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Old 11-04-2009, 02:14 AM   #16
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My sympathies to you and your family. I did too - breast cancer in October of all times.
Thanks AliEnvy. I'm sorry to hear about your loss too
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Old 11-04-2009, 02:43 AM   #17
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What type of God is derived from a scientific understanding of nature? I don't think it is a personal God who answers prayers, by definition miracles don't fit into scientific accounts so they might be taken away, and the concept of the soul seems radically reformulated if we accept the brain as the organ which creates the self.

Science must be agnostic about the existence of God, just as it must be agnostic about most things, but it depends on materialism. The argument for the compatibility between science and religion only seems to apply to a religious believers ability to accept both scientific facts and the claims of their religion simultaneously, but the religious claims don't neatly mesh with the scientific framework and even the most distance deistic concept of God isn't scientific. People don't arrive at religious belief through science, and scientific knowledge has never produced any evidence to favour any particular religion.

I would argue that a very sceptical agnosticism / atheism (or unitarianism?) is much more compatible with science because it doesn't have to make the assumptions about what started the universe, what justifies morality, where people come from, and what mind is that religious beliefs make claims about.

Near death experiences are interesting, they are case studies for understanding how the brain works, the desperation of some theists to latch onto those experiences as a proof of God (as if the existence of an afterlife entails God) seems to say more about their psychology than anything else (and this is directed more towards Dinesh D'Souza than pretty much everybody else). I have a strong practical trouble with the idea that consciousness can be removed from the brain without some impressive futuristic technology that could download it onto a computer, my thinking is that the mind is like functional software running on a mushy brain computer (but that is an empirical claim which could be wrong, but I'm not convinced by the philosophical arguments against it).
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Old 11-04-2009, 03:01 AM   #18
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"Believers have better sex"

That's probably because they get a thrill out of thinking someone's watching.
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Old 11-04-2009, 05:46 AM   #19
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nonsense. None of the believers I know would dare dream of attempting the "angry pirate", or the "filthy eel"
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Old 11-04-2009, 09:26 AM   #20
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my thinking is that the mind is like functional software running on a mushy brain computer
Which is consistent with the idea of the brain acting as a receiver, not producer of consciousness. So who/what wrote the software...
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Old 11-04-2009, 10:35 AM   #21
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I don't understand what you mean by the brain being a receiver, it seems to suggest that we are sent from outside and stuck into the brain, but I have trouble envisaging any mechanism for that. I was under the impression that our brains develop in the embryo with basic functions, and innate biases, and after we are born we integrate new information and operate in the world. The self is not stuck in from the outside, the software is created through the intimate feedback between our biology and the outside world of objects, actors, and information.

Our brains are designed by blind evolution because they gave a reproductive edge in the environments of our ancestors, this has produced a fantastically plastic organ with the capacity to learn and adapt, to create an individual out of disparate elements, and create a cultural world. There is no reason to suppose that God sticks a soul into it, or that consciousness demands magic to make it happen.
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Old 11-04-2009, 10:51 AM   #22
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Would you also, consider similar 'sound' science, where a God appears to have created us originally as primates?

Because I am mostly talking about believers who wouldn't.

Even though the science is quite obviously telling us the same thing over and over again.

For some, this has changed their belief in God, given it a new light, I suppose I am talking about believers who have no interest in considering God in a new light. Because they won't consider this 'certain something' that is all but completely proven.
Of course I believe in evolution. I'm not a fundie who believes only what the Bible says.
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Old 11-04-2009, 11:17 AM   #23
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There is no reason to suppose that God sticks a soul into it, or that consciousness demands magic to make it happen.
Unless of course it can be established in OP study that consciousness can exist separately from the brain.
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Old 11-04-2009, 03:54 PM   #24
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Ok so that's not what this article is about but it IS in there.

Rather, what I found interesting was the AWARE study that will attempt to prove the separation of consciousness from the physical brain.

D'Souza's New Book Promises Proof of the Afterlife | Newsweek Books | Newsweek.com
So no credence given to the fact that maybe a near death experience can cause damage to the brain, or at very least be such a traumatic experience that based on their expectations of what death is like coming from the perspective of a believer, the image of floating out of their body is planted in their head? I bet if you showed these people footage of themselves being resuscitated it would look different to what they 'remember'.

Also, pshcopaths and mental hospital patients also report out of body experiences. As do people with no mental illness who are perfectly healthy. The fact of the matter is that the brain can construct images based on our expectations of what is happening. The other day I swear I heard a bus go past, but i looked and the road was empty. Does that mean that God was on the bus? no.
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Old 11-04-2009, 03:57 PM   #25
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I don't understand what you mean by the brain being a receiver, it seems to suggest that we are sent from outside and stuck into the brain, but I have trouble envisaging any mechanism for that. I was under the impression that our brains develop in the embryo with basic functions, and innate biases, and after we are born we integrate new information and operate in the world. The self is not stuck in from the outside, the software is created through the intimate feedback between our biology and the outside world of objects, actors, and information.

Our brains are designed by blind evolution because they gave a reproductive edge in the environments of our ancestors, this has produced a fantastically plastic organ with the capacity to learn and adapt, to create an individual out of disparate elements, and create a cultural world. There is no reason to suppose that God sticks a soul into it, or that consciousness demands magic to make it happen.
The soul is a concept used to explain what rudimentary science couldn't 100's to 1000's of years ago. We now actually have the technology to know exactly what makes individuals themselves. If all that I guy can use to prove an afterlife is that someone who's heart stopped saw themselves from above, I see myself looking down on a desperate person clutching at straws
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Old 11-04-2009, 04:02 PM   #26
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Ok so that's not what this article is about but it IS in there.

Rather, what I found interesting was the AWARE study that will attempt to prove the separation of consciousness from the physical brain.

D'Souza's New Book Promises Proof of the Afterlife | Newsweek Books | Newsweek.com
One problem that's going to plague this work is the reputation of the author himself. Dinesh D'Souza is quite politically conservative and is someone who is noted for blaming liberals and atheists for all the ills of the world. If I cannot trust a man like this to be politically objective or rational, it begs the question as to what details he will fabricate/distort/selectively omit, etc. to further his case.

That is not to say that I'm not interested in NDEs, because I am. It's just too bad that a book like this is not being written by someone with more credibility.
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Old 11-04-2009, 04:05 PM   #27
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So no credence given to the fact that maybe a near death experience can cause damage to the brain, or at very least be such a traumatic experience that based on their expectations of what death is like coming from the perspective of a believer, the image of floating out of their body is planted in their head?
In the excerpt I posted it specifcally references (tongue in cheek) memories of ER potentially being the basis of an NDE.

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The fact of the matter is that the brain can construct images based on our expectations of what is happening.
Absolutely. But are images perceived when there is no brain activity is the question.
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Old 11-04-2009, 04:10 PM   #28
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The soul is a concept used to explain what rudimentary science couldn't 100's to 1000's of years ago. We now actually have the technology to know exactly what makes individuals themselves.
No we don't. We still don't understand consciousness, dreams, or why we need sleep. And that's everyday, ordinary, run of the mill, experienced by everyone type shit. People are still debating nature vs nurture; environment vs "born with personality" type stuff. VE KNOW NOZZING!
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Old 11-04-2009, 04:10 PM   #29
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That is not to say that I'm not interested in NDEs, because I am. It's just too bad that a book like this is not being written by someone with more credibility.
From my understanding in the article, D'Souza may reference the AWARE study in his book but is not invloved - the director of the clinical study will be writing a paper for publication in 2010.
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Old 11-04-2009, 07:07 PM   #30
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Having an out-of-body experience may seem far-fetched to some, but for those with arousal system disturbances in their brains, it may not be a far off idea that they could sense they were really outside their own body watching themselves. In previous studies of more than 13,000 Europeans, almost 6 percent said they have had such an out-of-body experience.

Dr. Kevin Nelson and a research team at the University of Kentucky have studied the link between out-of-body experiences, the sleep-wake transition and near death experiences, and published their findings today in the March 6 issue of the journal Neurology in their case report, "Out-of-body experience and arousal."
The results are intriguing, and show that some people's brains already may be predisposed to these sorts of experiences. They found that an out-of-body experience is statistically as likely to occur during a near death experience as it is to occur during the transition between wakefulness and sleep. Nelson suggests that phenomena in the brain's arousal system, which regulates different states of consciousness including REM sleep and wakefulness, may be the cause for these types of out-of-body displays.
"We found it surprising that out-of-body experience with sleep transition seemed very much like out-of-body experience during near death," Nelson said.
For their study, the team conducted structured interviews with 55 people who have had a near death experience. They found those who had an out-of-body experience along with near death were more likely to also have had some sort of REM intrusion in their lifetime, where instead of passing directly between the REM sleep state and wakefulness, the brain switch blends these states into one another.
To survey out-of-body experiences that occurred during sleep transition, patients were asked, "Just before falling asleep or just after awakening, have you had the sense that you are outside of your body and watching yourself?" A similar question was posed to survey out-of-body experiences during near death, which asked subjects if during their experience they had "clearly left the body and existed outside it."
Because the arousal system controls or influences sleep-wake states, alertness and attention, Nelson and the research team questioned whether people with near death experiences may already have an arousal system predisposed to allowing intrusion of REM sleep elements during the transition between wakefulness and sleep.
Sleep paralysis is a common form of REM intrusion, which can cause a condition of temporary paralysis along with visual or auditory hallucinations immediately after waking up or before falling asleep due to an ill-timed disconnection between the brain and the body. Although it was once considered very rare, about 25 percent of all people have probably experienced sleep paralysis sometime during their life.
During a medical crisis, Nelson said muscle paralysis combined with an out-of-body experience could show many of the same prominent features of a near death experience. Near death experiences are responses to a life-threatening crisis, and are characterized by a combination of disassociation from the physical body, euphoria and transcendental or mystical elements.
This investigation supports the notion of out-of-body experiences as an expression of arousal in near death experiences and sleep paralysis. Almost all of the near death subjects having sleep paralysis, 96 percent, also had an out-of-body experience either during sleep transition or near death.
"The strong association of sleep paralysis with out-of-body experiences in the near death experience subject is curious and unexplained," Nelson said. "However, persons with near death experiences appear to have an arousal system predisposed to both REM intrusion and out-of-body experiences."
Nelson is a professor of neurology at the UK College of Medicine and a UK HealthCare physician at the Kentucky Neuroscience Institute. Other team members are Michelle Mattingly, assistant professor of neurology, and Frederick A. Schmitt, professor of neurology, both at the UK College of Medicine.
Out-of-body Experiences May Be Caused By Arousal System Disturbances In Brain
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