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Monday, September 15, 2008

Just some thoughts

Terry finally convinced me that I want to be a raytractor. Seems as if I’m one of you evil atheists anyway. Strangely enough I never considered myself to be an evolutionist before I saw Ray’s blog. Evolution is so commonly accepted among biologists, that it is hardly a thing you identify with. I always found it fascinating and a very complex and convincing explanation for the diversity of Life, but as a neurobiologist I’m much more interested in the mind. In perception, consciousness, learning, memory and (yes, it is important everywhere in biology) the evolution of the nervous system.

I am an atheist but I believe in a lot of things even though I know that some of them are incorrect. I believe in color, even though the colors I see are nothing but a construct of my brain, I believe that the sun is rising every morning even though I know it would be better to say that the Earth is turning towards the sun, I believe that I can trust my senses even though I know that they only show me a tiny little part of the world. And I believe that GOD is just a construct of the human brain to comfort us when we realize our limitations. So I believe that some people really feel their holy lord, even though I’m sure that he/she/it doesn’t exist outside their brains. But that’s ok. If we can’t trust our own feelings, we’ll get lost.

I happen to feel that there is no such thing as a deity out there and that nothing has to be supernatural just because I can’t perceive it. That’s my subjective truth. I can talk about it, I even can try to convince people but what I absolutely can’t do is expecting everybody else to feel exactly what I feel.

It really annoys me, when Ray or some of his cronies insist, that everybody feels somewhere deep down that god (and to make it even more foolish: explicitly the Christian God) exists. Maybe that part of my brain just isn’t developed, but then, maybe I use it for other things that make me survive as a tiny little dot in an endless universe. Logic for example. Or Empathy.


  1. Hey Tilia, welcome aboard!!!!! Out of curiosity, do you have a particular area of neurobiology you are most interested in?

  2. Hey Tilia, welcome to the Raytractors!

  3. @The Skeptical Sorcerer
    I'm working with insects. Maybe not that exiting since it's basic research, but insects have some advantages, especially small brains...
    But I think it's really interesting to learn more about how humans perceive the world. The brain isn't such a black box as many people think.

  4. Neurobiology - it's hardly brain surgery is it?

    I'm just jealous of clever people, so why I hang around Raytractors getting an inferiority complex is beyond me.

    Welcome aboard Tilia. I love your notion that the part of your brain that can't feel god is being used for other things.

  5. @stew
    no, not brain surgery. I'm not a physician. I only cut into bee brains sometimes.
    I worked with mice a time ago, but I don't like killing mammals.
    Has to be done for some research but not by me.

  6. @ Tilia,

    I know what you mean, I'm a biomedical student and I get to dissect a cockroach in a couple of weeks (epic excitement), but I'm definitely more interested in bigger and more complex creatures. Especially my favourite animal of all time, humans lol.

    @ Stew,

    I've read some of your stuff and you are definitely quite the clever individual.

  7. Stew, you and me both, man.

    Tilia, welcome to the fold!

  8. Cutting into bee brains is much more interesting, and useful, I'm sure, than standing around a beach and haranguing people and trying to get orangutans on planes and quote mining the work of others in order to try to make it fit what you believe. In short, more interesting and useful than being Ray Comfort. Welcome.

  9. LOL Rufus, don't forget more interesting and useful than riding around on a bike and handing random people fake money.

  10. @The Skeptical Sorcerer
    Be brave about the cockroach. They are somewhat sticky (you'll see what I mean) and I'm glad I only had to do that once...
    At least one doesn't really feel guilty about killing them. They have interesting brains, though. It's amazing how an animal can live which such a tiny little spot of nerve tissue.
    I hope you realized that all the US and the Atlantic Ocean is between me and Ray both geographically and in terms of usefulness ;)

  11. Hi Tilia,

    Welcome. Now, tell me why bees and not fruit flies. What is there in bees that you could not find in the little flies? Is there a bee genome project?


  12. tilia - I live in France. where in old Europe are you?

  13. That's very interesting, but what's your stance on abortion?

  14. Welcome to the evil atheist terrorist delinquent club!

    The evolution of the mind has been something that has interested me for a while: I like picking an emotion at random and trying to work out how it could have evolved.

    Empathy is my favorite, logic comes a close second.

  15. Quasar,

    the atheist experience talked about empathy and its origin recently. The whole episode is about morality, but they talked for a bit about empathy too.

  16. Hi Tilia-

    Welcome to the zoo.

    Maybe you can answer a question for me.

    Do insects have seperate hemispherses in their brains as humans do?

  17. How come everybody passed up on the joke about Tilia working on small brains, and the crew at Ray's place?


    It wasn't that funny?

    Ok, I'll just leave now, then.

  18. @stew
    I live in Berlin, Germany. And I am German even if my family is spread over a big part of Europe. I feel rather European, but I'm proud that the German government, along with the French and some other old European countries decided not to join Bush's stupid war in Iraq.

    @bee brains
    I thank you for your interest. As soon as I find out how to insert pictures in my post, I'll make a little story about it.

  19. Lance Christian Johnson said...

    That's very interesting, but what's your stance on abortion?

    You're seriously wondering?

    First of all that all you guys have the right to say about it, is something like: "OK, Darling, we're together in this and I will accept your decision." You might add: "I will help you with the kid" but not "I'd rather you abort it."

    Abortion is not a nice thing for a woman and nothing you should do without thinking about other possibilities, but I would never claim to understand all difficulties that could arise for a woman in such a situation.
    And somebody like Sarah Palin is especially hypocritical. She has the capacities to take care for a disabled child (hey, she's not even doing it herself), but not everybody has the possibility. Some of has have to work and not the money for a full time nanny.

  20. Hey Tilia! Hallo!

    I'm in Berlin too! Ain't the world a tiny place?
    For something completely different:
    the abortion thing is a running gag on this site, don't concern your mind with it too much. ;)
    It's an allusion to the way certain people on certain sites react when they can't answer a question or can't find anything to criticise. They just try to shift anything to a moral playground to detract from the original issues.

  21. @felix

    funnily enough abortion was the topic that made me start commenting at Ray's blog.
    I just hate this hypocritical middle (or upper) class attitude that claim to know everything about other people's problems.

    But speaking of Berlin: Maybe I know your shop. The one we were frequenting closed some months ago, but I know there are still some of them in Steglitz.

  22. I'm in Berlin too! Ain't the world a tiny place?
    For something completely different:
    the abortion thing is a running gag on this site, don't concern your mind with it too much. ;)
    It's an allusion to the way certain people on certain sites react when they can't answer a question or can't find anything to criticise. They just try to shift anything to a moral playground to detract from the original issues.

    That's very interesting, Felix. What's your stance on abortion?

  23. Tilia:

    You're seriously wondering?

    No. I realized that I was taking a chance with that joke. Keep paying attention to Ray's blog. He's bound to pull that one out again soon.

  24. Tilia,
    the one that sadly closed (SG) was the one I worked at. Small world indeed.


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