I need help countering some pseudo-scientific arguments.  They are needed for my own peace of mind because I have suffered terrible indoctrination in the occult, and only recently been able to free my mind.  I’m new to atheism and trying to learn more of the scientific reasons debunking the occult and paranormal.


I’m reading an introduction to particle physics.  As I understand it, matter and energy are interchangeable under certain conditions, and during the start of the universe energy eventually became matter when temperatures were cool enough to allow the particles to combine. 


Why then, is it not possible for the matter of a human to become energy after death?  Is it because there is insufficient heat and acceleration?  If it could become energy, how could we be sure it didn’t retain its ‘consciousness” or “awareness?”  Not become some ghost or visible apparition, but an invisible consciousness of sorts that has intention and purpose. 


How can we prove that things like energy don’t have a type of consciousness?  The people who indoctrinated me were certain there are “good” energies and “bad” energies as if they had (what was that word Dennett used about the intentional stance, that the energies were acting with a purpose or intention.)


How can we be sure that things like the strong force, weak force, electromagnetic force, dark energy, dark matter and such do not act with intention.  How can we be sure they truly are inanimate?  That they do not take sides?


Also, if electron beams are able to travel through solid matter, then why couldn’t a spirit of sorts travel through matter?  Is it simply because spirits do not exist?  I don’t believe in the religious view of spirits, but these people who see weird energy occurrences in buildings and such are a bit freaky to me.


I’m trying to read as much real science as I can to counteract all this fake pseudo-science that I’ve encountered.  It’s hard to let go of because they try to make it sound so scientific that it seems more believable than the literal talking bushes of the Abrahamic religions.


I know that science has proved a lot of paranormal things false, but I want to know the actual reasons how and why they are false. 

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Interesting, but the thing about converting to energy after we die.


We do not convert instantly into electricity or something like that but our bodies decompose giving nutrients to whatever we decompose on therefore passing on energy to other beings, for example if a maggot eats the flesh of a dead body that maggot has received the energy and nutrients that was contained inside there.


as far as i know.


Energy having will is something i do not know, i doubt it however being a scepticist and all, but wouldnt you thing that energy would need some kind of mental faculties acting as a brain, all i know is that energy can not be destroyed and is highly mysterious at it's core.

I might be able to help with one aspect. The whole "taking sides" thing. Or even energy having "intentions". That's simple personification and makes no sense. It almost sounds like you're talking good and bad. What's right and wrong all depends on a particular society, never mind different species or even a different life form. ie. is free sex bad? What about acting certain ways and to play real devil's advocate, so what if we turn into matter? Then they're saying we really don't die and therefor even killing isn't really bad under those circumstances, since we can't be killed anyway. Really, some of what you ask is more philosophical than scientific.

Stephen, Bravo Zulu!  Thought is not energy, although it takes energy to make thoughts.  Brain waves are electromagnetic energy, but like all physical energy it too diminishes by the square of the distance travelled.   I personally believe (there's that pesky word again), that once I am "gone" the only thing left of me is the wreckage called my body and memories of the person I once was.  I will remain a person to those who knew me well enough to remember me, but in less than a hundred years I will cease to exist.  So far in the entire history of man, no one has ever truly passed the point of true death for any credible length of time and managed to return  to tell us that he/she saw god, talked to this creature, and has a message for us and can prove it credibly.


When it comes to religions, and it's followers, I personally wouldn't give them the time of day.

Those charlatans are only in it for the control of others and the self enrichment.  They would rather we all remained uneducated and toally under their scrutiny.  If they could manage to drag us back to the stone age they would.

Yeah, the basic flaw in the thought is that our consciousness is energy.  It's not.  Our consciousness is the pattern in the brain and the energy.  When we die, the energy goes somewhere, but the pattern dissipates.  We cease to exist when the pattern breaks up.


The argument against this is the same as for atheism against theism.  We don't have to prove diddly squat.  They have to prove that their positive claim has any kind of supporting evidence.  They can spin bullshit all day long, but until they can demonstrate it, it's silly and should be dismissed.  Any time they make a claim and tell you to prove them wrong, turn around and demand proof that they're correct.  Disbelief has the default position.

"Our consciousness is the pattern in the brain and energy." 
Thanks Joseph.  Wow. That is very interesting.  How can I learn more about how this works?  Do you recommend any good introductory books/textbooks?



Uhhhhhhhhhh, little bits and pieces in a dozen different places.  The first thing that comes to mind is Matt Dillahunty of 'The Atheist Experience'.  I know I've seen something to that effect in several different books, too.  Not remembering the specific titles, though.

"Thought is not energy, although it takes energy to make thoughts.  Brain waves are electromagnetic energy, but like all physical energy it too diminishes by the square of the distance travelled."

Thanks Ken, I'd like to learn more about that, too!

Thanks Stephen.  Actually with what I used to believe, I could have imagined the consciousness of canaries and all animals, though when I think of it now, if every human and other animal that has perished had a consciousness floating around somehow, the world would have googles of consciousnesses overcrowding our atmosphere and interfering with all kinds of technology so that would be completely ridiculous.  I think that's why some of those belief systems invent some ultimate place for the consciousnesses to go to that's not on Earth, such as nirvana - in which case the burden of proof would definitely be on them.

Our bodies do return to energy after death, albeit very very slowly.  The most obvious way is the dissipation of the body's heat energy after we die, since the corpse cools.  Kim gives a very good description of the parasites eating flesh is also a slow, indirect conversion of our bodies into energy, as the organisms use the food they consume (our bodies) as energy to continue living.  Does the body completey 100 turn to energy?  No, but come close during cremation, as the majority of our bodies energy is released via burning.  However, matter still remains in the form of residue ash. 


Why don't forces "act with intention"?  Because they're incapble of doing so.  Forces of nature are restricted to given sets of rules.  Example:  Gravity is an attractive force between 2 or more masses.  Masses can't "choose" to violate these rules.  These forces have no "intent" as their behaviors are strictly defined by their applicable rules.  Two masses can't simply "choose" to violate gravity and suddenly repel each other.   Rudy is correct in that this is a nonsensical argument.


Why can't a "spirit" move through a solid object?  Well, it could....if such spirit existed.  Just because something "could" do something doesn't mean it exists.  Even apparently solid objects, especially those with very strict crystaline structure (i.e. Salt molecules) are mostly empty space on a molecular level, as the molecules form crystal lattice structures that leave lots of empty space.  Picture a pile of marbles and the same number of marbles lined up in neat rows and columns.  You can see the table underneath the marbles that are lined up in columns in rows where you cant in the disorganized pile. 


May I offer some advice?  First, I applaud your efforts to educate and bolster your own scientific knowledge.  Second, I do not know your personal scientific background, but if you're new to physics, I wouldn't recommend reading a lot on advanced particle physics if your aim is to be able to argue againts the religious.  They won't understand particle physics anyway and will just tune you out.  I would recommend works from the classic physicists, such as Newton, Galileo, Brahe, Copernicus, and the like.  While, I admit, it's all very dry reading, they knew how to form an argument when debating those with far less scientific insight.  My personal favorite is "Dialoge Concerning Two Chief World Systems" by Galileo. 


Good luck, friend!

Thanks John.  Good point about forces not being able to act outside the laws that govern them, thus not being able to act with "intent."  Yes, I am completely new to physics; I have a strong interest in science but not much of a background.  I've taken your advice and just found a good beginner website called The Physics Classroom.  Yes, I've wanted to read the text that got Galileo into so much trouble, good suggestion! 

Hi New Atheist, 


Why would you go around trying to debunk certain claims in the first place, it's not your job to proof why something is wrong. It's the obligation of the person making the claim to provide explanation and proof of the validity of a claim. If they do not or can't, the principle of the Null Hypothesis applies and therefor you have no reason to accept their claim in the first place.


A skeptic demands to be convinced by evidence before accepting something to be true, it's not the responsibility of the skeptic to explain why something is false. Is it really your responsibility to proof that certain claims are false? In my opinion it most certainly isn't, if you think otherwise, please proof to me that Percival the Imperceivable Penguin does NOT exist. ;)


"I’m trying to read as much real science as I can to counteract all this fake pseudo-science that I’ve encountered"


I understand that this particular bit of pseudo-science is important to you, after all you grew up with and in it and you obviously have many unanswered questions, it's not that different from an Ex-Christian who tries to debunk the form of Christianity that they were raised in. Ask yourself the question however, what will happen when you're done with debunking the pseudo-science that you were indoctrinated with? Will you move on to different types of pseudo-science and woowoo? I would think that this is less likely though because you are emotionally connected to this "energy-spirit-woo" because of your indoctrination, not to "pseudo-science" in general.


I can only speak from my own experience on this, but I only felt liberated when I let go of my obsession with the doctrines of my youth, this happened when I realized "why" I wanted to debunk these claims. 

I can agree with your last point in principle, but it's different, in my case.  I felt no need to learn more about Christianity, in order to debunk it in my own mind.  I was raised Christian, but I never was Christian.


On the other hand, I find it quite valuable to learn a lot about Christianity, in order to debunk it, because so many around me are Christian.  Granted, the same motivation doesn't exist for New Atheist.




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