Why do I feel threatened?

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Question to self: why do I feel so threatened when I read comments by atheists and materialists?

The more I wonder about that question, the more reasons I come up with and I'm not sure how much weight to give to each. For example, my immediate, almost knee-jerk, answer was that my very existence feels threatened. Not my human, biological existence but my spiritual existence. I have come to the point where I consider that my spiritual existence will continue beyond my biological life on this planet. I believe that I have come to that point by looking at the evidence in a rational and open-minded way. But then all of that research and contemplation and philosophising is challenged by some sarcastic quip that I read in an article or book which characterises me as some gullible fool for believing such nonsense. I want to jump up and shout, "No, you're a fool!" like some insulted child in the playground.

Another reason: most of the atheists who's views represent that challenge are people I would otherwise respect. I would probably agree with them on so many other subjects from politics to ideas of cultural and social progress.  So, again, to have someone I respect tell me that I'm a fool really hurts.

Or perhaps it is the consensus? For me the only consensus that matters is the one held by people who think about their beliefs rather than just accept them as a matter of faith. And yet the consensus among rational, thinking people is atheism and materialism. This consensus is so heavily linked to science that to hold a different view has become heresy. I'm not anti-science yet I feel like an outcast among the people I would normally identify with.

Almost exactly ten years ago I found the Skeptiko forum and started to air my views. I wanted to take on the atheistic skeptics and show them that rational people could entertain ideas that were inimical to their worldview. But it soon became clear that these skeptics were every bit as dogmatic in their ideology as the religious people I had argued with since childhood. 

So here I was (and here I am), stuck between two worldviews. I come here to this forum, as I did to the Skeptiko forum previously, to find a modicum of kinship. I come to reassure myself that I am not a gullible fool. This is my oasis but am I correct in my fear that there is only hostile desert out there? What do you think?
I do not make any clear distinction between mind and God. God is what mind becomes when it has passed beyond the scale of our comprehension.
Freeman Dyson
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(2021-03-12, 07:00 PM)Kamarling Wrote: So here I was (and here I am), stuck between two worldviews. I come here to this forum, as I did to the Skeptiko forum previously, to find a modicum of kinship. I come to reassure myself that I am not a gullible fool. This is my oasis but am I correct in my fear that there is only hostile desert out there? What do you think?

The path of the proponent was a narrow one, trapped between hard believers in some spirituality and the fundamentalists of the Physicalist faith...but it is thankfully less so over time.

But we are talking about a shift that is occurring for maybe a decade compared to years and years of even New Agers being quite dogmatic in knowing what they know. 

OTOH this is more those who have enough interest to vocalize their beliefs, where the proponent is an advocate of sorts. I've talked to varied people who have belief in the things we talk about here but don't care enough to discuss it. For example I knew a psychologist who had a past life regression done to overcome a sudden an unexpected fear of snakes. She's happy to talk about it but she's not out there advocating for reincarnation research.

Statistically we also know that many people can say they're atheist but still believe in ghosts or even an afterlife.

As for feeling threatened, I've found those of the Physicalist faith immediately panic at the idea of even a whiff of the paranormal - look at some of the comments on the internet about the Hard Problem of Consciousness. Can it really matter if instead of Materialist atomic reductionism we had Panpsychic atomic reductionism? Their insane need to keep out that "Divine Foot" rears its head over and over, even to the point of supporting a paradigm that has humanity bereft of choice/morality/eternity. It's blue sky Utopian thinking, a rationalization for their narcissistic battle against a God they supposedly don't believe in.
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


(This post was last modified: 2021-03-12, 07:46 PM by Sciborg_S_Patel.)
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I totally relate to your dilemma.  I also have a similar and maybe stronger reaction to people on skeptiko who I consider well informed  and feel a kinship with in matters of psi  who militantly support a radically different social political view. 
This is a great topic, I'm glad you brought it up!
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(2021-03-12, 07:00 PM)Kamarling Wrote: So here I was (and here I am), stuck between two worldviews. I come here to this forum, as I did to the Skeptiko forum previously, to find a modicum of kinship. I come to reassure myself that I am not a gullible fool. This is my oasis but am I correct in my fear that there is only hostile desert out there? What do you think?
It depends a great deal by what you mean by "out there". I know there are a lot of loud voices which can sound impressive, but what about the people who are not shouting, what do they think? The answer there I think is that we don't know, but to me it is among the ordinary people, from all walks of life, where I seek kinship. I don't particularly aim to find a home among a very driven and campaigning crowd.

The comments I've made here make no mention of the issues of atheism or scepticism or spirituality or any of the other topics. It is just the general principle that certain people thrive on an energetic and lively debate, with no holds barred. It's a kind of lifestyle thing.

Actually when I was younger I had more aggression, and would willingly engage in arguments - some of the time. But I didn't ever argue about the stuff we discuss on this forum, those I reserved for a quieter and more respectful chat, often late at night after the energies of the day had exhausted their fires, and a more reflective mood entered into things.

Anyway, what I'll offer as my opinion is that there are very many people quietly considering these things, vast numbers really. Certainly I've chanced on a good many among acquaintances and friends. For me it is mostly a matter of sharing thoughts and ideas, sometimes in the real world one has to feel one's way, not plunging headlong into a topic in a great rush, but just testing the waters and seeing who might be responding, if only by a word or a look.

One other thought, I think there is plentiful evidence available on both psi phenomena and survival, but the only person who needs to be convinced is ourself. The other angle is to trust ourselves, there are times when we all depend on others for support, someone to turn to or to lean on. But at the same time, there is a need to be able to stand on our own feet when we are able. It feels good to do so. Trusting our own judgement on what may in the end be the only things which matter, is something which we owe to ourselves. In that respect, what someone else is saying down the hall or in some other place is really their own affair, not something we are obliged to even notice.
(This post was last modified: 2021-03-13, 10:28 AM by Typoz.)
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(2021-03-12, 07:45 PM)Sciborg_S_Patel Wrote: Statistically we also know that many people can say they're atheist but still believe in ghosts or even an afterlife.


I know that this is so, statistically, but I have yet to meet one. Every time I discuss this subject with an atheist I am met with a shake of the head and an insistence that death is the end. No God, no afterlife - the two are so often conflated.


Quote:As for feeling threatened, I've found those of the Physicalist faith immediately panic at the idea of even a whiff of the paranormal - look at some of the comments on the internet about the Hard Problem of Consciousness. Can it really matter if instead of Materialist atomic reductionism we had Panpsychic atomic reductionism? Their insane need to keep out that "Divine Foot" rears its head over and over, even to the point of supporting a paradigm that has humanity bereft of choice/morality/eternity. It's blue sky Utopian thinking, a rationalization for their narcissistic battle against a God they supposedly don't believe in.


I think Kastrup pointed out that the recent shift towards panpsychism is not a move away from physicalism. The Hard Problem seems to have forced some physicalists into a corner where they have to accept that consciousness is probably ubiquitous so they have invented a new "field" of consciousness like the field of gravity. 

What prompted my original post may be of interest. I'm reading a sci-fi novel called "The Humans" by Matt Haig. The idea is an old sci-fi trope of the advanced alien commenting on our strange and irrational human ways, written with an almost Douglas Adams style sense of humour. Matt Haig, as Wikipedia will always be happy to point out, is an atheist so he has fun with our human concepts of God and spirituality as well as other human weirdness such as love and emotion. What suddenly occurred to me was that most of the books following this theme are probably written by atheist sci-fi authors. So the following question also occurred to me.

Why is it that sci-fi authors so often imagine an advanced alien individual or civilisation as being advanced in terms of technology but their philosophical evolution is always steeped in Darwinism, materialism and atheism. The more "advanced" the alien, the less empathy, the less emotion, the less spirituality, the less compassion. Spock to the power of Spock. Technology and science endows immortality through defeating disease or manipulating genes. Love is replaced by "ideal" partners selected by computer. AI provides further companionship without those irritating human traits such as intolerance or impatience.

In short, it worries me to see what the idea of "advanced" means to the atheist/physicalist. I'm glad I will not be around to share in their utopia.
I do not make any clear distinction between mind and God. God is what mind becomes when it has passed beyond the scale of our comprehension.
Freeman Dyson
(This post was last modified: 2021-03-12, 08:59 PM by Kamarling.)
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Quote:I know that this is so, statistically, but I have yet to meet one. Every time I discuss this subject with an atheist I am met with a shake of the head and an insistence that death is the end. No God, no afterlife - the two are so often conflated.

I do think it's somewhat rare in the West and possibly even in India though I've noticed atheists from the UK seem quite passionate about Physicalism, perhaps more so than what we might find elsewhere. I think outside of Western Europe generally you'll find more people thinking this way though their atheism is more a doubtful agnosticism.

For example China has had a Communist atheist disposition for years yet the rising popularity of fantasy properties based in old paranormal Chinese ideas shows that beliefs like Taoism never truly left them.

(2021-03-12, 08:50 PM)Kamarling Wrote: What prompted my original post may be of interest. I'm reading a sci-fi novel called "The Humans" by Matt Haig. The idea is an old sci-fi trope of the advanced alien commenting on our strange and irrational human ways, written with an almost Douglas Adams style sense of humour. Matt Haig, as Wikipedia will always be happy to point out, is an atheist so he has fun with our human concepts of God and spirituality as well as other human weirdness such as love and emotion. What suddenly occurred to me was that most of the books following this theme are probably written by atheist sci-fi authors. So the following question also occurred to me.

I think this is somewhat generational but also just what the fan bases expected even if in their personal lives they were religious. Regarding the past, Iain Banks had the idea of a higher level of reality, the Sublime, into which the most advanced species would rise into. But this wasn't exactly spiritual.

The strict division between Sci-Fi and Fantasy isn't as necessary to the fandom, and you could sort of see this in properties like Farscape. Also the recent space necromancy novel Gideon the Ninth seems to be pretty popular.

Quote:Why is it that sci-fi authors so often imagine an advanced alien individual or civilisation as being advanced in terms of technology but their philosophical evolution is always steeped in Darwinism, materialism and atheism. The more "advanced" the alien, the less empathy, the less emotion, the less spirituality, the less compassion. Spock to the power of Spock. Technology and science endows immortality through defeating disease or manipulating genes. Love is replaced by "ideal" partners selected by computer. AI provides further companionship without those irritating human traits such as intolerance or impatience.

In short, it worries me to see what the idea of "advanced" means to the atheist/physicalist. I'm glad I will not be around to share in their utopia.

Well there isn't going to be a Utopia and I think more and more people are waking up to that fact - if anything the new existentialist horror is rooted in the failure of Scientism. The popularity of Cosmic Horror - which partially originated in the dehumanizing feeling of materialist advancing - probably speaks to this realization that there won't be a Physicalist/Atheist technological paradise.

Regarding Spock, as an aside Leonard Nimoy was something of devotee to the Divine Feminine aspect of Judaism, Shekinah.
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


(This post was last modified: 2021-03-12, 09:26 PM by Sciborg_S_Patel.)
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See, that's why I come here, Sci. I get to talk to people like you who at least know where I'm coming from even if we don't see the world in precisely the same way. Happy to have you share my oasis. Smile
I do not make any clear distinction between mind and God. God is what mind becomes when it has passed beyond the scale of our comprehension.
Freeman Dyson
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It starts in infant school with "it's silly to believe in..." and then confirmation bias first of their social group, then of other people convinces them that science has proved something or other that in actual fact hasn't been proven and in many cases cannot be proven.  I was often the victim of that at school and in adult life I have often found myself on my own in the middle somewhere.  The worst is when you know you have experienced something but consensus wisdom says that you can't have.  It's like being told as a child that your nightmares are silly.  They are not silly to you.
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(2021-03-12, 11:09 PM)Brian Wrote: It starts in infant school with "it's silly to believe in..." and then confirmation bias ...


Odd how we all tend to accuse others of confirmation bias. I get it a lot: "you read all that nonsense and it just confirms what you want to believe".

However, in my limited experience, I read a lot of the stuff they read too (or at least they clam to read). For example, I have read a lot of popular science (it has to be that kind because I am hopeless at mathematics). Often, I know more about the science that I'm being accused of denying than the accuser does. Conversely, they rarely read any of the stuff I read yet they dismiss it because it is clearly "unscientific". 

Skeptiko, in its heyday, had lots of discussions where skeptics would claim justification from science only to have that science explained in detail by a proponent. Anyone remember Maaneli and Johann?
I do not make any clear distinction between mind and God. God is what mind becomes when it has passed beyond the scale of our comprehension.
Freeman Dyson
(This post was last modified: 2021-03-13, 12:54 AM by Kamarling.)
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