About Dean Esmay

Dean Esmay has written for Huffington Post, Thought Catalog, The Moderate Voice, Honey Badger Brigade, and A Voice for Men. He is a writer and podcaster with Erin Pizzey on domestic violence, Mumia Ali on race issues, and various shows on geek culture. He encourages people to look at issues through the lens of compassion for men who deserve it, and respect for women who deserve it. He is the author of the critically-acclaimed novel Methuselah's Daughter.

God and Man in the 21st Century: An Ongoing Look at Modern Atheism

Hello. My name is Dean Esmay. And I would like to ask for your financial support for a  project I’m working on, exploring the idea of God as a philosophical concept in Western Civilization, and the strong positive influence that organized, institutional religion–particularly, organized, institutional Christianity–has had on society in the last few thousand years, and the ramifications of modern atheism and its effect on people’s thinking–including the harm atheism can do to scientific thinking.

My work began when I realized one day that, far from being just another in a long line of faddish “Deepak Chopra” style New Age cults, the “New Atheist” movement was being taken seriously by millions, including influential media figures, and was particularly popular with young people. This “New Atheist” cult began in the early 2000s with the likes of Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, and the late Christopher Hitchens, but has now expanded into an almost full-blown Church of its own, with scientists like Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Lawrence M. Krauss, and Jerry Coyne, along with popular and cynical entertainers like Seth MacFarlane, Penn Jillette, Stephen Fry, Bill Maher, Tim Minchin, and even the late Bill Hicks and George Carlin who, like Hitchens, remain popular even in death. All are people who all act or have acted as professional, well-paid atheist proselytizers for their atheist faith–often passing off vicious remarks at religions and religious people as “brave” while knowing full well not one hair of their heads would be so much as mussed by most of the religious groups they attack.

As you may have guessed, I am not a fan of the modern atheism. As an ex-atheist myself, I think today’s atheism is a dogmatic cult phenomenon, led by cult leaders and proselytizers peddling pseudoscience, anti-intellectualism, and general intolerance. I also believe they have frequently misled their audiences, intentionally or not, causing a great number of innocent people to be treated with animosity, bigotry, bullying, and harassment they never deserved–all while behaving as if atheists are horrifically persecuted, which they rarely have been in human history.

Am I doing this as a Christian ministry? No. I am a Catholic, but am no way ordained as anything, not even as a lay minister. I’m not authorized to create my own ministry. Furthermore, while my views are of course affected by my Catholicism, just as your religious views likely affects yours, my goal is to examine atheist ideology, starting with the strange insistence of modern atheists that their atheism is not an ideological position, and the strange superstitious idea that atheism and science go together. I also explore information from an historic and social perspective, and how aggressive, militant, hostile atheism has affected our culture.

I will also be correcting common misperceptions these figures often pass off about historic Christianity, with a particular focus on what I call “broadly orthodox,” examining clear misunderstandings now common not just about Roman Catholicism, but also Eastern Orthodox, Coptic/Oriental Orothodox, and Assyrian Orthodox Christians, and even with some analysis where their thinking overlaps with things like Orthodox Jewry and oldest lines of institutional, organized Protestants like the Lutherans, the Calvinists, and the Anglicans. All of whom are regularly misportrayed by modern atheist ideologues and increasingly ignorant media and other culture figures who clearly don’t understand organized religion at all.

In short, this is a work of social criticism, not advocacy for any one faith.

To be clear, I am biased: I am critical of many forms of Protestantism as well as people on the religious fringes, but I also defend Protestants from smears. I also examine ideas put forth by other religions and philosophies, starting with Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, but also such figures as Guatama Buddha, Maimonides, Kant, Pascal, Einstein,  Heisenberg, Hindu and Sikh thinkers, and others.

God is a big idea in human civilization, but most particularly in Western Civilization, and far from what you’ve been told, it’s a rational idea. Maybe not an idea you agree with, but fully rational and logical nonetheless, and no properly ordered theology is an impediment to science–even if sometimes religious mores butt heads with scientific research, they’re certainly no more likely to than many secular political ideologies.

The “Science vs. Religion” war is phony. So are many of the New Atheists.

The project will begin with at least one book, which is provocatively titled “Letter to a Heathen Nation,” an ironic response to atheist guru Sam Harris’s famous book, “Letter to a Christian Nation.” If the project succeeds, it will spin off other books, and possible video projects as I seek to interview prominent atheists today to ask them to defend their positions.

You’ll find many of my essays to be collected in book form already on this blog. To lend ongoing support in my hope to make this a full-time endeavor, please use the tip jar or check out my Patreon. Thank you!

 

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A note to other orthodox: Eastern, Coptic, Oriental, or Assyrian

Theotokus and child, believed to have been painted by St. Luke

Theotokus and child, believed to have been painted by St. Luke himself and brought to Constantiniople by St. Helena in the year 326, and now residing in Poland.

In these pages, you will see me frequently referring to orthodox Christianity. In doing so, I am fully aware that Eastern Orthodox, Coptic/Ethiopian, Assyrian, Roman Catholic, and other varieties of orthodox Christians do not always agree with each other. I do not seek “ecumenical dialogue” nor to tempt any member of any orthodox Communion leave to join my own. I would be horrified if I were to hear that were happening, for that is not my intent and it could only cause further mistrust and strife if my writings were seen as a source of that.

However, my work on exploring ancient Christianity has led me to an inescapable conclusion, that we all share roots that Protestants and “Evangelicals” do not. All can trace our bishop lines to the First Council of Nicea and before. All of us share the same definition of Apostolic Succession. All have the same Sacraments or Mysteries, with only slightly differing interpretations of them. All believe these were given by Jesus to The Twelve during Pentecost. All trace our apostolic lines to Bartholomew, Peter, Mark, Thomas, and other specific Apostles we can name. All have priests, and we all call those in the presbyteriat “father.” All would agree only a fool thinks he can open a Bible and with no instruction understand it or that you are automatically “saved” if you simply believe in Jesus. All agree that the Bible was created by the Church as part of the Deposit of the Faith, not a replacement for it. These and many other ways too numerous to count we are the same. Despite unfortunate disagreements, misunderstandings, and calamities through history, most of us still recognize each other as coming from exactly the same roots.

My noting all of this is not mere sentiment. If you are reading this in Gregorian 2016, you must realize that the Church is undergoing massive assault everywhere on the globe. Along with ancient strife with some Muslims that has flared back up in many places, there seems to be nowhere today that orthodox Christians of any type are not being crushed by military forces, or by forces of modernist political ideologies, postmodern moral and intellectual relativism, and a seething contempt for our Faith. While the Church has seen many crises, it has seen none quite like this in its 2000 years–nothing except perhaps the all too familiar martyrdoms. And I foresee worse to come.

In the English-speaking world, there is only dim awareness of orthodox Christianity, most of it contemptuous when not dismissive. The Roman Catholics have been a despised minority for 500 years or so in the English-speaking world, while other orthodox have been mostly treated as a strange foreign aberration. Militantly secularist regimes, meanwhile, when not slaughtering the orthodox, have done their best to subvert the Church, sometimes through wicked people within it and sometimes through cultural assault from without.

Most of you who look to Constantinople or Alexandria or Antioch instead of Rome should still find yourself able to agree comfortably with most of what I write on what I sometimes call “little-o orthodox.” If I write something that is only taught in Rome, I will do my best to identify that as being so if it is not already obvious. Otherwise, I strive to be fully ecumenical in my choice of words. Should I ever mis-state the position of your Communion, please inform me and accept my immediate apologies.

I speak ecumenically not to try to achieve unity among Bishops. Rather, it is because as the 21st century unfolds, I believe all orthodox Christians will be increasingly confronted by the forces which would tear the faith asunder if they could. Modern Scientism, secular moral relativism, substitute religions, and militant atheism are everywhere in what is called the “developed world,” and these forces are aggressively proselytizing an anti-Christian message everywhere.

Among most moderns, there is almost no popular awareness what orthodox Christianity is, at least in the English-speaking world. The various Protestant schismatic groups since the time of the Reformation have collapsed in most of North America, with the culturally dominant type of Christianity now what we call “Evangelicals,” who are Christians who believe any man with a copy of the Bible and his own earnest thoughts, stripped of most if not all of Sacred Tradition, has as valid an opinion as any other.

Thus, when I write, I write from the perspective of educating atheists and nonreligious and others who are curious about the ancient Christian faith. It’s my hope that a greater understanding of ancient Christianity will help lessen fear, misunderstanding, and resentment among the nonreligious population. Perhaps that is a fool’s errand but it is the one I have embarked upon. If it should also bring greater trust and fellowship between our respective Communions, that will be a blessing, but it is not the goal.

So please trust that I seek no conversions, nor to “settle” any arguments between our respective Communions. It is rather to help moderns at least understand the ancient faith better, fear it less, be less hostile to it. If it should also make some ancient misunderstandings between our communities less hostile, so much the better.

It should also be stated, I am in no way ordained by or authorized by the Church. This is just one Christian’s writings. Take them as that and no more. But if you have suggestions on how I may improve my work in this area, please let me know. I will do my best to stay faithful to what is true, and respectful of our respective communions.

Protestantism and its children are popularly and broadly understood in the English-speaking world. Orthodoxy is not. I pray to at least somewhat improve that particular problem.

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Personal correspondence with a pantheist scientist and friend, on Creationism and the Church of Scientism

I have made quite an unusual number of acquaintances who hold PhDs in various sciences in my 50 spins around Planet Earth. I get around so much, I’ve probably talked to more scientists than most scientists have. Social sciences and the hard sciences both. It’s one of the reasons the letters “PhD” have come to mean little to me: I’ve met far too many shallow fools and pompous blowhards who wear those letters like a badge of authority.

As a result of this, however, I have also met any number of scientists who have maverick theories or unusual views of things. Sometimes, I’ve watched as their careers were destroyed for daring to be Science Heretics. Others, I’ve gotten to know almost surreptitiously, as they talk to me about their struggles: sometimes, they want to talk about corruption they’re witnessing. Sometimes, it’s that they want to talk about their own research ideas that they can’t get funding for, and the politics of who’s blocking them and why. Sometimes they want to talk about how they quit institutional science entirely because the whole field now appears to be a farce to them.

And sometimes, they want to talk to me about God because they’re afraid if they do around any of their scientific colleagues, it’ll hurt their careers.

The pity is, they’re correct, because I’ve known scientists who were forced out because people didn’t like them. (Including the crime of being Catholic, by the way–yes that still happens, although it’s always smothered in a large pile of other vague excuses that don’t add up.)

I had some recent correspondence with a well-published and reasonably distinguished scientist who’s a pantheist. Pantheists are very easy for me to talk to, since pantheism itself is, well, it’s wrong I’d say but at least pantheists have logical minds and are open to discussion of things, and I’d certainly never suggest their pantheism would prevent them from having useful scientific ideas.

For good reason, I won’t publish his “side” of the correspondence. It wasn’t a debate just a chat between friends, and if I put his responses to me out there it might hurt his career, for reasons already stated. But I said a lot here about how I actually see the state of science today and through history. He takes the position that Christianity’s anthropocentrism was or is a challenge to science and he thinks pantheist thought more advanced, and well, here’s the thoughts I had in response to that:

Have to declare your entire thesis blaming Christians for Creationism bullshit, it was dispensed with 1600 years ago, you’re just doing guilt by association.

Ditto any claims Christians are opposed to the idea of intelligent life elsewhere. Superstition on your part, no basis in reality. You just look patronizing talking like that to my eye. Ditto in trying to ascribe things to my psychology, without even really understanding my position first, which I find a lot of people do. My views are those of a Thomist, so whatever you think of Thomist philosophy, I have yet to hear anything out of you or any other scientific thinker that would threaten how I see God. If Einstein had made his grand unified theory work, it would just spell “GOD” anyway.

You will never get orthodox Jews, Christians, Muslims, and others to accept your Pantheist theology, which is all you’re describing here. However, if you believe there are other intelligences…and can show us reason to think we’re hurting innocent beings, all you’d have to do is show evidence of same. No deep-thinking Christian or Jew would dismiss that.

But as you see, we otherwise radically disagree: I think you’re blaming Christian thinking in a way that is basically straw-manning us with a simpleton theology you’ve chosen to impute to us. Shall I do that with every crackpot pantheist to you? I think we probably agree mostly on the problems of Science Church. But I think rather than embattling with Christians you think are the problem,you might do better about thinking whether we might benefit from bringing serious discussion with philosophers and theologians BACK IN to the discussion and analysis.


I agree completely with you what has happened to the sciences. In fact, I think they have inarguably constructed a Church with a priesthood. Entry as an acolyte seems to require at least a Master’s Degree in an approved field, and the PhD gets you ordination as a priest. You get to be a Bishop by being a department chair or a massive research grant.

That’s not how science is supposed to work.

The only difference you and I might have–maybe–is that I think real priests DO serve a logical, rational function for our species–on SPIRITUAL AND METAPHYSICAL matters, and by the way, no, psychology and medicine are NOT enough. In fact while I can’t prove it, I would wager heavily RIGHT NOW that use of SSRIs and benzos and other popular psychiatric meds correlates strongly with lack of religious observance. Not because going to church cures all such, but rather, lack of attending to one’s spiritual needs makes you sick, and that probably includes children’s spiritual needs–which would mean today’s atheists who say teaching children religion is child abuse are in fact advocating child neglect. There are some people who seem able to get their spiritual needs taken care of through work or hobbies or somesuch, but most people obviously can’t. We seem to have moved from a world of people who go to Church and pray at least occasionally, to a world of SSRI and benzo dependants, and lonely, angry bachelors and bachelorettes fucking each other aimlessly into an nihilist future as we all prate about how rational and enlightened we are. Praise the ever-wise George Carlin and Bill Hicks!

Hmm. Such an improvement.

Empirical evidence suggests most people get sick if they don’t have some sort of religion, and I think a religion that’s totally open to letting scientists find out whatever they want to find out about the physical universe is a really good religion to have around. In the West in the 20th Century we forced philosophy and theology further and further away from the sciences, under the assumption that scientists shouldn’t be distracted with philosophical or spiritual matters–and today institutional science is more filled with interfering and pontificating moralists, vaguely-defined atheist “ethicists,” Pontificating Protectors Of Orthodoxy, Grievance Peddlers, and money-hungry vultures than any period in history I can think of.

I’ll spot you 100 petty interfering skeptical thought-killing corporate bureaucrats masquerading as scientists for every Galileo incident, and the Church wins by miles. In fact, every atheist who shoots Galileo at me gets PZ Myers in response and I still win: PZ Myers does little at all with his career except try to destroy people psychologically and even professionally for expressing anything that looks like Science Heresy.

It’s LUDICROUS this atheist-secularist mentality that institutional Christianity, Judaism, or other STABLE religions with a DEEP history of respect for and nurturing of intellectual achievement are a massive threat to science. The Church vs. Science “war” has been almost entirely Fundamentalist Creationist nutbags and Raging Atheist Apocolyptics. The thoughtful spiritual people–which would be most of us–were and are completely trapped in this crossfire and unable to escape because neither side will let us. And that war started in the ’80s I think, with Stephen Jay Gould, who should never have argued with the fucking Creation Science loons in the first place, because he was SO BAD AT IT.

He was terrible in multiple ways, mind you. I can’t go into them all but the biggest problem with Stephen Jay Gould’s “Separate nonoverlapping magisteria” concept–other than overcomplicating something simple and being patronizingly shallow–is that it’s rooted in the notion that somehow Creationists are a looming danger to us all. It’s an almost hysterical obsession I see in Science Church, their idea of Satanic Forces. They’re also terrified nowadays of the fucking homeopaths for fuck’s sake. I don’t know any homeopaths, I’ve never taken any homeopathic remedy for anything I can recall, but I’ve read some homeopath stuff, and I think, “well, theory looks dodgy to me, but looks like they may beat the placebo effect for some people based on research some of their doctors have put out” and I leave it there because I’m not all that curious and I don’t believe you NEED a strong theory for an empirical reality to exist. But if you listen to the Science Church guys talk, the homeopaths are the next Great Terror about to be unleashed upon us all–the Mighty God Science may be harmed!

Have you ever read about the so-called “Wedge Document” of the Creationists? Know who ironically made it look credible? People like Richard Dawkins. That man’s done more to benefit Creationist lunacy than every self-proclaimed “Creation Scientist” who ever lived.
Science Church is an INCREDIBLY thought-killing, innovation-killing place. More people need to say it! It’s EVERY bad stereotype that Englishmen use when they sneeringly say “The Catholic Church” as an epithet. (Which does annoy actual Catholics by the way, though we try our best to just shrug it off.)

[break]

Sorry, I hit “send” on that last when I meant to hit “save.” I was going to close by saying this:

I LOVE your take on the Fermi paradox. it makes sense to me. :-)

On the other hand, someone who may challenge some of what you are suggesting is Lynn Margulis, one of a vanishing breed of atheist who had a functioning scientific mind. It is utterly worth your time, based on the work you’re doing, to sit through her debate performance with RIchard Dawkins here:

http://www.voicesfromoxford.org/video/Homage-to-Darwin-part-2/63

You can skip anything Dawkins has to say, as it’s nothing the old fraud hasn’t said before. Margulis on the other hand, almost patronizingly says she likes the Selfish Gene theory while giving a presentation that utterly and completely demolishes the notion that at root life can work at all like Selfish Gene. It’s magnificent. There’s a moment after the presentation where Dawkins says Selfish Gene is more parsimonious and asks her why she would add so much complexity to evolutionary theory, and her answer is just fucking brilliant: “BECAUSE IT’S THERE.” As she had just fucking demonstrated.

I really hope you can get further in your own research, but I’ll bet fighting Science Church is never going to work out for you. Not trying to be negative, but damn, we need to be finding new ways to fund research. The current institutional approach is a massive fraud.

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Proof for God: The Argument from Evolutionary Psychology

Spiritual ForcesI have spent some years in what is called “The Manosphere” and one peculiarity I noticed over time was a fascination with something called “Evolutionary Psychology.” Without going into too much detail, I noticed early on that there is good and bad in Evolutionary Psychology, often called simply “EvoPsych.” But here we’re going to do something that many of its advocates will be uncomfortable with:

I will use Evolutionary Psychology as evidence that God exists and matters, or at least “gods” or “spirits” or even just “forces” outside human senses and human tools. Because Evolutionary Psychology helps prove it.

EvoPsych often seems to give startlingly accurate insights into human behavior, though it’s hardly flawless. Any hard critical examination will find countless inconsistencies and what scientists and others would call “Just So Stories“–that is, a phenomenon is observed, and it is instantly given an explanation of “this is why Evolution gave us this.”  Many such explanations sound exactly like “This is how God gave us rainbows” Sunday School stories for small children. Said simplistic assertions are often untestable and sometimes seem to contradict other observations. Further, I notice that in EvoPsych circles, if a contradictory bit of data is introduced showing that one EvoPsych theory doesn’t work, a new theory for how Evolution supposedly gave us this new observation can often be invented on the spot. Rigorous testing is often lacking.

Finding bad EvoPsych, as a result, is not hard. Dr. Ben Goldacre has written and spoken critically of EvoPsych many times. My favorite may be his analysis of all the “EvoPsych” reasons that people link the color pink to girls and the color blue to boys. It all sounds good until you find out that, opposite to today, pink was historically preferred for boys and blue was preferred for girls. EvoPsych people also love to note studies showing women engage more often in certain sexually provocative behaviors while ovulating, which leads to a host of assumptions as to what that means about human mating–until you find out that women exhibit other sexually alluring behaviors more often while not ovulating and some also tend to get quite horny when they’re not fertile, such as when menstruating (yes some women will ovulate during menstruation but it’s not typical). EvoPsych advocates naturally have updated explanations, but the fact that they often have to do sudden flips and add ever-more-complex explanations should tell you something: “EvoPsych” is less a science than  an interesting philosophy.

On the flip side, the field is not without thoughtful defenders, and formidable minds like Stephen Pinker and Jonathan Haidt are particularly hard to dismiss. Evolutionary Psychology philosophers have absolutely brought us some fascinating ideas about human individual and social psychology, and even human history, which are often at least plausible and worth exploring. Furthermore, the best and most persuasive EvoPsych-based essay I have ever heard or read on issues faced by modern men and boys–our brothers, our fathers, and our sons–is by my friend Karen Straughan. Her Feminism and the Disposable Male remains almost completely bulletproof in its reasoning to my eye. (Karen’s an atheist, if anyone cares.)

Furthermore, EvoPsych philosophy is wildly popular these days, especially in the young “New Atheist” inspired contingent that is enamoured of modern Scientism. Atheists of the secular “Social Justice” movement, on the other hand, tend to hate EvoPsych as much as they hate Christianity.

Let us assume for the sake of this essay that evolution-based arguments for behaviors can be persuasive and may often be correct and can properly be called “EvoPsych.” I thus propose an Evolutionary Psychology theory as to why God and spirituality generally are a rational concept and likely not a chance mutation. I further argue that spirituality and mysticism and logically organized religion are not, as atheist proselytizer Richard Dawkins and company have been known to suggest, some sort of “memetic virus.” Rather, I propose that belief in the Divine, some form of reality beyond the reality science can tell us about, is a rational, reasoned, normal human response to waking up and becoming aware of the universe around you. Evidence suggests it’s a part of human development that has to be abusively beaten out of most people to be dispelled. Further, it can be shown that far from being intelligent and pro-survival, atheism tends to result in evolutionary decline, as well as to constrict human thinking and imagination, often hampering rational inquiry thereby.

There are many classical and completely rational arguments for God that are never discussed, or are pre-emptively dismissed, by dogmatically atheist sources. Boston College Professor of Philosophy Peter Kreeft has collected 20 of these well-formed arguments. The one that I think is most important for those who seek rational, logical answers is the Argument from Contingency and all subtypes of it such as the Argument From Motion–the Argument from Motion being peculiarly compellingly phrased when you consider that Quantum Theory appears to be little but the study of motion. If QM is a correct theory (I take no position, it may be replaced by something better later, or not), the physical universe seems to be made up of nothing but countless particles in motion, sometimes very exotic motion, with even “particles” only a vaguely defined idea–except for the fact that they are moving.

Rational minds seeking to understand why it is ontologically impossible for God and Science to ever be in conflict should study these arguments closely. That way, even if you still dismiss God, you can stop thinking belief in God is going to ruin your experiments or make your colleagues and friends turn into witch-burning primitives out to smash everyone’s electron microscopes just because they disagree. (So many young atheists are so superstitious on this point that older intelligent atheists should never stop blushing.)

While I assert without hesitation that God is a rational conclusion based on logic reason and evidence, which many of these classic arguments do show, still it is the case that countless people come to God without ever reasoning their way to it; they were simply born knowing, or they have always known something instinctively, or been drawn strongly to it. I know multiple people, including my old friend Erin Pizzey, the founder of the worlwide battered women’s shelter movement, who will tell you they always knew God existed since they were little children. Studies have also shown children are genetically predisposed to believe, which would even suggest that children have to be raised to be told what NOT to believe in, such as ghosts, monsters under the bed, and so on. Telling people not to be irrationally fearful is a good thing of course, but forcing them to deny all things beyond empirical observation and measurement might literally make them ill.

I openly suggest that dogmatic atheism may well be harmful to self and others, because we have an evolved need for strong, organized spirituality. People who consider themselves spiritual but reject organized religion tend to be sicker than the rest of us. For thousands of years, in many religious traditions, “spiritual sickness” was recognized as more than just some primitive writhing possession.  Most cultures seem to know exactly what being “spiritually sick” means, and psychological data has long shown that while some religious practices can be harmful, others have been repeatedly shown to be helpful to people struggling with stress and depression and other problems. This may explain why, until only the last few decades in medical history, ceased religious observance was routinely seen as a sign of increased mental disturbance in patients. It may even be an indicator of risk for suicide.

Replacing respect for traditional religious observance with secular ideologies like feminism. libertarianism, progressivism, nationalism, Marxism, Scientism, Secular Humanism, and so on? With vaguely-defined ideas of “liberating you from Unscientific BadThought,” and telling people they must accept that Science is capable of answering everything? That looks like an exercise in GroupThink and thought-termination to me, a way of substituting concern with earthly affairs for the mystical and eternal. It’s certainly at least psychologically abusive to slap dismissive and contemptuous remarks and assumptions at people of religious orientation, who may not all be prepared with rigorous responses to uninvited challenges to their faith from rabid secularist atheists and other competing religious sects.

The mind-closing effect of most atheism is easily observed and hard to deny. Except for some varieties of Buddhism perhaps, most atheism seems to result in dogmatic materialism in those who embrace it. But materialism itself isn’t even a scientific philosophy so much as a temperament and a scientifically unproven set of assumptions. Meanwhile, mocking people and ripping religion away from them has long been recognized as a way to psychologically destroy them.

Maybe it’s not, as pseudoscientific guessers suggest, that the religious have been been “infected” or “brainwashed.” Maybe this is a genuine human need that most people are born with–maybe even, dare I say it, conceived with. It sure looks like it to me.

It is also undeniable that when you completely deny the spiritual, you lock out an enormous amount of Thought you might otherwise allow yourself to have. By dismissing the spiritual and mystical or just “things you can’t understand,” you may lock out bad ideas, but you may lock out good ideas too, even good scientific ideas.

Why wouldn’t you ponder a deeply mystical thought, such as the nature of reality itself? Evolution appears to have given you this capacity, so what titanic arrogance told you you could just dismiss it because you can’t bounce particles off of it, or time it with an atomic clock?

And what superstitious, unscientific urge led so many modern atheists to think they should attack religion because it was dangerous somehow? Has it been scientifically shown that religious thought turns people into lunatics any more than secular ideologies do? I propose a scientific test: which is more likely to make you deranged and even dangerous, secular political and economic ideologies or traditional religious observance, prayer, and meditation? I suggest that if you look hard at the history of the 20th Century alone, and take off the lenses of “Science as Bringer Of All Good Things,” you’ll find dogmatic secular ideologies have a much greater probability of causing war, genocide, and general human suffering than traditional religion. Even if Islam were really as bad as everybody seems to think, it pales next to the ideologically designed death machines of various political movements of the last couple of centuries. Ditto those who keep bringing up the Spanish Inquisition or the Crusades or other misbehaving religious episodes as the ultimate condemnation of all things religious.

The narrowmindedness so often found in atheism can even result in childish ideas being imputed to believers by scientists whose atheism potentially taints their results. For example, William Gervais, who suggests religious belief is rooted in the fear that someone may be watching you, as if Thor is hiding behind a Closed Circuit TV camera waiting to smite you if you misbehave. Such scientists usually just make themselves look childish, not their subjects. What else in their research might be tainted by such crude presumptions?

Within the classical spirituality of many traditions, including but not limited to orthodox Christianity, is the belief that we as people exist not just here and now, but in some way we extend beyond the laws of time and space ourselves. I don’t have to go into the various details of all these ideas (e.g. eternity, reincarnation, spiritual dualism, body-mind-spirit unity, pluralism, etc.) to show that most are not based on a simple formulation of “we are born, we live, we die, then move on,” or “mighty sky creature will punish us with bad rain if we’re bad.” Rather, it’s the idea that we ourselves exist in some fashion beyond the simple limits of time, space, and the laws of physics. This idea is also, usually, tied to the idea that things like right and wrong, truth and falsehood, good and evil, beautiful and ugly, may actually be reality-based and not just subjective.

But researchers who even look at such questions often phrase it as ‘belief in divine beings and the afterlife.” As if that’s all there is to such things.

Beauty and Truth not relative? Morality somehow existing apart from space and time? It’s possible you know, and most people at least seem to act subconsciously like they believe it, just like they assume the laws of physics will still probably be working tomorrow. Other things we accept exist as reality also lack a physical basis, in case you hadn’t noticed: The laws of probability, mathematics, and logic itself appear to be very real indeed though they seem to have no physical basis, merely physical effects. The idea that there is or may be a universal moral law that matters, even though we grasp it imperfectly, is a powerful driving factor for a lot of people’s lives. Maybe there really is an objective right or wrong, if we try looking for it logically and with evidence. And no, that does not mean whipping out a holy book and declaring your reading of it to be The Truth, it means pondering what ideas might mean in a reality bigger than human minds can comprehend, and what other ways of discovery we might find or rediscover.

You thought all morality and truth and beauty were completely a social construct, or somehow merely a product of our gene expression? Did anybody ever prove that scientifically? Count me as skeptical.

We keep hearing the Asian religions have no idea of God, but when you really look at most Asian beliefs that don’t specifically talk about a God concept, almost all still understand that spirituality is beyond time and space, not invisible monsters with literal horns and fangs spitting flames at them or ghosts flying through space. Indeed, while you will find some religious primitives out there who think spiritual forces literally look like their ancient depictions, virtually all serious-minded religious  people, for thousands of years, have interpreted these as forces or creatures beyond the laws of physics and by definition not visible within them. Which might  be why even people who have intense religious visions are often accompanied by those who see the same vision, while others present report seeing, hearing, or experiencing only part of it, and still others nothing at all–which has been how spiritual encounters have been described in pretty much every religious tradition I’ve read about in all of human history, with dramatic physical effects the least frequently reported.

If noncorporeal beings and forces exist, even in some Science Fiction speculated “quantum” form, they’re probably beyond scientific ability to measure. At least you probably won’t be bouncing photons or electrons off of them, as my friend Chris Lansdown likes to say. The idea that you’re going to catch that on camera or audio recording seems silly on its face, though ways of researching it at least somewhat may exist that we’re apparently afraid to explore.

“Researchers” never seem to look at or even be aware of any of this thinking, although it’s not particularly exotic in spiritual circles. Scientists tend to instead project their own primitive thinking onto their subjects: that it all redounds to a fear of death and dying or a childish fear that a “sky fairy” is watching to punish you. That’s the sort of thing thoughtlessly abusive parents do to scare small children into compliance. It’s also always been seen by smart religious folks as really silly thinking–and by “really smart theists” I include Guatama Buddha, Mohammed, Udayana, Maimonides, Augustine, Plato, Aquinas, and Heisenberg, just to pick a small handful of examples.

To give a more concrete example of how this dogmatic materialist fear terminates thought: in Dancing Naked in the Mind Field, Nobel prizewinning Biochemist Kary Mullis proposed an experiment for testing some of the more nettlesomely intriguing aspects of astrology. He reported an initial anecdotal but reasonably rigorous test he conducted to see if there might be something to your personality influenced by when and where you were born. He had no idea why astrology might work since existing astrological theories seemed silly, but the problem was people kept seeing something in it anyway. He proposed a way to run his successful, small, informal test much more rigorously, even double blind it on a wide scale, to just find out if any effect was there independent of any rigorous theory to explain it. He also noted that while all his colleagues privately admitted that his experiment at least looked worth doing, none of them would give any support or public acknowledgement out of fear of being seen as kooks. They didn’t even want to be mentioned by name. Friends of a Nobel laureate!

This is not me advocating for astrology–I don’t, I never touch the stuff–but to note how dogmatic materialist Scientism is as capable of closing minds as it is opening them: afraid to at least try an experiment? One you know would be reasonably rigorous and achievable? World class scientists? Something’s wrong there.

It would be wrong, by the way, to expect every religious person to articulate all this as these great thinkers did. Most people are still of average intelligence and have limited time to consider deep abstract things they know instinctively to be true. It would also be wrong to declare that anyone who isn’t as smart as Maimonides or Aquinas–who made many of the same points that I do today–must be a mental defective if he still believes in God. No, the correct observation is that these are all things rational minds may speculate and act upon, even if sometimes people who aren’t that bright or studied or thoughtful see the Virgin Mary in a Grilled Cheese Sandwich.

Maybe, just maybe, some of the less bright but goodhearted religious minds out there need some kind of guidance from other people. You know, like at least somewhat-accountable religious authorities. Like the kind they have in organized religion, where smart and thoughtful people will hopefully guide them. (Almost like a shepherd, you know?)

Perhaps modern atheists laughing at the idea of spiritual forces, thinking that all these people in history thought demons and whatnot appeared in puffs of smoke and angels literally had wings and held literal swords, should consider themselves the primitive ones. And maybe your Aunt Mary who said God helped heal her ankle wasn’t completely out of her mind or just experiencing the placebo effect. Indeed, as Daniel Kahneman says in his book Thinking Fast Thinking Slow, the unconscious parts of our brain and nervous system often know far better than the “rational, thinking” part. So if the subconscious instincts are saying “yes” to God and the rational conscious part is rebelling, why not consider that maybe the instinctive, subconscious pull is the smarter one?

In the the modern and growing field of attachment psychology–which also has scientific detractors just like EvoPsych does, but let’s presume it has at least as much insight–it’s suggested most of us are born hard-wired to look for specific relationships: mother, father, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, other kin, tribe members, and possibly even pets. Children are known to look for not just their mothers but their fathers soon after birth. And it also looks like they’re hard-wired to look for God, or at least something spiritual.

“Scientific” atheist thinkers like Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, and Richard Dawkins have in recent years been admitting, in sometimes sulky fashion, that it appears to be impossible to talk religious belief out of most people, finding even that most self-described atheists raised by nonreligious parents wind up interested in spiritual or supernatural ideas anyway, such as reincarnation, astrology, numerology, palmistry, tarot, telepathy, and other “occult” phenomena, even if they don’t become outright religious.

Indeed, although there are exceptions, I have met few atheists who do not at least fiddle with something occult or pseudosciencey, often loudly protesting that it’s “just harmless fun” in case someone suspect them of Science Heresy. In his excellent book, The Irrational Atheist, author Vox Day shows that most self-described atheists believe in something beyond current science, they just don’t like talking about it. Professor of Philosophy Ed Feser notes superstitious and incoherent ideas popular with even some of today’s most celebrated atheist intellectuals as well.

I think we should count among the most common atheist superstitions the scientifically ludicrous notion that religious people are naturally dangerous and deluded, and that organized religion is a looming threat to rational thought. I would include another unproven dogmatic notion of most modern atheists: the idea everything can be explained by science or else it doesn’t matter. Both are beliefs which can’t be scientifically demonstrated, and appear to be symptoms of an unconscious ideology that materialist atheists seem to always develop spontaneously, nowadays known as Scientism. Despite vociferous denials claiming “atheism is just lack of belief in something,” it appears that most atheists believe a great many things they can’t prove, reverting to faith statements like “it’s the best we have” when their Scientism fails.

In any case, dogmatic atheists continue to try to explain away universal human attachment to the spiritual as simply a survival-of-the-fittest trait that somehow bonded people together and made them better able to cope as a species. They suggest it’s a functional pro-survival delusion that our “selfish gene” mechanisms selected for, a variant of “altruism,” because it kept us alive better or at least made us more likely to successfully reproduce. Which isn’t necessarily a bad argument, although it’s impossible to deny that it adds considerable complexity to the “God delusion” theory.

While I often criticize over-reliance on Occam’s Razor, I must point out that this “religion is a bizarre pro-group survival mutation resulting in oppression and violence” theory requires us to add ever more complex layers of explanation to keep defending it. A predilection for delusional hallucinations and fantastic ideas and subconscious impulses about things that don’t exist and have no basis in reality, that can make people willingly go to brutal deaths just for refusing to renounce them, would somehow evolve as a pro-survival trait over thousands of years and multiple cultures, long before we even had something we call “civilization?”

We developed something that made all our rational faculties completely break, even the subconscious instinctive ones–as a survival mechanism and reproductive strategy? How hard would evolution have to work to hone mass delusional madness that way? If we needed more bonding with our fellow humans, wouldn’t greater efficiency have been found in greater bonding with our fellow humans?

How’s this for an alternative theory: there actually are forces beyond the laws of time and space, which therefore by definition are difficult or impossible to test for empirically, which nevertheless influence us and seek to communicate with us in some fashion. At a level that is mostly unconscious, like the way our hands and feet interact with our brains is also mostly unconscious, most of the time? How about, we “evolved” an attachment to the idea of a God or some gods or something like that for the same reason we evolved a need for our parents: because they’re real and they’re important, and without them we might be hampered or otherwise fail to thrive?

My theory, by the way, would be consistent with the evidence that atheism may be associated with or caused by a form of brain damage, which could be chemical, blunt trauma induced, psychologically induced, or genetic.

If we’re going to use Occam’s Razor, which makes more sense: wildly improbable delusions somehow still being pro-survival through “survival of the fittest” group selection and “selfish gene altruism,” while at the same time being supposedly wildly dangerous? Or is the simplest explanation that there are things beyond our senses and our human faculties, and they do matter, and they might interact with us on some level–so we evolved a capacity to seek them, to seek knowledge of them because it’s a relationship we need just to be healthy?

My way of looking at it may also explain why now, in 2016, after at least a decade of raging atheists wildly applauded by the pop culture, even most self-described atheists still say they believe in things that science can’t (currently) explain, like life beyond death (or what I like to call “life beyond this life”).

The fact remains that while lack of respect for organized religion is wildly popular these days among young people, atheism itself is nothing new; atheism has been observed as a phenomenon for thousands of years, with many observing that atheists tend often to be cynical, sulkily or stonily stoic, nihilistic, solipsistic, prone to sophistry, hedonistic, arrogant, and/or deeply superstitious. Were those thousands of years of observations all just prejudice?

If it’s a scientific discussion, all scientific ideas are on the table, right? So, is atheism less an intellectual position than a possible mental disorder due to brain damage or psychological trauma, with multiple notable comorbidities and predictable cognitive impairments? These people seem incapable of understanding “things beyond time and space may still affect us here in time and space” as a rational concept. What else do they have trouble with?

If you’re an atheist growing angry at my speculations: why? Do you get infuriated by discussions of religious people that treat them like scientific specimens and mental defectives and reduce their deepest spiritual thoughts to crayons and comic books? If so, maybe mention that next time you’re hanging out in so-called “rationalist” atheist circles bashing your most favorite recent religious target.

Some may wail that I’m being nasty to atheists, but honestly: do people who regularly denounce religion as the irrational delusion of the childish, the feebleminded, the uneducated, the unscientific, the murderous, the insane, and worthy of being mocked and scapegoated for all the world’s ills, really have any basis to cry foul when the rest of us–who are still in the clear majority by the way–think there’s something really odd about their apparent complete blindness to the idea that things outside the laws of physics might still affect us, and that we may need someone other than scientists to help us find it?

To be even more blunt: people who are fans of Bill Maher, Penn Jillette, James Randi, Daniel Dennett, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Stephen Fry, George Carlin, Christopher Hitchens, Bill Hicks, and other atheists who are in the habit of saying really nasty and cartoonish things about the religious? You have no place whining like victims if we ask, in return, if it isn’t you who have a problem with delusional, superstitious, unscientific beliefs and dogmas you can’t possibly prove by your own evidentiary standards.

Also consider that maybe, just maybe, we evolved a need for attachment to God because one way or the other God wanted us to have it. And yes, the thing that makes the laws of physics and probability work would be entirely capable of shaping the entire universe however it wants things to evolve, without needing any blind watchmakers or self-assembling airplanes, and without caring how big or small we are in the ginormous cosmos it made.

Maybe the need for God is as hard wired as anything else in our evolution, and we seek contact with that because it’s as real as our mother and father and sisters and brothers. And isn’t a delusion at all, but a reality-based experience.

I suggest it would make a lot more sense as a survival trait if it weren’t a delusion, even if that sense of “something beyond this reality” can sometimes can confuse us just like our other senses can confuse us.

The Argument from EvoPsych: we evolved a need for God because God, or something like God, is real and wanted us to have it, and the proof isn’t just that it’s near-universal; it’s also that it looks like we get sick if we deny it. It’s either that, or, apparently, religion is a mutation that won’t go away despite all “rational” evidence and is a pro-survival trait even though it’s a complete hallucination and hideously dangerous to all who dabble in it. Which makes more sense to you?

Smart observers, by the way, will probably notice that my Argument from Evolutionary Psychology is a somewhat specialized version of the Argument From Desire. Which is often considered a weak argument, but is important for some. You think we evolved a need to know and contact things which clearly do not exist and do not matter but can at any moment turn us into raving psycho killers anyway? Or did we evolve a need for something that’s actually there that matters not just to our happiness, but to our health and survival and even our ability to successfully procreate?

By the way, historically, it was noted that atheists frequently chose to avoid family and children. Today, a time when atheism is wildly popular, atheists are breeding themselves right out of the gene pool and frequently celebrate this about themselves. Of course few people believe all “childfree” choices are bad ones–not everyone should have kids–but it’s fascinating that those who fancy themselves more “rational” than everybody else by denying all things beyond the material also often seem to be programmed for removing themselves from the gene pool. So if nothing else, even if you believe there really can be no forces phenomena or entities that matter which are outside our current empirical grasp, or you believe we should just ignore them until we prove them to your arbitrary satisfaction, and we’re all just the the Selfish Gene’s mental slave–if you really believe all that–then you might want to consider that it looks an awful lot like atheism may just be a countersurvival mutation. Atheists live shorter lives, and are less likely to reproduce. So apparently our “selfish genes” don’t think much of atheism.

Maybe it’s because atheism is a usually a logically incoherent dogmatic faith position of limited merit?

Contemplating eternity, and other things, is dangerous?

Contemplating eternity, and trying to touch that which is beyond our physical OR mental grasp: it’s scary, I know.

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PC continues to decline as Intel makes job cuts

Intel is openly stating that they’re moving away from PCs and slashing jobs in their PC-related business.

Starting around 2005 I began to tell people “the PC as we know it is starting to disappear.” It was beginning to be visible around then, although I said then it was only the beginning the result was inevitable. The move toward laptops, then handhelds, then other non-PC devices and cloud computing, was already visible and the change was obviously exponential. I suspect by 2020 it will be obvious to everybody that PCs are going to be what they were back in the 1980s: a tool for specialists like scientists and engineers, and a tool and toy for hobbyists.

I myself don’t know what I’d do without a PC. I’ve been working with them since I was a kid. As a person with disabilities I always found them a tool of personal freedom and liberation. And I guess I’ll probably always have one, if I’m allowed to. It’s that last bit that worries me.

The move toward closed hardware and centralized, cloud computing and storage means we are heading back toward centralized control of computing. And my biggest worry is the loss to individual and family freedom this way.

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