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January 09, 2016


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I see you have stumbled upon modern restating of David Hume's 18th century philosophy. Nice.

For those of us who understand the limitations of this well-trodden and well-refuted philosophy, other parts of your post raise more interesting questions.

You write, apparently oblivious to the irony "I like books that take some of my cherished assumptions about how the world works and chew them up into tiny pieces before putting them in a Truth Blender where they're dissolved into unrecognizable thought-mush."

Which books are they, Brian? Surely not this one you're reviewing here, seeing as it is completely in accord with your atheist & scientism beliefs as expressed here over the years?

Actually, I cannot recall you reviewing or mentioning having read a SINGLE book which, actually, genuinely challenges your "cherished assumptions", over the past several years here? Did you read any of the many books I listed here a few years ago? Perhaps your opinion of your own open mindedness and willingness to challenge your own assumptions are not as close to actual reality as you would like to believe? That is just one of ways the trap of belief, in this case a belief in scientism, tricks us.

Here's another unambiguous example.

It's all well and good Alex Rosenberg banging on about "reality" and what not, but he doesn't seem too well connected to it himself. He writes:

"You will be able to undercut some arguments just by pointing out that they make assumptions about reality that science has already shown to be false -- for example, that humans have soul"

When did science "already" show the idea "humans have a soul" "to be false"?

Name the paper, the authors, the institute etc of this scientific research?

And, once we get past the entirely certain, unambiguous, factual "reality" that no such scientific research even exists, let alone shown something to be "false", we must move onto the obvious question; what makes a person distort & fabricate reality so unquestioningly? It is that old motivator dogma and belief. At least he admits it and is proud of it!

Welcome to the ChurchofScientism.

Manjit, I'm perplexed by how you know my utterly subjective (meaning, hidden from others) mind so well.

How would you be able to tell whether I found Rosenberg's book "mind blowing" or not? Could it be that you'd just projecting your own subjectivity onto me? Well, that's what we all do to some extent. We make up stories about other people, then have fun discussing them with others.

But objective reality is different. This is what I found mind blowing about this book. It challenged me to question my long-held assumptions that "meaning" means something, that people can have purposes, that history tells us important things about possible futures.

Like I said in this post, Rosenberg does an amazing job of using science to demolish intuitive beliefs about how the mind works. We can't trust introspection to reveal how the mind/brain does its thing. What feels true to us often isn't. So science is the best (and maybe only) guide to how reality actually is.

Sorry Brian, you've lost me - where in my post did I say anything about whether or not you found Rosenberg's book mind-blowing? Perhaps any and all projection involved here is all you?

I never once mentioned "mind-blowing". Fact.

Perhaps you are conflating my comment about you not reading anything which, genuinely, challenges your assumptions about reality? That I think is obvious to anyone and everyone reading your blog over the last few years. You are of course entitled to deny the obvious.

Sure you were "mind-blown" by Rosenberg's book. It's not hard to understand what you mean. But what I am pointing out is the entirely obvious - whilst your mind was "blown", it clearly didn't blow away the mindset within which you clearly existed before you read it. This is obvious. But please carry on.

I wouldn't argue the actual philosophy you're promoting, it's far too passé for me.

PS - in case you missed it! I'm up for some genuine science to "challenge my assumptions":

"Name the paper, the authors, the institute etc of this scientific research?"

Are you?


Manjit, here's what you said: "Actually, I cannot recall you reviewing or mentioning having read a SINGLE book which, actually, genuinely challenges your 'cherished assumptions', over the past several years here?"

I just gave you three examples from Rosenberg's book that challenged some of my long-held assumptions. To me that is synonymous with "mind blowing," because some cherished assumptions of mine were blown up and replaced with other ones more in tune with reality.

Read Rosenberg's book if you want a long list of scientific sources that support his key theses. You'll have a lot of reading to do. They're in a final section called "The Backstory."

Ey ey Briandula ... Dogma upon dogma.. The religious scientist playa

Sorry Brian, you really have lost me there. I'm not quite sure your claim about me knowing your subjective mind and if you thought the book was mind-blowing or not is actually that coherent. I'm sure you think it is though.

In regards "scientific sources" that support his "key thesis" etc - no worries, I am thoroughly aware of all the "sources" for his philosophical world view. I, actually, have spent years reading books that would challenge "my cherished assumptions".

The question you don't seem to have understood is quite simple, as is the answer.

He writes that "science" has "already shown" the "soul" to be "false".

Now I know that, unequivocally, to be factually false. Actually, it is an absurd and meaningless claim and belies his ideological & dogmatic perspective - which when it comes to "reality", is a useless perspective.

Can you please find ONE actually SCIENTIFIC "source" for this meaningless and absurd claim? Please, please do dig through his "The Backstory" to find the reference to the scientific studies which have "shown" us this?

Why should anyone take a person with such obvious blinders seriously?

Perhaps you should read a GENUINELY challenging book which clearly undercut the ridiculous basis for these beliefs you think are so clever & progressive?

Actually, when it comes to "scientific evidence" in these areas of research, it does nothing but SUPPORT the idea of a soul?

But then perhaps because you are so astonishingly under-informed & so narrow with your beliefs & vision you also believe.....and read right on past Rosenberg's comment without blinking an eyelid .....that "science" has shown the soul to be "false", demonstrating a distinct inability to distinguish ideological beliefs from scientific facts?

At least this is done in a blog entry which openly praises "scientism". Enough said for those who understand.

What an interesting world we live in.

Just to clarify, I do understand what YOU mean by reading a book that "challenges my hidden assumptions".

You mean like when a Beas satsangi goes to a Gurinder satsang and hears ideas that were "mind-blowing" to them, and "challenged their hidden assumptions"

What *I* mean by reading something that challenges your hidden assumptions is more akin to a Christian reading Origin of the Species.

And I think that would be obvious to anyone reading my response, as are your attempts at evading this obvious interpretation, and your obvious lack of reading anything remotely so challenging.


Again, no one is able to know how mind blowing something is other than the person whose mind is being blown. Like I said, I found Rosenberg's arguments both persuasive and highly challenging to some of my assumptions about reality.

So I totally reject your belief that you know my own subjective experience better than I do. I stand by everything I said in this post.

By the way, one reason my mind isn't blown so much anymore is that I'm in pretty damn good contact with objective reality now. Since I accept science (particle and quantum physics, evolution, big bang cosmology, neuroscience, evolutionary psychology, etc.), much of what Rosenberg said in his book wasn't new to me. Only some implications of scientific understanding were.

Currently I'm only mildly interested in spiritual, religious, and mystical story-telling. I can understand why you're still attached to this stuff, but it doesn't appeal to me anymore -- being 99.9% wishful thinking (maybe 100%, but I like to be generous).

Again, never mentioned "mind blown" in my post.

I would seriously question just how "connected" you are to "objective reality".

It is, quite clearly, an unsubstantiated subjective claim.

But don't let me confuse you with facts.

It's interesting that you mention "story-telling" and "wishful thinking". I think these ideas get to the crux of the matter.

I won't defend myself, and ask from you an explanation of just 1% of what constitutes my "99.5% wishful" "story-telling". Knowing both that you would be unable to do it, and that such a thing does not even exist in me.

But let's dig into the wishful story-telling that you engage in.

First of all, let's untangle science from ideological beliefs (stories). We need to be able to discern, on a most basic and fundamental level, that claims such as "science has shown the soul to be false" are UN-scientific, and are a STORY we tell ourselves which provides our identities with security and comfort in a vast and incomprehensible universe & existence. It is completely unrelated to the actual realm of science. It is a STORY based around the idea of science, not science itself. It is also a demonstrably false belief by the simple fact no such scientific research of any respectability exists!

Other stories we weave are those we weave around ideas "evolution" and "neuroscience". We weave the story that evolution disproves the idea of "God" (it doesn't, it merely disproves the narrative of Biblical faiths, if taken literally), or that it demonstrates there could be no such thing as "intelligence" in design and that everything happened by random chance (how can concepts of "chance", "free will", "intelligence" be anything BUT human STORIES?) etc. We weave the story that neurological correlates to experience PROVES that the brain generates and creates all experience (ignoring other simple examples which suggest alternative interpretations, such as the brain as a "receiver" of consciousness for eg, or that because an apple triggers certain parts of the brain measured under certain types of scans, that doesn't mean apples don't exist just because it's measured in the brain etc).

These are all stories weaved around the bare facts of reality.

The simple truth is we haven't got a clue how life got here, what life is, precisely how it "evolved", what consciousness is, how the universe got here (but god damn if it isn't very, very, very precisely "tuned"), what happened before the big bang, if indeed the big bang is correct.

Etc etc etc.

NONE of the biggest questions about the mystery of human consciousness and the universe have been answered. This is factual. The rest is all noise and bluster, just like that famous scientist said at the beginning of the 21st century, paraphrasing "physics is dead, there is nothing more to know. It's just a matter of dotting the i and crossing the t"......remarkable misguided arrogance!

We knew nothing then, and we know nothing now.

Look at the state of consciousness "research" (laughable)

Look at the state of quantum phsyics (who knows what the fuck is going on here! What's that about conscious observers you say? Spooky action at a distance? Woo woo alert!!)

Look at the state of medicine and biology (how much bad science and dodgy research? And whatever you do, don't mention the placebo effect!!)

Look at the state of cutting edge physics and cosmology (let's invent infinite multiverses to explain the precise fine tuning in our one! That makes sense, right?! No God here!!)

Evolution theory? Wasn't it Crick himself who said the planet hasn't even been here long enough for the process of evolution to have occurred (he believed in the theory of "pan-spermia", that basic life was brought to earth on a meteorite or something - basically it's all just one big mystery!)

I've read another post of Brian's that begun with some "realities" or some such compared to the illusions of those insane people who believe in some "spiritual" nonsense or other, and he again mentioned the "big bang theory" as one of his truths.

I guess he missed the "theory" part at the end of it.

Hey Brian, blow open your mind a little more, challenge your assumptions about the "big bang" with this top quality BBC documentary on the subject, top leading edge scientists are on it:


Nothing is certain. It's all just stories you tell yourself to make sense of your, admittedly incredibly astonishing, truely mind-blowing & incomprehensible existence and universe.

It is not that I believe there is a "God" or not, it is the sheer fact the word "God" does not do any justice whatsoever to reality itself. And once you see it, then all worship, and indeed non-worship, is acceptable. It is all, by the very fact of it's own nature, worship of that which cannot even be named.

I am describing something, and all you are seeing is the words "God" and "worship". Science & rationality won't help anyone here. An automaton will never understand a poem.

Nice post Manjit - I live my life in a state of uncertainty about the big questions of existence. Neither the dogmas of religion nor the dogmas of science have managed to put a dent in it. So your thoughts resonate with me.

You are so religious Brian.

Omg, Mankit is so smart! This bullstinking blog's reign of terror has come to an end! It has been truly blessed in receiving his profound wisdom, spiritual insight, and poetic eloquence. Thank the hallowed all-one Mystery Gosh that his sacred soul utterances will be preserved here for all bullsmell scientismisists. Praise be to Manlit, messenger of God-(K)No-Wing!!

There seems to be some potential problems with some of those author's views.

'and that when "complete" what science tells us will not be surprisingly different from what it tells us today'

This sounds like the scientific version of Fukuyama's 'the end of history', wherein liberal democracies were supposed to inevitably triumph... What if someone had made this claim of his after Newton published his work? It appears and feels like he's probably correct, but that's partially due to a number of our biases.

His argument regarding fatalism vs determinism seems unconvincing.

"Of course, we are all going to die. The difference between fatalism and determinism is this: If fatalism is right, you'll die of the same thing no matter what you do. If determinism is right, how you die, what you die of, depends on what you did in life.
(Did you smoke, overeat, wear your seat belt?) That's a big difference. Some deaths are worse than others. Which we experience will be determined, but not fated."

To an observer outside of time, what would the difference between the two be? Nothing.

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