• About TWIM


    The Warfare Is Mental (TWIM) reflects the mental warfare of an author, screenwriter, publisher and member of the Writer's Guild of America. Family, friends, health, humor, art, music, science, faith, fun and knowledge are some of the things that are important to me.



    TWIM is the first and only theist blog listed on the Atheist Blogroll, which currently contains over 1,000 blogs. It goes without saying that I don't endorse hardly any of the views of any of them. Contact Mojoey for more information.



    Ironically, TWIM won an award for "Best Atheist / Skeptic Site" from this site. Much obliged.



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    You and your commenters are a feast of thinking — great stuff.

    -C.L. Dyck
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I have no need to engage with racists, so will ignore cl’s further diatribes.

    -faithlessgod,
     CommonSenseAtheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    cl resists following through on a thought even to provide a solid opposing position, and thus stifles many conversations. It’s a shame since it seems like cl has some brain power that could be applied to the topics at hand.

    -Hermes,
     CommonSenseAtheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    [faithlessgod and Hermes] fit my definition of trolling. I didn’t take any of those attacks against you seriously, and quickly categorized them as trolls.

    -JS Allen,
     CommonSenseAtheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    [cl] is, as many have noticed, a master of this warfare. I’ve been following him for quite some time and he’s one of the most effective Christian trolls out there. No one can completely destroy a conversation as effectively as he does, and with such masterful grace and subtly that he rarely gets banned. This isn’t a blunt-force “U R Hitler!” troll, this is the Yoda of trolling.

    -Eneasz,
     CommonSenseAtheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    This seems to imply that cl is, at least in part, disingenuous in terms of how he responds/what he claims. Is this most likely true, supported by evidence, or merely a subjective claim?

    -al friedlander,
     CommonSenseAtheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    ...I wanted to get a message to you outside of the context of specific discussions on CSA. You make good, insightful contributions to that site, and since I often agree with you I'm glad there is someone else there defending my positions better than I sometimes can. However I don't think anything of value would be lost if you stopped engaging in personal combat with juvenile snipers.

    -Zeb,
     CommonSenseAtheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Thank you for your wonderful response - so reasoned in the race of [Waldvogel's] blustering.

    -Annie Laurie Gaylor
     Freedom From Religion Foundation
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Thanks for a great Op-Ed.

    -Marianne Ratcliff
     VC Star
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    ...as atheists we need to make sure that someone like cl and any Christian readers of [An Apostate's Chapel] don’t come away with the perception that the atheists caved in or were incapable of responding. I’m sure that a lot of Christians who find cl incomprehensible at times and don’t even bother reading him themselves will come away with an assumption that cl is that sort of rare intellectual theist who can prove that gods exist. And that’s how those inane rumors about the feared xian intellectuals start…

    -bbk
     An Apostate's Chapel
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    You are in so over your head here, you are embarrassing yourself...
    I am well versed in many aspects of evolution biology, through my academic background, and my professional life. Unless your academic degrees and background match mine, cease and desist. Return to philosophy and rhetoric, or whatever it is you perceive your strengths to be. They are definitely not science, even at the high school level.

    -R.C. Moore
     Evangelical Realism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    You're doing a fine job.

    -Prof. Larry Moran
     Dept. of Biochemistry
     University of Toronto
     re: R.C. Moore & others
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Phyletic change and vicariance (or, drift and selection versus population isolation), as cl points out, are much better ways of describing what are unfortunately more commonly known as micro- and macro- evolution, respectively.

    -Dan
     Biology postdoc
     Univ. of Cyprus
     re: R.C. Moore & others
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    cl says, “The minute you call yourself a Christian or an Atheist or whatever the heck else, you automatically get painted by other people’s interpretations of those words, which are almost always different and almost always distorted.” cl’s point couldn’t be more on. As cl points out there is an important reason for not claiming any real religious (or lack thereof) belief. It puts logical constraints on one's arguments due directly to the bias of the individual that is translating the English to mind ideas of what it means to be religious.

    -Bobaloo
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Just who in the bloody hell do you think you are, you Christian piece of garbage, to come here barking out orders? You're an arrogant, condescending piece of shit. You seem to think you're an intellectual of sorts, when all you are is a Christian who's read a few books. John, everyone, this really is the limit. BR, I'm more than a little annoyed that you continue to engage him. I'm out of here. I have better things to do than to waste my time with these cretins.

    -Cipher
     Debunking Christianity
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    How old are you CL? I'd guess you have not yet experienced much life. I'd say you were under the age of 21, too young to be here. I don't give a damn what you think of me or my deconversion at all. You're too stupid to realize that regardless of it you must deal with the arguments in the book. They are leading people away from you [sic] faith. I'm seriously considering banning you cl, as I've heard you were banned on other sites. You are much too ignorant for us to have a reasonable discussion.

    -John Loftus
     Debunking Christianity
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I admired the way you handled yourself in the discussion on John's blog. I'm not patient enough to keep my sarcasm in check with some of them blokes, but appreciate those who are.

    -David Marshall
     re: Debunking Christianity
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    cl, I have to say, while I fundamentally disagree with you, you are an individual which I highly respect. I think your responses are always well thought out and your insights always well thought out and pertinently derived.
    [Y]ou have made me a stronger atheist in my regards to critical thinking and debating. I really can’t wait to hear more from you. Hell, I’d even buy you a drink, good sir. Cheers!

    -Parker
     Evangelical Realism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Bottom line? Sometimes I think he's right about certain arguments, and I don't have a problem admitting that. Other times, however, I think he's wrong, and I've called him on that. But I have found he can be pretty reasonable if you (1) don't overstate your case, (2) make concessions when you have, and (3) insist he do the same.

    -Lifeguard
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I like it when [cl] makes me stop, think and question if I am making unfounded assertions or if I am being sloppy. What has been annoying me about cl of late is that he is being excruciatingly anal...

    -seantheblogonaut
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I really can't thank you enough for catching me on my error in rhetoric. I always love a good debate! And I always enjoy your posts, as well! Keep up the great writing and the excellent eye for detail!

    -BZ
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    You make me smarter...

    -Mike G.
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    ..thank you, cl. I discovered your blog on a random web search and saw it as an oasis amidst a vast desert of seemingly intractable theist-atheist debate.

    -Sung Jun
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    It's good to be able to discuss with people who are open and respectful, and know that disagreement does not mean disrespect... You are to be congratulated, not only for your patience, but also your ability to hold an ever-growing debate together with an impressive degree of structure.

    -Ritchie
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    My tone is derogatory... [cl is] ignorant and credulous and deserves to be mocked... In the time he's been here, he's shown a consistent pattern of antagonizing everyone he comes in contact with, monopolizing threads, derailing discussions with perpetual complaints, quibbles and demands for attention, and generally making arguments that display a lack of good faith and responsiveness... it's become intolerable. I'm not banning him, but I'm putting in place some restrictions on how often he can comment.

    -Ebonmuse
     Daylight Atheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    This is no defense of the annoying cl, but what a self-righteous, prissy atheist you turned out to be, Ebonmuse. I'm disappointed in you, stealing a strategem from the theists.

    -The Exterminator
     to Ebonmuse
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I certainly didn't get any bad impression about cl, and I can't relate his comments with any of the things (Ebonmuse) said above. I actually thought it was quite interesting to have him around.

    -Juan Felipe
     Daylight Atheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Please continue to allow
    cl to post his views and make it clear that he is still welcome. And let me be clear, cl is not a lunatic.

    -Curtis
     Daylight Atheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    With one exception, you are the most coherent and intelligent theist I've seen on this site...

    -Steve Bowen
     Daylight Atheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I'm rooting for cl. I hope he perpetually manages to skirt the rules enough to do his damage, forcing rule revision after rule revision, ad nauseum. Awesome! Let's watch as Ebon, ever more frustrated, continues to struggle to figure out how to keep his precious private blog neat and tidy as cl keeps messing up his papers while one by one, readers leave due to an every increasing administrative presence. Outstanding! Well I won't go. The thought of this sounds like the most entertaining thing that probably would have ever happened on Daylight Atheism. Hot damn!

    -PhillyChief
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Your visit has been something of a reality check to me. It seems that when you present rational arguments and criticisms, many commenters feel territory slipping and then work up vaporous or leaky responses. I also want to remark that your presence here has considerably moved me to try being a more careful and understanding debater...

    -Brad
     Daylight Atheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I do have a lot of respect for you too. You seem to be a very intelligent and thoughtful individual with a knack for getting to the bottom of a problem, cutting through all the bullshit rhetoric on the way down. The fact that many other atheists seem to unreasonably despise you bothers me a lot, because I think that maybe they aren’t acting in good faith.

    -Peter Hurford
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I am not going to waste any more time parsing your comments to decide if they've crossed the line or not... So I banned you.

    -Greta Christina
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Be rude... cl invites rudeness. Would you want an incontinent little puppy coming into your house?

    -(((Billy))) the Atheist
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Note to all my regular readers: Since An Apostate’s Chapel is a free-speech zone, I don’t censor conversations.
    As it appears that cl is a troll, please note that I will not be responding to him any longer. I ask that you refrain from doing so, as well. Please don’t feed the troll!

    -The Chaplain
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    …I can’t reconcile being a "freethinker" with banning speech. [cl's] comments are not offensive in the normal understanding of that term, and he poses absolutely no threat except perhaps to some imagined decorum. Why can’t atheists lighten up, for no-Christ’s sake?

    -The Exterminator
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Is it going to distract from my meal when crazy uncle cl starts blathering out nonsense, pick his ears with a carrot or start taking his pants off? No. In fact, it might actually heighten the experience in some amusing way. So no, I don't see cl's work as damage.

    -PhillyChief
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I am beginning to suspect that you are a troll cl. Albeit an evolved troll, but a troll nonetheless. Perhaps we should all stop feeding the troll?

    -GaySolomon
     Evangelical Realism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    [cl is] is either a sophist or an incompetent when it comes to the english language... (sic)

    -ThatOtherGuy
     Evangelical Realism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I’d say cl is pretty sharp... it may be tempting at times to think that “the other guy” is arguing out of some personal character flaw rather than a sincere desire to acknowledge the truth, I still think it’s better to debate respectfully... It is disrespectful to make unsupported accusations against people, e.g. by suggesting that their views are caused by an intrinsically corrupt and immoral nature.

    -Deacon Duncan, 3-9-09
     Evangelical Realism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    [cl] cannot refute my facts, so he needs must find (sic) some scapegoat in order to claim that he has confronted the enemy and proven them wrong... cl, sadly, has proven himself to be the sort of guest who comes into your living room and sneaks behind your couch to take a crap on the floor, just so he can tell all your neighbors how bad your house smells and what an unsanitary housekeeper you are... an interesting case study in the negative effects a Christian worldview has on a reasonably intellectual mind.

    -Deacon Duncan, 6-17-09
     Evangelical Realism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I strongly discourage discussion of the character, abilities, motives, or personal ancestry of individual commenters, as tempting as such comments may be at times. I discourage the posting of comments that make frequent use of the pronoun “you,” as in “you always…” or “you never…” or “you are just so…”, when directed at a specific individual.

    -Deacon Duncan, 4-9-09
     Evangelical Realism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I won’t be publishing your most recent comment because it’s a return to the same sort of schtick you’ve pulled here before: re-writing other people’s arguments to make yourself look misunderstood and/or unfairly accused, taking “polyvalent” positions so that when people address your points you can claim to have said something else, distorting other people’s arguments, trolling for negative reactions, and so on.

    -Deacon Duncan, 10-8-09
     Evangelical Realism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    [E]gomaniacal troll.
    You win... You’re a disingenuous sophist through and through, cl. And a friggin’ narcissist to boot! Since I’ve thoroughly and purposefully broken the Deacon’s rules of engagement, I shall consider my right to post henceforth annulled, and move on - dramatic pause, lights out.

    -jim
     Evangelical Realism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    He either thinks in a very weird way or he's quite the con artist.

    -mikespeir
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I will gladly admit that I have a boner for cl. Maybe some day I’ll even earn a place of honor on cl’s Blog of Infamy.

    -Eneasz
     Evangelical Realism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Long time reader first time poster... I like reading what you
    have to say over at Daylight Atheism so I figured I'd pop in here.

    -Pine
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    He's just a jerk
    that likes to argue.

    -KShep
     Daylight Atheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    You’re not a reasonable thinker in my book. You’re simply an arguer, for better or worse. I’m Michael Palin, you’re John Cleese. You’re just a disputation-ist, bringing everything into question...

    -jim
     Reason vs. Apologetics
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Motherfucker, this is an interesting blog... Quite the group of commenters.

    -John Evo
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    You are very articulate, and I can only assume that it's a result of high intelligence; an intelligence that's interested in, and can understand, healthy debate. However, at every turn, that's not what I or others seem to get.

    -ex machina
     Daylight Atheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    You are a troll, a liar, and a useless sack of shit. Not only that, but you're still wrong even after moving the goal posts and trying to re-write history. So, you can stop cyber stalking me now and trying to provoke me. I know what you are doing, and you are doing it so that you can whine about how I'm being irrational and mean to you and stroke your pathetic martyr complex. You're a pathetic attention whore and I've already given you too much attention. So, back the fuck off, stop following me around the intarwebs and trying to provoke me, and fuck off.

    -OMGF
     Daylight Atheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I would just like to say that, OMGF, having read the debate as a neutral observer, some of the things cl says about your style of argument are true, IMO. It is quite hasty, which means you occasionally haven't got the central point cl is trying to make...

    -John D.
     Daylight Atheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    ...this is a difficult question that deserves more than a kneejerk reaction, not to imply that you're kneejerking. You're the least kneejerking person I've met.

    -Quixote
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    If you’re here playing devil’s advocate, then, hey, you do a great job at it, it’s a service, keep us sharp... You’re a smart guy, but those are exactly the ones who give the worst headaches!

    -Lifeguard
     An Apostate's Chapel
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    You are a waste of time, cl. A big fat black hole of bullshit sucking in everyone who comes into contact with you.

    -Spanish Inquisitor
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    As for all that harsh invective that's come your way, umm... I gotta say, I've seen some of the invective, but I haven't seen the behavior on your part that called for it. Maybe I've just not seen enough? I don't know... from what I've read, I can tell that you're a smart person, and whether you deserved any of that treatment or not is quite frankly immaterial to me; I just want to deal with the smart person at the eye of that storm.

    -D
     She Who Chatters
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I now think that you’re an atheist, just having fun at other atheists’ expense. If that’s the case, kudos.

    -The Exterminator
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    

Papers

1. The Law of Cause and Effect: Dominant Principle of Classical Physics David L. Bergman, Glen C. Collins, [PDF 208KB] — A concise history of order, and cause and effect, both pillars of modern science. The authors are Bible-believing Christians who note that the Babylonian idea of gods controlling nature was a perversion of earlier Hebrew notions of causality. The Hebrews did not believe in a pantheon of lesser gods responsible for lightning, rain, agriculture, fertility, etc. It is this erroneous Mesopotamian notion of causality that today’s atheists and skeptics often mock, while the Hebrew notion of a rational God led to the advent of modern science. The authors give an interesting overview of Greek atomism and its modern expression in the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, including criticism of the latter by Paul Wesley.

2. Bayesian Considerations on the Multiverse Vesa Palonen, [PDF 188KB] — A Finnish agnostic turned Christian with a PhD in physics, Palonen begins by identifying various problems in the use of observer selection effects with multiverse hypotheses. Palonen evaluates four popular applications of the observer selection effect: assume the observation, or AO [Sober, Ikeda, Jefferys], self-sampling assumption, or SSA [Bostrom], some universe, or SU [Manson, Thrush], and finally, this universe, or TU [White, Dowe]. In critiquing AO, Palonen notes that, “the observation is a probabilistic product of the hypothesis,” not independent of it. He criticizes SSA as “somewhat ad hoc,” and argues that the revised SSSA-R can lead to probabilities greater than one. Palonen attempts to answer the main criticisms of TU, and does so persuasively in my opinion. He concludes: “…because multiverse hypotheses do not predict fine-tuning for this particular universe any better than a single universe hypothesis, multiverse hypotheses are not adequate explanations for fine-tuning.”

3. Absence of Evidence, Evidence of Absence, and the Atheist’s Teapot Brian Garvey, [PDF 232KB] — Garvey, whom I believe is an atheist, opens by noting the fact that no positive evidence for atheism exists, and summarizes the atheist’s argument by reference to Russell’s teapot: “We can’t conclusively prove that there isn’t one, but we possess absolutely no evidence that there is. The reasonable conclusion is not merely to suspend judgment, but to conclude that there isn’t one.” Through a string of persuasive observations stemming from what he calls the “strong medicine” principle, Garvey argues that denial of the teapot is disanalogous to denial of God because the former entails all else the same, whereas the latter necessarily entails a positive claim of its own. Culminating in the assertion of an epistemic terminus outside the purview of science, Garvey concludes: “…the question of God’s existence is similarly beyond science’s scope. It may be thought that this ought to be obvious, but it is possible for people to be wrong-footed on the question of God’s existence by approaching it as if it were a scientific question. I see the atheist’s teapot argument as an instance of just such wrong-footedness.”

4. A Bayesian Analysis of the Cumulative Effects of Independent Eyewitness Testimony for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ John M. DePoe, [PDF 400KB] — Lamenting the ambiguity of prior arguments [e.g. Swinburne], DePoe, a Christian, writes: “…my goal is to apply EBT to testimonial arguments for the historicity of the Resurrection as an objective tool to disentangle mere personal opinion from evidential support.” DePoe recognizes the difficulty of assigning specific figures and opts instead for ranges he hopes “the atheist and theist alike could be happy with.” Generous indeed, DePoe is willing to disqualify all but 10 of the 520 witnesses recorded in the New Testament. After noting that “even with charitable values for each term the evidence for R is compelling,” DePoe turns to objections from John Earman, one of which is to claim defect in Bayesian analysis of multiple witnessing or Bayesianism itself, two of which essentially consist of assigning non-charitable prior probabilities without sufficient reason. After brief but compelling responses to Humean critique of miraculous testimony, DePoe concludes: “…the EH account presents a plausible way to demonstrate the overwhelming evidential case for the Resurrection–even while using diminished values for the evidence that many non-believers would find acceptable. Therefore, it is rational to believe that the eyewitnesses testify truly…”

5. What I Saw When I Was Dead A.J. Ayer, [PDF 64MB] — Ayer, a British humanist who did not believe in an afterlife or God, recounts his near death experience. Ayer wrote: “…these experiences, on the assumption that the last one was veridical, are rather strong evidence that death does not put an end to consciousness.” Nonetheless, Ayer did not publicly indicate that his atheism had been shaken: “[my experiences] have not weakened my conviction that there is no god. I trust that my remaining an atheist will allay the anxieties of my fellow supporters of the Humanist Association, the Rationalist Press, and the South Place Ethical Society.” However, in private, Ayer allegedly said the following to his physician, Jeremy George: “I saw a Divine Being. I’m afraid I’m going to have to revise all my various books and opinions.” Dee Wells, Ayer’s fourth wife, recalled that he was deeply changed after his experience, a phenomenon reported by the majority of those who experience NDE’s. During the last year of his life, Ayer spent much time with Frederick Copleston, a Jesuit priest and philosopher he had debated. Wells noted: “As he got older, [Ayer] realized more and more that philosophy was just chasing its own tail.”

6. Dietary Addictions: Why Eating Healthfully is so Difficult Alan Goldhammer, Jennifer Marano, [PDF 549KB] — I believe the scientifically demonstrated benefits of the vegan diet are a powerful testimony to the truth of the Bible. That which God originally decreed for human food turns out to be the best food for us. In contrast, wanton consumption of scientifically modified foods such as white flour and refined sugar have introduced many new diseases and deficiencies into the human species. In this short article on food addiction, the authors conclude: “The most effective way to lose weight and regain health is to adopt a health promoting diet derived from abundant quantities of fresh fruits and vegetables, and the variable addition of raw nuts and seeds, minimally processed starchy vegetables, (including potatoes, yams, squashes, whole grains (brown rice, millet, quinoa, but NOT flour products), and beans (such as lentils, peas, etc.). The elimination or severe limitation of all animal products is also recommended for health reasons…”

7. Notes on 2 Thessalonians Thomas L. Constable, [PDF 110KB] — Paul had a threefold purpose in writing his second letter to the Thessalonians: to encourage them to continue flourishing despite their persecutions, to correct the erroneous teachings about Christ’s return, and to admonish those who had quit working to get back to work. Some Thessalonians had accepted the teaching that the Day of the Lord had already come, even to the point of no longer being productive members of the church. In elaborating on the various positions regarding Christ’s return, Constable writes: “The seventieth week begins when the Antichrist signs a covenant with Israel allowing the Jews to return to their land (Dan. 9:27).” It is not difficult to imagine how such an event might unfold given the current world scenario.

8. Miracles and the Case for Theism Victor Reppert, [PDF 982KB] — In his first published paper, Reppert, a Christian, argues for middle ground between the claim that miracles are sufficient to prove God’s existence and the claim that miracles cannot form any part of a case for theism. He begins with the Humean treatment followed by Mackie’s reformulation, then moves to a more general discussion of testimony and intrinsic credibility. Reppert writes: “…in the case of miracle claims, we can ask ourselves whether the evidence, all things being equal, is more like what we should expect given a miracle, or more like what we should expect if there had been no miracle. If the evidence more resembles what we should expect given the miracle, then this evidence is more like what we should expect if theism is true than if naturalism is true. Thus evidence for miracles can be evidence for theism.”

9. Vindicating a Bayesian Approach to Confirming Miracles John M. DePoe, [PDF 285KB] — DePoe, a Christian, responds to Jordan Howard Sobel’s reformulation of the classic Humean treatment, arguing that the odds form of Bayes’ theorem can be used to establish the credibility of a miracle where we have n independent, equally reliable testimonies. In Logic and Theism, Sobel argued that the prior probability of a miracle should be an infinitesimal number. DePoe responds: “If infinitesimal probabilities cannot be compared with probabilities in the atom lottery [approximately 1/10^80], it becomes worrisome that there is no way to cash out Sobel’s syntactic ascription… Aside from the problem of giving a meaningful interpretation to Sobel’s syntax, there is a second problem: it is not clear that one could ever justify ascribing infinitesimal probabilities to any event… Since Sobel’s interpretation of Hume fails to have a meaningful semantic interpretation, and it cannot justify ascribing an infinitesimally low probability to a miraculous event, his interpretation of Hume’s criticism cannot be employed as a serious threat to the Bayesian approach of confirming a miracle. Since miracles cannot be given an infinitesimally low probability, then it remains possible in principle to accumulate enough finite evidence to confirm a miracle.”

10. Near-Death Experience in Survivors of Cardiac Arrest: A Prospective Study in the Netherlands Pim van Lommel, Ruud van Wees, Vincent Meyers, Ingrid Elfferich, [PDF 898KB] — In this 2001 article published in The Lancet, Dr. van Lommel and his fellow researchers publish the results of their study on 344 successfully resuscitated cardiac arrest patients across 10 Dutch hospitals, approximately 12% of which reported an NDE. Skeptical of the claim that cerebral anoxia can account for NDE’s in their totality, the authors note: “We do not know why so few cardiac patients report NDE after CPR, although age plays a part. With a purely physiological explanation such as cerebral anoxia for the experience, most patients who have been clinically dead should report one.” A coronary-care-unit nurse relays the veridical account of a 44-year-old, cyanotic, comatose man who apparently “saw” where she placed his dentures on the crash cart. The researchers report the findings of their follow-up interviews with patients at 2- and 8-year intervals. They also address the apparent poverty of alternative explanations: “Several theories have been proposed to explain NDE. We did not show that psychological, neurophysiological, or physiological factors caused these experiences after cardiac arrest.” The authors acknowledge induced experiences, but argue that they “are not identical to NDE,” and conclude: “with lack of evidence for any other theories for NDE, the thus far assumed, but never proven, concept that consciousness and memories are localized in the brain should be discussed.”

11. A Review of Near-Death Experiences Michael Schroter-Kunhardt [PDF 324KB] This paper is a fairly comprehensive overview of NDE studies and their findings. The author notes that NDE / OBE experiences are ubiquitous throughout culture and time, citing their existence in the Gilgamesh epic, 5th century Christian church reports, and 7th century Amida-Buddhist accounts. Various skeptical objections are responded to, with citations. Support is offered for the claim that sociological, demographic and psychological variables do not influence NDE. NDE are experienced by the very young and the very old. The author cites four studies in which patients apparently experienced NDE under isoelectric EEG, and even in the morgue after resuscitation efforts had been abandoned. The author makes an important point that I’ve alluded to before: via the problem of other minds, cessation of consciousness cannot be experienced or verified. It can only be assumed given various materialist presuppositions. The author makes another important point that tends to fall by the wayside in the NDE debate: “…all meaningful human behavior is associated with the temporolimbic region of the brain… the implicit statement of nearly all religious experiences to represent the reality of another world cannot be falsified by neurophysiological correlates.” Regardless of one’s inclinations on the matter, this is an excellent summary that cites over 160 scholarly papers and articles which would serve those interested in further research.

12. Quantum Interactive Dualism: The Libet and Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen Causal Anomalies Henry Stapp [PDF 216KB] Materialists strike me as out of step with modern science, and the author echoes those suspicions: “In spite of this seemingly relevant twentieth century development in physics, contemporary neuroscience and philosophy of mind continue to base their quests to understand consciousness on an essentially nineteenth century conceptualization of the human brain, ignoring the facts that the older conception of reality has been known to be false for almost a century, and that, in stark contrast to the nineteenth century conceptualization, contemporary orthodox physics has specified dynamical connections between brains and minds built intrinsically into it. …the quantum ontological model is a viable (i.e., not yet disproven) and logically coherent conception of the way that Nature actually works. The same cannot be said of local deterministic materialism.” For those interested in the free-will debate, the author addresses the Libet data and the EPR paradox in a way that seems to preserve compatibilism.

13. Waiting For The Other Shoe To Drop Hayden Ebbern, Sean Mulligan, Barry L. Beyerstein [PDF 128KB] A reprint of the Vol. 20, No. 4 Skeptical Inquirer article, July/August 1996, addressing the famous case of the tennis shoe on the windowsill. Following Hyman’s imperative to attack the best evidence, the authors exploit a range of possibilities to justify doubt concerning one of the more prominent NDE accounts in the literature. The authors conclude, “Our investigation cannot prove that Maria’s spirit did not leave her body and return, nor that Kimberly Clark’s recollections and interpretations are wrong. It does, however, show that this case, often touted as the best in the area of near-death studies, is far from unassailable, as its proponents assert.” Of course, if one is a committed skeptic, anything is assailable. It’s quite easy, in fact: all you have to do is doubt.

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