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What is an Agnostic? By Khayyam and Bertrand Russell
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American Visitor

Joined: 19 Feb 2004
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 16, 2006 9:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wylie Coyote


The only tool we have to use to understand the world is the human brain, human observation and human reason. One of the issues anyone trying to understand the universe faces is how do we know our logic is correct. There is plenty of reason to question the accuracy of human logic since we have erred in the past. For example Descartes was certain of Euclidian Geometry and based his argument for God partly on it:
I saw quite clearly that, assuming a triangle, its three angles must be equal to two right angles; but for all that I saw nothing that assured me that there was any triangle in the real world. On the other hand, going back to an examination of my idea of a perfect being, I found that this included the existence of such a being, in the same way as the idea of a triangle includes the equality of its three angles to two right angles... Consequently it is at least as certain that God, the perfect being in question, is or exists, as any proof in geometry can be." (from Le Discours de la Méthode) 1

Because Descartes was so certain of the truth of mathematics he promoted the union of mathematics with physical observations of nature to form modern physics. This certainty vanished with the invention of non-Euclidean geometry and was further eroded when physicists began applying these alternatives to scientific equations. If Euclidean geometry which everyone assumed was correct is not accurate, how do we know other accepted mathematical principles are true? If mathematics and logic is the product of the human mind how do we know those rules we follow are accurate? Further more what can we learn about the human mind itself in studying logic and mathematics?

Principia Mathematica and Godel

To try to correct this problem in logic and mathematics, a number of mathematicians worked to perfect a completely formal method of stating mathematics based on axioms and rules which were absolutely provable. David Hilbert a German mathematician was the leader of a movement to formalize mathematics. Because human language necessarily guides the mind, the project was to strip mathematics and logic of any verbal meaning whatsoever which could mislead the researchers and to manipulate the symbols of the new math, now devoid of any meaning according to a simple set of rules. The abstract symbols and theorems derived from these symbols which had no intrinsic meaning in themselves were called mathematics or calculus. Any statements about the results of this formalized mathematics was not part of the mathematical system, but were called meta-mathematics. Stripped of it’s intuitive meanings, the proof of consistency was an serious problem since there was no accurate real world model against which to measure the results.2

Although a number of mathematicians participated in the project, the experiment culminated in a work called “Principia Mathematica” by Bertrand Russell and Alfred Whitehead which they thought had grounded number theory or “calculus” on pure reason for evermore. They began their calculus with axioms which were tautologies or statements which are true in all worlds. The transformation rules were devised to insure that any theorem derived from the axioms would also be a tautology. Russell and Whitehead put prodigious energy into their work and appeared to have succeeded in producing a perfect system with no possible flaws. To check the consistency of their work mathematicians used meta-mathematical statements to model the calculus. Everything matched up perfectly and mathematicians were convinced they had succeeded completely for about 20 years until Godel,s proof proved their theorems were incomplete. Since their book was such a masterpiece and is still recognized as a completely reliable benchmark of formalization, when Godel based his own work on their system of symbols and formulas and proved they were flawed, that made any possibility of future success remote.

In classical mathematics axioms were defined as obvious truth from which further truth could be derived. In classical logic philosophers relied on deductive reasoning through logical operations which they assumed was actually true. In this sense axioms are defined as:
In mathematics or logic, an unprovable rule or first principle accepted as true because it is self-evident or particularly useful (e.g., “Nothing can both be and not be at the same time and in the same respect”). The term is often used interchangeably with postulate, though the latter term is sometimes reserved for mathematical applications (such as the postulates of Euclidean geometry). It should be contrasted with a theorem, which requires a rigorous proof.3

The modern mathematical definition of axioms allows the mathematician to choose an arbitrary group of statements to serve as axioms, which don’t contradict, from which a set of logical conclusion can be derived through deductive logic. The distinction between axioms and postulates largely disappears since postulates like axioms are purely formal statements, and not facts based on experience. In a formalized system, as the symbols are stripped of specific meanings, the distinction between mathematics and logic disappears. This is why Godel’s mathematical proof impacts so many branches of knowledge. In the modern sense axioms come in two forms:
1. Logical axioms
These are certain formulas in a language that are universally valid, that is, formulas that are satisfied by every structure under every variable assignment function . In colloquial terms, these are statements that are true in any possible universe, under any possible interpretation and with any assignment of values. Usually one takes as logical axioms at least some minimal set of tautologies that is sufficient for proving all tautologies in the language; in the case of predicate logic more logical axioms than that are required, in order to prove logical truths that are not tautologies in the strict sense.4
2. Non-logical axioms are formulas that play the role of theory-specific assumptions. Reasoning about two different structures, for example the natural numbers and the integers, may involve the same logical axioms; the non-logical axioms aim to capture what is special about a particular structure (or set of structures, such as groups). Thus non-logical axioms, unlike logical axioms, are not tautologies. Another name for a non-logical axiom is postulate.5.

It was in the first sense that the term axiom were used in Principia Mathematica since they were all tautologies or truisms from which absolutely true statements were derived. In this sense, they didn’t differ greatly from the classical definition since both were assumed to be obviously true.

Godel’s work was extremely ingenious. Since his calculus has no meaning by itself, it can be understood only through meta-mathematics. What he did is to write a valid formula using the symbols in Principia Mathematica which said when interpreted through meta-mathematics
“this statement is not demonstrable using the axioms of Principia Mathematica.”6
It is obvious that if this valid statement could be proven by the axioms and rules of Principia Mathematica it would prove Principia Mathematica is self contradictory. It turns out that using the rules of Principia Mathematica itself, it is probably impossible to prove that Principia is consistent within Principia itself, but Gerhard Gentzen a mathematician has indeed demonstrated using meta-mathematics that Principia is consistent.7 In both instances there are truths about the system which can be understood only from without the system.

Godel’s work severely impacts any future reliance on any of the axiomatical systems which underlie deductive logic. What Godel established is that for any axiomatical system even if you are absolutely certain the original axioms are true, there are many truths according to those axioms, which can not be proven true using only the original axioms and rules of the axiomatic system. Since Godel, we know that regardless of which axioms we choose, there will always be many truths which can not be proven. In other words, according to the most rigorously established rules of logic, lack of formal proof can no longer disqualify an idea as truth even if it is not among the original axioms.8

Chaiain’s Article

The implications of Godel’s hypothesis has far reaching effects on human logic and understanding of truth which have not been completely understood yet.9 With this in mind it is of interest to return to the article in Scientific American to which I referred to in an earlier post and expand on what the author, building on Godel’s theorem and on Turing’s “halting problem” which enhances Godel’s theorm, has discovered not only for mathematics but also for all science and knowledge. Since the article is lengthy and involved, I will skip much of the argument and move to his conclusions.10

His conclusions are even more startling than those of Godel, reaffirming that there are an infinite number of theorems that can not be proven under any finite system of axioms.11 Working with Leibniz’s definition of proof, which states that a proof has to be simpler than what it is attempting to explain, and combining that with modern “algorithmic information theory,” he goes on to demonstrate that many things are true for no reason, thus striking a fatal blow to Leibniz’s theory of “sufficient reason,” that everything happens for a reason.12 Indeed, according to this new understanding of the limits of reason and logic, a great many truths happen for no reason whatsoever. Since those new truths exist for no reason, they can not be understood, but must be accepted as new axioms. Whereas mathematics has an infinite complexity, any theory of everything, since it is necessarily based on axioms, is finite and therefore can capture only a portion of all mathematical truth.13

Godel’s Impact on Physics

It is not immediately obvious how Godel’s proof would impact physics since physics is based on inductive logic rather than classical axioms. One of the reasons science has been so successful is because scientists have largely relied on experimentation to discover truth rather than on classical deductive logic. By doing this, scientists have avoided many of these pitfalls by basing their ideas on experimental data rather than arbitrary axioms which seemed to be correct. However, despite it’s advantage because of experimental data, science also depends upon the power of deductive logic just as surely as did medieval philosophy, the axioms are just different.

Scientific research could be defined as an experimental method to discover accurate axioms or postulates. Based on the data accumulated by experimental scientists, theoreticians look for patterns in the data and when they see a repeated pattern they define it using mathematical equations or statements called scientific laws. These laws are accepted as true because from experience they have always been demonstrated to be true. For instance if Newton sits under an apple tree and an apple breaks loose from the tree, it will fall downwards towards Newton’s head and will not fly upward towards the sun or fall sideways parallel to the surface of the earth. Scientific laws serve much as postulates in mathematics. The scientific laws are based on inductive reasoning, but any inferences from them are based on deductive reasoning.14

Scientific laws can be used to make predictions using deductive reasoning which can then be further tested using further experimentation. When the new inferences are supported by experimental evidence then this becomes an hypothesis. When a hypothesis has been tested by many scientists and has withstood extensive experimental challenge it becomes a scientific theory. This theory is then itself accepted as truth and can be used as an axiom for further deductive logic.15

The holy grail in physics is the unified theory of physics. It is defined thus in Wikipedia:
In physics, unified field theory is an attempt to unify all the fundamental forces and the interactions between elementary particles into a single theoretical framework. The term was coined by Einstein who attempted to reconcile the general theory of relativity with electromagnetism in a single field theory. His quest proved elusive and a unified field theory, sometimes grandiosely referred to as the Theory of Everything (TOE, for short), has remained the holy grail for physicists, the long-sought theory which would explain the nature and behavior of all matter.16

Although all physicists may not all state that their goal is to develop a theory of everything concerning the physical world, that is the trajectory they are following. The goal of each researcher is to enlarge the scope of knowledge about the physical universe and thus decrease the amount of potential knowledge which is still undiscovered. This project will continue until there is no more to discover if that is possible. The ultimate achievement of physics will be to develop a unified theory which along with the accompanying mathematical formulas will constitute a set of mathematical statements from which all other physical statements can be derived. In this regard, these formulas in a unified theory would serve in physics in exactly the same capacity as axioms or postulates in mathematics. Anyone equipped with these formulas could calculate any other physics formula and could perform any possible physical calculation. In the same way, these formulas would share the same liabilities as any other axiomatic system. The unified theory itself would be an axiomatic system, completely analogous to the type found in Principia Mathematica from which every physical phenomena could be calculated as a theorem. But it is not necessary to have a unified theory to model Principia Mathematica in physics since even without a unified theory, physics is still a highly rational axiomatical system right now, since there are already rules which dictate which laws, Einsteinian or quantum physical, apply in different circumstances. So in reality if we include these rules which describe which set of equations apply and under which circumstances, we have already developed a set of mathematical formulas from which most physical phenomena can be calculated.

Godel’s Impact on Materialist Reductionists

For the duelist the unified theory doesn’t pose such a severe scientific problem since Godel’s theorem deals primarily with the limits of logic and reason. Because the duelists separate mind from matter they can hypothesize a unified theory which describes all physical laws but doesn’t purport to define all truth. On the other hand, for the materialist reductionists or physicalists this presents a severe problem since they believe that a description of the physical universe by necessity is a complete description of the human mind also and is the totality of truth. In other words, the unified theory of physics would by necessity become a universal truth machine which should be able to define and predict all possible truth.

By defining the human mind as nothing more than a chemical computer, completely explainable by the rules of ordinary physics, the materialist reductionists have folded the human mind completely into the physical world. For the Physicalists under a unified theory of physics, every possible thought would be a unique separate theorem each of which could theoretically be derived from the fundamental equations of the unified theory. By including the human mind in that axiomatical system, they have attempted to invent an axiomatic theory of everything, a universal statement of truth, an undertaking which has already been proven impossible by Godel. By defining the human mind as completely physical, they have also placed Godel’s theorem itself, which is the product of the human mind, within their theory of everything. In other words, according to the materialist reductionists, the unified theorem, which would consist of a series of mathematical statements which purport to explain everything in the physical world, would also by necessity define every possible human thought, and every possible intellectual truth including Godel’s theorem itself, a theorem which has already demonstrated that there is no finite system of axioms from which we can deduce all truth! Also since there is at present no way to very the consistency of any axiomatic system from inside the system, if there were contradictions in the system. Since our thoughts are theorems of the system itself, how is it possible to check the system to know that the thoughts which the system produce are accurate? We fall into circular logic where the system is checking itself which leads to an infinite regression. Each thought is a theorem of the system which itself must them be checked by more thoughts which are theorems of the system which are themselves theorems of the system and must be checked by even more thoughts which are theorems of the system ad infinitum.

The authors of the book Godel’s Proof discussed it’s implications for artificial intelligence and concluded that Godel’s Proof excluded this possibility since computers are axiomatic systems themselves. Mr. Hofstadter who revised the book pointed out that programmers have avoided this limitation by copying the neural nets from the brain. By designing neural nets computers could do many things which could not be achieved by mere programming.17 What programmers have managed to do by using neural nets is to design a system with potentially limitless input superimposed on a finite original axiomatic program. In other words, their system is not really axiomatic since most of the “truths” it discover come from outside the system. However, this solution doesn’t apply to the broader issue addressed in this paper. While it is true that the human brain does use neural nets and therefore is much more sophisticated than any conceivable axiomatic computer program, that does not in any way address the issue I have raised. Besides the small matter that the brain is conscious and the artificial neural net is not, the fundamental problem I raised remains unresolved. The fact remains that any unified field theory in physics would have to be a finite number of equations which purport to define all reality including every possible human thought. Therefore, unless one is willing to open the universe to outside causes like the computer programmers have done with their neural nets, for materialism reductionism to be true, every human thought must theoretically be derivable as a unique theorem of the unified theory. The choices available in response to Godel’s proof are limited, one there are an infinite number of equations in the unified theory and therefore no one can ever describe how the universe operates or two the human mind is not completely defined by the rules which describe the physical universe.

As I just mentioned, to avoid the conflict between consciousness and scientific laws, one can either recognize that the mind transcends the material universe and exclude it at least partially from the physical laws, or give up the possibility of a unified theory of physics which means that the ultimate goal of physics is an unattainable mirage. Since Godel’s theorem and the issues addressed by Chaitin in the Scientific American article are both theories of logic and reason, there is not necessarily an insurmountable barrier to a unified field theory if the human mind transcends the physical system. Only by working outside of the system can the human mind invent the unified theory, test the internal consistency of the formulae to see if the unified theory is valid, and devise any added equations which they deem necessary to describe those things not predicted by the initial equations. The unified system could then logically be understood to be a limited axiomatical logical system to explaining the behavior of physical objects which are a finite set, but would not attempt to explain cognitive phenomena which has proven to be infinite.

If the materialist reductionists take the alternative approach and abandon the search for a unified theory of physics and admit that many things in nature can not be logically explained, that also weakens their position greatly since one of the arguments for physicalism is that “the material universe is causally closed and therefore consciousness can not serve as a causative agent.” Clearly if many things happen for which there is no rational explanation, the argument that the universe is causally closed fails. If the universe is an open system with an infinite set of physical laws, and if many things happen for no reason at all as Chaitin concluded, then the laws of cause and effect themselves become unprovable. By that time, the physical universe will be a completely incomprehensible mystery anyway and whether consciousness is included in the system or not will be irrelevant, since science itself will have little predictive value. It appears that either the laws of the physical world are infinite in number, can not be tested for consistency and our attempts to understand the physical world are ultimately futile, or the human mind transcends the physical world. For the materialist reductionist, the outcome can be nothing else but total nihilism which means that from their perspective their arguments against God are just as meaningless as the arguments a theist makes to support the belief in God which are both just as meaningless as any other supposedly factual statement they make. As one of my professors said while describing a language theory, according to this theory you climb a ladder and then kick the ladder out from under yourself.


Research into logic and mathematics has revealed a serious flaw in deductive logic. Even if the original axioms are correct and do not appear to conflict, if they are finite in number, they will only define a finite subset of the totality of truth which is infinite. This means that regardless of the axiomatic system one is working in, logically mathematicians may have to accept some propositions as truth without formal proof. This incompleteness theorem deeply impacts all aspects of human learning. In addition, so far no one has been able to devise a system to check itself for consistency from within the system.

Since a unified theory of physics ultimately will define all physical phenomena, and since it will be analogous to the axiomatic system developed in Principia Mathematica, according to Godel’s proof, logically it will not be able to define all truth. A theory of everything would in fact be a universal truth machine, something which Godel’s proof has demonstrated can never happen. Furthermore, the materialist reductionists or physicalists, who want to fold the human mind completely into the physical universe and to define the human mind as nothing but a chemical computer now have entered a vicious chain of circular logic from which they can never emerge. In many ways, our materialist reductionists may be compared to the cartoon character, Wiley Coyote, who has just fallen off a cliff, but hangs in midair momentarily, not realizing yet that what he thought was solid footing has just broken away from under him.

1. http://descartes.thefreelibrary.com/
2. Ernest Nagel, James Newman, edited by Douglas Hofstadter, “Godel’s Proof,” pp.25-44, New York University Press, 2001.
3. http://www.answers.com/axioms&r=67

4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Axiom
5. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Axiom
6. Ibid p. 92.
7. Ibid pp 107&108.
8. Ibid. pp xii-xv.
9. Ibid, p xv.
10.Anyone who wishes to study the information further should purchase the Magazine or buy the article on line a http://www.sciamdigital.com/index.cfm?fa=Products.ViewIssuePreview&ARTICLEID_CHAR=5014AF77-2B35-221B-61BC29D97AB8820F.
11.Gregory Chaitin, “Scientific American, March 2006,” p. 76.
12.Ibid, pp 77&78
13.Ibid., p. 79.
14. http://www.wilstar.com/theories.htm
15. http://www.wilstar.com/theories.htm
17.Godel’s Proof, pp.111&112.
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American Visitor

Joined: 19 Feb 2004
Posts: 224

PostPosted: Wed Aug 30, 2006 10:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Conscious Mind


Before moving into a discussion of dualism, I would like to briefly cover some of the experimental approaches to brain function and consciousness. This discussion can only skim the surface of a vast and complex field. There are many facets of this problem I will not touch on at all, such as the different neurotransmitters used by neurons to communicate among themselves and with the adjacent glia cells, or concerning the role glial cells themselves might play in brain function, since understanding exactly how the hardware functions is not necessary in the discussion of the mind, body problem.

It is easy to ignore the implications of Godel’s proof and maintain the belief that eventually the mind will be completely explainable by physical phenomena. Many people imagine that progress in understanding the physical mechanics of thought will eventually lead to a complete understanding of the mind itself. This unwarranted optimism was expressed by Francis Crick and Christof Koch in their article about consciousness in Scientific American a few years ago. This cheerful prognostication is even more ironic since Crick was a Nobel prize winner for his work on DNA.

...The problem was felt to be either purely philosophical or too elusive to study experimentally. It would not have been easy for a neuroscientist to get a grant just to study consciousness.

In our opinion, such timidity is ridiculous, so a few years ago we began to think about how best to attack the problem scientifically. How to explain mental events as being caused by the firing of large sets of neurons? Although there are those who believe such an approach is hopeless, we feel it is not productive to worry too much over aspects of the problem that cannot be solved scientifically or, more precisely, cannot be solved solely by using existing scientific ideas. Radically new concepts may indeed be needed recall the modifications of scientific thinking forced on us by quantum mechanics. The only sensible approach is to press the experimental attack until we are confronted with dilemmas that call for new ways of thinking.

This particular article tackled the problem of consciousness by addressing the physical events which occur within the mind with just one sensory modality, sight. The authors wrote an excellent review of the neuroanatomy involved in sight with descriptions of various subsets of neurons which perform different functions to make sight possible. They even had interesting descriptions of optical illusions to illustrate how these subsystems function. Finally they tried to isolate the exact set of neurons which cooperated to make consciousness of sight possible. However, since their goal was to provide a material explanation for consciousness, they predictably fell far short of their objective, a failure which they were honest enough to admit.. Their article illustrates both the hubris and the failure of materialist reductionism.

Reductionism is Helpful to Understand the Mind

The usual scientific method of reducing the brain to smaller and simpler parts which share the property of the whole is typical of reductionism and has been helpful in the physical sciences. The insight that molecules share the same properties of the whole lump greatly simplified our understanding of matter and has yielded much interesting and useful information. Since almost every conscious event is associated with a physical event, and since physical events alter consciousness and mood, the reductionist study of neuroanatomy and neurophysiology have been extremely helpful medically. Because of the provable interaction of the physical brain and of the mind it is often possible to treat mental illness such as depression, chemically. It also makes it possible to understand and to search for improved treatments and prevention for other diseases such as schizophrenia and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer disease. Reductionism also clarifies questions such as, “is the human mind completely free in all aspects?” From reductionism the answer is clear that, “no we are not completely free,” since the mind is so intimately connected with physical processes occurring within the brain. For example, bizarre and sometimes violent behavior can sometimes be explained by seizures particularly those occurring in the temporal lobe. By studying how brain lesions influence behavior, reductionism helps us know to what extent an individual can be held morally culpable for violent or illegal acts. Finally, neuroanatomy makes it possible for surgeons to plan brain surgery using approaches which will leave a minimum amount of residual neurological deficit post op.

Logically Consciousness Cannot be an Epiphenomenon

That the physical influences the mental status is massively demonstrated. The reverse, whether consciousness is able to alter the physical status of the brain is not so easily demonstrated since consciousness is such an elusive object to manipulate. Because it is so difficult to devise experiments which test consciousness directly, many people, even some whom are dualists, assume that consciousness is an epiphenomenon which registers the state of the brain but doesn’t influence the material make up of the brain. People who believe in epiphenomenalism can point to the massive influence the physical has on the mental and can assume that this is all there is. However, on closer examination the arguments that consciousness is an epiphenomenon fail completely. For example, if consciousness were really an “epiphenomenon,” there would be no way to express that fact since the statement, “consciousness is an epiphenomenon,” assumes what it denies, that the mind in some way has access to consciousness and can actually make a statement about it. This contradictory statement is very similar to Godel’s proof, where he wrote a valid formula using the symbols of Principia Mathematica which stated, “this statement is not demonstrable using the axioms of Principia Mathematica.” Only if the mind can access consciousness and report on it can one make any statements whatsoever concerning consciousness. If consciousness really were only an epiphenomenon there would be no discussions about it. When philosophers make statements about consciousness, those statements themselves prove that consciousness is real with unique properties which have already altered the brain physically to enable it to make those statements which indicate an awareness that consciousness exists.

In addition to these experiential arguments, which are available to everyone who is conscious, there are other more objective ways to evaluate the influence of consciousness on the mind. For example, depression often responds equally well to medication, to psychotherapy, or to some combination of the two.2 In psychotherapy the healing occurs as two individuals communicate through speech. Physically the speech is composed of variations in the air pressure in the room which originate from the vocal cords of one individual and impact on the ear drums of the second individual. If the therapy resided in the physical aspects of the sound, it should not matter whether the patient understood the psychiatrist or not, since the sound patterns themselves would be healing. A psychiatrist who spoke only Swahili could serve as effectively as a psychiatrist for a patient who spoke only English as if the psychiatrist were a native English speaker. Further more, psychiatry sessions could be pre-recorded in German and shipped around the world so patients of all language groups could listen to the recordings and receive exactly the same therapeutic benefit which a native German speaker would receive from a personal session with a highly trained German speaking psychiatrist. All one would need is for a cute janitor to come into the room and play the recording for the patient. Further more, if consciousness were not necessary to receive benefit, psychiatry sessions could be performed on patients in a deep coma with equal benefit. If these scenarios sound unrealistic, then one must assume that the language from the psychiatrist is only therapeutic if it is produced by a conscious psychiatrist understood by a conscious patient. Only by modulating the patient’s conscious thoughts can talk therapy alter the function of the brain, which means talk therapy produces physical changes in the brain sufficient to alleviate the patient’s depression.

Consciousness Integrates the Experiences of the Entire Brain

As noted previously, neuroanatomy is very helpful to understand the function of the brain down to the level of small groups of neurons possibly to individual neurons. Even small brain lesions can cause lacunae in consciousness which can be very specific. It is even possible that a single neuron fires to alert your consciousness when you recognize your favorite aunt. Although they may not be aware of it, this rich anatomical landscape causes immense problems for the materialist reductionists since it proves that only a large group of neurons functioning together can produce the complete conscious experience of a neurologically healthy person. This means that the conscious mind is able to experience and integrate the firing of millions of individual neurons into a single experience. Neurologically, this means the conscious experience requires the entire brain and can not be localized to only one spot in the brain. It is questionable whether a single neuron is conscious at all, and if it is, it is inexplicable by reductionism how these millions of conscious events experienced by single neurons can meld into one conscious experience.

As the brain matures and ages it gradually loses neurons and atrophies. If consciousness were reducible to one neuron, people’s consciousness would suddenly turn off randomly as that specific consciousness neuron died. Rather than a gradual decline in the ability to learn new material which usually occurs in normal aging, one would have people fully conscious one moment and in a deep irreversible coma the next. Since the death of neurons with age appears to be fairly random, this sudden coma could occur at any age depending upon when your personal consciousness neuron died. Since we don’t observe people with intact brains and good blood vessels randomly passing into a comatose state, it is strong evidence that consciousness is not the province of a single neuron, but is dependent upon the coordinated function of many neurons. This proves that consciousness is an emergent function of the entire brain, which can not be completely explained by reductionism.

Not only can consciousness not be reduced to a single neuron, but experimentally it does not appear to be explainable simply as the arrangement of matter. For instance, some people have survived long submersion in freezing water without breathing. The hypothermia protects the brain from the oxygen deprivation by slowing down it’s metabolism. This physical phenomena has been used in heart surgery, when the brain will not be fully perfused, with good results. During the time the patient is chilled, the structure of the brain is unaltered except there may be a different concentration of neurotransmitter in individual synapses because the rate at which chemical reactions occur is much slower, however although the brain is completely intact, the patient appears to be unconscious so long as the brain is chilled. In other words what we perceive as consciousness requires not only an intact brain, but also a warm brain in which chemical reactions proceed at normal speed. A single thought involves the coordinated firing of hundreds, thousands or millions of neurons in proper sequence. From this it appears that thought requires the integration of activity of many neurons over time and space. It is wise to remember that although the chilled patient may appear unconscious, this may not be so. Since we don’t have direct access to another’s consciousness, we don’t really know positively that someone who is hypothermic is unconscious, only that afterwards they are amnestic. It is possible that the chilling may block the mind, brain communication but leave consciousness intact. Because the mind, brain connection is blocked, they may have experienced the entire operation but can’t remember it later since memories are stored in the brain.

Since we can only study past conscious events through the memory, we have no way to know if someone in a coma is or is not conscious. If someone who appears to be in a coma is actually conscious, we have no way to study that event, even when they wake up, if those thoughts are not recorded in episodic memory. It is possible that many people who appear to be in a deep coma are fully conscious but are not laying down long term episodic memories. When they awake they would have no memory of events which occurred while they were in coma even if they had consciously participated in them at the time.

Altered Conscious States

For someone to remember a conscious event and recall it to consciousness at a later time requires a functional central nervous system. All conscious events are not recorded in the episodic memory banks. For example, doctors take advantage of this understanding of memory when they use conscious sedation. The patient will be awake and can cooperate with the physician during the procedure, but afterwards will have no recollection of the event. If the physician is performing a procedure under local anesthesia and the patient experiences too much pain, the deleterious effects of the event can be greatly ameliorated by producing retrograde amnesia, which blocks the brain’s ability to recall events which haven’t been laid down in long term memory yet. This memory block apparently affects not only the declarative memory but also affects the emotional memories laid down by the amygdala which can be extremely damaging and are very difficult to extinguish once established. In retrograde amnesia, a brain which is functioning normally can have an experience and process it properly in preparation to make a permanent record of the event, but have that memory erased after the event by medication.

When amnesia becomes permanent, exactly what it means to be “human” comes into question. People who are fully conscious but because of focal neurological deficits have no ability to story any long term declarative memories push the limits of human experience. Some of these individuals can store complex information for only a few seconds, and yet they give every indication that they are fully conscious, can hold a rational conversation, and display appropriate emotional response to their current setting.

The dependence on memory to study past mental events also applies to those researchers who are studying near death experiences. Probably near death experiences have been a major source of stories about the state of the afterlife throughout history. People, who appeared to be dead, revived and told fantastic tales of the presumed afterlife. For a near death experience to be recorded in memory, the brain must be functioning sufficiently well to make a permanent record of the events which transpire in the near death state. Although these people’s memories are firmly anchored in the physical brain and are part of the present life, their states of altered consciousness during near death experiences still provide interesting and fascinating information about the nature of consciousness. However, these stories are often difficult to evaluate since they are often completely subjective and directly available only to the person who reports the experience. Although these stories are often completely subjective, some aspects can be objectively evaluated particularly when the person who has had a near death experience reports an out of body experiences. These out of body reports can be quite impressive, especially when they are related by highly educated, rational and apparently honest individuals. These can be particularly enlightening if the individual who has had the experience can actually relate details of events or places to which he would have had no access to through the normal senses. Unfortunately this type of experience is very ephemeral and difficult to control which makes them difficult to study.

Unusual Psychic Phenomena

Anyone studying consciousness must also take into account unusual psychic phenomena such as reports by people who experience alien abduction. This phenomena was studied extensively for many years by a Harvard psychiatrist named Dr. John Mack who unfortunately was struck by a vehicle and killed in 2004. He established that the abductees were sane intelligent and honest individuals who were truthfully reporting their memories. What was in short supply was any objective evidence to substantiate their stories. Other researchers, such as psychologist Susan Clancy also from Harvard, have studies these people and have concluded that they are unusually susceptible to false memories implanted through suggestion and may have experienced sleep paralysis.3 She has not disproved their claims but has raised a reasonable doubt about many of these claims. This controversy illustrates just how difficult it is to study the limits of consciousness since memories are often faulty and the boundaries between dreams, hallucinations and full consciousness are often poorly defined. In studying reports of the fantastic, it is wise to remain skeptical unless there is objective evidence to support the claims.

Even further afield are reports of immaterial spirits. In studying spiritism or demonology, one would appear to be on more solid experimental ground since many of these claims can be studies objectively. Unfortunately, spiritualism has been infested by frauds who make legitimate research difficult. The great escape artist, Harry Houdini, spent many years seriously investigating spiritualism and uncovered many frauds.4 Just as false prophets, greedy clerics and lying mullahs have brought disgrace on organized religion charlatans have brought spiritualism into disrepute. If there is money, power and fame involved, there will be imposters prepared to profit. On the other hand there is anecdotal evidence which is hard to dismiss.

For instance, I personally knew a retired surgeon was completely honest, sane and with no apparent susceptibility to false memories, who had treated a terminally ill spirit medium. After the medium died, the doctors could not keep patients in his bed because of strange psychic phenomena associated with the bed. Although you, the one reading this post, can not evaluate the authenticity of this story for yourself, since I could evaluate the validity of my source, his story makes the possibility of psychic phenomena associated with demons more believable to me. This was a man of science who had little interest in pursuing the topic further, who related this story to me quite casually in describing his life as a surgeon. He apparently found the unsuspecting patient’s frantic reactions humorous, since he chuckled when he recalled how they would run down the hallway attired in their hospital gowns. For me this demonstrates that although Houdini discovered many frauds, it is possible that there are other individuals who have genuine spirit powers who don’t seek fame or fortune but live quiet lives unknown but to a few acquaintances.

While many of the Spiritualists have been charlatans and hucksters, there are other people who appear to be serious demonologists. An interesting group studying hauntings and demon possession is named “New England Society for Psychic Research” founded by Ed and Lorraine Warren. For those interested in pursuing the occult, they have a warning. They believe the occult can be dangerous and should be pursued only with caution and understanding. When someone opens themselves to psychic influences, they may be no safer than someone who leaved the front door of their house open. They do not take their research lightly.5 This same caution also applies to potential prophets, all spirits are not good spirits. Although I have no way to vouch for this couple’s work since I’ve never known or communicated with them, according to their writings, it appears they were taken seriously by both Protestant and Catholic clergymen who collaborated in their exorcisms. However one interprets their research as real truths or as delusions, the stories they relate make fascinating reading and reveal much about the human mind. Because ghost stories are a permanent fixture of the human psyche, any serious researcher into the nature of consciousness needs to evaluate the data psychic researchers have accumulated. The Catholic church itself takes this type of research very seriously and has extensive information regarding Demonology and exorcisms.6 These studies could also be helpful in studying the mental states involved in prophets and mystics.

It is a huge leap from neuroscience where each aspect of consciousness corresponds to a specific portion of the brain to a belief in disembodied spirits which maintain a certain functionality outside the body. Although the scientific research appears to demonstrate that the mind involves a process which can not be completely explained by reductionism and lends itself to an understanding that the mind transcends the material world, it also appears to establish a strong correlation between specific conscious functions and specific neural circuits which enable those functions. So far science does not support the belief that the mind can exist completely separate from the body. Although their research may be completely valid, their explanations go beyond what can be established through neuroanatomy and current scientific studies of the mind.


Before discussing dualism, I felt it would be beneficial to cover in a superficial way the mind, brain correlation from the standpoint of experience. Although philosophy is interesting and useful, it is easy to go far astray if philosophy is not correlated with experiential data. Hopefully this post has anchored us in reality sufficiently to make the philosophical discussion of dualism more helpful.

Studies of the mind have demonstrated extensive functional correlation between various brain circuits and corresponding mental functions. However, reductionism does not completely explain the mind. What we perceive as consciousness seems to be the integration of these individual functions which includes the entire brain. Although it has been very beneficial to understand and treat mental illness, reductionism fails to provide a complete explanation of consciousness. This failure opens the door for an alternative explanation, dualism.

Understanding the mind, brain interaction can help us understand many interesting phenomena. It can help elucidate the events which occur in near death situations. The strong correlation between neuroanatomy and the function of the mind raises serious doubts about the possibility that the spirits of the dead can remain and function apart from the living brain. This should not lead us to dismiss psychic research out of hand since there may be another explanation for their stories which is compatible with the scientific research. If the data gathered by the psychic researchers holds up to scrutiny, we might have to learn to think outside of the box to understand what their experiences mean. This can only happen as we abandon the shackles of materialist reductionism and devise new approaches to understanding consciousness. Ultimately it may help us understand the experiences reported by prophets and mystics.

1. Francis Crick and Christof Koch, Mysteries of the Mind, Scientific American, 1997.
2. http://www.healthyplace.com/Communities/depression/treatment/therapy/psych_vs_meds.asp
3. http://www.hno.harvard.edu/gazette/2005/09.22/11-alien.html
4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Houdini
5. http://www.warrens.net/
6. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05711a.htm & http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04713a.htm
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 17, 2006 8:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote


Materialism Fails

In the proceeding post entitled “Wylie Coyote,” by applying Godel’s proof, I have shown that it is impossible to devise a group of self consistent axioms about the physical world, also known as the Theory of Everything, from which one can derive all reality including the human mind. By folding the human mind into the physical world, the physicalists must view every human thought as a theorem of the Theory of Everything. Just as Godel showed the flaws in Principia Mathematica by constructing a theorem using the symbology and rules of Principia which stated, “this statement is not demonstrable using the axioms of Principia Mathematica,” so all one has to do to demonstrate that the rules of the Theory of Everything are contradictory is to make this sentence in any language, “the Theory of Everything is wrong,” to prove the Theory of Everything contradicts itself. Since the materialists believe every possible thought must be a valid theorem of the Theory of Everything, all illogical and contradictory statements must also be equally valid theorems of the system including statements which contradict the theory. In other words the Theory of Everything is self contradictory. In addition we know from Godel’s proof that for any axiomatic system there are an infinite number of true statements which are true about the system which can not be proven from within the system. That means the Theory of Everything can not possibly explain everything. The end result is a Theory of Everything which is not only self contradictory but also can’t explain everything as it purports to do. This leads to postmodernism which denies there is anything called truth at all, only varying opinions each of which is equally valid. Since the statement that “there is no absolute truth” is itself an absolute statement, the postmodernist are also trapped in a self contradictory theory.

At first it seems silly to claim that the statement “the Theory of Everything is wrong” shows that the Theory of Everything is self contradictory. From experience we know people disagree all the time. Some people are smarter than others and make less errors than the dumber ones. We know that from experience, so what does that have to do with the Theory of Everything? However, if the physicalists are correct and if natural physical laws is the total truth which describes the entire universe including even our own thoughts, if the natural physical laws are self consistent and express all possible truth, then any valid solution of the Theory of Everything is also valid truth. Since for the physicalists, our thoughts are completely determined by matter, and since matter always follows physical laws exactly, any thought which enters the brain is predicted and created exclusively by those natural laws. According to this understanding, human volition is nonexistent, every thought is completely determined by natural laws. Therefore any thoughts which are self contradictory are directly caused by contradictions in the natural laws which dictate those thoughts.

The brain that produces the idea that 2 + 2 = 5, since the matter which causes this thought is following natural law, is no more a violation of the rules which govern the physical universe than is the mind that produces the alternative idea that 2 + 2 =4. Both minds are under the complete control of natural which dictates which answer the mind will provide. Since the brain states which produced each statement are both valid physical states of matter, and since it is inappropriate to define states of matter as wrong, those are both valid reflections of the nature of reality. From that perspective, these are not wrong ideas any more that a glass of cold water is wrong compared to a glass of hot water. They are simply states of matter and energy which have no meaning at all. Indeed, any thought which the physical brain can produce, even when it occurs in the flights of fancy in the mind of the untreated schizophrenic, is valid according to the materialist theory. If you define truth as any statement which is a valid state of matter, then there is no such thing as an untrue mental state or an incorrect thought. The only thing which would be false would be if the material in the brain violated natural laws which it can not do. Therefore, since matter can not violate the laws of nature, all brain states are true according to the natural laws. Atoms don’t really care what the brain thinks and continue to follow their natural laws regardless of what meaning the mind derives from their behavior. According to the physicalists, that meaning itself is simply atoms swishing around, which according to physics have no more meaning at all, beyond the fact that they have assumed a certain physical state.

Because for the physicalists, the laws of nature define all truth, and since every physical state of the brain which exists is produced and dictated exclusively by those same natural laws with no other possible causative source, it is meaningless to use the same laws to label some of those thoughts false. The laws which cause the schizophrenic to think statement such as, “jelly beans are green fish hiking in blue jeans on top of chocolate mountains” also cause another person to make statements such as, “E=MC2.” Since those ideas are all based on valid states of matter in the brain, and are correctly attainable and caused by the laws of nature, they are also all correct solutions of the equations of the Theory of Everything.

Whatever the human mind devise is correct according to the physical world, because the physical world according to the laws of physics has no meaning whatsoever beyond its own existence. The physical world is just atoms moving and vibrating, but “meaning” is not found anywhere. Meaning is the providence of that thing called consciousness, which the physicalists tell us is just atoms moving and vibrating, those same atoms which in themselves have no meaning. So what we end up with is atoms moving and vibrating giving meaning to other atoms moving and vibrating giving meaning to other atoms moving and vibrating......

What is even more interesting is that physicalists always seem to set themselves apart as if they are in a privileged position where they can stand apart from the system, escape those unalterable natural laws, and are free to discover truth. From their privileged position, they have great confidence that their vibrating and moving atoms are correct and those moving and vibrating atoms in the heads of others, especially those in the heads of the theist are incorrect. This is not a rationally thought out position, mind you, since reason would tell the physicalist that their opinions are just atoms moving and vibrating, but that doesn’t discourage them in the least. Not only do they think their moving and vibrating atoms are special, but they assume that the moving and vibrating atoms in the brains of the theists are “stupid” and “ignorant.” But how can moving and vibrating atoms be “stupid or ignorant?” Can we go to the Theory of Everything and discover the laws of “stupid and ignorant” atoms? Is there a class of smart “atheist” atoms which always lead to “true” thoughts and a class of “theist” atoms which always lead to “stupid” and “ignorant” thoughts? By what natural laws do the smart atoms sort themselves out and all end up in the heads of the atheist while the stupid atoms all end up in the heads of the theist?

The French philosophes loved to talk about “reason” so lets use some reason here. For the physicalist, exactly what is reason but atoms moving and jiggling? In what way are the atoms moving and jiggling in the head of the philosopher more privileged than those moving and jiggling in the head of the town fool? If we look at the effects of those men on their society, assuming that the value of their contribution is inversely proportional to the number of innocent men and women who were behead, the town fool with his simple “superstitious” world view appears to win hands down when compared to the French philosophes who constantly talked about “reason.”

If one believes that the universe operates on a finite set of natural laws or principles which matter follows exactly, it can be safely assumed that the moving and jiggling atoms in the head of the one who says, “There are no natural laws,” are also following the same natural laws exactly. To believe in natural laws, one must also believe that atoms always follow those laws. If natural laws really defined meaning as well as physical state, then there can be no discrepancy between meaning and natural laws. Not only is the mental state which causes the statement, “There are no natural laws,” entirely dictated by natural laws, but so is the meaning which is derived from that statement. If natural laws leads the thinker to the conclusion that the natural laws are wrong, it would appear that the natural laws are self contradictory. If natural laws are deceivers, the mind will never be able to arrive at truth. This is probably why Descartes, in searching for an avenue to truth, embraced dualism and also was forced to profess faith that God is not a deceiver before he moved on to define his experimental scientific method to study natural laws.

If not Materialism then Dualism

In an excellent summary of Dualism, the Stanford Philosophy website has he following paragraphs. The “special sciences” they are referring to is psychology. If we accept that psychology is not reducible to physics, that assumption rules out physicalism and mandates another approach, dualism.

Even accepting this, why might it be thought that the perspectivality of the special sciences leads to a genuine property dualism in the philosophy of mind? It might seem to do so for the following reason. Having a perspective on the world, perceptual or intellectual, is a psychological state. So the irreducible special sciences presuppose the existence of mind. If one is to avoid an ontological dualism, the mind that has this perspective must be part of the physical reality on which it has its perspective. But psychology, it seems to be almost universally agreed, is one of those special sciences that is not reducible to physics, so if its subject matter is to be physical, it itself presupposes a perspective and, hence, the existence of a mind to see matter as psychological. If this mind is physical and irreducible, it presupposes mind to see it as such. We seem to be in a vicious circle or regress.

We can now understand the motivation for full-blown reduction. A true basic physics represents the world as it is in itself, and if the special sciences were reducible, then the existence of their ontologies would make sense as expressions of the physical, not just as ways of seeing or interpreting it. They could be understood ‘from the bottom up’, not from top down. The irreducibility of the special sciences creates no problem for the dualist, who sees the explanatory endeavor of the physical sciences as something carried on from a perspective conceptually outside of the physical world. Nor need this worry a physicalist, if he can reduce psychology, for then he could understand ‘from the bottom up’ the acts (with their internal, intentional contents) which created the irreducible ontologies of the other sciences. But psychology is one of the least likely of sciences to be reduced. If psychology cannot be reduced, this line of reasoning leads to real emergence for mental acts and hence to a real dualism for the properties those acts instantiate. (Robinson (2003))1.

Using Godel’s proof I have already demonstrated that it is impossible to devise a finite group of axioms which can describe all reality thus excluding any finite set of physical laws which can explain everything including the human mind. The belief that the human mind can be explained by natural laws is therefore undermined. Since it is impossible to devise a finite set of physical laws which will completely describe all reality including the human mind, physicalism can never be proven. This mean physicalism can only be an act of faith and can not be a scientifically demonstrable fact. Indeed, if it is impossible to devise any set of physical laws which completely explain all reality(a universal truth machine), all the arguments for materialist reductionism fail.

As the author also points out, quantum physics is another a strong argument against physicalism. Quantum physics defeats the materialist argument that the universe is causally closed and therefore it is impossible for consciousness to serve as an original cause. While some philosophers continue to believed that the universe is causally closed, scientists have moved on and often ignore that supposed natural law. On the other hand, the implications for brain science from quantum physics is difficult to assess since the quantum effects are seen mostly at the atomic level. Until we know more about the physics of the mind, the influence of quantum physics will be subject to various interpretations. Some philosophers will avoid the indeterminacy of quantum physics by maintaining that because it occurs at the subatomic level it has no significant influence on the workings of the brain while others will point to the “butterfly effect,” the theorem in chaos theory that something as small as the flapping of a butterfly’s wings in Mexico can change the status quo just enough to influence weather in the United States, to argue than changes at the level of individual atoms can have profound effect at larger scale. Regardless of how quantum theory eventually plays out, the argument that consciousness can not influence the material world can no longer be made from physical laws, indeed quantum physics points in exactly the opposite direction, that the observer can indeed influence the outcome of the experiment depending upon what he is are looking for.

What is Dualism

Dualism has been an important belief in Western Civilization for thousands of years. It is very attractive for a number of reasons; it fits nicely with a belief in God, it fits with common human experience that our consciousness is to some degree separate from the inanimate physical world, it teaches that there is a reality called “truth” which can be discovered with the human mind, and it recognizes the reality of human freedom and moral responsibility. Dualism has also served as an excellent intellectual platform which has supported scientific and intellectual inquiry. It is the dualistic philosophy along with the belief in a moral, good God who created a good material world which follows His natural laws, which has made possible the great scientific and intellectual achievements of Western Civilization. The online dictionary defines dualism this way:

Usage in philosophy of mind

Main Article: Mind-body dualism

In philosophy of mind, dualism is any of a narrow variety of views about the relationship between mind and matter, which claims that mind and matter are two ontologically separate categories. In particular, mind-body dualism claims that neither the mind nor matter can be reduced to each other in any way, and thus is opposed to materialism in general, and reductive materialism in particular. Mind-body dualism can exist as substance dualism which claims that the mind and the body are composed of a distinct substance, and as property dualism which claims that there may not be a distinction in substance, but that mental and physical properties are still categorically distinct, and not reducible to each other. This type of dualism is sometimes referred to as "mind and body". This is in contrast to monism, which views mind and matter as being ultimately the same kind of thing. See also Cartesian dualism, substance dualism, epiphenomenalism.


The belief in possessing both a body and a spirit as two separate entities was first documented in approximately 1000 B.C. by Zoroastrianism, and has become a very common view in the present day.1

Modern Philosophy and Godel

Although Godel was considered one of the leading logicians of the 20th century, for some reason current philosophers largely ignore Godel’s work. prefer talking about “qualia” and “zombies” than about Godel’s proof. And yet Godel was known as one of the greatest logicians of all times a close friend of Albert Einstein. Here’s what the magazine NEWYORKER has to say about him.
A decade after arriving in Princeton, Einstein acquired a walking companion, a much younger man who, next to the rumpled Einstein, cut a dapper figure in a white linen suit and matching fedora. The two would talk animatedly in German on their morning amble to the institute and again, later in the day, on their way homeward. The man in the suit may not have been recognized by many townspeople, but Einstein addressed him as a peer, someone who, like him, had single-handedly launched a conceptual revolution. If Einstein had upended our everyday notions about the physical world with his theory of relativity, the younger man, Kurt Gödel, had had a similarly subversive effect on our understanding of the abstract world of mathematics.
Gödel, who has often been called the greatest logician since Aristotle, was a strange and ultimately tragic man.... 2

Godel clearly understood the implications of his theory for the human mind.
Wittgenstein once averred that “there can never be surprises in logic.” But Gödel’s incompleteness theorems did come as a surprise. In fact, when the fledgling logician presented them at a conference in the German city of Königsberg in 1930, almost no one was able to make any sense of them. What could it mean to say that a mathematical proposition was true if there was no possibility of proving it? The very idea seemed absurd. Even the once great logician Bertrand Russell was baffled; he seems to have been under the misapprehension that Gödel had detected an inconsistency in mathematics. “Are we to think that 2 + 2 is not 4, but 4.001?” Russell asked decades later in dismay, adding that he was “glad [he] was no longer working at mathematical logic.” As the significance of Gödel’s theorems began to sink in, words like “debacle,” “catastrophe,” and “nightmare” were bandied about. It had been an article of faith that, armed with logic, mathematicians could in principle resolve any conundrum at all—that in mathematics, as it had been famously declared, there was no ignorabimus. Gödel’s theorems seemed to have shattered this ideal of complete knowledge.
That was not the way Gödel saw it. He believed he had shown that mathematics has a robust reality that transcends any system of logic. But logic, he was convinced, is not the only route to knowledge of this reality; we also have something like an extrasensory perception of it, which he called “mathematical intuition.” It is this faculty of intuition that allows us to see, for example, that the formula saying “I am not provable” must be true, even though it defies proof within the system where it lives. Some thinkers (like the physicist Roger Penrose) have taken this theme further, maintaining that Gödel’s incompleteness theorems have profound implications for the nature of the human mind. Our mental powers, it is argued, must outstrip those of any computer, since a computer is just a logical system running on hardware, and our minds can arrive at truths that are beyond the reach of a logical system.3

It is stunning just how completely most current philosophers ignore the implications of Godel’s proof. Our author from Stanford spends paragraphs discussing “predicate” dualism and “property” dualism but expends only a single sentence on Godel.

4.5 The Aristotelian Argument in a Modern Form
Putting his anti-materialist argument ... in very general terms, Aristotle's worry was that a material organ could not have the range and flexibility that are required for human thought. His worries concerned the cramping effect that matter would have on the range of objects that intellect could accomodate. Parallel modern concerns centre on the restriction that matter would impose on the range of rational processes that we could exhibit. Godel, for example, believed that his famous theorem showed that there are demonstrably rational forms of mathematical thought of which humans are capable which could not be exhibited by a mechanical or formal system of a sort that a physical mind would have to be. Penrose (1990) has argued that Turing's halting problem has similar consequences. In general, the fear is that the materialist monist has to treat the organ of thought as, what Dennett (1987:61) calls, a syntactic engine: that is, as something that operates without any fundamental reference to the propositional content of what it thinks. It works as a machine that only shadows the pattern of meaning. But it is hard to convince oneself that, as one, for example, reflectively discusses philosophy and struggles to follow what is being said, that it is not the semantic content that is driving one's responses. But if we are truly semantic engines, it is difficult to see how we can avoid at least a property dualism. These issues are, of course, connected with problems raised by Brentano, concerning the irreducibility of intentionality. Despite the interest of the arguments for dualism based on the irreducible flexibility of intellect, most of the modern debate turns on arguments that have a Cartesian origin. 4

In Godel, we have a man who is commonly recognized as one of the greatest logicians in history, who has written a profound mathematical proof which he believed demonstrates that the human mind transcends matter, and philosophers continue on as if he never existed. Perhaps because Godel, later in life became completely neurotic, paranoid, and appears to have died of what could be considered a form of anorexia nervosa, modern philosophers think his ideas can be dismissed. Another reason could be because he discovered another way to solve Einstein’s formulas for General Relativity to demonstrate that there is no such thing as time. However, that would speak more to the incompleteness of the laws of General Relativity than to Godel’s limitations. In fact only a genius like Godel could have discovered this property in Einstein’s formulas. That Godel’s incompleteness proof is one of the great intellectual achievements of the twentieth century is beyond dispute and has already revolutionized mathematical theory. That it clearly has profound implications for philosophy and our understanding of the mind is also clear but so far it has been largely ignored, perhaps because the implications of his proof are just as upsetting in philosophy as in mathematics.

Modern Dualism

One of the leading thinkers in the philosophy of mind, is David Chalmers from Australia. Wikipedia describes his work thus:

He is best known for his articulation of the hard problem of consciousness in both his book and in the paper "Facing Up to the Problem of Consciousness" (originally published in The Journal of Consciousness Studies, 1995). He makes the distinction between easy problems of consciousness (which are, amongst others, things like finding neural correlates of sensation) and the hard problem, which could be stated "why does awareness of sensory information exist at all?" A main focus of his study is the distinction between brain biology and mental experience (known as qualia). He argues that there is an explanatory gap between these two systems, and criticizes physical explanations of mental experience, making him one of the few remaining dualists left in the philosophy world. In his argument (as it appears in his book The Conscious Mind) he creates a hypothetical philosophical zombie, which is the same as a normal person, but is missing qualia or sentience. After the publication of this paper, about 25 papers were published in the Journal of Consciousness Studies in response to the hard problem. These papers (by Daniel Dennett, Colin McGinn, Francisco Varela, Francis Crick, and Roger Penrose amongst others) were collected and published in the book Explaining Consciousness: The Hard Problem.6

In his paper, “Facing Up to the Problem of Consciousness”, Chalmers states the “hard problem” and demonstrates that reductionism can never describe consciousness. His arguments are elegant and much longer than it is reasonable to include in this post, but are readily available at the link I have provided for those who are interested in studying deeper. To summarize his arguments, the “hard problem” seems to be that there is nothing in physics or chemistry which describes the operation of consciousness from within the system. According to the materialist reductionists, the laws of physics and chemistry should explain everything in the universe including the human brain and the human mind associated with the brain. However, the laws of chemistry and physics describe the experimentally induced properties of atoms and subatomic particles, their movements and the forces which influence them, but do not describe consciousness. The “hard problem” is how to explain consciousness based on laws of nature which do not include any description of consciousness. It is similar to trying to understand the operation of your computer using the mechanical diagram for an automobile.

Here is an example of one of Chalmers’ excellent arguments demonstrating the difference between logical knowledge and experience.

The argument I find most interesting is....Frank Jackson’s canonical version of the argument provides a vivid illustration. On this version, Mary is a neuroscientist who knows everything there is to know about the physical processes relevant to color vision. But Mary has been brought up in a black-and-white room(on an alternative version, she is colorblind7) and has never experienced red. Despite all her knowledge, it seems that there is something very important about color vision that Mary does not know: she does not know what it is like to see red. Even complete physical knowledge and unrestricted powers of deduction do not enable her to know this. Later, if she comes to experience red for the first time, she will learn a new fact of which she was previously ignorant: she will learn what it is like to see red. Jackson’s version of the argument can be put as follows (here the premises concern Mary’s knowledge when she has not yet experienced red):

(1) Mary knows all the physical facts.
(2) Mary does not know all the facts
(3) The physical facts do not exhaust all the facts.7

From the standpoint of brain anatomy, this illustration involves different parts of Mary’s brain. The “physical facts” are stored and processed in the verbal parts of the brain surrounding a temporal lobe (usually left) while the color red is perceived by the visual cortex of the brain and the surrounding associative cortex. Therefore we can know with certainly that the experience red is entirely different than the physical explanation because they involve different parts of the brain. One could even argue that since verbal processing is always symbolic or metaphorical, that Mary knew absolutely nothing at all about the experience red, until she had actually seen it. The metaphors she had used to replace the experience could not possibly have been even close to the experience. The “physical facts” not only do not “exhaust all the facts” about red they are actually devoid of any facts at all about the experience red. The experience of the color red is irreducible.
Based on the arguments presented in his paper, Chalmers then proposes as a solution that consciousness must be understood as a fundamental property of the universe, and that in essence consciousness must be added to physics and chemistry.

Although a remarkable number of phenomena have turned out to be explicable wholly in terms of entities simpler than themselves, this is not universal. In physics, it occasionally happens that an entity has to be taken as fundamental. Fundamental entities are not explained in terms of anything simpler. Instead, one takes them as basic, and gives a theory of how they relate to everything else in the world. For example, in the nineteenth century it turned out that electromagnetic processes could not be explained in terms of the wholly mechanical processes that previous physical theories appealed to, so Maxwell and others introduced electromagnetic charge and electromagnetic forces as new fundamental components of a physical theory. To explain electromagnetism, the ontology of physics had to be expanded. New basic properties and basic laws were needed to give a satisfactory account of the phenomena.....

Of course, by taking experience as fundamental, there is a sense in which this approach does not tell us why there is experience in the first place. But this is the same for any fundamental theory. Nothing in physics tells us why there is matter in the first place, but we do not count this against theories of matter. Certain features of the world need to be taken as fundamental by any scientific theory. A theory of matter can still explain all sorts of facts about matter, by showing how they are consequences of the basic laws. The same goes for a theory of experience.8

Chalmers goes on to assure us that his approach is a naturalistic expansion of science and has no necessary spiritual or mythical implications.
This position qualifies as a variety of dualism, as it postulates basic properties over and above the properties invoked by physics. But it is an innocent version of dualism, entirely compatible with the scientific view of the world. Nothing in this approach contradicts anything in physical theory; we simply need to add further bridging principles to explain how experience arises from physical processes. There is nothing particularly spiritual or mystical about this theory—its overall shape is like that of a physical theory, with a few fundamental entities connected by fundamental laws. It expands the ontology slightly, to be sure, but Maxwell did the same thing. Indeed, the overall structure of this position is entirely naturalistic, allowing that ultimately the universe comes down to a network of basic entities obeying simple laws, and allowing that there may ultimately be a theory of consciousness cast in terms of such laws. If the position is to have a name, a good choice might be naturalistic dualism.9

Since reductionism has failed to explain consciousness, Chalmers’ approach is the only logical naturalistic way to try to proceed to an understanding of consciousness. His approach is also in accordance with Chaitin’s conclusions in his Scientific American article which addressed the implications of Godel’s proof and Turing’s halting problem and concluded that since many things are true for no reason whatsoever, when we come to irreducible data, we should add them to our preexisting axioms as fundamental properties.10 This is exactly what Chalmers has done, he is on firm logical ground here. Although Chalmers is quite correct that a naturalistic theory should not invoke any spiritual or mythical implications as a cause, nonetheless recognizing that consciousness is a fundamental property of the universe does have profound metaphysical implications, which he acknowledges in his article. Although he doesn’t mention God in the article, it follows that if consciousness is not a product of long periods of evolution but is fundamental to the universe, the scientific argument against God disappears.

Chalmers’ article continues on to propose that consciousness is an intrinsic property of matter and what we are experiencing as conscious beings is common to all matter. He even believes that he has demonstrated with thought experiments that a silicone computer which mimicked the operations of the human brain exactly would have identical experiences as a human. He does this by proposing a partially bionic human brain and then varies the amount of silicone replacement parts to replace normal groups of neurons. That this is possible is experimentally proven in the ear implants which enable deaf people to hear and in the very primitive bionic eyes which have allowed blind people to see crude shapes. His thought experiment involves a human whose brain is gradually exchanged for bionic parts until the entire brain is bionic. He believes it would be impossible to detect the difference in brain function at any time if the bionic parts are properly made. In the end, he believes that it would be possible to eventually replace the entire brain so that the entire brain was made of silicone parts, which would continue to have exactly the same functions as the living human brain, including consciousness. If this were possible, it would prove that consciousness is a fundamental property of matter and not a unique property of the living brain. In other words, every atom contains a small quantity of consciousness. The conscious state is a representation of the information state of the atoms involved and not in the particular atoms involved.11

This thought experiment is similar to the legend of the frog which is sitting in a pot of cold water which is gradually heated. At each point the change of temperature is so small it is undetectable. If this continues long enough, the frog will be sitting quite happily in a pot of boiling water never suspecting anything has changed. In real life, the frog will probably become gradually more uncomfortable until it reaches it’s pain threshold and suddenly decides to jump out. In actual practice, bionic parts can never function exactly the same as the original organic parts and send a different quality of signal to the brain. They work only because the brain is wonderfully adaptable and can learn to interpret the altered signal it receives, and understands what the faulty signal means, and change it into an experience similar to that derived from the original part. In the bionic ear for instance, the lead from the bionic ear is attached to the eighth nerve with small probes which each deliver a tiny shock to a different part of the nerve and stimulate the cells to fire. This is an entirely different process than how the original ear stimulates the auditory nerve with chemical signals. At some point as we replaced the brain with bionic parts, we would exceed the threshold at which the remaining brain could interpret the signals from the bionic parts and the function would gradually begin to fade out. This tremendous plasticity of the brain is exhibited every day as we age. All people loose neurons from all parts of the brain on a daily basis with very little obvious effect from one day to the next. Even at great age the atrophied brain can still maintain function and the person maintains consciousness. However this doesn’t mean the lost neurons were unnecessary. There is a price to pay for the altered structure since the atrophied brain is not really the same as the younger brain, it has lost the original adaptability of youth. Although the older brain can function well in a familiar environment it often fails in new or threatening environments.

Although Chalmers doesn’t cover the implications of his proposed theory in the article I quoted, it is obvious that if all matter contains consciousness, this naturally leads the human species full circle back to panpsychism and animism. Since the universe is the ultimate calculating machine, the universe itself would be the ultimate conscious entity. If there is one universe, it’s consciousness would be God, if there are many universes they together would constitute the greatest intelligence of all, the supreme God.

Like a majority of modern philosophers, Chalmers appears to be unaware of or to ignore the implications of Godel’s proof on all axiomatic systems. Locating consciousness in matter itself leads to the same problems presented earlier for the materialists reductionists who try to fold the human mind into physics itself. If matter at the level of the atom has consciousness and volition, that in itself would speak against the possibility of natural laws since each atom could, using its volition, change the direction or speed of it’s motion at will. In response, Chalmers might invoke quantum physics to support his position, since the exact speed and position of atoms in quantum physics are not completely predictable. However the indeterminacy in quantum physics seems to be a random statistical phenomenon rather than a volitional quality of subatomic particles. Although some have proposed that the outcome of scientific experiments depend upon the observer, and postulate that quantum physics demonstrates the effect of outside consciousness, the observer, on the physical world, it doesn’t imply that the physical world itself is conscious. If the random behavior of subatomic particles represented consciousness as we know it, and if individual conscious experiences of matter can combine, as they obviously do in the brain, to form a single consciousness, then on a larger scale the volitional aspect of matter should combine to make matter even less predictable as the information content of the matter increases and the consciousness of the subatomic particles combines into a greater conscious whole. This the opposite of what is observed in the laboratory where the quantum effect diminishes rapidly as we approach the macroscopic level. Natural laws depend upon the complete predictability of the basic units of matter, which observed over time always follows predictable patterns which can be reliably incorporated into laws. Without this predictability, natural laws are impossible. The very fact that we have natural laws speaks against any volitional capacity in the physical world.

On the other hand, if Chalmers’ understanding of consciousness denies that the consciousness he ascribes to matter allows it to volitionally alter the physical world, he is speaking of nothing more than an epiphenomenon. As I have already pointed out, since an epiphenomenon can not alter physical reality in any way, to even speak of it is self contradictory and invalidates what is spoken. In toto, Chalmers is correct in assuming that adding another axiom to the already existing laws of physics is the only option for the physicalist, but it only shoves the mystery back another level and does not solve it. Once we have explained consciousness using the new axiom appended to the unified field theory, the theory of everything, the universal truth machine, the contents of the mind itself are still as inexplicable as ever.

As demonstrated above, there is no experimental evidence whatsoever to support the belief that inorganic matter contains consciousness of any sort. Since the foundation of science is experimentation, until philosophers can invent an experiment which actually demonstrates consciousness at the atomic level, scientifically to postulate that consciousness is a basic property of matter is highly speculative. Experimentally, the smallest unit which does demonstrate those properties which could indicate volition and consciousness; the ability to react to noxious or positive stimuli, the ability to store memories of these stimuli and the ability to alter future actions because of these memories, appears to be the protozoa.12 Although consciousness is difficult to evaluate in other organisms, even those as similar to us as another person, response to noxious or positive stimuli and memory of those events is probably as close as we will ever get to experimental evidence of consciousness in other life forms. If the individual cell does contain functional consciousness at some level as experience suggests, it would provide the perfect substrate for the explosive almost instantaneous evolution of the complex body organization including the nervous system which is found in the fossil records, particularly well demonstrated in the Burgess shale. It is possible that the vitalists were correct after all, that all life is unique and adds up to more than the sum of it’s physical parts. The added ingredient may be consciousness. An interesting question then presents itself, is it possible to actually produce life in the laboratory, or would any new synthetic microbe actually be a nonliving mimic, the microbial equivalent of a zombie, devoid of life or consciousness? Since experimentally we don’t know for sure whether protozoa actually are conscious, that answer remains unanswered.

Even before considering consciousness, as scientists have learned the incredible complexity of the single cell, the mechanism for it’s origins becomes more and more difficult to explain. Statistically it is almost impossible for the chemicals of life to have come together in the right mixture to form a single cell even once in the entire history of the universe. Because the problem of the origin of life is so difficult so solve, some scientists have even proposed that life was seeded on our planet by a meteorite carrying life from a different planet. The problem of the origin of life is compounded many fold if in addition to the incredible chemical machinery contained in the single cells, there is also an incredible new emergent property not contained in it’s constituent parts, called consciousness. If the basic unit of consciousness is contained in the individual cell and not in inorganic matter, the origin of life is more mysterious than ever. In fact, if consciousness is a fundamental property which sets life apart from non living matter, the origin of life can never be explained by physical laws.


The failure of materialist reductionism to explain the human mind has led some philosophers to propose that consciousness is a fundamental property of the universe, dualism. Logically dualism appears to be the only answer to the riddle of consciousness since the standard laws of physics do not describe or quantitate consciousness. One approach is to add a new axiom onto the existing laws of physics. This approach has merits, since it maintains the materialist approach intact. On the other hand, it complicates physics and adds a new level of indeterminancy to the physical universe without solving the original problem of the mind. To avoid this difficulty, some philosophers have proposed that consciousness is an epiphenomenon which is a natural product of the material world but doesn’t alter the function of matter in any way.. This also has difficulties since to even speak of consciousness disproves the basic premise of an epiphenomenon.

Experimentally it is very difficult to study consciousness in other organisms than ourselves, even in other humans. If we take the ability to react to stimuli, to remember those stimuli, and to alter future behavior because of the stimuli as evidence of consciousness, it appears the smallest unit of consciousness is the protozoa. Inorganic matter doesn’t exhibit any of these behaviors. It is therefore difficult to support scientifically the argument that the basic unit of consciousness is inorganic matter. Also, taking the individual cell as the basic unit of consciousness helps explain the almost instantaneous appearance of complex organized life forms, including some with evidence of a nervous system in the Burgess shale, with no fossil evidence of simpler precursors. If all living things have some degree of consciousness, and if consciousness is an emergent property not found in the inorganic matter which forms the cells, the mystery of life grows even deeper. Perhaps the reason philosophers have avoided the clear implications of Godel’s proof is because they are uncomfortable confronting this mystery.

1. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/dualism/#4.1
2. http://www.newyorker.com/critics/atlarge/?050228crat_atlarge
3. Ibid.
4 http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/dualism/#4.1
5. http://consc.net/consc-papers.html
6. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Chalmers
7. http://consc.net/papers/nature.pdf
8. http://consc.net/papers/facing.pdf pp13& 14.
9. Ibid. p. 15.
10. Gregory Chaitin, “Scientific American, March 2006,” p. 76.
11. http://consc.net/papers/facing.pdf
12. http://spartan.ac.brocku.ca/~lward/Baldwin/Baldwin_1906/Baldwin_1906_09.html p.(258).
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 10, 2006 7:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

More Thoughts on Dualism

Recap of Problems with Materialist Reductionism

Materialism reductionism is the prevailing philosophy among the Western intelligentsia particularly in Europe. It is the belief that energy and matter are all there is in the universe, and that there are a finite set of laws which describe exactly how matter and energy will behave in all circumstances. Ultimately, everything that exists in the entire universe can be explained by the laws of physics including chemistry, biology, and psychology. Not only does physics, through chemistry, explain the brain states which cause our thoughts, but the same laws of physics provide the interpretation of those brain states by the conscious mind. Since the universe is causally closed, everything in the universe is completely predictable from the laws of nature. If we knew the exact state of matter at the Big Bang we could predict everything in the universe, including every thought any human will ever have from now to the end of time.

In the previous posts, I have pointed out a number of problems with materialist reductionism if followed to it’s logical conclusions:
1. It eliminates human freedom and human moral responsibility. Since natural laws dictate our every thought, logically no one can be considered responsible for his behavior since his behavior is completely determined by his environment and heredity with some possible allowance for quantum effects which are also dictated by natural laws. Actual human freedom is a delusion. This leads to profound fatalism.
2. It eliminates truth. According to materialist reductionism, the only truth is that which natural law forces on our minds, and that is only those things which aid the survival of the selfish gene. Since all thoughts are directly caused by laws of nature and since any opinion that our thoughts are in any way under volitional control is a delusion, therefore truth is anything the laws of nature tell us is truth. Just like physical characteristics, thoughts are selected for their survival value, not because they are truth in any transcendent way. All truth is dictated by the laws of survival described by Charles Darwin in the Theory of Evolution. What ever survives is truth.
3. It destroys human reason. Since the laws of nature dictate every thought, and since the thoughts dictated by the laws of nature are often self contradictory, even to the point of people like me who deny materialist reductionism itself, any assumption that the philosopher is actually in control of his thought processes or has the ability to derive through thoughts anything resembling “truth” is excluded. Any certainty that his thoughts in any way represent reality is a delusion, except for those things he can directly experience himself, and even then he can’t be certain if nature is lying to him once again.
4. Western Civilization with its aspirations of material prosperity and human equality and happiness is doomed.
5. Religious and political fundamentalists, similar to the most violent terrorist today, will rule. Since they are the ones most willing to kill indiscriminately for their beliefs and since they use their women as baby factories to produce as many offspring as possible, they will ultimately win the war for survival Nature doesn’t really care for the welfare of the individual anyway, only about the survival of the selfish gene. Therefore once the voice of reason is silenced, society will be completely primitive, deeply superstitious, profoundly poor, extremely violent and life will be pathetically short. Fear will be the overwhelming emotion. Guilt and superstition will be the only philosophy. Famines will be inevitable, and people will struggle violently to find enough to eat and to survive.
6. Materialist Reductionism can never be proved, and any attempts by it’s adherents to support their beliefs by logic are by their very nature self contradictory. Therefore, it can only be held as a matter of faith. Even if we break the rules and set our own minds apart from the system, and approach the issue from the standpoint of reason, assuming the mind does have the ability to choose truth, materialist reductionism is still not provable.
7. Materialist Reductionists often claim consciousness is a delusion. For example the paper presented at http://www.susanblackmore.co.uk/journalism/ns02.htm Susan Blackmore, a reductionist, goes through a series of experiments from which she concludes that consciousness is a delusion. Since her statement that consciousness is a delusion was the product of a conscious mind, it is safe to conclude that her statement that “consciousness is a delusion” is also a delusion. Since all the experiments she describes in her paper are also the product of a conscious mind, they are also all delusions. Furthermore, the definition of “delusion” is the product of a conscious mind, so the definition of delusion itself is a delusion. From her paper, it appears that the only thing about which we can be certain is that the author is a very delusional woman.
Besides these minor problems, there is nothing at all wrong with the materialist reductionist viewpoint.

Benefits of Dualism

The strongest argument for dualism is the failure of materialist reductionist philosophy. With dualism, these problem I have outlined with materialist reductionism are largely eliminated or can be managed. By acknowledging the human mind and supporting the possibility that human reason can discover truth, many of the limitations imposed by evolution and natural selection can be controlled. Dualism provides a robust platform for scientific and philosophical research, supports a belief in the Good God who created the universe using unalterable natural laws, and provides a basis to believe in truth and morality. It also provides a platform from which it’s own existence can be questioned. It is dualism which has supported the scientific and intellectual achievements of Western Civilization including the Renaissance and the best of the Enlightenment.

Types of Dualism

Although it is not necessary to explain the workings of the mind to support the superiority of dualism, it is interesting. Since there is a tremendous amount of room for future discoveries in brain research what I’m discussing is largely based on my own observations I do not consider this to be the final word by any means. This is simply an opportunity to share my personal experience on the function of the brain..

There are essentially three ways to approach dualism.
1. One way is to view consciousness as a property of matter itself. This preserves the materialist reductionist approach which is currently in vogue. In the previous post, I briefly discussed David Chalmers’ cutting edge ideas about consciousness and commented on them. His proposal that consciousness has to be treated as a fundamental property of nature to me seems to be almost self evident. It is clear that to study the human brain we need to develop some understanding of the connection between consciousness and matter. By necessity, this will entail new laws which actually address consciousness. Ideally the laws of nature should be based on experimental evidence. Although I’m not certain that Chalmers does that, anyone who tries to preserve reductionism by positioning consciousness as an epiphenomena is ultimately going to discover that this approach is irrational. If one recognizes that consciousness has volition and can influence matter then we must contend with the absence of experimental evidence that non-living matter shows anything approaching volition.
2. Another way is to view consciousness as an independent property of the universe. This is how most Westerners have traditionally viewed consciousness, called “spirit.” This seems to be Descartes approach. Some philosophers have called this the ghost within the machine. From the information which I have discussed below, the idea of the “ghost in the machine” doesn’t appear to explain the experimental evidence very well either. The connections between the physical brain are so strong, it is difficult to imagine how the “ghost” might function.
3. A third way is to view consciousness as a fundamental property either of all living cells, or perhaps limited to living cells within the animal kingdom. This property sets living things apart from nonliving matter. As I pointed out in my previous post, the smallest unit which demonstrates behavior which can be interpreted as conscious is the protozoa, but even then we don’t know for sure whether the protozoa or anything else actually has consciousness, since we don’t have any instruments to measure consciousness. Therefore, we’re dependent on secondary signs of consciousness such as the ability to respond to stimuli, the ability to remember those stimuli, and the ability to alter future behavior which are all qualities which could be interpreted as signs of conscious. Since we ourselves are conscious and since we share the quality of life with other living things including the protozoans, it is logically to assume that they have in an elementary state the consciousness which we possess in a much more complete state. However, it is important to keep in mind that this is an assumption and not a proven fact.

Putting Mind and Body Together

By assuming that the single cell is the basic unit of consciousness, we can make considerable progress towards an understanding of the experimental evidence concerning the human brain. The experimental evidence supports the hypothesis that the brain is a community of conscious cells, each of which has it’s own conscious experience. It appears that consciousness has the property to combine the individual events into a single whole while preserving the individual occurrences intact. The closest analogy we find in the physical world would be the electrical field where the charges of individual atoms can combine to form an electrical field. In a similar manner, the individual conscious experiences of each neuron are able to combine, to create a united conscious experience, similar to the combination of multiple individual electronic charges on individual atoms can combine to form an electrical field. Any individual conscious experience is therefore a mosaic of millions of individual conscious experiences at the cellular level which combine to form the whole.

That this is true is well demonstrated by experience. For instance, film has been largely replaced by digital images in many circumstances. Even with a matrix containing 100,000 pixels, the digital images are often easily distinguished from film images which have a much greater spacial resolution. This means that the mind can consciously distinguish hundreds of thousands of pixels simultaneously and recognize that the pixels in the film are much smaller than those from the digital image. From this we learn tht the mind thus has the ability to simultaneously experience thousands of pixels. In addition, anatomy supports the same conclusion since we have millions of rods and cones in the eyes. If the mind were unable to process more than a few at a time, there would be no reason for the eye to be thus equipped, since if only a few could be experienced at once, most of them would be redundant, and would have no reason for existence. Thus, just by looking at a digital black and white X-ray, we know the mind is capable of experiencing thousands millions of pixels simultaneously. It is hard to explain how this property can ever be explained by reductionism, but is easily understood if consciousness is actually composed of a community of conscious neurons which merge their individual consciousness into a whole. As the brain ages and members of the community are lost, the consciousness gradually contracts since there are less individual contributions into the global consciousness, and yet because of the tremendous redundancy of the human brain, the global consciousness remains intact even after the brain has undergone a great deal of cerebral atrophy.

The brain is an amazingly plastic, self organizing, community of cells. When an individual experiences a head injury with significant shearing injury to the brain, some of the neurons lose contact with each other. Over time, the neurons will gradually develop alternative lines of communication around the areas of disruption and gradually the person will regain consciousness and often a great deal of function. To design a mechanical system which could accomplish that feat would require a tremendous amount of engineering skills and prodigious memory storage capacity, and yet the neurons seem to know they are needed and seek out ways to reestablish the appropriate links to bring the conscious whole back on line. And yet when the person recovers, they are often different, because the new lines of communication are circuitous, the direct lines of communication have been disrupted and some of the neurons are no longer functioning properly. If consciousness were not intimately attached to the physical world, those physical disruptions in the brain circuitry would make no difference to function since the ghost within the machine would continue to function normally since it doesn’t need assistance from the material world. What we find instead is that someone who has recovered from brain injury will often be fully conscious but will either lack some normal cognitive functions or will function more slowly.

Another interesting phenomena is when a profoundly impaired individual develops the savant syndrome. Often they appear to be rather oblivious to their surroundings and are non-communicative, but through exercising their gift they gradually gain formerly missing functions. For instance an individual who has the gift of music, who is encouraged to develop that gift, will sometimes gradually learn to communicate verbally. It appears that by exercising the gift, the other cells gradually learn how to communicate and reestablish the necessary lines of communication needed to form a functional conscious whole.

When someone loses a modality such as sight, the plasticity of the brain once again is manifested. The association cortex normally devoted to sight can switch functions and can aid in the processing of sound for instance. Undoubtedly the visual associative area normally monitors the output from the parts of the brain which process sound, but neurons which were analyzing visual clues switch functions and begin processing sound. This enhances the blind person’s ability to use sound as a tool to decipher the world. It is possible that the visual associative areas monitor the information from other modalities and when the visual information is lost they shift their attention exclusively to the functioning modalities.

There is much more evidence that establish the links between the healthy functioning neurons with their supporting glial cells and a normal conscious state. It is well known that intelligence is partially inherited. Also some metabolic diseases, such as Phenylketonuria, cause decrease brain function and alter consciousness or lead to mental retardation. Other inherited processes such as Tay Sachs disease, Gaucher’s disease and Niemann-Pick disease may be associated with increased intelligence when inherited as a single recessive gene.

This evidence makes it extremely difficult to completely separate global consciousness from the individual neuron. The “ghost in the machine” is probably a composite of tiny ghosts in millions of neurons which come together to form the composite whole. From this perspective what we have traditionally called the human spirit is actually a composite made up of the combined consciousness from the neurons from the entire brain. It is this composite whole which can simultaneously experience thousands or millions of pixels of experience simultaneously and can voluntarily shift attention to a selected number of these pixels of experience for further contemplation.

While we learn a great deal about the function of the brain and of the mind through studying people who have had local brain injuries generalized processes also have much to tell us about brain organization. One of the most tragic diseases, in which neurons gradually die off and the individual’s mind gradually fades, is Alzheimer’s disease. In Alzheimer’s disease, it is impossible to deny the close connection between the individual neurons and the global function of the human mind since in this disease one observes a fully functional human being gradually lose mental powers, one at a time, as the individual loses neurons. First the recent semantic memory goes, then the ability to perform abstractions. The individual loses the ability to recognize metaphors and takes everything literally. The vocabulary fades and the person begins to substitute similar words for the one which is meaning or invents sounds to substitute for missing vocabulary. The motor memory with the associated motor skills also begin to fade. The implicit and affective memory are usually the last to fade as the person regresses and dies. Despite this devastation, the person remains conscious until late in the disease since there are still functioning islands of normal neurons remaining. However the consciousness is severely altered as the disease progresses so that what remains is only what was always provided by those cells still alive.

The Correlation between Consciousness and Matter

If one postulates that the mysterious ingredient of life is consciousness, and that life transcends the matter the cell is built from, experimentally it still appears that life is completely dependent upon the physical universe. In other words, life may have a additional fundamental property called consciousness which is separate from the physical universe, but to be alive this fundamental property of the universe must be joined to the other fundamental property of the universe called matter. When the chemical machinery of the cell is destroyed, the cell dies.

An interesting question is why some cells have different experiences than others? For instance, why do some neurons experience “red” and others experience “green.” Are there differences in the genes expressed by those particular neurons to alter them slightly so that when their membranes depolarize, they have different experiences or is it related to the environment in which the neuron lives? If there are slightly different chemicals which cause different experiences, that would reinforce even more strongly the intimate connection between the material world and our minds. It is clear that much of what makes us human is intimately connected to our memories which experimentally must have a strong material component since certain medications can cause amnesia. Since the medications are chemicals with a physical action, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that memories themselves are at least partly physical. Although consciousness can not be completely explained by the physical world, many of the qualities which set us apart as individuals are physically based. It appears that while the laws of physics and chemistry can completely define all the physical states which the brain assumes and may even influence some aspects of the individual conscious experience such as “green,” it is the consciousness quality of the mind which interprets those brain states, gives them meaning, and makes choices. It is this conscious volition which is missing from the laws of physics.

Although the various brain states which we experience are completely explainable by the laws of nature, and despite the abundant evidence that the physical world can alter our state of consciousness, that doesn’t negate the observation that in return our conscious can also influence the physical world. The concept of an epiphenomena is completely illogical. Since it is impossible to discuss consciousness unless you have experienced it, and since the words we use to discuss consciousness are completely material either expressed in writing or sound, the fact that any of us discuss the mind at all leads inevitably to the conclusion that mind does have the ability to influence matter.

The question then is not if consciousness can interact with matter, but how it happens. Although the answers aren’t completely forthcoming, it is possible that quantum physics offers insights into the mechanism. It is known that the outcome of experiments is to some extent dependent upon the observer. In other words it is already possible to demonstrate experimentally that the observer influences the physical world even in the past simply by observing. Indeed some physicists believe that the universe exists only because we observe it. At the following site is an interview of prominent physicists who have taken quantum physics to the next level and believe the universe was designed to be observed. While philosophers have tried to be more “scientific” and have moved towards materialist reductionism, some scientists have been busy discovering the interaction of the observer and the material world and are discussing how the mind might influence matter. http://www.discover.com/issues/jun-02/features/featuniverse/

So far the experiments demonstrate that the observer can influence the outcome of experiments at the level of the detector and can also influence previous history of those same photons even before they encountered the detector. In other words, it appears the detector is not only altering the present, but is also altering the past. Once the observation is made, the chain of cause and effect which leads to the outcome recorded also falls into place. However the observer doesn’t necessarily have to be conscious. To fully demonstrate in the laboratory how conscious thoughts affect the physical world, one could have a person meditate in an adjoining room and see if it would affect the outcome of experiments at the quantum level. However the chance that this will lead to a positive result is highly unlikely. If this type of experiment fails, then one would have to postulate that consciousness influences matter at the quantum level only if the consciousness and the matter are in extremely close contact as in an individual living cell.

As I pointed out above, the experimental evidence that the basic unit of consciousness is the individual cell is quite strong. This does not prevent one from going back farther and considering the possibility that consciousness is a fundamental property of matter. However, since calling consciousness an epiphenomena is completely illogical, this can only be possible if the consciousness of the individual atom itself has volition. Considering the strange things found in quantum physics, that possibility can not be completely excluded. However, as I pointed out, at this time there is no evidence that matter separated from the living cell has anything close to volition or consciousness. Since the basis of science is experimental evidence, until someone actually discovers evidence that basic matter is conscious, this proposition has to be considered highly speculative and improbably. On the other hand, there is a great deal of evidence to connect consciousness to living cells, at least living animal cells. Based on my own observations, understanding consciousness the property of the individual cell with the ability to combine into a global experience, greatly facilitates the understanding of the mind.


Dualism is the traditional viewpoint of Western Civilization. It provides an excellent platform for scientific and philosophical inquiry. It also underpins the moral and cultural traditions which have made the freedoms and prosperity we are now experiencing in Western society possible.

Although belief in dualism is not by itself proof of God’s existence, it undermines the scientific arguments against God, which are based largely upon materialist reductionism. Since consciousness is a fundamental property of the universe, it has been probably existed from the first moments the universe came into existence. From this understanding, it is a short step to move from the study of human consciousness which is a fundamental property of the universe to belief in God who is the source of this fundamental property.

This belief that there is an intimate connection between the physical properties of the universe and consciousness is very ancient. The creation story in Genesis clearly demonstrates that belief.
Gen 2:7
7 the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
Dualism strongly favors that ancient Biblical understanding of life. If we understand the “breath of life” to be the soul which God has given to every living thing, then our minds can be easily understood as a combination of matter and consciousness. The materialist can study the brain to any level they wish and will never find that it in any way violates the laws of physics and chemistry, and yet, no matter how fine the sieve through which the information is passed, the chemical brain will never completely explain the mind. That extra dimension is consciousness which is an additional fundamental property of the universe. The question doesn’t have to be either all matter or all spirit, but both mind and spirit together make one living person. Also there doesn’t need to be a choice between belief in God or belief in science, but a belief in God who created science for our benefit. Perhaps the physicists are correct, who claim that the universe is designed for the observer. Perhaps the designer is God, the observer for which it is designed is us.

I’d like to post next on the relationship between faith and reason, using the pope’s speech as a foundation, and then finish up with a few other philosophical points.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2006 3:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Faith and Reason

Godel’s Contribution

As I noted previously, Godel’s proof has extreme implications for reason.

What could it mean to say that a mathematical proposition was true if there was no possibility of proving it? The very idea seemed absurd. Even the once great logician Bertrand Russell was baffled; he seems to have been under the misapprehension that Gödel had detected an inconsistency in mathematics. “Are we to think that 2 + 2 is not 4, but 4.001?” Russell asked decades later in dismay, adding that he was “glad [he] was no longer working at mathematical logic.” As the significance of Gödel’s theorems began to sink in, words like “debacle,” “catastrophe,” and “nightmare” were bandied about. It had been an article of faith that, armed with logic, mathematicians could in principle resolve any conundrum at all—that in mathematics, as it had been famously declared, there was no ignorabimus. Gödel’s theorems seemed to have shattered this ideal of complete knowledge.1

As noted in this article, up until Godel’s proof, people had the belief that mathematics could explain everything, could “resolve any conundrum at all.” Since God was not an issue which could be solved through mathematical reasoning, belief in Him was dismissed as ignorance and superstition. Following Godel, mathematics remains an immensely valuable logical tool to discover truth, but the argument, that anything which can not be proven mathematically is automatically false or not worth considering, has been soundly defeated. Also Godel joined Aristotle another logician of legendary stature in the belief that the mind transcends material explanations.

Godel’s proof is not an attack on reason but came from within reason itself. At issue is the idea of truth itself. Since as humans, the only instrument we have to measure ideas are our own minds, it is mandatory that we have our instruments properly calibrated and as accurate as possible. Only when we understand the proper role of reason can we arrive at truth.

Laws of Nature and the Bible

There has often been a supposed barrier between faith and reason. Although the Bible clearly has the transcendent, it is filled with reason and praise for the material world, God’s creation. In the creation story, the following phrase is repeated 5 times as God created the physical world:

Gen 1:10
And God saw that it was good.

In Judeo-Christian culture, study of nature and nature’s laws is study of God Himself demonstrated in His handiwork. At times nature has been called God’s second handbook, along with special revelation. The fixed laws of nature reveal God’s consistency is dealing with His creation and with us the crowning achievement of His creation. Here is how the Psalmist states the issue with such eloquence:

Ps 19:1-4
The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
2 Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge.
3 There is no speech or language
where their voice is not heard.
4 Their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.

Later in the same chapter we find the revealed laws of God are tied directly to the Laws of nature. The purpose of the revealed laws of God is to make His creation thrive. The purpose of the law is to “revive the soul... make wise the simple...give joy to the heart...give light to the eyes... and to endure forever.”

Ps 19:7-9
The law of the LORD is perfect,
reviving the soul.
The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.
8 The precepts of the LORD are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the LORD are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.
9 The fear of the LORD is pure,
enduring forever.

When God gave the New Covenant to Israel, He appealed to the laws of nature to show His consistency in His love for His people:

Jer 31:35-37
35 This is what the LORD says,

he who appoints the sun
to shine by day,
who decrees the moon and stars
to shine by night,
who stirs up the sea
so that its waves roar--
the LORD Almighty is his name:
36 "Only if these decrees vanish from my sight,"
declares the LORD,
"will the descendants of Israel ever cease
to be a nation before me."

37 This is what the LORD says:

"Only if the heavens above can be measured
and the foundations of the earth below be searched out
will I reject all the descendants of Israel
because of all they have done,"
declares the LORD.

This same respect for natural laws is demonstrated in the New Testament. The apostle Paul clearly understood that many of the qualities of God could be understood from nature apart from special revelation:

Rom 1:18-20
18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature-have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

Reason and the Bible

Not only does the Bible honor natural laws as a second revelation of God, but it also honors reason and wisdom as parts of God Himself. Here reason is tied to God’s forgiveness:

Isa 1:18
18 "Come now, let us reason together,"
says the LORD.
"Though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson,
they shall be like wool.

In Job God comes down to reason with Job about his difficulties: He points out God’s power and God’s supreme knowledge which clearly set Him apart from. It is very difficult indeed to set this God apart from or above reason, rather one of God’s supreme qualities is His supremacy as the transcendent reasoner.

Job 38:1-7
38:1 Then the LORD answered Job out of the storm. He said:

2 "Who is this that darkens my counsel
with words without knowledge?
3 Brace yourself like a man;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.

4 "Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation?
Tell me, if you understand.
5 Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!
Who stretched a measuring line across it?
6 On what were its footings set,
or who laid its cornerstone-
7 while the morning stars sang together
and all the angels shouted for joy?

God’s intimate embrace of reason and wisdom is explicitly stated in the following passages:

Ps 104:24
4 How many are your works, O LORD!
In wisdom you made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures.

Prov 1:20-25
20 Wisdom calls aloud in the street, she raises her voice in the public squares; 21 at the head of the noisy streets she cries out, in the gateways of the city she makes her speech:
22 "How long will you simple ones love your simple ways? How long will mockers delight in mockery and fools hate knowledge? 23 If you had responded to my rebuke, I would have poured out my heart to you and made my thoughts known to you. 24 But since you rejected me when I called and no one gave heed when I stretched out my hand, 25 since you ignored all my advice and would not accept my rebuke,

Prov 3:13-15
13 Blessed is the man who finds wisdom,
the man who gains understanding,
14 for she is more profitable than silver
and yields better returns than gold.
She is more precious than rubies;
nothing you desire can compare with her.

Prov 3:19-20
9 By wisdom the LORD laid the earth's foundations,
by understanding he set the heavens in place;
20 by his knowledge the deeps were divided,
and the clouds let drop the dew.

Speaking of Wisdom the Bible states:

Prov 8:22-31
22 "The LORD brought me forth as the first of his works,
before his deeds of old;
23 I was appointed from eternity,
from the beginning, before the world began.
24 When there were no oceans, I was given birth,
when there were no springs abounding with water;
25 before the mountains were settled in place,
before the hills, I was given birth,
26 before he made the earth or its fields
or any of the dust of the world.
27 I was there when he set the heavens in place,
when he marked out the horizon on the face of the deep,
28 when he established the clouds above
and fixed securely the fountains of the deep,
29 when he gave the sea its boundary
so the waters would not overstep his command,
and when he marked out the foundations of the earth.
30 Then I was the craftsman at his side.
I was filled with delight day after day,
rejoicing always in his presence,
31 rejoicing in his whole world
and delighting in mankind.

Not only is it impossible to separate the God of the Bible from reason and wisdom, but wisdom is one of His principle attributes.

The Pope’s Speech

Recently the Pope gave a speech by which he made a desperate attempt to save European culture from complete collapse and nihilism because of “reason” separated from faith in the God of reason, while encouraging on the other hand an interfaith dialogue between Christians and Muslims.2 That his message was understood by the Muslims is clearly demonstrated by the response from their side of the proposed dialogue. The Muslim ummah have responded vigorously in their usual rational manner. Some people apparently think more clearly when they are exercising vigorously or shouting than when they are sitting contemplatively. In this light, from pictures taken around the world, it is clear that the ummah is thinking very deeply indeed. Now that he has people’s attention, the pope should press forward with the dialogue rather than retreat and allow the dialogue to die. For people to draw back from reason and dialogue because it may offend others is not the answer, provided the dialogue is based on reason and not on vitriol. However, it is not reasonable to ask the ummah to embrace “reason” if “reason” means abandoning traditional culture and values for absolutely nothing at all. This is why the pope has addressed the pathologies in Western Culture as well as those in Islam.

That the Pope is an imperfect messenger is acknowledged by most, but when a messenger of peace and reason is needed, it is unwise to reject the message because of flaws in the messenger. No group has a pristine past, free from crimes against humanity. If we discredit any group from dialogue because of crimes committed by members of the group centuries in the past, there will be no room for dialogue at all. We can either live in the past, hating people for crimes committed hundreds of years ago by others for which they have no part, or we can work together to make the world a better place for everyone. From my reading of the Pope’s speech, this appears to be exactly what he wishes to do. However in moving forward towards the future in forgiveness and love, it is also important not to forget the lessons of history. If we forget the lessons of history, we will be doomed to repeat them. It appears the Pope was attempting to make use of knowledge available from history as he drew from the past to illustrate the present, not to condemn the present ummah for crimes committed by previous Islamic rulers, but as a warning not to us all not to repeat the mistakes of the past.

The Pope’s discussion of the role of Greek philosophy in Western Civilization and Christianity in particularly is enlightening.
This inner rapprochement between Biblical faith and Greek philosophical inquiry was an event of decisive importance not only from the standpoint of the history of religions, but also from that of world history-– it is an event which concerns us even today. Given this convergence, it is not surprising that Christianity, despite its origins and some significant developments in the East, finally took on its historically decisive character in Europe. We can also express this the other way around: this convergence, with the subsequent addition of the Roman heritage, created Europe and remains the foundation of what can rightly be called Europe.3

As I have demonstrated, reason, natural laws, and wisdom are clearly deeply embedded in the Bible from the earliest times without the need to appeal to Greek philosophy. However that said, Greek emphasis on reason and philosophy has clearly enriched Western Civilization greatly and the Greek’s contribution to the Judeo-Christian culture is immense. The Romans also made significant contributions to our civilization as did the Persians. The Judeo-Christian culture is the common heritage from which modern democracies developed. And this rich heritage of faith which embraces reason, which is unfortunately exactly what the European intelligentsia have rejected in their radical secularism which rejects their own cultural and their own Judeo-Christian heritage which has enabled them to thrive they have discarded and embraced instead Marxism and multiculturalism. This rejection of their own culture which has made it much more difficult for the Europeans to peacefully integrate their own Islamic immigrants. It is difficult to know how can the immigrants integrate if there is no culture for them to join.

In a discussion, there will be differences of opinion as well as areas of agreement. The Pope’s characterization of the Protestant Reformation is quite different than how most Protestants would view things. Here is how he described it:
Dehellenization first emerges in connection with the fundamental postulates of the Reformation in the 16th century. Looking at the tradition of scholastic theology, the Reformers thought they were confronted with a faith system totally conditioned by philosophy, that is to say an articulation of the faith based on an alien system of thought. As a result, faith no longer appeared as a living historical Word but as one element of an overarching philosophical system. The principle of sola scriptura, on the other hand, sought faith in its pure, primordial form, as originally found in the biblical Word. Metaphysics appeared as a premise derived from another source, from which faith had to be liberated in order to become once more fully itself. When Kant stated that he needed to set thinking aside in order to make room for faith, he carried this program forward with a radicalism that the Reformers could never have foreseen. He thus anchored faith exclusively in practical reason, denying it access to reality as a whole. 4

While he is partly right in saying the Reformers were trying to dehellenize Western Civilization, from the Protestant viewpoint, that was not the central point of the Reformation. I have never heard a Protestant minister stand up and say, we disagree with the Catholics because they embrace Greek philosophy too closely. There were other more immediate concerns than the need to dehellenization which motivated the Reformers.
1. The Roman church had become extremely corrupt. This corruption was partly caused by the hierarchical bureaucratic system of church government which is still practiced today. By their very nature, bureaucracies are always corrupt. The immediate flash point which caused Martin Luther to post the 95 thesis on the church door in Wittenburg was when Johann Tetzel appeared in Matin Luther’s parish to sell indulgences to raise money for the construction of St. Peter’s Basilica.
2. The church had become intellectually fossilized. The Greek philosophy and church rational tradition had become a straight jacket which served to inhibit innovation rather than serving as a basis for further discoveries. Deductive reasoning was preferred to experimentally derived inductive reasoning.
3. The church had to a large extent lost the original simplicity of the gospel. Indeed many of it’s forms such as the adoration of Mary were completely foreign to the Biblical message.
4. The church had become highly politicized. Although the people of faith have every right to engage the political issues of the day through dialogue and reason, when the church forms an army and enforces it’s interests by force, that is a violation of basic Christian principles. Objecting when the church burned people at the stake in public, because they had the wrong ideas, is not dehellenization, rather it is an attempt to return the West to the freedom of inquiry for which the Greek philosophers stood.
5. The church had become elitist. The common people were kept down as surfs while knowledge was preserved as the special domain for the scholarly elite. With knowledge came power and wealth, all of which to some extent was denied to the common people. One of the great emphases of the Protestant Reformation was the empowerment of the ordinary people through education. By translating the Bible into the language of the people, the reformers gave the people the spiritual and moral tools they needed to grow into mature Christians fully equipped to become citizens of a free democratic society.
6. The church had largely replaced a personal relationship with God with church controlled rituals. Salvation was only attainable through the church and forgiveness was given only if sone confessed to a priest rather than approaching God directly themselves.
7. The church had adopted replacement theology which taught that God had rejected the Jewish people as His covenant people and had replaced them with the Christian church. This contributed to the anti-Semitism which marred church history. Also if the church had shown more respect to the Jewish people, the Pope may not have felt empowered to claim supreme spiritual hegemony which eventually led to the doctrine of Papal Infallibility. Along those lines, the Protestants are not completely innocent as some very intemperate anti-Semitic statements by Martin Luther attest. However, by returning to the Bible, which is after all a Jewish book, many Protestants were able to overcome anti-Semitism early in the movement. The previous Pope also apologized to the Jews which is a good thing since there is no room in Jesus’ teachings for antisemitic hatred.

Although his understanding of the Protest Reformation is quite different from what Protestants would accept, all would probably agree that the freedoms opened by the Reformation paved the way for the secular society under which we live today. This freedom has further paved the way for radical skepticism and for the outright rejection of God. It has also freed us to investigate the material universe again unencumbered by censure from religious and scientific orthodoxy. This freedom is what has provided the strength of modern culture and it is also what threatens it’s very existence. Because many Western secularists have made it their special project to eradicate Christianity, they have used their freedom to destroy the philosophical, religious, and moral foundations which has made secularism possible.

How the Pope begins his conclusion is also enlightening:
And so I come to my conclusion. This attempt, painted with broad strokes, at a critique of modern reason from within has nothing to do with putting the clock back to the time before the Enlightenment and rejecting the insights of the modern age. The positive aspects of modernity are to be acknowledged unreservedly: we are all grateful for the marvelous possibilities that it has opened up for mankind and for the progress in humanity that has been granted to us. The scientific ethos, moreover, is the will to be obedient to the truth, and, as such, it embodies an attitude which reflects one of the basic tenets of Christianity. The intention here is not one of retrenchment or negative criticism, but of broadening our concept of reason and its application.
Wile we rejoice in the new possibilities open to humanity, we also see the dangers arising from these possibilities and we must ask ourselves how we can overcome them. We will succeed in doing so only if reason and faith come together in a new way, if we overcome the self-imposed limitation of reason to the empirically verifiable, and if we once more disclose its vast horizons. In this sense theology rightly belongs in the university and within the wide-ranging dialogue of sciences, not merely as a historical discipline and one of the human sciences, but precisely as theology, as inquiry into the rationality of faith.
Only thus do we become capable of that genuine dialogue of cultures and religions so urgently needed today. In the Western world it is widely held that only positivistic reason and the forms of philosophy based on it are universally valid. Yet the world’s profoundly religious cultures see this exclusion of the divine from the universality of reason as an attack on their most profound convictions. A reason which is deaf to the divine and which relegates religion into the realm of subcultures is incapable of entering into the dialogue of cultures. At the same time, as I have attempted to show, modern scientific reason with its intrinsically Platonic element bears within itself a question which points beyond itself and beyond the possibilities of its methodology.5

His final comments contain ideas which could save Western Civilization.

Modern scientific reason quite simply has to accept the rational structure of matter and the correspondence between our spirit and the prevailing rational structures of nature as a given, on which its methodology has to be based. Yet the question why this has to be so is a real question, and one which has to be remanded by the natural sciences to other modes and planes of thought: to philosophy and theology.
For philosophy and, albeit in a different way, for theology, listening to the great experiences and insights of the religious traditions of humanity, and those of the Christian faith in particular, is a source of knowledge, and to ignore it would be an unacceptable restriction of our listening and responding. Here I am reminded of something Socrates said to Phaedo. In their earlier conversations, many false philosophical opinions had been raised, and so Socrates says: “It would be easily understandable if someone became so annoyed at all these false notions that for the rest of his life he despised and mocked all talk about being - but in this way he would be deprived of the truth of existence and would suffer a great loss”.
The West has long been endangered by this aversion to the questions which underlie its rationality, and can only suffer great harm thereby. The courage to engage the whole breadth of reason, and not the denial of its grandeur – this is the program with which a theology grounded in Biblical faith enters into the debates of our time. “Not to act reasonably (with logos) is contrary to the nature of God”, said Manuel II, according to his Christian understanding of God, in response to his Persian interlocutor. It is to this great logos, to this breadth of reason, that we invite our partners in the dialogue of cultures. To rediscover it constantly is the great task of the university.6

The Pope is clearly an extremely scholarly man whose speech deserves careful consideration and thoughtful responses. Although we may have differences in theology and church governance, there is no excuse to avoid a thoughtful discourse.

The Pope here is calling for us to relearn the philosophical lessons which have enabled the scientific and social advancement which we take for granted. It is time for us to relearn the strong connection between faith and reason which has undergirded Western Civilization from the beginning. The intellectual and philosophical foundations upon which science was laid are based on faith in the God who founded the universe through wisdom, who operates by natural laws. When science and secular society rejects those foundational beliefs, they reject the rational foundation upon which they are based. The result is Nililism.

Even in 1391, Christianity was Spread by Reason

The Pope made an important point which is easily overlooked, that the Emperor of Constantinople believed in spreading Christianity through reason, and rejected proselytizing by the sword. Both he and the Islamic scholar with whom he was having the discussion both took that as a given, beyond question. And yet as we look back over the ages, from our perspective, we often ignore that fact. It is easy to see the exceptions to the rule and generalize that Christianity and Islam shared the belief in forced conversions. In fact, Historians often tell us that it was Islam which was the more advanced culture philosophically and scientifically, and that it was Islam which was more tolerant. Yet as the Pope pointed out, these two very knowledgable people, who were actually living in history and could speak from personal experience, both understood that Christianity was a religion based on reason and persuasion. It is obvious that the people who were actually living then, especially people of their stature, were in a much better position to know the state of the cultures in which they lived than are we trying to look back over the years at a culture which none of us can fully understand. From this conversation we discover that their perceptions were the same, their shared opinion was that there was a fundamental difference in the approach of Islam which was spread by force and Christianity which was based on reason.

Here is how the Pope expressed this idea:
But naturally the emperor also knew the instructions, developed later and recorded in the Qur’an, concerning holy war. Without descending to details, such as the difference in treatment accorded to those who have the “Book” and the “infidels,” he turns to his interlocutor somewhat brusquely with the central question on the relationship between religion and violence in general, in these words:
Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.
The emperor goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable. Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul.
God is not pleased by blood, and not acting reasonably is contrary to God's nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats... To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death....

The pope here states what anyone who reads the holy books will discover. While it is true that Israel was founded by war, there is no evidence that, even as a theocracy, the Israelites tried to win converts from other nations by the sword. Modern Jews largely view themselves as a national group and don’t usually proselytize. Jesus, the founder of Christianity, was famous for his statements that we are to “love our enemies” and that he that “lived by the sword would die by the sword.” That provides little scriptural foundation for converting people with the sword. On the other hand, Islamic holy books have multiple admonitions concerning war against infidels, especially against polytheists.

This view of history, which differs considerable from modern perceptions is also supported by archaeology. The conventional wisdom is that Christians continually persecuted and abused Jews. And while many crimes did occur that is clearly not the entire story. From archeological digs scholars have learned that the relationship between Christians and Jews was not always hostile. For instance in Biblical Archaeology Today, September/October 1996 is an article entitled. “Multiculturalism at Sardis; Jews and Christians live, work and worship side by side.” Concerning the image of continuous Christian anti-Semitism we find the following statement:
Archaeology, however, provides somewhat of a corrective. Its not that anti-Semitism didn’t exist; at times, it was rampant. Yet the archaeological record proves that some Jews and Christians lived peaceably together in the same communities, worked together and even respected each other’s sacred symbols.
Consider Sardis, a site in modern Turkey....

The author then describes the evidence that the Jews and Christians of Sardis were living side by side in apparent peace. He concludes his article based on archaeology in Sardis thus:
Since prohibitions on the building and remodeling of synagogues were obviously not enforced, we must ask whether other restrictive laws were also ignored even though they remained on the books. The canon of the Council of Laodicea (late in the fourth century) forbade Christians from accepting New Years presents from Jews. But this implies that Jews and Christians had been exchanging New Years presents at least up to that time. Are we to believe that this practice suddenly stopped?
Moreover, if Sardis is typical, there appear to have been no restrictions on where Jews could live and work. Jews and Christians shared the same colonnaded area, and their shops were interspersed, not segregated. Jews and Christians could also practice the same trade producing and selling paints and dyes.
At Sardis, contacts between Jews and Christians were apparently frequent, just as we would expect in any urban setting with a mixed population. Jews had been a prominent part of city life at Sardis for hundreds of years, as the first-century historian Flavius Josephus and the donation inscriptions of the synagogue attest. The synagogue was located in the most central and frequented part of the city, and it remained a Jewish synagogue until it was destroyed, along with the rest of the city, early in the seventh century C.E.
Of course, peoples attitudes are always difficult to measure. One thing, however, is clear: There is no evidence of hate. Both Christians and Jews could proudly declare who they were, do the work they were trained to do, go where they wanted, live where they pleased and worship as they chose. This may not have been true everywhere in the early Byzantine world and it was certainly not true in later periods but in Sardis and many other places between the fourth and seventh centuries, a measure of tolerance and peace, even neighborliness, prevailed between Christians and Jews.

In light of these archaeological discoveries one naturally wonders exactly what happened in the Byzantine Empire early in the seventh century which caused the destruction of Sardis and was associated with the changed attitude between Christians and Jews? Did the Muslims use the differences between the Jews and Christians to their benefit? Although the article doesn’t provide the answers, it would be surprising if this did not occur in light of the actions of modern dhimmi populations of Europe and the Middle East who the Islamists play against each other in today’s modern jihad. The harsh anti-Semitic statements from the Christian dhimmi groups in Muslim lands and the growing resurgence of anti-Semitism in the European dhimmis certainly appear to be caused partly due to the efforts of their Muslim conquerors to keep the groups divided and weak. We also have to wonder about the flood of anti-Christian hatred now floating about in Europe and more recently in America, particularly in academia and the Hollywood set. Could some of this also be dhimmi behavior? If so, it is clearly in our best interest, Jews and Gentiles, Christians and secularists to firmly resist the forces attempting to force us into separate antagonistic groups. It is well for those of us who love Western Civilization to remember, united we stand, divided we fall. Those of us who love reason and science must remember the dark abyss which awaits us if we fail to maintain our freedom.

Of course, to blame outside forces such as Islam is no justification for the unwarranted violence which has sometimes marred Christian history. Specifically, Christians must take responsibility for the times they have acted violently against Jewish people and against other ethnic groups. Muslim who wish to join the dialogue must admit the crimes against humanity committed in the name of Islam. The secularists also need to shoulder their responsibility for the crimes done by their own totalitarian revolutionaries, particularly those committed by the Communists. One of the biggest dangers to our freedom today is that such a large percentage of Western anti-Christian secularists are unwilling to accept that their ideology has committed any crimes at all. That the monster, Che Guevara, who killed so many innocent people in cold blood and worked to establish totalitarian regimes, has almost iconic status among many anti-Christian secularists does not bode well for the future survival of human freedom.

God of Reason or Eternal Tyrant

Besides the numerous Bible texts which directly teach that God is a God of reason and of laws, the basic assumptions of monotheism itself should lead us to the same conclusion. The fundamental assumption which underlies special revelation through prophets is that God has laid down a consistent set of principles by which He will interact with His creation. If that were not the case, the holy books would have no application beyond the immediate community to which they were delivered. If God changed His requirements for us by whim, there could be no consistency in His actions and we could receive no guidance from the holy books applicable today.

Further more, we can deduce that either God has provided the holy books for our betterment, because He cares for our welfare or that there is no reason whatsoever to follow the things written in the holy books. If God wrote those books to cause us damage, there is no reason to suppose that He will keep His promises and actually provide the rewards and punishments provided in the holy books. If God were deliberately trying to hurt us, He might substitute hell for those who follow the books rigorously and paradise for those who ignore them. It is hard to imagine what better trick a cruel God could play than to give rules which made people miserable here and which led directly to hell in the hereafter. Alternatively, we could postulate that God actually prefers people who are kind to one another, but he sends lying prophets who teach people to commit evil deeds like beheading kaffirs, killing their men and raping their women, as a test. Those people fall for those lies will thus prove they are unworthy for eternal life and will spend eternity suffering the exact type of torture and crimes which they have inflicted on other people in the name of god. In either scenario in which God gives bad laws which are meant to hurt us, there is no logical reason to follow those laws.

Only if God is a good God who interacts with His creatures out of concern for our welfare is there any reason for us to follow what is written in the holy books. Furthermore, if God has chosen to interact with us for our benefit, there should be reasons He gives the rules He does. If we study those rules, we should be able to derive fundamental principles which underlie those rules and learn how to apply them under different circumstances. Obviously the first principle of Biblical interpretation is that God is indeed a good God who is concerned for our welfare, who deals with us rationally and consistently, and who doesn’t ever lie to us. It is this understanding of the good God who gives rules because He loves us which underlies Western rational social institutions. It is also this good God of laws and reason which formed the original foundation of Western philosophy and science.

This appeal to reason should apply to all our Bible study and exegesis. Our Bible study should be rational, logical, and should take into consideration everything we know including the discoveries of science. It also speaks specifically against the teaching of eternal torment. Since God has taught us He is love and wishes for us to spread His message by reason and not by fear, it is illogical to then assume that the same God is an Eternal Tyrant who will spend an eternity putting people through almost unendurable torment for the things they did in this brief life time. If God is not a good God, but an eternal torturer, we are forced again to the original question; how do we know he doesn’t send prophets to spread lies, and that it is actually those who follow the prophets who will receive eternal torment? A being who delighted in tormenting his creatures for eternity would certainly not hesitate to send lying prophets to spread pain and misery on this earth.

Conflicts Between Faith and Reason

The classic conflict between faith and reason is the exchange between the Pope and Galileo. That there would at times be conflicts between faith and reason is inevitable since science and philosophy are not static disciplines. Inevitably when the prevailing scientific paradigms change, those who have explained their faith based on the agreed upon facts of the previous paradigm will experience pressure to reinterpret their faith to account for the new understandings. This tension was even more acute at the time since the Pope was considered the final authority not only in theology but also in science and philosophy. It is instructive that Descartes a short time later felt compelled to announce in his books that his ideas agreed with Aristotle, a Greek philosopher, but didn’t feel it necessary to make a similar announcement that his philosophy also agreed with the Bible. It appears that it was his position as the final arbitrator of scientific truth that caused the Pope to disagree with Galileo as well as his understanding of the Bible. As Pope Benedict XVI pointed out in his speech, Catholic theology is an intimate blend of Greek philosophy and Jewish prophetic revelations. The Pope’s differences with Galileo were based as much on his understanding of Greek science as Biblical theology. That the Pope used the power of the state to reinforce what he considered scientific and theological orthodoxy is an embarrassment which still plagues the church. The Pope’s reaction to Galileo is a human problem all too common is in no way limited to religious people. Just as religious leaders often adhere to old familiar ways of thinking and reject new truth, the secular scientific and philosophical establishment often does the same. A current example is the action against legitimate researchers who have received threats or intimidation because they have disagreed with the present predictions about the catastrophic effects of human caused global warming. As this has moved into the political arena, truth becomes more and more difficult to discover. Those who are skeptical about the present panic over global warming may remember old scientific magazines from the 1960's which were predicting an impending ice age. In view of the history of long ice ages with short interglacial periods, the next ice age should begin at any time. Indeed it is possible that human activity is the only reason we are not already in the early stages of the next ice age.

A more current example of the conflict between faith and reason is the debate over evolution. In the name of science, the secularist establishment sometimes uses the government to force students from conservative Christian homes, who believe in the literal Biblical creation story, to learn and repeat the secularist creation myth. In many ways this differs little from the actions of the Pope who used his power to enforce orthodoxy. It seems logical that science, including natural history, should be derived from experiments and not lifted directly from the Bible. And yet, contrary to what their opponents think, the majority of the proponents of “creation science” are neither irrational nor opposed to science. Quite the opposite, they seem ass committed to the scientific method as their secularist opponents. They offer alternative explanations for the evidence which they find more compatible with their faith and at times their evidence may not be completely correct, but they do offer evidence and arguments to support their positions. Most of these people are extremely well versed in the issues and in order to disagree with evolution, must understand it very well. If they were really against science, they would not feel the need for evidence, but would maintain that their holy books were absolutely true and dependable without the need for outside verification and would not care what the scientific establishment teaches. Rather than being against science, their elaborate arguments to disprove Darwinism show that they are committed to science and are attempting to correlate their beliefs with the scientific data.

Although for me it is hard to find any logical way to correlate the viewpoint of the most literal interpretation of the Genesis story with science, other approaches such as intelligent design make considerably sense. Indeed, as a theist, it is hard to imagine any creation theory which doesn’t contain intelligent design in some form. Through out the early history of Western science, the scientists believed they were studying God’s handiwork when they studied nature. In other words, any scientist who believes God created the universe and expects to find evidence of an immense intelligence displayed in the universe is in a sense a proponent of intelligent design. It is because of this Judeo-Christian belief that wisdom and reason are fundamental qualities of God, which originally led western man to approach nature as something which can be understood through reason. This fundamental approach has been richly rewarded by the breakthroughs in science, technology and medicine. In turn, science itself testifies to the God of reason, who wishes to be understood through His creation. The only reason we can learn and understand natural laws is because God has created the universe using a finite set of rules, which He follows consistently, which we can discover and understood.

It is also this insight which has made secular society possible. John Locke who did a great deal to anchor modern society on reason, based his arguments for religious and political freedom on his understanding of the Bible. Although John Locke’s assumptions about the origins of human society, upon which modern secular society were originally founded, were just guesses without any objective evidence to support them, they worked out because they drew their inspiration from the Bible. The Enlightenment thinkers who followed John Locke, who tried to reach his conclusions without reference to the Bible were much less successful. As with John Locke, their fundamental assumptions about the nature of man were not based on scientific observations, but were just guesses, which have not worked out so well. By discarding the belief in a good God who, the founder and guardian of truth, they set Western society adrift in a shoreless intellectual sea with no firm anchor. The ultimate outcome is a society without any moral compass, without any standard by which to measure cultural ideas to determine which are true, and ultimately without any reason to believe in reason itself. The end is a pervasive nihilism which is manifested in a society which is completely hedonistic and unable to offer any justification for it’s continued existence when confronted by a more aggressive culture, Islam.

Finally, it is well for people of all persuasions to remember that the ultimate goal is truth, not ideology. No matter how fervently we might believe something, our belief doesn’t make it true. Truth is not something measured by how many people you can convince of a point of view, or conversely by how many people may disagree. Those religious people who fear science should remember that science is dynamic, and we should not be overly concerned if science and religion disagree temporarily or try to modify our beliefs to fit science too soon. Science must have the freedom to develop at it’s own pace and theology should be slow to embrace every new scientific trend until they are well established. Only when a scientific field has matured should theologians visit the field to see what new information can be gleaned for their own studies.


In Western Civilization, there traditionally has been no conflict between faith and reason. Indeed, from earliest times the Christian faith has been closely tied with Greek philosophy and science. This union was so complete during the middle ages that it became a straightjacket which made progress in either faith or reason difficult. The religious leaders became the authorities on both science and faith and at times suppressed any new ideas in either realm. This orthodoxy became so rigid, it became so dangerous to disagree with Aristotle that Descartes felt obligated to affirm that his ideas were in agreement with Aristotle.

It was the understanding that God is a good God, who deals with his creatures in a consistent manner, and who has made the universe according to natural laws which we can discover and understand, which underlies the scientific discoveries which have made the modern world possible. The leading scientist of the Enlightenment, Sir Isaac Newton, who saw no conflict between faith and reason, believed his scientific discoveries were evidences of God’s existence and spent more of his life in Biblical exegesis than in scientific research. John Locke who was a leading thinker on societal issues based his arguments for religious and political freedom directly on the Bible. If one removes the idea of the good God who wishes us to follow Him through love, not through force, the entire rational for religious and political freedom collapses.

The founders of the United States of America, the most powerful republic which has existed in history, were for the most part deeply religious men, who derived their love for religious and political freedom largely on the religious and philosophical traditions found in the English and American Enlightenment. Although more liberal luminaries such as Thomas Jefferson felt a deep friendship with the French, and initially believed the French Revolution would have the same happy ending which ours had, even Jefferson eventually admitted the French anti-Christian approach was deeply flawed. Americans took the mistakes of the Europeans to heart and for 200 years firmly rejected the anti-Christian mania which has flooded Europe. In the process the United States largely avoided the Nazis, the Marxists, the antisemitic pogroms, and the Fascists. We overcame slavery and attacked racism. Meanwhile the nation of “ignorant religious bumpkins” became the leading scientific and industrial center of the world.

Unfortunately, all good things must end, and the same cultural rot which began in France during their version of the Enlightenment is spreading among our intelligentsia. Anti-Christian hatred and bigotry are being promoted in our universities and by the idol rich. Marxism, which has already spread so much misery around the world, has united with Islamism to bring about the destruction of our liberal democracy and its replacement with a totalitarianism dictatorship. Dictators such as Chavez in Venezuela wave books written by rich, pampered anti-American men such as Chomsky to justify their hatred of our country, our democracy and our freedom. In the meantime, according to some reports, Chavez, the darling of the left, is setting up camps to teach the Islamists Spanish so they can infiltrate our immigrant population and kill as many Americans as possible.

It is in the broken remains of Europe, which has been so badly damaged by the anti-Christian secularists, where the Eurabian project is so far advanced, that the Pope has courageously stood up and asked for a dialogue about faith and reason. That there are fatwas for his death, that his predecessor was shot by a religious man, have apparently shaken him but have not silenced him. The founders of the Eurabian used their laws to attempt to silence the Pope’s brave friend, Oriana Fallaci, but she found refuge in America. They undoubtedly will try to silence the Pope, but so far no one has been able to silence him. Although Oriana Fallaci was an atheist, she understood the importance of Christianity as the foundation of the Judeo-Christian culture which has supported our freedoms, and she made alliance with people of faith and supported the Pope in his call for a restoration of Western Civilization. It is up to each of us, those of us who love freedom, to join in the discussion as if our lives depend upon it, they do.

1. http://www.newyorker.com/critics/atlarge/?050228crat_atlarge
2. http://www.cwnews.com/news/viewstory.cfm?recnum=46474
3. Ibid.
4. Ibid.
5. Ibid.
6. Ibid.
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 02, 2007 10:20 pm    Post subject: My Conclusion Reply with quote

My Conclusion
After looking at these images of Stars and Galaxies in the Adult Universe from NASA I do not see any hierarchy or Absolute Centralized Command and Control System from above or no star War or Galaxies War or unlimited greed except Universe Chaotic Beauty interactions based on law of physics and Mathematics.
The Absolute Centralized Command and Control System from above or one God System is human creation and illusion to satisfy their own utmost unlimited greed to exploit resources of earth without any consideration ....
I love this Universe Chaotic Beauty interactions better than greedy illusion created by some men....

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2007 2:24 pm    Post subject: Iran’s Other Religion With Agnostic Majority Reply with quote

Iran’s Other Religion - Most Iranians under the age of 25—who make up 50 percent of the overall population—consider themselves agnostic.


Jehangir Pocha

In Search of Zarathustra
Paul Kriwaczek
Alfred A. Knopf, $25 (cloth)

8A distinct staccato sound of chiseling echoes down a narrow alley in the southern Iranian city of Shiraz. Seated around a mass of black stone, a group of young Muslim men are shaping a Farohar—a winged angel from another time, and faith, than their own. “The Farohar is from our past . . . it is a symbol of our greatness,” one of the men says haltingly when I ask him for an explanation. He is referring to one of the most secretive and ineffable aspects of modern Iran, or Persia as it was called until 1936.

Despite the tendency to see Iran as an Islamic monolith and the attempts of the ruling clerics in Tehran to cast it as such, the full complexity of Iranian identity is little understood and almost never discussed—even by Iranians themselves. Long before it was absorbed into the Islamic empire by Arab armies under Caliphs Umar and Uthman in the mid-seventh century, Persia had been the birthplace of Zarathustianism, or Zoroastrianism, the world’s first monotheistic religion.The religion was forged some 3,500 years ago around the philosopher-prophet Zarathustra’s teachings, which emphasized personal morality and a conscious choice between good and evil. From a vision he had while wandering the hills of Iran, Zarathustra Spitama preached that there was only one universal god of good, whom he called Ahura Mazda. In opposition stood the power of Ahriman, the “un-good”—an ancient forerunner to Satan.

Zarathustra taught that the challenge of life is to develop a “good mind,” (Spenta Manyu), reject the “un-good mind” (Angre Manyu), and embrace a life of good thought, good words and good deeds (Humata, Hukta, Havarsta), which locates the individual’s ethical choices at the center of spirituality.

Listen to the best things with your ears
Reflect upon them with clear thought.
And choose between the two ways of thinking.
At the world’s end
He, of holier spirit, that chooses the Right . . .
And shall inherit the Best existence.
He that follows the Lie and chooses the worst
Shall inherit the worst existence . . .
If you choose wrongly and rush to violence
You enfeeble the world of men.
If the right choice is made
Then, in the hereafter, all shall be well.
[Free translation from the Gathas, or Songs of Zarathustra, section 3:2]
In his comparative study of world religions, Max Weber claimed that the Zoroastrian dualism of good and evil represents one of three coherent solutions to the problem of evil, the others being the Indian doctrine of karma and the Calvinist idea of predestination. And theologians generally agree that Zarathusti notions of monotheism, heaven and hell, and the messiah and the apocalypse spread quickly and profoundly influenced Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

When Paul Kriwaczek writes in his new book In Search of Zarathustra that in Iran, “in spite of everything, Zarathustra still lives,” he is not simply referring to the 60,000-odd surviving Zarathustis in Iran, who have nurtured the religion through 13 centuries of Islamic persecution. (There are also about 60,000 Zarathusti Parsees in India and about 35,000 Zarathustis worldwide, of which about 25,000 are in North America, including the conductor Zubin Mehta and the novelist Rohinton Mistry.) Kriwaczek is interested in something less visible. Part history, part travelogue, the book is an exploration of an ancient religion and its persistent influence in the modern world. With a remarkable blend of intellectual insight and respect for both faiths, Kriwaczek examines how the Zarathusti Persian ethos was transmuted into Islamic Iranian life.

* * *

When the Arabs conquered Zarathusti Persia in 641 C.E., it had been one of the world’s military and cultural superpowers for more than a millennium. Playing off Herodotus’s colorful accounts of Persian history, Kriwaczek tells how in 559 B.C.E. a shepherd named Cyrus united the Persian tribes to overthrow Babylon and establish the Persian Empire, the largest the world had known until that time. It stretched from the Indus in India to the Nile in Egypt. But Cyrus’s empire entered into the historical realm as much for its new, humanistic conception of the world as for its military prowess.

From Cyrus the Great’s tranquil tomb in his now abandoned capital at Pasargad and the magnificent ruins of Persepolis, Kriwaczek narrates how Cyrus’s coming had been foretold by the Jewish priests who saw him as a messianic figure. In the Old Testament the Jewish prophets called Cyrus “God’s chosen . . . the Anointed One,” the one who would free the people from slavery.

The young shepherd kept that promise. After defeating the Babylonians, Cyrus freed the Jews they had enslaved and rebuilt the first temple in Judah. He proclaimed his subjects free to worship their own gods and ruled his lands with a secular and liberal code, perhaps the world’s first universal declaration of human rights. A replica of the cylinder on which this was inscribed is kept at the headquarters of the United Nations in New York.

Cyrus’s Achaemenian dynasty (550–330 B.C.E.) also allowed local kings and nobles to govern their original realms, albeit under Persian suzerainty. All this was unprecedented; centuries later Hegel would proclaim Cyrus’s realm “the world’s first real empire . . . where one race encompasses many peoples but these people preserve their individuality in the light of the unifying rule.” (Americans might be surprised to learn that the seven-pointed halo which guilds the Statue of Liberty is linked to Mithra, a Zarathusti archangel of good governance.)

When the dynasty finally succumbed, most Zarathusti Persians converted to Islam. A few went underground, and some, including my ancestors, fled to India, where they maintained their original faith against overwhelming odds. (The community came to be known as the Parsees, or ones from Pars, the Persian name for the fabled capital Persepolis.)

The broad swath of modern history generally sees the collapse of the Persian Empire as the classical demise of one civilization at the hands of another, more powerful aggressor. Yet, as Kriwaczek suggests, a more nuanced reading of history and the reality of modern Iran reveals something else—something that my friend the sculptor was acting out as he crafted a Zarathusti Farohar in that narrow alley. “In our hearts we are still Zarathusti,” a number of Iranians quietly said to me as I traveled through the ancient cities and historical sites Kriwaczek describes in his book.

Iranians’ obvious and immutable connection to their past sits uneasily with the orthodox Islamists who rule them. “The absolutist nature of political Islam has always found it unacceptable to accede that even a trace of Zarathustianism remains in Iran,” an academic in Shiraz said to me. Like all others with whom I spoke, he requested anonymity.

Kriwaczek speculates on how Zoroastrianism survived thirteen centuries: “New converts don’t just give up their former spiritual and ethical world-view; they usually bring them along, transferring the old wine into the new bottle.” The Persians accepted the simple purity of Islam as their new faith but nevertheless found ways to preserve their heritage. “Just as in Europe the Holy Roman Empire—‘neither holy, nor Roman, nor or an empire,’ as Voltaire said—was actually a way for baptized German warlords to repackage their pagan traditions in Christian wrapping, so Iranian Islam came to incorporate Iranian national consciousness, Iranian national pride and, yes, Iranian Zoroastrian beliefs.”

Kriwaczek illustrates this point with examples drawn from Persian architecture and poetry. To show, for example, how Persian arts, culture, and science quickly infused Iranian Islam, he compares two pairs of religious buildings—the first and earlier pair a staid and pious structure (Orthodox Islam holds that it is a sin to depict any living thing), the second a structure of perfect geometry resplendent with animal and bird carvings. Kriwaczek also shows that Iranian literary traditions, as personified first by the 12th-century poet Ferdowsi—author of the Shah-nameh, or Book of Kings, the national epic of Iran—and later by the mystic poets Hafez, Sa’adi, and Rumi, are unabashedly pre-Islamic, both in treatment and content. In Shah-nameh Ferdowsi writes that

Zardosht (Zarathustra), the prophet of the Most High, appeared in the land . . .
And showed the people a new faith . . .
He reared throughout the realm a tree with beautiful foliage.
Men rested beneath its branches . . .
(and) became perfect in wisdom and faith.
Islamists still struggle to understand how a good Muslim like Ferdowsi could say that another prophet than Muhammad could make men “perfect” in faith.

The poems of the mystics were so influential that they helped to initiate an entirely new branch of Islam, Sufism, which added to the earlier split between Iranians and Arabs into Shi‘ite and Sunni Islam. Expectedly, many Sunnis saw Sufism as heresy and to this day it remains banned in Saudi Arabia.

* * *

Unfortunately, while Kriwaczek artfully reveals the Zarathustian hinges of Iranian culture, his lack of concrete evidence is a major shortcoming. He also fails to mention the growing interest of many Iranians in their ancient past and faith and the possible repercussions for the country.

Modern Iran has consistently wobbled between the dual and sometimes conflicting pillars that define it: Islam, and what is now euphemistically called Iran’s “pre-Islamic heritage.” As Iran struggles to emerge from the oppressive failures of its Islamic revolution, it has grown increasingly conscious of its roots.

Despite Iran’s reputation as the harbinger of Islamic revolution, the simple fact is that Iranians never wanted an Islamic state in the way Ayatollahs Ruhollah Khomeini and Ali Khamenei have forged it. Many Iranians welcomed the re-emergence of religion in Iran after the Shah’s relentless modernism, but few wanted or expected the clerics to grab control over people’s daily lives and government.

While in most Sunni Arab countries matters of religion and state have always been inextricable, Iran’s Shi‘ite society sought to separate them. Shi‘ite clerics traditionally belonged to three schools of political thought—“loyalists” who believed in cooperation with the state, “opposers” who exercised moral suasion on the political process from the outside, and “quietists” who advocated outright withdrawal from politics. Before Khomeini, the latter were the largest group.

Khomeini introduced a radically new principle into Shi‘ite Islam: velayat-e faqih (or direct rule by the most senior cleric, i.e., himself). This novel doctrine progressively alienated Iranians and created deep divisions within the clergy, as in the current rift between the hard-line clerics led by Iran’s current Supreme Leader Khamenei (the new beneficiary of velayat-e faqih) and the reformers led by President Hojjatoleslam (the rank just below Ayatollah) Mohammad Khatami.

It is this Shi‘ite tradition of interpretive Islam and political freedom that is causing Iranians to chafe under Khamenei’s velayat-e faqih and giving rise to political changes that could produce the first and most sustainable democracy in the Middle East.

“A loss of faith with the mullahs [in government] has led to a loss of faith in the religion,” says Azar Bharami, a lawyer and women’s rights activist in Tehran. “When the government does not respect the [line] between religion and state how can people?” Numerous surveys, including one by the magazine Asr-e Ma (“Our Era”), have shown that most Iranians under the age of 25—who make up 50 percent of the overall population—consider themselves agnostic. Many young Iranians are cynical, even derisive, about their religion. Epithets like “mad mullahs” and “this thing Islam” are not uncommon.

At a time when many Iranians feel violated by the religious and political extremism inflicted upon them, but remain powerless to act against it, romantic allusions to ancient Persia offer hope. Evidence of popular fascination with Iran’s Persian heritage is everywhere. Stone carvings, paintings, and pictures of Persepolis adorn the walls of many homes, office buildings, and restaurants. In dusty bus stations across Iran’s desert towns, transport companies have painted Farohars on the sides of their sandblasted buses. Savvy marketers have also begun to tap into the trend. The newest model of the locally made Peugeot sedan in Iran has been branded Pars (Persepolis) and consumer products with names like Parsian line the shelves of Iran’s tiny street stores.

“Iranians are trying to discover who they really are,” Bharami said. “They feel shamed by their government and let down by their religion . . . they want something to believe in.” What remains mostly unsaid—not least because saying it could invite a death sentence—is that the increasing interest in Iran’s pre-Islamic past is also fueling an interest in its ancient Zarathusti religion.

“If we were allowed to convert religions, millions would convert [back] to Zarathusti,” a middle-aged Muslim man in Tehran told me. “I challenge the government to allow conversion out of Islam for even one day.”

But he is unlikely to see that day. While Islam is aggressive in proselytizing itself, it bans, by punishment of death, the conversion of Muslims into other faiths. Making matters more complex for those Iranians looking to return to their “original faith” is that the faith itself does not seem to want them. “There can be no conversion into our religion,” says Sohrab Yazdani, a leading member of the Zarathusti community in the city of Yazd, home to most of Iran’s surviving Zarathustis and their religion’s sacred sites.

Having lived as a persecuted minority for more than 1,300 years, Iran’s Zarathustis have formed a tightly knit and closed community. Few want to risk incurring the Iranian government’s wrath at a time when President Khatami has eased many of the serious discriminations their community has endured for centuries. Complicating the theological landscape is the notion that being Zarathusti, like being Jewish, is a matter of birth, not conversion. Any challenge to this closed community of faith is fiercely rejected by most Zarathustis in both Iran and India. The one movement to convert Iranians and others into Zoroastrianism, started by an Iranian named Ali Jaffery, has run afoul of both the Islamic authorities in Iran and the mainstream Zarathusti community.

Caught between their current religion, which won’t let them out, and their desired religion, which won’t let them in, some Iranians are believed to practice Zoroastrianism in secret. But if some take this risk, virtually none are willing to talk about it. However, there is growing evidence that at least one disenfranchised group in the region has indeed been turning towards Zoroastrianism—the Kurds.

Kurdish religious practices bear close resemblance in ritual style to the Zarathusti faith. The original religion of the Kurds was Yezidism, a religion greatly influenced by Zoroastrianism, and many Kurds were also Zoroastrian until the Islamic conversions that began in the seventh century. Today, about 25 percent of Kurds still practice Yezidism, which is centered around the town of Lalish in northern Iraq.

According to Dr. Pir Mamou Othman, an expert on Kurdish religious practices, “the Yezidis pray in a way which resembles the prayer-rituals of the Zoroastrians, something especially noticeable in the morning-prayer where the face is turned towards the sun. Their cycle of five prayers also stems from Zoroastrianism, and not from Islam, as is often stated.” Though 70 percent of Kurds are nominally Islamic (the remaining 5 percent are Jewish and Christian), they hold their Islam lightly, practicing a syncretic articulation of the faith that reflects their pre-Islamic past.

There are reports, mostly unconfirmed, that in the face of persecution from both Shias and Sunnis and their growing political independence, some Kurdish tribes have begun to embrace Zoroastrianism. In a rare interview on the subject, Mahir Welat—representative of the National Liberation Front of Kurdistan (ERNK) and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) to the Russian Federation—said that “For a time the Kurds forgot about their Zoroastrianism roots but now it is our intention to return and to educate ourselves.”

It is not completely coincidental that it took a person in Welat’s position to make these comments. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, many people in southern Russia and the newly independent Central Asian republics of Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Azerbaijan, historically part of the Persian Empire, have openly embraced Zoroastrianism.

As these republics struggle to reimagine themselves as sovereign states, they are drawn to their ancient ethnic roots. Leaders of the republics, especially President Imomali Rahmonov of Tajikistan, support the resurgent interest in Zoroastrianism, which they hope might counter the radical Islam that the Saudis and others are trying to export into the region.

* * *

Paul Kriwaczek, with his background as a producer of BBC documentaries on South Asia and a longtime resident of the region, is well equipped to illustrate the socio-religious dynamics of this phenomenon, even though he skirts the political dimensions. Despite its flaws, his investigation into the opposite ends of time—the ancient spread of Zarathustian ideas and today’s quiet resurgence of Zoroastrianism in a world wounded by religious excess and conflict—gives the book a vital originality. In Search of Zarathustra is written with the prescient elegance of a curious traveler and in the hope that ideas that once changed the world may do so again.<

Jehangir Pocha is a foreign correspondent for In These Times and is currently based in Beijing, China. His articles have also been published in the Boston Globe, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Chicago Tribune, and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 16, 2007 10:21 pm    Post subject: Judge OKs $660M clergy abuse settlement Reply with quote

Judge OKs $660M clergy abuse settlement
By GILLIAN FLACCUS, Associated Press Writer


LOS ANGELES - Sobs and a moment of silence for those who died during years of negotiations punctuated a Monday hearing at which a judge accepted a $660 million settlement between the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles and alleged victims of clergy sex abuse.

"This is the right result," said Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Haley Fromholz.

The settlement is by far the largest payout by any diocese since the clergy abuse scandal emerged in Boston in 2002. Individual payouts, to be made by Dec. 1, will vary according to the severity of each case.
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2007 5:22 pm    Post subject: Diocese settles abuse claims for $198M Reply with quote

Associated Press Writer wrote:

Diocese settles abuse claims for $198M
By ALLISON HOFFMAN, Associated Press Writer

SAN DIEGO - The Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego said Friday it has agreed to pay $198.1 million to settle 144 claims of sexual abuse by clergy, the second-largest payment since the U.S. abuse scandal erupted in 2002.
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 21, 2008 9:39 pm    Post subject: Poem Reply with quote

Amil Imani Email Post wrote:

اگر اعدام و تیرباران ره دین است
اگر کشتار مردم در قوانین است
اگر دین مبین تازیان این است
چه بابک شاد و خرسند است که بی دین است

اگر سینه زنی فرمان این دین است
قمه بر سر زدن نامش اگر دین است
عزاداری اگر کیش است و آئین است
چه بابک شاد و خرسند است که بی دین است

اگر اهریمن دین بر سر زین است
اگر عدل علی شمشیر خونین است
اگر آزاده بودن پاسخش این است
چه بابک شاد و خرسند است که بی دین است

اگر دین سوره های جنگ خونین است
همه جا آیه های آتش کین است
اگر صلح و صفا محکوم تمکین است
چه بابک شاد و خرسند است که بی دین است

اگر زن برده بی مایه دین است
اگر دین چادر چرکین و ننگین است
اگر زن در حجاب تار و غمگین است
چه بابک شاد و خرسند است که بی دین است

اگر دین آرزوی مرگ نسرین است
اگر پایان عشق ویس و رامین است
اگر دین دشمن فرهاد و شیرین است
چه بابک شاد و خرسند است که بی دین است

اگر زاهد به منبر والی دین است
ولی پائین منبر حیله آئین است
اگر زاهد ستمکار و سیه بین است
چه بابک شاد و خرسند است که بی دین است

اگر بابک خرد را مهر و آئین است
خردمندی اگر دشمن به هر دین است
اگر کافر خردمند است و بی دین است
چه بابک شاد و خرسند است که بی دین است

بابک اسحاقی
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 22, 2008 9:02 pm    Post subject: Catholic Church Reply with quote


I don't understand how this post advances your cause. Condemning the Catholic church doesn't advance the Zoroastrian cause.

The Catholic church is a very big organization, so some bad apples are to be expected. If anything, it appears that the mistake the Catholic church made was to be too lenient on its homosexual priests. If they had been more strict on them, everyone would be yelling about how they were violating the priests' civil rights. Clearly the folks at the top didn't understand what was going on at the local level.

Perhaps I will change my opinion in the future, but for now I see the Catholic church as one of the main pillars supporting Western Civilization. If Western Civilization goes, what hope do you have for Iran?
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 23, 2008 9:45 pm    Post subject: Re: Catholic Church Reply with quote

American Visitor wrote:

I don't understand how this post advances your cause. Condemning the Catholic church doesn't advance the Zoroastrian cause.

The Catholic church is a very big organization, so some bad apples are to be expected. If anything, it appears that the mistake the Catholic church made was to be too lenient on its homosexual priests. If they had been more strict on them, everyone would be yelling about how they were violating the priests' civil rights. Clearly the folks at the top didn't understand what was going on at the local level.

Perhaps I will change my opinion in the future, but for now I see the Catholic church as one of the main pillars supporting Western Civilization. If Western Civilization goes, what hope do you have for Iran?

Dear American Visitor,
Posting a News from the major News Media is not equal to condemning or discrediting all Catholic priests …
We are responsible to educate public and share information and let people to research and .....

I am Agnostic who admire and love Mother Teresa with great deeds and reject those with bad deeds :

Mother Teresa of Calcutta


Increasing public awareness with truth makes "Western Civilization" stronger and not weaker.

Currently our main focus is rejecting Islamists bad deeds as below :

Islamist Deed 101 Today

The New York Times wrote:
Suicide Car Blast Kills 41 in Afghan Capital

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/08/world/asia/08afghanistan.html?em&ex=1215576000&en=4d155457026833e4&ei=5087%0A

Islamist Deed 1400 Years Ago
democracyfrontline.org wrote:

Execution of Al-Nadr bin al-Harith (miniature from Siyer-i Nebi, a Turkish religious biography of Mohammed completed in 1388)

Source: http://democracyfrontline.org/blog/?p=369

Muhammad's true, vengeful character was unveiled on the next day after the victorious battle of Badr, when he and his companions stopped at Saffra to distribute the captives among themselves.

There, among the captives Muhammad recognized a Meccan poet, Nadr bin al-Harith who composed verses that were far better than those crafted by Muhammad in his Quran during his Meccan period of revelations.

Additionally, Nadr bin al-Hareth dared to humiliate Muhammad pointing out that his revelations were not new at all (he quoted similar ancient stories).

Muhammad did not forget and did not forgive.

He ordered that Nadr bin al-Harith was to be executed. The execution was carried out by faithful Ali who promptly beheaded Nadr with his sword in front of Muhammad.

We are the citizens of the United States of America who represent over 16% of the American people (over 45 millions) who strongly adhere to the following beliefs:

1) We believe in the concept of complete secularism in government, which generally means complete separation of the State from religion, or any ideology or philosophy which can be interpreted as religious (e. g. Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islamism, Judaism, etc., or extreme ideologies such as Fascism or Communism).

2) Democracy without secularism and secular parties cannot survive and continue a tradition of freedom of choice when a non-secular regime comes to power, as demonstrated by the Nazi party in Germany, the Khomeinist regime in Iran, and more recently by the Hamas Party in Palestine. This principle has been proven historically many times and in many countries.

3) When there is religious intervention in the affairs of the public and the State, then it become necessary to criticize that religion, exposing the truth about that religion, its precepts, and its religious figures. It is considered an integral component of our unconditional freedom of expression, to fight back against religious intervention in government.

We should try to find an answer to the following question: How could the American founding fathers have achieved so much in such a short period of time, while current generations seemingly cannot achieve nearly as much, although endowed with far superior technological power and knowledge?

To safeguard our freedoms, we always remember James Madison’s famous statement: "If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself . A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.” The Federalist No. 51 (James Madison).

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 25, 2008 11:16 am    Post subject: Why No Tax on Religion? Reply with quote


Questions Without Answer From Both Major Parties & Major News Media For Decision 2008 Election:
1) Why No Tax on Religion?
2) Why 1,209 Mosques in the USA in 2001 Sky-Rocketed to As Many As 6,000 Mosques in 2008?

Amil Imani wrote:

Will the Islamobile reach Main Street?
Friday, 08 August 2008
Source: http://www.amilimani.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=114&Itemid=2

Operating this vast network of Islamism requires significant financing. Saudi Arabia has spent over $80 billion for these operations since 1970. The other Persian Gulf States, with their treasuries flush with oil money, have done and continue to do their share of financing.

According to a National Portrait, a survey released in April 2001, there were at least 1,209 mosques in the US. According to the latest report, this number has sky-rocketed to as many as 6,000 mosques in 2008.

Time Magazine wrote:
No Tax on Religion
Monday, May. 18, 1970 Print

Source: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,909200,00.html

Facebook Yahoo! Buzz Mixx Permalink Reprints Related The value of U.S. church and synagogue property has grown to an estimated $102 billion—all of it tax exempt. New York City alone forgives $36 million a year in potential taxes on church property. Though such exemptions are as old as the republic, even some churchmen have lately questioned the practice. Critics view it as an indirect subsidy that hikes taxes for other property owners and violates the First Amendment because it amounts to state support of religion.

The Supreme Court has consistently rebuffed attempts to raise the issue including an appeal brought by Atheist Madalyn Murray O'Hair in 1966. But last week the court finally spoke. And by a resounding vote of 7 to 1, it upheld tax exemption for churches.

ACLU wants religious tax break thrown out
BAPTIST TEMPLE: State law exempting six homes from property tax is questioned.


Published: February 29th, 2008 12:27 AM
Last Modified: February 29th, 2008 05:45 AM
Source: http://www.adn.com/news/government/story/330189.html

The Alaska Civil Liberties Union argued Thursday in court that it was unconstitutional for the state Legislature to block the city from taxing homes owned by the Anchorage Baptist Temple.

Churches extend religious tax exemptions to additional properties
BY SALLY KESTIN AND JOHN MAINES | South Florida Sun-Sentinel
July 27, 2008

1 2 next It's a remarkable home, even in an upscale Coral Springs neighborhood: 12,000 square feet, manicured grounds, a guest house, five-car garage and a pair of lion statues gracing the entrance.

It's also tax-free.

Owned by the Church of Bible Understanding in Philadelphia, the home and adjacent lot, valued at more than $3.2 million, are exempt from taxes on religious grounds.

Church representatives say they use the property to house missionaries working in Haiti and as a home for the church founder. The Broward County property appraiser granted the exemption in 2006, saving the church about $64,000 a year in taxes.

In Broward, the value of properties considered tax-exempt for religious purposes totaled $1.8 billion in 2007, the last year for which complete data is available. While most were traditional churches and temples, the tax-free properties also included vacant land, parking lots and multimillion-dollar homes with golf course and water views, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel found.

evilnewbie wrote:

Should Religion be Tax-Exempt?

Source: http://www.city-data.com/forum/politics-other-controversies/228995-should-religion-tax-exempt.html

Religion today is more of a business than anything else. Having them tax-exempt lets them build gigantic castles and their successful priests driving jaguars. Should we retain this tax-exempt status? It clearly is not the religion of old, more money is spent for lavish and expensive things than anything. New religions like scientology is a basically a tax shelter used by wealthy celebrities and athletes... Can I start my own religion and protect all my assets? I don't believe religions need or deserve tax exemption..
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American Visitor

Joined: 19 Feb 2004
Posts: 224

PostPosted: Sat Oct 25, 2008 11:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cyrus said:

We are the citizens of the United States of America who represent over 16% of the American people (over 45 millions) who strongly adhere to the following beliefs:

1) We believe in the concept of complete secularism in government, which generally means complete separation of the State from religion, or any ideology or philosophy which can be interpreted as religious (e. g. Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islamism, Judaism, etc., or extreme ideologies such as Fascism or Communism).

2) Democracy without secularism and secular parties cannot survive and continue a tradition of freedom of choice when a non-secular regime comes to power, as demonstrated by the Nazi party in Germany, the Khomeinist regime in Iran, and more recently by the Hamas Party in Palestine. This principle has been proven historically many times and in many countries.

3) When there is religious intervention in the affairs of the public and the State, then it become necessary to criticize that religion, exposing the truth about that religion, its precepts, and its religious figures. It is considered an integral component of our unconditional freedom of expression, to fight back against religious intervention in government.

We should try to find an answer to the following question: How could the American founding fathers have achieved so much in such a short period of time, while current generations seemingly cannot achieve nearly as much, although endowed with far superior technological power and knowledge?

There are a number of good points here.

I believe I can answer the final question first. The American founding fathers were devout Christians. The United States Constitution was an expression of their Christian faith. Many Christians believe that Jesus was a secularist, since he did not leave any instructions how to establish a Christian government. Our forefathers came immediately after a terrible struggle by the Protestant Christians to break the hegemony of the Roman Catholic church. The American constitution was an expression of their personal religious experiences.

Your post also demonstrates the deep flaws in modern secularism.

1. In the list of "isms" which must be banned from the public arena are Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, and Judaism which the secularists have place on the same footing as Islamism, Fascism or Communism. This moral equivalency is dangerous. Any society which can not distinguish between these widely different belief systems is doomed.

2. Interestingly, the list of "isms" has omitted atheism and agnosticism. Hmm, I wonder why? From this list, it appears that modern secularism is a grab for power by atheists and agnostics. For one group to tell other people that their belief systems must be banned while their own belief system must prevail is not democracy, it is simply another form of totalitarianism in different drag.

3. Perhaps, secularism has itself become an ideology which should be added to the list of publically banned "isms." A society which guarantees freedom of religion is much different from a society which bans the public expression of religion (even in politics). The problem with Islamism, Communism, and Nazism is that they do not support freedom of religion. It appears that perhaps secularists have joined this group of unworthies. On the other hand some of your banned "isms" such as modern Christianity, Judaism, and many within Hinduism strongly support the principle of religious freedom. None of those belief systems threaten our democracy.

I read somewhere that a democracy is similar to a car left with the motor running and the door unlocked. It can be hijacked by any group which can claim ownership. It is impossible to live in a value neutral society. Someone's values will prevail. Someone will drive away with that car. The question is, whose values would we like to live with. I personally would rather live in a society dominated by a group who support religious freedom.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 27, 2008 11:16 pm    Post subject: USA Constitution & Cyrus The Great Reply with quote

American Visitor wrote:
Cyrus said:

We are the citizens of the United States of America who represent over 16% of the American people (over 45 millions) who strongly adhere to the following beliefs:

1) We believe in the concept of complete secularism in government, which generally means complete separation of the State from religion, or any ideology or philosophy which can be interpreted as religious (e. g. Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islamism, Judaism, etc., or extreme ideologies such as Fascism or Communism).

2) Democracy without secularism and secular parties cannot survive and continue a tradition of freedom of choice when a non-secular regime comes to power, as demonstrated by the Nazi party in Germany, the Khomeinist regime in Iran, and more recently by the Hamas Party in Palestine. This principle has been proven historically many times and in many countries.

3) When there is religious intervention in the affairs of the public and the State, then it become necessary to criticize that religion, exposing the truth about that religion, its precepts, and its religious figures. It is considered an integral component of our unconditional freedom of expression, to fight back against religious intervention in government.

We should try to find an answer to the following question: How could the American founding fathers have achieved so much in such a short period of time, while current generations seemingly cannot achieve nearly as much, although endowed with far superior technological power and knowledge?

There are a number of good points here.

I believe I can answer the final question first. The American founding fathers were devout Christians. The United States Constitution was an expression of their Christian faith. Many Christians believe that Jesus was a secularist, since he did not leave any instructions how to establish a Christian government. Our forefathers came immediately after a terrible struggle by the Protestant Christians to break the hegemony of the Roman Catholic church. The American constitution was an expression of their personal religious experiences.

Your post also demonstrates the deep flaws in modern secularism.

1. In the list of "isms" which must be banned from the public arena are Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, and Judaism which the secularists have place on the same footing as Islamism, Fascism or Communism. This moral equivalency is dangerous. Any society which can not distinguish between these widely different belief systems is doomed.

2. Interestingly, the list of "isms" has omitted atheism and agnosticism. Hmm, I wonder why? From this list, it appears that modern secularism is a grab for power by atheists and agnostics. For one group to tell other people that their belief systems must be banned while their own belief system must prevail is not democracy, it is simply another form of totalitarianism in different drag.

3. Perhaps, secularism has itself become an ideology which should be added to the list of publically banned "isms." A society which guarantees freedom of religion is much different from a society which bans the public expression of religion (even in politics). The problem with Islamism, Communism, and Nazism is that they do not support freedom of religion. It appears that perhaps secularists have joined this group of unworthies. On the other hand some of your banned "isms" such as modern Christianity, Judaism, and many within Hinduism strongly support the principle of religious freedom. None of those belief systems threaten our democracy.

I read somewhere that a democracy is similar to a car left with the motor running and the door unlocked. It can be hijacked by any group which can claim ownership. It is impossible to live in a value neutral society. Someone's values will prevail. Someone will drive away with that car. The question is, whose values would we like to live with. I personally would rather live in a society dominated by a group who support religious freedom.

1) Secularism and Secular Democracy are not ideology or religion.
2) Secularism and Secular Democracy is the only concept that guarantees religious freedom.
3) Great majority of American Christians are Secular and prefer religion as a private choice.
4) Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islamism, Judaism, etc., or extreme ideologies such as Fascism or Communism are not the same ….
5) Modern secularism is not a grab for power by atheists and agnostics. Majority of secularists in USA believe in different religions …..
6) The United States Constitution was an expression of enlightened men and women …. Who were very familiar with Christian faith .... Please watch the following video by Cyrus Kar regarding USA Constitution …
Please Watch Documentry Video: Cyrus King of Persia 2 and USA Constitution ...

Dr. David Neiman wrote:

Please Watch Video Dr. David Neiman: Cyrus The Great 1.3

Source: http://www.godtube.com/view_video.php?viewkey=d9cae91f1ffcf4aa8b05

In this third excerpt from Dr. David Neiman's lecture series, The Church and The Jews, Dr. Neiman discusses the Jewish community living under Persian Emperor Cyrus The Great. And the rebuilding of th... more >>

In this third excerpt from Dr. David Neiman's lecture series, The Church and The Jews, Dr. Neiman discusses the Jewish community living under Persian Emperor Cyrus The Great. And the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem.

Dr. David Neiman wrote:

Dr. David Neiman: The Jews in Ancient Persia 1.4

In this fourth excerpt from Dr. David Neiman's lecture series, The Church and The Jews, Dr. Neiman delves into the vast empire controlled by Persia, and the Jewish diaspora community that thrived in t...

In this fourth excerpt from Dr. David Neiman's lecture series, The Church and The Jews, Dr. Neiman delves into the vast empire controlled by Persia, and the Jewish diaspora community that thrived in that region for centuries.

There are other points in your post that will answer you when I find a chance.
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