God’s providence

First you need to understand what providence is. To quote a Christian scholar:

“Providence, then, is the sovereign, divine superintendence of all things, guiding them toward their divinely predetermined end in a way that is consistent with their created nature, all to the glory and praise of God.”

This is a bit of a mouthful, unfortunately, so to break it down a little the concept is the God has his hands in all things, and all things work to his plan. While not all Christians will understand what “God’s providence” means as a term, this is a central tenet to their beliefs.

In the most Christian-centric sense, Jesus came to Earth as a sacrifice for the remission of sin. This was a prophesied event, and was part of the plan from the beginning of the universe. It is even said Jesus was there at the beginning (John 1) and it was through Jesus that all things were made.

So from here spring many other elements of Christian faith, including prophecy, predestination or predetermination, grace via the will of God, and numerous other aspects.

This is also used as one of the evidences of God. People will explain God exists as without God a certain situation would be different, Broadly this would be “We wouldn’t exist” or “There would be no universe”. On the more personal level “I would never have met you/him/her” or “I wouldn’t have survived”. Down to the trivial “I wouldn’t have found that car park” type of examples.

Providence can be an awkward topic for Christians as well, as it refers to a predetermined outcome. This also flies in the face of the concept of free will, which is also a central tenet of Christianity.

For the moment let’s disregard the trivial for exactly what it is: trivial. It is on the same level as superstition, and is as meaningful an argument for the existence of God or the authority of scripture as having a four-leaf clover or rabbits foot. Very rarely has locating a convenient car park been used as proof of divine intervention.

Personal testimony

So then on to the personal level. While there is a similarity in the trivial and the personal, the personal tends to be far more significant on a life changing level. However the pattern of these remains remarkably similar:

• Event happens (normally tragic)
• Event has unforeseen outcome
• Unforeseen outcome results in spiritual shift

How this works as a biblically based example:

• Judas betrays Jesus (tragedy)
• Jesus dies for the remission of sins (unforeseen outcome) • Mankind is saved from sin (spiritual shift)

In personal testimony style this usually works along the same lines:

• I was diagnosed with cancer (tragedy)
• I ended up in hospital with a preacher (unforeseen outcome)
• He taught me about the love of God (spiritual shift)

• I was in a horrific car accident (tragedy)
• I survived by the grace of God (unforeseen outcome)
• As he saved my life I am in his debt (spiritual shift)

As mentioned before, the event does not need to be tragic:

• My fiancé asked me to go to her church before we married (event)
• The priest was an old school friend and we started talking (unforeseen outcome)
• He taught me about etc. (spiritual shift)

Or to steal the lyrics from “If you’re feeling sinister” by Belle and Sebastian

• Hillary went to the church because she wanted information (event)
• The vicar, or whatever, took her to one side and gave her confirmation (unforeseen occurrence)
• St Theresa’s calling her the church upon the hill is looking lovely (spiritual shift)

The issue here is that each unforeseen occurrence is seen as the hand of God, where in reality it is a random roll of the dice as to what the outcome could be. The logical fallacy is seeing a pattern in events where none exists. This is a known psychological phenomenon known as apophenia.

As defined by Wkipedia, Apophenia /æpoʊˈfiːniə/ is the human tendency to perceive meaningful patterns within random data.

A sub-category of apophenia is pareidolia, where patterns are seen in visual or auditory stimulus where none exist.

On a visual basis one of the more famous examples of this is the face on Mars, where a photo taken of the surface of Mars in the 70s showed an image that looked something like a human face. For many years conspiracy theorists suggested this was evidence of extra terrestrial intelligence, or some more outlandish theories. This continued until the 90’s when another photo was taken of the same terrain, with higher resolution and a different angle of light, which showed that it was simply a trick of shadow.

I recall when the second photo was taken there were some conspiracy theorists who suggested the aliens came back and destroyed the face due to some human failing, as some beliefs are hard to shake.

The reliance in beliefs that have no rational basis is is a form of psychological heuristic; a belief that impacts on rational judgement making. Once this heuristic is in place it becomes difficult to move outside of it.

So perceiving God’s providence is not an indication of stupidity or gullibility, it’s completely normal from a psychological basis. What it will does come down to though is regularly coming to judgements based on a belief with no rational support.

A similar psychological heuristic is exemplified by the Monty Hall problem. For those that aren’t aware, the Monty Hall problem is named after the previous host of a game show Let’s Make a Deal.

The scenario is the host presents a contestant with three doors. Behind one door is the big prize, the car. Behind the others, nothing. The host asks you to pick a door, and you pick door 1. The host then opens one if the remaining doors to show you that behind that door, say door number 2, is nothing. The host intentionally chooses a door knowing there is nothing behind it. Now the host gives you a choice to stick with your first choice, or to switch.

Common misconception is that the remaining doors have equal chance of having the car behind them. A 50/50 chance. In presented with this most contestants choose to stick with their original choice.

Mathematically the odds are that by switching you are twice as likely to get the car. The way that works is your initial choice is a 1/3 chance of being correct, and there is a 2/3 chance that the prize will be behind one of the other doors. By the host opening a door where there is nothing, he eliminates the chance of it being behind that door, but the odds that the first choice are correct are unchanged, still 1/3, and the location of the prize has not changed. The odds of it being behind one of the other doors is still 2/3, but by eliminating one of the doors the odds of the remaining unchosen door is now the 2/3.

However people choose the first door with no foreknowledge and no reasonable capacity to give that door any more likelihood than any other. But having made their decision people are far more remain fixated on that decision.

One study (Granberg and Brown, 1995) examined the response of subjects faced with the Monty Hall problem with no foreknowledge of the mathematics behind it. Of the 228 subjects tested, only 13% chose to switch. Or in other terms, only 1 person out of every 8 switched.

So when presented with arbitrary outcomes, people are significantly more likely to fall back on a predetermined belief. There are many other examples that illustrate this type of phenomena, and it’s also the basis for many prejudices, such as xenophobia or misogyny.

So seeing God’s providence is quite normal, but logically fallacious. Let’s go back to the pattern again and look at it in a few examples.

• I went to the casino and put everything on red (event)
• it came up red, and I won big (unforeseen outcome)
• We then had enough money by the grace of God to build a new church (spiritual shift)

• I went to the casino and put everything on black (event)
• it came up red, and I lost everything (unforeseen outcome)
• My family gathered around and supported me in my time of need, and I learned there are more important things than money (spiritual shift)

Regardless of the unforeseen outcome, it can be any outcome, and it can still have a similar shift.

• I was diagnosed with cancer (tragedy)
• My cancer is now in complete remission (unforeseen outcome)
• God has saved me (shift)

• My cancer had dramatically progressed (unforeseen outcome)
• God has taught me to value each day as my last (shift)

Or as another example:

• My wife left me, and I prayed each day for her to return (tragedy)
• My wife came back to me (outcome)
• God answered my prayer (shift)

• My wife never came back (outcome)
• God introduced me to my new wife, the woman I was meant to be with (shift)

And the list of these examples can go on. The point is that the event/tragedy will lead to an unforeseen outcome. Depending on your perspective that outcome can be used as evidence of whatever relates to psychological heuristic.

Let’s take that last example:

• My wife left me, and I prayed each day for her to come back (tragedy)
• She never came back (unforeseen outcome)
• Prayer doesn’t work, so there is no god (shift)

• She came back (outcome)
• If there was a god she would never have left to begin with; No god encouraged her to come back (shift)

There is an adage “there are no atheists in foxholes.” It is the argument that presented with sufficient motivation – mortal fear – that everyone will turn to a god.

When I was a much younger man, and in a brief period of theistic mindset, I was on a tram with a friend of mine and was accosted by a gentleman of a particular mould. He was an elderly gentleman of a particular bearing who demanded I give up my seat to him as he was a returned veteran, and proceeded to tell me about everything that was wrong with society, starting with a criticism of the tram driver’s ethnicity.

My friend and I attempted to continue our conversation, speaking of the comparative differences in Catholicism to Judaism. The gentleman was obviously upset by the lack of attention his earlier xenophobic diatribe was garnering, and decided to explain to us why there was no god.

He explained that he was in a war zone, and was hunkered down in a ditch during a fire fight. Bullets whizzing everywhere and in mortal fear. He’d seen his friends dying and could see no way out of the situation he was in alive.

And so he prayed. He made solemn vows and deals with god, and begged for relief, for a way out of there. And no help came. So he stopped praying, grabbed his gun, jumped out of his ditch and started fighting his way out of there. The moral of his story was that if there had been a god he wouldn’t have been abandoned there, and it was him jumping up and fighting his way out that saved his life.

By this time I’d gotten to a point that I’d found the old man tiresome, and pointed out that maybe god had stopped him being hit by bullets after he’d jumped out of his ditch. The conversation derailed there somewhat, but fortunately the tram didn’t and not long after we both alighted.

Now the event was identical, and the outcome was identical, but the interpretation was the diametric opposite.

So herein lies the crux of the issue of using “personal testimony” or “personal experience” as evidence of God’s existence: It’s a logical fallacy based on a preconceived belief.

Once the belief pattern is established, it continues to be reinforced by using the same heuristic to judge new experiences. It also involves using the same heuristic to disregard contrary experiences.

I referred earlier to the “atheist in foxholes” adage, and showed a contrary example. This also works when reviewing many of these other examples.

For the argument of the person who’s cancer was in remission, there are always examples of the person that has died of cancer without “being saved”. For the person who survived the car accident and without the intervention of god wouldn’t be here today, there are the examples of those that didn’t survive the car accident.

There are the wives and husbands who never returned. The person who turned to religion to get off heroin but went back on the gear. The person who was given the sports car by god, and the entire countries god allows to suffer from famine.

The short answer is that personal experiences of God’s providence are logically as meaningless as following a gamblers fallacy.

Where there is a random element is at play in a person’s life there will always be the good things that happen, and there will be the bad things that happen. Saying that the good is all due to a divine presence that is unable to be verified, and then saying the the negative things are due to evil, sin, or man is simply adding a preconceived belief on a roll of the dice.

Alternately, it can be said all the good things are the work of fairies, and the bad things the work of imps. As evidence of the existence of supernatural entities, the logic is identical.

As an aside, I would recommend listening to Belle and Sebastian’s album “If you’re feeling sinister” at some stage if you haven’t already listened to it.

 

Atheism is a belief

So let’s analyse the statement that atheism is a belief, or faith, or a religion. First of all we need to understand the meaning of a few terms.

The first we’ll have a look at the definition of belief. Belief is “an acceptance that something exists or is true, especially one without proof”

The latter part of the definition is significant, but it’s not universal across all beliefs. A belief that water is wet is a belief – an acceptance that a proposition is true – but also one that has proof.

So we’ll limit ourselves at this stage to just the “acceptance that something exists, or is true”.

We’ll also look at faith, which defines as a “strong belief in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual conviction rather than proof”. So again this comes back to belief.

Now before we go too much further, these are not the only definitions of these terms. Both of these terms have alternate meanings that relate back to trust. For the sake of what we are discussing here, we will refer to the acceptance of the truth of a statement or the existence of a thing. Simply as the context of the statement often relates back to the initial definition.

So let’s look at religion as a definition. Religion is defined as “the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods.” It is also defined as “a particular system of faith and worship.”

Both of these definitions come back to either “belief” or “faith”. And again this is the acceptance of something as true or existing.

There is also the definition of religion as “a pursuit or interest followed with great devotion.” This is the less common usage of the word, and relates more to phrases such as “gardening is my religion” or “I follow my local sports team religiously”.

This latter definition does allow for anything to be referred to as a religion, but not as a belief. Fans of the band Nickelback could be considered religious in their devotion to the band, but that doesn’t require acceptance of a statement as true or an object as existing. In short, it isn’t a faith or a belief. It is however, as a side note, an example of poor taste.

So going back to the main point, when we say atheism is a belief, faith, or religion, we are stating that atheism is an acceptance of a statement as true or acceptance in the existence of a thing. Or to phrase it differently, for atheism to be considered a religion, belief or faith, it must, by definition, mean that one of the following propositions is correct:

Proposition 1: “Atheism is the acceptance that a particular statement is true”
Proposition 2: “Atheism is the acceptance that a particular thing exists”

So let’s delve into the definition of atheism. Atheism is defined as “a lack of belief or disbelief in the existence of a god or gods”.

Note that I have intentionally used lowercase “g” for a “god”, as atheism is not related to a deity of a specific religion.

Note that this specifically relates to a “lack of belief” and “disbelief”. Now a lack of belief is a fairly straightforward concept, as we’ve already gone through the definition of belief earlier.

Disbelief defines as “an inability or refusal to accept that something is true or real”. If someone were to put forward the proposition that “water is not wet”, as we are very aware this is untrue, this would be met with disbelief. We would be rationally unable to believe something that is contrary to all evidence, and we would rationally refuse to believe this.

The definition of atheism can also be seen in the etymology of the word. The “a-” prefix relates to “not” or “without”. This is similar to terms such as “afebrile” (not having a fever), or “asynchronistic” (lacking synchronicity). “Theism” is a belief in a god or gods.

So atheism is a lack of belief, or inability or refusal to believe in, a god or gods.

So going back to our earlier propositions, let’s substitute the term atheism with the definition of atheism.

Proposition 1: “A lack of belief, or inability or refusal to believe in a god or gods is the acceptance that a particular statement is true.”

This proposition is obviously untrue. The absence of a belief is not a belief, in much the same way that the lack of a specific rock is not a different rock. It simply means that a specific rock is not there.

Proposition 2: “A lack of belief, or inability or refusal to believe in a god or gods is the acceptance that a particular thing exists”

This is not only obviously untrue, it is patently absurd.

Does this preclude atheists from having any beliefs, faiths, or religions? Absolutely not.

A belief that water is wet is still a belief, but it is not based on an acceptance of a god or gods. In the same way there are religions that are atheistic in nature, but may or may not still contain a belief in the supernatural.

To expand from this and say due to one or some atheists being religious or holding beliefs, to then assert all atheists are religious of hold a belief, is a fallacy of inductive reasoning.

A classic example of this fallacy is the “white swan” fallacy. The statement “all swans we have seen are white, therefore all swans are white” does not hold true. It is further disproven by the discovery of swans that are black. To then continue to say that “it’s a swan, therefore it is white” contrary to evidence is then just ridiculous.

Now the one thing I have not mentioned is the argument that atheism is a belief, faith or religion that states that there is no god. This argument is not completely without merit, but it does contain a logical fallacy.

If an individual contains a belief that there is no god, then they would, by sheer logic, not hold a belief that there is a god. (Cognitive dissonance notwithstanding.) The belief that there is no god is often referred to as anti-theism.

To assume that all atheists (individuals that lack a belief in a god), therefore hold a belief there is no god, based upon the fact that a sample of the population hold this belief, is erroneous.

To illustrate this, let’s assume that all dogs lack wings. To then assume anything that lacks wings is a dog is, obviously, erroneous.

So, a lack of a belief is not a belief. A lack of a faith is not a faith. A lack of religion is not a religion.

Atheism is not a belief. Atheism is not a faith. And atheism is not a religion.

Breathe

I breathe
Drawing your essence
Deep into my lungs
Filtering into my blood
Pulsing through me
Streaming through my veins

My pulse increases
Pumping you harder
Swimming through my brain
Harder to think
I can only feel

The tingling in my fingers
My skin taut like a drum
The slightest touch
Banging through me

My being throbs
The world recedes
All that remains
Is you

I breathe

Take a chance on gambling

Oh dear.

So there is no legislation put forward at the moment to restrict people’s access to gambling machines, but there is talk of mandatory measures being introduced.

So, I’m going to ignore clubs Australia involvement in this issue. They are quoting stats that don’t exist and arguing against legislation that hasn’t been introduced. But I do want to look at the AFL for a second.

Andrew Demetriou, has stated publicly that he is not part of a campaign to block any reform.

Of course, he has stated that the reforms will have no effect – despite there being no detail of the proposed reforms as of yet – and he is trying to talk to Wilkie, Xenophon, and the government to help “work” on the reforms.

Jeff Kennett, the man whose greatest achievement as premier of Victoria was to introduce poker machines, and who is now head honcho of Hawthorn football club, is against the reforms.

Eddie McGuire, president of Collingwood, has also been vocally against poker machine reform. McGuire, however, is concerned about problem gambling, having been supportive of allowing problem gamblers to set betting limits and have registrations on sporting bets.

McGuire, who hosts hot seat – the show modelled on “who wants to be a millionaire” that encourages contestants to risk their winnings by placing another bet on wether or not they’ll know the answer to a question – seems to have been somewhat contrary here. However the distinction is quite clear.

McGuire makes no money from gambling on sports events. And the money that AFL supporters – his club members – lose in sports gambling is money that doesn’t go into his pokies.

So Eddie McGuire’s enlightened stance can be directly linked to his desire to take as much money as he can from the poorest sections of society.

Football clubs are built on gambling. Ignoring the sports betting itself for a moment, the number of clubs that have raised money by “chook raffles” in years past is probably close to 100%. And that’s going through every level of the game, down to the local under 12’s team.

But why is it that poker machines are being targeted?

Let’s have a quick look at the productivity reports in 1999 and 2010. The number of severe problem gamblers has remained fairly static. But back in ’99 the majority of Australians did not want to see the number of poker machines increase.

The main form of gambling that leads to problem gambling is poker machines (from both reports).

While there is a tax revenue made from poker machines, this is offset by the cost to the public purse from problem gambling.

The social impact of problem gambling is significant, which leads to follow on costs not factored into the productivity reports.

So from a purely fiscal perspective, limiting problem gambling has a positive effect on the economy. Focusing on the highest form of gambling that leads to problem gambling – poker machines – will have a positive impact.

What will these restrictions mean to clubs that use these for revenue?

Well, for a significant period poker machines, along with many other forms of gambling, was illegal in Victoria. Clubs used to gain income by serving meals, hiring out venues, being a social centre, and supporting live acts. These clubs for the most part survived without the need for poker machines.

AFL originated from VFL – which was a Victorian based league – and flourished to the point that it grew into a national league. VFL didn’t suffer from not having machines at all, and the game was central to the clubs – not the machines.

RSLs and bowling clubs – the regular venues for the older members of society – did not rely on poker machines to keep the clubs running, but instead encouraged a community within themselves. Many of these now have less community involvement, and have introduced poker machines in order to supplement their lost income.

I went to a country hotel about 6 months ago that had a meat raffle on a Friday night. The entry to the raffle was free – ticket given at the door if you got in before 6:30. There were no poker machines, and no TAB outlets.

It was probably the best feeling of community that I have ever felt within a hotel environment. Everyone was having fun, people were talking and introducing themselves to each other, and as a stranger to the town I still felt included.

Conversely, I went to a local RSL around 3 months ago. Any conversation held there was purely perfunctory, and everyone was sitting in a world of their own in front of a poker machine.

My father in law likes to meet strangers. He introduced himself to the people that we were near as they were playing on their machines. For the most part he got ignored or glared at. In one particular instance and individual looked me up and down – sizing up my capacity for physical conflict – before going back to his game.

It was the most threatening and soul destroying feeling.

I rarely get to see a live band playing at a local hotel – in fact none of my local hotels have the capacity for a live band.

I would love to see AFL becoming a sport again, and not solely a money making enterprise. If I wanted footy to thrive, I’d support bans on pokies.

Gay marriage debate from a 14 year old perspective

Okay – I have never done this before, but Max, my 14 year old step-son, wrote the below, and I feel the need to share it.

More and more people are starting to say that marriage between two people of the same gender should remain banned. The main reason for this view is religion. However there are many people in Australia who have absolutely no reason whatsoever to dislike this idea, yet they dislike it anyway. My contention on this topic is that it should be legal, no matter what religion it goes against.

Denying two people the right of marriage is not only a violation of human rights, but a form of minority discrimination. The three main forms of discrimination are; Racism, Sexism, and Homophobia. Saying that two people of the same gender, regardless of race or gender, is not only plainly unfair, but also exactly the same as saying that we won’t allow inter-racial marriages, or saying girls can’t get married. Saying that girls can’t get married is completely insane, so why should same-sex marriages be any different.

If the government will allow civil unions, why not allow marriage? It is plain stupidity! Many religious people would be against civil unions, so why should marriage be any different? In the case of partners in civil unions, it would be a bit like people’s idea of heaven and hell; Stuck outside the gates of heaven, never to be allowed in, always looking inside. It would be the same with this argument; Allowed to be in a civil union, yet never allowed to marry. It’s a cruel, tragic love story without a happy ending.

Different groups of people (religious and racial) say that allowing same-sex marriage would be de-valuing the meaning of marriage. While this makes sense in some ways and I understand what they are trying to say, it really isn’t. After all, the majority of gay or lesbian couples would still have the traditional white wedding, the same traditional honeymoon, and live the same traditional lives of any other straight couple. Also it is insulting to tell someone they can’t get married because it “devalues the meaning of marriage”.

There is absolutely no difference between a straight couple getting married, or a lesbian or gay couple getting married. They’re both vowing to forever be loving to the other, so how is that any different?

A really scientific study

Did you know that people sometimes lie on social networking sites?

My study discovered that on social networking sites 98.3% of men are 6′ or over. And 94.5% of women are a “generous C cup” or larger bust size.

I have come to the conclusion that 83.9% of statistics quoted on twitter are made up on the spot.

Conversations with a blue ball

Blue Ball

Recently I have started to have conversations with a blue ball. Some may find it odd that I have started to converse with an object, however the object itself doesn’t actually exist – it is an imaginary object.

I could be criticised saying that I have finally stepped over the edge of sanity and into the deep dark realms of insanity. Others could state that I’d gone over to the dark side years ago. However I have found that I am having more intelligent and meaningful conversations with the blue ball than I have with the majority of people that I deal with during the day.

If the blue ball could give me money and coffee, I’d be a very happy man.

POTR: Hello and welcome. I’m very glad you could join me today.

BB: Thank you. I’m happy to be here. Although being a non-existent sentience, I can’t really say that I’m anywhere. However appearing on your blog does give some credence to my existence, so with that said, being able to be interviewed here makes me happy.

POTR: Well, I guess in this instance I’m referring to here as my psyché. Which brings us neatly to the first question. Given the blue ball is obviously symbolic of something, what exactly are you?

BB: (laughs) Very direct question. And definitely pertinent based upon the fact that we have started to discuss the psyche. And in English there is generally not an accent on the last letter, despite the pronunciation.

There is a lot of writing on what makes up the mind. There are schools of thought that say that it is purely a physical being and that there is nothing beyond the physical behind it. While we won’t discount these schools of thought, they fail to explain fully things like dreams and imagination. I guess the short answer is that I am a part of your mind.

The longer answer, though is much longer, and keep in mind that I’m not a trained psychologist or neuro-chemist or anything of that ilk.

There seem to be an extraordinary number of theories relating to the mind. Edison referred to having 12 men inside his head who all contributed to his thoughts. There was also a study done at another stage saying that the mind could not think of 7 different things at the one time, suggesting there are at most only 7 elements. But for the sake of simplicity, rather than going into the depth of all this, let’s look at that link you supplied above, which gives a very broad overview of the psyche, and assume that Freud – while not giving the only viable answer – gave an answer that has enough complexity to really give us a foothold in where we are.

So, assuming PuppyOnTheRadio – you – is an extension of the ego, then that would then suggest that I, as a blue ball, am an extension of the super-ego.

POTR: If that is the case, there where is the id?

BB: I’m sure you allow enough of the id to come through to keep it satisfied. It doesn’t really need representation here.

POTR: Fair point. So, being that you’re a part of me, why is it you don’t suffer the same feelings of depression and anxiety I do?

BB: Big question. And it has a lot behind it.

Depression, as a simple definition, is feeling bad. And feelings are based upon a number of factors. To get a better understanding of why someone is depressed it makes sense to understand what feelings are in the first place.

So rather than trying to define all feelings and emotions, and what causes them, the quickest way to come to an understand of emotion is to simplify the entire gamut of emotions down into the two, what I like to call, meta-emotions. Love and fear.

The reason why I refer to these as meta emotions is that all emotional context can be boiled down into one or both of these two. Love is the emotion that draws us towards something. This can be hunger, lust, greed, enjoyment, anticipation, and so on.

Fear, on the other hand, is the emotion that draws us away from something. This could be anger, hatred, betrayal, distaste, and so on.

Of course these two meta-emotions are not like the light and dark side of the force. Jealousy can be a form of Love, as it relates to an object, person or ideal that we are drawn to. Ambition can be a form of fear, as it relates to getting away from a situation.

Bit for the moment, even if you’re a sceptic and don’t agree with the idea of two meta emotions, let’s look at love in a deeper context.

POTR: Sorry to interrupt here, but you’ve linked back to two articles I wrote for Uncyclopedia. Why is that?

BB: Well, obviously I’m letting your vanity come through in parts, but also because they use comedy as a vehicle to try and understand complex concepts.

The article on love, for instance, tries to define the indefinable. But more than that it goes over some of the most important points when looking at emotion.

Emotion affects every aspect of the human condition. Love is in part a neuro-chemical reaction. Despite the non-science in the article, you do talk about how love has chemical reactions that are linked to an OCD state, and how it also links back to SSRIs, which are often used in the treatment of depression.

Now the main point of that is although we talk about social and religious perspectives on love, we also acknowledge that although everyone’s experiences and views on love differs, there is a very basic and human element to live. In short, everyone feels emotion – and part of this is physical.

So, being that you’re in a physical body, your emotions are somewhat affected by physical things. An excess of one chemical one way, a decrease in another, and suddenly you go from singing while dancing in the flowers to slicing veins with a broken beer bottle.

POTR: I’ve never done either of those things.

BB: True, but they’re examples of extreme mood swings. So in this context although the end result may be different, you can understand the emotion that is described.

So, going on from there, we can look at significant scientific stuff relating to emotions. Sex involves the release of various chemicals throughout the body that cause intense pleasure. Chocolate apparently has a similar effect.

Alcohol and marijuana work on very different parts of the bodies chemistry, but the upshot us the same – by changing the balance of chemicals it creates an emotional reaction that can be pleasurable. Of course, the depressing effects of both of these are also well documented.

POTR: Now this all relates back to depression how?

BB: Well, you asked why I don’t get depressed. The reality of it is that I am a part of the psyche that is separate from the body, and relatively separate from the id. So I don’t have the physical reactions to chemical changes that you’re referring to.

But as to the id, or whatever we want to refer to it as, this is the untamed, uncivilised part of your psyche. It is what drives you.

Think of the id as the animal part of you. It works on reaction to stimuli. This is where the fight or flight comes from. We can also add to that the fornicate or feed impulses to this as well.

Think of your psyche as a car, for example. The id is then engine, giving the push to go forward. The ego is the steering system, and the super-ego is the driver. The steering system is what is the bit in the middle that uses the force of the id combined with the understanding of the superego to make sure the car goes the right way.

I don’t get directly affected by the id, so I don’t get caught between the animal and the intelligent within you. Hence I’m the part of the psyche that is above the pressures that are placed on you, as the ego.

I hope that also starts to explain why you become depressed.

POTR: It does, thank you. I’d love to be able to go through more of this with you, but I can’t spend my entire life talking to you. Shall we continue this later?

BB: I’d love to.