Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Brap Gronk 3

Blogger Brap Gronk said..Part 3 of 3 (hopefully):

Meta: "Religious evolved out of the human contact with the sense of the numinous. . . . Mystical experince at the root of all religions"

Brap: I have read your links in the past where you discuss the studies about mystical experiences and their documented transformations. The reason this atheist doesn’t view that evidence as a rational reason to believe in God is that the cause of the mystical experiences themselves is too easily explained by the current state of knowledge about neuropsychology, cognitive sciences, etc.

 That is total absolute bull shit. I've demonstrated over and over again that it is not the case! That's the usual atheist tendency to say "Ok if one littel tiny connection is made tot he natural realm then the the whole thing is explained naturally. Here's an analogy to what's going on there. That's like if you argue with a young earth guy and shows conclusively that one fossil is really much younger than it's supposed to be, they says "see that proves the whole age of the earth is off and it's really only 10,000 years old." Then he doesn't' listen to your answer and goes off for the next 40 years telling people he's proved that the earth is only 10,000 years old. That's exactly what you and all other atheists are doing. Its' become an easy mantra for dismissing one of the most powerful arguments for belief that has ever been. People should be coming to God in droves if they understood the research, but it's easy to muddle and easy to dismiss since people are not concerned with details and not careful with facts and couple of buzz words like "naturalistic" can through off years of research for no reason.

Brap:They have natural explanations, in other words. (See Valerie Tarico’s work) 
 Wrong there are several problems with that.

(1) no research, not Tarico or anyone who claims to have evoked religious experience by manipulating the brain has actually  used the M scale (invented by Ralph Hood Jr. University of Tennessee Chattanooga) (except the Grifiths study of Johns Hopkins, I will deal with that in a moment).

 That means they can't prove they did evoke mystical experience because they can't demonstrate what it is. The M scale is the most valid measurement scale because it has been validated in the field cross culturally many times. Without that there is no proof that mystical experience can be evoked by brain chemistry or stimulating parts of the brain.

(2) Grifiths said that his study does not disprove divine presence in mystical experience.

(3)  Andrew Newberg, one of the pioneers in research on the genetic basis for religious experience tells us that the brain is constructed such that if God spoke to us he would have to use brain chemistry. So the fact that we find a link form Religious experience to brain chemistry no more proves it's only naturalistic than does the fact that we have ears. If God wishes to speak to Moses he must gives Moses ears, and if he wishes us to feel his presence he has to go through brain chemistry. God himself made us that way (if God made us) so we should not find it odd that there is a connection, it doesn't mean that much.

(4) There is no research that links the naturalistic processes to thee outcomes.

Brap:I think you had a blog post a few months ago arguing that it doesn’t matter if there are natural explanations for these mystical experiences or the sense of the numinous. If I’m getting the gist of that right, it takes me back to a question I asked earlier in this comment, which is how can we tell the difference between a God that interacts with our world in a way that doesn’t violate the laws of nature and a God that does not exist? 
 I answered that question too and you have not responded to it. The result of having the experience cannot be explained. The qulia that make up the experience itself are linked to brain chemistry and manipulation of the brain, but what is not linked to anything is the link to the result; the life transforming effects. There is no external cause that can be linked to long term positive effects of such a dramatic nature, and all the organic processes are degenerative. There is nothing that can explain how it is that having this experience changes your life so.

There's also no way to explain how such experiences would give such noetic qualities. So there is an explanatory gap.



Meta: "Creation myths as we know them are late inventions." 


Brap: Is “late” anything after the Pentateuch was written? 
 Pentateuch guy did not invent creation myth. That was written and redacted in the form we have it in the inter-testamental period, very recent. But even it's invention in oral form which pre-dates Summer is relatively recent in anthropological and world history terms. Anything after the last great ice age is "recent." Humans were sensing the numinous and burying their dead with herbs and flowers and celebrations of after life 30,000 years ago.

Meta: "Creation myths as we know them are mythology and mythology is about archetypes . . . It's about the psyche not about history." 

Brap: The creation myth in Genesis does seem fairly important for Christianity, though, because that is the reason, as I understand it, humans are burdened with original sin.

 The point is, besides the fact that you used creation myth as supposedly religious explanation for scientific fact and I said it's theological tenet not an explainable for the world, the major point is that humans have been sensing the numinous since before they were actually humans (Neanderthal 60,000 years ago give evidence o burying the dead prepared for afterlife and decorating knives and other implements--which indicates magical ideas). So religion has been a part of humanity from the inception of modern humans. Creation myths are relatively recent (within 5000 years). they are not the reason anyone believes and they aer not designed to explain stuff like rain. But of cousre the question "where did we come from" is in there but it had more metaphysical import than it did scientific curiosity. Religion is not must primitive failed scinece. It's an existential response to existential questions.



Brap:I have asked this question on other blogs, but never have gotten an answer: Without a literal Adam and Eve, how are humans burdened with original sin? 

 We are not. That's why I don't bleieve in a literal Adam and Eve. Not all Christians believe in orignial sin. That's a Catholic (Augustinian) doctrine and it's been distorted anyway. Augustine just said it's the basic capacity to sin. Its' not surplus guilt. Original sin dos not say we are born guilty of sin. I think the question you really want to ask is "how is the capacity of sin transmitted to humanity if there is no one original sinner that led humanity down into the ditch, right?"

Answer: There does not have to be a one original sin that leads people down. The basic tendency of being sentient and being self transcendent that leads to anxiety and causes people to sin. It happens to everyone just like getting sexual urges and wanting to master-bait when you reach a certain level of development happens to everyone. I'm not equate sex with sin, but it's that kind of thing, you come of ge, Its lose of innocence.



Brap: 7. I have read “The Demon-Haunted World” by Carl Sagan, and I can’t think of anything in that book I disagree with.


Meta: "I have not read that book, but I'd be willing to bet that he got it wrong. If what Brap is saying is an accurate reflection I would assume that Sagan makes the same fallacious assumptions that Brap does." 

Brap: I would estimate that less than 5% of the book deals directly with religion, and Sagan is much gentler on religion than Dawkins or Hitchens would be while heavily sedated. I would love to see a review of that book by a person of faith, to see if they disagree with any sections not dealing with religion, and why. 

I have no doubt that he is not raving like Dawkins and Hitchens.  I like Sagan's personality, he came across as a nice guy. I enjoyed Cosmos on PBS. Maybe I'll review the book if I get a chance to get it. On the other hand, the things I'm calling "fallacies" are ideas form the nineteenth century that even benign liberals get wrong, such as the assumption that religion was invented to explain nature.



Brap:As I recall there are sections where he does focus on the mythological aspects of religion, so you wouldn’t like those parts.

Depends upon what he says


Meta: "We need to move beyond the simplistic understanding of the world that seeks to set "scientifically proved" "facts" as the foundation of the world view off against all other forms of knowledge. . . . Thus we need to shed this delimiting crutch that only "scientific proof" counts as a valid reason to believe something and move toward a global understanding of knowledge in general."


Brap: “The Demon-Haunted World” clearly spells out the dangers of believing in things with insufficient proof, providing examples throughout history and in modern times. It’s easy to come away from that book both scared for and disappointed in humanity. Groupthink is a powerful and potentially dangerous phenomenon, and nobody and no group is immune from it, including scientists and atheists.

 Sagan's assertions about religion are not backed by real facts or studies. I'm sure he never new anything about the research I've done. A lot of it was not done until after he died. you are basing the case on fiction. I don't need a diatribe against religion to be disappointed in human history. I can understand (I say "can" I share) disappointment of fellow political liberals in the nature of fundamentalism especially when it comes to the politics of the era.

Belief in God is not based upon lack of evidence. Atheists join my parade of shame of things humans do that disappoint me when it comes to discussion of reasons for bleief in God.

I have a ton of evidence for God. the inability of atheists to evaluate it fairly or rationally is shocking and disheartening. The atheist ability to fairly evaluate evidence for God is like the ability of people in the deep south in the 1950s to fairly evaluate the notion of integration. God is speaking to our hearts. Atheists are people who closet heir hearts to the truth God is speaking because they seek to protect little pet sins. The junkie analogy would fit there. It's like trying to get junkies to rationally decide to quite drugs.

15 comments:

ZAROVE said...

What do you expect from the typical Atheist?

Metacrock said...

well in all fairness, Brap is not a typical atheist. He's an alien from another galaxy. Brighter han a lot earth people I've met (present company excepted).

great to "see" you again man. how's it going?

A Hermit said...

"The atheist ability to fairly evaluate evidence for God is like the ability of people in the deep south in the 1950s to fairly evaluate the notion of integration. God is speaking to our hearts. Atheists are people who closet heir hearts to the truth God is speaking because they seek to protect little pet sins."

More bigotry. Fuck you Rush (did I get the Texas accent right?)

Metacrock said...

There's nothing bigoted about that. Especially since I was an atheist. I know my experiences are not representative of all atheists, but I think that gives me as much of a right to comment on the psychology of atheism as you have to comment on the psychology of Christianity.

Typical of atheists that you can't take your own medicine. Atheists are always telling us why we believe, why we are stupid for believing, why religion exists how the reason for it is stupid ect ect.

A Hermit said...

"...since I was an atheist. I know my experiences are not representative of all atheists, but I think that gives me as much of a right to comment on the psychology of atheism as you have to comment on the psychology of Christianity."

And where exactly have you ever seen me making generalizations about the psychology of Christians in general? I try to avoid that sort of bigotry...

"Typical of atheists that you can't take your own medicine. Atheists are always telling us why we believe, why we are stupid for believing, why religion exists how the reason for it is stupid ect ect."

Again, where have you ever seen me do that? Seems to me you're the one who can't take his own medicine since you're the one using the bad behaviour of others to justify your own bigoted hate speech.

Not typical Christian behaviour, to be sure, but certainly typical Metacrock beheviour.

Brap Gronk said...

Brap (previously): “I have read your links in the past where you discuss the studies about mystical experiences and their documented transformations. The reason this atheist doesn’t view that evidence as a rational reason to believe in God is that the cause of the mystical experiences themselves is too easily explained by the current state of knowledge about neuropsychology, cognitive sciences, etc.”

Meta: "Here's an analogy to what's going on there. That's like if you argue with a young earth guy and shows conclusively that one fossil is really much younger than it's supposed to be, they says "see that proves the whole age of the earth is off and it's really only 10,000 years old." Then he doesn't' listen to your answer and goes off for the next 40 years telling people he's proved that the earth is only 10,000 years old. That's exactly what you and all other atheists are doing."

I’m not dismissing one fragment of your research (one fossil), I'm dismissing all of it (as demonstrating God as a plausible cause of mystical experiences). Most Non-Mormons dismiss the book of Mormon because they don't believe any gold plates existed, not because they think one verse on plate #4 was translated improperly by Joseph Smith.

Brap (previously): “They have natural explanations, in other words. (See Valerie Tarico’s work)”

Meta: "Wrong there are several problems with that.
(1) no research, not Tarico or anyone who claims to have evoked religious experience by manipulating the brain has actually used the M scale. That means they can't prove they did evoke mystical experience because they can't demonstrate what it is. . . . Without that there is no proof that mystical experience can be evoked by brain chemistry or stimulating parts of the brain."

It’s really a moot point because even if a legit study did use the M scale to confirm mystical experiences can be evoked by brain chemistry or simulating parts of the brain, believers would still say a naturalistic explanation doesn't mean God isn't involved. And that’s really the crux of the matter.

For Group A, Naturalistic explanations ==> God not required ==> God doesn’t exist.

For Group B, Naturalistic explanations ==> Not sufficient to rule out God’s involvement ==> It’s rational to believe God exists.

Brap Gronk said...

Meta: "The result of having the experience cannot be explained. The qulia that make up the experience itself are linked to brain chemistry and manipulation of the brain, but what is not linked to anything is the link to the result; the life transforming effects. There is no external cause that can be linked to long term positive effects of such a dramatic nature, and all the organic processes are degenerative. There is nothing that can explain how it is that having this experience changes your life so."

I can't think of anything more potentially transformative than believing I have a connection to the creator of the universe, or believing that the creator of the universe knows I exist, loves me, and cares about what I do and think. Surely you aren’t discounting the importance or magnitude of such a belief. No connection or relationship with a spouse, parent, child, entire family, or entire community can compare, wouldn’t you agree? But notice I said "believing" in that first sentence. (I'll use "God" instead of “creator of the universe” just for simplicity going forward. I know there may be a more preferred term to describe the entity that is the cause of mystical experiences.) If God exists, is it true that he loves everyone: believers, non-believers, and those on the fence? If he does, then God's existence alone is apparently non-transformative, otherwise we would all lead transformative lives from birth to death and there wouldn't be any non-transformative lives to compare the transformative lives to. So something changes along the way to create these transformative effects, otherwise there would be nothing to measure.

If I understand you correctly regarding these studies, these long-term transformative effects are initiated (usually, perhaps not always) by the mystical or religious experience (RE). So the chronology of a typical subject in these studies is:

- Subject is initially leading a "normal" life.
- Subject has RE.
- Subject leads a "transformed" life after the RE.

That's surely a simplistic view, but let me know if it's incorrect or missing any important details.

Assuming God didn't change during or after the RE, what happened to the subject? Did the subject's beliefs change? Was the subject subconsciously blocking (sabotaging) these potentially transformative effects from occurring before the RE, and now after the RE this blocking is no longer occurring? Or did nothing happen to the subject, other than the memory of the RE?

My position, naturally, is that the change in beliefs is what leads to the transformative effects (or the perception of transformative effects). There are other beliefs that can have lesser effects on a person, such as paranoia, optimism, or Rhonda Byrne’s “The Secret.” If some beliefs can have effects of magnitude A, other beliefs may have effects of magnitude B. Given the importance of a belief in an individual's connection to God, it's no surprise to me that such a belief would have effects of the greatest magnitude.

Metacrock said...

It can't be just the belief since those without the experience would experience the transformative nature of it and they don't. It's greater for those who have the experience.

Metacrock said...

I’m not dismissing one fragment of your research (one fossil), I'm dismissing all of it (as demonstrating God as a plausible cause of mystical experiences). Most Non-Mormons dismiss the book of Mormon because they don't believe any gold plates existed, not because they think one verse on plate #4 was translated improperly by Joseph Smith.


what you are really admitting is that it doesn't fit your truth regime, your brain washing, your cult propaganda that's why wont even consider it for 2 seconds in an open minded way.

Look at your grounding assertion, "O that's as invalid as mormonism>"

why would anyone compere 200 academic studies in preer reviewed journals with Mormonism?


you start from the premise "If anything contradicts my ideology it has to be wrong a prori, my ideology is the only one that's valid and the source of knowledge.

even when knowledge comes from your own source mythology you discount it if it contradicts your ideology, because your view is an ideology.

all you are really saying is that you are absorbing it into the paradigm.

Brap Gronk said...

"It can't be just the belief since those without the experience would experience the transformative nature of it and they don't. It's greater for those who have the experience."

Ok, I'll restate the lead-in to my position like this: Rather than simply believing in God, those who have had an RE have a different set of beliefs than the "regular" believers, which is a belief that they had an RE. If the RE is transformative even for people who were believers before having the RE, their general belief in God may not have changed, but their belief (and/or memory) that they had the mystical or religious experience must have changed.

Simply believing is one thing, but believing you had an intensely personal connection, a sense of oneness, that you "saw the light" or any other suitable description of the RE, that must be a totally different thing which, if it doesn't lead to some additional beliefs, certainly intensifies some existing ones.

My position, again, is that the change in beliefs is what leads to the transformative effects (or the perception of transformative effects).

Metacrock said...

Subject is initially leading a "normal" life.
- Subject has RE.
- Subject leads a "transformed" life after the RE.

That's surely a simplistic view, but let me know if it's incorrect or missing any important details.

Assuming God didn't change during or after the RE, what happened to the subject? Did the subject's beliefs change? Was the subject subconsciously blocking (sabotaging) these potentially transformative effects from occurring before the RE, and now after the RE this blocking is no longer occurring? Or did nothing happen to the subject, other than the memory of the RE?

My position, naturally, is that the change in beliefs is what leads to the transformative effects (or the perception of transformative effects). There are other beliefs that can have lesser effects on a person, such as paranoia, optimism, or Rhonda Byrne’s “The Secret.” If some beliefs can have effects of magnitude A, other beliefs may have effects of magnitude B. Given the importance of a belief in an individual's connection to God, it's no surprise to me that such a belief would have effects of the greatest magnitude.

belief is a process of growth. Growth means successive moves close to God in terms of experience, understanding and sense of devotion and transformation power.

Metacrock said...

My position, again, is that the change in beliefs is what leads to the transformative effects (or the perception of transformative effects).


why doesn't all belief produce it?

how could believe do that anyway? you are assuming that it's minimized its not a dramatic big deal. It is a dramatic big deal.

Brap Gronk said...

Meta: "why doesn't all belief produce it?"

Because most, if not all, beliefs are trivial compared to the belief that one is moving closer to God in terms of experience, understanding and sense of devotion and transformation power.


Meta: "how could believe do that anyway? you are assuming that it's minimized its not a dramatic big deal. It is a dramatic big deal. "

My point exactly. The belief (growth process) that goes hand-in-hand with the RE is a dramatic big deal. In fact, it's such a big deal that I can't imagine how it wouldn't be transformative.

Metacrock said...

Meta: "why doesn't all belief produce it?"

Because most, if not all, beliefs are trivial compared to the belief that one is moving closer to God in terms of experience, understanding and sense of devotion and transformation power.


But people for whom mystical experience is a conversion experience, never had it before and don't think about moving closer to God.

the argument that they just start living better doesn't explain much of the phenomena either. People who are not drinking and smoking and sleeping around so it's not that stop those things, they wind up less depressed, using their minds more, feel assured. you want to dismiss that as "O they are psyched into it" but you no DATA!

you HAVE NOT ONE SINGLE STUDY TO BACK UP SAYING THIS CAN HAPPEN. you are clutching at straws because you have no other way to explain it.

Its' also kind of silly to avoid this wonderful blessing because you have a "maybe" that cancels it out. Why go to the trouble to expalin it away so you can avoid it when it's obviously the fulfillment of everything people want.

Plug that in with the existential arguments there's no reason to not to believe.



Meta: "how could believe do that anyway? you are assuming that it's minimized its not a dramatic big deal. It is a dramatic big deal. "

My point exactly. The belief (growth process) that goes hand-in-hand with the RE is a dramatic big deal. In fact, it's such a big deal that I can't imagine how it wouldn't be transformative.


But no other big deal people go through that is so successful. Just dismissing it as a trick of the mind is not going to cut it. people don't normally get their lives together just because they experience a big deal.

most big deals we experience are traumatic and negative. the one area that happens to be different just happens to confirm that God is real.

the content of the experience is the presence of God and the deep utter life along assurance that God is real.

your position is going to collapse into "It has to be untrue because it works." no one every say that. the car is running well it must be broken.

Metacrock said...

you really need to get the book.I spent two years writing it, or three really. It answers this stuff much better but I don't want to put that out here because I want people to buy the book.