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

From: Samantha Atkins (
Date: Mon Jul 09 2001 - 03:41:34 MDT

"J. R. Molloy" wrote:
> From: "M. E. Smith" <>
> > Arrg. Where to start?
> Hi M. E.,
> Well, if you don't want to start at the beginning, we can start at the end:
> > It is funny (to me) that this argument about religion
> > recurs on a yearly
> > basis on this list. "Methinks he doth protest too much."
> Sounds like a personal problem (and probably not just to me), but not a
> particularly funny one. I protest that you do think too little. This argument
> about religiosity recurs annually (or more often) because religiosity is a
> perennial weed in the gardens of extropy and transhumanism. To prevent this
> noxious weed taking over and strangling the useful plants, application of some
> industrial strength weed killer does not seem inappropriate.

I don't plan to take weed killer to your ideas or even to your
obnoxious heavy-handedness and implied violence to what others
find important. So I would appreciate it if you would consider
not making such blanket condemnations or threats.

> > I admit that the book in question ("Why God Won't Go
> > Away") is
> > annoying in the sense that it frequently goes out of
> > its way to present
> > its findings in the language of Western religion (the
> > title being an
> > example of this), but I assume you actually did more
> > than read the title.
> Right, the dangerous and irresponsible nature of religiosity, causing (as it
> has) over five thousand wars in the last three thousand years, requires more
> than reading. That's why "drastic measures" are appropriate. When dealing with
> brain dysfunction, medication does a better job.

Excuse me but there are many, many causes of wars. They cannot
all or even mostly be laid at the feet of religion. Often
religion is simply one of many excuses. I would also point out
that religions have done quite a bit to promote peace and
coherent societies. It is not a one-sided phenomenon by any
means. But of course, it is your function to flame away rather
than really apprehending anything that causes you some ire.

> Religious fanatics are dishonest if they are not mentally ill, because only
> psychologically disturbed people could believe the childish mythology of
> miracles and fantasy that makes up religionism.

Would you consider everyone who believes in God or find prayer
helpful for sorting themselves out at least to be "mentally
ill"? If so, please explicate your criteria for mental health.

Miracles? Through science and technology we can or soon will be
able to do nearly every "miracle" listed. Will we also have the
values in place, the ethics, the wisdom to use those abilities
reasonably? Where exactly will we get these values and this
wisdom? How will we create and spread memes that promote a
society we want to live in in the face of this increasing rate
of change and growth in both power and consequences?
> > I put it to you that the findings of the authors of
> > WGWGA support
> > this bit of "religiosity". Therefore, your mentioning
> > of this book,
> > in the context of "Debunk All Religiosity Equally", is
> > wierd to me.
> Yes, I suppose dealing with reason does feel "weird" to religious fanatics. It
> would be irrational to think that religiosity can be debunked sufficiently to
> remove it from the ailing brain in which it resides. Therefore, one can even
> imagine brains addled by religion hallucinating that the authors of
> _Why God Won't Go Away: Brain Science and the Biology of Belief_,
> by Andrew Newberg, Eugene D'Aquili, and Vince Rause
> Ballantine, New York, 2001. 234 pp. $24.95, C$37.95. ISBN: 0-345-44033-1
> in any way "support" religiosity.

Define this bogus term "religiosity" without bombastic rhetoric
please. I will tell you this. I find an incredible peace and
groundedness within meditation that makes a profound difference
in my balance and effectiveness in real life. And that peace is
quite precious to me whether I can explain it away or catalog
its neuroligical correlates or not. Whatever this is it also
increases my patience and opens up my heart to (generally) hear
others on a deeper level. If you want to call that sort of
thing "mental illness" or label me a "religious fanatic" then go
right ahead.

> > It is arguably a central premise of certain religions
> > that it is
> > nice to be rid of "the whole darn tormenting thing"
> > that is our
> > sense of being a separate "Self", and that furthermore
> > such
> > freedom is possible.
> Unless you are arguing with your "Self," the sense of separation is neither a
> premise nor arguable. Anyone with enough courage and honesty can conduct this
> experiment right now. It has _nothing_ to do with religionism. It has to do
> with direct experience of reality. Simply allow all imagination and words to
> cease and desist, to fall out of view, to precipitate away from your
> attention, while you remain wide awake and alert, and suddenly it becomes
> clear that you are the world, all at once the constraints of dogma and
> doctrine evaporate and you are free, and the walls that belief systems have
> put together fall down to reveal endless liberation in all directions. It is
> more a matter of seeing than of thinking. Religiosity, in stark contrast to
> this, is the first and last psychological prison of humanity.

Ah. The above is quite spiritual. Very Zen or basically
Buddhist in flavor. So you do have use for spirituality just
not for systems of dogma and doctrine. I agree utterly.
Spirituality is experiencing and standing in relation to, it is
not believing a bunch of things because they are the doctrine or
dogma. Perhaps we have no argument after all.
> > It's very wierd (to me) that you even brought up this
> > (excellent)
> > book in this context.
> Yes, it is the context which matters most. In the context of a world mad with
> religious wars, where religionists are willing to die for the memes that have
> infected their brains, where the security of the entire planet is threatened
> by zealouts who deliberately attempt to fulfill the apocalyptic prophecies of
> their sacred scriptures (at the expense of anyone who gets in their way),
> where Inquisitions and witchhunts seek to silence every voice of reason, where

Some of the things you speak of above are antiques much like
other antiques from our past. That some are still caught by
them is regrettable but is not a general condemnation of all

> infallible popery masquerades as compassion, where innocent children are
> taught to hate and kill anyone who does not embrace their parents pious
> fanaticism, where parochialism and provincialism spawn divisiveness

Most religious people do not teach anything of the kind.

in the
> name of diversity, where nearly the whole human race is cognitively crippled
> and lives in fear of tyrants who threaten damnation and eternal hell for
> disobeying asinine religious edicts, where ceremony and tradition stifle

I think you are getting a bit carried away. Many religions and
many people in even relgiions that do have hellfire and
damnation memes, don't believe in anything of the kind.

> original ideas and new solutions, it becomes clear why the phrase "to make a
> religion out of it" means to alienate from freedom something that was once
> beautiful and to deform it into an ugly form of psychological death.

Religion at its worse does this. Religion at its best uncovers
the beauty and liberates it.

> > 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.
> No, this is not at all "obvious" because our sex drives do not drive
> Darwinism, Neo-Darwinian evolution, Deep Evolution, nor our sense of self. The
> best way to transcend biological drives is to indulge them to the point of
> satiety, when doing so harms no one. The anti-sex facet of

The indulgence to satiety has been tried on different drives and
emotions. The results were not that good.

>religiosity results
> in repression, which leads to all sorts of perverse sexual behavior as the
> pent-up libido must find an outlet. That may explain why there are so many sex
> perverts and pedophiles in monasteries, churches, temples, and mosques. Sexual

Excuse me but you don't find any more perverts (whatever that is
and isn't) or pedohiles in these places than anywhere else.
Much less on average. But the ones who are there stand out much

> liberation threatens religionists because their particular type of bigotry
> denies sex and sexuality, and this denial is yet another indication of their
> dishonesty and irresponsibility.

Without coming down for or against one view of the right sexual
stance for optimal well-being or another, the above is quite
one-sided. I have been both libertine and celibate (and
everything in between) in my life and I have learned different
things from each possibility. There were times in my life where
the entire sex-thing seemed to tie me to a lot of nonsense that
wasn't conducive to what I really cared about. Sometimes in my
libertine period it seemd like the more I loved sexually the
more I learned to reach that place of wonderful openness with
the lover and the more I craved opening to that place with far
more people than I could ever be lovers with. And the sex/love
tangle of this kind of mammal gets pretty messy sticky quite
quickly. And sometimes the energy simply wants to express in
other ways and sex is a distraction. I also know from
experience that sexual sublimation has some positive benefits
and is not at all the same as repression.

Many religious paths argue for minimizing sexual activity
because they find it is one of the principle linchpins that hook
people into their fixed personalities and personal/societal
games. They attempt to to some degree remove this linchpin.
This is not that unreasonable a tactic from my own experience.

> > Thus, "unusual" brain states in which the boundaries
> > of our "self"
> > are radically altered are not neccessarily "less
> > accurate
> > representations" of reality. Perhaps they are like
> > different but
> > equally valid reference frames involved when doing
> > simple analyses
> > of the kinematics of playing tennis on a moving train,
> > etc.
> Perhaps you need to have a good orgasm to dispel these delusions. Sadly, the
> most "unusual" brain state in the world is one completely free of esoteric
> speculation about reality. "Different but equally valid reference frames" are
> no substitute for the real thing, particularly when analyzing anything about
> moving trains. If you ever come to your senses, you'll find that it radically
> alters your analyses, etc.

What is the "real thing"? It is experiential if I read what you
said above correctly. Then is it communicable or only availabel
through experience, e.g. through a state of mind/consciousness?
> An important thing to understand is that the brain is the part of reality that
> has mistakenly considered itself a mystical essence instead of the organ of
> perception. If it is not obvious to you why an accurate representation of
> reality requires a dynamic and pancritical rationalism, it is thankfully
> understandble to those who have tried to make it more obvious.

It is not obvious to me what you mean by "pancritical
rationalism". Your words don't often fit what that phrase
implies to me.

> Meditation does _not_ mean the same thing as religiosity. It is religiosity
> that needs debunking, not meditation. When neuroscience can pinpoint the area
> of the brain that causes the dangerous and all too often violent behavior
> associated with religious fanaticism, then it will have rendered a more
> beneficial service than locating areas of the brain which are active during
> supposed meditation.

Wouldn't it be simpler to simply accentuate the memes that
eliminate this tendency toward violence or very effectively
control it? Some of them are found in various spiritual
practices. Some are found in various other practices and

> > The book in question is in the same general genre as
> > Austin's "Zen
> > and the Brain".
> The two books are in the same general category because they were both written
> by authors who did not themselves directly experience the epiphenomenon of
> which they write. While this seems laudable in that it appears to preserve
> scientific objectivity, it corresponds to someone who has never had an orgasm
> writing a book about love and sex.

In the case of Austin, you are quite mistaken. He practiced Zen
for many years and became interested in the project to
understand what was happening to him and in other Zen
practictioners neurologically when various states and
experiences occurred in meditation.
> Please re-read the subject line. It reads "Debunk All Religiosity..." Your
> over-reaction and defensiveness shows how weak you must feel. It shows in the
> way you twist this into "wiped out (through force?)." To reiterate, "mystical
> experiences" do not equate to religiosity. Debunk means "to render ineffective
> by exposing the false pretensions of," according to my dictionary... which is
> what I've done about you. Since you are a troll, go back to lurking. Welcome
> to my "Blocked Senders" list.

My, you are a tad touchy aren't you?

- samantha

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