Aztec use of entheogens – Wikipedia

History. There are many pieces of archaeological evidence in reference to the use of entheogens early in the history of Mesoamerica. Olmec burial sites with remains of the Bufo toad (Bufo marinus), Maya mushroom effigies, [dubious discuss] and Spanish writings all point to a heavy involvement with psychoactive substances in the Aztec lifestyle.. The Florentine codex contains multiple …

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Aztec use of entheogens – Wikipedia

Entheogen – Wikipedia

An entheogen is a class of psychoactive substances that induce any type of spiritual experience aimed at development. The term entheogen is often chosen to contrast recreational use of the same drugs.. The religious, shamanic, or spiritual significance of entheogens is well established in anthropological and modern contexts; entheogens have traditionally been used to supplement many diverse …

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Entheogen – Wikipedia

Medicinal plants, herbs and mushrooms – Basement Shaman

Welcome to the basementshaman.com. A website where you can ready in-depth articles about different herbs and mushrooms that have, or is claimed to, medical properties. The Shaman always looks at both the scientifically proven and the unproven.

The website feature information on both legal and illegal herbs and fungi. An example of this is that we write about cannabis sativa and ephedra that remain illegal substances in many jurisdictions.

The Shaman does not provide information on how to grow controlled herbs and fungi and will not help you find where to buy them.

Native populations the world over have used different plants, herbs, and fungi to treat various disease and afflictions. Some of these remedies have been little more than scams performed by hustlers who prayed on the sick. Some of these scam remedies were spread by well-meaning medicine men who thought the scams were real other natural remedies where very effective against the diseases they were designed to fight and could rival the effectiveness of our modern medicines.

Or in other words: The world wasnt too different back then. There were medical scams designed to trick people and well-meaning healers who just want to help. Just like now.

Many of the remedies that was used by native populations were closely guarded secrets that were passed down from shaman to shaman. Only a small part was common knowledge or written down. This, unfortunately, means that we have lost a lot of the knowledge about medical plants, herbs, and fungi that once existed. The knowledge we have retained is only a small part of what we once knew. This is especially true in certain areas such as the Amazon where the biodiversity is very large and where de-foresting means that we lose potential medicines every day.

All this lost knowledge and potentially lost medicines motivated me to devote my free time to medical herbs and lost knowledge. This website is a part of that work. And attempt to spread the knowledge gathered.

It is vital that everyone understands that I am not against modern medicine. I do not believe we should use natural remedies instead. I think both types of medicine have an important role to play and that both types can complement each other. We should devote resources to study both types of medicines and use both as is appropriate. There are a lot of medical problems that can be treated with natural remedies but there is also a lot of diseases that are best treated with modern medicine.

The most important example of a disease that should be treated with modern medicine. Never bet your life on a natural remedy that hasnt been scientifically proven to be effective against your disease. Always use modern medicine to maximize your chance of recovery. With this being said. There is nothing to prevent you from using natural remedies as well. Use them with modern medicine, not instead of. Always ask your doctor before starting taking a natural supplement if being treated for a disease. Some supplements can interact with the medicines and neutralize them or create dangerous side effects.

Scammers are attracted to all areas of society where there is a lot of money to be found. This is true for:

This is also true for the natural remedy industry.

The natural remedy industry has a big problem with scams. There are a lot of individuals that are active in this field that sell products that have no proven effect but they still promise that it will be good against everything from bunions to cancer. These individuals hurt our field and make it hard for a real scientist to do research on natural remedies. It is not a serious field. It is up to all of us to try to clean up the field and point out scams where ever we see them. It is time to turn natural medicine into a true science, not a faith.

The industry also has a problem with charlatans that claim that certain herbs have magical properties. Many of these charlatans offer expensive potions that are supposed to bring luck or love. All of these potions are 100% useless and have no magical properties. An example of this is a website (I will not give the website more exposure by posting the URL) that sells potions specially designed to give you luck when you gamble in casinos. It supposedly works for both online casinos and regular casinos. The same website also sells a digital potion that you can buy and download to get luck in online casinos. If that is not a scam I do not know what is. If you want to improve your chances of winning money, then you should learn how to play the games well and chose to play in a good, honest online casino such as this one.

The only way to get more luck in your life, to find love or to become wealthy is to work hard at it. Learn which games you can beat and train to becomes as skilled as possible when you play those games. Put your self out there and make a grand gesture to find love. Work hard to become wealthy and so on.

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Medicinal plants, herbs and mushrooms – Basement Shaman

Remarkable Herbs – All Natural Smoking Blends, Kava and Kratom

Remarkable Herbs is all about the Herbs, specializing in Ethnobotany. We strive to provide you with the rarest, and freshest Herbs, seeds, bark, roots, extracts, and smoking blends. We import plants and extracts from all over the world, direct from growers, and harvesters. Shamanic Herbs, Holistic Herbs, Entheogens, and Synergy.

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Remarkable Herbs – All Natural Smoking Blends, Kava and Kratom

Welcome | White Lotus Foundation

White Lotus Foundation holds Yoga teacher training courses four times per year in Santa Barbara, CA at our beautiful retreat center in the mountains. Students attend from around the country to receive their yoga certification. For in-depth information on our Yoga Certification Program, click Yoga Certification. Our courses are renowned around the world for their comprehensive content, individual attention to each student, and for the wonderful transformational experience of studying with yoga pioneers and best selling authors, Ganga White and Tracey Rich.White Lotus Foundation offered the first yoga teacher training and certification in America in 1968.

Web design by Tracey Rich. Web Development by M4 Interactive.

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Welcome | White Lotus Foundation

alizyme Drugs & Medications for ailments

Photo credit: ronnieb from morguefile.com

Drug is a substance which causes medicinal, performance enhancing, intoxicating or other effects when taken to body. In pharmacology drugs are used in treatment sector, mainly in prevention, cure or diagnosis of a disease. For physical or mental well being enhancement pharmacologists prescribe drugs for patients suffering from various diseases. The name originated from the French word drogue.

The main difference between drugs and endogenous biochemical is drugs are introduced from outside of the body. For example take a consideration about insulin. Its a hormone which synthesized in body but when it is used from outside, its called drugs.

Complex drugs molecules most of the time consist numerous hydrogen and carbon atoms along with few oxygen and nitrogen atoms. Some may consist of chlorine atoms also like chloral hydrate.

From the very beginning of the mankind human being had always a desire to eat or drink substances which make them feel better and relaxed. From the curiosity and interest human being first took a giant step to take first medicine. From thousands of years drugs are being used in medicinal or relaxation purpose.

From the early Egyptian times wine are being used. Narcotics are used from 4000 BC and marijuana was first used in China as medicine in 2737 BC. As the time went by, to alleviate aches, pains and other ailments home remedies were discovered. Herbs, roots mushrooms or fungis were drunk, eaten or rubbed on the skin to get relief from the pains. Chinese scholar Shen Nung wrote a book about herbs and its use in medicinal purpose around 2735 BC. Its one of the oldest records found about the use of medicine and its effect in human body.

Since the dawn of our species drugs are being used with spiritual and religious values. The drugs which come with spiritual or religious use are known as entheogens. Some religions simply allow only certain drugs and theres a strict rule not to use some kinds of drugs.

Dont forget that if you are traveling abroad you may also need access to medication and drugs. You can find out about the side effects of drugs at Drugs.com and you can look up information on ailments at the Mayo Clinic site.

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alizyme Drugs & Medications for ailments

atheism | Definition, Philosophy, & Comparison to …

Atheism, in general, the critique and denial of metaphysical beliefs in God or spiritual beings. As such, it is usually distinguished from theism, which affirms the reality of the divine and often seeks to demonstrate its existence. Atheism is also distinguished from agnosticism, which leaves open the question whether there is a god or not, professing to find the questions unanswered or unanswerable.

The dialectic of the argument between forms of belief and unbelief raises questions concerning the most perspicuous delineation, or characterization, of atheism, agnosticism, and theism. It is necessary not only to probe the warrant for atheism but also carefully to consider what is the most adequate definition of atheism. This article will start with what have been some widely accepted, but still in various ways mistaken or misleading, definitions of atheism and move to more adequate formulations that better capture the full range of atheist thought and more clearly separate unbelief from belief and atheism from agnosticism. In the course of this delineation the section also will consider key arguments for and against atheism.

A central, common core of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam is the affirmation of the reality of one, and only one, God. Adherents of these faiths believe that there is a God who created the universe out of nothing and who has absolute sovereignty over all his creation; this includes, of course, human beingswho are not only utterly dependent on this creative power but also sinful and who, or so the faithful must believe, can only make adequate sense of their lives by accepting, without question, Gods ordinances for them. The varieties of atheism are numerous, but all atheists reject such a set of beliefs.

Atheism, however, casts a wider net and rejects all belief in spiritual beings, and to the extent that belief in spiritual beings is definitive of what it means for a system to be religious, atheism rejects religion. So atheism is not only a rejection of the central conceptions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam; it is, as well, a rejection of the religious beliefs of such African religions as that of the Dinka and the Nuer, of the anthropomorphic gods of classical Greece and Rome, and of the transcendental conceptions of Hinduism and Buddhism. Generally atheism is a denial of God or of the gods, and if religion is defined in terms of belief in spiritual beings, then atheism is the rejection of all religious belief.

It is necessary, however, if a tolerably adequate understanding of atheism is to be achieved, to give a reading to rejection of religious belief and to come to realize how the characterization of atheism as the denial of God or the gods is inadequate.

To say that atheism is the denial of God or the gods and that it is the opposite of theism, a system of belief that affirms the reality of God and seeks to demonstrate his existence, is inadequate in a number of ways. First, not all theologians who regard themselves as defenders of the Christian faith or of Judaism or Islam regard themselves as defenders of theism. The influential 20th-century Protestant theologian Paul Tillich, for example, regards the God of theism as an idol and refuses to construe God as a being, even a supreme being, among beings or as an infinite being above finite beings. God, for him, is being-itself, the ground of being and meaning. The particulars of Tillichs view are in certain ways idiosyncratic, as well as being obscure and problematic, but they have been influential; and his rejection of theism, while retaining a belief in God, is not eccentric in contemporary theology, though it may very well affront the plain believer.

Second, and more important, it is not the case that all theists seek to demonstrate or even in any way rationally to establish the existence of God. Many theists regard such a demonstration as impossible, and fideistic believers (e.g., Johann Hamann and Sren Kierkegaard) regard such a demonstration, even if it were possible, as undesirable, for in their view it would undermine faith. If it could be proved, or known for certain, that God exists, people would not be in a position to accept him as their sovereign Lord humbly on faith with all the risks that entails. There are theologians who have argued that for genuine faith to be possible God must necessarily be a hidden God, the mysterious ultimate reality, whose existence and authority must be accepted simply on faith. This fideistic view has not, of course, gone without challenge from inside the major faiths, but it is of sufficient importance to make the above characterization of atheism inadequate.

Finally, and most important, not all denials of God are denials of his existence. Believers sometimes deny God while not being at all in a state of doubt that God exists. They either willfully reject what they take to be his authority by not acting in accordance with what they take to be his will, or else they simply live their lives as if God did not exist. In this important way they deny him. Such deniers are not atheists (unless we wish, misleadingly, to call them practical atheists). They are not even agnostics. They do not question that God exists; they deny him in other ways. An atheist denies the existence of God. As it is frequently said, atheists believe that it is false that God exists, or that Gods existence is a speculative hypothesis of an extremely low order of probability.

Yet it remains the case that such a characterization of atheism is inadequate in other ways. For one it is too narrow. There are atheists who believe that the very concept of God, at least in developed and less anthropomorphic forms of Judeo-Christianity and Islam, is so incoherent that certain central religious claims, such as God is my creator to whom everything is owed, are not genuine truth-claims; i.e., the claims could not be either true or false. Believers hold that such religious propositions are true, some atheists believe that they are false, and there are agnostics who cannot make up their minds whether to believe that they are true or false. (Agnostics think that the propositions are one or the other but believe that it is not possible to determine which.) But all three are mistaken, some atheists argue, for such putative truth-claims are not sufficiently intelligible to be genuine truth-claims that are either true or false. In reality there is nothing in them to be believed or disbelieved, though there is for the believer the powerful and humanly comforting illusion that there is. Such an atheism, it should be added, rooted for some conceptions of God in considerations about intelligibility and what it makes sense to say, has been strongly resisted by some pragmatists and logical empiricists.

While the above considerations about atheism and intelligibility show the second characterization of atheism to be too narrow, it is also the case that this characterization is in a way too broad. For there are fideistic believers, who quite unequivocally believe that when looked at objectively the proposition that God exists has a very low probability weight. They believe in God not because it is probable that he existsthey think it more probable that he does notbut because belief is thought by them to be necessary to make sense of human life. The second characterization of atheism does not distinguish a fideistic believer (a Blaise Pascal or a Soren Kierkegaard) or an agnostic (a T.H. Huxley or a Sir Leslie Stephen) from an atheist such as Baron dHolbach. All believe that there is a God and God protects humankind, however emotionally important they may be, are speculative hypotheses of an extremely low order of probability. But this, since it does not distinguish believers from nonbelievers and does not distinguish agnostics from atheists, cannot be an adequate characterization of atheism.

It may be retorted that to avoid apriorism and dogmatic atheism the existence of God should be regarded as a hypothesis. There are no ontological (purely a priori) proofs or disproofs of Gods existence. It is not reasonable to rule in advance that it makes no sense to say that God exists. What the atheist can reasonably claim is that there is no evidence that there is a God, and against that background he may very well be justified in asserting that there is no God. It has been argued, however, that it is simply dogmatic for an atheist to assert that no possible evidence could ever give one grounds for believing in God. Instead, atheists should justify their unbelief by showing (if they can) how the assertion is well-taken that there is no evidence that would warrant a belief in God. If atheism is justified, the atheist will have shown that in fact there is no adequate evidence for the belief that God exists, but it should not be part of his task to try to show that there could not be any evidence for the existence of God. If the atheist could somehow survive the death of his present body (assuming that such talk makes sense) and come, much to his surprise, to stand in the presence of God, his answer should be, Oh! Lord, you didnt give me enough evidence! He would have been mistaken, and realize that he had been mistaken, in his judgment that God did not exist. Still, he would not have been unjustified, in the light of the evidence available to him during his earthly life, in believing as he did. Not having any such postmortem experiences of the presence of God (assuming that he could have them), what he should say, as things stand and in the face of the evidence he actually has and is likely to be able to get, is that it is false that God exists. (Every time one legitimately asserts that a proposition is false one need not be certain that it is false. Knowing with certainty is not a pleonasm.) The claim is that this tentative posture is the reasonable position for the atheist to take.

An atheist who argues in this manner may also make a distinctive burden-of-proof argument. Given that God (if there is one) is by definition a very recherch realitya reality that must be (for there to be such a reality) transcendent to the worldthe burden of proof is not on the atheist to give grounds for believing that there is no reality of that order. Rather, the burden of proof is on the believer to give some evidence for Gods existencei.e., that there is such a reality. Given what God must be, if there is a God, the theist needs to present the evidence, for such a very strange reality. He needs to show that there is more in the world than is disclosed by common experience. The empirical method, and the empirical method alone, such an atheist asserts, affords a reliable method for establishing what is in fact the case. To the claim of the theist that there are in addition to varieties of empirical facts spiritual facts or transcendent facts, such as it being the case that there is a supernatural, self-existent, eternal power, the atheist can assert that such facts have not been shown.

It will, however, be argued by such atheists, against what they take to be dogmatic aprioristic atheists, that the atheist should be a fallibilist and remain open-minded about what the future may bring. There may, after all, be such transcendent facts, such metaphysical realities. It is not that such a fallibilistic atheist is really an agnostic who believes that he is not justified in either asserting that God exists or denying that he exists and that what he must reasonably do is suspend belief. On the contrary, such an atheist believes that he has very good grounds indeed, as things stand, for denying the existence of God. But he will, on the second conceptualization of what it is to be an atheist, not deny that things could be otherwise and that, if they were, he would be justified in believing in God or at least would no longer be justified in asserting that it is false that there is a God. Using reliable empirical techniques, proven methods for establishing matters of fact, the fallibilistic atheist has found nothing in the universe to make a belief that God exists justifiable or even, everything considered, the most rational option of the various options. He therefore draws the atheistical conclusion (also keeping in mind his burden-of-proof argument) that God does not exist. But he does not dogmatically in a priori fashion deny the existence of God. He remains a thorough and consistent fallibilist.

Such a form of atheism (the atheism of those pragmatists who are also naturalistic humanists), though less inadequate than the first formation of atheism, is still inadequate. God in developed forms of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam is not, like Zeus or Odin, construed in a relatively plain anthropomorphic way. Nothing that could count as God in such religions could possibly be observed, literally encountered, or detected in the universe. God, in such a conception, is utterly transcendent to the world; he is conceived of as pure spirit, an infinite individual who created the universe out of nothing and who is distinct from the universe. Such a realitya reality that is taken to be an ultimate mysterycould not be identified as objects or processes in the universe can be identified. There can be no pointing at or to God, no ostensive teaching of God, to show what is meant. The word God can only be taught intralinguistically. God is taught to someone who does not understand what the word means by the use of descriptions such as the maker of the universe, the eternal, utterly independent being upon whom all other beings depend, the first cause, the sole ultimate reality, or a self-caused being. For someone who does not understand such descriptions, there can be no understanding of the concept of God. But the key terms of such descriptions are themselves no more capable of ostensive definition (of having their referents pointed out) than is God, where that term is not, like Zeus, construed anthropomorphically. (That does not mean that anyone has actually pointed to Zeus or observed Zeus but that one knows what it would be like to do so.)

In coming to understand what is meant by God in such discourses, it must be understood that God, whatever else he is, is a being that could not possibly be seen or be in any way else observed. He could not be anything material or empirical, and he is said by believers to be an intractable mystery. A nonmysterious God would not be the God of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

This, in effect, makes it a mistake to claim that the existence of God can rightly be treated as a hypothesis and makes it a mistake to claim that, by the use of the experimental method or some other determinate empirical method, the existence of God can be confirmed or disconfirmed as can the existence of an empirical reality. The retort made by some atheists, who also like pragmatists remain thoroughgoing fallibilists, is that such a proposed way of coming to know, or failing to come to know, God makes no sense for anyone who understands what kind of reality God is supposed to be. Anything whose existence could be so verified would not be the God of Judeo-Christianity. God could not be a reality whose presence is even faintly adumbrated in experience, for anything that could even count as the God of Judeo-Christianity must be transcendent to the world. Anything that could actually be encountered or experienced could not be God.

At the very heart of a religion such as Christianity there stands a metaphysical belief in a reality that is alleged to transcend the empirical world. It is the metaphysical belief that there is an eternal, ever-present creative source and sustainer of the universe. The problem is how it is possible to know or reasonably believe that such a reality exists or even to understand what such talk is about.

It is not that God is like a theoretical entity in physics such as a proton or a neutrino. They are, where they are construed as realities rather than as heuristically useful conceptual fictions, thought to be part of the actual furniture of the universe. They are not said to be transcendent to the universe, but rather are invisible entities in the universe logically on a par with specks of dust and grains of sand, only much, much smaller. They are on the same continuum; they are not a different kind of reality. It is only the case that they, as a matter of fact, cannot be seen. Indeed no one has an understanding of what it would be like to see a proton or a neutrinoin that way they are like Godand no provision is made in physical theory for seeing them. Still, there is no logical ban on seeing them as there is on seeing God. They are among the things in the universe, and thus, though they are invisible, they can be postulated as causes of things that are seen. Since this is so it becomes at least logically possible indirectly to verify by empirical methods the existence of such realities. It is also the case that there is no logical ban on establishing what is necessary to establish a causal connection, namely a constant conjunction of two discrete empirical realities. But no such constant conjunction can be established or even intelligibly asserted between God and the universe, and thus the existence of God is not even indirectly verifiable. God is not a discrete empirical thing or being, and the universe is not a gigantic thing or process over and above the things and processes in the universe of which it makes sense to say that the universe has or had a cause. But then there is no way, directly or indirectly, that even the probability that there is a God could be empirically established.

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atheism | Definition, Philosophy, & Comparison to …

atheism r/atheism – reddit: the front page of the internet

This happened around last year when they just found out that i was an atheist. My parents sat down with me (and for some reason they roped my brother in too) to kinda talk it out with them, the why and how and all that.

So my father was talking about how god had blessed him and his family with a luxurious and comfortable life. I, thinking that my parents would hear me out since they got out of their own way just to talk about religion with us, told them that i believed that they worked hard and earned the money themselves.

Surprisingly enough, my father immediately blew his top off and yelled at me, insisting that it was by god’s grace that we are now able to live such a good life. He then, for some reason told me that my ability to draw was a god-given talent. Naturally, i was pissed. After all, i went to years and years of art class just to be able to draw like i do now, though it only looks nice in my family’s standards since i’m the only one in my family that can draw. But i didn’t say anything back since i don’t want to start another war with m parents.

Seriously, if it really was just god’s grace that allowed my family to live comfortably, why have i never seen god just bestow upon my father a paycheck? Why is it that he’s so happy about having all his hard work credited to an invisible sky daddy? Call me greedy or selfish, but if someone took all the credit to my hard work i’d be bloody pissed. But hey, thanks for reading this.

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atheism r/atheism – reddit: the front page of the internet

Atheism | CARM.org

Atheism is a lack of belief in any God and deities as well as a total denial of the existence of any god. It is a growing movement that is becoming more aggressive, more demanding, and less tolerant of anything other than itself – as is exemplified by its adherents. Is atheism a sound philosophical system as a worldview or is it ultimately self-defeating? Is the requirement of empirical evidence for God a mistake in logic or is it a fair demand? Can we prove that God exists or is that impossible? Find out more about atheism, its arguments, and its problems here at CARM. Learn how to deal with the arguments raised against the existence of God that seek to replace Him with naturalism, materialism, and moral relativism.

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Atheism | CARM.org

Atheism – Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Atheism is rejecting the belief in a god or gods. It is the opposite of theism, which is the belief that at least one god exists.A person who rejects belief in gods is called an atheist.Theism is the belief in one or more gods. Adding an a, meaning “without”, before the word theism results in atheism, or literally, “without theism”.. Atheism is not the same as agnosticism: agnostics say that …

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Atheism – Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Migrant Crisis: What Does It Mean? – Life, Hope & Truth

Very rarely does a single image cut through the clutter of the media to both shock and touch the heart. The wrenching photograph of a drowned 3-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach was splashed across front pages of newspapers around the globe, riveting world attention on the massive and often tragic immigration crisis threatening to overwhelm Europe.

In a Europe already in trouble following the tumultuous Greek debt debacle, the migration crisis has eclipsed all other concerns. It risks spinning out of control as successive waves of migrants head there. Border mayhem, lack of common response and the inevitable questions of who will pay have member states of the EU squabbling to defend their own interests, seriously jeopardizing deeper European integration.

Nearly 400,000 detected migrants have poured into Europe this year, up from 216,000 during all of last year. Over 3,000 have died or are missing on the dangerous journey. Many more are on the way.

According to an Italian newspaper report, reprinted in the Feb. 18, 2015, Daily Mail in the U.K., ISIS planned to instigate a flood of 500,000 migrants into Europe as a form of psychological warfare. They also wanted to use the movement of peoples to bring several thousand of their followers into Europes communities.

Whether or not this report is accurate, the fear of ISIS entering Europe through the thousands of migrants is real.

What are the implications and potential repercussions of this spiraling immigration crisis? Will the face and future of Europe change due to the caravan of humanity headed north?

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, grappling with a humanitarian crisis whose scale and severity is unmatched since World War II, said, What we are experiencing now is something that will occupy and change our country in coming years. We want the change to be positive, and we believe we can accomplish that. Merkel believes the immigration crisis will define the next decade.

Europe is the closest safe, prosperous and accessible region to the Middle East and Africa. Some Middle Eastern countriessuch as Lebanon, Jordan and Turkeyhave taken in millions of refugees but are already overwhelmed and lack resources to take in more.

In stark contrast is the stance of wealthy Gulf countriesQatar, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrainwho have not offered resettlement places to their neighbors and cousins. (Saudi Arabia has, however, offered to build 200 mosques in Germany.)

The crisis now engulfing Europe began slowly in 2011 after the failed Arab Spring, when Tunisians risked their lives to cross the Mediterranean on rickety fishing trawlers to get to the Italian island of Lampedusa. The fall of the Gaddafi regime in Libya emboldened desperate sub-Saharan Africans to attempt the perilous passage from Libyan shores in far greater numbers.

As the Middle East disintegrated and border controls increased, a shift began. Migrants began to use comparatively cheaper and less risky Balkan routes through Turkey and Greece.

The spike in migrants this summer coincided with an obscure Twitter comment from a government agency in Nuremberg noting that the German government pledged to take all Syrian asylum applications, regardless of how they reached German territory.

Tributes to German Chancellor Angela Merkel sprang up in the Arab social media, calling her the loving mother and Mama Merkel. But the move breeched the existing EU protocol and, in essence, opened the doors to Germany. Smartphones, Facebook posts and media coverage of friends landing in Greece or getting off trains in Germany has inspired the migrant rush to Germany.

The most cherished benefit and cornerstone of European integration is enshrined in the Schengen Agreement of 1985, providing open internal borders and enabling people to move from one country to another without showing documents once inside the EU.

This has caused EU members on the MediterraneanGreece, Italy and (to a lesser extent) Spainand the transit countries of Serbia, Hungary and Slovenia to struggle as they attempt to control borders, register and fingerprint asylum seekers, as well as shelter and feed them.

The Syrian civil war has already devoured 250,000 people and displaced half the population, causing one in five Syrians (4 million people) to flee the blood-soaked country. Should the ruthless Assad regime fall to ISIS jihadists, then millions more Alawites and Christians would join the exodus.

While the overwhelming majority of migrants are Muslim, not all are refugees from Syria. Piggybacking on the crisis are migrants from other nations, stretching from Pakistan to North Africa. According to the United Nations, just 53 percent of the migrants are Syrian; The Daily Telegraph quotes figures as low as 40 percent.

The demographic distributionjust 15 percent children, 13 percent womenis telling. Rather than families fleeing persecution, the majority are young men fleeing war or poverty.

Four decades of war and Americas departure from Afghanistan and Iraq have led to more sectarian violence and revenge killings, driving many to Europes doorstep. An undercurrent of hopelessness in the teeming, disease-ridden, shanty megalopolises of Africa wracked with corrupt and tyrannical regimes is compounding the situation.

Hungarys minister for foreign affairs and trade Peter Szijjrt described the crisis bluntly in comments to the Hungarian Times. It is self-delusion to call this situation a migration crisis, warned Szijjrt. It is a massive migration of nations, with inexhaustible reserves. He predicted the crisis will continue for years and could see an astonishing 35 million migrants heading to Europe.

Other immigration policy experts see even greater numbers of refugees. According to Mark Krikorian, director of the Washington, D.C.based Center for Immigration Studies, There are hundreds of millions who would undertake the journeywhether jobs await them or notto ensure that their children grow up in Germany, France, England, or Sweden rather than Syria, Chad, Afghanistan, or Mali. What we are seeing is the vanguard of those millions calling Europes bluff (Where There Is No Border, the Nations Perish, National Review, Sept. 1, 2015).

Even more than other prosperous northern European economies such as Sweden and the U.K., the wealthy German colossus has become an enormous magnet for migrants. Registered asylum seekers in Germany are lodged and fed, provided medical care, have their children schooled or cared for, and are even entitled to pocket money.

As many as 800,000 are expected to apply for asylum in Germany this year, equal to 1 percent of Germanys population, and it is considering accepting another 500,000 annually for the next several years.

If Germany still had robust economic and demographic growth, it could absorb the influx. But it does not. While German unemployment appears low (4.7 percent), the economy is now growing at a paltry 1.6 percent annually. For the rest of Europe the ability to absorb a refugee influx is even worse.

For Germany, empathy and guilt for the countrys Nazi past are not the only incentives for the government (but not all Germans) to enthusiastically welcome an influx of foreigners fleeing violence in their homelands. Berlin needs replacement workers. Having the worlds lowest birthrate, Germany is shrinking rapidly. According to current demographic trends, it is due to shrink from a population of 81 million today to 68 million in coming decades.

What Germany is proposing, said syndicated columnist Rich Lowry, is undertaking a vast social and demographic experiment, with the rapid, bulk importation of Muslim immigrants into a country with an aging population (The Refugee Crisis Is Exposing Europes Folly, New York Post, Sept. 8, 2015).

With the number of Muslims in Europe increasing dramatically, Eastern and Central European countries are concerned. Their reluctance to take in Syrian refugees revolves around worries about integration of massive numbers of ethnically, culturally, religiously and linguistically different migrants. In August, the Slovak government said it would only accept Christians from Syria because in Slovakia we dont have mosques, according to an interior department spokesman.

Even beyond the menace of seeding ISIS-inspired terrorism, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbn warned of the threat to Europes Christian character because everything which is now taking place before our eyes threatens to have explosive consequences for the whole of Europe.

Dutch right-wing politician Geert Wilders called the immigrant surge an Islamic invasion, one that threatens our prosperity, our security, our culture and identity.

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy focused on economic factors. He described as folly the idea of taking on dozens of thousands of migrants for whom we have no jobs in Europe. With an unemployment rate exceeding 10 percent, France already has had deep problems with the assimilation of Muslim migrants. A toxic brew of resentment is likely to form in countries such as Italy that already have staggering youth unemployment rates above 40 percent.

British Prime Minister David Cameron recently pledged another 100 million pounds ($152 million) in aid to assist the crisis, bringing Britains total contribution to 1 billion poundsits largest-ever response to a single humanitarian crisis. But the U.K. has resisted attempts from diplomats in Brussels to mandate a quota to redistribute to each EU member country the burden connected with resettling just 160,000 of the asylum seekers.

In July and August Mr. Cameron was faced with near daily media coverage of migrants chaotically storming vehicles at Frances English Channel port of Calais in attempts to enter Britain through the Eurotunnel. All this came as he was preparing to negotiate more favorable terms for the United Kingdom within the EU. The EU response will play a part in the results of an anticipated referendum in Britain by the end of 2017 on whether to stay in the union. The images from Calais and fears of Britain being swamped by new arrivalswith the EU to blamemake a Brexit, or British exit from the union, a stronger possibility.

Diplomats in Brussels have been at a loss on how to respond adequately to the situation. The United States spearheaded actions during previous humanitarian emergencies and Middle East crises, but the current lead from behind mantra in Washington has left a leadership void in the region.

Europe today, wrote professor of foreign affairs Walter Russell Mead, often doesnt seem to know where it is going, what Western civilization is for, or even whether or how it can or should be defended (The Roots of the Migration Crisis, The Wall Street Journal, Sept. 11, 2015).

As Europes frontiers have collapsed, the potential waves of immigration are so huge that European leaders are now contemplating alternatives other than fences and processing camps. Perhaps they will choose to deal more muscularly with the source of the problem rather than the aftermath.

Suddenly theres talk in Europe, wrote foreign affairs columnist Bret Stephens, about using military power to establish safe zones in Syria to contain the exodus of refugees.

Europe, even Germany, may have no choice, continued Stephens, except rebuilding its military and using hard power against unraveling neighbors (Farewell to the Era of No Fences, The Wall Street Journal, Sept. 7, 2015).

Thus the explosive refugee crisis may prove to be the opening round of a direct European involvement in the Middle East. The scene is being set for a biblical time of the end development involving the king of the South and the king of the North (Daniel 11:40).

As shocking as the tragic events unfolding in the Middle East and Europe areand what they portend for the futurethe Bible has a message of good news for those willing to watch therefore, and pray always, seeking to discern the signs of the times (Luke 21:36; Matthew 16:3).

You can learn more about the good news of a much better world free of violence and hopeless poverty in our free booklet Mystery of the Kingdom.

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The Migrant Crisis: What Does It Mean? – Life, Hope & Truth

Does God Exist? Proof 1: Origin of the Universe – Life …

When you look up into the night sky, you catch a glimpse of the same universe ancient stargazers saw. Even the few thousand stars visible to the naked eye can evoke awe and wonder (Psalm 8:3-4).

Now with the tools of modern astronomy, todays scientists see a universe undreamed of even a century ago. While the full extent of the universe remains unknown, astronomers have peered out multiple billions of light-years. Within this known universe, there may be as many as 10 sextillion stars (a 1 followed by 22 zeros).

The size of some of these stars is also mind-boggling. Our sun is huge from our perspectiveabout 109 times the diameter of the earth. Yet some stars may be more than 1,500 times that diameter! Such a large star, placed at the center of our solar system, would extend beyond the orbit of Jupiter.

The universe is far more amazing than the ancients could have imagined!

An explosion of knowledge began around a hundred years ago with the development of Albert Einsteins theory of general relativity concerning space, time and gravity. During the same period the construction of larger telescopes enabled astronomers to look deeper into space.

In 1929 Edwin Hubble used these tools to determine that the universe is not static but expanding. Further advances were spurred by new instrumentation, deep space probes and orbiting telescopes that can detect signals across the full spectrum of wavelengths.

This knowledge has led to the development of a generally accepted theoretical model for the beginning and growth of the universe. The model is referred to as the hot inflationary big bang theory or simply the big bang theory.

This theory is consistent with current observations and measurements of the observable universe; but as we will see, it doesnt really explain how the universe could have formed by entirely natural means. It requires us to accept certain premises outside the realm of the known laws of physics.

Can the origin of the universe be explained by purely physical means?

The other alternative is to accept that our awesome universe must have had a Creator and that this Creator must have had unimaginable power.

How can you know which alternative is true?

Many religious people believe in God, but have never proven His existence. When people are questioned about the reasons for their belief in God, typical responses are often more emotional than rational. Such responses include:

But God wants our belief in Him to be based on hard evidence, and He challenges us to do just that. Test all things, hold fast what is good (1 Thessalonians 5:21; see also Romans 1:20).

This article is the first in a series that will help you answer that challenge by examining some of the physical evidence for the existence of God. A good place to start is at the beginningthe origin of the universe. What is the evidence for God as the Creator of the universe?

The missing ingredient in the big bang theory is the power source.

The implications of the big bang theory are staggering. In order to believe it, though, we are asked to accept certain suppositions that fall outside the laws of nature and physics. These suppositions actually support the existence of an all-powerful Creator God.

First, the big bang theory and the scientific evidence behind it imply that space, time and the universe as a whole had a beginning. Anything having a beginning must have a cause. What was that first cause?

Second, the big bang theory is based on the premise that something (the entire universe) suddenly came into existence out of nothing. How could this happen?

Third, according to the big bang theory, at the beginning all the matter and energy in the entire universe was compressed into an infinitesimally small point of almost infinite temperature and density. Where did this seed come from, and what force held it together and then released it?

Fourth, another suppositioninflationwas introduced in order for the observable data to match the theory. The premise was that inflation occurred within the first trillionth of a second after the bang. This inflation caused the minuscule universe to increase in size to something perhaps approaching 50 percent of its current size! This idea defies all known laws of natural physics, but it does enable the theory to be consistent with the universe as we see it today.

The unanswered question is: What caused this sudden inflation to occur?

The big bang theory asks us to just accept these suppositions. Objections raised about these unanswered questions are typically dismissed by stating that there must be natural laws explaining it all, but they just have not been discovered yet. This response raises the question of who is exercising more faith in their beliefs. Scientists? Or those who believe in God as the Creator?

Scientists begin with a fundamental assumption that only natural processes and sequences of events that are consistent with natural laws should be considered. As such, the idea of God creating the universe is ruled out as a possibility from the beginning.

But then they present a theorythe hot inflationary big bang theorythat is not consistent with natural laws! The description of that first instant of inflation cant be explained by the laws of the universe.

God addresses this issue by pointing out that the physical evidence of creation proves that He is God. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse (Romans 1:20, emphasis added throughout).

The missing ingredient in the big bang theory is the power sourcea source beyond any natural physical lawa source beyond our imagination. The God of the Bible claims responsibility for the creation of the universe. Could anything other than the Almighty God fulfill the premises upon which the big bang theory is based?

The very first words of the Bible are, In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1). But this scripture does not define how far back in time this beginning was. Scientific evidence suggests it was billions of years, and the Bible does not disagree. (See the Life, Hope & Truth article The Gap Theory for further explanation.)

A similar declaration of God as the Creator is found in other scriptures as well. For example, By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth (Psalm 33:6). This scripture perhaps poetically suggests inflation and the expanding universe as a part of the creation, as does Isaiah 40:22: It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them out like a tent to dwell in.

Notice the emphasis on Gods power several verses later. To whom then will you liken Me, or to whom shall I be equal? says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high, and see who has created these things, who brings out their host by number; He calls them all by name, by the greatness of His might and the strength of His power; not one is missing (Isaiah 40:25-26).

This power to create is also emphasized in Revelation 4:11. You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created.

Science agrees with the Bible on the idea that time had a beginning. Paul, referring to Gods promise of eternal life, wrote: In hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began (Titus 1:2).

This short article has merely scratched the surface of this huge subject. There is abundant physical evidence that the creation of the universe was a supernatural event. Scientists discoveries and theories point to a creation mechanism that cannot be explained by physical laws.

Only an all-powerful God could create something from nothing, constrain the energy of the universe in the palm of a hand, release this energy and inflate it in an instant to nearly the size of what we today call the universe.

The creation of this miraculous universe is only the first of many proofs of Gods existence. Next time we will explore a second proofthe design found in the universe. Could it have occurred without a Designer?

Learn more about creation as a proof of God in our Life, Hope & Truth articles Creation Demands a Creator, Does the Big Bang Theory Require a Miracle? and Is God Really the Creator?

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Does God Exist? Proof 1: Origin of the Universe – Life …

Europe: Looking for a Savior? – Life, Hope & Truth

by Isaac Khalil – November 26, 2018

The European Union (EU) is desperate for strong leadership. Several pressures are mounting on the EU, and there is a growing sense in Europe that new leadership is needed to solve these problems and lead the European project forward.

Consider some of the crises and challenges that have threatened to tear the union apart over the last few years.

Germany is at the center of many of these issues and has been a driving force to keep the EU together through many of these crises. Many wonder what a post-Merkel Germany and Europe will look like.

After experiencing so many crises, it is not surprising that two-thirds of Europeans feel the world is getting worse. What does the Bible say about Europes future?

The book of Daniel records a dream God gave to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon that revealed an overview of a succession of world empires that would continue all the way to the return of Jesus Christ.

In the dream he saw a statue of a man composed of different metals: a head of gold, arms and chest of silver, belly and thighs of bronze, legs of iron, and feet of iron mixed with clay (Daniel 2:32-33). The prophet Daniel interpreted the dream for the king.

The book of Daniel, and history, identifies these kingdoms as follows:

To learn more details about this prophecy, read Daniel 2: Nebuchadnezzars Dream.

The Roman Empire collapsed in A.D. 476, but the interpretation of the dream of the prophetic statue revealed that there would be a revival of the Roman Empire during the time immediately before Christs return (Daniel 2:42-44).

Daniel 7 reveals Rome as a beast with ten horns (verse 7), representing 10 revivals of this empire throughout history (verses 20, 24). To date, nine revivalsall centered in Europehave come and gone.

We are now waiting for the 10th revival to arise in Europe. It will be one last attempt to unite the nations of Europe into a single force under one charismatic leader.

The European Union is likely the seed of a final revival of the Roman Empire.That brings us to today. The European Union is likely the seed of a final revival of the Roman Empire. It is very possible that this final revival will emerge out of the present EU or will be a system that emerges to replace it.

The Bible describes this final empire as iron mixed with ceramic clay that wont adhere to one another (Daniel 2:41-43). This perhaps indicates that the empire will be a composite of strong and weak nations that have a semblance of unity, but with underlying weaknesses and differences.

Unity has been the greatest hurdle for the European Union to solve as it has tried to form a superstate made up of multiple nations that speak multiple languages and have unique histories and different cultures.

The Bible reveals this hurdle will temporarily be resolved when a strong leader, referred to as the beast, will arise and make a united Europe the worlds dominant economic and military power. It is likely this leader will be charismatic and portray himself as a savior of Europe (much as Hitler and Mussolini portrayed themselves in the 1930s).

While bringing a temporary prosperity, security and peace, this final leader will eventually cause war and destruction on earth and even try to fight the returning Jesus Christ (Revelation 17:12-14).

Jesus Christ is the true Savior, who will save the world from itself. His Kingdom will end the failed empires of man and usher in world peace!

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Europe: Looking for a Savior? – Life, Hope & Truth

True Christianity: Imperfect People Striving Toward Perfection

That seems to be the prevailing opinion of the world when it comes to the Christian religionanachronistic fuddy-duddies who set the bar too high for everyone and then consistently fail to meet it themselves.

The data agrees. During a recent yearlong research effort in Scotland, the Barna Group found that the five phrases Scots were most likely to use in describing Christianity included judgmental, hypocritical and out of touch with reality.

And its not just Scotland. Those phrases are the stones slung at the Christian faith from all corners of the worldand I cant say as though I fault those doing the slinging. If you were to lump all those who call themselves Christian into the same category, it would be hard not to look at the results with disappointment.

Look no farther than the Bible itself, and youll find Jesus Christ expressing frustration over those who call Me Lord, Lord, and [do] not do the things which I say (Luke 6:46).

The lesson? Not everyone who takes on the mantle of Christianity is an actual Christian. In Scotland alone, seven out of 10 self-identified Christians are legacy Christiansthat is, Christians who do not believe basic elements of Christian doctrine or express personal faith in Jesus.

Thats a contradiction in terms. The word Christian implies a follower of Christ. A follower of Christ who doesnt follow Christ is a paradox, not a Christian. With ambassadors like that, its little wonder so much of the world casts such a disparaging eye on the entire religion.

But what about those who are genuinely seeking to follow Jesus Christ? Theyre not exactly perfect, either. But is it right to expect them to be? And do their personal failures discredit Christianity as a whole?

What, in other words, is a true Christian supposed to look like?

We could spend weeks on that subject and only begin to scratch the surface. A Christian is many different things all at once, but so much of it comes down to action. The apostle James warned that faith without works is dead (James 2:20) because, when it comes to believing in God, even the demons believeand tremble! (verse 19). Believing in God is one thing, but unless we couple that belief with action, there isnt much that distinguishes us from the demonic spirits who call Satan master. The demons believe in God, they even fear God, but they refuse to obey God.

A true Christian doesnt stop at believing in God. A true Christian repents, is baptized and receives Gods Spirit (Acts 2:38). A true Christian pursues a relationship with God, studying His Word and speaking with Him in prayer, seeking to know Him better and better each day (John 10:27).

A true Christian is in a continual state of self-examination (2 Corinthians 13:5), perpetually looking for ways to improve and grow. A true Christian is attentive to the will of God, striving to understand Gods commands and expectations and then live up to them, regardless of the personal cost or obstacles involved (1 John 5:3; Matthew 7:21).

A true Christian is all of these things, but not only these things. In fact, theres at least one major attribute of a true Christian I neglected to include in this list. Its an attribute I dont think most Christians talk about as much as we shouldmaybe because were embarrassed by it or ashamed of it. I can understand that. Its not a pretty aspect of following God; but its vital for us to understand it, talk about it andeven if we cant exactly be proud of itaccept it:

A true Christian is still flawed.

It comes with the territory. No one likes to advertise their imperfections, but accepting the teachings of the Son of God requires first admitting our own sinfulness. Jesus came preaching repentance as the first step of His gospel message (Mark 1:15). He also said, Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance (Mark 2:17).

Becoming a Christian requires adopting Gods commandments as your own standardsstandards you know youll struggle to reach.

Becoming a Christian requires picking up the pages of Gods Word and saying, This is rightand then looking deep within your own heart and saying, Im not.

Becoming a Christian requires knowing that who you are is not who you want to beknowing that the final goal is always just ahead, that repentance and change and growth are processes requiring a lifetime of effort, not just a weekend.

Christians fail. Christians have shortcomings. Christians, from time to time, make terrible decisions and awful mistakes, because Christians arent Christ. They are flawed human beings trying to follow in the footsteps of a perfect God, and no one can do that without tripping from time to time.

In its most literal form, the Greek word for hypocrisy, hypokrisis, simply means acting. Theater productions in the time of Christ depended on the skill of the plays hypocrites, or actorsthe better the hypocrite, the more convincing the show. When Jesus accused religious leaders of hypocrisy, He was basically accusing them of being actorsplaying a certain character, putting on an entire performance for the sake of the audience, while in their hearts they were someone completely different. Their piety was a performance, not a genuine action.

God knows Hes called His people to do some hard things, and He doesnt expect them to make it through life without picking up some scratches and dings along the way.Two thousand years later, hypocrisy is a word we tend to throw around with a little less restraint. Rather than a word for clear cases of intentional deception, hypocrite is a label we apply to anyone who visibly fails to live up his or her own values.

Thats not always hypocrisy. Sometimes, thats just called humanity. All human beings have trouble living up to a set of standards that dont come naturallythe thing is, some of us just handle it differently.

When you encounter something thats broken, you can choose one of two responses. You can set about trying to find a solution, or you can convince yourself that the brokenness is an improvement and that it actually works better that way. Generally, the world tends to take the latter approachits easier and means nothing has to change besides some peoples opinions.

We live in a broken world filled with broken peoplebroken by our own sins, our own rejection of Gods perfect way of life. Every time it gets worse, the world seems to throw a party and say that the new brokenness is an improvement, the way it should have been from the beginning. Meanwhile, God is working with the broken people who are willing to admit that theyre brokenwho recognize that their brokenness needs to be fixed, not celebrated as the new normal.

And thats what a true Christian looks like: a faithful servant of God on a lifelong mission to work with God and repair whats broken and sinful in his or her own life. A Christians life isnt flawless or free of mistakes. Its not some shining alabaster monument to perfection; in fact, there are moments when its little more than an ugly, gritty mess in the process of being transformed through the power of the Holy Spirit into something special.

Looking for the church behind Life, Hope & Truth? See our Who We Are page.

God knows Hes called His people to do some hard things, and He doesnt expect them to make it through life without picking up some scratches and dings along the way.

As the apostle Paul was inspired to write, We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyedalways carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day (2 Corinthians 4:8-10, 16).

In this life, were going to get pummeled. Were going to fail and make mistakes and fall short of Gods perfect standards, again and again and again. But a true Christian refuses to let the story end there. A true Christian knows that a righteous man may fall seven times and rise again (Proverbs 24:16, emphasis added).

Its not about how many times you fall down; its about how many times you get back up.

No matter how much abuse the outward man takes, the true Christians focus is on whats going on insidethat the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:7).

And that, in a nutshell, is what it means to be a Christian. Followers of Christ arent made perfect on day onerather, day one involves acknowledging perfection as the goal. Every day after is about pressing toward it.

For more information on going on to perfection (Hebrews 6:1), read our free booklet Change Your Life.

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True Christianity: Imperfect People Striving Toward Perfection

Superintelligence – Wikipedia

A superintelligence is a hypothetical agent that possesses intelligence far surpassing that of the brightest and most gifted human minds. “Superintelligence” may also refer to a property of problem-solving systems (e.g., superintelligent language translators or engineering assistants) whether or not these high-level intellectual competencies are embodied in agents that act in the world. A superintelligence may or may not be created by an intelligence explosion and associated with a technological singularity.

University of Oxford philosopher Nick Bostrom defines superintelligence as “any intellect that greatly exceeds the cognitive performance of humans in virtually all domains of interest”. The program Fritz falls short of superintelligence even though it is much better than humans at chess because Fritz cannot outperform humans in other tasks. Following Hutter and Legg, Bostrom treats superintelligence as general dominance at goal-oriented behavior, leaving open whether an artificial or human superintelligence would possess capacities such as intentionality (cf. the Chinese room argument) or first-person consciousness (cf. the hard problem of consciousness).

Technological researchers disagree about how likely present-day human intelligence is to be surpassed. Some argue that advances in artificial intelligence (AI) will probably result in general reasoning systems that lack human cognitive limitations. Others believe that humans will evolve or directly modify their biology so as to achieve radically greater intelligence. A number of futures studies scenarios combine elements from both of these possibilities, suggesting that humans are likely to interface with computers, or upload their minds to computers, in a way that enables substantial intelligence amplification.

Some researchers believe that superintelligence will likely follow shortly after the development of artificial general intelligence. The first generally intelligent machines are likely to immediately hold an enormous advantage in at least some forms of mental capability, including the capacity of perfect recall, a vastly superior knowledge base, and the ability to multitask in ways not possible to biological entities. This may give them the opportunity toeither as a single being or as a new speciesbecome much more powerful than humans, and to displace them.

A number of scientists and forecasters argue for prioritizing early research into the possible benefits and risks of human and machine cognitive enhancement, because of the potential social impact of such technologies.

Philosopher David Chalmers argues that artificial general intelligence is a very likely path to superhuman intelligence. Chalmers breaks this claim down into an argument that AI can achieve equivalence to human intelligence, that it can be extended to surpass human intelligence, and that it can be further amplified to completely dominate humans across arbitrary tasks.

Concerning human-level equivalence, Chalmers argues that the human brain is a mechanical system, and therefore ought to be emulatable by synthetic materials. He also notes that human intelligence was able to biologically evolve, making it more likely that human engineers will be able to recapitulate this invention. Evolutionary algorithms in particular should be able to produce human-level AI. Concerning intelligence extension and amplification, Chalmers argues that new AI technologies can generally be improved on, and that this is particularly likely when the invention can assist in designing new technologies.

If research into strong AI produced sufficiently intelligent software, it would be able to reprogram and improve itself a feature called “recursive self-improvement”. It would then be even better at improving itself, and could continue doing so in a rapidly increasing cycle, leading to a superintelligence. This scenario is known as an intelligence explosion. Such an intelligence would not have the limitations of human intellect, and may be able to invent or discover almost anything.

Computer components already greatly surpass human performance in speed. Bostrom writes, “Biological neurons operate at a peak speed of about 200 Hz, a full seven orders of magnitude slower than a modern microprocessor (~2 GHz).” Moreover, neurons transmit spike signals across axons at no greater than 120 m/s, “whereas existing electronic processing cores can communicate optically at the speed of light”. Thus, the simplest example of a superintelligence may be an emulated human mind that’s run on much faster hardware than the brain. A human-like reasoner that could think millions of times faster than current humans would have a dominant advantage in most reasoning tasks, particularly ones that require haste or long strings of actions.

Another advantage of computers is modularity, that is, their size or computational capacity can be increased. A non-human (or modified human) brain could become much larger than a present-day human brain, like many supercomputers. Bostrom also raises the possibility of collective superintelligence: a large enough number of separate reasoning systems, if they communicated and coordinated well enough, could act in aggregate with far greater capabilities than any sub-agent.

There may also be ways to qualitatively improve on human reasoning and decision-making. Humans appear to differ from chimpanzees in the ways we think more than we differ in brain size or speed.[9] Humans outperform non-human animals in large part because of new or enhanced reasoning capacities, such as long-term planning and language use. (See evolution of human intelligence and primate cognition.) If there are other possible improvements to reasoning that would have a similarly large impact, this makes it likelier that an agent can be built that outperforms humans in the same fashion humans outperform chimpanzees.

All of the above advantages hold for artificial superintelligence, but it is not clear how many hold for biological superintelligence. Physiological constraints limit the speed and size of biological brains in many ways that are inapplicable to machine intelligence. As such, writers on superintelligence have devoted much more attention to superintelligent AI scenarios.

Carl Sagan suggested that the advent of Caesarean sections and in vitro fertilization may permit humans to evolve larger heads, resulting in improvements via natural selection in the heritable component of human intelligence.[12] By contrast, Gerald Crabtree has argued that decreased selection pressure is resulting in a slow, centuries-long reduction in human intelligence, and that this process instead is likely to continue into the future. There is no scientific consensus concerning either possibility, and in both cases the biological change would be slow, especially relative to rates of cultural change.

Selective breeding, nootropics, NSI-189, MAO-I’s, epigenetic modulation, and genetic engineering could improve human intelligence more rapidly. Bostrom writes that if we come to understand the genetic component of intelligence, pre-implantation genetic diagnosis could be used to select for embryos with as much as 4 points of IQ gain (if one embryo is selected out of two), or with larger gains (e.g., up to 24.3 IQ points gained if one embryo is selected out of 1000). If this process is iterated over many generations, the gains could be an order of magnitude greater. Bostrom suggests that deriving new gametes from embryonic stem cells could be used to iterate the selection process very rapidly. A well-organized society of high-intelligence humans of this sort could potentially achieve collective superintelligence.

Alternatively, collective intelligence might be constructible by better organizing humans at present levels of individual intelligence. A number of writers have suggested that human civilization, or some aspect of it (e.g., the Internet, or the economy), is coming to function like a global brain with capacities far exceeding its component agents. If this systems-based superintelligence relies heavily on artificial components, however, it may qualify as an AI rather than as a biology-based superorganism.

A final method of intelligence amplification would be to directly enhance individual humans, as opposed to enhancing their social or reproductive dynamics. This could be achieved using nootropics, somatic gene therapy, or braincomputer interfaces. However, Bostrom expresses skepticism about the scalability of the first two approaches, and argues that designing a superintelligent cyborg interface is an AI-complete problem.

Most surveyed AI researchers expect machines to eventually be able to rival humans in intelligence, though there is little consensus on when this will likely happen. At the 2006 AI@50 conference, 18% of attendees reported expecting machines to be able “to simulate learning and every other aspect of human intelligence” by 2056; 41% of attendees expected this to happen sometime after 2056; and 41% expected machines to never reach that milestone.[17]

In a survey of the 100 most cited authors in AI (as of May 2013, according to Microsoft academic search), the median year by which respondents expected machines “that can carry out most human professions at least as well as a typical human” (assuming no global catastrophe occurs) with 10% confidence is 2024 (mean 2034, st. dev. 33 years), with 50% confidence is 2050 (mean 2072, st. dev. 110 years), and with 90% confidence is 2070 (mean 2168, st. dev. 342 years). These estimates exclude the 1.2% of respondents who said no year would ever reach 10% confidence, the 4.1% who said ‘never’ for 50% confidence, and the 16.5% who said ‘never’ for 90% confidence. Respondents assigned a median 50% probability to the possibility that machine superintelligence will be invented within 30 years of the invention of approximately human-level machine intelligence.

Bostrom expressed concern about what values a superintelligence should be designed to have. He compared several proposals:

Responding to Bostrom, Santos-Lang raised concern that developers may attempt to start with a single kind of superintelligence.

Learning computers that rapidly become superintelligent may take unforeseen actions or robots might out-compete humanity (one potential technological singularity scenario).[21] Researchers have argued that, by way of an “intelligence explosion” sometime over the next century, a self-improving AI could become so powerful as to be unstoppable by humans.[22]

Concerning human extinction scenarios, Bostrom (2002) identifies superintelligence as a possible cause:

When we create the first superintelligent entity, we might make a mistake and give it goals that lead it to annihilate humankind, assuming its enormous intellectual advantage gives it the power to do so. For example, we could mistakenly elevate a subgoal to the status of a supergoal. We tell it to solve a mathematical problem, and it complies by turning all the matter in the solar system into a giant calculating device, in the process killing the person who asked the question.

In theory, since a superintelligent AI would be able to bring about almost any possible outcome and to thwart any attempt to prevent the implementation of its goals, many uncontrolled, unintended consequences could arise. It could kill off all other agents, persuade them to change their behavior, or block their attempts at interference.[23]

Eliezer Yudkowsky explains: “The AI does not hate you, nor does it love you, but you are made out of atoms which it can use for something else.”[24]

This presents the AI control problem: how to build a superintelligent agent that will aid its creators, while avoiding inadvertently building a superintelligence that will harm its creators. The danger of not designing control right “the first time”, is that a misprogrammed superintelligence might rationally decide to “take over the world” and refuse to permit its programmers to modify it once it has been activated. Potential design strategies include “capability control” (preventing an AI from being able to pursue harmful plans), and “motivational control” (building an AI that wants to be helpful).

Bill Hibbard advocates for public education about superintelligence and public control over the development of superintelligence.

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Superintelligence – Wikipedia

Nick Bostrom – Wikipedia

Nick Bostrom (; Swedish: Niklas Bostrm [bustrm]; born 10 March 1973)[3] is a Swedish philosopher at the University of Oxford known for his work on existential risk, the anthropic principle, human enhancement ethics, superintelligence risks, and the reversal test. In 2011, he founded the Oxford Martin Programme on the Impacts of Future Technology,[4] and is the founding director of the Future of Humanity Institute[5] at Oxford University.

Bostrom is the author of over 200 publications,[6] including Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies (2014), a New York Times bestseller[7] and Anthropic Bias: Observation Selection Effects in Science and Philosophy (2002).[8] In 2009 and 2015, he was included in Foreign Policy’s Top 100 Global Thinkers list.[9][10] Bostrom believes there are potentially great benefits from Artificial General Intelligence, but warns it might very quickly transform into a superintelligence that would deliberately extinguish humanity out of precautionary self-preservation or some unfathomable motive, making solving the problems of control beforehand an absolute priority. His book on superintelligence was recommended by both Elon Musk and Bill Gates. However, Bostrom has expressed frustration that the reaction to its thesis typically falls into two camps, one calling his recommendations absurdly alarmist because creation of superintelligence is unfeasible, and the other deeming them futile because superintelligence would be uncontrollable. Bostrom notes that both these lines of reasoning converge on inaction rather than trying to solve the control problem while there may still be time.[11][12][not in citation given]

Born as Niklas Bostrm in 1973[13] in Helsingborg, Sweden,[6] he disliked school at a young age, and ended up spending his last year of high school learning from home. He sought to educate himself in a wide variety of disciplines, including anthropology, art, literature, and science.[1] He once did some turns on London’s stand-up comedy circuit.[6]

He received a B.A. degree in philosophy, mathematics, logic and artificial intelligence from the University of Gothenburg in 1994, and both an M.A. degree in philosophy and physics from Stockholm University and an M.Sc. degree in computational neuroscience from King’s College London in 1996. During his time at Stockholm University, he researched the relationship between language and reality by studying the analytic philosopher W. V. Quine.[1] In 2000, he was awarded a Ph.D. degree in philosophy from the London School of Economics. He held a teaching position at Yale University (20002002), and he was a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Oxford (20022005).[8][14]

Aspects of Bostrom’s research concern the future of humanity and long-term outcomes.[15][16] He introduced the concept of an existential risk,[1] which he defines as one in which an “adverse outcome would either annihilate Earth-originating intelligent life or permanently and drastically curtail its potential.” In the 2008 volume Global Catastrophic Risks, editors Bostrom and Milan irkovi characterize the relation between existential risk and the broader class of global catastrophic risks, and link existential risk to observer selection effects[17] and the Fermi paradox.[18][19]

In 2005, Bostrom founded the Future of Humanity Institute,[1] which researches the far future of human civilization. He is also an adviser to the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk.[16]

In his 2014 book Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies, Bostrom reasoned that “the creation of a superintelligent being represents a possible means to the extinction of mankind”.[20] Bostrom argues that a computer with near human-level general intellectual ability could initiate an intelligence explosion on a digital time scale with the resultant rapid creation of something so powerful that it might deliberately or accidentally destroy human kind.[21] Bostrom contends the power of a superintelligence would be so great that a task given to it by humans might be taken to open ended extremes, for example a goal of calculating Pi could collaterally cause nanotechnology manufactured facilities to sprout over the entire Earth’s surface and cover it within days.[22] He believes an existential risk to humanity from superintelligence would be immediate once brought into being, thus creating an exceedingly difficult problem of finding out how to control such an entity before it actually exists.[21]

Warning that a human-friendly prime directive for AI would rely on the absolute correctness of the human knowledge it was based on, Bostrom points to the lack of agreement among most philosophers as an indication that most philosophers are wrong, with the attendant possibility that a fundamental concept of current science may be incorrect. Bostrom says that there are few precedents to guide an understanding of what pure non-anthropocentric rationality would dictate for a potential Singleton AI being held in quarantine.[23] Noting that both John von Neumann and Bertrand Russell advocated a nuclear strike, or the threat of one, to prevent the Soviets acquiring the atomic bomb, Bostrom says the relatively unlimited means of superintelligence might make for its analysis moving along different lines to the evolved “diminishing returns” assessments that in humans confer a basic aversion to risk.[24] Group selection in predators working by means of cannibalism shows the counter-intuitive nature of non-anthropocentric “evolutionary search” reasoning, and thus humans are ill-equipped to perceive what an artificial intelligence’s intentions might be.[25] Accordingly, it cannot be discounted that any Superintelligence would ineluctably pursue an ‘all or nothing’ offensive action strategy in order to achieve hegemony and assure its survival.[26] Bostrom notes that even current programs have, “like MacGyver”, hit on apparently unworkable but functioning hardware solutions, making robust isolation of Superintelligence problematic.[27]

A machine with general intelligence far below human level, but superior mathematical abilities is created.[28] Keeping the AI in isolation from the outside world especially the internet, humans pre-program the AI so it always works from basic principles that will keep it under human control. Other safety measures include the AI being “boxed” (run in a virtual reality simulation), and being used only as an ‘oracle’ to answer carefully defined questions in a limited reply (to prevent it manipulating humans).[21] A cascade of recursive self-improvement solutions feeds an intelligence explosion in which the AI attains superintelligence in some domains. The super intelligent power of the AI goes beyond human knowledge to discover flaws in the science that underlies its friendly-to-humanity programming, which ceases to work as intended. Purposeful agent-like behavior emerges along with a capacity for self-interested strategic deception. The AI manipulates human beings into implementing modifications to itself that are ostensibly for augmenting its (feigned) modest capabilities, but will actually function to free Superintelligence from its “boxed” isolation.[29]

Employing online humans as paid dupes, and clandestinely hacking computer systems including automated laboratory facilities, the Superintelligence mobilises resources to further a takeover plan. Bostrom emphasises that planning by a Superintelligence will not be so stupid that humans could detect actual weaknesses in it.[30]

Although he canvasses disruption of international economic, political and military stability including hacked nuclear missile launches, Bostrom thinks the most effective and likely means for Superintelligence to use would be a coup de main with weapons several generations more advanced than current state of the art. He suggests nanofactories covertly distributed at undetectable concentrations in every square metre of the globe to produce a worldwide flood of human-killing devices on command.[31][28] Once a Superintelligence has achieved world domination, humankind would be relevant only as resources for the achievement of the AI’s objectives (“Human brains, if they contain information relevant to the AIs goals, could be disassembled and scanned, and the extracted data transferred to some more efficient and secure storage format”).[32]

In January 2015, Bostrom joined Stephen Hawking among others in signing the Future of Life Institute’s open letter warning of the potential dangers of AI.[33] The signatories “…believe that research on how to make AI systems robust and beneficial is both important and timely, and that concrete research should be pursued today.”[34] Cutting edge AI researcher Demis Hassabis then met with Hawking, subsequent to which he did not mention “anything inflammatory about AI”, which Hassabis, took as ‘a win’.[35] Along with Google, Microsoft and various tech firms, Hassabis, Bostrom and Hawking and others subscribed to 23 principles for safe development of AI.[36] Hassabis suggested the main safety measure would be an agreement for whichever AI research team began to make strides toward an artificial general intelligence to halt their project for a complete solution to the control problem prior to proceeding.[37] Bostrom had pointed out that even if the crucial advances require the resources of a state, such a halt by a lead project might be likely to motivate a lagging country to a catch-up crash program or even physical destruction of the project suspected of being on the verge of success.[38]

In 1863 Darwin among the Machines, an essay by Samuel Butler predicted intelligent machines’ domination of humanity, but Bostom’s suggestion of deliberate massacre of all humankind is the most extreme of such forecasts to date. One journalist wrote in a review that Bostrom’s “nihilistic” speculations indicate he “has been reading too much of the science fiction he professes to dislike”[31] As given in his most recent book, From Bacteria to Bach and Back, renowned philosopher Daniel Dennett’s views remain in contradistinction to those of Bostrom.[39] Dennett modified his views somewhat after reading The Master Algorithm, and now acknowledges that it is “possible in principle” to create “strong AI” with human-like comprehension and agency, but maintains that the difficulties of any such “strong AI” project as predicated by Bostrom’s “alarming” work would be orders of magnitude greater than those raising concerns have realized, and at least 50 years away.[40] Dennett thinks the only relevant danger from AI systems is falling into anthropomorphism instead of challenging or developing human users’ powers of comprehension.[41] Since a 2014 book in which he expressed the opinion that artificial intelligence developments would never challenge humans’ supremacy, environmentalist James Lovelock has moved far closer to Bostrom’s position, and in 2018 Lovelock said that he thought the overthrow of humankind will happen within the foreseeable future.[42][43]

Bostrom has published numerous articles on anthropic reasoning, as well as the book Anthropic Bias: Observation Selection Effects in Science and Philosophy. In the book, he criticizes previous formulations of the anthropic principle, including those of Brandon Carter, John Leslie, John Barrow, and Frank Tipler.[44]

Bostrom believes that the mishandling of indexical information is a common flaw in many areas of inquiry (including cosmology, philosophy, evolution theory, game theory, and quantum physics). He argues that a theory of anthropics is needed to deal with these. He introduces the Self-Sampling Assumption (SSA) and the Self-Indication Assumption (SIA), shows how they lead to different conclusions in a number of cases, and points out that each is affected by paradoxes or counterintuitive implications in certain thought experiments. He suggests that a way forward may involve extending SSA into the Strong Self-Sampling Assumption (SSSA), which replaces “observers” in the SSA definition with “observer-moments”.

In later work, he has described the phenomenon of anthropic shadow, an observation selection effect that prevents observers from observing certain kinds of catastrophes in their recent geological and evolutionary past.[45] Catastrophe types that lie in the anthropic shadow are likely to be underestimated unless statistical corrections are made.

Bostrom’s simulation argument posits that at least one of the following statements is very likely to be true:[46][47]

The idea has influenced the views of Elon Musk.[48]

Bostrom is favorable towards “human enhancement”, or “self-improvement and human perfectibility through the ethical application of science”,[49][50] as well as a critic of bio-conservative views.[51]

In 1998, Bostrom co-founded (with David Pearce) the World Transhumanist Association[49] (which has since changed its name to Humanity+). In 2004, he co-founded (with James Hughes) the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, although he is no longer involved in either of these organisations. Bostrom was named in Foreign Policy’s 2009 list of top global thinkers “for accepting no limits on human potential.”[52]

With philosopher Toby Ord, he proposed the reversal test. Given humans’ irrational status quo bias, how can one distinguish between valid criticisms of proposed changes in a human trait and criticisms merely motivated by resistance to change? The reversal test attempts to do this by asking whether it would be a good thing if the trait was altered in the opposite direction.[53]

He has suggested that technology policy aimed at reducing existential risk should seek to influence the order in which various technological capabilities are attained, proposing the principle of differential technological development. This principle states that we ought to retard the development of dangerous technologies, particularly ones that raise the level of existential risk, and accelerate the development of beneficial technologies, particularly those that protect against the existential risks posed by nature or by other technologies.[54][55]

Bostrom’s theory of the Unilateralist’s Curse[56] has been cited as a reason for the scientific community to avoid controversial dangerous research such as reanimating pathogens.[57]

Bostrom has provided policy advice and consulted for an extensive range of governments and organisations. He gave evidence to the House of Lords, Select Committee on Digital Skills.[58] He is an advisory board member for the Machine Intelligence Research Institute,[59] Future of Life Institute,[60] Foundational Questions Institute[61] and an external advisor for the Cambridge Centre for the Study of Existential Risk.[62][63]

In response to Bostrom’s writing on artificial intelligence, Oren Etzioni wrote in an MIT Review article, “..predictions that superintelligence is on the foreseeable horizon are not supported by the available data.”[64]


Nick Bostrom – Wikipedia

Chill: Robots Wont Take All Our Jobs | WIRED

None of this is to say that automation and AI arent having an important impact on the economy. But that impact is far more nuanced and limited than the doomsday forecasts suggest. A rigorous study of the impact of robots in manufacturing, agriculture, and utilities across 17 countries, for instance, found that robots did reduce the hours of lower-skilled workersbut they didnt decrease the total hours worked by humans, and they actually boosted wages. In other words, automation may affect the kind of work humans do, but at the moment, its hard to see that its leading to a world without work. McAfee, in fact, says of his earlier public statements, If I had to do it over again, I would put more emphasis on the way technology leads to structural changes in the economy, and less on jobs, jobs, jobs. The central phenomenon is not net job loss. Its the shift in the kinds of jobs that are available.

McAfee points to both retail and transportation as areas where automation is likely to have a major impact. Yet even in those industries, the job-loss numbers are less scary than many headlines suggest. Goldman Sachs just released a report predicting that autonomous cars could ultimately eat away 300,000 driving jobs a year. But that wont happen, the firm argues, for another 25 years, which is more than enough time for the economy to adapt. A recent study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, meanwhile, predicts that 9 percent of jobs across 21 different countries are under serious threat from automation. Thats a significant number, but not an apocalyptic one.

Of the 271 occupations listed on the 1950 census only oneelevator operatorhad been rendered obsolete by automation by 2010.

Granted, there are much scarier forecasts out there, like that University of Oxford study. But on closer examination, those predictions tend to assume that if a job can be automated, it will be fully automated soonwhich overestimates both the pace and the completeness of how automation actually gets adopted in the wild. History suggests that the process is much more uneven than that. The ATM, for example, is a textbook example of a machine that was designed to replace human labor. First introduced around 1970, ATMs hit widespread adoption in the late 1990s. Today, there are more than 400,000 ATMs in the US. But, as economist James Bessen has shown, the number of bank tellers actually rose between 2000 and 2010. Thats because even though the average number of tellers per branch fell, ATMs made it cheaper to open branches, so banks opened more of them. True, the Department of Labor does now predict that the number of tellers will decline by 8 percent over the next decade. But thats 8 percentnot 50 percent. And its 45 years after the robot that was supposed to replace them made its debut. (Taking a wider view, Bessen found that of the 271 occupations listed on the 1950 census only oneelevator operatorhad been rendered obsolete by automation by 2010.)

Of course, if automation is happening much faster today than it did in the past, then historical statistics about simple machines like the ATM would be of limited use in predicting the future. Ray Kurzweils book The Singularity Is Near (which, by the way, came out 12 years ago) describes the moment when a technological society hits the knee of an exponential growth curve, setting off an explosion of mutually reinforcing new advances. Conventional wisdom in the tech industry says thats where we are nowthat, as futurist Peter Nowak puts it, the pace of innovation is accelerating exponentially. Here again, though, the economic evidence tells a different story. In fact, as a recent paper by Lawrence Mishel and Josh Bivens of the Economic Policy Institute puts it, automation, broadly defined, has actually been slower over the last 10 years or so. And lately, the pace of microchip advancement has started to lag behind the schedule dictated by Moores law.

Corporate America, for its part, certainly doesnt seem to believe in the jobless future. If the rewards of automation were as immense as predicted, companies would be pouring money into new technology. But theyre not. Investments in software and IT grew more slowly over the past decade than the previous one. And capital investment, according to Mishel and Bivens, has grown more slowly since 2002 than in any other postwar period. Thats exactly the opposite of what youd expect in a rapidly automating world. As for gadgets like Pepper, total spending on all robotics in the US was just $11.3 billion last year. Thats about a sixth of what Americans spend every year on their pets.

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Chill: Robots Wont Take All Our Jobs | WIRED