Blimey, that's a hunka hunka burnin' pseudoscience if ever I saw one. Thanks for bringing it in.
First I'll put on my fact-checking hat.
- The two most commonly accepted examples of duality in our universe are the wave-particle duality of light and the decayed/not decayed state of unobserved unstable atoms (often explained using Schroedinger's Cat), and they're not even mentioned here.
- There probably isn't antimatter equivalent to all matter, or vice versa. We observe tremendous asymmetry, for example the fact that our part of the universe appears to contain almost entirely matter and almost no natural antimatter.
- In contrast to antimatter, which we can not only observe but deliberately produce and store, negative energy is still entirely hypothetical and may not exist at all. Antimatter in fact appears to consist of positive energy.
- There's an old saying that if you think you understand quantum mechanics, you don't understand quantum mechanics. The author of this argument apparently thinks he understands quantum mechanics.
- A vacuum may not be neutral at all, according to zero-point energy theory.
- Matter doesn't just house energy, it is energy in another form. It's really not separate from it.
Ultimately, none of this has anything to do with consciousness, so if the argument had left out everything before "So what does this have to do with god then..." it wouldn't make any less sense.
Next up, I'll put on my targeting scope and go for the central point of this shemozzle.
If consciousness is energy, just because it's made of the same stuff as everything else doesn't give it power over everything else. Our collective consciousnesses have no godlike influence over the rest of reality. Besides, we don't have a collective consciousness or "hive mind" as we understand the concept so we've got no way of combining our mental powers to physically affect the universe. All we can do is move our own bodies and get things done through ordinary teamwork. Not much of a god, are we?
Even the idea of consciousness as independent energy is a contested premise. It requires a position of mind-brain duality (that is, mutual independence) that most atheists don't share. Consciousness in any materialist view is simply a function of the brain itself, kept running by electrical impulses which have no external influence and no autonomy. It's like a computer program: wipe the computer, and it disappears.
Finally, there's a more general point to be made, so I'll go up in my mehve to see the big picture.
If when considering the world at large you feel you must posit the existence of a major hypothetical entity, like a collective consciousness or a Prime Mover or a Designer (none of which are likely necessary), you're free to call it anything you like. However, if you arbitrarily give it an existing name which also refers to an separate, well-established concept, it's an unsupported link between the two entities. It's a big problem with the Transcendental Argument and all others which end with, "We call this creator/lawmaker/intelligence/feeling/cupcake God." Even if the argument is sound, the entity you've successfully argued for may well not be your god at all, and it's a dishonest leap to assume that it is.
I hope this is the kind of ammo you're looking for.
I'm gonna say no.
Religion is hardly an unjustifiable preoccupation when it attempts to pervade so many aspects of life: politics, education, civil rights, foreign relations and so on. Anyone who supports the separation of church and state can combat the above. To those of us who also think each religion is labouring under a false premise, though, it's doubly sad that they have such power.
Obama made positive arguments, sure, but he called Republicans out when they accused him of associating with terrorists, perpetrating voter fraud, being a Muslim, etc. Atheists are the targets of similar smears: that we have no morals, that we want to outlaw religion, that we want to take children away from religious parents, even that we're Satanists. Too many people are willing to swallow this stuff hook, line and sinker for us to stay silent.
Further, Obama generally criticised the Republican administration as a whole, not McCain himself. He went on and on about what a disaster "the last eight years" had been. Similarly, rather than insult theists we try to attack religion itself, encouraging people to abandon it and become non-theists (like Obama's call for Republicans to vote Democrat). I can't speak for all atheists, but we do try to reserve personal vitriol for those who constantly use it against us, if only to show them up as hypocrites.
In short, we are not mounting unprovoked attacks. We are defending ourselves against a huge body of anti-atheist propaganda. Sometimes, the best defence is a good offence.
Immediate issues with the specifics:
- Even the most common variety of tomato has between three and five chambers, not just four. Other breeds have between two and ten.
- You have to cut a carrot to even make one side of it look like a picture of an eye, and even then it's a creepy orange eye. Once you're shaping these foods yourself like this, their natural appearance is irrelevant.
- Carotene gives tomatoes and carrots their health benefits and their colour. If God's trying to draw us to healthy foods by making them red or reddish, why are most poisonous berries the same colour?
- Blood cells aren't round like grapes, they're flattened and pitted like a Strepsils tablet.
- The stalks of celery, bok choy and rhubarb can look like the long, thin bones in our arms and legs. That's just 12 out of the 206 bones of all shapes and sizes in the human body.
- Who decided that garlic is a "working companion" to onions, and how does the appearance of onions link to the benefits of garlic?
What makes me suspicious about these claims, beyond the inaccuracies above, is the recurring non-references to scientific research: "science shows...", "research shows...", "we know that..." and so on. No links to any actual work done by anybody. Though much of what's said is likely correct, we're expected to believe it from this email alone.
The real problem here is naked confirmation bias. Every one of these foods has a long list of benefits all over the body (the kidney bean, for instance, could sustain you all by itself for ages), and every body part mentioned has a multitude of foods which are good for it and yet look nothing like it. Pick the most interesting twenty out of the innumerable billions of combinations, and you've got an amazing list. View it in the context of the whole of the human body and the whole of the fruit and vegetable family, and it's just an amusing highlight reel.
Coincidences happen, and we notice them. Next to the infinite coincidences that do not happen, and we therefore don't usually consider, they are often insignificant. That's the case with "God's Pharmacy" here.
I think what you're saying is that because God created life billions of years ago, and we can't, God is better than us at molecular biology.
If we last another 6 billion years we probably will succeed in creating new life. We've made tremendous progress in just the 50-ish years since the Miller-Urey experiments, which created 22 kinds of amino acids from primitive swamp gas and lightning. We haven't succeeded in causing life to emerge yet, but we can produce all kinds of precursors. If we have 120 million times as long to try, I think we'll get there.
As for the initial life that evolved into us, it needn't have been created at all. The very fact that we're finding it so difficult to do deliberately suggests that it happens more easily as a natural process. The Earth is vast, the chemical ingredients it provides are diverse and plentiful and they had billions of years to mix. The sheer number of possible combinations is staggeringly large. The odds against one of those combinations resulting in life? Not so large.
According to the Book of Genesis, the "morphing" process between species didn't happen. According to archaeological and biological evidence, however, humans got to be as they are now very, very, VERY slowly.
No ancient ape actually morphed. Apes just had a lot of children, and some of those children were different in tiny ways. Some were smarter, some were stronger, some had less hair. If the changes helped the children to survive and have kids of their own, the changes stuck by way of plain old heredity. If changes didn't help, they died out. That's what we call natural selection.
This went on for millions of years, so the changes stacked up over time. Notice how a playing card is practically flat, but a deck of cards has thickness? That's how unnoticeable changes can eventually add up to big changes. Our deck had a lot of stacking time.
As the population grew, groups of apes separated and began to pass on different changes. One group survived through sheer strength, and developed into gorillas. Another group found that being smaller helped them escape things that wanted to eat them, and ended up as chimpanzees. One group prospered because of its greater intelligence, so it kept on getting smarter. That group was our ancestors.
So you see, we didn't develop from the apes we see in jungles and zoos today. We and they are all descended from common ancestors, entirely different apes which aren't around anymore. Modern apes aren't our ancestors, they're our distant cousins. That's why we share a lot of our DNA with them.
We look back at this process through all the fossils we've found of the different forms our ancestors took, and we have to ask, "When did these apes become humans?" All we really did was pick a point about two million years ago when they were humanlike enough, and declare, "There. We started there. Everything before that was just apes." All species after that point were named Homo, because that's the Latin for "man". The first was Homo habilis, and we are the last one so far, Homo sapiens.
The reality is that we didn't morph from apes, we are highly advanced apes ourselves. It's like how a square is also a rectangle, but it has unique qualities.
You might think it's an insult to call all humans apes, but it's not. If we're apes, then everything we are is part of what an ape can be. Apes can write poetry, build machines, give to charity. Apes can look up at the sky and wonder. Apes can be romantic. Apes can be human. I'm proud to be an ape.
On the other hand, if things happened exactly as the Book of Genesis says they did, we've got nothing to do with apes and all the accepted evidence is wrong. If you want to look at it that way, fine, but you're rejecting a lot of evidence. Go check it out.
Do read my comments in the original question where I explain that there is very likely a difference between a brain which is dying, or almost dying, and one which is not. One might expect the experiences of the former to be somewhat unique, no?
Regardless of what a patient's religion is, if they're in the news we read then they're in a country where if the Christian concept of the afterlife, if not widely believed, is at least widely known. The reason why even non-Christians' experiences may feature Heaven and Hell (that's where you're going with this, right?) is most likely a simple unconscious association of these ideas with death. It doesn't denote belief, and it certainly doesn't speak to reality more than any dream does.
As for factual observations of things not visible or audible to the patient (which is getting into the more general field of out-of-body experiences), those are exactly the events which have not been verified. There are stories of course, but nothing that it's actually possible to pin down and say, "This happened."
Disagree with me? Then don't just wave your hand at the world and say the evidence is out there. That shows us nothing. Go find some concrete examples and link to them in a comment (use HTML links please, as in a href), so that we can do our own research and come to our own conclusions. Make an effort.
That's not just to Iens, it's to everybody. Show us what you've got.
This is what I get for taking the road less travelled.
The original question is here. As I began to say at the end of it, you have to assume certain premises before this discussion is even relevant:
- Jesus and the apostles actually existed and knew each other.
- Jesus was indeed crucified or otherwise publicly executed, or at least shown to be dead.
- The apostles genuinely knew whether the resurrection had happened.
- At least some of those original apostles were really martyred for saying Jesus was resurrected.
Available extra-Biblical circumstantial evidence for any of the above is sparse and contested to the point where many non-Christians hearing this question will demand more before even considering it. To see what I mean, follow the link in the other question to the forum where it first came up.
Confident that the evidence angle is thoroughly covered for the time being, I thought I'd examine whether the conclusion is valid even if one accepts the premises. I still don't think it is, because there are circumstances in which the apostles reasonably would lie and die for it. Even if my argument falls flat on its face, though, it's hardly the last remaining line of defense against this apologetic chestnut.
You say I didn't explain how Christianity benefited the first Christians. Are you implying that there is no earthly benefit to being a Christian if Christians are few and persecuted? Fine, if a Christian thinks so then I won't argue, but these particular Christians had a plan. They saw ahead to a time when other people, and the people in charge, and the entire society around them would be Christian too. Then it would be wonderful to be a Christian. Life would be so much better than when nobody was, because Jesus's teachings would help them all to live in harmony.
A Christian's loved ones shouldn't be limited to his or her family and friends. Jesus' message was supposedly to love everyone, even one's enemies. If the apostles had abandoned their story even to protect their own families and friends, it would have been selfish compared to their ultimate earthly goal: spread Jesus' teachings to the four corners, make everyone a Christian and, possibly well after they were all gone, bring about a new age of peace and happiness. It was a gift to the whole world.
If people will give their lives for a cause, as they regularly do, then it only takes the right cause to bring them to give others' lives as well. Christianity, whether or not it was based on a real resurrection, was such a cause as the widespread martyrdom shows. Even for the long-term earthly goals alone, Christianity's founders would have thought it was worth all the horrendous sacrifice.
One more time, that's if any of this happened at all.