Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Book of Abraham takes a massive hit from scholarship

“Except for those willfully blind,” writes Professor Ritner of the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute, “the case is closed.” (read full article here).

Finally, a highly credible scholar of Egyptology wrote a book about the Book of Abraham and the papyri: The Joseph Smith Papyri: A Complete Edition. He even provides the various translations to Egyptian writings on top of his own original ones!

Before you form an unsolicited opinion of him, just check out the first link you find when you Google his name--Robert Ritner. In fact, here's the summary you'll read:

Robert K. Ritner is currently Professor of Egyptology at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago and was from 1991-1996 the first Marilyn M. Simpson Assistant Professor of Egyptology at Yale University. Dr. Ritner specializes in Roman, Hellenistic, Late and Third Intermediate Period (Libyan and Nubian) Egypt and is the author of the book The Mechanics of Ancient Egyptian Magical Practice, and over 100 publications on Egyptian religion, magic, medicine, language and literature, as well as social and political history. He has lectured extensively on each of these topics throughout the United States, Europe and Egypt. In association with The Field Museum of Chicago, Dr. Ritner was the academic advisor to two recent British Museum exhibits “Cleopatra of Egypt: From History to Myth,” and “Eternal Egypt,” and he has served as consultant and lecturer for the travelling Cairo Museum exhibit “Quest for Immortality: Treasures of Ancient Egypt.”

This book might just throw it in the bag for one of the most damning bits of evidence against Mormonism.

Someone should buy it for $80.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Gut feelings, the basal ganglia, and Daniel Goleman's latest Emotional Intelligence research

Guess what the Mormons got right?

Well, half right (disclaimer: not sure on the other half). In Daniel Goleman's latest book, "The Brain and Emotional Intelligence: New Insights", he said something so interesting that I decided to come out of my cave (i.e., living a really social life) and write a blog post:

Lower in the brain, below the limbic areas, lies a neural network called the basal ganglia. This is a very primitive part of the brain, but it does something extraordinarily important for navigating the modern world.

as we go through every situation in life, the basal ganglia extracts decision rules: when I did that, that worked well; when I said this, it bombed, and so on. Our accumulated life wisdom is stored in this primitive circuitry. However, when we face a decision, it's our verbal cortex that generates our thoughts about it. But to more fully access our life experiences on the matter at hand, we need to access further inputs from that subcortical circuitry [where our basal ganglia lies]. While the basal ganglia may have some connection to the verbal areas, it turns out to have very rich connections to our gastrointestinal tract--the gut. So in making [a] decision, a gut sense of it being right or wrong is important information, too."

Turns out, all of our decisions have an emotional component to them. Earlier in his book, he mentions a study done in which a highly successful and intelligent lawyer had to undergo brain surgery to get a tumor removed. This surgery marked a turning point in his life: he went on to lose his career, his marriage, and move in with a family member. However, he was just as intelligent as he once was.

Turns out, during the surgery, a certain part of the connective tissue in the brain was cut in order to reach the tumor. He can't attach feelings to decisions, so he was unable to determine simple things such as what time would be best to make the next appointment for his study.

CHRIST!! Why is our decision making and personality so tied into our biology? One more point for free will being an illusion :/

Anyways, I encourage you to download the ebook or print version of this book. Great stuff, as you can tell.