Sunday, June 10, 2007

Shedding a Little Obscurity on the Dazzlingly Self-Evident

In the few moments I have here, I wanted to say something about the debate last week between Christopher Hitchens and the Christian theologian Mark Roberts on Hugh Hewitt's radio show. I predicted that it wouldn't go well for the theist, being that standard-issue logic is going to trump exoteric religion every time. This hardly means that exoteric religion is "wrong," only that it has no merely logical way to defend itself against charges of internal inconsistency.

It goes without saying that many aspects of religion would appear to defy conventional logic. On their own plane they are true, but when applied to another plane they don't so much become false as absurd. Thus, any reasonably intelligent person -- and Hitchens is an unreasonably intelligent person -- can pretty much pick apart exoteric religion if they are so inclined. A child can do it, really. I myself used to do it all the time. I was one of those people who welcomed the door-to-door Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons into my home just to mess with their heads.

The "content" of science is the relationship between our senses and the external world. But the content of religion is the relationship between God and man. If you treat the one like the other and expect religion to be bound by the same kind of logical rigor as science, you are bound to be confused. Pursuing this fruitless line of inquiry falls under the heading of using one's intelligence for a stupid end. Much finer and more subtle minds than Christopher Hitchens have always been well aware of the contradictions and inconsistencies, and had no difficulty reconciling them in the appropriate way.

The relationship between God and man is, among other things, interior, protean, and multiple. In other words, there are many ways to form a relationship with God, which, in a way, is not that different from the diverse ways we can form a relationship to the external world. After all, we can see it, smell it, touch it, taste it, hear it, etc. Just so, there are diverse ways we may know God, only one of which is through revelation. Or, to put it another way, God is only known through revelation, bearing in mind that revelation does not consist only of certain sacred texts. To cite one obvious example, the uncreated intellect that is able to comprehend the truth of revelation (or the truth of anything, really) is as much a revelation -- more so, in fact -- than revelation itself. They are simply two sides of the same Word that courses through the arteries of being.

I only caught a few minutes of the debate, but one of the predictable problems was that the two men were operating on entirely different planes. The theologian understood God and religion in one way, while Hitchens (dis)understood them in an different way. In a word, the two were using entirely different paradigms, or operating systems, to try to apprehend the phenomena under scrutiny. The same thing can and does happen in fields other than religion.

To cite one example that comes readily to mind since it pertains to my own field of psychology, a psychoanalyst and a behaviorist will have virtually nothing to debate, since their paradigms, and the assumptions underlying them, are so radically different. The psychoanalyst believes that the source of our emotional pain and conflict is unconscious -- that there is an "unthought known" realm of consciousness "beneath" the ego, which shapes and directs conscious thought and behavior. Various schools of psychoanalysis might even be compared to different religions, in that they all try to map this invisible domain in different ways -- there are Freudians, Kleinians, Kohutians, Jungians, and many others.

If one were so inclined, one could easily dismiss psychoanalysis based merely on the fact that the people who posit this thing called the "unconscious" cannot even agree amongst themselves on its characteristics, and often contradict one another. However, this would be very short-sighted, since the the unconscious -- like God -- is "interior, protean, and multiple." By its very nature, people are going to have different views and theories of it, since it is subjective and holographic, not objective and atomistic. Just because people cannot agree on its exact nature, does not mean that it does not exist. If we were to use the same criteria with regard to quantum physics, we would have to say that the subatomic realm doesn't exist either, since there are so many different models and theories pertaining to it, and no existing way to even harmonize quantum and relativity theories (i.e., the macro and the micro realms).

So psychoanalysts cannot agree on the nature of psychic reality. Comes now the behaviorist, who says that the unconscious doesn't exist at all. In fact, even consciousness is a dubious construct. Rather, there is only observable behavior. Mental illness is really just painful or dysfunctional behavior. Change the behavior and you change the man. End of issue.

Right away, you can see that the atheist Hitchens debating the theist Roberts is exactly like a behaviorist debating a psychoanalyst. In fact, I remember having such a debate with an atheist during my internship at Camarillo State Mental Hospital around 20 years ago. Naturally I won the debate, although the behaviorist had no way of knowing it, since his mind was limited to the plane of observable behavior. How can he have any knowledge of that which he a priori excludes? Again, it is like the dog who cannot understand Beethoven or the atheist who cannot understand religion. Same sensory apparatus, different planes.

Now, Schuon makes an excellent point in this regard, writing that "The man who rejects religion because, if taken literally, it sometimes seems absurd -- ... such a man does not know the one essential thing, despite the logic of his reaction: namely, that the imagery, contradictory though it may be at first sight, nonetheless conveys data that in the final analysis are coherent and even dazzlingly evident for those who are capable of having a presentiment of them or of grasping them."

Thus, religion can be simultaneously "illogical" and nevertheless "dazzlingly evident." How can this be? First of all, one must resist the temptation to resolve the contradictions within religion on a lower plane than that from which they arise. Again, pointing out apparent inconsistencies is so easy that a 13 year old can do it, but to the extent that you win this kind of argument, you lose.

Rather, any inconsistencies must be resolved on a higher plane, the plane of esoterism. Rather than trying to comprehend the center from the periphery, or the principle from its manifestation, this approach tries to understand the periphery from the center -- the center being the Absolute, or God. The other day we used the analogy of people taking photographs of the Matterhorn. Each photo will necessarily be a little different, despite the fact that there is only one Matterhorn (and one Schuon standing in front of it... funny, he doesn't strike me as the sort of person who would have been interested in visiting Disneyland).

The physicist David Bohm used an even better analogy. Imagine a rectangular fish tank with a fish swimming around in it. There are two video cameras trained on the tank at right angles to one another. The resulting images are projected on to two separate video monitors in a different room. Looking at the two monitors, one would see what looks like two different fish. Nevertheless, there would appear to be some correlation between their movements. What might not occur to the person is that the images on the screens are two-dimensional projections of a three-dimensional reality; while they appear separate, they are in fact unified at a higher dimension.

This is precisely how I would understand O, which revelation is here to illuminate -- dazzlingly so, I might add. For example, scripture is a lower dimensional representation of a reality with more dimensions than three or four. Two "four dimensional" stories can easily be reconciled in five dimensions. And before you dismiss this as speculative or overly abstract, I would redirect your attention to the unconscious and to the dream, which are also hyperdimensional and operate free of the demands of aristotelian logic. (See for example here, here, and here.)

Well, that's about all I have time for now. For a while, you can probably expect my posts to appear a bit later in the day, although today I surprised myself and got off a blast by the usual time.


will said...

Hitchen's book on Mother Teresa - which was, in a way, his first "debate with a theist" foray - was of the same sort of undersighted perspective. He could only comprehend MT as a poltical figure, or at best, as a conventional humanitarian, in nun's garb. And of course, he spilled a lot on ink on her "contradictions" as a political figure, while missing all together MT's real spiritual significance.

jwm said...

I listened to a lot of the debate on Hewitt's show, and I just got back from reading some of the transcript.
Much of what I read comes back to a point I made last week. The atheist's, and the believer's arguments both rest on conditions. The atheist can always say, you can't prove to my satisfaction... and then demand a magic trick as proof. He automatically wins because, of course, the goalposts move every time a question comes in play.
The believer can say, you can have the experience of God if you are willing to seek sincerely. And of course the atheist can always say, I tried. Nothing happened.
The atheist simultaneously presents impossible criteria for evidence, and a refusal, or an inability to meet the conditions for proof. Heads I win, tails you lose. It becomes a contest of duelling bozos. I don't want to play with those clowns.

wv: xczcqrwx How bad do you really want to post?


Susannah said...

"The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned."

1 Corinthians 2:14

Right on target again, Bob!

wv: parjx (someone besides Paris wants her out of jail?)

walt said...

Just as point of reference, Hewitt said on his blog, after the debate, that his and Mark Robert's purpose was not just to refute Hitchens, but to build a body of refutations that could be studied and analyzed by people that were sincerely interested - something more than just a book promoting different a point of view.

I keep thinking of Will's contention during the Great Mackenzie Debate, that believers and atheists are different species; which is what Bob said in other words.

maineman said...

I think you're right, Walt. It's more than the blind men and the elephant -- or, in this case, one blind man, one sighted man, and one elephant. Hitchens would readily acknowledge that a passage in Moby Dick could mean different things -- i.e. actually be different -- to different people or even to the same person at different times.

The key question to me is why do he and others like him dig in their heels on this particular issue? I suppose they would argue, with some justification, that nobody ever went to war over different interpretations of Moby Dick. But that would only explain why they might say a religious perspective is potentially harmful, not why they are so insistant on the elephant being a tree because they're just feeling the leg.

Some people are very concrete or two-dimensional in their perspective on things, but that's not Hitchens. Which may be why we keep thinking about him. It's like some years back when Woody Allen applied his creative genius and 30 years of psychoanalysis to making a mess of as many lives as he could. Ir just leaves you scratching your head.

So, in Hitchen's case, what can be generating such profound and public resistance? Is it just a vestige of his Marxist days? Is he fighting with an alcoholic, Catholic parent? To me, narcissism has to be a key element.

Jacob C. said...

Will: In re: Mother Teresa, Penn and Teller have treated the subject in the same matter on their TV series - which is still an entertaining program on those occasions when their secularism doesn't overwhelm their conservative/libertarian tendencies. None of MT's critics seem to comprehend the way in which the manner of death she offered her patients was any different; yet it was a death indoors off the street, with dignity, attended to by people whose only care was to ease their pain - whereas Hitch (and P&T by proxy) have argued that what she did only PROLONGED her patients' pain. There's a massive blind spot there that I can't think of a way to overcome.

will said...

maineman -

>>in Hitchen's case, what can be generating such profound and public resistance? Is it just a vestige of his Marxist days? Is he fighting with an alcoholic, Catholic parent? To me, narcissism has to be a key element <<

I agree, but I'd take it further. After all, it's not only Hitchen, it's a bunch of other Big Names, and a multitude of lesser dim bulbs who are less elegant in expression than Hitchens & co. but are no less militant.

There'd have to be a certain amount of copycat-ism going on but . . . this actually appears to be a coordinated blitz.

How could that be?
We could say it's just one of those Bad Ideas Whose Time Has Come, but what does that really mean?

As has been discussed here many times, in many quarters, traditional values have been nearly abolished. Something has to rush in to fill the vaccuum, and that something would have to be a living spirit, a living intelligence of some kind.

If these are the days of the quickening, then whether we are aware of it or not, we are going to be compelled to choose one side or the other. We will be manifesting either God/Spirit or the alternative.

All this would appear as an increasing polarization. Two armies, in effect.

Nagarjuna said...

Gagdad, I too used to love it when Witnesses and Mormons came calling so that I could sit down and argue with them. But when I desperately needed help taking care of my elderly and ailing grandmother, two Witness nurses appeared at the front door like angels from heaven and were incredibly gracious and effective with their help for the next five years until my grandmother passed away.

Of course, they also tried to save my soul, and I finally gave in to their gentle but persistent prodding enough to agree to study their faith with a wonderful old man and his young assistant that they referred to me. What I learned from my dealings with them and other Witnesses over the years was that even though one could readily poke holes in the overt teachings of their religion, it was far more difficult to find fault with the way they appeared to live their lives as wonderfully caring and compassionate helpers of people in need. And I reached the point where I stopped criticizing their theology and looking to debate with them. I respected them too much as human beings doing their seeming best to live in harmony with their beliefs which appeared to reflect, in however distorted or simplistic a manner, something transcendent and beautiful.

JWM,you sum it up very nicely when you write: "The believer can say, you can have the experience of God if you are willing to seek sincerely. And of course the atheist can always say, I tried. Nothing happened." But I, who, I think it is fair to say, fall in the agnostic camp wonder how one seeks the truth of a God or sacred realm in which one doesn't already believe and, furthermore, does it in such a way that he makes himself open to any sacred truth that is really there without gullibly falling prey to falsehood.

Bob has often said that some of us are simply constitutionally deaf or blind to the sacred dimension and nothing he or anyone can say can change that. But I can't help but wonder why, if there is a God who wants us to know It, It created so many of us with this blindness or deafness. I have long been inclined to see this as evidence that God doesn't exist, but I try to remain open to the possibility that this is not the case. It's a struggle.

will said...

Jacob - at this juncture in time and space, I don't think we should worry a whole lot about overcoming anybody's blind spot.

Let the blind lead the blind, you know?

I think we should be concerned with shoring up our own spiritual capacities, so that the remaining fence-straddlers can be attracted by the Light.

Susannah said...

Will, I think you are 100% correct in your conclusions. After observing the culture for years, and reading several of Bob's posts here, I can't help but feel that "shoring up our own spiritual capacities," including maybe some serious prayer and fasting, is the thing to do.

GLASR said...

Not in time for me. Neglected to check the day/date/time. It's been a little while. Oopsey. :~\

Yes, of course bulldozers cause collateral BUT would ridding the World of that margaret sanger worshipper(name escapes me at the moment)in the process be worth the sacrifice? :~\

Rejoinder that will tax your memory like an early in the day woveri. "Yet, we spend so much time .........." Did you know that an acre of grass is the equivalent of a seventy-ton air conditioner - returning over 2,400 gallons of water to the atmosphere on a warm, sunny day? ;~)

GLASR said...

"To laugh often and much; To win respect of intelligent people and
the affection of children. To leave the world a better place. To know
even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to
have succeeded." —Ralph Waldo Emerson

Pretty much nails it, no? ;~)

jwm said...

My main point is that I really don't want to get into the debate. Yes, it can be fun, but I remain cynical enough to doubt that it ever convinces anyone. And here's a lesson I haven't learned, but I'll engage it anyway- that is, I'll mistakenly assume that everyone else thinks like I do-anyway.

I tend to think that underneath all the posturing and high caliber argument lies a bad case of Jesus willies. That icky creeped out feeling gets under your skin, and you can spend a lifetime of intellectual heavy lifting to defeat it. Guys like Hitch, and Dawkins, or any other 'Big League" atheists build mental arsenals of factoids to lob at that confounding book, and the annoying believers who believe it, but I think they're really at war with that icky feeling in the gut. And the maddening damn thing is, The atheist can win the argument, but he can't ever talk the Faithful out of their faith. bummer.
But Hitch can sure as hell set up Pro- Wrestling style Cage Match Debates,* and have his own little Scopes Trial to take on tour- Talking snakes, HA HA. I win. Not a bad gig, I guess. But at the end of the debate, the believers still believe, and beneath the argument and arsenal the icky feeling is still there. A pebble under the mattress.
I wasn't referring to the Hewitt debate which was quite civil. But check the report over at for another show.


GLASR said...

"Naturally I won the debate .........." OUWWWWWWWWCH! Really should have blown my nose before hand. ;~)

Rejoinder continues ..... Did you know that grass(aka well tended lawns and fields of corn, wheat, oats, barley, rye, rice and sugar cane - grasses all)takes in carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, hydrogen fluoride and peroxyacetyl nitrate - the worst in atmospheric pollutants - returning the true breath of life: pure oxygen. ;~)

woveri: abenw Abe 'n W. Hmmmmmmmmm .........

jwm said...

So does this mean we can grass Al Gore?


walt said...

JWM said,
"Yes, it can be fun, but I remain cynical enough to doubt that it ever convinces anyone."

Many times, I use a lot of news reports, blogs, articles, etc., as a kind of entertainment. Oh, I pick and choose pretty carefully, but yes, it can be fun, and distracting, and when it's on the level of elections or Super Bowls, even kind of consuming.

But finally, only by study and pondering does my "thinking" change much; and every day I still stab awkwardly at "presence and re-collection."
There's no way to convince someone such things are worthwhile; at all.

Sign said: "HELP WANTED. Shoring-up. Full-time. Apply within." Nicely, there's plenty of work available, and openings all around.

gumshoe said...

"So, in Hitchen's case, what can be generating such profound and public resistance? Is it just a vestige of his Marxist days? Is he fighting with an alcoholic, Catholic parent? To me, narcissism has to be a key element."

maineman -

Hitchens abandoned one religion
(marxism/socialism) and sees the wisdom and significance of fighting the designs of another "religion",militant Islam,
....unfortunately for Hitch,Bob's often referenced "Classical Liberalism" seem to contain,from Hitch's point of view,
a fair number of "Jesus Freaks"...
..despite the fact that there's a fair amount of over lap with many of Hitch's "secular" values.

freedom,valuing the indivdual,
personal responsibility,etc. all have roots in a religious ideal,
and yet,many secularists seem to think their society sprang forth fully formed from Zeus' brow or some such,and are unwilling to acknowledge their roots and heritage.

Anonymous said...

The no outside means there is no inside. The exoteric church deserves a bit more respect.

USS Ben said...

"Thus, religion can be simultaneously "illogical" and nevertheless "dazzlingly evident." How can this be? First of all, one must resist the temptation to resolve the contradictions within religion on a lower plane than that from which they arise."

The way that the word "illogical"
has been used by atheists such as Hitchens has always been on a lower plane with udder contempt.

On it's own plane, a plane that is above and beyond the mindset of militant atheism, true Religion
is not merely logical, it's perfectly superlogical, edifying, complete and full-filling.

Yet, the atheist only see's talkin' snakes on his sub-terranean plane.
Insecure and jealous in his own ill-logical, uncomplete, and deadifying faith,
the militant atheist seeks to destroy Religion, to prove that he alone is master and he alone is holey.

In his best Samuel Jackson he screams: "Get these mothereffin' talkin' snakes off my mothereffin' plane!"

What Hitchens and like-mindedless atheists do not realize is that they themselves are the talkin' snakes.

Misery not only loves company, it loves like company.
Hitchens, much like leftists, thinks "I'm miserable, therefore everyone else should be miserable," as he drinks himself into oblivion, which is the closest thing he can find to temporarily fill his terrible and holey spiritual hunger that he supresses.

Van said...

" I was one of those people who welcomed the door-to-door Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons into my home just to mess with their heads. "

Oh my, guilty as well. I used to tell them I was a 'reformed druid', to their next question answered 'means we no longer approve of mass human flaming sacrifices' and to the mormons I'd add, 'I'm sure you understand, what with the polygamy changes & such', and then let the fun progress from there. Yep, a big green-I'd troll was I.

(It was loads of fun though. sorry.)

"Thus, religion can be simultaneously "illogical" and nevertheless "dazzlingly evident." How can this be? First of all, one must resist the temptation to resolve the contradictions within religion on a lower plane than that from which they arise."

Yes. The problem the Hitchen's & Harris's( and Nags, maybe you too), is that of course on the plane of the literal narrative - they are right. And lest anyone doubt me, ask yourself what you'd think of the first person who comes up and says that they just had an ethical discussion with a snake. How much less would you regard the person who said that they heard the story from someone who heard the story from someone else who read about the story - and that they believed every word?! Not for nothing is Sam Harris's first line of attack 'You are an athiest to those who believe in Zeus'. And to that extent, they are right. I would not want to entrust fighter jets or the Oval Office to that person who had the discussion with the talking snake, and even less so with the person who bought the passed along story, hook, line and sinker.

This is what happens when the 3-D(4-D?) Vertical conceptions are scrunched & nailed to the 2-D horizontal maps. Distortion and chaos follows. Truth is made a mockery of just as in the land of the islambies & the halls of the lefties. The Vertical only is attained, discovered and consulted - within your own Vertical Depths - there is where Truth has room to unfold and enfold you with it.

The Athiests and to a great extent, the hardcore fundie literalists as well, skip this step. The guide posts, directions & descriptions of landmarks can be passed to you via sermons and scripture, but they can't be forced directly into step by step instructions for your daily life, they must be read and understood within, grasped & interpreted through that special Vertical 3 & 4-D software that can only be downloaded from above.

The good news is that it's a free shareware download, but you've got to navigate to it and click it yourself. Without it what you get, & Hitchens, Harris et al get, is similar to how this comment page looks if you right click on it and select "View Source" from the pop-up menu. With out the Vertical-Compiler, it's a bunch of gibberish; with it though, viola! clarity itself.

Nags, I think there's a difference between tone deaf, and tone neglected. Most everyone who comes to something such as Music, or Art comes as someone who hears a very basic melody, or sees 'Blue' & 'Red'. When the Teacher first tells you that in that brief second of music he heard several chords and instruments playing harmonic accompaniement amounting to dozens of individual notes, even unlearned music lovers are stumped at first. When he plays 2 different notes and says 'these are the same notes in different octaves' let alone the flats & sharps, major's & minors - the untrained ear just hears 'sound', the trained ear hears thick weavings of sounds made of multiple woven chords.

It's only when you pay attention to the teacher when he rings out 'A' & 'B' & 'C', concentrate on the tones, seak to hear them even after they've faded, over and over and over again, that you suddenly find yourself able to pick the notes out of an aural lineup. Then you start paying attention to scales & major & minors and so on, and soon Mozart isn't just 'nice tunes', but vibrant music.

But when the teacher says this is a lower 'C', and this is a middle 'C' and this is a high 'C' - you've got to for the time being accept that he isn't making it up. You can't say 'Nah! Just different notes! Not the same one at all! Anyone can tell that!'

The first thing you've got to grasp and accept is what you questioned on your very first comment here many moons ago - that there is Free Will, and that there is Truth. Just that even on the very basic secular level, those are True and inseperable. Without that first being grasped, nothing else will follow, tone deafeness will be yours by choice.

And in a way I can relate, being the walking fashion felon that I still cling to. I see a 'Blue' shirt and 'Blue' slacks and put them on - much to my wifes horor when I step out of the closet. She shudders at the sight, seeing several differing shades in battle with accent colors & seams which clash, differing styles & shades of formal & casual - all of which I'm (stubbornly) oblivious to.

As I started off liking sound and slowly learning to hear music, I could learn to see the colors & styles - but I stop. It annoys me that there are rules telling me I can't wear what I want to wear. I'd much prefer to throw on what I want & dash out of the house before getting caught. Lucky for me, I've got her to correct me when it's an interview day.

Van said...

Ben, good to have you back!

geckofeeder said...

Ben, how's your wife doing?

uss ben said...

Hi Van and Geckofeeder and all youse guys and gals in the Gang. Thanks!

Not much to update.
Patti is much better, but she still has to see an orthopedic doc. They were booked up last week.
If they can't see her Monday (today), I'm taking her to Madigan Army hospital.
I'm not an expert in broken bones but it seems to me that they are waiting too long to put a cast on her arm, or surgery and a cast.
I'm hoping the former, but the main thing is that she see the ortho doc to be casted...(not sure if that's a word but I'm using it).

At any rate, somethin' is happenin' today, and I'm demandin' some answers, dammit!
My patience is wearin' thin wit' da suits (if ya know what I mean, and I think you do).
Washin' dishes, cleanin, cookin, laundry, waiter, corpsman, cabbie, jeeves...I'm supposed to be retired, dagnabbit!

Well, actually I could use the workout, and I kinda like my wife a lot, so I'll git off my soapbox...just sayin' is all.

Oh yeah, I found a used car, but it's a good one, that I can't afford, but it's a sweet ride Homeys!
Gno what I'm sayin'?
Anyways, I'm tryin' to convert it to a low rider...with hydraulics and a primo paint job...with flames!
Gotta have flames.
Any tips from fellow low ridin' Raccoons? I'm not tryin' to "out" anyone, but it's nothin' to be ashamed of...honest!
Just ride right out of that low ridin' closet...or garage (closets are too small).

Thanks to all for your prayers and gifts! :^)

PS-Signs that I'm losing my marbles:
1. Lookin' for the sugar in the freezer...yeah...don't ask!

2. Gettin' a bowl to heat up some soup...and then puttin' the soup in a dirty bowl (dogs love when this happens).

3. Payin' some of the bills...twice (good thing I noticed before I mailed the payments off).

4. Forgettin' my PIN number at a very crowded brainfart. Aarrgghh (tw: Joan)! I was one of those people I hate to be behind at the cash register.
I finally got it right on the 4th try.
The cashier eyed me suspiciously after that. "Really, this is my debit card Ma'am. I'm not a crook!
I'm havin' a brain-drain or somethin'," I said, smilin' an embarrassin' smile.

"You must have kids huh? That happens t me all the time. I have 5 kids! You know, when I get home..." she said, goin' on and on.

I'm too polite to interrupt her, but the people in line behind me were stirrin', with mayhem in their eyes.

Hey! It's not my fault, I tell them with my eyes.

"...a science project. Do you have any ideas for a science project?
I don't get it. I'm not Mrs. Wizard!" The Cashier said, getting animated.

"Um, how about a baking soda and vinegar volcano," I offer. It was all I could come up with at the time without thinkin' about it.

"Oh, that sounds good! How does that work?" She asked enthusiastically.

In stark contrast, the mob waitin' behind me began to mumble...louder.

The Cashier Dame was clueless. She actually wanted to make a volcano.

I just wanted to get outta there alive.

Yep. It's been a heckuva week but I'm still standin' (or sitting) strong! Patti is feelin' less pain, and we got some wheels.

That orthopedic doc better not give me no lip...

walt said...

Ben! Lovely to see you here again, my friend!

uss ben said...

Thanks Walt!
Man, I really missed y'all! Sniff.
Dang! Got somethin' in my...ahem.

Anytime now, I'm sure that White Raccoon is goin' to make an appearance!

We got the White Buffalo and the White Sheep, so's the White Raccoon must be next!
It's kinda scary and excitin' at the same time!
The Ultimate Rush, you might say.

Just a bit O'Revel-ation and Sailor Wisdom until I borrow some timelessness to ride like the wind...and blog and comment. :^)

uss ben said...

I gotta say, before I hit the hay,
Bob and Will's post's the last week have been top-notch!
I'm talkin' 'bout some rip-roarin' Revelation!
Beyond cool...

And the comments...whoa!
You guys Rock!
O-->k...I really gotta hunt down a few z's.
G'night and g'mornin' y'all!
Yeesh! The apostophe' is gettin' alotta use t'night!

CrypticLife said...

There's a slight difference in your analogy between theists/atheists and analysts/behaviorists, however, though I'd agree it's overall an aptly chosen one.

Psychoanalytic theories would make certain suggestions about treatment which can be tested and validated in a number of ways. One can verify how well psychoanalysis works with patients experiencing various symptoms.

The qualms of behaviorists with psychoanalysis aren't that the consciousness doesn't "exist", because I don't think most psychoanalysts are making a case for literal existence. There's no "consciousness-holding" part of the brain; the idea of the consciousness is more of a holistic method of conceptualizing what occurs. There's no "superego" part of the brain, but it might conceivably be useful as a tool to talk about subjective states. It has at least the potential of predictive, if not explanatory, power. Behaviorists claim is not that a consciousness doesn't exist per se, but that it's not useful as a concept. Observable behavior might not be the only thing that exists, but it is the only thing we can observe.

Theism has no explanatory power -- rather, it's invoked as a post-hoc explanation. The only point where it does make predictions tends to be after death, which is a time frame pretty much intractable to any direct investigation (at least, any reasonable investigation that would resolve doubts). To the extent that religion makes people more moral, or better, most atheists would claim it's completely personal -- there's no relationship at all with any outside force (actually, most would claim religion doesn't make people better at all, but if faced with irrefutable evidence that it did, that would be their next claim).

You might also keep in mind that as far as psychological treatment goes, by far the most successful theories have been behavioral and physical (i.e., medicine and other physical techniques). Psychoanalysis has a reputation for being a rich person's way to treat minor neuroses or other conditions where the only way to know the seriousness of the condition is by what the subject tells you. Even with those, it's questionable whether it works -- and that IS the sphere in which it is supposed to operate. If psychoanalysis cannot be used to improve well-being, it would be pointless even if it were true.

Red said...

Speaking as one of those Mormons it's so fun to taunt, I have to say there's very, very little Bob or Will has written here with which I would disagree. In the last month I've become a regular reader, at least in part because I've found the Gagdaddian insights have strengthened my faith considerably.

If Christians of all faiths (even the faiths blacklisted as "not Christian enough" or "not the right kind of Christian" or other such nonsense) were to focus on their similarities instead of picking at their differences, to strengthen each other with shared insights, perhaps they might be more well-prepared to face unbelievers such as Hitchens in open debate.