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August 14, 2009

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At the end of OpenThread 1, Goerge raised some interesting questions in the form of observations.
Taking his last observation first, one which I tend to agree, randomness, rather like coincidence, could be explained in terms of an event for which we do not observe and have no understanding of the causes.
Chaotic behavior is a phenomena resulting from ordered functions (eg, two van de pol oscilators) however a mathematical analysis will show that an infinite number of equilibrium points can exist under certain conditions. An advanced understanding of calculus and phase space is required, but then, only some increased understanding is gained.
The point of interest is that using our current tools of mathematics, some of the most simple systems can be extremely tough nuts to crack. Or looking the other way around, using some of our very simple mathematics, extremely complex results can be obtains (apparently infinitely complex in the case of fractals. Imagine reverse engineering a fractal image, to arrive back at the seed equation -- with our current mathematical methods, -- seemingly impossible.
So there are good scientific (mathematical) reasons why some observations will appear random, but our current array of tools to deal with such events is grossly inadequate.
Can we designate coincidence to this same argument?

George also observed how few scientists of the past have a faith in God. I have one initial comment, in the same way that todays reputable scientists are very cautious to involve themselves in so called 'fringe' science, because reputation is vital for their works to be considered credible, I suspect same forces acted on the great names of the past.

Comment about the Jed post:
I am putting my comment here, for fear that it might not be approved by Brian, and so be deleted. In part this is because my response is inspired by the Jed post, and does not pertain directly to what Brian may think is the true subject of his post.

Use of words in these posts is really important, that poster and commenter share same meaning would otherwise lead to mis-communication, we have seen this in the past on this blog.

By way of example, Brian states "Spiritual teachers aren't to be trusted, and aren't really needed (Jed got enlightened on his own)."
I disagree: this should say, 'those who claim to be spiritual teachers but are not aren't needed.....'.
I have no idea if there are true spiritual teachers, partly because I have no idea if there is such a thing as a spirit. But, should I be enlightened (see my next paragraph) by some acceptable means and discover that there is such a thing as spirit, then there may be genuine spiritual teachers, and I will want to know one.

My last comment relates to words again, enlightened for example. Jed should not confuse 'enlightened' with 'deluded'.
Derren Brown again - how can we know, as scientists, if we have learnt something, gained some insight, some knowledge, some understanding ie, become enlightened about some event, or if we are victim of yet another delusions, illusion.
Science constantly evolves, but at each stage, scientists believe they have true knowledge of an event or system. Later, it is refined, advanced, corrected, adjusted, and what was observed and known is shown to be at least in part, incorrect.
Generally, we observe something, we accept it at face value, as observed. We rarely leave much space for the possibility that it may not be as we thought we observed. Reviewing a few police witness accounts emphasizes this phenomena.

It is quite possible that someone genuinely believes, is convinced of something, perhaps that they are enlightened.
Then there is a difference between a Jed that is sincere but delusioned and a Jed that is dishonest but claims to be enlightened, a difference of fraud.

So, I come back to child suicide via a tortuous route, and in particular, the actions of a human being, whether parent, scientist or spiritual teacher, does the intent of those actions matter?

The black hole within us

Brian, I suspect Jed was using words in the same way as one may describe a boat as a hole in water in which to throw money.

We are all capable of focusing our attention on any number of different things, from family such as mother in law, then perhaps the bottle of whisky. From science to business, politics to economics. Any number of short range objects of focus exist in our lives, and we are used to focusing our attention and reacting accordingly. But what about focussing on ourselves, you may know this by another word, meditation.

Neural analysis does demonstrate that such focus of attention is different, and while it may be that the outcome of such focus is open to debate, surely it is an area of interest to discuss perhaps even devise experiments. What do we experience when we STOP thinking, completely, or, in Jeds terminology, enter the black hole within us.

JAP, Jed isn't talking about meditation. He places zero emphasis on meditation as the way to his brand of enlightenment. Jed, for all my doubts about him, does make some interesting points.

For instance, he sees a complete distinction between mystic experience and enlightenment. Those who have a sense of oneness with the cosmos, see lights or other mystical phenomena, and such, aren't any more enlightened than regular folks. He says:

"Drugs, breathwork, meditation, and other things can alter your state of consciousness, but self-realization, truth-realization, isn't a state of consciousness."

So focusing one's attention, an activity cited in your comment, has nothing to do with enlightenment, according to Jedism. In fact, anything one does, any action one takes, is useless in winning the enlightenment game.

A few more quotes:

"Truth isn't about knowing things, you already know too much. It's about unknowing. It's not about becoming true, it's about unbecoming false so all that's left is truth...all belief systems are just the stories we create in order to deal with the void. Ego abhors a vacuum, so everybody's scrambling to create the illusion of something where there's nothing. Belief systems are simply the devices we use to explain away the unthinkable horror of no-self."

Well, here I pretty much agree with Jed. Like I said, he's both intriguing and exasperating.

Regarding your comment about "child suicide," you misspoke. It was "child killing." I realize that you want to make excuses for her parents, but you need to recognize reality: Ava's parents caused her to die; that's why the father was convicted or criminal neglect.

Intention doesn't matter under the law of criminal neglect. A fact is a fact: her father failed to take steps that would have saved her life. Similarly, you'll note that I never talked about Jed's intention. What I questioned was fact: is there actually a state of consciousness called "enlightenment"?

Sure, some spiritual teachers probably sincerely believe they are enlightened. In mental institutions there also are people who sincerely believe that they are Joan of Arc, or whoever. Beliefs are one thing; demonstrable facts are another.

Blogger Brian
Its far too easy to turn discussion into argument with you, (I used to think this was the case for tAo and George and others, but a new respect has emerged)
Consider just your last comment on intention.

A visitor to your home who sees a $100 note on your desk, picks it up and takes it away is treated differently from a person who accidently and mistakenly picks up the same $100 note (perhaps with some other papers) and takes it away.
The physical act may be identical, but the intention is entirely different
Law would view one as an accident, the other as theft.
Difference between borrowing and theft is the INTENTION, to return the item or to retain the item, the intention to consider change of ownership, whether factual or not.

I do not agree with the actions of the parents, but standing aside from the emotional baggage, I maintain intention is a valid consideration, and one the law does acknowledge

Apologies about the misquote, not suicide, had other things on my mind :-)

BBrian
Jed may not be talking about meditation, but if we stand aside from terminology, and examine the claims and we see a pattern, then we may be able to recognize a pattern.

Rebranding, repackaging, and the like, do have commercial value. If Jed is attempting to gain financially from his enterprise, and assuming he has not become spiritually enlightened, (in which case i doubt if he would be embarking on his venture) then he has probably identified certain patterns that are familiar and have been successful, then rebranded them in his own style.

Religion has been enormously successful, a visit to the Vatican will reveal the enormous wealth and power of the RC Church. Like wise, other churches display effects of enormous wealth, Religion is succesful as a wealth builder. I knew a welder whose wife decided to start a church. Soon the welder gave up his dirty job and they moved into a much better house. Perhaps they won the lottery, but why would they carry on their church. I suspect it was more profitable. Hell, churches are even tax exempt in some jurisdictions.

JAP,

Interesting, yes, is randomness only apparent or pseudo-randomness, for example a random number generator programmed by some simple algorithm. Is the roll of the dice really random or predictable with knowledge of all conditions?

Is the pantheist closer to being a scientist than an atheist, since science appears to find order and predictable explanation?

Perhaps there are three possibilities:

1) ultimate reality is ordered.

But how does this explain the apparent complexity of the universe? If everything is ordered, surely everything would be the same, oneness, but how would complexity and differnt forms be generated, apparent or otherwise? Surely, a universe with everything ordered would exhibit uniformity at every level and there would not even be apparent complexity? The belief in underlying order appears to be that of pantheistic scientists like Einstein.

2) ultimate reality is chaotic.

But how does this explain the partial patterns and predictable order that science brings? At least some aspects of the universe must be ordered (as our science works at some level) or is it that the universe is so infinitely vast with so many random outcomes that some of those will exhibit partially ordered behavour, i.e. our universe, whereas perhaps in other universes there are no universal laws. If you throw the dice enough times you will eventually throw six 6's in a row and to an observer capable of observing only this time frame the universe would appear to be ordered and the outcome always predictable. Extreme luck. Is this not similar to Dawkings atheistic scientific view?

3) ultimate reality has order and chaos.

Logically, its difficult to see how an ultimate reality can exhibit simultaneous qualities of order and chaos. This presumes an inherent paradox or dualism to all involving some uncontrolled unpredictable quality coexisting with some controlling predictable quality. Can something be called 'ultimate', if it ultimately consists of two contrasting qualities, as oposed to one?

I wonder if the Taoists feel philosophical Taoism lies closest to 1) or 3) above?

Specifically, the concept of yin and yang would almost fall squarely within 3), but the Tao apparently means the flow or harmony of nature suggesting 1).

Brian,

"Intention doesn't matter under the law of criminal neglect."

That news to me, i thought all commonwealth juridictions involved the notion of mens rea (guilty mind) is usually required to be found guilty of a crime. This is the mechanism by which ppl plead diminished responsibility, such as being mentally ill or retarded. Its also often the reason why manslaughter for drunken driving is a lesser offence and/or why children who committ a crime are assumed not to know better.

George
Consider pi
We know how it is generated from geometry, yet, Pi certainly seems to behave as a random number generator. In the first six billion decimal places of pi, each of the digits from 0 through 9 shows up about six hundred million times.
Is it random or pseudo-random.
When we struggle to truly understand the ratio of diameter to circumference of a circle, how can we claim to know God does not exist. Do we really appreciate how little we know of our world, or do we arrogantly think we have nearly cracked the mysteries of the universe and its creatiion?

PS
Find awe in the latest movie clip on Brians post, thanks Brian for reminding us of our insignificance, it really is good to be humbled from time to time, my intention with the above comment

PPS
I am not suggesting a defeatist stance in my comment about pi, quite the contrary, its highly exiting and stimulating world in which we find ourselves. To me, the experience of awe is pleasurable !!!

JAP, here's a link to how criminal mistreatment is defined in Oregon (not criminal "neglect" -- I used the wrong word):
https://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/163.200.html

Intention isn't an issue. Did the person fail to provide necessary care to someone for whom they had a legal duty to provide care?

To repeat, you seem to be missing my point -- which is the same as with the enlightenment question. Either necessary care was provided, or it wasn't. EIther someone is enlightened (if such a state exists), or he isn't.

Whether someone believes he was providing necessary care, or whether someone believes he is enlightened -- that's a different issue. I didn't address that in my Jed post. I find that people often fail to make this distinction (I see it all the time in blog comments).

(A) There is something
(B) There is our personal perspective on that something

A child's death is something.
How someone views that death is something else.

When we conflate (A) and (B) we get into a lot weird solipsistic nonsense, where people create reality by how they feel about things.

George, I don't know how the law works where you live, but in the United States this is a common saying: "ignorance of the law is no defense." See:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cheek_v._United_States

I just got a parking ticket. I thought I was in a 2 hour zone. I was in a 30 minute zone. That cost me $14. A judge would have laughed me off if I'd said, "I'm innocent, because I thought I could park for 2 hours."

If intention was a get out of jail free card (or get out of parking ticket card), there wouldn't be many convicted lawbreakers. "It's illegal to pull a knife out in a bar fight and kill someone? Why, Judge, that's news to me. I didn't know that."

oh right so a mentally retarded person that does not know any better but committ a crime will face the same sentence as a person of sane mind?

So the state of a person mind or intention is irrelevant in the US?

I do not believe that is correct, for a criminal offence the test applied is an objective one, not a subjective one, so its not a get out of jail free card.

From the wiki
In the US, mens rea is set out in the Model Penal Code:

Purposefully - the actor has the "conscious object" of engaging in conduct and believes and hopes that the attendant circumstances exist.
Knowingly - the actor is certain that his conduct will lead to the result.
Recklessly - the actor is aware that the attendant circumstances exist, but nevertheless engages in the conduct that a "law-abiding person" would have refrained from.
Negligently - the actor is unaware of the attendant circumstances and the consequences of his conduct, but a "reasonable person" would have been aware
Strict liability - the actor engaged in conduct and his mental state is irrelevant.

You guys invented the plea 'temporary insanity'.

Brian Blogger:
What is the legal care that a parent must provide in your country? Is it defined in all its ramifications, if so where?
Is there a statement that covers the issue of this parent, ie, a parent MUST NOT PRAY BUT MUST USE AVAILABLE MEDICINE, FAILURE TO DO SO WILL CONSTITUTE BREACH OF LAW.

Your parking ticket, I am curious, if your car was broken down, and you were waiting for tow truck to arrive, would you still be liable for ticket? Your intention would have been honorable, but your actual practice would have been different. If yes, why do you live in such an unreasonable place?

George, Brian
My sister is a Federal Judge, I can ask her?

George, black and white thinking doesn't mesh well with the law. Sometimes intent matters. Sometimes intent doesn't matter. I was simply pointing out that in cases of criminal mistreatment (and parking tickets), intent doesn't matter.

Each legal case has to be looked at individually. I'm all for sweeping abstractions (love them!), but these often can lead us astray.

In your earlier comment you questioned whether intention really wasn't a factor in criminal mistreatment, and I wanted to show that it truly isn't -- because this is one of those cases where ignorance of the law (or of an impending child death) is no defense.

Sure, if you're mentally deficient of insane, intent does matter. It all depends on circumstances.

JAP, we've gone around on this issue before. If you want to come to the United States and fight for changes in the law that would allow parents to let their children die because they trust in Jesus rather than antibiotics, go right ahead.

In this country we have trials before judges and juries. In a trial, evidence is presented and the jury considers whether someone's specific actions violate a general law. Laws can't specify every unique instance where a law might be broken. If this was possible, there would be no need for trials.

Along this line, my "car" (actually, scooter) hadn't broken down. So I don't know what your point is. The facts of my case are that I pulled into a parking place and didn't notice that it was a half hour rather a two hour slot. Ignorance of seeing the sign wasn't a defense in my case.

BBrian
I am not sure if you are just act to inflame or are actually stupid?

I have already given the example of a boat being equal to a hole in water: you gave your parking ticket as an example to illustrate a point, I suggested a way it better illustrate the point, but, we are not talking IGNORANCE of the law, we are talking INTENT and the law.

So I ask you, are you IGNORANT or is it your INTENT to inflame an otherwise sensible and intelligent discussion?

You have changed the discussion rather than contribute to the discussion about the law in USA, I have no intention of changing a law that you apparently do not understand.

Brian, can you set up a means by which commenters can delete comments you make in the Open Thread, this would be the ultimate blog, and, I think, would run so much more smoothly

JAP, your emotions seem to be interfering with your ability to understand me. I'll try again:

In my second paragraph above I pointed out a fact: that juries, and the legal system in general, look at specific evidence as applied to general laws.

Every case is different. I then pointed out that in an earlier comment of yours, you had put forward an "if" -- if my car/scooter had broken down. I responded that it hadn't. So what's the point?

It was you who changed the subject -- from what really happened, to what might have happened. I was talking about a specific "case." Sure, we can always imagine how something might have been different. But then arguments and discussion could go on indefinitely.

For example...if this wasn't my blog, then I guess it would make sense that someone could delete my comments. But since the reality is that it is my blog, I'm the one who administers the blog.

If I was in charge of the world, things would run differently. Sadly (for me), I'm not. I'm sorry that the reality of this blog isn't what you would like it to be. What anyone can always do, of course, is create their own blog reality. Then they can administer it on their own, just as I do with mine.

I'm pretty sure the legal system in the US (as a previous Dominion of Great Britain) would have inherited the British legal system of which Mens Rea (intentionality) along with the Actus rea (physical act or ommision) are essential elements of any criminal penalty.

The mens rea is often an objective test for the courts to decide based on the evidence. It determind the level of culpalbility and severity of sentence. It has been set out in the US Model Penal Code.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Model_Penal_Code

Mens rea (intentionality) is related to criminal law, not civil law. Thus, the civil tort of an unpaid parking ticket is unconcerned with the mens rea.

George, good points. Yes, it's interesting that in the case of manslaughter (which the parents of Ava Worthington were charged with), a determining criterion for involuntary manslaughter is absence of intent. See:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manslaughter
http://askville.amazon.com/SimilarQuestions.do?req=definition+manslaughter

I guess this is the main point I've been trying to make, perhaps not all that clearly. Someone can be convicted of involuntary manslaughter (a pretty serious crime) without having any conscious intent to do harm. Meaning, they do something on purpose, but not with the intent to harm. Yet they should have thought of the possibility that harm would ensue.

As one of the above links says, "Manslaughter means that someone does something on purpose that could cause someone to die without thinking of that possibility and someone dies."

I think that some of you do not quite understand the system of justice, the rights and the laws, and the court system in the USA.

Brian has been accurate and correct throughout this issue and debate.

"Intent" ususally always matters in a situation where the prosecution can prove (with evidence or with a witness) that there was a clear and deliberate "intent" to commit a crime.

In this case, the child absolutely required urgent medical care in order to remain alive. In other words, her condition necessaitated and demanded immediate medical care.

But the parents refused to get the child that urgent medical care that her life depended upon... in other words, they obstructed her need, nay even her dire necessity for receiving medical care.

And instead, they chose to resort only to prayer (based upon belief). But prayer is not expert medical care.

So, because they obstructed this child from getting the necessary life saving medical care, she died.

Now their "intent" no doubt may have been to try to help the child (via prayer)... however, they also prevented her from getting any other help (such as basic modern medicine), help that would surely have saved her life.

So therfore, their "intent" to help her in their own way with prayer, is basically irrelevant. Because their intent was also to deny her the medicine she needed.

They did not just resort to prayer and medicine, BUT they also deliberately and INTENTionally prevented and obstructed and deprived her from getting the simple modern medicine (antibiotics) that most certainly would have helped and would have kept her from dying.

So they are guilty of the intention and the action of depriving her of something (medicine and medical care) that would have kept her from dying.

It is basically the same as if they had locked her in a room and deprived her of all food and water until she died of starvation and thirst, yet all the while thinking and believing that mere prayer would sustain her and keep her from starving to death.

So even though their intent was good as far as prayer goes, their intent and actions were bad as far as denying her the necessary medicine and modern medical care.

So this argument that has been put forth by some folks here, that the parent's "intent" was good and it was to help the child through prayer, is faulty.

It is faulty because, as it turns out, they also INTENTionally REFUSED to allow the child any medicine that would have helped her, because it would have kept her from dying.

So their prayer, regardless of how well INTENTioned it was, was ineffective. But more importantly, their INTENT was also to prevent and to deny her the medicine that would have helped her. And this other "intent" is shown by thir actions.

If they had simply resorted to prayer AND ALSO they had allowed her to get the medicine too, but then she still died anyway... well then their good intentions would be obvious, and there would be no wrongdoing on thir part.

But that was not the case here. In this case, their INTENT was to depend upon prayer, but also their INTENT was (obviously) to refuse, to obstruct, to prevent, and to deny the child any otside help from medicine. And so therfore, the child died. Through their intent to obstruct an prevent her from getting medicine, they caused the needless death of their child.

And so the parents are respnsible and guilty of causing her death by their intentions and actions of refusing to allow her the medicine that would have no doubt saved her life.

Its just same as if she had been bitten by a snake and insted of getting her to a hospital immediately, they just prayed and left her alone out in the wilderness to die. So their actions are criminal regardless of their supposed faith or belief or their (misguided) intentions.

INTENT is shown by their ACTIONS, not their beliefs. And their actions were to effectively prevent and obstruct and deny her from getting medicine and thus remaining alive. Intent is proven by actions.

For instance, if someone is shooping in a store, and they accidently forget and absentmindedly walk out of a store with an unpaid item of merchandise in their hands and it is visible and unconcealed, then it is fairly difficult if not impossible to prove "intent".

But, if the same person were to conceal the item inside their coat or pocket or bag, and it was witnessed by someone or was recorded on the store's video cameras, and then the person walked outside of the store... then that person could be charged with "intent" to steal. Simply because their ACTION of concealing the item shows they had INTENT. They will not be able to claim that they merely "forgot". Their actions will show and prove their intent.

So in this case, the aprents may have had the "intent" to help their child with prayer, but unfortunately they also had and showed the "intent" of preventing the child adequate and vitally necessary medicine. So it was also their "intent" (as was revealed in and by their actions) to DENY their child medicine, which then as we know resulted in the child's untimely death.

Brian and tAo, you have made excellent and probably accurate responses to this case. However, this comment I am writing now is more about the implications of the case.
First, lets assume, for purpose of this discussion, that the parents truly loved their child and only wished for the best to cure her. (This may be wrong assumption in reality of the case, but for my question, its important to accept)
Faced with a number of options to cure their child, and for reasons we cannot comprehend because we do not share their belief system, the ACTION they took was to pray. They would not have believed that medicines would have been as effective, or may have had side effecs or whatever was in their warped minds, they did not do nothing and obstruct, they acted in the way they believed would cure. (reminding again, this is an assumption for purpose of this discussion)

Now, what happens in another situation, lets assume that there are two types of cure for a life threatening disease, one is to take some new drug, the other to take some kind of Chemotherapy, both are valid options, both have their risks. Chemo always works, always, but has drastic side effects, drugs work some of the time, when they work, no side effects, when they dont, there is no chance to go on chemo.
Under the law, as you guys understand it, should the chemo always be selected, because although it always damages quality of life, the person lives. Would parents who opt for the risk route, but a possibility of a perfectly healthy child, be prosecuted should they take that option and the child dies.

I hope I am never put in this situation, but, while the prayer case is obvious to us, because there is little evidence of prayer ever working, whereas medicine nearly always does work, what in the situation where the division between the two options is less well defined. I suspect the parents will have enough grief, and the imposition of the legal system would be unreasonable?


Brian, one comment on different subject, you have oft commented that if the readers and commenters of your blog do not like the way you run your blog, then they can go somewhere else. You have made it clear that it is your blog, and you can run it how you wish.
Now, I am assuming that you have a purpose in running this blog, a purpose that includes others reading and commenting. I assume that if you had zero readers and zero comments, you would probably not keep the blog going, at least not for long. So I conclude that the views of your readers should matter to you, that perhaps you should take on board their comments and feedback about the blog, rather than dismiss and ignore.
Unless, as per your comment about running the country, you have no desires for anything less than a dictatorship?

JAP, I've noticed that you like to take a position to extremes, and then claim that someone is extreme for holding that position. Only problem is, you, repeat you, have established that position -- not the "someone" (which in this case is me).

Regarding my blog, you said that it would be absolutely great if my comments could be deleted. I pointed out that since I'm the administrator of this blog, I'm in charge of deleting comments, and that if someone wants to have this ability, they need to start their own blog.

You took this entirely reasonable position and said that i "dismiss and ignore" comments and feedback about my blog, which is absolutely false. I read every comment and consider every suggestion. I guess you haven't been around long enough to realize this, or have chosen to ignore this fact.

For example, when I switched to TypePad Connect, an alternative commenting system, many people didn't like it. After getting a bunch of critical comments on TypePad Connect, I switched back to the old system.

You're doing the same thing with the Worthington case. No one is disputing that parents have the right to choose between two alternative medical treatments, each effective, but with different pros and cons.

It isn't true that Ava's parents acted in the way they thought would best cure their daughter. They acted the way they believed Jesus and God wanted them to act. Their religious belief was more important to them than their daughter's life.

About twenty other children belonging to the sect had died prior to Ava. It was damn obvious to church members that prayer didn't work. County authorities had paid a visit to the sect when Oregon law changed. They had been told about the necessity of providing medical care to seriously ill children.

So, like the judge in the case said: wrong, wrong, wrong. It's that simple. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

JAP,

I think you are really a bit wacky. Your last comment is a good example of that. You seem to think that you deserve to have some authority here. You act as if this blog should be your blog. The thing is, you are already allowed the priviledge of posting your comments, but you want more. You want more power and control. But you are merely a guest here. What on earth gives you the idea that you should be able to do more than just "reading and commenting"? Aren't you being awfully presumptious? Seriously dude, get some perspective.

You said: "I assume that if you had zero readers and zero comments, you would probably not keep the blog going"

-- That's not necessarily true... but, this is just another wacky extreme conjecture on your part. It has nothing to do with reality.

"I conclude that the views of your readers should matter to you"

-- Why should others views matter? But the truth is that Brian does listen to feedback.

You said: "perhaps you should take on board their comments and feedback about the blog, rather than dismiss and ignore."

-- Brian does listen to feedback... but just because someone (like you) wants this blog to be run YOUR way, doesn't mean that it should. If you want a forum where you are able to delete your own comments, then you should go create a Yahoo group, or make your own blog. But you said that you want the power to delete the blog owner's comments. That's just crazy, aka wacko. So you seem to be rather immature when it comes to knowing your proper place in the scheme of things. If you want complete power and authority, then go make your own blog.

You said: "Unless [...] you have no desires for anything less than a dictatorship?"

-- That's a load of BS. And this shows that you really are immature and out to lunch. No wonder you keep missing the point on the case of the child dying because she was denied medicine by her crazy parents.

As Brian has rightly observed about you: "you like to take a position to extremes, and then claim that someone is extreme for holding that position. Only problem is, you {...] have established that position -- not the someone." There is clearly something that is out of wack with your rationale. And it keeps manifesting in almost all of your comments. I also think you need to pay closer and bettere attention to exactly what other people say, and stop going off on what amounts to totally irrelevant and unrelated tangents.

Brian
The legal system in your country makes use of case law. This is the process whereby previous judgements are called upon to assist in the case in hand. It implies and follows that new cases may be used as reference material for future cases. Therefore the rulings of one case, may and can have impact outside of the sphere of the particular.
You seem unable to distinguish between comments made about the specifics and comments made about the possible impact of the outcome on future cases.
I made it clear, in fact twice, that my comment did not apply to the specific case in question, but did apply to the impact on future cases. It is highly unlikely that future cases will be identical, so it is worthwhile to debate where the lines should be drawn. I suggested for the purposes of discussion, a possible case where the lines may be blurred.

I suspect such discussions are beyond your intellectual capacity, therefore, I shall make comment in a form that is perhaps more pleasing to you:
Yes, I agree, the child killing as reported is wrong wrong wrong, and I agree with you, it is wrong wrong wrong.

I suspect others on here would see this as a rather non constructive and less than interesting response, but, for you Brian, I will say again, the parents actions were wrong wrong wrong.

Oh dear !!! tAo, you never cease to amaze me, you really are an interesting study as to how one can misinterpret.

How on earth do you reach the conclusion that I want to run this blog? I have my own blog and enjoy really good open debate. I respect ALL those who comment (unlike here) and take the time to not only read, but UNDERSTAND the feedback.

I have witnessed some sensible and thought provoking comments (George) on many occasions and felt others, like you and Brian, completely miss the point.
What is the value in a group of people agreeing with each other, like old men in a bar, the moment someone with a different view comes in, instead of embracing that view, attempting to understand and gain a different perspective, that new person is called names, abused, and even forced to leave by the bar owner.
tAo, you appear to represent the highest arrogance of human beings, the I am right and everyone should be like me. Such beliefs lead to fundamentalist extremes, your verbal attack is but the first step.

Value can be created by embracing the views of others, discussing, asking for explanations, its a bit like science really, in science, if an observation does not fit your theory, you do not blame the observation, especially if its repeatable, you investigate and modify the theory. Likewise here, we can all grow, significantly, if we are prepared to explore the views of others, and prepared to modify our own views.

Of course, I am entirely wrong for having such expectations from this blog, tAo, you are correct, I must be entirely mad

Brian,

Yes, I believe 'criminal neglect' is an offence primarily reserved for aged adults who have not been properly cared for.

Manslaughter seems to be the correct offence. Manslaughter and murder both have the same actus reas (phyical act/omission), which is to cause the death of someone else, but they are different criminal offences as determined by the mens rea (intention) of the offending parties.

The mens rea of the offending party can result in different types of manslaughter.

I suspect Ava's parents were found guilty of either criminally negligent manslaughter or involintary manslaughter. This would be correct, since it was not their intent to cause harm to their child, however whacky (or insane) their beliefs.

The more interesting issue is the conflict between the religious freedoms enshrined in most democractic legal systems and the accepted belief system of that culture.

So western culture accepts the superiority of western medicine and hence our sensibilities are so outrageously offended when a case like Ava's tragically occurs.

The conflict between the parents' freedom of religion (freedom of belief and worship in the US) and the accepted cultural belief in western medicine.

Even the churchless asserts 'preaching the gospel of spirtual independence'. The parents clearly felt their daughters interests were best served by following their particular brand of spiritual independence.

They are clearly ignorant hillbillies, but still are we not all ignorant especially if all this postmodern cultural relativism of spiritual independence is preached?

Democratic legal systems put saving life above belief. It's the only sane thing to do, otherwise anyone can do or not do anything to another under any religious belief no matter how ancient or recent. There's can be no alternative for a law maker.

Seeing light and hearing sound are precusors to enlightenment. The idea that someone can be enlightened and not experience those things is ridiculous. Besides, aside from all this, when people claim to be enlightened the chances are they are not.

Probably all of the christian mystics experienced the light but nobody says of them that they were enlightened. It is only in the Eastern traditions that the concept of enlightenment is emphasised. This is curious.

Enlightenment is probably a myth. Then again, it is probably just a word used to describe any kind of insight into spiritual or even mundane reality and not some type of final end to everything. indeed, it could be said fairly that Einstein had enlightened ideas. It's just one of those "aha" moments. Questions go on...

Looking at that other open post thread about science, it has occurred to me that there seems to be a mistaken notion prevalent on the internet regarding replicability of phenomena. Replicability is only one aspect of science. You don't honestly think that everything in this life can be repeated do you? It is even harder with spiritual or psychic phenomena. Psi is scientifically a weak effect as the experiments have shown, especially Dean Radin's experiments. But the data is still there however. To rule out this data as some have tried unsucessfully to do, is just closed mindedness based on personal belief systems.

So the point i am trying to make is that all this talk about peer review and repeatability is completely besides the point by and large when it comes to paranormal or supernatural phenomena.

Finally, the last point i want to make is that paranormal experiences mostly occur to a person with the sixth sense or intuition and this kind of experience lies outside the domain of science since science can only measure phenomenal effects.

The only real question left, as far as i can see, is why not everybody experiences spiritual things despite efforts to. I leave that up to everyone else to try to figure out...

George, I don't understand your last comment, especially in light of your previous defenses of science -- which I heartily agreed with.

Antibiotics have been proven to be highly effective in treating Ava Worthington's medical problems. Antibiotics, along with much (if not most) of the arsenal of Western medicine, isn't a "belief system."

No more than a hammer is a belief system. If it works to drive in a nail, it works. Where is the belief in that?

Ava's father was convicted of criminal negligence because he failed to give his daughter medical treatment that has been proven to work.

Again, this wasn't a battle of two unproven belief systems. It was a choice between (1) medical treatment that works, and (2) praying to Jesus, which hasn't worked for the sect in the past, and didn't work this time either.

I also don't know what you mean by "cultural relativism of spiritual independence." It seems to me that your comment actually reflects cultural relativism, because you seem to be saying there was no difference between (1) and (2) above.

Churchlessness, as I have been pointing out for over four years now on this blog, recognizes that there are two realities with which we humans encounter: an "outside" world of seemingly objective reality, and an "inside" world of seemingly subjective reality.

The two are inter-related. They inter-penetrate. They are closely connected. But philosophically, scientifically, intuitively, experientially -- they are not the same. Sartre does a great job of explaining this through his distinction of Being-in-itself and Being-for-itself.

For me, and others might have a different opinion, "spiritual independence" is a way of saying that the subjective meaning we ascribe to our living in the world isn't an objective reality like chairs, stars, salmon, and antibiotics are.

We come to meaning on our own, by and large. External reality is a given, by and large. Ava Worthington's parents believed they could control external reality -- her medical condition -- in a magical fashion, through their subjective personal beliefs. That was wrong, because it led to Ava's death.

Thus churchlessness isn't cultural relativism. It is the opposite. It posits an objective world that can be known through demonstrable evidence, and also a subjective consciousness that can't be known objectively. Keeping the two in some sort of harmony is what wise living is all about, the way I see it.

Catherine,

Yes, i agree, but by what criteria do the law makers of a particular culture decide its best to save lives?

Brian,

Postmodern cultural relativism is the trend by many politically correct folk to refute value judgments on any belief system as compared to one another.

Such cultural relativists feel that each cultural belief system is unique and therefore equally valid, and should be respected as such.

Cultural relativists would therefore claim science is only one belief system, but no better or worse than any other cultural traditions.

If all spiritual traditions or belief systems are equally valid, then our law makers should not find Ava's parents guilt of an offence. But they did, even tho Ava's parents had not intented to kill their child.

Thus the state inherently makes a value judgement as to the superiority of its accepted majority belief system, medical science, over the minority belief system of Ava's parents, faith-healing.

I personally think the judgment was correct, but it raises some interesting questions. Let us consider a planet of the apes scenario, where Ava's parents are medical doctors living in a culture where faith healing is the accepted belief system, if Ava had to die despite their best medical efforts, they would presumably be found guilty of manslaughter in the land of faith-healing apes.

There are a number of conflicting issues here. Should one make value judgements? By which criteria should such judgments be made and how does one tolerate religious freedoms that clash with other beliefs?

There is only one way to cut through it all. The power of reason, science.

George, I better understand what you mean now. I basically agree.
Seemingly we just have different ways of describing or looking upon this issue.

I tend to see it as allowing people the freedom to enjoy whatever subjective beliefs they want ("individual relativism," I guess you could call it, like favoring vanilla over chocolate), while preserving a "commons" of shared objective reality.

Like you said, once we surrender the clear vision of science, there's no way to choose between blind beliefs. One person thinks antibiotics are useless; another says "they work." How is a jury or judge to decide which is right? Well, by demonstrable evidence, by the scientific method.

yes Brian, i agree with that.

But on the question of criminal law, i believe you and tAo are incorrect, "intent" is everything in criminal cases.

The physical act performed could be exactly the same in each case, for example, a person poising another, but its the intention that is all-important.

First degree murder - a wife gives her husband poison to get his estate.

Temporary insanity - a wife finds out her husband is porking her sister.

Self-defence - a wife violently abused for many years snaps.

Manslaugher - a wife having had too much champers mistakenly reaches for cyanide, rather than cinamon, for the ox-tail.

Euthenasia - a wife who is begged by her husband to end a terminal illness.

George, I think we agree on the basics. Yes, intent is central in criminal law, as in the difference between murder and manslaughter.

But as I noted in a previous comment, this means that with manslaughter, intent doesn't matter -- once it has been determined that someone didn't intend to kill someone, but "merely" was negligent in not taking action to prevent a loss of life.

What I've been saying is that it doesn't matter whether Ava's parents believed, or had an intention, that she could be cured by prayer. Some commenters have been arguing (as did some misinformed jury members) that if the parents believed they were doing the right thing, this made them innocent.

That isn't how manslaughter works, as your example above indicates. If you're drunk out of your mind and believe that you're entering a freeway on-ramp, whereas it actually is an off-ramp, you could still be convicted of manslaughter if someone dies in the accident you caused.

This is analogous to Ava's parents. They were drunk on religious belief, so their intentions didn't matter under the law of manslaughter or criminal negligence.

George, you said: "But on the question of criminal law, i believe you and tAo are incorrect, "intent" is everything in criminal cases."

-- I understand the law pretty well, as it relates to this case. But apparently you somehow missed what I said, even though I made my point very clearly several times.

I said that intent does matter, but it all depends upon the case and the actions involved.

And my point here was that the parents did have intent. On the one hand, I am sure they had a good intent in mind when they resorted to prayer. However they also had another intent as well, which was to prevent and deny and refuse to allow their child the benefit of proven medicine.

And as Brian and I have both pointed out numerous times now, the fact that their intent (towards their child) was basically good when they resorted to prayer, simply does not alleviate their responsibility (and their negligence), in not allowing their child to be treated with proven medicine in addition to prayer.

So you are wrong when you say or imply that I do not recognize intent as being a factor. It's just that, in this case, even though the parents intent was certainly not to harm their child, they still acted in such a way as to prevent the child from receiving the simple medicine (antibiotics) that would have also been very good for the child, because it would have saved her life.

So their good intentions as it was related to prayer, is not the issue nor is it an excuse. They still acted in what amounts to a very harmful way by denying their child the benefit of proven medicine.

The fact that they had a good intent when they prayed, is no excuse and it does not make up for their also not allowing the child to have the benefit of proven medicine. So their good intent for the child as far as their resorting to prayer, is not a mitgating factor. It is all about their intentional negligence by denying the child live-saving medicine that would have prevented the child from dying, that makes them guilty.

No point in beating a deadhorse, but the actus reas (physical act or ommission) which in this case the ommission of allowing their daughter to recieve western medicine; is distict from the mens rea (intent) which in this case was to cure their daughter (through prayer).

The fact that they had good intent was essential in deciding on the offence they receieved. If they had intended to kill their child it would have been murder. Indeed there is also voluntary and criminally negligent manslaughter, but as i understand it they were charged with involuntary manslaughter - their intent was all important.

That is how criminal law works, but you are welcome to your views.

Brian, this is a discussion of a topic that was on a 'closed' thread but is now on an 'open' thread
George, tAo, you have both demonstrated one of the difficulties of the Brian blog as it was, that has now in part been resolved by the open threads.
I had (using a different username) made several comments to the closed thread of this subject, and tried to point out that intent is important. I was whatever the blog equivalent of being shouted down and told to go away, supported by Brian.
Here, on the open thread, you have both made good and concise arguments that intent does imply, Brian has rather lamely changed his comments from the general to the specific, "intent does not matter in criminal law" to "intent does not matter in manslaughter", which I think is also not correct.

But the point I wish to make now, taking Georges advise about not flogging a dead horse, is that the argument over whether intent matters in this case has obscured the reason I brought it up in the first place.
If the intent was a good one, then someone, or something is causing parents to act in a way that is criminally incorrect, yet parents believe they have good intentions.
Recognize this? Its the same as terrorism, suicide bombers believe their actions are for the good of others, and so go to extremes in their pursuit of what they believe is right.

What is this power that can infect the minds of people, even those in our western world, and cause behaviour that is so clearly wrong?
Surely the real case, the real criminals, the real problem, is not the parents in this case, but whatever it is that drove them to behave in such a way?

Brian
As Chief Blogger, please be aware that there may be those who know more than you, and those who know less than you, there may be those who can express themselves better than you, and those who cannot.
What would be really constructive is if you could recognise valid and possibly important points of debate, especially by those less able to express themselves, and bring the value to the attention of others. To argue a topic which clearly others know more, and possibly you are wrong, is merely a time and effort distraction.
Many comments have been made in the past which potentially could lead to really good debate, but have been overpowered by ego driven nonesense.

Re floating in a boundless sea
(posting here so that I dont get deleted should my comment not be deemed sufficiently relevant)

Good quotes, thought provoking quotes, but this one, a key one for me.

"The truth of the situation is that eventually, there's nothing. Infinity. Eternity. The void. The abyss. Eventually, every water-treader has to deal with the fact that it's just him, the infinite ocean and nothing in-between."

To me, the quote shares common ground with "There is a God, and He will save you at the time of death"

Is it true that neither of these statements share any scientific evidence to validate their claims?

Can we know that there is nothing, any more than we can know there is a god?

We used to think of space as being empty, a vacuum, but it seems it is likely that it is teaming with energy.

What scientific evidence exists for Jeds claim?

The criteria for saving lives is just this: law bring order. Law makers realise that religion can be used as a reason for cause of any death. Therefore all deaths could be explained away and excused by religion. This would cause chaos, so lawmakers have no option but to protect life.

JAP, that "whatever" is religion. Which is a point made in one of my posts about the Worthington case: religion is guilty.
http://hinessight.blogs.com/church_of_the_churchless/2009/06/faithhealing-parents-let-child-die-religion-is-guilty.html

Of course, religion can't be convicted in a court of law. But the way I see it, everybody who believes that God (or someone) answers prayers, and that holy books are to be obeyed, is filling an ocean of faith that keeps afloat people like the Worthingtons.

Who believed that God/Jesus answers prayers to heal the sick, and that a passage in the Bible that supposedly forbids seeking medical attention should be taken literally.

JAP, you'd have to provide some specifics for me to understand what you're concerned about.

Comment conversations follow their own course, like any other conversation. I've chosen not to moderate comments (meaning, unlike many bloggers, I don't approve comments before they are published).

So the conversations go the way they go. I've established a few rules: no spam, no lengthy scripture quoting (religious spam), keep to the post subject unless it is an Open Thread.

But I don't feel it is my business to "recognize valid and possibly important points of debate." If an argument is valid and important, hopefully it will be noticed by blog visitors.

Or, it won't.

Hey, sometimes I'll spend quite a bit of time writing what I feel is a valid and important post, and it gets ignored. Naturally I like it when my brilliant insights are recognized for what they are -- brilliant insights -- but after many, many years of writing, I've learned that it's impossible to predict reader reactions.

JAP, regarding Jed's book, the evidence for nothing standing between an individual and nothing is...death.

No one, no power, no God, no anything can prevent a person from dying. At the moment of death each of us is cast into an abyss that likely also is nothing -- meaning, no more existence, no more life, no more consciousness.

Since there is no convincing demonstrable evidence that death leads anywhere else than "nothing," I felt that Jed McKenna's characterization of the situation was pretty darn accurate.

seems to me a whole lot of unfounded baseless assumption and hypothesis the order of the day, which means nothing is a given either this way or that.

religiosity = foundation of morality and vice versa

so one persons religion is another mans 'science', we now affirming science holds sway over religion, yet neither have a firm foothold on reality one way or the other.

As depicted by the hubble telescope staring into the far reaches of the dark void and coming up with a whole host of new found galaxy's streaming forever.

Which scientist is ready to admit theirs is the answer and there is no architect behind this magnificence, and if such be the magnitude of physical reality, where does it begin or end...

Precisely, unless one can tune into and penetrate the black hole that is the tunnel of vision between this 'reality' and the next, no such true insight is forthcoming.

So you touch on death.. yes that is the fundamental reality of them all, know how to die through the black hole of your physical entity before your departure, and the mystery of 'reality' becomes prevalent.

Go ahead castigate this as boundless religiosity.. it is no more dogma than you the skeptic saying 'no thing' exists beyond the realm of your finite limited intellectual understanding of who you are.. you that think the body is the be all and end all of your existence have a huge other think coming.

BBrian said "the evidence for nothing standing between an individual and nothing is...death."
It is known that we die, we observe the life in the body ceasing, we observe the physical body begin to decay, functions have ceased. Lets use Brian science and disregard the numerous reports of experience of near death, or those whose body has become clinically dead but then revived, ignore this because it is subjective and also does not fit neatly with science, so we have excuse to ignore, then is it that there is NO EVIDENCE from beyond death that leads you to claim that death it therefore proof of nothingness. BBrian, there are many examples where no information does not mean NOTHING, it means simply that we do not know, there is no information that we can detect at this time to prove one way or the other.

Your last line should read that Brian has not found any evidence either that there is something after death or that there isnt.
You seem to have made up your mind that there isnt, so I ask again, what information have you that convinces you that there is nothing after death?

JAP, the illogic of the argument you present is obvious. I keep repeating it. Philosophers of science keep repeating it. Rational seekers of truth keep repeating it. Even Jed McKenna keeps repeating it in his book.

Evidence of something, especially a metaphysical something, has to be positive. Not finding any evidence that there isn't an invisible pink elephant in my kitchen isn't a reasonable argument for pink elephants existing in my kitchen.

Not finding any evidence that there isn't life after death isn't a reasonable argument for life after death. There has to be positive evidence that someone has died and continued to live on in some fashion.

Yes, there are bits and pieces of evidence -- reincarnation reports and such -- but they pale in comparison to the billions upon billions of people who have died and left no trace of any continued existence.

You personalized your last paragraph, for some reason. Believe me, I'd love to know that there was solid evidence of life after death. Unfortunately, there isn't. Do you have this evidence? If so, please share it.

Until such evidence is made, well, evident to the world, and reviewed for veracity, I and every other sincere truth-seeker is going to have to assume that life after death is a decidedly slight possibility. Not zero, of course. But very slight.

That's why I find Jed's "abyss" to be an apt description of death. At the least, he's correct in saying that death is a journey into an absolute unknown, because there is no evidence that any human has ever died (really died) and returned to tell us what death is like.

Brian.
You said "Evidence is something", I agree, I agree 100%

But you have also said that "the evidence for nothing standing between an individual and nothing is...death."

Death is something, it is an observable cessation of life, but how is it evidence of nothing standing between an individual and nothing?

If one posits that after death is pure nothing, then the observation of death neither proves nor disproves, it merely shows the disappearance of life from our physical reality

If one posits that after death, the consciousness emerges in another plain, then the observation of death again neither proves nor disproves, death is not evidence supporting either hypothesis.

Your statement is wrong because your logic is faulty; because "evidence is something" does not hold that "something is evidence"

And where O where did I ever say in my comments that death proves existence of god because it does not prove there is nothing?

You read into peoples comments meaning that is not there, I can only assume in some sort of pre-emptive protection of your own beliefs

AP, let's stay focused here, because once again you've fallen into your habit of rambling off into an extraneous subject -- ascribing thoughts to someone (in this case, me) that they didn't express.

(1) In a previous comment you said, "Brian has not found any evidence either that there is something after death or that there isnt. You seem to have made up your mind that there isnt, so I ask again, what information have you that convinces you that there is nothing after death?"

Thus you used the fallacious "absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence" argument. As I pointed out, science and common sense both follow the adage: "evidence of presence shows that something is present." In your recent comment you said, "Evidence is something. I agree 100%."

Great, we agree that evidence in support of a possible fact, or truth, has to be positive rather than negative. Yet you continued to argue in your most recent comment that "death is not evidence supporting either hypothesis" (of life after death, or no life after death).

You've contradicted yourself, because you agree with me that there is only one kind of evidence: positive, evidence that something exists. So it is impossible that death could provide evidence that there is no life after death -- just as it is impossible that anyone could provide evidence that there is no invisible pink elephant in my kitchen.

My point, which I'll repeat here, is that there is extremely flimsy demonstrable evidence that human consciousness survives death, while billions upon billions of pieces of evidence -- deaths -- to the contrary. Meaning, people die and there is no trace of their continued existence as a conscious being. Hence, no evidence of life after death.

(2) Where did I claim that you said death proves existence of God? I don't remember saying that, and I can't find such a statement in my previous comments. Please supply a quote from one of my comments to support your claim.

JAP,

You are so completely wrong.

You asked: "how is it [death] evidence of nothing standing between an individual and nothing?"

But then you said: "If one posits that after death is pure nothing, then the observation of death neither proves nor disproves"

-- Brian DID NOT POSIT (he did not say or imply) that "after death is pure nothing".

So JAP, it is actually YOU who are the one who is "read(ing) into peoples comments meaning that is not there". And so this is likely "some sort of pre-emptive protection of your own beliefs".

You have a pattern of turning and twisting and distorting what other people (in this case Brian) say and mean, into something quite different, something that they did not say or mean.

That is not right, and it creates a lot of unnecessary confusion and misunderstanding.

Brian has already patiently explained this issue (regarding evidence, etc) to you several times, but you keep on repeating the same old mistake.

It is really quite apparent that it is really YOUR own statements which are "wrong", and it is YOUR own logic that is "faulty".

tAo, Brian
Seems to me that neither of you can read! Just look back at the comments in this thread.

At 10.40 my first reference to evidence was in the form of a question: "Is it true that neither of these statements share any scientific evidence to validate their claims?"

Brian's response at 10.57 was "JAP, regarding Jed's book, the evidence for nothing standing between an individual and nothing is...death."

All my next comments have been in response to BRIANS STATEMENT that the evidence for nothing is death.

I do not agree with this statement made by Brian, and I fail to understand tAo, why because I ask Brian to justify this statement that he made, my logic is faulty.

Perhaps you should look up what quotation marks signify

Ahh!! That should have been JAP, I thought I had killed off walker

JAP/Walker,

You are mistaken again. You are the one who cannot read.

You now say: "Brian's response at 10.57 was "JAP, regarding Jed's book, the evidence for nothing standing between an individual and nothing is...death." All my next comments have been in response to BRIANS STATEMENT that the evidence for nothing is death."

HOWEVER, here is exactly what I had said in my previous comment:

"You asked: "how is it [death] evidence of nothing standing between an individual and nothing?" But then you said: "If one posits that after death is pure nothing, then the observation of death neither proves nor disproves""

You now say: "I fail to understand tAo, why because I ask Brian to justify this statement that he made, my logic is faulty."

-- Simply because, as I said before, Brian DID NOT POSIT (he did not say or imply) that "after death is pure nothing". That is YOUR interpretation. You seem to have a bad habit of misinterpreting and misrepresenting the words and meanings of what other people say, and then using that in a kind of straw-man argument. Why don't you simply give your responses to exactly what other people say?

There is a pattern here. You seem to do this rather frequently. You give responses to, and about, things which other people did not say. This case here is a perfect example.

You should just stick to what other people actually DO say... not what you think (in your faulty perception and interpretations) they are saying.

Walker/JAP, thanks for reminding me of something I've been pondering recently: how a few people who comment on this blog under various assumed names, wanting to hide their identity, and not even wanting to hold onto a consistent pseudonym, keep saying that I'm deceptive, unwilling to listen, off in my own delusional belief system world.

Well, I'm myself. I'm real. I have a name and address. And a history. To offer a few examples:

I've been the secretary of our neighborhood association for about eighteen years, about as long as we've lived in our current house, because I got roped into this job when people learned I was a writer

All those years, half or dozen or so times a year, I take part in meetings, listen to what's going on, take notes, and write up minutes. Never has anyone claimed that I misrepresented what happened. Occasionally I'll make some minor mistakes, but rarely.

Also, my wife and I organized a Salon discussion group over fifteen years ago. Monthly we've gotten together with a bunch of people and engaged in the semi-lost art of conversation. For three hours on a Saturday night we sit around and talk about whatever is on people's minds.

So someone could check with my neighbors and friends and find out how they feel about me: how honest I am, how well I communicate with other people, and so on. I wonder if people who criticize me personally are willing to reveal their own person to such a degree.

How about a credibility contest, critics? Leave a comment with your real name, physical address, and email address. Tell us about yourself, including facts about your life that can be checked if desired.

I think this would be interesting, because while I'm not against using pseudonyms on the Internet, someone who hides behind a false identity doesn't have the same credibility of someone whose life is much more open to inspection.

In this sense...

On the first Open Thread you wrote:

"As director of a pure science research company, I have some knowledge of scientific research (go on tAo, contradict me). While only small company (some 12 employees with PhD's and 26 technicians, engineers and office support staff) we often pursue paths into the totally unknown. We do not have need to publish and so are not driven in the same way as academic research. Income is derived in part from patent royalties, permitting us the luxury of being able to pursue areas of interest thrown up by other projects. We frequently (and are currently) researching areas which defy current scientific understanding, sad to say, it is the possibility of financial gain from the commercialization of any novelty that enables us to indulge."

OK. That's interesting. Yet unproven. Please provide the name of your company, phone number, physical address, and information about some of your patents.

I'm not saying that you aren't who you say you are -- director of a pure science research company (in Germany, I assume) -- just that I'd have more confidence in your statements about science if I had evidence that you and your company are as you describe them.

tAo
Apologies for not quoting my earlier quote, I made the mistake of assuming you would understand the meaning of the word 'if'. Throughout this thread, I have constantly pointed out that the observation of death neither proves nor disproves anything.
In case you do not understand this either, I am merely stating that watching something leave gives no information about that something arriving somewhere else, or not arriving as the case may be.
There is NO information about nothingness or somethinness from the observation of death.
This is what I have said, and is my even earlier posit, as you have kindly quoted for me.
So when Brian makes the statement that the evidence for nothing after death is the observation of death, then I disagree.
It really is that simple.
What is less than easy to understand is why when I make a response to Brian, one in which I disagree with Brian, you find it necessary to start accusing me of being wrong and misunderstanding? I might be wrong, and I may have misunderstood Brians words, as he may have mine, but why this aggressiveness and anger wrapped up in constant defense of Brian?
Not sure if anyone else notices, but this blog seems somewhat like a school room, it plunges into frustration and disorder when tAo comes in.


To answer Brians comments.
Brian, I am more than happy to provide information about my true identity, if it would help you and others to develop a more constructive and creative blog, then of course, I have no problem with this.
Would this be a request to everyone who participates on here, or only to a select few? Would it be a requirement or a preferred status?
Personally, I fail to see how it would make any difference, but maybe you have something in mind.
Again, personally, I care not if anyone believes me or not, simply because I value the comments by their content, not by who may have written them. There are only few authors on here who I value, George for example, he usually has something worth reading, Value lies in well thought out opposing views, and especially defended views.
I find little value in comments that when called upon for defending, the author is then questioned about personal matters, such as is he or she who he or she once claimed he or she was? It is a change of subject to something irrelevant.

The following is but an example, (tAo, please note)
Take this current thread as an example. I have posted pages of text going in full circle with tAo, where he eventually posts my own original comment. I have clearly stated that I do not accept that death provides any information about what is after death.
Taking the floor the other side of this debate, a response may be that death demonstrates the decay of the physical body, this is observable. If one accepts that consciousness is a purely physical phenomena, ie, it is a result of highly evolved matter, then one has some justification (not proof) that nothing is all there is after death. But even this is fraught with several assumptions.
If one accepts the possibility that consciousness is non physical, then the death of the physical body again does not prove anything about consciousness after death.
For death to prove or provide any information other than the decay of the physical body, other information needs to be known.

But -- what debate did we see in place of the above of similar?
We get Brian saying that death is evidence of nothing
We get Brian assuming that I am implying that therefore God exists
We get tAo quoting me quoting Brian quoting me (ad nausium)
and finally, we get Brian wanting me to provide my personal details, name phone number business phone number (mothers maiden name and bank account numbers?) online for all to see.

Is this really intelligent debate?

It is exactly this which frustrated me so much that I used different names on here (which I admitted and owned up to later, so I am not sure why Brian is so surprised that I mistakenly used walker instead of JAP)

For a while, admittedly a short while, some interesting and valued discussion took place in here, but tAo and Brian made sure it didnt last for long

Oh, and before tAo pumps out another round of defense, yes, i do remember, this is Brians blog, and he can do what the hell he likes!

JAP, sure, leave a comment with info about the research company that you said you direct. I have some German-speaking friends. Include some on-line links about your company and the research you do. They can translate for me. Like I said, I'm also interested in the patents that you get royalties from. Since your discoveries are patented, obviously this is public information.

Regarding my position on death and "nothing," here's what I said. I still don't understand what you disagree with here. Please clarify by telling me what statements strike you as indefensible:
_________________
JAP, regarding Jed's book, the evidence for nothing standing between an individual and nothing is...death.

No one, no power, no God, no anything can prevent a person from dying. At the moment of death each of us is cast into an abyss that likely also is nothing -- meaning, no more existence, no more life, no more consciousness.

Since there is no convincing demonstrable evidence that death leads anywhere else than "nothing," I felt that Jed McKenna's characterization of the situation was pretty darn accurate.
__________________

Makes sense to me. Of course, I wrote those words. Nobody knows what happens after death. One thing we do know is that nothing can prevent a human being from dying. And since there is no evidence that life continues on after death, I consider that it's most likely that what we are after death is...nothing.

You're free to disagree. We're in the realm of beliefs here, since death is the unknown abyss we all will enter one day, and can't fathom the depths of while living. I'm just content to accept that death is death, while I guess you believe that death is an entry to some other life.

Or at least you hold out hope that this is the case. I understand that hope. I have it also. I simply choose to look at reality as squarely as possible, and not let hope cloud my perceptions unduly.

Brian
I am not in Germany, I simply redirect my IP so it looks like I am in Germany. I will address your requests re research company, later, first lets deal with the cause of this apparent disagreement, I will respond to the death subject:

No one, no power, not even God can prevent us dying. Yes, provided our meaning of the word dying is limited to the physical body. Evidence abounds, without exception, indeed, it is perhaps the meaning of the word death, that point at which the functions we associate with life, cease to continue. Functions are many and relate not only to the physical functioning of the body, but also those observations attributed to intelligence and consciousness.

So I have problem with your statement that at the moment of death, each of us is cast into the abyss. I fail to find any direct evidence of this. Even if one ignores the first hand reports of near death experiences, most of which seem to refer to a bright white light, (I assume abyss is dark, but I may be wrong) I still fail to draw the conclusion that there is nothing in respect to our conscious experience from the observation of the physical process of death.

We have records that show that intelligence and consciousness can appear to cease even though the body is alive, eg, a coma. so we know the physical body can continue to function without the obvious signs of consciousness or awareness. We have no observation (scientifically acceptable) of the consciousness or awareness operating without the physical body, but we have no evidence that this is not possible or does not happen, simply because we can only observe consciousness or awareness indirectly, ie, its effect on the physical body.
You then say since there is no convincing evidence that death leads to anywhere other than nothing, implying that there is evidence that death leads to nothing. Here I ask, what evidence?
I posit that death does not give us any information about the consciousness other than it is gone from the physical body.
No longer present is different from ceasing to exist.
If we knew a bit more about the subject, then we could possibly be more conclusive with the observation of death. But we do know, or rather accept, some finding of science. We accept that matter cannot be created nor destroyed. Therefore we can track every atom in the living body, and follow its path back to the ground from whence it came. We may have atoms once part of the body of Aristotle, although the chances are quite good that we dont!
We also accept that information cannot be created or destroyed (black holes have no hair vs QM reversibility) and as consciousness is in part a form of information (storage/recovery) then something must have happened to it. It is unreasonable, based upon our current understanding, to claim the abyss.
For these reasons, I do not accept your statement, and prefer the less sensational but perhaps more accurate conclusion, we do not know, there is no direct evidence for any particular scenario, other than something does happen.

JAP,

It's much simpler than all this convoluted card shuffling that is so typical of your responses.

1) YOU are the one who posted under multiple different pseudonyms. That in itself is both confusing, annoying, and particulrly disingenuous. No matter how you try to rationalize it, there simply was no need whatsoever for such antics and games.

2) YOU are the one who also has the bad habit of rambling off into extraneous subjects, and then ascribing thoughts and words to others that they did not think or express.

3) YOU also continue to defend an utterly fallacious position that: absence of evidence is not evidence of absence... but yet,

4) YOU have agreed that there is only one kind of actual evidence: namely, positive evidence that something exists... but still,

5) YOU have shown no demonstrable evidence that human consciousness survives death. None at all.

All of this boils down to nothing more than a game, your game, of beating around the bush.

So now I've starting to wonder... is this perhaps due to some sort of langage problem? Is English your primary and native langage, or not? Because that might explain part of the miscommunication problem.

Bt if its not language, then it is a deliberate intent (on your part) to evade facing the real issues, and moreover, a denial of the fact that there is still no actual demonstrable evidence anywhere of a continuation of life (consciousness) after death.


JAP writes:

"Evidence abounds, without exception"

-- Then where is this evidence?

"[the] statement that at the moment of death, each of us is cast into the abyss. I fail to find any direct evidence of this."

-- That is not what was indicated (by "each of us is cast into the abyss"). Abyss here simply means nothing, no more existence. It doen't mean someone falling into an abyss but still existing in a dark abyss. It means there is no more existence period, at all, it means that the individual no longer exists.

"I still fail to draw the conclusion that there is nothing in respect to our conscious experience from the observation of the physical process of death."

-- Then where is the evidence that there is and remains something.

"You then say since there is no convincing evidence that death leads to anywhere other than nothing, implying that there is evidence that death leads to nothing."

-- No, it does not imply that at all.

"Here I ask, what evidence?"

-- You are again saying that 'absence of evidence is not evidence of absence'. That is an utter fallacy.

"I posit that death does not give us any information about the consciousness other than it is gone from the physical body.
No longer present is different from ceasing to exist."

-- Then where is the evidence that indicates that consciousness is still present, albeit somewhere else? Where is the evidence, any evidence, that consciousness is independent of the brain? On the other hand, there is enormous evidence that consciousness is confined soley to the brain. A simple dose of a sedative will prove that.

"It is unreasonable, based upon our current understanding, to claim the abyss. [...] we do not know, there is no direct evidence for any particular scenario, other than something does happen."

There is no evidence of life after death.

However, there is more than ample evidence that the brain is the origin and basis of consciousness.


tAo, nicely said. Walker, JAP, et. al. are the same person inhabiting different identities, who is afraid of revealing even what country he lives in, much less what name he goes by.

So much fear. Yet he (or she) claims not to be afraid of death. Pretty strange.

JAP, I'm sincere in saying this: give up the fear. Be yourself. It's complicated pretending to be so many people. Just speak honestly. Be direct. Say what you feel. And be respectful of how others think and feel.

If you do this, I think you'll find that your views will be better understood by others. Currently your identity game-playing and fear of being yourself on this blog is interfering with your ability to communicate. That's how I see the situation. Naturally you're free to disagree.

What I mean is, you try to put yourself across as a scientific sort who doesn't have religious beliefs. Yet you have a decidedly anti-scientific approach to subjects such as death, since you consider that it is up to metaphysical skeptics to prove that life after death doesn't exist -- which is the flip side of the scientific method (which demands positive demonstrable evidence).

I see you as a true believer in spirituality, mysticism, and religion. Yet you're trying to pass yourself off here as quasi-churchless. This is obvious, yet you deny the obviousness. That's why I'd rather see you "come out" as the person you are, rather than engage in the game-playing where you pretend to be someone you're not.

Brian
The reason that I and most others do not use their physical identities on places like this blog is to avoid the possibilities of people like you claiming we have made statements that we have not.

You claim I have stated not to be afraid of death - where, when?
You claim I have stated I fear revealing the country I live in - again, where and when?

Part of the reason I do not reveal my location or true name is given above, another part is that I would not wish to be associated with the kind of illogical argument you represent on this blog. You claim to support scientific method, I do not think you would know science if it bit you in your butt!

You make unjustified assumptions, over and over again. For example, in a much earlier post, someone (I forget the name that was used) offered to supply research papers on some subject or other (again, I forget the topic of the post)
Between you and tAo, you put down this poster, over and over again, effectively accusing him of disseminating false information to mislead others. In other words, you were faced with a situation, drew your conclusions and assumed the guy was full of the proverbial. BUT, it turned out that he had a perfectly justifiable explanation that made perfect sense, he subscribed to scientific journals that could not be linked to this blog, he offered to provide copies to anyone who was interested, and provided what I assume must have been his e-mail address. Did you write to him and get the papers sent to you that countered your comments? If you did, you certainly didnt comment on them, whether it made sense or not? I think it was about the Big Bang, but I am not sure.

Brian, you are employing same tactic here, I have told you that I have used different names, but now its suddenly a 'big thing'. Why, because it diverts from the topic of this thread, and why do you want to divert, because you have been shown up.

Brian, there are a few sensible and intelligent persons on this blog, but you present nothing but a smoke screen to sensible debate, for this reason, I have no further interest to visit this blog.

Undoubtedly you will respond, but be aware, it will be for your benefit only, I am not returning.

Finally, tAo: I have no words for tAo, it is impossible to communicate with someone who cannot read. tAo, you have taken a comment that Brian made and I quoted in my post, and assumed it came from me. You are a profound idiot, through and through. You are free of course to continue to make a fool of yourself, which is I am sure why you do not use a real name or address. Please do not provide any personal details, I am sure Brian would not wish to feel responsible for your loss of any gainful employment you may have which would inevitably result.

I have in previous comments stated why I used several identities, it was in response to you deleting my posts and banning me on unfair grounds. I simply stepped around your ban.
You are now responding to the exposure of your failures by

If i may give my 2 cents here, i dont think it makes any difference on this forum what one has qualified in or what disciplines or countries one has experienced.

points should stand or fall based on their own merit, not who said them. If a mystic makes a good scientific or logical point, or if a scientist makes a good spiritual point - should be of no interest, what is of interest is the content of the point itself.

If Brian chooses to reveal his identity that is his decision, but many others do not for a variety of reasons, the main one for me being that the content of a person's post is all-important not what their supposed credentials are.

Wow, I return here to check out the posts after several months, and what do I find:
Tao wrote:
"1) YOU are the one who posted under multiple different pseudonyms. That in itself is both confusing, annoying, and particulrly disingenuous. No matter how you try to rationalize it, there simply was no need whatsoever for such antics and games."

To which Brian replied "nicely said"

He he he.

Nuff said, really. I mean, how do you even begin to communicate with such flagrant & blatant hypocrisy?

...and I abandon this haven of disingenuousness once again..

Other gems in this thread. Pure, unbridaled beliefs, masquerading as unquestionable 'truth':

George: "Seeing light and hearing sound are precusors to enlightenment. The idea that someone can be enlightened and not experience those things is ridiculous.". Comment - the idea that seeing light & hearing sound have anything to do with enlightenment, I contend, is completely ridiculous. The idea that they are neccessary precursors a total abomination :)

Tao: "However, there is more than ample evidence that the brain is the origin and basis of consciousness." Comment - patently untrue. More like there is a conceptual bias to interpret raw data and research within such a linear, causal and, I believe, ultimately extremely naive & simplistic paradigm. I believe in a 100 + years, the scientific community will look back and be shocked at how immature & naive this kind of conceptualisation (of linear, dualistic causality) was in their models of reality. To put it very simply, it's like a primitive man looking at a TV set and thinking that the TV set itself is the 'origin and basis' for the movie that's being transmitted from a station far, far away....


This one's not so much non-sense, but more a valid question - that has another half which goes totally unacknowledged. Brian wrote: "Believe me, I'd love to know that there was solid evidence of life after death." Comment - I would live to know there was solid evidence that there is life during life? Is there? Anyone? We can show bio cells reacting and responding to external signals. We can show growth and reproduction etc - but sentient life? I am not aware of any 'solid evidence' for sentient life? The above 'indicators' of life I mentioned are pretty vague, actually, not solid evidence at all. For example, you can say a fire grows, reacts and responds to the environment and reproduces (spreads) etc?

So, any solid evidence for sentient life NOW, let alone after death?

To say, as Brian has done before, that science does not contend that we are alive right now (or the value of love, music etc) is utterly meaningless and irrelevant, because that's moving from scientific proof to mere belief. You cannot expect proof for the goose, and mere heresay and general acceptance for the gander....Who cares if science 'accepts' consciousness/sentiency exists right now as a priori.....if we want proof for life after death, I think it more than reasonable to expect proof for life during life, and not accept mere heresay because it's a commonly accepted belief, or 'proven' by our experience.....others will say the same about life after death.

If scientific proof's the touchstone of reality, then let's start at the beginning -who can provide me scientific proof of my consciousness/sentiency/life RIGHT NOW?

:-/

Manjit,

lol, and where may i ask did i say that?

no doubt i talk alot of nonsense, but have not said anything about lights, sounds and enlightenment.

Manjit
Its a pleasure to find that other intelligent beings exist on this forum
Would you like to participate in a blog discussion that is not akin to serious debate in a crowded noisy bar?
You can write to me directly at [email protected], I can point you to another interesting place to discuss

JAP, I'll still waiting for the evidence that you are the director of a research company that investigates science "on the edge" and gets its income from royalties on patents. This is a statement of yours that, unlike others you make, is either fact or fiction. I'm interested in the facts. Because this will cast light on your overall credibility as a truth-speaker.

In your guise as "Walker," you pretended to be me in several comments, which deeply bothered me. Then you denied this when I pointed out the evidence that you were the fake Brian. Later you admitted it. Then you took on this new persona, JAP.

So hopefully you can understand why it's difficult to trust what you say now. You should be grateful, by the way, that my sort-of-boundless quasi-Buddha-like compassion has rescued you from the banning bin. I've been hoping that you recognized the error of your deceptive ways and would contribute positively to discussions here.

Unfortunately, it's looking like the old Walker is also the new JAP.

Typical to the draconian straight jacket type thinking that pervades here, they are so eager to caste dispersions and discrimination on others, these self serving non free thinkers are so perplexed in their debilitated paranoia that they cannot accept straight out critique of their own self serving cult like protectionism, yet they so eagerly band about as upholders of free thinking. The rank diabolical fraudulent hypocrisy stinks to high heaven of double agendas.

Brian you are up your proverbial creek without a possible paddle, you need help and fast, any credible determination that you uphold any type of free thought principles went out the window here a long long time ago, in fact it never ever existed anywhere near here in the first place.

The absolute double standard of hypocritical non free self righteousness is the absolute order of the day in this cesspool of debilitated and self serving hypocrisy.

Manjit, George is right. He didn't say what you claimed he said. Interesting. You are so critical of untruths being spread on this blog, then you spread an untruth. But, hey, no one is perfect. Which is one of the truths that I like to remind people of on this blog.

I couldn't follow your logic very well in the rest of your comment. Are you saying that I said that science doesn't say that we are alive right now? If so, I'm quite sure that I never said that. Nor does any reputable scientist I've come across.

You ask for proof of life. Life is its own proof. Descartes, at the beginning of his "Meditations" does a good job of showing this (after that, his philosophy goes downhill into religious belief). The one thing we can be sure of is that we exit as someone who can think "the one thing we can be sure of."

Consciousness is its own confirmation. Sure, I could be a computer simulation run by some alien being. But at least I feel that I exist, so there is some sort of existence going on here, even if the nature of it isn't as it appears.

I'm planning to write a blog post today about some of the thinking errors true believers like you commit. This is an example of one of them: that science, or common sense, demands objective evidence for everything in existence. Not at all true.

I just ate some strawberries and oatmeal. I liked the taste of my breakfast. I can't prove that I liked the taste. I can't prove that I enjoy riding my scooter. You have to infer my subjective liking from the fact that I eat oatmeal and fruit most mornings, and ride my scooter as often as I can.

Good try at undermining a foundation of churchlessness. But not a very good try. Likes and dislikes are subjective. Oatmeal and scooters are subjective. Knowing the difference is a big part of wisdom.

Can't resist sharing a link to this "Jerks, please lurk" post from one of the leading Portland, Oregon bloggers that I just came across:
http://bojack.org/2009/08/jerks_please_lurk.html

See, Church of the Churchless trolls, ranters, and haters: like I keep saying, other bloggers are more intolerant of this B.S. than I am. It must be my Buddha nature that keeps me so relatively calm and balanced (or the drugs).

Dear George - many apologies, I was just quickly perusing the comments above & got the names mixed up!. It was actually a 'David' who made that comment. Sorry again.

Dear JAP - thank you for the kind words, much appreciated :) I would surely love to hear of any forums you participate in where these issues are being discussed? Can you post links? Thanks.

Dear Brian - Wow, your post reaked with desperation to me. Is that where you're at now? Astonishing for me, really. I thought far higher of your intellect, character and even-handedness before; shows how wrong one can be. My comments to your desperate smelling reply below :)

"Manjit, George is right. He didn't say what you claimed he said. Interesting. You are so critical of untruths being spread on this blog, then you spread an untruth. But, hey, no one is perfect. Which is one of the truths that I like to remind people of on this blog."

How very desperate! I made a mistake with a name - is that proving some kind of point of yours? Don't people make mistakes around your ways? My post CLEARLY does not criticise the poster/persona, but the idea that is presented. I have not read posts here for months, and I don't know who George is or what his stance on issues is. The name was entirely irrelevant to me or my point. And your response entirely irrelevanr desperate, it seems from where I'm seated?!

"I couldn't follow your logic very well in the rest of your comment. Are you saying that I said that science doesn't say that we are alive right now? If so, I'm quite sure that I never said that. Nor does any reputable scientist I've come across. "

No, I'm not saying that. More below in response to this -


"You ask for proof of life. Life is its own proof. Descartes, at the beginning of his "Meditations" does a good job of showing this (after that, his philosophy goes downhill into religious belief). The one thing we can be sure of is that we exit as someone who can think "the one thing we can be sure of.""

Life is it's own proof? Hmm, not very scientific, or even meaning-ful if you ask me?You can say that about anything at all, can't you?

Cartesian dualism is passe and almost universally now recognised as deeply flawed by progressive thinkers, even those within the scientific disciplines, despite the entire edifice of modern science being predicated upon these naive presumptions. Who do you think you're convincing or impressing with these dated arguments? Certainely not me...

"Consciousness is its own confirmation. Sure, I could be a computer simulation run by some alien being. But at least I feel that I exist, so there is some sort of existence going on here, even if the nature of it isn't as it appears."

You have *precisely* missed the point of my original post, and now go about smugly criticising it. I'd be careful with that approach sir - you may get the rug pulled out from underneath you.

I'm *precisely* asking you why you don't think it neccessary for their to be scientific proof of the after-life, of God or whatever other concept - but you think it's okay to take for granted that we are conscious right now?

It's not too complicated. How do you expect to prove an after-life, when you can't provide any proof for a now-life, except saying that you 'feel' you exist?

What if somebody said I 'feel' there's a God, or I 'feel' there's a after-life? Do only YOUR 'feelings' count? ARe you the divine arbritar of 'feelings'?

That's 'proof' on an equal footing with your a priori taken for granted assumption that you are conscious now, wouldn't it?

What gives *devout* sceptics or scientific reductionists the right to decide for what is required proof and for it isn't required?

I'm using YOUR tool, emperical, cartesian, dualistic and causal reductionist model - to question whether my consciousness is 'real' or not.

You cannot provide that proof.

Hence I'm suggesting at least the possibility of the difficult/impossible nature of providing such parametered 'proof' for OTHER extremely similar (some theolgies would say IDENTICAL) issues, such as after-life or God etc.

You mentioned logic earlier - do you follow this logic?

"I'm planning to write a blog post today about some of the thinking errors true believers like you commit."


Desperate!

'True believers'? True believers in WHAT Brian? Did I say I believe in an after-life? Nope. The reality is far, far different to how you would like to manipulatively & incorrectly label me.

Desperate.

You demonstrate YOU are a true believer. A true believer in no-God, in materialistic reductionism etc.

Any opposing view or even *criticism* (and, in fact, my response to your comment was neither, if you could actually grasp it...it was more an EXPANSION) is not even listened to, censored, demonised ('true believer'). You accuse and censor others for doing PRECISELY what your favourite thought-police guard-dog, Tao, does, in between your praise of his posts etc etc. Yes, being a 'true believer' causes one to shed their objectivity and integrity like that.

It appears to be the standard modus operandi on this forum, nowadays. I've read the recent posts.

I would never have believed it several years ago though :(

"This is an example of one of them: that science, or common sense, demands objective evidence for everything in existence. Not at all true."

You missed the point entirely, see above.

Who cares what science or 'common sense' 'demands'?

Either apply the tool universally and in all directions, or accept it's limitations.

If science cannot prove we are conscious right now, have some humility and appreciate the potential for limitations in proving 'God' or after-life etc using the same tool.

Science isn't my God and Guru (I could use your tactics and say "like it is yours", but even though it's far more accurate & appropriate applied to yourself, I wouldn't stoop so low :). I have no interest in what it arbritarily decides for which and what kind of 'reality' or 'proof' 'demands' proof.

Either all of it, or it's a flawed tool.

"I just ate some strawberries and oatmeal."

Mmm, nice, aren't they?


"I liked the taste of my breakfast. I can't prove that I liked the taste. I can't prove that I enjoy riding my scooter. You have to infer my subjective liking from the fact that I eat oatmeal and fruit most mornings, and ride my scooter as often as I can."

You're clearly delusional, then.

(as I have witnessed, the subtle nuance of my point is often missed, people often rather choosing a more simplistic interpretation, so I'll clarify - This "you're delusional" approach is what is said about everyone and everything that has a 'mystical' or religous understanding which cannot be 'proven' by today's science. By this kind of limited thinking, one could say everyone is delusional for thinking they exist - or enjoyed their oatmeal & strawberries)


"Good try at undermining a foundation of churchlessness. But not a very good try. Likes and dislikes are subjective. Oatmeal and scooters are subjective. Knowing the difference is a big part of wisdom."

He he. This post was something else.

I think you'ver undermined your own foundation of churchlessness a long time ago Sir.

You're just not aware which Church you belong to, and how perfectly you match the behaviour of a 'true believer'.

That's because you believe your views are the reality, hence not beliefs.

All Church followers are the same, it's just hard to conceive of one's position as a belief, and not the reality itself.

And before you go accusing me of promoting my own beliefs, or what not, I suggest you re-read everything I wrote looking for specific examples of my 'belief' - because I would like to know what they are myself....

Cheery bye.

lol, no worries Manjit.

manjit, since you say there is no proof that you and I or anyone else is conscious, I'll just assume that you don't exist as a conscious being. Ah, now I don't feel like I have to reply to you. Excellent!

Brian, you generate exasperated frustration with your diabolical self serving double standards.

I will attempt to shed some little light into that dark abyss of introverted self serving Brian Hines' gospel of skepticism.

You uphold yourself as a true free thinker yet I don't think I have ever come across a more self righteous closed minded individual anywhere either in cyberspace or in real life.

I think your issue is largely with yourself, the little I know of you is that you were a practicing RS disciple for long enough, you claim since 1971.

I am guessing you have had a reaction through your egoist stance in relation to your rather self centered approach to spirituality whereby you have done a complete about turn and taken the stance of debilitated and self righteous skepticism to the point of obnoxious and arrogant blindness. You now have one or two lap dog followers of your own; eg. tAo who supports and bolsters your brand of self serving churchlessness as a medium of open minded inquiry, yet that environment with the two of you trying to control and manipulate proceedings to the point where every alternate opinion or reason simply gets castigated as fundamentalist religiosity or mystic 'belief' shows the absolute straight jacket type fear and hypocrisy that actually gets portrayed in the name of 'free thinking'.

This is so far removed from free thought in my view it is the absolute epitome of chained and deluded self righteous closed mindedness to the extreme.

and here comes manjit, crawling momentarily again out from that dark disreputable and duplicitous cesspool that he inhabits, just to dump his usual foul load of distortion, derision, and dishonesty that are so typical of so many other lunatics, intellectual poseurs, trolls, and sleazy rascals like himself.

oh, and Ysha/JAP & Ashy/takes-two-to-tango, you too are encouraged to crawl back into that same sad cesspool of sickness where all liars and lunatics like you come from, and where you no doubt belong as well.

Ysha, wow! I'm glad my dog likes me (of course, she can't read my blog). If I gave you a chew stick, would you feel better about me? Maybe even lick my face?

Dear Brian - I quite agree!

Dear Tao / 'laughing buddha' - your hypocrisy, deceit & lies are truely stunning! In light of a few of Brian's (and one of yours) posts recently directed at JAP or whomever (about honesty, multiple-ids etc), your above post is hilarious. And your insecurity blazened brightly across the inter-sky (why resort to another pseudonym to make this comment?) Thanks & good bye.

Greetings again,
In my studies of government, I came across a rather interesting theory. The theory is this: Secularism is a religion.

Note: Religion is defined as belief in a Supreme Being.

Wanted to know yall's response. Eagerly awaiting your comments.

Brian
You have completely missed the point, again
Yes, I am posting angry comments on your blog, but why?
Why Brian, why?
Because you have deleted perfectly sensible and rational posts that have questioned your posts in a way you have been unable to answer. So you delete these questions

The internet would have been a great tool when religions were formed, priests could simply and magically delete any questions that pressed too close to comfort.

Brian, when you are prepared to answer the questions and comments that I posted that did not in any way breach your new rules, or your older rules, then I will be satisfied

Meanwhile, sorry everyone else, but your religious leader has questions to answer, so apologies for this interuption

Hey Neut,

Fyi, Brian does not HAVE to answer any questions... nor does anyone else for that matter.

And also, Brian is not my, nor anyone else's (beacuse you said: "everyone else") "religious leader".

This is simply a small discussion forum on one guy's personal blog. Your whining and bitching and antagonism makes you sound like a real nut-case and a troll. You are just making your already bad reputation, even worse.

Here's my sincere suggestion to you: If you have some reasonable and legitimate issues and/or subject matter that you wish to discuss that pertains to the various topics, then make a list of them and post it... but minus the insults, ridicule, and threats.

Attacking and insulting Brian and his blog, and ridiculing the rest of us is not going to get you anywhere except either ignored or deleted.

If you wish to participate, in a positive manner, in the discussions here, then do so. Otherwise, go away. No one is interested in your personal vendetta against Brian and this blog.

Don't you realize what a sick image you are portraying, both for yourself as well as other spiritual believers in general? You are creating the same negative effect as Ashy did.

So Neut, why don't you just post a normal, benign, and positive comment that states your views or your questions about whatever topic that holds your interest. And quit trying to constantly undermine and ridicule and attack Brian and this blog.

C,

Secularism is NOT a religion. Absolutely not. Period. Regardless of what some religious people may say.

C, you already left this exact comment, on a different post. Please don't leave any more duplicates, or they will be deleted. Guess you didn't like my response and were looking for more of a "oh, you're so right." Sorry, but you're wrong. Here's what I said:
-----------------
C, not believing in God isn't a belief. It is the absence of a belief.

The physical universe exists for us. This, we could call supreme being. Not in capital letters, since the universe isn't a conscious being, so far as we know. Just the highest (because only) form of being.

Humans don't believe in the physical universe. We experience it. We know it by existing as it and in it. So the "supreme being" of those who don't believe in a metaphysical reality is physical reality.

Which is right here and now. No belief required.

Brian,
I apologize about posting on two different forums. I didn't see any answers for a while, and since the last post had been made a year ago, I had thought no one would visit the forum and see my question...that was all.

C, not a big deal. However, you posted your first comment yesterday, and I responded the same day. So you did get an immediate answer. Still, you asked a reasonable question, and I hope you're happy with the answers.

The universe is your supreme being...alright. Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but is not the universe part of what we call "nature." And if your supreme being is universe/nature, what makes your "beliefs" different from Taoism?

Please note that I'm not hear to ridicule. This was simply a theory I came upon and wished to hear the other side to. This is in NO WAY attacking you all, it's simply a conversation I wish to enroll in so that I can get a proper understanding of both sides on this theory. :)

C, I find a lot to like in philosophical (as opposed to religious) Taoism. Click on the "Taoism" category in the right sidebar and you'll see evidence of my fondness.

Like I said, I don't consider that the physical world is a belief. I practice Tai Chi, a physical embodiment of Taoist principles, and I don't consider that Tai Chi is a belief system either. It's real, for sure.

Brian says \\\"C, not believing in God isn\\\'t a belief. It is the absence of a belief.\\\"

What is the difference between not believing in God and believing that there is no God?

Either one can know something exists or does not exist, or one can believe something exists or does not exist, or one can be open about the possibilities of somethings existence, but be aware that it is not known for a fact.
What other possibilities are there?

So, not believing in God is either knowledge, belief or open to the possibility but also open to the possibility that God does not exist.

We can rule out knowledge, as proof that God does not exist is not possible, (Godels incompleteness theorem nicely demonstrates this)

For this reason, atheism must be a belief system, for it is not knowledge and it is not, generally, open to the possibility

Neut er all, I don't follow your logic. Because it is illogical.

You twisted my words into something I didn't say. I wasn't referring to someone saying, "I don't believe in God." I was talking about the absence of evidence that something exists.

You're driving along a street, looking for a parking space. For a while they're all full, occupied by other cars. Then you spot an empty space.

You don't say to yourself, "I believe there is no car in that parking space." You know there isn't one there, because there is no evidence of a car.

I never used the word atheism. You did. But if atheism means "recognizing no evidence for the existence of God," then atheism isn't a belief system -- it is knowledge, in the same way that knowing there is no evidence of a car in the parking space is knowledge.

Of course, there are some differences in these examples. With a parking space, you are looking right at where a car might be, and see that there isn't one there. With God, no one knows where to look.

So a better analogy might be looking across a vast stretch of pavement and saying, "There aren't any cars here." They could be anywhere on the pavement, but there is no evidence of a car anywhere.

Again, this isn't a belief. It is knowledge. Provisional knowledge, to be sure, because one's eyes can be deceived. Yet until someone provides evidence of a car on the expanse of pavement, the onlooker is justified in saying "I know" rather than "I believe."

What is known is that this portion of the physical world does not contains anything we call a "car." Similarly, what an atheist knows is that the physical world contains no persuasive evidence of anything called a "god."

No, Brian, your logic fails completely; for there is a huge difference between a car and God
A car is known to exist, therefore the absence of a car is testable. A car has certain properties, these properties can be looked for, and if found not to be present, then it can be correctly concluded that the car is not existing in that parking space.

For this logic to be applied to God, one first has to accept that God exists. The properties of God would then be known, and a test can be carried out to see if God exists under certain conditions, in the car example, the conditions are spacial.

But Brian, it is not known as in proven beyond reasonable doubt, whether God exists or not. We can say that the existence of God, within the boundaries of our scientific investigation into the physical world, is not apparent. But we cannot state with certainty that we have observed everything in the physical world, nor can we state with certainty that nothing exists other than the physical world.
So it is perfectly justifiable that the possibility of a God existing is non zero, and therefore God may exist, but we know nothing about God.

This makes your logic invalid, for to say that nothing exists simply because we cannot detect anything, is narrow minded and non-scientific.

Lastly, I am aware, as in my previous post, that I may have used a few words that you have not already used. I do hope you can realize that sometimes it may be required to use words that you have no previously ordained as being approved. In my last post, I used the word atheism, my sincere apologies if I should have asked your permission first, as clearly you were unable to follow the relevance to the topic

Neut er all, I'm both saddened and pleased to see that you have adopted one of the shoddy religious arguments that I blogged about recently:
http://hinessight.blogs.com/church_of_the_churchless/2009/08/shoddy-religious-arguments-keep-being-repeated.html

Saddened, because these arguments are trite and boring. Pleased, because you prove the point of my post-- that true believers keep dragging these shoddy arguments up.

Please read #2: There's no proof that X doesn't exist (God, life after death, heaven, miracles, whatever), so that's why I believe in X.

Like I said, deeply illogical. Evidence has to be positive in order for the existence of something to be accepted. Lots of things could be somewhere, and just not seen.

Gnomes. Santa Claus. Big Foot. Fairies. Alien beings.

Neither science, nor common sense, leads us to continually wonder whether something exists that no evidence exists for. Only mentally ill people obsess over non-existent entities in that sort of fashion. Oh, and also religious people.

No Neut, you have shown no logic.

There is no evidence of God AT THIS TIME.

Sure, there could be a God here, or there, or somewhere... but there iks no evidence at this point.

That means that for all intent and purposes, there is no evidence of God at this time.

It doesn't matter that there may be some remote possibility of a God, which is yet to be revealed.

There COULD be a zillion things that may be "possible", but that is not evidence.

You said: "therefore God may exist, but we know nothing about God."

In this case, it also doesn't matter that we know nothing about God. This "God" that you say we know nothing about, is simply an idea that you have. But there is still no evidence for the existence of this thing, this God. It is just an idea. It is like a supposed pink elephant in Brian's front yard. You have an idea of this pink elephant, but the reality is that, at this point, there is no evidence of any pink elephant whatsoever. Its just an idea. A very remote possibility yes, but not a reality.

So an absence of evidence that something exists, is not a belief. It is an absence of belief. It is an absence of belief because there is no evidence of it (this "God") existing.

So Neut, it is YOUR logic that is unquestionably invalid.

No, Brian, your logic fails completely; for there is a huge difference between a car and God
A car is known to exist, therefore the absence of a car is testable. A car has certain properties, these properties can be looked for, and if found not to be present, then it can be correctly concluded that the car is not existing in that parking space.

For this logic to be applied to God, one first has to accept that God exists. The properties of God would then be known, and a test can be carried out to see if God exists under certain conditions, in the car example, the conditions are spacial.

But Brian, it is not known as in proven beyond reasonable doubt, whether God exists or not. We can say that the existence of God, within the boundaries of our scientific investigation into the physical world, is not apparent. But we cannot state with certainty that we have observed everything in the physical world, nor can we state with certainty that nothing exists other than the physical world.
So it is perfectly justifiable that the possibility of a God existing is non zero, and therefore God may exist, but we know nothing about God.

This makes your logic invalid, for to say that nothing exists simply because we cannot detect anything, is narrow minded and non-scientific.

Lastly, I am aware, as in my previous post, that I may have used a few words that you have not already used. I do hope you can realize that sometimes it may be required to use words that you have no previously ordained as being approved. In my last post, I used the word atheism, my sincere apologies if I should have asked your permission first, as clearly you were unable to follow the relevance to the topic

Apologies, I did not intend to repost my last comment, I hit the refresh button and it reposted, odd
My reply coming up below

OK, Brian and tAo, sorry but I completely disagree with you. To avoid any confusion and to keep this conversation clear, I will ask you to respond to my post rather than use my post as a soap box to launch your ideas ad nausium.

I asked whether sates other than belief, knowledge open to possibility can exist in our mind?
We either believe something, which is to assume knowledge in lack of rigorous proof or evidence, know something, or not know, and be open to the possibility. Is there another state of mind? (I am excluding irrational, illogical and insanity states)

Brian, you say I have adopted some shoddy religious argument, and then point me to your post item 2) (there is no proof X does not exist, therefore I believe in X)
I have absolutely not used this argument, you would do well not to make yourself look so foolish, after all, you are the only one on here with known identity.
In response to your accusation (shoddy logic) I have not and am not claiming that either God exists or does not exist, so this part of your response is WRONG.
However, I am saying that there is no evidence of existence of GOD, THEREFORE, one can reach only limited conclusions. These are:
God does not exist
God does exist but is not detectable by current methods
God may or may not exist

Based on lack of evidence, it is not possible to prove God exists or does not exist. Correct me if you have some other conclusion that logically follows, perhaps you would present it, rather than simply putting me down?

You say that Pink elephants may exist, and I say that just because they have not been observed does not mean they do not exist. However, lets be clear, we know something about Pink elephants, we know that if they existed, they would be animals, and so require certain operating conditions, an earthly atmosphere, food, planet earth environment, etc etc. so, we know where to look for elephants, we only need to observe if any of them are pink, Simple, quick and rapidly concluded.

We could use another example, lets talk about tacheons. Theory claims they may exist, particles that travel backwards in time. A bit illogical to some, and perhaps to fringe for others, but leading researchers at University of Bangor back in the 70\\\'s thought it worth looking. The difference between tacheons and God is that we had some idea where to look and in what conditions. Well, we all know the outcome.

I am going to try not to use your tactics of simply putting people down who come up with valid posts. This is why I am only partly responding to your comment Brian and completely ignoring tAp\\\'s

tAo
Just in case there may be someone reading this blog who is taken in by your lack of logical thinking, let me answer your irrational statement:

First, there is a difference between the concept of a pink elephant and the concept of God. Both pink and elephant are defined physical observations, and so are testable. If all known elephants are inspected for the color pink, and none are found to be pink, then a proof exists.

Other statements may hold true, for example, the nature of dark matter. It is not known what constitutes dark matter, but experiments, including thought experiments may be devised and through a process of testing, conclusions may be drawn.
Generally, extreme or fringe ideas can be readily disproved, although there are a group of extreme notions that have never been able to be proved or disproved. There is interest by some in exploring apparently unprovable ideas.

Your last statement "So an absence of evidence that something exists, is not a belief. It is an absence of belief. It is an absence of belief because there is no evidence of it (this "God") existing.

I agree, an absence of evidence does not constitute a proof, either that something exists or that it does not exist. This is why I provided the option that either one has belief, or one knows, or one is open to the possibility that something exists or does not exist. This latter is lack of belief.
I stated this early in my post, it was the foundation of my post, perhaps you did not read this bit, so go back and take a look.
An example of belief system is that I believe, based upon observation, that tAo likes to argue and accuse others of being illogical. I cannot prove whether this is intentional or simply lack of ability to comprehend or read what others have written. Nor can I determine if this is how tAo always functions, in all situations. I can only hope that this is not the case, and he reserves this special brand of behavior for his activity on here? Would be interesting to know.

To conclude, we are in agreement, we currently have no evidence of God, there is no belief in God, so we have an open mind about God, and agree that God may, or may not exist, right?

Neut er all, you continue to have a simplistic, and erroneous, conception of the scientific method. Again, you didn't read my earlier post about shoddy reasoning very carefully, because you continue to repeat the same tired arguments (now you've moved to #3).

Neither science, nor me, nor any evidence-minded entity, has 100% certainty. The scientific method is based on preponderance of evidence. When evidence in favor of a hypothesis is strong, or very strong, that hypothesis becomes a theory, or even a law.

So of course I, and science, have an open mind about God, or pink elephants, or gnomes in my garden, or space aliens. But as Carl Sagan said in his "B.S. Detection Toolkit," a completely open mind will let in all sorts of crap. So skepticism about unfounded claims is the Crap Trap. It isn't perfect, but by and large it keeps out false stuff and lets in true stuff.

Open-minded people don't believe in God because there is no demonstrable evidence for God's existence, as you said in your comment. But you're wrong when you say that we "agree that God, may or may not exist" if this is intended to mean that both possibilities are to be regarded equally.

They can't be, because all the evidence is against God, and as you said "no evidence" is in favor of God. So an open-minded person says, "There is no evidence of God, just as there is no evidence of gnomes in my garden, so for now I don't accept that either exists."

So, no, we're not in agreement. Unless you agree with me.

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