Remarkable false memories By Daniel Simons
I myself have personally had some pretty amazing experiences and witnessed amazing phenomena as products of meditation (and on occasion, medication). I have SEEN a golden, radiant book with letters of fire burning onto the pages (meditation), I have seen images of the future that have subsequently come to pass (lucid dreaming, meditation), and I have been 'miraculously' saved from physical harm (reality). Be they coincidences, hallucinations, lucky guesses, or who knows, maybe even some quantum process that we don't understand yet. But not a SINGLE one of those experiences is evidence for something supernatural or a soul. The dreaming brain is perfectly capable of generating PROFOUNDLY meaningful and deep, rich experiences that are indistinguishable from reality to the observer. I know this because I practiced at it for many years.
And we also know for a fact that the brain does a LOT of predictive processing in the subconscious (and there is fairly good evidence now that even our supposedly conscious experience also happens in the subconscious). Our brain is wired to detect 'others' and 'self' and sometimes it gets confused, set off the wrong combination of sensory data and all of a sudden you are being abducted by aliens or elves or leprechauns or angels. Our brain also interprets sensory data into a sense of where we are in the world -- this part of the brain is easily fooled even by simple tricks using a mirror: How Does the Brain Localize the Self
Intercessory prayer studies from reputable sources (Harvard, Duke University, Mayo Clinic) have not shown any positive effect (some actually show negative effects because people can become depressed when they do not get better and know that people are praying for them, they feel like they are failing their loved ones). So this type of prayer is actually Harmful to some people with absolutely no effect above the natural placebo effect (which is not a magical panacea and there is NO placebo effect for things like lost limbs - but yes, feeling better, happy, positive can give a small boost to natural healing processes).
Dr. Jack Szostak (and many others) have also made huge progress on the question of how things could have begun (abiogenesis). Again, not all the answers are in but many of things creationists claimed would be impossible have been found to be merely difficult (e.g., the formation of uracil has been cracked). One by one the objections fall away as we learn more about organic chemistry. Again, not proof positive (yet) but pretty damning evidence. (check out http://exploringorigins.org/ for some nice overview videos but you really have to read the scientific papers to get the full details).
Evolutionary 'gaps' that were once claimed as absolute proof that evolution was false have been filled, sometimes to the brim, with new fossil evidence. Evolution is FACT now, there is absolutely no question that it is a valid process of life here on Earth. We simply know too much about the RNA world, DNA, genetic lines and evidence of mutation and mechanisms of mutation. This IS proof positive that some creationist claims are blatantly false. God clearly did not 'create' man out of whole cloth.
If there is a Deistic or Pantheist 'god force' out there then fine. I have no beef with someone who claims there might be 'something' else as long as they don't claim they know its mind and speak on its authority in telling other people what to do (historically on pain of death). If someone wants to make such claims then they better pony up some pretty solid evidence other than I saw my dead grandmother or I hear voices in my head or I read it in a 2000 year old book. I think this is a pretty reasonable requirement on the whole and the fact that we have to justify this socially is a clear sign that our 'civilization' is still bat-shit crazy :) [and I've climbed around in more than few caves in my day]
There is simply NO evidence for the personal god of the bible who smites ones enemies, heals and cares for the faithful, and stops the sun and the moon. Just simply does not happen. There is far too much evidence to the contrary for me to accept on face value the 0.00001% of exception cases that we really just simply fail to have an explanation for. This is just confirmation bias. Turn your example cases around and look at ALL the failures in the world and count those up against your personal exception cases and see how the balance comes out. Usually about a billion to one against.
And doesn't it at least seem odd that god would always hide below statistical significance? Opps, can't save your child from a horrible, suffering death today because I have some Chilean miners to pull out (after my previous failure to protect them so I could later 'save' them) -- and oh, btw, 30 other miners died, thousands of children, and thousands of other people (some quite horribly) while I was busy with these guys - guess those people weren't 'christian' enough? Sorry that is just far too capricious for me to respect and the fail/save ratio is in the millions to one range.
So, if you believe in god BECAUSE:
- You were saved from 'certain death' or major physical trauma -- No, you were just lucky
- You were critically ill, doctors said you would die, but you recovered -- Lucky you, THANK THE DOCTORS that saved you
- You saw some amazing phenomena (Jesus, god, rays of love, etc) -- Big whoop, watch Double Rainbow Guy, THAT IS YOU
- You predicted some amazing event that couldn't possibly be predicted -- Demonstrate it wasn't just lucky or predictive brain power
- You believe God is a logical necessity -- you are wrong, logic does not prove reality, we draw logic from it
- You believe the universe is just too complex and amazing to exist -- but God isn't?
- You believe everything is just too finely tuned -- this is not established by physicists, it is by wishful thinkers - the Earth's orbit varies by 3 MILLION miles . See also: section on Finely Tuned Universe in Basis In Fact
- You believe the universe needed a first cause -- but God didn't? (the Kalam argument is NOT sufficient to establish this fact)
- You believe there must be a law-giver -- Argument from ignorance
- DNA is like a computer program! -- No it isn't, I'm a programmer, keyword 'like', fallacious argument by analogy
- Jesus died for our sins -- No he didn't, there is not sufficient evidence that Jesus existed (and certainly not as the Christ)