« Become an unknowing fool. It's the wisest thing to do. | Main | You could be a fundamentalist satsangi if... »

May 17, 2020


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

I should have posted this here. This shows the power of looking inward. It is so cool. You’ll love it... I hope.


But what is meant by ‘no grand design’.

No manmade design, almost certainly.

No design at all, you can’t say that at all.

Laws of nature, not just randomness. Where do they come from and why? Specific finely-tuned constants that allow a universe to even exist. God doesn’t play dice - Einstein (and yes I know what it means).

Nope I don’t think we can say anything at all about ‘no grand design’ - we simply ain’t got the foggiest, no clue in the slightest - that includes Greene.

Everybody nowadays, believes in scores of assumptions for which there is good evidence, but no perfect visual proof. And does not science demonstrate that visual proof is the weakest proof? It is being constantly revealed, as mankind studies the material world, that outward appearances are not inward reality at all. To illustrate:

The prosaic steel girder is a mass of electrons whirling around each other at incredible speed. These tiny bodies are governed by precise laws, and these laws hold true throughout the material world. Science tells us so. We have no reason to doubt it. When, however, the perfectly logical assumption is suggested that underneath the material world and life as we see it, there is an All Powerful, Guiding, Creative Intelligence, right there our perverse streak comes to the surface and we laboriously set out to convince ourselves it isn't so. We read wordy books and indulge in windy arguments, thinking we believe this universe needs no God to explain it. Were our contentions true, it would follow that life originated out of nothing, means nothing, and proceeds nowhere.

Instead of regarding ourselves as intelligent agents, spearheads of God's ever advancing Creation, we agnostics and atheists chose to believe that our human intelligence was the last word, the alpha and the omega, the beginning and end of all. Rather vain of us, wasn't it?

We, who have traveled this dubious path, beg you to lay aside prejudice, even against organized religion. We have learned that whatever the human frailties of various faiths may be, those faiths have given purpose and direction to millions. People of faith have a logical idea of what life is all about. Actually, we used to have no reasonable conception whatever. We used to amuse ourselves by cynically dissecting spiritual beliefs and practices when we might have observed that many spiritually-minded persons of all races, colors, and creeds were demonstrating a degree of stability, happiness and usefulness which we should have sought ourselves.

Instead, we looked at the human defects of these people, and sometimes used their shortcomings as a basis of wholesale condemnation. We talked of intolerance, while we were intolerant ourselves. We missed the reality and the beauty of the forest because we were diverted by the ugliness of some of its trees. We never gave the spiritual side of life a fair hearing.

Bill Wilson from "We Agnostics" 1935


I thought you had been excommunicated.

Well, it is confusing. The only thing running through my mind lately is why does God allow such suffering. This world is full of suffering. And what is all this life living about. We can try to make the best of our lot in life. We can try our best to be happy and become better human beings but it doesn’t change much. I mean it may change our personal experience of life but the world stays pretty much the same—broken. Is that what God wanted? A broken world? Was that his design? If he’s so almighty then why doesn’t he do something about it? What kind of sadistic god creates a world where people starve to death and children are abused and people are subject to horrific crimes. Sure, there’s a lot of good in the world, but it doesn’t make up for all the bad.

The word psyche originates from the Greek word meaning soul, breath, life. Psychology seems to have a better grasp on helping one “know thyself” than religion does. Psychologists for the most part seem grounded and balanced and don’t offer a one-size-fits-all solutions to each person’s problem. People can tell you to meditate or pray or “just have faith” all day long but that won’t help and it won’t change a thing when you have very specific issues that you need to confront and deal with. A lot of people make the mistake of looking to religion to fix themselves when what they really need is therapy. We’re all looking for answers to why we behave the way we do, what is our purpose in life and what’s the meaning to life. All of spirituality requires faith but psychology actually offers solutions and tools you can use to understand what you need to do to “fix” yourself and your life so that you can be a better person and offer some sort of contribution to society. What does “God” offer? What does religion offer?

I’ll tell you. It offers false hope and unrealistic expectations that often aggravate an already fragile sense of self and somewhat damaged psyche.

Religion is a business.

I have looked to spirituality my entire life to fix myself so that I could be a good person... so that I could be a better person. I may act obnoxious at times but truth is I was always the “good girl” growing up. I did everything I thought was right. And then one day I decided that it was false and started this journey searching for the “truth”. I believed I would find the answer and that I would discover this Grand Plan. But the reality is life isn’t like that. And half of what drove me was guilt. Not guilt for anything I had done necessarily, just the kind of guilt that all religious organizations are so good at instilling in people as an excuse for our suffering. I looked to spirituality for the answers. But spirituality only offers one answer—Faith. Faith in what??? It’s ridiculous. But it’s easy to go along with if you don’t have an inquisitive mind or if you haven’t experienced any meaningless intense suffering yourself.

People believe in God for one of two reasons; fear or hope. But what about love? What does God really do to help us be more loving people? Like I said, what kind of god allows such suffering as you see in the world today? I wouldn’t define that god as being loving.

Anyway, believe what you want. But speaking from my own experience I am either believing in god out of fear of what he might do to me if I don’t (which is nuts) or because I just don’t want to believe that this is all there is. But there’s no proof.

And @GP, unless you’ve become a “believer” since the last time I communicated with you, I expect that you of all people should understand that this world is suffering, as the Buddha said. No amount of faith is going to change that.

Only working to becoming grounded and dealing with things honestly and open-eyed is going to help us heal ourselves.

Sometimes I think spirituality is medieval. I really, really want to believe in an afterlife and and a heaven but it doesn’t add up.

Yep I too thought I’d been excommunicated thanks to you oh bonkers one. Seems like I’m being graciously ‘allowed’ the odd tame post that doesn’t tow the party line.

I like the comments from j - far more open-minded.

Let’s get real—man created “God”, or the idea of a god.

In the absence of some grand designer or all-pervading force, surely pure randomness (or nothing at all) is by far the more probable state?

We shouldn’t even be having this conversation.

Instead, the main scientifically accepted hypothesis (not one that is a provable theory either) is that with big enough numbers (time, states, universes etc) we can somehow win the lottery of all lotteries and arrive at our finely-tuned life-producing semi-ordered universe.

The analogy often used is a gazillion monkeys tapping away on a gazillion typewriters for a gazillion years until one of them creates Hamlet. Added to this, another monkey created the typewriter, another understand the language of Hamlet, and yet another is touched at another level beyond the words itself. The chances of this happening are so small, as to not only be considered implausible, but impossible and even miraculous.

If we are meant to accept this kind of explanation over the possibility that there just might be some eternal intelligent or guiding force behind it all, then the latter explanation seems just as plausible. If you throw into the mix transcendental experiences like love and art etc - I see no reason why a spiritual explanation should be so easily discarded.

Sagan and Feynman and others all said the universe is stranger than we can possibly comprehend or even imagine. I think this is completely correct. Dawkins would call this god of the gaps and that as science progresses ‘god’ or the unknown is eroded with scientific explanations. I think it’s far more plausible that we are a gazillion miles away from ever understanding our fundamental origins and that science will never get you there even after a gazillion years.

Science is a fantastic tool, maybe our most powerful intellectually, but there are other aspects to the human (and quite possible non-human experience), that might be far more powerful in understanding our world. We simply don’t know.

I would not be so quick as to pronounce definitively on matters we know nothing about. It seems to me whether we choose to believe in explanations of the unfathomable and unprovable coming from someone with many letters behind their name or someone with a towel on their head, you might as well take your pick as to what resonates more deeply.

But most importantly, what does it hurt too listen to different viewpoints?

Yep I too thought I’d been excommunicated thanks to you oh bonkers one. Seems like I’m being graciously ‘allowed’ the odd tame post that doesn’t tow the party line.

I like the comments from j - far more open-minded.

Posted by: Georgy Porgy | May 19, 2020 at 12:00 AM

Aww that’s sweet. When you say, “you oh bonkers one” I know you mean that from the heart. 😅

I’m watching On Becoming a God in Central Florida (https://youtu.be/n41ZFrTQ53c). It pretty much covers the psychology of cult behavior but in a dark comedic way.

Religions are grown up cults. Like dogs are grown up pups.

Cults/culture each have their own way of interpreting the “divine” order of things. But it doesn’t make them right. It’s just cultural. We’re taught what to believe from the time we’re born. Most of us never think... we never question what we’re told with regards to the meaning of life and what happens at death. It’s weird. It’s really weird. Something so important yet most of the world never gives much thought to the validity of what they’ve always been told as far as the mystery of life is concerned.

Anyway... you’re just as bonkers.


I thought I recognized those words from somewhere... Bill W., AA.

Very reasonable man. Open-minded.

Oh I’m definitely bonkers, but no cry baby bunting.

Grandpappy said either man-up or don’t throw dung. If you throw it, be prepared to take it.

I think the principle applies regardless of gender.

Oh I’m definitely bonkers, but no cry baby bunting.

Grandpappy said either man-up or don’t throw dung. If you throw it, be prepared to take it.

I think the principle applies regardless of gender.

Posted by: Georgy Porgy | May 19, 2020 at 05:56 AM

“Don’t dish it out if you can’t take it.”

Yep, that’s what my dad always said/says. 👍

You remind me so much of my dad. But my dad wouldn’t waste time philosophizing about god or gurus. He doesn’t do a lot of pondering the “grand scheme of things”.

So, kudos to you. At least you’re more of a deep thinking man. Not sure if it’s helped you any, though...

If we figure out whether there is a god or not, is it really going to make a difference? Just had that thought because people are all like “no free will”... blah blah

Bill Wilson was a fascinating character. Excerpt from an article on him.

"Starting in the mid-1940s, Bill developed a deep and long-lasting friendship, mostly through correspondence, with the eccentric Anglo-Irish writer, philosopher and mystic, Gerald Heard, who became one of Bill’s foremost spiritual mentors throughout his life. Bill and Heard both suffered from debilitating depressions and helped each other via their correspondence. Heard introduced Bill to his close friend, Aldous Huxley, author of Doors of Perception, which described his psychedelic experience with mescaline, the psychoactive alkaloid from peyote.

Through his friendships with Heard and Huxley, Bill became aware of the research conducted by two Canadian doctors, Abram Hoffer and Humphrey Osmond, who were using psychedelics – a term coined by Osmond – to treat alcoholics and schizophrenics. Their research was part of an extensive range and large number of psychedelic studies in the 20-year period from 1953 to 1973, which is summarized in a recent New Yorker article The Trip Treatment."

Psychedelics are drugs.

"We are not lacking the brainpower. We are not staring at Plato's wall, unaware of a radically different kind of truth, just beyond reach, with the power to suddenly provide startling new clarity."

How do you know? Science is an adventure. Discovery is the order of the day.

Our view is limited. Science, with every fresh new discovery, teaches that. It also gathers more evidence of some things. And discovers limitations of things we thought were universal.

It is unwise to draw conclusions from linear projections reaching too far beyond our knowledge. And science has shown this is true time and again.

We can discover looking both outside ourselves and within. We are only a small part of what we are.

To conclude there is no grand design is far too limited a statement, especially when things tend to photocopy themselves nearly identically with minute alterations. Nature follows a pattern, and it makes a new one also!

It may be smarter to say that we can hardly project our way of consciousness and thinking onto nature or God. Because our way is limited to these tiny brains.

Why design first? Why not design and create, manufacture and dismantle all at the same time?

Why such a narrow definition of intelligence? I
Limited to our physical limitations?

I think this form of atheism, which tries to define intelligence and God, is just another religion trying to claim it is scientific, creating its own straw man, like every other religion.

Why does Atheism borrow almost all of its polemic from religion?

I've come to belive that science is as irritating to the Atheist as to the cleric. But both claim it is their property.

In a creation where time is as malleable as matter, couldn't intelligent design be the last step? I regurgitate a cake one mouthful at a time and the result is a fully baked cake!

We make too many assumptions limited by our functional limitations.

Why do we even think we are moving forward through time?

Maybe we are moving backwards. Maybe the result is the cause, and so all the actual effects chain backwards. What we do today might cause WWII! Maybe we are now doing the things that lead to Lincoln's assassination. But we are so set to viewing time one dimensionally, as a single vector, even less than that, only a single point at any moment, and we presume the connection to the next moment is casual in the direction of time we are moving. We can only understand backwards as forwards because that is the direction we are moving in. But maybe we can only accurately state that all things are connected. We see things all connected, and presume causality because of the sequence of events. We presume the cause precedes the effect. Even if that were true we would be wrong to claim y caused x where time is rewinding itself.

I don't write this to be contrary. But only to suggest that we see things from a very blinkered perspective and should be careful constraining reality to our tiny capacity.


It’s as if your IQ has jumped 40 points over the past few months. And it sounds like you finally decided to get initiated.

If there is a God, I wonder if he’s open to making deals...

We make too many assumptions limited by our functional limitations.

Posted by: Spence Tepper | May 19, 2020 at 04:49 PM

Amen, brother.

Although I’d argue every belief system, theistic or not, is based on a perverse need for hierarchy. Equality is a utopian ideal that very few truly want to accept regardless of what they claim to hold dear. The human mind always thinks in terms of hierarchies. And that’s not what separates us from the animals. It’s what shows us we’re not so different from animals.

And of course everyone thinks of the past as set in stone, immovable, and inevitable, so they blindly do their part to cause it. And no one stops to remember the future. Human beings are a strange lot.

The reason the “Grand Plan” doesn’t work is because in a group of 100 hundred people at least one motherf*kr is gonna get greedy. Socialism and communism are dangerous ideals that do not work in a world where human nature dictates that 1% will always be at the top. It’s human nature that stops us from being fully human. Isn’t that ironic?

Humans are always looking to find something to worship or else to be worshipped. There’s no balance of power. We worship people that we revere as being so much better than ourselves. But you have to ask yourself, is worship the same as live. Worship is like a drug. It takes and takes. It gives a little but at the end of the day you’re just left with less of yourself.

Is worship the same as *love

@ In a creation where time is as malleable as matter, couldn't intelligent design be
@ the last step? I regurgitate a cake one mouthful at a time and the result is a fully
@ baked cake!

Do ya belch 'bon appetit' at the beginning, end.... or does it matter?


I think love has many' faces'..
Everyone loves..
Not so easy to recognise..
But it is there..I think..
( I hope)

Huge limits to science, and always will be.

+ Sensory limits. For something to move from hypothesis to theory, there needs to be evidence. Finding this at the cutting edge is harder and harder with our limited senses and instruments. For example the fundamental particle model keeps getting more fundamental, Chinese dolls within dolls. Hyptgodeize a B-H particle, then spend a decade building a mammoth collider machine to try detect it. But how far are we away from the truly fundamental particles and are these even particles or energy fields - at these incredibly minuscule woo-woo levels where no one knows zip. No scientist knows if we even remotely close to true fundamentals, tho every scientific generation think we are, only to open up an entire uknknown vista exposing the scientific ignorance of the previous generation.

+ Reality limits: We don’t even understand QM, despite mega-accurate mathematical equations. The observation effect is a total fkn mystery to this day. It suggests that the mere act of our observation changes reality and the experiment itself - so what proof can you establish at these levels? Zilch.
And what if the ‘out there’ QM scientists like wheeler and Penrose etc are right that human consciousness has the ability to change reality? This brings the whole underpinning of scientific ‘realism’ into focus where maybe there isn’t a world of things that exists independent of consciousness. Have we got it all completely upside down?

+ physical limits. Far as we know, there are limits like the speed of light. So even if most of the ‘observable’ universe is filled with stuff we don’t understand (90% dark energy), the limit on the speed of light means there are ‘unobersvable’ parts of the universe which we can’t see and will never be able too. We don’t even know how ignorant we really are.

+ intelligence limits. The universe is stranger than we can possibly imagine. We are playing catch-up to try understand something infinitely more complex than the human brain. It takes genius like Einstein to break-through, but he’s almost certainly barely scratching the surface. You’ve got all these so-called PhD post-doc scientific brains, then covid comes along - we’re all totally clueless sitting with their thumbs up their ass.

Forget covid, we still don’t even have a cure for the common cold. So what is the great scientific knowledge and advice turned too? What do they actually know? Germ theory - wash your hands - is this how far our great collective scientific intelligence has progressed ?

We don’t realize how ignorant we are until nature shows us. Put science in its appropriate box, a powerful but limited tool, that is all.

We don’t realize how ignorant we are until nature shows us. Put science in its appropriate box, a powerful but limited tool, that is all.

Posted by: Georgy Porgy | May 20, 2020 at 06:32 AM

Sorry, I mistook you for this other guy who used to comment here that was also called Georgy Porgy. Clearly you’re not the same guy. I seriously doubt the other Georgy knew anything about Quantum Mechanics or any of the other science-y stuff you just wrote a thesis on.

Ahh... the Great Unknown. Please tell me more about the unknowable Unknown.


The whole “malleable time” idea is fascinating. 🙃 There’s a lot of research on time travel (I can’t remember what they call it) and so far I think they’ve shown that we can travel back in time a certain percentage of a second.

So, no getting in any machine just yet. Maybe we can time travel in our mind palace. :) Imagination is a phenomenally powerful tool.


Love has many faces. Yes, many faces.

"Compared with other countries, atheist states, such as the People's Republic of China, have the highest suicide rate (25.6 per 100,000 persons). In a global study on atheism, sociologist Phil Zuckerman noted countries with higher levels of atheism had the highest suicide rates compared to countries with "statistically insignificant levels of organic atheism." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epidemiology_of_suicide#Religion

But no, we "must" accept there is no grand design.

I reckon a deeply ‘loving’ person, whether religious or not, understands more about the universe than Albert Einstein ever did.

And I ain’t so sure that science will find the love gene, despite CRISPR. Seems to me a lot of science is just pure dumb luck. One day they breeding yoghurt cultures, the next they found a way to target the genome. Still a pretty interesting story tho if science is your thing.

Georgy Porgy, science is everybody's thing, including you. Every day you willingly embrace modern science when you use a microwave oven, a cell phone, or a computer. Science makes all of those things possible, and so much more.

Science is responsible for the clean air we breathe and the safe food we eat. Science is what saves lives in doctor's offices and hospitals. So I don't get how people can be anti-science, when they rely on science every day of their lives.

And how would you define love? Sometimes I think we should focus on the heart chakra. You can actually live, with the help of medicine/technology, even if your brain dead. But you can’t live “heart dead”.

Personally, I feel absolutely everything other people are feeling close to me. Just thinking about another person taps me into their current state of feeling. I try to distance myself from my emotions by doing these exercises where I see myself in the third person.

The funny thing is, Brian may be a hard core atheist but his energy is very strong and empathic. Not sure how an empath (empaths are natural healers) reconciles being atheist. 😉 Especially given they are very much in tune with the energy of others whether they admit it or not. No surprise that he was so drawn to a spiritual path for many years.

But being empathic is overwhelming and sometimes they look for ways to turn it down a few notches.

I’m not anti-science, I’m anti ‘science worship’ as the be all and end all. As being the last word on ‘meaning’.

There is a collosal difference between intelligence and wisdom.

I mean who would you go to for advice for on the meaning of life ? Some 4-eyed book-worm whose contemplated string-theory in some dandy tenured existence or a person whose led a rich and varied life full of humane experiences?

There are certain very rare people in this existence who are magical. I don’t mean they cast spells. I mean they just understand things. They are magnetic and are invariable deeply loving ppl who couldn’t care friggin less about a quirky quark from a bloody boson.

Seems to me the world was doing just fine before all those things you mention were invented and probably had cleaner air too. Nope I don’t think science has helped us answer any of the really big questions, but feel free to argue otherwise.

Georgy, I don’t think you have a clue as to what a truly loving person is but good luck with that. Everyone needs to be loved. Hope you find it.

And I agree, science can’t explain everything. However, it doesn’t take a genius to recognize true love vs false.

"Science is responsible for the clean air we breathe and the safe food we eat. "

Scientific progress has destroyed air quality and caused cancers previously unknown to man. We eat the most warped and synthetic sustenance ever that comes in plastic science boxes that make men grow breasts from the estrogen-like stuff contained in plastics. "Science" simply declared based on tests funded by the dairy industry that bovine growth hormone didn't make humans into giants. Look around you. They were wrong.

There are healthy women becoming infertile from the birth control dripping into our water sources. Birth control which ironically hasn't even decreased the population. If nothing else can convince someone to question the role science plays in society, barren, drug addicted women should.

Science as a cult or belief system is not the same as science as legitimate inquiry into the nature of the world. We didn't have to turn our lakes into Aviane and Xanax pools or hide the Himalayan mountains behind 1000 mile thick smog to understand the world better.

Jesse, I find it curious that you’ve never denied being a Flat Earther. I’ve hurled that label at you a few times just for fun. But now I’m starting to believe I was right.

Is it really true??

People living much longer. Cures for cancer. The reason we have a population explosion is because more people are living longer.

When I was in college forty years ago as a graduate student my Neuroscience professor proclaimed that cancer would become the number one killer only because all the other diseases were being cured.

His vision has only gained evidence over the decades.

Oncology treatment, both medical and radiologic is saving so many more lives today than ever before. Advances are truly miraculous.

Advances in minimally invasive surgery, advances in imaging, using magnetic resonance and ultrasound more and more, replacing exams once completed in xray, CT and nuclear medicine, reducing exposure to radiation while producing incredibly detailed 3d models have helped surgeons find and eradicate tumors that once would have been inoperable.

Genetic pharmaceuticals curing diseases such as hepatitis C, previously incurable, with a bottle of pills!

Even the use of artificial intelligence to pour through research and lab data to find correlations and results rapidly accelerating the discovery of new cures, all from science.

Science is incredible, humankinds greatest achievement, and its most humane examples found in every modern hospital.

I find it amusing to see how people purposefully distort the comments of others to somehow suit their own agenda. Ppl are labeled as luddites or fundamentalists where in fact they are often precisely the opposite.

A fundamentalist is someone who believes so completely in something that they don’t allow any opposing viewpoint. They will do anything to quash that opposing viewpoint. They are the antithesis of free speech and progress.

I’ve got two degrees in science, proper applied science, not psychology or some other flakey science. I went through a phase in my 30s where I read far more about science and the philosophy of science then I ever learned. I come from an atheist background. So pray tell where does my ‘fundamentalism’ or ‘Luddite’ background come from?

Jesse’s point is perfectly valid. So is mine. It’s not that science is bad, but it’s not all-knowing either, far from it, and I suspect there are many instances when it’s effects aren’t as harmless or ‘good’ as they may initially seem.

The industrial revolution was a quantum leap forward scientifically, but it definitely made our air dirtier and may be one of or perhaps the only reason we have global warming today.

This blog post is about a physicist who asserts there is No Grand Design. The excerpt posted has nothing to do with science, it seems to be Greene’s transcentral musings on the ‘meaning’ of it all. Indeed the cover page of the book is pithily summarized as:
“Mind, matter and our search for meaning in an evolving universe”

I’m calling into question whether science, and why a top scientist, should be regarded as the final word on ‘meaning’.

I think scientists are often the last people who know anything about meaning. I can understand him writing a book on string theory, because that is his expertise - but who made him the guru of meaning?

This is the other thing that amuses me about pop-science books. To try get any sort of readership they have to dumbdown the actual science (which is often dull as dishwater) and instead make all sorts of philosophical comments on meaning.

So I’m saying when it comes to meaning why should I listed to a bookworm whose expertise is in a mode of enquiry (science) that is not only fundamentally limited, but has nothing to say on meaning - apart from that there is no meaning and there is no Grand Design.

Sorry I don’t think this means jackshit.

"Divine" science against corona, and other things.
Monks at war.

Without comment!!

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)


  • Welcome to the Church of the Churchless. If this is your first visit, click on "About this site--start here" in the Categories section below.
  • HinesSight
    Visit my other weblog, HinesSight, for a broader view of what's happening in the world of your Church unpastor, his wife, and dog.
  • BrianHines.com
    Take a look at my web site, which contains information about a subject of great interest to me: me.
  • Twitter with me
    Join Twitter and follow my tweets about whatever.
  • I Hate Church of the Churchless
    Can't stand this blog? Believe the guy behind it is an idiot? Rant away on our anti-site.