Saturday, September 29, 2007

World Magazine's interview with Mario Beauregard and Denyse O'Leary dispels all doubt

Yes, we really ARE non-materialists. And we have good reasons for being non-materialists.
Mind over matter
Interview: A new book on neuroscience challenges the prevailing materialist worldview | Daniel

James Devine

Your mind doesn't get the credit it deserves. Not according to The Spiritual Brain: A Neuroscientist's Case for the Existence of the Soul (HarperOne), a new book aiming to show that the mind—as distinct from the brain—is a real entity with nonphysical qualities. That's opposite the current dogma in the field of neuroscience, where materialism—the philosophy that physical matter is all that exists—has held sway, promoting drug treatments for most psychiatric disorders and fueling atheists who argue spirituality is a delusion created by the brain.

Hey, we go on, uttering worse heresies yet:
WORLD: Your book argues, "When we treat the mind as capable of changing the brain, we can treat conditions that were once considered difficult or impossible to treat." Which conditions?

BEAUREGARD: Anxiety disorders—specific phobias, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder—and mood disorders like major depression. By recognizing that mental processes such as thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and volition can significantly influence the functioning and plasticity of the brain at various levels—molecular, cellular, neural circuitry—nonmaterialist neuroscience could markedly alter the way psychotropic (mind-altering) drugs are prescribed.

O'LEARY: Tom Wolfe wrote an influential essay in 1996 called "Sorry, But Your Soul Just Died," ascribing enormous power to the new antidepressants. Later, a very large amount of the miraculous effect turned out to be the placebo effect. Once people honestly believed that a drug could lift them out of depression, it could have been lithium or blue Smarties mix. Their own minds were apparently doing the heavy lifting, but they didn't even know it. I wonder if Wolfe will write another essay titled "Sorry, But Your Soul Just Prefers the Blue Smarties."

Learn more here.

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The Spiritual Brain: Dutch cardiologist, expert on near death experience, loves the book!

The Spiritual Brain is a wonderful and important book. I hope it will be successful, because it deserves to be read throughout the world.

- Dr. Pim van Lommel, Division of Cardiology, Hospital Rijnstate, Arnhem, Netherlands

Dr. Van Lommel, as we discuss in The Spiritual Brain, has published studies of people who have had near death experiences, and dealt with unidirectional skeptics of near death experiences.

Note: Unidirectional skeptics = people who are skeptical only of evidence that near death experiences suggest that the mind is not completely attached to the brain. They are willing to accept any evidence otherwise, no matter how poorly supported.

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Why brain scans cannot tell whether you are religious or not

Andrew Newberg, author of Why God Won't Go Away spoke recently at Princeton. Attempting to explain how people see what they want to see with respect to beliefs, he related,
When Newberg showed a Franciscan nun her brain scan and the changes in activity while she prayed, she thanked him for confirming that something unique happened in her brain when she thought about God.

But when he showed an atheist his brain scan, however, the atheist thanked Newberg for reaffirming his nonreligious beliefs, underscoring Newberg's point that different people draw different conclusions from the same message.

I am deeply suspicious as to whether the linked article conveys what Newberg really wanted to say about spirituality, but it does help get across the point that the mind is not simply what the brain does.

I read Newberg's " Why God Won't ... " with great interest while working on The Spiritual Brain. I think he is on to something, almost in spite of himself. Hat tip to Stephanie West of Brains on Purpose.

About The Spiritual Brain, Newberg has said,
The Spiritual Brain is a wonderful and important book that provides new insights into our experience of religion and God. It offers a unique perspective to the ongoing dialogue between science and religion. This book is a necessary read for both the scientist and the religious person.

-Andrew Newberg, M.D. Associate Professor of Radiology and Director of the Center for Spirituality and the Mind at the University of Pennsylvania. Co-author of Why We Believe What We Believe.

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Monk-led protest against Myanmar generals' regime now under heavy assault

Last week, Buddhist monks led a protest against the dictatorial regime of Myanmar's generals.

But, according to Canada's Globe and Mail:
RANGOON -- Protesters who have crowded the streets of Myanmar's major city of Rangoon for days began to flinch in the face of a harsh military crackdown yesterday, turning out in smaller numbers - unaccompanied by the country's Buddhist monks, who have been barricaded in their monasteries or taken into custody.

The organization said that all cyber-cafés in Rangoon (also known as Yangon) were closed and that the military was persecuting journalists who continued to work despite the difficult conditions.

The regime has also ordered Christians to be wiped out, apparently.

Further to the "Goons in Rangoon" news, David Warren offers context in the Ottawa Citizen,
Looking, through the dusk screen of the media, at the events in Burma, one
feels a cold and pointless rage. The vicious regime that has long enslaved that country is again winning a struggle in which they have all the weapons.

With the "subtle, malign cunning" (I am quoting Kenneth Denby, writing bravely for the Times of London, from Rangoon) that is possible only to a cat with a cornered mouse, the regime has watched the nation's Buddhist monks lead the people onto the streets. It allowed them nine days to vent their grievances, and is now cutting them down.

But the cutting down has been done with much greater efficiency than after the last demonstrations on this scale, that began August 8, 1988. Perhaps 3,000 were massacred in the course of snuffing out the flame of liberty on that occasion. In this latest reprisal of government against people, it seems only a few dozen have been killed -- including the Japanese press photographer, Kenji Nagai, shot down in cold blood to send a message to the other foreign reporters.

In recent history, however, the "monks" tend to win.

BUT this shows us that victory is a long way off.

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