The Onus

Albert Camus said that the myth of Sisyphus was the greatest analogy for human life - a folly. But, man's greatest achievement would be to smile while in the place of Sisyphus.

o·nus [oh-nuh s]
noun, plural o·nus·es.
1. a difficult or disagreeable obligation, task, burden, etc.
2. burden of proof.
3. blame or responsibility.

This article is meant to answer what the onus is. It is meant to answer how an atheist lives a moral and fulfilling life. For further background, it is best to read the article “Why I am Atheist?” . This article is illustrating how someone, in the face of absolute existential depression, finds exuberant happiness. There are others out there who have no faith in a God, no beliefs in anything skeptical, but live with a dreadnought of infinite nothingness resting in their dreams. I know that feeling; you know there’s no afterlife, you can feel how powerless life really is. The depth of nothing is so daunting. What can we make of it? I know that many people want a quick and easy answer to life. However, I will take my time with this. This is what I live by. This is what I want to share.

Some think this is the easy slippery slope to violence as there are no believed consequences for your actions. However, someone in this position knows how important their actions are to how others view them. For, as Sartre says, once you die, who you are is dependent on what other people think of you and they will determine that on your behavioral conduct. You know that there is no ethereal entity that can pierce through your soul or anything clandestine  It is a mistake to believe that, with no consequences of an after-life, it warrants immediate violence to others. It was the Ring of Gyges that encapsulates this point. If there was a ring that could make you invisible, what would you do with this power? Many argue that anyone would, without a doubt, commit atrocious and manipulative acts. However, these people are wrong to believe that all people would do so. There are also a great many that would do good or nothing at all. These people exist and are easy to meet.

Nothingness

There are a few of us in the world that accept the following, for others, let this set the premise for the mindset of the onus:

There is no creator. There is no God.

Life is fragile and easily ends. There is no afterlife.

Anything considered a soul or spirit is just a matter of physical energy (ie. kinetic). Nothing supernatural.

We are nothing but memories.  Who we are is just a collection of thoughts.  And thoughts are produced by the brain.  Nothing more.

You have been forced into this world. You have been forced with the responsbility to live it.

You are forced with choices on how to conduct yourself everyday of your life.

For the very fact that you are conscious, you can never be free or ignorant from any of the above. You will never escape your burden of responsibility.

You have the burden of responsibility to make choices in life and decide how to conduct it.

Life is an onus.

Exisential Living

Sartre showed that there are two major ways of approaching life:

For-Others: Living with the constant policing of your thoughts by how others perceive you. Consistently worried what others think and how others feel about you. This is living vicariously through others, other constitutions, while justifying it as being empathetic.  Many of these people will consider themselves as “a people person” or “care too much for others”.  These self-descriptions are likely very true, as it is far too easy to neglect the development of your own self-identity by latching onto others.

Sartre noted that we can be consumed by the “look” that others give us. This is the idea that we are being viewed as an object and that our behavior is vulnerable to judgment while our intentions remain unexplained. In this way of living, we utilize society and people by working for it, by discovering what needs are necessary, what resources are asked for, etc. However, there is no room for individual providence because living this way is consumed by an all more important task; maintaing how you are viewed once you die. “Hell is other people” because we depend so deeply on how others judge us and our behavior is what is most salient to them.

In-Itself: Living by attributing your lifes meaning to other variables such as your job, companions, social groups, friends, community, furniture, your car, etc.

I used to contend that living in-itself offered no such means of individual providence, no means to live as an individual as you attribute your self to other things. However, I missed the point of living in-itself in that you are still a comparable variable to these things. “Bad faith” is an important thing to remember in this. When we live as a certain variable in a system, we are still an existant being in that system, regardless of how we look at it. However, if we are able to make the distinction and maintain awareness that we are an inconsequential variable, we can be authentic beings. We can maintain individual providence so long as we remember that our current role is transient. It is not a means of living or an identity, but a role played in order to support our individuality. This is why we cannot let our job identify us, but we also cannot be so easily swept away by the notion, “I am working Y until X happens”. We should not let Y identify us. We ought to maintain our X identity that we are ambitious for, for it is our individual providence.

At length, the onus of life is best fulfilled by living as an individual in-itself. You can live vicariously through others, but you are then no longer an individual. Your individuality is what defines you by others and yourself. You know when you are creating a facade and you know when you are sacrificing your individuality for the sake of pleasing others. However, if we are powerless beings, we must embrace the only thing that matters most; our individuality.

Empowerment Through Chaos

Most people have an intuitive understanding of chaos theory; one variable can have significant effects on other variables over time. One friend tells a friend who tells two friends, etc. These two together are powerful concepts to remember; the power of chaos and exponential growth.

The Lorenz system is a system of ordinary differential equations (the Lorenz equations) first studied by Edward Lorenz. It is notable for having chaotic solutions for certain parameter values and initial conditions. In particular, the Lorenz attractor is a set of chaotic solutions of the Lorenz system which, when plotted, resemble a butterfly or figure eight. ~ Wikipedia

I just want to clarify one thing about chaos that is usually misunderstood; chaos theory is not disorder or a mess. Chaos, in this case, is the focus on how one variable can have chaotic implications all over the world. It is chaotic because one variable acts analguously to a virus that affects proximal variables and then extensive variables beyond it’s original locality. In other words, “a butterfly flapping it’s wings can start a hurricane on the other side of the planet”. Now, this doesn’t mean immediately, of course. Chaos is not something that is universally defined or has a set of rules; it’s chaos afterall! This is why chaos theory is also usually associated with evolution. I won’t delve into that, but if you are already reading this, then it is likely that you see how chaos theory is an integral part of the gradual process of evolution. After all, it is not like evolution is something that happens in jumps of vulgar mutations, etc. It’s a gradual, progressive, but system. Chaos theory would say that, given all the information, you could easily observe how one variable affects all the others.

To come off the tangent, my point is just that, as a single individual person, you are a single variable in the world. Although you are only one singular variable, you are significantly important to the world and should never think otherwise. This is used to reinforce the importance of living in-itself as an individual.

Morality..?

A question often asked of atheists is, “Where do you get your morality?”. While this article is not explicitly about atheism, it is about the steps taken while becoming atheist. and afterwards. When it comes to morality, many will argue that you require moral policing, ie. God. This is basically the Santas Claus idea: kids will be good if they are rewarded for behaving good and punished for behaving badly. However, in this case, we do not accept any sort of policing phenomenological being over the universe, it’s just us fragile pathetic humans. Of course, many theologians will bump in with arguments reminiscient of the Ring of Gyges argument, “If there’s no consequences in the after life, then an atheist will commit atrocious evils!”. We can, of course, retaliate by pointing at the evils that theists do. Though, this doesn’t explain why atheists do not commit evils, or what reason they have not to.

As an individual with no belief in a moral God, you only have your own wits and society to help decide your morality. This is where I embrace Humanism. Make no mistake though, Humanism is not a religion. There is no dogma in Humanism. There is no faith required. The fundamentals of humanism rest in the idea that moral decisions ought to be central to human concern and humane interaction.

Let’s take a few specific points into consideration. Keep in mind, each of these can be an entire article on it’s own. However, my point is just to show the reasoning utilized by humanism:

+ If Human-kind takes the top priority in moral decisions, does this mean you ought to sacrifice yourself sometimes?
– Yes. Altruism is something that human-kind thrives on and honours. You can find countless sacrifices made by humans for human-kind and how well they are respected.

+ Hitler and his eugencis argued that we ought to utilize evolutionary concepts to better huamn-kind as a whole. Is this Humane?
– This is a more controversial question, but one I ought to address. Firstly, Hitler was definitively NOT an atheist. To anyone who would argue that Hitler was, I let them consider this video:

– To continue the question, hitler’s intentions were mixed. He may be considered a secular humanist as any religion can utilize humanist fundamentals but act more heavily on other morals. This is why Humanism alone is what is best because it is not then mixed with other religious or zealous beliefs.

+ What about abortion?
– As Humanism embraces humane decisions, it would contend that the most humane decision is dependant on the mother whom would also take care of the potential child. Someone may argue that it ought to be a humane decision for the child. When considering the most humane decision, it is arguable that it is more humane to be aborted. To touch on abortion debates, it is amazing how the debate of the child’s abortion is only when it is in fruition.. If you ought to bare the child when it has begun it’s potential growth in life, then you ought to never use condoms and do your best to become pregnant at any given time. Of course, this is held true by many religions, but it is not humane. Simply being born into life is not humane. The most humane thing, for all man-kind, is to raise a humane child. This means having the child in your most promising context. This is why many people will wait till they can properly provide for their child; because it’s humane. Most people will agree that if you are a teen, with no parents, no job, and no education, you cannot responsibly provide for a child. It would be inhumane.

+ What about capital punishment?
– When considering what is best for all human-kind, I would look at the evidence of capital punishment:

the proposed alternative of life sentences without parole and with restitution would ensure harsh punishment and protection of the public, while providing restitution and ensuring that innocent people are not executed. Figures, tables, chapter notes, index, and 209 references
~ https://www.ncjrs.gov/App/Publications/abstract.aspx?ID=138430

– Personally, I am a proponent of positive psychology and would contend that rehabilitation and restitution is the most optimistic and humane solution. While it cannot always be utilized, this does not necessitate punishment of death. The most beneficial thing for all of human-kind is to protect society from those individuals that can inflict harm upon others. However, that does not necessitate death, especially if it has been shown that these people can be rehabilitated for the benefit of society.
At length, I think these examples show the ideal reasoning of humanism.

What is the purpose of life then?  What is the onus?

Life is easy to lose purpose in.  Humans crave patterns and context.  Our brains are virtually programmed to identify patterns in order to better understand and survive our environments.  When we cannot find a reason or purpose in our own lives, we naturally feel a sense of despair.  Why should I be alive if there is no reason to my existence?

In the face of absolutely pointlessness, nothingness, and no purpose is perfect living potential.  It’s a difficult bridge to gap and not one that you dogmatically accept by leaping into.  It will come naturally.  If you are reading this and feeling the existential depression of purposelessness, then hear me out:

Life has given you no purpose to living.  No reason to be here other than to reproduce.

However, you have the ability to question and reason this.  You have the ability to ask what your purpose is.  So many other living things will never and can not think this, let alone think at all.

You are alive.  Whatever you are, you are alive and able to experience.  You have to make constant choices on how to live your life.  Your purpose will inevitably be to experience and grow.  Learn new things.  Meet new people.  Listen to new music.  Smell new aroma’s.  Taste new food.  Feel the breeze of countrysides and the bustling of crowded cities.  Develop a repertoire of experience.

Andreas Vesalius was the first man to record and observe the bones within us.

We are here for a number of years, and then we are dust. Many will say that “life is short”. However, we are lucky to have had any time at all. If you are alive long enough to acknowledge your own existence, then you have experienced something that countless others that could have been in your place and the infinite amount of others who never will. Though, we should not treat death lightly. It can be very easy to end our lives. So we must treat it seriously and keep our wits about us. For me, the skull is the symbol of our mortality. It represents that which is a part of us we naturally want to ignore; what remains of us when our flesh is gone. It is scary to many because of its strong association to death. To me, death reminds me to live life to its fullest potential and enjoy every moment.

You are a cognizant human with the ability to record your experience and intelligently remember them.  Share this with others.  In your own time, you will find things you like and prefer to others.  You will meet people and know which ones you get along with and ones you do not.  Experiences will not always be pleasant.  You will hear awful things.  Taste and smell disgusting things.  But this comes as a consequence of also finding amazing things.  Delicious and enticing smells and foods.

You are here to experience.  What and how you experience life is up to you.  We are burdened with life and how to make our choices.  When we despair in light of a lacking sense of purpose, you must remember the ultimate reason for your existence: to experience.  The onus of life is to decide how we live our lives.  If you find that you do not know how to experience new things, open the doors to random chaotic experiences.  Order food you have never tried.  Listen to music you never heard of.  Say hi to strangers. Ask that girl out.  Buy that guy a drink.  Talk.  Join the discussion.

Enjoy life.

~

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Response to Pascal’s Wager

Often theists and theologians alike try to utilize an old argument from Pascal to try and persuade atheists that it is more prudent to believe in God.  The crux of the argument is, “what is there to lose in believing in God?” when compared to the belief in nothing.
This argument centers around theologian Gods (ie. Christianity) in attempt to convert more passively minded people who do not really care to think about these matters too much.  However, the atheist response focuses on the question of do you really want to wager to waste away your life in worship, doing rituals and living accordingly to the relevant God, that may not exist at all?
What is Pascal’s wager?
Pascal offered this wager to all atheists for a reason to become theist:

Belief/Wager That God Exists:
If God exists: Gain all
If God does not exist: Status quo (nothing)

Belief/Wager Against God:
If God exists: Misery
If God does not exist: Status quo (nothing)

You can essentially see the argument best here as an analogy:

You can bet on two flips of the coin. There are two sets of wagers to choose from:
Bet for Heads:
If Heads: Win $1k
If Tails: Nothing

Bet for Tails:
If heads: Lose $1k
If tails: Nothing

From the above, you can best see which seems intuitively best. It seems to be a strong argument. In fact, many people base their entire beliefs just on this logic.
➡ Immediate Obstacle
The most immediate obstacle that the wager must deal with is the question, “Which God do I wager on?  How do I make this decision?”.  This question, alone, is enough to quell the entire argument as it reaches for reasoning, beyond the subjective.  However, the only real conclusion that theists can use is the subjective.  Subjective reasoning is not enough to logically throw your entire life into a religion.  Or, at least, it should not be.

Atheist Response/Wager

Premises:
+ Believing in theologian Gods takes away personal meaning to ones life. Likely, if you do believe in the above, that statement will startle you and you immediately want to jump in response to it. Here is why you should not:
– If you believe in a theologian monotheistic God, you believe that everything has been planned out for you, life has been pre-arranged, an entity knows everything about you, etc.
– Essentially, you relinquish personal responsibility – your credibility for all your actions.

+ If you believe in God, you will live a life to fulfill expectations of that God. Of course, this severely depends on your definition of God. Considering that the above wager works from a God that would punish you for eternity if you did not believe in him, I will respond with that God in mind.

+ All you can ever be completely certain of is that you are thinking and live right now (allusion to Cartesian epistemology). The belief in God is primary reinforced on personal revelation and not any sort of intellectual or empirical means. 

Let us work from the standpoint of what we can see and function with.
+ If we work from the above, then a meaningful life would be one that utilizes fundamental and functionally viewable beliefs. 
– Example 1: If I believe in gravity, I will not jump off a cliff.
– Example 2: If I believe in God, I will do my best to abide by their doctrine. 
This would likely include worship, etc.

With these premises in mind, consider this alternate wager:

Belief/Wager God Exists:
God Exists: Gain all
God Does Not Exist: Wasted Personal Life

Belief/Wager God Does Not Exist:
God Exists: Misery
God Does Not Exist: Fulfilling Life.

Confident Atheist Wager

This may also apply to fundamentalist Atheists (ie. those that fervently deny any proof of a God. They believe God does not exist whatsoever). 

Many Atheists are very confident that God does not exist and feel no worry about misery. To demonstrate to Theists how an Atheist views this wager on a more personal level, consider this matrix:

Belief/Wager God Exists:
God Exists: God does not exist, so this would not be a considered wager.
God Does not Exist: Wasted Personal Life

Belief/Wager God Does not Exist:
God Exists: Not a concern; that type of God simply does not exist.
God Does not Exist: Fulfilling Personal Life.

The above is not an argument so much as an illustration of how Atheists tend to think of the manner. It truly comes out looking like this:

Live An Independent Life:
Atheist

Live A Dependent Life:
Theist

Keep in mind before responding that this is in response to the type of God that would punish [misery] for not believing in it, as proposed in the initial argument by Pascal. Other definitions of God are open to discussion, but not entirely relevant.  In any case, this is usually considered a weak argument for any side.  My intent in this article is really just to show how an atheist responds to this argument and views it.  Disregarding the whole problem with theologian God’s to begin with, Pascal’s does not add any leverage to the matter and could only convince those already inclined to believe such nonsense.

What do you think..?

References:
+ Pascal’s Wager. (2004) Stanford University. Retrieved from

Logical Fallacies

Here’s some quick summaries of logic and logical fallacies:

 

Deductive Logic
Bolstered by Rene Descartes
– Example: All ravens are black.  That is a raven.  Therefore, it is black.
– Process in which a conclusion is reached by a series of premises. 
– Logic Example: P = Q, Q = R, Thus, P = R

Inductive Logic
Bolstered by Francis Bacon
– Example 1: This raven is black and that raven is black.  Therefore, all ravens are black.
– Example 2: This swan is white.  Therefore, all swans are white.
– Note: It only takes one black swan to prove it wrong.
– Process of generalizing premises or a sample to the population of the relevant context. 

➡ Logical Fallacies:

Non-Sequitor
+ This is the fallacy where a statement is made that does not follow from the premises or conclusions.  It is usually intuitive to note it as nonsense.
– Example 1: We found his fingerprints on the gun.  Therefore, guinea pigs are evil.
– Example 2: If all boys like chocolate and chocolate is given for free, then the sun revolves around the earth.

Illicit Appeal to Authority


+ Although we often rely on experts in fields for professional opinions, we somtimes entirely rely an arguments credibility on a professionals opinion.

+ What kind of people should not be relied upon?
– It is a fallacy to rely on those that lack of expertise of the relevant issue, who have no expertise in the relveant issue, and people talking about matters that are known to be problematic (ie. issues that are of subjective nature or inconclusive conclusions)

+ When is it okay?
– When other and independent experts agree with the claim that they are making (ie. gravity is real), and it must be possible for you yourself to check the claim by some systematic observation (ie. drop a cup). In other words, you should always be able to examine the evidence that the experts used to establish the relevant point.

Ad populum; Argument from popularity

+ Sometimes we believe something just because everyone else does, or many others hold a similar belief.  However, if it is a popular belief, then it should be all the more easier to verify its cogency. It is unnecessary and a fallacy to simply accept a belief because other people do.
– Example 1: There is good reason to believe in God; people in every culture, at all times, believed in a God. Therefore, I believe in God.
– Example 2: Everyone smokes, therefore, you should smoke to.

Ad Hominem Argument (against the person, to the man)

+ This is the attempt to make a criticism of the opposition by directly attacking the person purporting arguments. This is a fallacy because the legitimate criticism should be made to the proposed argument, not the person giving the argument. Even evil people can say completely cogent things
– Example 1: Freud’s theories should never be considered in any field.  After all, he did do drugs and was obsessed with sex.
– Example 2: 
Circular Reasoning

+ It is a fallacy to presuppose the truth of your conclusion in your premises. If you are going to assume your conclusion is true before trying to prove it, you are using circular reasoning. 
– Example: There must be a God, since there bible and quan both say there is and the bible and quran were inspired by God.

Begging the question

+ Similar to circular reasoning. When the reasoning for the conlcusion depends on accepting the truh of the conclusion. 

Slippery Slope

+ This is a type of argument in which one makes the claim that one event will inevitably lead to greater other consequences. Often, this further consequences have no relevance or the person does not show a chain of causation. It is usually used as a scare tactic in order to convince others to not follow a certain opposition
– Example 1: If gay marriage is legalized, polygamy will be legalized, and even worse, and soon people will be marrying their relatives and pet animals, thus, same-sex marriage will lead to social chaos.
– Example 2: Marijuana is a “gateway drug”. Marijuana leads to the usage of cocaine.

Straw man

+ The straw man tactic is to take the opposition and set the arguments in a way that is easier to attack or misrepresents their claims. 
– Example: Very popular edited videos of Richard Dawkins by creationists to try and prove him wrong:


Fallacy of Equivocation

+ This fallacy is commited when a key word in an argument is used in two or more sense and the premises seem to support the conclusion. However, this is because the sense of the defined words are not distinguished. It will seem to make sense but only if the words are not defined separately.
– Example 1: Everything evil is black. Everything good is white. Thus, black people are evil.
– Example 2: Theism is better than nothing. Nothing is better than Theism. Thus, theism is better than nothing.

Red Herring

+ Not necessarily a fallacy but an attempt to divert attention away from the real issue. 
– Example 1: Richard Dawkins “What If You’re Wrong?”

– Although his answer is thorough, it does not technically answer the question. However, if he were to add the presumed “I don’t know” or “I would go to hell” then it would be perfectly fine. Creationists often use this as an example to show how Dawkins is wrong – which is a thoroughly false assumption because he explains his answer thorooughly afterwards. 
– Example 2: “I believe in abortion” “Really? Well, the doctor there that does abortions is also a wife beater!” Although it may be true that the doctor beats his wife, it has nothing to do with abortion.

Tu quoque

 

+ This is the attempt to divert attention of vices to the opposition.  It stands for, “You too!” and is usually when someone is trying to show that you are just as faulty for the pointed flaw as they are.  While it may be true that you are at fault for something, it is a fallacy to ignore the point in favour of attacking the other.  Truthfully, this is usually just an attempt to save-face rather than admit being wrong.

 

Confusing Correlation with Causation

 

+ There is a plethora of evidence out there involving correlations and they are often used to imply a causation of a factor.  So, with more X we have more Y.  However, that does not mean that X causes Y, it only indicates a relationship or coincidence.

 

Post-hoc ergo propter hoc

 

+ “After this, therefore because of this” follows correlations perfectly because it is the exact fallacy that is being used.  It is also common for someone to think that because a certain variable simply happened before another, that it must have caused it.
– Example 1: I bought a stock in apple then terrorists crashed into the WTC.  Therefore, buying stocks causes terrorist attacks.
– Example 2: Helen moved into my house and then I noticed cockroaches in my basement.  Therefore, Helen causes cockroaches to appear.

 

False Analogy

 

+ Often in arguments, we use analogies to draw similarities between concepts to relay a point.  However, there is the fallacy of using an analogy between two things which have no relevant variables.
– Example 1: Gun control is like birth control.

 

Examples of debates using fallacies

 

Media examples chock full of fallacies, can you find them..?


What do you think..?

Why Dream Interpretation Works

In this article, I wish to provide my personal view on the most common views of dream interpretation followed by my own approach.  There are several approaches to interpreting dreams and many have gained the entire concept a rather pejorative stigma.  However, dream interpretation is still utilized by therapists and counselor’s to help achieve further self-awareness.

I am not an advocate for the clairvoyant or clandestine approaches to dreams.  Like many others, dreams are simply a means to discuss and investigate a persons unconscious and self-awareness.  I have done a great deal of dream interpretation for people and so I’d like to share how I approach it as you could take this approach to yourself as well.

➡ Purpose of Dream Interpretation

When we think of our dreams, we often think of many mysterious symbols and meanings. Our dreams have always had a history of vague purpose and spiritual nature. There have been many methods to interpretation and their purposes are also varied.  Often, people first think of dreams in a spiritual nature. They are often considered a sign or a prediction of things to come. They can also be referred to as a manifestation of your psychopathology.

Scientists will often say that the dreams are manifestations of consciousness. The reductionist will even go so far to say that dreams are just the random firing of neurons during sleep. They assert that there is often no purpose at all.  Clinicians who utilize dream interpretation in their therapy are those in favour of the psychodynamic approach. In this approach, the dreams are representations of unconscious content that have resided in the individuals cognizance since childhood. They are often representations of deeper unresolved conflicts.

Whatever the approach that is taken, we must all take an approach to interpreting them because of how much time we spend doing it! Further, the purpose is always an underlying understanding of the self.

➡ Spiritual

+ “Dream of Aesculapius” by Sebastiano Ricci

The first greatest dream interpreter was Aesculapius. Aesculapius is often depicted as the God of Medicine. The common medicine symbol is derived from the symbol of Aesculapius; a snake entwined around a staff.  The actual living Aesculapius was a formidable doctor who constructed places for baths and dream interpretation. These buildings were known as Asclepeion’s.

Ever since this time, it is natural for humans to look at dreams as spiritual manifestations vis-a-vis the individual. Symbols, people, and animals are all spiritual representations in favour of the individuals personality.  There is no specific institution for spiritual dream interpretation. Even Aesculapius, the first dream interpreter, never wrote any manuals or dictum’s on how he did it.

I would consider the next greatest spiritual dream interpreter to be Carl Jung. Carl Jung was actually a great inspiration to me to study psychology. In his book, “Man and His Symbols” he, and his favoured associates, share their interpretations and work on the symbols in human history. With this, they share how individuals often dream of these symbols and what they would mean to them.

To Jungians, the symbology of humankind is derived from a collective uncsoncious. A sort of unconsciousness that resides within us all and understands the world in unison. Jungian concepts are very powerful and still, to this day, are commonly used in the media and art.

➡ Barcode Interpretations

In contemporary times, there are many books and resources which make equation dream interpretations. I like to call this method the “barcode interpretation”.

In this method, one takes a symbol and looks for it in a manual. Under each symbol is a given interpretation.  However, I would not likely call it an interpretation more or less a given definition. There is little insight given to the individual and most likely encourages the person to feel less control of their own dreams and even self-will.  Most people do not adhere to this method but many will succumb to buying, or accidentally buying, a copy of one of these books.

The main problem with this approach is that it completely ignores context and the individuals background. How can you possibly make one interpretation of a symbol completely global and applicable to everyone?  While a symbol like blood is often interpreted as a bad thing, it could easily be contextually good (say, for example, the blood of a cow you just killed to eat, or the blood of an incision that will initiate your life-saving surgery, etc. etc.)

There are many sites that easily do this. You will also often find them covered in advertisements, silly games, and vague or pseudo-intellectual context. For example:

+ My Dream Visions

➡ Scientific

Aristotle provided the first greatest scientific approach to dream interpretation from a scientific approach.

+ “On Dreams” by Aristotle

In this first short record, Aristotle describes the situations in which people fall asleep, wake up, the difference between being awake and sleep, and more.  I personally think the most important point that Aristotle made was how individuals can tell the difference between reality and hallucinations and how this is inhibited in dreams.

Many dreamers can relate this to the short speach given in the popular movie “Waking Life”

+ Key Speech at 0:50

Here, Jason T. Hodge is speaking of how our neurotransmitters facilitate our sensory of our environments. While awake, we have naurotransmitters which facilitate our distinction between imaginary concepts and actual stimulus which exists outside of our cognizance.

This is an important function of the scientific approach to dream interpretation.

The common scientific theory is now called the Activation Synthesis theory, purported by Allan Hobson. In this theory, Allan Hobson ascribes dreams to the random activity of neurons in our brain. This random activity is no longer affected by our distinction of reality and cognition, so the thoughts appear as reality!

Some neuropsychologists might utilize these brain patterns and facilitate certain drugs or lesions to help prevent maladaptive behaviours. However, this is thankfully often a last (if ever) resort.

➡ Freudian/Psychodynamic

Probably the most famous form of Dream Interpretation is by the Sigmund Freud.

+ “The Interpretation of Dreams” by Sigmund Freud

It is not an easy task to sum up Freudian psychoanalysis in a quick paragraph, but I will do my best.

The crux of Freudian Dream Analysis is Wish Fulfillment. In our dreams, Freud would argue that our wishes are fulfilled. Things we wish we had done during the previous day or things we wish would happen in real life would be fulfilled in our dreams.

The idea is derived from his psychodynamic view that we have unresolved conflicts from childhood. These unresolved issues are “wished to be resolved” and are then “resolved” in our dreams. As these issues can easily carry their way far into adulthood, some people will have neurotic dreams or recurring dreams. Freud would accredit these recurring or neurotic dreams to these unresolved issues from childhood. Finding the conflict and then resolving it is the purpose of the psychotherapy. However, I will not delve into psychodynamic psychotherapy.

➡ My Take/Interactionist

Personally, I employ an interactionist model.

As diverse as humans are, we must also employ a diverse model. We need a model that can adapt and change per individuals needs. There are certain steps to this approach, and I will summarize them afterwards.

♦ Step 1: Background: While interpreting a persons dreams, one must take that individuals background into consideration. If that person takes a spiritual approach to dreams, you ought to as well. If they take a barcode approach, you ought to as well.

Afterwards, you ought to ask about them. Ask them what their family was like, their upbringing, their schooling, their interests, etc. I often look at it as like reading a painting and trying to figure out what the artist is trying to say or why they painted it. In this case, the dream is the painting and the artist being the dreamer!

♦ Step 2: Emotions: Further, you must consider all the things that this person feels about the context of the dream. While the dream might sound happy to you, the individual might find it dreadful.

In addition, ask why it is important to them to understand the dream. Often, people just ignore dreams. If they ask for interpretation, their is usually good reason. People do not often ask for dreams about going pee to be interpreted.

In these two steps, you will do two major things:

– Make the individual reminisce on their life

– Make the individual self-aware of their emotions

Once doing this, it is often the case that the person immediately understands their own dream. This is your goal as an interpreter!  However, it is also probably %50 likely that they will still not understand. There are a couple reasons why, so this is the next step.

♦ Step 3: Investigate: Ask open-ended questions about the person and eliminate certain obstacles.

Sometimes, people do not want to understand the dream content. Ask if the person has experienced anything profound that affects them to this day. Try to use neutral questions to avoid leading emotions in good or bad; you want the real emotions left to the dream. Do not create new issues.

Also, often people do not want you to know what the dream is about. Ask them if there is anything about them self they wish they could change or not have experienced.  There are other common possibilities to this further complication and this is where I interact with the other models.

♦ Step 4: Integration: First, most importantly, ask about their biology. Do they have any medical conditions or biological problems. These are easily causes for dream content. If a person has visual problems caused by a concussion, it is very common for them to dream in related to the incident or how they wish it didn’t happen, etc. This can be distressing to them and you must be sensitive to the fact that dreams and manifest content of the persons traumatic incident that causes biological nightmares!

Second, ask about their childhood more deeply. There may be some repressed, or even regressed, issues that are not being attended to. For example; a person may have been molested while young and may truly consciously believe it didn’t happen while unconsciously profoundly affected by it.

If it comes to this state, then you are in the deepest form of interpretation which only a select few in history have been qualified for. On a personal level, I would simply say that it is better to leave it be. If you wish to continue, then you must aim for something referred to as “transference”.

In transference, you are trying to get the individual to transfer onto you the problems they had with childhood. By this time, you ought to have the persons trust and a decent relationship. However, you will want to challenge and confront them about problems relative to the dream content. You want facilitate the conflicts that are likely unresolved and basically play them out yourself.

This can be dangerous, and will likely never be employed by anyone reading this, but I thought I’d go the distance and explain the whole thing.

➡ Conclusion and Summary

My approach can be summarized as:

Background, Emotions, Investigate, Integration

There are many approaches to dream interpretation just as there are to understanding human behaviour. I adhere to the idea that we ought to employ interacting methods that can adapt and acknowledge relative contexts to each individual rather than strive for a sophomoric universal definition.

Further, I do not like the spiritual approach. When one employs that dreams are spiritual, it is implied that our dreams and thoughts are not in our control. If you agree that your dreams are from your thoughts, and that you control your thoughts, I do not think you have grounds to say that dreams are spiritual then.

I would like to debate, discuss, or hear from you!  Perhaps lucid dreaming next..?

What do you think…?

~

Why Mormonism is Moot

Mormonism, or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS), is an inarguably popular religion. While it is not as prolific as Christianity or Islam, it is certainly an extension of Christianity and Theism. Many of us are accustomed to seeing the white shrit and black pants boys on bikes trying to talk to you about God. Normally, we avoid them. Normally, people avoid religious debate all together, it can be intimidating and many of us humbly admit to not knowing where to question or what to believe. Mormons are certainly a confident group and they are often noted for their charisma. However, Mormons make one grave mistake that humans are inclined to making too often; believing something absolutely bunk because of either traditions or kernels of proverbial reasoning.

Religions often preach that “love” is what their religion values most. However, they completely neglect the idea that there is not a single good that cannot be done without a belief in God. Furthermore, while they pontificate “love” as their main tenet, so do other religions. How can you tell who to believe? Well, you’d ask for further details. Unfortunately, when it comes to Mormonism, you’re heading towards a boat load from a treasure hunter who fantasizes about finding relics with glowing stones all the way from Egypt.

tl;dr

A guy named Joe Smith says he met an angel who gave him golden plates that only he can see and read. He says that it’s the restored bible that came from people who moved from Egypt and Israel to the america’s in 600 BC. Jesus, went to the america’s and told them all about God but then they were all killed by the people who we found later to be natives. If you preach the Book of Mormons, you too can become like Jesus and be a God in the after-life. Mormonism’s values are similar to Christianity. Polygamy is sometimes acceptable, depending on who you ask.

➡ Founding

Before Jospeh Smith found Mormonism, he was a treasure hunter. Joseph Smith claimed that the could dig tresure up from the dirt by using seer stones to tell him where to find them. To find out this information, he would put the seer stones in the bottom of a hat and then read the reflections from the stone. Many people ignore this history of Smith because it makes his founding look all the more skeptical.

Mormonism was founded by a man named Joseph Smith. In 1823, Smith claims that hewas visited by an angel named “Moroni” who told him where to find relics that would reveal the foundations of Mormonism. Included in these relics was the golden plates that would translate the book of Mormons to Smith. However, there was a catch and that is that he could not show the plates to anyone else nor could anyone see them. Smith would publicly translate the book to people, but he would hide the relics at the bottom of a hat or hide behind a curtain while, apparently, utilizing the angelic relics.

Of course, there was much doubt about the existance of these relics, so Smith had witnesses sign a paper showing that they had seen them. However, each witness was family or financially backing Smith. If this isn’t the definition of bias, what woulde be? Of course, it is also a logical fallacy to believe that a simple witness to something proves it’s existance. This is where faith would be necessary, but usually theistic religions require faith in God, not in the credibility of the holy texts authorship. For example, the Bible has been revised numerous times by the Council of Nicaea. However, these were groups of reputable members in the religion. At least Christians claim that humans wrote the bible, in plain sight, with God speaking through them. Yes, it’s still a problem to debate, but it’s a lot more credible than golden plates that no one can see but you that you found in the hills with the help of an angel and only you can read it in the bottom of a hat!

If you are to pontificate a new religion to others, you ought to be able to offer good reasoning or justification for your credibility aside from forcing others to say they believe you. When considering Joseph Smith’s background and the methods of writing the Book of Mormon, there is far too much room for doubt and suspicion.

➡ Beliefs

Essentially, Mormonism is an extension of Christianity. Mormonism utilizes the Old and New Testament as holy texts in support of it’s foundational beliefs. So, if you already have an understanding of the basics in these texts, then you know the very basic foundations of Mormonism.

Mormonism is really defined by the book of Mormons. In this, Joseph Smith explains all. So, for the sake of brevity, I want to give the quick run-down of what they believe without trying to convert you to Mormonism. While missionaries want to simply convert you to God, they will leave out a lot of key tenets of Mormonisms belief system and it’s flaws. When considering something to live by for the rest of your life, you really ought to question it fully, should you not?

Anyways, let’s look at the foundational beliefs.

Think of the Book of Mormons as the continuation and addition to the Old and New Testamanets. Smith explains, in the Book of Mormon, that Christ is amongst other Gods in heaven whom routinely create planets to spread life. It is a continuing process of reproducing. By believing in God and giving strong efforts in spreading their word, you too can join their ranks in God-hood, like Jesus, in the after-life. Marriages made in human form are continued in the after-life, so it’s easy to see where the problem of polygamy came in when reproduction is such a key tenet of Mormonism. On that note, it is important to mention that Brigham Young, the most notable successor of Smith after his death, introduced the concept that Adam (Adam and Eve) is the father of all spirits on Earth and the originator of all human-life. This is important to note because this is something testable.

The extension upon the Bible is that Israelites and Egyptians moved to the America’s, from Jerusalem, in 600 BC. There were four nations: Nephites, Lamanites, Jaredites, and Mulek’s. Let’s take a quick look at them:

Nephites: These are the light-skinned people. However, they were all killed by the

Lamanites. Before the last one died, they buried the golden plates that Smith would later claim to have uncovered, with the help of the angel Moroni.

Lamanites: These are the dark-skinned people. Mormonism’s will typically argue that the native people of America were Lamanites.

Jaredites: These are the people of southern America. They were apparently from the tower of Babel so their was linguistic differences.

Mulek’s: An inconsequential nation that worked with the Lamanites.

So why do Mormons go around preaching their beliefs? Because they believe that, by doing so, they will become Gods in the after-life. We can see more of the belief system exposed in my next section.

➡ Crucial Flaws

Without going into the philosophical arguments first, I want to first note very important physical flaws in Mormonism.

Archaeology

“I did break my bow, which was made of fine steel” ~ 1 Nephi 16:18

You can see, for yourself, that even the Smithsonian Institution has noted that there is no evidence supporting the existance of any of the nations, nor their use of steel or iron:

“…never used the Book of Mormon in any way as a scientific guide

….

Present evidence indicates that the first people to reach this continent from the East were the Norsemen who briefly visited the northeastern part of North America around AD 1000 and then settled in Greenland.

Iron, stseel, glass, and silk were not used in the New World before 1492.

….

No reputable Egyptologist or other specialist on Old World archaeology, and no expert on New World prehistory, has discovered or confirmed any relationship between archaeological remains in Mexico and archaeological remains in Egypt.”

+ http://irr.org/mit/smithsonian.html

Furthermore, if Mormons are taking the same premise as Christians that Adam and Eve are the first two humans created, then they must face the lacking archaeological evidence that they ever existed. You can find a plethora of evidence showing human fossils tracing millions of years back in time… and I will show you some of it.

“New discoveries combine to indicate that all the major steps in human evolution took place in Africa. Skeletal analysis of oldest human forbears around 3 million years ago reveal many anatomical similarities to African Great Apes. These and biochemical resemblances indicate a common ancestry for humans and apes, perhaps only a few million years earlier. Enlarged knowledge through recent recovery of skeletons of several successive stages in the line leading to modern peoples shows that many attributes or skills by which we define humanity arose much more recently in time than heretofore believed.”

+ Human Origins

“A highly resolved primate cladogram based on DNA evidence is congruent with extant and fossil osteological evidence. A provisional primate classification based on this cladogram and the time scale provided by fossils and the model of local molecular clocks has all named taxa represent clades and assigns the same taxonomic rank to those clades of roughly equivalent age. Order Primates divides into Strepsirhini and Haplorhini. Strepsirhines divide into Lemuriformes and Loriformes, whereas haplorhines divide into Tarsiiformes and Anthropoidea. Within Anthropoidea when equivalent ranks are used for divisions within Platyrrhini and Catarrhini, Homininae divides into Hylobatini (common and siamang gibbon) and Hominini, and the latter divides into Pongina forPongo(orangutans) and Hominina forGorillaandHomo. Homoitself divides into the subgeneraH.(Homo) for humans andH.(Pan) for chimpanzees and bonobos. The differences between this provisional age related phylogenetic classification and current primate taxonomies are discussed.”

+ Toward a phylogenetic classification of primates based on DNA evidence complemented by fossil evidence

Atonement

This is already a significant problem for Christianity as it is. If the Mormons are to take Christs sacrifice as a form of atonement, you must ask how he is atoning and to whom? Considering the idea that Adam and Eve are already non-existant characters that apparently initiated original sin, then who is Christ atoning for to begin with? Let the good man Dawkins explain:

Sexism

Firstly, Mormons definitively believe women to be inferior to men. Perhaps more liberal minded Mormons may believe otherwise, but it would contradict the reproducing nature of their after-life and the purpose of women on Earth, according to their own Holy Texts. Bruce R. McConkie, a LDS leader, is quoted as saying, “woman’s primary place is in the home, where she is to rear children and abide by the righteous counsel of her husband”:

+ http://www.caic.org.au/lds/mormwomn.htm

Here are some direct quotations from the Book of Mormon to support sexism:

“For I, the Lord God, delight in the chastity of women.” ~ Jacob 2:28

“And my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they who lead thee cause thee to err and destroy the way of thy paths.” ~ 2 Nephi 13:12

Past Flaws

Initial flaws in the church included polygamy, racism, financial secrecy, homophobia, and history revisionism. Mormons views on polygamy and racism has changed, but this is also in part due to their constant and frequent editing of the Book of Mormon. Of course, if it was the word of God, should it not be invincible and true? Why should the word of the immortal creator of all life and existance need a revision?

Marriage and Divorce

Almost all religions claim that their marriage, under the name of God, will maintain the integrity of the marriage. Mormons hold marriage to be even more significant as it continues through their mortal life to the after-life. Thus, Mormons must inexorably value marriage more than an Atheist. Furthermore, if the marriage is under the name of our creator and invincible God, what is the point of saying this if he does not contribute any integrity to the marriage at all? Furthermore, what about the evidence showing that Atheists have the lowest divorce rates?

Here are results done by the Barna Research Group, which is, ironically, a Christian organization:

“11% of all American adults are divorced

25% of all American adults have had at least one divorce

27% of born-again Christians have had at least one divorce

24% of all non-born-again Christians have been divorced

21% of atheists have been divorced

21% of Catholics and Lutherans have been divorced

24% of Mormons have been divorced

25% of mainstream Protestants have been divorced

29% of Baptists have been divorced

24% of nondenominational, independent Protestants have been divorced

27% of people in the South and Midwest have been divorced

26% of people in the West have been divorced

19% of people in the Northwest and Northeast have been divorced”

+ Atheism and Divorce

An additional factor that some people take is that education or attendance to religious events makes a difference in divorce rates and family integrity. However, there is evidence showing that this is still not true. While Atheism is not included in this study, it is evident that we can attribute Mormons with having lower divorce rates than most other religions, aside from Atheism.

“This paper examines religious differentials in patterns of family formation. When compared with those who state no religious preference, Catholics, Protestants, and Mormons are more likely to marry, less likely to divorce, more likely to remarry following divorce, and they have larger families. … These patterns are not altered when frequency of attendance and education are included as control variables.”

+ Religion and Family Formation

Joseph Smith is a martyr..?

The events that lead up to Joseph Smith’s death are controversial, but it doesn’t take much research to learn what happened. Joseph Smith was running for the president of the US but he, of course, had a lot of opposition. The main opposition was a group of people who produced a newspaper called the Nauvoo Expositor. The main problem people had with Smith, aside from trying to change the US to a Theocracy (clergymen rule the country), Smith was accused of practicing polygamy and having subjugating views of women. In response, Smith had the newspaper destroyed (bureaucractically). This censorship caused a lot of problems and lead Smith to be jailed, with his brother. They went willingly saying that they were innocent men and would let the court show so. However, an angry mob busted into the jail and shot them both to death.. many, many times.

So, many people consider Smith a martyr for this. I am curious how..? Let me just double check..

mar·tyr

Noun: A person who is killed because of their religious or other beliefs.

Ok, yeah. A martyr is someone who dies because of their religious or other beliefs. I suppose Smith is a martyr because he believed he waas innocent of polygamy even though he openly admits to destroying the main medium to try and prove this? How can anyone, in their right mind, think this is matryrdom? Furthermore, some will equate him with Jesus. Well, Smith certainly did not die in the name of God, sin, or divine reasoning. Let’s face it; he was shot by an angry mob of husbands. Do I think they were right to do so? No, of course not. But that doesn’t mean Smith is a martyr. In this case, I’d say both parties are dumb. My biggest problem would have been Smith trying to change the US into a theocracy. Imagine the differences that would have made and how the public responded to that.

➡ So… what do I say to the preaching Mormons on the street..?

Generally, they will ask you, “Hello. Have you read/are you familiar with the bible/book of mormons?” and then continue to tell you how it spreads love and peace. The thing to remember is that people want to do good and they fervently believe they are doing good by telling others how to love and join their community. You cannot ever expect to turn the tables and try to convert them. However, you can ask questions showing an understanding and genuine problems with acceptance of the religion. When asked if you are familiar with the book of Mormons, here are some genuine options.

Estbalish Joseph Smith as a prophet:

As a precursor, missionaries often ask, “Have you heard the good news?”. While they do not do so all the time now, or they have become exhausted from their folly, this is a common phrase. The good news will be that the bible has been restored and found. This is where we can continue to our questioning.

You ought to first reply, “Yes, but I first must ask, you do declare Joseph Smith as your prophet and inarguable author of the book of mormons?”.

+ No: If they do not, you can then ask who wrote the Book of Mormons if it was not Joseph Smith who translated it from the golden plates. Any Mormon claiming that Joseph Smith did not write the book must be full of shit or is trying to avoid looking like an ill-informed person. Thus, you can ask to look at the Book of Mormons they have on them and look on the inside covers for the signature of the witnesses or Joseph Smith himself. Usually the witnesses signature is there. If so, claim that this signature is in there out of necessity to prove Joseph Smith’s divine translation of God from the golden plates.

+ Yes: Continue below.

Ask about historical problems:

“So Joseph Smith translated the word of God from the golden plates that were left behind by the Nephites, as claimed by the Book itself, right?”

+ No: If they claim that the golden plates were not left behind by the Nephites, you ought to ask them where the golden plates came from. If they continue to disagree, ask them to open to the Chapter of Moroni where he, as the final Nephite, writes about how he and the rest of the Nephites are being killed by the Lamantines and thus leaves the translation buried.

+ Yes(1): “How can you believe that Joseph Smith claims that Nephites existed in America when there is no proof of it? Furthermore, they mention the use of iron and steel in 600 BC but even the Smithsonian Institute denies any possibility of this for extensive years beyond Smith’s claim.”

+ Yes(2): “Where are the plates now..?” This is an often controversial question. I would not personally rely on this question to go anywhere productive as they are most prepared to answer this one with the power of God, Moroni, etc. It would likely be derailed with the “what’s more important, the evidence or the beliefs” argument.

What to believe..?

You can pretty much say this to any religious person to effectively end a debate:

“There are many religious people out in the world claiming that they follow the one true God, that their holy text is the true one, and that all others are false. I’m not sure who to trust because I cannot tell who to trust is the true religion. How can you tell the difference without making a blind leap of faith that could be made for any religion?”

~

Misunderstood Dualism

As the term “dualist” is constantly used in philosophy debate, I felt it appropriate to tackle its definition. Too many people are improperly using the word. It seems to be used in place of some other concept the author has in mind but does not have a term for it. I believe that it is often associated between simply two variables and a form of contrast or comparison between the two. However, this is not dualism.

To truly tackle the problem, I will set to postulate what Dualism is in the philosophy field. Any other use of the term Dualism is simply a mistaken use of the word just as if I were to describe my computer as “salty” rather than an appropriate adjective because I do not know it.

I will not pretend to know everything or at all what this term is. I am simply going to use two sources and place emphasis.

What is Dualism? 

There are various ways of dividing up kinds of dualism. One natural way is in terms of what sorts of things one chooses to be dualistic about. The most common categories lited upon for these purposes are substance and property, giving one substance dualism and property dualism. There is, however, an important third category, namely predicate dualism. As this last is the weakest theory, in the sense that it claims least, I shall begin by characterizing it.

2.1 Predicate dualism

Predicate dualism is the theory that psychological or mentalistic predicates are (a) essential for a full description of the world and (b) are not reducible to physicalistic predicates. For a mental predicate to be reducible, there would be bridging laws connecting types of psychological states to types of physical ones in such a way that the use of the mental predicate carried no information that could not be expressed without it. An example of what we believe to be a true type reduction outside psychology is the case of water, where water is always H2O: something is water if and only if it is H2O. If one were to replace the word ‘water’ by ‘H2O’, it is plausible to say that one could convey all the same information. But the terms in many of the special sciences (that is, any science except physics itself) are not reducible in this way. Not every hurricane or every infectious disease, let alone every devaluation of the currency or everycoup d’etat has the same constitutive structure. These states are defined more by what they do than by their composition or structure. Their names are classified as functional terms rather than natural kind terms. It goes with this that such kinds of state are multiply realizable; that is, they may be constituted by different kinds of physical structures under different circumstances. Because of this, unlike in the case of water and H2O, one could not replace these terms by some more basic physical description and still convey the same information. There is no particular description, using the language of physics or chemistry, that would do the work of the word ‘hurricane’, in the way that ‘H2O’ would do the work of ‘water’. It is widely agreed that many, if not all, psychological states are similarly irreducible, and so psychological predicates are not reducible to physical descriptions and one has predicate dualism. (The classic source for irreducibility in the special sciences in general is Fodor (1974), and for irreducibility in the philosophy of mind, Davidson (1971).)

2.2 Property Dualism

Whereas predicate dualism says that there are two essentially different kinds of predicates in our language, property dualism says that there are two essentially different kinds of property out in the world. Property dualism can be seen as a step stronger than predicate dualism. Although the predicate ‘hurricane’ is not equivalent to any single description using the language of physics, we believe that each individual hurricane is nothing but a collection of physical atoms behaving in a certain way: one need have no more than the physical atoms, with their normal physical properties, following normal physical laws, for there to be a hurricane. One might say that we need more than the language of physics to describe and explain the weather, but we do not need more than its ontology. There is token identity between each individual hurricane and a mass of atoms, even if there is no type identity between hurricanes as kinds and some particular structure of atoms as a kind. Genuine property dualism occurs when, even at the individual level, the ontology of physics is not sufficient to constitute what is there. The irreducible language is not just another way of describing what there is, it requires that there be something more there than was allowed for in the initial ontology. Until the early part of the twentieth century, it was common to think that biological phenomena (‘life’) required property dualism (an irreducible ‘vital force’), but nowadays the special physical sciences other than psychology are generally thought to involve only predicate dualism. In the case of mind, property dualism is defended by those who argue that the qualitative nature of consciousness is not merely another way of categorizing states of the brain or of behaviour, but a genuinely emergent phenomenon.

2.3 Substance Dualism

There are two important concepts deployed in this notion. One is that of substance, the other is the dualism of these substances. A substance is characterized by its properties, but, according to those who believe in substances, it is more than the collection of the properties it possesses, it is the thing which possesses them. So the mind is not just a collection of thoughts, but is that which thinks, an immaterial substance over and above its immaterial states. Properties are the properties of objects. If one is a property dualist, one may wonder what kinds of objects possess the irreducible or immaterial properties in which one believes. One can use a neutral expression and attribute them to persons, but, until one has an account of person, this is not explanatory. One might attribute them to human beings qua animals, or to the brains of these animals. Then one will be holding that these immaterial properties are possessed by what is otherwise a purely material thing. But one may also think that not only mental states are immaterial, but that the subject that possesses them must also be immaterial. Then one will be a dualist about that to which mental states and properties belongas well about the properties themselves. Now one might try to think of these subjects as just bundles of the immaterial states. This is Hume’s view. But if one thinks that the owner of these states is something quite over and above the states themselves, and is immaterial, as they are, one will be a substance dualist.

+ http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/dualism/

State of being twofold or double, especially significant when regarding the mind-body problem…

~ Oxford Dictionary of Psychology

Examples of Dualism

– The belief that Good and Evil, or God and the Devil, are independent, mutually exclusive things.

– The belief that the Mind and Body are separate, exclusive entities.

 Dualism is Not Simply Two Acting Nouns 

Simply put, just because we are talking about two things does not mean that is dualism. If we are talking about apples and oranges and I say that I prefer apples to oranges, this does not mean I am a dualist. If I say that there is only apples and oranges in the world, we are getting close, but this is still not it.

When Plato or Descartes speak of Dualism, they do not mean to encapsulate two completely opposing philosophical concepts.  What they are describing are completely independent functioning entities in a local system.

Too often people throw about this term as though it is somehow pejorative.  However, the term is not the limitation of things to two separate entities, but the existence of two entities which interact, but do not depend on, each other.  To truly grasp Dualism is to simply have a respectful understanding of the essence of entities or philosophical concepts.  It is not the pejorative intellectual negligence, or ignorance, that many pretentious debaters will pontificate.

What do you think…?
~

God Cannot Have Consciousness

Any sort of God cannot have a consciousness.  This article is acting under the definition of God as an omniscient, omnipresent being, which created all things.

Memory allows a functional linear relationship between chronolgical phenomenological experiences. Without memory, these phenomenological experiences become independent and isolated, alienated from the rest of the phenomenological experiences sought from the relative kinetic energy invested being. This is where we must begin.

In theory and in idealized, it is nearly impossible to re-enact the beginning of all things as it is impossible for a kinetic bound being to enforce static energy. How can this be worded simpler? In the beginning, that is to say the beginning of a linear kinetic model, static energy existed. Static energy, not being subject to phenomenological experiences or tangibility, merely existed as energy without mass. This energy can best be visualized as the essence of things that is transferred with one another to cause interactions – but without a mass. All things posses this energy as it is necessary for an existance.

The question stares us in the face – what caused kinetic energy to begin? During the timeless state of static energy, an event must occur to cause motion; kinetic energy. This is the one fatal flaw of this whole ordeal as I have not delved into the cause and find it very difficult to as the very thought of cause and effect is subject to the very dissimalation I am attempting. Cause and effect are subject to memory and it’s relationship on a linear model. Cause followed by effects are merely the interaction of kinetic energy recorded by phenomenological beings. Let’s pass this for the moment.

Given that kinetic energy is the world we live in, we are subject to a constantly changing world. This kinetic energy is, however, bound by rules and laws. These laws function on a level of constant growth such as stochastic model growing exponentially. During this process, the phenomenological beings must find ways to exist within a constantly changing and growing world (the kinetic world). The kinetic world is what the phenomenological beings experience.

In order to survive, phenomenological beings must formulate a way to maintain a consciousness throughout the constantly changing world. This consciousness is what connects moments to moments in a constantly changing body and world. The body is constantly changing just as the world. The essential point here is that consciousness is necessary for any liviing being (phenomenological being) to exist or survive. Each moment is novel. Without memory, all beings would die, nearly instantly. Memory allows phenomenological beings to survive in the kinetic world.

Within this survival comes the rules of evolution whereas some are better fit at surviving than others. This is simply attributed to the ability to adapt to the kinetic world better than others.

Chaos theory meets evolution.

In the kinetic world, the stochastic system is a driven model by phenomenological beings in attempt to record evolution which is the survival of beings through the kinetic world.

Contemporary time does not exist. Time is not an externally existing entity.

Time is a concept created by phenomenological beings in order to survive in the kinetic world. With the concept of time, we can record, relate, and recall what we refer to as ourselves. However, the past recollection are of entirely different entities and phenomenological experiences. Every moment is a new being, minutely changed, but related to by memory. Time allows beings, especially humans, to survive so well.

Humans require the concept of time and consciousness in order to survive. Without the concept of consciousness, or being able to tell others how they feel, humans would die. It was necessary for the humans to develop the ability to communicate what they are thinking to others. This, simultaneously born with time, creates the self. The self exists as a social self and personal self. The social self being as perceived by others and the personal self being as perceived by the same body of kinetic energy (remember, you are a house of individual kinetic energy born from static energy).

 Summary:

(God defined as an omniscient, omnipresent being, which created all things)

P1) Consciousness is necessary for phenomenological beings to survive

P2) Time is necessary for consciousness to exist

C1) Consciousnes is subject to time

C2) Phenomenological beings are contigents of time and consciousness

C3) Phenomenological beings, time, and consciousness are all contigents of kinetic energy

P4) Time and consciousness are necessary for phenomenological beings to exist

P5) Gods are not subject to time or Gods are timeless

P6) Gods cannot be a contigent of anything

C3) Gods do not have a consciousness nor kinetic energy

What does it mean if a God cannot have a consciousness? This means that a God (an omniscient, omnipresent being) cannot make any sort of ethical judgment. Gods cannot make judgments on good or bad nor anything of that matter that is subject to a phenomenological being. Thus, any ideas of a God making a phenomenological action cannot occur as a God cannot and is not subject to a phenomenological existence.

This, of course, means that nearly all contemporary ideas of God cannot exist. Most importantly, the contemporary Christian God cannot exist as humans have conceived it and that the bible is clearly arbitrary.

This is a dramatic argument for all Theists alike and I welcome you to argue any part of it. I want it to grow and I want to see where it can go. Please, if you see any fatal flaws, please show them to me.

~

Why I am Atheist

I have heard a lot of reasons why people are Atheist, but not often do I hear a detailed explanation of how they reached their belief.  Even the use of the word belief may be conflicting in some cases.  In any case, I wanted to tackle why I am Atheist as compared to some other presumed reasons why people are Atheist.

You’re Just Atheist Because….

..you hate God – Spiteful Atheism

This is the stance similar to Job in the Bible; indignant to God.  This is working under the assumption that the person is intrinsically Theist but acts as an Atheist out of spite.  They do believe in God, but denounce him.  This is nothing but a childish reaction out of anger – “I hate you!  I don’t even know you!”

..you hate your life – Selfish Atheism

This is the indignant stance that people assume most Atheists take.  People are so upset with life that they believe that either God does not exist or he does and he doesn’t care about you.  This is, more often than not, an act for attention from the author.  They intrinsically do believe in God, but feel as though denouncing him will hurt him somehow (or make themselves feel better).

…you experienced something traumatic – Indignant Atheism

This approach to atheism is born out of something happening that is so wrong that God must not exist.  Often these people themselves seem to, deep down, wish God does exist, but think it not possible.  However, to others they will say that God must not exist for [insert traumatic event] has happened to them.  Thus, God could not exist because, if he did, he wouldn’t have that happen.  This stance can hold some credibility in theodicy and may very well lead to an academic atheist, but I don’t think it the most reliable route.

The Approach to Knowledge

The first step to take, in life in general, is to decide how you are going to judge knowledge, what is knowledge, and what is the best method to knowledge.  A very subjective matter that cannot really be argued into objectivity, but I feel you can make a good case for it.

For me, personally, I can say that I first started as a child anglican theist.  I believed in God because I was told to.  It wasn’t until I learnt about the word “dogma” that I started to think about knowledge at all.  I was young (around 9) and learnt that dogma is the term used for accepting a religious fact on faith alone.  It took a while for me to grasp this, but it certainly makes sense how it would cause a child to question knowledge; do you accept something as truth based on faith or do you take another approach?  I, (would hope) naturally, considered the alternatives.  Those alternatives weren’t very well explained to me as a child and I didn’t really get a good grasp of Atheism or even Agnosticism.  However, I eventually understood Deism, which was the belief that God created everything, but then left us to our own wits end and has no involvement in our lives.  I didn’t know at the time that this contradicts every religious doctrine I learnt, but it best suited what I thought best.  Now to explain the approach..

Open Mindedness

The most primary characteristic people usually boast is being open minded, as though being closed minded is a terrible thing.  However, have you actually ever considered what each really is?  What does it mean to be either?  How do you know, for certain, that you are open-minded?  You can’t just arbitrarily decide, “I am open minded” can you?

This video best describes what open mindedness is.  However, as a child, all I cared about was making sure I took the right approach to knowledge.  To me, it felt like two choices; science or faith.  Do you treat knowledge from a base of faith or work up from the base of science?  It was at this time that the Shakespeare play “Hamlet” sealed the deal for me.

Why, then, ’tis none to you, for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.

~ Hamlet 2:2

This quote alone made me question God.  Shakespeare makes a good point; good and bad are subjective matters, not objective.  God was, and is, always portrayed as a being with consciousness and characteristics.  Those things are subject to consciousness, thoughts, and opinion.  How can a God, who has a consciousness like ours, not be subject to the criticism, “Well, that is just your opinion?”.  In addition, I thought of the worst case; intrinsic evils.  Murdering someone seems naturally evil, but why?  Whenever we assess whether or not it was murder, we have to take the context into play: was he doing anything bad?  Was he trying to kill you? Was he defenseless?  These are things that a conscience being has to take into consideration, a thought, and then arbitrate a decision.  But shouldn’t God be an immortal judgement of morality?  Perfect in judgment?  So, why then, is “Thou shall not kill” so ill defined?

Whether or not the above can be debated, it plants the root for thought on the very foundation of God and his authority of reason.  It wasn’t until in my later life that I learnt to appreciate this step, one that Martin Luther placed for all mankind when he questioned the authority of the Pope.  This very step leads to much further elaboration.

What Makes Truth..?

So, in my next step in life, I thought to myself, “What would make something true?”.  So, again, I tried to make sense of a system that would make sure something is true.  You would have a claim.. well anyone can make a claim.. so you need to have some way of proving the claim.. how?  You do experiments.. well, anyone can do those.  So, you set rules into place.  How can you be sure they are reliable..?  You make sure anyone can repeat the experiments and get the same results.. This is science!  This is the very base of science!  As a child, my initial response was that I shouldn’t simply jump onto the science train.  Make sure I know what I mean.

Instead, I thought to myself, experiencing things is what makes people certain of facts.  It is when you can, experience for yourself, a truthful event, over and over again, that you will believe it to be true.  If I say, “I can do X” you may not believe me at first.  However, if I do X, then you might.  You might require further investigations in the experience, “Are you tricking me..?  Are you lying..?” so I will vary the demonstration for your experience..

It was, at this time, that I realized that my alternative approach to science was still science.  I consigned to science.  Science is the most reliable approach to truth.  The alternative, faith, makes the leap that you must simply believe.

Faith

Before continuing why I am Atheist, I must explain why I chose not to believe.  Many say that the simple act of believing is meaningful and “human”.  It has a lot of sentiment.  However, they still all take a belief in a certain thing.  So, I initially thought, “What do I believe in then?”.  There are so many choices; buddha, anglican, presbyterian, catholicism, islam, mormon, etc. etc.

Even now, if you try to ask someone why they choose there’s over the others, you will only get the response along the lines, “Because mine is the true God”.  “But how can you know?” “Because my holy text says so.” “But so does there’s.” “But mine is the true God.” “But how can you know?” “Because….” And the circular logic finally comes to the limelight.  To this day, no theist can defend this argument because, if they could, there may be a reason to be Theist.

Ok, science.. but why Atheist?

Most often the case is made that Theists can still believe in, and advocate, science.  So why did I choose Atheism?  Well, I initially made no decision on the matter and treated it like a scientific investigation.

The Holy Bible makes a lot of claims that can be scientifically investigated.  So, why not investigate them?  This is where I started.  If I can find truth in their claims, perhaps I can find grounds to back up my belief in God!  And a specific God!  Perhaps one of the other Gods even..?

Most of the time, it starts with the beginning of everything, creation.  But instead of barraging what would be a books worth of detail, I’ll quickly run through some examples:

Date of the Earth

Firstly, the age of the Earth is one of the most integral things to understanding our kind.  The Earth is 4.54 billion years old.  There are a lot of dating techniques, and I won’t delve into them, but this is the consensus.  While many creationists and others will argue that dating techniques are bunk, I have never found there arguments to be persuasive enough.  At this point, creationism is done with.  I cannot agree that humans and dinosaurs lived together or any other religion claiming the earth to be the actual center of the universe.

Fossils

This is the natural second step.  Fossils are a dead give-away for a lot of things..

..but what of Adam and Eve..?  The first two humans to be created by the commonly held Theistic God..?  There’s no evidence of this!  In fact, the fossils show that there are many humans developing all over the world over time.

Here are some actual scientific journal articles on this matter:

Toward a Phylogenetic Classification of Primates Based on DNA Evidence Complemented by Fossil Evidence
+ A highly resolved primate cladogram based on DNA evidence is congruent with extant and fossil 
osteological evidence. A provisional primate classification based on this cladogram and the time scale 
provided by fossils and the model of local molecular clocks has all named taxa represent clades and 
assigns the same taxonomic rank to those clades of roughly equivalent age. Order Primates divides into 
Strepsirhini and Haplorhini. Strepsirhines divide into Lemuriformes and Loriformes, whereas haplorhines 
divide into Tarsiiformes and Anthropoidea. Within Anthropoidea when equivalent ranks are used for 
divisions within Platyrrhini and Catarrhini, Homininae divides into Hylobatini (common and siamang gibbon) 
and Hominini, and the latter divides into Pongina forPongo(orangutans) and Hominina forGorillaandHomo. 
Homoitself divides into the subgeneraH.(Homo) for humans andH.(Pan) for chimpanzees and bonobos. The 
differences between this provisional age related phylogenetic classification and current primate 
taxonomies are discussed.
Human Origins
+ New discoveries combine to indicate that all the major steps in human evolution took place in Africa. 
Skeletal analysis of oldest human forbears around 3 million years ago reveal many anatomical similarities to African Great Apes. These and biochemical resemblances indicate a common ancestry for humans and apes, perhaps only a few million years earlier. Enlarged knowledge through recent recovery of skeletons of several successive stages in the line leading to modern peoples shows that many attributes or skills by which we define humanity arose much more recently in time than heretofore believed.
The Fossil Record and the Early Evolution of the Metazoa

Looks like common Christendom is out the window just based on this.  That’s all it took for me.  Adam and Eve are such crucial figures in this religion that how could I ignore this?  I believe Richard Dawkins tackles this matter the best in the matter of atonement:

The Origin of Humans

So if humans didn’t originate from Adam and Eve, then where did they come from?  This was my natural next question, in which there isn’t really a complete answer.  Evolution describes a great deal, but not epigenesis of life.  This is where most people make the mistake of thinking that evolution describes the beginning of all things, but it doesn’t.  Evolution is simply the matter of changing species over time, not the creation of all time and life.  When I learnt this, in combination with chaos theory, I felt I had a pretty good understanding of all things.

Evolution & Chaos Theory

This is something I think ought to be taught in all schools.  First, chaos theory. Chaos theory is the theory explaining how one event can lead to tremendously different things.  Many people are naturally inclined to this theory anyway.  The simple act of cutting someone off on the highway can tip that person over the edge where they are unhappy and then sentence a man to death in the afternoon.  The most commonly explained example is how the flapping of a butterflies wings can cause a tornado on the other side of the planet.

It took a while for me to grasp this, but it makes more sense when you learn of exponential growth.  With so many variables in life (I say life because chaos involves all things) there are many things that can propel one event into an astronomical one.

This is a graph of population over time.  It is the most atypical example of exponential growth.  Exponential growth is best understood in the example, “If you tell one friend.. they will tell two.. then they will each tell two more.. then they will each tell two more..” eventually, everyone knows.  Remember this when approaching the next steps.

I don’t want to lecture on what evolution is, but it’s simple premise is natural selection.  Many people confuse evolution as mutations happening over time and somehow procreating still throughout generations.  However, this is not the case.  What is the case is that small, ostensibly inconsequential, characteristics are chosen and reproduced.  However, over time, these small mundane details make significant results.  I feel that anyone that would read this would understand the premise of evolution.  However, combining exponential growth with it is another matter.  It was understanding exponential growth that really convinced me that evolution must be true because it made so much sense; one small change in one generation will eventually lead to significantly different results in generations to come.

The Scientific Atheist

At the time, I conclude that God is not proven to be real or exist.  No religion has provided enough reason or evidence for any case.  Most reasons that are presented are actually reasons I use against Theism:

Most often I am asked, “Just look at the world.. how can you deny a God made this?” and I am appalled..

What is more beautiful:

A) The mona lisa being drawn by a man with a painting on an ezel

B) The mona lisa being etched in the sands of a desert by nothing but the winds alone and a lot of time

To me, the person is basically telling me that A is more beautiful than B.  A creator does not make something more beautiful.  A creator makes something less beautiful because it was intended and manipulated.  I think most people would agree that natural beauties are held in higher degree than man-made beauties.  Let’s compare some examples.

Man Made:

+ Pyramids, Eiffel Tower, the Acropolis, Mt. Rushmore Sculpture, paintings, etc.

Nature Made:

+ Waterfalls, Aurora Borealis, Stars, Mountain ranges, beaches, etc.

What would you consider, over-all, more impressive?  To make the case even more specific, take a case of each and compare the origin to your intuition:

What is more beautiful:

+ A man made or nature made waterfall?

+ A man made or nature made painting?

+ A man made or nature made light show?

+ A man made or nature made beach?

After this, I still maintain that I am Atheist only because I have no reason.  Simply making observations about the world is not enough.  You need to define God and then prove it.  This is why I may very well still think a God exists, but has yet to be defined or proven correctly.  There are certainly suspicions of mine as to what I would call “God” but it would be nothing of the traditionally theologian sense.

What I may consider God..

So, the next thing I am asked, as an Atheist, what do I think created everything?

This is just my own opinion at this point as there is no scientific evidence for this, yet (GO CERN!).  However, I would contend that we are living in a world of kinetic energy.  Everything we know is the consequence of motion, time, movement, etc. which are contingents of kinetic energy.  Kinetic energy is what propels all things in life to keep moving and changing.  You must imagine the concept of time as being the contingent of kinetic energy, not the other way around.  Time exists because motion does.  Time is the result of kinetic energy.

So, where did kinetic energy come from?  Well, static energy.  We can see, even from experiments, that with enough energy being interacted, there is born mass.  When something cannot go faster anymore, it starts to create mass.  This is beyond my comprehension, but defined by CERN’s experiments in the LHC.  This is where kinetic energy goes.  They are still trying to find where kinetic energy comes from.

To best understand it, though, is to understand static energy.  Static energy is simply energy, without movement.  Not in the sense of souls or spirits.. but just energy.  The beginning would just be this.. infinite, immaculate, intangible, energy.

Conclusion

At length, I am an Atheist only as a result as no alternative.  My morality is derived from Humanistic reasoning, not faith.  I feel so confident in Theism being bunk that I would willingly step into any debate or commit any sin without concern of Godly intervention.  Of course, there would be human intervention, but that is my point..

Humans created God.

To put it best..

A humans life is of no more importance to the universe than that of an oyster.

~ David Hume

~

Your Unreliable Consciousness

You probably consider this thread as a joke. You’ll say, “why would anyone doubt my ability to experience things?”. You live, you have senses, you know when you are able to sense sight, smell, sound, feel, and taste. Who am I to challenge your ability to do so?

Too many people put too much trust into their senses. Is this a reliable thing to do? Even the most sturdiest of buildings and foundations require criticism ever now and then because of how foundational they are. What better foundation than your own senses?

The primary inspiration for this post is from Dan Dennett:

Your Senses

 This is Meyer’s loop. Objectively speaking, your eyes receive light from the outside world and bring them in to collect in your brain for interpretation.

The greatest person to attack your senses was Descartes.

This image was drawn by Descartes to show the mechanistic way of which our body works. We see light, it enters our mind, our mind interprets, and we react.

Now, of course, the problem is that it is not until your interpret the images that you are able to distinguish what they are, where they are, etc.

Example 1

Look at the moon or far away object X. You know what X is, what it may do or looks like, etc. However, if you lift your hand, you can “hold” it in your sight. But you know the moon is bigger than the inch between your finger and thumb. This is because you know of dimensions and distance, depth, etc. Your eyes can only process so much and this is the direct light given from this object that gives you that perception.

Here is a humorous video from Kids in the Hall to demonstrate this:

In addition, your senses have fooled you numerous times. You have seen images in your dreams that felt real, look real, etc. but they are not real, are they? Of course, Descartes acknowledged the extrapolation of this to questioning reality, but we’re not looking at that. We’re just looking at the unreliability of our senses. You have seen things that are not part of this reality.

Also, you may see a certain person wearing a hat when on second glance you discover they really were not wearing a hat. How many times did you not take the second glance to realize this? The examples are endless. You cannot explore every potential mistake in perceptual judgment, it just happens.

Example 2

Furthermore, there is a blind spot in your eye. Given the right demonstration, you can see how there is actually a blind spot in your eye that your mind compensates for. See here:

+ http://serviceworksconsulting.com/blind_spot/body_blind_spot.html

Furthermore, how many times have you had fruit punch that actually contained no fruit? There are artificial flavors out there that taste like fruits, but are they truly fruits?

To test the idea of surveying responses, people will go out and ask “is this coke or diet coke” when, in fact, they are both coke. However, there is still a 50/50 split response rate (just the same as coin flipping) that some taste coke and some taste diet coke. The point here is that you have tasted things that were not actually what you thought they were.

Example 3

Also, your audio ability is very susceptible to mistakes. Firstly, how many times have you heard the mistaking of lyrics in a song?

Secondly, consider the McGurk Effect:

Close your eyes, play this movie, and listen. Open your eyes, replay and listen again. Is he saying “ba ba” or “da da”? It’s called the McGurk effect. The man in this video, and its creator, is Arnt Maasø, associate professor at the University of Oslo.

In this, we pay attention to both the actual sound we are seeing and considering how the person is forming the word and yet we make severe mistakes. Why is this? The point here is that you are prone to making audio mistakes.

The list goes on. I think I have proven my point in this aspect.

➡ Your Consciousness

But what about your deep internal thoughts? Can they be wrong? Well we know that our senses are not reliable, so what is left? What is left is our interaction with our body and our existence.

As Dan Dennett’s demonstration shows, there are many instances in which we are consciously sure of something. However, we can easily be wrong in almost any case even in our thoughts of experiencing something.

Furthermore, there are countless cases demonstrating the importance of your brain to experience. Without your brain, you are unable to properly perceive and experience many things. Let us go through some examples:

Agnosia:

– Being unable to recognize familiar objects

+ Watch for him reaching for nothing!

Prosopagnosia:

– Unable to recognize faces (including their own!)

Visual Agnosia Example:

– Unable to recognize visual distinctions

+ The point here is to see whether or not you can see the difference. Many are incapable of this as a result of direct sense facilitation by the brain.

The point in all of the above videos is to demonstrate that, even when you are positive you experienced something, it is not always 100% true.

Your consciousness and your experience are not entirely reliable.

What do you think…?

~