The Enemies of Reason

Richard Dawkins' new television series will go to air next week in the UK - following on from his attack on religion, "The Root of All Evil" (and in book form, The God Delusion), the new series is titled "The Enemies of Reason", and in it he sets his sights "at the whole new age caravanserai, including astrologers, spirit mediums, faith healers and homeopathic medicine.":

Leaning back on a sofa in the faded gothic splendour of Oxford’s 14th century New College he sighs with something approaching despair: "It belittles our universe. To have astrologers demeaning astronomy by tapping into the spine-tingling wonder of the universe is..." he struggles briefly for a word, then finds one and pronounces it with a keen awareness of the irony: "Sacrilegious!"

I actually don't think he has a "keen awareness of the irony", otherwise he would probably take more pause to question his own approach. Yes, there are cheats out there. Yes, there are morons out there. I think most of us know that. But it "belittles our universe", to paraphrase Dawkins himself, to think that sitting down with an individual medium who gets things wrong (most do, actually...even the good ones) shows that mediumship is a crock. Sit down with the SPR records, sit down with modern day researchers, take the time to find the top five you can through the scientific process. Is it worthwhile me going out and asking high school students about microbial evolution, and then laughing at their ignorance? No.

The further thing worth contemplating - and entirely separate to the notion of scientific proof as justification for anything - is whether life should consist of absolute, objective truths only, or whether life is made of more than this. I've always been in search of these objective truths, but the more I search, the less inclined I am to believe that they are really that important. What's important is getting through life to the best of your abilities, being good to others, and enjoying yourself (IMO). Here's a question that I'm not sure has an answer. Who does more damage to a person's life? A fraudulent spirit medium (note I'm not saying they all are) who charges $50 to tell a grieving mother that her murdered son has 'carried on' into an afterlife, giving her respite from her pain, or Richard Dawkins saying that the truth simply is that her son died an agonising, terrifying death, wasting what little life he had, and that she will never have a connection to her child again? Spare me the "the truth is all that matters, no matter how much it hurts" - I've been over that a million times already, and I'm not sure it's the answer. There's a reason for the body producing pain too, but you still take painkillers.

The trouble with Richard Dawkins - who, in most respects, I'm a fan of - is that he thinks he knows far better than everyone else, despite not having walked a step in their shoes. I'm not sure how he expects to educate and 'convert' the masses, when he so regularly sneers down his nose at their stupidity and ignorance. Which is a shame, because he has some wonderful things to say.

Comments

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
johnsaw's picture
Member since:
23 March 2005
Last activity:
1 year 9 weeks

Greg, you acknowledge that amongst mediums, "there are cheats out there. Yes, there are morons out there. I think most of us know that…. most [get things wrong], actually...even the good ones)".

I'll concede the possibility that there may be some mediums who really are in contact with something related to the dead. We don't really know yet. But then you seem to propose that it's better for one of these cheats to lie to a grieving mother than for her to know the truth, partly to keep wonder alive. I think you derail your point here. There's no wonder in believing lies. Wonder is something else. Psychic phenomena may exist (I'd be surprised if they didn't, based on some things I've seen and witnessed), but we don't yet know the real meaning. Things that are psychic-LIKE also occur, but aren't, and we need to be able to tell the difference--in other words, we need to know the truth--or else we're just delusional.

Taking body painkillers is nothing like lying to a grieving mother to relieve her mental/psychic pain. If a mother's son did die an agonizing death, there's no sense in dwelling on that--it happens. That’s the way to handle that. If he wasted his life, there's no sense in saying he didn't--if we all ignored our wasteful ways, we'd never improve--if the man's mother believed her son didn't waste his life, and told stories about how he didn't, but he did, where's the chance for a life lesson for others down the road, propagated through time? Spare me the objection of "who cares about a life lesson for others? She just wants to feel better". If that's the case, then maybe we should all press harder for research on memory-erasing drugs and devices to wipe whole years from our lives--why not go the "eternal sunshine of the spotless mind" route? Or just shoot up heroin when we feel bad? But seriously, why go for the short-term fix, rather than the long-term progress? All dabbling in things that aren't true, damages the individual, the family, the community, and the human future. Why delude a mother into believing she will have contact with her child again, if we don't know that for certain? All the mechanisms for adapting to the truth and learning from it, are within us, and much of it is in institutional memory if we have support for looking for it, and in that search we can find wonderful truths--part of the wonder of life is discovering these mechanisms, or rediscovering them--some of our ancestors knew of them, the smart ones anyway, as few of them didn't believe in such nonsense either. Too bad. My Dad died of cancer about two and half years ago, shriveled up, weak, confused, etc., finally put out of his misery with a nurse-administered, family-allowed overdose of morphine just before midnight one night, and I know I don't like that picture, but it happened. And I know damn well I'd like to see him again, in the state he was in before he became ill, but I really doubt that will happen, and adapting to the truth of all of that--of his life, his strengths, weaknesses, my wasted opportunities in getting to know him, his character, mine, etc., has made me stronger in many ways, and has taught me far more than some pill-like fix of having some "medium" tell me something false about any of that. The experience has taught me mainly to not waste time, to be good to people now, to make friends, to live a good life, and to be accurate. The experience has also made me weaker in many ways, though most of that has been to bring to light weaknesses that were there to begin with--it means I have things in myself to work on. If we create a culture in which we don't develop these skills, and pass them along, then we just wind up with a bunch of incomplete, weak individuals running around to no good purpose, with a lot of missed opportunities. Being real is part of what helps us live a good life. Speculation and wonder is also a part of it, but we shouldn't waste any of our speculation and wonder on things that aren't true. I suspect the truth (by that, I don't mean "the mundane") is more interesting than anything false. I know you believe that too, but your example sets me off.

Of course life shouldn't consist entirely of clinical, scientific observations and measurements, but we shouldn't downplay their value--much of our wonder comes from speculating on the meaning of those observations, accurately made, and the synthesis of those observations and larger events, and their synthesis with our subjective observations, even if nonscientific (marveling at the power of a thunderstorm, for instance, even as we know information about the number of joules the lightning bolt is capable of delivering, and knowing it's not some angry god), their personal meaning to us and others, which is harder to measure, and some of it can't be measured at all. Astrology is one attempt at a synthesis of our observations, but however "interesing" it might be, let's face it, it's a pseudo-science, wrong far more often than it's "right", and when it's "right", coincidence is just about the only reason I can see why. About its only value is in serving as a sort of vague example as to what speculation and wonder can create, but it's up to us to create something with our observations that's not false, but truly useful, or at least interesting and entertaining and uplifting without being false. Tales of the gods from all cultures are that--when understood to be tales of strength, etc., though not literally true events, they're not false either.

I don't know much about Dawkins, but I hope he's not as dry as some say he is.

Greg's picture
Member since:
30 April 2004
Last activity:
5 hours 7 min
johnsaw wrote:

But then you seem to propose that it's better for one of these cheats to lie to a grieving mother than for her to know the truth, partly to keep wonder alive. I think you derail your point here.

Hi,

Thanks for your thoughts, appreciate it!

Believe me, I thought about whether I should include that point. It's an easy target for materialist skeptics, not to mention most of us that are brought up with the credo "the truth hurts, deal with it". But, as I said, I'm slowly moving to a position which is quite far from my original 'life ethos' (of truth, objective scientific knowledge, etc). Not because I personally need it - life is peachy for me at this time, apart from some things which nearly all of us deal with during adulthood (touchwood). Probably more because I'm becoming more aware that I've imposed what I thought I'd prefer, upon what other people are seeking. If a mother (or father), of their own volition and personal choice, goes to see a psychic - then they are seeking something. And perhaps that thing is exactly what is needed to 'enable' greater things in the rest of their life.

'Only the truth' seems the honourable and justified approach. But we've all heard of 'white lies', and perhaps they are a necessity as well. And perhaps also we (and Richard Dawkins), in our rush to show people the truth, are serving ourselves first and foremost, rather than the needs of those we are trying 'save'.

The other point is what this 'truth' consists of. What a shamanistic tribe sees as 'truth' is quite different to a Western scientists view of truth. Do I think my version of truth is more valid than theirs? Probably not.

My thoughts on this are by no means concrete. But then, my thoughts on most things are a muddle of contradictions. I'm of the opinion though (most times), that that is a healthy place to be.

However, bringing up these points does imply - however much I offer caveats - that I'm pleading for mediumship (or any other weirdness) on a basis of "hey, it's all bullsh*t, but it's got some greater good." That is not my intention - I still (at least for my own personal) believe in scientific investigation for validation. And I can say, at this point, that the current data suggests to me that there is something to mediumship (although exactly what is where the blurriness begins). That doesn't gel with my intuition of who we are as physical beings - I have some difficulty reconciling this conclusion with my knowledge of evolution etc. But then, there is certainly room in the consciousness/quantum world interactions that my supply some refuge for my scientific ego there.

Quote:

Why delude a mother into believing she will have contact with her child again, if we don't know that for certain?

The flipside to this, is "why delude a mother into believing she will not have contact with her child again, if we don't know that for certain?" (I realise that's not the point you were addressing, but I think it's an interesting contrast when we look at what Dawkins is doing in this program).

Quote:

And I know damn well I'd like to see him again, in the state he was in before he became ill, but I really doubt that will happen, and adapting to the truth of all of that--of his life, his strengths, weaknesses, my wasted opportunities in getting to know him, his character, mine, etc., has made me stronger in many ways, and has taught me far more than some pill-like fix of having some "medium" tell me something false about any of that. The experience has taught me mainly to not waste time, to be good to people now, to make friends, to live a good life, and to be accurate.

Good points, and it's something I've pondered on a larger scale. If we were to find absolute evidence for life beyond death, would this be a good thing for humanity. So much of 'being human' is tied to our mortality - the fears that arise from it, the motivations caused by that, the problem solving needed etc.

(As I mentioned, I'm a mess of walking contradictions.)

Thanks again for your thoughts, some great discussion points.

Kind regards,
Greg
-------------------------------------------
You monkeys only think you're running things

thefloppy1's picture
Member since:
1 May 2004
Last activity:
30 weeks 4 days

people will search for comfort in times of need where ever they choose. What they finally beleive is up to themselves. Dawkins can jump up and down on his soap box all he wants, but it's the individual that has the final say within themselves.
As you say Greg, there is a place for white lies. It is needed, hell, how would we feel if all children were robbed of "Santa Clause" and the "easter bunny". These are, after all, lies. But they are essiential in the magic of childhood in some places.Others places have different tales for their children to create a happy, mystical place away from the pressures of everyday life. Whether mediums are accurate or not is irrelevant, if they harm no one and bring some solice to a grieving person then whats the problem. Dawkins chooses to attack spiritual beliefs with a narrow sharp spear. Thats his style. He has much to offer to encourage thought on many subjects but with his spear head approach tends to ruffle many feathers.

"Life can be whatever you want it to be, as long as you do what your told."
LRF.

johnsaw's picture
Member since:
23 March 2005
Last activity:
1 year 9 weeks

Certainly, personal choice in what one believes is paramount, but there's nothing noble in believing something that's not true just because it's one's individual choice. I'm not suggesting that we continuously rub our faces into the facts surrounding unpleasant things--I'm suggesting that what one relies on for solace, not include believing untrue things about them. As far as my Dad's death is concerned, one thing I take solace in, is how much he loved his kids, grandkids, etc.; I take solace in knowing the rest of my immediate family is still alive--my Mom might not have more than another few years, but she's still here. I also take solace in things not directly related to any of them. There's a universe of things to take solace in--there are so many of them, I don't need to rely on any untruths. Why choose the untruths, when there are so many truthful things to derive solace in? I'm genuinely puzzled by the automatic attraction of untrue things as being the prime source of solace. Truly puzzled. I think a large part of comes from the discomfort of facing the kinds of things I raise in my first post above, often about death, and instead sliding back into childishness and its whole atmosphere of Santa Claus etc.--in other words, anything but the truth, since for many people raised without the skills for facing the truth, truly facing a death in the family can lead to too many truths.

I agree with the occasional need for a white lie, but I've had to use these pretty sparingly in my life (usually of the "I'll have that ready for you tomorrow" variety). Usually, I just say nothing instead, if silence does the same job. But I can't put this gently, by gum: you're wrong about Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy. I resented these lies when I found out the truth as a kid. It didn't scar me by any means--I just brushed it off as a childish impulse of adults to coddle kids unnecessarily, and to keep kids "cute" longer, kind of like hoping a puppy takes longer to grow up than it would normally, for our benefit, not its.

I agree that "other places have different tales for their children to create a happy, mystical place away from the pressures of everyday life." As long as they don't contain lies, and as long as they don't try to create a state of dissociation in kids, separating them from the parts of everyday life that need to be acknowledged, those are great.

As for mediums who either don't tell the truth, either deliberately or otherwise, supposedly not doing any harm--it doesn't have to be some obvious sign of physical, financial or emotional damage to still be harm. Just because some parent of a dead child might look and act beatific after an encounter with a comforting medium, doesn't mean great damage hasn't been done. I suggest that you expand your field of observation in this matter.

The "modern" forms of spiritualism and mediumship, as we're discussing it here, started in the US, launched by three sisters deliberately pulling stunts, who later admitted to it:

www.lhup.edu/~dsimanek/doyle.htm

I'd rather find other sources of comfort and wonder than something with that kind of origin.

thefloppy1's picture
Member since:
1 May 2004
Last activity:
30 weeks 4 days

fairy tales?
I personaly don't believe people can communicate with the deceased. But i'm not about to go out and try to convince anyone who does believe that their belief is misguided.
I'm sure on your own jounrney for truth you have taken a few wrong turns and dead end streets. So what is wrong with others making their own mistakes. I tolerate all kinds of fancy from others as long as no harm is done. My truth is within myself. I have no desire to force it on others. I will however give my opinion and thoughts on matters. It's up to the individual then to make of it as they will. No skin off my nose.
If people choose to believe in something that may or maynot harm them, it's their choice. Free will is paramount, even if it is misguided.

"Life can be whatever you want it to be, as long as you do what your told."
LRF.

johnsaw's picture
Member since:
23 March 2005
Last activity:
1 year 9 weeks

Greg, I think most of us, if we're thinking about these topics properly, are at least a slight mess of contradictions, but we don't want to overdo that. I don't yet entirely dismiss the possibility of finding out the objective truth about fringe topics (UFOs, ghosts, etc.). But after a lifetime of intermittently studying them, and seeing a few impossible things in my life, sometimes witnessed by someone else too, my current opinion (which I suspected all along) is that it's fairly likely we're not going to learn The Truth about a lot of these things, at least not for a while, and that doesn’t bug me much since there's so much about "the real world" we do know, and I don't want to miss out on that by spending the wrong amount of time pondering what we don't know. Part of the reason we may not find out too much about the fringe too soon, may be that, if there really is "something else" going on, it deliberately plays with us so that we can't know, at least for now, and personally, I don't like to be toyed with; but also partly because we still have a lot of work to do, to separate what we think we see, or would like to see, from what's really there (the old "shadows on a cave wall" analogy).

There may be much more happening than what Dawkins suggests. The world of the "real" certainly is big enough, but since we have indications that there may be more, we need to spend a little time pursuing these possibilities too, but without becoming too attached to the potential results, and certainly without relying on things we don't know yet. We need to enjoy plenty what we do know now, and add to that only when we find something real to add.

I agree that we shouldn’t "delude a mother into believing she will not have contact with her child again, if we don't know that for certain". The possibility is tantalizing. At the same time, I propose looking into the possibility that no further contact might be the truth, and how we should act if that's the case. I know it can result in a mental bifurcation, but nobody told us these things would be easy.

Sometimes I think a lot of "the fringe" is real in the sense that some flower vases show a human profile--we can plainly see the profile, it's really there, but it requires something physical to exist--it's there only by being the outline of something else, but still has a sort of existence of its own. "The fringe" may be the result of the real world, on a much more complex scale (sort of like 4D chess) than this optical illusion--there but not quite there, but more so than the vase/profile illusion. William Gibson applied the idea of "loas" (spirits, usually in voodoo) to cyberspace--things that came into existence because of cyberspace's existence, and became kind of semi-autonomous beings, but ones which can't exist outside cyberspace. This may be part of what we see. Maybe we'll find out, but I'm not holding my breath.

red pill junkie's picture
Member since:
12 April 2007
Last activity:
18 hours 31 min

"Part of the reason we may not find out too much about the fringe too soon, may be that, if there really is "something else" going on, it deliberately plays with us so that we can't know, at least for now, and personally, I don't like to be toyed with"

It's not that I like to be toyed, it's that the more "the fringe" keeps playing this game of "hide and seek", the more it spikes my curiosity.

But I understand your point. In our pursuit to finding the answers to these big questions we might miss the things in this life that may end up being more precious in themselves than the answers we ight not even be ready to face. A human life lasts 70 years on average; compared to the eternity that comes after our physical body gives up, it gives a whole new dimension to the joys of life when we consciously face our mortality every day of our existence. That was what Castaneda mean with "living like a warrior".

But there's something else that's been bothering me. It's this suspicion I've been having that, maybe in order to ensure our the prevailin of our cosncience after our physical body I no longer albe to sustain it, you have to start caring and nurturing that aspect of our selves we call "the soul"; otherwise we might end up too week to remember who we are or that we are not even alive anymore! Maybe that's what some ghosts are: week spirits who didn't have the strength to keep growing and remain forever in the confusion of their remorses. Well, who knows? I'm going to listen to your advise and get some work now ;-)

Saludos

-----
It's not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me...
It's all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

Red Pill Junkie

Rick MG's picture
Member since:
2 May 2004
Last activity:
5 days 3 hours

The greatest thinkers have both humility and imagination. Dawkins has neither. He's a boor.

anthonynorth's picture
Member since:
13 April 2007
Last activity:
6 years 11 weeks

Hi Greg,
Dawkins is always thought of as speaking with scientific credibility, but by the methodology of science itself, this is not so.
In 'real' science would a biologist be accepted as working on astrophysics? Of course not. It is specialised, and you have to be qualified for the area you work in.
Applying this to Dawkins, he is a zoologist. He can, of course, comment on whatever he wants. That's free speech, and good luck to him. But in anything outside zoology, he's a layman.
I don't think the public are aware of this.

...

I'm fanatical about moderation

Anthony North

Quibus_Licet's picture
Member since:
15 July 2007
Last activity:
7 years 3 weeks

There's nothing I despise more than an obnoxious, dogmatic, fundamentalist materialist. He has more in common with the extremists than he has the guts to admit.

Rick MG's picture
Member since:
2 May 2004
Last activity:
5 days 3 hours
Greg wrote:

The further thing worth contemplating - and entirely separate to the notion of scientific proof as justification for anything - is whether life should consist of absolute, objective truths only, or whether life is made of more than this. I've always been in search of these objective truths, but the more I search, the less inclined I am to believe that they are really that important. What's important is getting through life to the best of your abilities, being good to others, and enjoying yourself (IMO).

I've come to the same conclusions, Greg. Several years ago, I was hellbent to figure out the mysteries of the universe, to untangle the truths and find The Truth. Now, I'm not so fierce about the search. I'm enjoying the mysteries, rather than obsessing over the answers. If, on my journy, I find some answers -- that's fine. On the other side of the coin, if I don't find any answers -- that's also fine. I would like to know the answers to many of life's mysteries -- but other days, I'm happy not to know. It's the journey that's important. Perhaps I'm discovering Zen Buddhism in my mid-30s!

RealityTest's picture
Member since:
16 August 2006
Last activity:
4 weeks 4 days

The associations with the word tend to reinforce a distancing of conscious self from other, greater regions of self.

"Mediums," whether born with great talent or having developed this translational ability, a kind of transduction, are merely utilizing a natural faculty everyone possesses, to some degree.

We might picture the darkened seance room of Victorian times, the madame and her devoted followers (or skeptical observers) intently focused on the proceedings within an atmosphere of mystery and magic.

Such stage-like settings were always unnecessary.

Anyone can explore greater regions of self, regions where identity is distinctly different, in certain essential ways, from that of our physical realm. These greater regions include non-physical identities. The primary distinction is a kind of connectedness that, although still existing here, in our 3D reality, is often so obscured so as to seem to not exist at all.

In the material realm the prevailing sense of self is often of a completely separate individual delineated by his or her skin, clearly mortal and subject to all of the rules of the place, including the aging that accompanies the apparent passage of linear time, the sagging that goes with gravity, and so on.

Many residing in this place are convinced that only that which is revealed by their physical senses has any validity, all else being entirely imaginary.

This is delusion, and Dawkins heightens his own delusion by championing it with great force.

Minor (but persistent) effort in the direction of learning to induce a mild trance and a quieting of the mind, a relaxing of the body, can serve to quite effectively dispel this delusion, this false belief built upon limited perception.

This may take years, in some cases, and while an explorer may never develop skills at all comparable to some of the great mediums of yore, it's quite likely they will begin to fathom a greater reality of which our physical realm of time, space, and gravity is but a tiny subset, one particular domain of a great many.

When enough do this (and share their experiences, a sharing frequently accomplished by courtesy of the Internet), the views of the Dawkins will be rendered irrelevant, creations of ignorance fed by a fear of the unknown and an unwillingness to venture beyond a comfort zone where reasoning is based on very limited experience.

Regards

Bill I.

http://www.realitytest.com/doors.htm

gbv23's picture
Member since:
5 June 2006
Last activity:
1 week 3 days

Thank you Bill for this expanded view. I remember you from some of the Seth forums etc.

I honestly hope that we are heading in the direction you suggest---of opening to the deeper knowledge (finally) after centuries of denying our natural knowing and tuning-out the subtle senses.

What I see with Dawkins or the skeptical movement is the attempt to say "we define what is real and your experiences do not qualify"----give me Gary Schwartz any day, at least he is wiling to test "psychics" with some semblance of an open mind.

-paul_c

RealityTest's picture
Member since:
16 August 2006
Last activity:
4 weeks 4 days

Paul:

This is the first time I've encountered anyone from Cybersethia on TDG! When did you arrive? (I find TDG to be a bit of a reprieve from some of the often-quite-serious places I hang out in these days, places well outside of Cybersethia. I enjoyed my long stay there but, eventually, sought new challenges, new stimulation.)

If you recall earlier versions of my still evolving beliefs, you will remember that I always favored personal exploration, leaning towards the exercises found in TSM and away from endless discussion of the concepts found therein.

Of course I've always enjoyed writing, and that, usually, is a different kind of activity, although even with writing it's possible to incorporate some of greater regions of self, to allow a bit of those to seep through the mind and through the fingertips on the keyboard.

Bill I.

bladerunner's picture
Member since:
1 May 2004
Last activity:
22 weeks 5 days

And the God Delusion was what I needed to put my thoughts about religion and dogma into focus. I became better armed. But Dawkins, for whatever reason tends to talk down to the "unreasonable". And as I've found out with personal dealing with my Mom. Some people can not deal with life, without thee illusions, and pink elephants. I will reserve the rest of my reaction to the series after I've seen it. Since I live in the states, that my take a bit of time. Or some Youtube time. Another thing. I believe Dawkins is so hard on those who believe their dogma, is he just has no patience for it anymore, and he see how much damage it has done the world. He wants to save the world. And thats what he believes. He's helping. Some people are not ready to be helped.

red pill junkie's picture
Member since:
12 April 2007
Last activity:
18 hours 31 min

I understand your position Greg, and I think why you added the medium-comforting-the mom part in your statement. However, I think johnsaw's comment are worth considering because, there is danger in people who seek to manipulate people with hope. That is the base of all fundamentalism.

Forget about your medium who charged $50. How about a sheik who goes to a woman and comforts her, telling her that because his son carried a bomb strapped on his back that caused his death and the deaths of a dozen more innocents, he will earn his place in paradise and enjoy the company of 70 virgins?

That's the danger Dawkins is REALLY after. The problem with him is his logic tells him that the only way to rid the world of fundamentalists is becoming a fundamentalist himself, and to attack ALL form of religions or belief systems that go out of the scope of current Achademia. What an irony isn't it? But these modern times are full of irony, like a nation that decides to fight terrorism by promoting terrorism on other nations...

But we still have to endure people like Dawkins. We must do so with a cold head, and avoid attacks ad hominem, otherwise we might miss some interesting and IMPORTANT things he might have to say. Like that video you posted on the Vid section on his TED presentation.

I, like all of you, am seeking to find truth. But I have come to realize I will never, EVER, be able to reach it.

But that's not the point of the search. This is a work of alchemy, and the true alchemists were not really in search of a stone that could turn lead into gold, they seeked to transmute THEMSELVES.

-----
It's not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me...
It's all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

Red Pill Junkie

RealityTest's picture
Member since:
16 August 2006
Last activity:
4 weeks 4 days

Dear Red Pill Junkie:

I accept your statement about alchemy but wonder at your subject line.

I hold that truth seeking requires personal exploration; that is quite different from accepting hope or some version of fundamentalist religious belief from someone else.

A fear that truth seeking leads to suicide bombing or other nasty activities is just that -- a fear; what do those activities have to do with a person's own search for truth?

You also say: "I, like all of you, am seeking to find truth. But I have come to realize I will never, EVER, be able to reach it."

Do you equate the truths gained from experience with some final TRUTH? Your statement isn't clear to me.

Whether truths or some ultimate TRUTH, why have you decided in advance you will never be able to reach them or it? How do you know?

Dawkins is down on religion, particularly those versions with so called "revealed truths."

This is justified, in my opinion, and completely in accordance with my above thoughts.

Dawkins goes much further, however, and reveals his extreme ignorance when he does so.

He need look no further than his own "unconscious" to find all manner of truths -- this is readily at hand for anyone.

He's not likely to do so, based on what I've seen of his writings. When someone is so convinced of his or her "truths," without bothering to give the slightest attention to the restrictive boundaries they've created for themselves, I have no patience with them, particularly when they are so loud in their expression.

Regards

Bill I.

red pill junkie's picture
Member since:
12 April 2007
Last activity:
18 hours 31 min

Let me try to put my thoughts a bit clearer. For my sake mostly in fact ;-)

My tittle of danger in seeking truth has in fact nothing to do with some foolish young muslim who accepts without objections what some islamist tells him to do. Most people that say are devout believer in some major religion or another have never bothered to doubt the most fundamental dogmas of their beliefs. They feel that to dare doubt what has already been established as truth is not only dangerous, but a heresy.

Personally I'm against all kinds of fundamentalism. ALL KINDS.

And why is that?

Because I think we, as humans, simply do not possess the capacity to perceive the world around us in its entirety. What we may hold as unquestionable truth is in reality an approximation of the truth, as close to it as we can manage it according to our personal growth. And that's something all major fundamentalists fail to understand. That it is not that truth changes, it is only that WE change, we grow or reach higher levels of understanding in which to look at our place in the Universe. 3000 ago our ancesters held Genesis as truth and believed God made the world in mere 6 days. Today most scientists believe we are all here on account of mere chance and through the cold impersonal process of darwinist evolution. 10 or 100,000 years from now who knows what we will discover... and STILL it will be only an approximation, an abstract.

If we could really grasp the truth, it would burn us, like a moth that finally comes too close to the candle light that beckons her to come ever closer.

But that's not reason to stop pursuing the truth. Much to the contrary! It is a journey. More still: AN ADVENTURE.

And like all adventures worth having for, it is not without perils. For we may loose something in our journey: our health, both mental and or physical, for example. We are doomed to make mistakes and believe in things that may turn out to be false, and for that despair and renounce to go further. We might despair that in seeking a deeper understanding we may be depriving ourselves from some of the pleasures life has to offer (especially to economically wealthy).

And I agree with you totally and unequivocally: the search for truth is an personal inner journey of introspection.

Like the book of Strieber "The Key" says: The past was the age of the God Outside of us. Now comes the age of the God Within.

Do not get to angry with men like Dawkins. In some levels I respect him, for he truly feels his cruzade is for the better good; but I kind of pity him, in the same way I feel sorry for a man who is blind and not able to marvel at the splendour of the Sistine Chapel, or devoid of hearing and cannot ever weep at the beauty of Vivaldi's "4 Seasons". He is what I call "God-deaf".

Saludos. May you, as Don Juan Matus might say, be able to find your "path with heart".

-----
It's not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me...
It's all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

Red Pill Junkie

teledyn's picture
Member since:
30 September 2006
Last activity:
4 days 21 hours

Well put, but the trouble with Dawkins is he is also Science Deaf, because every scientist worth their salt knows that we just don't know, we can only find indications, contra-proofs and while "there is nothing more practical than a good theory", to discount all sciences lacking solid incontrovertible theories is to discount the lot of them, even (and especially) our quantum physics. Dawkins, sadly, not only lacks even a bad theory, but every time I encounter the man's words it seems he can only adamantly pronclaim what simply cannot be only on the grounds that it offends him to think otherwise. Someone should elect him Pope.

anthonynorth's picture
Member since:
13 April 2007
Last activity:
6 years 11 weeks

There have been things said above about religion and science. But the problem is neither of these. The problem is TOO MUCH of one, without the other to balance it. Have too much of one thing and you become the problem. THAT is fundamentalism. And it is this which is the problem.
There have also been words on 'truth', whether it is a reality, or an inner journey. Again, we have extremes. Surely the answer is both. Philosophy used to understand this - eastern religions still do. We can argue there IS a reality, but it bends to inner reflections of it.
Due to this, it is unlikely an absolute truth can exist. Personally, I hope it cannot. Because the thing that makes us human is our search for it. I just hope that, as we search - as we find new answers - they become of use to all mankind. I can hope for no better 'truth' than that.
So I'll end on that contradiction.

...

I'm fanatical about moderation

Anthony North

red pill junkie's picture
Member since:
12 April 2007
Last activity:
18 hours 31 min

That's what I like about this place. For me it has a nice balance between science stories and stories from "the other side". That appeals to my intellectual tastes.

And while I still mantain the journey to find truth is inherently introspective, it is important to have people that share your same interests to comment with :-)

-----
It's not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me...
It's all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

Red Pill Junkie

earthling's picture
Member since:
22 November 2004
Last activity:
1 week 2 days

I like the debate and discussion.

Explaining your own ideas and points of view can help you refine your own understanding. You get information from other points of view, which is very valuable. But perhaps even more valuable is that you have to explain, to yourself as well as others, why you hold these points of view.

That's not a specific "you", it's everyone.

----
You can observe a lot, just by watching. (Yogi Berra)

Rho's picture
Member since:
14 June 2006
Last activity:
4 weeks 5 days

"Ah mr Dawkins i hope you've had a comfortable transition. You look a bit shocked well thats not uncommon. Let's see ahh yes you don't believe in the afterlife, tried to convince everyone that your piece of rock was all there was. Sorry to dissapoint you, it must be tough to have spend your earth time on denying your true existance. A waste of your surplus brainpower, and a shame you dragged many with you in your blindsided materialistic view. Well you have much to think about and even if its impossible to die as it where, ultimately you shall desintegrate and become part of the life force again.
D: And who the devil are you ? Easy now mr.D i'm your guide , here to help and i tell you there's much to see and learn here, but 'As above , so below' mr D...you can't take it with you. Now then would there be anyone deceased, you wish to speak with ? D : How about God , you moron ! " In time mr D, for now you are just too unevolved to get there."

A matter of choice;
Intimidation, corruption and lies, or serenity, sharing and sincerity.

Greg's picture
Member since:
30 April 2004
Last activity:
5 hours 7 min

Quite by accident (while looking up today's news), I cam across this link which certainly fits much of what we're saying here:

The Uncertainty Principle.

Kind regards,
Greg
-------------------------------------------
You monkeys only think you're running things

red pill junkie's picture
Member since:
12 April 2007
Last activity:
18 hours 31 min

Heisenberg's Uncertainty principle postulates you can't pinpoint the exact location & energy charge of an electron at the same time: the more close you are of calculating its energy, the fuzzier its location becomes, and viceversa.

I sometimes wonder if it is not the same thing with God...

-----
It's not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me...
It's all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

Red Pill Junkie

anthonynorth's picture
Member since:
13 April 2007
Last activity:
6 years 11 weeks

Whilst I never attack a person's peacefully held beliefs, the difference between the uncertainty principle and 'meeting' God, is that with the latter too many people don't see the fuzziness, but instead see absolute truth.

...

I'm fanatical about moderation

Anthony North

red pill junkie's picture
Member since:
12 April 2007
Last activity:
18 hours 31 min

Why I meant to say is that, the more scientists like Dawkins try to "put God under the microscope" so to speak, the least chance they will have of finding anything. While on the other hand, the less you try to question God's existence, the more frequently you will experience this wonderful feeling that you are been guided and held under the care of something or someONE.

-----
It's not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me...
It's all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

Red Pill Junkie

anthonynorth's picture
Member since:
13 April 2007
Last activity:
6 years 11 weeks

Hi Red Pill,
I think what we're talking about here is belief. Dawkins questions the existence of God, but (1) you cannot prove something doesn't exist, and (2) trying to find something 'ethereal' is a non starter. It cannot be measured. Whilst being unquestioning is basically to 'accept' the feeling. This can turn you into a believer, or you ask the big question.
The big question is this: is this 'feeling' God, your own inner mind, or cultural expectation? Which makes you want to answer the question ... and He's gone again ...
Belief offers a definate; all other roads lead to uncertainty.

...

Reality, like time, is relative to the observer

Anthony North

red pill junkie's picture
Member since:
12 April 2007
Last activity:
18 hours 31 min

Which concept do you think fits best?

This is a subject I have discussed at length with a very great sould and e-friend of mine who goes by the nick of Convert_to_Christ at a blog I used to hang out called bustedhalo.com, a website run by the Paulists.

As you can imagine, my presence was considered... shall we say, disrupting... ;-)

One of the big questions we engaged is whether one could obtain true certainty of the existence of God ;well, he was especifically referring to Christ,actually, he's kind of a conservative catholic although not afraid to question his beliefs which I think is very brave.

There are a lot of things we discussed, and the discussion became pretty lenghty, but at some point I wrote that, ALL kinds of belief systems, all religions and dogmas, are mere approximations, attempts to reach the truth. No religion (or science even)should make the claim that it can grasp "the totality of reality" in my opinion, because we are limited beings, with a limited capacity of reasoning.

I think is funny that, on one hand there's this video of Dawkins talking about how the Universe is vaster and queerer than we can possibly imagine and grasp with our all-too limmited brains and puny senses, and how on the other hand he can dismiss the existence of a Higher Being. It's like a termite that cannot conceive there's life beyond the walls of its colony!

Returning to my "God Deaf" theory, I would like play with an analogy I have been thinking for a while. I think of an enologist: a person that to begin with, is born with a very heightened sense of smell and taste, and who then goes and makes a conscious effort to polish this talent, to perfect it, to refine it, so he can go and discern with just one sip the slightest different aspects of a great wine. Whereas a person like me might not be able to discern between a Chateu Latiffe 1953 and a bag-o-wine!

So what I think is that people like Dawkins are born without a very heightened sense of being in touch with that other aspect or nature that some people call psychic and others spiritual. But the problem is that he extrapolates his condition to the rest of mankind! It is as naive as if I dared say: If I can't tell the difference between this wine and the other, NOBODY can; and if someone goes to tell me he can actually tell the difference, it would be so incrompehensible to me that I would not be convinced by any evidence I be presented, because I have made up my mind already.

On the other hand, I do not rule out the possibility that in some cases our science and technology might be able to find hints and evidences of an afterlife eventually. I think of studies in psychophony as an example here (think of the movie "White Noise" by Michael Keaton). If we say "the soul is ethereal" what are we really saying here? What if the soul is composed of a very subtle form of energy that we haven't learned to recognize? I mean scientists are still trying to discern what is these things they call Dark Energy and Dark Matter that amounts to 99% of the visible universe! Why do we divide the spiritual from the material? maybe the material has something of spiritual and viceversa.

What do you think?

-----
It's not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me...
It's all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

Red Pill Junkie

thefloppy1's picture
Member since:
1 May 2004
Last activity:
30 weeks 4 days

faith for comforts sake or faith for a life controlling exstremism. Fear is the driving force here. All throughout history it is the fear of the unkwown that has manifested in supperstition and then religion.
The human entity is very complex. What is the difining difference between each of us? We are all flesh and blood with subtle differences in DNA. But all of us are so different. Our personalities are a mixture of EGO and emotional being. Without EGO we would not have survived this struggle through advancement. But EGO is also the side of us that can brings us undone. Our emotional side, when mixed with our EGO is very volitile, but our emotional side keeps us balanced. Our soul is very closly related to our conscience. This is our centre for morality. Without this we would have destroyed ourselves centuries ago.
So our physical body can be likened to a bus, our brain is the driver and each seat progressing to the rear are the facets of our being. The first seat is the EGO, the loudest voice then our emotional being behind trying to be heard over the EGO. Followed by our conscience only speaking up when the wrong direction is said. At the rear is our soul trying to be heard above the din but only sometimes does the driver hear snippets from the rear.
To hear all aspects of yourself you first need to quieten down the loudest voices. Then listen and you will learn.

"Life can be whatever you want it to be, as long as you do what your told."
LRF.

red pill junkie's picture
Member since:
12 April 2007
Last activity:
18 hours 31 min

I agree, fear and curiosity are important driving forces, that can both have positive and negative effects. Fear of dying is why man invents medicine, but fear of his neighbour might drive him to commit murder.

I think I understand you rmetaphor, although personally I'm not sure if the Brain is really the driver here, or if it just another component of the bus, the engine maybe? Maybe we should make the difference between "Mind" and "Brain"

"To hear all aspects of yourself you first need to quieten down the loudest voices. Then listen and you will learn."

I agree, the most difficult thing is to quiet all the voices of your head so you can truly listen to that inner self that already knows all the answers you need. Anthony wrote about something like that not too long ago in his webiste beyondtheblog, if I'm not mistaken. That would be what Castaneda meant when he wrote about "Stopping the world" and "Shutting down the inner dialogue". Stop trying to interpret and make sense of all the information your senses are receiving from the universe, and just concentrate in experiencing the NOW.

To hear all aspects of yourself you first need to quieten down the loudest voices. Then listen and you will learn.

-----
It's not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me...
It's all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

Red Pill Junkie