The Path Less Traveled:

By Jason C. Dudycha

I should write more. The overwhelming majority of my scholastic career has been spent reading the works of others, watching debates, examining sources, examining sources’ sources, and pining over various philosophical and historical inquiries. The result of all this is that I now possess a broad and unique worldview. However, I have never taken the time to write down my own experience, which I’m told is worth recording. And so:
I was not always this way. I did not always believe as I currently do. I grew up with very little spiritual guidance. I was born in Oregon, and I remember sporadically going to church up until I was maybe ~6 years old. However, my only actual memory of it is being given a dirty look by an old man when I was misbehaving. After moving to Michigan in 1987 we went to the occasional Easter or Christmas service, but that was it. We never found a new home church, and because of that there was no real spiritual seeking, no questioning, no community. Simply put, spirituality was not on my radar. 
I graduated from Western Michigan University in the summer of 2004 with degrees in Geography and Philosophy. Two years later, during the fall of 2006, I became acquainted with the ‘9/11 Truth Movement’. This marked the beginning of my “descent into the rabbit hole,” so to speak. I became absorbed in what we broadly call “conspiracy theories.” However, my level of engagement was still quite superficial; that is, I was aware only of the “mainstream” conspiracy theories, i.e. chemtrails, HAARP, Bohemian Grove. I remember researching The Council on Foreign Relations, which struck me as particularly damning of the establishment, and I even got my hands onto Edward Bernays’ seminal opus, Propaganda. But, for whatever reason, I was not deeply affected.
After some time, maybe ~1 year, I grew frustrated with all the negativity and pessimism which pervade conspiracy theories, so I shifted gears and began looking more into underground archaeology (pun intended). I began looking into historical and archaeological “anomalies” which are on the public record and quite well-documented (i.e. Mount Ararat, Bimini Road, Nazca Lines, Piri Reis map), yet receive zero attention from mainstream sources, (i.e. National Geographic, Discovery channel, any public school textbook). In time, I began to realize how the conventional record of human history that has been taught to the past several generations of public schoolchildren has been intentionally censored & molded to fit one specific theory (evolutionary Darwinism). People simply haven’t been made aware of the evidence. However, even a cursorial examination will point one to the conclusion that the ancient myths might not be “primitive stories” from less-civilized cultures, as modern evolutionary psychologists like to dismiss them as.
Finally, in the spring of 2008 I suffered an immense epiphany and resolved to give away all of my possessions, and hitch-hike across America, not knowing where I might ultimately end up. Call it a walkabout. This was a very free time in my life. My conspiracy studies were on hold. I spent most of my time rapping & busking on corners, interacting with Rainbows and gutter punks from Colorado westward, camping out, squatting, going to festivals. It was during this time that I read ‘Autobiography of a Yogi’ and was, due in no small part to peer influences, led to believe that all spiritual prophets are essentially the same, all coming to share one general message: be nice. I was led to believe that Jesus = Buddha = Mohammad = Krsna, etc. After all, I had encountered Zeitgeist in my prior “conspiracy studies”, and it seemed so easy to accept. So, I fell into it.  
After ~6 months on the road, I found myself in Portland, Oregon, the city of my birth, where I met a fun gentleman who showed me, ‘Soviet Subversion of the Free World Press: An Interview With Former KGB Propagandist Yuri Bezmenov’, recorded in 1984. Thus began my “intellectual awakening,” and my still-ongoing research into everything Propaganda. Captivated, I sought all the information I could from Yuri Bezmenov (aka Tomas Schuman), which me led to his publications and lectures:

 – Psychological Warfare, Subversion, & Control of Western Society (1983)

 – Love Letter to America (1984)

 – World Thought Police (1986)
Researching Yuri’s claims and sources led me to the works of various other defected Soviet KGB propagandists, and also to ‘The Communist Manual on Psychopolitical Warfare’, (of which there is a great deal of disinformation online; a thorough examination, though, reveals its legitimacy). All of these individuals wrote and spoke at length on how they were inserting themselves into American culture, their formalized methods of manipulation, and a broad agenda whose ultimate long-term goal was/is to subvert the entire world into one collectivist “Utopia.” 
My Propaganda studies expanded into general behavioral psychology, post-Pavlovian Soviet psychology, brainwashing & mind control techniques, government-funded programs and studies on how to brainwash & control people, and the corruption of and external influences upon the mainstream media. This research went on for no less than one year, during which time I constantly had resources coming and going through my local library’s interlibrary loan program. Some sources included:

 – Stanislav Levchenko, ‘On the Wrong Side: My Life in the KGB’ (1988)

 – Oleg Gordievsky, ‘KGB: The Inside Story’ (1990), and various other works.

 – Vasili Mitrokhin, ‘KGB in Europe & the West’ (2000), and various other works.

 – Kenneth Goff, various works.

 – W. Cleon Skousen, ‘The Naked Communist’ (1958)

 – William Cooper, ‘Behold A Pale Horse’ (1991)

 – Fritz Springmeier, lectures and personal interview.

 -Ted Gunderson, lectures and interviews.
Around this time, the gentleman who first introduced me to Yuri Bezmenov also introduced me to Lenon Honor, whose early works focused largely on subliminal messages and occult influences within the entertainment industry. Lenon has conducted many careful examinations of various pop songs and films, i.e. Rihanna, Jay-Z, Eminem, Michael Jackson, and Disney. He now works with his wife, focusing largely on self-help & positive relationships. Although I don’t entirely agree with the spirituality Lenon now espouses, his early works were definitely a positive influence on my growth, including:

 – ‘The Creator, the gods, Evil, and the Manipulation of Humanity’

 – ‘What Lies in Plain Sight’

 – ‘The Borg Agenda’
Over time I began to notice some recurring themes within the realm of propaganda, brainwashing, and mind control, such as: the destruction of the traditional family unit (primary source of values & beliefs), the bastardization of freedom & Capitalism (and promotion of collectivism), promotion of “sustainable development” (Agenda 21), cultural distractions (drama/gossip/sports/politics), the pitting of brother against brother (race & class wars), and fomenting general malaise (depressed individuals are more impressionable). However, there was one theme that kept coming up which quite surprised me: the New Age Movement.  
Intrigued, I began thinking about how propaganda might be used to shape and influence spirituality and religion. I remembered the sporadic mentions of a supposed “New Age agenda” coming from the Soviet KGB defectors, and decided to once again shift my research gears, this time focusing on the New Age movement. From late 2009 through 2010, my sources included:

 – H. P. Blavatsky, ‘The Secret Doctrine’ (1888)

 – Alice Bailey, ‘Externalization of the Hierarchy’ (1957)

 – Constance Cumbey, ‘The Hidden Dangers of the Rainbow’ (1983)

 – Paul Heelas, ‘The New Age Movement’ (1996)

 – Wouter Hanegraaff, ‘New Age Religion and Western Culture’ (1996) 

 – Duncan Ferguson, ‘New Age Spirituality’ (1993)

 – Karen Hoyt, ‘The New Age Rage’ (1987)

 – Russell Chandler, ‘Understanding the New Age’ (1991)

 – Gary Leazer, ‘The New Age Movement and Education’ (1992)

 – Elliot Miller, ‘A Crash Course on the New Age Movement’ (1989)

 – David & Sharon Sneed, ‘The Hidden Agenda’ (1991)

 – George Maloney, ‘Mysticism and the New Age: Christic Consciousness in the New Creation’ (1991)

 – Traugott Oesterreich, ‘ Possession and Exorcism’ (1974)

 – Jon Klimo, ‘Channeling: Investigations on Receiving Information from Paranormal Sources’ (1987)

 – Russ Dizdar, lectures and interviews

Even a cursory examination of these New Age sources will quickly point one to some shocking conclusions, namely that the entire New Age Movement’s origin can be traced to two influential women, Helena Blavatsky and Alice Bailey, both of whom openly professed to worshipping Lucifer. Yes, you read that correctly! The shocking truth of the matter is that the heart of the New Age Movement is ultimately founded upon Satanic theology. Keep in mind, I was not a religious person at this point and didn’t really realize what I was stumbling upon. 
What really started to intrigue me were Alice Bailey’s political connections through her husband Foster Bailey’s involvement with the United Nations. Bailey’s connections to high-ranking world political officials and public opinion makers brought to full circle my earlier research on secret societies, supra-political allegiances, and the many notable individuals from these orders who went on to positions of extreme political power and international influence. Finally, it all started becoming clear.
I found it interesting, though, how within the New Age Movement there is a marked propagandic push towards the discrediting and diminishing of the historical Jesus of Nazareth. More than any other, Jesus was the only spiritual teacher who was receiving condemnation and vilification from the overall New Age movement. Why just Jesus, though? Why was there no equal diminution of Buddha, or Krsna, or Mohammad coming from these self-styled New Agers? In fact, why were these others being so promoted? Upon realizing all of the attention that the New Age movement was giving to Jesus, I then started to ask myself, “Okay, what’s up with this Jesus guy?” This is when I began examining the historical Jesus. I also was venturing into studying the origin & trustworthiness of the Bible, the history of the early Christian church, and so on. Through this process I have become intimately acquainted with the works of the following Christian philosophers and apologists:

 – William Lane Craig

 – Alvin Plantinga

 – Greg Koukl

 – C.S. Lewis

 – Cornelius Van Til, ‘Christian Apologetics’ (1976)

 – Martin Hengel, ‘Acts and the History of Earliest Christianity’ (1979)

 – Henry Chadwick, ‘The Early Church’ (1967)

 – Richard Bauckham, ‘Jesus and the Eyewitnesses’ (2006)

 – Charles N. Cochrane, ‘Christianity and Classical Culture’ (1940)

Keep in mind that up to this point I possessed a very ‘Zeitgeist’-inspired spirituality. I believed in “Christ consciousness”, that Jesus was one of a series of ascended masters, on the same level as Buddha, Allah, Krsna, et al.. I believed that Jesus was no different than any other spiritual leader, and was not about to call myself a Christian. However, as I studied the primary sources, and checked & double-checked the trustworthiness & biases of said sources, it became increasingly apparent to me that the life and works of Jesus were no historical fiction. Jesus’ life was not a retelling of earlier pagan virgin birth & resurrection myths, as is widely believed today thanks in large part to the propaganda piece Zeitgeist. Jesus, I realized, made very distinct claims about who He was, the likes of which the ancient world had never known. I eventually realized that the reason Luciferian New Agers are so eager to discredit Christianity is because Christianity alone is the ONLY religion which specifically calls out the Satanic one-world agenda, and warns individuals of what to look out for as humanity grows to forget Christ. 
And so, in time I came to call myself a Christian. It was a gradual unfolding, which came from a decidedly cerebral approach. I’ve never had that “saved” moment that so many claim to have experienced. After realizing so many things, after connecting so many dots, I finally realized that I could no longer remain on the fence. I needed to make a choice. I was ultimately galvanized into Christianity through logical, critical thinking. I was convicted.  
Thusly, since giving myself to Christ, I have resolved to dispel the propaganda which had led me astray. Today there is not an argument against God’s existence which I haven’t examined; there is not an argument against Jesus or Christianity which I haven’t considered. I have equipped myself, and remain ever ready to defend the Gospel of Jesus from the lies and mis-truths spoken by those who would lead His flock astray. Sources which have aided in this endeavor have included:

 – Gordon H. Clark, ‘Philosophy of Science and Belief in God’ (1964)

 – David L. Wolfe, ‘Epistemology: The Justification of Belief’ (1982) 

 – W. Jay Wood, ‘Epistemology: Becoming Intellectually Virtuous’ (1998)

 – David Berlinski, ‘The Devil’s Delusion’ (2009)

 – Robert Jastrow, ‘God and the Astronomers’ (1978)

 – Tom Gilson & Carson Weitnauer, ‘True Reason’ (2013)

 – Doug Powell, ‘Christian Apologetics’ (2006)

 – Thomas Nagel, ‘Mind & Cosmos’ (2012)
The latest and most rewarding epiphany on my spiritual journey has been forgiving myself, and allowing myself to accept the gift of God’s grace. Having lived in darkness for so long, I thought that there was no way a wretch such as myself was deserving of God’s Love and Forgiveness. I appreciated it, sure, but there’s no way I deserved it. Then, I thought how nobody deserves it ! That’s what makes it a gift !! That God would lower himself to forgive those who sinned against Him was/is mind-boggling. I realized that it ultimately came down to forgiving myself. I’ve never had difficulties with forgiving others. However, forgiving myself was a major obstacle to my salvation. I eventually realized that, through Jesus’ sacrifice, the penalty for my sin has already been paid. I needn’t live a life of regret and self-loathing. Forgiving myself was my “saving moment”, and accepting the mercy & grace of an all-Loving God has opened my heart and allowed me to grow leaps and bounds since being saved. Praise God !!
It has been a complex and emotional journey, to say the least. Such a transformation is not without its downfalls, though. Without a doubt, the biggest obstacle to my faith was/is knowing that merely calling myself a Christian will, in many peoples’ minds, equate me with the “bigoted, narrow-minded, hateful Christians” that are depicted in the media today. I loathe being a foregone conclusion! It is extremely sad how my faith has led to being alienated and cut off by more than a few friends. These “friends” often grew up religious, but have since turned their backs on God and now simply refuse to have the conversation. The increasing tendency of youth today is to rebel against their parents, which often means the abandonment of religion. I am immensely grateful I was raised without any overbearing religious influence, as I suspect that I would likely have fallen into the same camp.  
This is my testimony.  

 ‘But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts; and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you the reason for the hope that is in you.’

            1 Peter 3:15

9 Signs That You Might Be An Intellectualy Dishonest Atheist

May 9, 2014 By Andy

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“Reality is a cocktail of fantasy” Micah Purnell.

We lie to ourselves all the time. I lie to myself about how good-looking I am. I like to imagine that ‘I’ve still got it’. And then I walk past a reflection of myself that I wasn’t expecting to see, and before my brain has chance to readjust to my idealised view, I catch a glimpse of what I actually look like – how other people see me. And it hurts; so I blot it out as quickly as possible.

We all construct our own truth. It’s our way of getting through life. And when a lie gets told and retold, eventually the real truth gets suppressed and our constructed truth becomes our reality.

A great example of this is the film Shutter Island (Spoilers ahead). In this film, Leonardo di Caprio is a man driven insane by the death of his children and murdering of his own wife. Unable to cope with the truth, he constructs his own reality where he is a renowned detective. The doctors at the mental asylum where he is housed decide to use this constructed reality in their favour, and set up a false trail of clues for “Det. Teddy Daniels” to follow – which ultimately lead to the uncomfortable truth that he is not in fact a detective, but is the asylum’s most dangerous patient. At the climax of the film, he rejects the real story in favour of his created universe – and is lobotomised!

So what about you? What if the worldview you’ve constructed is false? And what if you’re missing a greater truth – and, unlike in Shutter Island, a better truth? Here are some signs that you might be intellectually dishonest when it comes to the question of God.

1. You only read/watch what you already agree with.  The books/blogs you read – or videos you watch – fit in with your existing worldview and serve simply to confirm your own prejudices. You deliberately stay away from anything that might challenge you. You start to unfollow people who post things on Twitter and Facebook that you disagree with. This is telling. When we truly feel comfortable with what we believe, we can happily imbibe contrasting or conflicting views. If you’re so sure you’re right, then why do you shy away? There’s a chance that you’re strengthening the foundations of a belief that you’ve built upon the sand.

2. “People who disagree with me are stupid!” That’s why you don’t read or watch anything Christian – they’re so obviously deluded. But it’s not that, is it? Psychologically, when we don’t want to be challenged by something, we need to convince ourselves that it is ridiculous. We need to alienate it and dispose of it. So we start using extreme words like stupid or irrational, which help us distance ourselves from the challenge. This is where terms like Magic Sky Clown and Jewish Zombie come from. By reducing Christianity ‘ad absurdum’, we don’t need to worry about its potential truth. We wrap ourselves in protective labels.

3. You get angry with those who disagree. You swear at or shout down people in conversation, or walk away from a discussion. You convince yourself that your anger is righteous at how immoral their viewpoint is, but is that really true? Anger is what happens when we don’t feel in control and try to re-exert our own power in a situation. Think of any scenario where you’ve lost your temper and you’ll see it follows that process. It’s an emotional response, not an intellectual one. It’s a sign that you’re out of your depth, that you don’t know everything. People sure of what they believe and confident of its truthfulness tend to remain calm in conversation. “I get angry ‘cos they’re stupid!” you might say. See bullet point 2.

If you’re getting angry when talking to Christians, maybe you’re not quite as clued up as you thought you were. That’s OK – just follow the path where it leads.

4. You use words like ‘rational’ and ‘logical’ and ‘free-thinking’ to describe yourself. These words are like verbal placebos. They create a pleasant feeling of security in us without actually proving us to be any of those things. However, calling yourself logical and rational doesn’t somehow magically transform all your ideas into logical, rational ideas.

5. You deliver statements as though they are questions. But you’re not really looking for the answers. A question like ‘How could God allow so much suffering?’ is a good question, but it doesn’t automatically follow that he wouldn’t. The answers to these questions are hard, of course, but they’re out there, if only you’re prepared to look.

Have you considered that maybe you’re using the question to shield yourself from the answer?

6. You use ad-hominem attacks. When you fear that someone ‘on the opposing side’ is more knowledgeable in their viewpoint, or you run out of your own arguments, you try to undermine them by criticising their moral character or appearance. Looking to devalue what someone has said because of something you don’t like about them is a common trick, but totally dishonest. It also commits the genetic fallacy, but I’m probably an idiot for saying that.

7. You quote famous atheists, without being able to back up their arguments. Dawkins, Hitchens, Bertrand Russell. In place of delivering your own ideas and thoughts, you simply quote something that one of your heroes has said. The problem is that you find it much more difficult to build on those sound bites when pushed. An example of this would be ‘You’re an atheist when it comes to Zeus. Atheists just go one God further’. How would you respond when informed that this is a joke, not an argument? What’s your follow-up argument?

See what I mean? A quote from an atheist is not in itself an argument for atheism. We all need to be careful that emotive, persuasive language doesn’t replace actual argumentation.

8. You use generic catch-all phrases which show your poor hand. Everybody knows Jesus never existed’, or ‘It’s a scientific fact that science has disproven God’ work here. Statements like this are usually a dead giveaway that you haven’t really looked into what you’re talking about. Usually, whatever it is that ‘everybody knows’, everybody doesn’t know it – you wouldn’t have to say that if it were the case. And usually, ‘everybody knows’ really means ‘I don’t know’. Top academic debaters don’t go around saying ‘everybody knows’, in the same way that serious scientists don’t talk about science disproving God. For people who do know what they’re talking about, this sort of conversational device just calls your own bluff.

9. You never really critique your own beliefs. Attacking, ignoring or sneering at other viewpoints is often a way of deflecting attention away from yourself. Sadly, despite what we’d like to believe about ourselves, most people in our society aren’t won over by reasoned, rational arguments, but by advertising. Are your reasons for believing what you believe genuinely rational and considered, or are they simply a verbal manifestation of how you feel? And are your reasons for rejecting other worldviews equally rational, or does the idea of a God who has more power than you simply create a negative emotional reaction, which you then reject? Does it cut up your desire for autonomy, or conflict with your trust that you are in control?

My belief is that, if you do any of these 9 things, you may be confusing your intellect with your emotions. Crucially, the reasons most people give for rejecting Jesus are almost never as rational and well-thought-out as they think, but instead a sort of advertising slogan for their desires.

How we feel is not always a good gauge of truth. The truth doesn’t always underwrite our feelings, but often wounds them.

How will you deal with that? What do you want? Your truth? Or The Truth?

Because The Truth might be better than you think.

 

#atheist #atheism #honesty #reason #truth #logic #philosophy

 

http://www.cvm.org.uk/blog/demolition-squad/9-signs-that-you-might-be-an-intellectually-dishonest-atheist/ )

Should We Trust Reason? A Brief Defense of the Laws of Logic

April 7, 2015 By Khuitt

Shortly after launching my blog, the point of which is to pursue truth through reason, I was told by some friends that I trust reason too much. These friends were both fellow philosophy majors, and they have had a few more courses than I have, so I was intrigued and ready to listen to what they had to say. The reason they gave for distrusting reason was the usual one, the laws of logic cannot be justified. I kicked this idea around in my mind for a while, but never really made much progress.

A short time later I was in a discussion on Facebook and I responded to a friend’s question about whether or not he should be able to defend everything he believes (I think the answer is that he should be able to do so). Eventually, I mentioned the laws of logic and my friend replied by asserting that I was saying that we should ground our beliefs in the laws of logic, while I gave no justification for the laws of logic themselves. In other words, my friend wanted a justification for the laws of logic which he assumed I was taking for granted. After all, many people do seem to take the laws of logic as foundational principles that cannot be supported or questioned, so I can see why he would assume that I would be no different.
I, however, think that with careful consideration, the laws of logic can be proven to be true. I am probably a little too bold to take on such a topic in a blog post, but here goes nothing.

There are three laws of logic:

1. The law of identity: Something is equal to itself
2. The law of non-contradiction: Two contradicting statements cannot both be true
3. The law of the excluded middle: Either something is true or it is false

In order to justify all three laws, I think it is important to start with the law of non-contradiction.
That is because the opposite statement is self-defeating which means we can deduce the law of non-contradiction via argumentum ad absurdum.

Consider the following premises:

1. Two contradicting statements can both be true.
2. “No two opposing statements can both be true” is the contradiction of Premise 1.
3. If Premise 1 is true then the statement “No two opposing statments can both be true” is true. (By applying Premise 1 to itself)
4. The statement “No two opposing statements can both be true” is false if its contradiction (premise 1) is true (applying the statement to itself)
5. Premise 1 is true (Assumed)
6. Premise 2 is false (Premise 4)
7. Premise 1 is therefore false because it would only be true if its own contradicting statement could be true. Its contradiction is false (Premise 6), therefore Premise 1 is false.

In other words, the possibility of contradictory truths disqualifies itself because its own contradiction cannot be true. Because two truths cannot contradict themselves, we can say that no two contradictory statements can be true, and the law of non-contradiction is justified. 

We have the law of non-contradiction is true, so we can now apply it to the other laws of logic and our job just got a whole lot easier. 

Let’s use the law of non-contradiction to prove the law of identity.
The law of identity would say that something is itself. If the law of identity is not true, then something is not itself. Something obviously has to be something, otherwise it would be nothing. Something cannot be nothing, because that would be a contradiction and we have already shown the law of non-contradiction to be true. Something must then be something, and we must now talk about something in particular that we will call P. P must be itself. If P is not P then somebody simply got confused and wrongly labeled something P (perhaps a lower-case q). This would simply be an error in judgment, and it has no bearing on the law of identity. So P is P, but if the law of identity is false then P is P and not P at the same time. This would be a contradiction, and since we have already demonstrated the truth of the law of non-contradiction we know that two contradicting statements cannot both be true. Therefore, P is either rightly labeled P and is itself, or P never was P and is not P but is still itself. If it was not itself, then it would simply be something else that was itself. If it was not anything, then it would simply be nothing at all. Since something cannot be itself and not itself at the same time, the law of identity is true given the falsity of the opposite. 

This brings us to the final law of logic which is the law of the excluded middle. This law is very similar to the law of non-contradiction in that it simply says that P is either P or not P and it cannot be both. In other words, I am either reading this sentence, or I am not. I cannot be doing both at the same time (I dare the reader to try). The law of the excluded middle is not hard to prove after we have proven non-contradiction. If I said that you are both reading and not-reading this sentence at the same time, then I would be contradicting myself. Since I am contradicting myself, both statements cannot be true, and there is no middle ground (except in the possible sense that you are reading this sentence and not paying attention, but that is not the kind of middle ground we are talking about).

Since there is no middle ground in contradictory statements in that a statement is either true or false (A statement cannot be true along with its contradictory statement), the law of the excluded middle is proven.

The keystone of this entire argument is the law of non-contradiction. If the law of non-contradiction is proven false then the other two laws fall with it. However, the law of non-contradiction can be proven true, and along with it the other two laws. Therefore, we do not have to assume the laws of logic are true. We simply have to think about them a little bit. Because the laws of logic can be justified, we can continue to trust our reason as long as it is properly applied. The proper application of reason, rather than the merit of reason itself, is where the fun is really at.

#logic #reason #philosophy

http://nowleavingplatoscave.org/2015/04/07/should-we-trust-reason-a-brief-defense-of-the-laws-of-logic/ )

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Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Scientism

May 8, 2014 By William M. Briggs

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Hey. It’s Science.

The other day on Twitter, I saw somebody quote approvingly these words by Neil deGrasse Tyson:

The good thing about Science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.

This received many favorites, re-tweets, and various (coarse) approbations. Evidently, this phrase produces a visceral glow in its fans, or perhaps the feeling of belonging to a group advanced beyond the benighted masses who, wallowing in their ignorance, dare to doubt Science. 

Only here’s the thing. The phrase doesn’t mean anything. It’s emptier than our federal coffers. If you doubt this, try substituting other words for science:

The good thing about Philosophy is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.

The good thing about History is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.

The good thing about Economics is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.

The good thing about Art is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.

Each of these propositions are just as true as Tyson’s original; which is to say, each is as meaningless or as confused.

Has every theory promulgated by Science, which is to say, by individual or groups of scientists, been true? Obviously not. Therefore Science isn’t always true, and you’d best believe that. Has every theory put forth in Philosophy, History, etc. been true? Certainly not. Though some have. Is every painting or novel or poem been valuable? No. But some are. And so on. 

“Oh, but Science is self-correcting. That’s why it’s true.” 

Is it? If so, it is an admission that it has things to correct; which is to say, Science knows it is often in error, and therefore what it puts forth should not always be believed in toto because what it says might very well be false and in need of correction. 

And then Philosophy, History, etc. are self-correcting, too, and we know this in the same way we know Science is self-correcting. That is, we have seen in these fields errors identified, new evidence augmenting the old, new (or rediscovered) theories supplanting old ones, and so forth, just as happens in Science.

Example? In History, take the absurd fiction that Giordano Bruno was murdered by the Church for holding forbidden Scientific views, which Tyson presented as truth (in cartoon form) on his Cosmos show. This tale has been (yet again) corrected, this time by our friend Mike Flynn (see Reply to Objection 6; and more in depth here) and also by our friend Thomas McDonald. Will Tyson recant? 

“What I really meant was Science was truer than any of those other things.”

But truth is truth: epistemically, no truth can be higher than another; all truths share the same logical status. Ontologically, truths can be ranked, such as in a moral or ethical sense (it’s true you should not murder your neighbor, it’s truer you should not nuke a city for the fun of it). Sorting truth in that way thus admits Science is not the highest truth, because matters of ethics and morality belong to Philosophy, which is itself fed by History, Economics, and Art. Science can only say what is, Philosophy can say what you ought to do.

Damon Linker at The Week has noticed Tyson’s scientism, too:

[Tyson says] undergraduates should actively avoid studying philosophy at all. Because, apparently, asking too many questions “can really mess you up.”

…He proudly proclaims his irritation with “asking deep questions” that lead to a “pointless delay in your progress” in tackling “this whole big world of unknowns out there.” When a scientist encounters someone inclined to think philosophically, his response should be to say, “I’m moving on, I’m leaving you behind, and you can’t even cross the street because you’re distracted by deep questions you’ve asked of yourself. I don’t have time for that.”

You need philosophy to lead an examined life, even in the presence of Science. It is easiest, and surely safest, to imbibe casually your morality from the culture, especially from what you see in social media. And majority rules is always the answer, isn’t it? Science can’t answer that question, so it really isn’t worth asking, let alone answering. Why are we here? What is the meaning of life? What is best in life? All have the same answer. Science!

Could Tyson’s next career be the replacement to the Scientific Ethicist ?

Update To save me retyping it here, see the comment I made to George Wolfe about the so-called truth of the Scientific method. Welcome Hacker News folks. I hope you can agree that proving Tyson’s comment has little or no meaning is not an “attack” on Science. It is an attack on scientism, which is very different. 

See also the comments from kikito, who offers a valid rebuttal on Linker’s story. Given his correction, I have modified my own uncharitable aspersion about Tyson at the end of the original piece (I suggested Tyson would agree with the penultimate paragraph).

Have Quantum Physics Disproved The Big Bang?

February 19, 2015 By Dr. Hugh Ross

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Since February 10, the media have been abuzz with the story that two quantum physicists have “corrected” Einstein’s theory of general relativity to demonstrate that the big bang never happened. The two physicists—Ahmed Farag Ali (a professor at Benha University in Egypt) and Saurya Das (a professor at University of Lethbridge in Alberta)—claim the universe might have existed forever. Their paper, “Cosmology from Quantum Potential,” first appeared as a preprint in April 2014 and was published in Physics Letters B in February 2015.1 Anyone can read the entire paper free of charge.

As you can well imagine, concerned believers have bombarded my Facebook pagewith questions. Has one of Christianity’s core beliefs (“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”) just been falsified? Did the Bible get it wrong about the beginning of the universe? Is God irrelevant? Are astronomers mistaken about the big bang? Have the space-time theorems been invalidated?

The short answer to all these questions is no. The longer answer is that there are at least four reasons to doubt the vanquishing of the big bang.

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Reason #1

Physics Letters B offers authors considerable latitude to speculate and engage in “what if” physics. Published works there do not necessarily need to pertain to known physical reality. In fact, the paper was published in the journal’s theory section, not in the astrophysics and cosmology section.

Reason #2

The first two lines of the abstract are the most important thing to note about the paper: “It was shown recently that replacing classical geodesics with quantal (Bohmian) trajectories gives rise to a quantum corrected Raychaudhuri equation (QRE).” A geodesic is simply the shortest possible path between two points along a curved or flat space-time surface. In cosmology, a freely moving or falling particle always travels along a geodesic.

Cosmologists use geodesics to build models of the universe. These models establish that there is a “point,” or an infinitely small volume, in the universe’s past where all the geodesics converge, giving rise to a singularity. This singularity is: (1) the beginning of the universe, including the beginning of space and time; and (2) the basis of the space-time theorems,2 which imply that a causal agent beyond space and time is responsible for bringing matter, energy, space, and time into existence.

Quantal Bohmian trajectories are, by definition, paths along which particles travel where it is impossible for the paths to cross each other or converge. Farag Ali and Das’ starting assumption—that geodesics can be replaced wholesale by quantal Bohmian trajectories—rules out the possibility of a singularity occurring at any time or anywhere in the universe. Thus, the conclusion that their cosmological model “gets rid of the big bang singularity and predicts an infinite age of our universe”3 is not a conclusion; it’s simply a restatement of their starting assumption.

Reason #3

The observable predictions made by Farag Ali and Das’ cosmological model are largely indistinct from those made by big bang creation models. The only possible distinctive is a prediction of a tiny mass for the graviton; standard particle physics models predict a zero mass. (The graviton is a hypothetical elementary particle thought to mediate the force of gravity. Physicists believe it to be massless because gravity appears to have an unlimited range of operation.) However, the proposed tiny graviton mass is still orders of magnitude below what any conceivable instrument could possibly detect.

Without a testable distinctive, their model as it presently stands is scientifically irrelevant. Farag Ali and Das fully acknowledge this weakness, pointing out that their work is in a preliminary stage of development. They also acknowledge that theirs is not a quantum gravity model. A quantum gravity model would explain the operation of the universe when it was younger than 0.000000000000000000000000000000000000000001 seconds, when not just gravity but also quantum mechanical effects influenced the universe’s dynamics. So far, scientists lack experimental, observational, and theoretical tools to explore this early era. Most physicists believe such tools are forever beyond their reach.

Reason #4

Farag Ali and Das’ proposal appeals to David Bohm’s quantum potential theory. Bohm (1917–1992) was a quantum physicist who in later life became known for intense interest in New Age mysticism and the paranormal. Bohm believed a deeper reality existed beneath quantum mechanics, namely a sub-quantum field called the quantum potential. In Bohm’s quantum potential theory, space, time, and causality are no longer the dominant factors determining the relationships among the universe’s physical components. Such redefinitions of space, time, and/or causality allow both New Age practitioners and physicists like Farag Ali and Das to argue against the beginning of the universe and the existence and operation of God.

John Boslough in his book, Stephen Hawking’s Universe, quotes Bohm concerning his mystical physics:

By understanding Eastern mysticism…physicists can free their minds, at least briefly, from this self-created prison [of imposing discrete categories on experience] in order to attain an instant of scientific creation.4

Boslough then recounts Hawking’s acerbic response:

I think it is absolute rubbish….The universe of Eastern mysticism is an illusion….A physicist who attempts to link it with his own work has abandoned physics.5

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The impossibility of studying the first 10-43 seconds of the universe’s history gives rise to speculative papers like Farag Ali and Das’. One can always appeal to the unknowable to argue against something’s existence. Philosophically, however, arguments regarding the universe’s origin, God’s existence, and God’s hand in creation must be founded on what scientists know, not on what we don’t know.

For example, though I have been married for 37 years, I still lack complete knowledge about my wife. Since I lack such complete knowledge, it could be said that I lack absolute proof of her existence. I could appeal to what I do not know about her to speculate that perhaps she is just an illusion or some kind of sophisticated hologram. The counter to such speculation would be additional experiments and observations to test the reality of my wife’s physical existence. If that additional testing consistently yields increasing evidence for her actual existence, I can confidently conclude that she really does exist.

The same methodology compels me to conclude that the God of the Bible exists, that the universe has an actual beginning, and that God created our universe of matter, energy, space, and time specifically for humanity’s benefit. Hebrews 11:6 promises that if we will diligently seek out the evidence for God, we will find it.

#quantum #quantumphysics #physics #bigbang #debate #evidence #philosophy

http://www.reasons.org/articles/have-quantum-physicists-disproven-the-big-bang )

Are Christians Less Intelligent Than Atheists?

April 23, 2015 By Natasha Crain

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Today I want to shed light on a nasty little “fact” that regularly makes the rounds online:

Studies show that Christians are less intelligent than atheists.

This statement is proudly tossed about by atheists who want to reinforce their claims that religion is for the poor, ignorant, and unintelligent.

And you know what? The statement is true…a number of studies have found a negative relationship between intelligence and religiousness (the more intelligent a person is, the less likely they are to be religious).

Does that mean people can legitimately say, based on these studies, that Christians are less intelligent than atheists? Absolutely not. 

I have an MBA in marketing and statistics and have taught university-level market research, so I’m a professional numbers geek…a numbers geek who dug into all these research studies to find out what they REALLY say. Today I want to set the record straight.

Before we get too far, however, I have to point out what is hopefully obvious: Even if we could reliably measure which group is smarter, the answer wouldn’t tell us anything about the truth of Christianity; intelligence doesn’t equate to always having the right answer.

Theoretically, we could end all conversations on this topic by pointing that out. But if your child asks you one day why Christians aren’t as smart as atheists, do you really just want to reply, “Well, that doesn’t mean Christianity isn’t true”? We owe it to our kids to be able to address the claim itself.

So here we go. Please bookmark this page as a resource that you can link to next time you see someone claim that Christians are less intelligent than atheists!

What 63 Studies on Intelligence and Religiousness Really Say

In 2013, researchers from the University of Rochester and Northeastern University pulled together all past studies conducted on the relationship between religiousness and intelligence at the individual (person) level. Of the 63 studies identified:

  • 35 showed a significant negative relationship between intelligence and religiousness (the more intelligent a person was, the less likely they were to be religious).
  • 2 showed a significant positive relationship between intelligence and religiousness (the more intelligent a person was, the more likely they were to be religious).
  • 26 showed no significant relationship between intelligence and religiousness.

In other words, only about half of the 63 studies suggest that the more intelligent a person is, the less likely they are to be religious. The other half of the studies don’t show that at all. The researchers themselves acknowledged, “The relation between intelligence and religiosity has been examined repeatedly, but so far there is no clear consensus on the direction and/or the magnitude of this association.”

First major takeaway: The common claim that studies have shown repeatedly that religious people are less intelligent is highly misleading. It ignores the results of almost half of the studies conducted. Overall, the results have been very inconclusive.

The goal of the researchers in 2013 was to look at these studies as a group for the first time, in order to better quantify the nature and magnitude of the relationship between intelligence and religiousness. Before we even look at the results, it’s important to note that combining 63 individual studies is very problematic. The studies varied extensively on:

  • Who was studied: Some studied precollege teens, some studied college students, and some studied noncollege adults (people recruited outside an academic context).
  • How many people were studied: Sample sizes ranged from 20 to more than 14,000.
  • When the studies were conducted: The studies were done over an 84-year span of time (the earliest study was conducted in 1928 and the most recent in 2012).
  • What the studies measured: Some studies measured religious behavior (for example, church attendance and/or participation in religious organizations) and some measured religious beliefs (for example, belief in God and the Bible).
  • How the studies measured: Twenty-three different types of tests were used to measure intelligence (for example, university entrance exams, vocabulary tests, scientific literacy tests, etc.). Details weren’t provided on how exactly each study measured religious behavior and beliefs, but that surely varied extensively as well.

Generally speaking, combining such disparate studies is a statistical disaster.

Cornell statistics professor William M. Briggs summarized the problem, saying, “Data of every flavor was observed, data that should not be mixed without an idea of how to combine the uncertainty inherent in each study and in how, say, kinds of IQ measurements map to other kinds of IQ measurements. In other words, they mixed data which should not be mixed, because nobody has any idea how to make these corrections.”

Methodological concerns aside, let’s pretend for a moment that it’s valid to combine the results of these 63 studies. Ultimately, there were two factors researchers found to be significant in the relationship between intelligence and religiousness. The first was the life stage of who they studied (precollege, college, or non-college). The second was the measure of religiousness (behavior or belief). The results suggested:

  • Religious behavior, such as church membership, has almost no relationship with intelligence at any life stage.
  • Religious belief has almost no relationship with intelligence in the precollege years (presumably because beliefs are more influenced by parents).
  • Religious belief has a very weak negative relationship with intelligence for college and noncollege adults (the higher the intelligence, the less likely a person is to have religious beliefs; the weak relationship is a -0.17 correlation between intelligence and religious beliefs for the college studies and a -0.20 correlation for the noncollege studies).

Second major takeaway: The results suggest a negative relationship specifically between intelligence and religious belief for adults, but the mathematical magnitude of that relationship is very small. Almost all variation in religious belief amongst individuals is explained by (unidentified) factors other than intelligence.

In review, here’s what you need to know next time you see someone make this claim:

Over the last 80+ years, many studies have been done on the relationship between intelligence and religiousness. In 2013, researchers pulled together all the ones that quantified that relationship. Of the 63 studies they identified, roughly half showed no relationship at all. The other half showed at least some kind of negative relationship (the more intelligent you are, the less likely you are to be religious). That said, statistically speaking, it’s not very helpful to simply know there is “some kind” of relationship. You have to know how strong the relationship is to know if it matters. Researchers combined the results of all these individual studies to evaluate that question overall and found the strength of relationship to be very weak.

What do I mean by very weak? A -.17 or -.20 correlation is considered to be a trivial or negligible relationship by most statisticians. In other words, hardly worth mentioning.

Now you have the whole story. But one last note. Please do not share the following article when you see an atheist make claims about Christians being less intelligent: Of 10 Highest IQ’s on earth, at least 8 are Theists, at least 6 are Christians. I regularly see Christians replying to atheists with that link and it makes me cringe every time. It doesn’t matter if the 50 or even 1000 most intelligent people on Earth are theists or Christians—that doesn’t statistically mean anything about the relative intelligence of Christians as a group. Engage instead on the studies underlying the atheists’ claims by sharing this analysis.

Any questions?

#christian #atheist #intelligence #debate

http://christianmomthoughts.com/are-christians-less-intelligent-than-atheists-heres-what-all-those-studies-really-say/ )