Nothing New Under The Sun: The Stevenson-Cohen-Taylor Debate

Posted in Consciousness, Science on  | 6 minutes | 49 Comments →

The following excerpt from Chris Carter’s Science and the Near-Death Experience, reminded me all-too-much of contemporary (a)theist discussion [cf. Materialism Is A Misnomer]. The philosophy of materialism is so deeply ingrained into their minds that Cohen and Taylor seem unable even fathom the logical and empirical possibilities Stevenson suggests. Everything below the fold is quoted directly from the book, with my additions in [red brackets].

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Mysterious Ways

Posted in Philosophy, Science, Thinking Critically on  | 3 minutes | 80 Comments →

I imagine most anybody familiar with (a)theist discussion has encountered a believer whom, when backed into a corner about, say, the unimpressive findings of various prayer studies, resorts to the rejoinder that “God works in mysterious ways.” Personally, I don’t endorse that as a legitimate response to the unimpressive findings of various prayer studies, but that’s not what I’d like to talk about today.

I’d like to talk about the viciousness with which atheists often handle the “mysterious ways” response, then suggest that atheists are often just as guilty of the essentially the same “mysterious ways” rejoinder themselves.

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Proof Of Dualism?

Posted in Consciousness, Web/Tech on  | 1 minute | 87 Comments →

I’ve been thinking about AI for the past few days, and I find the following questions interesting:

1) If Ian Pearson is correct and we are able to download human consciousness onto machines by 2050, wouldn’t this effectively prove that consciousness can exist outside a human brain, e.g., that some type of mind-body dualism is correct?

2) This is more of a technical question, but, what, exactly, would we be downloading? The original, so to speak? A replica? A set of algorithms that recreates the original?

3) Could we falsify the claim that any given machine is conscious?

4) Wouldn’t claims of conscious machines have to be assumed, in the same way we assume the existence of other minds?

False Argument #34: John W. Loftus On Mind/Brain

Posted in Consciousness, False Arguments, John W. Loftus on  | 6 minutes | 25 Comments →

A while back, I asked:

…shouldn’t an atheist limit themselves to belief in brains only?

John W. Loftus took a stab, and here’s what he concluded:

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Mind, Or Brain?

Posted in Quickies on  | 2 minutes | 30 Comments →

Today’s post is simply a set of questions, for any atheist, or any theist who would care to temporarily think like an atheist. In this post at CSA, our host asks:

What tools do you use when you think philosophically about God or morality or other subjects? Among other tools, you use your mind. Knowing how the mind works can help you do philosophy better, just as knowing how a camera works can make you a better photographer.

If you are an atheist, do you think it’s accurate to use the term mind? I understand that it sufficiently conveys the point in everyday conversation, but, epistemically–shouldn’t an atheist limit themselves to belief in brains only?

I often attempt to envision the positions I’d hold if I were an atheist. As regards mind, if I were an atheist, I would probably categorize it with soul as an equally non-existent entity. In my experience, many an atheist has asked, “What does it mean to say one has a soul? Where is the evidence for the soul? What type of entity is the soul?” Similarly, what does it mean to say that one has a mind? Where is the evidence for the mind? What type of entity is the mind?

Competing Models Of Consciousness

Posted in Consciousness, Parapsychology, Psychology, Religion, Science on  | 3 minutes | 10 Comments →

For lack of a better word, the existence of “the supernatural” is perhaps the second most foundational claim behind nearly every religion. From the monotheistic, patriarchal religions such as Judaism, Islam and Christianity, to the more esoteric Eastern mysticism, to Hinduism to today’s modern Aquarianism, the idea that existence extends beyond the physical plane is a key undercurrent. Each of these religions — and many more — claim that something akin to a supernatural realm exists. Very plainly one can see that without this “other world,” the foundational claims of many religions unravel from the core and reduce to metaphor at best. So, if I want to establish the plausibility of the MGH, establishing the plausibility of this “other world” seems a good place to start.
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More Attempts At Defining Consciousness

Posted in Biology, Consciousness, Parapsychology, Physics, Psychology, Science on  | 3 minutes | 39 Comments →

Well, I’ve run into some unexpected difficulty getting my hands on a certain article, so the article I wanted to post yesterday is going to have to wait some more. This afternoon I’d just like to offer the following to see how people of varying worldviews react, and if anybody can add anything or make any other valuable suggestions.

A few posts back I took a stab at defining consciousness:

While I hesitate to speculate on what consciousness is, I feel fairly confident in asserting what consciousness does, or what its characteristics are: consciousness affords the abilities to feel, to know, to create, to express intent and to choose. Consciousness also affords the ability to manipulate objective matter via choice

Something elemental, like wind, can certainly manipulate objective matter, yet it presumably does so independent of any choice or consciousness. For what it’s worth, I’m currently unsure to what extent I’d claim that consciousness is analogous to soul / spirit, but I believe that regardless of the distinction, any demonstration that consciousness is anything else besides a mere product of neural transactions has [the conventional cerebro-centric view of consciousness] dead in the water.

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The Strange Case Of Ingo Swann: Anomalous Mental Phenomena, I

Posted in Anomaly, Consciousness, History, Parapsychology, Science on  | 7 minutes | 4 Comments →

Ingo Douglas Swan (Ingo Swann) is a Colorado-native and consciousness researcher who, along with laser experts Russell Targ and Harold ‘Hal’ Puthoff at Stanford Research Institute, pioneered the field of remote viewing (RV), an anomalous mental phenomenon where subjects appear to gain information by means outside the traditional senses.

Swann sees remote viewing as an innate human ability that can be activated and practiced like any other muscle, and not all parapsychologists or practitioners share this view. Swann claims to have had paranormal experiences since youth. In one experiment, conducted by Gertrude Schmeidler, a professor at City University in New York, Swann was apparently able to cause temperature fluctuations in sensitive equipment presumably by pure thought. Some of these thermometers were spread openly about the room, others were locked safely inside Thermos containers. The test went by sequence, in which Swann focused on a specific thermometer during each stage of the test. He was not allowed to move around the room and was given 45 seconds to rest between stages. Even amongst the sealed instruments, Swann was able to effect changes in temperature up to almost a full degree Celsius.1

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The Biblical Distinction Between Soul And Spirit: My Response To A Ghost In The Machine, I

Posted in AGITM, Atheism, Blogosphere, Consciousness, Daylight Atheism, Parapsychology, Religion, Responses, Science, Skepticism on  | 8 minutes | 6 Comments →

Ebonmuse has on his site another much-talked-about essay titled A Ghost In The Machine which is a valiant argument against Cartesian duality, or the generally-theist idea that humans have a soul substance that can survive or somehow transcend the death of the physical body. While leaving a comment in the thread of On Expertise I noticed another comment by Heliobates which read,

“…if you want to read what I consider to be THE SLAM DUNK argument against theism, check out our host’s A Ghost In The Machine. Without Cartesian dualism, religion is dead in the water.”

To this I responded,

“IMO the error… is in assuming all religion dependent upon the Cartesian paradigm. Yes, I can and will offer a detailed counter-explanation, but it is far beyond the scope of the thread..”

So here we are. I said I would offer a detailed counter-explanation, and now I’ve got to stick to my word.

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