RE: Debunk All Religiosity Equally (D.A.R.E.)

From: Lee Corbin (
Date: Sun Jul 08 2001 - 10:39:00 MDT

M. E. Smith writes

> You're argument has generally been that all religions
> are bad and should be wiped out (through force?), ...

The default general sentiment on this list---and
you should know being a long time lurker---is the
libertarian one of "Abhor the initial use of force,
except to defend private property", or words to that

> Revealing that mystical experiences occur because
> this or that section of the brain temporarily does
> this or that unusual thing DOES arguably "debunk"
> CERTAIN aspects of CERTAIN "religious" beliefs,
> but it just as arguably ALSO does REINFORCE OTHER
> aspects of OTHER "religious" beliefs.

I would like to know what OTHER "religious"
beliefs. Thanks.
> What is important to realize is that the brain,
> in a very real sense, defines our experience of
> reality. All of our experience with "reality"
> is mediated by the systems of the brain.

This is materialist dogma! :-) hardly a needed
claim when talking to the un-Godly

> Obviously, SOME [brain] states can be argued
> "a less accurate representation" than others
> (death; sleep, etc.);

don't forget to mention false beliefs, since
we're on the subject of religion! But also
any mistaken "knowledge" of any kind.

> but the kinds of altered states that are the
> focus of WGWGA involve heightened awareness of
> surroundings, improved abilities, greater senses
> of well-being, and other things that extropians
> should find desirable.

For sure. So the idea is that our brain has
been wired up so that religious people tend
to have these desirable features?

> The fact that, in these same experiences, the
> sense of "Self" is radically altered does not
> obviously relegate such brain states to
> the category of undesirable dementia.

Even megalomania under some situations would
be very desirable; yes, our present wiring
*could* cause many kinds of irrational beliefs
to have some advantage or other. But, short of
me reading the book, what are some of the
alterations of "Self" that would appeal to
an extropian?

> Are our hearts part of our selves, when they can be
> replaced with artificial pumps? Our lungs, are they...
> We can't live without our local star, the sun,
> (yet); is it part of our "self"? Just where does
> our "self" end and the rest of the universe begin?

In terms of information flow, I'm confident that the
self in most individuals has an actual existence. It's
clear that in terms of bandwidth, the self is contained
in the brain. From there, I'd agree, it can get pretty
murky. But I want to fight for the integrity of my self,
as people instinctively do, and as extropians and many
others very consciously and deliberately do.

> The "usual" sense of self no doubt won out in a
> Darwinian sense because it drives us to actions
> which ultimately result in more offspring, but
> then, obviously, so does the "usual" state of
> our sex drives.
> However, on this list, not less than Mr. Max
> More himself has expressed the desire to be
> able to temporarily turn off his sex drive,
> a desire I fully understand. It would be nice
> to be free of the whole darn tormenting thing.

This is a choice that hopefully we'll have
soon---but each to his own. In a recent
discussion on this list, it was found that
quite a few of us don't have any desire to
turn it off.

Now your suggestion---charitably put---that
some might want to turn off their self, well,
that's somewhat akin to suicide in my book.
But then---each to his own. Who knows, life
as a vegetable, despite its lack of glamour
or fashionableness, might be what some would
like (sorry, I don't mean to imply that you
would, but it is a logical extension).

> I find the notion of "taking drastic measures"
> to drive out from society memes as fundamental
> as any related to "religiosity" a starkly
> frightening one, bringing to mind book burning
> and concentration camps. The last time I mentioned
> this on the list, I was shouted down.

Well, if you meant on this list to imply that
a lot of us do not respect others freedom to
believe what they wanted, then you perhaps
deserve to be "shouted down". (I've always
found that a strange metaphor on an email
discussion list!) PLEASE! Every time that
you make such an accusation involving the
use of force or "drastic measure", PLEASE
quote the offending party. I have this ugly
feeling that you cannot substantiate your
claims here, and are just attacking straw men,
a practice that I have found rare to
non-existent on extropians!

> I have concluded that this list will always
> be a haven for the rabidly anti-religious,
> and have accepted this flaw, and hardly ever
> post, but just lurk.

Well, there may be something to your claim here.
But next time that someone gets pretty rabid,
know that they're probably having negative impact.
You can "get even" very powerfully by just quoting
the offending passages back, and being very calm
and reasonable in your response: you'll gain
ground, and they'll lose.

> It is funny (to me) that this argument about
> religion recurs on a yearly basis on this list.
> "Methinks he doth protest too much."

Well, I really doubt it. I've heard many people
really rant and rave about say, racism, or sexism,
but it never crossed my mind that they could be
"protesting too much". I think you're grasping
at straws.

Lee Corbin

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