The Cult of TED

The guy next to me at the TED dinner said, “Do you want to see a magic trick?” I know … Continued

The guy next to me at the TED dinner said, “Do you want to see a magic trick?”

I know I’d seen him before, somewhere.

Turned out it was David Blaine. “Pick a card,” he said, showing me a full deck. “Don’t tell me what it is. I’m going to read your mind.”

He got it right the first time. And the second. And the third. I shook my head in disbelief while Pam Omidyar gasped “How did you do that?” again and again, louder and louder each time.

David looked across the table and found himself enchanted by the Harvard human rights professor and activist, Samantha Power.

“Who’s that?” he asked me, pointing to her.

I told him. He did one more card trick on me, a little half-hearted, and then disappeared.

I’d been hearing so much about TED — which stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design — that I was starting to think it was more a cult than a conference. Well, call me a convert. The story above is only one of a hundred amazing encounters I had this past weekend in Monterey.

A series of happy coincidences got me a ticket to what has been called “the best mind spa of the year”. My friend Delia Cohen, a remarkable organizer, was put in charge of making Jehane Noujaim’s TED Prize Wish a reality. That wish was Pangea Day, a global film festival highlighting work that brings people from different backgrounds together. Delia wanted someone with experience in interfaith youth issues on the Advisory Board (twist my arm to put my name next to the film maker Mira Nair and Will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas), and so I found myself on a panel about Pangea Day in Cannes (again, twist my arm) with TED curator Chris Anderson. Chris found what I said sufficiently coherent to give me a 3-minute speaker slot on the TED stage.

There are plenty of celebrities at TED. Cameron Diaz, Forrest Whitaker, Robin Williams, and several dozen other A-listers. I rode down the elevator with Paul Simon and Edie Brickell, and said, (like many a fan awed into amnesia by their presence), “I love your music. My favorite album is …. Uuuhhhhh … I can’t think of the title right now.” They just smiled and nodded. Just feeling groovy, probably.

But here’s the thing – unlike at some other conferences of the famous and powerful, where amid the posturing and preening the occasional new idea rears its head before being shoved aside by the glitter and glam – TED is a conference that privileges creativity over celebrity. Many of the people on stage are scientists and avant-garde artists who have a big, new, geeky idea that is changing their field and could change the world. The celebrities here are in the audience rather than on stage. They are doing what the venture capitalists, journalists, philanthropists, and various other ridiculously successful mavericks are doing – looking for (in the words of Michael Lewis) the new new thing. The list of things unveiled here first – Photoshop, Illustrator, the touch-screen technology of the iPhone – is literally unbelievable.

And the dominant style is geek-cool, not celebrity-chic. The whole scene is more a cross between Richard Feynman and Google than it is a hybrid of the Oscars and Davos.

When someone is on the TED stage, just about everybody is paying attention. (It was the scariest three-minute speech I’ve ever given in my life. As I was stepping on stage, I thought to myself, “Literally everyone in the audience is smarter than me.”). At the typical power conference, the formal sessions are an excuse to be in the hallway trying to close a deal. At TED, most of the conference attendees can’t fit into the beautiful Steinbeck Theater in Monterey (the conference is moving to a larger space in Long Beach next year, and it’s still sold out), and have to watch from simulcast lounges. I thought those lounges would be full of cocktail-hour chatter, but not only are they pin drop-quiet, people applaud at the flat-screen televisions when the speaker is done.

And when a famous person happens to be on the TED stage – like Al Gore, for example – the chances are they are not doing their usual schtick (which is actually Chris Anderson’s first commandment of TED) but putting out something new. Gore had written an entirely new talk for this year’s TED conference. The presentation he gave here a few years ago became the basis for An Inconvenient Truth.

TED prides itself on being a stew of surprises. And this year, even long-time TEDsters – a crowd heavy with scientists and not a few Masters of the Universe – found themselves somewhat taken aback by one of the recipients of the TED Prize: Karen Armstrong. Karen has been writing lyrically and appreciatively about the world’s religions for decades. Her beautiful Muhammad: A Biography of the Prophet was one of the first books I read in my re-engagement with Islam in the 1990s. And her TED Prize Wish focused on spreading the ethos of compassion central to all faiths (with a particular focus on the Abrahamic traditions) across the world.

At the TED Grand Party later that evening, furious conversations ensued on faith. Some TEDsters railed against religion, claiming that God doesn’t exist and the delusion of His being has only resulted in division and violence. Other TEDsters found themselves somewhat uncomfortably outed. “I’m a Christian,” I overheard somebody say in response to a particularly blunt comment about the inherent horrors of religion.

What makes the TED Prize Wish remarkable is that the TED community tries to make it reality. Bill Clinton wished for a world-class health care system in Rwanda. E.O. Wilson wished for an Encyclopedia of Life. Both of those wishes, and many more, are taking shape as we speak.

What will TED do with God? And while, What will God do with TED? may well be a more interesting question, it’s not something I am equipped to answer. So I’ll offer some thoughts on the former in my next post.

About

  • VICTORIA

    THANKS ALOT T. OWENS-

  • Dave

    You are just learning about TED? How unfortunate that such a wonderful conference can escape the mainline news media for so long because it doesn’t have the “star power” the media is looking for. Please go to youtube or Google and find Sir Ken Robinson’s talk from 2006 on education. It is fascinating. By the way, the great thing about presentations at TED is that they can only be 20 minutes long. If you can’t make your point in that amount of time, I guess you should become a politician.

  • Idolator

    Patel, you just mentioned one Islamic scholar- Karen Armstrong but you did forgot to mention others like Rushdie, Ayaan Ali Hirsi, Robert Spencer (all under death threats by Muslims), Vincent Van Gogh (killed by a Muslim)….Their work and experiences are great reading as well.

  • Concerned The Christian Now Liberated

    If only TED members and/or Karen Armstrong would address the flaws of Islam:(Again to counter all the bible thumping, some flaw thumping)The first four flaws of Islam:2. Belief that an hallucinating, illiterate Arab did actually talk to the “pretty Gabriel” in the hot “Gabe” cave and therein received the warmongering and anti-female words and resultant laws now listed in the koran.3. That Sunnis are superior to Shiites in all aspects of life. And Shiites think the same way about Sunnis. 4. That Islam is perfect and the koran inherently condones no sin even though the 24/7, 800 year-old blood feud between Sunnis and Shiites gives significant credence that greed, hate, suicides, assassinations, maiming, and murder are condoned by the koran. Having multiple wives also gives significant credence to the sins of rape, adultery, lust and polygamy. The condoned treatment of these wives gives credence that the koran allows the sins of hatred, anger and greed.

  • Anti-CNCL

    Concerned The Christian Now Liberated: I noticed the dogs are still barking day and night.

  • Mohamed MALLECK, Swift Current, Canada

    Well, Mr. Patel,This is the first time I hear of TED.But, since we are writing about works-in-progress, here is the incomplete first draft of the ideas I have been mulling about on that famous Muslim utternace “Insha’Allah”, which I insanely grandiosely title “How God Wills”. I hope to be completing my insane essay soon and then I hope to post it in its entirety as response to one of your own commentaries.Please read it and reassure me that I am not totally insane.A HYPOTHESIS — HOW GOD WILLSThe idea of an Omniscient, Omnipotent and All-merciful God is in contradiction with the concept of free will for God’s creation, because if He knows everything, is capable of everything and is infinitely benevolent, He cannot allow an act of free will by His creation that might diverge from Absolute Good- no evil and no suffering ought to exist if an Omniscient , Omnipotent and All-merciful God existed. Correct?Wrong! Demonstrably wrong in the strongest scientific terms. Wrong for at least two reasons : these two reasons reflect special facets of the underlying reasoning, and throws into relief the latest, most incisive, cutting-edge scientific investigations of the ultimate truths that mankind has been pursuing since time immemorial. The special facets behind the erroneous argument are : (i) the fact that its logic is bivalued whereas many-valued logic is the appropriate analytical tool to investigate transcendent truth; and (ii) the a-temporal nature of the argument blanks out the most important consideration in modern science – evolution, including the understanding of the idea of consciousness, the resolution of the mind-body problem (the old question religious question whether there is such a thing as a ‘soul’, etc), the role of emotion as well as rationality in the forming of the human ‘soul’ and his formulation of ‘moral principles’ as an individual survival strategy. There is yet a third dimension that wreaks havoc with the ‘atheist’ argument that there is an irreconcilable contradiction between the idea of an Omniscient, Omnipotent and All-merciful God and “free will” as applied to societies and pluralities. That third dimension is encapsulated in the question : how can individual choices of values be rationally aggregated into a coherent collective choice that has at least minimum desirable values. It has been rigorously demonstrated in a famous scientific work known as Arrow’s Impossibility Theorem that such as aggregation is as impossible as the contradiction between the existence of God and free will is real. But then, that Theorem also assumes that collective choice is to be exercised without any sort of restrictions whatsoever, and that everyone’s set of values has equal weight. When the three assumptions – of bivalued logic, of atemporal reasoning and of unrestricted choice with equal weights — are relaxed, and the idea of God is enlarged to a deity that is not necessarily anthropomorphic or anthropic, the whole beauty of spirituality as embodied in religions (not just Islam, but Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism and other faiths) becomes fabulous, the way it becomes to the Sufi!Those who ridicule Islam (or Christianity or Judaism or other faiths based on the idea of existence of a God) on the basis of shallow reading of the religious texts or even of the historical record only make fools of themselves.In the very first chapter of his excellent work “How Brains Make Up Their Minds”, the neuroscientist, Walter J. Freeman, writes “ What is at issue is the nature of self-determination (i.e. Free will!). The problem boils down to the question of how and in what sense brains, with their cells, their neurons, can create actions and thoughts, which we experience as our minds (i.e. ‘souls’) and our selves (i.e. consciousness) and whether or how our experiences can change or influence our brains and neurons. What does it mean to say that one causes the other?” The book goes on to explain how ‘one causes the other”.Freeman starts laying out his argument by explaining what is meant by ‘meaning’. Every individual starts with his consciousness (Remember that, like David Hilbert setting out to construct the whole body of Mathematics from first principles, Descartes started with ‘Cogito Ergo Sum’) and creates meaning as his brain articulates intentional behaviour and then changes itself in accordance with the sensory consequences of these behaviours. [The whole formulation is traceable to the Muslim Philosopher Ibn Sina, from whom Thomas Aquinas learnt it and named it ‘assimilation’, a term retained until Piaget bequeathed it to modern psychologists, psychiatrists and neuroscientists.]…. It is a process by which the self comes to understand the world. The contents of meaning derives from the impact of the world, principally the social impact of actions of other humans upon ourselves, and they include the entire context of history and experience we have already acquired. Although the contents of meaning are largely social in origin, the mechanisms of meaning are biological and have to be understood in terms of brain dynamics.” Meaning is a kind of living structure that grows and changes, yet endures.” [Note the ‘homomorphism’ with biological evolution].Structure comes from chaos which is an expression of self-determination. The chaos of multiple self-expressions in the external environment impacts upon the individual’s senses [that’s the dimension that science investigates, but note that it is not the ONLY dimension that exists], and in the process of ‘assimilation’, the brain responds to the world by destabilizing the primary sensory cortices of the brain. The result is the construction of neural activity patterns, which provide the elements from which meaning is made.Once the meaning in an individual’s consciousness is made, this meaning gets embodied in his ‘mind’ and becomes totally divorced from the raw sense data that triggered them. This dynamic isolates the meaning in each brain from all others (maybe experiencing the same raw sense data). It thus endows each individual with ultimate privacy and loneliness as well, which creates the challenge of establishing companionship with others through communication. This condition is termed ‘epistemological solipsism’, in conformity with the philosophical argument that all knowledge and experience is constructed by and within individuals. The loneliness induced in the individual consciousness or isolation of meaning in each brain from all others is an essential condition of sanity, indispensable for each human to build coherence in his perception of the world. [Scientists who investigate psychiatric/neural dysfunctions, such as Dr. Salman Akhtar, Lecturer in Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and Professor of Psychiatry at Jefferson Medical College and Vilayanur Ramchandran, Director of the Centre for Brain and Cognition and Professor with the Psychology Department and Neurosciences Program at the University of California, San Diego, and Adjunct Professor of Biology at the Salk Institute, dubbed ‘the Marco Polo of Neuroscience’ by Richard Dawkins, have highlighted the sense of ‘raw data’ feeling in ‘ghost limbs’ – limbs that the patients have long lost in accidents but for which they still the sense of touch because the neurons in the brain have been imprinted -- in psychiatrically impaired patients] This brings us to the idea of God and How God Wills.One of the most important systems of concepts, constructs and values that have emerged out of the millennia of human experience is the idea of a deity, of God. Now, if a qualia like ‘redness’ cannot be exactly shared by two ‘minds’ in all the aspects in which the qualia can be perceived [and cognitive scientists have demonstrated that no such exact sharing occurs], one starts to measure how infinitely more difficult the sharing of a concept-system like ‘God’ can be. Those who question the idea of the existence of ‘God’ should instead be asking themselves which operative idea of the deity is being talked about. As Naom Chomsky and the language and epistemological specialists point out, and as Stuart Kauffmann and evolutionary biologists emphasize, much misunderstanding about values and morals derive from not understanding the language and the meme, that is the neural activity patterns, the behavioural responses that such activity patterns have imprinted in the minds and souls of our interlocutors, the nurtured survival values that emerged from the common experience as a result of sharing the same environment, the same risks the same opportunities.Now, How Does God Will? He does it through the agency of humans, but also through Cosmic forces. We have seen above that

  • Mohamed MALLECK, Swift Current, Canada

    Yep! thanks a lot, T. Owens and Victoria.But do add edge.org and metanexus.net to your favourites as well.

  • ted

    Consider the hypothesis (which anyway is overwhelmingly likely to be true) that the universe exists as a result of the play of natural laws alone. Late in the billions of years that the universe has existed,in one little corner of it, consciousness flickers into existence and over some millions of years grows into self awareness,and for some thousands of years more produces art, painting, philosophy, science, literature and music. It produces moments of great happiness and also great suffering; great kindness and love, and great cruelty. And then – because of a virus, or a collision with another planet, or because the aware beings are so stupid that they blow ourselves up – consciousness comes to an end and the universe reverts to being a neutral play of blind natural forces.ACGrayling. The Form Of Things. pp115

  • Concerned The Christian Now Liberated

    Malleck,Your work in progress should be on the flaws of Islam (and other religions). That would be a guaranteed best seller!!!A suggested title:”UNTIL THE KORAN IS DEFLAWED, NO ONE IS SAFE!!!”

  • Norrie Hoyt

    Celebrities are jointly and severally the’Nuff said.

  • Diane Ademu-John

    Thank you for your reporting. I’ve been watching video from TED conferences for several years now, and have been moved to both think and act. I look forward to seeing Karen Armstrong’s talk online — hopefully in the near future?

  • Norrie Hoyt

    “And her TED Prize Wish focused on spreading the ethos of compassion central to all faiths (with a particular focus on the Abrahamic traditions) across the world.” Please get real, Eboo:None of the Abrahamic religions is at all compassionate in practice. Read the Old Testament and consider the histories of Christianity and Islam.The Abrahamic religions want compassion? They can’t handle compassion!You want compassion, Eboo? Become a Buddhist.

  • T Owens

    When I want a brain jolt, I just click on TED.com and watch a 20-minute mindblower. I recommend it to anyone, and I don’t even work for TED.

  • chuck

    “Celebrities are jointly and severally the Antichrist.”Well, that’s an inherently silly statement. Celebrities are not a homogenous group and celebrity is not an eternal state, nor even an absolute description. The implication of your statement is that the more well-known somebody becomes, the more automatically anti-christlike they get. By this standard, you yourself just became significantly more evil.Besides, the majority of TED attendees are scientists and technical people, who almost never become famous, regardless of their moral state.

  • Interesting, but

    I am unsure how a discussion on truth and religion will “change” things. Truth is unchanging, right? So is the goal here to change people’s perception of religion in the world?

  • Mohamed MALLECK, Swift Current, Canada

    Victoria,Thanks so very much. God bless!

  • Mohamed MALLECK, Swift Current, Canada

    IDOLATOR,The blind, stubborn, hate-filled ignoramus and stupid, parrot-like Islamophobic misanthope is YOU, not Jihadist.Have you visited the website of Ziauddin Sardar on The Guardian of UK? Or Qantara.de? Why, I bet that you have not even clicked on TED.com, so precious to you is your hatred for others that you would fear to see your phobias siftened by reasoned argument.ROT IN YOUR HELL!!

  • Jihadist

    Concerned The Christian Now Liberated:) Hello pussycat.If only Concy Christy Libby would address the flaws in his approach on the Crossanization of America! Your work in progress should be the Crossanization of American Christians ain’t it? Not much success, eh, even in On Faith threads? Write a book entitled: “CROSSANIZED CHRISTIANITY FOR DUMMIES!!!”With yellow covers and don’t forget to put in lots of pictures. It may help. ————————————————–Idolator:)We don’t even read Bernard Lewis. You know, that old fellow who predicted the end of the world sometime in 2005. Robert Spenser also predicted the end of the world then too. And Hirsi the political scientist an Islamic scholar? And Salman Rushdie busy taking on and discarding many wives an Islamic scholar? And er, Vincent Van Goth the artist who cut off his ear and painted “Starry, Starry Night”? ————————————————–As Buddhists in Asia like to say, Gautama Buddha suggest, not impose. Gautama Buddha teaches us to have compassion and to be compassionate. And who was that who implied that Buddhists have automatic compassion build into them by just being Buddhist?:)In the Buddhist heartlands of Asia, for one, there is at least half a million prostitutes in Buddhist Thailand. Never mistake indifference with a gentle mien, charming manner and smiling face for compassion. After all, Gautama Buddha only suggest, not impose.

  • Neal Obstat

    It was Theo van Gogh ( the Dutch film maker), not Vincent van Gogh (the painter) who was killed by an Islamic extremist.To the disgusting, homophobic, moronic “Anonymous” whose post appears first: you are truly vile. And just as bad, you are insipid.

  • Mohamed MALLECK, Swift Current, Canada

    TED,I am, first and foremost, an Economist. When I was a university student in the early 1970′s, the eminent Economists were Paul Samuelson, Kenneth Arrow and a bloke, more notorious than notable, called Milton Friedman. Just like Arthur Laffer during the Ronald Reagan period, the trumpet of this notorious bloke was blown in the highest cacophonic decibels by the political and social conservative crowd of the time to such a ridiculous extent that, for most non-Economists, our discipline, which, in its time of glory under the impetus of one of the sharpest minds in the history of thought, John Stuart Mill, was known as “Moral Science”, became synonymous with this insipid fellow. The main thesis of the fellow, as that of all conservatives at all times, was that what prevails on the ground is the natural order of things. Translated, it means “Might is right”. He went on to formulate theses about the Natural Rate of Unemployment, the Natural Rate of Interest, the Natural Immutable Rule by which the Money Supply should grow, year-in and year-out. It was the equivalent of the physicist’s Theory of Everything.One British Economist named Frank Hahn, who was far more rigorous, building the whole body of Econimc Theory from first principles, including out-of-equilibrium micro-economics, and working in tune with the more incisive investigations of Paul Samuelson and Kenneth Arrow, rightly dismissed Milton Friedman’s theses as the elucubrations of an intellectually lazy but celebrity-show savvy would-be Economist.Around that same time in the 1960′s/early 1970′s, one of the most intelligent nobel prize-winners in Economics of the last decade, Joseph Stiglitz wrote the seminal journal article on out-of-equilibrium macroeconomics built up from disequilibrium microeconomics. Stiglitz, Samuelson, Arrow, Frank Hahn are part of a generation of highly-respected Economists who have contributed immensely to the welfare of humankind. Milton Friedman and Arthur Laffer have been the equivalent of political reactionaries like the Shah of Iran, Marcos of Philippines, Pinochet of Chile, Jonas Savimbi of Angola, and Uribe of Columbia, who defend against all reason the idea that “might is right”.As George Soros, in his book “The Bubble of American Supremacy” aptly summarises the conservative position, applicable to all relations, but described in terms of international realtions: ‘International relations are relations of power, not law; power prevails and law legitimizes what prevails. The US (you can substitute “whoever wields absolute power’) is unquestionably the dominant power in the post-Cold War world; it is therefore in a positin to impose its views, interests and values of the world .. because of its demostrated superiority”.I am telling all this because the view of Reality that you suport, TED, by quoting AC Grayling’s “The Form of Things” resembles the various “Theories o Everyting” or Milton Freidman’s “Natural Laws” that revelas more intellectual laziness than painful investigations and testing against reality.The US is experiencing, these days, the folly of the insane idea that drove the neocons only a few years ago: “Reality? What reality? We are an empire now; we make our own reality”.No, reality can be constructed from sense data, from a knowledge of how raw sense data impinge on consciousness, from how a ‘firsy draft’ of reality emerges from the sharing of this ‘personal consciousness’ with others and eventually grows into a ‘meme’ or ‘cultural value’ which acquires a life of its own and evolves just like a biological entity evolves over millenia and acquires characteristics that miximize its chances of survival and reproduction. Thus there is ongoing research on competing evolutionary ‘god-concepts’ and how these may interact to be come accepted by intelligent beings in a symbiotic competition for survival. One last crucial element that it is absolutely necessary not to overlook : it is not all exclusively competition; there is also kinship- driven cooperation running parallel to competition. Evolutionary biologists have a lot to contribute in this reasearch agenda, but do so many experts in various other disciplines.To sum up what I said TED: Your quote from Grayling is a sweeping, intellectually lazy, Theory of Everything. What is being pieced together by those multi-disciplinary investigators who post the results of their investigation on edge.org and metanexus.net, a summary of which I am trying to put together in th piece I have posted, is a more rigorous construct which, admittedly, still a work in progress.

  • VICTORIA

    as always mr malleck- you get my neurons firing- here’s a talk by the aforementioned vilayanur ramachandran on his fascinating and simple resolution of the phantom limb paralysis problem (at least once).

  • Idolator

    Jihadist;The point is if Muslims do not think these people are Islamic scholars then why not just ignore them and move on. But no, they have to threaten them and kill them. During a poll in UK, 85 percent of British Muslims were willing to kill Rushdie. Likewise, I bet millions would do the same to Hirsi and others including Tasleema Nasreen (a Muslim refugee in India)Btw, when is your next jihadist mission? You should go to Pak where there have been more than 7 jihadist peace missions in last 7 days.

  • Arif

    Mohamed Malleck, you write rubbish most of which is boring and meaningless, you should not waste you time writing; leave that to people who know what they write about. You should spend your time doing something constructive – Go to Pakistan and calm the culture that has lately begun to kill each other in the name of Islam. They pit one brand of Islam against the other and use human made in Islam bombs. The people you despise Hirisi, Rusdhdie etc. are all trying to tell Muslims the flaws of Islam you “believers” don’t want to face. Why is it that every Muslim when faced with criticism of Islam and its “prophet” will resort to name calling? Is it simply because they cannot answer?All that rubbish you wrote earlier is nullified by this…Mohamed Malleck writes to Idolator: “ROT IN YOUR HELL!! “Why? You know genius, one only rots in the Hell he believes in. That is your hell not his it’s for you and yours only.

  • To Malleck

    You do not answer the questions but rather get real mean on a personal level. Why millions and millions of Muslims want to kill people like Rushdie, Hirsi, Spencer…?FYI- yesterday’s NY Times has a front page article about young Muslims in Iraq “hating” the clerics and Islam due to all the violence around them. Please read. Also quotes young Muslims saying that whenever someone is beheaded they hear “Allah u Akbar”. I think that is what the passengers on 9/11 heard.

  • artistkvip

    i suspect you would stack up fairly well with most of the self apointed movers and shakers. to often in life it is the people who have a little money so they can buy all thier sparkle and flash to mesmerize and amaze the mere mortals. in my experience the truely gifted and wise and the ones actually coming up with the good and even great ideas arent on center stage… they are to bussy creating and amazing themselves and others to be the showmaan in real life. what you saw was most like a circus… with some very fine performers perfforming on thier stage. these people are neccessary to call attention to what the real people are doing but please…. dont think you are inferior in anyway to them. i myself have benndisappointed by a many a person who was put up as a genius and they could even keep up with me and i certaionly dont claim to be a geneus .. i just create things and write things that i attribute to Gods grace because i dont know where they come from when they come. just about every highy intelligent highly creative person has told me they feel the same way. i find yur points of reason well thought out and solid thats more than most of the sparkle and flash people. it is possible i have misread your words or taken thing out of context but the main thing i came away with is you apperntly felt you were in over your head but i someone who has read your word suspect yu had things to teach them and i hope you did. i suscribe to the idea that everbody is a teacher and everyone is a student i have often been amazed at the brilliance and wisdom of evn a child at times. the truth is true all the time and by whoever says it. if it is not true all the time someone has misnamed what they were talking about. you seem to deal in truth. but then again i’m just a dyslexic artist so please check my words for truth if any is contained in my words

  • jimbo

    Stop imagining there’s a heaven my friends; and stop imagining there’s a god. You have been taught to imagine these things by your family and community, and by religious leaders whose occupational survival depend on you believing such superstitious claptrap.It might have all made sense hundreds of years ago, when we didn’t know any better, but this is 2008, and the very idea of a supernatural world is laughable to any un-indoctrinated grown up.The six-billionth child is now about eight years old, and what he/she believes about the world depends very much on where he/she was born.He/she will likely be;Tolstoy once wrote that patriotism is an evil because it sets men against each other.I think religion is an evil for the same reason, but also because it is irrational nonsense, without any basis in reality.

Read More Articles

egg.jpg
Jesus, Bunnies, and Colored Eggs: An Explanation of Holy Week and Easter

So, Easter is a one-day celebration of Jesus rising from the dead and turning into a bunny, right? Not exactly.

shutterstock_186566975
Hey Bart Ehrman, I’m Obsessed with Jesus, Too — But You’ve Got Him All Wrong

Why the debate over Jesus’ divinity matters.

SONY DSC
Dear Evangelicals, Please Reconsider Your Fight Against Gay Rights

A journalist and longtime observer of American religious culture offers some advice to his evangelical friends.

shutterstock_186090179
How Passover Makes the Impossible Possible

When we place ourselves within the story, we can imagine new realities.

This Passover, We’re Standing at an Unparted Red Sea

We need to ask ourselves: What will be the future of the State of Israel — and what will it require of us?

shutterstock_185995553
How to Debate Christians: Five Ways to Behave and Ten Questions to Answer

Advice for atheists taking on Christian critics.

HIFR
Heaven Hits the Big Screen

How “Heaven is for Real” went from being an unsellable idea to a bestselling book and the inspiration for a Hollywood movie.

shutterstock_186364295
This God’s For You: Jesus and the Good News of Beer

How Jesus partied with a purpose.

pews
Just As I Am

My childhood conversion to Christianity was only the first of many.

shutterstock_127731035 (1)
Are Single People the Lepers of Today’s Church?

In an age of rising singlehood, many churches are still focused on being family ministry centers.

2337221655_c1671d2e5e_b
Mysterious Tremors

People like me who have mystical experiences may be encountering some unknown Other. What can we learn about what that Other is?

bible
Five Bible Verses You Need to Stop Misusing

That verse you keep quoting? It may not mean what you think it means.

csl_wall_paper
What C.S. Lewis’ Marriage Can Tell Us About the Gay Marriage Controversy

Why “welcome and wanted” is a biblical response to gay and lesbian couples in evangelical churches.