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DavidD last won the day on July 31 2013

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About DavidD

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  1. Two Birds

    "Quantum" refers to how at a very small, building-block level, energy comes in steps. It's not a continuous variable. That's it. It's not at all mystical. That there are spooky things like quantum entanglement of co-created particles is intriguing, but there's no way the whole universe is entangled this way, even if all our heavier atoms came from the same supernova. That's not co-created enough. That's the science. To a neuroscientist, "conscious" means ordinarily awake, as I am typing this. It's also not at all mystical. It's just phenomenology. When someone uses a term like "quantum consciousness", therefore, it can have no meaning in science, no matter what degrees the speaker has. It's worse than a mixed metaphor. The speaker means whatever he or she means. The listener hears whatever he or she hears. Such is the imprecise way of language. But it's not science.
  2. Two Birds

    It so happens my undergraduate degree was in physics, almost 40 years ago but with an A+ in quantum mechanics. Then I went into neuroscience. Quantum physics in no way denies a boundary around self nor denies a reality beyond that self. The Uncertainty Principle just means that the smallest details of reality are fuzzy, not reality as a whole. People leave out important words when they correctly say that our brain creates a mind that is its own reality. Our brain is a mirror. Our mind is the image in that mirror. The image in that mirror is a virtual reality of the material world plus whatever spiritual parts there may be beyond that. It has no mystical power such as the Law of attraction. It is a virtual reality, one that distorts reality easily, but doesn't erase the true reality out there that was its template, as well as template to billions of other minds. I like to believe there are non-physical aspects to that, but they are far from proven. Meanwhile I notice that the Wikipedia article on "What the Bleep do we Know" has a large section of academics calling it pseudoscience. That works for me.
  3. An Inconvenient Truth?

    Who is more worth following, the historical Jesus or the gospel Jesus? If it's the former, there are many authors who vary on who that was. How do you pick one to believe? It might be the latter, no matter how far the authors of the gospels went to construct words and events. What does God intend for us? If that's nothing, then what difference does it make? According to Borg and Crossan, Paul was received best by the Gentiles who attended synagogues, but hadn't converted fully. It wasn't Paul who chose the Gentiles as much as the other way around. Also Paul claimed to have been told by the Spirit to preach to Gentiles. To dismiss that is to again say God has no place in this. Maybe not, but then again what difference does it make, if not?
  4. An Inconvenient Truth?

    The message of Jesus was love God, love neighbors, including Samaritans, and love enemies. The gospels present this clearly. Love gets obscured not by debate for the sake of debate, but because many have an agenda beyond the above, such as propping up other things in the Bible or making an idol of the unborn child that isn't in the Bible at all. It's not progressives who condemn their enemies in this to hell or otherwise try to hurt them.
  5. Hello From Virginia

    My favorite book on the historical Jesus was the one John Dominic Crossan wrote some years ago. He pointed out the difficulties for deciding which parts of Jesus' cultural context were the most important to his actual life. It's too bad this is so speculative. I guess the Jesus Seminar took this as far as one can in voting how strongly they thought any Gospel verse was actually said by Jesus. That got them mostly hate from conservatives, but mostly shoulder shrugs from those like me who agree with them. The easy answers aren't likely to be right.
  6. To Join Or Not To Join

    I was a member of a UU in the eighties. It wasn't a burden. You'd be more likely called upon for church projects and retreats. If you want to be in the church with both feet, it won't really be a difference. I left UU because I was changing to be explicitly Christian. Mostly I've gone to UMC churches since then. I never joined. There I would wonder about joining some who are more conservative than I am. Last year's vote in the governing body of UMC was 61-39 against same-sex marriage. I'd rather they join me than I join them, but that's not an option.
  7. There is an advantage in Christianity's external focus, At a minimum there is a culture out there to help us, people who have been my way before. That is far from perfect, but it's definite. It includes advice to look within (Mt. 7:1-5). Getting help non-physically is not so definite, internally or externally.
  8. An Inconvenient Truth?

    Rhino, I agree with your original post that you don't control this. No one made up the issue of whether the Bible is being used as an idol. People are either very right or very wrong in what they're doing about this. Sometimes it couldn't be more extreme, such as Mike Huckabee saying that anyone who votes for Obama is going to hell. What amazes me is that no one from Huckabee's side criticized such extremism, as far as I heard. How can people hear that either side may be carrying their beliefs to the point of idolatry and not take a step back to look at that? I agree that all we can do is our best. Intellectually I have no doubt that Huckabee was very wrong to say what he did, but there is a part of me that is insecure about that. If it's so obvious, why doesn't God fix someone's heart, mine or theirs? I suppose we need to learn to have faith, even in a progressive faith that looks at the way many use the Bible and sees idolatry.
  9. Bill, you point out something else that is frustrating about this. Love and truth don't go along well in individuals. If the Spirit sanctifies us, shouldn't we be improving at both? Or does the Spirit have other priorities?<br /><br />It is as you write that people believe what they believe. I am pacified by that when it comes to people who trust apologetics to say there is no problem with biblical inerrancy. What amazes me is how easy it would be for those with some exposure to science to know better. If you do the calculation to suggest that the current drop in magnetic field can't be more than 20,000 years old, how do you miss the bigger context of millions of years of complete reversals?<br /><br />It's like the politics of global warming. Because 1998 was an especially warm year, deniers say with a straight face that warming stopped after that year, yet the actual graphs show that the trend has continued warming straight through the most recent data. Human capacity for denial is amazing.<br /><br />I hope it's true as the others said that religion is evolving. It may take centuries, though.
  10. I live not far from the creationist museum in Santee, CA. Recently I was listening to a Christian radio station and the museum had an ad on. It included an invitation to an exhibit that presented 10 reasons why the Earth is no more than 20,000 years old. I was intrigued enough to see what their website said about this. Most of their denial of geology and evolution was vague and subjective. Some claims they make must be false, such as their claim that both carbon dating and argon dating are on their side, but it would be a lot of work to track down their references as to why. One claim they made was easy to evaluate fully on its face. They claim the currently decreasing magnetic field of the Earth is proceeding so quickly that the original field and therefore the Earth could at most be 20,000 years old. That's an absolutely incredible claim. It's not the math that makes it incredible. It's that anyone who has the relevant data at hand also has geological data saying that the Earth's magnetic field reverses completely almost like clockwork, presumably for billions of years. Data from the sea floor shows stripes of rock with alternating magnetism for many millions of years. Computer models show this continuing indefinitely. Yet somewhere in teaching this story was a creationist who realized that if you ignore most of the data, there's an argument in here for a young Earth. That's the part that amazes me. Someone wanted a young Earth this badly. It can be hard to understand what's wrong with every Bible-based attack on geology and evolution, but there's a good place to start every time. What does a scientist say about that attack (not an engineer or with a job related to science)? Why didn't the Bible remain scientific truth? Creationists don't want that answer. Even halfway well-meaning fear-mongering on TV gets the magnetic field story wrong with warnings of the field's collapse someday. No, computer models show the reversed polarity happens in patches, so the field never goes to zero. Sometimes Christian apologetics is not about well-meaning ignorance, though. Look at some atheist's website of 101 or more contradictions in the Bible and then a book on apologetics. Things like this deliberate misuse of magnetic field data happen regularly, because that's what it takes to prop up biblical inerrancy. Yet biblical inerrancy is not on the verge of collapse except in the mind of someone like me, because I was born recently enough to know science, and because the flaws of Christian apologetics have bothered me for 40 years. Will it ever collapse? Will it weaken as opposition to homosexuality weakens or as science keeps growing? I am sure that it keeps going because of the almost blind leading the completely blind. So what? It drives me to prayer.
  11. One can be called Christian who thinks Jesus was utterly flesh and a good teacher, same as Buddhist and some other labels. I think the meaning of "liberal" or "progressive" Christianity reasonably goes that far, unlike "Bible-believing" Christian or something else more specific. "Christian atheist" would make sense to me, though I don't hear that from those who believe Jesus to be a good teacher. If there is no God and no Spirit, wouldn't a good teacher know that, ruling out Jesus? The question for me is how much more than a good teacher is Jesus, a thoroughly mystical issue unfortunately. I call Jesus my Lord and my Savior, in part because I was raised that way, but in part because of how I experience that and what it might mean non-physically. Much of the Bible is myth. Any serious scholar admits this. But what is the rest? Much is longing for the God-shaped void in our brain, the one evolution built from our desires for power, wisdom, goodness, love, and whatever else. Is there spirit(or spirits) that fills this well? Was that the source of Isaiah's experiences or were they just dreams? I don't know, but I reach to Jesus as well as God for whatever help I can get with that. That's the sort of liberal Christian I am. There are other ways that are reasonable for others.
  12. I noticed a quote from Albert Mohler of the Southern Baptists in the Wikipedia article on the CPC. In 2003 he wrote a commentary on being tolerant of other religions and of sexuality. He summarized his disapproval by labeling this "the basic hatred of biblical truth that drives those on the theological left." I haven't seen such a drive. I've seen many people searching for integrative truths, often with some understandable confusion. The hatred I see is more often from someone like Mike Huckabee proclaiming that everyone who votes for Obama is going to hell. I don't see that on the left. This reminds me of those who attack evolution as a great conspiracy to reject God. I've found science to be much more about finding truth than rejecting anything. The Nobel Prize goes to discoverers of truth that stand up to great scrutiny, not some conspiracy. Yes, John 14:6 is in the Bible, but what did Jesus mean, "No one comes to the Father except through Me"? Is the truth of that just in His flesh, His name, or maybe something that's in other religions, too? Similarly one can explore sex in the Bible and doubt the claim that God only wants heterosexual virgins to have sex on their wedding night. In early Christianity some thought it good for even married couples to forego sex. Does modern orthodoxy hate that "truth"? As much as I hate lies, I try to understand liars. Couldn't Albert Mohler resist making it black and white? Why doesn't Jesus lead him the way He leads me? No doubt there are lots of reasons. Love is about searching for truth, not wallowing in hate. Jesus didn't teach that to me verbatim, but it has been a cooperative effort between the two of us.
  13. Why Christianity?

    I also am Christian because I was raised that way, in an Episcopal church. I suspect if I had been raised in a different religion, I would be pursuing a life of love and truth that way, but I don't know the details of how to do that compared to following Jesus. Something had to support me in being progressive, however. I tried out more conservative churches from 1992 - 2004, as they seem more serious about following Jesus, but there is so much hypocrisy and ignorance there. Scientific truth cannot be waved away by one hand in the 21st century, whether that's evolution or archeology. Fortunately I'm not on my own in trying to discern the truth in the Bible where so much is not literally true. Many authors help with that, like Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan, though I've yet to find one who is perfect. As BillM just wrote, there is no TV or radio that preaches progressive Christianity, just books and individuals, on the internet and in person. Still that's been enough for me not to give up on church entirely.
  14. I have heard from God in words for 24 years, since I was 34. It was very exciting at first, but I quickly learned I could not trust every word. Whether one hears words or has a feeling that one put into words, even silence, they are our words. I hear my particular version of English, with innumerable concepts attached that I have learned. I never hear facts I didn't already know. It's not hard to imagine why different people hear different things from God. The experience is necessarily a cooperative effort, and who can say how much of God is in any of it. I think it's a mistake to say there is nothing of God in it. That's no more justified than saying it's always 10% God. It depends on the individual mind having the experience. How much of God is in that mind?
  15. God And Language

    Jen – I’m going to strongly challenge what you’ve written. It’s not because I hate you. I have considerable sympathy for anyone willing to work on a direct relationship with God. I’ve written for some time that this is the only way that makes sense to me. All religions are false to some degree, including atheism. They all have elements of fantasy to fill in what they don’t actually know. Even atheists are this way as they dismiss all spiritual experiences as meaningless imagination, despite that neuroscience knows very little about what imagination is and isn’t. No neuroscientist can write out neuroanatomy and neurophysiology by which we voluntarily create images, words, and concepts as part of saying that this is voluntary imagination, but that is something else. Spiritual experiences are hard to classify as this comes from God, that doesn’t, or just how many sources they might have. Yet however one defines God, one can pursue a direct relationship with Him/Her, maybe by looking at indirect effects of God on one’s life or by direct communication with God, through a dialog of prayer and answers to prayer or through a verbal conversation. The Bible depicts the oldest conversations between anyone as being between God and Adam, not counting the ones where God seems to be talking among Himself. I’m sure ancient people 3000 years ago did their best with these stories, but it’s clear they had a lot wrong. So when did God actually start having conversations with human beings? It was at least thousands of years ago, yet after all this time there are problems in knowing what to do with such conversations. I wasn’t much interested in this until 18 years ago, when I was 34 and had a road-to- Damascus experience. In it God said one sentence. It had an overwhelming effect on me, one that was fascinating to me as a neuroscientist, because I don’t see how my brain could have done that by itself. Of course it’s always hard to know such a thing. Still this was something I had to explore even if my atheistic colleagues were sure this was just nuts. When I heard from God again it was in prayer, a few words that immediately answered something about which I prayed. Mostly I worked on issues as everyone does: What do You want me to do? Where is the right place for me? I went to some liberal churches, some charismatic churches. In the latter I had opportunities to pray in the Spirit, words coming out of me effortlessly, words that were just what I wanted to say, but couldn’t imagine saying them on my own. There were some other things involving the Spirit. Finally in the last 4 years, God and I have conversed freely. You would think that would be a wonderful experience, wouldn’t you? It is a quite valuable experience, but there are issues that come up. God tells me things like nothing I’ve heard from any human being, some I might try to explain to others, some where there’s no chance. Why should I hear such things? God tells me why, but how could I explain that to someone else? I’ve read other contemporary people who hear from God, from New Age believers to evangelicals. I’ve read Neale Donald Walsch in the former group, though I understand he says his dialogs with God are not transcripts, but fiction that expresses his understanding from God. Evangelicals like Joyce Meyer don’t do that. They say, “God said …,” and that’s exactly what they mean. Now I can look at anything like that, and it’s not the God I know. Evangelicals have an especially simplistic version of God, but the New Age versions I’ve seen aren’t much better. How can the real God know less about God, love, and science than I know? There are at least two answers. One is that every version of God I read is not God. The other is that just as these conversations with God are always in the language of the human involved, so are they also in the concepts of whatever human is involved. So they are limited. No human being can be merely a conduit for God’s words, whether those are words coming out of a mouth or typed with fingers. That’s my understanding. Words from God are always a cooperative effort. Faking words from God isn’t. That a human being can do alone. But the best it can be is a cooperative effort that is limited by what the human being knows. I often thought of this as the question, “If it’s really God I hear, why can’t I hear Him in Aramaic?” That it is a cooperative effort became my heartfelt conclusion. Of course sometimes if I get dogmatic about such things, something else happens. I was writing something about this once, and it occurred to me to ask this same question as I was writing, expecting the usual answer. Not this time, this time I heard something that sure sounded like Aramaic, at a distance, the distance meaning to me that God and I wouldn’t converse effectively in Aramaic, we wouldn’t be as close, but He can do more than I think sometimes. I wanted to hear it again. It wouldn’t happen. I could bring an Arabic call to prayer to my mind, maybe something in Hindi. God said I would just want to pursue it further if I heard the Aramaic again, and He didn’t want that. Well, OK, I recognized the truth of that, given that I felt myself reaching for it again and again, just to hear it a second time, instead getting these similar sounds that were in my memory, but not that one burst of what sounded like Aramaic. This is what my experience is like. It gives me direction, strength, hope and comfort. I’ve tried telling others about this, but all that tells me is that I don’t know anyone who experiences God exactly the same way, and it’s hard for people to get anything out of this at all. Still I would encourage anyone to see if they can be guided by God directly. I might be wrong in that, given that I look at what people write of this in print, and it’s all junk. I’m sure of the reason that it’s all junk. It’s all junk because people don’t consider just how much of a cooperative effort it takes to hear from God in words. I learned to meditate before I learned to pray. From many sources my method in reaching for God was to let go, let go, let go, surrender, surrender, surrender. So I understand the tendency if one does that to say, “This came from God, and I had nothing to do with it.” It’s not true. It’s not true because our brains don’t work that way. It’s not true because God has shown me it’s not true. If people don’t consider how much of God’s words come from them and not God, they can do all sorts of damage. Yet this is what religion has always done. This is what people still do. I must say I mind it even more when people insist their opinions about anything are so important, even opinions they know didn’t come from God, but when people say their words come from God and don’t understand the limitations in that, what are they hearing from? It’s not the God I know. My God knows better. He has said so to me. Jen, what you have written about God, love, and science here and in the past doesn’t strike me as someone who knows very much about God, love and science. It certainly isn’t what the divine Jesus should know if you were truly channeling Jesus. What is all this here about people having to know science to know God? My God says this is nonsense. My undergraduate degree was in physics. I’ve listened for 30 years to New Age believers being confused about quantum physics, pretending that quantum physics supports some theology they have. No, it doesn’t. Electromagnetism has no mystical effects either. It’s good for people to understand that evolution is a fact, that the Bible is certainly wrong in at least a few places in Genesis. I would like to see more Bible-believing Christians accept that the real God can’t be reached through belief in biblical inerrancy. Yet it’s not a deficiency in science that keeps creationism going. It’s an exercise in pride and humility. Those creationists who should know evolution is a fact are too proud in their own ability to say it isn’t. So many others make idols of their creationist apologetics instead of having the humility to say maybe mainstream science isn’t a satanic plot. Would you really spend your relationship with God in having Jesus say that learning science is essential rather than the probability of Jesus believing ending poverty and ending strife to be more important? It’s certainly makes it harder for you to say you’re wrong when you say your words are from Jesus than if you just say it’s you. Creationists are in the same bind. You have discounted writings of Paul at times. I’m sure Paul made some mistakes. No one is perfect. What do you think of what Paul wrote about in 1Cor: 13 about love? I don’t see your writings as particularly loving by that description. Even worse are your previous responses to being challenged. Sometime last year you dismissed my response to something you wrote. You didn’t read what I wrote carefully. You jumped to conclusions about what it meant. It was a response full of ego, not love. You’ve also responded to challenges as a victim, as when you left here for a while. That’s not love. That’s fear, whether fear to explain yourself patiently or fear to admit your mistakes, even if that’s just giving a perception that’s offensive to others. I’m not saying you need to be perfect in that. I certainly am not perfect. But you’re saying that you speak for Jesus. Why aren’t you demonstrating a degree of love comparable to that? Someone who loves is selfless. This is someone who can see whatever is true about criticism and acknowledge that, who doesn’t need to find many ways to defend himself or herself. How you respond to this is up to you. It can be as you responded before. I’m used to people responding with ego and fear. You’ve already shown that you don’t channel Jesus by not being entirely about love as well as the content of what you write. You’re free to insist that’s not true, that it is Jesus, not you. I won’t believe you. You’re also free to learn something from your experience, and draw closer to the real God.