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The Cleveland Freethinkers Message Board The Cleveland Freethinkers Discussion Forum General Discussions › Have you ever had a "doubting atheist" moment?

Have you ever had a "doubting atheist" moment?

A former member
Post #: 27
This sounds like an interesting debate but I just can't get into the whole "religion studies" thing. I guess I really don't have a religious "bone in my body". It's hard to tell who said what here, trying to figure how to reply in general.
A former member
Post #: 25
This sounds like an interesting debate but I just can't get into the whole "religion studies" thing. I guess I really don't have a religious "bone in my body". It's hard to tell who said what here, trying to figure how to reply in general.

I like Carol Bowman's quote: "To me, reincarnation is not an abstract religious concept or a philosophy, but a natural phenomenon."
Rafiq M.
RafiqMahmood
Bogor, ID
Post #: 1,070
To me, reincarnation is not an abstract religious concept or a philosophy, but a natural phenomenon called gullibility.
A former member
Post #: 26
To me, reincarnation is not an abstract religious concept or a philosophy, but a natural phenomenon called gullibility.

Care to participate in the "reverse debate" challenge, Rafiq? We did this in college. It was frustrating sometimes, but fun.

(If I can argue AGAINST Martin Luther King, Jr., surely you, or someone else on this board, can play devil's advocate and argue in favor of Stevenson). As freethinkers, we tend to have excellent debating skills. These can be put to use to argue any point we wish... including, just for fun (but in all seriousness) an opposing viewpoint.

What I will do is attack the idea with guns blazing. I will not be snarky. I will not be tongue-in-cheek. I will keep my argument to the cases at hand. I will not use ad hominem attacks nor imply that anyone who thinks differently than me is stupid. I will do my best to not let my own personal opinion color my report. My opponent will, presumably, do the same.

It'll be fun wink
Rafiq M.
RafiqMahmood
Bogor, ID
Post #: 1,072
Not really, Jenny. I lost interest in this topic when I was about 12 and find little to interest me in it now so it wouldn't really be fun, just rather a tedious waste of time because I would have to research stuff in which I saw no merit.

I would find it more interesting to debate Islam, because I understand the apologists' arguments. I could also put forward the apologist arguments as I would have put them if it would help as a training exercise. But pseudo-science I will leave to the Schermers and Randis. I find it unutterably boring.

Even on philosophical matters I sometimes feel that I am whistling in the wind.
A former member
Post #: 28
Not really, Jenny. I lost interest in this topic when I was about 12 and find little to interest me in it now so it wouldn't really be fun, just rather a tedious waste of time because I would have to research stuff in which I saw no merit.

I would find it more interesting to debate Islam, because I understand the apologists' arguments. I could also put forward the apologist arguments as I would have put them if it would help as a training exercise.


Understandable, Rafiq. Conversely, I would also not be well-qualified to debate Islam, though if somebody asked me, I would, in order to see things from their point of view. Life is a learning experience on what it means to be human.

Anyone else?
A former member
Post #: 120
Well, I'm not really clear on exactly what the assertion is that we're discussing any more. Is it that we don't know everything about the phenomena of near-death experiences? That was never in dispute, so far as I can tell. Everything is not known, but we are learning and progressing through the application of scientific methodology to the phenomena.

Or is it that there is evidence of human conciousness surviving the physical existance of the individual's body? I am not convinced that this is the case, not to the same degree as is expected of any other scientific claim. The preponderance of available evidence supports the conclusion that conciousness is a fully biological phenomena that is entirely a function of the physical body. Accepting that conciousness is separate from the physical body is, to my mind, similar to accepting the claims of the anti-vaccination crusade or those of cryptozoology.
A former member
Post #: 121
I lost interest in this topic when I was about 12 and find little to interest me in it now so it wouldn't really be fun, just rather a tedious waste of time because I would have to research stuff in which I saw no merit.

This is in line with what I was expressing earlier. We all have limited time and energy, and we all have varied interests. It is not likely, nor should it be expected that people spend significant time and effort to recreationally investigate something they have little interest in. It is the rational response to accept the current state of sciece-based knowledge on such topics until such time that significant new information comes to the fore.

This is why I get frustrated with the semi-regular accusations that this group or individuals are not "True Freethinkers" because of rejection of claims that are currently not substantiated. Fortunately that hasn't occurred in this discussion, but we do hear that tired canard every couple months or so.
A former member
Post #: 122
...the majority of near-death experiences in peer-reviewed journals are classified under "Psychiatry," "Nursing," and "Psychology," which is contained in Thomson-Reuters' "Social Sciences" collection rather than SCI.
This is an important detail to notice, as the question of whether conciousness exist separate from the physical body or is strictly an emergent property of the physical body is not a question for psychology, psychiatry, or nursing. This is a question that fits best in the domain of physics and biology. That there are little to no studies supporting a mind-body duality published in biological or physics journals suggests that there is insufficient data to accept such an idea.

The fields of psychology, psychiatry, nursing, and other social sciences are less concerned with ascertaining whether the NDE phenomena is a physical reality and more concerned how this phenomena is experienced. Even if NDE could be proven beyond any shadow of doubt to be nothing but chemical signals in the brain, if it was proven to be not real at all, those fields of study would still have an interest in researching and investigating NDE.
A former member
Post #: 217
I'll respond to more of Jenny's comments later, but I think part of the problem with discussions of the paranormal is that they are often framed as one giant argument from ignorance.

The discussion shouldn't be, does this lack of explanation for these observations show that consciousness survive once the brain is destroyed? but here is a set of interesting observations, what can we conclude from these and how can we create a way to test various hypotheses of why they occurred?

Let's assume there are no plausible explanations for a set of observations. What can we conclude from that? That there is some plausible liklihood of reincarnation or souls leaving the body? No. At most generous they are observations that may be consistent with what we would expect to see from some specific hypothesis regarding consciousness after death.

However, before it can be considered even close to a plausible claim, one has to also incorporate the mountains of evidence regarding what we know about consciousness and biology. That can't be hand waved away. It is an extraordinary claim. And if we are going to even slightly entertain this extraordinary claim, then we might as well bring to the discussion all sorts of other explanations like a cult people who plot hoaxes to implant ideas in the minds of impressionable children (makes far fewer assumptions* that the reincarnation hypothesis as we know there are people, cults and hoaxers and that children are impressionable--thus not that wild in comparison), or that the person who died came to them as a ghost and said to tell their parents this info or be cursed, or that aliens are manipulating humans into believing in reincarnation, or that scientists just fabricated the whole story!

When there are unexplained claims, they are just that, unexplained until more information comes along. Of course people can hypothesize and test those hypotheses somehow (not necessarily through some controlled experiment; there are many ways to collect observation). As Neil deGrasse Tyson says, you can't say, "I can't explain this, therefore I can explain this."

Often there never is an explanation for things and there never is. That's not necessarily anything paranormal just a fact of life. I've thought I've seen one of the cats out of the corner of my eye when there wasn't one. I've experienced odd coincidences (the rule of large numbers says it would odd if I hadn't.) Who knows. I'll never know for sure. There are many likely explanations, so I don't see the point in wild speculation about ghost cats or guardian angels or a "sign" other than to just engage in fantasy daydreaming which is fine so long as one acknowledges it as that.

*Assumptions and favoring the most parsimonious explanation is another whole discussion. But in a nutshell, Occam's razor.
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