times I don’t care to go through it all again.

              What I will ask you to do (you don;t need to respond unless you want to) is think long and hard about how much applicable knowledge has been produced by all religions combined. Can you think of a single instance of usable knowledge?

              Now look at the scientific results that have produced applications, therapies, and technologies that just so happen to work for everyone everywhere all the time. From the moment you arise to when you fall asleep, your day is full of the products from science. In fact, you willingly risk your life everyday using these products, such is the trust you have in them. This fact is not trivial.

              So when you compare and contrast what all faith-based belief systems produce and on the same metric what science produces and fairly compare the two, every scrap of knowledge we have about reality (demonstrated by these applications, therapies, and technologies BECAUSE they work for everyone everywhere all the time) comes ONLY from science. It is unidirectional. This fact is not trivial.

              Yet for some reason you want to make the two somehow equivalent. When the evidence for producing knowledge about the universe is so overwhelmingly in favour of only one, then what OTHER motivation might drive someone to try to make wiggle room for faith-based beliefs that have not, do not, and probably never shall produce one jot or tittle of knowledge about the reality we share? There has to be some OTHER reason involved. It would be enlightening to find out what that reason might be… not for me but for yourself. Why do YOU need this wiggle room?

              All faith-based belief does is produce incompatible models of reality that do not work to accurately reflect it or offer insight into it. If it did, it would produce knowledge. It doesn’t. Ever. And yet religious people actually presume their faith opens some mystical door of insight into reality that actually offer AT BEST Just So stories. This fact is not trivial but something worth pursuing because I think you might find these answers quite revealing.

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            21. As far as I can tell – and I’ve done much study on the history of various religions – anything a religion claims to offer us as its own has been stolen from some other source. Everything.

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            22. oh, i’m not denying the marvels of science at all, i am forever grateful for antibiotics and my flushing toilet! my husband has a PhD in physics, and in this house, science and spirituality are inseparable.

              i don’t care for religion or belief. this whole thread started as i’m objecting to the idea that a belief carries some weight. understand, a belief is merely an idea, an empty, meaningless ‘shell’. do you think the universe gives a damn what we believe, or what we believe has any influence on reality?

              another objection is that you assume the reality perceived by science is True beyond doubt. all knowledge that is obtained by second-hand (from books, from observation, from experimentation) is tainted and limited (our senses are very limited. for ex, we don’t even perceive the whole electromagnetic spectrum). i assure you, there is such a thing as Direct Knowledge, which is spontaneous and doesn’t need another medium. intuition is one small example.

              religion is useless as it always looks outside. but there are many traditions (thousands of years old) that follow methods of honing such direct ways of obtaining knowledge about the nature of reality. it doesn’t use a microscope.
              these methods present a completely different way: they perfect the ‘observer’ and are less concerned with the observed. now, knowledge obtained this way may not help us get to the moon or make faster cappuccinos, but transforms the individual much like gold is refined to become purer and he can realize, directly and beyond any mind-doubt, that he is part of a unified consciousness that is truly eternal and infinite.
              this consciousness (which science is inept in defining) is the stuff of all creation, and it leads back to you, and me, and all of us. but it remains a mystery because we are so busy denouncing the father-like figure in the sky, and his Swedish-looking son!

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            23. MT, you say, “you assume the reality perceived by science is True beyond doubt.”

              No I don’t. I have never said or written any such thing. In fact, calling reality True is like calling rock Wise. I do know that applying the method of science allows reality to reveal explanations and models about it that work consistently and reliably well. If reality were just an expression of our consciousness rather than independent of it, this result would make no sense.

              What I do say is that the METHOD of science has, does, and in all likelihood will continue to produce knowledge about reality. (I don’t know why people often presume this to mean the method constrains reality; the opposite is the case: reality constrains science!) One of the ways we grant higher levels of confidence to the METHOD of science to reveal how reality operates independent of us is by applications, therapies, and technologies based on the modeled explanations that works for everyone everywhere all the time. Said another way, if science did not produce this reliable and predictable result in the models and explanations for why this works in this application, this therapy, this technology, then we would know another encompassing explanation and/or model is required. (This is something creationists seem incapable of wrapping their heads around when criticizing evolution… if the explanation weren’t descriptive about how life changes over time, then offering POOF! as an alternative explanation doesn’t explain why the model works for everyone everywhere all the time in every avenue of inquiry with additional applications, therapies, and technologies that work for everyone everywhere all the time!) And until that alternate explanation/model arrives to account for stuff that works consistently and reliably well, why in the world is it so difficult to admit we do not know but, instead, substitute some version of magic and/or woo in order to pretend we know?

              You then speak about something you call, “Direct Knowledge, which is spontaneous.” You have created a false dichotomy here, in that you are proposing knowledge that is immediate and requires no reasoning is somehow different, or in contrast to, knowledge adduced from compelling evidence… assuming then that these must necessarily be a different ‘kind’ of knowledge.

              Why?

              It’s not knowledge until tested against reality. It’s EXACTLY the same product we call ‘knowledge’ tested exactly the same way using the scientific method: allowing reality to arbitrate it! It’s just quicker. So what? Unless or until you can demonstrate this arbitrary dividing line you assume must exist between knowledge (of the scientific kind) and knowledge (of the ‘Direct’ kind), you are speaking of the same thing. Knowledge is knowledge. And knowledge to be knowledge is produced not by belief but by reality’s arbitration of the explanation/model.

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            24. very well written argument and i agree with most of your points. the problem is, the scientific reductionist paradigm has become dogma.
              consciousness is the at the core of things, and science views it as computation. but what if it isn’t?

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            25. The best definition I’ve come across is that the mind is what the brain does. The term ‘consciousness’ seems very difficult to define, which leaves lots of esoteric wiggle room for this dualistic notion of some small yet distinct operator pulling all the levers and pressing pedals whilst pondering various choices about dinner… somehow separate from the biology in which it’s housed… but not really housed… more like free floating into and out of various physical, chemical, and electrical fields and forces… but not really… because it is also completely independent of it so that when the biology ceases to function, it can kind of elevate out and yet keep its personality and memories… but not really…

              I don’t know what this consciousness is because it seems to be undefinable and intentionally so – which is why there will always be this argument of ‘reductionist bias’ aimed at science. I much prefer the idea of emergent properties for complexity but I don’t know. That’s why it’s considered a ‘hard’ problem in science. Just what is ‘IT’ we’re trying to find out about? Careful, though… that is a ‘reductionist’ argument… but not really….!

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            26. So tildeb, when a master skilled in the meditative arts—shamans, monks, gurus, yogis, etc, reach the moment of full awareness and ethereal unity with all that there is in the cosmos, and sees that we are all it, that everything is “god” for lack of a better term, that we are all one manifestation of a reality that has been and always will be played as a drama of actors and watchers called physical life, that it happens over and over, what in your opinion are they talking about?
              You can read reddit threads from multiple people that have tried this practice and also saw the realization of I AM. What is happening here? This isn’t some new age awakening, not a faith, but a method that has been demonstrated for 1000’s of years to see behind the curtain.
              When I became an atheist I had this sudden realization that things are not what they seem to be. That is when in started the phrase—“the key to understanding the mysteries is unbelief”, which is actually a big part of Buddhism which I knew nothing about. Which is a method of deconstructing beliefs and the illusion that, what we see is what actually is. Do you have any ideas?

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            27. I don’t know because I’m not a practitioner of meditation. But I have read a lot of neurology (a long fascination with the human brain and development) and note the striking similarity between reports of experiences with drug impairment, strokes (specifically, My Stroke if Insight by neurologist Jill Bolte Taylor, Mirroring People, and How the Brain Changes Itself by Doidge) and read various studies of fMRI and PET scans (Sam Harris has provided a load of references) of the brain’s activity during prayer and meditation. The lower the activity in certain areas (and the lower the blood flow), the greater the reported experiences of feeling one with the universe. I have read also about Persinger’s ‘God’ helmet here in Canada’s Laurentian University sometimes duplicating various experiences, including out of body, communing, encountering disembodied spirits, and so on.

              I read Jerry Coyne’s account of taking acid, coming to a deep awareness and discovering a startling truth about the universe, but having the wherewithal of writing it down before he forgot it. The next day, he pulled the paper out of his pocket and read, “It’s Brown.” Truly enlightening.

              The communication between the hemispheres of a bicameral brain has to be profoundly affected when anything interferes with it… including self-induced neuro-relaxation. All I can say is that there seems to be a correlation between lower function and weird experiences.

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            28. That’s a religious belief presented as a statement of fact. If you can demonstrate the attributes often used to reveal consciousness in, say, igneous rocks, then you may well be correct. I sincerely doubt you have this capability (or any equivalent evidence) or you would have already collected your Nobel. What you are saying sounds suspiciously like panpsychism, an idea long discredited but enjoying a recent comeback.

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            29. it’s impossible for someone who has never detached from thinking (mental activity) who has never kept the body motionless but alert for a longer period of time, to grasp the nature of consciousness. and no amount of description will do it justice.

              but to use my fav metaphor, if life was a painting, then consciousness is the white canvas behind. it is That which allows all things to come into being (activities, beings, and all experiences). it is by consciousness alone that you are able to say “I am a human being” and it is by that which allows you to have any experience of life. furthermore, while science tried to pin point this as some function of the brain, i can share that consciousness is non-dimensional and non-local.
              so, while you look for it, you will never see it as it is that by which you are looking, and that which is looking. while you think yourself to be a person in a world, in reality, you are the consciousness in which your body and the world appears.
              nice chatting with you!

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            30. Maybe I’m just weird, but I think of life as one thing; I am merely one small part of it with a finite time frame. Life is expressed in all kinds of ways but ‘consciousness’ is expressed in only some of them (presuming the definition has some means to demonstrate awareness). Igneous rock have no means to be aware, which requires some kind of ability to have input and response. To claim ‘everything’ has this ability to demonstrate awareness I think is a gross over-reach and I think you would agree. That is why I claim your claim is a faith-based and not evidence-adduced (or direct knowledge) claim. As far as I can tell, awareness is an emergent property of some life forms. But life itself is something that emerged about 3.5 billion years ago here on Earth and has been evolving ever since. To claim ‘consciousness’ predates this time frame and extends to the rest of the universe is simply an empty faith claim.

              The idea of things having a ‘nature’ is the core of ‘natural’ philosophy, the framework used to describe reality and everything in it prior to the scientific revolution (meaning prior to Galileo). This lies at the heart of most religious belief, an assumption that everything – animate and inanimate objects – has a ‘nature’. Furthermore, the ‘nature’ was presumed to be inserted into everything by a creator, which is why you can sometimes find a religion without a creator but you will never find a creator without religion. It’s a core belief because it follows the standard and ancient assumptions that are… wrong. The very heart of metaphysics requires everything to have a nature, one that can be discovered by way of reason alone, and avoid the messy problem of allowing reality to arbitrate the premises used.

              This idea of the nature of things was challenged and found to factually incorrect by Galileo (specifically, his thought experiment of the inclined plane). He is the ‘giant’ referenced by Newton upon whose shoulder he stood. Things do not have natures any more than they necessarily have consciousness but are objects upon which impersonal forces and indifferent fields have direct and measurable effect causing what had previously been assumed to be contained as a ‘nature’ within the object itself. For example, rocks were heavy because it was in their nature to be so. Things moved because they possessed the nature of a moving agency. These were core beliefs prior to Galileo. He showed that they were wrong and went on to demonstrate why. This is the scientific revolution in a nutshell, the switch from imposing our beliefs on reality as Just So stories to allowing reality to arbitrate our claims about it.

              You are presuming (again) that to not go along with your presumptions means a lack of something on the part of others, that they – unlike you – cannot appreciate the deeper reality, the canvas upon which some painting, some understanding, rests. But you think you know this canvas is a cosmic consciousness, that this cosmic canvas is the ‘hidden’ nature that you can determine is what is necessary for all things to come into being. What you don’t realize is that this is ancient thinking, archaic thinking, a way of presuming that one knows something one does not, in fact, know. But it is known – especially in religious framing – to protect arrogant and ignorant claims from legitimate scrutiny using reality to arbitrate such claims about reality. It is a FAILED method of inquiry, and one that kept much of the world dark for over a millennia and substituted belief that its premises were true. This method does not produce knowledge but Just So stories and we have the historical record to demonstrate the truth of this matter. For example, since the 1300s, the world under Islam has produced almost no knowledge. More books are translated from Spanish to English than are published in the entire Islamic world. The belief system of presuming things have natures and that we can know something about the nature of reality through faith-based beliefs is a guaranteed method to gain no knowledge of reality. This is why I think your consciousness claim is without any merit and not because I have failed to understand what you believe is a deeper reality. I think your claim is another in a very long line of Just So stories that I have no good reason to think is likely.

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            31. I think it would be fascinating for a whole team of scientists to go through this process to liberation and achieve nirvana, satori, vision quest, or whatever each discipline calls it, and see what they have to say. Either put an end to it with direct observation, or open it up. I wonder if any would volunteer to research this?

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            32. and there are well-respected scientists who do practice meditation: physicist Roger Penrose (Eemritus Prof at Oxford U),

              Amit Goswami (PhD Theoretical Quantum Physicist, he wrote “The Self-Aware Universe” and appeared in the movie “What the Bleep Do We Know”

              i’ll quote this directly from Penrose:

              A lot of what the brain does you could do on a computer. I’m not saying that all the brain’s action is completely different from what you do on a computer. I am claiming that the actions of consciousness are something different. I’m not saying that consciousness is beyond physics, either—although I’m saying that it’s beyond the physics we know now…. My claim is that there has to be something in physics that we don’t yet understand, which is very important, and which is of a noncomputational character. It’s not specific to our brains; it’s out there, in the physical world. But it usually plays a totally insignificant role. It would have to be in the bridge between quantum and classical levels of behavior—that is, where quantum measurement comes in.

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            33. i HAVE to mention this one!

              The Tao of Physics: An Exploration of the Parallels Between Modern Physics and Eastern Mysticism
              is a 1975 book by physicist Fritjof Capra. It was a bestseller in the United States and has been published in 43 editions in 23 languages. The fourth edition in English was published in 2000.

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            34. no, no. i have no intention of changing your mind, we’re just exchanging views. your view is the common, rational accepted view. i know i’m the freak here! i’m the one that sits in meditation 3 hrs/day in order to gain nothing at all. and that’s the only difference between us. i have nothing extra! if you were to sit at least 10min in silence each day, with mind at rest, you too will start seeing things differently.

              this docu-movie made a big splash when it came out in 2004. it shows the relationship between consciousness and quantum physics. i can’t say i agree with all of it, but it’s worth giving it a try. i’m sorry i can’t find a shorter version, the one i saw was only 1hrs. hope you enjoy!😊

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            35. Perhaps with a few reservations, I do agree with you. I like the canvas analogy very much. You certainly did a better job of describing “it” then I did previously.

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            36. It seems the Almighty question has forced you to consider something you would’ve never thought of on your own

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            37. Yes Nan, who would have considered there was a god or not, had you not been asked? It is not a natural conclusion

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            38. Oh … OK. And I agree. But my question was actually about the fact that none of us are “born” with a belief so “non-belief” is the default position. But then you already know that. 🙂

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            39. Jim, which one is the not natural conclusion here: that there is a god or that there is no god? Were we “asked” to decide this, or did we come to a conclusion of the matter based on personal evidence due to observation? I observe that “god” like the universe as Monica says, does not spoon feed, yet my religious upbringing led me to expect exactly that: that god does spoon feed. I also observe(d) that those who taught me, raised me and expected me to be a good Christian never, ever, demonstrated any sort of life that came close to the demands clearly stated in the gospels. I concluded that if there was such a god as the one I was taught existed he would swiftly put an end to the corrupting influence, the violence and general putrefaction that “his” religions have become or always were. So, no such god. Then I observed that billions of people worship deities, most of those today being down to two major ones: Yahweh and Allah. These worshipers are a majority count, therefore based on that evidence, their gods do indeed exist, if only in the religious performances, the books and the minds of their followers. Final conclusion which is entirely mine (even if others think the same) is that these gods both, exist and do not exist. Apart from other ideas I have about gods, this presents a sort of Schrödinger’s cat thought experiment. It’s a paradox that doesn’t go away with simple denial or simple acceptance. Better to remain open minded, neither religious nor atheist. My opinion…

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            40. I would think that no one naturally comes to the conclusion there is a deity god without the spoon feeding appeal to faith and the three questions. But that begs another question, doesn’t it. Having an experience they could not interpret or understand, the question may have been, what the hell was that? So it’s very likely these periods where the mind is liberated from the dream, even sometimes randomly or accidental, changes people depending their personality type. Some go into seclusion, while other take on a role of self importance. But being honest, I think the experience or awakening to this ultimate reality, touching eternity so to speak, a glimpse behind the scenes came first. Then trying to explain it without sounding insane takes a lifetime. Very few have words to describe what they saw. But it is essentially I AM. Everything is the god. Not a deity, but it’s us. It’s an interesting point of view, and it also solves the problem of evil.

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            41. Does it have to be “natural” – whatever that means – what’s “natural” about building and driving a f*****g car, Jim? What’s natural about anything an Earthian does? Hey, it could be programming, but we can’t go there because, well, because, it might mean we’re so wrong about everything and both of our most precious beliefs, creationism and evolutionism are total crocks! And yet they might be the reason people are so totally f***ed up… how about that? How about you tell me, or someone tells me with full compelling evidence, where do all our fears, our hates, our deadly predatory drives, our racism, our blatant misogyny, our need for perpetrating endless crimes against fellow Earthians in lynchings and genocides and anything else living on this world, our need for psychopathic and sociopathic bombastic rulers originate from? That’s the result of evolution? The result of creation from a “loving” god? I’ve got a million questions that shoot all of man’s current beliefs into one giant ball of spent and gone fireworks. To another comment, if we are “gods” or “I Am” as you said, why are we, in Jimmy Buffet’s words, Fruitcakes strutting naked through the crosswalk? And how, as you said there, does THINKING THAT solve the problem of evil? Late again and gotta work tomorrow! At least that part is normal, so far.

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            42. Jim, you say, ” Very few have words to describe what they saw.”

              Right there is a problem. You presume the experience(s) indicates “the experience or awakening to this ultimate reality, touching eternity so to speak, a glimpse behind the scenes.” You have already presumed the location is outside yourself and then use the experience(s) to conclude the experience is insightful into a reality beyond the one you are physically in. You have, in fact, assumed the conclusion as a premise.

              Perhaps the reason why people have “very few words to describe what they saw” is because they didn’t ‘see’ anything other than their own projection but mistakenly attributed the experience to some outside situation that does not align with the outside situation; instead, they presume a hidden world into which they have ‘glimpsed’ by some experience rather than consider their brains are fooling them. It’s like assuming an optical illusion reveals two or more realities rather than understand that our brains’ experiential interpretation of data can fool us into believing all kinds of nonsense… perhaps even like believing in an ultimate reality, touching eternity so to speak, or even a glimpse behind the scenes. Yet this is EXACTLY what the evidence seems to be indicating… incorrect attribution of experience to something ‘out there’ rather than revealing processing conditions ‘in here’.

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            43. @tildeb. It solves the problem of evil. If you follow the path of least contradiction, this is a very close proximity to it. Analyze what is, not what you want it to be. We all wear a mask. That is what a person is, the persona, the mask worn in greek and roman drama—and we put on several different ones throughout the day. Even the most horrific circumstances are an expression, or rather a consequence that effects the whole organism. Which is true if you think about it. But at the end of the drama, when we destroy the illusion by catastrophe or mass “self” realization of the game (as in heaven as on earth?) the play would be over; it all folds up to eventually present a more illusive scheme than the next. This is thematic if you sift through the codespeak and rewrite of the biblical text, its in there too. The hebrews made god a deity, but that was never the great “spirit” anywhere that I know of.
              Basically the awakening is an overwhelming, timeless display of the whole organism. There are no bosses (we all know the best form of government is a republic) or monarchies, but we are it—the whole works.
              This next question, imagine you’re a buddhist raised to believe you sprang out of the earth for a moment, not a visitor from another realm. That the earth “peoples” from time to time like a tree that bears fruit.
              Children actually know life is a game, but because of the illusion we conform them to fit “humanity”, and we never tell them the rules are arbitrary for this round.
              But if you were an all knowing infinite entity with everything in the cosmos at your disposal—you have all knowledge and ability and time (because there is none) what could you possibly do to relieve the boredom of eternal life? Play a game where you go into a situation where you don’t know the outcome. The game would exhilarate every time, and hold infinite varieties of experience. This is an interesting philosophy, but in the end it was institutionalized and you know what happens then. Corruption. But their are still many places to learn the process to “see”, but they put you through a lot of scenarios to develop your character, because this knowledge, to the undisciplined, can lead to trouble.
              Why do you think the christians (romans) decalred jesus as the only one, none before and never again will there be another? Because this knowledge immediately makes irrelevant the need for churches and those in power.
              This is basically a mixture here of christianity (although they don’t know it) the way of the Tao, Zen and Tibetan buddhism, shamanism, and Hindu philosophies. Or everyones neurons are jelly!

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            44. My apologies, Jim. I’ve tried and failed to parse this comment relative to my question and I seem to encounter more of a stream of consciousness than a line of reasoning. Can you clarify what you mean for me?

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            45. Why does the world seem indifferent? Because of the way we were indoctrinated through the “common senses” of our culture. Even today somehow people find it amusing to deceive their children at nearly every step of their life—an extension of the game itself. My answer (although i am not an expert in these things) is to illustrate how half the cultures in the world, view the world, and have for quite some time. I explained why the world is indifferent. I also suggested following evidence of how things are, vs how we’ve been taught to think, actually aligning pretty closely with what the eastern philosophies have believed that we are—all tits on the same sow, and the sow as well. This indifference isn’t indifference as we define it, but just is because it is the way it has always been. Sorry if thats an incomplete.
              This also aligns (or accepts) evolution as people who have sprung out of the earth, and not some foreign entity gone down into it, like we feel here in the west, competing with nature instead of assimilating into nature.

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            46. Sha’Tara, you conclude, “It’s a paradox (gods both exists and do not exist) that doesn’t go away with simple denial or simple acceptance. Better to remain open minded, neither religious nor atheist. My opinion.”

              Atheism is about not having a belief that any gods exist. Theism is about believing some gods or a god do. So how does one both believe and not believe? Serious question.

              It seems to me an either/or case because I cannot figure out how one can do both at the same time in order to be what you claim is ‘open-minded’. It seems by this definition you use, atheists and theists HAVE to be close-minded. That leaves… Sha’Tara. As the Church Lady from Saturday Night Live would say, “How conveeeenient.”

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            47. ”Theism is about believing some gods or a god, do”. I think it is whether or not “god” is a deity. This is western tradition. The term god conjures a distasteful imagery here, where
              it really shouldn’t.
              Whenever you imagine in Christian, think the opposite and that is closer to reality

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            48. For me it’s a matter of, “believe all things, believe in nothing” which allows my mind to process contradictory thoughts or information based on “current” conditions.

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            49. I would say that we are not born “with” a particular belief but with a felt need to believe “in” something. Then it’s a simple matter of which existing (closest) belief system we are introduced to, to get the faith ball rolling. All downhill after that. If we weren’t predisposed to believe “in” whatever then the concept wouldn’t take. This isn’t just about religion but about patriotism, about politics, about a slew of other concepts we come across, accept or reject as we interact with others. We seem to be born with the tendency to accept the irrational.

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            50. The human brain is a meaning-making machine, so to speak. There is good evidence our memory works by assigning to experiences a level of importance by assigning greater or lesser meaning. As a teacher in a prior age, I used this understanding all the time to very great success getting students to assign meaning to whatever. Especially in mathematical concepts that they could then apply in various ways. It’s actually hard to forget something you have granted a high level of meaning.

              So where am I going with this?

              When we perceive input, we assign meaning to it as a biological function. When we sleep, we don’t assign great meaning to sounds or even changes to light… unless our brains flag something as unusual. When that happens, our brain lights up and we try to assign meaning to it automatically. If the assignment is a benign one, we continue sleeping relatively undisturbed. But if our biology flags something and we can assign meaning that is threatening, the brain lights up but this time we wake up. How we assign meaning determines how we biologically respond.

              Okay. When we interact with our environments, we do the same thing all the time… to greater and lesser effect based on how we assign meaning. This occurs at the biological level. But we also can direct our greater attention by intention (which is what you do when attending a class in something you might not care much about… for a short period of time, at least). When we interact with our environment and our biology alerts us to a threat potential, we assign a meaning that may not be the case at all. Is it the wind rustling the long grass or a predator? Here’s where it gets interesting…

              If a person believes the sound means a tiger is stalking us, s/he will be wrong, say, 999 times out of a thousand. But the person lives (and reproduces). The person who believes the sound is just the wind, s/he will be right 999 time out of a thousand. This person will become food when that threat materializes and be killed (and will not reproduce).

              So what?

              In evolutionary terms, we have inherited the biology from the higher risk assessment ancestral survivors who mistakenly assign agency – usually of the threatening kind – to natural events. After all, nature really is out to kill us and we have to work pretty hard to avoid being killed by a veritable host of natural interactions with our environments.

              So the inherited trait of assigning meaning and outside agency to our perceptions is biological. That doesn’t make it accurate; it makes it useful (in evolution terms, it increases fitness).

              Of course, religion steals everything and so this innate tendency is claimed by proponents of divine agency working outside of time and space to be evidence for mysterious and mystical stuff ‘out there’… or we wouldn’t possibly have any other reason to think otherwise! Why, that must mean religion is innate!

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            51. From reading many of your comments, I feel I understand where you’re coming from on in your response, Sha’Tara. However, I disagree with you because IMO, you are assigning a quality that simply isn’t there at birth. I think as our minds develop, we reach a point where we begin to look at “who we are.” Then, as we progress through life, our many and varied personal experiences help us to eventually find an answer that satisfies us.

              What I find sad is so many are still searching even as they approach life’s end.

              Liked by 2 people

            52. Quote: “you are assigning a quality that simply isn’t there at birth.
              We’re not born tabula rasa, Nan. That is the serious fallacy of scientific materialism. Ponder: what would it be like to be born knowing “stuff” that only adults are supposed to know; to know without having yet had the teaching or the experience? Ever heard it said of some people, s/he was born old?
              Quote: “I think as our minds develop, we reach a point where we begin to look at “who we are. Then, as we progress through life, our many and varied personal experiences help us to eventually find an answer that satisfies us.”
              Our physical lives are much too short to answer most of our more serious questions. That changes when we remember past lives, learn to travel the astral, and bend our mind to shaping our place in possible futures, i.e., “remembering” future lives. Satisfaction? I wouldn’t know what that means – death maybe!
              Quote: “What I find sad is so many are still searching even as they approach life’s end.”
              As intelligent, sentient, self aware beings we really are search engines. Our mind is happiest, free-est when it is answering its Siren call: searching, probing every kind of possible reality by observing the “undiscovered country.”

              Liked by 1 person

            53. Still can’t go along with your thinking, Sha’Tara, but that’s OK. Diverse opinions are what makes the world go ’round … and keeps Jim’s blog active!! 😁

              Liked by 2 people

  8. Well, I don’t know about all problems, but faith-based belief is a pernicious one because it competes directly with evidence-adduced beliefs. Only in religion is faith considered a virtue; in all other human endeavors faith incompatible with evidence is considered a vice. That’s a clue…

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Well, since this is an irreligious blog, I completely agree on the religious part. The appeal to faith has created the monotheistic stall. By belief we can go nowhere at all (even backwards) yet feel good about it.
      On the other hand, today’s lefts and rights have many of the same characteristics as religion. Belief in a social media meme (even if it’s completely untrue) can and does have un-evidenced belief fighting as we speak.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Jim, I think you make a keen observation about the importance of faith-based belief across the political spectrum. Today’s Woke movement IS a religious cult in action. That’s why what’s true, facts, and evidence against certain ideological assumptions either doesn’t matter or is used as a justification for character assassination, social ostracism, and demands for the person to be cancelled from the public domain.

        Additionally, this is one thing – the Woke movement – I think that could bring about another Trump victory as more and more people disgusted with aspects of what seems to be acceptable to the movement’s Thought Police stay quiet, protect themselves from being accused of blasphemy (and all the negative results that come from these accusations alone), but then vote for the only person willing to stand up to it, namely, Trump. And if that doesn’t scare some sense into the invertebrates who go along with helping this movement’s ideological imposition on all of us, then I see no difference between the toppling a statue of Jefferson in Virginia and the Taliban blowing up the ancient rock statues of Buddha in Afghanistan. Both are intolerant, both are totalitarian, both are excused because they are addressing the blasphemy against their religious beliefs these symbols represent (and of course the virtue signalling attached to those Red Guard activists being willing to show what a ‘defender’ of the faith must do). In the same way, acting on faith-based assumptions means one does not have to be concerned with knowledge; one already knows by virtue of faith alone.

        Liked by 2 people

  9. Humanity has burdened itself with the delusion of the supernatural and all the gods therein. The delusion persists and each of those so afflicted creates their own version of a tale of their eternal soul. GROG

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    1. It is this style of inquiry that is most of the problem. That and being compelled to have beliefs in a time they are barely necessary to survival. Debating beliefs is akin to…what? Figuring out why your car runs so well? These beliefs don’t change the fact that everything is working fine, until you decide there is a good reason everything is working fine, then make it you life’s work to inject opinions on nature like one can improve it.

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