A Critique of Biological Materialism

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Greta
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Re: A Critique of Biological Materialism

Post by Greta » December 14th, 2016, 10:58 pm

Anthony Edgar wrote:What about reports of miracles, visions and demonic possession? These are events that have been observed.
There are no independently documented cases. What's always been observed tends to be mental, bacterial or viral illnesses. Demons only exist in the figurative sense. They are not real, along with angels, fairies, pixies, unicorns, Noah and Santa - all just legend.

When I was little I was sure that aliens in spandex body suits like Athena in Lost in Space were hiding in my parents' bedroom, just waiting for the chance to run out and attack me. Once, after a nightmare, I was sure I saw a six foot high dachshund walk through the kitchen. When I was especially young I thought there was a huge sentient golliwog named Ajax who lived down the dark side of my bed, which forced me to sleep on my right side :lol:

It's more or less the same phenomenon; people see things and sometimes have odd interpretations. Mind you, I suspect that there's something more interesting going on than the usual materialist narrative but I would rather try to explore it with an open mind rather that looking through the "faulty lenses" of ancient creeds. It's difficult to speak about any such issues without the old Abrahamic narratives hijacking the conversation.

I find Abrahamic religions interminably dull in the same way as I'm bored to tears by Hey Jude and Stairway to Heaven. Yes, great songs, but let's give it a rest, eh? Similarly "the greatest story ever told" is one helluva narrative but it's been done to death, with countless mistakes and recycling of ancient myths: Jesus = Osiris and/or Horace. Noah's flood myth was borrowed from the Sumerians or Gilgamesh of Babylon.

Mythology can be interesting and instructive, but it should almost never be taken literally (as per modern language), nor too seriously.

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Re: A Critique of Biological Materialism

Post by Felix » December 14th, 2016, 11:58 pm

Anthony Edgar: What about reports of miracles, visions and demonic possession? These are events that have been observed.
Greta: There are no independently documented cases.
Never say Never, Greta.... First of all, visions are purely subjective, so obviously only the person having them can observe them. And a miracle is simply an event that cannot be explained by science, do you really believe that every event can be explained by science?

Let me ask you question: If you knew someone who repeatedly had visions of improbable events, which later happened just as they had described, and you were with them on two occasions when they had such visions (that later came to fruition), would you not consider that convincing evidence of precognitive vision? I have known such a person (very well).
"We do not see things as they are; we see things as we are." - Anaïs Nin

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Greta
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Re: A Critique of Biological Materialism

Post by Greta » December 15th, 2016, 1:16 am

Felix wrote:Never say Never, Greta.... First of all, visions are purely subjective, so obviously only the person having them can observe them. And a miracle is simply an event that cannot be explained by science, do you really believe that every event can be explained by science?
Actually not (yet?), but that does not mean believing in demons or other obvious myths.
Felix wrote:Let me ask you question: If you knew someone who repeatedly had visions of improbable events, which later happened just as they had described, and you were with them on two occasions when they had such visions (that later came to fruition), would you not consider that convincing evidence of precognitive vision? I have known such a person (very well).
That would give me pause for thought, as have a number of things in my own life. Still, I am wary about convincing oneself, hence my claim to agnostic status. My gut feeling is that there is more to reality than the standard materialist claims but I think the Abrahamic view tends to be more of a distraction than credible. Hindus and Buddhists strike me less beholden to superstition, more methodical and interested in actual reality, ie. the subjective experience of a person gaining adeptness at exploring the possibilities of human consciousness via meditative practices.

That makes more sense to me than Abrahamic prayer, petitioning God or Allah for favours, although I appreciate that there are Christian and Sufi meditations from which the adepts can achieve similar things to the Buddhists.

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Re: A Critique of Biological Materialism

Post by Andrian » December 15th, 2016, 10:33 am

Felix wrote: Let me ask you question: If you knew someone who repeatedly had visions of improbable events, which later happened just as they had described, and you were with them on two occasions when they had such visions (that later came to fruition), would you not consider that convincing evidence of precognitive vision? I have known such a person (very well).
Contact James Randi. There could be a million dollars in it for you and your friend if what you say can hold up to scientific scrutiny.

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Re: A Critique of Biological Materialism

Post by Dolphin42 » December 15th, 2016, 3:18 pm

Felix: You have piqued my curiosity. I'm interested to know exactly what these improbable events were. The reason I'm interested is, of course, because I want to heartlessly and mercilessly drain them of their mystery and wonder by cynically applying the cold fluorescent light of reason and analysis to show why they're not actually that improbable at all. Hopefully my cynicism will be destroyed by an epiphany and replaced by the warm light of a flickering candle.

Merry Christmas.

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Re: A Critique of Biological Materialism

Post by Felix » December 15th, 2016, 6:25 pm

Andrian: Contact James Randi. There could be a million dollars in it for you and your friend if what you say can hold up to scientific scrutiny.
Science can only investigate events that can be made to occur on demand, they must be observable, repeatable, and measurable. They can't study something such as a subjective vision which occurs irregularly and which cannot even be even controlled by the subject. In fact this is why you can be almost certain that anyone who claims to be able to perform psychic acts on demand is a fraud, especially if they demand money for it. If they were truly psychic on demand, they'd just pick the winning numbers in a Super Lotto or something, right?
Dolphin42: Felix, You have piqued my curiosity. I'm interested to know exactly what these improbable events were. The reason I'm interested is, of course, because I want to heartlessly and mercilessly drain them of their mystery and wonder by cynically applying the cold fluorescent light of reason and analysis to show why they're not actually that improbable at all. Hopefully my cynicism will be destroyed by an epiphany and replaced by the warm light of a flickering candle.
I should have guessed, what could be more impertinent than a piqued curiousity?.... but what makes you think I didn't "apply the cold fluorescent light of reason and analysis to them"? Well, I do prefer natural lighting, or warm Christmas tree lighting this time of year, and so I probably used the former to illuminate my experiences.

My good friend's visions, not surprisingly, tended to be about people or places to whom she had an emotional connection.

I will give you two brief examples: I was with her, we were sitting in her living room, and she sat down to rest and closed her eyes. A few minutes later, she suddenly opened her eyes and with a shocked look on her face, she exclaimed (I don't recall her exact words): "Oh my God!, my mother just appeared to me (in a vision) and said her heart had given out, she must leave this world but the love between us will survive and we will meet again."

Her mother was in her mid-50's and had no known history of heart disease. She then tried to contact her mother but could not reach her. A few hours later a close relative phoned her to tell her that her mother had a massive coronary and died shortly after being taken to the hospital.

Her second vision was actually a lucid dream: obviously I didn't witness it but she recounted it to me the day after she had it and asked me what I thought it meant. I said I had no idea, sounds like a bad movie scene. She had lived in New Jersey and worked in Manhatten at one time. She had this dream in March of 2001 and described it to me then. The dream was of graphic scenes from 9/11, an airliner crashing into the World Trade Center, etc. (in a part of the city she was quite familiar with).

There are other examples but as the saying goes, "You had to be there."
Dolphin42: Merry Christmas
Same to you.... Food for thought: Santa may indeed know when you've been bad or good so be good for goodness sake (sounds like he read Kant too).
"We do not see things as they are; we see things as we are." - Anaïs Nin

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Re: A Critique of Biological Materialism

Post by Renee » December 15th, 2016, 7:08 pm

Dolphin42: Merry Christmas

Same to you.... Food for thought: Santa may indeed know when you've been bad or good so be good for goodness sake (sounds like he read Kant too).
Santa Kant read.
Ignorance is power.

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Re: A Critique of Biological Materialism

Post by Greta » December 15th, 2016, 7:14 pm

Felix wrote:I will give you two brief examples: I was with her, we were sitting in her living room, and she sat down to rest and closed her eyes. A few minutes later, she suddenly opened her eyes and with a shocked look on her face, she exclaimed (I don't recall her exact words): "Oh my God!, my mother just appeared to me (in a vision) and said her heart had given out, she must leave this world but the love between us will survive and we will meet again."

Her mother was in her mid-50's and had no known history of heart disease. She then tried to contact her mother but could not reach her. A few hours later a close relative phoned her to tell her that her mother had a massive coronary and died shortly after being taken to the hospital.

Her second vision was actually a lucid dream: obviously I didn't witness it but she recounted it to me the day after she had it and asked me what I thought it meant. I said I had no idea, sounds like a bad movie scene. She had lived in New Jersey and worked in Manhatten at one time. She had this dream in March of 2001 and described it to me then. The dream was of graphic scenes from 9/11, an airliner crashing into the World Trade Center, etc. (in a part of the city she was quite familiar with).
The implications here go far beyond just psychic phenomena - also afterlives and predetermination (or that spacetime is physically a 4D manifold).

What do you make of all that in terms of your belief systems?

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Re: A Critique of Biological Materialism

Post by Felix » December 15th, 2016, 8:41 pm

I avoid cherishing beliefs, Greta, but my conclusion is that wo/man possesses or has possessed "occult" psychic or intuitive abilities that are often beyond our control and comprehension. Perhaps these are vestigial abilities that have faded away as a result of our habitual adherence to logical thought.

In the first example I gave, the event my friend witnessed intuitively (the death of her mother) had just occurred but was not confirmed until hours afterwords.

In the 9/11 example, the event occurred about 6 months after she had the dream about it. We know now that the actions that led to that event were planned many months if not years ahead of time; the jihadi terrorists attended flight training school, etc. So it was not necessarily predetermined but highly probable that it would happen - many of it's early warning signs were ignored or overlooked by government security experts.

I had a chance to talk to the writer Doug Boyd about these sorts of things, he had known and in fact lived with several individuals with unusual abilities - he called them Medicine People. He has written a few books about them: the Native American shamans Rolling Thunder and Mad Bear, the Indian swami Swami Rama, et. al. (I recommend all his books). He couldn't really explain such abilities either, only verify that they do exist and that he had repeatedly witnessed them. People will say what they will about them.
"We do not see things as they are; we see things as we are." - Anaïs Nin

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Re: A Critique of Biological Materialism

Post by Graeme M » December 15th, 2016, 9:39 pm

Felix, in the absence of documentation that affirms these claims of precognition, I would have to discount them. If indeed we are simply a "pack of neurons" doing things (which is what I believe us to be), then it follows that all of our experiences and memories are in some form confabulations. Much of remembered events are rather likely to be after the fact reconstruction. You may believe that you had these experiences as you describe them, I suggest you did not.

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Re: A Critique of Biological Materialism

Post by Greta » December 15th, 2016, 10:00 pm

Yes Felix, there seems too much weirdness and knowledge gaps in reality to adopt strong beliefs about either the spiritualist or materialist narratives.

It seems to me that belief - be it spiritualist or materialist - is a personality trait, a desire to "nail things down", to have questions settled.

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Re: A Critique of Biological Materialism

Post by Daviddunn » December 16th, 2016, 1:55 am

@Greta

Hi Greta, how are you?
Greta wrote:...Abrahamic prayer, petitioning God or Allah for favours...
The Muslim prayer (that which you have called the Abrahamic prayer) and the “petitioning” of God or Allah The Almighty have different appellations and have different forms in Islam. However, they both share the characteristic of being ways to address God, the Almighty.

The Muslim prayer is known in Arabic as “salaat” and the petitioning of God (as you said) is known as “duah” in which Muslims ask God, the Almighty for things that are beneficial for them and others. Muslims generally make duah after salaat but a Muslim can make duah to Allah, the Almighty at any time. An example of a duah would be:

O Allah, guide Greta and anyone on this forum who is either just reading or posting, to Islam and open their hearts to the message of the Holy Quran.

And generally, other Muslims upon hearing of this duah would say, “Ameen”

At the following Youtube link, there is a nice animated cartoon depiction of each of that which you have shown interest by mentioning, being done successively, i.e Muslim prayer followed by duah (or petitioning The Absolute Sovereign, as you may prefer): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l1oF8DG4BDg

The most important condition that must be fulfilled when one is addressing God, The Almighty in “duah” (or petitioning as you may prefer) is belief in the Absolute Oneness of God, the Almighty. That implies that one should not associate with God, the Almighty anything that He created as an equal to God, the Almighty. If one does that nonetheless (i.e. associating others with God, the Almighty), then it would be polytheism, and it annuls any good action.

God, the Almighty created everything, and He Himself is eternal, without a beginning and with no end. Everything else is His creation, whether it be the earth, the sky, dinosaurs, humans, angels, heaven, hell etc… In Islam, Muslims believe that God sent Prophets to give the people good news and remind the people of their duties of being thankful and grateful towards God, The Almighty. Prophet Adam was the first human being whom God, the Almighty created. Other Prophets in Islam are Prophet Noah, Prophet Abraham, Prophet Moses, Prophet Jesus Christ and Prophet Muhammad being the last and final Prophet and Messenger (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon all the prophets). God, the Almighty before mankind had created the angels and among them are Angel Gabriel, Angel Michael and the Angel of Death (peace be upon the angels). Angel Gabriel (pbuh) is the leader (Imam) of the angels. All the prophets and the angels (peace be upon them) are creations of God, the Almighty, and a Muslim does not associate as an equal to God, the Almighty, any one of His creations.
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Re: A Critique of Biological Materialism

Post by Dolphin42 » December 16th, 2016, 2:54 am

Daviddunn (This a bit off topic, but I think it's interesting and hope the moderators will forgive it):
The most important condition that must be fulfilled when one is addressing God, The Almighty in “duah” (or petitioning as you may prefer) is belief in the Absolute Oneness of God, the Almighty. That implies that one should not associate with God, the Almighty anything that He created as an equal to God, the Almighty. If one does that nonetheless (i.e. associating others with God, the Almighty), then it would be polytheism, and it annuls any good action.
As I understand it, the Christian Holy Trinity regards the father, son and holy ghost as equal. In your view, should/does Islam regard Christianity as polytheism? If so, should/does Islam, in your view, regard any good actions of Christians as having been annulled by their belief in the central tenets of their chosen religion?

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Re: A Critique of Biological Materialism

Post by Daviddunn » December 16th, 2016, 9:59 am

@Dolphin42

Not all who call themselves Christians believe in the Trinity. Some like the Jehovah Witnesses, the Christadelphians and the Unitarians for examples vehemently reject the whole concept of the Trinity as unscriptural. They believe in God, the Creator. And they believe that Prophet Jesus Christ ( pbuh ) was a man, and the Holy Spirit is the "active force" of God. For these Christians, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are distinct persons and they accept only the Father as God. They substantiate their fundamental tenet by verses from the Bible such as where, according to them Jesus Christ says:
  • By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me. (John 5:30)

    You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. (John 14:28 NIV)

    "But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. (Mark 13:32 NIV)

    "Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good--except God alone. (Luke 18:19 NIV)
From these verses, it is clear that the Father and the son and the Holy Spirit are not equal in the attributes of might/power, greatness, knowledge and goodness. From the Bible itself, the Father, the son and the Holy Spirit are not equal, but the Father is greater that the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Moreover, Prophet Jesus Christ ( pbuh ) preached strict monotheism in the Bible, when he was asked about the most important commandment.
  • 28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
    29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.
    30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ (Mark 12: 28-30)
In fact you will not find the concept of trinity anywhere in the Bible, but it was a concept added much later after Prophet Jesus Christ left this world. Does this answer your questions?
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Re: A Critique of Biological Materialism

Post by Felix » December 16th, 2016, 3:18 pm

Daviddunn, There are several Biblical passages that appear to contradict your assertion, chiefly from John, a disciple of Jesus. For example:

Jesus said to him, “I AM the way, the truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father."


But we're rambling all over in this place in this thread.
"We do not see things as they are; we see things as we are." - Anaïs Nin

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