“Science is a flawed human endeavor”: A Discussion About Science & Spirituality

This is a transcript of a discussion between a friend – Brian Blackwell – and random users in the comment section of this video titled ‘From Atheism To Creationism’:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i1vUwWaRZQI

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Brian Blackwell
The following comment is sincerely offered with the aim of upliftment, but only those who can exercise rationality of an uncommon degree will derive benefit. None of us — not one of us — can make a single meaningful contribution to the topic of the universe’s origin, man’s origin, or anything of the kind. It’s like an ant in the Nevada desert spouting off confidently about what’s happening at the most remote depths of the Atlantic Ocean.

Science is a flawed human endeavor — it can be wrong, and has been dismally wrong in the past? Those who believed that the Earth was the center of the universe were the most intellectually advanced people of their time. Are you so vain as to presume that you now live in an age so advanced that scientific errors on a massive scale are no longer possible? We are mere cavemen by the standards of 1,000 years from now. You guys do know that the Big Bang is just a model, right? Same with the theory of evolution. Creationism is yet another model, though you are quite sure of its falsehood. I do not deny its probable falsehood, but I do deny your surity.

Who here has even studied in-depth the above theories? And even if you have, you have no direct knowledge of any of this. You believe what you think “makes sense.” Have you ever heard two lawyers argue opposite positions in a court case? Everything they say “makes sense!” You can make a logical argument for most anything when the person you’re speaking to has no direct knowledge of the topic.

I submit to you my theory of the universe’s beginnings: An asexual space turtle sh*t out an egg into the void; the egg was round and he looked upon it and said “It is good.” After 14 billion years and 23 minutes it hatched, and within it was a Pokemon pog which upon getting wet expanded to form the known universe. Scientists have yet to determine how it got wet. Now prove to me that anything that any of you believe about creation is more valid than that.

We are too far removed to know our origin with certainty, and what the hell is the difference anyway? There are far more rewarding idle curiosities to explore. The fool thinks he knows everything, but the wise man knows he knows nothing. Keep it real, people; you don’t know nothin’ about this.

Tom Ferries > Brian Blackwell
Evolution and the big bang theory have EVIDENCE that support them and no evidence to disprove them, creationism has nothing to support it but does have evidence to disprove it. Evolution is fact but its called a theory because science recognises that we can never truly know anything and tomorrow we could find evidence to disprove evolution, but a theory is as close to truth as science can get like cell theory or the theory of gravity, all of which are theories but are excepted as fact. Believing in intelligent design is fine but its not ok when people of faith want it teached in schools as science and they want to pass laws that effect everyone because of their faith.

agonizethis > Tom Ferries
Evolution is false. Where are all the intermediate fossils? They should out number the modern fossils by a hundredfold at the very least.

Brian Blackwell > Tom Ferries
Evidence is merely observable phenomena and it is subject to interpretation as to what it proves or disproves until the whole picture is clear. Science has no explanation as to how life began in the first place so the picture is incomplete. In addition, what can you know of such evidence? No more than the Creationist knows of his, since you have no first-hand knowledge and are relying wholly on what others have told you. Very convincing and logical stories can be devised from any phenomena and without first-hand knowledge you have no means of accurate discernment. Scientists have little more first-hand knowledge than we do since they are projecting an idea far into the past and have no way of going back to check its validity with certitude. Incidently, gravitation is a law, and we may experiment with its effects in the present, but Big Bang and evolution offer no such opportunity. We tend to accept these as facts, but they are not. Science has only been around as we know it for 400 years — a handful of generations — let us not be so foolish as to believe we have it all figured out. This is merely a call to humility and rationality. Speak not of what you cannot possibly know.

Tom Ferries > agonizethis
Intermediate fossils are hard to define as all organisms are constantly evolving and so are all intermediates to future organisms. Also very few bones fossilise and its amazing that we have any at all but still we have found many “intermediate” fossils. Not to mention fossils are only one aspect of the pile of evidence to support evolution like comparative anatomy, genetics and geology.

PicturaSonus > Brian Blackwell
I stopped listening to you after you said science is a flawed human endeavor. YES IT WAS WRONG ABOUT THINGS IN THE PAST. THEN IT FIXED THAT AND STARTED BEING RIGHT ABOUT THOSE THINGS. THAT’S. JUST. WHAT. SCIENCE. DOES.

Tom Ferries > Brian Blackwell
There is a strict peer review system in the scientific community that detects bad works and lies. Not that scientist really have anything to gain from lying as its really just a quest for knowledge and they have everything to lose by lying as they will be found out. I am not well versed in the big bag theory but I am in evolution. Evolution has nothing to do with the beginning of the universe or life. Its just a process that happens once there is life with variation and there is plenty of evidence to support it(and non to contradict it otherwise it would not be a theory). There is the fossil record, comparative anatomy, geology, genetics and others. There are also many observable experiments and examples from bacterial tests to studies of Darwin’s finches, a quick google search and you can see all of this for yourself. It’s strange how creationists are so critical of evidence for evolution when there is not a shred of evidence for god, let alone their own specific god. Also pointing out that science has only been around for 400 years only goes to show how much science has given us. We have been advancing at an exponential rate since the birth of science.

Brian Blackwell > PicturaSonus
Certainly, I never sought to assert that science is useless merely because it is flawed; as being flawed is an inherent and expected part of its process. However, the origin of life or the universe is not subject to first-hand examination and thus the flawed nature of science becomes a roadblock to establishing even the most remote level of certainty. In other words, since you are trying to explain events in the distant past with no access to observation or experimentation, you could only expect to describe them with accuracy once armed with a complete and certain knowledge of all the workings of this universe that may be applied retroactively to the events in question; and man is currently not so armed.

My clarification here was entirely discernable in my original post, if you had endeavored to exercise the required patience to ascertain my meaning. However, it is all-too-common to hear a series of words that are disagreeable and lash out with rebuttle before even understanding fully the ideas being offered. You are obviously under no obligation to trouble yourself with my ideas at all, but if you desire to engage in this discourse it behooves you to do so in earnest or leave me to my business. For this reason I warned that only those able to excercise rationality of an uncommon degree would benefit from this discussion. If you feel insulted by what I am saying, this is an indication that you are not currently able to excercise the required rationality; though you are undoubtedly capable of it, if only you can master your emotions and refrain from reactionary outbursts. I offer this uncomfortable observation with an attitude of the most sincere fraternity and with no ill will whatever.

Brian Blackwell > Tom Ferries
Well, let’s not promote the idealistic notion that science is merely a quest for knowledge any more than religion is merely a quest for spiritual truth. Science is a business, and funding is attracted by the promise of success. There are reputations at stake, and life-long quests whose fulfilment are dearly sought. Outright lying may be unwise and uncommon, but it is equally unwise to diminish or ignore the human tendency to skew information (consciously or unconsciously) to suit desire.

I understand what the theory of evolution purports, but I ask what first-hand knowledge you have of this immense body of evidence that you describe? Hearsay only; no more than the creationist. I am making no statement whatever about its validity, only challenging those who boastfully claim knowledge to honestly recognize that they may not be on firm enough footing to discuss such topics. So what might inspire these debates about a subject utterly unknown? I submit that it is vain pride alone. Check your premesis, people — what knowledge can you really claim?

Please recognize the distinction between the apparent motivation for my commentary and the actual intent. I am not dismissing science as bunk. Indeed, in 400 years we have performed absolute miracles via our inspired scientists; but these strides — every one of them — have been related to what we may presently observe and examine. My purpose here is not to discount what science has done, but only to impassively point out its inherent limitation; for it seems that these immense successes have given rise to a common cultural opinion that we can (or do) know everything via science. More importantly, I find it unbecoming for such magnificent creatures as human beings to be so oblivious to their own superb nature as to feel insecure; and from this unfortunate position feel the need to claim credits exceeding those rightfully due in a vain attempt to feel superior to their brethren.

Debbie LOVE Fearn > Brian Blackwell
OKAY, LET ME JUST SAY. AWESOME COMMENT

Frank Lee Seaux > Brian Blackwell
Well, Brian, I will say that your comment is awesome, as Debbie noted. But, I can sense that it is filled with some assumptions about the nature of the world and your knowledge of it, as well as “my” (meaning those who espouse the validity of evolution) potential lack of knowledge. But, to do proper justice to a reply to that comment (your most recent), I will have to parse it out a bit. Therefore, I will resort to quoting the bits to which I am responding.

I try not to quote posts anymore than necessary on comment forums such as this because it greatly adds to the length of the post. But, in this case, you said so much that it became necessary, simply to keep it all straight as to which points i was responding.

“Well, let’s not promote the idealistic notion that science is merely a quest for knowledge any more than religion is merely a quest for spiritual truth. Science is a business, and funding is attracted by the promise of success. There are reputations at stake, and life-long quests whose fulfilment are dearly sought.”

Yes, science (as a field of endeavor) is a business. And, as such, can lead some to be less than totally honest in their approach to it. Especially within certain fields such as applied sciences.

However, and this is a key element, which you are obviously ignoring in favor of offering some admonitions, the scientific method includes as a primary predicate, that any theory or hypothesis must be falsifiable (able to be proven wrong). The supportive element to this is that, of all those peers in the review process, about or at least half will be doing their utmost best to prove your theory/hypothesis wrong so that you are not given an easy route to undermining mankind or the resources of any given culture or society.

Because of that it would be unwise to commit either of the dishonest approaches you mention in the following sentence, because you would be quickly rooted out as a charlatan.

“Outright lying may be unwise and uncommon, but it is equally unwise to diminish or ignore the human tendency to skew information (consciously or unconsciously) to suit desire.”

Next you go on to attempt to cause some doubt about evolution both as a theory and as a fact, with the following statement in the form of a question:

“I understand what the theory of evolution purports, but I ask what first-hand knowledge you have of this immense body of evidence that you describe?”

Which begs the question, “First hand knowledge? What exactly do you mean by first hand knowledge?” I mean, all knowledge is first hand. If it isn’t first hand, it hardly qualifies as knowledge (depending of course, on how you tend to define knowledge).

“Hearsay only; no more than the creationist.”

I think you meant to state this as a question, rather than a statement of fact. After all, many of us have seen, at the very least, photographic images of the fossils, and the proposed genetic trees. There is an undeniable geometric progression in the fossil record of change over time, which is what evolution suggests. Thus, the photographic evidence, in the absence of actual physical proximity to the physical structures being unearthed, studied, and photographed, is sufficient enough and concordant with the hypothesis/theory.

So, no. It is NOT a mere matter of hearsay.

“I am making no statement whatever about its validity, only challenging those who boastfully claim knowledge to honestly recognize that they may not be on firm enough footing to discuss such topics”

Save your admonitions for those who will not be bothered to look at the evidence (photographic or otherwise) or to even consider the alternative positions (i.e. the Creationists).

And, yeah, you most certainly are making a tacit statement about the validity of the methodology, evidence, and conclusions by offering your admonitions only to those who follow the evidence while sparing those who will not even examine the evidence from a clear and open perspective, if at all.

“So what might inspire these debates about a subject utterly unknown?”

That would be a really great question to ask those who continually demonstrate that utter lack of knowledge of which you are speaking. But, by arguing against the people who argue the evidence, rather than those who deny it, you are directing the question at the wrong individuals.

“I submit that it is vain pride alone.”

I’ll be sure to pass your sentiments along to your creationists buddies who are obviously getting a free ride from you.

“Check your premesis, people — what knowledge can you really claim?”

Premises are for philosophical debate. Evolution is NOT a philosophical debate, but rather a scientific one, and THAT debate ended a LONG time ago, with evolution being not only proven, but so well proven that there is NO OTHER THEORY.

“Please recognize the distinction between the apparent motivation for my commentary and the actual intent.”

Oh, I recognize the actual intention, as well as the apparent one. They are one and the same… Your intention is to sow seeds of discord and doubt in those who follow the evidence.

“Indeed, in 400 years we have performed absolute miracles via our inspired scientists; but these strides — every one of them — have been related to what we may presently observe and examine.”
“What we may presently observe and examine…”


You say that as if you expect some future discovery to completely overturn everything we have learned, via the scientific method, to date. You are sadly mistaken sir. No discovery has ever done that since the inception of the method. Our newer discoveries have served only to update what we already knew, and was incorporated into that growing body of knowledge.

“My purpose here is not to discount what science has done, but only to impassively point out its inherent limitation; for it seems that these immense successes have given rise to a common cultural opinion that we can (or do) know everything via science.”

Umm, the undisputed fact is, everything we do know (by the nature of knowledge) is verifiable/falsifiable by the proper application of the scientific method.

“More importantly, I find it unbecoming for such magnificent creatures as human beings to be so oblivious to their own superb nature as to feel insecure; and from this unfortunate position feel the need to claim credits exceeding those rightfully due in a vain attempt to feel superior to their brethren.”

Again, you are preaching to the choir/talking to the wrong crowd, Dude. I felt the need to add this final comment to this post: You are suggesting that “science” is somehow less than trustworthy because of the inherent need for money, and because of the applications it is used in. However, what you failed to note is that religion is an even bigger business, taking in almost as much money per year as the national defense budget of the United States, which is extremely high. Meanwhile the sciences are left to scrape by on table scraps, and miniscule budgets.

So, in terms of vested interests, I would say that religion has far greater reasons to be less than honest and even downright deceitful in its practices.

Churches rake in a bank breaking 82.5 Billion dollars per year (1). Meanwhile, the National Science Foundation’s budget is a scant 7.2 Billion dollars (2).

It is also noteworthy that all the money received by churches comes by way of tax free donations, while the National Science Foundation gets its funding from tax dollars and endowments. Just think how much more we could do and know if all those churches were paying taxes, and we could dedicate at least some of that money to education, the arts, and the sciences.

(1) http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/08/22/you-give-religions-more-than-82-5-billion-a-year/

(2) http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/38868/title/New-Budget-Bill-Short-Shrifts-Science/

Okay Brian… I am finally making it around to responding to your initial post here.

“Science is a flawed human endeavor — ever notice how dismally wrong it has been in the past?”

I thought you said in that last post I responded to that you weren’t trying to denigrate science (as an institution; implied).

“Those who believed that the Earth was the center of the universe were the most intellectually advanced scientists of their time.”

Okay, apparently you were being honest since science was only in it’s most fledgling stages at that point in time, and that belief came from long before its inception. As a matter of fact, it was posited by pre-Biblical scholars, more than 2,500 years ago. Science has only been around for about 450 years or so. By which time, there were already people conducting something akin to the scientific method who argued for a Heliocentric universe, which later got updated to a heliocentric solar system.

“Are you so vain as to presume that you now live in an age so advanced that scientific errors on a massive scale are no longer possible?”

I would not say that they are not, or no longer possible. I will say that the questions you are insinuating about scientific knowledge are on topics that are so well established that there is little or no likelihood of discovering some falsity of theory.

Sure, there are plenty of things we don’t yet know about the universe. But, the things we do know are extremely well established as fact… and what few questions remain are peripheral, and not likely to be paradigm altering.

By the way… the scientific method may not be without its flaws… But the system of belief you are attempting to support with your rhetorical nonsense is fallacious, in the extreme. Given the options, I will stick with the flawed system over the fallacious one. Flaws can be fixed. Fallacies can only be abandoned.

“We are mere cavemen by the standards of 1,000 years from now.”

Given the geometric progression of technology, we are mere cavemen to those of a hundred years from now. FYI, many of your “arguments” are not far removed from that of a caveman (relatively speaking)… get updated, Dude. For instance, the following gem:

“You guys do know that the Big Bang is just a theory, right?”

You do realize what that actually means in scientific terms, don’t you? If not, then it is awfully presumptuous of you to lecture people like me about the failings of science. And then you go and repeat that fallacy with the following rhetorical nonsense:

“Same with the theory of evolution.”

Same response, Big guy.

“Creationism is yet another theory though you are quite sure of its falsehood.”

Creationism is NOT an theory, even if you want to claim it is “just” one. It does not qualify as a theory. It doesn’t even qualify as a hypothesis. It is NOT testable. It is NOT falsifiable. It, therefore, does NOT qualify.

“I do not deny its probable falsehood, but I do deny your surity.”

You cannot deny my surity any more than I can deny your certitude. And, you also cannot deny my evidence, nor your lack thereof.

“Who here has even studied in-depth the above theories?”

By in-depth, I assume you mean well enough to confirm or refute them? ME!!! Have you?

“And even if you have, you have no direct knowledge of any of this.”

I already discussed this.

“Have you ever heard two lawyers argue opposite positions in a court case? Everything they say “makes sense!” You can make a logical argument for most anything when the person you’re speaking to has no direct knowledge of the topic.”

Sure, if you avoid all facts and evidence, and assert only appeals to emotion, equivocation and conflation… But then you’d be circumventing logic and rationality.

“I submit to you my theory of the universe’s beginnings: An asexual space turtle sh*t out an egg into the void; the egg was round and he looked upon it and said “It is good.” After 14 billion years and 23 minutes it hatched, and within it was a Pokemon pog which upon getting wet expanded to form the known universe. Scientists have yet to determine how it got wet. Now prove to me that anything that any of you believe about creation is more valid than that.”

Prove it to you? The person who ignores all evidence, especially when it conflicts with your own presuppositions? You ask the impossible sir.

“We are too far removed to know our origin with certainty, and what the hell is the difference anyway?”

Nether the Big Bang Theory, nor the Theory of Evolution are about origins. Get your facts straight, then we’ll talk.

“The fool thinks he knows everything, but the wise man knows he knows nothing. Keep it real, people; you don’t know nothin’ bout this here.”

Spoken like one who knows even less. Here’s the thing Brian… You are attempting to assert this nihilistic fantasy in order to promote your wild speculations to some sense of reasonability.
But, if you accept that you can know nothing, then there is nothing left to say, including that some giant turtle shat out an egg which formed the universe.

Brian Blackwell > Frank Lee Seaux
Frank, I am truly honored by the time you’ve taken to consider my offering. My point is very subtle and I undoubtedly fail to make it apparent to all, despite my most earnest effort.

It would seem that I have given the creationists a free ride but I would direct all my comments to them as well. However, their very simple concept — “God did it” — is not fertile ground for this discourse and so I do not address it in depth; it’s simply a yea or nay proposition from their perspective. But I do want to clarify that I do not grant to them a greater claim to knowledge.

You illustrate well how deeply ingrained is the assumption that scientists are a source of valid knowledge. You cite their evidence to grant credence to your beliefs. This is the philosophical premise of which I speak — how does man attain knowledge? (I use the term “knowledge” interchangeably between the literal and colloquial; I acknowledge your objection to its misuse).

I consider first-hand knowledge to be as follows: “I see the sun shining in the sky — it is daytime.” I consider the viewing of pictures or the descriptions of others to be otherwise (what I am broadly deeming “hearsay”).

The entirity of my writing in this section is intended to make the following submission to the rational mind of any who are open to hear it: Be wary of false pride in your consideration of those ideas that are not in accord with your current paradigm, for your “knowledge” may not have a firm enough basis to justify your arrogant reproach of others with whom you are currently in disagreement.

You will admit, you have not seen the evidence yourself, only the representstions of it by others (writings, photos, etc.). You are at the mercy of their presentation because you cannot see — from your limited perspective — the information that might refute it any more than those who believed the Earth was at the center of the universe could perceive the evidence to the contrary. All the available evidence was on their side. Even if you could trust wholly the quality of evidence presented by the scientific establishment, the connections and inferences made concerning that observable information are not as concrete, and there is room for some interpretation.

I am indeed sowing doubt, but reasonable doubt, in an effort to bring people back to reality. Those who argue the point have no true knowledge, but appeal to the authority of science. How is this such a loftier position than appealing to scripture? They call the Bible “proof” and you cry foul, but you call peer review journals “proof” and sit back satisfied. You don’t know those people, you didn’t do the research, you only trust. Your existence may be an episode of “The Truman Show” and you have no knowledge otherwise. What you know is that your hands feel cold, and that you see the sun, but even the inherent nature of these things is unknown to you. I’m not saying to live your life from this standpoint on a daily basis, but take a minute to check your premise, “how does one attain true knowledge?” Figure out what you truly know before slamming your brethren on that basis, you owe him that much.

Harel Eilam > Brian Blackwell
tsk, tsk, Brian. Tsk, tsk.

Appealing to science IS loftier position than appealing to scripture, because at any given time, one CAN go and do said research, check the articles, check the authority of the scientists, try to replicate the experiment and find out for himself. This option is available to me in various degrees, from a person who just want to so some casual research to a true scientist.

One can NOT, in any way, shape or form, despite of how much research he does, ever validate the metaphysical claims made by the bible.

Basically, your argument is reductum ad inifintum. No person, regardless of how wise he is, can ever know everything, can ever research, personally, everything. Especially as our society and our wealth of information becomes so huge, people need to be ever more and more specializing.

Unless we can do research while standing on the shoulders of former generations, unless we take some things to be as true (not on faith, but based on confidence), we can never move forward. And already, we know far more than any one person can know.

What you are doing is really promoting human ignorance. “if you didn’t know it yourself, you can know it. You’re no different than them!” Well, no, Brian. I really, really am different. I have reasonable doubt about unbased facts, and I have reasonable confidence in proven facts.

Anything else is madness, and self-defeating.

Tom Ferries > Brian Blackwell
Your comments are so long and yet you manage to make no real points. I already said science has ways of filtering out lies and or bad data. Like Harel said, science is all about standing on the shoulders of other people to build upon what they have discovered. You cannot know all there is to know and so you have to trust what professionals say about their field of study.

Frank Lee Seaux > Brian Blackwell
“My point is very subtle and I undoubtedly fail to make it apparent to all, despite my most earnest effort.”

Your point wasn’t nearly as subtle as you might like to think. Apparently you are arrogant enough to presume that since I didn’t agree with you en toto, then it must have gone over my head.

The reality is that many people do not agree with me either. But, I don’t automatically assume, “they didn’t get it.”

“However, their very simple concept — “God did it” — is not fertile ground for this discourse and so I do not address it in depth; it’s simply a yea or nay proposition from their perspective.”

I will grant that their propositions are simplistic, but they are far from simple. There is nothing simple about presuming to explain a mystery by piling another on top.

And, I will certainly grant that people such as them, and apparently yourself tend to think in dichotomous terms (black and white, clean and dirty, on and off, right and wrong, etc).

“But I do want to clarify that I do not grant to them a greater claim to knowledge.”

No… Apparently you wish to insinuate that theirs is at least equal to those of the scientific/skeptic/evidentialist community.

See, I’m an evidentialist. You wish to make a claim, you will require convincing and substantive evidence of claim, before I am willing to accept it. I will not accept claims based on intuitive, wishful, emotionally appealing, or naive (blind) faith. Faith is something which should be earned, which is only accomplished by reliability and evidence.

“You illustrate well how deeply ingrained is the assumption that scientists are a source of valid knowledge.”

You mistake me sir. I am demonstrating how ingrained (and rightly so) is the “faith” in the scientific method which has proven reliable, consistent, and undaunted by all tasks set before it, within its purview.

You, on the other hand, have been consistently conflating the institution (method) with the people. The scientific method is designed to root out fallacies, mistakes, and dishonesty, with full knowledge that people are fallible. Religions, on the other hand, are not nearly so well vetted of either information or informants.

The scientific method is well established as a source of valid knowledge about the world. The knowledge derived by that method is testable by anyone with a modicum of training in techno babble (terminological understanding) and critical analysis skill sets.

“You cite their evidence to grant credence to your beliefs.”

Again, you mistake me sir. I do not cite “their evidence” unexamined. I personally examine their evidence (peer reviewed journal entries in many cases), making sure to check for consistency and reliability of methodology, etc. Checking that they include double blinding in their testing procedures, and even offering alternative processes which should meet out relevant data which might have been absent in the original testing method.

Just because you do not take the time to confirm or refute the data, do not presume to project upon me that same apathetic and lackadaisical response mechanism.

“how does man attain knowledge?”

Often times by inference. In the absence of directly observable phenomena, inference is acceptable. If it were not, there would be absolutely no reason to believe a God.

So, be careful which institutions to attempt to tear down with your rhetoric. The law of unintended consequences is nipping at your ass (so to speak).

“(I use the term “knowledge” interchangeably between the literal and colloquial; I acknowledge your objection to its misuse)”
This practice is known as the fallacy of equivocation. Unless, of course, you maintain a consistent context sensitivity to fore knowledge that they are not the same thing.

“I consider first-hand knowledge to be as follows: “I see the sun shining in the sky — it is daytime.” I consider the viewing of pictures or the descriptions of others to be otherwise (what I am broadly deeming “hearsay”).”

Once again demonstrating how little critical thought you’ve given to your argument. Because of the way we are “constructed” and “wired” what we see when we look “out” at the world is merely a reflection of light bouncing off of particles arranged in cohesive patterns. In other words, what we see isn’t exactly as we perceive it. Our brains have to work really hard to interpret data received through the sensory inputs. So, a picture is really no different (insubstantial differentiation, mentally speaking) from the actual object it represents, from a visual perspective.

Therefore, when I look at photographic representations of physical objects, it is sufficiently similar to looking at the actual object the image represents, because all I perceive of the actual object is an image, plus, perhaps olfactory, and tactile sensations.

If I am merely comparing general and relative shapes, I do not require any other senses than sight. And, in many cases, I can make inferences from visual data alone about the nature of the objects in question.

So, my knowledge of many things is as real and direct from mere visual representations as those who are physically proximal to the actual represented object.

But, I often go a step further and examine actual physical objects, and test theories on my own. I’ve done sufficient amounts of this type of confirmation that I can often conduct experiments in my mind.

“The entirity of my writing in this section is intended to make the following submission to the rational mind of any who are open to hear it: Be wary of false pride in your consideration of those ideas that are not in accord with your current paradigm, for your “knowledge” may not have a firm enough basis to justify your arrogant reproach of others with whom you are currently in disagreement.”

The rational minds are well aware of this. It is, once again, those irrational minds you need to be addressing. Also, just for your personal edification, it is far more arrogant to presume knowledge of that which is not evident than to follow evidence to where ever it may lead. In fact, following the evidence is the antithesis of arrogance.

But, it appears that in all your writing, you have overlooked your own arrogance in the presumptions you have made (just to spell it out for you).

“You will admit, you have not seen the evidence yourself, only the representstions of it by others (writings, photos, etc.).”

I will admit only that this is true of many circumstances, and entirely untrue of a sufficient amount that I can now derive reliable inference from those abstracted representations (the meta-data).

“You are at the mercy of their presentation because you cannot see — from your limited perspective — the information that might refute it any more than those who believed the Earth was at the center of the universe could perceive the evidence to the contrary.”

En contrare, mon frere. (it’s French… It means, ” On the contrary, my friend”).

“All the available evidence was on their side.”

They had no evidence. They were at the mercy of speculation and conjecture. That is, until the telescope was invented.

“Even if you could trust wholly the quality of evidence presented by the scientific establishment, the connections and inferences made concerning that observable information are not as concrete, and there is room for some interpretation.”

You mean like the Bible, don’t you? But, the evidence is still present, for subjective interpretation. The Bible, with most of its content has no evidence to interpret. It merely has the frantic scribblings of ancient desert dwelling goat herders. As evidenced by its many inaccuracies and inconsistencies.

“I am indeed sowing doubt, but reasonable doubt, in an effort to bring people back to reality.”

There is nothing reasonable about the doubt you are attempting to sow. And certainly not that isn’t already present and contained within the methodology.

“Those who argue the point have no true knowledge, but appeal to the authority of science.”

Okay, I’m gonna have to break out the big guns with this one… I call bullshit. You are, once again, presuming science is an institution, and not a methodology. And, you are attempting to conflate faith in evidence and reason with naive faith.

“How is this such a loftier position than appealing to scripture?”

I wouldn’t call it “loftier” contrary to my counterparts above. I would say that it is far more reliable as a means of attaining knowledge about the world since all of the knowledge attained by the scientific method is testable by people armed with critical (analytical) skills and the right resources. I am such a person because I prefer my knowledge to be more confirmed and less abstract.

Biblical scripture is based on the least reliable type of evidence imaginable… second hand eyewitness testimonials. All of the Gospels, for example, were written long after Jesus and any actual witnesses were already dead (if we generously accept the chronology of events (historicity)).

“They call the Bible “proof” and you cry foul, but you call peer review journals “proof” and sit back satisfied.”

You’re a broken record aren’t you? (a reference to a time when music was recorded on vinyl records that would get scratches and tend to replay the same section repetitiously).

“You don’t know those people, you didn’t do the research, you only trust.”

This amounts to an ad hominem. An attack on the person rather than the argument. I don’t need to know the person… Only the information. Who said it is irrelevant. And, I don’t simply or automatically trust the information either. I can test it for reasonability, reliability, consistency, and efficacy (pragmatism). So, yeah, I can, and actually do a lot of the research necessary to confirm or refute the findings/claims.

“Your existence may be an episode of “The Truman Show” and you have no knowledge otherwise.”

Irrelevant nonsense, and nihilistic/solipsistic in the extreme. Reverse that statement to yourself and you have the same problem, made worse by an utter lack of evidence of any kind, including second hand.

“Figure out what you truly know before slamming your brethren on that basis, you owe him that much.”

That brethren of whom you speak stands on far more flimsy ground and condemns me for not embracing naive faith in fairy tales on the basis of emotional appeal. So, don’t presume to lecture me you sycophantic hypocrite.

Shadow VanDusen > Brian Blackwell
The difference between science and religion in a single word: demonstrability

Shadow VanDusen > agonizethis
Those who understand evolution recognize that EVERY fossil and creature and being IS an intermediate form between their ancestry and their progeny.

Frank Lee Seaux > Shadow VanDusen
Amen Brother. Go tell it on the mountain. Because apparently they ain’t havin’ any of that real honesty down here in the shit hole.

Brian Blackwell > Shadow VanDusen
If by religion you mean the non-sensical dogma that stands in direct opposition to our own first-hand experience, I would eagerly agree. Spirituality, however, is personally demonstrable; actually it is demonstrared in everything. In fact, the entirity of scientific knowledge is included amongst its credits. By what intelligence does the single-cell organism do its duty? It is that. Thou art that.

Frank Lee Seaux > Brian Blackwell
Demonstrate spirituality, objectively.

And then demonstrate how that relates to scientific knowledge about the world, in such a way that scientific knowledge is contained within the spiritual experience.

I have had “spiritual experiences” from a scientific perspective on the world. Grand revelations, as it were. But, I would not presume to say that scientific knowledge is contained within, constrained by, or informed by the spiritual. And, I certainly wouldn’t say it was relate-able to, or by, Biblical scripture.

From a purely analytical standpoint, single celled organisms don’t have an actual duty. They do what they do in direct response to environmental stimuli. Not out of a sense of honor bound duty, or because they have to. And, certainly not by divine commandment.

Single celled organisms operate by chemical induction, etc. And, interestingly enough, we are all massive collections of single celled organisms living in a close knit community, forming what appears to be a single entity. As we step out from this close up, microscopic view we can begin to recognize that the whole of humanity, and indeed, the whole of the planet is a single organism. We can then step back even further and realize that the whole of the universe is but a single organism, constructed of particulate matter and energy down to our very core.

Oh yeah… Here’s an interesting little tidbit for ya… All those single celled organisms are actually a close knit community of sub-cellular organisms. The cell wall makes up the “borders” as it were, of their internal community.

Shadow VanDusen > Brian Blackwell
James Randi has $1 Million waiting at JREF for anyone who can demonstrate “spiritual”-anything. See randi.org to go claim that, and if you succeed, the world of atheists WILL begin to take you seriously. Until then, I’m glad you have a warm-fuzzy feeling.

Shadow VanDusen > Frank Lee Seaux
Thanks for saying what I would’ve… And me-thinks you may very well be right… but I continue to comment in hopes that some comment I make somewhere will help at least one person seriously evaluate their beliefs with their skeptical side.

To non-skeptics: If what you believe really IS the TRUTH, then no amount of personal research will do anything but support it, right? The keyword here is “personal”… Cheers!

Brian Blackwell > Shadow VanDusen
All this inane banter… 1 million this, and fuzzy feeling that. You think that asking someone to “prove” something makes you a man of reason, but you’re only trying to lay a logical trap for your opposition, and you’ll need a better one than that to catch this marmot! The atheist’s primary characteristic in discourse is cunning and cleverness, rather than wisdom. Let me explain:

Your rigid paradigm insists upon the use of the scientific method as a means of delivery for any new information to be accepted. You want me to scientifically prove something to you in an objective way, viewable by all; but it’s impossible to use this blunt instrument to discern the subtleties of spirit. You’re handing me a hammer and asking me to turn a screw. You know it cannot be done, so you await my attempt and subsequent failure so you can raise your hand in glorious victory. But tricks and traps provide no glory to the victor, only shame, for it is no true victory at all.

Spirituality is perceived first subjectively — privately — only then can it be discerned in everything else. I have no means by which to make you perceive that which requires use of an inner sense that you refuse to acknowledge. I’m not here to demonstrste anything or to wake you up to spiritual reality. It is not within a man’s power to convince another; one must choose to look to it on their own. If a man hath ears to hear, let him hear; otherwise go soak your head. That’s scripture.

I speak of Jesus because he is a prominent and accessible example, but I am no Christian as you would define it. I will put my position in terms you will understand clearly — intellectual evolution. The savage is like an infant, concerned only with base needs and desires. The religious observer is like a child, seeking approval and appealling to the authority of a parent figure. The common atheist is like the adolescent, rebellious, arrogant and eager to assert his independence. The non-religious spiritualist is like the ideal adult, with nothing to prove and demonstrating the wisdom to discern and embody the best of all the previous states of being. He can observe purely and play freely like the infant but is not a slave to his base desires. He can trust and show reverence like the child but is not subject to another’s approval or intellectual will. He can be courageous and confident like the adolescent without the folly of thinking he knows it all. He can now discern wisely and seek to benefit others from his mature perspective.

You see, we are not so different, just on different parts of the same road. Now, if you feel insulted and cannot see the truth in what I’ve spoken here, then I’m afraid we’re through for now. I have nothing more to offer you.

Frank Lee Seaux
Yeah Shadow… This one is obviously a lost cause. Not amenable to reason and whatnot.

Look Brian, There is nothing inherently wrong with spiritualism. It is when you attempt to make it out to be something more than it is that it becomes dangerous. Hell, I consider myself to be spiritual. In fact, for a time I thought about calling myself “the spiritual atheist” (not sure if that’s been taken by anyone else before).

Spirituality is a mind dependent thing. It is an abstraction of the world, and a thought process. It does not extend from a mind independent being. And, it dies with the individual (physical brain). After all, the mind is merely an affectation, or function of a functioning brain. Thus it cannot continue beyond brain death.

Harel Eilam > Brian Blackwell
Oh, reasonable human beings CAN be convinced. That’s the entire point of science. It’s reasonable people, allowing themselves to be swayed by the evidence.

Brian Blackwell > Frank Lee Seaux
Ah, the scientist… always so literal. Where’s the appreciation of color? You dissect my words like they were earthworms and ignore the larger point. Yes, I know the single celled organism has no “duty,” as it were. My point is, what is the animating priciple and source of intelligence that we see throughout all the less brainy creatures of the world? And if you could pinpoint it with a microscope, would that mean it was where life and thought came from? You cannot observe spirit with the five senses and you are so locked into the paradigm that such observation is the basis for all valid knowledge that no amount of encouragement to use another more subtle sense will shake you loose.

I will not belabor my point further; I have revised my reply to Shadow to include all I mean to say on the matter. It was never my intent get sucked down the atheist black hole of “proving” the realities of spirit. I only wanted to encourage readers to review their ideas about science and certainty, and rationally consider whether they really know what they know before they deem others hopeless morons for expressing an alternate viewpoint.

Frank Lee Seaux > Brian Blackwell
I’m sorry, I somehow missed out on a larger message? Where in any of your comments was it located? Because I was sure I’d addressed each of your points on a point by point basis, including the one in which you singled out the sane people in the crowd and admonish them to question what they know and if they can, indeed, know what they know. I’m pretty sure that what I said about that particular “larger” point was that it was a deep and winding rabbit hole filled with despair, leading straight to solipsism.

And what’s this nonsense about me not appreciating color. In fact, in my analogies wherein I talk about that black and white thinking we discussed in one of my earlier posts, I usually go straight to the colorful rainbow of the light spectrum, which includes both ultraviolet light and infrared light. As an artist, i studied color and light theory in depth. Perhaps even greater depth than I’ve studied any of the other sciences. Yeah, that’s right… art is a science, and relies on scientifically derived principles.

Single celled organisms don’t have perceptible brains per se. So, they are not simply “less brainy.” They are no brainy. But, I can answer your questions about all that apparent intelligence. They are simply responding to that chemical induction I mentioned in another post, which provides them with animation. Now think about that one for a moment. It would mean that you, by extension, are simply a mass of single celled organisms responding to bio-electro-chemical induction, in exactly the same way as all those single celled organisms, but with a much greater degree of complexity. So, that brain thing that you seem to be thinking is making you so much more special than them… Not really all that special.

Now, about that proof of spirit thing… You are the one who opened the door on that one with the following comment, once again, quoted for your convenience: “Spirituality, however, is personally demonstrable…”

Far be it from me to drag you down the rabbit hole of your own devising, metaphorically kicking and screaming bloody murder the whole way down. Honestly, I doubt I could withstand the sound of that kind of whiny narcissistic drone.

Shadow VanDusen > Brian Blackwell
Your posts are long and wordy, yet without really holding much content. You repeatedly assume to know the minds of others, as expressed whenever you say things such as, “You think that asking someone to “prove” something makes you a man of reason”, and “Your rigid paradigm insists upon”, and so on.

I think no such thing, nor in such a way. As for my paradigm, it is necessity for it to be extremely flexible. This is actually a hallmark of the skeptical thinking mind. Do I have all the answers? Nope. Do I need certainty? Nope. Would I like to understand more than i currently do? Yup. This is why I am a skeptic instead of superstitious.

I haven’t taken offense to anything you (or anyone else) has said. I have no reason to. Mature adults don’t get upset or offended because a toddler is attempting to walk, and fear it may somehow change our own ability to walk. Such irrationality is the hallmark of the superstitious, not product of the skeptical mind.

Shadow VanDusen > Harel Eilam
Eloquently said! That was a concise, to the point, and all around awesome comment. 🙂

Harel Eilam > Shadow VanDusen
bows thank you, thank you, i’m here all night. Not that I think it will help :/

Harel Eilam > Brian Blackwell
No one considers anyone a moron for having a different viewpoint. People do consider others morons for having a viewpoint that conflicts with itself.

Spirituality is, by it’s nature, self-conflicting. It’s full of thoughts, approaches, philosophies and ideas that are self-conflicting. Either human souls go to limbo, heaven, stay on earth in some fashion or they re-incarnate. Either the Norse mythology is right, or the Egyptian, or the Christian, or the Hindu. Once you open your mind to the metaphysical, you find out through history humans had wildly different, and conflicting, ideas on how just that metaphysical behaves.

Therefore, any single spiritual person on Earth, in the end, accepts one view on the metaphysical and not others. He considers some views true, and some false. Not even the most metaphysical, spiritual, conspiracy theory fanatic accepts every idea, every notion, every story made by humankind because many of them, well, conflict with each other.

So that person is already what he laments against. He already closes his mind to some stuff. He already claim that some views are incorrect. He already made a truth statement on something metaphysical. No Christian would come, shrug, and say well, I can’t disprove Thor existence, so yeah, he might just exist. Not if he is a typical, dogma-following christian, at least. And if he isn’t, one could argue he isn’t a christian, but that’s neither here nor there.

So yes. I do think anyone who has a self-conflicting world view is a moron, or at least behaving in a moronic fashion.

And this is why scientists have the upper hand here. Since science never claim to posses absolute truth, it can always change, adapt and learn something new, and therefore – it can never be self-conflicting.

Brian Blackwell
We’re talking two different languages here. You all seem to be of similar mind, such that you cannot get your nose off the tree long enough to see the forest. Picking apart my words bit by bit as if the words were the thoughts themselves. I speak in a representative fashion, you must listen with your heart, not that damn head that you allow to dominate you like a slave master. But I’m quite sure by now that you don’t know what that means and you’ll tell me that the human heart cannot interpret sound vibrations.

We can never conclude this discussion with mutual satisfaction because I’m trying to explain color to blind people in the sense that spirituality as it truly exists is not even on your radar. Equally, you expect me to fit my ideas about it into your framework of how knowledge is established and I do not believe it can be done within those confines. As long as you think logic is king and I think there is more than that, we are at an impass. Come back to me after you’re dead and I promise not to say “I told you so.”

Frank Lee Seaux > Brian Blackwell
On the contrary Brian. I’m sure the others will also admit that they can understand your meaning about “speaking from, and listening with the heart.”

Our problem isn’t with understanding what you are saying in that regard. It is with your emotional appeal. That is what is meant by “listen with your heart, fellas.” It is an appeal to emotions, which is a rather desperate attempt.

Emotions are conflicted, and entirely devoid of intellectual integrity. As a matter of fact, lots of studies have been done which demonstrate that emotions are a hindrance to, and modifier of, reason… Not a clarifier thereof.

In other words, our emotions tend to cloud our judgement, rather than make our judgements more sound. But, you would have us ignore that fact, in favor of your assertions, which you would admit are emotionally driven, with that request that we listen with our hearts to what you mean rather than what you say, in your attempt to convey that meaning.

It’s as if you want us to listen to you screaming “fuck you” at the top of your lung capacity, and realize that what you really mean is, “I love you Guys.”

The story you are attempting to convey, or expect us to accept as genuine is incoherent, inconsistent, and filled with potholes we could lose a tandem tractor trailer in. Which is what we have been attempting to convey to you. But rather than listen to what we are saying, you are allowing your emotions to cloud your ears and your judgement.

What we (as humans, not as some abstract concept like religious person, or philosophically disposed individual) believe and our justifications for believing it are very important, because our beliefs tend to contextualize our perceptions of the world, and drive our thought processes. Which then, drives our actions and reactions in, and to, the world around us.

I’m not trying to tell you that you should never allow your emotions to inform you of anything. But you appear to be allowing your emotions to inform and contextualize everything.

What our emotions can actually, and irrefutably inform us about is our own personal biases, which are often a source of misperception. They cannot inform us about reality. I would have said truth, but that word has been co’opted.

Shadow VanDusen > Brian Blackwell
I think you are absolutely correct in your assessment that “we’re talking two different languages here”. The only problem I really see is that you seem to assume that we never held emotion-based beliefs. I can’t speak for everyone else, but I know at least half my life was heavily based in emotional beliefs. Then I made a decision for my life.

The decision I made sounds simple, but became immensely profound over time. It was this: I decided that with all the different beliefs in the world, I wanted to know the truth. Not the “truth” as I was indoctrinated into, but actual reality.

The result was years of intense study into many different philosophies and religious and spiritual ideas and beliefs held sincerely by many people across the globe. The deeper I dug to find the truth about reality, the less convinced I became.

In the end, rational logic and sound reasoning are the only things that have any real substance to them.

I agree that we aren’t about to change each others minds in this conversation. Honestly, that’s not the goal to me. I don’t think people can truly choose what they believe or don’t believe. People believe what they are convinced of, whatever that may be.

When it comes to religious/spiritual matters, no one can convince you of anything except yourself. This is why in one of my earlier posts I invited you (and others that may be reading this) to do PERSONAL research. Don’t be satisfied with what you were indoctrinated with, or what other people say (in real life, on the net, or in any book – old or new)…

When knowing the actual truth becomes more important to you than feeling good and comfortable, then you’ll undertake the journey of discovery that results in developing a skeptical mind. A by-product of which is atheism (and that’s all atheism is for me – a by-product of a developed skeptical mind).

Personally, I think you are already well on your way in your personal journey, otherwise you would be in support of some religion or another instead of calling the whole of religion “non-sensical dogma that stands in direct opposition to our own first-hand experience”.

You are on your way already… We’re not here to convince you, we’re trying to help you with concepts and ideas that are currently uncomfortable for you, but which might make more sense the further along you go. Look! I made a long post! 😛

Harel Eilam > Brian Blackwell
I know where you are coming from. I realize how frustrating it is when someone picks apart your words. Not everyone is an expert debater or a philosopher, or wants to exercise that skill every time. Yes, it’s annoying as hell when you are trying so hard to pass along your ideas, but falls short because in the end, EVERY person speaks a different language. You might be interested in Wittgenstein worldview, by the way. Fascinating fellow.

That being said… to be honest, you also ignore the thoughts, emotions and beliefs behind what we are saying. This is not about logic being king. You never addressed the fact that spirituality is, by it’s essence, self-conflicting and defeating. If we accept things by value of their emotions, than we are already biased toward certain things. I am more likely, as a spiritual person, to accept western spirituality than eastern one. I will feel closer to it, as it’s my “own” culture. You might have a different bias, but a bias you have. In the end, every person has a different idea on the metaphysical, and those ideas conflict. They can’t ALL be right. A framework needs to be found, to decide which one is right and which isn’t.

I also understand your analogy of explaining color to a blind man, but your point is faulty. A regular man SEES said color, so he has an objective reference to describe them. You do not. You can’t see the metaphysical. You can’t touch it, can’t experience it. Your emotion lets you believe there is something there, but there isn’t. This would be like a member in an insane asylum explaining to his doctors what he is seeing.

Now, of course, you could claim that sometimes insane people do see other things that other people don’t, and they are considered insane. I would tell you that’s what happened a 100 years ago, but not any longer. We can diagonize mental illness quite accurately. A man with vision won’t be considered insane, but would be recognized as such. Of course, there is no people with vision because there is nothing to see. The metaphysical does not exist. There is no spiritual component to the universe. It’s not that we cant’ see it, can’t considered it, or it’s not on our radar – it’s simply not there. This is a statement of fact, not opinion or belief. If you claim otherwise, you need to prove it – one can not claim we just need to listen and accept it, because it brings us to the earlier point – accepting what? Do I accept re-incarnation or the idea of heaven? Or maybe my ancestors remain where they lived most of their lives? Does everyone have a soul or just some? Do dogs and other animals have soul? Can you tell me WHICH spirtual worldview is right? Because they can’t all be right. They can all be wrong, however.

You think differently, but all you give us as an appeal to emotion. That’s not a good sign that what you are talking about is real. This is a good sign that it is a part of your personal reality, but not of the universe.

Dichard Rawkins > Brian Blackwell
“can make a single meaningful contribution to the topic of the universe’s origin.”

Nonsense! We can put forward hypothesis to what we believe may have been the cause and then let others try to poke holes in the argument until we come close to a working model. It will probably be wrong or it may be close enough until, years from now, a better model is adopted, but why would you claim no one can make a meaningful contribution? Perhaps you simply can’t grasp it, which is nothing to be ashamed of, but to make such an assertion is a touch naive.

To say that we shouldn’t bother even trying to guess at such things because we are “cavemen by the standards of 1000-years from now” is total bullshit!

Brian Blackwell > Dichard Rawkins
It’s fun to speculate but what I meant by meaningful contribution is anything contrinuting to certainty. We cannot go back and test anything, nor can we accurately duplicate the scenario. Certainty cannot be achieved.

Brian Blackwell > Harel Eilam
I appreciate your time, Harel. I did read all you said, though I cannot address all of it here. I have two questions and one statement. First, how is spirituality self-conflicting and defeating?

Second, many have dismissed my comments based on their being an “emotional appeal,” so I ask you and others: what is emotion, in your estimation?

Lastly I want to point out that every voice of dissent here has disagreed with my comments on the basis that I cannot prove my position because it is not logically or scientifically sound, or at least that I have not presented it thusly. Can you see how ingrained in your mind the idea has become that logic and science is the only means by which knowledge may be attained? It is this very point that I dispute. It may be true of physical knowledge, perhaps, (though I think many scientific discoveries were “inspired” by the non-physical) but surely if spirituality does exist as I proclaim, can you see that physical tools like the five senses or scientific inquiry (as it is commonly thought of) may be inappropriate, at least as they currently exist? It’s like trying to use human eyes to discern gamma radiation.

I say that there is a sixth sense, whose entire purpose is to detect phenomena of a non-physical nature. It is easily overlooked because that to which it refers is generally misunderstood (largely because of religion’s ineptitude) but you feel its effects all day everyday. Seeing is known by images, hearing by sound, and I submit that the sixth sense is known by emotion.

That is all I will say here. Do not ask me to prove this via logic or science, and if these are the only tools that you are willing to use then you must necessarily reject what I have said. I will not accept the mission to convert, I am just putting these ideas on the table for whoever wanders by and hears the ring of truth in them. I will explain them further upon request, but please don’t ask me to do so if my initial comments do not spark earnest interest.

Dichard Rawkins > Brian Blackwell
Can you cite an example of your spirituality? I’m genuinely interested. I don’t believe a word of it but if you could at least explain, in laymans terms, what you mean by “spirituality,” then I can better perceive exactly what you mean. Thanks.

Frank Lee Seaux > Brian Blackwell
“Second, many have dismissed my comments based on their being an “emotional appeal,” so I ask you and others: what is emotion, in your estimation?”

Emotions are, demonstrably (i.e. Objectively known and objectively proven), bio-electro-chemical reactions in the brain (mostly chemical). In other words, emotions are exactly identical to being on drugs. Would you trust a drug addict to drive you home, babysit your children, or make the rules of how you and everyone else should live their lives? I certainly hope not. But, that is precisely what you are expecting the rest of us to do when you make these emotional appeals to your way of thinking, which you further admit is emotionally (chemically) driven.

“Lastly I want to point out that every voice of dissent here has disagreed with my comments on the basis that I cannot prove my position because it is not logically or scientifically sound,”

True.

“or at least that I have not presented it thusly.”

Also true.

“Can you see how ingrained in your mind the idea has become that logic and science is the only means by which knowledge may be attained?”

Yes, I certainly can. And, there are a number of perfectly good reasons for this, not the least of which is reliability of information systems.

“It is this very point that I dispute. It may be true of physical knowledge, perhaps, (though I think many scientific discoveries were “inspired” by the non-physical) but surely if spirituality does exist as I proclaim, can you see that physical tools like the five senses or scientific inquiry (as it is commonly thought of) may be inappropriate, at least as they currently exist? It’s like trying to use human eyes to discern gamma radiation.”

The only things which are demonstrably immaterial (i.e. non-physical) are demonstrably mind dependent (i.e. do not exist in the world independent of the mind that conceives them).

“I say that there is a sixth sense, whose entire purpose is to detect phenomena of a non-physical nature. It is easily overlooked because that to which it refers is generally misunderstood (largely because of religion’s ineptitude) but you feel its effects all day everyday. Seeing is known by images, hearing by sound, and I submit that the sixth sense is known by emotion.”

There are a couple atheists to whom I’d like to introduce you. They have both taken a strong interest in seeking out this sixth sense, the world of the supernatural, etc. In fact, it was my own interest in magic, the supernatural, etc, which brought abut my own atheism. I recognized that religion was a sham at a very early age, but was convinced of the existence of the supernatural. So, I sought out my own way of knowing the universe, and whatever powerful forces there were in the world which appeared to control or at least influence the natural world. Those two individuals are Derren Brown (who actually gave a deeply profound “religious”/spiritual experience to a confirmed atheist. I recently watched that video which included the methods he used. The other is James Randi. Yeah, that guy with the million dollar reward. Both of these guys have studied mysticism and the human mind much more deeply than I.

“…and I submit that the sixth sense is known by emotion.”

Emotions are chemical reactions in the brain dude. The exact same chemical reactions that are produced by chemical induction from drug use. And yeah, that emotional response we call love… The one where we simply must be around that person, touching them, and either holding them or being held by them… That’s exactly like a drug addiction, because it IS a drug addiction.

I consider myself to be a very spiritual person. And many people have told me how spiritually in touch they believe me to be, prior to discovery of my atheism. In fact, many of my fellow atheists, admonish me when I start talking about my spirituality. But then, when I simply describe those spiritual experiences, and those spiritual revelations they are less inclined to admonish me. For me, spirituality does not require some external force, invisible being, immaterial substance, or fantasies about the nature of the world. Science, and the discoveries of the intricacies of the universe on scales both grand, and miniscule give me spiritual experiences in ways that Gods and immaterial substances are simply to small and simplistic to touch.

Harel Eilam > Brian Blackwell
I told you how spirituality is self-conflicting. Because spirituality, something without form, existence and truth, can therefore take any shape it wants – and has. We got countless stories of how the spiritual world behaves. Does your soul ascend to heaven or not? Is it immortal or does it dissipate over time? Does every soul persist or just unique humans? Does the criteria your soul are judged on is based on prowess in combat, respect to your elders, accepting god or doing god? Does your soul stay in one place, ascend to another realm, or re-incranate?

All those ideas are conflicting. A soul can’t both ascend to heaven for all times, and re-incrante as a frog. Heaven and Valhalla can’t both exist. They can’t both be right. Therefore, at least one of them is wrong.

You, by matter of your spiritual belief, surely have an idea of what the soul and spiritual world is. Your ideas would conflict with other people’s view of what the spiritual world is, and how it behaves. This is certain, because no one has a frame of reference. it’s also certain that you can’t resolve your conflict. All we CAN know for certain is that both of you can’t be right. Therefore, spirituality is conflicting, as it generates countless stories of it’s process that can’t all be true. ONE may be true (probably not), but that’s one out of thousands, millions. This is why it’s self-conflicting.

As to why we ask you to prove what you say – this is not because science is ingrained in us, it is because there is no other way for two people to converse. Every two people in the world see different things, think differently, feel differently, have different experiences and emotions and anguage (again, Wittgenstein). We end with only one choice – talk about the shared, objective reality.

As for emotions – it’s irrelevant what I, personally, consider emotions to be. I can say, but it will resolve in side-tracking the debate to semantics and biochemistry debates. Suffice to say that I agree entirely with the original point made here – emotions, whatever they are, are personal – and therefore, not something that should be brought into a discussion. If you tell me you love someone, I can’t dispute it. I don’t know how you feel, nor can I ever know that. There can be no dispute over something that is personal, and therefore, no debate. We can’t debate feelings, so that’s why it shouldn’t be brought into a debate.

Brian Blackwell > Dichard Rawkins
The experience of pondering a question to no avail then suddenly being struck with a new idea that solves thw problem while mindlessly sweeping the floor; information acquired that is not deduced linearly, but comes seemingly out of nowhere is an example of man tapping into spirituality. The animating principal which is present during life and absent at death is the attention of man’s spiritual self holding attention upon — or removing it from — the body. Great athletic achievements where the athlete perceives an “instinctual” knowledge of just where to be, which way to move for maximum effect. The uncanny coincidence of thinking about someone you haven’t spoken to in months and having them call you. I do not claim to be the best spokesman for this topic, but these are some examples of the non-physical that readily come to mind. Undoubtedly you might explain them away, for as I have mentioned, spirituality cannot be proved. Nor can it be disproved, and I know how scientists love that. Hahaha

Brian Blackwell > Frank Lee Seaux
You describe the physical nature of emotions as if that proves that they have no spiritual basis. Every spiritual expression in the physical world can be explained, but explaining how a thing works does not explain why it exists or its inherent nature. But the scientist says there is no grand purpose, only functionality, and that a thing’s inherent nature is merely its form and function. There is just no sense discussing this topic further as long as you are convinced that science is the only means of attaining knowledge. I can never prove otherwise to your satisfaction, as you have adpoted a set of rules that precludes the possibility. I’m talking about football and you want me to explain it in terms of baseball, then say that if I cannot, then what I speak of does not exist as I describe it. We are at an impass.

Harel Eilam > Brian Blackwell
You are, but mostly because of your incorrect understanding of what science is.

Scientists don’t say there is no grand purpose – scientists are forced to conclude that based on the lack of any evidence of a grand purpose. If you would supply proof to the existence of a grand purpose, then viola, there will be scientists researching said proof, and finding even more. There will be entire fields of science that deals with the grand purpose of the universe.

Science adapts. It’s not one set of rules – it’s the idea of rules. It’s not one part of knowledge, it’s ALL of human knowledge, that ever was and ever could ever be.

This is not you trying to explaining soccer in terms of baseball but failing, it is you trying to explaining soccer by using a private language made of colors you think about in your head, then being angry no one understands you.

Brian Blackwell > Harel Eilam
I’m really not frustrated that nobody understands me, as I have indicated numerous times that it is impossible to prove what I’m saying because it is so subjective. What frustrates me is the stone wall that people put up regarding how information might be garnered. It’s like they are holding on for dear life lest they become incomprehensible lunatics. I doubt we would disagree about the findings of science, I don’t deny its process or its findings; I just want to encourage an acknowledgement of its limitations and open another door to go to another place. Perhaps I use terms loosely, but I do understand what science is, and that its process allows the wielder to stand with open arms to receive new ideas; but only within its pre-determined ruleset.

“Prove it to me,” “Where’s the evidence?” Hey, carry your own load, I’m just saying “look to it” in earnest and don’t be so sure about what you think you know for certain. I didn’t come up with this spiritual stuff out of nowhere or just blindly accept it, it was years of philosophical study and investigation of many belief systems, and I came to this after being an atheist for many years. From a certain point of view I still am, but the word has a connotation that misrepresents me. That’s why I’m so invested; I think you guys are missing something big because you insist that any information that is not acquired via the rigid ruleset you have adopted is worthless.

Frank Lee Seaux > Brian Blackwell
“You describe the physical nature of emotions as if that proves that they have no spiritual basis.”

No, I am not. I describe how things work because it makes sense to understand how things work. But, I have never suggested that understanding how things work tends to prove that they are not supernatural/spiritual. But, nothing proves, or even evidences the spiritual. And THAT is the exactly the point. One cannot know that which is not evidently true. What makes things evidently true? Evidence, of course. Without evidence, a thing cannot be reasonably be said to be true.

Now, I’m sure you are under the impression that your personal experiences are evidence of spirits. So, let’s define our terms:

ev·i·dence
ˈevədəns/
noun
noun: evidence

1. the available body of facts or information indicating whether a belief or proposition is true or valid.

Evidence, broadly construed, is anything presented in support of an assertion. This support may be strong or weak. The strongest type of evidence is that which provides direct proof of the truth of an assertion. At the other extreme is evidence that is merely consistent with an assertion but does not rule out other, contradictory assertions, as in circumstantial evidence.

All of the evidence for spirits is circumstantial, anecdotal, and or entirely subjective (cannot be objectified – Demonstrated for others).

In other words, the evidence is extremely weak, and easily explained by natural structures and forces (forms and functions).

Given the facts, it is far more reasonable to assume there are no supernatural forces in, or operating on the world.

“There is just no sense discussing this topic further as long as you are convinced that science is the only means of attaining knowledge.”

Not the only means. But certainly the only reliable means.

Your spirits are too fickle and feckless to be considered reliable. This indicates to me that those forms and functions that tend to explain the (weak) “evidentiary phenomena” are far more reliable, and therefore far more reasonable than the assumption that those feckless supernatural entities actually exist.

“I can never prove otherwise to your satisfaction, as you have adpoted a set of rules that precludes the possibility.”

Brian, listen to what you are saying… If the rules of logic, science, and reason tend to prove that something does not exist, or is an impossibility, then how can it be reasonable to assume that it does, in spite of all evidence to the contrary. What you end up with at that rate is a world in which no notion is at all questionable. Under your rules, you have no reason to doubt me when I say, “I am your father.” You, likewise, would have no reason to doubt me if I said, “Look, Brian, I am you from another universe. I cannot tell you how things will turn out in this world, because that might undermine my/your purpose. But, you should believe me when I tell you that all those spirits you think you’ve been seeing was actually you looking in on yourself from other worlds. We’ve all been looking after you and prodding your life in the direction it needs to take in order for you to become the person you’re supposed to be.”

Kind of a far fetched story, huh? A little bit unbelievable, maybe? But, since you’ve done away with reason, logic, and science, you have no reason to doubt that possibility. Well, you have one reason… It isn’t the particular fairytale that makes you the most comfortable. In fact, that comfort is your only reason, as you have as much as admitted, is your only reason for believing in spirits, and other seemingly supernatural phenomena.

Unless, of course, you are like so many theists in this world who automatically presuppose that since I do not agree with them, and do not want to, I have gone out of my way to invent a set of rules that would make their beliefs an impossibility.

The thing you should take a moment to consider is that the brick wall you keep butting your head against (not me, silly)… the one that makes your beliefs seem like such an impossibility, it’s called reason and logic. They help us to realize when we’ve gone astray from reality in our assumptions and perception of the world.

Think about it this way Brian… If I stubbornly refused to accept your own attempts at logic and reason to dissuade me from the notion that I truly am you from another universe, or that I am your father, despite what you know from your own life experiences of the world which would make it an impossibility for me to be either of those instances, how would you resolve that? Would you simply assume that there must be some supernatural reality in which My crazy belief is true? Or would you simply assume that I am as crazy as my notion?

Brian Blackwell > Frank Lee Seaux
We are not in disagreement about the facts as you present them, but only about a few points of judgment. It is indeed far more reasonable to assume supernatural forces do not exist. Also, subjective evidence is indeed all but useless for demonstrating anything to others.

However, I do not believe that spirituality is subject to judgment about how reasonable it is, as reason is the tool of the brain primarily for dealing with worldly matters. Spirit is the source of the brain and thus can never be fully known by it. Just as a man could never truly know his own father the way he might know his own child because he does not have access to observing the entirity of the father’s life to this point, regardless of all the knowledge he may have gained about it from others.

Spirit is also deeply personal and does not lend itself to demonstration to others; in this way, the subjective evidence is as equally valuable as objective evidence would be when trying to interact with others, for the only one who needs to see the evidence is you.

You may draw worldly analogies but I do not see them as applicable here because spirit is not a subject where objective analysis is possible, whereas all worldly considerations have that possibility. Now, I do suspect that one day science will know spirit, perhaps, for it is not something so far removed from the physical — it is the source of all physical. But for now we have only our inner sense to discern it, and with this inner sense providing evidence that you deem inadmissible (even when only proving something to yourself), spirit cannot be recognized at all.

I want to say here that I truly appreciate the time and attention that many of you have given to this topic. I did not set forth expecting to be patted on the back, as I have consciously positioned myself in the middle of a heated and long-standing debate between Christians and atheists and have objected to both sides.

You are all admirable, thinking people who are doing just fine. I am not concerned for your “eternal soul” for that can never be in jeopardy, nor do I think you mad and suppose that I have grand answers that will save you from yourselves, as you do not need saving. I only want to share an alternative viewpoint that is of great benefit to me personally in the hopes that it may ease a transition for someone who was heading in that direction anyway.

The ensuing debate is merely a result of our collective passionate and philosophical natures, but it has not been my intent to divert you from your chosen path, for that power I do not claim. We are all doing quite well just as we are; thank you again for engaging me on this profound topic!

Arbitrary Shark Fairy > Brian Blackwell
It’s rather ironic to me “the long staring observer” how discourse can exist for arguing, yet also for agreeing. I suppose this all boils down to your threshold of pain.

CelebritySwears > Brian Blackwell
Have you ever done a psychedelic substance? Just curious.

Arbitrary Shark Fairy > Brian Blackwell
he has , i was beside him when he did it! We talked about mushroom jesuses and stuff like that

Wes Jones > Brian Blackwell
I’ve studied, in depth, these theories. And yes, I have direct knowledge of them. I’ve not only seen them occur in controlled settings, I’ve done experiments that have directly caused these mentioned events.

Is it really so hard to believe that we have advanced beyond the days of not knowing the shape of the Earth, or it’s position in the solar system? Is it really so hard to understand that knowledge, based on demonstrable evidence, can compound over time, giving us an ever increasingly clear picture of reality?

And may I ask, what is your source of knowledge on what these theories are? To suggest that creationism is a model, as is evolution, seems itself, to suggest that you aren’t familiar with the workings of these models.

Science isn’t flawed. Humans are flawed. Science is the pursuit of knowledge based on repeatable and demonstrable empirical data, which actually has corrected much of the flaws resulting from human fallibility.

Also, if you think that science “makes sense”, or that it is out of credulity that one is led to the conclusions it derives, then you are seriously mistaking what is actual science. Most of what we learn today does not follow from human understanding. At it’s core, it defies our understanding. No greater example of this can I think of than Einstein’s general and special theories of relativity. According to the math, time itself is relative. It isn’t tensed. That is, it has no linear progression. No forward movement. No set rate of flow. It is just there. Your past isn’t ‘behind’ you, nor your future ‘in front’ of you. And you can actually end up traveling through time so much slower than someone else, that you can become younger than someone you were born before. The evidence for this is overwhelming. We can actually measure, and have done so through several different tests, the rate at which speed slows time.

And as far as lawyers arguing in a court of law; well, that has nothing to do with science. Lawyers argue over the logical theorem of human constructed laws. Science does nothing even close to this. Science challenges those logical theorems, and even tests them for falsity. Unlike any other human endeavor to pursue knowledge, science relies on falsifiability and the “null hypothesis”. That is, it’s cornerstone of accuracy is determined by a simple tenet to prove itself wrong. No lawyer will ever stand before a judge, make a case, and then tell said judge exactly what would prove their case wrong, and how to go about finding it. Also, you are very mistaken if you think you can make a logical case for anything. Making something sound logical to naive ears is not the same as making a logical case. That is called sophistry, and is itself, very illogical.

I like that you submitted your own theory. Not because it is a probable, plausible, or even possible description of the origin. But rather because it serves as a great tool for showing how scientific theories work, and their purpose. A theory is, simply put, an explanation. It is something that explains a certain aspect of reality, either how or why. If it does not have explanatory power, then it isn’t a theory. As your origin hypothesis suggests an origin that necessarily requires an origin of itself, then it has no power to explain anything, and cannot serve as an origin theory.

Also, you seem to be under the impression that science is about finding out explanations with certainty. I’m not sure where you learned this, but you are mistaken. Science holds no certainties. Again, no better example of this can be seen in the law of conservation of energy. This law states that energy cannot be created nor destroyed, rather it is always conserved. While this holds true for our classical Newtonian physics world, it actually doesn’t hold true under quantum mechanics, where energy does get “destroyed”. This doesn’t undo what we have learned about our universe. Rather, it adds to it. We know that given our scale, energy doesn’t disappear. It is conserved, even though on the quantum scale this isn’t always necessarily the case. So we can see that science doesn’t hold absolutes, and is never certain. But that doesn’t mean we cannot trust the knowledge we gain, or that we cannot be confident, and reasonably certain about some aspects. As an example, using the conservation of energy: even though this law doesn’t seem to hold always under quantum principles, I am still confident enough in the law’s ability to describe our macroscopic universe, that I know a weight tied to a string to form a pendulum will never pass the original height it started. So much so, that I have actually demonstrated it by putting the weight to my chin, letting it swing, back and forth. I know it will not hit me in the face, because this law holds. Again, another example. Despite gravity being just another theory (General relativity), the power to explain this phenomenon is so strong, that I doubt even you would take a bet against a pen falling to the ground if I let it go.

Also, I’d like to point out that there are two distinct forms of evidence: Direct evidence, and Circumstantial evidence.

You seem to be suggesting that only the latter exists. If I hold a pen, and it falls, is this not evidence the pen fell? How is this debatable? How is this interpreted? What caused it to fall is interpreted. That would be circumstantial. By means of using direct evidence to indicate the existence of a phenomenon, that is explained in such a way as to fit all the circumstantial evidence, this is how one accurately describes a theory.

Again, general relativity explains this point perfectly. The very technology required to send this message to you and allow you to read it necessarily requires that time varies in the rate it flows. The devices are built in such a way as to function in accordance to ‘time dilation’, that is, changes in the rate time flows, and to calculate the corrections based on the theoretical workings of mathematical formulas of general relativity. In other words, there are but only two ways this message can reach you:

General relativity is correct insofar as it explains the effects of time dilation, or;The entire space program, every satellite in orbit, and every mobile device, or computer/tablet on the internet is using technology that doesn’t actually work, and it is entirely a fluke that this message reached you.

Which sounds more reasonable?

Brian Blackwell > Wes Jones
I understand, but I am approaching this conversation from outside the framework that you have provided. Within it, you are absolutely correct, in my estimation.

Let’s get back to “I think therefore I am” and start from there… Everything you do in the present — experimentation and whatnot — proves nothing about the past or the future, given that the very nature of reality is an utter mystery.

Practically speaking, we must make assumptions, and generally it serves us very well to do so, but in a philosophical context, we must recognize our utter ignorance to anything other than our own direct, subjective experience.

Your experience with experimentation has only proven one thing with certainty — that you had said experience. It says nothing about anything outside yourself unless we add on a host of assumptions, thus relieving us of the aforementioned certainty.

CelebritySwears > Brian Blackwell
Thank you for being so much more articulate surrounding the same subject matter, I was pretty much failing to explain exactly what you are expanding upon right now to the same commenter. 🙂

It seems to me you have a great grasp on it, especially linguistically! Damn…well done. Good luck!

CelebritySwears > Arbitrary Shark Fairy
Hahaha, that’s awesome, glad you enjoyed your trip. It is quite the experience. I shared Shrooms with my brother last weekend and he tells me he feels like everything is different and he feels like a better and wiser person. Having pretty much the same results, it made me immensely happy that I could share that with someone else.

Hope you guys had as transformative a journey as we did! 😀

Wes Jones > Brian Blackwell
Science actually does have an explanation to the origin of life. In fact, it has many, and it isn’t a matter of we don’t know which one is right. They all are. The question is, which method is responsible for the life we currently see on Earth. Life arising in our universe seems to be an extremely common occurrence, given the laws of physics.

The reason I earlier asked about your understanding of science is because you seem to misunderstand it’s capabilities. We most certainly can do experiments first hand on origins. The question that remains isn’t how could it originate. It’s which method did it take. To use the example of the origins of life, Joan Oro demonstrated that hydrogen cyanide and ammonia, both common gases found in many atmospheres, and on many planets, including Earth, mixed into an aqueous solution form into amino acids and adenine, one of the four nucleobases for DNA and RNA, when a little electricity like lightning is added. In 2014, Svatopluk Civis et al., built upon an even more likely approach. Formamide is one of the most abundant organic chemicals found in the universe, particularly in newly forming stars and solar systems. This chemical contains the necessary elements to form all four nucleobases of RNA, which our life on Earth seems to have originated from. Building upon the data of meteor bombardments that the primordial Earth, and Moon underwent, Civis et al. decided to see if the energy of such an impact would be sufficient to cause chemical reactions that could induce such formations. Their tests resulted in the formation of all four nucleobases of RNA. So while this doesn’t tell us this must have occurred, it shows us that it can occur….and if it can occur, then it is an explanation as to how life could arise. Furthermore, given an infinite universe, then the required conditions for this to occur naturally necessarily means it will occur somewhere in our universe, many, many times.

So, in understanding how this science works, and what it aims to achieve, we can see that the science itself is not claiming to have the answers as to how life arose, but merely determining methods by which it can arise.

And to answer the question of what does it matter, well, lots. This knowledge has allowed us to understand the workings of human metabolism, and the compound structure of living chemicals. This has massive impacts on things like cancer research, or research into developing cures for genetic disorders, such as cystic fibrosis, or even autism. By learning and understanding this, we can lead to technologies that ultimately save lives. And that should be the goal of every human.

Also, I noticed that you stated gravitation is a law. Well, so too is evolution. The law of universal gravitation is a mathematical formula that shows with how much force a certain mass will have upon another. This is the nature of a law. It doesn’t explain anything. It calculates a force, or effect. Such laws are encompassed into a theory that explains their presence and how they occur/work. So too, does evolution, and the big bang has such laws. In fact, the very law of gravitation is one of the most compelling pieces of evidence for the big bang. It necessitates a big bang. As for evolution, the Hardy-Weinberg law is a great example of how things evolve, and leads us to evolution being a mathematical inevitability.

Also, science as a business is a rather poor business model. Scientists are some of the most underpaid graduates on the planet. No one goes to school for 11 years, only to make less than a high school teacher, in order to fabricate work for said money. People who go into this field do it because of their passion for knowledge. It is that pursuit that leads to the integrity of work that despises of skewing results. Yes, it is human nature to want to be right, and to succeed, and yes such fraudulent work does occur in science. But the entire methodology is designed to remove this and self correct. Do not forget that it is science itself that exposes these frauds, and corrects their errors. This is also one of the most well cited reasons so many scientists want their work open to public scrutiny. So that it cannot be abused.

As far as evidence of evolution, there is such a vast wealth of this evidence that I cannot even cite a fraction of it for you. Evolution is the single most evidence backed theory in all of science. If you need but one example of this process, you can look up P. t. trochiloides, commonly known as the Greenish Warbler. This ring species has evolved into two new species from the parent over the past 150 or so years. It is well documented.

Also, anyone who thinks that we know everything, via science, or any other tool, is not only naive, but they stand in contrast to what every single scientist suggests and states. No one, within the scientific community, nor anywhere else, makes such a claim, apart from the select few who do not understand what it is. You wouldn’t judge gay people based on the Westboro Baptist Church, nor would you judge black people based on the KKK. I ask you to do the same, and not judge science by the uneducated and scientifically illiterate.

Science most certainly does understand and acknowledge the limitations in our thinking, particular that we must begin with the assumption that reality exists. But given that this assumption leads to demonstrable knowledge, and working tools, it is a safe assumption to make.

Also, my experiences haven’t proven I had that experience, at least not in reality. It is entirely possible it is illusory. That is one of the fundamental reasons we require a system like science to actually know anything outside our mind.

Wes Jones > CelebritySwears
and then again, you fail to even consider the other view. Have my words fallen upon deaf ears?

CelebritySwears > Wes Jones
Other view? I don’t really see it that way. I don’t think your offering an alternative view than the one I already held, I simply don’t have a working knowledge of the actual scientific theories therein and thus, it would be foolish of me to make any position relating to the science itself. I just think we were talking about fundamentally different things. I am in agreement with most of what you’re saying but I was frustrated because I was never attempting to discuss science, or scientific theory. I was trying to focus the discussion around the social reaction to science, and other peripheral hierarchically passed down information and its impact on individualism. Naturally, because of this fundamental misunderstanding, the discussion veered off-track and I, by fault of my own, stayed with it even when I felt the discussion wasn’t about what I was originally trying to elucidate.

Wes Jones > CelebritySwears
actually, I am offering a different view, and have made that quite clear.

CelebritySwears > Wes Jones
I had typed out what I had thought was my most clear assessment of my position here, and then I clicked on the back-screen and it erased everything I had written, so that was disappointing. I’ll try to get back to it though later.

Every subsequent post you make is indicative though that your not really understanding my position at all, which is okay, I just thought I’d make that clear.

Brian Blackwell > Wes Jones
Yes, again, within the practical framework you are providing, all you say is quite reasonable. However, the boundaries of that framework are not the boundaries of reality, per se.

Whatever obligatory disclaimers are made, it is clear that those proceeding from your camp hold fast to the assumption that science is an appropriate “arbiter of ALL thought” (McKenna).

“Also, my experiences haven’t proven I had that experience, at least not in reality. It is entirely possible it is illusory.”

“Reality” is here defined in such a way as to exclude wholly subjective phenomena; as if this were possible, considering that there is not the slightest shred of evidence that anything exists outside of subjective consciousness…

And what is the meaning of this term, “illusory?” It is a dismissal of a very real experience, based on the presumption that this dubious notion of “objective” truth is somehow the “real” truth, while everything else is some lesser form of reality.

Clearly you DID have the experience subjectively; this cannot be doubted (at least not by you). Much as in a dream, it’s specific content and the associated feelings are known to you utterly. But unless we can devise a machine that would share this experience in its every nuance to others, it is not deemed “fact” because it is not demonstrable.

Since ALL experience is equally subjective, why is this particular experience discounted, while your sensory perception of a tree is not? Merely because the subjective experience of the tree is shared (by others, and by scientific tools that mimic human-like perception). However, even this sharing is just another wholly subjective experience, so why does this quality raise “objective” experiences to a higher level of legitimacy?

Only within the artificially devised and self-imposed framework of assumptions called “science” does this make any logical sense at all; and however practical such a perspective may be, it lends nothing to the quest for understanding relative to the fundamental nature of conscious reality.

Brian Blackwell > CelebritySwears
Much obliged, to be sure!

Wes Jones > CelebritySwears
the same can be said of you.

Every subsequent post you make is indicative that you’re not understanding my position at all.

I practice mediation. It is an extremely powerful tool. One that brings more clarity to me than any psychedelics I’ve taken. Yes, I have tried them despite what you’ve assumed. At no point have I said that such things can have no use. But to equate this with understanding that comes from testing and experimentation is purely naive. Whether you are or not, you do seem to be implying that we should not put more trust into the proven methods of science than we do in thinking while high, or in the clarity of mind from meditation. This isn’t the purpose of meditation.

Wes Jones > Brian Blackwell
I’m not sure what you mean by “the boundaries of that framework are not the boundaries of reality”. That statement is nonsensical.

You can define “my camp” all you want. That doesn’t actually define “my camp”. It just shows you need categorical definitions for things. It defines you more than anything.

Very few successful scientists (or even those who understand it) hold any such disclaimer, nor do they define themselves by anything of the sort.

Anyone who has studied, in depth, the workings of the universe, or of life, know all too well that categorical analysis is a fabrication of human linguistics. It’s called an abstraction. It is neither reality, nor science itself that requires such categories. It is human understanding.

Take for example the four forces of the universe in cosmology. These four forces are:

1. gravitation
2. Electromagnetism
3. Weak atomic, and;
4. Strong atomic.

What’s the difference in these forces? Well, that depends what you mean. Linguistically, they are different. But in reality, such categorical classification is arbitrary. These aren’t four independent forces. They’re one in the same. The electromagnetic force is what causes electrons to interact with atoms, which is what we call the weak atomic force. This is the same thing. We merely categorize it so we can understand and measure, calculate it. This can also be seen in the fact that there is no defining point between colours, or between living and non living.

Can science apply to any field? Absolutely. That isn’t to say science is capable of explaining everything….and no scientist, nor scientifically literate person would say this. The term unscientific is quite prominently used in our language.

As for the statement that there isn’t the slightest shred of evidence that anything exists outside of subjective consciousness, I’m afraid you’ve made a rather faulty generalization. That of course is not even noting the fact that there is also no evidence it all exists within subjective consciousness.

But let’s use subjective consciousness alone to disprove this notion that nothing exists outside of it:

1. If that is the case, then everything is illusory, including this conversation and the mobile phone I feel in my hand as I type. As such, that means I cannot trust my mind is painting an accurate picture of whatever exists, as it tells me there is more. Thus, your argument is an even stronger case not to rely on subjective consciousness.

2. If this is true, then everything necessarily must be a construction of my own consciousness. That means I wrote every one of Shakespeare’s plays. I wrote and formulated Einstein’s theories of relativity. I conceived of particle physics, and the implications of quantum superposition. The level of arrogance one must hold to consider this plausible is beyond what I can reasonably hold as a rational person. It also means I must have came up with Occam’s razor, and that prevents me from being able to accept this contrary to this razor. Such a proposition is logically contradicting, and that means I cannot accept it.

Illusory means based on an illusion. An illusion is an event that is constructed within the mind, and not occurring in reality. I’m not sure why you think it is the dismissal of a real experience. It’s the exact opposite.

As for your notion of “”objective truth” being somehow the “real” truth, while everything else is some lesser form of reality” I have but one question to ask: I dropped a pen. Is it equally as real to say said pen never fell, but stayed suspended in time, as it is to say it fell to the ground?

I never said I didn’t have the experience subjectively. I said having an experience does not necessitate reality of it. Reference my pen analogy.

Also, we are developing the technology to see people’s dreams. In a dream, I can kill you. Would that mean I literally murdered you?

“since ALL experience is equally subjective, why is this particular experience discounted, while your sensory perception of a tree is not.”

It isn’t. What is discounted as actual evidence isn’t discounted because science or scientists don’t think they rely on subjective experiences. It’s because it is unfalsifiable whereas their subjective experience used in a test is not. In other words, yes, all experiences are subjective. So wouldn’t it make sense to rely on a method of excluding any subjective experience that cannot be shown to be real? Science works because it actually tests these subjective experiences by testing the null hypothesis, which would confirm it false. If your subjective experience is indistinguishable from an illusion, then what power does it have to contribute to a body of knowledge?

It isn’t because scientists don’t acknowledge subjective experiences. It’s that they accept the very limitations that arise from it, the reasons you point out, and exclude such useless information from the facts. I recommend that you listen to the work of Karl Popper. He covered this in excruciating detail.

Brian Blackwell > Wes Jones
Absolutely, I don’t deny any of this, I only say that it is all true inside of a box and that the box does not have any claim on defining reality.

In other words, the only reason why we are concerned with whether or not something can be falsified is because those are the rules of the game we’ve chosen to play in science. I don’t claim that true scientists fail to understand this, but when scientific notions are brought outside of conversations specifically limited to science, they are without value. Much as we may use a baseball player’s batting average as supporting evidence within a conversation about baseball, but not if discussing his moral character.

Science tells us where things fall within the scope of its own game. It tells us nothing about “reality” unless the definition of reality is limited to the findings of science.

To debate whether we can trust subjective perception is simply focusing upon the wrong question. Trust it to do what? Provide accurate information about “objective reality?” This is the assumption in this sort of statement — that there is a higher standard than subjective perception to which subjectivity must appeal. This is a baseless assumption.

Subjective reality is all we have any evidence for, so it is all we can speak about at all. There is no reason to suspect that there is anything else, and whether or not there is could not be more moot. If there is, we have absolutely no access to it.

Wes Jones > Brian Blackwell
yes, science does have a claim on defining reality. It is evident by the fact that the scientific tool you are using to reply to this is developed by it, and exploits the very theoretical science of origins you question. In fact, science is about the only tool we have that can actually give examples of reality. In all other forms of thought, we come back to the problem I presented of subjective reasoning.

Yes, the reason we are concerned if something is falsifiable or not is vexaise that is the rules we chose to play that game. And we chose them for a reason, as I already explained.

Define what you mean by limited to science. I feel this may be where you are misunderstanding the point.

Baseless assumption? I take it you are not familiar with the analytic/synthetic distinction in philosophy.

We don’t have evidence for subjective reality. For all you know you could be a computer simulation built by another, and your entire subjective experiences are illusory. There is but one method by which we can determine validity in such subjective experiences…

Yes, we do have evidence for something else, and we do have access to it. As I’ve already explained that entirely, it would be pointless to repeat it. Either you didn’t comprehend it, or you didn’t care to listen. Either way, it would be a wasted effort.

Brian can be contacted through my Discord server:
https://discord.gg/3rhghRX
Or at his Steemit:
https://steemit.com/@bbblackwell

Find Me @:
https://www.bitchute.com/channel/amp3083/
https://www.bitchute.com/channel/amp3783/
https://www.bitchute.com/channel/amp3783/
http://www.facebook.com/ampthirtyeightythree

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