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'Explore as much as we can': Nobel Prize winner Charles Townes on evolution & intelligent design
UC Berkeley News ^ | 06/17/2005 | Bonnie Azab Powell,

Posted on 05/16/2007 6:54:51 AM PDT by SirLinksalot

Charles Townes is the Nobel Prize Physics winner whose pioneering work led to the maser and later the laser.

The University of California, Berkeley interviewed him on his 90th birthday where they talked about evolution, intelligent design and the meaning of life.

I thought this would be good to share...

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BERKELEY – Religion and science, faith and empirical experiment: these terms would seem to have as little in common as a Baptist preacher and a Berkeley physicist. And yet, according to Charles Hard Townes, winner of a Nobel Prize in Physics and a UC Berkeley professor in the Graduate School, they are united by similar goals: science seeks to discern the laws and order of our universe; religion, to understand the universe's purpose and meaning, and how humankind fits into both.

Where these areas intersect is territory that Townes has been exploring for many of his 89 years, and in March his insights were honored with the 2005 Templeton Prize for Progress Toward Research or Discoveries about Spiritual Realities. Worth about $1.5 million, the Templeton Prize recognizes those who, throughout their lives, have sought to advance ideas and/or institutions that will deepen the world's understanding of God and of spiritual realities.

Townes first wrote about the parallels between religion and science in IBM's Think magazine in 1966, two years after he shared the Nobel Prize in Physics for his groundbreaking work in quantum electronics: in 1953, thanks in part to what Townes calls a "revelation" experienced on a park bench, he invented the maser (his acronym for Microwave Amplification by Stimulated Emission), which amplifies microwaves to produce an intense beam. By building on this work, he achieved similar amplification using visible light, resulting in the laser (whose name he also coined).

Even as his research interests have segued from microwave physics to astrophysics, Townes has continued to explore topics such as "Science, values, and beyond," in Synthesis of Science and Religion (1987), "On Science, and what it may suggest about us," in Theological Education (1988), and "Why are we here; where are we going?" in The International Community of Physics, Essays on Physics (1997).

Townes sat down one morning recently to discuss how these and other weighty questions have shaped his own life, and their role in current controversies over public education.

Q. If science and religion share a common purpose, why have their proponents tended to be at loggerheads throughout history?

Science and religion have had a long interaction: some of it has been good and some of it hasn't. As Western science grew, Newtonian mechanics had scientists thinking that everything is predictable, meaning there's no room for God — so-called determinism. Religious people didn't want to agree with that. Then Darwin came along, and they really didn't want to agree with what he was saying, because it seemed to negate the idea of a creator. So there was a real clash for a while between science and religions.

But science has been digging deeper and deeper, and as it has done so, particularly in the basic sciences like physics and astronomy, we have begun to understand more. We have found that the world is not deterministic: quantum mechanics has revolutionized physics by showing that things are not completely predictable. That doesn't mean that we've found just where God comes in, but we know now that things are not as predictable as we thought and that there are things we don't understand. For example, we don't know what some 95 percent of the matter in the universe is: we can't see it — it's neither atom nor molecule, apparently. We think we can prove it's there, we see its effect on gravity, but we don't know what and where it is, other than broadly scattered around the universe. And that's very strange.

So as science encounters mysteries, it is starting to recognize its limitations and become somewhat more open. There are still scientists who differ strongly with religion and vice versa. But I think people are being more open-minded about recognizing the limitations in our frame of understanding.

You've said "I believe there is no long-range question more important than the purpose and meaning of our lives and our universe." How have you attempted to answer that question?

Even as a youngster, you're usually taught that there's some purpose you'll try to do, how you are going to live. But that's a very localized thing, about what you want with your life. The broader question is, "What are humans all about in general, and what is this universe all about?" That comes as one tries to understand what is this beautiful world that we're in, that's so special: "Why has it come out this way? What is free will and why do we have it? What is a being? What is consciousness?" We can't even define consciousness. As one thinks about these broader problems, then one becomes more and more challenged by the question of what is the aim and purpose and meaning of this universe and of our lives.

Those aren't easy questions to answer, of course, but they're important and they're what religion is all about. I maintain that science is closely related to that, because science tries to understand how the universe is constructed and why it does what it does, including human life. If one understands the structure of the universe, maybe the purpose of man becomes a little clearer. I think maybe the best answer to that is that somehow, we humans were created somewhat in the likeness of God. We have free will. We have independence, we can do and create things, and that's amazing. And as we learn more and more — why, we become even more that way. What kind of a life will we build? That's what the universe is open about. The purpose of the universe, I think, is to see this develop and to allow humans the freedom to do the things that hopefully will work out well for them and for the rest of the world.

How do you categorize your religious beliefs?

I'm a Protestant Christian, I would say a very progressive one. This has different meanings for different people. But I'm quite open minded and willing to consider all kinds of new ideas and to look at new things. At the same time it has a very deep meaning for me: I feel the presence of God. I feel it in my own life as a spirit that is somehow with me all the time.

You've described your inspiration for the maser as a moment of revelation, more spiritual than what we think of as inspiration. Do you believe that God takes such an active interest in humankind?

[The maser] was a new idea, a sudden visualization I had of what might be done to produce electromagnetic waves, so it's somewhat parallel to what we normally call revelation in religion. Whether the inspiration for the maser and the laser was God's gift to me is something one can argue about. The real question should be, where do brand-new human ideas come from anyway? To what extent does God help us? I think he's been helping me all along. I think he helps all of us — that there's a direction in our universe and it has been determined and is being determined. How? We don't know these things. There are many questions in both science and religion and we have to make our best judgment. But I think spirituality has a continuous effect on me and on other people.

That sounds like you agree with the "intelligent design" movement, the latest framing of creationism, which argues that the complexity of the universe proves it must have been created by a guiding force.

I do believe in both a creation and a continuous effect on this universe and our lives, that God has a continuing influence — certainly his laws guide how the universe was built. But the Bible's description of creation occurring over a week's time is just an analogy, as I see it. The Jews couldn't know very much at that time about the lifetime of the universe or how old it was. They were visualizing it as best they could and I think they did remarkably well, but it's just an analogy.

Should intelligent design be taught alongside Darwinian evolution in schools as religious legislators have decided in Pennsylvania and Kansas?

I think it's very unfortunate that this kind of discussion has come up. People are misusing the term intelligent design to think that everything is frozen by that one act of creation and that there's no evolution, no changes. It's totally illogical in my view. Intelligent design, as one sees it from a scientific point of view, seems to be quite real. This is a very special universe: it's remarkable that it came out just this way. If the laws of physics weren't just the way they are, we couldn't be here at all. The sun couldn't be there, the laws of gravity and nuclear laws and magnetic theory, quantum mechanics, and so on have to be just the way they are for us to be here.

Some scientists argue that "well, there's an enormous number of universes and each one is a little different. This one just happened to turn out right." Well, that's a postulate, and it's a pretty fantastic postulate — it assumes there really are an enormous number of universes and that the laws could be different for each of them. The other possibility is that ours was planned, and that's why it has come out so specially. Now, that design could include evolution perfectly well. It's very clear that there is evolution, and it's important. Evolution is here, and intelligent design is here, and they're both consistent.

They don't have to negate each other, you're saying. God could have created the universe, set the parameters for the laws of physics and chemistry and biology, and set the evolutionary process in motion, But that's not what the Christian fundamentalists are arguing should be taught in Kansas.

People who want to exclude evolution on the basis of intelligent design, I guess they're saying, "Everything is made at once and then nothing can change." But there's no reason the universe can't allow for changes and plan for them, too. People who are anti-evolution are working very hard for some excuse to be against it. I think that whole argument is a stupid one. Maybe that's a bad word to use in public, but it's just a shame that the argument is coming up that way, because it's very misleading.

That seems to come up when religion seeks to control or limit the scope of science. We're seeing that with the regulation of research into stem cells and cloning. Should there be areas of scientific inquiry that are off-limits due to a culture's prevailing religious principles?

My answer to that is, we should explore as much as we can. We should think about everything, try to explore everything, and question things. That's part of our human characteristic in nature that has made us so great and able to achieve so much. Of course there are problems if we do scientific experiments on people that involve killing them — that's a scientific experiment sure, but ethically it has problems. There are ethical issues with certain kinds of scientific experimentation. But outside of the ethical issues, I think we should try very hard to understand everything we can and to question things.

I think it's settling those ethical issues that's the problem. Who decides what differentiates a "person" from a collection of cells, for example?

That's very difficult. What is a person? We don't know. Where is this thing, me — where am I really in this body? Up here in the top of the head somewhere? What is personality? What is consciousness? We don't know. The same thing is true once the body is dead: where is this person? Is it still there? Has it gone somewhere else? If you don't know what it is, it's hard to say what it's doing next. We have to be open-minded about that. The best we can do is try to find ways of answering those questions.

You'll turn 90 on July 28. What's the secret to long life?

Good luck is one, but also just having a good time. Some people say I work hard: I come in on Saturdays, and I work evenings both at my desk and in the lab. But I think I'm just having a good time doing physics and science. I have three telescopes down on Mt. Wilson; I was down there a couple nights last week. I've traveled a lot. On Sundays, my wife [of 64 years] and I usually go hiking. I'd say the secret has been being able to do things that I like, and keeping active.

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'Faith is necessary for the scientist even to get started, and deep faith is necessary for him to carry out his tougher tasks. Why? Because he must have confidence that there is order in the universe and that the human mind — in fact his own mind — has a good chance of understanding this order.'

-Charles Townes, writing in "The Convergence of Science and Religion," IBM's Think magazine, March-April 1966

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Who created us? U.S. vs. UC Berkeley beliefs

A Nov. 18-21, 2004 New York Times/CBS News poll on American mores and attitudes, conducted with 885 U.S. adults, showed that a significant number of Americans believe that God created humankind. UC Berkeley's Office of Student Research asked the same question on its 2005 UC Undergraduate Experience Survey, results for which are still coming in. As of June 8, 2,057 students had responded.

CLICK ABOVE LINK FOR THE TABLE THAT SHOWS THE RESULT


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Miscellaneous; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: charlestownes; evolution; fsmdidit; gagdad; id; intelligentdesign; templetonprize; townes
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To: ahayes
Why thank you for insulting me once again. I hope you’re proud of your godliness in taking the fight to the unbelievers.

I am so sorry. I am not trying to insult you at all. I do NOT equate your history you laid out as equivalent to Torquemada. I used that bloody, profane murderer as an illustration of how a person might, in fact, profess to be sincere, but sincerely WRONG.

I don't know you, and you have been nothing but polite to me here, so I have no reason at all to deliberately insult you. Please accept my sincere apologies.

Looking back, I can see how the quick quip could be taken as hateful and vicious. I do apologize.

You mentioned that "once again" I have insulted you. I hope that there are not other examples lurking above?

501 posted on 06/11/2007 1:29:28 PM PDT by DreamsofPolycarp (Libertarianism: u can run your life better than government can, and should be left alone to do it)
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To: js1138

It doesn’t matter IMHO. They are all subjective.


502 posted on 06/11/2007 1:29:40 PM PDT by RightWhale (Repeal the Treaty)
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To: RightWhale
There are 30,000 Christian sects in this country. I do not know if that includes the many flavors of Catholic. They obviously all disagree on something or other yet are Christian anyway. What does that mean?

it means alot of em are wrong. Sorry, I couldn't help myself. Original sin and all that.

503 posted on 06/11/2007 1:32:11 PM PDT by DreamsofPolycarp (Libertarianism: u can run your life better than government can, and should be left alone to do it)
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To: js1138
How does one distinguish true revelations from false?

The Wright Bros had a motorcycle shop and they had birds in the yard. Revelation! They put wings on a motorcycle. Whether the revelation was true or false is not yet known but it is working at the moment.

504 posted on 06/11/2007 1:32:46 PM PDT by RightWhale (Repeal the Treaty)
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To: DreamsofPolycarp
it means alot of em are wrong.

They are probably all wrong somewhere or other. But, at least they are working on it.

505 posted on 06/11/2007 1:34:39 PM PDT by RightWhale (Repeal the Treaty)
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To: RightWhale

The guests at the wedding come from someplace ... 30,000 sects you say? Wow!


506 posted on 06/11/2007 1:53:18 PM PDT by MHGinTN (You've had life support. Promote life support for those in the womb.)
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To: js1138
Now as soon as theists in general quit pretending that they can find God in the laboratory, the better off will be both science and religion.

I find God everywhere, including the library and laboratory. With apologies to Dawkins, I was not aware He had been either banished from the laboratory or left Himself without witness there. He has not done so in any other place on earth.

507 posted on 06/11/2007 1:53:37 PM PDT by DreamsofPolycarp (Libertarianism: u can run your life better than government can, and should be left alone to do it)
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To: js1138
The things that are settled are common descent and a greater than four billion year old earth.

LOL!!! Common descent -- from what??? :^)

508 posted on 06/11/2007 2:02:15 PM PDT by betty boop ("Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind." -- A. Einstein)
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To: MHGinTN

I don’t know myself. That is what I have heard lately more than once, but things being the way they are it might be somebody’s guess and others are just repeating. Still, I would guess something in the thousands.


509 posted on 06/11/2007 3:49:28 PM PDT by RightWhale (Repeal the Treaty)
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To: DreamsofPolycarp; hosepipe; Alamo-Girl; andysandmikesmom
It is interesting that Tim Leary’s defense for using “hallucinogenic drugs (LSD) “ was that LSD was not “hallucinogenic” at all, but rather “psychedelic.” His argument was that he was not “seeing things that are not there” but rather experiencing a level of reality that is truly “there” and observable to those under the influence of mind altering drugs and in meditative trances.

Actually I think Leary's argument might have legs. I would think it of great interest to science to find out. To use my friend hosepipe's analogy of the rider and the donkey, the rider would be mind, and the donkey would be brain. Since mind -- consciousness -- has its seat in the physical brain, it would be interesting to see how alterations in the brain state affect the mind. This would seem to be especially interesting in view of Alzheimer's disease, the cause and progression of which seem to be poorly understood.

I can't imagine that the federal government's various health institutes haven't looked into the matter of how these "psychedelic" compounds alter brain states, and how cognition is affected thereby. I just figure they have, in a big way. What is surprising is how little about their findings has reached the public. I've always wondered about that.

I guess their answer was: Throw Timothy into the slammer.

What is less clear to me is how psychotropic drugs could challenge the epistemological basis of western culture. Please share your thoughts with me?

Thank you so much for writing, DreamsofPolycarp!

510 posted on 06/11/2007 3:53:04 PM PDT by betty boop ("Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind." -- A. Einstein)
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To: betty boop
how these "psychedelic" compounds alter brain states

They have reached public awareness and even FR and continue to do so. Caffeine included.

511 posted on 06/11/2007 3:57:05 PM PDT by RightWhale (Repeal the Treaty)
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To: js1138

p.s.: I find the Witnesses to be perfectly lovely people. They still come to see me every now and then. And then we get to have an “ecumenical moment,” based on a reading from Scripture.


512 posted on 06/11/2007 4:00:57 PM PDT by betty boop ("Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind." -- A. Einstein)
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To: betty boop

It has been shown that electromagnetic stimuli can ‘induce’ similar phenomena as found in near death experiences. Some have taken this to mean that phenomena such as the ‘tunnel of light’ and the ‘being of light’ are constructs purely of brain eletromagnetic origin. That doesn’t follow though because electromagnetic stimulation may in fact open the ‘channels’ by which the phenomena occur, meaning the tunnel and the Being of Light may infact be real and the lab stimulation only institutes the phenomenological awareness. It is something interesting to be studied, IMHO.


513 posted on 06/11/2007 4:06:27 PM PDT by MHGinTN (You've had life support. Promote life support for those in the womb.)
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To: betty boop

Not only did my mother have Alzheimers, I have worked for many many years with mainly and exclusively Alzheimers patients...I have taken care of them, and observed them...and many of them do indeed have hallucinations, some very happy hallucinations, some very sad and frightening hallucinations...Most of those that I have cared for are in late stage Alzheimers, many of them completely bedridden, with their minds practically gone...an ugly disease for sure...

Because Alzheimers patients are so fragile anyway, often depending on what stage they are in, I just accept that what they are seeing, and hearing and experiencing, tho not being seen or heard, or experienced by me, are nonetheless as real as can be to them...and their health and happiness is what I have always been concerned with..too many people want to tell Alzheimers patients that what they are experiencing is not real, that it is imaginary...that only sets them back even further...for me, allowing them to have their hallucinations, and yet be there for them, when these occur, and assure them that I will keep them safe and sound, is the best I can do for them...should I ever get flip with one of them, and treat their hallucinations as if they were just fairy tales, would do a great disservice to them....

I have always been concerned with taking care of these patients in their daily lives, and concerned with their immediate needs and wishes..I have seen the devastation that Alzheimers brings to these fine folks and their families...I wish there were something that could be done for them, and hope that eventually modern medicine and modern medical technology will someday come up with some answers and some very good treatments and possible cures...

Hopefully with a better understanding of the mind, and a better understanding of how the mind actually does work, perhaps future generations wont have to face the horror that Alzheimers is...until that time comes tho, having hallucinations will become a part of many Alzheimers patients lives...


514 posted on 06/11/2007 4:51:59 PM PDT by andysandmikesmom
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To: betty boop
I find the Witnesses to be perfectly lovely people. They still come to see me every now and then.

Me too. I sit them down, ask if they will read a quick scripture reading with me ( I am usually busy), and ask if I can pray with them. I pray that God will remove the hardness of all of our hearts, and grant a true spiritual awakening within us, make us cling to the free grace offered to us in God, who is the only Savior, offered in Christ on the cross, and help us to repent of the lie that anything we can do will please him, so that we will, both now and on the day of final judgment, trust in the righteousness of Jesus alone to save us from eternal damnation in Hell. Then we read John 3, and I ask them if they have experienced the new birth of the Spirit, are indwelt by Him and know the reality of the Holy Spirit living within them, applying the benefits of the death and righteousness of the risen Christ. Sometimes they leave IMMEDIATELY, sometimes we have a good talk, and sometimes (rarely) they will allow me to pray before they leave. They are PEOPLE MADE IN GOD'S IMAGE, not automatons. Scriptures and prayer, Scriptures and prayer. Get involved in a longwinded talk on some abstract Russellite doctrine and you make enemies. Talk about Christ and his mighty power and who knows what might happen?

515 posted on 06/11/2007 5:30:16 PM PDT by DreamsofPolycarp (Libertarianism: u can run your life better than government can, and should be left alone to do it)
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To: Alamo-Girl
When God is speaking to you, you'll know it. Nevertheless, we are commanded to test the spirits.

'Twas waiting for such a remark.

One of the issues that comes up is the ansatz of equal a priori probabilities, that one must 'suspend judgement' in order to avoid bias and presumably maximize one's chances of arriving at a correct interpretation.

And this is all well and good, with a mechanistic, even a chaotic (tho' impersonal) system.

But once will, motive, and intentions come in...

and you are in the realm of trust, faith, and belief...

There are scoundrels and charlatans among those professing to teach Christ as much as among 'spiritualists'...

so too, why not among the spirits themselves (if they exist, which was granted for the sake of argument)

Cheers!

516 posted on 06/11/2007 6:31:36 PM PDT by grey_whiskers (The opinions are solely those of the author and are subject to change without notice.)
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To: betty boop; ahayes; hosepipe; DreamsofPolycarp; RightWhale; Alamo-Girl
Other than the certainty of our own mortal death, I don't know where you're going to find certainty in this world.

You forgot taxes!

...this IS Free Republic, after all!

Cheers!

517 posted on 06/11/2007 6:33:46 PM PDT by grey_whiskers (The opinions are solely those of the author and are subject to change without notice.)
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To: ahayes
My point is there's no way of qualitatively distinguishing a Christian divine revelation from any other religion's experiences.

No logically consistent, reproducible way.

Because such experiences are inherently personal.

Cheers!

518 posted on 06/11/2007 6:35:07 PM PDT by grey_whiskers (The opinions are solely those of the author and are subject to change without notice.)
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To: ahayes
If I were you I would be a bit concerned to have to admit my divine revelation cannot be qualitatively distinguished from a psychotic episode or drug-induced hallucination.

In principle this applies to all sensory-mediated experience.

Cheers!

519 posted on 06/11/2007 6:36:38 PM PDT by grey_whiskers (The opinions are solely those of the author and are subject to change without notice.)
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To: js1138
It is good to hear this from you. Now as soon as theists in general quit pretending that they can find God in the laboratory, the better off will be both science and religion.

Late to the thread as usual.

What does the part in bold refer to? Did I miss something upthread?

Ear horn firmly in place, sonny. :-o ??

Cheers!

520 posted on 06/11/2007 7:42:41 PM PDT by grey_whiskers (The opinions are solely those of the author and are subject to change without notice.)
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To: ahayes
I do not attempt to resolve countering religious claims because they are based upon subjective experiences which we have seen here cannot be shown to be superior to another.

By what method, under which circumstances, and to what level of confidence?

Blanket statements can give rise to carelessness.

Cheers!

521 posted on 06/11/2007 7:47:28 PM PDT by grey_whiskers (The opinions are solely those of the author and are subject to change without notice.)
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To: ahayes
I find my life equally enjoyable, gratifying, and productive as before.

1. Do you consider that to be necessary and sufficient evidence of the truth of your current religio-philosophical holdings, or were you merely dangling them back in Dr. Ecklenberg's face once he mentioned them?

2. Is the statement even true? Given your apparent attempts to "de-proselytize" people who claim to be members of a faith community to which you once belonged, apparently you feel that your current life is NOT equally enjoyable to before, but more so--or you would not be trying to spread your current beliefs.

2.b. BTW, your own testimony to your own fulfillment is just as subjective as the faith experiences of others, which you apparently reject. But you earlier seemed to be saying that equal a priori probabilities among religious experience necessitate the use of the null hypothesis, in order to avoid error. Why do your feelings *against* faith suddenly become exempt? They are just as subjective as the feelings you rail against.

Cheers!

522 posted on 06/11/2007 7:53:58 PM PDT by grey_whiskers (The opinions are solely those of the author and are subject to change without notice.)
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To: js1138
No one is going to abandon methodologies that have been successful for centuries and substitute scholasticism.

Tell that to the Rev. Al Gore and his Church of Climatology. :-P

Cheers!

523 posted on 06/11/2007 7:55:03 PM PDT by grey_whiskers (The opinions are solely those of the author and are subject to change without notice.)
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To: MHGinTN
It has been shown that electromagnetic stimuli can ‘induce’ similar phenomena as found in near death experiences. Some have taken this to mean that phenomena such as the ‘tunnel of light’ and the ‘being of light’ are constructs purely of brain eletromagnetic origin. That doesn’t follow though because electromagnetic stimulation may in fact open the ‘channels’ by which the phenomena occur, meaning the tunnel and the Being of Light may infact be real and the lab stimulation only institutes the phenomenological awareness. It is something interesting to be studied, IMHO.

There's more to it than that, as I have posted before.

Consider the following site.

It belongs a practicing MD pathologist in Kansas City, who among other opinions, relates the history of a patient who had a near-death experience on the operating table. There are two aspects of the incident which render it immune to the usual skeptical explanations.

1) The patient, when recounting what he went through, expressed surprise at the shape of his own heart, which he had expected to be the shape of a Valentine's heart.

2) The patient accurately described physical details of the operating theater which were out of his physical line of sight had he been awake but unable to move due to anaesthesia.

The site is here.

Lots of *very* interesting stuff if you go back to the homepage.

Cheers!

524 posted on 06/11/2007 8:11:28 PM PDT by grey_whiskers (The opinions are solely those of the author and are subject to change without notice.)
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To: grey_whiskers

Well thank you. I actually started a writing project to compile a book of unusual NDEs of children. Got a few stories from folks but not enough to form a book for publication ... I was researching for another novel then and generated the little web offering on stem cells and cloning linked at http://weneedtalk.blogspot.com , but that’s grist for another mill.


525 posted on 06/11/2007 8:18:53 PM PDT by MHGinTN (You've had life support. Promote life support for those in the womb.)
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To: grey_whiskers

Went to the link, but didn’t readily find a link to a home page or the story of the surgical NDE.


526 posted on 06/11/2007 8:33:13 PM PDT by MHGinTN (You've had life support. Promote life support for those in the womb.)
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To: MHGinTN
On the webpage "http://www.pathguy.com/theism.htm" search for the words 'autoscopic near-death experience'.

Note that some of the main arguments pro- and con- within this thread are also summarized. Cheers!

527 posted on 06/11/2007 8:36:43 PM PDT by grey_whiskers (The opinions are solely those of the author and are subject to change without notice.)
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To: grey_whiskers

If you were a woman, I’d say you’re a big tease ... one paragraph, third hand. Piffle on ya, I was all hyped up for a real good story, like the little girl who ‘saw’ the red sneaker outside and on the roof below the operating theater. Now THAT was story!


528 posted on 06/11/2007 8:58:33 PM PDT by MHGinTN (You've had life support. Promote life support for those in the womb.)
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To: Alamo-Girl

Thanks for the kind ping.


529 posted on 06/11/2007 9:17:47 PM PDT by Quix (GOD ALONE IS GOD; WORTHY; PAID THE PRICE; IS COMING AGAIN; KNOWS ALL; IS LOVING; IS ALTOGETHER GOOD)
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To: MHGinTN
Never heard of the sneaker story...but this is directly from an MD...

Cheers!

530 posted on 06/11/2007 9:17:50 PM PDT by grey_whiskers (The opinions are solely those of the author and are subject to change without notice.)
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To: grey_whiskers

The sneaker story was from a doctor, an anesthetist who knew the sleeper who did the case.


531 posted on 06/11/2007 9:34:08 PM PDT by MHGinTN (You've had life support. Promote life support for those in the womb.)
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To: ahayes
I didn't make those claims. I said I didn't know at post 444.
532 posted on 06/11/2007 9:44:27 PM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: ahayes
Will do.
533 posted on 06/11/2007 9:45:10 PM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: MHGinTN
Thank you so much for those beautiful verses and for your encouragements!
534 posted on 06/11/2007 9:46:36 PM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: Dr. Eckleburg
Thank you so much for sharing your testimony, the invitation and for those beautiful passages!

Truly, we are all different. The spiritual experience of one is not always like the next.

God is like a Master Artist to me and He has many colors on His palette.

535 posted on 06/11/2007 9:53:06 PM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: betty boop; DreamsofPolycarp; hosepipe; MHGinTN; andysandmikesmom
Thank you so much for your engaging post and sidebar!

Last year, our cousin graduated to heaven. She had been declining with Alzheimer's though she died of something else.

As she declined with the disease, her mind seemed to recall things increasingly further back in her life. Even when she couldn't remember most of the recent events or who we were - she'd recall obscure, tiny details from her youth very clearly (according to her sister.)

I'm curious whether other patients have had this exerience, as if all the knowledge accumulated in one's life rests such that perhaps a disease (or drug) might bring it to active memory.

Do we ever really "forget?"

536 posted on 06/11/2007 10:24:05 PM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: DreamsofPolycarp
Talk about Christ and his mighty power and who knows what might happen?

Oh so very true.

537 posted on 06/11/2007 10:26:35 PM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: grey_whiskers; betty boop; cornelis; Dr. Eckleburg; hosepipe
me: When God is speaking to you, you'll know it. Nevertheless, we are commanded to test the spirits.

you: 'Twas waiting for such a remark.

One of the issues that comes up is the ansatz of equal a priori probabilities, that one must 'suspend judgement' in order to avoid bias and presumably maximize one's chances of arriving at a correct interpretation.

Divine revelations are bracing and illuminating. There is no ground for conjecture or rationalizing.

Indeed, reasoning a divine revelation would be anthropomorphizing God.

Certainly the prophets didn't question the authenticity of, conjecture about or attempt to rationalize the revelations they received. Nor do we.

That first divine revelation all Christians share - that Jesus Christ is Lord - is absolutely stunning. We don't sit back and wonder whether it was a figment of our imagination, something we ate, etc.

The tests of the spirits I mentioned in post 394 apply to messengers (whether mortal or not) - and what they have to say. They are God's own authentications so that we will know whether to give those spirits any heed at all:

The messenger and message must declare that Jesus Christ is Lord (I John 4, I Cor 12)

The messenger must display all of the fruits of the Spirit (good tree/good fruit Matt 7, Gal 5): love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control.

The message must agree with the whole of Scripture (Berean test, Acts 17)

God’s revelation is not what is being measured – it is what the speaker and his message is being measured against.

538 posted on 06/11/2007 11:15:39 PM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: Alamo-Girl

I’m so sorry I have not been here to be more involved with this fascinating conversation, but thank you so much for every single ping. I am in participating in prayer with you even if I’m not posting!


539 posted on 06/12/2007 3:35:06 AM PDT by .30Carbine
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To: Alamo-Girl
Very nice post, A-G, but it does seem to have missed my point.

I was attempting to demonstrate the *inadequacy* of empirical methods to deal with divine revelation, or with the possibility of anything 'personal' (as opposed to the purely mechanicalor chemical).

The personal involves *getting to know* and/or *trust* -- which may or may not be justified, but which remain 'subjective'.

And the problem which ahayes and coyote *apparently* have is that empiricism is so good at reducing errors (when used as directedTM) that they are unwilling to put it aside as a methodolgy, even where its use is 'inappropriate' (in a square peg, round hole typeof way).

The problem is that given the typical 'rationalistic' (to use the vernacular) approach, none of the claims of the supernatural, from whatever source, pass the smell test. And one cannot bias one's thinking in favor of one holy book or another, and remain consistent.

The thinking seems to be more or less, "Well, at least this way I won't get taken in." And at first blush that seems right. But they forget that there are false negatives as well as false positives.

"OK, then, well, how do you tell the difference between religions?"

You CAN'T -- not in advance of choosing, and even afterwards, you can't get the same type of confidence, nor the same *reproducibility* of results, that one strives for within the sciences.

The confusion on the part of the empiricist at this point is to say "Oh, well. Bullshit alert. Charlatans *always* say, don't question, only believe. But *I* know better, I'll poke holes in everything, because *I* saw through it."

And it is in fact true that there have been, still are, and presumably will continue to be vast numbers of frauds.

But the reason (according to Christianity) that the demand for trust is made, is not for the easier hoodwinking of the already easily deluded, but in order to engender a certain type of relationship between the Creator and a fallen creature.

And the second error made by the empiricists is that in their attempts to avoid 'argument from authority' and 'scholasticism' (both of which *should be* avoided in logical argument and in scientific inquiry), they pass up on useful knowledge about God and Man, in favor of simplified models. And when the simplified models don't hold up to experience, rather than refine the model, they decide that the whole 'concept' of God is incorrect -- because their original models are so *obviously* self-evident, they *can't* be mistaken.

But the simplistic theism is *precisely where* the models go wrong, since many of the assumptions contradict Christian theology.

(And so it goes in a circle -- the skeptic would be 'in good faith' perfectly willing to entertain theology *if* theological concepts could be empirically tested to systematically weed out the good from the bad theology. But since they cannot, and since the methods for systematic inquiry borrowed from the sciences would tend to eliminate most deities and the supernatural equally, the null hypothesis demands that the whole kit and kaboodle get throw n out.)

Cheers!

540 posted on 06/12/2007 5:31:03 AM PDT by grey_whiskers (The opinions are solely those of the author and are subject to change without notice.)
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To: grey_whiskers

You sound manifestly impressed by this reasoning. There is no such thing as pure empiricism. It has its virtues, but when it is the sole methodology, out goes a lot more than just holy books. You’d be done with literature, too. And history. And politics.


541 posted on 06/12/2007 6:58:30 AM PDT by cornelis
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To: grey_whiskers

You may not remember, but I’ve “taken agin you” due to your snide assumptions. It’s impossible to have a conversation with you without your continually insinuating that I’m lying. I do Christians the courtesy to assume that their opinions are what they state they are, I find it annoying and frankly intriguing that the same courtesy is not returned to me.

Please do not address me again. And if you feel the need to read my mind while talking about me behind my back to another poster, don’t do me the favor of giving me a courtesy ping, just remove my name from your post and say “some people”.


542 posted on 06/12/2007 7:11:39 AM PDT by ahayes ("Impenetrability! That's what I say!")
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To: Alamo-Girl

Thank you.


543 posted on 06/12/2007 7:15:24 AM PDT by ahayes ("Impenetrability! That's what I say!")
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To: Alamo-Girl
Do we ever really "forget?"

There have been some interesting studies done (referenced somewhere!) about people who are undergoing brain surgery being prodded with electrodes. It seems that the mild current "brings back" memories in vivid detail, including tastes, smells, and particularities that would "never" have been possible. It seems that we are messy filers. We don't forget the data, we just forget where we filed it.

For those of us who are believers, the thought of a complete and exhaustive resuscitation of "who we are" on the final day, by simply recovering all our activities in thought, word and deed is interesting, if speculative.

544 posted on 06/12/2007 7:21:18 AM PDT by DreamsofPolycarp (Libertarianism: u can run your life better than government can, and should be left alone to do it)
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To: grey_whiskers; cornelis; betty boop; MHGinTN; .30Carbine; Dr. Eckleburg; hosepipe; ahayes
Thank you so much for your thorough explanation of your point, grey-whiskers! And thank you, cornelis, for your counter-point! Both are very informative and engaging.

Here are my “two cents:”

To the empiricist, all knowledge comes from sensory perception and reasoning.

If he holds a concept of God, and even if he has received that definitive divine revelation that Jesus Christ is Lord, he will nevertheless insist that God must comply with his own ability to comprehend Him.

On principle, whether he realizes it or not, He rejects the Spiritual insight that God’s ways are not our ways, His thoughts are not our thoughts. He always anthropomorphizes God.

For instance, he would insist that God must comply with Aristotlean laws of logic, such as the Law of the Excluded Middle. Which is to say, in his mind God cannot speak two things which are to him mutually exclusive, e.g. do not kill, kill these. He will either reject such revelations in Scripture or seek to reconcile them by his own reasoning.

IMHO, some theologies look like pretzels because of this tendency to value sensory perception and reasoning above God's revelations.

Likewise, he would insist that God must comply with the physical laws and most especially causality, i.e. cause>effect. In his timeline oriented mind, God could not say that He hates Esau and loves Jacob before either of them were born.

That doesn’t mean the empiricist is a lost cause, however. Like doubting Thomas, the empiricist will always have a tendency to put himself above God by demanding physical or logical proofs. He is an idol worshipper and the idol is himself.

But if God reveals Himself to him, as Jesus did to doubting Thomas - he'll know. Doubting Thomas was an apostle, too. And God favored Job as well by revealing Himself to him even though he had deigned to judge Him (chapters 38 to 42.)

In his Christian walk, he’d be more like Martha in the story of Martha and Mary (Luke 10:38-42) – cumbered about much serving, missing that good part which came so effortlessly to Mary. The physical doing would be more comforting to him than the spiritual being. In that respect, he would tend to be Spiritually unplugged - but not without hope if he takes in the full counsel of Romans 8 so that he will understand that he can let go and let God.

545 posted on 06/12/2007 9:05:47 AM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: DreamsofPolycarp
Please accept my apologies, I meant to ping you to 545.

Thank you oh so very much for your insights on memory! It would be very helpful if medical science could facilitate recall - for patients suffering from memory loss or mental problems, investigations, etc.

For those of us who are believers, the thought of a complete and exhaustive resuscitation of "who we are" on the final day, by simply recovering all our activities in thought, word and deed is interesting, if speculative.

Truly, I expect anything I have ever thought, said or done to be subject to review and/or judgment (Revelation 20.) Thank God that He will be the judge of them and not those whom I have offended.

546 posted on 06/12/2007 9:18:15 AM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: Alamo-Girl
...if he takes in the full counsel of Romans 8 so that he will understand that he can let go and let God.

Amen. Beautifully put.

"But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world." -- Galatians 6:14

547 posted on 06/12/2007 9:37:37 AM PDT by Dr. Eckleburg ("I don't think they want my respect; I think they want my submission." - Flemming Rose)
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To: Dr. Eckleburg
Thank you so much for that beautiful Scripture - and thank you for your encouragements!
548 posted on 06/12/2007 9:43:07 AM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: betty boop; Alamo-Girl; .30Carbine
[.. I was painting with too broad a brush, toward the end of falsifying the notion that human nature is not essentially distinguishable from animal nature, and certainly not different than that of our putative immediate ancestors, the great apes. ..]

No ape or monkey(or any other animal, insect or plant) ever yet has shown signs of "worship" or anything like that.. Sooo, your saying that man evolved to a place/species that sought after "GOD".. MAN evolved to seek after God?.. For most do and have through out history..

Thats quite a "concept" Boopie.. Man evolved to seek after God.. Books could be written about that.. Darwin MISSED his biggest revelation.. Life force evolves to seek its source.. If, true, of course..

549 posted on 06/12/2007 9:49:22 AM PDT by hosepipe (CAUTION: This propaganda is laced with hyperbole....)
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To: DreamsofPolycarp; Alamo-Girl
We don't forget the data, we just forget where we filed it.

LOL DreamsofPolycarp!!! Isn't that the truth!

550 posted on 06/12/2007 10:10:09 AM PDT by betty boop ("Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind." -- A. Einstein)
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