Dr. Jeffrey Long’s, God and the Afterlife, Science & Spirituality Have Collided |327|

Perhaps this thread can return to Dr. Long?
It's hard for me to do this as I've said most of what I wanted to say. However, maybe I could add that a lot of us seem to lie between the extremes of "scepticism" and uncritical acceptance. Whilst we accept the reality of NDEs and lean towards their spiritual significance, we aren't totally gullible. There's a lot of scope for discussion in the ground between.
 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

It's hard for me to do this as I've said most of what I wanted to say. However, maybe I could add that a lot of us seem to lie between the extremes of "scepticism" and uncritical acceptance. Whilst we accept the reality of NDEs and lean towards their spiritual significance, we aren't totally gullible. There's a lot of scope for discussion in the ground between.
Good case for reintroducing the division between the forums.
 
That's perfectly fair enough, Lincoln. I'd just reiterate the point that SD chose to take his leave -- things can get rough around here at times. Keep an eye on Arouet's posts: he's a bit like SD except that he has a thicker skin (he needs it because he regularly attracts criticism!), but he's not foul-mouthed. If you like insightful responses from which you can learn, I'd read the responses to his posts. I have him on ignore and only occasionally view his posts, so you might not see much from me, but you'll see responses from others.

Also, keep an eye on the differences between proponents: these are not insignificant, and you can learn a lot from those, too. This isn't an echo chamber!
Thanks Michael. I did say in my post that Small Dog did choose to leave himself, I understand that. And of course I understand that the members here are not a hive mind. There are vast differences I can see from my short time lurking and now being a member. I just think Small Dogs opposition lead to some great posts from other members here, on other threads as well. As you said there are other members here that will stir the pot as well, so it's all good.

I will stop talking about this now, so the thread can resume with the original topic. Thanks everyone for being understanding.
 
I think the thread has kind of deflated. Even if people thought Small Dog was making arbitrary points, it still was discussion. I personally did not want to seem him go, I do think he was open to contradictory evidence. He just had a hard time objectively looking at the evidence because of his medical training. Personally I don't like the comments questioning his credentials either. I understand people thought he had a self righteous attitude, but look he is on this forum. How many skeptics do you know that would come on here and debate the evidence? You think someone like Shermer or Krauss are even going to peek out from their dog house? I just don't understand what kind of discussion we will have now if the thread only consists of proponents.
Well I think you will find that proponents hold a wide spread of views. The fact (IMHO) that there is something wrong with the materialist way of looking at reality, doesn't mean that 'we' have a consistent alternative.

Actually, I think that the belligerence of SD and one or two similar people stems from the fact that they know the totally materialistic explanation of reality is wrong, but they don't like to let it go. That means that they aren't really curious, they just see evidence such as NDE's as something to be circumvented and then hopefully forgotten!

David
 
Well I think you will find that proponents hold a wide spread of views. The fact (IMHO) that there is something wrong with the materialist way of looking at reality, doesn't mean that 'we' have a consistent alternative.
David I referred to that in my post.

I understand that the members here are not a hive mind. There are vast differences I can see from my short time lurking and now being a member.
Actually, I think that the belligerence of SD and one or two similar people stems from the fact that they know the totally materialistic explanation of reality is wrong, but they don't like to let it go. That means that they aren't really curious, they just see evidence such as NDE's as something to be circumvented and then hopefully forgotten!
Agree with this. I feel like I keep clearing up points, that I have already said in my previous posts.

Also I don't think Small Dog ever said he was a materialist.

I am moving on now though.
 
Also I don't think Small Dog ever said he was a materialist.
I'm not aware of Small Dog's metaphysical beliefs, but most internet skeptics are soft materialists. That is to say they are either unaware of or won't take on board the implications of philosophical materialism. They see it simply as a war between science and religion. When you expose them to the stated beliefs of someone like Richard Dawkins, they usually deny he ever said those things or they adopt lip service materialism, arguing the conclusions are unavoidable but living as though none of them applied in reality. Most people on this forum are looking for a philosophical model that reflects life as it is lived, one in which qualitative experience and the primacy of mind are accepted as real, not illusions. It becomes tedious to continually debate with people who claim they are biological robots without free will, then argue from an intensely emotional standpoint they deny the existence of.

Lifestyle skeptics operate in a non-reflective bubble which only makes sense from the inside, and bursts on first contact with any serious contemplation with self, which is why so many of them are antipathetic to philosophy. Some maintain the stance because material science offers them kudos and self esteem, others tag along because they lay the blame for every human problem on "religion", completely in denial of their own beliefs. Until someone acknowledges their own feelings, desires and motives as more than a biological trick, a serious metaphysical discussion is impossible.
 
Also I don't think Small Dog ever said he was a materialist.
He claimed he wasn't, but he never really went into detail about that.

I mean let's take SD at face value. His job obviously brings him into contact with people who have had NDE's, and I'll bet a few more had them but decided to stay quiet about their experience. All his life he has been trained to look at material causation only, so he could have just dismissed these accounts as some of the weird sh*t (WS) that people talk just after anaesthesia, or when very seriously ill. I guess he knew that wasn't good enough because nothing in medical science tells you exactly what WS you will experience!

That perhaps was why he came here, but what he hadn't realised was that no physical explanation can possibly explain consistencies in the reports of NDE'rs or exactly what it was that they experienced! Thus from his perspective, and talk of the non-material realm seemed way over the top. I think it takes a lot of exposure to the evidence to begin to become that radical.

I am moving on now though.
I hope you mean moving on from this particular discussion - not that you are leaving the forum!

David
 
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It becomes tedious to continually debate with people who claim they are biological robots without free will, then argue from an intensely emotional standpoint they deny the existence of.
I've always thought that a wonderful irony! :)

Love is just chemicals in the brain so the love they feel for their children is, presumably, likewise dismissed.

BTW, I can't help feeling like Sheldon Cooper when I look at the subject of the thread and the constant deviations away from it. We are in Dr. Long's spot! :D
 
Lifestyle skeptics operate in a non-reflective bubble which only makes sense from the inside, and bursts on first contact with any serious contemplation with self, which is why so many of them are antipathetic to philosophy. Some maintain the stance because material science offers them kudos and self esteem, others tag along because they lay the blame for every human problem on "religion", completely in denial of their own beliefs. Until someone acknowledges their own feelings, desires and motives as more than a biological trick, a serious metaphysical discussion is impossible.
That is a serious home run right there. Lawrence Krauss fits that perfectly, I am guessing the other media divas do as well. I scanned his "A Universe from Nothing book", even though I really can't stand his arrogance. I could not see it as anything but subjective. And he was reaching to the point where it was just his "philosophy", something he despises very much. I am no cosmologist by the way, it's just my interpretation.

The one article I could not stand with what you were referring to with religion is this one. Even though I find Harris way more even keel than the others, probably not saying much though.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sam-harris/there-is-no-god-and-you-k_b_8459.html

I am sure others have seen it before, if this is not a straw man I don't know what is. I guess God should be wearing a red cape with a giant G on his chest.

You have a way with words Gabriel.

I mean let's take SD at face value. His job obviously brings him into contact with people who have had NDE's, and I'll bet a few more had them but decided to stay quiet about their experience. All his life he has been trained to look at material causation only, so he could have just dismissed these accounts as some of the weird sh*t (WS) that people talk just after anaesthesia, or when very seriously ill. I guess he knew that wasn't good enough because nothing in medical science tells you exactly what WS you will experience!

That perhaps was why he came here, but what he hadn't realised was that no physical explanation can possibly explain consistencies in the reports of NDE'rs or exactly what it was that they experienced! Thus from his perspective, and talk of the non-material realm seemed way over the top. I think it takes a lot of exposure to the evidence to begin to become that radical.
David I understand what you mean, but I feel very uneasy talking about someone when they cannot defend themselves. That is the reason why I want to drop this one. EDIT: Of course that would only pertain to forum members. I could have no conversation if that meant everyone else on this globe, haha.

I hope you mean moving on from this particular discussion - not that you are leaving the forum!
Of course just the SD talk. But even with him gone, I did get a great post from Gabriel which ties into other skeptics. Now if we could substitute Small Dog with "common skeptic" I am fine with it. Or could we just use Woerlee, he happens to be an anesthesiologist too.;)
 
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David I understand what you mean, but I feel very uneasy talking about someone when they cannot defend themselves. That is the reason why I want to drop this one. EDIT: Of course that would only pertain to forum members. I could have no conversation if that meant everyone else on this globe, haha.
Fine, and that is why I avoid mentioning another poster (whom I ultimately banned) who was a lot more aggressive than SD - whom I quite liked.

I used to be totally materialist once I gave up Christianity in university, and I can see a lot of what drives sceptics here. I mean, if you are just becoming aware of one chink in the standard view of reality - NDE's or ESP, or whatever, you naturally think in terms of a small tweak in reality to fix that - because you think the rest of the picture is solid.

My first suspicions about the standard view of reality came with the Artificial Intelligence hype of the 1980's. This was supposed to be based on at least some sort of understanding of how the brain works - though this was never really spelled out - and nobody exactly spelled out what the relationship might be between AI and consciousness. I got to work on the edge of this mess, and I knew that it was going to end badly long before it happened. Of course, in these situations the academics that hyped the area up, try to cover things up, and those who gave them the grants are happy to fudge things over somehow or other, because they don't want any mud to stick to them!

AI got a second possible shot in the 1990's in the form of Artificial Neural Nets. People pointed out that actual neurons are far more complicated than the models they use in ANN's, but the assumption was that this didn't matter much because it was the connectivity that was all important. ANN's went through another hype spike, but while they did deliver a few limited useful results, they produced nothing even approaching AI.

I don't follow that area much now, and it is extremely difficult to tell at a glance what is hype and what is something real. I think a lot of hype has crept into science in recent years.

This made me aware that academics could give the impression that they knew a lot about consciousness, and not really know anything much at all!


I also realised how easy it is for people to make facile assumptions. For example, if you spend much of every day reversibly removing consciousness from people, or you spend a lot of time trying to help people with disordered thought processes, you may start to think that consciousness isn't such a big deal.

Even after that, I doubt if I would have been comfortable with much that we discuss on Skeptiko - it took years and years for me to reach my present viewpoint!

This means that ideally, I'd rather try to make people like SD understand the problems with the conventional view of reality, but I usually don't succeed :)

David
 
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I don't think that SD was really willing to "understand" anything. There were fundamental differences between his approach and (for example) the one taken by Kai during his last visit. We all know that Kai was skeptical, but he was willing to actually discuss something without the sneering attitude that this guy had, which made for excellent exchanges.
 
I don't think that SD was really willing to "understand" anything. There were fundamental differences between his approach and (for example) the one taken by Kai during his last visit. We all know that Kai was skeptical, but he was willing to actually discuss something without the sneering attitude that this guy had, which made for excellent exchanges.
Kai was a bit different. Perhaps he almost seemed to be role-playing, that is adopting a position from which to view and argue (though I wouldn't want that to sound trivialising or undervalueing). It was not entirely clear to what extent there was attachment to a viewpoint, as compared with trying it on like a piece of clothing to see how it suited.
 
gabriel said:
...but most internet skeptics are soft materialists. That is to say they are either unaware of or won't take on board the implications of philosophical materialism. They see it simply as a war between science and religion.
well put.
Yes, I like it too.
But I propose that there can only be "soft materialism", aka materialism that doesn't fully appreciate its own implications. There is no hard materialism, because it is a self destroying proposition.

Case in point authors like Alex Rosenberg and his "Atheist's Guide to Reality" ... where there's no agency, no intentionality, and ultimately no consciousness... Then there is also no logic, rationality or critical thinking.

Thought explained away by critical thinkers is an imploding paradox :D:eek:
 
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Yes, I like it too.
But I propose that there can only be "soft materialism", aka materialism that doesn't fully appreciate its own implications. There is no hard materialism, because it is a self destroying proposition.

Case in point authors like people like Alex Rosenberg and his "Atheist's Guide to Reality" ... where there's no agency, no intentionality, and ultimately no consciousness, there is also no logic, rationality or critical thinking.

Thought explained away by critical thinkers is an imploding paradox :D:eek:
Yes, absolutely. Hard materialism is a position of wilful ignorance and informed denial. Nobody can maintain a hard materialist position with a straight face, which is why hardliners turn the discussion round to one of gullibility and feign exasperation at human deficiencies. Materialism is the extrapolation of physical regularities into a form of idolatry, one in which laboratory apparatus becomes the sole mediator of the real. It's test tubes "all the way down". No wonder Richard Dawkins insists scorn is the weapon against doubters, because materialism certainly doesn't stand up to logical scrutiny. At least Dawkins makes a good living from maintaining the materialist mask, his followers have no such excuse.

Soft materialists are deity-phobic for the most part. Like the witch finders of the 17th century, they see gods in the most innocuous places. This is partly a stance - shift the emphasis from the enlightenment to medieval superstition and win the debate - but also a recognition that mind is an explosive device for physicalism, and the longer they look for tubules and neuronal magic the more they can delay the demands of the hard problem. Soft materialists have an endless supply of promise notes on their mindless reality, and so long as they don't have an expiry date, mind stays in the pending tray. Soft materialists are unwilling to embrace agnosticism, the capacity to admit we don't have a clue about the true nature of reality, and fill the cognitive gap with confidence inspiring headlines and progressive propaganda at regular intervals. The difference between soft materialists and the rest of us, is our indifference to propaganda and the recognition of a potentially incendiary mind at every level of our combustible cognition. Soft materialism is a fire fighting job, not a serious philosophy.
 
Yes, absolutely. Hard materialism is a position of wilful ignorance and informed denial. Nobody can maintain a hard materialist position with a straight face, which is why hardliners turn the discussion round to one of gullibility and feign exasperation at human deficiencies. Materialism is the extrapolation of physical regularities into a form of idolatry, one in which laboratory apparatus becomes the sole mediator of the real. It's test tubes "all the way down". No wonder Richard Dawkins insists scorn is the weapon against doubters, because materialism certainly doesn't stand up to logical scrutiny. At least Dawkins makes a good living from maintaining the materialist mask, his followers have no such excuse.

Soft materialists are deity-phobic for the most part. Like the witch finders of the 17th century, they see gods in the most innocuous places. This is partly a stance - shift the emphasis from the enlightenment to medieval superstition and win the debate - but also a recognition that mind is an explosive device for physicalism, and the longer they look for tubules and neuronal magic the more they can delay the demands of the hard problem. Soft materialists have an endless supply of promise notes on their mindless reality, and so long as they don't have an expiry date, mind stays in the pending tray. Soft materialists are unwilling to embrace agnosticism, the capacity to admit we don't have a clue about the true nature of reality, and fill the cognitive gap with confidence inspiring headlines and progressive propaganda at regular intervals. The difference between soft materialists and the rest of us, is our indifference to propaganda and the recognition of a potentially incendiary mind at every level of our combustible cognition. Soft materialism is a fire fighting job, not a serious philosophy.
You and David seem to get your point across so well (as well as other posters here) Some of the stuff I want to say when I get in to "debates" with other people, but end up stumbling over my words and forgeting what I was going to say or finding words. Is there any tips you guys have?:)
 
Having read some of the earlier posts here I end up thinking that some people are being quite unfair in suggesting Dr. Long is purely playing a money-card in dealing with NDEs and God. His book had to be about something and it sounds like he chose that subject area. I don't see what the difficulty is and he seems to be quite upfront about what he doing. Okay, so maybe he sells more books if "God" is in the title - so what.

Also the criticisms that he should define what God is seem to me a bit off beam. How exactly is he meant to do that other than in what would amount to very broad terms that would in no way satisfy the nit-pickers that more often than not demand more exactitude than they themselves could provide if you flipped the question their way. Certainly there is no suggestion that Dr. Long subscribes to a "Big Daddy in the Sky" type image (which is stark-raving bonkers) so he's not trying to sell anything that is off the wall.
 
You and David seem to get your point across so well (as well as other posters here) Some of the stuff I want to say when I get in to "debates" with other people, but end up stumbling over my words and forgeting what I was going to say or finding words. Is there any tips you guys have?:)
When I began to debate skeptics on the internet, I got an absolute kicking. The reason being that I became frustrated, which lead to anger, which fulfilled the skeptic's vision of themselves as fighting emotion with reason. It took a while to work out it had nothing to do with rationality, and everything to do with the use of logical fallacies: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fallacies It's worth familiarising yourself with some of these, forewarned is forearmed. A lifestyle skeptic promotes the idea that the world is divided into true and false. On the true side there is science, mathematics, logic, on the false, Woo-Woo, which consists of God, religion, superstition, survival, psi and pseudoscience. Their role is to defend science against superstition, which will overrun everything the enlightenment has provided and the world will enter a new dark age. There is no grey area of doubt, and everyone is on one side or the other.

To successfully debate with a skeptic you must first find out what he/she believes. This is difficult to achieve because if they're experienced lifestyle skeptics, they'll realise showing their hand too early can be disastrous. Generally speaking they'll want you to fit a stereotype they feel comfortable with, so they can exercise a few well rehearsed moves. For example they'll want you to provide physical evidence for a deity, or one laboratory proven example of psi, or a single NDE that isn't attributable to normal perception. The "best case" is important to skeptics, if they can debunk your exemplar the rest will tumble away. Remember, for skeptics debunking and disproving are synonymous, all they have to do is introduce doubt by whatever means to "disprove" your proposition. They are reductionists, they like things in the smallest bite-sized particles of data they chew on and they'll assure you the plural of anecdote is not evidence. Big picture data is anathema, the stuff of nightmares.
Skeptics are difficult to pin down because unlike self-confessed materialists, they do not have a single philosophical or ideological position. If things are getting hot they'll simply say they are "atheists", or they'll equate all ideas of a deity with one another (Thor, pink unicorns, flying spaghetti monsters), or they'll say they only disbelieve in the Judeo-Christian God, and possibly only in the English spelling. By comparison materialists are a push over. However I've yet to argue with a skeptic who does not resort to materialism as a trump card. Once they've built their straw men, resorted to ad hominem, played to a tame audience and even demanded your pity if things aren't going their way, they'll expect you to believe they have no conscious volition and arguments are what their genes make them do.

Above all it's worth remembering that you are on a quest for truth, whereas the skeptic is sure they already have it, and that's a massive thing for them to prove. Which is why the debate is mostly scorn, rhetorical devices and logical cul-de-sacs, instead of the open-minded enquiry it should be.
 
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