Cosmology Intelligent Design Physics

Is spacetime granular on the smallest of scales?

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And would that help withbig physics problems?:

Spacetime is generally regarded in Einstein’s famous general relativity as perfectly smooth, if curved here and there. But some physicists think that it may actually be granular on the smallest of scales. Like Bagnold, these researchers look beyond the smooth big-scale structures and analyze the effect of each tiny grain. Although this idea is not yet mainstream in the physics community, a recent Physical Review Letter hints that granular spacetime could—just maybe—solve two of the most pressing problems in astronomy today.


The Sands of Spacetime: Researchers investigate two of physics’ greatest problems” at Physics Central

The problems, of course, are the inconsistency between general relativity and quantum mechanics and the expansion of the universe. And how would granularity help?

To begin with, they reasoned, spacetime would be granular only on the very smallest of scales, far smaller than we could hope to measure. The energy transferred away from matter as a result of this granular structure must be correspondingly minuscule. They also calculated that the amount of energy lost is proportional to density squared; since the modern universe is relatively rarified, current energy losses would be tiny. In fact, the entire planet Earth would take 10 million years to lose the energetic equivalent of a single electron mass through this process! Current technology is nowhere near the capabilities that would be required to measure such tiny effects, and so it would be impossible for researchers to measure in the lab…

The Sands of Spacetime: Researchers investigate two of physics’ greatest problems” at Physics Central

Interesting idea. The paper is paywalled.

See also: Sabine Hossenfelder: Don’t Expect Too Much From New Proposals To Detect Dark Matter

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26 Replies to “Is spacetime granular on the smallest of scales?

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    as to:

    To begin with, they reasoned, spacetime would be granular only on the very smallest of scales, far smaller than we could hope to measure.

    Oh goody, yet another prediction that is far from any sort of empirical confirmation. But if previous predictions of this sort are any indication, then this is yet another example of physics going “down the rabbit hole”:

    GRBs Expand Astronomers’ Toolbox – Nov. 2009
    Excerpt: a detailed analysis of the GRB (Gamma Ray Burst) in question demonstrated that photons of all energies arrived at essentially the same time. Consequently, these results falsify any quantum gravity models requiring the simplest form of a frothy space.
    http://www.reasons.org/GRBsExp.....ersToolbox

    Quantum Foam Paper Suggests Einstein Was Right About Space-Time Being ‘Smooth’ – January 2013
    Excerpt: It appears Albert Einstein may have been right yet again.
    A team of researchers came to this conclusion after tracing the long journey three photons took through intergalactic space. The photons were blasted out by an intense explosion known as a gamma-ray burst about 7 billion light-years from Earth. They finally barreled into the detectors of NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope in May 2009, arriving just a millisecond apart.
    Their dead-heat finish strongly supports the Einsteinian view of space-time, researchers said. The wavelengths of gamma-ray burst photons are so small that they should be able to interact with the even tinier “bubbles” in the quantum theorists’ proposed space-time foam.
    If this foam indeed exists, the three photons should have been knocked around a bit during their epic voyage. In such a scenario, the chances of all three reaching the Fermi telescope at virtually the same time are very low, researchers said.
    So the new study is a strike against the foam’s existence as currently imagined,,, “If foaminess exists at all, we think it must be at a scale far smaller than the Planck length,”
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/.....49734.html

    Confirming Einstein, scientists find ‘spacetime foam’ not slowing down photons from faraway gamma-ray burst (Update) – Mar 16, 2015
    Excerpt: Albert Einstein formulated the general theory of relativity, one of the theory’s basic assumptions: the idea that all light particles, or photons, propagate at exactly the same speed.,,
    The researchers analyzed data, obtained by NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, of the arrival times of photons from a distant gamma-ray burst. The data showed that photons traveling for billions of years from the distant burst toward Earth all arrived within a fraction of a second of each other.
    This finding indicates that the photons all moved at the same speed, even though different photons had different energies. This is one of the best measurements ever of the independence of the speed of light from the energy of the light particles.,,,
    One of the attempts to reconcile the two theories (Quantum Mechanics and General Relativity) is the idea of “space-time foam.” According to this concept, on a microscopic scale space is not continuous, and instead it has a foam-like structure. The size of these foam elements is so tiny that it is difficult to imagine and is at present impossible to measure directly. However light particles that are traveling within this foam will be affected by the foamy structure, and this will cause them to propagate at slightly different speeds depending on their energy.
    The fact that all the photons with different energies arrived with no time delay relative to each other indicates that such a foamy structure, if it exists at all, has a much smaller size than previously expected.
    “When we began our analysis, we didn’t expect to obtain such a precise measurement,” said Prof. Tsvi Piran, the Schwartzmann University Chair at the Hebrew University’s Racah Institute of Physics and a leader of the research. “This new limit is at the level expected from quantum gravity theories.
    http://phys.org/news/2015-03-e.....-foam.html

    NASA telescopes set limits on space-time quantum ‘foam’ – May, 28. 2015
    Excerpt: At the smallest scales of distance and duration that we can measure, spacetime—that is, the three dimensions of space plus time—appears to be smooth and structureless. However, certain aspects of quantum mechanics, the highly successful theory scientists have developed to explain the physics of atoms and subatomic particles, predict that spacetime would not be smooth. Rather, it would have a foamy, jittery nature and would consist of many small, ever-changing, regions for which space and time are no longer definite, but fluctuate.,,,
    Chandra’s X-ray detection of quasars at distances of billions of light-years rules out one model, according to which photons diffuse randomly through spacetime foam in a manner similar to light diffusing through fog. Detections of distant quasars at shorter, gamma-ray wavelengths with Fermi and even shorter wavelengths with VERITAS demonstrate that a second, so-called holographic model with less diffusion does not work.
    “We find that our data can rule out two different models for spacetime foam,” said co-author Jack Ng of the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. “We can conclude that spacetime is less foamy than some (quantum) models predict.”
    The X-ray and gamma-ray data show that spacetime is smooth down to distances 1,000 times smaller than the nucleus of a hydrogen atom.
    http://phys.org/news/2015-05-n.....antum.html

    How do we know the universe is flat? Discovering the topology of the universe – June 7, 2017 by Fraser Cain
    Excerpt: With the most sensitive space-based telescopes they have available, astronomers are able to detect tiny variations in the temperature of this background radiation.
    And here’s the part that blows my mind every time I think about it. These tiny temperature variations correspond to the largest scale structures of the observable universe. A region that was a fraction of a degree warmer become a vast galaxy cluster, hundreds of millions of light-years across.
    The cosmic microwave background radiation just gives and gives, and when it comes to figuring out the topology of the universe, it has the answer we need. If the universe was curved in any way, these temperature variations would appear distorted compared to the actual size that we see these structures today.,,,
    But they’re not. To best of its ability, ESA’s Planck space telescope, can’t detect any distortion at all. The universe is flat.,,,
    Since the universe is flat now, it must have been flat in the past, when the universe was an incredibly dense singularity. And for it to maintain this level of flatness over 13.8 billion years of expansion, in kind of amazing.
    In fact, astronomers estimate that the universe must have been flat to 1 part within 1×10^57 parts.
    Which seems like an insane coincidence.
    https://phys.org/news/2017-06-universe-flat-topology.html

    Trio of dead stars upholds Einstein’s gravity – January 16, 2018
    Excerpt: Observations of a trio of dead stars have confirmed that a foundation of Einstein’s gravitational theory holds even for ultradense objects with strong gravitational fields.
    The complex orbital dance of the three former stars conforms to a rule known as the strong equivalence principle, researchers reported January 10 at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society. That agreement limits theories that predict Einstein’s theory, general relativity, should fail at some level.,,,
    Many physicists expect the strong equivalence principle to be violated on some level. General relativity doesn’t mesh well with quantum mechanics, the theory that reigns on very small scales. Adjustments to general relativity that attempt to combine these theories tend to result in a violation of the strong equivalence principle, says physicist Clifford Will,,,
    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/trio-of-dead-stars-upholds-einsteins-gravity/

    Troubled Times for Alternatives to Einstein’s Theory of Gravity – April 30, 2018
    New observations of extreme astrophysical systems have “brutally and pitilessly murdered” attempts to replace Einstein’s general theory of relativity.
    Excerpt: The neutron-star collision was just the beginning. New data in the months since that discovery have made life increasingly difficult for the proponents of many of the modified-gravity theories that remain. Astronomers have analyzed extreme astronomical systems that contain spinning neutron stars, or pulsars, to look for discrepancies between their motion and the predictions of general relativity — discrepancies that some theories of alternative gravity anticipate. These pulsar systems let astronomers probe gravity on a new scale and with new precision. And with each new observation, these alternative theories of gravity are having an increasingly hard time solving the problems they were invented for. Researchers “have to sweat some more trying to get new physics,” said Anne Archibald, an astrophysicist at the University of Amsterdam.,,,
    All attempts to directly detect dark matter and dark energy have failed, however. That fact “kind of leaves a bad taste in some people’s mouths, almost like the fictional planet Vulcan,” said Leo Stein, a theoretical physicist at the California Institute of Technology. “Maybe we’re going about it all wrong?”,,,
    “The business of alternative gravity theories is a messy one,” Archibald said. Some would-be replacements for general relativity, like string theory and loop quantum gravity, don’t offer testable predictions. Others “make predictions that are spectacularly wrong, so the theorists have to devise some kind of a screening mechanism to hide the wrong prediction on scales we can actually test,” she said.
    https://www.quantamagazine.org/troubled-times-for-alternatives-to-einsteins-theory-of-gravity-20180430/

    Dark energy alternatives to Einstein are running out of room – January 9, 2013
    Excerpt: Last month, a group of European astronomers, using a massive radio telescope in Germany, made the most accurate measurement of the proton-to-electron mass ratio ever accomplished and found that there has been no change in the ratio to one part in 10 million at a time when the universe was about half its current age, around 7 billion years ago. When Thompson put this new measurement into his calculations, he found that it excluded almost all of the dark energy models using the commonly expected values or parameters.
    If the parameter space or range of values is equated to a football field, then almost the whole field is out of bounds except for a single 2-inch by 2-inch patch at one corner of the field. In fact, most of the allowed values are not even on the field. “In effect, the dark energy theories have been playing on the wrong field,” Thompson said. “The 2-inch square does contain the area that corresponds to no change in the fundamental constants, (a ‘true cosmological constant’), and that is exactly where Einstein stands.”
    http://phys.org/news/2013-01-d.....-room.html

  2. 2
    hazel says:

    Yes, according to the theory of quantum gravity, as speculated upon in Rovelli’s book, “Reality Is Not What It Seems”.

  3. 3
    Latemarch says:

    Seems reasonable that it would be granular.
    It all seems to be founded on information and information is granular…..isn’t it?

  4. 4
    PaV says:

    Here’s a preprint for those interested: (It’s a short paper)

  5. 5
    bornagain77 says:

    Latemarch

    Seems reasonable that it would be granular.
    It all seems to be founded on information and information is granular…..isn’t it?

    It is hard to see how a single bit of immaterial information, naked and all by itself, (not encoded on anything else, indeed immaterial information that is being put forth as the fundamental definition of spacetime itself), could be said to be “granular”. How would you go about defining the bit of immaterial information’s edges? How long would the bit of immaterial information be? etc.. etc.. Since everything physical, including spacetime itself, is being reduced to information, then there is simply nothing physical left for us to define the bit of immaterial information with. Much less defining the bit to be “granular”.

  6. 6
    FourFaces says:

    Of course, “perfectly smooth” is illogical since it leads to an infinite regress. The universe is discrete by logical necessity. And it’s not spacetime that is discrete since spacetime does not exist. It’s an abstract fiction, like distance, angle or volume. Physically speaking, there exist only particles, their intrinsic properties (which include position) and their interactions. Everything else is crackpottery or imagined.
    So if something does not exist, it cannot expand or cause anything or be affected by anything. Simple common sense.

  7. 7
    bornagain77 says:

    FourFaces you state

    it’s not spacetime that is discrete since spacetime does not exist. It’s an abstract fiction, like distance, angle or volume.

    While I agree that spacetime is not discrete, the oft repeated refrain that spacetime is completely illusory, or an “abstract fiction” to use your words, is something that I do not agree with.

    While the actions of quantum mechanics themselves blatantly disregard the constraints of spacetime,,,

    Wheeler’s Classic Delayed Choice Experiment:
    Excerpt: Now, for many billions of years the photon is in transit in region 3. Yet we can choose (many billions of years later) which experimental set up to employ – the single wide-focus, or the two narrowly focused instruments. We have chosen whether to know which side of the galaxy the photon passed by (by choosing whether to use the two-telescope set up or not, which are the instruments that would give us the information about which side of the galaxy the photon passed). We have delayed this choice until a time long after the particles “have passed by one side of the galaxy, or the other side of the galaxy, or both sides of the galaxy,” so to speak. Yet, it seems paradoxically that our later choice of whether to obtain this information determines which side of the galaxy the light passed, so to speak, billions of years ago. So it seems that time has nothing to do with effects of quantum mechanics. And, indeed, the original thought experiment was not based on any analysis of how particles evolve and behave over time – it was based on the mathematics. This is what the mathematics predicted for a result, and this is exactly the result obtained in the laboratory.
    http://www.bottomlayer.com/bot.....choice.htm

    How Quantum Mechanics and Consciousness Correlate – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4f0hL3Nrdas

    While the actions of quantum mechanics themselves blatantly disregard the constraints of spacetime,,, our own physical actions within this universe when dealing with quantum mechanics are still, perhaps frustratingly, constrained by the limits set upon them by spacetime.

    Quantum Weirdness May Seem to Outrun Light — Here’s Why It Can’t
    By Paul Sutter September 29, 2018
    Excerpt: Living in a quantum world
    The resolution to Einstein’s question comes via an excruciatingly careful examination of who knows what and when. Let’s say I keep one of the entangled pair of particles and send the other off to you. Eager as always, I look at my particle — performing the all-important measurement — and find an up-spin particle. Smiling with confident knowledge, I send off a beam of light telling you what you’ll find.
    But before the signal arrives, you look at your particle, dutifully measuring the quantum-mandated down-spin particle. But because my message hasn’t arrived yet, you don’t know if you were the first to look and just randomly got a down-spin or if I opened first and forced your particle into that state. It’s only after we compare notes that we discover that the two particles were truly entangled and that the measurement of one depended on the other. Before that communication, we cannot tell if either of us was dealing with an already-set particle.
    So, while the process of disentanglement happens instantaneously, the revelation of it does not. We have to use good old-fashioned no-faster-than-light communication methods to piece together the correlations that quantum entanglement demands. Thus, Einstein’s universal speed limit is preserved, and so is the fundamentally quantum worldview.
    https://www.space.com/41968-quantum-entanglement-faster-than-light.html

    Moreover, although many people when dealing with quantum mechanics are prone to completely write spacetime off as an illusion, or as an ‘abstract fiction’ in FourFaces case, I think that option is far too drastic. In fact I find that Spacetime has much to teach us about our place in reality.

    As we know from special relativity, time, as we understand it, comes to a complete stop for a hypothetical observer travelling at the speed of light.

    To grasp the whole concept of time coming to a complete stop at the speed of light a little more easily, imagine moving away from the face of a clock at the speed of light. Would not the hands on the clock stay stationary as you moved away from the face of the clock at the speed of light? Moving away from the face of a clock at the speed of light happens to be the very same ‘thought experiment’ that gave Einstein his breakthrough insight into special relativity. Here is a short clip from a video that gives us a look into Einstein’s breakthrough insight.

    Einstein: Einstein’s Miracle Year (‘Insight into Eternity’ – Thought Experiment 55 second mark) – video
    http://www.history.com/topics/.....racle-year

    That time, as we understand it, comes to a complete stop at the speed of light, and yet light moves from point A to point B in our universe, and thus light is obviously not ‘frozen within time, has some fairly profound implications.

    “The laws of relativity have changed timeless existence from a theological claim to a physical reality. Light, you see, is outside of time, a fact of nature proven in thousands of experiments at hundreds of universities. I don’t pretend to know how tomorrow can exist simultaneously with today and yesterday. But at the speed of light they actually and rigorously do. Time does not pass.”
    Dr. Richard Swenson – More Than Meets The Eye, Chpt. 11

    The only way it is possible for time not to pass for light, and yet for light to move from point A to point B in our universe, is if light is of a higher dimensional value of time than the temporal time we are currently living in. Otherwise light would simply be ‘frozen within time’ to our temporal frame of reference.

    And indeed that is exactly what we find. “Hermann Minkowski- one of the math professors of a young Einstein in Zurich—presented a geometric interpretation of special relativity that fused time and the three spatial dimensions of space into a single four-dimensional continuum now known as Minkowski space.”

    Spacetime
    Excerpt: In 1908, Hermann Minkowski—once one of the math professors of a young Einstein in Zurich—presented a geometric interpretation of special relativity that fused time and the three spatial dimensions of space into a single four-dimensional continuum now known as Minkowski space. A key feature of this interpretation is the definition of a spacetime interval that combines distance and time. Although measurements of distance and time between events differ for measurements made in different reference frames, the spacetime interval is independent of the inertial frame of reference in which they are recorded.
    Minkowski’s geometric interpretation of relativity was to prove vital to Einstein’s development of his 1915 general theory of relativity, wherein he showed that spacetime becomes curved in the presence of mass or energy.,,,
    Einstein, for his part, was initially dismissive of Minkowski’s geometric interpretation of special relativity, regarding it as überflüssige Gelehrsamkeit (superfluous learnedness). However, in order to complete his search for general relativity that started in 1907, the geometric interpretation of relativity proved to be vital, and in 1916, Einstein fully acknowledged his indebtedness to Minkowski, whose interpretation greatly facilitated the transition to general relativity.[10]:151–152 Since there are other types of spacetime, such as the curved spacetime of general relativity, the spacetime of special relativity is today known as Minkowski spacetime.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spacetime

    One way for us to more easily understand this higher dimensional framework for time that light exist in is to visualize what would happen if a hypothetical observer approached the speed of light.
    In the following video clip, which was made by two Australian University Physics Professors, we find that the 3-Dimensional world ‘folds and collapses’ into a tunnel shape as a ‘hypothetical’ observer approaches the ‘higher dimension’ of the speed of light.

    Optical Effects of Special Relativity – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQnHTKZBTI4

    OK now that we have outlined the basics of what we know to be true from special relativity, It is very interesting to note that many of the characteristics found in heavenly Near Death Experience testimonies are exactly what we would expect to see from what we now know to be true about Special Relativity.

    For instance, many times people who have had a Near Death Experience mention that their perception of time was radically altered. In the following video clip, Mickey Robinson gives his Near Death testimony of what it felt like for him to experience a ‘timeless eternity’.

    ‘In the ‘spirit world,,, instantly, there was no sense of time. See, everything on earth is related to time. You got up this morning, you are going to go to bed tonight. Something is new, it will get old. Something is born, it’s going to die. Everything on the physical plane is relative to time, but everything in the spiritual plane is relative to eternity. Instantly I was in total consciousness and awareness of eternity, and you and I as we live in this earth cannot even comprehend it, because everything that we have here is filled within the veil of the temporal life. In the spirit life that is more real than anything else and it is awesome. Eternity as a concept is awesome. There is no such thing as time. I knew that whatever happened was going to go on and on.’
    In The Presence Of Almighty God – The NDE of Mickey Robinson – video (testimony starts at 27:45 minute mark)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=voak1RM-pXo

    And here are a few more quotes from people who have experienced Near Death, that speak of how their perception of time was radically altered as they were outside of their material body during their NDEs.

    ‘Earthly time has no meaning in the spirit realm. There is no concept of before or after. Everything – past, present, future – exists simultaneously.’
    – Kimberly Clark Sharp – Near Death Experiencer
    https://www.near-death.com/science/research/time.html

    ‘There is no way to tell whether minutes, hours or years go by. Existence is the only reality and it is inseparable from the eternal now.’
    – John Star – NDE Experiencer
    http://www.near-death.com/expe.....rch13.html

  8. 8
    bornagain77 says:

    As well, Near Death Experiencers also frequently mention going through a tunnel to a higher heavenly dimension:

    Ask the Experts: What Is a Near-Death Experience (NDE)? – article with video
    Excerpt: “Very often as they’re moving through the tunnel, there’s a very bright mystical light … not like a light we’re used to in our earthly lives. People call this mystical light, brilliant like a million times a million suns…”
    – Jeffrey Long M.D. – has studied NDE’s extensively
    http://abcnews.go.com/Nightlin....._gydvW8jbI

    The Tunnel and the Near-Death Experience
    Excerpt: One of the nine elements that generally occur during NDEs is the tunnel experience. This involves being drawn into darkness through a tunnel, at an extremely high speed, until reaching a realm of radiant golden-white light.
    https://www.near-death.com/science/research/tunnel.html

    In the following video, Barbara Springer gives her testimony as to what it felt like for her to go through the tunnel:

    “I started to move toward the light. The way I moved, the physics, was completely different than it is here on Earth. It was something I had never felt before and never felt since. It was a whole different sensation of motion. I obviously wasn’t walking or skipping or crawling. I was not floating. I was flowing. I was flowing toward the light. I was accelerating and I knew I was accelerating, but then again, I didn’t really feel the acceleration. I just knew I was accelerating toward the light. Again, the physics was different – the physics of motion of time, space, travel. It was completely different in that tunnel, than it is here on Earth. I came out into the light and when I came out into the light, I realized that I was in heaven.”
    Barbara Springer – Near Death Experience – The Tunnel – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gv2jLeoAcMI

    And in the following audio clip, Vicki Noratuk, who has been blind from birth, besides being able to see for the first time during in her life during her Near Death Experience, Vicki also gives testimony of going through a tunnel:

    “I was in a body, and the only way that I can describe it was a body of energy, or of light. And this body had a form. It had a head, it had arms and it had legs. And it was like it was made out of light. And it was everything that was me. All of my memories, my consciousness, everything.”,,, “And then this vehicle formed itself around me. Vehicle is the only thing, or tube, or something, but it was a mode of transportation that’s for sure! And it formed around me. And there was no one in it with me. I was in it alone. But I knew there were other people ahead of me and behind me. What they were doing I don’t know, but there were people ahead of me and people behind me, but I was alone in my particular conveyance. And I could see out of it. And it went at a tremendously, horrifically, rapid rate of speed. But it wasn’t unpleasant. It was beautiful in fact.,, I was reclining in this thing, I wasn’t sitting straight up, but I wasn’t lying down either. I was sitting back. And it was just so fast. I can’t even begin to tell you where it went or whatever it was just fast!” –
    Vicki’s NDE – Blind since birth –
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e65KhcCS5-Y

    And in the following quotes, the two Near Death Experiencers both testify that they firmly believed that they were in a higher heavenly dimension that is above this three-dimensional world, and that the reason that they have a very difficult time explaining what their Near Death Experiences actually felt like is because we simply don’t currently have the words to properly describe that higher dimension:

    “Regardless, it is impossible for me to adequately describe what I saw and felt. When I try to recount my experiences now, the description feels very pale. I feel as though I’m trying to describe a three-dimensional experience while living in a two-dimensional world. The appropriate words, descriptions and concepts don’t even exist in our current language. I have subsequently read the accounts of other people’s near-death experiences and their portrayals of heaven and I able to see the same limitations in their descriptions and vocabulary that I see in my own.”
    Mary C. Neal, MD – To Heaven And Back pg. 71

    “Well, when I was taking geometry, they always told me there were only three dimensions, and I always just accepted that. But they were wrong. There are more… And that is why so hard for me to tell you this. I have to describe with words that are three-dimensional. That’s as close as I can get to it, but it’s really not adequate.”
    John Burke – Imagine Heaven pg. 51 – quoting a Near Death Experiencer
    http://www.amazon.com/Imagine-.....080101526X

    Thus far from spacetime being an illusion, or a useless ‘abstract fiction’, we find that the spacetime of Einstein relativity has much to teach us. Specifically, we learn that the overall characteristics mentioned in heavenly Near Death Experiences match exactly what we would a-priorily expect to be true beforehand from one of our most accurately verified theories in science, i.e. special relativity.

    And while it is certainly true that one cannot place too much emphasis on just one Near Death Experience as being undeniably true, none the less, since the experiences are verified repeatedly by millions of different people who have died for a short while and have come back to tell us of their experiences, then the ‘subjective observations’ of these people, (of a timeless eternity and of ‘going through a tunnel’), are, none the less, extremely reliable in that they do indeed exactly match the characteristics of what we would expect to be true beforehand from what we know to be scientifically true from special relativity.

    I would even go so far as to say that such corroboration from ‘non-physicists’, who know nothing about the intricacies of special relativity, is a complete scientific verification for the overall validity of NDE testimonies.

    Luke 23:43
    Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

    2 Corinthians 12:2-4
    I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. 3 And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— 4 was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell.

    Supplemental notes:

    Texas Pastor John Burke Says Near-Death Experiences Are ‘Amazingly Biblical’ (Video) – Oct 25, 2015
    ‘How You Think About Heaven Affects Everything in Life,’ Says Gateway Church Pastor
    http://www.christianpost.com/n.....eo-148156/

    Near-Death Experiences: Putting a Darwinist’s Evidentiary Standards to the Test – Dr. Michael Egnor – October 15, 2012
    Excerpt: Indeed, about 20 percent of NDE’s are corroborated, which means that there are independent ways of checking about the veracity of the experience. The patients knew of things that they could not have known except by extraordinary perception — such as describing details of surgery that they watched while their heart was stopped, etc. Additionally, many NDE’s have a vividness and a sense of intense reality that one does not generally encounter in dreams or hallucinations.,,,
    The most “parsimonious” explanation — the simplest scientific explanation — is that the (Near Death) experience was real. Tens of millions of people have had such experiences. That is tens of millions of more times than we have observed the origin of species , (or the origin of life, or the origin of a protein/gene, or of a molecular machine), which is never.,,,
    The materialist reaction, in short, is unscientific and close-minded. NDE’s show fellows like Coyne at their sneering unscientific irrational worst. Somebody finds a crushed fragment of a fossil and it’s earth-shaking evidence. Tens of million of people have life-changing spiritual experiences and it’s all a big yawn.
    Note: Dr. Egnor is professor and vice-chairman of neurosurgery at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....65301.html

    ‘Afterlife’ feels ‘even more real than real,’ researcher says – Wed April 10, 2013
    Excerpt: “If you use this questionnaire … if the memory is real, it’s richer, and if the memory is recent, it’s richer,” he said.
    The coma scientists weren’t expecting what the tests revealed.
    “To our surprise, NDEs were much richer than any imagined event or any real event of these coma survivors,” Laureys reported.
    The memories of these experiences beat all other memories, hands down, for their vivid sense of reality. “The difference was so vast,” he said with a sense of astonishment.
    Even if the patient had the experience a long time ago, its memory was as rich “as though it was yesterday,” Laureys said.
    http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/09/.....periences/

    Quantum Mechanics, Special Relativity, General Relativity and Christianity – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4QDy1Soolo

  9. 9
    FourFaces says:

    BornAgain77,
    I’m sorry but I find your style of debate (lengthy quotes) to be impenetrable. If you got a point to make or a refutation of what I said, use as few words as possible and be precise.

  10. 10
    bornagain77 says:

    FF, no thanks. I’m happy with the point I made as it is.

  11. 11
    john_a_designer says:

    From the first article cited:

    According to some varieties of quantum gravity—one possibility for the Grand Unifying Theory—space is made up of a mind-boggling number of tiny particle-like entities, each on the order of 10-35 meters (technically speaking, the Planck length). As matter moves through spacetime, it hops from one of these particles to another—there is no such thing as “in-between”. We are so large in comparison with the granular structure that we only see the large-scale, apparently smooth curvature of spacetime, but that’s only part of the picture—it’s like studying a sand dune without considering the effect of each grain.

    If nothing else these little “quantum leaps” could finally resolve Zeno’s paradox which argues that you could never traverse any distance from point A to point B, because if space was infinitely divisible you’d have to traverse an infinite distance through space to get to any destination. These kind of ancient puzzles still keep some people awake at night. Not me. What keeps me awake is the possibility that when I wake up after a dream that I didn’t really wake up but I just moved on to another dream. So, life is just moving from one dream to the next. (What a nightmare!) I’m glad that happens during the day and not at night. I need my sleep at night. Wasn’t there a Twilight Zone episode that explored that theme or did I just dream that?

    Oh what the heck, cue the weird music anyway.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XVSRm80WzZk

  12. 12
    AaronS1978 says:

    9
    FourFaces
    July 10, 2019 at 10:58 am
    BornAgain77,
    I’m sorry but I find your style of debate (lengthy quotes) to be impenetrable. If you got a point to make or a refutation of what I said, use as few words as possible and be precise.

    Agreed, and I’m not bashing on you BA77 either, but just a summary and the link would be fine. You do have a lot of good points but it’s hard sometimes to sort through the quotes to get to the meat and potatoes

  13. 13
    bornagain77 says:

    Well I’m still happy with my point and the way it was made. It, i.e. special relativity, was stripped down to its basics. I can’t really help you guys anymore than that.

    This may be of related interest to those who can understand it:

     Physics Is Pointing Inexorably to Mind
    So-called “information realism” has some surprising implications
    By Bernardo Kastrup – March 25, 2019
    Excerpt: according to the Greek atomists, if we kept on dividing things into ever-smaller bits, at the end there would remain solid, indivisible particles called atoms, imagined to be so concrete as to have even particular shapes. Yet, as our understanding of physics progressed, we’ve realized that atoms themselves can be further divided into smaller bits, and those into yet smaller ones, and so on, until what is left lacks shape and solidity altogether. At the bottom of the chain of physical reduction there are only elusive, phantasmal entities we label as “energy” and “fields”—abstract conceptual tools for describing nature, which themselves seem to lack any real, concrete essence.,,,
    To make sense of this conundrum, we don’t need the word games of information realism. Instead, we must stick to what is most immediately present to us: solidity and concreteness are qualities of our experience. The world measured, modeled and ultimately predicted by physics is the world of perceptions, a category of mentation. The phantasms and abstractions reside merely in our descriptions of the behavior of that world, not in the world itself.
    Where we get lost and confused is in imagining that what we are describing is a non-mental reality underlying our perceptions, as opposed to the perceptions themselves. We then try to find the solidity and concreteness of the perceived world in that postulated underlying reality. However, a non-mental world is inevitably abstract. And since solidity and concreteness are felt qualities of experience—what else?—we cannot find them there. The problem we face is thus merely an artifact of thought, something we conjure up out of thin air because of our theoretical habits and prejudices.
    Tegmark is correct in considering matter—defined as something outside and independent of mind—to be unnecessary baggage. But the implication of this fine and indeed brave conclusion is that the universe is a mental construct displayed on the screen of perception. Tegmark’s “mathematical universe” is inherently a mental one, for where does mathematics—numbers, sets, equations—exist if not in mentation?
    As I elaborate extensively in my new book, The Idea of the World, none of this implies solipsism. The mental universe exists in mind but not in your personal mind alone. Instead, it is a transpersonal field of mentation that presents itself to us as physicality—with its concreteness, solidity and definiteness—once our personal mental processes interact with it through observation. This mental universe is what physics is leading us to, not the hand-waving word games of information realism.
    https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/physics-is-pointing-inexorably-to-mind/

  14. 14
    Brother Brian says:

    FF

    BornAgain77,
    I’m sorry but I find your style of debate (lengthy quotes) to be impenetrable.

    It’s the written version of the Gish Gallop. Or, another way to phrase it “BS baffles brains”.

  15. 15
    bornagain77 says:

    BB, thanks for adding to the body of evidence that atheists are, to put it mildly, ‘mentally lacking’

    Are atheists mentally ill? – August 14th, 2013 – Sean Thomas
    Excerpt: “Let’s dispense with the crude metric of IQ and look at the actual lives led by atheists, and believers, and see how they measure up. In other words: let’s see who is living more intelligently. And guess what: it’s the believers. A vast body of research, amassed over recent decades, shows that religious belief is physically and psychologically beneficial – to a remarkable degree.,,,
    [I hope this next part doesn’t upset too many people, but…] the evidence today implies that atheism is a form of mental illness. And this is because science is showing that the human mind is hard-wired for faith… religious people have all their faculties intact, they are fully functioning humans. Therefore, being an atheist – lacking the vital faculty of faith – should be seen as an affliction, and a tragic deficiency: something akin to blindness. Which makes Richard Dawkins the intellectual equivalent of an amputee, furiously waving his stumps in the air, boasting that he has no hands.”
    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/n.....tally-ill/

  16. 16
    Brother Brian says:

    AaronS1978, and now you know why nobody takes BS77 seriously.

    BS77

    BB, thanks for adding to the body of evidence that atheists are, to put it mildly, ‘mentally lacking’

  17. 17
    bornagain77 says:

    BB, unlike you, I can produce evidence for my claims. For instance, my current claim that dogmatic atheists, such as yourself, are suffering from mental illness.

    Studies establish that the design inference is ‘knee jerk’ inference that is built into everyone, especially including atheists, and that atheists have to mentally work suppressing their “knee jerk” design inference!

    Richard Dawkins take heed: Even atheists instinctively believe in a creator says study – Mary Papenfuss – June 12, 2015
    Excerpt: Three studies at Boston University found that even among atheists, the “knee jerk” reaction to natural phenomenon is the belief that they’re purposefully designed by some intelligence, according to a report on the research in Cognition entitled the “Divided Mind of a disbeliever.”
    The findings “suggest that there is a deeply rooted natural tendency to view nature as designed,” writes a research team led by Elisa Järnefelt of Newman University. They also provide evidence that, in the researchers’ words, “religious non-belief is cognitively effortful.”
    Researchers attempted to plug into the automatic or “default” human brain by showing subjects images of natural landscapes and things made by human beings, then requiring lightning-fast responses to the question on whether “any being purposefully made the thing in the picture,” notes Pacific-Standard.
    “Religious participants’ baseline tendency to endorse nature as purposefully created was higher” than that of atheists, the study found. But non-religious participants “increasingly defaulted to understanding natural phenomena as purposefully made” when “they did not have time to censor their thinking,” wrote the researchers.
    The results suggest that “the tendency to construe both living and non-living nature as intentionally made derives from automatic cognitive processes, not just practised explicit beliefs,” the report concluded.
    The results were similar even among subjects from Finland, where atheism is not a controversial issue as it can be in the US.
    “Design-based intuitions run deep,” the researchers conclude, “persisting even in those with no explicit religious commitment and, indeed, even among those with an active aversion to them.”
    http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/richa.....dy-1505712

    Is Atheism a Delusion?
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Ii-bsrHB0o

    Design Thinking Is Hardwired in the Human Brain. How Come? – October 17, 2012
    Excerpt: “Even Professional Scientists Are Compelled to See Purpose in Nature, Psychologists Find.” The article describes a test by Boston University’s psychology department, in which researchers found that “despite years of scientific training, even professional chemists, geologists, and physicists from major universities such as Harvard, MIT, and Yale cannot escape a deep-seated belief that natural phenomena exist for a purpose” ,,,
    Most interesting, though, are the questions begged by this research. One is whether it is even possible to purge teleology from explanation.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....65381.html

    Perhaps the two most famous quotes of atheists purposely suppressing their innate ‘design inference’ are the following two quotes:

    “Yet the living results of natural selection overwhelmingly impress us with the appearance of design as if by a master watchmaker, impress us with the illusion of design and planning.”
    Richard Dawkins – “The Blind Watchmaker” – 1986 – page 21

    “Biologists must constantly keep in mind that what they see was not designed, but rather evolved.”
    Francis Crick – What Mad Pursuit

    It is not that Atheists do not see purpose and/or Design in nature and biology, it is that Atheists, for whatever severely misguided reason, live in denial of the purpose and/or Design that they themselves see in nature. And yes, ‘denialism’ is certainly considered a mental illness. (In fact denialism is considered a major factor that must be dealt with in any successful recovery from alcohol and drug abuse)

    In the psychology of human behavior, denialism is a person’s choice to deny reality, as a way to avoid a psychologically uncomfortable truth.
    Denialism – Wikipedia

    BB, I take no pleasure in the fact that you, as a dogmatic atheist, suffer from a mental illness, especially considering the eternal consequences for your soul, but there is nothing I can do to help you until you first realize that you have a severe problem. The first step in recovery is admitting that you have a problem.

    Romans 1:19-20
    For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

    Supplemental notes:

    When Atheists Are Angry at God – 2011
    Excerpt: I’ve never been angry at unicorns. It’s unlikely you’ve ever been angry at unicorns either.,, The one social group that takes exception to this rule is atheists. They claim to believe that God does not exist and yet, according to empirical studies, tend to be the people most angry at him.
    http://www.firstthings.com/ont.....gry-at-god

    “I once thought I was too smart to believe in God. Now I know I was an arrogant fool who snubbed the greatest Mind in the cosmos—the Author of all science, mathematics, art, and everything else there is to know.”

    An MIT Professor Meets the Author of All Knowledge
    I used to think religious people were ignoramuses. Then I got smart and took a chance on God.
    ROSALIND PICARD – MARCH 15, 2019
    As early as grade school, when I was a voracious reader and a straight-A student, I identified with being smart. And I believed smart people didn’t need religion. As a result, I declared myself an atheist and dismissed people who believed in God as uneducated.
    In high school, I led a classroom debate team arguing for a godless form of evolution, confident my side would win because “this was science.” When the class voted and awarded victory to the creation side, I was dumbstruck. Most people didn’t understand science, I figured—either that, or they were unduly swayed by the most popular girl in class. She had a swimming pool in her backyard and threw fun parties.
    At the time, I babysat to earn money. One of my favorite families was a young couple; both the husband (a doctor) and the wife were really sharp. One night, after paying me, they invited me to church. I was stunned—people this smart actually went to church? When Sunday morning came around, I told them I had a stomachache. They invited me again the following week, but once more I came down with another phantom stomachache. The more they persisted, the more I struggled to invent convincing excuses. (You try faking an illness to a doctor.)
    Just a Phase?
    Eventually, the couple tried a different tack. “You know,” they said, “going to church is not what matters most. What matters is what you believe. Have you read the Bible?” I figured that if I wanted to be an educated person, I needed to read the best-selling book of all time. The doctor suggested starting with Proverbs, reading one chapter daily for a month. When I first opened the Bible—this was the King James Version—I expected to find phony miracles, made-up creatures, and assorted gobbledygook. To my surprise, Proverbs was full of wisdom. I had to pause while reading and think.
    I quietly bought a modern translation called The Way and read through the entire Bible. While I never heard actual voices or anything to justify summoning a neurologist, I felt this strange sense of being spoken to. It was disturbing yet oddly attractive. I began wondering whether there really might be a God.,,,
    Today, I am a professor at the top university (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) in my field. I have incredible colleagues who have helped translate my lab research into difference-making products—including a smart watch that helps caregivers save the lives of people with epilepsy. I work closely with people whose lives are filled with medical struggles, people whose children are not healthy. I do not have adequate answers to explain all their suffering. But I know there is a God of unfathomable greatness and love who freely enters into relationship with all who confess their sins and call upon his name.
    I once thought I was too smart to believe in God. Now I know I was an arrogant fool who snubbed the greatest Mind in the cosmos—the Author of all science, mathematics, art, and everything else there is to know. Today I walk humbly, having received the most undeserved grace. I walk with joy, alongside the most amazing Companion anyone could ask for, filled with desire to keep learning and exploring.
    https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2019/april/rosalind-picard-mit-professor-meets-author-knowledge.html

    Atheism Was An “Error”: English Professor & Atheist Mark Bauerlein Converts to Christianity – March 8, 2019
    Excerpt: But no matter how profound Freud and Nietzsche could be in their writings they couldn’t save Bauerlein from approaching despair,
    “EVERY NIGHT IN BED I FORESAW MY PENDING NONEXISTENCE AND TREMBLED.”
    I shut my eyes and the walls closed in. That I was destined to join the nothingness that I spied in the bush was an intolerable prospect, an unthinkable thought. My mind was stuck on eternal death,” “I can’t believe it, I can’t believe it, this can’t be happening.”
    But unlike what some atheists would claim, namely how rejecting belief in God and religion is both liberating and desirable, “The discovery didn’t free me, it crushed me. The universe was open, but my life was closed. Others might take the disappearance of God as liberating, a chance to forge their own future, but not me. Whatever plan I might commence, whatever identity I might pursue, it shrank to pointlessness beside the yardstick of boundless nothingness.
    I understood my atheism as an achievement, but it didn’t inspire any further achievements. My only creative impetus was to dramatize my own condition, my only critical one to despiritualize everyone else’s.,,,
    Bauerlein is brave to admit and share with others that he regretted his many years as an atheist “for three decades afterward I felt it to be binding truth, but at fifty-three years of age, I now see it as error, an unfortunate one whose cost to me was an anti-spiritual, depleted existence through the prime of my life.
    https://reasonsforjesus.com/atheism-was-an-error-english-professor-atheist-mark-bauerlein-converts-to-christianity/

  18. 18
    Brother Brian says:

    BS77

    BB, unlike you, I can produce evidence for my claims.

    Well, since BS77 thinks that his means of debate is perfectly fine, I might as well use is approach.

    As to mental illness:

    In moderation, religious and spiritual practices can be great for a person’s life and mental well-being. But religious fundamentalism—which refers to the belief in the absolute authority of a religious text or leaders—is almost never good for an individual. This is primarily because fundamentalism discourages any logical reasoning or scientific evidence that challenges its scripture, making it inherently maladaptive.
    It is not accurate to call religious fundamentalism a disease, because that term refers to a pathology that physically attacks the biology of a system. But fundamentalist ideologies can be thought of as mental parasites. A parasite does not usually kill the host it inhabits, as it is critically dependent on it for survival. Instead, it feeds off it and changes its behavior in ways that benefit its own existence. By understanding how fundamentalist ideologies function and are represented in the brain using this analogy, we can begin to understand how to inoculate against them, and potentially, how to rehabilitate someone who has undergone ideological brainwashing—in other words, a reduction in one’s ability to think critically or independently.

    How Religious Ideologies Spread

    Similar to how organisms and their genes compete for survival in the environment and gene pool, ideas compete for survival inside brains, and in the pool of ideas that inhabit them. The famous evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins has used this insightful analogy to explain how ideas spread and evolve over time. In his influential 1976 book, The Selfish Gene, he refers to ideas as “memes” (the mental analog of a gene), which he has defined as self-replicating units that spread throughout culture. We are all familiar with many types of memes, including the various customs, myths, and trends that have become part of human society.
    As Dawkins explains, ideas spread through the behavior that they produce in their hosts, which is what enables them to be transmitted from one brain to another. For example, an ideology—such as a religion—that causes its inhabitants to practice its rituals and communicate its beliefs will be transmitted to others. Successful ideas are those that are best able to spread themselves, while those that fail to self-replicate go extinct. In this way, some religious ideologies persist while others fade into oblivion.

    It is easy to see why religion quickly spread through culture once it emerged. When humans gained the cognitive capacity to reason and plan for the future, they became aware of their own mortality. The realization that oneself and all one’s loved ones will someday die is naturally terrifying, and this existential fear perfectly set the stage for anxiety-reducing ideas, like ones that offer a never-ending afterlife. But religions are complex ideas, and the psychological effects they have on minds go beyond just relieving anxiety.

    Essentially, the brain is a biological computer, and an ideology is a set of coded instructions, or “cultural software,” that is running on the brain’s hardware. Esteemed philosopher and cognitive scientist Daniel Dennett insightfully described how ideas can control minds when he said, “The haven all memes depend on reaching is the human mind, but a human mind is itself an artifact created when memes restructure a human brain in order to make it a better habitat for memes.” In this regard, it is often not the brain that controls the mind, but the memes that compose the mind that control the brain. This is especially the case when the meme is a religion.
    Religions Mutate

    Like genes and gene complexes, when an ideology is replicated—or passed from one person or group to another—it undergoes mutations. As a consequence, different versions of that belief system are produced, which generate different types of behavior. As such, there are often good and bad variants of any given religion. For instance, there are moderate versions of Christianity and Islamthat promote qualities like a sense of community and a moral code that fosters ethical behavior. These ideas can be beneficial to the host organism, i.e., the religious-practicing individual. At the same time, there are harmful variants of Islam and Christianity—specifically the rigid fundamentalist versions—that cause the host mind to process information in a biased way, think irrationally, and become delusional.

    Ideological Viruses and Mental Parasites

    There are various types of viruses and parasites, and viruses are themselves parasites. While biological viruses are infectious agents that self-replicate inside living cells, computer viruses are destructive pieces of code that insert themselves into existing programs and change the actions of those programs. One particularly nasty type of computer virus that relies on humans for replication, known as a “Trojan horse,” disguises itself as something useful or interesting in order to persuade individuals to download and spread it. Similarly, a harmful ideology disguises itself as something beneficial in order to insert itself into the brain of an individual, so that it can instruct them to behave in ways that transmit the mental virus to others. The ability for parasites to modify the behavior of hosts in ways that increase their own “fitness” (i.e., their ability to survive and reproduce) while hurting the fitness of the host, is known as “parasitic manipulation.”

    One particularly intriguing example of parasitic manipulation occurs when a hairworm infects a grasshopper and seizes its brain in order to survive and self-replicate. This parasite influences its behavior by inserting specific proteins into its brain. Essentially, infected grasshoppers become slaves for parasitic, self-copying machinery.

    In much the same way, Christian fundamentalism is a parasitic ideology that inserts itself into brains, commanding individuals to act and think in a certain way—a rigid way that is intolerant to competing ideas. We know that religious fundamentalism is strongly correlated with what psychologists and neuroscientists call “magical thinking,” which refers to making connections between actions and events when no such connections exist in reality. Without magical thinking, the religion can’t survive, nor can it replicate itself. Another cognitive impairment we see in those with extreme religious views is a greater reliance on intuitive rather than reflective or analytic thought, which frequently leads to incorrect assumptions since intuition is often deceiving or overly simplistic.

    We also know that in the United States, Christian fundamentalism is linked to science denial. Since science is nothing more than a method of determining truth using empirical measurement and hypothesis testing, denial of science equates to the denial of objective truth and tangible evidence. In other words, the denial of reality. Not only does fundamentalism promote delusional thinking, it also discourages followers from exposing themselves to any different ideas, which acts to protect the delusions that are essential to the ideology.

    If we want to inoculate society against the harms of fundamentalist ideologies, we must start thinking differently about how they function in the brain. An ideology with a tendency to harm its host in an effort to self-replicate gives it all the properties of a parasitic virus, and defending against such a belief system requires understanding it as one. When a fundamentalist ideology inhabits a host brain, the organism’s mind is no longer fully in control. The ideology is controlling its behavior and reasoning processes to propagate itself and sustain its survival. This analogy should inform how we approach efforts that attempt to reverse brainwashing and restore cognitive function in areas like analytic reasoning and problem-solving.

    https://www.google.ca/amp/s/www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/mind-in-the-machine/201810/how-religious-fundamentalism-hijacks-the-brain%3famp

  19. 19
    Brother Brian says:

    Further

    There is a British neuroscientist who is leading a movement to classify Fundamentalist belief as a form of mental illness like Stockholm Syndrome, with serious cognitive dissonance symptoms affecting performance. This approach would examine the current deplorable situation in the United States, referencing the Book of Joshua, EPA head Scott Pruitt announced sweeping changes to the agency’s science advisory boards on October 31st, 2017, closing off scientific discourse on Climate Change, and opening the door to more input from the business world.
    Citing The Bible as a reason to vandalize constituent and environmental protection agencies is the natural and inevitable result of a couple of decades of concerted Christian Fundamentalist conditioning, brainwashing, and propaganda. Add to this the ongoing, unconscionable desecration and vandalism of educational standards in schools of “religious grounds,” which has made ‘an American Education’ the equivalent of a Hasidic ‘education’ in a Brooklyn Yeshiva, or a Wahhabist ‘education’ in an ISIS madrassa anywhere in the virtual ‘Second Caliphate.’ In short, it’s really not an education. It’s just overt brainwashing, resulting in measurable brain damage.
    Kathleen Taylor, an Oxford neuroscientist, maintains that Religious Fundamentalism could soon be treated as just another form of mental illness. An Oxford University researcher and author specializing in neuroscience has suggested that one day religious fundamentalism may be treated as a curable mental illness. A science writer affiliated to the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics,” Dr. Taylor made the suggestion during a presentation on brain research at the Hay Literary Festival at the University of Wales, Swansea, in 2013.
    In response to a question about the future of neuroscience, Taylor said that “One of the surprises may be to see people with certain beliefs as people who can be treated,” The Times of London noted at the time. “Someone who has for example become radicalised to a cult ideology — we might stop seeing that as a personal choice that they have chosen as a result of pure free will and may start treating it as some kind of mental disturbance,” Taylor said. “In many ways it could be a very positive thing because there are no doubt beliefs in our society that do a heck of a lot of damage.” The author emphasized that she wasn’t just referring to the “obvious candidates like radical Islam,” but also meant such beliefs as the idea that beating children is acceptable. (Meredith Bennett-Smith, ‘Kathleen Taylor, Neuroscientist, Says Religious Fundamentalism Could Be Treated As A Mental Illness,’ The Huffington Post, 05/31/2013)
    Dr. Taylor’s curriculum vitae is impressive. This is not the first time she is known to have explored the mind processes of radicals and religious extremists. In 2006, she wrote a book about mind control called Brainwashing: The Science of Thought Control, which explored the science behind the persuasive tactics of such groups as cults and al Qaeda. “We all change our beliefs of course,” Taylor said in a YouTube video about the book. “We all persuade each other to do things; we all watch advertising; we all get educated and experience [religions.] Brainwashing, if you like, is the extreme end of that; it’s the coercive, forceful, psychological torture type.”
    Dr. Taylor notes that brainwashing, though extreme, is part of a the “much more widespread phenomenon” of persuasion. That is, “how we make people think things that might not be good for them, that they might not otherwise have chosen to think,” or ‘propaganda.’ She avows caution in dealing with toxic ideologies or religious dogmas and doctrines in a purely scientific or technological manner, however; “Technologies which directly scan or manipulate brains cannot be neutral tools, as open to commercial exploitation as any new gadget,” Taylor wrote in a blog post for The Huffington Post in 2012.
    “The brain supremacy offers chances to improve human dignity, but it also risks abuse,” said Dr. Taylor, advocating caution in terms of the ethics of delving too deeply into the human brain’s mysterious workings. In short, she is far from advocating playing fast and loose with the changes in the brain that result from accommodating fear-based convictions instilled by religious terror, constant aggression, and violent fantasies of retribution. But her caution, issued in 2012, does not help us with the problem now manifesting itself in the Halls of Power of the most powerful and potentially destructive nation on Earth.
    Effective immediately, scientists who receive EPA funding cannot serve on the agency’s three major advisory groups. Some Republican lawmakers have been pushing for similar changes to the agency’s advisory boards for years. “We want to ensure that there’s integrity in the process and that the scientists that are advising us are doing so without any type of appearance of conflict of interest,” EPA head Scott Pruitt said at a press conference announcing the directive. Using the story from the Book of Joshua to help explain the new policy, Pruitt stated that, on the journey to the promised land, “Joshua says to the people of Israel: choose this day whom you are going to serve,” Pruitt said. “This is sort of like the Joshua principle — that as it relates to grants from this agency, you are going to have to choose either service on the committee to provide counsel to us in an independent fashion or chose the grant. But you can’t do both. That’s the fair and great thing to do.” (Zahra Hirji, ‘Citing The Bible, The EPA Just Changed Its Rules For Science Advisers,’ BuzzFeed News, October 31, 2017)
    “Frankly, this directive is nuts,” Al Teich of George Washington University wrote in an email to BuzzFeed News. “There is an important role for citizen advisors who are not experts in a scientific field and who represent various constituencies on advisory committees,” wrote Teich, a research professor of science, technology, and international affairs. “But they should complement, not replace the experts. Disqualifying the very people who know the most about a subject from serving as advisors makes no sense.”
    ‘The change calls into question EPA’s ability to protect the country, according to Rush Holt, chief executive officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. “We question whether the EPA can continue to pursue its core mission to protect human health and the environment,” Holt said in a statement issued Tuesday.’ Michael Honeycutt, a controversial Evangelical toxicologist from Texas, is the new head of EPA’s Science Advisory Board, which provides scientific counsel to the agency’s top official. Honeycutt once told Congress he didn’t agree with the EPA’s toxic evaluation for mercury, and he’s argued against the agency’s ozone standards.
    As I’ve reported elsewhere, The Washington Post reported toward the end of February on an alarming report, composed by a Christian conservative group connected to Education Secretary Betsy Devos, revealing plans for the promotion of Christianity in public schools and putting a definitive end to the Department of Education. The group prefaced their recommendations with a précis: “We submit this report to the Donald Trump/Betsy DeVos administration with the hope that our organization may be of assistance with the restoration of education in America, in accordance with historic Judeo-Christian principles.” The Education Department is to be replaced with “Presidency’s Advisory Council on Public Education Reform.” The Council would:
    Restore Ten Commandments posters to all K-12 public schools.
    Clearly post America’s Constitution and Declaration of Independence.
    Encourage K-12 schools to recognize traditional holidays (e.g., Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas) as celebrations of our Judeo-Christian heritage.
    Implement select bible classes, such as Chuck Stetson’s Bible Literacy Project.
    Encourage instruction on U.S. and world history from the Judeo-Christian perspective for middle school and high school history and civics classes.
    Develop and recommend in-service training on philosophy of education for K-12 faculty based on historical Judeo-Christian philosophy of education.
    Strongly push states to remove secular-based sex education materials from school facilities, and emphasize parental instruction.
    The Washington Post sums it up here: “The five-page document produced by the Council for National Policy calls for a “restoration of education in America” that would minimize the federal role, promote religious schools and home schooling and enshrine ‘historic Judeo-Christian principles’ as a basis for instruction.” The theocratic manifesto to “bring God into American classrooms” was tied to Trump aides Stephen Bannon and Kellyanne Conway, both Evangelical Catholics in the pay of weird billionaire funders, Robert and Rebecca Marcer. Both are part of the Council for National Policy, which just released a five-page manifesto on how to dismantle the federal Department of Education and bring “God” and “historic Judeo-Christian principles” into education.
    Betsy De Vos is on record with her enthusiastic response to this retrogressive petition: “Our desire is to confront the culture in ways that will continue to advance God’s Kingdom.” (Emma Brown, ‘Influential conservative group: Trump, DeVos should dismantle Education Department and bring God into classrooms,’ The Washington Post, February 15, 2017)
    I have been watching this nihilistic, apocalyptic End Times narrative play out in the collective mind of patriarchal Judeo-Christian religiosity, with its die-hard delusion of linear time, that begins with the Creation and ends with the Apocalypse, for over 50 years, since I became aware of the tale’s political ramifications as an adolescent in the American South during my conscientious activism in the 1960s. I remember my thought, when I truly cottoned on to the power of the narrative and it’s grip on the fear-filled, xenophobic, slavery-guilt-raddled Southern imagination, which can be paraphrased as, “Uh oh! This’ll end in tears for everyone and everything.” It is truly past time that this ideological contagion be treated as the mental, intellectual and emotional disease that it is.

    https://medium.com/@yewtree2/is-religious-fundamentalism-a-form-of-mental-illness-1bdd454bd8b2

  20. 20
    Brother Brian says:

    And still further

    An Oxford University researcher and author specializing in neuroscience has suggested that one day religious fundamentalism may be treated as a curable mental illness.

    Kathleen Taylor, who describes herself as a “science writer affiliated to the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics,” made the suggestion during a presentation on brain research at the Hay Literary Festival in Wales on Wednesday.

    In response to a question about the future of neuroscience, Taylor said that “One of the surprises may be to see people with certain beliefs as people who can be treated,” The Times of London notes.

    “Someone who has for example become radicalised to a cult ideology — we might stop seeing that as a personal choice that they have chosen as a result of pure free will and may start treating it as some kind of mental disturbance,” Taylor said. “In many ways it could be a very positive thing because there are no doubt beliefs in our society that do a heck of a lot of damage.”

    The author went on to say she wasn’t just referring to the “obvious candidates like radical Islam,” but also meant such beliefs as the idea that beating children is acceptable.

    Taylor was not immediately available for comment.

    This is not the first time Taylor has explored the mind processes of a radical. In 2006, she wrote a book about mind control called Brainwashing: The Science of Thought Control, which explored the science behind the persuasive tactics of such groups as cults and al Qaeda.

    “We all change our beliefs of course,” Taylor said in a YouTube video about the book. “We all persuade each other to do things; we all watch advertising; we all get educated and experience [religions.] Brainwashing, if you like, is the extreme end of that; it’s the coercive, forceful, psychological torture type.”

    Taylor also noted that brainwashing, though extreme, is part of a the “much more widespread phenomenon” of persuasion. That is, “how we make people think things that might not be good for them, that they might not otherwise have chosen to think.”

    However, Taylor has also been a voice of caution in terms of the ethics of delving too deeply into the human brain’s mysterious workings.

    “Technologies which directly scan or manipulate brains cannot be neutral tools, as open to commercial exploitation as any new gadget,” Taylor wrote in a blog post for The Huffington Post in 2012. “The brain supremacy offers chances to improve human dignity, but it also risks abuse.”

    https://m.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/05/31/kathleen-taylor-religious-fundamentalism-mental-illness_n_3365896.html

  21. 21
    Brother Brian says:

    And still more

    Abstract
    There has been an upsurge of interest in the problems encountered when attempting counseling and psychotherapy across cultural and ethnic barriers. Differences between therapist and client in nationality, race, and socioeconomic background have been widely discussed. Protestant evangelicals have not received much attention in this literature, yet this group has a world view not likely to be shared by the majority of mental health professionals. To fill this gap, 152 members of liberal and traditional (evangelical, fundamentalist) Protestant churches were investigated. Measures of religious orthodoxy and of modernity served as independent variables. Dependent variables were attitudes toward seeking mental health services, opinions about mental illness, and tendencies to view mental health problems as spiritual. The results indicate that evangelicals are prepared to use professional help, although they are concerned about the beliefs and values of the mental health practitioner and express fears that secular therapists might try to alter their beliefs and values: They prefer to go to religious advisers. They also appear to have certain characteristic ideas about mental illness that need to be addressed in any attempt to counsel such clients.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/6530680/

  22. 22
    Brother Brian says:

    And one more.

    Growing up in Birmingham, Alabama, Steve Austin had no idea how to explain what was going on inside his brain. In his evangelical church, he said, everything was “black and white.” If he couldn’t shake off the feelings of depression he had, it meant he wasn’t praying hard enough. “Anytime I’d ever seen someone confess a personal struggle with mental illness, a team of people prepared to cast out a demon.”

    He longed for a “magic Jesus pill” to cure him. “I’d soaked my tears with prayers for Jesus to snap his cosmic fingers and fix me, but nothing was happening. The shame was nearly as unbearable as the panic attacks.”

    First as a parishioner, then as a pastor, Austin tried plenty of spiritual remedies for the depression that plagued him.

    “I had vegetable oil crosses smeared on my forehead [a common form of “anointing” in some Pentecostal communities] more times than I’d like to admit,” he said. “I’d been shoved backward by fiery preachers, praying for healing. I’d feigned ‘falling out’ in the Spirit” — a term popular in Pentecostal circles for allowing the Holy Spirit to take over the healing process — “so my friends wouldn’t know what a fake I was. I had done it all, but it seemed that either [faith healer] Benny Hinn was as much of a fake as me, or Jesus was a liar.”

    Austin recalls that when he was finally prescribed medication for his depression, he worried his parishioners would find out. He’d hide his pills in his lunchbox and take them in a bathroom stall.

    “Where I come from,” Austin said, “you can be Christian or ‘crazy.’ You can’t be both.”

    Ultimately, after a suicide attempt and subsequent hospitalization at age 28, Austin found a new calling as a life coach and author focusing on mental health advocacy for Christians.

    Austin’s struggle was extreme. But his story reflects a broader question among Christian communities: how to reconcile both secular and faith-based approaches to treating mental illness, particularly depression or anxiety.

    On the one hand, the bonds of community fostered by a church can be invaluable for a struggling parishioner. On the other hand, pastors and church community members may not be equipped with the vocabulary or skills to handle issues of mental illness or, as in Austin’s case, might see mental illness as evidence of a lack of faith in God’s healing power.

    According to 2014 research by evangelical polling organization Lifeway, only 27 percent of churches have established plans to help families affected by mental illness. Nearly two-thirds of religiously observant Protestant Christians with depression reported wanting their churches to speak openly about mental illness, but 66 percent of pastors said they spoke to their church on the topic once a year or less.

    More recently, Lifeway found that while eight out of 10 Protestant senior pastors believed their churches were well-equipped to handle those threatening suicide, just 4 percent of respondents who had lost a loved one to suicide said church leaders were aware of that person’s struggles beforehand. “Despite their best intentions, churches don’t always know how to help those facing mental health struggles,” said Scott McConnell, LifeWay’s executive director, in a statement.

    When I asked Warren Kinghorn, associate research professor of psychiatry and pastoral and moral theology at Duke Divinity School, about how well Christian communities were handling questions of mental illness overall, he said that the question was secondary to the fact that, often, those communities had no choice but to handle them. Clergy, he said, are “on the front lines” of mental illness response because of the importance of faith communities in religious people’s lives — whether or not they were equipped to do so. For this reason, he said, it was all the more vital that faith communities respond effectively to parishioners dealing with mental illness, getting them the help they need.

    For many churches, getting rid of stigma around mental illness is the first step
    But what might that help look like? Robert Vore, a suicide prevention instructor who focuses on Christian communities and the host of a podcast on Christianity and mental health, contrasts the kind of communal help a parishioner would get with a physical illness versus the response to a mental one.

    “You see this when someone has a physical ailment or a disease or has lost a loved one,” he said. “Faith communities can really rally around them, visiting in the hospital, but we don’t yet see that really with people that are struggling with mental health, because we’re uncomfortable with it.

    “WE DON’T UNDERSTAND A LOT ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH AS A CULTURE YET. IF SOMEBODY HAS A PSYCHOTIC EPISODE OR HAS BIPOLAR DISORDER, IT’S HARD TO LEAN IN AND SAY ‘I’M WITH YOU.’” —ROBERT VORE
    For Vore and many of the other experts I spoke to, the biggest barriers to a helpful church response to mental illness were not based in theology but in awareness; a stigma against mental illness that was more societal than theological. Removing that stigma by talking about mental illness openly in church communities is vital.

    “We have to take the first step. The people who lead the church have to say, ‘We’re talking about these things.’” Once the pastor leads the way, Vore said, “people come up and say, ‘Hey, that’s my story, that’s my mom’s story, thanks for giving us permission to talk about that here.’”

    Often, Kinghorn pointed out, change within church communities tends to come initially not through the efforts of pastors, but rather from parishioners or their family members who have mental illnesses themselves. That’s why, Kinghorn and others say, approaches to addressing mental illnesses vary widely from church to church, rather than between the denominations themselves.

    Having gone through struggles with depression, anxiety, or self-harm, these families become better-placed to lobby their communities to handle mental illness more openly. Pastors are encouraged to normalize the condition from the pulpit. Parishioners with a mental illness or their family members may feel more comfortable asking for assistance from other parishioners, be it emotional or physical support. And the church may be able to use its position on the “front lines” to offer information about or referrals to secular mental health professionals.

    Sometimes, this means that high-profile tragedies have doubled as wake-up calls. In the evangelical community, for example, the 2013 suicide of Matthew Warren, son of the well-known megachurch pastor Rick Warren and his wife Kay, shocked members of Warren’s Saddleback Church.

    Since then, however, Kay Warren has become an outspoken advocate for mental health care, encouraging pastors to educate themselves to recognize the warning signs of parishioners in need. She’s since made advocating for better mental health care in faith communities a foundation of her ministry. In a 2014 interview with Christianity Today, she criticized the tendency of her own evangelical community to focus on the positive at the expense of dealing honestly with spiritual crises and doubt: “It was all just happy, happy, joy, joy … [we need to] tell people that we are just like everybody else. We are sinners. We are broken. There are some days I’m not sure God exists.”

    In another interview with the Christian Post, Warren rejected the view — prevalent in some Christian circles — that suicide is a sin that condemns those who take their own lives to hell. She condemned the “terrible, terrible” shaming and ostracism that families of suicides faced from their community and called on the contemporary church to do better.

    When it comes to mental illness, adding a theological perspective can hurt, but it can also help
    Vore also condemned an increasingly common evangelical church culture that expects God to instantly heal all ills, while remaining suspicious of secular approaches to mental health. “Someone has surgery or recovers from a disease … we’ll say that God really used doctors or surgeons [i.e., as a vessel for divine help], but we’re not there with counselors or psychiatrists.”

    A church culture that focuses exclusively on the “positive” side of Christianity or the perceived benefits of following Jesus is more likely to ascribe mental illness to sin, demonic influence, or a lack of faith than it is to be open to discussing unanswerable questions. But that, Vore said, is a fundamental misreading of what Christianity is supposed to be about. “The God of Christianity … isn’t one that necessarily instantly heals everything, so expecting that is harmful because what it insinuates is that it’s your fault … [we believe in a] God that’s with us through dark times, through our pain, through our struggle. That doesn’t mean that you’ve done something wrong to encounter that struggle.”

    While that particular “mind over matter” attitude is often associated with the evangelical church (for instance, a 49 percent of evangelicals polled by Lifeway, compared to 35 percent of Americans say they believe prayer alone can cure depression) many religious institutions across denominations have been criticized for similar approaches. Catholic Chicago Deacon Tom Lambert similarly told US Catholic, “As a church we’re just beginning to address the issues on a church-wide and institutional level.”

    That said, a religious community’s demographics make it difficult to separate out formal religious attitudes about mental health from cultural ones. Ethnicity, class, and income level can all determine how a community defines, acknowledges, and responds to those issues. For example, a 1994 study by Harold Koenig and colleagues for Duke University found that depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions were far higher among Pentecostals than among mainline Protestants, but, as Koenig pointed out elsewhere, those conditions also tend to vary across income levels. (Mainline Protestants, as a whole, tend to be wealthier than Pentecostals.)

    At its best, however, Christianity, like other religious traditions, can ask the very hard questions — about the unknowable nature of evil or suffering, say — that offer solidarity, if not answers, to those struggling with mental health issues. Laura Turner, a journalist who has written extensively on both faith and anxiety, pointed out that, for her, the Bible was often a source of comfort in difficult times.

    She told Vox that, from time to time, some people within her church community implied, “if I just prayed more or had the right kind of faith, things would be okay.” Overall, she found her faith community helpful when it came to coping with anxiety.

    “Job was the first book of the Bible that I decided to read [start to finish],” she said, referring to a story in the Old Testament about a man who retains his faith in God despite experiencing unimaginable horrors, including the loss of his children. “And while it remains very mysterious to me … that’s the whole point, that human beings can’t know [what God is thinking]. I found a lot of comfort specifically in reading that.”

    Encouraging Christian churches to focus on and acknowledge the more theologically thorny parts of their faith tradition, Turner said, is vital.

    “A lot of churches need to be really focused on parts of the Bible that don’t make for great, easy morals,” she said. “They teach a lot of things about right behavior and morality and that’s all well and good, but if you’re not looking at the Songs of Lament with your students you’re [overlooking] that sorrow has been part of the human condition from the beginning, and God has something to say about that. Talking about someone who wishes he’d never been born — it’s not, like, a fun youth group challenge where you all drink yogurt until you vomit.”

    “TALKING ABOUT SOMEONE WHO WISHES HE’D NEVER BEEN BORN — IT’S NOT, LIKE, A FUN YOUTH GROUP CHALLENGE WHERE YOU ALL DRINK YOGURT UNTIL YOU VOMIT.” —LAURA TURNER
    But, Turner said, that makes these difficult discussions all the more important.

    That kind of engagement, however, may be tricky in Christian cultures where celebrating the material benefits of belief and God’s “rewards” for the faithful have become more pronounced.

    Earlier this year, former The 700 Club producer Terry Heaton spoke to Vox about a trend he worried had become endemic to modern evangelicalism, in part because of TV shows like The 700 Club: an obsession with Christianity as self-help. Heaton recalled being discouraged by Pat Robertson, the show’s founder, from doing segments that explored difficult questions like death, and instead being pressured to produce shows that celebrated, say, people who were healed by prayer, or Christians who were doing well in life.

    “We always showed people getting healed, overcoming the odds,” Heaton said. “The strong impression that the viewer would get from the program was that if you just followed the formula, you would be blessed!”

    Attitudes towards secular therapy differ among Christian communities
    Another difficulty for Christians with mental illness can be finding a therapist or psychiatrist who will respect their perspective and are willing to challenge unhealthy thought patterns.

    Traditionally, Kinghorn pointed out, Christians have been suspicious of secular psychiatry and psychology. Often, he said, Christians associated those fields with the work of Sigmund Freud, a neurologist and a founder of modern psychology, who was largely hostile to organized religion.

    After all, Freud saw the human being as, essentially, an animal, whose neuroses were the result of repressing natural sexual and libidinal desires. That attitude was directly at odds with a Christian worldview that sees human beings as partly spiritual creatures that should transcend the desires of the flesh.

    In her book about Christianity and depression, Darkness is My Only Companion, Kathryn Greene-McCreight, associate chaplain at Yale University, reports having difficulty finding a therapist who didn’t try to cure her depression by also “curing” her of her faith. Writing about the feeling that she wanted to live for the glory of her Creator — a common feeling among Christians — Greene-McCreight found that some secular therapists would suggest that she is inventing a divine “projection” to give herself value because she does not see herself as worthy in her own right.

    “Here is another place where the chasm between the religious patient and the nonreligious therapist simply cannot be bridged,” she said. “Is he right? Am I really not valuing myself for myself? Yes, he is right. But the value I place on his being right is the opposite of that which he claims it should be. I do not value myself for myself but this in itself does not necessarily indicate illness on my part, spiritually or mentally.”

    But, Kinghorn said, attitudes have shifted on both sides of the secular-religious divide. Christians have, by and large, become more open to psychiatry and psychology, even as these fields have developed a broader range of approaches that may better fit the needs of a person of faith.

    Still, among some Christians, there may still be a stigma against seeking out therapists who have not been properly “vetted,” particularly as it pertains to hot-button issues like sexuality or gender. For example, the evangelical organization Focus on the Family actively encourages Christians dealing with mental health conditions to seek outside help through its referral program, which offered 250,000 referrals last year.

    Geremy F. Keeton, senior director of Focus on the Family’s counseling services, decried the belief that mental illness was purely the result of sin or improper or insufficient faith or prayer, telling Vox that “a broad-blanket, sin-based view of mental illness is still a limited understanding of how the body, mind and spirit all integrate and cooperate in delicate ways in a fallen world. … Rather, a good cooperation among the church and trained Christian counselors who know both the Bible and the field of mental health is key.”

    He actively promotes both chemical medication and procedures like EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), a treatment common for PTSD, as potential options for Christians. “We didn’t check our brains in at the door of the church nor at the door of our university training. Integration in most instances is possible, is smart, and is key,” he said.

    But there are caveats. Counselors and therapists in the referral program must not simply be sympathetic to Christians, or even be Christian themselves. They must also affirm their sympathy to Focus on the Family’s “core values,” which include, for example, the belief that sex is designated exclusively for married heterosexual couples. This means some mental health patients referred to Focus-approved counselors whose issues put them at odds with a conservative interpretation of their faith may be encouraged to, for example, pray to be relieved of same-sex desire. (Focus on the Family advocates for conversion therapy for LGBTQ individuals and previously owned Love Won Out, a network of gay conversion ministries, which is now owned by Exodus International).

    At its best, however, a combination of faith-based and secular approaches treats those who want to preserve aspects of their faith worldview as they seek wider help. Artur Sebastian Rosman, a managing editor at the McGrath Center for Church Life at the University of Notre Dame, told Vox how, as a Catholic, he found his priest vital in helping him contextualize and cope with his depression. He attended confession regularly with Father William Watson, who later developed a 40-week program for spiritual and personal development modeled after the devotionals of St. Ignatius. Rosman describes himself as a “guinea pig,” as Watson used techniques during their confessional sessions that would later shape his books on the topic.

    While Rosman saw Watson alongside a secular psychologist, he found Watson’s guidance more practically useful, in part because they spoke to his wider Catholic worldview and his sense of his place in the world.

    “After one of these long confessions with Fr. Watson … he’d listen through what I thought were my ailments and would suggest ways of interpreting them and recommended exercises such as breathing and prayer regimens to refocus the mind,” he recalled. Watson described Rosman’s depression to him “as a gift to be discerned over time rather than a curse to overcome at all costs right now … an opportunity to understand myself and my wider community, rather than some towering disappointment that can be never be erased.”

    For Rosman, at least, that was enough. “I basically told my shrink, I don’t need you anymore.”

    But, for Laura Turner, one of the most important elements of her faith community wasn’t theological, it was communal. “There are a lot of ways in which [my] church group felt like a really safe place for me to talk about anxiety. And I realize that is definitely not the case for everybody, but I had a lot of good conversations about fear and worry and anxiety.”

    Just talking about how she felt with people she could count on to be there for her allowed her to feel less alone.

    “Isolation,” she said, “just breeds anxiety.”

    Whether people of faith find solace in community, theology, or a simple reference to a trusted counselor from a pastor, churches and other faith communities can make a powerful difference for those with mental health needs. What remains to be seen is whether they’ll consistently live up to the challenge.

    https://www.google.ca/amp/s/www.vox.com/platform/amp/identities/2017/10/6/16395772/christian-faith-communities-churches-mental-health-care-anxiety-depression-mental-illness-awareness

  23. 23
    Brother Brian says:

    This BS77 style of discussion is very captivating. I’m thinking of adopting it from here on out.

  24. 24
    bornagain77 says:

    BB, you quote a bunch of negative stuff about Religious extremism. Fair enough. It might surprise you, although I disagree with a lot of what you posted, I happen to also agree with a lot of the stuff that you posted. But, instead of just cherry picking stuff we don’t like about each others worldview, lets get down to the brass tax in regards to who has better mental and physical health :

    Numerous studies have now shown that faith in God has a tremendous beneficial effect on both our mental and physical health:
    As Professor Andrew Sims, former President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, states, “The advantageous effect of religious belief and spirituality on mental and physical health is one of the best-kept secrets in psychiatry and medicine generally.”,,, ““In the majority of studies, religious involvement is correlated with well-being, happiness and life satisfaction; hope and optimism; purpose and meaning in life; higher self-esteem; better adaptation to bereavement; greater social support and less loneliness; lower rates of depression and faster recovery from depression; lower rates of suicide and fewer positive attitudes towards suicide; less anxiety; less psychosis and fewer psychotic tendencies; lower rates of alcohol and drug use and abuse; less delinquency and criminal activity; greater marital stability and satisfaction… We concluded that for the vast majority of people the apparent benefits of devout belief and practice probably outweigh the risks.””

    “I maintain that whatever else faith may be, it cannot be a delusion.
    The advantageous effect of religious belief and spirituality on mental and physical health is one of the best-kept secrets in psychiatry and medicine generally. If the findings of the huge volume of research on this topic had gone in the opposite direction and it had been found that religion damages your mental health, it would have been front-page news in every newspaper in the land.”
    – Professor Andrew Sims former President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists – Is Faith Delusion?: Why religion is good for your health – preface
    “In the majority of studies, religious involvement is correlated with well-being, happiness and life satisfaction; hope and optimism; purpose and meaning in life; higher self-esteem; better adaptation to bereavement; greater social support and less loneliness; lower rates of depression and faster recovery from depression; lower rates of suicide and fewer positive attitudes towards suicide; less anxiety; less psychosis and fewer psychotic tendencies; lower rates of alcohol and drug use and abuse; less delinquency and criminal activity; greater marital stability and satisfaction… We concluded that for the vast majority of people the apparent benefits of devout belief and practice probably outweigh the risks.”
    – Professor Andrew Sims former President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists – Is Faith Delusion?: Why religion is good for your health – page 100

    Lack of ultimate meaning in life associated with alcohol abuse, drug addiction and other mental health problems – August 2015
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....092911.htm

    In fact, in the following study it was found that, “those middle-aged adults who go to church, synagogues, mosques or other houses of worship reduce their mortality risk by 55%.”

    Can attending church really help you live longer? This study says yes – June 1, 2017
    Excerpt: Specifically, the study says those middle-aged adults who go to church, synagogues, mosques or other houses of worship reduce their mortality risk by 55%. The Plos One journal published the “Church Attendance, Allostatic Load and Mortality in Middle Aged Adults” study May 16.
    “For those who did not attend church at all, they were twice as likely to die prematurely than those who did who attended church at some point over the last year,” Bruce said.
    https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2017/06/02/can-attending-church-really-help-you-live-longer-study-says-yes/364375001/

    Study: Religiously affiliated people lived “9.45 and 5.64 years longer…”
    July 1, 2018
    Excerpt: Self-reported religious service attendance has been linked with longevity. However, previous work has largely relied on self-report data and volunteer samples. Here, mention of a religious affiliation in obituaries was analyzed as an alternative measure of religiosity. In two samples (N = 505 from Des Moines, IA, and N = 1,096 from 42 U.S. cities), the religiously affiliated lived 9.45 and 5.64 years longer, respectively, than the nonreligiously affiliated. Additionally, social integration and volunteerism partially mediated the religion–longevity relation.
    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/study-religiously-affiliated-people-lived-religiously-affiliated-lived-9-45-and-5-64-years-longer/

    Can Religion Extend Your Life? – By Chuck Dinerstein — June 16, 2018
    Excerpt: The researcher’s regression analysis suggested that the effect of volunteering and participation accounted for 20% or 1 year of the impact, while religious affiliation accounted for the remaining four years or 80%.
    https://www.acsh.org/news/2018/06/16/can-religion-extend-your-life-13092

    Atheism and health
    A meta-analysis of all studies, both published and unpublished, relating to religious involvement and longevity was carried out in 2000. Forty-two studies were included, involving some 126,000 subjects. Active religious involvement increased the chance of living longer by some 29%, and participation in public religious practices, such as church attendance, increased the chance of living longer by 43%.[4][5]
    http://www.conservapedia.com/Atheism_and_health

    Thus, it is readily apparent that the Atheist’s attempt to create illusory morality, meaning and purposes for his life, minus belief in God and a afterlife, falls short in a rather dramatic fashion on both the mental and physical level.

    It is also important to point out that it is, for all intents and purposes, virtually impossible for Atheists to live as if atheistic materialism were actually true and as if their lives were completely devoid of any true meaning and purpose. As the following article states: Nobody thinks his daughter is just molecules in motion and nothing but; nobody thinks the Holocaust was evil, but only in a relative, provisional sense. A materialist who lived his life according to his professed convictions—understanding himself to have no moral agency at all, seeing his friends and enemies and family as genetically determined robots—wouldn’t just be a materialist: He’d be a psychopath.

    The Heretic – Who is Thomas Nagel and why are so many of his fellow academics condemning him? – March 25, 2013
    Excerpt:,,,Fortunately, materialism is never translated into life as it’s lived. As colleagues and friends, husbands and mothers, wives and fathers, sons and daughters, materialists never put their money where their mouth is. Nobody thinks his daughter is just molecules in motion and nothing but; nobody thinks the Holocaust was evil, but only in a relative, provisional sense. A materialist who lived his life according to his professed convictions—understanding himself to have no moral agency at all, seeing his friends and enemies and family as genetically determined robots—wouldn’t just be a materialist: He’d be a psychopath.
    http://www.weeklystandard.com/.....tml?page=3

    Richard Dawkins himself admitted that it would be quote unquote ‘intolerable’ for him to live his life as if atheistic materialism were actually true

    Who wrote Richard Dawkins’s new book? – October 28, 2006
    Excerpt:
    Dawkins: What I do know is that what it feels like to me, and I think to all of us, we don’t feel determined. We feel like blaming people for what they do or giving people the credit for what they do. We feel like admiring people for what they do.,,,
    Manzari: But do you personally see that as an inconsistency in your views?
    Dawkins: I sort of do. Yes. But it is an inconsistency that we sort of have to live with otherwise life would be intolerable.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....02783.html

    And in the following article subtitled “When Evolutionary Materialists Admit that Their Own Worldview Fails”, Nancy Pearcey quotes many more leading atheists who honestly admit that it would be impossible for them to live their life as if atheistic materialism were actually true.

    Darwin’s Robots: When Evolutionary Materialists Admit that Their Own Worldview Fails – Nancy Pearcey – April 23, 2015
    Excerpt: Even materialists often admit that, in practice, it is impossible for humans to live any other way. One philosopher jokes that if people deny free will, then when ordering at a restaurant they should say, “Just bring me whatever the laws of nature have determined I will get.”
    An especially clear example is Galen Strawson, a philosopher who states with great bravado, “The impossibility of free will … can be proved with complete certainty.” Yet in an interview, Strawson admits that, in practice, no one accepts his deterministic view. “To be honest, I can’t really accept it myself,” he says. “I can’t really live with this fact from day to day. Can you, really?”,,,
    In What Science Offers the Humanities, Edward Slingerland, identifies himself as an unabashed materialist and reductionist. Slingerland argues that Darwinian materialism leads logically to the conclusion that humans are robots — that our sense of having a will or self or consciousness is an illusion. Yet, he admits, it is an illusion we find impossible to shake. No one “can help acting like and at some level really feeling that he or she is free.” We are “constitutionally incapable of experiencing ourselves and other conspecifics [humans] as robots.”
    One section in his book is even titled “We Are Robots Designed Not to Believe That We Are Robots.”,,,
    When I teach these concepts in the classroom, an example my students find especially poignant is Flesh and Machines by Rodney Brooks, professor emeritus at MIT. Brooks writes that a human being is nothing but a machine — a “big bag of skin full of biomolecules” interacting by the laws of physics and chemistry. In ordinary life, of course, it is difficult to actually see people that way. But, he says, “When I look at my children, I can, when I force myself, … see that they are machines.”
    Is that how he treats them, though? Of course not: “That is not how I treat them…. I interact with them on an entirely different level. They have my unconditional love, the furthest one might be able to get from rational analysis.” Certainly if what counts as “rational” is a materialist worldview in which humans are machines, then loving your children is irrational. It has no basis within Brooks’s worldview. It sticks out of his box.
    How does he reconcile such a heart-wrenching cognitive dissonance? He doesn’t. Brooks ends by saying, “I maintain two sets of inconsistent beliefs.” He has given up on any attempt to reconcile his theory with his experience. He has abandoned all hope for a unified, logically consistent worldview.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....95451.html

    This impossibility for Atheists to live consistently within their stated worldview directly undermines their claim that Atheism is true
    Specifically, as the following article points out, if it is impossible for you to live your life consistently as if atheistic materialism were actually true, then atheistic materialism cannot possibly reflect reality as it really is but atheistic materialism must instead be based on a delusion.

    Existential Argument against Atheism – November 1, 2013 by Jason Petersen
    1. If a worldview is true then you should be able to live consistently with that worldview.
    2. Atheists are unable to live consistently with their worldview.
    3. If you can’t live consistently with an atheist worldview then the worldview does not reflect reality.
    4. If a worldview does not reflect reality then that worldview is a delusion.
    5. If atheism is a delusion then atheism cannot be true.
    Conclusion: Atheism is false.
    http://answersforhope.com/exis.....t-atheism/

    Thus in conclusion, atheists, in their rejection of God, are forced into a delusional worldview and as a result suffer, rather dramatically, physically and mentally because of their refusal to come to terms with their delusional worldview:

  25. 25
    Brother Brian says:

    BS77

    BB, you quote a bunch of negative stuff about Religious extremism. Fair enough. It might surprise you, although I disagree with a lot of what you posted,

    I wouldn’t know. I don’t understand anything that I just posted. So, we have something in common.

  26. 26
    Axel says:

    Do we not know this for certan : that there is an omniscient intelligence that must implicitly keep track of its currently-finite counterpart in each one of us, if only because ‘it’ must keep track of the physical whereabouts of each one of us, and just about everything physical about us (not necessarily excluding the spiritual and mental). I’m thinking of that ‘two car’ illustration indicating that light emanates from a different reference-frame to that of our space-time, is non-local ; not only is God light in Himself, essential light, but He is also the source of our light, and not just metaphorically as in Psalm 27:1 : ‘The Lord is my light and my salvation,’
    although that, of course, primordially.
    By the way, I find it a matter of endlessly bewildering astonishment that the obviously divine implications of the Singularity and indeed non-locality in its different manifestations seem to be ignored by physicists, as if it were a matter of insignificance. Yesterday I listened to a YouTube video-clip of an interview with David Berlinski, whom I greatly admire, in which he stated, admittedly not in any ind of bombastic way, that quantum physics did not attest to a spiritual dimension (not verbatim).

    It is evidently, why he remains an agnostic, and yet I cannot for the life of me understand how he he is able to avoid making the connection via our uniquely-personal – one might even say, perhaps, ‘transcendental’ – visual, vantage point, from which we observe the world. I believe BA77 has stated that each of us is, in that context, the actual centre of the universe. This, leavng aside the surely unavoidable conclusion that looking (at the mechanistic level) at the design of one or two simple items of the natural world, they have manifestly been designed by a super-intelligence to exquisitely-fine tolerances – for tht matter, like the fine tuning of the universe, itself.

    You are having to deal – in a certain sense – with ‘mad men’, but you know that perfectly well ; moreover, it seem that there are inidcations that even the likes of Mr Coyne are seeing the writing on the wall.

    Is it any wonder that physics is unable to approach a ‘nitty-gritty’ paradigm beyond the quantum realm. Were it possible, would it not only be so, if firstly accepting quantum truths (beyond quotidian modicum needed to earn a living), however bizarre, and not dismissivley refer to them as just bizarre and crazy – as if to say, not the stuff of proper science. It was wonderful to read of Bohr and others enlightening us all on that, but theoretical physicsts should have become habituated to it by now.

    Is it not the case that light photons – possibly(imo, surely) half spiritual – while issuing from another realm interact with space-time and are even absorbed by matter ? That doesn’t make the physcis too easy does it ?

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