Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

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Female politician talking on media press conference, public relations, event

Why Science News Sucks — A Response to a Disgusted Physicist

There are reasons why science journalists can't usually be skeptical in the way that other journalists can. Here are some of them

In her usual forthright manner, theoretical physicist Sabine Hossenfelder asks, by blog post and Youtube video, “Why does science news suck so much? It’s hardly an original question but among her suggested answers are some thoughtful reflections, including 9. Don’t forget that science is fallible A lot of media coverage on science policy remembers that science is fallible only when it’s convenient for them. When they’ve proclaimed something as fact that later turns out to be wrong, then they’ll blame science. Because science is fallible. Facemasks? Yeah, well, we lacked the data. Alright. But that’d be more convincing if science news acknowledged that their information might be wrong in the first place. The population bomb? Peak oil? The new ice…

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Colorful background made of fallen autumn leaves.

Did Carl Sagan Think the Universe Shows No Design?

Like Fred Hoyle, he seems to have thought it showed design — until that view became politically associated with religion

It’s a complicated story. At one time, a religious skeptic like astronomer Carl Sagan (1934–1996) could write: The universe was made on purpose, the circle said. In whatever galaxy you happen to find yourself, you take the circumference of a circle, divide it by its diameter, measure closely enough, and uncover a miracle — another circle, drawn kilometers downstream of the decimal point. There would be richer messages farther in. It doesn’t matter what you look like, or what you’re made of, or where you come from. As long as you live in this universe, and have a modest talent for mathematics, sooner or later you’ll find it. It’s already here. It’s inside everything. You don’t have to leave your…

Futuristic and sci-fi human android portrait with pcb metallic skin and binary code green background. AI, IT, technology, robotics, science, transhumanism 3D rendering illustration concepts.

Transhumanism as a Cool New Secular Religion

It includes such ventures as endowing plants — via genetic engineering — with the capacity for human-like thought and giving them rights…

In a recent Living in the Solution podcast with otolaryngologist and broadcaster Elaina George at Liberty Talk radio, Wesley J. Smith, lawyer and host of the Humanize podcast at Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism tackled the question of “Can You be a Christian and Believe in Transhumanism?” (June 4, 2022) Transhumanism or H+, as it is sometimes called, is a movement to create immortality through new biotechnology or merger with artificial intelligence (AI). In the first portion of the podcast, which we covered last Sunday, they talked about the way being a human, a computer, or an animal is viewed by transhumanists as all just a choice now, thanks to new technology. In this portion, we look at the…

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Humanity Plus theme with abstract network lines and patterns

Transhumanism: Human, Computer, Animal — All Just a Choice Now…

AI and Big Biotech spawn the hope (in some) of merging with a computer or with a bat, maybe…

In a recent Living in the Solution podcast with otolaryngologist and broadcaster Elaina George at Liberty Talk radio, Wesley J. Smith, lawyer and host of the Humanize podcast at Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism tackled the question of “Can You be a Christian and Believe in Transhumanism?” (June 4, 2022). Transhumanism or H+, as it is sometimes called, is a movement to create immortality through new biotechnology or merger with artificial intelligence (AI). Dr. Elaina George: I think transhumanism seems to be the next wave of things that are hip and now … As a Christian, is it something that we should even consider? Wesley Smith: Well, it depends on which transhumanists are talking. Most transhumanists are atheists and…

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Near death experience ascend up towards the light in the dark tunnel

Agnostic Psychiatrist Says Near-Death Experiences Are Real

For example, he cites cases for Big Think where the clinically dead experiencer encounters a deceased individual who was not known to have died at the time

Psychiatrist and neurobehavioral scientist Bruce Greyson, author of After (2021) — a science-based look at near-death experiences — offers short videos unpacking the topic via Big Think: Are near-death experiences real? (7:15 min) BRUCE GREYSON: When I first started looking into near-death experiences back in the late-1970s, I assumed that there would be some physiological explanation for that. What I found over the decades was that the various simple explanations we could think of like lack of oxygen, drugs given to the people and so forth, don’t pan out- the data do not support them. And furthermore, the phenomena of NDEs, of near-death experiences, seem to defy a simple, materialistic explanation. When we first started presenting this material in medical…

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All Religions Temple in Kazan, Russia

What Do Christianity and Hinduism Have in Common?

And where do they differ?

At Theology Unleashed, neurosurgeon Michael Egnor and Hindu philosopher and broadcaster Akhandadhi Das discuss the similarities and differences between Thomistic philosophy and Vedanta Philosophy. Thomistic philosophy is the philosophy originally developed by Thomas Aquinas (1225– 1274), adapting the approach taken by early philosopher of science Aristotle (384– 322 BC) to the Christian worldview of the High Middle Ages. His work is of enduring significance in philosophy. Vedanta is “one of the world’s most ancient spiritual philosophies and one of its broadest, based on the Vedas, the sacred scriptures of India. It is the philosophical foundation of Hinduism… Vedanta affirms: The oneness of existence, The divinity of the soul, and The harmony of all religions.” – Vedanta Society of Southern California…

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Woman fist with woke written. Woke concept refers to awareness of social and racial justice, concern, vigilance, activism.

A Catholic and a Hindu Tackle Woke culture

In a wide-ranging discussion, Michael Egnor and Arjuna Gallagher look at Woke culture, abortion, euthanasia, and microaggressions

In a recent series of Mind Matters News, podcasts, neurosurgeon Michael Egnor interviewed Arjuna Gallagher, a Hindu who lives in New Zealand. The first podcast looked at what the world’s 1.2 billion Hindus generally think about the mind and the second explored the Hindu view of free will and evil. The third podcast addressed the question, “What do Hindus think about the Big Bang?” Now, the fourth and final podcast asks, what do Hindus think of current science and culture issues, especially the flowering of Woke Cancel Culture, abortion, and euthanasia? Gallagher hosts a YouTube channel called Theology Unleashed, which has featured many guests discussing the spiritual dimension of our lives — for example, philosopher David Bentley Hart and neuroscientist…

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View of a white marble hindu temple

What Do Hindus Think About the Big Bang? The Cyclic Universe?

Hinduism posits a creator God but assumes the creation of cyclic universes

In last week’s Mind Matters News podcast, “Hinduism and the beginning of the universe,” neurosurgeon Michael Egnor interviewed Arjuna Gallagher, a Hindu in New Zealand. The first podcast looked at what the world’s 1.2 billion Hindus generally think about the mind and the second explored the Hindu view of free will and evil. Gallagher hosts a YouTube channel called Theology Unleashed, which has featured many guests discussing the spiritual dimension of our lives — for example, philosopher David Bentley Hart and neuroscientist Mark Solms (along with Egnor). https://mindmatters.ai/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2022/03/Mind-Matters-News-Episode-179-Arjuna-Gallagher-Episode-3-rev1.mp3 A partial transcript, notes, Show Notes, and Additional Resources follow: The Big Bang and cyclical universes Michael Egnor: How do Hindus understand creation? Is the universe eternal? Was it created at a…

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Hinduism religious ceremony puja flowers and candle on river Ganges water, India

Understanding the Hindu View of Free Will and Evil

Arjuna Gallagher points out that concepts of reincarnation and karma make both problems look very different in the Hindu tradition

In last week’s Mind Matters News podcast, “Hinduism, Metaphysics, and Free Will,” neurosurgeon Michael Egnor again interviews Arjuna Gallagher, a Hindu in New Zealand. (The earlier podcast was Hinduism, Reincarnation, and the Mind–Body Problem.) Gallagher hosts a YouTube channel called Theology Unleashed, which has featured many guests discussing the spiritual dimension of our lives — philosopher David Bentley Hart, neuroscientist Mark Solms, atheist Matt Dillahunty… a variety of voices on the spiritual life. Gallagher has also produced a documentary, The Persecuted Saints You’ve Never Heard Of about the persecution of Orthodox Christian monks. https://mindmatters.ai/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2022/03/Mind-Matters-News-Episode-178-Arjuna-Gallagher-Episode-2-rev1.mp3 A partial transcript, notes, Show Notes, and Additional Resources follow: Michael Egnor: In our last session, we talked a little bit about the evolutionary argument against…

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Mayapur temple , ISKON headquarter.

What Do the World’s 1.2 Billion Hindus Think About the Mind?

Neurosurgeon Michael Egnor interviews Hindu Arjuna Gallagher on the similarities and differences between that tradition and Western theism

In our most recent Mind Matters News podcast, “Hinduism, Reincarnation, and the Mind–Body Problem,” neurosurgeon Michael Egnor interviews Arjuna Gallagher, a Hindu in New Zealand. Gallagher hosts a YouTube channel called Theology Unleashed, which features an array of guests who have something to say about the spiritual dimension of our lives — philosopher David Bentley Hart, neuroscientist Mark Solms, atheist Matt Dillahunty… a variety of voices that can help us understand the intellectual climate in which we live. Gallagher has also produced a documentary, The Persecuted Saints You’ve Never Heard Of.about the persecution of Orthodox Christian monks. https://mindmatters.ai/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2022/03/Mind-Matters-News-Episode-177-Arjuna-Gallagher-Episode-1-rev1.mp3 A partial transcript and notes, Show Notes, and Additional Resources follow. Michael Egnor: I don’t know a lot about Hinduism, and I…

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Woman in red cloak praying alone

Study: Accountability to God Means a Greater Sense of Well-being

Researchers found that the association between accountability to the divine and sense of psychological well-being was stronger in those who prayed more

A recently published study sought to measure the difference that a sense of accountability to God made in terms of psychological well-being, as distinct from church attendance, prayer and meditation: Religious believers who embrace accountability to God (or another transcendent guide for life) experience higher levels of three of the four variables of psychological well-being – mattering to others, dignity and meaning in their lives, though not happiness – according to a study from researchers with Baylor University, Westmont College and Hope College. The study also found that this relationship is stronger among those who pray more often, suggesting that accountability coupled with communication may be a powerful combination for well-being. Lorie Fogleman, Baylor University, “Study Examines Link Between Accountability…

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Old Burned Church

Religion Journalism After God Is Declared Dead

Writer and editor Ed Simon examines and makes a case for the New Religion Journalism, offering us help with praying to a dead god

Ed Simon is one of the editors of a recent anthology, The God Beat: What Journalism Says about Faith and Why It Matters (2021). According to the publisher, Broadleaf Books (an imprint of 1517 Media, formerly Augsburg Fortress), the book highlights “personal, subjective, voice-driven New Religion Journalism” by young writers “characterized by their brash, innovative, daring, and stylistically sophisticated writing and an unprecedented willingness to detail their own interaction with faith (or their lack thereof).” Simon offers his own thoughts on religion, sympathetic to that perspective, in a recent article at Aeon: He starts with reflections on the view that mid-nineteenth-century British poet Matthew Arnold (1822–1888) expressed in his poem “Dover Beach,” that religious faith was receding in his world:…

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A.I.

Can Christian Ethics Save Transhumanism?

J. R. Miller looks at the idea that the mission to self-evolve through technology is “the definitive Christian commitment.”

In my recent article detailing the deadly dream of transhumanism (H+), I showed that when human personhood is treated as a contingent property tied to the process of unguided natural selection, there remains no definitive answer to the question, “What does it mean to be human?” With nature as the starting point, morality itself becomes a fluid concept which must evolve as humans use technology to achieve post-humanity. The moral implications are severe. The risk that some people may be harmed, suffer, or die during medical experiments is outweighed by the transhumanist perception of a greater social good that advances the species. But what about Christians who embrace H+? Can the Christian ethic save H+? Some Christians today leverage their…

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Atheism. Torn sheet of paper with the inscription.

Faith in God Is the Only Coherent Basis for Reason

Access to truth is always a matter of faith — the validity of reason cannot be validated by reason itself

Atheists commonly assert that there is a profound dichotomy between faith and reason. This is exemplified by atheist evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne ’s book Faith vs. Fact. He implies that we can have faith in the truth of something or we can have factual knowledge of the truth but we cannot have both. Faith and fact are, in his view, mutually exclusive. But that is not true. Faith in God provides an indispensable foundation for the power of human reason. In the perspective proposed by medieval philosopher and theologian Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274), we must accept radical skepticism about the veracity of our perceptions and our concepts. One may ask: how do we know that what we perceive or what we…

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Asian woman doctor in personal protective suit or PPE wearing mask and goggles pray for covid-19 outbreak to improve. Medical, coronavirus, covid-19 and healthcare concept.

Excluding All Reference to God From Science Is A Form of Theology

It’s negative theology, to be sure, Michael Egnor and his guest Joshua Farris agree, but still a theology — and one with implications

In this third podcast discussion, “Don’t Blame Me, I’m a Meat Robot,” neurosurgeon Michael Egnor and theology professor Joshua Farris discuss how a belief in God is compatible with science. Egnor argues that belief in God is a necessity, to prevent science going off the rails: https://mindmatters.ai/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2022/02/MInd-Matters-Episode-174-Joshua-Farris-Episode-3-rev1.mp3 A partial transcript, notes, and links follow: Michael Egnor: I wanted to talk just a little bit about philosophy of science and its relation to theology. First question is, is a belief in God compatible with the practice of science? It seems like a silly question, but it’s actually a pretty hot question nowadays… Joshua Farris: There’s this common idea that when we proceed utilizing the method of methodological naturalism — as methodological…

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Midsection of doctor wearing lab coat

We Trust Nonsense From Lab Coats More Than From Gurus

This shocking study is relevant to how we decide what to believe from science sources about COVID-19

An international team of researchers staged a revealing experiment on who we believe when they are talking nonsense. The test of 10,195 participants from 24 countries asked questions about the credibility of the statements and about their personal degree of religiosity. How could the researchers be sure that the statements were nonsense? They were produced by the New Age Bullshit Generator, an algorithm that generates impressive sounding elements of sentences that make rough grammatical sense even if they make no other sense. Two statements were selected: The 10,195 participants in the experiment were presented with two meaningless but profound-sounding statements: “We are called to explore the cosmos itself as an interface between faith and empathy. We must learn how to…

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Laser Cannon Incapacitates Enemy Satellite In Space

Firefly Episode 3: Should Some People Be Left To Die?

After the space crew rescues the survivor of a pirate attack, Captain Mal faces off against The Shepherd on whether God can save even that man.

Episode 3 begins with a friendly game of basketball… or something like it. Simon, a doctor who has joined the Firefly crew, notes that there appear to be no rules to the game as he watches from the balcony. The game is interrupted by a “proximity alert” and the crew discovers a wrecked ship floating in space. The captain decides to check it out and they quickly discover that the ship has been attacked by the infamous Reavers. We’d seen their ship once in episode one, and we’d heard some ominous descriptions of what they do to their prisoners: “If they take the ship, they’ll rape us to death, eat our flesh, and sew our skins into their clothing. And,…

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Científicos examinando un extraterrestre

Will Religions Crumble If We Find Extraterrestrial Life?

NASA funded a group of theologians to try to assess the probable reaction of religious people to extraterrestrial life or intelligent aliens

In 2016–2017, NASA partially funded 24 religious scholars to brainstorm how adherent of various faiths would react to the discovery of extraterrestrial life. As Erin Snodgrass put it at Insider, A rabbi, a priest, and an imam walk into a research program funded by NASA to talk about the intersection of God and aliens. It’s not the start of a religious joke. It’s precisely what happened at the Center for Theological Inquiry in Princeton, New Jersey in 2016 when two dozen theologians gathered to participate in a program partially funded by NASA to research how humans might respond to the discovery of extraterrestrial life. Erin Snodgrass, “How would humans respond to the discovery of aliens? NASA enlisted dozens of religious…

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Aggressiver Schwarzer Roboter

Sci-Fi Saturday Special: The Journey of the Nauts

The astronaut discovers a planet run by robots that think humans are lying if we say there is no Creator because, after all, we created them

(A short story by Jonathan Witt) Let’s see. How to start? As I surfaced from cryo, I was reminded of the old Christmas poem. “A cold coming we had of it,” one of the Magi begins, and I was thinking, the fellow doesn’t know the meaning of cold. Try halfway to absolute zero across seventeen light years of interstellar space. Granted, the cryo made the journey feel like an overnighter, but don’t imagine some trillionaire spa sleepover. Imagine yourself liquored up on bad moonshine, stuffed in a sack full of dry ice, knocked unconscious, tumbled about for an hour, quick-thawed, flushed of blue antifreeze, pumped full of dehydrated/rehydrated blood, and then shocked awake. That’s the cold coming we had of…