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The Boston Atheists Meetup Group Message Board › The unobserved mind

The unobserved mind

Christian L.
cloidl
Huntersville, NC
Post #: 23
I would consider myself a pretty much an atheist for the last 20+ years (born and raised katholic), but probably agnostic is closer to the truth (for me). Atheism relying on pure mind (rationality) might have it's own limitations. Having planned it for a while I finally started reading "A new earth" by Eckard Tolle, which brings up some interesting questions for me from the point of taking into account the mind (in his view the ego) as not the be all either.

Link to Google Boosk:
http://books.google.c...­

Another interesting and related entry:
http://ryuc.info/crea...­

anybody care to comment or share their opinion?
Zachary B.
zakbos
Boston, MA
Post #: 185
I would consider myself a pretty much an atheist for the last 20+ years (born and raised katholic), but probably agnostic is closer to the truth (for me).
I don't think that's an unusual position, actually. What, in your case, leads you to conclude that it isn't rational to disbelieve in deities?

Atheism relying on pure mind (rationality) might have it's own limitations.
A philosophical objection to be sure. I think in response I'd say, that no argument relies on the notion of pure mind or rationality. An argument proceeds from its premises, and can be called well-formed only if those premises are of the sort that another person would find reasonable. It's actually quite a bit downstream from having to start your argument with the observation, "Since the mind operates according to rational processes, we can conclude that..."

Having planned it for a while I finally started reading "A new earth" by Eckard Tolle, which brings up some interesting questions for me from the point of taking into account the mind (in his view the ego) as not the be all either.
I've read some, but not a lot, of Tolle. He seems like a confused obscurantist of the highest kind. If he can't even use his terms consistently, I don't see why I need to take his ideas, such as they are, seriously. To respond to your example, he uses the term "ego." Why is he conflating this term, from psychoanalysis, to mean "mind"? This is just muddying the water. If he is talking about epistemology, the nature of beliefs, he should use the word "mind" as it is widely employed. If he is talking about psychological dynamics, then "ego" is appropriate. To mix and match terms, presumably because the 'standard thinking' is unsuitable rigid for his purpose, is a practice that triggers the klaxon on my baloney-detection kit.

That article on the "Gentle Phoenix" website is similarly full of gobbeldy-gook. The topic of observer status in physics, and of consciousness in cognitive science, is worth careful and subtle thinking. These two examples of flim-flam don't the topic justice, not a hen's peck of it.

Have you read Pinker's "How the Mind Works", or Dennet's "Consciousness Explained"? I can loan them, if need be.
A former member
Post #: 32
This reply got a little out of hand...I was just babbling away.

I don't think Atheism and Agnosticism have to be mutually exclusive, although one might think so by looking in the dictionary.

I think one can be an Atheist in the sense that one rejects the existence of a god (or gods) until proven otherwise. And as god is (or gods are) an extraordinary claim it requires some extraordinary and robust proof. Much like one is innocent until proven guilty*. This does not however, from a purely logical point of view, have to fully deny the possible existence of guilt, or god (which, btw, I observe to be closely related at times).

So one can be a sort of Agnostic Atheist in that one thinks it might be impossible or difficult to fully deny any possible existence of god (in a formal way), but one rejects such an existence (until proven otherwise) because it seems to be both logically and scientifically highly unlikely.

Also I think not believing something unfounded is more rational then believing something unfounded. Although nature seems to like to err on the side of false positives rather the false negatives (so perhaps it is in the end the more rational choice to believe?). Probably for reasons of survival, one can imagine it's better to run away from imagined danger then not to run away from real danger. And I think some of this evolutionary false positive pattern recognition lies at the root of our gullibility, where these mechanisms can be harmful. It seem that 'Pascal's wager' (in a broad sense of the false positive, not just god) has (had) evolutionary advantages, but maybe this is no longer the case in our current environment and it now actually works against us in many cases.

Zach also makes some good points, although I'm completely unfamiliar with 'Tolle', so I can't comment on that. I do however get a bit itchy when I see someone throwing in (or abusing) physics in the way that is done in your second link.

Relativity and Quantum mechanics really lend themselves for this sort of babble because they are not immediately intuitive and thus not easy to understand (but popular enough to use for this purpose). And wherever there is 'fog' (lack of understanding, knowledge etc.) there are the foggy people with foggy explanations for their foggy ideas. Concepts and words are taken completely out of context (and scale) and used for more metaphorical purposes (but pretending to be exact). The use of 'wave-particle nature of energy' and 'observer-observed pair' in this text really gives me violent cramps in the reproductive organs (pardon my expression, it is just there for humorous purposes, thank guilt I do not really have violent cramps in that area).

The opening sentence:

It is interesting to note for consciousness to observe and experience the form or creation that it intends, it needs to separate itself is some fashion into an observer and the observed based on the intention that is held.

What if consciousness is just something that arrises from the interaction between things? I.e. what if interaction (observation) creates consciousness instead of consciousness creating observation and interaction (feels much less contrived and more elegant I think). Also, it seems there is some sort of 'supernatural' consciousness present before the observation, so where did that come from? what is that made of? At the point where this is attempted to explain there are some serious 'chicken and egg' problems...

Apparently, from a quick read, it seems one creates observations, it's all just depends how you look at it and how you intend to experience it. I don't see how someone getting hit by a car really has any alternative options in how to exactly observe the event. Or are you going to tell me this person intended to experience this event in some sort of subconscious way? Or is this just my experience (as observed from the sidewalk), and did at the moment of impact the other persons consciousness shift to a parallel quantum reality (I'm just throwing somewhat meaningless but interesting sounding words around) and experience some miraculous turn of events? (I'm sure when another tsunami hits, we'll just advise people to observe it differently, you know, just pretend it isn't happening and then maybe it isn't...)

Do we have a choice how we observe things? Or is this in fact limited by the physical functioning of our brain and senses? Which have to obey the laws of physics? I can fill evenings full of tea, cookies and speculation.

All in all I think the piece assumes way to many 'fantastical' premises, but the fact of the creative use of physics maybe affecting my judgement, (perhaps 'creativity physics' should be renamed to 'creative physics') I'm without any doubt a dogmatic, brainwashed and biased scientist with a closed mind.


*One is an Atheist until proven religious. (and I'm quite amused about the analogy between Atheist and innocent and religious and guilty)
A former member
Post #: 1
Is it just me or was this thread just an attempt to introduce new-agey nonsense into the Atheist forum? This seems like a thinly veiled advertisement, hoping that some of us won't really be skeptical thinkers, but just be in search of a new religion.
A former member
Post #: 33
Ooohoow, was that what it was...

I thought he was asking for our opinions, I'm far too trusting.
Zachary B.
zakbos
Boston, MA
Post #: 191
Is it just me or was this thread just an attempt to introduce new-agey nonsense into the Atheist forum? This seems like a thinly veiled advertisement, hoping that some of us won't really be skeptical thinkers, but just be in search of a new religion.

I've just invited the top poster to come back to rejoin the conversation.
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