The author of "The Discovers" wrote: "The greatest impediment in the whole history of science to progress is not ignorance, but the illusions of knowledge". Thinking that we know something that we've actually assumed. Susan Blackmore's words there, I think in many respects. . . have expressed illusions of knowledge rather than actual knowledge. . . In this regard her statements are enormous impediments to knowledge rather than knowledge. She said we must start with what we know of reality, and then she goes on to this whole sequence of things she says we know [but don't]. . .
What do we know about what happens to consciousness at death?. . . Do we have any means of measuring the presence of consciousness? The answer is no. . . Is there any scientific definition . . .of consciousness? The answer is no. We don't know whether insect-eating plants are conscious. We don't know whether coral are conscious. What are the causes of consciousness? We don't know. . . This is a massive amount of ignorance. . . If we take that as a starting point. . . how on earth with confidence can we say we know anything about what happens to consciousness at death with all that ignorance? And so to start off and say any spiritual practice has to take place in terms of what we know, very good. But why don't we be a bit skeptical about what people think they know as opposed to what has actually been demonstrated in a rigorous scientific fashion? So this is what bothers me about many of the so-called skeptics. What they're doing is defending the status quo, which doesn't take a whole lot of guts, frankly. The status quo, where so much money, power and status is, of materialism. And so no skepticism is required there at all, and so standing up in front with a whole team of scientists behind one all agreeing on the same metaphysical worldview, and then saying "we're skeptics", they're about as skeptical as Pat Robertson or Billy Graham. . . I just don't see much difference in the skepticism of a religious fundamentalist and the skepticism of a hard-core committed scientific materialist. . .
Wednesday, August 8, 2007
"As skeptical as Pat Robertson or Billy Graham". . .
I really enjoyed listening to this Skeptiko podcast with B. Alan Wallace. Here's a brief quotation from Alan (emphasis added by me):