The Deceptiveness of Pure Reason

Today I read a comment from a materialist who attacked me accusing me of deviating from science and reason and being delusional because I now believe in the survival of consciousness after the death of body. A few minutes later, I opened my mail box and found an email from someone wondering how 1.5 billion people could still believe in a nonsensical religion such as Islam when obviously many of them are not stupid and irrational.

Interestingly the answer to both is the same. It lies in the deceptiveness of pure reason. The limitation of pure reason was already noted by Immanuel Kant who noticed metaphysicians make grand claims about the nature of reality based on reason alone, but these claims often conflict with one another. Kant tried to make his argument through a-priori and a-posteriory knowledge. i.e., the knowledge inherent in human consciousness and the knowledge acquired through experience.

Kant does not follow rationalist metaphysics in asserting that pure reason has the power to grasp the mysteries of the universe. Instead, he suggests that much of what we consider to be reality is shaped by the perceiving mind. The mind, according to Kant, does not passively receive information provided by the senses. Rather, it actively shapes and makes sense of that information. Basically, Kant is saying a person sees the reality from his unique perspective, much like one wearing tinted sunglasses. He then sees the world colored. Truth therefore is relative to the person observing it and not universal and absolute. *

My critique of reason is merely about human inadequacy of knowledge. In other words, since the accuracy of reason depends on facts and since in matters of metaphysics not all facts are known to man, it follows that our understanding of truth will be irreparably incorrect even when our reasoning is correct.

Let me explain this with a story. There was a wise rabbi in a village in Eastern Europe who was respected and his opinion was always sought. One day, two individuals who had a major dispute agreed to go to the rabbi for resolution. The first party to the dispute came to the rabbi and carefully outlined his side of the argument. The rabbi listened intently and finally said, “You are right.” The man went away satisfied. Later in the day, the other party to the dispute arrived and told the rabbi his side of the issue. The rabbi again listened carefully, and replied, “You are right.” Later, the rabbi’s wife, who had overheard the rabbi’s conversations with both men, said to him, “Rabbi, you told both the first party and the second party that they were right. How can this be?” To which the rabbi replied, “Yes you are right too!”

This story is often told as a humor, but it is very profound. Everyone is right according to their reasoning. No one believes in things that they would regard to be irrational.

Recently, a Muslim cleric in Saudi Arabia went on TV to declare that the Earth is stationary and it is the Sun that revolves around the Earth, as believed by Muhammad and stated in many hadiths. He argued that if the Earth was rotating, a plain taking off from Riyadh could never reach China because China would be going away faster than the Jet.

There is nothing flawed in this reasoning. We can show this with an example of a butterfly perching on the roof of a bus moving at the speed of 100 km/h. Since the butterfly cannot fly that fast, taking off from the backend of the bus, it can never reach the front. However, the same butterfly can easily fly from the back of the bus to the front at his normal speed, inside the bus. The difference is that inside the bus the air is also moving along with the bus. The cleric’s reasoning was not incorrect. He simply ignored the fact that the atmosphere (air) surrounding the Earth is also rotating along with the Earth. He also ignored the gravity effect of the Earth on its satellites. His reasoning was not flawed. He was ignorant of some facts.

Muslims cling to a very asinine faith, not because they are irrational, but because they ignore important facts about their religion. When we grew up one of the Sura’s we had to memorize was the sura al Kafirun (The Unbelievers). It rhymed so it was easy to remember. This sura says,

Oh you who turn away
I do not worship what you worship,
nor do you worship what I worship.
And I will not worship what you worship,
Nor will you worship what I worship.
Your way is yours, and my way is mine.

These verses give the appearance that Islam promotes religious tolerance. We were never told the context of this sura. When we grew up we read many other verses that call for slaying the unbelievers. Yet the early indoctrination always overcame any doubt. We never allowed facts influence our thinking and change our mind.

The fact is that the above sura has nothing to do with tolerance. Ibn Ishaq says that when the Apostle was going round the Ka’ba, several dignitaries of Mecca met him and told him, “Muhammad, come let us worship what you worship, and you worship what we worship. You and we will combine in the matter. If what you worship is better than what we worship we will take a share of it, and if what we worship is better than what you worship, you can take a share of that.’ So God revealed concerning them, ‘Say, O disbelievers, I do not worship what you worship, and you do not worship what I worship, and I do not worship what you worship, and you do not worship what I worship; you have your religion and I have mine,” i.e. If you will only worship God on condition that I worship what you worship, I have no need of you at all. You can have your religion, all of it, and I have mine.” [Sira p. 165]

Those Muslims who still believe Islam is a tolerant religion are not irrational people. They simply ignore facts, often deliberately. As Ibn Ishaq shows it were the Quraysh who were tolerant and Muhammad was intolerant.

The situation with materialists is no different. Materialists use reason to support their views. However, like Muslims, they ignore some facts and often do so deliberately. As long as you ignore facts you can rationally prove any absurdity. The ancient Greek Sophists perfected this art to a science.

When Galileo said the Earth was rotating and moving, his critics ridiculed him and asked then why we don’t get dizzy and fall off the Earth. Those were not irrational questions. If you ignore the gravity, for example if the earth were a hollow balloon, in fact we would fall off from it. Reason without facts is meaningless. Reason is a tool of measurement. It is accurate only as long as our facts are accurate.

Imagine you want to weigh yourself. You stand on a scale. But to have an accurate reading you have to put all your weight on it. If you put one leg on the scale while keeping another on the floor you get a reading which is inaccurate. The scale is reading accurately, yet the weight shown is not true. Likewise, I can have a correct reasoning, but as longs as my facts are incorrect I will be wrong.

In one of his televised appearances on near death experience, Sam Harris argued that when the brain malfunctions, the person’s perception becomes incoherent. He reasoned that it make little sense to assume a dead brain would suddenly function perfectly and one could even see his deceased grandparents. The audience found this remark very logical and clapped enthusiastically.

There is nothing illogical in this argument. Yet is it false. Sam Harris ignores some facts. He assumes that consciousness is generated by the brain. However, we have irrefutable evidence that consciousness is independent from the brain. The brain is not a thinker, but the processor. The operating system that runs the brain is independent from it as the software in your computer is independent from the CPU. Think of consciousness as the operating system using the brain as a central processing unit to interact with this world. We don’t need a brain to think any more than we need an oxygen tank to breathe or a night goggle to see. However if we want to scuba dive we need an oxygen tank and if we want to see at night we need night goggles.

Our consciousness is completely independent from our body. However, to experience this world we have to occupy a body made of the same substance. It is like you want to play a virtual game; you need to wear a pair of goggles and a headset. The goggles and the headset immerse you in the virtual world while they cut you off from the world surrounding you. If they malfunction your virtual experience becomes blurry and defective. What happens if the computer crashes? Then you remove the goggles and the headset and suddenly your vision becomes perfect. And you find yourself at home among your loved ones.

There are born blind people who say in their NDE they could perfectly see.  One born blind woman with NDE saw herself lying in the bed and recognized herself by the engraved image on her ring. She was familiar with that image through her touch. She said the experience of seeing for the first time was confusing and even frightening.

This goggle analogy shows why Harris’ reasoning, although correct, leads to an incorrect conclusion. It’s because he ignores the fact that we are not our body but rather consciousness, experiencing the world through a physical body.

The question that should concern us is whether independence of consciousness from brain is a fact. This is the only argument that matters. Without establishing this as fact or fantasy every argument is irrelevant. Incomplete facts can easily mislead us and no amount of reasoning will help.

Since last four decades, and thanks to the advances of medical science, there have been millions of cases of people being resuscitated, who reported being conscious all the time, hovering over the heads of the doctors, seeing and hearing them from above and even going through the walls and reporting accurately what they saw in other rooms, when their body was lying on the operation table, clinically dead.

There is no way to explain this phenomenon with materialistic reasoning. Materialists are right as long as they ignore this fact and because materialism is a faith, just like any religious person the materialists will do everything in their power to deny the authenticity of the NDE phenomenon. But they are in a losing battle. Every day more people are resuscitated and roughly about a fifth of them remember their NDE.

These experiences cannot be dismissed as hallucination of a dying brain. Despite their diversity, they are consistent. No one for example sees Muhammad or the Islamic heaven. Recently a jihadi was shot down by the Syrian army. He was left for death by his companions. His lifeless body was found by a few Christians who thought he deserved a burial, irrespective of what he had done. However, before they could bury him the dead man came back to life. He reported to have been greeted by demons. He had a life review where he experienced all the pain he caused to others from the perspective of his victims. He saw himself beheading someone, but this time he was the person being beheaded. He felt all the pain, the fear and the horror he caused to his victims. He was then taken to hell. Before being cast into the fire God spoke to him saying he had led a despicable life and that he had the choice to die and go to hell or return to life and amend his ways.

This man was expecting to be taken to Islamic paradise and be introduced to his 72 bashful high breasted wives. His near death experience was not anywhere close to his expectation. There are many stories of people who found the other world very different from what they expected to see. Atheists who did not believe they will live after the death of their body found themselves either embraced by God or thrown in hell. And despite the common belief of religionists beliefs play no role whether a person goes to hell or to heaven. All that counts is how they have lived their life.

NDE is the game changer. There are thousands of such stories on the net and there are millions of people who have had them and never wrote about them. Now that I am talking about it, I am getting emails from people saying they too had it.

Claiming that all these millions of people lie is the acme of bigotry. I can’t think of any argument more stupid than that. And to write them all off as hallucination is no more intelligent. A dead brain cannot create fantasies. And what the materialists say about the verified stories of the near death experiencers? How could these people see their doctors from above, know what they were thinking, read a series of numbers from the top of the respirator that was seven feet tall, or see what happened in the other rooms of the hospital while they were lying dead on the operation table? Some of these experiences were shared by others, often the relatives or the nurses and doctors of the patients. Some of these experiences were reported by toddlers of atheist parents who were never told about God and afterlife.

All a Muslim needs to shut down his mind is to utter the magical phrase “out of context.” After uttering this magical phrase the Muslim recuses himself from thinking. As far as he is concerned this magical phrase seals the case and exonerates him from using his brain. He no longer has to concern himself with the mountain of evidence from hadith and the Quran that disprove the claim of Muhammad.  All a materialist needs to shut down his brain is to utter the magical word “hearsay.” After uttering this magical word the materialists recuses himself from thinking. That word, in his narrow mind, absolves him from worrying about the mountain of evidence on NDE.

Materialism is a faith, no less dogmatic, bigoted and arrogant than other faiths. NDE destroys materialism and that is why like Muslims who refuse to look into the mountain of evidence the materialists refuse to look into the evidence of NDE. And like Muslims who when cornered resort to ad hominem and insult, materialists also resort to ad hominem and insult. The mind of the bigot works the same way across the board irrespective of its content.

As the truth is the biggest enemy of Islam, facts are the greatest nemesis of materialism. Already quantum physics has shown that materialism is incoherent with reality. That consciousness is not generated by the matter, but rather the matter is created by consciousness.

Without fact reason can be very misleading. One can make rational arguments about anything, as long as one ignores certain facts. Pure reason is the biggest deception. No one is irrational. But people are often selective about their facts. They choose just those that tip the scale in their favor.

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23 Responses

  1. Tofuking says:

    Reincarnation can still explain ur point. Because he had such a terrible life, he needed to go to hell for a while for a punishment (if he does not want to continue living) Only after his crimes are paid (in this scenario) can he start again.

  2. John says:

    “Truth therefore is relative to the person observing it and not universal and absolute.” Their is only one truth – by definition.

    “Everyone is right according to their reasoning” Logically at best only 1 of the religions and philosophies can be true.

    “Claiming that all these millions of people lie is the acme of bigotry. I can’t think of any argument more stupid than that. And to write them all off as hallucination is no more intelligent. A dead brain cannot create fantasies.” Unconscious people cannot be conscious – by definition – that is why this reasoning is fundamentally flawed.

  3. heimdall says:

    Yes, it could be all those 1s and 2s, why? Because some of these videos are staged, how do I know that? Because they are meant to convert people to be Christians. And, others while it is not very convincing are just hallucinating with their own fantasy, Jews with their Jewish Heaven and Hell, so do Buddhists and Hindus.

    Another reason is Jesus is just a myth. They found Jesus Ossuary, and I read what Julian the Apostate said about the Christians. And what is so wonderful about his silly Sermons on the Mount? It made mankind to be slaves of Jewish God. What is a sin? Is it sinful for a cat to kill a mouse? For a fact, mankind does not spring from Adam and Eve. We are of variety of species. THEREFORE, there is no sin in wars, but it is such a wasteful things to do, to eliminate all those fit and selected young men instead of the weaks.

    Nietzsche has answered all these in his essays.

  4. Dharmesh says:

    ”I” is consciousness, “WE” is super consciousness and ‘BEING’ is the ultimate truth(consciousness).
    all the being is actually ultimate non being.
    all these things are out of logic and that why it is only a valid logic.
    the whole world is nothing but the only illusion of our super ego “I”.
    NDE is the proof that humans are evolving for supreme consciousness.

  5. catalyst@99 says:

    According to that story, God gave the jihadi a chance. He saved him from Hellfire. However I am confused in two places. First, Muslims do not know that they are following a wrong religion. Even though some of their behavior is despicable like killing, lynching, etcetera, they are convinced that this is acceptable behavior to God, and that there is nothing wrong with it. Now, this jihadi was supposed to go to hell. He was therefore about to be punished for something he did not believe to be wrong. People should know what they are being punished for. If a retard hurts somebody, his mental condition is taken into consideration by the judge, as he did not do it on purpose. He is not capable of realizing the difference between right and wrong behaviors. Similarly Muslims don’t realize that their actions are wrong. They should not be punished for something they do unconsciously. As Jesus said when he was being crucified, “forgive them for they do not know that they’re sinning”,there is a lot of depth to these words. In conclusion, I think it is injustice if Muslims are punished for their actions, however heinous it might be. They would have been better human beings given a proper environment.
    Secondly, this guy was given a chance. That is unfair as well. Shouldn’t every jihadi be given a second chance?
    Thirdly, Jesus will forgive him provided he repents. So the fact that this jihadi killed so many is OK to Jesus? Doesn’t that prove that Jesus is indeed “full of himself” ?

  6. Ramen Das says:

    “You are woman; you are man; you are boy and you are girl; you are the shivering old man helped by a stick; you are born in the form of this world”
    Shvetashvatara Upanishad

  7. Ramen Das says:

    What hadiths states that the Earth is stationary and it is the Sun that revolves around the Earth? Can I have some reference and notes?

  8. alisina says:

    There are millions of people of all religious persuasions, some atheists and some people of various creeds. They all tell the same tale.

    Now there are only three possibilities to explain that

    1-All these people are lying
    2-All these people are hallucinating
    3-NDE is a real phenomenon

    As for the first, I think that is the most asinine claim. It is so stupid that hardly anyone makes it.
    As for second argument, it is not logical for a brain that is not functioning to generate vivid images and stories. Furthermore, these people report seeing things in other rooms that have been confirmed by other people. This evidence is irrefutable. If a patient is in the operation room there is no way for her to know what her parent are doing and saying in the waiting room and if she reports accurately everything and her story is confirmed by her doctors, nurses, and parents the NDE is confirmed. When we have hundreds of such confirmed cases it take only a bigot to denying it.

  9. heimdal says:

    You too don’t have all your facts, sina. Have you out any thoughts that these NDE testimonials could be fake?

    Especially with your jihadi example link

  10. professor xavier says:

    phoenix ok what materialist and middle east religion may think is that soul is not different from mind it posses the same properties of mind in a movie X men days of future past if you have seen Xavier says to wolverine that kitty projects the consciousness of bishop back to his younger self so he warns others of incoming sentinels point here is that they use the term consciousness and mind interchangeably say bishop did not had this memory 3 days ago so he didnt knew three days ago that sentinels will be coming to kill them so she had to project that to past so he can warn here is where the problem comes when we assume that consciousness is memory and intelligence then it will have the property of body for example their are cells that make up memory and intelligence if some one undergoes an accident and his brain is damaged then he will have not have the intelligence or may not retain the memory so we say his consciousness is altered or changed but that is not the idea of consciousness that Hindus say or Vedanta preach they call consciousness as self or just a witness and brain and body as its field the feild may keep on undergoing change throughout our lifespans but self will not change field is necessary for the self to create awareness or what we call as mind which is a combination of subconscious and conscious minds

  11. Phoenix says:

    Prof Xavier says:phoenix i cant understand your argument and please can you tell which study has said bacterias are 10 times more than our own cells any link//

    No worries,I’ll explain.
    In philosophical discourse there has always been a contention amongst dualist and materialist (now called physicalists) philosophers regarding the nature of consciousness.Is it physical or non-physical? Both sides have used Leibniz’s Law of Indiscernibilty of Identicals to prove their point.If consciousness posses the same properties as the body then Materialism wins,if not then dualism is correct.Your example of atoms changing while the non-physicasl identity remains the same implicates dualism.
    Regarding the bacteria cells,you had to click on the words Scientific American in my previous post,it would’ve taken you to the article.

    This may also present problems for Materialism if all we are are our bodies and its composition,but not for dualism and theism because its main concern is transcendence and its relation to the physical, like mind,soul,morality,free will,etc.

    Hope that helps.

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  13. Agniveerfan says:

    Quantum Physics approves reincarnation, NDE and non-duality ( Advaita).

  14. alisina says:

    Of course this is not in volume. Bacteria are much smaller than cells. I take 3 billion bioprobics three times a day. That is 9 billion microbes every day. They come in very small capsules.

  15. professor xavier says:

    phoenix i cant understand your argument and please can you tell which study has said bacterias are 10 times more than our own cells any link

  16. professor xavier says:

    ali sina sir thank you so much for replying and appreciating my comment i cant tell you how much worth your reply is i thought that my comment was gone

  17. Phoenix says:

    professor xavier and ali sina

    That’s great.I’m not sure if you guys are aware but you’ve just used (indirectly) Leibniz’s Law of Identity of Indiscernibles based of the first Law of Logic that consciousness and body do not share the same properties.
    “If X is identical to Y then whatever can be said of X can also be said of Y and vice versa”
    The identity which resides in the consciousness remains the same but the body continously changes,it can be said they are not identical.To make matters even worse,Scientific American has revealed that there are 10 times more bacterial cells in your body than human cells.Meaning your body is more of a host to unwelcomed alien guests than the actual you (assuming physicalism is true that you are your body).

  18. alisina says:

    Excellent argument. Indeed not a single atom that made us 7 years ago is left in us. Yet we are the same person. Our identity will never change from birth to old age.

    Thanks you.

  19. professor xavier says:

    it is very easy to know that something survives the physical death of body ..we all have this ‘I’ which never changes 10 years ago we didnt have the memory or intelligence that we now have it has changed and also will change according to studies body renews its element every day so in some years probably every element of our body will change but still this ‘I’ will remain in simple words something that is not dependent on time and body will not destroy when the body is destroyed ..this ‘I’ is self which is knower adn the brain is feild (matterand energy) when self interacts with brain it produces thought and also other function of body

  20. alisina says:

    “I believe this is rationalization,the basis of abductive reasoning.It’s commonly used in Atheist moral arguments to support Consequentialism.First the conclusion is selected in advance before any data was drawn,followed by ad hoc assumptions to fit the pre-selcted (a priori) conclusion.”

    True! But is that limited to atheists? I see this approach in Muslims and believers of all ideologies. That is why i said the mind of the bigot works the same way irrespective of its content. It is how we think, not what we think that makes us rational or irrational.

  21. Phoenix says:

    //Without fact reason can be very misleading. One can make rational arguments about anything, as long as one ignores certain facts. Pure reason is the biggest deception. No one is irrational. But people ignore facts and often they do so deliberately//

    I believe this is rationalization,the basis of abductive reasoning.It’s commonly used in Atheist moral arguments to support Consequentialism.First the conclusion is selected in advance before any data was drawn,followed by ad hoc assumptions to fit the pre-selcted (a priori) conclusion.

  22. Phoenix says:


    Glad to see you have read Kant.Atheists will constantly challenge you and your current beliefs.Being well read on philosophical issues is one way to arm yourself against their rhetorical tactics.


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