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I often feel shame when I tell people that I was once a committed Christian who actively tried to convert others. As a teenager I had resolved never to become rigid, yet I became entangled in a very fundamentalist worldview. I was lonely and looking for attention. When there were people who gave me attention, I went to an evangelistic event on May 24, 1979. There I had a mystical experience in which I experienced the presence of 'God'. Then I started reading the Bible and was impressed by the message of the Bible. For a long time I managed to push back all the doubts I had about my faith. For years I struggled with questions and the conflicts I experienced between faith, science and my own sexuality. I have also thought a lot about the mystery of the subjective experience of consciousness, also called the mind-body problem. Intuitively, it is difficult to imagine that consciousness is produced by matter alone and the conclusion that there must be a supernatural reality is quickly drawn.

It is true that I got my share of hardships in my life. Of course it is not easy that Andy, my son, was born with a mental handicap. This has had a great impact on our family. And it is also not easy, that after Li-Xia having struggled with chronic fatigue for many years, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease from which she died after many years on October 10, 2018. This has brought a lot of effort and struggle for Annabel and me. I can therefore imagine that many Christians who have seen this think that I have turned my back on God out of disappointment. (I wouldn't be surprised if there are still some who regularly pray for me that I will return to God again.) I have of course also thought about this and have come to the conclusion that it is mainly my skeptical attitude and my search for the truth that has led me to conclude that it is very likely that there is no supra physical reality. Which implies that there is no afterlife, that there is no God, at least not in the form in which it is described in the Bible, and that there is no meaning to life.


If you think a little about things, you will quickly come to the conclusion that there are very few things you can know with absolute certainty. The only thing you can know with absolute certainty is that something exists, because it is impossible to deny it. But there is not much to say about the nature of what exists. Our normal experience is that reality as we experience it actually exists. The movie The Matrix shows that this may not be true. (It is a pity that in that film it was not chosen that when the 'people' wake up from 'The Matrix', they turn out to have a different shape, that of a giant ant for example.) So from this point of view there is not to say with certainty whether or not there is a God.

I always have been someone with a sceptical mind seeking for the truth. From the moment I became a believer, I have had my doubts. I see myself as a scientist who tries to think in a scientific way about the things he observe. I think that the scientist in me has slowly won. In the past years I have started to doubt about what I held for true for a long time. I have often been swinging between believing and doubting, so I cannot point at one moment that made the change. Still there are a number of issues that have been important. Firstly, the statement that "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence" and the discovery that there is no extraordinary proof for the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Even the proofs for his existance and what he preached are not exceptional strong, especially, if we ignore the Bible. Secondly, the observation that those who call themselves Christians are not much different from those who do not call them such. Thirdly, I have also placed question marks with my own experiences. Through the years these experiences of faith have become less and less convincing. See the Road to Enlightenment for more about the process that made me come to this conclusion.


There is also no absolute certainty within science, and physics in particular. All we can talk about is statistical certainty. Now it seems that statistics are one of the least intuitive parts of mathematics. Science is looking for models that describe the phenomena in reality as accurately as possible. Science has proved very successful in this, which has mainly led to very strong technological development. Much of what we now take for granted, take a smartphone for example, is based on highly advanced technology that is based on scientific discoveries made over the centuries. This self-evidence has meant that many people no longer see the connection with science. It is precisely because of the social media that have arisen as a result of these technological developments that many questions are raised about science and its results. You can now also see that all kinds of pseudo-science are reappearing.

Within fundamental physics there are still many unsolved riddles. There is the mystery of dark matter. It is also an open problem how the two most successful theories, general reality theory and quantum mechanics, can be reconciled. And it is very doubtful whether these problems will ever be solved, because experience shows that we have to build increasingly larger measuring instruments to measure some very small deviations that may give a definite answer whether a particular theory is likely or not. The existence of the Higgs boson was predicted in 1964, but it took until 2011 before the existence of this boson could be deduced on the basis of many measurements and a lot of statistics. Because the Higgs boson itself has never been directly observed. Although billions have been invested to prove the existence of the Higgs boson, that discovery has actually yielded us nothing. Developing all the technology around it has of course yielded us something. (Sabine Hossenfelder seems to be rather sceptic about the current course in fundamental physics if you listen to her talks on Science without the gobbledygook.)

In the speech From Particle to People, Sean Carroll explains that we now know everything to understand everyday reality. There are no more unknown unknowns to everyday reality. There are three particles that we are dealing with: electrons, protons and neutrons. And there are three forces we are dealing with: gravity, electromagnetism and nuclear force. There is nothing else, and there will never be anything else, to explain what is happening in everyday reality. He himself conducts fundamental scientific research and says that fortunately not everything has been resolved there, otherwise he would no longer have a job, but that all that is not relevant for explaining everyday reality. He also states that very complex systems can be made with the three particles and three forces and that we still do not understand everything about it. This fact has simple and difficult consequences. A simple consequence is that it is not possible to bend a spoon with just your thoughts. What more drastic consequences are that there is no survival after death. That there is no mind in the machine: we are just a collection of atoms and do not have a mind. And ultimately, this also means that life does not have an outside purpose.

Body-mind problem

The idea of dualism is that there is a physical and a mental world and they co-exist in some way. But this seems inconsistent with the physical reality in which there is only a physical world. Another view is that of idealism which, roughly, states that there is only a mental world. We live in a dream in a brain at a higher level of existence. However, the question is why this brain then exists. Another view is physicalism, which claims that there is only a physical world, which is in accordance with physical reality. The problem with this is that it is difficult to explain the existence of a subjective consciousness. Joscha Bach, in his speech The Ghost in the Machine: An Artificial Intelligence Perspective on the Soul, comes up with the solution he calls Computational Functionalism, which says that we indeed only exist in a dream (as in idealism), but that the brain that exists on a higher level is the brain of a primate that lives in the physical world. And that what we experience as a physical world is not the physical world, but is a dream produced by the neocortex. This, if I understand correctly, is also an idea propagated by Thomas Metzinger in his book The Ego Tunnel - The Science of the Mind and the Myth of the Self: that what we experience as reality with our consciousness is produced by our subconscious mind. There are also experiments that suggest that this experience occurs with a delay of half a second and that our consciousness actually takes place in the past. Metzinger argues that the experience of reality is so convincing because the workings of our subconscious mind withdraw from our consciousness, just like we cannot (directly) see the eye with which we see. The book Consciousness and the Brain by Stanislas Dehaene extensively reports on scientific research into consciousness. That research provides compelling evidence that consciousness is produced only by chemical and electrical processes in the brain. This implies that free will is probably also an illusion as Baruch Spinoza explained saying: "Experience teaches us no less clearly than reason, that men believe themselves free, simply because they are conscious of their actions, and unconscious of the causes whereby those actions are determined." Sabine Hossenfelder explains: You don't have free will, but don't worry.


As humans, we have placed ourselves above animals, including the apes, to which we are closely related, for centuries. There are more and more indications that we are in fact no different from (mammals) animals and the great apes in particular in terms of our intelligence, our emotions and even our consciousness. From the book Our Inner Ape. Why we are who we are by Frans de Waal I understand that we hold a bit of aggressiveness in between the two human apes closest to us, namely the chimpanzees and the Bonono. The book The Mating Mind: How Sexual Choice Shaped the Evolution of Human Nature by Geoffrey Miller makes a good case how we came to have bigger brains then our ancestors, brains that require a lot of energy. There are some people who claim that our expanded self consciousness is as an undesirable side product of evolution. In the book The Conspiracy Against the Human Race: A Contrivance of Horror Thomas Ligotti makes a case that it would be better if humankind would go extinct.


The subject of enlightenment (in Buddhism) has fascinated me for years and given the number of books that have been and are being written on the subject, I think I am not the only one who is concerned with it. It also seems that there are many different views on the subject. An important question that I think you should ask yourself whether enlightenment is actually possible, because what good is living in the delusion that you are enlightened or can become enlightened. In light of the above, it should be clear that I am also skeptical about the idea of reincarnation which is an important concept within Buddhism. The same goes for the concept of karma. If a state of enlightenment were at all possible, I believe that it should not be based on a tradition handed down from the past, but on the latest scientific insights. And by this I do not mean research into the effectiveness of the methods from traditions with the aim of validating those methods, because great question marks can be placed on their scientific character. I am referring to the fact that there is (most likely) no superphysical reality and that reality as we experience it is a dream produced by our subconscious. And that therefore the desire for enlightenment, to escape or transcend suffering, is also produced by it. If indeed we have no free will, which I assume, then we also have no control over whether we can get this insight and whether we will do anything with it or not.

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