FLC Philosophy Club - “Do Religions Start Wars?” (3/17/23)

Consensus about reality itself. (Anil Seth).

Physical Reality is what I’m referring to.
Are you saying there’s no consensus on what Physical Reality is?

Our Impression of Reality - (is what Anil Seth is talking about)
now that’s a whole other ball game as I explain.

Historically there have been religious wars and I think religions can potentially start wars.

That’s the easy answer, but you should listen to them slice and dice it into nuances that will have your head spinning.
Still seems to me, most of this comes down to the varied definitions people have and of course the endless story telling.

Is it religious, if religion is merely the tool to manipulate masses into a frenzy? etc. etc.

That’s why I think it’s a useless question.

Anthropomorphic Reality is by consensus of mind, fed by factual measurements. But I’m sure you will agree that there is very little agreement on many things in this “common” reality.

I am not proposing that our minds create actual reality. Actual reality exists. It’s just that not every brain (and body) experiences reality the same way.
I have given several examples that confirm Seth’s “findings”.

Which is why I make the point of identifying that as our Human Mindscape (all that unfolds within our mind, just beyond the brain/body) and mind is definitely qualitatively significantly different from the physical realm our bodies inhabit.

This is exactly the point I keep hammering away at. Our minds create our impressions of reality!
Key point being that the reality we are perceiving is there, independent of our perception of it.
How we perceive that world is a different matter.
We do the best we can with what we have.

Seth speciality is the way the human mind works.
That’s fine, but a truly deeper understanding requires us to pull back from the cozy creative, but oh so self-centered anthropomorphizing as though we were God’s own unique animals, and start to look at us in context with the rest of Earth’s evolving animal kingdom.

First listening to and now reading Ed Yong’s * An Immense World - How Animal Senses Reveal the Hidden Realms Around Us I’ve realized how enlightening a better appreciation for the mind/body problem of other animals is for informing this entire debate. It especially helps put the “hallucination” trope into a much more realistic context.

I do intend on reporting back on the book’s highlights at that thread I started, but life gets busy, particular April, with gardening duties kicking in and my big Bluegrass Meltdown* weekend coming up in a couple days, so it’s on the back-burner for now. * Over ten years now, but this is the last one, time to retire and hand it on to a younger person. In some ways I’ll miss it, but then again I won’t, it’s a hell of a lot of work and I’m getting lazier all the time as my meter keeps getting closer to 70.

Write, it’s occurred to me why I find the “hallucination” metaphor so deeply offensive, or at least another way to try to explain it.

Our body’s perception is the result of countless calculations, coming in from well honed and proven sensing instruments to our brain, they get checked and double checked through various calculations, in real time, with a constant flow of feedback that weighs the calculations, that become action potentials, that trigger decisions, action. Nothing about that process or the results has anything to do with hallucination. It’s worth thinking about and understanding.

I know this isn’t what Seth is doing, it’s his sloppy lazy wordsmanship that mislead people into misplaced assumptions. Any deeper serious reading of Seth’s work gets into more nuances, so it’s not like I dismiss him, (the guy is not one of the posers sucking off the work of others). He has put in the work and earned his success and made a difference, I don’t dismiss any of that.

It’s one small, but significant detail, a communication thing, but one worth making an issue out of.
Back to, I know Seth isn’t doing this, but his words make it easy to imply that algorithms and calculations based on inputs of facts are hallucinations.

Why is it a hallucination?

Because those calculations contain errors and reductions and simplifications? Can you explain the rationale of that line of thinking?

I’ve tried to highlight the two realms of reality. These have been recognized on a visceral level probably since humans first became introspective and aware of the world and time. Who am I?

  1. Our thoughts. Our mind in action, the Mindscape.
  2. The physical stuff of matter and physics in action.

Seth’s analogy works for mind to mind interactions, that is social human intellectual intercourse. People to people mingling of our stories and thoughts and dreams and gossip that we exist within.

But it does not work for the human biological creature that’s producing this mind (& all we know). Our body’s interactions with the outside world and its own homeostasis, that is what has nothing to do with hallucination and that we need to understand a lot better than most do.

We are biological sensing creatures, analogous to all the other creatures that roam this planet. The product of Earth’s evolutionary processes. Once we internalize that, all sorts of things make more sense.

I believe strongly that this distinction needs to be acknowledged, processed, internalized, especially for those who intend to be around after the coming climate calamities play out.

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You said:

But then you recognize the limitations of the brain in its processing of the sensory inputs it receives.

Seems we both agree with Seth that the brain makes a “best guess” as to what’s “out there”. He just presents it from a subjective perspective that a “best guess” is actually no better than a “controlled hallucination”. Many people have uncontrolled hallucinations like “color blindness”. They see reality in a completely different way.

Hence the exclamation of a color blind person using corrective glasses : “Is this what you see every day?” Clearly this person lived (and functioned) in a different reality as people with normal color perception.
One account was from a colorblind person who needed to describe the color of cars coming through the gate. He could not perform that simple task but was perfectly suited to perform tasks that did not require color cognition.

When our minds agree about what they believe to be real from the sensory data they receive, we call that reality by consensus.

However, many animals experience a different reality. Insects live in a different subjective reality than humans.

Small. Intelligent. Industrious.

It seems there should be no contest in the battle between man and insect. We’re a million times bigger and can easily crush any bug, but that’s only if we can catch it. Despite their tiny size, insects have all five senses and use them to try to evade us.


Insects are far more sensitive to touch than people are and have touch receptors on hairs located all over their bodies, including their antennae, feet, wings and even their eyes. Some insects, like migratory locusts, have touch-sensitive hairs on their heads that react to air pressure and create a stimulus to keep their wings beating. Other insects like to snuggle into crevices and feel the walls close around them to give them a feeling of comfort and security.


Insects have thin tympanic membranes used for hearing. They usually have two, one on each side, although the membranes aren’t on each side of their heads. Instead, insects’ hearing organs are on their abdomens or legs. The range of sounds insects hear varies. Some can hear lower sounds than people, and some can hear higher sounds. Their sense of hearing lets them avoid predators, like bats… and us.


Insects don’t have taste buds, but their hairs with chemoreceptors that are similar. These might be located on the antennae, on the legs or on the ovipositor (a reproductive organ for laying eggs), like in some wasps and crickets. Bees and beetles can distinguish sweet, sour, salty and bitter tastes, just as people can.


Smell is a crucial sense for many insects. Most have olfactory receptors on their antennae. Insects use the sense of smell to recognize members of their own species and find mates, food and a host on which to lay eggs. The sense of smell also helps insects find a way back to their nests.


Some insects are blind, like the workers of some ant species, but most insects have vision. Many have one pair of large, compound eyes, plus several small, simple eyes called ocelli that primarily differentiate light and dark. An insect eye has a cornea, retina and optic nerve, just like the human eye. The compound eyes can have as many as 30,000 facets. Insects have color vision and are sensitive to a wider spectrum than people. Some can even see deep into the ultraviolet spectrum. Insects also have depth perception, but despite their large eyes, they’re generally nearsighted.
How Insects Use Their Senses to Evade - Eco Care Pest Management

Sometime you really make me sad.

You are totally missing the substance of what I’m discussing.
You’re playing a semantics game.

Color Blindness a hallucination? No.

Get Ed Yong’s book for christ sake and stop listening to philosophizers dedicated to argumentation and playing with words and learn about the biological facts of other creatures and what perception is all about for them. Understand we are part of that spectrum.

Then think about the mean that Hallucination has: “an experience involving the apparent perception of something not present.”

It’s self-blinding to shackle what goes on inside of our body within such a bizarre definition.

Your hallucination can fit in with your world of thoughts, that is the mindscape.

It does not fit into the material world of physical reality and evolved biological systems. Evolutionary survival requires an exquisite reaction to the physical realities tossed at us all the time. The hallucinators disappear, they die off soon as they show up.

Thinking of what we’re doing to our Earth, and what’s that’s going to cause her to do to us, it’s sort of prophetic.

Please look at what I wrote:

So, you are saying that, sensing the world differently that you is hallucinating it?

You really should get up to speed on Ed Yong’s collection of what’s been learned about other animals sensory realm, and what they might teach us about our own consciousness’s relationship to the actual factual non-hallucinatory material realm.

What’s most frustrating in dealing with you is that so often you are arguing side issues that ignore what I’m actually trying to bring into focus.

I understand what you are proposing, and I am trying to draw a scientific distinction between what is real and what our mind perceives as real. This varies from person to person as I have illustrated with otherwise perfectly functional people who are color-blind and live in a dull reality without vivid colors. This is not a rare condition. There are millions of color-blind people who live in a colorless world. Why do you think they cry when they finally are able to see reality as it really is? Through their subjective experience they enter a whole new reality that they never knew existed except by word of mouth.

How about deaf people who are fitted with an internal receiver that allows them to hear. Their expression when they hear their own voice or someone else’s voice for the first time just speaks volumes of totally new sensory data their brain must process and store in memory as identification of “sound”.

There are people who cannot feel pain. They have an existential inability to sense when they become injured. Imagine what it must feel like to experience pain for the first time, something that most humans experience at a very early age and learn to avoid at all cost.

You are placing all humans in a giant common bucket where each sees, hears, smells , touches produces the exact same experience, but that is not true.
Every individual has a subjective experience of reality that is different (even if it is just a little bit) from everyone else.

Even common experiences are just approximations of reality, evolved only for survival tactics. (see checker board illusion that gives a false impression (hallucination) of reality).

I understand that all people have evolved common abilities , but they are all educated approximations and only when people agree on their common sensory experiences, can consensus agreement on reality be achieved.

I completely agree with you that all living organisms are a result of individually evolved genetics, that has created this incomprehensible variety of species, colorations, configurations, abilities, each adapted to a specific niche of nature’s ecosystems and each able to experience a different aspect of reality but none who can experience all of reality.

We are on the same page, but from a slightly different perspective and use of language.
Please don’t be upset. I really don’t think that we are that far apart in conceptualization.
We focus on different details and IMO that is a good thing… :thinking:

Color blindness is “an experience involving the apparent perception of something not present.”

In this case, there are three conditions that offer a completely different color experience to the observer and none of them are a close approximation of reality.

Monochromatism, dichromatism, and anomalous trichromatism are the three types of color blindness. These can be further broken up into tritanopia, deuteranopia, and protanopia to determine which colors and hues are not visible based on the cones present in the retina. Jul 27, 2020

Why are we arguing about this? No one experiences reality exactly the same as everyone else.
We can make general statements about objective scientific measurements of reality, but we cannot make a general statement about an individually perceived reality without confirmation from scientific measurements or by consensus with others, and that may still be wrong.

Just think of all the different descriptions of perceived reality through the ages .

Can’t do that without acknowledging the scientific distinction between physical reality, the ephemeral nature of our mind, the product of biological processes that are whole within the physical realm.

Color vision does nothing for an argument about “real”

You are talking about human consciousness. Consciousness is outside the “reality” of physical stuff.

Once you read Ed Yong book, you’ll better understand why these arguments based on different perceptions among people, or of optical illusions, are missing the point.

perception is perception.

I don’t think so.

Only thing I’m proposing is that “hallucination” is a horrid counterproductive metaphor, if one is wanting a better understanding of the body/mind “problem”.

I’ve never done that! I’m simply stating “perceptions” fall within our mindscape.

The problem is you’re coming at it from the Abrahamic, it’s all about me, mindset that has infused and dominated western thinking and religion since forever.

I’m coming at this from the perspective of someone who has internalized the reality that I am an evolved biological organism. What makes us so unique is that we can learn, remember, reflect upon our lives, our selves, the world in general. So we wound up with this amazing brain.

Biology (and evolution) created this body that creates this mind of mine.
And this mind is something else altogether from the biological matter that creates it, think of a spinning dynamo producing the sparks and currents of electricity. I think that’s an apt analogy.

Do you see how hallucination doesn’t have any room in this conception? We perceive the best we can given skills we have. Calculation aren’t hallucinations.

The key point is that each of us biological creatures perceives our own unique slice of the same steadfast self-consistent reality. (This is where Ed Yong is very helpful.).

The implication of your words is that everything within the mind should be classified as a glorified hallucination. That works fine for the Abrahamic Mindset with its tradition that the only thing that matters is our mind, and ideas, and that our bodies are little more than appendages. Which I believe is the root of so much current confusion and dysfunction.

But it doesn’t work when you realize your biological body is a honed organism that’s been taking care of itself since the dawn of time - and that it’s your body/brain interacting with the environment that creates your mind. Until the dynamo of your body ceases, then the mind ceases. However dissatisfying it might be for our insecurities.

It is our body that produces our minds in coordination with the environment.

Nothing about it is hallucinatory. Yeah buts back to sensory limitations miss this point.

So while our minds can play all the games they wants, our bodies don’t, they are pure and simple reality, following specific internally consistent complexities with rigid precision, or it malfunctions and dies.

It does for an argument about “perception of real”.

We risk spinning our wheels
Let’s pick up this discussion after you finish reading, or listening for that matter, to Ed Yong’s An Immense World.

Consciousness is the emergent product of processing physical information. The brain must rely on the biome’s senses to form an image of the direct evironmental conditions.

Oh so you mean, an emergent product of Physical Stuff.
Six of one, half a dozen of the other, we’re even.

Well yeah, kinda, sorta, but there’s much more to it.

What the difference between “direct environmental conditions” and a creature’s “Umwelt”.
If that’s a new concept, get that book.

The author of this book

was a librarian. I first came across him in a forum. He had a long piece on how many wars were really caused by religion. He rated it rather low, putting more blame on resources, with religion used as a motivator.

Later, I realized he was biased toward Christianity. Still, some good history, like the astronomers in the Vatican in the 10th century, and details on how the crusades were started.

Oh nice, he has his own Url

I agree, humans are shaped by and the result of millions of years of evolution and adaptions to local conditions, just as are all extant organisms.

To a virus or a bacteria the human biome is relatively as big as our galaxy is to us, yet there is a delicate balance maintained by the biome’s homeostatic mechanisms, which includes an existential role of symbiotic bacteria, without which we would die.

This glimpse of the process of cell division is wonderfully illustrated in this video.
I’m sure you have seen it but for benefit of new readers, this really informative.

Yes I have many times over the years, done much mediating on it. Among other things it has made me aware of why it’s so easy for so many to see the need for intelligent design. I’ve come to understand that those notions can be overcome with a more realistic appreciation for the fact that our minds are the product of our brain/body/environment.

Which brings us back to the discussion this thread is supposed to be about:

… The conversation then drifted into the notion that Religion & Science are both simply faith systems of a different flavor.

While some great points were made for science, the discussion felt like thrashing at branches while the core of matter was avoided all together.

Why not go for the heart of the matter? It begins with the question:

“Who Are You?”

To which I’d respond: “Most fundamentally I’m an evolved biological sensing creature - a product of Earth’s processes.” Why is that important?

Because only from an Evolutionary Perspective can we fully appreciate human consciousness in a way that helps us define the difference between Science & Religion.

The key insight is a deep time appreciation for the Human Mindscape ~ Physical Reality divide. …

Although, it does apply to other creatures as well, the difference being no other creature has those ultimate bells and whistles (introspection and such) added onto their brains, that evolution has to offer. (The way we humans do.)

How about taking your favorite pet for a ride.

I prefer walking. With my doggy partner. Never had one of them before.

I should write about her a little more. Like me, she’s slowing down. Snout is showing a bit more gray, the majestic 100yard chases across the meadow don’t happen the way they used to. A little sad, considering this friendship, comradely, communication, understanding (only so far, no woo.) that had developed between us. Usually she’s off the line following her nose and I’m following her, she’ll so a little distance, but only so, 15, 20yards something like that. Winter is cool because snow creates another witness by way of animal tracks, so we can often see what she’s sniffing out. Nows it’s back to simply keeping up with her - she slows down on command, plus I get more convinced all the time that she likes having me with eye shot. I’ve played little hiding games, and it’s sort of gratifying watching her face. I think that’s one of the things that probably snagged human interest from the beginning, K9 project emotions through facial muscles and eyes, just like we humans. Okay, no where near just like, but on the same spectrum.

It’s fun watching Maddy and noticing how she keeps an eye on me, and that eye contact is very important in coordinating where we’re going. Like she’s checking in with me, well in actuality we’re checking in with each other. I keep up a bit of dialogue, with some cool cadence rhyming and song now and then. Nothing I’ve even come close to doing before, but alone with my dog in the country, it turns out to be very natural and it works for both of us so far as building trust, cooperation. It’s a trip she’s a dog, brain not past a two year olds, yet a certain wisdom and awareness of the world around here, picking up on expectations and doing her best to meet them, while being the dog she is. I think that’s been one of my biggest eye openers.

She’s not on a line too often, but our river is formidable right now, fast water, lots of it, not taking any chances. She scared of it, our first visit during high water she spent a lot of time sniffing at the water that was lapping onto the usually dry grassy edge. Now she just as soon I not come all the way to the river*. In fact, this early spring, I lost a few show downs, where I really wanted to walk all the way to the river check it out. But she absolutely refused. Oh the back and forths we’ve had, and in these cases her will has over powered my desire. It’s not like worth ruining the day over.

*Lower water she loves jumping in, this high water, something in her was curious, but her dog sense wouldn’t let her. Nor I, I’m loose on the leash, though had she shown interest in jumping in, I’d have stopped it.

As for Rambo & Blue , oh to be able to do the SPOCK mind meld on them. Although, good chance the thoughts wouldn’t make much sense to us, even if we melded with their minds.
Maddy hates driving in my wife’s nice car, but she likes driving in my old pick’em up truck, go figure.

Back to the OP, I’ve taken it up a notch. It’ll be interesting to see if I’m invited next semester.

Hello Professor …,

May I ask you to consider some observations regarding the Philosophy Club’s last discussion and to challenge a little.

I couldn’t help but feel that it’s a futile question that defies resolution because everyone works outward from their own specific definitions, and our discussions devolved into a parade of “sure, but …,” talk for talk, little that was constructive enough for anyone to do anything with.

Then the conversation drifted into the notion that Religion & Science are both simply faith systems of a different flavor.

That discussion remained surprisingly superficial while the core of the matter was avoided all together.

You may ask: What ‘core of the matter’? Appreciating our human consciousness and its limits.

As I’ve been chewing on that meeting I got to thinking about an off hand comment one of your club officers made about me possibly actually leading one of the meeting discussions.

I’ve been thinking about it and would like to ask for your consider - please invite me to speak at one of next year’s Philosophy Club meetings.

I believe there’s plenty here to fill an hour and a half with challenging and constructive (timely and relevant) discussion.

Below I offer an outline of the substance of such a talk.

Thank you for your consideration,


Outline for a presentation to the Philosophy Club meeting.

“Religion & Science, are both simply Faith Systems of a Different Flavor?”

I would suggest that the most constructive way to come at this challenge is from an Evolutionary perspective, one that begins with a better appreciation of our own minds, the wellspring of all our thoughts.

“Who Are You?”

If you asked me that, I’d respond: “Most fundamentally I am an evolved biological sensing creature. My mind is the product of my body, and my body is a product of this Earth’s Evolution. A self-aware filament in Earth’s ongoing Evolution.”

Why is that important?

Because only from an Evolutionary Perspective can we fully appreciate human consciousness in a way that truly helps us recognize the contrast between the pursuit of Science and faith in Religion.

The key insight is a deep time appreciation for the Human Mind ~ Physical Reality divide.

Physical Reality is the physical world of atoms, molecules, universal laws of physics, biology and Earth’s laws of nature. It is Earth’s dance between geology and biology and time and Earth’s evolving creatures.

Human “Mindscape" is all that goes on inside of our minds. The landscape of our thoughts and desires and impulses along with those various voices and personalities who inhabit our thoughts and Being. The ineffable notions that our hands can turn into physical reality that changes our planet.

The me, myself and I, and all that unfolds within the thoughts just beyond the biological sparks and chemical cascades unfolding within our physical bodies and brains as they navigate their environments.

Once we have a visceral appreciation for the fact that my physical body creates my mind, it becomes clear that both science and religion are products of our minds dealing with the physical reality each of us is imbedded within. Two projects with two very different natures.

Science seeks to objectively learn about our physical world, but we ought to still recognize all our understanding is embedded within and constrained by our mindscape and the bubble our personal ego creates.

Religion is all about the human mindscape itself, with its wonderful struggles, fears, spiritual undercurrents, needs and stories we create to give our live’s meaning and make it worth living, or at least bearable.

What’s the point?

Religions, science, same as political beliefs, heaven, hell, mathematics, art, music, even God, they are all products of the human mindscape, generations of imaginings built upon previous generations of imaginings, all the way down.

That’s not to say they are the same thing, they are not! Though I think they’re both valid human endeavors, still fundamentally, qualitatively different.

Religion deals with the inside of our minds, passion and souls, Science does its best to objectively understand the physical world beyond all that, doing its best to eliminate ego and bias from its deliberations.

From this starting point a much more constructive conversation about the many substantive contrasts between religion and science becomes possible.

From there I’d move onto tackling the Faith question with an invitation for critique that would go something like the following copy of a flier I’ve offered up at a couple Philosophy Club meetings already.

With a half year or more to think on it, it will be more refined and I’d happily share my notes ahead of time.

I’m looking for serious critique and feedback. This past December I finally had a teaser, but it begged a question that still hasn’t received a response, despite my further inquiries.

So, I’m hoping someone might be willing to step up and give it a shot.

I was told:

“Your essays consistently make conceptual confusions; the ego-God piece is a good example of this confusion.

In that piece, you waffle back and forth between having the word ‘God’ refer to a heavenly creator and having it refer to the CONCEPT of such a creator.

Example: frogs are amphibians, but the concept of ‘frog’ is not an amphibian. It’s a concept that we use to think about the world.” *****

I responded:

Now you confuse me.

Where specifically do you see this waffling?

I started out with “God” in scare quotes, the first sentence reads:

Who is “God” but a creation of our unique complex human minds dealing with our day to days?

Later I write:

Humans are the product of our Earth, God is the product of our human mind.

It’s why our conceptions of God always wind up being driven by our own Egos, not by any outside force.

Nothing wrong with that, if only we could bring ourselves to explicitly recognize it for what it is, our mind striving to reconcile itself with the unknowable.

The critique continued:

“It’s obvious that humans created the CONCEPT of God,

and equally obvious that humans couldn’t create the BEING God. But your essay confuses the two.”

I found this shocking. After getting my bearing I asked:

I know of Beings and I know of Things and both can be observed in one way or another. If they can’t, I’m told they are figments of my imagination.

How can something that’s never been observed on any level (beyond the human heart & mind) be categorized as a BEING of physical reality? Even the super mystery of “Dark Matter” has evidence pointing at its existence.

How do philosophers justify referring to something as a BEING if it can’t be demonstrated in any way beyond imaginative intellectual arguments and human desire?

How does an Assumption get transubstantiated into a BEING?

***** As for that analogy, it brings this discussion back to my essays which strive to highlight the need to explicitly appreciate the “Human Mindscape ~ Physical Reality divide.” (Though that’s a different discussion I’m hoping to have with the curious.)

I’m hoping for someone who’s willing to explain what they think I’m missing here?




My response reads:

“Thanks for this offer. The Philosophy Club is student-run, and, as such, the students select all of the topics and speakers. I’ll be sure to raise your offer with them when we gather in the fall to set the schedule for the academic year.

Best, …”

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