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Life After Death; Scientific Evidence for Death as the Beginning of a New Stage of Life – Dr. Gerald Schroeder at the Israel Center 1 July, 2004

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Author’s note, Feb. 2006. In July 2004, Dr. Gerald Schroeder came to speak on this topic. While the lecture itself was delivered 18 months or so ago, its relevance remains immediate. We are yet born, we yet die – and continue to wonder at the first event and fear the second. Dr. Schroeder’s lecture increased my wonder at the second event as well.

Most of the presentations at the Root & Branch Lecture Series deal with politics or religion. This presentation dealt with nuclear physics. It filled the house with people. The staff of the Israel Center had to bring fifteen extra chairs. The topic was “Life After Death; Scientific Evidence for Death as the Beginning of a New Stage of Life.”

Some of us are interested in politics. Some of us are interested in religion. But all of us die. And the vast, vast majority of us want to continue to live. Maybe that’s why there was a full house that Thursday night.

Dr. Gerald Schroeder is a physicist whose particular specialty is studying the convergence of science and religion. In his previous works, he explained how Creation as described in Torah and interpreted by Rabbi Moshe ben Nahman (Nahmanides) was very similar to the description of the Big Bang by nuclear physicists. In the book “The Science of G-d”, he expanded on this notion, pointing out the weaknesses in the theory of evolution as described by Darwin and what the geological record actually does show. He went on in this book to describe “six ages of Creation,” each one roughly half as long as the previous one, all of them adding up to about 15 billion years, which coincide with what the geological record shows. He pointed out how Jewish scholars trying to figure out the age of the universe, who knew nothing of quantum mechanics or nuclear physics, who worked hundreds of years ago without the aid of a computer or even a calculator, and who worked from hints found in the text of Torah came up with – fifteen billion years.

The person who has done this work is tall and skinny, a modest man, used to large crowds. He came directly to the front of the room carrying a bag with some markers and a whiteboard. He desired that the podium be upon the stage, rather than the table, so I began moving things about as any good master of ceremonies would. He had a distinct preference for doing things by himself so after helping him lift the podium onto the stage, I stepped back and allowed him his way. He set the whiteboard upon a chair, so that others could see it. He set his notes on the podium and began writing a formula on the whiteboard. I wished I’d had a notebook with me. My puerile attempts to describe what I heard do not do justice to the dispensing of wisdom by a genius. Dr. Schroeder was kind enough to refresh and to clarify a couple of the points I missed in my original description.

The formula he wrote was E > M > Life > Brain > Emergent mind.

Most folks are familiar with Einstein’s formula for the transfer of energy to mass: E=MC².
The E in Dr. Schroeder’s formula was the familiar “energy,” the M was the familiar “mass.” The rest was evidently where Dr. Schroeder was taking us in this lecture.

He pointed to the E on the whiteboard, saying that when the universe began in the Big Bang, it was all light waves – energy. Some of the energy converted to mass M – planets, rocks, stars, plants – and what was remarkable was that a large portion of that energy developed intelligence – animals and people.

He emphasized that we are all energy – energy that had been created during the Big Bang.

He then observed that even though things seem solid – he knocked the podium with his fist to make the point – it really consisted of whirling electrons around a nucleus and a proton; that if you took the nucleus of an atom and made it the size of an orange, the electron cloud around it would be four miles away. There was that much empty space in supposedly solid matter. He pointed out that steam and ice are just variants of water. They don’t look like water, but they are water. He returned to his basic point – that we are all light waves.

Dr. Schroeder approached the subject of death by referring to how the Torah describes the death of the patriarchs. He pointed out a pattern in the descriptions. First, the person expires and then he is gathered to his people and only later is he buried. He indicated that this order of events suggests that reality might be something distinctly other than what we normally perceive it to be. The following are quotes from the Torah, translated into English. The translations are from the Stone Edition Humash:

Dealing with Jacob:

Genesis 49:33. “When Jacob finished instructing his sons, he drew his feet onto the bed; he expired and was gathered to his people.”

Genesis 50:1-3, 5 “Then Joseph fell upon his father’s face, he wept over him and kissed him. Joseph ordered his servants, the physicians, to embalm his father, so the physicians embalmed Israel. His forty day term was completed, for such is the term of the embalmed, and Egypt bewailed him for seventy days…… ‘”My father had adjured me, saying ‘behold I am about to die, my grave, which I have hewn for myself in the land of Canaan – there you are to bury me.’ Now I will go up if you please, and bury my father, then I will return.” (Jacob was buried at least two months after he died.)

Dealing with Abraham:

Genesis 25:8-9 “And Abraham expired and died at a good old age, mature and content, and he was gathered to his people. His sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron the son of Zohar the Hittite facing Mamre.”

Dealing with Isaac:

Genesis 35:29. “And Isaac expired and died and he was gathered to his people, old and fulfilled of days; his sons Esau and Jacob, buried him.”

Dr. Schroeder then turned to an article that had been published in the magazine Lancet, the British equivalent to the Journal of the American Medical Assn. This article had been published in 2001, and the reason he used it was that it was “peer reviewed.” This means that scientists had reviewed the article before publishing it and agreed that it was not nonsense, and therefore worthy of publication in a serious scientific journal. Peer review is the scientific and academic equivalent of “kosher.”

The article was a compilation of “life after death” experiences, where a person had expired on the operating table and had been brought back to life.

Of the 300-odd events where this had occurred in the study, about 60 or so of the people remembered the event in one form or another, the familiar “white light,” the deep contentment and the experience of relatives sort of pushing them back, saying to them “it’s not your time yet.”

The immediate implication that came to my mind was that if it had ‘been their time’ the relatives who were pushing the individuals back would have welcomed the soul or mind or whatever it was of the dying person into their midst – that the dying person would have been “gathered to his people.”

There are strong arguments put forth to explain that the phenomenon of the “white light” that people that are brought back from death experience is nothing more than the chemical reactions of a brain in crisis. The arguments point to the fact that while a person is dying, the brain is extremely busy attempting to deal with the business of closing down. Part of this involves shooting various chemicals that induce or that can induce hallucinations of contentment.

What evidently got noticed in the article in Lancet was that if these arguments were true, since all brains have similar chemistry, the “white light” experience would have been far more common than it was in the study. There was a quote in that magazine, as far as a magazine of that nature could go, essentially suggesting that the relation of the mind to the body should be re-examined.

Dr. Schroeder moved on to a branch of physics called quantum mechanics. According to him, if you haven’t seen how illogical quantum mechanics is, then you haven’t really studied the subject. He gave the example of an electron moving from one place to another by instantaneously transferring from one spot to another. It doesn’t seem to make sense, but he said that nonsensical as it seemed, the laws of quantum mechanics work because if they didn’t, it would be impossible to turn on a light switch or a car.

In quantum mechanics you deal with a world of sub-atomic particles that you can’t ever seem to find, but whose existence you can infer from the evidence they leave – tracks of sorts. It’s kind of like seeing the skin of your hand being pressed in, feeling it pressed in and being unable to find what is doing the pressing. You can calculate the amount of the pressure and even infer the size and possibly the shape of the object applying the pressure, but there it – isn’t.

You can take a sonoscope and hear the sound that a brain makes – essentially the gurgling of blood rushing from cell to cell – but you will not see the memories or hear the sounds heard by the person’s brain you are investigating. You can, with an electrode, stimulate the person to recount events from his childhood or smell smells or what have you – but you cannot yourself access the smell with a machine to measure it.

You may see a house, a garage with an open door and a car parked within the garage. Your eye picks up the vision of the light waves and transmits it using the optical nerve to go to the brain to interpret the house, garage and car. But where does the actual picture go? Nobody seems to know where. They know where they can go to put an electrode to get you to describe the house, garage and car in excruciating detail. But the actual image itself nobody – except the owner of the brain being tested – can reach.

This has an implication. The implication is that the brain is kind of a radio picking up the data of the mind. The implication is that the mind is separate from the brain. Scientists can go only so far in this description, but Dr. Schroeder quoted scientist after scientist, most of whom were Nobel Prize winning physicists and biologists, indicating in one way or another that the universe had the characteristic of thought rather than matter, that the materialistic view of the universe was in some way not explaining the data at hand. He pointed out that some scientists had a lot of trouble embracing the idea that the universe was thought – that’s metaphysics. But there was the data.

Dr. Schroeder then turned back to his whiteboard. He said that in the Kabbalah there were indications of pre-Creation activity by G-d. He then wrote the word “wisdom” in Hebrew and drew an arrow to the E on the whiteboard. According to the Kabbalah, it was with “wisdom” that G-d created the universe. He then turned to the opening verse of the Torah, “B’reishít bará Elo-ím et hashamáyim v’et ha’áretz”. First he debunked all the common translations of this line. He said that it doesn’t mean “In the beginning, G-d created the heavens and the earth.” He pointed out that grammatically, the word “b’reishít” just doesn’t work in Hebrew. The proper word to get to the usual translation of the fist line of Genesis is “b’rishoná” which means “in the beginning.”

So what does “b’reishít” mean? He used the 2,100 year old Jerusalem translation into Aramaic (a sister language to Hebrew) translation to get to the actual meaning. The “b” in “b’reishít” means “with”. Reishít is a first cause, something from the head (rosh) – wisdom. Therefore the actual translation is “With wisdom, G-d created the heavens and the earth.”

This was where Dr. Schroeder was leading us. We access wisdom – the mind – with our brain. This process, he called “emergent mind,” the last word in his formula. This “mind” is what scientists have been sensing as they try to make sense of the data the universe seems to offer. This mind is what we access with our brains, which are mere material to accomplish the access. Dr. Schroeder gave the example of the impossibility of fish discovering water.

Assuming that fish did have the mental sophistication of humans, they wouldn’t discover water – it’s all around them. For them to discover water, they would have to either emerge from the water, so as to see it outside of them, but not entirely dominating their universe, or comprehend something which was beyond the physical – metaphysical – to be able to postulate the existence of water and other things around it. Either they would emerge physically from their surroundings to see it for what it was, or mentally emerge from their surroundings to perceive that there was something beyond it. We perceive a reality, he said, but never think that that which is perceived is the full reality.

The following is what I understood Dr. Schroeder to be leading up to, though he did not say this himself at the lecture.

We are emerging from a false perception of the universe to finally begin to perceive its true nature – the Thought of G-d. This is the point of the word “b’reishít” at the beginning of the Torah. This is why we can’t seem to find so many sub-atomic particles whose presence are sensed and detected. They are products of Mind, of the Thought that brought us all into existence 15 billion years ago with a Big Bang. If this is so, our brains are physical tools to access this Thought, which we add to with our own experiences in the lives we lead. And then once we pass on, hopefully we are gathered to our people with an opportunity to understand more of that Thought and move on to the next stage.

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About Ruvy

Hi!! Thanks for coming to my article! I was raised in Brooklyn, was graduated from the City University of New York in 1978 with a BA in political science and public administration there. I lived in Minnesota for a number of years. There I managed restaurants and wrote stories. We moved with our children family to Israel where we now reside. My work can be found at Ruvy's Roost, Jewish Indy,, and on Facebook under my full name, Reuven Kossover
  • Josh

    Great post. I especially liked the fish analogy.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Thanks for the kind words, Josh.

    Professor Schroeder spoke last Thrusday at the Israel Center as well about “Intelligent Design.”

    He basically picked it apart as being insufficient to explain a universe governed by metaphysical principles. He argued that the intent of “Intelligent Design” was alright, but that it didn’t belong in a science class. One could cause students to infer a Creator by teaching the wonder of the universe in terms of how the universe was primed for life by the nature of the various numbers that govern its existence.

    Truth of the matter is that much of what he said is found in his books “The Science of G-d,” or “The Hidden Face of G-d.”

    It’s not always easy to summarize a two hour lecture in Torah, Kabbalah and physics…

  • http://journals.aol.com/vicl04/THESAVAGEQUIETSEPTEMBERSUN/ Victor Lana

    Having just lost someone very close to me, I am very intrigued by your post, Ruvy. I hope you follow-up with more on this subject. Thanks!

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    May you not hear any more bad news, Victor.

    Thank you for your kind words. This is the kind of thing you can pursue on the internet, or if you are so minded, pursue through buying one of Dr.Schroeder’s books. They’re not that expensive, roughly $10 plus tax. He is a good writer and can make things clear to the non-scientist. And he is intelligent enough to warn where the reading may get rough.

  • teutates

    just hook me up!

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Teutates, Go to my URL. Look up my e-mail from there and we’ll talk.

  • http://alienboysworld.blogspot.com/ Christopher Rose

    Ruvy, this article of yours only proves how dangerous a little knowledge can be in some people’s minds. What a load of drivel, frankly I’m appalled that you could so blatantly try to sell us, and yourself on such mindless meaningless nonsense.

    BAH!

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Odd that you should think I’m trying to sell a concept, Chris. I wrote about Dr. Schroeder’s lecture because it was interesting and because he had delivered one last Thursday night.

    It strikes me that this article is outside your usual box of perceptions, Chris – therefore it is drivel.

    This is a common perception among humankind – and it prevents the race from progressing.

  • http://alienboysworld.blogspot.com/ Christopher Rose

    Ruvy, the only thing that’s out of the box is you if you’re prepared to take this pseudo babble seriously!

    It’s such total nonsense I hardly know where to start but a few key points:-

    1. As you have already told me, according to the Torah, creation was about 5766 years ago, on either March 29th or September 25th, now you say it’s 15 billion years – nice spread, the truth’s probably in there somewhere, right?

    2. The “formula” is meaningless.

    3. After some totally irrelevant quoting of empty words from the Torah/Old Testament you move on to this clot’s quoting of an article from The Lancet without establishing any relationship between either nor managing any plausible explanation for this reputed “white light” phenomenon.

    4. Ruvy, an awful lot has happened in brain research lately; for a start, it’s possible to induce religious experience at will by sticking an electrode into the right part of the brain.

    Now it’s recently emerged that the latest MRI research has now proven that it is possible to know what you are going to do or say a good second or two before you know it yourself, literally to read your mind, before you know what you’re thinking yourself. You ought to be worrying about what people are going to do with this technology far more than this meandering rot.

    5. I’m still laughing about the fish story! Why on earth would an intelligent fish not be able to detect water? That’s like saying we humans couldn’t detect air!

    For Space’ sake man, what is going on in that overactive but undisciplined mind of yours? I have no idea but find myself choking on the horrible combination of mystical psychobabble of your post and the smug arrogance of your presumption that I don’t “get” it you display in your comment.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Chris,

    Do yourself a favor and buy one of the books recommended and read it – or borrow it from a library – and then argue with me if you want. I would suggest The Science of G-d since you talked about the ages of the universe.

  • http://alienboysworld.blogspot.com/ Christopher Rose

    Ruvy, do yourself a favour and wake up! I’m not in the slightest bit interested in reading any more about this mad dogma. If it has any worth, it can come out into the light of reason and make its case in public, not seek to suck vulnerable people into its maw.

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    Interesting new definition of ‘evidence’ in play here. John Locke would be dismayed at how far his empirical method has declined.

    Dave

  • http://alienboysworld.blogspot.com/ Christopher Rose

    I hope that’s an endorsement of my position here, Mr Nalle..?

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    Yes, I agree that the Torah and/or Bible is not terribly valid as ‘scientific evidence’, though it’s a useful historical document if you avoid the clearly loony stuff about magical spirits from the sky who turn people to salt and cover their nakedness with their six wings while waving their flaming two-handed engines of doom and standing in their firey chariots, etc. Not to mention talkign bushes.

    Dave

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Why so angry, Chris? Why so closed minded, my virtual friend?

    The book Genesis and the Big Bang was on the NYT best sellers list for a time. So was The Science of G-d. That would tell me that Dr. Schroeder’s concepts have indeed come out into the light of reason and made their case in public. In a free market, not all the public is required to buy in.

    Truth is, I’m not trying to convince you of anything. It strikes me that you’re trying to convince me to abandon a reasonable concept that explains the convergence of science and religion.

    Let’s take your points one by one.

    1. The giving of Adam a neshamá, a soul, took place 5766 years ago. This is not when the universe was created. Looking forward from the moment of creation of the universe, there were six 24 hour periods. Looking back from when Adam received his neshamá to the moment of creation, there were 15 billion years. This is a function of blueshifting of stars and galaxies, basic cosmology. It is also basic relativity. You’ll find this in the book The Science of G-d

    2. The formula was shorthand for the direction of the lecture and was a summary of it.

    3. The quotations from the Torah illustrate a process. Death, gathering of the soul to the other souls that have passed away, and then burial. When my father passed away, I saw moments afterward, out of the corner of my eye, a kind of cloud near the ceiling in the hospital room. I didn’t imagine this. I saw this. After a time, the cloud disappeared. This was my father’s soul ascending from his body, being gathered to his people, my late uncle, my grandfather, grandmother, etc. The next day, my father was buried.

    4. All that you mention in terms of brain research only confirms what Dr. Schroeder was taking about. You write, “the latest MRI research has now proven that it is possible to know what you are going to do or say a good second or two before you know it yourself”. Did the research explin why this could be done, or why it was so?

    5. Finally, people didn’t really understand in their gut that they were living at the bottom of a sea of air until satellites brought back views of the planet from space. A lot of people still don’t understand this fact.

    I am not a phycisist or a biologist. It matters little to me if the Mind of G-d appears in a physics lab or not. But apparently that is what Dr. Schroeder described: scientist after scientist disturbed that the universe seemed to have more the aspect of mind than matter. They may or may not admit to a divinity’s existence. This matters little to me. But what does matter is that they are admitting, not willingly, that their materialist view of the universe is false, based on the data in front of their eyes. That they should do so leads me to think that given that they are scientists, they have an idea of what they are talking about.

    “I’m not in the slightest bit interested in reading any more about this mad dogma.”

    Naturally, you need not read any of the data I present. As a free man, you are not forced or compelled to agree with any of this or even examine it. But it makes sense to me. And that is good enough for this former atheist.

  • http://alienboysworld.blogspot.com/ Christopher Rose

    Ruvy, you really need to get over yourself. Not buying into a specious argument like this is no more a sign of a closed mind than declining to interpret the world by astrology or hurling sticks, it’s simply the sane thing to do.

    Yeah, I do get angry sometimes, angry and frustrated that there’s so much diversionary nonsense in the world, distracting everybody from the simple fact that there is ZERO evidence of gods ever having existed, just silly stories that people actually fight and kill over! Imagine how completely messed up that is.

    Then I get to live in a world where these deluded faithists pompously assume the moral high ground and start telling us all how to live. Frankly it turns my stomach nauseous with the reeking hypocrisy of it all.

    Given that, why on earth should I waste yet more time on poorly constructed unsubstantiated theories? Or anybody else for that matter?

    The real truth of the human condition is that there’s about 8 billion of us clinging on to this little rock hurtling through space. We face enough mind boggling mysteries and problems trying to accept and deal with that little fact to keep us all very busy for quite a few millennia yet. These religious cults simply cruelly deceive and rob us all of the most precious things of all, our common humanity, shared destiny, our hopes and dreams, all that love and emotion wasted on empty words.

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    The book Genesis and the Big Bang was on the NYT best sellers list for a time. So was The Science of G-d. That would tell me that Dr. Schroeder’s concepts have indeed come out into the light of reason and made their case in public. In a free market, not all the public is required to buy in.

    The James Frey book which was mostly lies was also on the bestseller list along with just about every fad diet ever and every puffed up political biography you can think of and even books by Kitty Kelley which are pretty much fiction. For that matter fiction is on the bestseller list. Does that make the content of any of these books scientifically accurate, true or of any particular value? No. People buy crappy books that are full of gossip and made up garbage. That doesn’t legitimize the books, it just makes the people stupid.

    If you get enough stupid and crazy people to agree with you it still doesn’t make you right.

    Dave

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Dave,

    At least I now understand why you entitle you own blog, “Tasty Products from the Elitist Pig”.

    In the open market of ideas, many rise to the top – many escellent ideas are consigned to remainder tables… The NYT best seller’s list is one index of what the public is interested in – for whatever reasons. So it is as I have said above “… Dr. Schroeder’s concepts have indeed come out into the light of reason and made their case in public. In a free market, not all the public is required to buy in.”

    Apparently, in your eyes, when you don’t like the product, the market is stupid. How in character. At least you are not ranting away like some religion abolishing dictator exlaining to the unwashed what is good for them.

    I make no claim that Dr. Schroeder is right, though I believe him to be. This essay was written because I found his topic to be extremely interesting; it tied together the phenomena of NDE’s to Torah truth using the methods of science. It explained in plain English to me what I saw above my father’s bed the day he died nigh thirty years ago.

    In my youth, I was an atheist. By the time my father had passed away, I was an agnostic. Now, I am a believer.

    In college, I had to write an essay comparing the moral growth of a character named Gimpel the Fool, against some fellow in a Russian short story. The Russian started out as a selfish and self-centered bastard who, grew under the lash of pain and knowledge of impending death, into a decent individual – even though this was only known to himself – and G-d. Gimpel, a saintly man from his youth, never abandoned his saintliness.

    I chosae the Russian bastard – at least he grew and changed. That has been the dugmá – the example – for my own life as well.

    Neither you nor Chris need be convinced by what I write. I did not write a sales, piece – I wrote a summary. There is no form to fill in to join up, no product for you to buy. Only the opportunity to probe deeper into these ideas if they are of interest to you.

    The beginning of wisdom is the fear of G-d. (Kohelet/Ecclesiastes)

  • Dave Nalle

    It’s not ‘products’ Ruvy, it’s ‘thoughts’. Not selling anything on my blog but good sense.

    I have no problem at all with what you wrote, except with your presentation of it as ‘scientific evidence’. If you offered it as an interesting theory or rationale for a particular belief set, that would be fine, but trying to pass it off as something empirical is deceptive.

    Dave

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Sorry for the misnomer of your web-blog, Dave. I didn’have my glasses when I was looking at it. I had an achin’ for bacon and I knew there was a pig somewhere in the title.

    What Dr. Schroeder, a scientist himself, described in his lecture, was the disparagement of scientists looking at empirical data and forced to admit that the universe had more the character of mind than matter. What he described was the article Lancet questioning a prevalent theory that NDE’s were hallucinatory experiences of those dying whose brains were shutting down.

    This was scientific evidence. The quotes from the Torah were not, of course. They were descriptions of men dying. Period.

    There were no jennyasses given speech, no burning bush, no planets held fast in slow rotation to prevent the sun appearing to set, no khamsin blowing all night to split waters.

    The point of the lecture was to tie the sceintific evidence to the Torah quotes based on what scintists had themselves seen. You do not need a nuclear physicist to explain Torah – any good rabbi will do. The last paragraph of the essay is not what Dr. Schroeder said that night at the Israel Center. The last paragraph was how I understood what he was saying.

    Dr. Schroeder read my essay and corrected the errors I had made (there were several) and commented in his e-mail to me that I had indeed understood his lecture.

    There is nothing deceptive in what I wrote. But when you study Torah, you learn real fast that you must read closely, following all the fine print very carefully. Otherwise, you often miss the point.

  • http://alienboysworld.blogspot.com/ Christopher Rose

    Isn’t it funny how many people start to buy into religion more as they get older, especially after the first time the shocking realisation that you are only mortal sinks in? Ruvy, you aren’t a believer, you’re just hedging your bets…

    If you were more clearminded Ruvy, you’d realise that “following all the fine print” is just another way of being drawn into the empty dogmas of the Jewish-Christian-Islamic creation myth. Talk about missing the point. That and wishful thinking…

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    The point at which you try to tie your science to religious doctrine is the point at which your science ceases to be credible, because there is no scientific reason to make that connection or to even consider that the Torah or the Bible should be part of your scientific analysis. In the empirical method you start with the evidence and draw conclusions from it. If part of that evidence is flawed the outcome will be flawed. If part of that evidence is faith rather than fact, then the outcome of the process will not be truly empirical.

    And if you need a Rabbi to explain your holy book, then you’re probably better off without the Rabbi or the book.

    Dave

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Dave, that’s why I stuck in a link to Dr. Schroeder’s site and to the Lancet article he quoted. I read and came to my conclusions. Now, you can read and come to your own conclusions.

    Chris, fear of death is a motivating factor for many people to believe in G-d – there are no atheists in a foxhole, goes the saying. But I was aware of all that long before becoming a believer. Good guess, but you’re barking up the wrong tree.

    There must be a militant atheistic jihad-type organization somewhere you can join. Your comments sound like they would make good material for their propaganda.

  • gonzo marx

    ok…my turn…

    hello Ruvy, interesting Article you have here…some fine thoughts on metaphysics, thanks for sharing

    my Problem here is the use of “scientific evidence” in the title, and some of the fast and loose playing with Logic and Facts that happen to fit the Hypothesis..

    i’m just going to touch on one thing here to try and make my Point…

    utilizing Torah, the date for the Creation of Adam, the first Man, is given and under 6000 years ago…correct?

    2 problems here, a written chinese history as old as the Torah which disagrees, and the “Iceman” found in the italian alps a few years ago…
    1)dated around 7500 years old (give or take a few decades)
    2)worked copper tools
    3) forged and worked bronze
    4) a bow, and arrows in the making , along with fletching supplies
    5)acupuncture marks and a covering tattoo corresponding to treatment for ulcers…forensic exam found this western european had this condition…had herbals medicines in his pouch for treatment, and bore the signs of acupuncture treatment for EXACTLY that condition

    there’s more…but you get the Idea…this was a Man, and he pre-dates the Torah calculations by quite a bit

    it’s inconsistencies like this, which abound in many ancient texts, that lead many to utilize them for guidelines in the Realms Metaphysical…but not for Science or Reason

    as for Dr. Schroeder, he presents anecdotal evidence, not empirical data (except to quantify and qualify the anecdotes as a reasonably consistent sub-set of the sampled data)

    a much more Interesting, and fruitful approach can be followed by utilizing E=MCsquared and the postulate that neither matter nor energy can be destroyed…merely altered in state

    add to this , the scientific data the Russians gathered about 20 years ago with a simple set of accurate scales and people about to die…after all factors were taken into account, there were still a few ounces which were lost at the moment of death which coudl not be accounted for

    that data IS empirical…and food for Thought

    Excelsior!

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Gonzo,

    Just a quick answer for now. The very issues you raise about man being far older than 6,000 years old are dealt with in detail by Schroeder in his book “The Science of G-d.”

    Like any intelligent scientist, he does not argue with the carbon dating. Neither do I. Note what I wrote Chris in comment #15 The giving of Adam a neshamá, a soul, took place 5766 years ago.

    This does not mean that there were no men before then. The geologic record is clear. There were. And they did all the things you said they did in your comment. The geologic record does not lie.

    But the argument is that they did not have a “neshamá” a spirit that communicated with G-d. Eight hundred years ago, the m’kubal Nahmanides argued that there were human creatures before Adam. He didn’t have knowledge of the Neander Valley a few hundred miles away nor of the bones that were to be found there.

    The catch is you need to understand Hebrew to understand what is going on. You need to comprehend the acual phrasing of the Tana”kh to comprehend the thoughts expressed. Nahmanides deduced what he did from an extra letter in the word “create” found in the Tana”kh when it refers to the “neshamá” that G-d creates for Adam.

    Schroeder in his book “The Science of G-d” argues that the sign of the existence of the neshamá, the spirit that communicates with G-d, is the presence of writing which dates back 5,500 years.

    you write,

    as for Dr. Schroeder, he presents anecdotal evidence, not empirical data (except to quantify and qualify the anecdotes as a reasonably consistent sub-set of the sampled data)

    This is true. But this data he uses to compare to an analysis of what happens at death as described in the Torah. The Russian data you provide below are empirical data that would back up the collected sub-set of anecdotal data.

    The issue of NDE’s cannot really be dealt with in any other way than anecdotal. And the issue of Lancet quoted to point out the weakness of the claim that the brain was shooting hallucinatory chemicals to calm down the dying person brought forth by many neurologists.

    I’ll have to e-mail him about this study if you can provide a link. He may have already refered to it elsewhere.

    …the scientific data the Russians gathered about 20 years ago with a simple set of accurate scales and people about to die…after all factors were taken into account, there were still a few ounces which were lost at the moment of death which coudl not be accounted for

    that data IS empirical…and food for Thought

    you also wrote,

    a much more Interesting, and fruitful approach can be followed by utilizing E=MC² and the postulate that neither matter nor energy can be destroyed…merely altered in state

    The problem with this is that the Big Bang provides evidence of a beginning. Which means that something emerged from nothing. Matter was created.

  • gonzo marx

    ok..start with an easy Riddle…

    guy is standing at the Pearly gates, and three naked couples are presented….he is told, “pick out Adam and Eve and you can go on in”….a quick look, he chooses and goes in….

    how did he know?

    now…on to your Points of Discussion…

    Ruvy sez…
    *Schroeder in his book “The Science of G-d” argues that the sign of the existence of the neshamá, the spirit that communicates with G-d, is the presence of writing which dates back 5,500 years.*

    well now…interesting take…but other forms of Writing had been around at the same time, just not Hebrew…Phoenician cuneiform and the oriental languages….i don’t know the early dates for India off the top of my head…

    but i think you miss a Step…communicative abstract Symbology

    the first time Ugh grabbed a pointy thing and sketched out a four legged stick figure then two(or more) two legged figures chasing …you had Logos

    the cave paintings in France, all the baby steps leading to verbal communication

    yet…according to the hypothesis you seem to be putting forward, it’s not till Adam is made, given a “soul” and taught to write Hebrew that we are “Man”…and, by extrapolation…only those children of Adam can even possibly have “souls”…

    i’m sorry i don’t have a link to the Russian experimental data…i read a bit about it many years ago…and have no documentation for substantiation , if interested..i’m fairly certain you could find it

    as for the “big bang” and it being the Beginning…well…

    some mathematical models lean towards a cyclic Expansion and Contraction…from a singularity to infinity and back again…over and over…

    what was the original Source and the following Question…what begat that?

    fuck if i know…

    the Answer to the Riddle is, the man picked the couple with no belly-buttons : being both fully formed and not Born of Woman, they wouldn’t have any…

    just a Thought

    Excelsior!

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Gonzo,

    yet…according to the hypothesis you seem to be putting forward, it’s not till Adam is made, given a “soul” and taught to write Hebrew that we are “Man”…and, by extrapolation…only those children of Adam can even possibly have “souls”…

    Samples of writing – in whatever language – aren’t really older than 5,500 years. I didn’t specify Hebrew. I’m a descendent of Abraham, who was a Sumerian who left Ur with his father and family on Divine command. I just specified writing.

    A painting is pretty and a picture is nice – but it does not indicate communication in the same way that writing does. The Cro-Magnon men thought – one can see thought in the remains of their handiwork, as well as in their paintings.

    So the human-like intelligence that produced all this must have been highly developed. But a neshamá is a spirit that communicates with G-d. All that you cite is indicative of néfesh – spirit and instinct – on as highly developed level. English does not have two words for soul as does Hebrew.

    Consider, Gonzo. Cain, after he kills his brother is afraid that he will be killed by others if he is to be a vagrant – what others? A literal reading of the text yields mommy and daddy and nobody else. Cain gets married. Who does he marry? His mom? His dad?

    There were other people around who did not have the neshamá he did. They were male and female. He picked up one of the females and took the sign that G-d gave him and prayed. And he lived for seven generations.

    The Torah is not to be literally taken in the sense that Protestant preachers would have you believe. It is a several layered cake, and when you read the text, all you see is the topping. It is truth, it is G-d’s truth, but there is more to it than just the text as you see it. Go to my link to Aish haTorah at the first comment on my article “Purim Patrol.” At the Aish haTorah site you’ll find a tie between Purim and the Nürnberg trials after WWII.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    One last thing, Gonzo.

    Science is just as much a belief system as Judaism, Hinduism or the rest. It has different purposes and a different approach, but nevertheless, it has core beliefs to which all scientists ascribe, and to which they attempt to adhere, including Dr. Schroeder, and you. Somewhere amongst the axioms, hypotheses and theories, there comes a point when the fellow in the lab coat stamps his foot in anger and says, “it’s so because I believe it is so!.”

    If he is a stupid man, he dismisses you and goes back to his Bunsen burner or computer or what have you. If he is truly wise, he covers his mouth in embarrassment and realizes the pile of shit he has just stepped in.

  • http://chromatius.blogspot.com/ Chromatius

    Quantum mecahnics is not so much “illogical”, as counter-intuitive. But so is Einsteinian spacetime, the last plateau of classical physics before the quantum revolution.

    But they are logical, and therefore we can judge the logic of the positions/arguments, even though the math (and understanding based in it) is far beyond us…

    For what it’s worth (nothing), my own (logical) belief is that the wave/point duality, and the proliferation of sub-atomic particles, suggest quantum mechanics is a very partial view of a larger whole.

    On the other hand what happens to the brain/mind at point of death will involve the failure of all logic, so near-death reports are dubious territory (even leaving aside the cultural issues).

    I have a little personal experience of this area myself, but no revelations….

  • http://chromatius.blogspot.com/ Chromatius

    “Science is just as much a belief system…” absolutely, but there is a difference.

    Most modern humans understand very little of their material culture, technology and sciences. Leave anyone of us alone, we’re unlikely to recreate even the basics.

    So what we believe, what we ‘know’ has faith elements – I believe this guy because of his authority as a scientist. How do I know he’s a scientist – well, white coat, white lab, his mates say he’s a scientist (peer review)… the point is that most people believe but don’t understand.

    Nonetheless, leaving aside popular belief, authority and faith, the practice of science is a different activity to the practice of religion – pragmatic, empirical, evidence, argument, provability, falsifiability etc; whereas the science (as in organised body of knowledge) of religion tends to be interpretive – to better know the religious meaning of a text through history, allegory or some other hermeneutic.

    In fact, it is in this area that Judaism has had the most profound impact on European/Graeco-Roman thought. And vice versa – e.g. the Kabbalah in the 12th Century CE is itself a product of this cross-fertilisation. Periods of great activity on this front include the 4th, 12th and 20th centuries – and the ‘renaissance’ – all key moments in the intellectual development of the west. But that’s another story.

  • http://chromatius.blogspot.com/ Chromatius

    “Like any intelligent scientist, he does not argue with the carbon dating. Neither do I. Note what I wrote Chris in comment #15 The giving of Adam a neshamá, a soul, took place 5766 years ago.

    This does not mean that there were no men before then. The geologic record is clear. There were. And they did all the things you said they did in your comment. The geologic record does not lie.”

    So what you’re saying is the divine had no real interest in its creation until then? Even the other creatures (humans) of similar appearance and ancestry, until this gift? Until the creation of this creature actually like the divine because of the soul, a creature part of a story, an escahtology, a divine destiny.

    We’re back to chosenness… do only Jews have souls?

  • http://chromatius.blogspot.com/ Chromatius

    Expanding my last point – I was thinking, maybe I should have said the children of Abraham, rather than ‘Jews’. Then I realised I didn’t know who’s meant to be descended from Adam and who isn’t.

    I’m aware that Genesis story is not a central element of Judaism, as it is in Christianity, but I don’t know if it’s still a creation story or not.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Chromatius,

    Looking at this from a Torah/Kabbalistic point of view, there were three instances of “tzimtzúm,” of G-d contracting Himself from the universe and allowing “slack” in His place. The first comes at the opening of Torah

    1. Gen. 1:1 “With wisdom did G-d create the heaven and the earth. – 15 billion years ago.

    2. The next comes with the creation of the néfesh (spirit) of the animals. – not sure

    3. The final act of tzimtzúm is the creation of the neshamá in the man. – 5,766 years ago.

    These are the three acts of creation in the universe.

    Adam had a neshamá, as did Seth. So did Noah. In Hebrew, the term for mankind is “b’nei Adám” – children of Adam. So not only Jews have souls.

    Chosenness is an entirely different concept and has nothing to do with the article.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Chromatius,

    According to the Ramba”m, whom you would know as Maimonides, the act of creation was hidden and the text that you see is essentially for children and for people who are unable to draw their moral understnding any other way.

    In Judaism, the act of Creation holds a very central significance, but for entirely different reasons than for Christians.

  • http://chromatius.blogspot.com/ Chromatius

    Thanks. Don’t forget #29 and especially #30, though.

  • gonzo marx

    Ruvy sez…
    *Science is just as much a belief system as Judaism, Hinduism or the rest. It has different purposes and a different approach, but nevertheless, it has core beliefs to which all scientists ascribe, and to which they attempt to adhere, including Dr. Schroeder, and you.*

    and here is the nut of hte conflict, Ruvy…you appear to be projecting your requirement of Faith on others (including myself)

    NEVER in my mad ramblings have i stated “i believe” about anything…and definately not about science…

    the big difference between science and metaphysics revolves around provable evidence and repeatable circumstance under controlled conditions

    gravity works, whether one believes in it or not

    my difficulties surrounding many of the baseline Postulates you espouse revolve around some Logical conundrums…the timeline as we have discussed is a central piece

    you have the matter of Cain’s wife rationalized to fit data…but we hit a snag again when it comes to Noah…

    you get the Idea…

    i know i cannot convince a Faithist of anything, and you do not have the data or evidence available to exit the realm of metaphysical speculation and enter into empirical scientific discourse

    but thank you very much for the sharing of thought

    Excelsior!

  • http://alienboysworld.blogspot.com/ Christopher Rose

    People like Chromatius and gonzo marx are doing wonders at restoring my BELIEF that it is possible to have an intelligent exchange on this subject.

  • http://chromatius.blogspot.com/ Chromatius

    I’m still puzzled what appears to be the apparent acceptance of evidence (geology, carbon dating etc) that there were humans before and at the time of the “creation of the neshamá” 5,766 years ago.

    What’s the status of these other humans? The ones who predate the neshamá, and those not bred from Adam’s line.

    Do they (or the ‘good’ among them) have a special status – perhaps like the ‘good’ pagans in Dante’s inferno – or are they just not a part of the Divine’s plan – of the Divine history and eschatology? Do they have souls (neshamá?), or just animal spirits (néfesh)?

  • Bliffle

    When you’re dead you are dead. Dead and gone. It is only mans preposterous vanity that cannot accept his own death. Get used to it: there is no afterlife. Enjoy this one.

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Chromatius,

    You’ve posed a good question. The truth of the matter is, I don’t know. I can guess – that after 5,700 years of interbreeding the neshamá has spread throughout humanity – but that is only a guess.

    The data that Gonzo introduced at comment #24 about a few ounces being consistently missing from each corpse might tend in that direction. Here, as with NDE’s, one is forced to rely on anectdotal evidence. One can quanify the anectdotal data, but go no further.

    From the terms in the Torah, one can assume that all humans now possess a neshamá in addition to a néfesh. In describing the laws of Pessah, (Passover) it states that if one retains leaven in his household during Pessah, his neshamá will be cut off from that of the People for a seven day period.

    Similar phraseology is used in other laws dealing with purity.

    The reason is that Noah had a neshamá and according to the Torah, we are all descended from Noah.

    Those humans who lacked a neshamá presumably perished in the Flood.

    But there may be more to the story…

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    There is another issue here that I forgot to mention, but given that tonight we will again gather at the Israel Center to hear a Root & Branch presentation, I’m reminded of it.

    The crowd that Dr. Schroeder spoke to 18 months ago was a crowd full of believers, like me. He didn’t have to convince anybody of the idea of the soul actually existing. That he should have to prove a soul’s existence to this audience would have been carrying coals to Newcastle.

    The data he presented was designed to tie NDE’s in to the description of death in the Torah, and to thereby suggest a different approach to what we view as “reality.”

    The Dutch study he cited in Lancet was peer reviewed by scientists and therefore deserving of the term “scentific evidence.”

    Whether atheists wish to accept this or not is their business, not mine. I didn’t publish the article nor did I review it.

  • http://alienboysworld.blogspot.com/ Christopher Rose

    Ruvy, people who don’t buy into the god theory aren’t atheists, that’s a religious term in itself. People who buy into unsubstantiated theories are faithists, which may be a polite word for gullible, the rest of us don’t need a label.

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Chris, you wouldn’t happen to be involved in marketing, would you?

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com Andy Marsh

    My father had his second triple by-pass a few weeks ago…doctors told me he died three times over a two day period…my father said to me last week…you know that white light they talk about??? it’s BULLSHIT! His words not mine…

    …but I do tend to agree with him.

  • gonzo marx

    *all descended from Noah*

    ok..that’s another one of my sticking points…

    one of the “Noahide Laws” is against incest, yes?

    yet the ONLY humans after the flood were Noah, his wife, their sons and their wives….yes?

    so….after the first generation, folks were banging their siblings and cousins…incest by definition…

    worse yet…the genetic data tends to show a minimum human population of 200 is required for a stable breeding pool…otherwise you hit the diminishing returns points with defective recessive genes being propagated and killing more young than are born healthy…

    just a Thought

    Excelsior!

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Andy,

    What your father said is precisely the point made by the Dutch study cited by Schoeder in Lancet which has a link at comment #20. Not everybody who died on the table and came back saw a white light. If “everybody” saw the white light, that would have backed up the theory that the brain shoots hallucinogenic chemicals in order to help the braqin deal with the process of dying.

    Only 18% of the 344 people studied indicated such an experience. Since all brains are pretty much alike, then this phenomenon does not derive from hallucinogenic chemicals.

    May your father experience a full recovery to health and remain with you for many years.

  • Nancy

    LOL, Gonzo. I can count on you to find the elements of absurdity & point them out in any argument. Ruvy is right: it IS an interesting argument, altho for me it’s not credible. Gonzo/Chris is right: it reminds me strongly of the “pilpul” & numerology exercises in Chaim Potok’s novels.

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com Andy Marsh

    thanks Ruvy, he is doing much better now…went home yesterday as a matter of fact…now…if we can keep him away from the Jack…

  • troll

    Andy – did your dad say anything about what he did experience – ?

    troll

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Gonzo, I’ve been giving that a little thought.

    It was the custom among royalty in the ancient Middle East to marry off sons to a half sister or cousin, with the half sister being the preferred choice.

    If you set up a chart with Shem, Yafet and Ham, their wives and sons and daughters (you pick how many – it isn’t that important) and marry off Shem’s son to Yafet’s daughter, Ham’s son to Shem’s dauhter etc, and do that for a generation or two or three with about 6 kids a piece (no birth control pills at the local druggist you know), you rapidly get to the minimal gene pool you are talking about.

    Even the pope gave the men in Paraguay a dispensation to take more than one wife after the idiotic dictator there got Paraguay into a population reducing war with Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina from 1865 to 1870.

    I suppose the Big Guy Upstairs would have done the same… He’s more intelligent than any pope.

  • gonzo marx

    decent Thought Ruvy, but completely incorrect…

    to wit: the 200 number is the baseline genepool of UNRELATED (read: further apart than second cousins) people needed to establish a pool

    since ALL of the folks left on Noah’s boat WERE related ( the brothers, i am counting on the wives NOT being related to Noah or each other) that still leaves you exponentially short

    and even with polygamy…still leaves folks banging their sisters and cousins from at least the first to 5th generations

    second Issue…as far as i am able to determine, NONE of those on the ark were, chinese, african, american indian, hindu, australian aborigine, scandanavians or kazaks

    each of those people have distinctive physical traits which would take MUCH longer to evolve and set themselves as genetic norms for their populations than a few thousand years…

    not to mention the written chinese history is unbroken for at least 5000 years and some works indicate a civilization even older

    just sharing…

    Excelsior!

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com Andy Marsh

    troll – pop said it was nothing but black…he told me he felt like just letting go…that it was very calming…but he figures there must be a reason for him still being here or he wouldn’t be…

  • chantal stone

    this only strengthens my own theories that the Old Testament (i’m Christian) is full of very interesting stories that were often used to explain things that could not otherwise be proven scientifically at the time.

    i do believe there are lessons to be learned from the OT stories, but i don’t regard them as historical fact.

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com Andy Marsh

    didn’t Noah live to be something like 600 years old according to the Book of Genesis?

  • http://chromatius.blogspot.com/ Chromatius

    I have a NDE description from someone whose judgement I generally trust. This person has died at least twice, on two completely separate occasions, but remembers nothing of the actual events.

    Nevertheless s/he had a dream later which s/he believes correctly represents the experience: it’s like suddenly realising you’re holding all these strings (which lead into different aspects of your life, including the body and the things you’re doing) and there’s absolutely no reason to. Nor do you feel like it. So you let them go, and then you suddenly move in a direction you never knew existed.

    FWIW.

  • http://www.tbirdofparadise.blogspot.com Bird of Paradise

    Ruvy, I am a Protestant “preacher” and am quite happy to accept the current scientific standard of the creation event (“big bang”) at 13 billion years. I do not believe that Genesis 1 is talking about 24-hour days. I do believe that “Life, the Universe and Everything” (as a wonderful book was once titled) comes from the “mind” or “wisdom” of God.

    I have for many years come to the same conclusion as you express concerning the existance of proto-human beings of various descriptions with cro-magnon, with his/her large cranial capacity representing the final stage of human intelligence.

    From both a psychological and philosophical point of view there had to come a time when a “human” for the first time recognized their unique place in creation. One human at one specific moment in historical time somehow acquired the capacity to “step outside” of themselves and to see the world and the universe and their place within it objectively. At that moment that person became “enlightened” in a way that enabled them to conceptualize infinity and eternity and to become far more than the world’s most intelligent animal he/she had been only a few moments before.

    This spiritual and psychological tranformation not only marked the beginning of an incredibly rapid emergence of language and writing but also agriculture and science (which requires objectivity) as well as a clear vision of moral and ethical boundries all of which were necessary for “civilization” to become a reality.

    In this sense Genesis 1 & 2 although written in a literary style that is both poetic and metaphysical, also manages to capture the reality of an actual moment in historical time . . . when human beings received “soul” from God and became “formed in the image of God” both male and female.

    By the way, human racial distinctives had several hundred thousand years to evolve (micro evolution) before this spiritual/psychological moment ocurred.

    I can’t say I necessarily find Dr. Schroeder’s “theories” particularly compelling from a scientific point of view but they are interesting from a theological and biblical point of view. Thank you for sharing them.

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    You’re most welcome, BoP.

    Actually Dr.Schroeder’s concepts deal with the convergence of religion and science. It strikes me from what you write that you’ve already gone a ways down that path yourself.

    Shabbat Shalom

  • gonzo marx

    still no answer to the Issues raisedin comment #51….

    ah well…

    Excelsior!

  • troll

    Gonzo – the Flood must have affected only the ‘world’ as Noah’s people knew it

    and the resulting inbreeding explains alot…..just kidding – don’t start burning embassies

    troll

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Gonzo, Got most of the post covered – but as for the first part, still thinkin’ on it. I’m just an uneducated scribbler, you know…

  • http://beyondbabylon.blogspot.com David Ben-Ariel

    I heard Dr. Schroeder speak several times about “God and the Big Bang” at the Root and Branch lectures in Jerusalem in 1995 (when they began). I found them to be most fascinating, even awesome.

    I believe the Bible is very clear that the dead are dead and buried, awaiting the resurrection to LIFE, not having “passed” to some other form of “life” that the pagans have preached.

    The brain and thought are two different things, as Herbert Armstrong revealed that the “spirit” in man (not a soul – man is a soul – or conscious entity, but an ESSENCE) is what our Great Creator God uses to impart intelligence to us and enable us to develop a relationship with the Word.

    Herbert Armstrong pioneered (under inspiration) in understanding this non-physical component that affects our brain and will be used to later restore us to life, a sort of spiritual DNA that preserves everything about us and is stored with God at our death.

    What Science Can’t Discover About the Human Mind — Perhaps Dr. Schroeder has read it?

  • Bliffle

    Vanity, vanity. All is vanity. What could be more vain than for any of us miserable mortals to think that there is some soul, some essence of themselves, that is so wonderful that it would persist after death? Foolish on the face of it. Only the gullibilty of weak humans can explain it.

  • http://www.tbirdofparadise.blogspot.com Bird of Paradise

    Bliffle, Being a non-believer is no less a choice than being a believer. Each is a choice. From a neutral, unbiased standpoint one choice ought to be no better or worse than the other (this would be relativism speaking). Accordingly, your comment concerning “gullibility of weak humans” is a biased value judgement and neither objective nor helpful.

    Strictly from an objective point of view, comparison research studies of religious believers and non-believers (the statistical criteria was more defiined than that) have repeatedly shown (in the US at least) that, on average, believers are happier, healthier, are more generous with the giving money and time to charitable causes (not just to thier “churches”), enjoy longer and more satisfying marriages and enjoy more satisfying sex than non-believers.

    Have a nice day.

  • http://www.tbirdofparadise.blogspot.com Bird of Paradise

    Bliffle again, Please explain to my why random evolution and natural selection brought forth in humans the capacity to conceive of life beyond death? Psychologically and anthropologically this capacity is clearly a higher and more sophisticated level of thought than it is a lower or degenerate one.

    Based on natural selection alone, the benefits of such a concept must clearly outweigh the liabilities.

    Any intelligent, questioning person (even an atheist) cannot escape the logic of this.

    Freud and Marx, the vanguard of the future, thought that they had buried religion once and for all. It turns out that they were the neanderthals.

  • gonzo marx

    BoP sez…
    *Freud and Marx, the vanguard of the future, thought that they had buried religion once and for all. It turns out that they were the neanderthals.*

    an interesting take on it…and one almost worthy of consideration, except for the error in timescale

    both Freud and Marx were overly ambitious idealogues whose tenets were nothing more than a secular “religion” in themselves…and thus, they remained far too close to the problem to have any kind of accurate Objectivity in many of these matters…

    rather, Jung and Joseph Campbell…with their explorations into Myth and comparative cultural studies will do more, in the end, to expose the tyrannical bullshit involved in most oraganized religions that rely on “literalist” interpertation of “cannonized” words from Men

    it’s only when the snake oil salesman can convince the “mark” that he knows better and that his “product” will gain the mark “something for nothing” that the con-game can go on and the con-man skim some cash from the “believer”

    i have no difficulties with anyone’s Faith, my problems have always revolved around the insanity of “literalist” interpertations of written words form the hands of Men and taking them as if they were the revealed Word from the Mind of God…

    (side note: no worries Ruvy, when ya can…i find the honest discourse as interesting as old talks between a gung fu teacher, rabbi and Jesuit over coffee when i was a youngster and just listened)

    nuff said?

    Excelsior!

  • http://alienboysworld.blogspot.com/ Christopher Rose

    BoP: WRONG! Not being a faithist isn’t a choice, it’s the lack of the ability to persuade oneself that something which is clearly a ludicrous theory is plausible.

    The statistics you quoted are broadly speaking correct, although I’d be prepared to dispute the good sex one, but that doesn’t by any stretch of the imagination validate the god theory.

    I’d also like to understand your highly confusing assertion that the ability to conceive of life beyond death is a sign of sophisticated thinking. Humans have long had the ability to make up stories and this is just another one of them. There is no life after death and there is no god.

    You keep borrowing the language of reason but seem to have forgotten to apply the procedure to your own thinking. I really see very little difference between the Jews-Christians-Muslims, they all believe in the same totally unsupported theory.

    Finally, we’re not atheists, you’re faithists; I find the term atheist offensive.

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Gonzo writes,

    “…i find the honest discourse as interesting as old talks between a gung fu teacher, rabbi and Jesuit over coffee when i was a youngster and just listened”

    Unless the rabbi were a m’kubal or a black belt – I’d put my money on the gung fu teacher.

  • http://victorplenty.blogspot.com Victor Plenty

    Christopher, if you find the term “atheist” offensive, then obviously your attempt to label others “faithists” is a deliberate effort to offend or insult them.

    Thus you are clearly fanatical about your worldview, whatever you choose to call it. This trait is just as repulsive and dangerous in a nonbeliever as fanaticism of a religious origin.

    Whenever someone claims a privileged status for their own worldview as the one and only truth about the nature of the universe, that person is caught in a dangerous self-deception. Insulting people over a difference of worldview is not nearly distant enough from feeling a need to shut them up by killing them.

    In this particular discussion, Ruvy and the other believers have treated the nonbelievers with far more respect and courtesy than you have extended to them. They have thus proven it is possible, at least sometimes, for the religious to be more calm and less fanatical than those who are not religious.

    Would that we all could learn to treat each other with greater respect, and move farther away from blood feuds that start over theological differences.

  • SonnyD

    Quite an interesting discussion. Looks like most of you have picked sides and are all perched precariously on your two-legged bar stools. Where are those who would add a third leg to the stool?

    What I see here are a lot of fearful people on both sides. The believers, or faithist as CR would label them (even though he is offended by being labeled), who know they have not lived perfect lives and hope to have their sins forgiven if they join a group of similar people and follow all the rules they are taught, no matter how silly some of the rules are.

    Then, there are the few who are even more fearful, who reject any possibility of anything existing beyond the realm of comprehension of our mortal minds. What a terrible fear of the unknown they must be harboring if they refuse to, at least, leave their minds open to the possibilities of maybe. Take a look around people, is this life really all that great that it is worth all the pain and hardships, all the loss and suffering that we experience for the small amount of joy and true happiness we find? Don’t you ever have some small thought in your mind that you must be here for a reason?

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Victor,

    Thank you for the kind words and clear analysis.

    Sonny,

    The convergence of science and religion is the three legged stool. Five hundred years or so ago, most scientists were theologians. Maimonides was a scientist.

    There is another angle to be looked at here. Ancient Vedantic thought seeks G-d through science. This particlular angle is one I need to bring up to Dr. Schroeder because his view deals basically with Judaism.

    Now I gotta get some sleep. It’s late here.

  • http://alienboysworld.blogspot.com/ Christopher Rose

    Victor: No, I must disagree. The word faithist is simply accurate. Nor does it follow that I am fanatical about my worldview. Frankly I’m disappointed there is so little to be reasonably fanatical about.

    I didn’t claim a superior position and I have also repeatedly said that I would fight to defend faithists right to believe whatever they want to. According respect to those views or having social and/or political decisions made on the basis of religious values is a whole different matter though. I would also not like to see major decisions affecting the lives of millions being made by astrologers, for example.

    According to Ruvy, who I consider a friend, albeit virtual than actual, the god character turned up about 6,000 years ago. We humans were already here before that. So the entire basis of whichever strand of this phenomenon of god worship lacks any realistic grounding. Now if the Jewish-Christian-Muslim factions want to form some weird grand alliance and start saying that god was an alien with superpowers or something like that, you’d be in with a chance of persuading me there might be something in it. That would at least be plausible, if somewhat unlikely.

    The truly tragic fact here is that our species is being lead astray by the clearly false god theory of creation. We humans have enough real and pressing problems to deal with without our natural spiritual feelings being corrupted by an outmoded and simply wrong creation theory.

    If that all adds up to a lack of respect in your view, I regret that. Personally, I think I am being more than fair to a group of people with some frankly odd ideas, none of which can be validated. I have also not suggested any repression of people who, if they sought to impose their views, would pose a serious threat to my way of life. All in all, I feel I am being enormously tolerant and respectful. As is only proper.

    Late add-on for SonnyD: I’m offended by being labelled an atheist, not by being labelled.

    I don’t believe I’ve said anything to deny the “possibility of anything existing beyond the realm of comprehension of our mortal minds”. Frankly I hope and wish there is.

    The only thing I have a “terrible fear of” is wasting my precious limited time on mindless, implausible and frankly odd theories of origin, belief and purpose that are clearly contradicted by vast amounts of evidence that literally surrounds us everywhere we look.

    I think life is great and am too busy enjoying it to devote large portions of it to empty ritual, no matter how well meant or sincerely held.

    “Don’t you ever have some small thought in your mind that you must be here for a reason?”

    I understand that to be one of the classic ego strokes of all time. Actually, life is what you make it and I choose to believe in humanity not elves, pixies, gods or stars as my guiding light. Now if this god was to turn up and reclaim his people, that would probably change things.

  • http://victorplenty.blogspot.com Victor Plenty

    As a nearly-15-year veteran of online debates between theist and nontheist worldviews (I actually started on it during the BBS era of the early 90s, before most people had ever heard of the Internet), I’ve seen these same hardened positions many times before.

    Sometimes it’s the believers who are the jerks, and the nonbelieving who sound reasonable and calm. Sometimes it’s the other way around. All too often, both sides turn out to be jerks once they realize they aren’t going to gain any converts to their worldview. Rarely does everyone debate with mutual respect. Even more rarely does everyone see the conversation as a golden opportunity to gain new insights from interesting people with different points of view.

    From all these observations, I’ve come to a few conclusions about God. If any such being exists, She can’t be very happy with the abusive behavior most believers fall into when they think they’re honoring the greater glory of God and bringing the Word of Truth to lost sheep.

    An atheist who is humble, who admits the Ultimate Truths of the Universe are still beyond the grasp of any human mind, and who treats different worldviews with respect, seems likely to do well in any afterlife governed by a merciful Creator. Such an atheist would certainly earn a higher standing in heaven than any of the fiery preacher types who spread hate and animosity in the name of religion.

    The success of modern science also makes it clear that the Creator, if such a being exists, intended the universe to function according to laws that the human mind can grasp. Believers who seek to harmonize their belief systems with the discoveries of the scientific method are likely to experience more success and happiness in the world than those who cling to outdated superstitions and literal interpretations of their holy books.

    Whether you believe in one God, in many gods, or in no gods, the key to success and progress remains the same: Retain the humility to deal with other human beings respectfully and learn new insights from them.

    It’s a blindingly obvious conclusion once you reach it, yet we so often fall away from it, it seemed worth the effort of reiterating.

  • http://alienboysworld.blogspot.com/ Christopher Rose

    “Whether you believe in one God, in many gods, or in no gods, the key to success and progress remains the same: Retain the humility to deal with other human beings respectfully and learn new insights from them.”

    Quoted for truth
    [copyright gonzo 2005]

  • SonnyD

    Did anyone seriously read Ruvy’s post and get the point about bringing science and religion together? Did you read the part that says nothing is solid–not his podium or you or the chair you’re sitting in? Everything is energy, electrons whirling around a nucleus and proton.

    I can agree, to a point, with Dr. Schroeder. He says energy was created at the Big Bang. This goes against scientific findings that energy cannot be created or destroyed. I say energy created that which we call the Big Bang and that it didn’t go Bang at all.

    I say that energy exists. Not before or after, not then or now. Outside our concept of time or space. It just IS. As a famous (or infamous) president once said, “It all depends on what your defination of IS is.” You have to adjust your thinking away from the material world you are accustomed to seeing, and think of everything as pure energy–the universe, you and your chair–just whirling electrons.

    Now, here is the big What If. What If this energy also is made up of what we call intelligence and creativity? OK, it may be hard to imagine, but give it a minute’s thought. What if this energy is aware and creative and is able to draw itself together into points. (Giving credit to another president) Let’s call them points of light. Now, these individual points are aware of themselves as individuals as well as being part of the whole.

    OK, now somebody take it from there. What could these points of light, energy imbued with intelligence and creativity, create and why?

  • http://www.tbirdofparadise.blogspot.como Bird of Paradise

    Hmmm. “Faithist.” I kind like it. “One who has faith in faith.” Christopher, would it be insulting to refer to you as an “unfaithist” or “nonfaithist?” If you would prefer a positive label rather than a negative one you will somehow have to define yourself in terms of what you DO believe rather than constantly talking about what you do NOT believe.

    Oh, and Victor, Ruvy and I are most certainly not trying to “win” any converts through reason, argument or persuation. People believe what they choose to believe.

    I believe that Christopher’s beliefs (or philosphy of life) are, to some degree, just as logical and reasonable as my own. My comments are more or less designed to demonstrate that the Christian faith is also reasonable and logical . . . if not in its metaphysical doctrines then at least in the demonstrable positive effects such “faithism” has on those who practice it.

    I am also enjoying some of the creative ideas that Ruvy has spawned on this post. I can never understand, however, why folks who don’t like an opinion get so wrapped up in trying to fight against it as if their life depended on it.

    For heaven’s sake! (oops, sorry about that, Christopher). For “observable and testable cosmos’ sake!” The best part of “ideas” is to wiggle your way inside them and try them on for size! Closed minds will not or cannot do this. By refusing to consider the subject of metaphysics, theology or religion, a person effectively shuts down a significant part of their brain. It is as though a scientist refused to understand “meaning” or “beauty” in art, music or poetry because it was not quantifiable.

    Language itself has been studied but, like most everything else, is still a mystery yet to be solved.

    If a person is not comfortable with mystery and limits their thinking to only one small slice of the philosopical pie, they are missing out on most of the enjoyment of life!

    As a Christian I hold fast to two or three several beliefs that I believe to be true. The rest is mystery and I am very happy to sink my teeth into just about anything to see what it tastes like.

    As Deuteronomy puts it, “The secret things belong to God. But the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever.”

    Here, let us discuss the “secret things” and enjoy the ride!

  • http://alienboysworld.blogspot.com/ Christopher Rose

    BoP: Glad you like the term “faithist”, I really don’t mean it to be anything other than accurate. As for myself, I still don’t feel the need for any label at all, just as we don’t have a word for non ginger-haired people or people who don’t believe in clairvoyance.

    Similarly, I can’t see any connection between theology or religion and metaphysics (the philosophical study of being and knowing). You seem to be trying to imply that I have a closed mind in some way, which I of course reject.

    This whole religion schtick is simply old news. The world has moved on in the last 6000/2000/1400 years [delete as appropriate] and we’ve grokked what your tri-partite god cult has to say. It’s played a vital role in shaping our fedgling human society but, like some exhausted wet nurse, it’s time we all left it behind, grew up and learned to stand on our own two feet.

    I’m completely comfortable with mystery; I’d even go so far as to say that it is a major part of my daily life. I’m game for considering anything, absolutely anything at all, that’s why I was intrigued for a while with Ruvy’s hinted at ideas about the real origins and nature of god, but he’s been a bit coy about it lately.

    I find it is you, and the other people whose mental vistas are delineated by dogma, to be the one missing out. After all, you can only consider what your excessively codified “faith” dictates, right?

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    BoP:

    When I referred to Protestant preachers in comment #27, I should have been a tad more specific. I meant the fundamentalists – the kinds who damn you if you do not take their version of the King James Bible as literal gospel truth. These are the guys who think that “an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, burn for a burn, means exactly what the words say.

    Whenever you see phraseology like this, money damages are meant. Your tooth cannot be the equivalent of mine, your eye is not the equalvalent of mine, etc. etc. There is an entire Order of the Gemará called “Nezikin” (damages) focusing on all this.

    No offense was meant, and I apologize.

    Gonzo:

    Going back to #51

    First of all, there is no mention of race in the early parts of Genesis. The Towel of Babel is the second mention of a city (I think – I culd be wrong). You find mention at the time of Abraham of nations, cities – but no races

    Second, I suspect that G-d gave some kind of a dispensation genetically, so that the gene pool would not produce a huge number of defective children – and so that those who were sleeping with close relatives (given that there was no on3e else) would not be held liable for their sin. This is only a suspicion of course, nothing I can prove.

    Finally, with respect to the Noahide Laws, I believe they were revealed to Moses as laws to be taught – I’m a little fuzzy on this aspect of it. Moses came a few generations after Noah. They have the title Noahide because all they apply to all of mankind, presumably descendents of Noah.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Quoth Christopher:

    “According to Ruvy, who I consider a friend, albeit virtual than actual, the god character turned up about 6,000 years ago. We humans were already here before that. So the entire basis of whichever strand of this phenomenon of god worship lacks any realistic grounding.”

    Chris, I’m afraid you have my descriptions way wrong. Reading all them comments is getting to you. So, for the record, how I view all this. Draw the conclusions you wish.

    According to Ruvy, G-d has existed forever, without beginning, without end. About 30,000,000,000 years ago (that’s billions, folks), G-d caused a greater light to interact with a lesser light. Over a fifteen billion year period of time, the interaction of the greater light with the lesser light caused such a concentration of energy that there was a Big Bang. In this explosion, a universe of 10 dimensions was born – with six of them collapsing almost immediately, and four remaining. Within this action were also born all the laws of physics, math, chemistry (of which biology is a mere subset) that govern the universe – laws that G-d generally allows to operate unhindered.

    As this universe expanded, it cooled, leaving the remnants of the original explosion to push out to the edges of the universe. This is known, if I remember correctly, as ambient radiation. There were six ages of the universe, which, when looking forward from the Big Bang were six 24 hour periods, Looking backwards from the present this time period was 15 billion years.

    Five thousand, seven hundred and sixty-six years ago, G-d cused a spirit that communicated with Him to be placed in a man – this was Adam. The spirit is called in Hebrew, neshamá.

    Some of this is Kabbala, some of this is nuclear physics, but this is what I believe occurred.

    In the fullness of time, I may be proven wrong. Surely the ideas I present (none of which are mine) will be modified with time. I’m not so arrogant to believe that I have it all figured out. I’m just an uneducated scribbler feeling his way through the wonder of the universe.

  • troll

    (what’s all this about new clear physics – ?

    – pretty opaque if you ask me…and they say that G-d isn’t a trickster – ha -!

    brings new meaning to the phrase “Is you is or is you ain’t my baby”

    …well…at least the new physics does explain why I can never find my keys

    troll)

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    The first obligation of any writer is to be entertaining, Troll. Glad you’re enjoying yourself.

    Your keys are probably in an alternate universe when you can’t find them…probably driving a car that you couldn’t afford in any universe. ;o)

    Just go two blocks left on Erehwon Street.

  • http://alienboysworld.blogspot.com/ Christopher Rose

    Well Ruvy, your idea is way more coherent than the usual Judaeo-Christiano-Islamico storyline, if way beyond the testable or verifiable – so it has to stay firmly in “interesting theory” territory as far as I’m concerned.

    Is it permitted to ask if there is only one of these god creatures? And what do you mean by a spirit exactly? And, even if all of that was true, why worship this heavenly body? Sure, pretty impressive achievements for one of us to contemplate but not even difficult for s/he?

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Chris writes:

    1. Is it permitted to ask if there is only one of these god creatures?

    2. …what do you mean by a spirit exactly?

    3. …even if all of that was true, why worship this heavenly body?

    Sure, pretty impressive achievements for one of us to contemplate but not even difficult for s/he?

    Let’s take 3 first, and draw within it points in the question following. There is no heavenly body being worshipped. That assumption was what created idolatry in the first place. G-d is outside of the Universe he created as well as being part of it. G-d is outside of time and space, and is an Entity we cannot imagine. I use the pronoun “He” out of habit and because there is no neutre gender in Hebrew. But G-d is neither a He nor She nor It that we, with our limited imaginations, can fathom.

    Why worship? He states that He wants to be worshipped and gives forgiveness to people for breaking His laws, and allows people to elevate themselves to be closer to Him through worship. The last reason is the most important of the three.

    Let’s take #1. In the Torah it states there is only one G-d. In the older Vedantic literature, one seeks the G-dhead – implying only one G-d.

    Finally, #2. That is the hardest question for me to answer. In Schroeder’s lecture he said that “The implication is that the brain is kind of a radio picking up the data of the mind. The implication is that the mind is separate from the brain.” Also he said, “We access wisdom – the mind – with our brain. This process, he called ‘emergent mind,’ the last word in his formula. This ‘mind’ is what scientists have been sensing as they try to make sense of the data the universe seems to offer. This mind is what we access with our brains, which are mere material to accomplish the access.” The neshamá, as I perceive it connects the brain to the Eternal emergent mind.

  • http://alienboysworld.blogspot.com/ Christopher Rose

    How then was this information transmitted from outside the universe to within it and how was it received?

    What happened 5766 years ago to change this creature’s profound policy change after 30,000 million years of well, nothing, right?

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Chris,

    You ask two questions – one which I can’t answer at all, and one which is one of the few thngs that are evident from reading the first few chapters of Genesis

    How then was this information transmitted from outside the universe to within it and how was it received?

    If I understood this, I’d be a prophet because I’d be receiving, transmitting and communicating. I’m just an uneducated scribbler.

    What happened 5766 years ago to change this creature’s profound policy change after 30,000 million years of well, nothing, right?

    G-d did not have a “policy change” – He had a plan that He followed. That is what is found in the first few chapters of Genesis – His plan.

  • chantal stone

    i have a really dumb question here, so for those with no patience for such, please move on…..

    Ruvy…..is there a difference in the Torah and the Christian Old Testament? i know they are basically the same, but is the Torah set up the same as the OT, with the different books, chapters, etc?? and are the books in the same order?

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    OK Chantal –

    A quick primer.

    Torah – The first five books of the Bible. The Torah is divided into Parashót, which are weekly readings, and each of the Parashót is divided into between 5 and 7 sections. The Torah is considered a source of Law and is considered to have been Divinely written – except for the Book of Deuteronomy, which is Moses’ restatement of events and his work of prophecy.

    Tana”kh – The entire Hebrew Bible. The word is an acronym for Torah (Guide), Nevi”im (Prophets), Ketuvím (Writings). That is how we divide up our Bible. Most all of the Tana”kh is in Hebrew, except for certain parts of the Book of Daniel, which are in Aramaic.

    The books is the Hebrew Bible are the same ones that are found in most Protestant “Old Testaments” but the books are probably in a slightly different order from what BoP, a Protestant pastor, is used to, for instance. I suspect that the chapters are the same, but you really would have to ask BoP a question like that. He most certainly will have a Protestant Bible handy and may have a Hebrew Bible. I hope this of some small help.

    This is the order of the books in the Tana”kh

    Torah:

    Genesis
    Exodus
    Leviticus
    Numbers
    Deuteronomy

    Prophecy:

    Joshua
    Judges
    I Samuel
    II Samuel
    I Kings
    II Kings
    Isaiah
    Jeremiah
    Ezekiel
    Hosea
    Joel
    Amos
    Ovadiah
    Jonah
    Micah
    Nahum
    Habakkuk
    Tzephaniah
    Haggai
    Zechariah
    Malachi

    Writings:

    Psalms
    Proverbs
    Job
    Song of Songs
    Ruth
    Lamentations
    Ecclesiastes (Kohelet)
    Esther
    Daniel
    Ezra
    Nehemiah
    I Chronicles
    II Chronicles

  • chantal stone

    thank-you

  • http://www.tbirdofparadise.blogspot.com Bird of Paradise

    Chantal, Ruvy has answered your question very well. Let me add two more items:

    1. The Protestant Old Testament is virtually identical to the Hebrew/Jewish scripture (which was confirmed at the Jewish council of Jamnia in –after the destruction of the Jewish temple and nation in 70 AD. The difference is in how the books are categorized and ordered. The Protestant (and Catholic) Old Testaments has a fourth category called “historical books” which include

    Joshua
    Judges
    Ruth
    I Samuel
    II Samuel
    I Kings
    II Kings
    I Chronicles
    II Chronicles
    Ezra
    Nehemiah
    Esther

    and Lamentations (written by the Prophet Jeremiah) is placed after the book of Jeremiah in the list of prophetic writing.

    In Luke 24:44 we read, “(The resurrected Jesus) said to them, ‘This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.'”

    Note that Jesus, a Jew of course, divided the scriptures into the same three groupings as did Ruvy.

    2. Roman Catholics and Orthodox Churches also include a group of books called the Apocrypha, meaning “hidden”) which were written during the historical period between the Old and New Testaments (sometimes called “inter-testamental” writings). These books (which are not held to speak with the authority of the biblical “canon” by Jews and Protestants) are (with some variation in inclusion):

    -The First Book of Esdras
    -The Second Book of Esdras
    -Tobit
    -Judith
    -The Rest of the Chapters of the Book of Esther
    -The Wisdom of Solomon
    -Ecclesiasticus or the Wisdom of Jesus Son of Sirach
    -Baruch
    -A Letter of Jeremiah
    -The Song of the Three
    -Daniel and Susanna
    -Daniel, Bel, and the Snake
    -The Prayer of Manasseh
    -The First Book of the Maccabees
    -The Second Book of the Maccabees

    This makes the memorization of the books of the Bible more difficult for Catholics! There is nothing sinister in these books and, for the most part, they are not at odds, theologically, with the rest of the Old Testament/Jewish scriptures.

  • chantal stone

    thanks Ruvy,BoP, …..both answers are very helpful

  • http://www.tbirdofparadise.blogspot.com Bird of Paradise

    Oops, I posted my comment without correcting/completing my statement about Jamnia (or Jabneh). The site in Galilee became the center for Jewish scholarship following the temple’s destruction in 70 AD. It prospered until the start of the second century and them fell into decline. Here the scattered tradtitions and teachings of the Jewish faith were consolidated by concensus of the leading Jewish scholars and teachers of the law. At Jamnia was formed the core of the Mishna, the universal affirmation of the books of the Jewish scripture and the foundation of what became rabbinical Judaism.

    It is sometimes refered to as a “Council of Jamnia” but that it was more of an extended community of scholars than it was a “council.”

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Chantal et al.

    Just wanted to add a little to the excellent and informative answer that BoP provided.

    The Kingdom of Yehuda – Judea – was governed by a Sanhedrin of 71 learned scholars and 4 inferior Sanhedrins of 23 scholars which covered the districts in the country. The Jerusalem Sanhedrin was the highest human authority on Jewish law with the inferior Sanhedrins being lesser courts.

    The Sanhedrin largely dealt with issues of the Torah sh’b’al pe – the verbal instructions of Moses to his brother Aaron on how to actually run the faith on a day to day basis, instructions passed on from father to son amongst the priestly families. This is known to non-Hebrew speakers as the “Oral Law”. It is just as binding upon Jews as the “Written Law,” the Torah.

    The Sanhedrin could render interpretations. inferior Sanhedrins were merely courts of justice.

    As the siege of Jeruslem was winding down in 70 CE, Yohannan ben Zakkai, a high official in the Sanhedrin got a permit from a Roman official to meet in Yavneh. He escaped from the city in a coffin.

    The council he called together were the remnants of the Sanhedrin in J-lem and other provinces, and they began to try to figure out how to save their nation from the disaster that had just befallen them. The notes of the meetings form the Gemara. Because they were members of the Sanhedrin – meeting in exile, so to speak – they could render authoritative interpretations of a higher level than any rabbi can today.

    The importance of the writings of this Sanhedrin in exile lies in the fact that they were the last sovereign body that could make judicial interpretations.

  • http://www.tbirdofparadise.blogspot.com Bird of Paradise

    Ruvy, I can understand the “G-d” because of the Hebrew Tetragrammaton (although the words adonai, el and elohim seem to have done just fine as referring to God, too, without apparently necessitating a “-“; not to mention that the JewishEncyclopedia does not seem to find it offensive to write out YHWH and its Hebrew equivilent in its discussion of that subject). But I have never seen J-lem before. What’s with that?

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    BoP

    J-lem? That’s called an abbreviation. T-A, or TA means Tel Aviv, rather than the usual female body parts associated with those two letters…

    Bet Shemesh is often referred to as BS in ads here. It goes along well with all the other BS.

  • http://www.tbirdofparadise.blogspot.com Bird of Paradise

    Ruvy, LOL

  • Duane

    …all of them adding up to about 15 billion years, which coincide with what the geological record shows.

    The age of the earth is about 4.6 billion years. How can the geologic record extend back to 15 billion years?

    He emphasized that we are all energy – energy that had been created during the Big Bang.

    Woop-dee-doo. This is trivial. The mass-energy equivalence has been recognized since 1905. There is certainly nothing mystical or supernatural about it.

    …it really consisted of whirling electrons around a nucleus and a proton…

    Basic science much? First, electrons in atoms don’t whirl, they wave. Second, the nucleus consists of protons and neutrons, except in the case of hydrogen, where the nucleus is made up of a single proton. So, what do you mean by “around a nucleus and a proton”?

    … that if you took the nucleus of an atom and made it the size of an orange, the electron cloud around it would be four miles away.

    Wrong again. The most obvious error is that the relative distances would depend on the type of atom. The other misconception is that the electron cloud (what happened to the whirling electrons?) is localized in any way. The probability distribution of an electron wave function is spatially continuous. One could speak of the “expectation value” of the radial coordinate of the wave function for a particular orbital of a particular atom and make such a claim, however.

    He pointed out that steam and ice are just variants of water.

    Ummm … yeah, I didn’t know that. I always thought that water and steam were variants of ice.

    He returned to his basic point – that we are all light waves.

    If that was his basic point, how could you possibly trust anything this guy has to say on even more speculative issues? You, Ruvy, are not primarily composed of light waves. You ought to know that. Don’t let some pseudo-scientist tell you anything of the sort. Perhaps he meant to say something about matter waves, and got confused. Matter waves are something you can research by typing “de Broglie” into Google.

    But yeah, it sounds all mystical and superbeing-like to think that we’re made of pure light. Just like the aliens in one of those Star Trek episodes.

    As for the rest of the article, I don’t know a thing about religious studies. But I’ll tell you this. When a guy mangles the science so badly, the premises, I think it’s pretty safe to be dismissive about the conclusions.

  • phil

    testing… testing…, my computor crashed and burned…did anybody miss me….anyway this all very interesting and worthy of contemplation… there is no blog/life after your computor dies!! Just kidding.

  • Ebony Ghost

    A couple of things before I start to babble here:

    #63 BoP: I can see how one might choose not to believe something that doesn’t make sense. But, how does one choose to believe something he knows to be nonsense? Then, if it were possible to do so, wouldn’t doing so simply for the material benefits it would bestow constitute some sort of sin? (Well, just stick me between a rock and a hard place)

    #78 Ruvy: Concerning these 10 dimensions, two questions immediately occurred. Why 10? Then, did the six collapse out of existance? A little poking around brought a third question. Is your belief in the 10 original dimensions related in any way to superstring theory or is it described somewhere in the Torah/Bible?

    From PBS: String theorists are betting that extra dimensions do indeed exist; in fact, the equations that describe superstring theory require a universe with no fewer than 10 dimensions.

    From Wikipedia: It is not clear how many collapsed dimensions are required for a string theory that is in best agreement with observations of the physical universe, but mathematical constraints currently favor string theories with 10, 11, or 26 dimensions observed and so attention has turned to theoretical attempts to describe the diversity of subatomic particles in an elegant physical theory.

    This is about 5 days old, but I’ll put it here unedited.

    Dr. Schroeder may be correct, yet not completely correct; in the sense that the Wright brothers were correct, yet failed to break the sound barrier. I don’t think the purpose of this article was to prove to or convince anyone that Dr. Schroeder’s work is an authoritative counter to their entire belief system. However, it may actually be a boon to their belief system. It’s funny how quickly the “all things are possible” crowd can point to something and say it’s not possible and stand fully prepared to list the reasons why.

    It’s possible that your God is entirely separate from your religion. It’s possible that you can have your God and come to a closer understanding of it by giving up your religion. Perhaps there is no he or she in God; which would make “what” is God more likely to bring you to the real answer one is meaning to ask than “who” is God.

    Sooner or later, we must evolve beyond the point where one man’s God is so important to his life that he is compelled to meddle in the life of another. If the question is irrelevant, there is no need to coerce or intimidate another into accepting your answer. Consider the possibility that there is more to reality than we can perceive within the confines of the Big Blue Marble. Consider also that, until we rise to something other than “kill it” as a first response, we are not ready to discover all that life has to offer (or should I say all life that has been offered?). Of course, it’s only an opinion.

    Finally: My thanks to Ruvy for starting such an interesting discussion.

    E G

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Ebony Ghost,

    Thank you for your comment. To answer your question. The ten dimensional superstring theory is oddly convergent with ideas from Kabbalah describing the nature of the universe with its ten s’firot, of which seven are broken shortly after creation.

    And the idea here is convergence.

    With respect to G-d, there is no way a finite creature like me can truly understand an infinite creature like G-d. I submit that this holds true for the rest of humanity.

    Dr. Schroeder labors in the vineyard of bringing two disciplines that seek to bring meaning to our lives, religion and science, closer together. They are two different disciplines entirely, and have different purposes, but the bottom line is that when the two work against each other, we as humans do not benefit.

  • chantal stone

    “…..two disciplines that seek to bring meaning to our lives, religion and science, closer together. They are two different disciplines entirely, and have different purposes, but the bottom line is that when the two work against each other, we as humans do not benefit.”

    that’s such a great point, Ruvy.
    it shouldn’t be “one” or “the other”. i think once we can merge the two, when both can make sense, and be in harmony together, that is when we achieve true enlightenment.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Duane,

    You, Ruvy, are not primarily composed of light waves. You ought to know that. Don’t let some pseudo-scientist tell you anything of the sort.

    I’m just an uneducated scribbler who is barely literate in the language in which he truly has to absorb wisdom, Hebrew. So you can pretty much call me what you want, so long as you don’t call me late for dinner.

    I decided to look up Gerald Schroeder at Wikipedia. You check out the link. I’ll let you decide if he is a pseudo-scientist. It’s not a term I’d use in his presence.

    He’s a tall man, and skinny as he is, I think he could still land a good tooth-loosening shot at someone who called him that…

    As for the science, E=mc² is an equation that states that all matter can be converted into energy. Energy generally represents itself to us as light. This means that ultimately we are all variations of light. Light is matter and matter is light. Until this equation is disproven, that is the end of the discussion. I’m not such a blockhead that I delude myself into thinking that my head is an actual block.

    …all of them adding up to about 15 billion years, which coincide with what the geological record shows.

    I could have edited this piece just a bit better. The geological record does not show this, the cosmological record, as best as we are able to understand it, does.

    If I send it out elswhere, I will note this point.

    Finally, electrons don’t whirl, they wave. For the purposes of this piece, it doesn’t much matter whether electrons wave, wink their eyes, give a middle finger or whirl like dervishes in a frenzy. At a cetain point, one must reduce nuclear physics to pictures that the average joe can conceive of without compromising the realities that one seeks to convey.

    This is a piece on culture and non-scientists are reading it as well as scientists. If you write “electrons wave around a nucleus” you give the picture of the nucleus on a ocean cruiser with all of its electrons sending it off to Crete to bake in the sun.

    That is a nice idea, but not the image I neeeded to convey…

  • http://www.tbirdofparadise.blogspot.com Bird of Paradise

    Ebony says: #63 BoP: I can see how one might choose not to believe something that doesn’t make sense. But, how does one choose to believe something he knows to be nonsense? Then, if it were possible to do so, wouldn’t doing so simply for the material benefits it would bestow constitute some sort of sin? (Well, just stick me between a rock and a hard place)

    I’m sorry if I put you between a rock and a hard place, Ebony! I’m sure that your life is busy enough without having to deal with that!

    In any case, I was not suggesting that someone deny their personal convictions and choose something that they find irrational and non-sensical.

    What I was trying to point out is that those who practice the Christian faith tend, on average, to have a lot going for them as far as happiness and satisfaction and fulfillment in their lives (not to mention being more generous in charitable giving and in involving themselves in service to others).

    I see this as evidence that the Christian faith (and I am not making any comparisons with other faiths) and its understanding of human nature (sinful) and of God (unconditional love, mercy and forgiveness) is quantifiably in touch with some measure of “truth” about what being truly human is or ought to be.

    If someone wants to be happier, have a better marriage, etc., then sincerely accepting the Christian faith and life and putting it into practice would seem to me to be a reasonable thing to do.

    The fact that the Christian faith tends to move people in such a positive direction should be seen as evidence that it is worth taking seriously (rather than cynically).

    No rock or hard place intended. Choose to live as you wish and believe what you choose to believe. If you are attracted to the Christian faith in a positive way or simply intrigued by it then check it out. As Psalm 34:8 puts it: “O taste and see that the Lord is good. Blessed are they who put their trust in him.”

    And don’t forget what Ruvy said so well, “(Science and religion) are two different disciplines entirely, and have different purposes, but the bottom line is that when the two do not work together, we as humans do not benefit.”

    Amen.

  • Bliffle

    “(Science and religion) are two different disciplines entirely, and have different purposes, but the bottom line is that when the two do not work together, we as humans do not benefit.”

    Sounds like a vain attempt to make religion the peer of science, a stupid notion.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Bliffle,

    If you want to worship at the halls of scientific knowledge, be my guest. But what Judaism has given the world is a humane code of behavior. If that code is something you follow, at least credit the source.

    Otherwise, who are you having for lunch today?

  • Ebony Ghost

    Ruvy: It’s beginning to look like the only differences between these two disciplines would be similar to the difference between believing something and knowing it. The possibility that the two would converge is exactly what makes this discussion so interesting for me.

    BoP: Neither the rock or the hard place are constructs of yours so you have nothing to apologize for. I got the impression that you were saying that it was something that a person could simply choose to do. I’ve tried and can’t see how it can be done dishonestly without courting insanity.

  • Duane

    Ruvy: You check out the link. I’ll let you decide if he is a pseudo-scientist. It’s not a term I’d use in his presence.

    At best, he is a charlatan. The fact that you are impressed by his credentials is just what guys like him bank on. And I use the term “bank” intentionally, as in “laughing all the way to the bank.” I have credentials too, but I have enough respect for my profession not to use it to separate other people from their money by making egregiously unsupportable claims based on fallacious reasoning and flat out misinformation.

    Ruvy: He’s a tall man, and skinny as he is, I think he could still land a good tooth-loosening shot at someone who called him that…

    The force of your logic is underwhelming me.

    Ruvy: As for the science, E=mc² is an equation that states that all matter can be converted into energy. Energy generally represents itself to us as light.

    Really? The motion of Earth in its orbit around the Sun is associated with far more energy than the light output of the Sun, just to give you an example of something called kinetic energy, which is no less familiar to you, Ruvy, than light energy.

    Ruvy: This means that ultimately we are all variations of light.

    No, we are not variations of light. Not even ultimately. We are protons, neutrons, and electrons, constituents of the Universe that differ greatly from light.

    Ruvy: Light is matter and matter is light.

    No, light is light, composed of spin-zero bosons (photons). Most of the matter with which you are familiar — protons, neutrons, electrons, and neutrinos — is categorized as spin-1/2 fermions. Quite different from photons, or light. This is very basic physics.

    Ruvy: : Until this equation is disproven, that is the end of the discussion.

    End of the discussion? Not a very scientific attitude. Sounds more like the attitude of one steeped in religious dogma.

    The equation has stood up for 100 years. However, in spite of its simple form, and in spite of the fact that most educated people are familiar with it, the vast majority of people do not know what it really means.

    Schroeder is taking advantage of you.

  • http://alienboysworld.blogspot.com/ Christopher Rose

    pwned

  • Duane

    Thanks, Christopher.

    Lest I be guilty of committing the same sin as Schroeder in spreading misinformation, let me clear up one point that I made in #105. Sorry, my brain made a brief excursion into one of the collapsed dimensions.

    In about one month, the Sun will radiate light with an total energy equal to the kinetic energy of the Earth’s orbit. There, that’s better.

    Details, details …

  • Bliffle

    “If you want to worship at the halls of scientific knowledge, be my guest. But what Judaism has given the world is a humane code of behavior. If that code is something you follow, at least credit the source. ”

    What is this: some kind of race mongering? Did no other society contrive humane codes? Is buddism devoid of humane code? Is taoism? Can a code only be humane if it proceeds from the torah, or some other dusty book of your choosing?

    Humans developed humane codes because had they not they simply would have disappeared into the dustbins of evolution. Our ethics evolved as necessary to sustain the evolution of humankind.

  • Bliffle

    Ebony: “Ruvy: It’s beginning to look like the only differences between these two disciplines would be similar to the difference between believing something and knowing it. The possibility that the two would converge is exactly what makes this discussion so interesting for me.”

    Perhaps it makes you happy to imagine that the only difference between you and a raving psychotic is that he believes the police have killed his children and are mimicing their voices on the phone, and you know it is not true. Such a small thing, almost trivial.

    Besides, you are wrong about science. Science doesn’t claim absolute knowledge. All of science is exploration and hypothesis. As soon as a scientist propounds a theory other scientists set about to refute it! An act prohibited as heresy in every religion I know of.

    Science tells you to set your mind free. Learn what others have done and then explore with your mind. Religion tells you to obey. Because of religions rigid orthodoxy it has set itself in perpetual opposition to science.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Bliffle:

    Gotta make this quick – gotta run.

    I don’t care whose code you want to credit. You don’t like the Jewish one, credit the Hindu one or the Buddhist one. You think I get a commission for hustling one over the other?

    I mentioned mine because it was likely as not that you had been raised as a Christian or a Jew. And both use the Jewish code of law.

    If you didn’t contemplate eating your neighbor for lunch this afternoon, you followed a code of civilized behavior – science provides no such code. So credit whose code you followed. Period.

  • gonzo marx

    ummm….yesterday Catholics all over the world “ate” their Savior in ritualistic fashion, as delineated in their dogma….drank his blood too!!

    so much for that…

    more on this fascinating Thread later…i know i have been remiss and have much to catch up on

    just wanted to share a bit on the whole “cannibalism” sub-topic

    Excelsior!

  • Maybe I’m Dumb

    Why g-d instead of god?? I’ve been living with this question for sometime now. WTF

  • http://parodieslost.typepad.com Mark Schannon

    Wow, sorry to be so late to the party. Ruvy, as usual, you’ve stirred up a fascinating discussion, much of which has been thoughtful and interesting.

    The one point I want to make regards quantum physics, and some of the misconceptions spread around. The problem is that scientists can’t distinguish between particles(mass) and energy. Conduct one experiment with a photon (smallest unit of light)and it acts like matter. Change the experiment midstream and the photon instantaneously–violating all known laws–starts acting like a wave.

    Yes, the theories of quantum physics work, but, then so does Newtonian physics at the level in which we all live. But that doesn’t make either the real descriptions of our physical world.

    The criticisms of super string theory, and membrane theory are flying fast and furiously because they’re virtually untestable–a grave sin in science.

    Duane, electrons don’t wave in the sense of saying hello or goodbye, they exist as probability curves that collapse into a single point when observed, which makes no sense but that’s what they say.

    I think it was Nils Bohr who said, “If you think you understand quantum physics, you don’t,” which means any attempt to link it to religious studies is bound to fail. Scientists admit that the quantum world cannot be visualized or conseptualized…it can only be described mathematically.

    On the other hand, as to the merger of science and religion/philosophy, there’s an old, wonderful book called “The Dancing Wu Li Masters,” which I can’t find or I’d give more info. It’s from the 70s or 80s and is a wonderful description of the state of quantum physics at the time but also how some of the theoretical physicists are seeing similarities between eastern philosophy and physics.

    For more up-to-date and equally bewildering reading, try “The Elegant Universe” by Brian Greene or any of his books. If they don’t twist your brain inside out, nothing will.

    Finally, Ruvy, this Adam getting a soul from God 5,000 years ago, your story is fascinating, and I’m glad to see your explanation of other folks around before Adam…but…well, that’s a leap of faith I just know I’ll never be able to make.

    Phew.

    In Jamesons Veritas

  • Ebony Ghost

    Bliffle: I can be horribly imprecise sometimes, especially when my writing consists wholly of speculation.

    The difference between believing something you can’t prove and knowing something you can prove is indeed small. All that’s missing is the proof regarding what you believe. If I know something and can prove it, I can claim to truly know it. Otherwise, it’s merely a belief. However, if a proof can be found for something that’s generally believed, Myth can become truth.

    For the example you gave, if I actually knew that the police did not kill his children, what proof could I have? How could I truly know that any particular someone didn’t do it? I could have factual knowledge that the children were still alive. Or, I could know exactly who was responsible because I’d done it myself, in that case I would be highly motivated to have the distraught father portrayed as a raving psychotic.

    I think you left the element of proof out of your description of science. Wouldn’t those theories that survive scientific scrutiny be considered proved? The same would be true of science in relation to religion. Many things are believed. The processes of hypothesis and experimentation can provide irrefutable explanations for aspects of the general belief structure in many religions. Weve seen, shown here in this brief discussion, that some ideas are common to many belief systems. We’ve also seen evidence of modern scientific theory touched upon in ancient texts. In time, possibly a matter of generations, the improvable aspects could be discarded. A convergence of science and religion cannot happen overnight. I certainly don’t expect that it would happen in my lifetime.

  • Duane

    Mark Schannon says:

    The problem is that scientists can’t distinguish between particles(mass) and energy.

    Of course they can. What are you trying to say? You’ve heard of, oh, let’s say, electrons?

    Conduct one experiment with a photon (smallest unit of light) and it acts like matter. Change the experiment midstream and the photon instantaneously–violating all known laws–starts acting like a wave.

    You’re referring to wave-particle duality. I have already mentioned this in my post #95. Again, that has nothing to do with light (photons).

    Duane, electrons don’t wave in the sense of saying hello or goodbye, they exist as probability curves that collapse into a single point when observed, which makes no sense but that’s what they say.

    I never said anything about hello or goodbye. The solutions of the time-independent Schrodinger wave equation for bound electrons, that is, electrons that are part of an atom, are complex (i.e., a real part and an imaginary part), whose square is interpreted as a probability distribution in space. The solution is, specifically, a linear superposition of such “eigenstates.” A measurement of such an superposed physical state does indeed “collapse the wave function,” but by no means does the electron wave function collapse to a single point. The collapse of the wave function simply menas than of the original linear superposition, only a single term survives. It’s not a collapse in the colloquial sense.

    Scientists admit that the quantum world cannot be visualized or conseptualized…it can only be described mathematically.

    Also false. Measurements of quantum phenomena are made on a daily basis. Without those measurements, no one would believe in quantum mechanics. Which isn’t to say that comfortable conceptualization is possible. But the theory has much more substance to it than the associated mathematics.

    As far as Eastern mysticism meeting physics, etc., bleaggghhhh. You might have mentioned The Tao of Physics, which started all this nonsense in the first place.

    I do agree with you, however, in recommending Greene’s book. Excellent.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    First to Gonzo at comment #111.

    Yeehah!! Jubal Harshaw rides again (Stranger in a Strange Land)!

    I have so much wanted to ask anti-abortion Catholics how they could condemn killing a fetus and eat their divinity like a cracker every day…?

    But hey, let’s keep abortion off the comments for THIS article. There’s enough to deal with understanding “creation” without fighting over “procreation” as opposed to “recreation”.

    And to comment #112. Jews are prohibited from saying, writing or depicting the Divinity. See Ex. 20:20 “Lo ta’asún ití…;” “You shall not make what is with Me.” So in practical terms, I do not depict G-d fully spelled out. This is a little like the Moslems not depicting Mohammed – except that we don’t riot about it.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    At comment #113 Mark writes, “Finally, Ruvy, this Adam getting a soul from God 5,000 years ago, your story is fascinating, and I’m glad to see your explanation of other folks around before Adam…but…well, that’s a leap of faith I just know I’ll never be able to make.”

    You know what they say about walking off the Empire State Building, don’t you? It’s just that first step that’s a bitch…

    A leap of faith is not quite the same thing.

    I made a leap of faith around 1999 and the first step has been scary as all hell – but I’m still flying and going higher, learning more, and getting more faith – not dropping like a stone.

    Living here you get a stiff dose of reality – how easily one can see a life snuffed out by a missile, or a bomb, or whatever – and then you see how many lives are NOT snuffed out, when to our foolish eyes they ought to have been…

    I won’t tell you all the tsuris I’m in right now – suffice it to say that if I didn’t believe strongly in G-d and that I have a mission to fulfill here, and that is why I’m here, living here in Israel, writing the things I do, etc. my blood pressure would be flying up in the stratosphere, and I’d likely as not have had another heart attack already.

  • Bliffle

    I think the title of this article reveals the weakness of the faithist belief in afterlife: “… Evidence for Death as the Beginning of a New Stage of Life …” . For how can it be a new stage of life if it is after life? This contradiction reveals faith as simply an unwillingness to accept the evidence of our own abundant experience: that every living thing dies and goes away. It is only vanity that makes us believe that we would live on in some kind of afterlife while an ant would not.

  • http://parodieslost.typepad.com Mark Schannon

    O.k. Duane, it’s particle accelerators at 100 paces.

    I admit to an error…yes, surprising as that may sound. I mean to say scientists can’t determine if something is a particle or a wave, not energy. It’s dependent on how one observes the event. The dual slit experiment is an example of that with photons. I don’t understand why you think the wave/particle duality doesn’t apply to protons. (See p. 97 in The Elegant Universe by our mutual friend Brian Greene.

    I was of course joking about “waving” hello or goodbye, but, more important, was trying to simplify an absurdly complex phenomenon. When the probability waves collapse into a single wave, the highest magnitude on the wave is where the electron is most likely to be. (I think we’re in violent agreement here.)

    In terms of whether the quantum world can be visualized or conceptualized, you don’t really respond except to say that measurements can be made, which is because the math works. The problem is that, as Greene says, even the formulae behind string theory are only approximations–but they’re close enough to make astounding predictions that have given us our current technology.

    However, the “what” that is working is a mystery. Richard Feynman, in “The character of Physical Law”, p 129 wrote, “I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics.”

    We can’t visualize dimensions beyond three or even conceive of what that means. Scientists use metaphors and all sorts of tortured diagrams to help approach understanding.

    Finally, before you judge something, you should read it. Here’s what some have said about “The Dancing Wu Li Masters” by Gary Zukav.

    David Bohm, Professor of Physics, Birkbeck College, University of London, in “Nature,”
    “This book is an extremely clear and easily understandable account of the latest developments in physics.”

    Martin Gardner, staff writer, “Scientific American,” “Zukav is such a skillful expositor, with such amiable style, that it is hard to imagine a layman who would not find this book enjoyable and informative.”

    In Jamesons Veritas

  • Duane

    Mark Schannon: I don’t understand why you think the wave/particle duality doesn’t apply to protons.

    I said photons, not protons.

    And speaking of Feynman, you can find an excellent (lengthy but readable) description of the two-slit experiment in Vol 3 of The Feynman Lectures on Physics.

    Mark: When the probability waves collapse into a single wave, the highest magnitude on the wave is where the electron is most likely to be. (I think we’re in violent agreement here.)

    OK, not to split hairs, but the collapsed wave function still represents a distribution in 3-D space, with a finite probability even at “infinity.” The peak of the spatial distribution (the mod-square of the wave) indicates the radial position wrt the nucleus at which the probability is a maximum. But the maximum is not sharp, and the electron still wanders far and wide. I was just arguing whether or not the electron indeed collapses to a point, which it can’t, since that would violate the Uncertainty Principle.

    Mark: Richard Feynman, in “The character of Physical Law”, p 129 wrote, “I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics.”

    When Feynman uses the word “understand” in this context, it means a whole lot more than when I say, “Sure, I understand the Schrodinger Equation.” There are people who understand QM to depths that we can only imagine. What they lack is that feeling that satisfies their intuition. They don’t get it in an intuitive way. It’s weird.

    Mark: We can’t visualize dimensions beyond three or even conceive of what that means. Scientists use metaphors and all sorts of tortured diagrams to help approach understanding.

    Yes. Although some of the diagrams, space-time diagrams, embedding diagrams, for example, are really quite elegant and powerful.

    Mark: Finally, before you judge something, you should read it.

    Point taken.

  • Duane

    Mark, I see where the confusion started. Of course, the wave-particle duality applies to photons just as well as to massive particles, such as protons. What I was trying to say, and didn’t do a very good job, was that invoking the concept of wave-particle duality to claim that we are beings of light is incorrect. I think the conceptual error on Ruvy’s part (and Schroeder’s) is in assuming that the word “wave” can refer only to light waves. The logic would be as follows:

    We are human.
    Humans are made of matter.
    Matter is dual to waves.
    Light is a wave.
    Humans are light.

    It might look compelling if you ignore the concept of matter waves a la the de Broglie relationship. Using this fallacious logic, one could have said that we are oceans, fixing the idea of ocean waves in our heads. Aren’t we made up of over 70% water anyway? Yes, I am an ocean. I resonate to the phases of the moon. I am in tune with the rhythms of the cosmos.

  • http://parodieslost.typepad.com Mark Schannon

    Duane, got it. Like I said, I think we were in violent agreement, LOL. Thanks for the clarification.

    And it was fun dueling with you. You realize, of course, that my particle accelerator whipped your particle accelerator’s ass. (Or was it the other way around? Oh well, that’s the beauty of quantum theory. There’s always a potential universe that allows for whatever fantasy I come up with.)

    In Jamesons Veritas

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    “….I see where the confusion started. Of course, the wave-particle duality applies to photons just as well as to massive particles, such as protons. What I was trying to say, and didn’t do a very good job, was that invoking the concept of wave-particle duality to claim that we are beings of light is incorrect. I think the conceptual error on Ruvy’s part (and Schroeder’s) is in assuming that the word ‘wave’ can refer only to light waves. The logic would be as follows:

    We are human.
    Humans are made of matter.
    Matter is dual to waves.
    Light is a wave.
    Humans are light.”

    Ok Duane, I think I’m beginning to get the idea here.

    I’m going to ask you to consider something. Schroeder is an oceanographer and a physicist by training and a soeone who has learned a great deal about Judaism along the way.

    Now, he makes his money as a lecturer. His lecture at Root & Branch was a freebie because the head of Root & Branch, has helped him along the way.

    He has an audience of people who don’t know a whole hell of a lot about science. He is trying to link up points about life after death, NDE experiences, the description of death in the Torah, and the growing perception among hard scientists that the universe is more “mind than matter”.

    This is his real topic.

    As a lecturer trying to convey these issues and give a brief intro about the Big Bang, should he lose himself in the duality of matter/light and lose his audience? Or should he simplifly things enough so that the non-scientists in the audience understand enough to get the basic concept, and get on to the main issues that he means to cover?

    Look at this from that point of view.

  • Robert

    You need real scientific evidence. The fish story is pure nonsense. I think you also have to put the quantum physics ideas in the true perspective of what it actually is.

  • http://kilinireland kil

    skeptic’s arguments are not based on any factual evidence, in fact the brain is very incapeable of producing, what is known as the human mind- and many factors challenge the unproven and quite frankly absurd reductionist theory.(blackmore can jump, many if not all her arguments(assumptions) are false because she does not understand (quite obviously) what she claims to be studying, they are nothing but misleading, bias claim without any scientifically valid evidence, none!dr.schroeder is on to something far more intellectually satisfying.

  • Wolfgang

    I do beleive we are thought into being by the Creator… if we could truly see ourselve’s for what we are …we would see a pattern of energy or light..just soul’s have an earthly experience..

  • Catey

    Fascinating…from the title all the way to the last comment…

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    It is a pleasure to see this thread picked up once more. For myself, I agree with Wolfgang (comment 126). Can I prove that belief? No, not at all. I do not believe that humans are capable of proving (or disproving) the existence of a Divinity.

    I will say that I sense that at a level deeper than humans are presently capable of understanding, emuná (roughly, faith based on experience) and bitaHón (roughly, faith without experience) are quantifiable. But exactly how is beyond me.

  • http://www.robot-of-the-week.com Christopher Rose

    Yup, there’s a religious sucker born every minute.

  • http://www.chello'sgaylove.com marcelo’s gay love

    i love philosophy, its my life. aristotle is bare buff innit

  • http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=Tarvell Jim

    Excellent post, very interesting, thanks!

  • Alex

    Congrat.! For your article on Life After Death…

    How my self who was declared dead from hospital came back and went to see the nurse who rub my necklace in meantime in my bedroom?

    Many were so amazed and that nurse unfortunately loss her job too…

    It was a little out of body experienced
    I will never forget and that nurse too…
    ;-))

    Alex.

  • Alex Jay Wadsworth

    When you think about it the only possible outcome of death is nothingness, would there realy be a place big enough to hold everyones spirits who has ever walked the earth and technically if there was an afterlife animals would also have to go just because we are the intelligent race if there was a god he couldnt exclude animals after all it says in the bible down to every last fly there ‘gods’ creatures and instead of the bible you mays well read Beauty and the Beast, if they were able to preform ‘miracles’ back then surely people could do so now, use humans are meerly intelligent species most probabley connected to the monkey family, how could adam and eve possibley exist when cavemen and homosapiens and dinosaurs walked the earth long before humans did, we probably all have pointless lives,I realy do hope I and so many others are wrong that there is an afterlife, where in the 21st century and people still believe every word of the bible is fact when most likely its crap, the bible was written by humans thousands of years after these supposed events happened, we’ve come so far as a planet and still believe theres a god, but then again if we knew for certain death ment nothingness would we all realy want to carry on our day to day crap of going to work, having a pint down the pub, etc Jesus came back to life back then why can’t he now? Why isnt he on earth spreading the good news and healing people, the sad fact is we all probably need to wake up and see death means our corspe in the ground not even knowing we existed

  • Anirudh Kumar Satsangi

    In Bhagavad-Gita Lord SriKrishna says to Arjuna:
    “I taught this immortal Yoga to Vivasvan (sun-god), Vivasvan conveyed it to Manu(his son), and Manu imparted it to (his son) Iksvaku. Thus transmitted to succession from father to son, Arjuna, this Yoga remained known to the Rajarisis (royal sages). It has however long since disappeared from this earth. The same ancient Yoga has this day been imparted to you by Me, because you are My devotee and friend, and also because this is a supreme secret”.
    At this Arjuna said: You are of recent origin while the birth of Vivasvan dates back to remote antiquity. How, then, I am to believe that you taught this Yoga at the beginning of creation? Lord SriKrishna said: Arjuna, you and I have passed through many births. I remember them all, you do not remember.
    1. Radha Soami Faith was founded by His Holiness Param Purush Puran Dhani Huzur Soamiji Maharaj on the prayer of His Holiness Huzur Maharaj who later on became second Spiritual Head of Radha Soami Faith. The prime object of the Radha Soami Faith is the emancipation of all Jeevas (Souls) i.e. to take the entire force of consciousness to its original abode. There is a tradition of succession of Gurus or Spiritual Adepts in Radha Soami Faith. I am one of them as is evident from the following facts or ….
    “My most Revered Guru of my previous life His Holiness Maharaj Sahab, 3rd Spiritual Head of Radhasoami Faith had revealed this secret to me during trance like state.
    HE told me, “Tum Sarkar Sahab Ho” (You are Sarkar Sahab). Sarkar Sahab was one of the most beloved disciple of His Holiness Maharj Sahab. Sarkar Sahab later on became Fourth Spiritual Head of Radhasoami Faith.
    Since I don’t have any direct realization of it so I can not claim the extent of its correctness. But it seems to be correct. During my previous birth I wanted to sing the song of ‘Infinite’ (Agam Geet yeh gawan chahoon tumhri mauj nihara, mauj hoi to satguru soami karoon supanth vichara) but I could not do so then since I had to leave the mortal frame at a very early age. But through the unbounded Grace and Mercy of my most Revered Guru that desire of my past birth is being fulfilled now.”

  • Abdul

    I have noticed that many atheists display an arrogant obligation to enlighten people to their way of materialistic thinking. To me this shows insecurity and a need for approval from other atheists who in turn try to convince themselves of literally nothingness when no 1 has ever known or experienced it.

    Atheists will comeback by saying that we have all come from nothingess, and yet neither us believers or them even understand what nothingness is. Is a lost memory nothingess? Because we can no longer recall it? No it only shows how fallible humans are.

    How can atheists argue for nothingness and chance, and yet deny the incredible order and complexity of existence? I find it incredible that so many people claim that there is no evidence of God, and yet they forget that everything we can percieve and cannot percieve points to creation. Therefore denying creation means to deny everything, and when you deny everything it becomes easy to believe that there is no evidence of God and to accept that nothingness somehow follows death and all of what we can percieve.

    The worst trait of humanity is not ignorance, it’s assuming that you have knowledge when you are less than a speck in a system beyond your comprehension. Take human eyesight for example; you may consider us blind to most things as our eyes deceive us every second. We cannot see anything for it’s true nature, neither can we infer perfectly as all of our observations are severely skewed and handicapped by our limited existence and faculties. But despite all of this we think that all the answers of the universe are easy. If this is true, then please create a universe or even a rice grain from nothingness which atheists seem to love so much.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Nice job, Abdul. Nice set of arguments. You mentioned eyes. If you look at the species of the planet, you find very few vision systems – one for insects, and one for everyone (and everything ) else. It helps to ask “why?”

  • zingzing

    evolution, ruvy.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    Funnily, I have noticed that faithists have an irrational compulsion to spout gibberish at any opportunity ad we see wonderful examples of this in comments #135 and 136. To me this shows how seriously faithism damages reason and thoughtfulness…

  • zingzing

    not to discount that birds don’t see the way we see, nor do dogs, cats, bats, rats, lizards, fish… whatever.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Nobody argues with evolution. Nobody sane, anyway. That is not my question. But that’s okay. The scoffers and atheists on the planet – the ones who WILL bring the disastrous prophecies of the Bible upon us all – will never get it. It ain’t worth asking a fool an intelligent question.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    Ruvy, I’m willing to bet you money that you can’t indicate any specific prophecy including when it will happen and that it then actually happens.

    Look out, the bogeyman’s behind you!

  • Abdul

    Christopher Rose you are the perfect example of a typical atheist who believes that ad hominem/red herring arguments somehow excludes you from “irrational gibberish”. It’s funny how atheists always try to repel the moral values and beliefs of others by personal insults, thinking that this gives them some moral and intellectual high ground. However these set of characteristics that atheists have, are contrary to any decent moral characteristics if daily life and history are anything to go by.

    I think the best thing an atheists can do, is to leave people alone to their gibberish beliefs. By trying to convert others to your way of thinking, you are indeed showing all the traits you supposedly hate about religion.

    This is exactly why, I don’t preach or talk at people in life. I leave everyone to their own beliefs and choices. But personally I live my life under the laws of God (Im a Muslim) and not mankind. To me only the morals and values of my faith are what controls my daily life. To try and explain that to you would be assuming that you care, which it seems like you do, otherwise you would not be on threads like this. However I will respect your atheistic militant style and pretend that you don’t care and thus forego the explanation part. However I ask you of the same courtesy that I have just extended.

    Take care

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    I think the best thing an atheists can do, is to leave people alone to their gibberish beliefs. By trying to convert others to your way of thinking, you are indeed showing all the traits you supposedly hate about religion.

    Quoted for truth.

    Gee, Chris, this guy Abdul sounds like the kind of fellow I would like to sit down and discuss peace in my region with. He makes a lot more sense than you do, and has the attitude of a man looking for peace under the laws of G-d. THAT is the kind of fellow I should be talking to!

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    Abdul, you are, like Ruvy, simply incapable of following reason because of your faith.

    I didn’t make any personal attack, merely pointed out how both of you spout gibberish.

    As your first comment here was to argue against the views of those who don’t share your delusion, it is nonsense for you to say that you don’t preach or talk at people about your beliefs.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    Ruvy, I’m still waiting for you to back your views by taking up my bet. I’ll bet further that you won’t because we both know you can’t…

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Chris,

    You haven’t deigned to answer my question. I won’t bother repeating it; it would be too hard for you to comprehend. But I DID ask first.

    Too bad this Abdul fellow posts anonymously. HE’S the fellow I’d like to talk to….

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    Asking and begging an answer for “why” assumes, without any grounds I can see, that there has to be a “why”…

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Asking and begging an answer for “why”

    I ask, DD. I never beg. That is for kikes – not for me.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Ruvy –

    I think you and I would both like to sit down and share a cup of coffee with Abdul. After all, we three do all share the same belief in God Himself (no trinitarianism here), though most of our other beliefs are quite different. I do enjoy learning about other cultures, other histories, and I’d eagerly sit down, shut up (!), and listen to both of you.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    Ruvy, you haven’t asked me a question. otherwise I would have answered it. Unlike you, I don’t cherry pick what I’ll respond to.

    If you mean the question you posed in comment #136 about “vision systems”, well, that was not asked of me and it isn’t even accurate, so I don’t have anything to say about it.

    Now will you answer my challenge or find yet another way of dodging it?

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Chris, your question isn’t worth an attempt at an answer. I do not get visions with dates attached. So what happens tomorrow is as much a mystery to me as to you. There are no dates attached to the prophecies, except in a most general way – that all this will be done by between 2025 and 2030 on your calendar. You know this already. That is all that need be said.

  • Jordan Richardson

    I didn’t make any personal attack, merely pointed out how both of you spout gibberish.

    *facepalm*

  • El Bicho

    Yeah, nothing arrogant or dismissive in the comments engaging Ruvy and Abdul to debate

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    Ruvy (@ #148): I meant it in the sense of “begging the question”.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    Ruvy, then I am willing to bet you that none of your prophecies will happen by 2030. My only concern is will you live long enough to pay up!

    Jordan, you should be careful with that gesture in case you hurt yourself.

    El B, we’ve been round this conversational cul de sac before and you still need to look in the mirror. When you do, perhaps you’ll notice that large chip on your shoulder…

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    My only concern is will you live long enough to pay up!

    The first intelligent comment I’ve seen out of you in the last 20 or so. I knew your intelligence would break out somewhere for us to see…

  • Jinn -David Robinson

    Ruvy of Jerusalem,( lol, more so Brooklyn eh?)

    I feel as though I have just read a novel! (Read the article and every post beginning-to-end) By doing so I answered a plethora of my own questions (; Being said; I wont waist your time:

    Im sorry that the people whom read your post failed to read the comments before blabbing off to you.. Im sure your thoughts have changed since 2006. However, for the best it shows.
    -A personality changes every 4 years-

    My fathers a teacher- If u can change just one life.. Well.. your article/posts/comments has changed my perspective. As well as all the faithists \/ atheists/ and the few inbetween; THANKS!

    Life-to-Death, a human should find his/her happiness in life; And believe it though respect and honer- witch you do.. Its also clear to me that thorough all these obstacles for understanding u have sought the truth and for that I commend you- Thanks for not giving up.

    Thanks for doing the one and only thing we know we are here to do. “Further our knowledge for the sake of humanity because that is what I must do for what I have received (with a hell of allot better tools)”
    Imagine a historical scientist in the past- wit the tools we have today!- whew. gives me the chills.”Also being a “Baby Bloomer” perhaps your illiterately behind on technology and you really don’t even know of it’s capability today!”

    -THE MEANING BEING DEEPER THAN WHAT SAID, ONLY FOR THE RITE STATE OF MIND-

    -Thousands religions are all around us.. how are you going to say yours is rite.. how are you going to tell me if I dont learn urs I will burn in hell.. hmm EVERYONE NEEDS GUIDANCE>> IT WOULD BE TERRIBLE TO TRY IN FIND THAT IN ONES-SELF.

    Also, for all of those our there with a sense of confusion- Melvin D Saunders gave me understanding. – His books online for free.. like everything else these days-

  • G-d

    Christoper Rose will not feel the same in 4,8,12,16,20 years from now- no atheist can preach nothing-
    Note the 10 tips in starting a religion~
    then you understand its control/effect.

  • Colin adams

    I once saw a blue cloud in the corner of my room with a face in it. It was then that I decided to keep of the drugs I think that it would be best if you did the same ruvy and maybe you will see something that people will believe