Tag Archives: alpha course

Sending humans to do a deity’s job.

respect(This is the 9th edition of my Alpha Course reaction. For the first and all past posts, see the Alpha Page.)

After last week’s monster of a post, you’ll be glad to hear that this week’s will be shorter than usual. But first, a couple of semi-related things I’d meant to refer to in earlier posts but missed.

In the last post, I briefly discussed (due to the subject of “speaking in tongues,” or glossolalia), the concept of left and right brain hemispheres, and how one controls language and the other is the emotional center. Sometimes the emotion, to convey it to others or even to express it for one’s self, the language centers of one half of the brain need to be bypassed in order to “speak” directly to the emotional regions of the right-brain.

Well, here are a couple of absolutely fascinating videos which address this dual-brain dichotomy.

I Can Smell Your Spicy Brains!

The first is an excerpt from a show about the brain, and features Alan Alda interviewing a doctor and a patient who has had the connection allowing the two brains to communcate, severed. The results are fantastic:

There used to be a model of “understanding” the human, the personality, called dualism, that was the accepted and simply assumed model since Plato at least. Philosopher René Descartes did a lot of work on the subject, so we’ll often hear it refered to as “Cartesian dualism.” It’s basically this: The brain and the mind are two separate and distinct entities. The mind is a result of the spirit, or animae, and operates with the influence of, but apart from the physical brain. Of course, this belief, utterly philosophical (and religious) and not based on any hard evidence, makes sense to those who believe in the soul, spirits, ghosts, etc.

The problem is, we know without a doubt that everything about the person, behavior, personality, wants and desires, fears and memory, are all derived from the physicality of the brain. We know this because the brain can be manipulated, whether from internal damage (disease, stroke, etc.), by injury, and by experimentation (surgery, drugs, focused magnetic resonance), and any changes can create marked and stark changes in the “person.”

Continue reading Sending humans to do a deity’s job.

Alpha Update

My continued apologies to anyone looking forward to upcoming alpha posts — I assure you, they’re coming. The next one, the 3-posts-in-one from the weekend retreat, is nearly finished! Sadly, technical difficulties are preventing me from finishing. (I’ll be looking for a public WiFi tonight, though.) 🙂
So, stay tuned; they’re coming!

I am the Alpha and the… Beta.

I’m working on the fourth installment of my reaction to the Alpha Course, (which will feature the concept of the efficacy of prayer!), but I wanted to make a quick post that’s a little meta.

First, I got a mention on Friendly Atheist! OK, full disclosure: I asked him about it. 🙂 But he was kind enough to make a mention on his site. I’ve been a reader of Friendly Atheist for quite some time now, and I’m quite the fan. So, I’m gleeful.

From the comments on that post, I’ve discovered that a lot of atheists and other non-theists have come in contact with the Alpha Course. And their reactions have generally been similar to mine. But one person posted a link to a blog by a fellow (Stephen Butterfield) who’s also been posting his reactions to the course — and it’s fantastic! He’s so much more succinct and clear and interesting to read than my babbling rants. His 2nd post, “Why Did Jesus Die?”, is really a great read. One of the reasons is because Stephen actually engages his discussion group in challenges and dialog — something I’m having a very hard time trying to do. But his doing so makes for some fun, and educational, reading. Check it out!

Oh, and I just came across a link I blogged about a couple of years ago, on the subject of God “never gives more than you can handle” drek. That sentiment keeps popping up in discussion. Here’s an essay I read in ’08 that I think is the best response possible to that canard: Reasonable Doubt About the Problem of Evil/Needless Suffering As A Test