At a time when the United States is gripped by economic uncertainty and faces serious challenges in hot spots around the globe, some American Catholics are finding it both curious and troubling that their church has launched a major campaign against a piece of legislation that doesn’t exist and wouldn’t have much chance of becoming law even if it did. To many critics, it feels like the legislative equivalent of the dog that didn’t bark.
Been long enough since we won anything, hasn’t it fellas? So where’s my check?
Scott Johnson reviews a new book that traces the debate over intelligent design–and its anti-materialist roots.
A father and daughter from a US church which preaches hatred of homosexuals have been banned from entering the UK.
I’m not sure how to feel about this one.
If you’ve ever prayed so hard that you’ve lost all sense of a larger world outside yourself, that’s your parietal lobe at work. If you’ve ever meditated so deeply that you’d swear the very boundaries of your body had dissolved, that’s your parietal too. There are other regions responsible for making your brain the spiritual amusement park it can be: your thalamus plays a role, as do your frontal lobes. But it’s your parietal lobe — a central mass of tissue that processes sensory input — that may have the most transporting effect.
Just to break in for a moment, I think this speaks to why atheists are so regularly strawmanned about what they do and don’t believe. You’re an atheist, ipso facto your words must always be taken with a grain of salt (i.e. relative to believers), ipso facto it is legitimate to make assertions about what you really believe, despite your protestations to the contrary. (See Witmer’s discussion of “conscious” reasoning vs. “unconscious” presuppositions, elsewhere in the article from which this extract is taken.)
On behalf of my fellow ex-Jehovah’s Witness readers, I think the same can be said for us when it comes to the Watchtower Society’s faithful.
However, those in religious authority would have one believe transcendent experiences are something external to the human and call it the Holy Spirit. They also realize when our senses are overly stimulated we have transcendent experiences. Thus, the mega churches pull out all the stops concerning stimulating people’s senses, and call it “the power of the Holy Spirit” or say that “the Holy Spirit is moving” through the large congregation. In which case, Karl Marx was very accurate with his statement, “Religion is the opiate of the people”. Humans thrive on it, especially because religious services have numerous sensory stimuli, which trigger brain chemistry that gives people a sense of the aesthetic. In the end, people crave such numinous experiences like a drug and attach various superstitions to it all.
Last month I was approached by someone to help out with an “ESP Bootcamp.” Sound interesting? It did to me. My mind immediately went to work imagining rubbing shoulders with remote viewers, having good natured contests with bootcampers moving objects around with their minds and perhaps even influencing a few random number generators. You should know by now I can’t resist sticking my nose into such folly. If I can find out for myself what kind of intellects are behind these operations, I’m only happy to step up and play the game. Knowing what I know about psychic fairs, (or “faires” in some parts of town) psychic house parties, corporate seers and the tangled webs they weave, I was cautiously intrigued.
Unfortunately, my dreams turned out to be nothing like the glamorous “Avengers” meets “Push” styled camp I had fantasized.
Damn. I was finally hoping to use the Jedi Mind Trick on hot chicks. (It didn’t work when I was a teenager either … boy, that was embarrassing.)
“All you need to do to go to heaven is ask Jesus into your heart.”
Translation: “You’re going to burn in hell if you don’t say this prayer, little boy.”
Acceptable Response: “Dear Jesus, thank you for coming into my heart and saving me…”
Unacceptable Response: “Dear Jesus, where in the Bible do you tell us to ask you into our hearts? That seems kind weird. And why did the ancient world think the heart was the kidney? Hello? Can you hear me? I guess this is just a one-way intercom. How can I know if you’re still around if you don’t say anything back? Okay, if you’re really there, appear to me right now in person like you did to Paul.” Or, “What exactly does Jesus do in my blood-pumping organ?”
Maybe I should do one of these for ex-Witnesses being confronted by Jehovah’s Witnesses in “good standing” with the Society? Just a thought.