Tag: reading

 

 

Below is my response to a nice Christian lady trying to explain to me the reasoning behind why Jesus had to die for our sins and why this proves or justifies her beliefs in some way. I felt this is worth sharing because if you’re not a religious person, you may occasionally find yourself in the audience of one. I think we could all use some guidance in how best to respond in these situations. I know I could.

 First, I present a summarized clip of her explanation.

"He died for our sins in the flesh so we didn't have to die in the spirit, because the cost of sin is death, and the only way we could be saved is by a blood sacrifice. Since He loves us, he makes sure we all have time to make a decision for Him and follow the path of righteousness (according to her flavor of Christianity). Children who are murdered will receive their reward after they die, as will the righteous (of her belief system).”

I should clarify that there's nothing here I haven't heard verbatim almost my entire life. I was an evangelical Christian until I was 22 or so, and still attend a certain church I enjoy on occasion (although I haven't been in a couple years). I certainly believed this stuff as a kid, with all my heart - although I was always asking questions and not always found the answers I received to be adequate.

My Response:

“But if you take what you just said and swap out the Christian-specific words for maybe, Muslim ones, you might begin to get some idea of just how utterly insane or barbaric this stuff sounds to people without imaginary friends of our own. Interestingly, I've been there and I've said the same stuff, so you don't sound crazy to me - just genuinely misguided. And I can't be mad at that.

You seem very nice, but reading your words and seeing the degree of brainwashing I grew out of is both relieving and unnerving at once. None of what you just said makes sense, yet your beliefs accurately reflect the teachings of the Bible perfectly - and you can’t even see the problem with this.”


Here's the problem as I see it:

Humans all agree on about 99% of the physical reality we share (mountains are tall, trees are wood, cars are faster than people, lightening is caused by static electricity in the atmosphere, etc.). We do so by using our senses (and not just 5 of them) and making judgements about the reality of the things we perceive - which is all science is! 

Science is simply observing and measuring the things we can perceive, whether using our own senses by themselves or with the assistance of instrumentation. The definition of Logic could be simplified for ease of application here to “the method of applying reason to beliefs and decision-making, and doing so generally in a way that minimizes or avoids contradiction as much as possible.” If 2 + 2 = 4, then 4 - 2 should always equal 2. This isn’t some magical “scientific method”, this is just measuring what we observe and using words to label numbers. This is how we make calculations and predict outcomes.

We all do this everyday, and we agree on how light bulbs are produced and iPhones enable us to shoot radio waves from our hands, out through space, bounce them off a satellite, and beam them back to earth, so we can video chat with friends overseas. We can track and manipulate the weather, explore the deep reaches of space, and send James Cameron to the bottom of the ocean.

And yet we still live in a world capable of producing human adults who are certain that their cosmically powerful, selectively visible friend is different from the 5000 other such imaginary friends even THEY don't acknowledge, including the countless other versions of their very same god.

This is why logic and reason matter. Because they are the only tools we have to form beliefs and decisions based on the parameters of the physical reality that we all share and actually know exists. And the method we use to observe and measure these parameters - which we do when we cross the road, swim in a pool, make a phone call, tie our shoes, or bake a cake - is called “science”. Basically taking “observing” to “measuring and making predictions”. It doesn’t just happen in a lab, it happens everywhere you go, and guides (in varying degrees) every decision you make.

Dealing with people who possess this ability to subvert logic and reason can be difficult, even for otherwise patient, tolerant people, and I think religious people might consider why that is. It isn’t always because they’re mean or looking for conflict. At least I’m not, and none of my friends are. I just feel a deep sense of sadness when I hear someone express and try to justify beliefs that are offensive to their own intelligence - and they don’t even see it, because they’ve been brainwashed to believe that faith doesn’t question.

I’ve reached the point that I rarely even get angry at this anymore - I just want to help. Because as a fellow human, gifted with a body, a heart, and a brain, I personally believe you deserve better. We all do.

"If someone doesn't value logic, what logical argument could you invoke to prove they should value logic?" - Sam Harris

This single web page for Mayfield Clinic is a valuable tool for learning and teaching basic neuroscience. Understanding this and helping our kids to understand it, helps us all better understand our thoughts, emotions, and actions. This gives us more control over our life, our happiness, and our future.

5/30/2017: For the past few months, I’ve been picking up steam on a project that’s been occupying most of my thought energy (and time) - mapping out a theoretical d
iagram of how all things in the universe are related and connected.

I’m particularly interested in how this universal connectivity works at the personal and global level (more so than the universal level, although I may end up going there eventually), impacting consciousness, the human experience, and our purpose in life - and I believe the model I’m working on should be able to explain all this, while operating within the guidelines of established science. In the course of developing this model, I’m willing to speculate and make any leap I feel makes sense, so long as the outcome doesn’t conflict with established scientific principles.

Since I may post random notes and progress updates on this in the future, I thought it might be helpful to post an overview of my thoughts on the matter for anyone interested in following along or contributing feedback.

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I should open by saying that I believe that science is a critical tool for exploring and interacting with the universe. Therefore, this project and any other to which I commit serious time and effort must be guided by scientific principles first and foremost. That being said, it is by nature an inductive model, and once it’s a bit more complete, I will be enlisting the help of mathematicians, neuroscientists, psychologists, and other experts to review and critique.

The key focus of my work on this is to demonstrate that how we manage our thoughts, emotions, actions, and relationships with people and situations in our lives, will measurably and reliably determine acute outcomes and ultimately, our overall happiness and satisfaction in life. Through this learning process, we can also better understand the level of positive or negative impact we have on the world, which I believe is our ultimate purpose in life. The model should be simple enough that once adopted, a person could theoretically use it to analyze and tweak virtually all aspects of their life and create desired outcomes.

Some of the measurable conclusions this model should prove:

  1. All of our experiences take place in our own reality - not a shared one - although we do share physical space.
  2. We are almost entirely in control of the reality we create for ourselves. It’s simply a matter of identifying and channeling the appropriate energies in our life to achieve the desired result. I usually refer to this as “twiddling the knobs”.
  3. Through our shared physical space, we can impact the experiences of others - for better or worse - which they perceive in their own reality.
  4. Everything we “do” is fueled by a sort of “life force” or “creative energy”, which is channeled from external input in the form of foods we eat, sights we see, sounds we hear, situations we encounter, relationships we maintain, and the emotions we experience as a result. It is then transmuted by our mind (soul/spirit/whatever), and redirected at the world.
  5. This life force fuels everything we output, generate, or create in our lives: thoughts, feelings, actions, unconscious biological processes like breathing and metabolism, careers and hobbies, parenting and managing relationships with our friends and loved ones. Everything.
  6. We only have so much life force to go around, and the way to manage it properly is to input the right energies and channel them into the right outlets.

As humans, we subconsciously (and sometimes consciously) measure and record all our observations and experiences in life, as well as the results of our thoughts and actions. This is how we develop our “gut instinct”, which is really just our subconscious mental computer, mathematically calculating our options and potential outcomes in a situation.

Therefore, I find it immeasurably important that we pay attention to more of our thoughts and actions at all times. If we don’t just pass through our experiences to our subconscious computer before consciously analyzing and cataloging them, we can fine-tune our view of reality and make reasonable decisions to reach desired outcomes. This applies to big and small decisions like which career path to pursue or what to watch on TV. I call this “fine-tuning your gut”, but most people just call it “practicing mindfulness”. I’m fine with that too.

Since the birth of quantum physics, science has proven that we don’t really have much of a grasp on the nature of “reality”, “the universe”, or “consciousness”. In fact, we know now more than ever how ignorant we really are. We can only see and hear a small frequency range of light and sound waves, and we know there’s much more to observe or perceive around us. This is why we use instruments like microscopes, telescopes, stethoscopes, ECG, FMRI, Geiger Counters, and other tools that artificially expand the range of our senses.

Our universe is full of virtually unknown and unidentified energies. Some of this energy we call “matter”, but everything around us is really just energy in various states. Everything we know, exists within a primordial sea of energies, about which we are barely beginning to discover our own lack of understanding. (Click the link, it's a good read)

We have the ability to “perceive” aspects of the universe around us using our “senses”. However, as science discovered long ago, the standard, physical, 5-sense model is entirely inadequate for fully understanding the universe, on large and small scales. This is why we use the instrumentation mentioned above. We can hear sound energy, see light energy, smell particles in the air, etc., but unlike "sight", "hearing", and "smell", we don't have sensory labels for our ability to perceive other sensations. But we know that what we call "sensations" are essentially just chemical changes in our brain, meaning that love, hate, pride, fear, confidence, hope, peace, satisfaction, are all sensations, just as much as the sensation of smelling, seeing, hearing, or touching something.

These sensations represent various energy types with their own individual scales, and are not only dynamic, but transmutable and transferrable between sentient beings, and possibly inanimate objects as well. These energies can’t be perceived with our 5 physical senses, nor by any telescope or photometer, but the effects of their existence are nonetheless observable and measurable. In fact, in most cases, we’re already doing so. The problem is, the observing and measuring of these different energies is done by different scientific disciplines, using different units of measurement, and no one seems to be connecting the dots.

Each of these energy types can be “sensed” or “perceived” by what I’m currently calling “metaphysical senses”; our sense of humor, sense of empathy, sense of responsibility, love/hate, fear/safety, jealousy/security, etc. These all exist on different scales that can be measured in biology, neuroscience and neurochemistry, and can be associated with chemical changes in our body. This creates a trail of bread crumbs we can trace to better understand the chain reaction of energy input and output in our lives.

[As an aside, I feel it is relevant and important to point out that the term "ESP" - Extra Sensory Perception - is itself a paradox, and its very existence only reinforces my point on this issue. Perception is defined as: the ability to see, hear, or become aware of something through the senses. Well... if you can become aware of something using any interface you have available, why wouldn't you just call the thing you used to perceive it a "sense"? Isn't that exactly what senses are in the first place - interfaces that enable us to become aware of things? There's nothing "extra-sensory" about any type of perceptive interface that facilitates awareness, theoretically or otherwise! That's just what a sense is, by definition. Language is a tricky thing, and we need to be particularly aware of the the role it plays in our ability to comprehend and process data, especially I'm finding, in the case of metaphysics.]

So how do we start observing, measuring, and cataloging these metaphysical energies? For starters: mindfulness - paying attention to our thoughts, emotions, intentions, actions, and reactions in real time. Another invaluable tool for this endeavor is the directed and responsible use of psychedelics. However, as a disclaimer, I’ll reference a video by UCLA Cognitive Neuroscientist, Sam Harris, for a fairly objective, yet cautious reference to the use of psychedelics for this type of work.

Just as microscopes let us observe how white blood cells fight infection, and telescopes enable us to calculate the total number of stars in the known universe to something like 10^22 … psychedelics give us a quiet, infinitely-personal space, free of all the physical sensory interference we’re immersed in every day, to observe our reality through both microscope and telescope. We can zoom down to the neurological level and analyze our experiences, memories, ideas, and character, while simultaneously exploring an inconceivably massive expanse of cosmic information that just seems to emit from the universe itself. The experiences, observations, and lessons one can takeaway from a psychedelic experience can be so vivid and transformative, that they simply are not believable for a person who has never had such an experience.

While you may not be on board with the use of psychedelics for any purpose, you should at least consider the possibility that the only reason they aren’t as much a part of the scientific toolkit as the electron microscope, is due to the social stigma associated with their use in any context. I think that will change in the next 50 years, but I digress. You don't need psychedelics for this model to make sense, I promise. They just help get your mind on the level it needs to be to actually create something like it. This is handy for those of us not born with the brains of Newton, DeVinci, Tesla, or Einstein.

So what’s the point in all this? Since my interest in this study became a hobby, then a passion, and now almost an obsession… I’ve been driven to create and publish a workable model, backed by scientifically-sound principles, which can be put to use by anyone who wants to make major, transformative changes in their life or any situation or relationship in it. That is to say, the goal here is to provide a model by which we can optimize the human experience, and I believe this model will do just that.

I’ll keep you posted. Thanks for reading.

Best Wishes,

Adam

[click image for link]

Interesting study on plant intelligence - even telepathy. Looking forward to more work on this. Fits well into a big Chris Langan-type thing I'm working on. Will keep you posted on this, and appreciate all info you have.

Thanks!

Adam

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