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ALTERNATIVE THINKING BOOKS > The Science Delusion by Dr. Rupert Sheldrake -- a scientific rebuttal to The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins

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message 1: by James, Group Founder (last edited Apr 19, 2015 01:31AM) (new)

James Morcan | 10911 comments The Science Delusion: Freeing The Spirit Of Enquiry by leading biologist Rupert Sheldrake is a scientific rebuttal to The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins.

The science delusion is the belief that science already understands the nature of reality. The fundamental questions are answered, leaving only the details to be filled in. In this book, Dr Rupert Sheldrake, one of the world's most innovative scientists, shows that science is being constricted by assumptions that have hardened into dogmas. The 'scientific worldview' has become a belief system. All reality is material or physical. The world is a machine, made up of dead matter. Nature is purposeless. Consciousness is nothing but the physical activity of the brain. Free will is an illusion. God exists only as an idea in human minds, imprisoned within our skulls. Sheldrake examines these dogmas scientifically, and shows persuasively that science would be better off without them: freer, more interesting, and more fun.

In The God Delusion Richard Dawkins used science to bash God, but here Rupert Sheldrake shows that Dawkins' understanding of what science can do is old-fashioned and itself a delusion.

About Dr. Rupert Sheldrake:

Rupert Sheldrake

Rupert Sheldrake is a biologist and author of more than 80 scientific papers and ten books. A former Research Fellow of the Royal Society, he studied natural sciences at Cambridge University, where he was a Scholar of Clare College, took a double first class honours degree and was awarded the University Botany Prize. He then studied philosophy and history of science at Harvard University, where he was a Frank Knox Fellow, before returning to Cambridge, where he took a Ph.D. in biochemistry. He was a Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge, where he was Director of Studies in biochemistry and cell biology. As the Rosenheim Research Fellow of the Royal Society, he carried out research on the development of plants and the ageing of cells in the Department of Biochemistry at Cambridge University.

Recently, drawing on the work of French philosopher Henri Bergson, he developed the theory of morphic resonance, which makes use of the older notion of morphogenetic fields. He has researched and written on topics such as animal and plant development and behaviour, telepathy, perception and metaphysics.

The Science Delusion Freeing The Spirit Of Enquiry by Rupert Sheldrake


message 2: by Laureen (new)

Laureen (laureenandersonswfcomau) | 478 comments Oh, thank you James. A rebuttal to Richard Dawkins and his egotistical view of his opinions just sounds good news to me, but I will read Rupert Sheldrake's book and then I can make a more discerning view of this subject. No intent to discredit Richard Dawkins was intended. I know a lot of people find his viewpoint convincing.


message 3: by James, Group Founder (new)

James Morcan | 10911 comments A video lecture given by Dr. Rupert Sheldrake on his scientific theories: https://www.goodreads.com/videos/8291...


message 4: by John (new)

John Austin I think once you're an FRS you're always an FRS, even if you become insane before dying! So 'I don't understand why he is called a former FRS.

Of course any opinion in science is usually counteracted by an alternative. That is true of my field of climate change as well.

You need to be careful of using the "journalist" approach to finding the truth. To get a debate journalists will generally choose two people who oppose each other and get them to a debate. The public is then of the opinion that science is equally balanced for and against an argument.

That has frustratingly been the case regarding climate change for decades. Despite 97% of scientists agreeing that climate change is due to mankind, the public get a different impression because of biased journalist reporting.

Of course the existence or otherwise of God is not a scientifically provable issue one way or the other. Nonetheless, apparently about 90% of FRS members don't believe in God. So that would make Sheldrake in the minority amongst the group of distinguished British scientists that at one time he was presumably proud to be a member. Perhaps that was why he resigned as FRS, if that's what he did!

Laureen,

I have read Dawkins book. You must not form the opinion that he is egotistical just because you don't agree with his final conclusion. Personally, I found his comments convincing. His ego doesn't come into it.


message 5: by John (last edited Apr 20, 2015 10:34AM) (new)

John Austin James,

"The world is a machine, made up of dead matter. Nature is purposeless. Consciousness is nothing but the physical activity of the brain. Free will is an illusion. God exists only as an idea in human minds, imprisoned within our skulls. Sheldrake examines these dogmas scientifically, and shows persuasively that science would be better off without them: freer, more interesting, and more fun."


By the way, I don't know where you're getting those comments from about Dawkins book, but they are quite different to my perception. Are they Sheldrake's interpretation (the blurb about his book)?

I don't think Dawkins (he is a biologist after all) thinks the world is dead. No doubt it is made of dead matter. There is no soul in the skin cells you shed every day. I thought free will was an illusion to religious people, not atheists. "God's purpose" and all that.

Ultimately, I believe that we will be able to create consciousness from inanimate objects. It requires a hell of a lot of computing capacity, but we'll get there. Apart from which of course, nobody can really define what consciousness actually is, any more than we can define what the soul is. I am reminded of the Turing Test for artificial intelligence. I don't know much about the latest developments there.

I see that Sheldrake is into telepathy as well. Perhaps he was sacked from FRS membership for bringing the organisation into disrepute!


message 6: by James, Group Founder (new)

James Morcan | 10911 comments John wrote: "James,

"The world is a machine, made up of dead matter. Nature is purposeless. Consciousness is nothing but the physical activity of the brain. Free will is an illusion. God exists only as an ide..."


John - I copied and pasted Sheldrake's blurb - none of that is my wording except the first sentence of the post.


message 7: by James, Group Founder (last edited Apr 20, 2015 10:52AM) (new)

James Morcan | 10911 comments Here are some reviews for Sheldrake's book The Science Delusion:

'Sheldrake powerfully reminds us that science must be pursued with an open mind.' Robert Jackson, former UK Minister for Science

'This is a terrific, engrossing book that throws open the shutters to reveal our world to be so much more intriguing and profound than could ever have been supposed.' Dr James Le Fanu, author of The Rise and Fall of Modern Medicine

'The author, a biologist, takes issue with the idea that science already understands the nature of reality - and in doing so, frees up the spirit of enquiry.' The Times

'There is something rather odd about the current state of science. For Rupert Sheldrake, [it is] facing a 'credibility crunch' on many fronts. He presents this challenging argument by identifying 'ten core beliefs that most scientists take for granted.' He then interrogates each in turn by reformulating it, in the spirit of radical scepticism, as a question. This Socratic method of inquiry proves surprisingly illuminating. A serious mind-expanding book.' The Spectator

'Certainly we need to accept the limitations of much current dogma and keep our minds open as we reasonably can. Sheldrake may help us do so through this well-written, challenging and always interesting book.' Crispin Tickell, Financial Times

'Rupert Sheldrake does science, humanity and the world at large a considerable favour.' Colin Tudge, The Independent

'Rupert Sheldrake shows very convincingly the way that time and again scientists refuse to look at anything outside a very limited set of possibilities. Sheldrake shows powerfully how some professional skeptics simply have no interest in looking into claims for anything outside of our current scientific understanding. A valuable and powerful message.' www.popularscience.co.uk

'Isn't it nice to have some mystery back? Isn't it nice to have doubts?' Esquire

'We must somehow find different, more realistic ways of understanding human beings - and indeed other animals - as the active wholes that they are, rather than pretending to see them as meaningless consignments of chemicals. Rupert Sheldrake, who has long called for this development, spells out this need forcibly in his new book. He shows how materialism has gradually hardened into a kind of anti-Christian principle, claiming authority to dictate theories and to veto inquiries on topics that don't suit it, such as unorthodox medicine, let along religion. He shows just how unworkable the assumptions behind today's fashionable habits have become. The 'science delusion' of his title is the current popular confidence in certain fixed assumptions - the exaltation of today's science, not as the busy, constantly changing workshop that it actually is but as a final, infallible oracle preaching a crude kind of materialism... His insistence on the need to attend to possible wider ways of thinking is surely right.' Mary Midgley, The Guardian

'A fascinating, humane and refreshing book that any layman can enjoy, in which he takes ten supposed scientific 'laws' and turns them, instead, into questions... Dr Sheldrake wants to bring energy and excitement back into science... he has already done more than any other scientist alive to broaden the appeal of the discipline, and readers should get their teeth into the important and astounding book.' Country Life

'This is a delightful, interesting, informative, highly readable and much needed book and we definitely recommend it.' Greenspirit.org.uk

'This is a book about science and understanding the world that I have been hoping to read for years. It should be on every science student's course.' The Oldie 'This book is worth reading because of the depth of focus that the author brings to bear not only on the mind and our fixed opinions but also on our unthinking acceptance of the world, as we like to see it, along with our unquestioned assumptions.' The Middle Way: Journal of the Buddhist Society

'Sheldrake will be seen as a prophet.' The Sunday Times

'This provocatibe and fascinating book challenges long held assumptions...This book is a refreshingly controversial approach to our understanding of the world.' Daily Mail

'An entertaining read.' The Sunday Times

'Whether or not we want to follow Sheldrake's further speculations on topics such as morphic resonance, his insistence on the need to attend to possible wider ways of thinking is surely right. Guardian The maverick scientist questions the orthodox "scientific worldview" The Observer


message 8: by Robert (new)

Robert Wright (rhwright) | 30 comments I haven't read either book, but I have an impression of Dawkins based on his printed and televised interviews. For me, he falls in what I call a "rabidly atheist" camp. They're not content to lead their lives according to their own opinion, or even publicly state their opinion. They must attack religious belief itself.

In my view, many if not most religious beliefs are benign. It doesn't matter if they are "true" or "factual" or not, if they make you happy and don't cause you to harm others. In fact, many religious beliefs help people and make them act in better ways with others.

And I get that there is a larger argument that, on a net basis, religions may have done more harm than good to mankind's development. This is debatable on both sides, so I don't think it condemns individual belief.

I think the rabid atheist rise comes about as a reaction to the strongly anti-science evangelical strain found in some segments of American belief.

And I can't find I support either view.

Don't "believe" in evolution, climate change, etc? It doesn't give you the right to push around those who find the data compelling.

Sick of scientific illiteracy? That doesn't mean you should condemn people as ignorant or stupid and tell them their is a choice: faith or science.

As Shakespeare sagely puts it: "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

Science is about, for me, what is demonstrably knowable right now. It is an ongoing voyage of discovery and refined knowledge. I don't think it should be discounting anything as "untrue." It is just currently not demonstrated. And God, by definition, is a rather hard one to demonstrate.

So, rather than expend energy to basically say, "we have no proof of God's existence," shouldn't science be spending it demonstrating the wonderful things we do know? And leave the unanswered questions open-ended and on the table for now, even if science is unlikely to get to them any time soon.

Besides, we need a level of delusion, I think. We need to ascribe meaning to what we experience with our consciousness. Maybe the universe is simply mechanistic. Governed only by physics, biology, chemistry, etc. But I don't think we could survive the depression if we did not ascribe a meaning to at least some of it. If everything, including our emotions—love, hate, friendship, altruism—is all just chemistry, while that would be a wondrously complex system, it would be meaningless.

Meaning may be a delusion. But it's a delusion we need.


message 9: by John (new)

John Austin James,

I don't know what the purpose was in quoting all those comments from people that said something good about Sheldrake's book. Presumably, they were taken from the dustjacket of the book itself. you don't expect any negative comments there.

You should look at all the wonderful comments made about Dawkins book! All of this (Dawkins and Sheldrake) is of course completely meaningless and designed to sell copies. What you need is a balanced review which the quotes don't give.

No matter. Dawkins is indeed rabidly atheist as I suppose I must be as well.

I do take issue with Robert, though. Perhaps you also need the delusion (if that's what it is) of horoscopes and all the other irrational aspects of human behaviour. At least with his material, Dawkins has made atheists able to stand up for their beliefs instead of being branded as blasphemous as people like me have been for centuries.

Religion in most developed nations now is relatively harmless, so we can debate philosophically about the existence of God or otherwise. However, for millions of people in the middle East it is an unaffordable luxury. For them, religion at times can cause untold damage and even justify unspeakable horrors supposedly in His name. It's no good saying that the current IS thugs are not really "religious". Each branch of Islam seems to brand the other as infidels anyway. So how are those of us who are non-Islam able to declare IS thugs as not representing their type of Islam? For all we know, they might sincerely believe the things that they do represent His teaching.

For me, a non-believer, it is simple: these IS thugs are deluded and carrying out illegal acts so they should be punished accordingly.

(But let the Russians annex part of Ukraine as they are Christian.)


message 10: by James, Group Founder (new)

James Morcan | 10911 comments Robert wrote: "I haven't read either book, but I have an impression of Dawkins based on his printed and televised interviews. For me, he falls in what I call a "rabidly atheist" camp. They're not content to lead ..."

In my opinion a very balanced and fair essay, Robert.


message 11: by James, Group Founder (last edited Apr 21, 2015 12:43AM) (new)

James Morcan | 10911 comments John wrote: "James,

I don't know what the purpose was in quoting all those comments from people that said something good about Sheldrake's book. Presumably, they were taken from the dustjacket of the book itself. you don't expect any negative comments there.
..."


You're assuming, John, that everything (or anything) I do has a purpose...

Otherwise, I wholeheartedly agree with what you wrote here: "At least with his material, Dawkins has made atheists able to stand up for their beliefs instead of being branded as blasphemous as people like me have been for centuries."

Dawkins, if nothing else, has shifted the "middle ground" and allowed atheists to enter into the big discussion about the Universe - which was long overdue. He's a brilliant writer and speaker who is not afraid to engage in heated debates. In saying that, it often takes an extremist to shift the middle ground in any discussion and I therefore also agree with Robert's implication that Dawkins is quite extreme and egotistical. But again, I think Dawkins was necessary at this point in time to really shout the atheist theories loud enough to be heard.

I look forward to the next wave of atheists (who I imagine will have a few more agnostic traits) so that a more balanced discussion can be had on Life itself. Right now with Dawkins being the poster boy for atheism having a fair debate with the atheist community feels about as possible as debating with religious zealots! Especially as neither side has any proof (God does exist/doen't exist are simply theories the two extremes have subscribed to as if factual).

Meanwhile, regarding your comments on Islam, I think you're mixing apples and oranges all over the show in those generalizations, John. Meaning, you're presenting something to just be Islam when really it's religion/geopolitics/terrorism (and possibly vast global conspiracies e.g. who is arming/financing IS/ISIS?), so not a good example on the weaknesses of religion in my view. It's about the equivalent of mentioning the Ku Klux Klan as a Christian organization (which it claims to be) and not mentioning that it's also a race-driven group of fascists...


message 12: by John (new)

John Austin James,

You have lost me on Islam, but regarding the other comments, I really don't understand how anyone can say that Dawkins is being egotistical. Nothing he says is about him (the "ego"), as far as I can tell.

Further, by expressing the view of many scientists, at no point does he categorically state that "God does not exist", nor do I.

He uses a perfectly reasonable scientific argument to say that the presence of God is "unlikely". Once you establish that an event is unlikely, it is more rational to work on the basis of that which is more likely, i.e. "God does not exist". Once you take that argument a lot of the philosophical difficulties of religion is eliminated. E.g. Why does God allow suffering? If God is all-powerful, why does he allow the existence of Satan? Why does allow people to suffer so much? I know that religious philosophers have answers to all the questions but to my mind they just seem contrived. It is far simpler (the Occam's razor principle) to assume God does not exist and then there is nothing to explain: everything that happens (e.g. weather disasters) are a chance occurrence or a collection of chance occurrences acting in concert.

Of course the book title "The God Delusion" has to sound catchy. An alternative title "The Unlikely God" while more accurate is "unlikely" to be quite as emotive. So Dawkins believes that God probably does not exist, and he believes that people who don't agree with this are "deluded". He doesn't know the truth of course. As an author, he is entitled to express his opinion. That doesn't make Dawkins egotistical any more than Sheldrake would sound to me.

Once (if) you come to the conclusion that God does not exit, everything else is easy to explain on the basis of evolutionary processes in some form. Love, ethics, etc, etc, it can all be generated from first principles without recourse to scripture.


message 13: by Laureen (last edited Apr 20, 2015 04:58PM) (new)

Laureen (laureenandersonswfcomau) | 478 comments John wrote: "I think once you're an FRS you're always an FRS, even if you become insane before dying! So 'I don't understand why he is called a former FRS.

Of course any opinion in science is usually counterac..."


I have been listening to both sides of this debate for many years and the sheer certainty which comes from Richard Dawkins believers is enough to put me back in the open minded category of questioning these so-called experts.

I have no wish to change your unchangeable mind on this subject. Just like religion, one can't argue with dogma because it is a rule of understanding (or belief) perpetrated by those setting themselves up as "those who know better". Your use of "God" is in the traditional organized religious sense. I have been dabbling in mysticism for a number of years and it makes more sense to me than dogmatic science theories ever have. "Why does God allow suffering" is a stupid question. Man creates suffering. Earth was never meant to be a Paradise or Utopia. Our life on whatever planet is to learn, to expand our consciousness.

Now I know how you will laugh at my "silly" explanations of why I question some science. However, that's OK. Richard Dawkins egoism is the same as yours. He promotes his theories as being absolutely proven and correct. Just because the majority of scientists think that does not make it correct. I prefer to believe in the few scientists who have an open mind and wish to delve further into what we do not know.


message 14: by [deleted user] (new)

“Science and religion are not at odds. Science is simply too young to understand.” ―Dan Brown, Angels & Demons


message 15: by Elisabet (new)

Elisabet Norris | 486 comments I have read most of Dawkins' books and have found them all very fascinating. he opened my mind and gave me a broader understanding and ideas about our biological evolutionary world. I'm in no way educated enough to confirm whether he's right or wrong, but I have been using his "teachings " as a blueprint in how everything evolves. so far it has worked. ..haven't ran into a wall yet. my degree in laboratory science has allowed me to read and study variety of materials none of which of yet conflict with his ideas. Reading other points of view is important as well. ..even a wrong idea can plant a fresh thought in your mind you hadn't thought of before. debates are very entertaining and perhaps it's true what was said earlier about them and journalism, but regardless, they have always got me thinking and often led meet to read books/articles on the matter. That, in my opinion, is having an open mind. Not believing in a god doesn't hinder that, but I see the point of perhaps agnostics being more open minded than atheists. ..since they stand on neither side. Atheism opens a lot more doors than does religion...in atheism there's no default answer to an unanswered question.The author being discussed here (forgot his name, my phone won't let me type and read thread at the same time) seems to have a very valid background in the field of science and his ideas shouldn't be discarded without being read first.


message 16: by James, Group Founder (new)

James Morcan | 10911 comments Good thoughts Lisa - thanks.


message 17: by Harry (last edited Apr 21, 2015 09:25AM) (new)

Harry Whitewolf | 1745 comments John wrote: "James,

You have lost me on Islam, but regarding the other comments, I really don't understand how anyone can say that Dawkins is being egotistical. Nothing he says is about him (the "ego"), as far..."


So why did Dawkins start up his damn Atheist Campaign then? -(or whatever it was called)- highly publicised in the U.K a while ago, as you'll know John. (Posters, fliers, buses, tabloids, the lot, if memory serves correct). That's where he lost me I'm afraid. It was like he wanted to turn Atheism into a religion.

When science can explain how something can come out of nothing and what nothing is if there is no something, I might start listening to science more than philosophy.


message 18: by James, Group Founder (new)

James Morcan | 10911 comments Perfectly comprehensible to me, Ed!


message 19: by James, Group Founder (last edited Apr 21, 2015 04:09PM) (new)

James Morcan | 10911 comments Harry wrote: "John wrote: "When science can explain how something can come out of nothing and what nothing is if there is no something, I might start listening to science more than philosophy."..."

Your comments are beginning to rival Ed's sharp one-liners on this subject including his "scientific fact...until next revision" statement.

Old-school scientists (you know, the narrow minded type who hate the scientific anomalies that Quantum Physics discovers each year) might burn you guys at the stake if you keep this up!


message 20: by John (new)

John Austin Lauren,

No scientist promotes their theories as "absolutely proven and correct". If you think that then you have misunderstood the scientific process. Again, you have not explained where the ego comes into it, but let's forget that. Call Dawkins and me egotistical if you like: let's move on.

I simply agree with Dawkins and say that God is unlikely. He could exist I suppose. Dawkins' book explicitly agrees with this possibility if you read it in detail. Personally, I prefer to invest time and effort into that which rational thought considers more likely. It's as simple as that.

Science is a very successful philosophy of rational thought which can tackle any problem ("science" or otherwise). Its methods have been developed over centuries. The success of any philosophy can be measured by what it predicts. What does the belief in God predict? It may be something, I don't know.

I have an idea for you: I believe that there is a china teapot orbiting the Sun between the Earth and Mars. Why is this less likely than the existence of God? [This by the way is the Russell argument for atheism.]

Harry, by the way, science CAN explain how something can arise from nothing. The explanation invokes quantum mechanics and the uncertainty principle. I have discussed it in previous threads. Wikipedia has a good description of the uncertainty principle, although you will need advanced maths to understand it. The basic point is that xp > h/(2 pi). x is the uncertainty in position of any measurement and p is the uncertainty in momentum of the object being measured. h is Planck's constant. At the big bang x would be extremely small so p could be quite large. Obviously this is an extreme simplification of the first fraction of a second after the start of the universe, and we wouldn't know whether quantum mechanics still worked then. The basic point though, is that science is trying to find out how to get something from nothing and is not completely in the dark.

By contrast those who quote the existence of a deity to do the creating are simply lazy thinkers. It doesn't address the question of who or what created the deity. Not only that, it provides no information as to how the simple statement "let there be light" actually worked in practice, nor does it encourage an attempt to answer the question. You get around this by saying that the deity always existed. If you like, science could do the say thing and say the universe always existed, but science is a bit more honest than that. Presumably non-Christian religions have their own creation myths.


message 21: by James, Group Founder (last edited Apr 22, 2015 11:22AM) (new)

James Morcan | 10911 comments John wrote: "Lauren,

No scientist promotes their theories as "absolutely proven and correct". If you think that then you have misunderstood the scientific process. Again, you have not explained where the ego c..."


Good post John and I see you as being much less egotistical than Dawkins who from what I've read and seen of him tends to speak in absolutes and definites (which as you know, can be dangerous).
But then again, we all have egotistical traits to varying degress and those traits don't invalidate our arguments.

This discussion thread is a good mix of believers, agnostics and atheists...Maybe there's a little truth and a little falsehood on all sides, know what I mean?

And one more question John, have you ever considered the paradoxical idea that both atheists and believers could both be right?? I heard there is some obscure Hebrew text they found which has a curious statement in it that presents this riddle: God exists and does not exist...


message 22: by Harry (last edited Apr 22, 2015 11:51AM) (new)

Harry Whitewolf | 1745 comments John wrote: "Lauren,

No scientist promotes their theories as "absolutely proven and correct". If you think that then you have misunderstood the scientific process. Again, you have not explained where the ego c..."


Yes, a very good post John. I believe in science just as much as I believe in spirituality by the way- I just think both camps have a place, and that science is actually catching up with some respects, seeing as quantum physics is starting to agree with what old mystics always said about the nature of this world and the oneness of God, or Energy, Or... That's the thing- I'm a truth searcher. My truth and understanding is always evolving. Science and religion/spirituality are all looking for the same truth, so it's great to have your opinions on it all John.

I just still don't get the nothing/something thing and agree with you about "Who made God then?"- whether the answer is achievable in mathematics or not, until I, or anybody else, can understand it with relation to how we view this world, we're still stuck with the Something/Nothing enigma.

The only thing we really disagree on John is that I see science as measuring this universe/reality, when I think there's a world beyond that that isn't detectable. Of course theological beliefes can't be argued in any rational way, because for those of us who have spiritual connections, it's simply FELT, and Knowing exists as something else beyond science.


message 23: by Laureen (new)

Laureen (laureenandersonswfcomau) | 478 comments James Morcan wrote: "John wrote: "Lauren,

No scientist promotes their theories as "absolutely proven and correct". If you think that then you have misunderstood the scientific process. Again, you have not explained wh..."


Thank you for your post John. I do understand what you are saying and you have said much of it before. Nobody I know here would be stupid enough to believe that science is not important or that it is purist by nature in exploring or proving theories though I don't, of course, speak for everyone.

What I was trying to say is that I believe there is something mysterious about ourselves that I don't think is being taking seriously by many scientists because it doesn't "fit" with the understanding of the world, the universe, matter & life. that mainstream science has uncovered so far. I know science questions everything and is endeavouring to move forward in it's understanding.

What I have been saying is I think, maybe, that there is a dimension to our being that science hasn't been comfortable exploring because it does appear to be "airy fairy" to a science purist. The numbers of people in the world who have experienced some sort of ethereal connection to the universe through their senses has grown to such an extent that I feel it is negligent of science not to take it seriously. Yes, I agree that many of these so-called unexplained experiences come from people who may be delusional but that doesn't explain the many intelligent, pratical, rational people who also have a view that there is "something else".

Why is it up to the ordinary citizen to explain it? That is what we educate our scientists to do. Look into the questions that people are putting forward and seriously examine the mysterious "evidence". But to keep knocking those who say "there is something missing in what science is put forward so far" is to degrade the importance of scientific discovery.


message 24: by Elisabet (new)

Elisabet Norris | 486 comments Harry wrote: "John wrote: "Lauren,

No scientist promotes their theories as "absolutely proven and correct". If you think that then you have misunderstood the scientific process. Again, you have not explained wh..."


While back I read a book by Lawrence Krauss "A Universe From Nothing"...I'm not gonna claim that I understood much of what I read...I'd have to read it a few more times. But from what I gathered is that he considers a vacuum to be "nothing" and that vacuums are unstable. He also talks about dark energy popping in and out of existence. He makes a valid point,as far as I could tell. But I have heard arguments about the quantum relativity theory claiming that it is the absence of the quantum field which is not the same as "nothing". One could always go the philosophical route and argue using quotes from great philosophers of the past, such as Plato and Thomas Aquinas.
It's one of those subjects where the more you try to understand, the more confused you get.

Regarding "airy fairy" unexplained experiences, I think can be explained away with neuroscience. I have had such an experience myself, and I believe sometimes when adrenaline kicks in or when we know that we are near death, there is a chemical alteration in our brain activity. I think these types of experiences should be recorded and taken seriously, because it can teach us things about our brain or nerve impulses that could hopefully shed some light on our complex existence.

What makes debates entertaining is the egotistical nature of the opponents...It is a "quality" that would benefit someone in order to take a bold controversial stand.


message 25: by Laureen (new)

Laureen (laureenandersonswfcomau) | 478 comments I think the brain is a mystery to medical science. That is one reason you often hear medical scientists say we don't know enough about how our brain works - likewise, our central nervous system. I know there will be someone, like John, who will dispute this and I am aware of the advances in neurology but it is a slow process as compared to other scientific research, I think, but maybe I am wrong.


message 26: by Laureen (new)

Laureen (laureenandersonswfcomau) | 478 comments John, just an observation. My name is spelt Laureen. It doesn't trouble me because I get called Lauren, Maureen and Lorraine lots of times. However, I just bring it up because science is exacting. I have always been a stickler for detail in my own profession. Little details that are overlooked can result in a completely different product or scientific outcome if the detail is overlooked.


message 27: by James, Group Founder (new)

James Morcan | 10911 comments Well you're reading Laureen's messages at least, ain't you Ed? So that's somebody, right?


message 28: by Laureen (new)

Laureen (laureenandersonswfcomau) | 478 comments OK Ed, I stand corrected by your superior knowledge. I will run it past my husband who has the highest degree in English Lit and he has been correcting me ever since we sent love letters to each other so many years ago. HaHa. He used to send mine back with those horrible red marks all over them. Sooo romantic!


message 29: by Elisabet (new)

Elisabet Norris | 486 comments I wish the schools I went to did spelling bees...saw them on TV and they looked like the coolest thing!


message 30: by John (new)

John Austin James,

"God exists and does not exist"

An interesting concept. I think we may be back to our Goedel's theorem: in all logical systems there are unproven statements. The rules of most religions, as far as I understand it, prevent the "proof" or "non-proof" of the existence of God.

The problem with public views of scientists and their statements of their theories is that there is only a limited amount of time to get the message across. It is therefore essential to get quickly to the bottom line. So scientists come over as being polarised and forthright in their views. Presumably, that is what people are meaning by the use of the word "egotistical". Journalists make things worse by setting up antagonistic confrontations.

Real science is not done in the public eye. Scientific debate occurs in the science journals and any books that spawn from them. Scientific papers, submitted to any worthwhile journal get refereed by your scientific contemporaries. If these referees have done their job properly they will insist that alternative arguments to the one proposed are debated within the paper as well.

This is quite unlike for example the legal system. For example, if you are alleged to have committed a crime, your solicitor will put forward in court all the arguments against you having committed the crime, while ignoring the arguments in favour of you having committed the crime. Society (and journalists) prefers this form of debate but in reality it often breaks down into who can tell the most convincing lies. The more expensive the lawyer, the better the lies he can come up with.


message 31: by John (new)

John Austin Laureen,

Sorry I misspelled your name! I have trouble with names as they are arbitrary, but that's no excuse!

I agree indeed that the brain is somewhat complicated. I'm sure progress in neuroscience is as rapid as other fields. Once computers can be used to model brain behaviour then further strides will be possible. Indeed this is already happening I believe with simulations of the brains of worms. I know it's a little way to go to get to sentience, but if you have faith in Mooore's Law (Doubling computer capacity every 2 years or something), then we might get there one day.


message 32: by John (new)

John Austin James,

In one of your posts you were talking about "unexplained experiences". Presumably by that you mean religious experience. Many things are unexplained, primarily because we don't have the data at our disposal. "A sufficiently scientifically advanced civilisation" appears to use magic.

The problem for centuries has been that the senses of humans basically can't be trusted. Physics has evolved to measure everything known and has made enormous progress in applying that for the benefit of society.

If somebody can come up with a measurement of religious experience that is objective, scientists would certainly pay attention. After all, something relatively trivial like telepathy has been investigated, why not religious experience. The problem with telepathy has been that objective tests have so far shown no significant performance. If you're a scientist, why waste time on telepathy when all the tests so far have drawn a blank?

Regarding religious experience, I gather than some experiments have been conducted with people scanned by an MRI machine when the brain shows increased activity similar to the sort of activity described as "love". For religious experience to be real and not delusional, there would have to be an external measurable parameter and so far nobody has found one.

Experiments have also been conducted where people have been asked to pray for certain outcomes, but there has been no statistically significant performance above chance. In other words, there is no evidence that praying is effective. That is not to say that praying doesn't work, it's just that it has not been proven to work.

These religious issues contrast with "love". Love is probably as delusional as belief in God. Most of us have probably experienced something that we call "love". In case you're wondering, I'm happily married! Most likely love starts as a biochemical response to another person, which leads to the infatuation stage. Over time, the infatuation falls off (we become immune to the other person's biochemistry or it changes) but it is replaced by something more mature and permanent: shared experiences, memories and attitudes, which we probably thing of as real love.

It is quite possible that religious people confuse their brain response with the "love" response, especially as the same part of the brain seems to be used.

Obviously understanding the brain better will help us to unravel some of these issues.


message 33: by James, Group Founder (last edited Apr 23, 2015 09:15AM) (new)

James Morcan | 10911 comments John wrote: "James,

In one of your posts you were talking about "unexplained experiences". Presumably by that you mean religious experience. Many things are unexplained, primarily because we don't have the data at our disposal. "A sufficiently scientifically advanced civilisation" appears to use magic.
..."


Hey John,
I don't recall making the statement you refer to about unexplained experiences, but doubt it was to do with religious experiences.
Quite a few of your stated opinions about religion also reflect my own theories on religion.
Also, keep in mind certain videos or articles I post in this group are not necessarily representative of my own beliefs...Sometimes I just post certain things I'm fairly sure are not remotely true (e.g. the Global Cooling theory), to stimulate a wider debate inclusive of interrelated subjects. And occasionally, some things I felt very sure were not true initially end up being proven to be fact at a later date or at least shown to be highly likely to be true...So that's the benefit of leaving no stone unturned in this group and letting everyone have their say, I believe.

Also, I fully agree what you imply about romantic love and the deceptive aspect of it.
Have just uploaded a video on science's understandings of this type of infatuation stage society commonly calls love: https://www.goodreads.com/videos/8309...

I think what science is beginning to uncover here may also explain the dark side of love where the jilted lover turns destructive or becomes a stalker or even kills someone they formerly loved and then became obsessed with...

The more the average person can understand the chemical reactions science has proven occur in the early stages of romances, the better equiped people will be to recognize destructive patterns as they occur. Perhaps if there was wider reporting of science's analysis of the love state, and we taught it to children before they start first fall in love, there would be less people in jail serving time for romantic crimes.

I recall a news story a few years ago of a NASA female astronaut who had discovered her husband was having an affair with another female at NASA. She planned to kill her husband and drove all the way from New York to Miami wearing diapers (so that she wouldn't lose any time stopping along the way!). I found it incredible that someone like a NASA astronaut would resort to such behaivor, but I guess once the chemicals are released in certain brains (especially perhaps highly emotional people) it overrides intelligence and logic?

Coming back to the topic at hand: I happen to believe we shouldn't dismiss the "God exists and does not exist" riddle...

Could there be a way Atheists, Agnostics and Believers are not as impossibly separated as we all assume them to be?

For example, one concept for the sake of argument is that there may be no individual soul (which is what atheists and many atheistic scientists believe) but still there could be an afterlife where the individual's essence somehow rejoins "All That Is" or the "Universal Energy" or whatever you want to call it. In this instance, the individual would merge back into non-individualism (which funnily enough matches what some ancient belief systems outside of organized religions actually believed).

To my mind, this would be a concept whereby both sides would be wrong and both sides would be right.
Maybe it's as others have said: science is not quite mature enough yet to understand the subtleties. But also, organized religion is too stubborn or convoluted to express spirituality in scientific ways.


message 34: by Harry (new)

Harry Whitewolf | 1745 comments EdWrite wrote: "Laureen wrote: "John, just an observation. My name is spelt Laureen. It doesn't trouble me because I get called Lauren, Maureen and Lorraine lots of times. However, I just bring it up because sc..."

Spelled. Spelt. Depends what continent you're on. Ed and Laureen, you're both right!


message 35: by John (new)

John Austin James,

You make some good points about the off-topic issues.

Regarding the astronaut, this was perhaps not so much an emotional response, but a "driven" one. In other words, astronauts are probably single minded and when they set out to do something nothing gets in the way!

Of course there is common ground between believers and non-believers. This is regarding ethics and morality. Believers presumably think of these as God-given, non-believers think of them as a set of rules by which society functions best. I often wonder whether the top clerics such as the Pope and the Cardinals actually believe in the explicit existence of God. Or is He to many of them a philosophical concept which helps to provide the ethical and moral basis for our lives. If one were a philosopher one might argue that God exists because we can imagine him to exist. Presumably these issues are discussed in academic courses on divinity.


message 36: by James, Group Founder (new)

James Morcan | 10911 comments John wrote: "Regarding the astronaut, this was perhaps not so much an emotional response, but a "driven" one. In other words, astronauts are probably single minded and when they set out to do something nothing gets in the way!..."

Ha! You could be right, actually!


message 37: by Laureen (new)

Laureen (laureenandersonswfcomau) | 478 comments EdWrite wrote: "Laureen wrote: "OK Ed, I stand corrected by your superior knowledge. I will run it past my husband who has the highest degree in English Lit and he has been correcting me ever since we sent love l..."

You suspect wrong, Ed. I have deep respect for both your insights and your humour.


message 38: by Laureen (new)

Laureen (laureenandersonswfcomau) | 478 comments Well thanks Ed, but I wish I had your ability for famous one-liners.


message 39: by Laureen (new)

Laureen (laureenandersonswfcomau) | 478 comments Yeah Ed, much appreciated. It's good that there is a few of us left that is open minded. I wonder, what is the definition of an open mind? I think I have one but those that disagree with us Ed also think they have an open mind. It's a puzzle unless it just means that someone sliced open our skull and our brain is exposed! HaHa. No seriously, I think we should have a poll on what is an open mind. It might at least cause people to think about if they truly have one! Just a thought.


message 40: by Laureen (new)

Laureen (laureenandersonswfcomau) | 478 comments Ed, what do you mean "stuck in place". I am a simple minded Aussie old hen and do not compute.


message 41: by Laureen (new)

Laureen (laureenandersonswfcomau) | 478 comments HaHa Ed. As if you or I are likely to last another few decades. I like your definition though!


message 42: by Lance, Group Founder (last edited Nov 19, 2015 02:22AM) (new)

Lance Morcan | 2656 comments This book, The Science Delusion: Freeing The Spirit Of Enquiry by Dr. Rupert Sheldrake, is currently a suggested group read.

The Science Delusion Freeing The Spirit Of Enquiry by Rupert Sheldrake


message 43: by finecat (new)

finecat | 14 comments Lance, that book and others by that author look quite good.


message 44: by James, Group Founder (new)

James Morcan | 10911 comments Lisa wrote: "I wish the schools I went to did spelling bees...saw them on TV and they looked like the coolest thing!"

Those gets sure get competitive at those spelling bees! At least the ones I've seen on TV...anyone would think they are playing for a million bucks! And they always look like the biggest geeks ever :)


message 45: by Elisabet (new)

Elisabet Norris | 486 comments James Morcan wrote: "Lisa wrote: "I wish the schools I went to did spelling bees...saw them on TV and they looked like the coolest thing!"

Those gets sure get competitive at those spelling bees! At least the ones I've..."


I think they should have spelling bees for the elderly....that would be a great training for the mind :) ....the prices could be free transplants or surgeries ; )


message 46: by James, Group Founder (last edited Jul 25, 2017 10:33AM) (new)

James Morcan | 10911 comments Banned TED Talk: The Science Delusion - Dr. Rupert Sheldrake at TEDx Whitechapel (banned by TED) https://www.goodreads.com/videos/1238...
(Re-uploaded since TED's Chris Anderson censored Rupert Sheldrake and removed this video from the TEDx YouTube channel.)


message 47: by James, Group Founder (new)

James Morcan | 10911 comments Science Vs God - Is There A Life Force That Transcends Matter? | Under The Skin with Russell Brand https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dAS-Q...

Dubbed “the most controversial scientist on Earth” Rupert Sheldrake joins me to discuss the dogmas within conventional science, the evolving laws of physics, memory in nature, and how science validates and improves spiritual practices.


message 48: by Glen (new)

Glen Tucker (tommytucker) | 55 comments James wrote: "Banned TED Talk: The Science Delusion - Dr. Rupert Sheldrake at TEDx Whitechapel (banned by TED) https://www.goodreads.com/videos/1238......"

trying to load this and look at it but no joy, so looks like Youtube have banned it to in a sneaky way by making access take a long time.


message 49: by James, Group Founder (new)

James Morcan | 10911 comments 10 Dogmas Holding Back Science ~ Rupert Sheldrake Ph.D. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9UbFa...


message 50: by Glen (new)

Glen Tucker (tommytucker) | 55 comments Sad that these discussions aren't taking place in the public arena. Looks like we've regressed to the days of the Inquisition only the Scientific one instead of the religious one.


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