Julia Sweeney Interview

Julia Sweeney


Julia Sweeney, the SNL alumnus who created the unforgettably androgynous character, Pat, is here in the wake of “Letting Go of God” her brilliant work about losing her religion as a result of a life-threatening illness. She’s a terrific guest, and the time flies.


  1. william wooten says:

    Dear Roseanne,
    I loved your comment or subtle sarcasm, about spending all day talking to angels
    and losing weight. I think this progressed into the power of positive
    thinking and the opposite. I have often thought of writing a book
    called the “Power of Negative Thinking.” But there is nothing original
    here. What is the dialectic. There is definitely negative thinking
    in the dialectic and the dialectic goes back to Plato and the Socratic
    Dialogues. The dialectic has stood the test of time and it seems
    it is a better way of getting at the truth then just focusing on the
    positive. In the end the truth would seem to be the real positive,
    even if it means we learn our government is corrupt, or whatever
    truth we learn that is real.
    I think we can better understand your feelings about a spiritual
    or transcendental experience when you were three versus Julia Sweeney’s
    experience that spiritual things are a trick in the brain;
    if we understand few different things.
    Nietzsche said, “Man wants certainty so badly, that he will accept a certain
    nothing as opposed to an uncertain something.” The Russians were the first
    to talk about nihilism, Turgenev’s hero (1862) was a nihilist. Hemingway and then
    later John Barth both thought that they discovered nihilism. Of course one might
    say that atheism is different, but if there is no God then any type of meaning
    one gives to life, becomes much more difficult to prove or substantiate.
    Whatever, Nietzsche is saying that once one does not believe in God, then
    he wants certainty so badly that one will assert that there is no God.
    The truth is that from a logical and scientific point of view we do not
    know. Kant was a very religious man and yet in his famous antinomies
    he showed that if one says there must be a God that created everything
    then who or what created God. This is from the law of cause and effect.
    But if one says that there was not a beginning that the universe has
    always been here, then that violates the law of cause and effect as
    well as first cause that does not need any cause. The question
    of God is logically impossible to understand.
    So Atheism is really just the flip side of God. An Atheist is sure
    he or she has the answer, just like the religious zealot. I do not really
    like the nervous agnostic’s position either, as it is somewhat cowardly
    or smells of milk toast. Another way to look at it is that man can do calculus
    but a chimpanzee so far has not been taught calculus and maybe the chimpanzee’s
    brain does not have that cognitive function. Maybe man does not have the
    cognitive function to logically answer the question of how the universe
    began, which would assume a God to create everything.
    Again I would mention the uncertainty that is so difficult to accept.
    Baboons run to the end of the forest when the hunters track them.
    The baboons know they are going to be killed. But when they reach
    the end of the forest they freeze and wait to be killed as opposed
    to going out into the unknown plain where they have never been before.
    “Man wants certainty so badly he will believe in a certain nothing (NO GOD)
    as opposed to an uncertain something”.

    Roseanne I believe you and your experience, but you said that
    it was proof for you. It was experiential proof which is personal
    but it was not logical proof as you could see by Julia’s challenge.
    The male voice on your show had it all explained by physiology and
    spinning fighter pilots that saw Jesus, and Julia explained it as an
    epileptic fit or seizure. The great Nicholas Tesla said that he
    had visions where information came to him, but visions occurred
    in altered states that would have been labeled insane. So is it possible
    that julia’s epileptic fit and the fighter pilots spinning and Tesla’s
    fits with hallucination’s were moments when the filter of the
    brain broke down and information from another realm was revealed.

    Whatever the explanation about some place in the brain is based
    on the belief that neurons firing create consciousness, and that the
    brain is like a computer and can be mapped. A great
    philosopher Searle exposed the artificial intelligence people
    over 30 years ago. He explained machines at least not metal machines
    made of inorganic silicon, they will never be conscious. So far he is right
    and artificial intelligence has been a big failure. Neuroscientists have
    not even found where memory resides. Why because the mind is
    not like a computer, and the brain does not have a hard drive.
    Right and Left Brain and brain mapping is so misleading as when one becomes
    blind when one loses his eyeballs, but if one cuts out the visual cortex
    another part of the brain can develop the function. Furthermore
    the visual cortex has auditory and sensory cells, etc as as well
    as visual cells. It is merely the start of integration of information.
    The mind is not a place in the brain, present information seems
    to suggest that mind acts through the brain, the brain is merely
    a filter not the creator of the brain.
    This does not prove the existence of God but it suggests that
    we do not understand very much about the mind and its relation
    to the brain, contrary to the soothing dogma of media about genius
    neurosurgeons and researchers.
    “Man wants certainty so badly” he will believe that pseudo-science the
    new religion has the answers. A famous line bandied over and over,
    “An independent panel of experts said”. What the disconnect between
    the mind and brain does suggest though, is something
    that has been presented down through the centuries, and that the mind or
    soul not only is independent from the brain, but it may transcend death.
    That is why Roseanne, do not let anyone challenge your position with
    a place in the brain for epileptic fits or spinning fighter pilots etc.
    While your position so far cannot be proven scientifically, present
    experiments and information from dying people suggests that your
    experience is not from the brain but from some other place,
    that is eternal, and possibly from a greater consciousness,
    (I hesitate to say higher power because I cannot prove it,
    but you catch my drift). Believing this does mean you have
    to suddenly become a Southern Baptist or whatever. You do not
    have to believe in religious dogma to believe there is something
    more than death and taxes.

    There is a wonderful book, “The Irreducible Mind”, which shows that consciousness
    is not generated by the firing of neurons but rather the mind (some may extrapolate
    to the soul) exists independently of the brain, and the brain is a filter through
    which man sees, hears, feels, smells and touches, etc. The book is 800 pages
    of doctors reporting experiences that do not fit the modern paradigm.
    As an example a man’s family was waiting outside the operating room while
    the man went through a life threatening operation. During the operation,
    the man’s heart and brain became inactive and then attempts were made
    to bring him back to life. After a half hour or more the man came back to life.
    He reported to his family that while he was unconscious he went to the some
    realm where he saw his uncle and they spoke. The family reminded him that his
    uncle was still alive so it was a dream and not to be taken seriously.
    When the family went home they learned the uncle had died before
    the operation took place.

    Book review quote:
    “Current mainstream opinion in psychology, neuroscience, and philosophy of mind holds that all aspects of human mind and consciousness are generated by physical processes occurring in brains. Views of this sort have dominated recent scholarly publication. The present volume, however, demonstrates empirically that this reductive materialism is not only incomplete but false. The authors systematically marshal evidence for a variety of psychological phenomena that are extremely difficult, and in some cases clearly impossible, to account for in conventional physicalist terms. Topics addressed include phenomena of extreme psychophysical influence, memory, psychological automatisms and secondary personality, near-death experiences and allied phenomena, genius-level creativity, and ‘mystical’ states of consciousness both spontaneous and drug-induced. The authors further show that these rogue phenomena are more readily accommodated by an alternative ‘transmission’ or ‘filter’ theory of mind/brain relations advanced over a century ago by a largely forgotten genius, F. W. H. Myers, and developed further by his friend and colleague William James. This theory, moreover, ratifies the commonsense conception of human beings as causally effective conscious agents, and is fully compatible with leading-edge physics and neuroscience. The book should command the attention of all open-minded persons concerned with the still-unsolved mysteries of the mind.”

    Could it be that the modern reductions view of life from matter
    to mind is all wrong.

    bonnie bassler – quorum sensing – how bacteria talk to each other

    Lynn Margulis – a symbiotic view of evolution, much more feminine view than
    the macho reductionist Darwinian survival of the fittest (via only mutation).

    A wonderful woman reads from the “Irreducible Mind”
    to give the psychological and philosophical backdrop.

    Emma Goldman,
    ” Someone has said that it requires less mental effort to condemn than to think. The widespread mental indolence, so prevalent in society, proves this to be only too true. Rather than to go to the bottom of any given idea, to examine into its origin and meaning, most people will either condemn it altogether, or rely on some superficial or prejudicial definition of non-essentials.”

    “Anarchism urges man to think, to investigate, to analyze every proposition; but that the brain capacity of the average reader be not taxed too much, I also shall begin with a definition, and then elaborate on the latter.

    ANARCHISM:–The philosophy of a new social order based on
    liberty unrestricted by man-made law; the theory that all
    forms of government rest on violence, and are therefore wrong
    and harmful, as well as unnecessary “