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Childhood trauma and its consequences
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 25, 2006 11:02 pm 
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Shelley, I don't know why you think there's little evidence that repressed feelings/memories exist. There's actually a lot, though not often mentioned in the mass media. On the website of Jim Hopper you find many pages of research that proves the existence of repressed memories. If you want more, I can give you more.

The current criteria of science are not suffcient to explain everything in life. The dreams we have when we sleep cannot be scientifically proven. Neither can love. Though there's not a person who will doubt its existence.

Dennis


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 27, 2006 10:46 pm 
Thanks Dennis. Lots of stuff at Jim Hopper's website to read. I'll certainly look through it. I'm sure you are aware that Jim Hopper only presents one of many viewpoints on the issues involved in repression, memory, and recovery of memory. If you would like to explore other views, let me know, and I'll be happy to provide you with interesting links.

At any rate, I was speaking quite specifically about the notion that Freud introduced that neurosis is caused by unconsciously repressed material that acts upon us without our knowledge, causing certain behavior. As I understand it, at least in his later work, Freud believed this repressed material consisted of primitive drives and impulses, not actual trauma. Primal theory, seems to me, is based on the same mechanism Freud described, except that the repressed material is thought to be actual trauma, or the unbearable emotions resulting from such trauma.

I don't think that this theory of Freudian repression can be scientifically proven. I don't think it's falsifiable. To be falsifiable, the theory must imply something which, if false, would show that the whole theory is false. The problem is that the theory attempts to explain everything. It's compatible with every possible state of affairs that I can think of. I can't come up with any implication of the theory that could be proven to be false.

In fact, the whole theory is circular. It starts by observing a behavior or feeling, then attributes that behavior or feeling to something that, by definition, can't be observed -- repressed unconscious material. The existence of the unconscious material is then said to be proven by the behavior or feeling.

Well, the theory may or may not have value, but it's not scientific. I don't think it can be proven or disproven, and I personally would not base my belief system or my actions on it.

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The current criteria of science are not suffcient to explain everything in life.


No, science cannot explain everything, although we keep learning more, which is a wonderful thing. I don't know much myself. One of the things that I work very hard to know as accurately as I can is what I don't know. As Socrates said:

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The only true wisdom is in knowing that you know nothing.


I feel far more clear and honest saying that I don't know what happens inside of me when I do my feeling work. And I think this attitude allows me to experience by emotions without the influence of an insupportable belief system.

Shelley


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 28, 2006 8:00 pm 
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It's not just viewpoints that Jim Hopper presents. There's also a massive body of science that supports the fact that there's such a thing as repressed memories and feelings and its effect. I've looked into more aspects, including the False Memory Syndrome and its foundation, but feel free to give me more links.

If you suspect there's a belief system behind the success of Primal therapy (and it certainly can be in some cases), how would you explain cases where babies or small children got cured by primal therapy? They are too young to have build a belief system. And how would you explain the cases of spontaneous 'primal' connections with people who were unaware of Primal Therapy?

Do you really believe true wisdom is knowing nothing? Or is it a hidden feeling of not being able to deal with the truth? And why should 'true wisdom' be a goal in life?

Dennis

Just to have an excerpt from Jim Hopper's page on memory, to summerize what it's all about:

Preface

I am a researcher and therapist with a doctorate (Ph.D.) in clinical psychology. I am a licensed clinical psychologist, and for 15 years I have been a therapist to men and women abused in childhood, providing individual and group treatment. I have studied the characteristics of traumatic memories and the effects of psychological trauma on biological systems involved in emotion regulation. My collaborators include Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, a leader in the psychological trauma field at The Trauma Center and Boston University. I am currently a Research Fellow at the Behavioral Psychopharmacology Research Laboratory at the Neuroimaging Center of McLean Hospital and Harvard Medical School. In this position I am focusing studies of substance abuse in people with histories of child abuse and PTSD. The contents of this page reflect my level of experience and expertise, as well as opinions I have formed over the years.

I have published this page to direct people to quality scholarly work on traumatic memory, especially:

Research evidence showing that it is NOT RARE for people who were sexually abused in childhood to experience amnesia and delayed recall for the abuse. This body of work shows that claims to the contrary are contradicted by scientific evidence.

Research and theoretical works by qualified specialists who increasingly agree that: a) traumatic and nontraumatic memories have some different characteristics; b) the construct of "dissociation" best explains many traumatic memories, e.g., those involving fragmentary sensations and feelings which are disconnected from verbal narratives, and associated with amnesia and delayed recall. These works show that making claims about traumatic memory based on generalizations from research on nontraumatic memory, and focusing on the constructs of "repression" and "repressed memory," can often be confusing distractions and misleading tactics.

To accomplish these two goals, this page does not need to be comprehensive, nor up-to-date on the latest research - though I will occassionally make additions, and am always open to suggestions.
Before proceeding, I want to acknowledge some very important issues that this page, with its limited goals related to recovered memories and dissociation, does not address, except in passing. Please read every item and the entire list very carefully.

Issues not addressed on this page:

1. Every instance of recall is a process of reconstruction, and therefore involves some degree of distortion.

2. This process of reconstruction is never random, and is always influenced by factors internal and external to the person attempting accurate recall.

3. There is strong evidence that people can sincerely believe they have recovered a memory or memories of abuse by a particular person, but actually be mistaken.

4. There is strong evidence that such memories have led to accusations about particular events that never happened and accusations of people who never committed such acts.

5. In some cases mistaken memories and accusations have caused extraordinary pain and damage to individuals and families.

6. One of the preventable causes of these tragedies is incompetence by therapists, who sometimes contribute to the creation of false memories and/or believe them without good reason.

7. Currently, there are no reliable statistics on the occurences listed as numbers 3 through 6 above. Along these lines, see two articles by Dr. Kenneth Pope: "Questioning Claims About the False Memory Syndrome Epidemic," and "Science as Careful Questioning: Are Claims of a False Memory Syndrome Epidemic Based on Empirical Evidence?" (For more information about these articles and online ordering of copies, follow the link to Pope's site in the "Additional Resources" section of this page.)

8. Most of these issues are addressed at the Web site of the False Memory Syndrome Foundation. I do not endorse that organization, their Web site, nor their treatment of these issues, which is clearly extreme in many ways. But I do encourage you to consider all positions, to contrast what you learn here with the materials presented at the FMSF site, and to come to your own conclusions.

Finally, I strongly encourage you to seek out and read some of the scholarly works cited below. These will help you to make your own judgements rather than relying on what you hear or read in the popular media, or what is available on the Internet – including this page. It is my aim and hope, however, that reading this page will give you powerful knowledge and tools for thinking more critically about whatever else you hear and read on this topic.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 28, 2006 8:40 pm 
Jim Hopper wrote:
My collaborators include Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, a leader in the psychological trauma field

Dr. Bessel van der Kolk is the psychiatrist responsible for preparing the official definition of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder for the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. Freud's ideas are no longer cited as authoritative. Research by Joseph LeDoux, and others, shows that traumatic memories are mediated by different pathways in the brain to 'normal' memories. There are many people in the USA who believe that Darwin's theory of evolution is "an insupportable belief system." They want schools to teach "Intelligent Design" instead. In certain controversial areas an overwhelming amount of evidence may not be enough to convince skeptics.

* Mojo *


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2006 1:29 am 
I happen to live in one of the areas of the US where folks are arguing about whether or not to teach Intelligent Design in the public schools. It's sad and frightening to me when people are unable to distinguish between beliefs that are supportable by evidence and those that are not. Intelligent Design is religious faith; nothing to do with science, and nothing that should be in our public schools.

I'm not kidding when I say I'm frightened. I've been reading Sam Harris' book, The End of Faith, and he makes a very strong case for the possiblity that we humans may literally destroy ourselves and each other because of our religious beliefs, which are completely irrational and unsupported by evidence. As much as I am personally glad that I have opened up my feeling life through my primal work, I think in this moment in history, it's more important to get people to think rationally than it is to get them to feel. Of course both, in balance, is best.

Oh, and Harris has a really good chapter on the nature of belief. His website: http://www.samharris.org

Anyway, I see that we are all having trouble sticking with my initial topic -- what evidence is there to support the theory underlying primal, and more specifically, what evidence is there to support the idea that repressed material in our unconscious acts upon us to cause neurosis and can by cleared (and neurosis cured) by processing this material through primal therapy. I was never looking to discuss false memory syndrome, although it certainly is a topic that we could take up on this board sometime.

Dennis, more to the point of what I wanted to discuss, the historical perspective of John Kihlstrom: http://ist-socrates.berkeley.edu/~kihlstrm/Tsukuba05.htm

To answer your questions:

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how would you explain cases where babies or small children got cured by primal therapy?


First, please give me evidence (not anecdotal) that this has occurred. And details please about what was cured and how it is known that that primal therapy was the cause of the cure.

My own therapy included not only primal work but also touch and holding. I haven't a clue what caused what changes in me while I was in therapy, or even whether any of the therapy caused any of the changes. I can speculate, but ultimately this falls into the category of the unknowable.

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And how would you explain the cases of spontaneous 'primal' connections with people who were unaware of Primal Therapy?


Again, please, evidence that this has occurred and details.

It's not that I haven't heard the stories. The just don't prove anything.

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Do you really believe true wisdom is knowing nothing?


No, what I believe is more like wisdom is knowing what I don't know, what I can't know, and what it's rational to say that I know based upon available evidence.

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Or is it a hidden feeling of not being able to deal with the truth?


I'm not aware of any feelings that are preventing me from dealing with any truths or from thinking clearly on this subject. That said, I can only be where I am, as is true for all of us. I continue to lie down with my feelings on a regular basis.

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And why should 'true wisdom' be a goal in life?


I'm not much for goals. I'm simply living my life. But I do care about truth for a couple of reasons that I can think of in this moment.

First of all, as Harris points out in his book about faith, beliefs are the basis of action, and actions based on irrational beliefs can have disasterous consequences. The number of people slaughtered as a result of irrational beliefs boggles my mind.

Secondly, on a feeling level, I've discovered that irrationality, falsity, and dishonesty lead to feelings of pain and hurt. I feel better if I am as rational, open and honest as I can be, and if those around me are as well. (Not to imply that my goal is to "feel better" or that I seek to avoid pain and hurt when they are the natural consequence of living.)

Shelley


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2006 3:36 am 
Thanks for the link to Sam Harris' website. When I was a kid I thought religion was crazy. My only consolation was that it seemed inevitable that by the end of the 20th century fewer people would be actively religious. It hasn't turned out that way. Apparently, in europe, it's only on the increase among ethnic minorities, but in every other part of the world it's on the increase. My own personal theory (maybe others have written books with the same theory) is that it's a backlash against that sector of the scientific community who claim to know everything worth knowing about human nature by doing genetic research and cognitive science. I don't like them either.

Unfortunately, even individuals who are capable of exceptionally rational thoughts have blind spots when it comes to their own personal beliefs. Surprisingly, there's no shortage of university science professors who belong to a religious faith. And I believe, for example, that on balance (like you say) true rationality depends on harmony between the cognitive and feeling parts of a person's mental apparatus.

* Mojo *


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2006 7:04 pm 
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how would you explain cases where babies or small children got cured by primal therapy?

First, please give me evidence (not anecdotal) that this has occurred. And details please about what was cured and how it is known that that primal therapy was the cause of the cure.


On this site you'll find pretty strong emperical evidence. As I've said before, when it comes to human behavior, the criteria of current science often don't hold up.

Yes, religious fanaticism in the US is worrisome. Right now there's a Filmfestival in Gothenburg (Sweden) where there's a movie called This Divided State. Unfortunately all screenings are sold out and I hope to see it one day, but this is what it's about:

This Divided State
The film begins in September 2004 with the presidential election fast approaching and the State of Utah ready to declare itself "Bush Country" once again. However, this complacent state of Republican majority was rocked when Utah Valley State College announced that liberal filmmaker Michael Moore would speak on their campus two weeks before the election. Within 24 hours of the announcement, a media frenzy descended upon the school as angry community members and religious leaders shouted protests, pointed fingers, and quoted Mormon scripture. Some even claimed Moore's arrival would bring the Apocalypse. The student body representatives who had invited Moore soon were inundated with hate mail, death threats, and claims that they had committed "treason". Spearheading the anti-Moore campaign was Kay Anderson, local millionaire, Sunday School teacher and self-appointed community spokesperson. Attempting to calm outrage, the college invited FOX News pundit Sean Hannity to speak a few days before Moore. But this was to no avail. And thus continued the infamous "Moore War".
Director: Steven Greenstreet, USA, 2005

Shelley, I'll get back to the rest of your posting another time. Just a quick question, what's your definition of a primal?

Dennis


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2006 5:01 pm 
Dennis,

Thanks for the link to Emerson's website. I'm quite familiar with his work, which is why I specifically asked you for more than anecdotal evidence, since that is all that he offers.

I know an adult who has worked with Emerson in a group and was satisfied that it was productive. I have nothing against Emerson. I've simply taken a good look at my own unsubstantiated beliefs, and it's been revealing.

After you posted, I did a very cursory look around for any negative experiences involving Emerson. Just curiosity. I don't value the negative experiences any higher than the positive. I happened on a fascinating article about attachment therapy and reparenting that describes the author's experience at an Emerson workshop.

http://www.skepticreport.com/sr/attachmenttherapy-p.htm

Anybody know if it's true that Emerson was forced to surrender his psychology license in California, and if so, why?

Dennis, you asked me to define a primal. Personally, I use the word as a convenience to describe the feeling work that I do. I'm well aware that some would not define what I do as "primal." Others would. It's one of those imprecise words that means different things to different people. I'm not concerned with defining "a primal" because I don't have any reason to believe that there is one and only one right way.

I've been told that I don't "primal" because I don't care whether or not my feelings in the moment "take me back," and I don't care whether or not I make "primal connections." I feel in the moment. Period. Whatever follows from that does. Memories may or may not be stirred. I may or may not feel like I go somewhere else. Since I don't believe in the theory of repression, I don't try to relive. I feel in the present (with the knowledge that the act of remembering occurs in the present).

It won't surprise me if this is not "a primal" by your definition. I've heard it before. I'm not concerned with labeling what I do. If you watched me work, I do not believe that it would look any different from what you might define as a primal, but perhaps because I have a different attitude toward my work, you might call it a "mock primal."

Mojo: I don't have the same negative feelings about the "scientific community" that you do. I actually have trouble thinking of scientists as a community. They are far from unitary, and, as you say, there are religious scientists. I have no idea how they reconcile that leap of faith.

Harris mentions it too. Harris posits that the strength of religions in our day, in the face of ever-growing human knowledge about how the world really works, is a product of religious moderation and the notion that we need to respect and be tolerant of religious differences. It's easy in our modern culture to find a way to adapt religious beliefs to allow for the leap from logic without having to reject what science has learned about the world.

Perhaps if we stopped ignoring human emotional needs, the need for religion would fall away.

Shelley


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 02, 2006 2:20 am 
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There are external signs that can be sometimes observed
which might be seen as partial proof of primal theory. I am talking about cases where signs of childhood lesions reappeared on the skin at the time of the primal. There are the cases of birth primals where the person
primalling did not have available information about the details of his or her own birth. What went on in the birth primal correlated with clinical documentation which was found after the primal. Janov has documented quite a few of these cases.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 03, 2006 2:46 am 
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Human behavior can seldom be analyzed by scientific criteria. That's why there's emperical evidence. You can't have a child in a lab (controlled situation) exposed to abuse and then examine the effects on his life later, together with a control group who is not abused. It doesn't work like that. But there are many documented cases in which there's a direct link to former abuse and later neurotic behavior.

I also think that faith doesn't necessarily have to mean something bad. It depends where you have faith in. Faith in yourself can be a reminder of the natural abilities within us, to overcome certain problems. Isn't that why babies learn to walk and to keep walking after falling down, for example?

Repression is a real phenomenon, even though there are people, like the False Memoy Syndrome Foundation, who deny its existence. But that's a whole other story.

Science can be a religion, too. Have you ever read a book about DNA? That's really complicated stuff, still a lot of people explain a lot of things with it. They copy phrases from a small scientific community to justify their actions, just like with religion.

Dennis


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 04, 2006 5:51 pm 
Thought you all might enjoy this article on how medical facts are developed. The table (Figure 1) of the relative evidentiary value of various kinds of studies is revealing.

http://www.quackwatch.org/06ResearchProjects/doyle.html

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I also think that faith doesn't necessarily have to mean something bad. It depends where you have faith in. Faith in yourself can be a reminder of the natural abilities within us, to overcome certain problems. Isn't that why babies learn to walk and to keep walking after falling down, for example?


We'd better define faith. I use it to mean belief without evidence. I suspect we all have evidence of our ability to overcome certain problems, so although the word "faith" is commonly used in that situation, it's not the kind of faith I was talking about.

I'm guessing we're genetically pre-programmed to walk. Whether we are or not, and even though babies probably are not consciously weighing evidence to decide whether or not to attempt walking, babies would have evidence of their ability to walk -- from watching others do it, from having small success before they fall, from feeling the strength of their own muscles as they crawl, bounce, bend, stretch, and move.

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Science can be a religion, too. Have you ever read a book about DNA? That's really complicated stuff, still a lot of people explain a lot of things with it. They copy phrases from a small scientific community to justify their actions, just like with religion.


Are you talking about people who take scientific findings to explain other phenomena? Like using quantum physics to try to explain human consciousness? That may be religion, but it's nothing to do with science. Scientists can't be held responsible for the perversion of their ideas by others.

Shelley


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2006 12:15 am 
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Are you talking about people who take scientific findings to explain other phenomena? Like using quantum physics to try to explain human consciousness? That may be religion, but it's nothing to do with science. Scientists can't be held responsible for the perversion of their ideas by others.


That's the same thing when someone criticizes religion, that it's the way its interpreted that makes it wrong. Also science (like religion) is very complicated and only a few insiders know what they're really talking about so most people take it for granted when science makes a claim. Just like with religion.

It's important to know when you need scientific evidence to live a fullfilling life. What evidence do you need to enjoy a sunset, or the smile of your child? If a baby feels somehow it's pre-programmed to walk, it's not scientific evidence he needs, to continue. Similar events occur when growing older.

An old saying is: every story has three sides, yours, mine and the facts.

Shelley, in another posting you said:
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I simply don't blame science for this. Science is just a system for observing the natural world in order to understand it better. I don't think there's a flaw in that system. Science works fine.


Why would science stand above anything else? Think about all the horrifying scientific experiments during World War II? All those later experiments on millions of innocent animals but also people of all ages. All that is being justified for progress? It's said that 75 percent of all scientists in the world work one or another way on weapon and defense systems.

Another hypothetical question, Shelley: If you're child is missing, do you believe it will return or do you just look at statistical evidence?

Dennis


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 08, 2006 12:28 am 
I see no similarities between science and religion. Science is a method for observing the natural world in order to understand it better. Religion is a belief system built on faith in something outside of the natural world that cannot be observed. Religions provide moral and ethical rules by which their followers are expected to live. Science is morally and ethically neutral.

That doesn't mean that scientists do not have ethics. Their ethics (if they don't come from a religion, as mine don't) come from being human. They can and should apply their human ethics to their scientific work. Whether they do or they don't says nothing about science, which is simply the method for observation, the explanations that logically follow from the observations, and their application in practical ways.

I would never defend the unethical use of science. But science, as a method, cannot be abandoned simply because it can be used unethically. And furthermore, when it is used unethically, the underlying cause of the lapse in ethics is never science itself. In every example that you have given and that I can think of, the underlying cause is religion, nationalism, or some other completely unscientific belief system.

Science is neutral. As you say, there were horrifying experiments done during WWII, both in Europe and in Asia. It's not jusified. It shouldn't happen, and I hope that it never happens again. But science didn't do it. Belief in science didn't do it. People did it because their humanity failed for reasons having nothing to do with science.

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Another hypothetical question, Shelley: If you're child is missing, do you believe it will return or do you just look at statistical evidence?


If my child was missing, I would use every bit of my brain to find my child as quickly as possible. If, under the circumstances, looking at statistical evidence would be a logical thing to do, of course I would do it.

Shelley


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 09, 2006 12:15 pm 
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Let’s see if I can sum this up, correct me if I’m wrong.
I say it’s dangerous to idealize science, while you say science is great and it’s the scientists’ responsibility when it’s used wrongly. So when used immorally, it’s not science but the scientists who are the problem. But who decides when something is immoral or wrong? Seems to me that science has a free hand for torturing and killing millions of innocent creatures in labs but also people (still happens a lot), all in the name of science (and not in the name of the scientists – big difference here). And it’s not life-saving science either. The cosmetic industry, for example, is well known for its cruel animal tests.

Science can’t prove the existence of dreams and love, for example, something that no one doubt it exists. Those are facts so science alone can’t be the only way to understand the natural order of things, especially when it comes to human behavior. Since no human is neutral and science is done by humans, it’ll always be subjective science. Science can’t prove or disprove the existence of god.

Dennis


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 09, 2006 7:43 pm 
I think you've summed up your interpretation of what I've said, but not what I'm trying to say. Perhaps I've said it badly. I'll try again.

I see science as a tool, like a hammer. I don't idealize it. I use it when it's useful. It's great for pounding nails. I don't use it to cut wood. Sometimes, for any number of possible reasons, someone picks up a hammer and uses it to hurt another person. I don't blame the hammer. There's nothing wrong with the hammer. It's still a useful tool.

Hope that helps.

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But who decides when something is immoral or wrong?


This is a separate question that I wish all of humanity was talking about. It won't surprise me if someday science can add to that conversation with information about consciousness and the functioning of all living creatures, but the research has far to go. Let me ask you this: Where does your sense of right and wrong come from?

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Science can?t prove the existence of dreams and love, for example, something that no one doubt it exists.


I don't know whay you say this. Scientists have studied both dreams and love, and there's certainly evidence that both exist. Even without scientific study, common sense tells us that both of these things are common human experiences. Of course, the existence of dreams and love tells us nothing about what dreams and love are or why they exist. Scientists are working on answers to those questions.

Quote:
Science can?t prove or disprove the existence of god.


Yes! That's the honest truth. There is absolutely no evidence of the extistence or the nonexistence of a god or gods or heaven or hell or afterlife or Santa or leprechauns or ghosts or . . . .

Shelley


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