Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

Hallucinations, Unreligious countries, God as a bad parent, and God's gender neutrality

A few updates:
  • The False and Conflicting Experiences of Mankind: How Other Peoples' Experience Contradict Our Own Beliefs: I've added section #4.1, Hallucinations and Fasting (with a section on Ghosts), which is now the best part of this otherwise old page. I was on the verge of deleting this page in 2008 but settled for deleting large chunks of waffle, and it has just held on. Hopefully with this new content I'll feel better about it!

  • Secularisation Theory: Will Modern Society Reject Religion? What is Secularism? - I've added to Section #3 a list of the least religious countries of the world, and countries that are most atheist. Added a note that some describe Berlin as 'the atheist capital of the world'. I've re-ordered some sections. Added notes that in the West and in the non-Western world (i.e. Amongst Buddhists), the perceived authority of clergy and religious professionals is declining. Added a quote from Richard Fenn to section #6 on Civil Religion.

  • I've added comments on two sets of verses to The God of the Christian Bible is Evil: Evidence from Scripture and Nature. I've added Psalm 104:27-30 to section "1.1. God Creates Evil Regardless of Human Free Will". God sometimes feeds and waters animals, and at other "terrifies" them. This makes rubbish of the idea that humankind fell from grace, as animals are innocent of this, yet, they are still harangued by God - in other words, free will is not the cause of human or animal suffering... God is. The other verse I've commentd on is Genesis 6:7, where God decides to kill everyone because we're all not pleasing him. This I've put into section 2.2. on bad parenting... Although "bad" is a bit of an understatement!

  • And finally, a real quickie: God and Pronouns: God has No Gender - I've added a note on Eckankar, who use a word for god ("Sugmad") which they stress "is neither masculine nor feminine", and on the Kabballah.

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Sunday, February 25th, 2007

St Paul Was Converted to Christianity by a Seizure

New text on St. Paul: St Paul Was Converted to Christianity by a Seizure:

Saint Paul certainly had once an epileptoid, if not an epileptic seizure - "The Varieties of Religious Experience" by William James, p35.

William James, the well-known psychologist and author on the history of religion, is convinced that St Paul's vision of Christ (his only "contact" with Jesus, ever) was a seizure (ref: Acts 9:3-9). His claim is scientifically likely and has been made by scientists and doctors many times in history4. The prominent book on brain neurology, Neuroscience states that some people have a once-in-a-life seizure that can include visual hallucinations. In the general (non-epileptic) population, it occurs in 7 to 10 percent of people's lives5.

(References exist on the page linked)
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Wednesday, January 17th, 2007

Prof. Charles Catania says that physical problems with eyes can cause effects like seeing blood run up walls, dust storms, clouds and haloes that are not real.

A slight bleed near the retina can cause the appearance of blood running upwards (up a wall, up a road), etc, depending on what the person is looking at. (It runs upwards because our eyes invert what we see, abd as the blood runs down in the eye, it looks like it is running upwards). A smaller bleed can look like blood appearing in the air, and moving upwards in a line. (Covering one eye, then the other, will reveal which eye the bleed is in.)

Also, dried particles of blood (perhaps resulting from a small bleed into the eye) or other debris or particles can create an appearance of a mystical cloud, a dust cloud, or a wide variety of strange (unreal) phenomenon. This might occur only sometimes - when running, bouncing, driving, etc, depending on what stirs the particles.

Many other effects can result from damage to the eye, even when the damage doesn't hurt, wasn't noticed, and symptoms only occur sometimes. It can be very difficult to put down some of these random hallucinations and effects to physiological causes unless you are familiar with ophthalology, so many people would naturally assume they're real.

This was reported in The Skeptical Inquirer, 2007 Jan/Feb (Vol 31, Issue 1), p49. Charles Catania is a professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Maryland, Baltimore Country.

A brief sentence based on this report appears on "Phsyiological causes of strange experiences" by Vexen Crabtree (2002).
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