This site is not maintained. Click here for the new website of Richard Dawkins.

Laura Bow's Profile

Laura Bow's Avatar Joined almost 3 years ago
Gender: Female

Latest Discussions Started by Laura Bow

More Discussions by Laura Bow

Latest Comments by Laura Bow

Go to: Scientific evidence proves why healers see the 'aura' of people

Laura Bow's Avatar Jump to comment 39 by Laura Bow

I agree that this study is unclear, but I'm also someone with synesthesia (number and letter/personality and time/shape). I can certainly believe that a number of aura readers would have it. My particular brand has made me feel for my whole life that 2 is an assertive female, and that 4 is a wisecracking boy. I will also always think of a year as an askew clock with December/January at the top, and June/July at the bottom. But it's hard to attach any significance to these "hallucinations". If I associated peoples faces with colors, had heard about the concept of auras, and wasn't already a skeptic, it would be easy to believe I had some sort of special gift. The experience of synesthesia is hard to explain to someone who doesn't have it but it is always present, and feels very much like the truth.

Fri, 18 May 2012 01:27:06 UTC | #942127

Go to: Religion is not the disease - lack of education is

Laura Bow's Avatar Jump to comment 60 by Laura Bow

I think if there is a way to "cure" the human race of religion, it will take a very specific kind of education, and beyond that, a reevaluation of some of our most entrenched cultural values. Religion is just a byproduct of a ways of thinking, or rather, a lack of critical thinking about deeply held beliefs. One can be very educated, very intelligent, but not have the ability to critically evaluate their own core beliefs.

For generations, we have been taught time and time by our elders and popculture to "trust your heart". It seems like a nice sentiment at first, and yet I think one of the worst tendancies of humans is to assume that their beliefs or even their feelings about something are right without ever really caring if they are justified. It's the reason many people are racist, or homophobic, or hold certain political positions. We have romanticized people who act on passion and instinct, and in a way vilified those who are more analytical and unsure of themselves.

We also live in a society which values a strong sense of self, and deconstructing your own beliefs kind of flies in the face of that. If one admits to themselves that some of their most deeply held beliefs are unfounded, it can result in an identity crisis of sorts.

And lastly, I think most people just don't want to be bothered with big complex questions about the nature of the universe. In a way they hold beliefs so that they don't have to ponder those questions, and so inconsistencies of their belief are never really examined. Science-minded people on the other hand are they type that love disecting and cross-examining the many mysteries of the universe, and tend to ask the questions that give other people a headache.

So, in order to combat silly beliefs we must teach the children of the future to:

a)Never stop asking questions. b)Always be looking for a better explanation than the one they already have. Discarding old beliefs for new and more likely ones is a success, not a defeat. c)Embrace not knowing. It's better to admit you don't know the explanation for something than to accept a weak and unfounded one. d)Build your belief from the bottom up (i.e. start with observations and move towards evidence based explanations) as opposed to top down (i.e. Start with explanation "God", and then look for justifications).

Fri, 13 Apr 2012 04:10:15 UTC | #934330

Go to: We asked "Do you really believe ___" and they said yes. Now what?

Laura Bow's Avatar Jump to comment 13 by Laura Bow

I have been tempted to put a questionnaire out to my friends/family on Facebook, and ask all of them who would consider themselves "Christian" to answer it anonymously. Some of the questions I would ask would be:

  1. Do you see the Bible as a metaphorical book, or a historical account of real events?
  2. Do you believe in evolution?
  3. Do you believe humanity really started with two people named Adam and Eve?
  4. Do you believe in the story of Noah's Ark? If so, did Noah round up two of every insect (i.e. various species of spider)?
  5. Do you believe that Moses literally parted the Red Sea?
  6. If yes to #5, do you believe similar miracles happen in modern times? And If you read about a similar incident happening today on the internet, would you believe it?
  7. Aren't you lucky that you just happened to be born into the right religion? Do you think it's fair that so many are born into the wrong one?
  8. At what point should Christians give up on Christ coming back and start looking into other believe systems?

I would love to do this, because one thing I've noticed is that most Christians I've met really haven't asked themselves many of these questions. If one were to put it in questionnaire form, they would have to answer each question in sequence instead of changing the topic (i.e. "that's not what matters, what matters is that I feel God's presence when I pray!") and really think about their answers. One day, an Evangelical woman I had befriended met up with me for coffee specifically to talk about religion (she had initiated the topic with me). When we finally worked up the nerve to broach the topic I said, "Well, every Christian is different, so I suppose I'm just curious as to what your beliefs are." I started asking her these questions and she seemed genuinely surprised by her own answers. She told me she DID believe in evolution TO AN EXTENT, but she had trouble believing that scientists could really estimate what was happening millions of years ago, and she just couldn't fathom us evolving from apes. I then asked her if she believed in the Noah's Ark story. "Well. Yeah, I do". "Really. You think THAT is easier to believe than scientific theories that have come from rigorous and complex observation and study?" Pause. "Well, yeah, when you put it like that it sounds really crazy doesn't it? I don't know..." "And why don't you think miracles like that happen now adays? Modern day 'miracles' are usually much less sensational..." "Well, my husband and I do wonder that all the time..." Our whole one hour long conversation went this way, and by the end of it she was really opening up to me. She confessed that she doesn't believe in "speaking in tongues" but that there is pressure within her church to do it anyway. I went on to send her potholer54 links on youtube, to ease some of her concerns about carbon dating and theories of human evolution. I never got a clear response from her, but I think our interaction had the tiniest impact on her thinking.

I also think if one were to post the anonymous results of such a questionnaire the absurdity of the results would be apparent to at least the occasional person who had answered.

Wed, 04 Apr 2012 05:54:18 UTC | #932251

Go to: What do you say to your faith-based neighbors?

Laura Bow's Avatar Jump to comment 132 by Laura Bow

Firstly, I just wanted to thank Susanlatimer for taking the words right out of my mouth (or my fingertips in this case). She has very eloquently said most of what I would want to say, especially this part:

Here's what troubles me. If I took seriously the fact that the truth of the universe was that Yahweh made it and that Jesus died for our sins, I'd want to read the entire bible, find out where it came from, understand its historical context and look for evidence from reality to support it.

Some people are like this. I'm willing to bet that most of them rejected, are rejecting or eventually will reject the Yahweh delusion, once the implications are evaluated objectively.

I can attest that this is how I became a skeptic, and an non-theist. As a child I was obsessed with the ideas of God, ghost, UFOs and the like, and wanted so badly for it all to be real that I read everything I could about all of them. But it wasn't enough to like the idea, I wanted to be RIGHT, and there was always the very real possibility that I wasn't. As long as there was no proof I was left having to admit to myself that I just didn't know, no matter how much I believed it was right.

@Matt50 If you're still here, I would like to say that although I don't believe in it, I have no problem with the experience you describe of having an imaginary friend who feels very real. If all theists left it at that, than I doubt us non-theists would be gathered here seeking refuge from the insanity (which I think is deep down why we all come here). the problem comes when you start attaching that feeling to a specific religion. You found Christianity and it felt right to you. Another person feels the imaginary friend and decides that Hinduism explains their feelings. Yet another has a similar experience and decides that Islam holds the explanation. And yet another concludes that aliens are watching over him and intervening in his life.

The problem is, that none of these conclusions are backed up by any evidence whatsoever. So as I see it there are only two ways to move forward:

a) To presume that what I feel is right, and therefore I am somehow more "tapped in" to reality than all those who belong to different belief systems.

or

b) Conclude that most, or all of us most have it wrong, and look for an explanation that actually contains evidence.

The first conclusion is what all people of religion do, which in my opinion is disgustingly arrogant (apologies). It is this arrogance of belief that most troubles me about religion.

Consider this analogy: There are 10 people standing in a room. They have been told there is a room adjacent to them and asked to each guess the square footage of it. They cannot see the room (nor can they even confirm that it exists) but each makes a unique guess as to the dimensions of the room. Now: the likeliness of any individual being right is AT BEST 1 out of 10. More likely it is 0 out of 10. While the theists are guessing the non-theist/scientist is trying to break through the wall and see the other room for themselves. They refuse to assume it's there until they've seen it. But if they keep digging and they just keep getting more "wall" they begin to work under the assumption that they room isn't there. They begin to question the authority of the person who told them about the room, and request where they got their information from. In the meantime, they start to learn valuable information about the room they are in, and the walls around it. They learn how to improve the quality of the room for all. Meanwhile the others are still standing around uselessly, fulfilled by the belief that they got the dimensions of the next room right.

Okay, I just came up with that on the fly, and I'm pretty happy with it. I invite others to expand or alter the analogy as they see fit!

Wed, 14 Mar 2012 17:24:39 UTC | #927033

Go to: The "So" meme

Laura Bow's Avatar Jump to comment 108 by Laura Bow

Just because you realise that the evolution of the rules of language is inevitable, that doesn't mean you should/can stop caring about it. Language is rich both as a result of the lazy evolvers and the frustrated pedants.

I think English is richer because, for example, whilst we are reminded by the grammer nazis never to write a sentence which ends with a preposition, almost literally everybody finds it more natural, when speaking, to reverse the rule.

This would be my sentiment as well. I love the flexiblity and playfulness of the modern English language, and appreciate when people use words in new ways provided that they don't contradict their meaning. (It's kind of funny to read a bunch of science-minded people talk about efficiency of language. In my mind, efficiency is the least of my concerns when speaking). I agree with some of the other suggestions here that starting a sentence with "So" is an attempt to connect the thought in a subtle way to past conversations. It's almost subconscious in its effect, but still useful. I'll also admit to being a victim of the "like" generation. I started using it compulsively at around 10 years old, and at almost 28 I still haven't completely shaken the habit. As others have said "I was like" is slightly different than "I said" and confirms that this a blurry account of events rather than a strict retelling. I don't speak another language, but in my attempts to learn French I've found it's lack of flexibility frustrating...

Plus I just don't think t.v. shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer or My So-Called Life would be nearly as fun had their characters spoken perfect English. Leave the economical proper English for the textbooks.

Mon, 05 Mar 2012 20:29:30 UTC | #924710

More Comments by Laura Bow