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Posts posted by Memammal


    Alan, my previous post was in reaction to your statement that "Jesus is the incarnate divine son of Almighty God...the 'King of the Universe" (the part that I quoted). That was your statement of faith; far from being factual!


    Please refrain from imposing this silly fear for death/unknown/hell scenario on me (and other readers). I don't have that kind of insecurities and I am not superstitious. We all die and I am fine with it, it is part of life. Also why do you want to speak on my behalf i.t.o. how I envisage death or our purpose in this reality as temporary embodied biological entities? Fact is we don't know what would happen when we die (apart from what will happen to our bodies). What we do know (among other things) is how and when this universe originated, how and when our solar system originated, we know that we are evolved animals and as such we can not possess any extraordinary or unnatural abilities such as having a "soul" that can be separated from the body and/or the ability to "sin" if animals don't have a similar capacity. We also have a pretty good idea about the origin of superstitions and religions and (some of us) acknowledge that they were man-made and passed down as part of our cultural heritage(s). Yes, we have advanced brains with the capacity to untangle and to interact with nature in a pretty neat way and our so-called "purpose" may reside therein, i.e. something along the line of observer and processor of data into eternal information, but that in itself is speculative and most importantly evolution-driven.


    I suggest that you stick to your poetry, Alan.

  2. Really Jesus is the incarnate divine son of Almighty God and you wont the 'King of the Universe dressed in rags.

    Alan, please slow down. It is one thing to tell a story which is open to interpretation, explanation, or conviction...although I did find the reference to both Satan and Jesus uncomfortably close to a veiled threat along the lines of Pascal's Wager (not sure how many readers on this site will fall for something like that though). But to state the above as if it is fact is perhaps going too far and actually erodes any shred of credibility that your story might had (as Sensei exploited). Rather acknowledge that it is your own belief and please understand that faith, beliefs and superstitions are far removed from facts.

  3. Lol, some good analogies.




    Terry Eagleton says that, when it came to such extreme thinking about good and evil, one could barely slip a cigarette paper between the ancient Christian and Muslim cultures. Even today, it seems that the majority of people literally believe in such things as Satan


    This is where Judaism may have the slight upper hand in their approach to the existence of Satan and evil:

    In Judaism "satan" is not a sentient being but a metaphor for the evil inclination – the yetzer hara – that exists in every person and tempts us to do wrong.

    In Jewish thought, one of the things Jews struggle against every day is the "evil inclination," also known as the yetzer hara (יֵצֶר הַרַע, from Genesis 6:5). The yetzer hara is not a force or a being, but rather refers to mankind's innate capacity for doing evil in the world... On the other hand, the "good inclination" is called the yetzer ha'tov (יצר הטוב). (Source: http://judaism.about.com/od/judaismbasics/a/jewishbeliefsatan.htm).


    I say slight because it still implies the existence of sin and free will and these are both debatable concepts i.t.o. humanity's justifiable equal standing with the rest of the fauna.


    PS. Sorry to hark back to Judaism's interpretation of evil that I already referred to in a previous post, but it remains to be an interesting differentiation among the Abrahamic religions and it seemed relevant to what was being discussed.


    @ Prometheus: Precisely.

  4. Nicely constructed and informative post, thank you again disarray.


    It is not always clear just how literally one is supposed to take Satan-fallen angel or force of evil-but I don’t think that it matters all that much…a conflict is a conflict.

    I would assume that it is as much of a superstition than any other supernatural entity with very much the same ancient origin than religious deities. Somehow there must be an antagonist to blame for everything that seems inexplicably evil, destructive or not going according to (divine grand) plan. Many examples of that to be found in ancient folklore. Personally I prefer the idea of something akin to "yin and yang" within the natural world.

  5. @ Alan: With respect, I have quite a few problems believing this and taking you seriously, among others:


    What you are implying is that Jesus is the one and only, otherwise we have to assume that there are a multitude of gods waiting for their followers in the afterlife. Surely that is inconceivable unless my (unscientific) theory (in some or other way) holds any water.


    So do Muslims have similar experiences? Yes, apparently they do. Read these: http://muftishamsuddoha.blogspot.co.za/2013/02/muslim-near-death-experiences.html, & https://www.facebook.com/islamandnde. Yet the official Muslim stance on this seems to be the following: (http://en.islamtoday.net/quesshow-92-3612.htm)

    As for the experiences that people face when they are physically on the brink of death, but then recover, those experiences were not actually the experience of death itself. Those experiences are physiological experiences that that have under the particular physical conditions they are in, whether they are going to die or recover. If such experiences are shared by many people, then that is because those people share the conditions that bring on those experiences.

    What about Judaists? Yes, they too have them: http://www.near-death.com/religion/judaism.html

    What about Hindu's? Yes, even Hindu's: http://www.near-death.com/religion/hinduism.html

    Even an old Buddhist's NDE: http://www.near-death.com/religion/buddhism/lingza-chokyi.html


    Furthermore, in my opinion Jesus is one of the most unlikely candidates. Read these posts to find out why: http://www.scienceforums.net/topic/91567-why-free-will-doesnt-spare-gods-omnibenevolence/page-3#entry922770 (also feel free to read the reply from disarray) & http://www.scienceforums.net/topic/95207-religious-scientists/page-2#entry921405. The last post was addressed to same Raider5678 who seems oblivious to the scientific realities and the extreme unlikelihood of the Christian god(s).

  6. Which means you wish to end up in......

    Is this a multiple (more than 2 options) choice..?



    I mean, what else could it be besides co-incidence?




    Just stop constantly downing someone, and let them believe what they want to believe ok?

    I was not trying to down someone, just being sceptical. If this really happened then I am relieved (as I am sure he is) that he survived the ordeal. I am perfectly OK with what he wants to believe in; I was just trying to bring some sort of possible explanation to the lounge table. You know perfectly well what sort of strange experiences we go through while being anesthetized.

  7. @ Alan: Have you ever heard, or read up on Dimethyltryptamine or DMT? Don't quote me on this (as I am not an expert), but apparently (apart from being a powerful psychedelic drug) it is something that naturally exists in mammals (and most other living organisms) that gets excreted somewhere in the brain in very small dosages that would normally cause dreaming. It is claimed that when somebody dies, all of it would be released and that it would cause a dream-like state for up to 15 minutes (in real life) while the brain shuts down...only for the dying person it will feel like eternity. There are speculations that this chemical is so powerful that it can take your subconscious on a trip far, far away, like another dimension... Anyway, near death experiences have been linked to this chemical. That would explain the correlation of these experiences in terms of a template afterlife that is linked to your programmed (brainwashed) interpretation thereof. You made two references to the light of Jesus, for example, but how would you have known that it was Jesus? And why Jesus and not God?


    We may therefore all end up exactly where we want to be ;)

  8. Good post above. I particularly enjoyed this part:



    Indeed, both Calvin and Luther, when pinned down on the issue of predestination and free will, remarked that they didn't understand how people could have free will in a world where God already knows what they will decide and who will be saved. Neither attempted to answer this conundrum with logic, but rather brushed it off on the basis that God's ways could not be understood using reason..., so that one just had to have Faith that it all somehow makes sense even though God works in mysterious ways.

    Typical theological gymnastics ;)


    Just a comment on this part thereof (seeing that I am editing my own post, I am seemingly unable to insert another quote so I am copying it):

    I think one interesting observation made by various writers is that there would have been no need for Jesus to become incarnate had not Adam and Eve "rebelled" since there would have been no Fall from Grace. In any case, the idea of Original Sin and the idea that it was passed along to the descendants of Adam and Eve (aka, humankind) was a concept that wasn't really interpolated into the religion until the likes of St Augustine centuries after the resurrection.


    I have previously also commented on this matter as being one of the single biggest flaws of Christianity, especially considering our current knowledge of evolution, the origin of our species and the fact that by the time that Adam & Eve allegedly walked this earth, "behaviourally modern humans" would have been spread across the entire globe already. St. Augustine might have been instrumental in formally incorporating the doctrine of Original Sin into Christianity, but it was of course the apostle Paul who first conceptualised and preached it:


    St Paul's idea of redemption hinged on the contrast between the sin of Adam and the death and resurrection of Jesus. "Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned". "For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive." Up till then the transgression in the Garden of Eden had not been given great significance. As the Jesus scholar, Geza Vermes has said:

    Paul believed that Adam's transgression in a mysterious way affected the nature of the human race. The primeval sin, a Pauline creation with no biblical or post-biblical Jewish precedent, was irreparable by ordinary human effort.



    Jesus becomes rather obsolete if you take away this "divine purpose", don't you agree? What other reason could there be for the self-proclaimed son of God (or son of Man) to become flesh and for him to be crucified? By the way, you referred to "centuries after the resurrection" as if the resurrection actually happened? One of many alternative theories is that Jesus was simply a dedicated Essene preacher (or teacher as alluded to in the Dead Sea Scrolls) convinced of being the chosen messiah. If you consider his pre-crucifixion sermons as recorded in the Gospels, it is clear that he had little global or universal ambitions and furthermore, that they were riddled with Essene beliefs almost as if he wanted to convert his fellow Jewish followers.


    I may be straying slightly off topic again. I think your conclusions as to the purpose of this discussion thread and its relevance to free will in a religious (presumably Christian) context, were pretty much on the money.


    The "inconvenient" reality is that humans have as much- or as little free will and/or the ability to "sin" as any other mammal, or for that matter any other animal.

  9. @ Ten oz, you may have a point if perceived from a Muslim perspective:

    The Quran speaks well of the relationship it has with former books (the Torah [or Tanakh] and the Gospels) and attributes their similarities to their unique origin and saying all of them have been revealed by the one God. ​(Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quran#The_Bible)


    The above sentiment is not one that is shared by Christians and Judaists though. Also, from a doctrine point of view there are obviously significant differences between Islam, Christianity & Judaism. This site summarises some of the important differences between Christianity and Islam: https://carm.org/comparison-grid-between-christianity-and-islamic-doctrine


    I agree that it is somewhat pointless to debate which god is which seeing that the scenario that was originally posed was merely hypothetical, or at best philosophical, while the actual existence of any of these gods and demons are obviously speculative. As a side-note and while talking of demons, in Judaism Satan is not regarded as sentient being, but a metaphor for the evil inclination. Read this: http://judaism.about.com/od/judaismbasics/a/jewishbeliefsatan.htm.

  10. You don't have to convince me, but...


    Jesus was literally born into Judaism so it shouldn't be a tough sell there.

    AFAIK Jesus was found guilty of crimes against Jewish law, and in particular of blasphemy for falsely claiming to be the Messiah (reserved for Yahweh). I don't think it will be that easy to reconcile the very sacred belief that Christians hold that Jesus was the Son of God, or God in flesh, with the staunch Judaist belief in one supreme, non-human God (Yahweh),



    All three beleive the Old Testament. The Quran and New Testament are additions to the Old Testament for their perspective religions. They do not replace God of the Old Testament they simply adlust the manner by which that god is worshiped and followed.

    No, this is not entirely true. The Quran retells the OT in many ways, but from another perspective and with some critical tweaks. Their God is not Yahweh and Jesus was but a prophet. Again, for us "outsiders" it is easy to form an opinion that there are not that many fundamental differences between the three major monotheistic religions, but for the respective hardliners it is a matter of close to-, if not life and death.


    More importantly, such statistics suggest that there is often some sort of disconnect between what people believe, in terms of a scientific approach, and what they believe in terms of a religious one.

    The statistics that you quoted are actually quite frightening and astonishing. I think you nailed the gist thereof in your sentence above. In another thread (that has since been locked) I attempted to explain why the underlying basics, the core beliefs of Christianity, are scientifically flawed (http://www.scienceforums.net/topic/95207-religious-scientists/page-2#entry921405). The same kind of argument, albeit with a slight change in doctrinal approach, may be relevant to the other monotheistic religions. So the real question boils down to why this so-called cognitive dissonance continues to exist on such a large scale? There are many theories but the kind of arguments that make the most sense to me are those that insert (among others) the evolutionary "brainwashing" capacity of superstition/religion coupled with generations of environmental strengthening and confirmation bias along cultural groups. Some societies/cultures where the ancestors of today's generations formed part of-, or were exposed to the influences of the Age of Enlightenment, have become largely secular (Europe). In other societies where the populations are largely representative of the descendants of former protestant reformer strongholds, conservative Christian beliefs still hold strong (as per your stats). And lastly there is the significant factor of colonial (and other) missionary movements that have spread their respective faiths (Christianity, Muslim) to continents such as Africa and South America that, if I am not mistaken, have the highest number of religious followers nowadays.

  12. I noticed this old, but unanswered post. Take note that another thread, very similar to what is being implied here, was just locked. Back to the OP question: I fail to see the correlation between the survey findings and the question that was posed. Why nitpick on something that was seemingly inconclusive? And what has "race" (a dubious term) got to do with said survey and its findings?

  13. In the book that I referred to earlier, Scott Atran, Anthropologist, Centre Nationale de la Recherche Scientifique, Paris wrote the following re IQ:


    There is no reason to believe, and much reason not to believe, that the measure of a so-called "IQ" in any way reflects some basic cognitive capacity or "natural kind" of the human mind. The domain-general measure of IQ isn't motivated by any recent discovery of cognitive or developmental psychology...

    IQ is a general measure of socially acceptable categorization and reasoning skills. IQ tests were designed in behaviorism's heydey, when there was little interest in cognitive structure...

    Nobody has the slightest causal account of how and why genes, singly or in combination, might affect IQ. I don't think it's because the problem is too hard but because IQ is a specious rather than a natural kind.

  14. Nope. Transracially adopted children show the same pattern. Especially interesting is the higher East Asian IQ remains after adoption by Whites. And IQ is supported as a good measure of intelligence by mainstream psychology. Why do you think otherwise?


    The whole nature vs nurture debate is a somewhat contentious one. I recently read a book with commentary by leading scientists on a number of scientific idea's that need to be retired and the one that you are advancing was one of them. Differentiations based on "race" as well as using "IQ" as a reliable measure of intelligence are among the many topics that are regarded as past their sell-by date in said book (This Idea Must Die edited by John Brockman of Edge.org).


    In any event, this from Wikipedia:


    Environment and intelligence research investigates the impact of environment on intelligence. This is one of the most important factors in understanding human group differences in IQ test scores and other measures of cognitive ability. It is estimated that genes contribute about 20-40% of the variance in intelligence in childhood and about 80% in old age. Thus the environment and its interaction with genes account for a high proportion of the variation in intelligence seen in groups of young children, and for a small proportion of the variation observed in groups of mature adults. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environment_and_intelligence).


    Re IQ:


    The idea that intelligence can be measured by IQ tests alone is a fallacy according to the largest single study into human cognition which found that it comprises of at least three distinct mental traits...The results question the validity of controversial studies of intelligence based on IQ tests which have drawn links between intellectual ability race, gender and social class and led to highly contentious claims that some groups of people are inherently less intelligent that other groups. Instead of a general measure of intelligence epitomised by the intelligence quotient (IQ), intellectual ability consists of short-term memory, reasoning and verbal agility. Although these interact with one another they are handled by three distinct nerve “circuits” in the brain, the scientists found. “The results disprove once and for all the idea that a single measure of intelligence, such as IQ, is enough to capture all of the differences in cognitive ability that we see between people,” (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/iq-tests-are-fundamentally-flawed-and-using-them-alone-to-measure-intelligence-is-a-fallacy-study-8425911.html)


    But in the new millennium, is the IQ test still an effective means of measuring general intelligence? According to the general consensus, the answer is "no." (http://www.medicaldaily.com/iq-test-accurate-way-measure-intelligence-or-are-mental-abilities-something-you-cant-put-297244)


    PS. The Minnesota Transracial Adoption Study examined the IQ test scores of 130 black or interracial children adopted by advantaged white families... One of the studies' findings was that the IQs of transracially adopted black children did not differ significantly from that of (white) children raised by their biological parents in the same area.

  15. As far as I have read up on this subject:


    IQ is no longer regarded as a reliable measure of intelligence.

    Environmental factors have a more significant impact on intelligence than genes. This is supported by real-world case studies where babies or toddlers from underprivileged and traditionally underperforming backgrounds were raised in environments that are more conducive to proper first-world upbringing (good nutrition, loving and caring family, peer mentoring, access to proper education, etc).

    As for the question as to whether separate races really exist, read this short summary of the various schools of thought: Do Races Exist? Contemporary Philosophical Debates.

  16. @Raider5678, when I posted earlier that I get confuse when I read the things you wrote, I meant confuse in the sense of being flabbergasted, like shaking my head in total disbelief. It is a tedious exercise for the more enlightened and those who are more scientifically inclined among us to point out the many fallacies in just those few lines that you posted yesterday, which is why it is easier to just refer you to other, existing sources and hope for the best. Do you know when and how our universe started, how stars were formed, more or less how long it took for the light from the stars to become visible here on earth, do you know when and how our solar system came into existence, do you accept evolution and if so, do the implications thereof sink in (like Biblical Adam & Eve could not have been the first humans, no original or inherited sin, in fact seeing that we are animals we can "sin" only as much as the next animal...zilch, therefore no need for Jesus to have died for humanity's sins, etc.)? DO YOU UNDERSTAND AND ACCEPT THE ACTUAL SCIENTIFIC MERITS OF WHAT I HAVE JUST POSED TO YOU? Whether you do or don't, I would like to copy an extract from an important sticky that is pinned second from the top on the "front page" of this sub-forum:

    If you define God as some sort of entity that not only can but with some regularity does intercede in natural physical processes, then there is a great deal of objective evidence that no such God exists. In fact, the existence of anything that regularly upsets what we have come to expect as the orderly processes of nature is antithetical to science, which seeks to uncover and explain that natural order in terms of predictive models. Without that order there can be no science.
    Science seems to work rather well. So any concept of God or any religious tenets that directly contradict science as buttressed by experimental evidence is clearly indistinguishable from superstition. Superstition is, essentially by definition, wrong.

    @CroMagnon, we have a lot in common in (among other things) the way we perceive the nature = (abstract) god equation, how our species still hold a deeply-rooted psychological need to believe in something, how man-made religions originated and developed along cultural groupings. Let me repeat something I posted earlier: I have no problem with personal spirituality, but I find it hard to buy into- or to condone a belief or religion that requires ignorance and faith to suppress knowledge. Which is why I have a problem with this line:

    Don't get me wrong, I don't doubt that things such as ghosts, demons, or angels may exist.

    These "things" are supernatural and metaphysical. There is not a shred of evidence for their existence, just very good explanations for why it is the staple food of folklore.

  17. Why pick on religion. Do you think that all opinions, preferences and beliefs should be entirely rational and evidence based?

    Let me start by saying that I have no problem with personal spirituality, but I find it hard to buy into- or to condone a belief or religion that requires ignorance and faith to suppress knowledge. Why pick on religion? Because the remnants of toxic monotheism continue to poison millions of young minds along cultural divides.


    Everyone has opinions and beliefs that are, to some extent, irrational. The fact that there are (and always have been) a large number of religious scientists who are very successful at their work shows that this is not a problem. Claiming that it is a problem is irrational and contradicted by evidence.

    I am not sure if he (or I) claimed that it is a problem per se, just that we find it hard to understand ("If one is intellectually honest, - coherent and accepts "actual" science"). Your reference to "a large number of religious scientists" perhaps conveys a wrong impression...that most of them are religious?


    But, presumably, you have certain moral beliefs and ethical standards. These are a result of beliefs and opinions that you have picked up over your life. They are not a result of science. Some people get their moral beliefs from religion (or claim to) and others don't (or claim not to). Shrug.

    The truth is that morality and/or ethics do not require religion. Morality is part of nature, part of our evolutionary make-up. Both morality and ethics pre-date religion and both morality and ethics thrive in secular societies.


    PS. In fact, some religious teachings and divine behaviour can be regarded as immoral.

  18. One can strip away the religiosity from the other religions, leaving just the bare philosophy for approaching ones life and interacting with people..

    Yeah, I am fine with that although curious as to what would be the bare philosophy of, for example, Christianity? And also why one would specifically have to rely on it in order to manage your life and to interact with people..?

  19. Buddhism is hardly a religion, Prometheus, don't you think? It is a spiritual way of living and personally I don't have an issue with it especially in the way that you are approaching it.

  20. I just don't understand how these people can have such profound cognitive dissonance. How can you be exposed to the arguments and evidence of all of this and still walk away thinking that the Torah or the Bible is the least bit credible? I just don't get it.


    I find it a very inconvenient part of our history that religion had to infringe upon humanity. It has placed a burden upon us that we just cannot seem to work out of our system.

    If one is intellectually honest, - coherent and accepts "actual" science, I agree with Tampitump that it is hard to understand why there are still so many people, especially scientists, who can still cognitively embrace organised theistic religion, more so the Abrahamic religions.


    Then I read this..:


    Well, tell you what. I haven't heard of a single scientist who successfully proved that there could be no God. As in christian. Have at it. Its incredibly hard to even prove that things in the bible don't add up. Considering it WAS written over a LONG period of time, its unlikely that EVERYTHING in there would add up, but it does.


    Huh, I always thought fire gave off light too. I guess it conflicts with science. Oh well.

    There also evidence of a "super tsunami" that might be the great flood.


    And this..:


    Yeah, you see the Hebrew language wasn't the most advanced. To them, hand ment from your finger tips to your elbow, which what, your going to claim the bible is wrong because the Hebrew language doesn't translate well?


    And before I find myself in trouble again, let me say this with the utmost respect and humility - I get really confused when I read things like this.

  21. I don't know much about Unity's convictions in regard to this matter. It may be deistic rather than theistic (?), but as he explained earlier his personal beliefs were not relevant to the discussion. I respect that and I regret the way that I reacted yesterday in response to his post #102. Who knows, he might have simply played devil's advocate in a pursuit to "promote discourse for the evolution of ideas", or simply to challenge and test the intellectual rigor of my argument. My initial impression (right or wrong) on said post was that he was clutching at straws in an attempt to keep the debate going beyond a point of rationality. That being said, it was no excuse for the way in which I reacted. It is not easy to use what is essentially somebody else's properly constructed, well-researched and well-written argument to substantiate one's own without exposing it to out-of-context interpretations and scrutiny.

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