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Human caring in a random universe.
Ralph Lewis M.D.
Perspectives to help believers and non-believers make sense of random cosmic injustice.
How is it that people still believe in paranormal phenomena when these have been so thoroughly debunked? Could they be looking for meaning and purpose in all the wrong places?
Irrational beliefs and delusions are on a continuum. You would be the last to know which of your beliefs are false. Science is the antidote, but religion is not a delusion.
Death has never been popular. The intuition that the mind is more than the product of the brain and will survive its death feels correct, but is flatly contradicted by science.
Conscientiousness might be determined by attention span, and can be shaped by nature, nurture, cultural norms and habit. Too much conscientiousness is as maladaptive as too little.
Do you assume that without God and religion, life would have no purpose, meaning, or morality?
Why we insist it does, and why it really is okay that it most probably doesn't.
How we know that the Exodus from Egypt and revelation of the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai are pure mythology. And why we can still derive much value from those traditions.
Consider the huge philosophical implications if it could be shown exactly how purpose and order could emerge from a random universe, entirely spontaneously and unguided.
Thoughts are not ethereal. They are forms of information, and information is physical. The subjective sense of self is the experience of BEING information encoded in a brain.
Do you find the scientific reductionist worldview unsatisfying? Is that all there is—just particles? Discover another whole new side to science: complexity theory and emergence.
Theism must explain the Problem of Evil; atheism must explain everything else. Doing so would seem impossible. How then did science arrive at an atheistic worldview?
These are scary and exciting times. All the world’s knowledge is in your child’s pocket. Here's how to instill perspective, curiosity, motivation, and critical thinking.
The scientific worldview completely dispels all forms of magic from the world. This can feel sterile and empty to some. Magical thinking is enchanting, but it’s also hazardous.
Your assumption that dying will be a scary, unknown experience is incorrect. You probably already know what it feels like to die.
We have the ability to mitigate random or senseless tragedy and adversity by making something good come from it. People often don't realize how far-reaching their legacy can be.
Lack of motivation and 'laziness' are often due to a short attention span. ADD/ADHD is most sensibly understood as one end of a normal continuum rather than a true disorder.
Our sense of purpose is not dependent on the universe having a purpose. We are adept at meaning-making and we flourish through interdependent purpose. What we do matters to others.
Let’s get over our egocentric view that the universe is sending us messages. Belief in synchronicity is flawed by hindsight bias. Try writing down all your predictions in advance.
Beliefs probably evolved as energy saving shortcuts for processing information. The brain is invested in maintaining a stable internal equilibrium and a consistent sense of self.
Without the existence of extreme traits, we would have gone extinct as a species a long time ago. Many mental disorders are the inevitable result of genetic diversity.
The decline of religion will not result in nihilism, because religion is not the source of purpose, meaning and morality. Modern secular society is compassionate and flourishing.
Free will only makes sense in terms of relative degrees of mental flexibility. Mental disorder, itself a matter of degree, constrains this flexibility. No brain is entirely "free."
Euthanasia has been legal in Canada since June 2016. It has broad support. Applicants are carefully assessed and the process regulated. Slippery slope fears have not materialized.
Do you ever wonder where purpose comes from? How is purpose even a thing? How did it arise in a spontaneous, unguided universe, from nothing at all?
The mystery of consciousness may eventually be solved – like the mystery of life itself.
Our brains connect dots and see "signal" in meaningless "noise." We don't easily dismiss things as random or coincidental. Mental disorders amplify and distort this tendency.
The need to identify causes and solutions in order to feel in control is a double-edged sword, fraught with potential for guilt and self-blame.
Ralph Lewis, M.D., is an assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto, a psychiatrist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, and a consultant at the Odette Cancer Centre in Toronto.