Kindred Spirits in a Pathless Land — Part Ten


Guest post by Kindred Spirits

Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five, Part Six, Part Seven, Part Eight, Part Nine

The Vagaries of Religious Experience

Psychology experiments showing how logic can be short-circuited in our brains:

The Vagaries of Religious Experience, Edge, 2005,by Daniel Gilbert

…First, explanations that rely on the inexplicable are not explanations at all. They have the form of explanations, but they do not have the content. Yet, psychology experiments reveal that people are often satisfied by empty form. For instance, when experimenters approached people who were standing in line at a photocopy machine and said, “Can I get ahead of you?” the typical answer was no. But when they added to the end of this request the words “because I need to make some copies,” the typical answer was yes. The second request used the word “because” and hence sounded like an explanation, and the fact that this explanation told them nothing that they didn’t already know was oddly irrelevant.

In another study, experimenters approached people in a library, handed them a card with a $1 coin attached, and then walked away. Some people received the card on the top, and some received the card on the bottom:



Although the two extra questions on the bottom card —- “Who are we?” and “Why do we do this?” — provide no information whatsoever, they do give one the sense that puzzling questions have been posed and then answered. The results of the study showed that the people who received the bottom card were, in fact, less curious and less delighted twenty minutes after receiving it than were people who received the top card because only the latter felt that something wonderful and inexplicable had happened. In short, what William Paley did not realize is that statements such as “God made it” can satiate the appetite for explanation without providing any nutritional value.

Read the full article for additional examples of how our brain sees agency in random events.

Why are We Happy?

Another example of how many of our projections of how we would react to events turn out to be wildly wrong is a TED talk by Gilbert titled The Surprising Science of Happiness:

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Or, for those that prefer reading, there is an interactive script of Gilbert’s speech. (If you click on any phrase, it takes you to that part of the video):

From field studies to laboratory studies, we see that winning or losing an election, gaining or losing a romantic partner, getting or not getting a promotion, passing or not passing a college test, on and on, have far less impact, less intensity and much less duration than people expect them to have. This almost floors me — a recent study showing how major life traumas affect people suggests that if it happened over three months ago, with only a few exceptions, it has no impact whatsoever on your happiness.

And of course, in psychological studies, there is the infamous Milgram Experiment, and the Stanford Prison Experiment, neither of which I’ll get in to, but you’re welcome to follow the hot links for more information

The overall point though is this: how our brains actually work and make decisions is not nearly as logical as we’d like to think it is. We’re all subject to these strange decision processes, and are largely unaware of them.

Vice President Candidate Mike Pence Denies Evolution, Wants Public School Students Taught Creationism


Here’s a 2002 video of  U.S. Representative from Indiana Mike Pence denying evolution on the House floor. Pence quickly reveals that he, like many creationists, doesn’t understand the meaning of the word theory. Pence does on to ask that other “theories” of beginnings be taught — you know like Biblical creationism. Pence is being disingenuous here when he says he want creationism to be taught alongside evolution. He wants no such thing, as he makes clear towards the end of his speech. Pence believes Genesis 1-3 is scientific fact, not just one theory of origins among many.  His grand hope is that everyone will one day know that evolution is false and creationism is true.

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Kindred Spirits in a Pathless Land — Part Nine


Guest post by Kindred Spirits

Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five, Part Six, Part Seven, Part Eight

Science of Persuasion

More ways our own brains trick us into reacting emotionally, and using confirmation bias to reinforce what we already believe.

The Science of Persuasion, by Jon Hemmerdinger:

First, partisans don’t listen to facts, and their opinions are difficult to change even with hard evidence. Second, political opinions are generally not based on fact at all, they are based on emotions. In The Political Brain Westen writes: “The results showed that when partisans face threatening information, not only are they likely to ‘reason’ to emotionally biased conclusions, but we can trace their neural footprints as they do it.” By “trace,” Westen means using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to see what’s happening in the brain. The researchers found that subjects confronted with negative information about their party or candidate initially feel the unpleasant emotion of distress. It doesn’t last long. Very quickly, the brain uses faulty reasoning and false beliefs to counteract the negative feeling by reaching a false conclusion. The brain then produces positive emotion — a reward for having reached an illogical decision.

The bottom line, according to Westen, is that the “the political brain is an emotional brain.”

And another similar article, (I think looking at the same underlying research), discussing confirmation bias is The Political Brain by Michael Shermer, appearing in a Scientific American article from 2006.


Southern Baptist David Platt Says Missionaries Raised Man From the Dead — Maybe


CHARISMA News reports:

An unreached people group in Southeast Asia gave their lives to Christ when their leader apparently dropped dead and came back to life after a group of believers prayed.

David Platt, president of the Southern Baptist International Mission Board, recounted the “modern-day resurrection” story during the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee meeting on Sept. 19.

A local Southeast Asian Christian who was brought to faith by some Southern Baptist missionaries took a group of friends and began evangelizing in the remote village, Baptist Press reports.

Villagers responded by bringing idols, necklaces and amulets associated with their occult worship to be burned, Platt said, relaying the account of an IMB worker.

It is reported that shortly after the burning ceremony, the village leader was found dead.

The villagers said they believed they angered the local spirits by giving up their possessions. They asked for their ritual objects to be returned to them.

The Christians, discouraged by the request and the news of the leader’s death, traveled to where the leader was laid and prayed over his body “that God would show His mercy to the people in the village, that God would show His glory and His love to that people who were so close,” said Platt.

“This Asian believer tells our missionary,” Platt said, “that as they were praying there over the man, all of a sudden the man coughed. Everybody in the house got really still. And the man coughed again. People came rushing over, and the village leader started breathing. People started helping him up. Everybody’s looking at these Asian believers like, ‘What happened?’

“They decided this was as good a time as any to share the Gospel,” Platt stated. “So they shared the Gospel, and in the days to come, people started coming to faith in Christ and that village starting burning their idols.”

Platt later admitted that the man might not have really been dead. Why then, did Platt, CHARISMA, and other Christian “news” sites report this as a modern-day resurrection from the dead? There’s zero objective, verifiable evidence that the “dead” man was brought back to life. Isn’t it far more likely that people THOUGHT the man was dead and that, coincidentally, he coughed at the very moment the missionaries were praying over him?

One thing is for certain, the missionaries used this sham resurrection to manipulate scientifically illiterate locals, going so far as to lead them to think that, through their prayers, the Evangelical God had brought the chieftain back to life. This kind of mumbo-jumbo magic show only works in countries populated by people with little to no understanding of science. You know, like the United States.

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If these missionaries can really pray dead people back to life, why not bring their show back to America so their magic powers can be closely observed and documented. S-h-i-t (spoken in the voice of Senator Clay Davis on The Wire), I would be happy if they just plied their miracle-working power on the sick and crippled.  Again, I would want the “healings” scientifically verified.

Perhaps David Platt and his fellow stone-age Southern Baptists should spent some time learning that correlation does not necessarily imply causation. If Platt wants non-tokers of Fundamentalist weed to believe this story, he is going to have to provide scientific evidence for his claims. Until then, I am with Clay Davis: s-h-i-t.

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire: Ken Ham Lies About Secularists Wanting to ‘Ban’ Christianity


Just today, Ken Ham, the CEO of Answers in Genesis, released another screed about the supposed outlawing of Christianity by secularists. Ham wrote:

Little by little, the secularists have been outlawing Christianity from the culture. Through misinformation, bullying, and intimidation, they have been succeeding. And because so many Christians have been so secularized by the public education system, they have largely not put up a fight.

And if this trend keeps happening, do you want a picture of where America is headed in the future? Just look at England.
Warning! What is happening in the United States has already happened in Britain. That’s where America is heading.

I would say the decline is happening for the same basic reason: God’s people didn’t stand on God’s Word from its beginning. In this era, the compromise between evolution/millions of years and Genesis began in England and spread around the world. Really, what’s happened to the church throughout England is actually the outworking of a church that has compromised God’s Word with man’s fallible ideas. Furthermore, the church has largely handed over the education of generations to the state.

This same compromise is rife in the church in the United States. At the same time, generations of children in America have been educated in schools that have increasingly outlawed anything Christian.

I believe this is why the Lord has raised up ministries like Answers in Genesis, the Creation Museum, and the new Ark Encounter. God is using these outreaches to equip Christians to stand against the secular attacks of our day and to challenge (in a very public and bold way) non-Christians with the truth of God’s Word and the gospel.

God has allowed AiG to build the Creation Museum and the Ark because I believe there are many godly people who will take a stand on the authority of the Word of God.

While we still have the freedom to boldly proclaim the message of God’s Word to the world, I pray you will support us in prayer to do whatever we can to embolden God’s people and reach millions with the saving gospel. I urge you to help us to stand against those who would try to completely outlaw Christianity from the culture.
If God’s people don’t contend for the faith, we will see Christianity outlawed even further in our culture! I implore you to stand up for your faith. In a very public way (with an increasing number of scoffers trying to stop us), AiG is contending for the faith through many ministries like the Creation Museum and now the Ark Encounter.

Is Christianity being outlawed? Of course not. Christians are free to worship whenever, however, wherever, with whomever. Christian public school students are free to individually pray and read the Bible in school. Evangelicals are free to send their children to Christian schools or home school them. Christians are even free to build monuments to ignorance such as the Ark Encounter and Creation Museum. Evangelicals are free to evangelize their neighbors and stand on street corners preaching the gospel. Christianity is freer here in America than any other country on earth. Christian ministers get special tax exemptions/deductions, as do the churches they pastor.

Despite freedom of belief, worship, and practice that all Christians (and non-Christians) enjoy, charlatans such as Ken Ham continue to say that their brand of religious Fundamentalism is under attack. Ham says secularists are trying to ban Christianity. Knowing everything that I have mentioned above, how can Ham continue to lie about this? The very fact that Ham can build a damn wood boat on dry Kentucky land and say it is a testament to God’s saving grace is proof that secularists are NOT trying to ban Christianity. Most secularists don’t care about with whom, where, and how people worship their respective deities. Simply put…WE DON’T CARE!

We do, however, care about Evangelical (and Catholic and Mormon) attempts to breach the wall of separation of church and state. We do care when Evangelicals ignore the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights, saying that God’s law trumps man’s law. We do care when Evangelicals attempt to sneak creationism and its gussied-up sister, intelligent design, into SECULAR public school classrooms. We do care when Evangelicals wrongly assert that America is a Christian nation and that the Bible should be the law of the land. And most of all, we do care when Evangelicals attempt to hijack local, state, and federal government for their own purposes.

Secularists stand resolutely against ANY attempt to merge church and state. We are students of history, knowing that when church and state are one, freedoms are lost and people die. If anyone is a threat to America and human freedom and liberty, it is theocrats such as Ken Ham. Does Ham want more or less freedom for those who do not share his religious sentiments? Less! Does Ham support the wall of separation between church and state? Does Ham think people should be free to live godless, heathen lives? Does Ham think consenting adults should be free to do sexually as they please? Does Ham support fairness, justice and equal protection under the law for all? No, on all counts. It is Ham and his Fundamentalist horde who want to rob Americans of their freedoms, not secularists. The real enemy, Ken, is You!

Is Religion Another Away of Understanding Truth? by Sean Carroll


Contrary to what many Evangelical apologists think, scientists do not have (or think they have) answers for every possible question about the universe, life, and human existence. While science does answer many questions that humans deem important, there are yet many unanswered questions that scientists diligently seek to answer. Because science does not have ALL the answers, Evangelicals often say that religion is another empirical and equally valid way of determining and understanding truth. Of course, when science conflicts with religious truth what happens? Most Evangelicals reject that scientific truth, and put their faith in what the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God says about the matter. This is why there are millions of American who believe the universe is 6,021 years old, Adam and Eve were real people, and the earth was destroyed by a flood 4,000 or so years ago. This is also why snake oil salesmen like Ken Ham can build million dollar monuments to ignorance such as the Creation Museum and the Ark Encounter.

As Physicist Sean Carroll makes clear in the following two-minute video, scientists do not have all the answers, nor have they ever claimed that they do. But, regardless of the lack of answers, science still remains the best way for us to understand our world.

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The Sounds of Fundamentalism: Evolution is a Lie From the Pit of Hell by Paul Broun

paul broun

This is the one hundred and eighteenth installment in The Sounds of Fundamentalism series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a video clip that shows the crazy, cantankerous, or contradictory side of Evangelical Christianity, please send me an email with the name or link to the video. Please do not leave suggestions in the comment section.  Let’s have some fun!

Today’s Sound of Fundamentalism is a video clip from a sermon preached by then U.S. Representative from Georgia, Paul Braun at the 2012 Liberty Baptist Church Sportsman’s Banquet in Hartwell Georgia.  Braun, by the way, is a medical doctor, proving yet again that Fundamentalism has the power to make smart people dumb as rocks.

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The Sounds of Fundamentalism: Dinosaurs NEVER Existed by Eric Dubay

dinosaurs never existed

Comment about Eric Dubay’s Video

This is the one hundred and fifteenth installment in The Sounds of Fundamentalism series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a video clip that shows the crazy, cantankerous, or contradictory side of Evangelical Christianity, please send me an email with the name or link to the video. Please do not leave suggestions in the comment section.  Let’s have some fun!

Today’s Sound of Fundamentalism is a video clip from dinosaur denier Eric Dubay. Dubay is a flat-earther and a consummate conspiracy theorist. You can check out his blog here. Let me give you an excerpt from Dubay’s blog:

QR – If the earth is indeed flat, then where does it start and end, and why don’t we fall off it?

I could similarly ask NASA and modern astronomers, “if outer-space is indeed real, where does it start and end, and why can’t we go beyond that?” Antarctica is not the tiny ice-continent found confined to the underside of astronomer’s globes, but is rather a gigantic ice wall/plateau 200 feet tall that surrounds the Earth and holds the oceans in 360 degrees around us. How far the Antarctic ice extends southwards and whether it terminates in an edge, barrier/firmament, or whether it is infinite is currently unknown and unknowable to the public thanks to the Antarctic Treaty which prevents ordinary people from independent exploration of Antarctica.

QR – What happens to the oceans at the ends of the earth?

The oceans are all connected, are completely flat (it’s called “sea-level” for a reason), and are held in by the surrounding Antarctic ice wall/plateau. How far the Antarctic ice extends southwards and how it terminates are still unknown to the public at this time.


QR – Where does the atmosphere start and finish?

This is another question which even NASA refuses to answer. They claim that at some undetermined height, “gravity” becomes weaker and weaker until it magically gives way to “outer-space” which is a vacuum which allow astronauts to free-float forever without falling back down. First of all, it is physically and philosophically impossible for “infinite non-gravitized vacuum space” to exist adjacent to and not separated in any way from non-vacuum, gravitized atmosphere. Secondly, no amateur rocket, balloon, or other technology has ever been able to reach this alleged height where instead of falling back down to Earth like a skydiver, people are able to simply free-float. This is because astro-nots are not in outer-space at all and are simply filming the free-floating effect using camera tricks, green screens, wires, dark pools, and so-called “zero-g planes.” The reality is as the old adage states, “what goes up, must come down,” and not because of “gravity” but because objects always rise/fall based on the relative densities of their surroundings. A helium balloon rises upwards because it is lighter than the oxygen, nitrogen and other elements in the air surrounding it. A rock drops right to the ground because it is denser than the air surrounding it. That is all. The helium balloon doesn’t mysteriously escape “gravity” while the rock is subjected to it, but rather, as was known for millennia before Newton’s silly theory, objects naturally rise/fall towards their own density.


QR – There really is some compelling evidence that the Earth is flat and that we’ve all been deceived for centuries. In your opinion who is pulling the wool over our eyes and, more importantly, why?

The Jews, Jesuits, Freemasons and other embedded secret societies in the current New World Order establishment have been lying about the Earth and many other subjects for centuries.

The following video is thirty minutes long. I know 99.9% of you won’t listen to all of it, but I hope you will listen to the first five minutes. You will learn everything you need to know about Eric Dubay.

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