Sunday, August 05, 2007

Richard Dawkins Going After Faith Healers

Fresh from the success of his book The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins is now going after the faith healers.

In a two-part television series, evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins visits faith healers, psychics and other gurus in an effort to counter what he calls a wave of irrational superstition sweeping Britain, the Sunday Telegraph reported.

The program is called The Enemy of Reason, and will air on Channel 4 in the UK this month. I would love to hear from any one after this has been shown.



Richard said...

I’m working on a writing project that posits that the nonphysical (aka supernatural) cannot exist within this universe and its laws of physics. All it would take is the proven existence of one nonphysical item/entity to dash my premise.

This is tied into the "God" issue, since if there's no such thing as the supernatural, then a supernatural "God," the "afterlife," and angels and demons, etc. cannot exit.

Can anyone name one non-physical thing that exists and offer a meaningful argument/evidence for it?

Thanks, Richard

ZapperZ said...

That's for that additional info, Richard. I'm glad you found this blog.

It sounds as if (and I'm being presumptuous about this) you are writing something similar to Vic Stenger's book "God: The Failed Hypothesis". He tried admirably, but I think he didn't make that convincing of an argument, or at least, he cannot rule out all of the "gods".

In any case, I would love to hear more about this project of yours, especially when you have it completed. I also belong to another physics forum that has a "Skepticism and Debunking" section. Maybe I'll post your challenge there and see if there's any takers.




Ivan said...

I think you have a problem with your definitions. Clearly any evidence of the "supernatural" would have to be physical on some level or we would have no way to detect, observe, or interact with it. What you seem to do is to define "supernatural" to be "magic". If such a thing exists, any so called supernatural phenomenon that is experienced must on some level must be a physical one that alludes or exceeds our current state of knowledge.

We can't fully explain all known and absolutely genuine phenomena, much less rare and transient ones that may not be reproducible - ones that might involve a level of physical reality either can't yet be described by physics and may never be, or one that is not yet understood within the context of modern physics, and may never be.

Ball lightning is now considered to be real, but I doubt if anyone can provide evidence for it that would meet your criteria. On the other hand, there are "psychics" who find dead bodies when the police have failed. Is a corpse considered to be evidence?

DJ said...

Hey Richard!

I read your books and am impressed by your arguments.

One thing that bothers me tho, is that my take on God has not been touched. My take is close to "Buddha" and that of Advaita of Sankaracharya. I dont believe God is just supernatural. I believe rather, that Nature is Godly. Part of God.

I think I have a fairly good reasoning to prove the God that I believe in. My God is omniscient, omnipresent, creator and so on. I have an argument thats more like panpsychism. Its a beaten path though. India has seen some of the most early organized atheistic doctrines in Charvaka, and their practitioners were thoroughly beaten by this proof. Unfortunately, neither this proof nor this philosophy is widely known in the west. I think I can logically deduct the necessity of the existance of such a God.

Now, regarding proving something "NON-PHYSICAL" exists, it seems rhetoric. Something non physical can only be experiential and personal. It depends on what you call Physical though. But things like Ghosts and stuff, if thats what you call NON-PHYSICAL, then "thoughts", "fear", "anger", "pleasure", "dreams", "day-dreams" are all non-phisical, arnt they?

I would like to know what exactly you are looking for so that I might think of proving something like that existing, if its possible.

Please clarify.

Thank you a lot for your time that you are spending on the God-debate. Its truly useful for today's society.

As IVAN said, supernatural has to be defined. Supernatural means "beyond" nature, then one would wonder to ask "whose nature?" I mean, a lunatic percieves nature differently than the other, and yet they both are "part" of nature. So, what exactly do you mean by "SUPERnatural"? Do you just mean "WIERD" and "INExplicable"? Isnt that part of human perception that is part of nature? How can there be any Supernatural? Using supernatural is a misnomer, in my view. There are things beyond our comprehension, but whether you call them Natural or Supernatural depends on the definition of Nature. But either way, existence of such things cant be denied, if they exist.

Please clarify by what you mean "Non-Physical" and "Supernatural". Because, I think God and Afterlife and such stuff are but parts of nature. Only that our limited nature doesnt allow us to see those parts of NATURE easily, just like electrons and other subatomic particles.


DJ said...

im sorry, i mis-typed there. I mean nature and after life and all such things are parts of God, and afterlife is just another part of nature. this is what i wanted to type.


Anonymous said...

Hi there, while I agree with 99% of Dawkins stuff, what has he to say about "consciousness"? That is immaterial and yet real. Is it just "emergent phenomena", arising from a lower level of neural/electrochemical activity? In that case, why hasn't any computer become "self-aware" yet? Don't get me wrong, I admire Dawkins and his attacks on religion and stuff, way to go, bro!

ZapperZ said...

It is so "immaterial", no one could define it, or even show that it exists! So how do you know that there is such a thing?


Anonymous said...

Well, maybe it's true that nobody really CAN "define consciousness/self-awareness" and prove it actually exists? That's my point. And yet we all (well, some of us heh) experience it? It's a real phenomena that I think science has difficulty explaining? It's weird. I'm not advocating "souls" or anything, but what we all experience as "I/me" seems more than electrochemistry. Is Dawkins saying consciousness doesn't really exist?

Like I said, I admire Dawkins but this whole "consciousness" thing has always puzzled me. WTF is it??

ZapperZ said...

How do you know you "experience it" when you don't know what it is, and thus, can't tell if you detected it. After all, I can show you plenty of evidence that your brain can play tricks on you. We can even simulate and out-of-body experience with electrical impulses!

So how do you experience consciousness and somehow know this isn't like any other neurological events?