Why Can’t Science Explain Consciousness?

Why Can’t Science Explain Consciousness?

Posted: 16 Feb 2015 06:00 AM PST from TOUGH QUESTIONS ANSWERED

DirtRugBroom.jpg?mtime=1336685474It is not uncommon these days to hear something like the following: “Science has explained just about everything else in the world, so it is inevitable that science will explain the mind and consciousness.” This kind of comment always makes me roll my eyes because the people who make this comment are making a colossal error, but an error that can be hard to see.

Philosopher Ed Feser gives a brilliant analogy that makes the error more obvious. He calls it the “lump under the rug” fallacy.

Suppose the wood floors of your house are filthy and that the dirt is pretty evenly spread throughout the house. Suppose also that there is a rug in one of the hallways. You thoroughly sweep out one of the bedrooms and form a nice little pile of dirt at the doorway. It occurs to you that you could effectively “get rid” of this pile by sweeping it under the nearby rug in the hallway, so you do so. The lump under the rug thereby formed is barely noticeable, so you are pleased.

You proceed to sweep the rest of the bedrooms, the bathroom, the kitchen, etc., and in each case you sweep the resulting piles under the same rug. When you’re done, however, the lump under the rug has become quite large and something of an eyesore. Someone asks you how you are going to get rid of it. “Easy!” you answer. “The same way I got rid of the dirt everywhere else! After all, the ‘sweep it under the rug’ method has worked everywhere else in the house. How could this little rug in the hallway be the one place where it wouldn’t work? What are the odds of that?”

What is wrong with using the “sweep it under the rug” method to get rid of the dirt under the rug?

Naturally, the same method will not work in this case, and it is precisely because it worked everywhere else that it cannot work in this case. You can get rid of dirt outside the rug by sweeping it under the rug. You cannot get of the dirt under the rug by sweeping it under the rug. You will only make a fool of yourself if you try, especially if you confidently insist that the method must work here because it has worked so well elsewhere.

So what does the “sweep it under the rug” method have to do with the issue of whether science will explain the mind and consciousness some day?

Now, the “Science has explained everything else, so how could the human mind be the one exception?” move is, of course, standard scientistic and materialist shtick. But it is no less fallacious than our imagined “lump under the rug” argument.

Here’s why. Keep in mind that Descartes, Newton, and the other founders of modern science essentially stipulated that nothing that would not fit their exclusively quantitative or “mathematicized” conception of matter would be allowed to count as part of a “scientific” explanation. Now to common sense, the world is filled with irreducibly qualitative features — colors, sounds, odors, tastes, heat and cold — and with purposes and meanings. None of this can be analyzed in quantitative terms.

To be sure, you can re-define color in terms of a surface’s reflection of light of certain wavelengths, sound in terms of compression waves, heat and cold in terms of molecular motion, etc. But that doesn’t capture what common sense means by color, sound, heat, cold, etc. — the way red looks, the way an explosion sounds, the way heat feels, etc. So, Descartes and Co. decided to treat these irreducibly qualitative features as projections of the mind.

The redness we see in a “Stop” sign, as common sense understands redness, does not actually exist in the sign itself but only as the quale of our conscious visual experience of the sign; the heat we attribute to the bathwater, as common sense understands heat, does not exist in the water itself but only in the “raw feel” that the high mean molecular kinetic energy of the water causes us to experience; meanings and purposes do not exist in external material objects but only in our minds, and we project these onto the world; and so forth. Objectively there are only colorless, odorless, soundless, tasteless, meaningless particles in fields of force.

In short, the scientific method “explains everything else” in the world in something like the way the “sweep it under the rug” method gets rid of dirt — by taking the irreducibly qualitative and teleological features of the world, which don’t fit the quantitative methods of science, and sweeping them under the rug of the mind. And just as the literal “sweep it under the rug” method generates under the rug a bigger and bigger pile of dirt which cannot in principle be gotten rid of using the “sweep it under the rug” method, so too does modern science’s method of treating irreducibly qualitative, semantic, and teleological features as mere projections of the mind generate in the mind a bigger and bigger “pile” of features which cannot be explained using the same method.

And there you have it. The very way science does its work is to exclude the qualitative features of reality as experienced by human consciousness. To lump the phenomena of consciousness in with the phenomena of gravity, cellular division, and star formation, is to try to get rid of the dirt under the rug by sweeping the dirt under the rug! It won’t work, ever.

Related Posts

1. Why Is There a Mind-Body Problem? Part 2

2. What Are Four Things Science Will Never Explain? – #1 Post of 2011

3. Is Science Dependent on Other Disciplines?

4. Is There a War Between Religion and Science?

YARPP

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The Problem of the Mind – we don’t only have one

Hi Ian,

My partner says I have one brain in my head and another one in my stomach and another one.. never mind. At college in my interactions with students I am learning about cultural intelligence, emotional intelligence, the different ways of learning, I am coming to see that reason is not so clean and clear as I once thought it might be. I am often confused, torn between values and facts and intuition and logic, all different kinds of logic.  Is my mind hopelessly divided? Or have I been eating badly and staying up too late?

Max

 

Hi Max,

About the food, ask your mother.

There is evidence of the ‘different kinds of logic’ that gets stronger each year, quite apart from the distinction we can draw between mind and brain. Here is  one article.

How do we really make decisions? 24 February 2014 Last updated at 02:28 by Toby Macdonald  Producer,

Horizon: How You Really Make Decisions

With every decision you take, every judgement you make, there is a battle in your mind – a battle between intuition and logic.

And the intuitive part of your mind is a lot more powerful than you may think.

Most of us like to think that we are capable of making rational decisions. We may at times rely on our gut instinct, but if necessary we can call on our powers of reason to arrive at a logical decision.

If we think that we have reasons for what we believe, that is often a mistake”

We like to think that our beliefs, judgements and opinions are based on solid reasoning. But we may have to think again.

Prof Daniel Kahneman, from Princeton University, started a revolution in our understanding of the human mind. It’s a revolution that led to him winning a Nobel Prize.

His insight into the way our minds work springs from the mistakes that we make. Not random mistakes, but systematic errors that we all make, all the time, without realising.

Prof Kahneman and his late colleague Amos Tversky, who worked at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Stanford University, realised that we actually have two systems of thinking. There’s the deliberate, logical part of your mind that is capable of analysing a problem and coming up with a rational answer.

This is the part of your mind that you are aware of. It’s expert at solving problems, but it is slow, requires a great deal of energy, and is extremely lazy. Even the act of walking is enough to occupy most of your attentive mind.

If you are asked to solve a tricky problem while walking, you will most likely stop because your attentive mind cannot attend to both tasks at the same time. If you want to test your own ability to pay attention, try the invisible gorilla test devised by Chris Chabris, from Union College, New York, and Daniel Simons from the University of Illinois.

But then there is another system in your mind that is intuitive, fast and automatic. This fast way of thinking is incredibly powerful, but totally hidden. It is so powerful, it is actually responsible for most of the things that you say, do, think and believe.

We are limited, we are not perfect, we are irrational in all kinds of ways”

And yet you have no idea this is happening. This system is your hidden auto-pilot, and it has a mind of its own. It is sometimes known as the stranger within.

Most of the time, our fast, intuitive mind is in control, efficiently taking charge of all the thousands of decisions we make each day. The problem comes when we allow our fast, intuitive system to make decisions that we really should pass over to our slow, logical system. This is where the mistakes creep in.

Our thinking is riddled with systematic mistakes known to psychologists as cognitive biases. And they affect everything we do. They make us spend impulsively, be overly influenced by what other people think. They affect our beliefs, our opinions, and our decisions, and we have no idea it is happening.

It may seem hard to believe, but that’s because your logical, slow mind is a master at inventing a cover story. Most of the beliefs or opinions you have come from an automatic response. But then your logical mind invents a reason why you think or believe something.

According to Daniel Kahneman, “if we think that we have reasons for what we believe, that is often a mistake. Our beliefs and our wishes and our hopes are not always anchored in reasons”.

Since Kahneman and Tversky first investigated this radical picture of the mind, the list of identified cognitive biases has mushroomed. The “present bias” causes us to pay attention to what is happening now, but not to worry about the future. If I offer you half a box of chocolates in a year’s time, or a whole box in a year and a day, you’ll probably choose to wait the extra day.

If we really have had this strategy for the last 35 million years, simply deciding to overcome it is just not going to work”

But if I offer you half a box of chocolates right now, or a whole box of chocolates tomorrow, you will most likely take half a box of chocolates now. It’s the same difference, but waiting an extra day in a year’s time seems insignificant. Waiting a day now seems impossible when faced with the immediate promise of chocolate.

According to Prof Dan Ariely, from Duke University in North Carolina, this is one of the most important biases: “That’s the bias that causes things like overeating and smoking and texting and driving and having unprotected sex,” he explains.

Confirmation bias is the tendency to look for information that confirms what we already know. It’s why we tend to buy a newspaper that agrees with our views. There’s the hindsight bias, the halo effect, the spotlight effect, loss aversion and the negativity bias.

This is the bias that means that negative events are far more easily remembered than positive ones. It means that for every argument you have in a relationship, you need to have five positive memories just to maintain an even keel.

The area of our lives where these cognitive biases cause most grief is anything to do with money. It was for his work in this area that Prof Kahneman was awarded the Nobel Prize – not for psychology (no such prize exists) but for economics. His insights led to a whole new branch of economics – behavioural economics.

Kahneman realised that we respond very differently to losses than to gains. We feel the pain of a loss much more than we feel the pleasure of a gain. He even worked out by how much. If you lose £10 today, you will feel the pain of the loss. But if you find some money tomorrow, you will have to find more than £20 to make up for the loss of £10. This is loss aversion, and its cumulative effect can be catastrophic.

One difficulty with the traditional economic view is that it tends to assume that we all make rational decisions. The reality seems to be very different. Behavioural economists are trying to form an economic system based on the reality of how we actually make decisions.

Dan Ariely argues that the implications of ignoring this research are catastrophic: “I’m quite certain if the regulators listened to behavioural economists early on we would have designed a very different financial system, and we wouldn’t have had the incredible increase in the housing market and we wouldn’t have this financial catastrophe,” he says.

These biases affect us all, whether we are choosing a cup of coffee, buying a car, running an investment bank or gathering military intelligence.

So what are we to do? Dr Laurie Santos, a psychologist at Yale University, has been investigating how deep seated these biases really are. Until we know the evolutionary origins of these two systems of thinking, we won’t know if we can change them.

Dr Santos taught a troop of monkeys to use money. It’s called monkeynomics, and she wanted to find out whether monkeys would make the same stupid mistakes as humans. She taught the monkeys to use tokens to buy treats, and found that monkeys also show loss aversion – making the same mistakes as humans.

Her conclusion is that these biases are so deep rooted in our evolutionary past, they may be impossible to change.

“What we learn from the monkeys is that if this bias is really that old, if we really have had this strategy for the last 35 million years, simply deciding to overcome it is just not going to work. We need other ways to make ourselves avoid some of these pitfalls,” she explained.

We may not be able to change ourselves, but by being aware of our cognitive limitations, we may be able to design the environment around us in a way that allows for our likely mistakes.

Dan Ariely sums it up: “We are limited, we are not perfect, we are irrational in all kinds of ways. But we can build a world that is compatible with this that gets us to make better decisions rather than worse decisions. That’s my hope.”

HORIZON: How You Really Make Decisions is on Monday 24 February, 9pm, BBC2

WORSHIP IS REVERENCE

BIBLE READINGS: Isaiah 1.11-17, Luke 12.1-7, Exodus 3.1-7, Deut 6.20-25

Outline by Rev Dr Ian Robinson

The idea of ‘reverence’ has done some hard yards lately. Some want it o mean conservatives sitting in silence in church, and others want it to mean the expression of a passionate love. It has two allied ideas – fear and respect, and both of these are in confusion too. That gives us the hint that we need to know this for several strong and maybe severe reasons. So I will begin with stories that will put flesh and feeling around the dynamic of reverence, and then some bible study.

Q: What is “Reverence/respect” when used about worship?

To keep quiet? keep silence? dressing up to look good? dressing how someone thinks you should? acting more formally than usual? I suppose that idea comes from the idea of God as a King and everyone must act like restrained adults.

Or is it more accurate to show a God of love to see people entering church in conversation and loving greetings and ‘how has this week been?’ In this church children can be a little bit spontaneous as they are wont to do.

‘Reverence’ is a lukewarm word, at best, and I don’t want to go to a dictionary for more lukewarm definitions. So, here are some stories that I hope will put the feeling back into what we talking about.

It took my breath away. Standing near rigid with fatigue, 22 hours of labour and nothing to show but an exhausted beloved Margaret (probably should say beautiful here but you know..) and frustrated midwives, chin-brow presentation, the surgeon came. With a spinal injection and two flicks of the wrist, called a Caesarean, and suddenly there was Thomas, my boy, held up like a flag in the air, eyes twisting to see where he was now, while sutures flashed behind the green screen. Took my breath away. Love and life happening with desperate force. I was rendered completely unable to speak.

But my life-long response as a husband and father has been to live in the light of that day. You see, I recognized where the life came from. The awe of life took my breath away, AND THEN launched a life-long response . That is reverence.

Now a less dramatic light.

We stepped out of cars on to the warm sand at the river’s edge and the breathless sound of small waves. The night was black, the river too and only the glide of some far off landing lights and the blur of a distant train told us where we were. As we slipped into the kayaks the full moon began to rise like a searchlight, trailing a summery silvery path right across to us, filling us and the sky with light. As we lifted our heads to take in its procession, two black swans ambled into the silver path, swaying towards us, sharing the river. I felt he privilege, a ‘welcome to country’ by these gorgeous native birds. The magic of the moment stayed with us all during that night, and for days and now every time I go there.

That take-your-breath-away feeling was the beginning of a response of reverence. Of course I could have treated it as just another beautiful sight in my collection of memories. I have let in awe and let my response be shaped by it – that is reverence.

Some days even if only for a moment, as I walk or stand or sit , I break through my mind’s preoccupations. I can feel the weight of God’s presence, how shall I say, a flowing loving giving cherishing living creating beautifying redeeming dynamism. In his eyes the hairs of my head are numbered. As I wait this presence comes into focus in the shape of Jesus. He died for me, can you beat that? My little acts of service and submission are to God (as Isaiah says, “precious in my eyes and honoured and I love you” . My growth in his love is his main game. My connection with the people of God around me and across the globe is his goal. Everything that breathes and everything of gravity in the cosmos shares in His great purpose and which is at work IN ME, Glory to God, IT IS AT WORK IN ME. Wow.

That takes my breath away and thus would I swoon in him. I give myself to be able to arrive in that attitude, and I live in its light as I choose to respond in deeds of submission and service, That is reverence.

I finished my sermon at a metropolitan Uniting Church and some tired older leaders thanked me with great feeling for my words of encouragement and hope. “God is not finished with us,” they smiled somewhat wearily. Last time I had preached there I met a vibrant bunch of young adults but to my surprise they were all gone. One of the elders in shirt and tie approached me. ‘Why do you dress that like, you look like a student or something.’ He pointed to his tie and his own righteousness and continued – ‘You should show respect to God’s house.’ I suddenly saw why they had all left, why the youth leader had finished up suddenly. That too took my breath away. To impose religious legalism where God’s love had before been shared and grown. I am sad to say, his ‘respect’ was not reverence, just another enforced ritual of which Isaiah 1 speaks and to which God says “I will not listen.”

Last story.

In church, indoors, on time, in rows – it is not really the hugeness of God that gets through to me, it is the fine surgery that he does. One night late in a darkened church I found myself getting annoyed with the precious prayers that went too long, stating the obvious, pathetic jokes, music disorganised and long winded – what was wrong with me?! These are good and godly people and I am bothered be with them? So I asked the Lord to search my heart. Almost immediately I saw my anxiety for the new role that I had moved interstate to do. Like a little Jeremiah, I wanted to be a prophet to the nations with the gospel.

‘It is too much for you’ he named it.

‘Have I made a mistake coming here then?’ My anxiety speaking even louder.

‘It is not too hard for me.’ I realize afresh whose task it is and whom do I serve.

‘Thank you Lord, I will stop asking you to walk my road and I will walk the road with you’.

That is not the punch line. There is even more surgery.

‘You want to reach the nations here in this state? He showed me King David in 2 Sam 7.19

“Who am I sovereign Lord and what is my family that you have brought me this far? And if this was too small a thing in your sight, you have also spoken about the future of the house of your servant – and this decree, Sovereign Lord, is for one human being!’

‘What you are thinking is too small.’ God said.

Suddenly I am thrilled again to be a servant of the Lord. Again I surrendered my heart and time and talents and all my best, win or lose, to this Lord Jesus Christ.

Can you see the spiritual dynamic – impatience shows worry becomes intimacy, awe at my calling, respond in reverence?

Why do we need to know this?

Because We become what we Worship

Isaiah 1 is ferocious against having the ‘best’ in worship that produced a society with the worst case of the privileged few. They had all the right moves in church-reverence but could not see the consequences of what God calls worship. So also Rom 12:1-2 transformed nonconformist lives show ‘acceptable worship’. The day-to-day consequences of our worship really matter, or God ‘will not listen’.

Worship says what is really the ultimate to us.

Everyone worships something, in that sense. The question is not ‘will you worship?’ but , if I look at your life and see what rules it in practical day to day decisions, ‘what do you worship’? The ongoing question is :’ is it worth it, is it the best. How many competing gods are in your head? Which God can hold the weight of your life’? Only Jesus the incarnate One.

Our culture is ‘pushing us away ‘ from God

People around us are investing in other things. Maybe a part of you, inside you, is investing the wrong things.

You can see it in our culture of disrespect

a. In many schools a cultivated culture of disrespect – facebook, blog comments, some high schools, male aussie humour > which leads on the other hand to ….In some places the importance of self-deprecating humour. If you don’t they might think you are important.

b. Social disrespect to God and people – OMG!, Jokes about God may become blasphemy, F*** words and other offences. Once I tried to escape by saying : “That’s Ok he’s a friend of mine” and it totally disarmed them, laughing they never said it again. Worked better than righteous indignation!

c. Churches without any customs of reverence, emphasising expression and passion, or passivity and neutrality without the bowing of the knee. Out of ignorance, I have heard criticism that Orthodox church reverence of icons, or Catholic crosses or…

d. Churches with too narrow understanding of what God calls respect . Why do they call me ‘reverend’ – is that so they do not have to be?

You can see it in a culture of distant respect

These are not new issues. Reverence as practised in the Graeco-Roman world:

a. They expressed respectful reverence at a great mistake, a lofty thought or like me at a sublime moment of awe. Essentially it was reverence at a distance, characterised byDrawing back. I hope our prayers are not like that for you. That’s not a biblical meaning.

b. In their hierarchy of officials and the circus of status, they had to keep up the appearance of doing reverence and giving honour to a great one. But that did not necessarily mean obedience, it could be fawning. In what is called a shame-honour society, their expression flipped from Woeful shame to excessive praise and none of it meant anything tomorrow. I hope your singing is not like that for you. That’s not a biblical meaning.

c. To do Reverence was to perform a religious action or duty in a temple or in one’s household shrine. Stand, sit, sacrifice, burn incense, sing, say the prayers. It’s what you do, it’s what you had to do to gain favour with the gods. ‘Pay due reverence’. I hope your church is not like that for you.That’s not a biblical meaning.

These are just some of the elements of worship at that time. SO CLEARLY respect is culturally determined as well as determined by the kind of worship expects.

Let’s look to scripture as our resource and guide.

FEAR God and BE NOT AFRAID

Trembling fear: Read the story of (Ex 3.6) Moses at the burning bush. He takes off his shoes for it is holy ground. But when he gets a little closer, he hid his face because he was afraid to look at God. Have you noticed that the voice immediately goes on to say that God has come to save not to destroy! Fear meets favour. In Ex 19.16 Everyone trembled with fear and stayed that way. The difference? Moses went close.

Hear the fear that draws in close in Psalm 2.11. Serve the LORD with fear and celebrate his rule with trembling. Kiss his son (the king) or he will be angry…his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him!

Biblical reverence is not about honour for honour’s sake, not holding back but coming in close to take refuge in the only possible friend. Are you close with God?

‘Fear God’ does not mean that God is a distant magistrate. God’s wrath is not waiting to pounce and punish, waiting for us to be good enough so he will deliver us from trial. God is not outside the world aloof but in here with us in compassion and holiness. He is just holding things steady enough, patiently allowing us all the room we want to co-create this world, like riding a wild horse, like a horse-whisper even. Let that image percolate around with you a while.

Isaiah and others express a fear of death by the fire of holiness but it doesn’t happen. When the fire falls they get called, loved and told ‘do not fear’.

What is it that burns so fiercely? The New Testament tells us unequivocally . It is a big Love that draws us in.

GOD IS BIG LOVE

God’s love is not any kind of love that we wish it to be. God-love has a particular set of priorities, a particular architecture and certain values are higher than others. So, to retian that architecture and priorities, we must keep his commandments:

Dt 5.29 : oh that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always. To obey his voice 1 Sam 12.14, To walk in his ways Dt 8.6

God expects a behaviour consequence from those who revere him. To turn away from evil Pr 3.7 Do not be wise in your own eyes but fear the Lord and shun evil. God’s love is healing, holiness and hope.All choices have consequences, all compromises lead to the next choice and we need to be clear what kind of community that we want to be seeding.

We have been shown a value system that we seek to adhere to completely, not picking the ones that we like, and not just quoting them against others. It still calls for interpretation into our context but that does not make some of them optional.

This love has three main characteristics – healing, holiness and hope.

God is Healing Wholeness God is not a mysterious space that we stand still and look at, but a place you come into for completion/fulfillment,.

God instills the beauty of Holiness Only those who know the fire of his grace can understand why anyone would want to obey his holiness completely. 2 Cor 7.1 perfecting holiness out of reverence for God

God instills in us hope for a Big LoveThe commands of God are not burdens imposed by a despot. They describe the way of Big Love. We can HOPE to have, in our ordinary lives, the impossible possible and the attainable presence of a personal infinity. So don’t make your aim any lower or any other little love – in all of life – romance, daily work, counter cultural, neighbourhood.

FEAR GIVES US THE RIGHT KIND OF COURAGE

Acts 9.31 Living in fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit the church increased in numbers.

2 Cor 5.11 We make it our goal to please Him…Since we know what it is to fear the Lord we try to persuade people. What we are is plain to God…

Fear says it is necessary to be Counter cultural Dt 6.13, 10.20, Josh 24.14-15 Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt….Choose: as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD. Also 1 Pet 1.17

Q: Where in your life are you aware that you have changed your thinking away from that of your ancestors (‘we are Ok and we have got it right just do as we say’) in favour of God’s revelation and impartiality (‘see true reality, see the ultimate, live that way completely above all other allegiance’)

So Fear God but do not be afraid.

In case you think this fear is all so Old Testament not New Testament, Jesus said:

Luke 12.5 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear. Fear him who after your body has been killed has authority to throw you into hell! Yes I tell you fear him. Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? …

NOTE: Judgement by Jesus is grounds for confidence about ultimate justice and kindness.

Did you see that Jesus follows the same pattern, fear meets favour – ‘fear Him who…you are of more value than sparrows’ . Fear is respect for God’s authority, which is quite singular, unmatched and unsurpassed, and which is repeatedly stated we might well fear but/and/because it is a force FOR us. Reverence lets that is and draws us to respond.

How to express reverence for God?

Obviously, not by the way you dress for church! Not by simply being quiet.

Adopt in your prayers, in church or elsewhere, the practice of an expressive physical action – a simple gesture of hand or bow or knee or prostration, keeping silence, an offering of sacrifice. E.g. Benedictine bow of the head when we say ‘glory be to the father…’. Not a compulsory ritual except in the sense that we can all act together in solidarity.

Faith is obedience in holiness, yes, to a love that is described by all the covenant commands of God ‘the honouring of God by total lifestyle” IS more than cultic activity. It takes your breath away. And then you do reverence.

Don’t let anything take you from prayer with a ‘face to face’ God and not ‘a God who is far off’. If there is major noise in your mind, major pain in your heart, then you might have to get to shouting your response if you are to be reverent.

God summons us to have more fear and be less afraid.

Christians understand a more clearly that a judging God is also a more welcoming God. What is more that holiness is a necessary expression of Love, which is the greatest, best, yet not unattainable and most possible Love. If we fear God we accept no cheap substitutes.

PRAYER IF YOU DARE

Jesus

I am seeking your face

I am catching my breath

I am living the life

I am wrapt in your love

To me, for me, through me

Holy holy holy

More fear and not afraid

Loving living Only God.

Amen

Common Misconceptions About Religion

Common Misconceptions About Religion

Posted: 01/22/2013 3:58 pm EST | Updated: 01/23/2013 1:15 pm

Being misunderstood is no fun in any context but when it is about something so personally meaningful as religion or non-religion, it can be infuriating.

We asked the community on the HuffPost Religion Facebook page if they could get rid of one misconception about their religious or secular tradition, what would it be?

Check out some of the answers here and add your own below in the comments section.

1. Belief does not equal faith.
2. Atheists are not anti-religion.
3. All Christians are like not like ones you see on T.V.
4. Atheism and Agnosticism are not mutually exclusive.
5. People who believe in God are not less intelligent.
6. Episcopalians are not all white, rich and privileged.
7. Non-theists are not evil.
8. The Buddha is not a diety.
9. Being Christian does not mean anti-science.
10. Lutherans are not all German.
11. Muslims are not terrorists.
12. The Pope is fallible.
13. All priests are not pedophiles.
14. Some Catholics are pro-choice.
15. Predestination is a thing of the past.
16. Buddhism isn’t a pessimistic philosophy.
17. Christianity is not about Christians. Christianity is about Jesus Christ.
18. Humanist is not the same as Atheist.
19. Catholics do not worship Mary and the Pope.
20. Christians are not perfect and they don’t have perfect lives.
21. Muslims are unimaginable diverse.
22. Baptists can be people who drink and dance.
23. You don’t have to be baptized in water to be saved.
24. Wiccans do not worship Satan.
25. People choose to do evil in ALL religious groups. Neopaganism does not have any more or less "evil" participants than any other belief system.
26. Islam does not oppress women.
27. Salvation is not about getting into Heaven.
28. All Jewish people are not rich.
29. All non-believers are not lost and angry.
30. Muslim women are not uneducated.
31. It’s the trinity Jehovah witnesses don’t believe in. Not Jesus.
32. Atheists can experience wonder.
33. Religious people are not better than anyone else.
34. Judaism is a religion of both law and love.
35. All Christians are not anti-gay.
36. Atheists are not "angry at God".
37. Allah is not different from God.
38. Unitarian Universalists do not believe anything they want. They have seven solid principles.
39. Not all Christians read the word of God literally as fact.
40. Not all Mormons are brain washed and believe the same thing.
41. People who don’t believe in any religion don’t lack morals.
42. There isn’t just one “true” Christianity.
43. Mormons are not polygamists.
44. Not all people who say they are following God actually are.
45. Neopagans are not Satanists.

Accessed 24 January 2013 from:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/22/common-misconceptions-abo_n_2489899.html?utm_hp_ref=religion

Not Such a Bad Idea

Not such a bad idea

By Ian Robinson

I have been thinking about ‘bad ideas’ lately. A few decisions I regret, some jobs too hard for me, some commitments on which I think I over reached myself. And some public debates that are pathetic and so they are going nowhere. Bad ideas. To make the depression complete I started thinking about why people don’t want to engage with Jesus, even though I think it would be brilliant idea.

Some say that the suffering of the world points to a pathetic god or no go at all. If that is a statement about the Christian God, why are there so many Christians doing so much about suffering and at such cost to themselves in the name of that God? When we turn to accuse God of doing not very much about the suffering, he can turn around and say: “That’s exactly my question – what are you doing about your neighbour?” Maybe it was statement about santa claus or myself.

Some say that the paedophile scandals and the caught-in-the-act evangelists (add in your own horror story here) are proof that Christianity doesn’t actually work. If that is a statement about Christianity, why are church services every Sunday commenced with confession of sin? If we turn to the church and say “you are full of hypocrisy”, the answer is “We know, we all are. It is the single biggest problem that we are sent here to address.” Maybe it was a statement about arrogance in an organisation, but the church has no freehold on that one.

Some say that the evidence for the existence for God is weak and no proof exists. If that is statement about the Christian God, what could possibly count as proof? This statement is best seen as a sudden realisation that no discipline runs without a set of assumptions and axioms that define it, and which cannot be proved from within it. Even “1+1=2” needs some qualifiers and statement of assumptions, as in this geek joke: “There are 10 kinds of people in the world, those who understand Binary and those who don’t.” The knowledge we have of God is no different to the knowledge we have of anything, so here’s to lifelong learning.

Some say that that the cost of becoming a Christian is too high. On two counts, it is unjust to be forgiven, and the behaviour and attitude adjustments are enormous. Money, time, sex, humility, community, justice – where will it end? On the other hand that’s the very thing that makes me smile – yes I go free, yes it is amazing, yes I can live with that sort of grace. And yes, like any good decision in life it is going to cost me and its going to be worth it.

Can you see from all this above why I think this is not such a bad idea. I get to connect with a loving and non-judgemental God, and am sent into a hurting world to address hypocrisy, injustice and suffering. In the process, I get changed, challenged and healed. And I am not alone. I am part of a very faulty human movement called ‘the church’ that accomplishes amazing things, bats well above its weight, and which falls flat on its face regularly. I can belong to that; I couldn’t belong to a perfect organisation, as in the joke by the brilliant Groucho Marx: ‘I would not want to join any organisation that would accept me as a member.” What else is going to make a difference, to me or anyone else? Politics? Fame? Facebook?

The Spiritual Lives Of Atheist Scientists

The Spiritual Lives Of Atheist Scientists

By Adelle M. Banks
Religion News Service

First Posted: 05/06/2011 9:56 pm Updated: 07/06/2011 5:12 am

 More than 20 percent of atheist scientists consider themselves to be “spiritual,” according to a Rice University study.
The findings, to be published in the June issue of the journal Sociology of Religion, are based on in-depth interviews with 275 natural and social scientists from 21 of the nation’s top research universities.

Elaine Howard Ecklund, lead author of the study and an assistant professor of sociology at the Houston university, said the research shows that spirituality is not solely a pursuit of religious people.

“Spirituality pervades both the religious and atheist thought,” she said. “It’s not an either/or. This challenges the idea that scientists, and other groups we typically deem as secular, are devoid of those big ‘Why am I here?’ questions. They too have these basic human questions and a desire to find meaning.”

Ecklund and other researchers found that these “spiritual atheists” viewed not believing in God “as an act of strength, which for them makes spirituality more congruent with science than religion.”

These scientists view both spirituality and science as “meaning-making without faith,” the study authors said. They viewed spirituality as congruent with science but not with religion because a religious commitment requires acceptance of an absolute “absence of empirical evidence.”