Monday, November 21, 2011

Realizing Answers to Dave's Comments on Realizing God Part 1

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This Dave character who has been arguing with me in the comment section is actually a long time friend. He also helped proof some of my forthcoming book we talk about here. That's how it comes to be that he's read chapter 3 in a book I haven't published yet. I think he's bored but that's not to dismiss the concerns he voices. Nor am I saying he's not serous about them. Dave is one of the brightest people I know so it's important to take his views seriously. He raises questions in regard to the thing about "realizing God." I was going to follow up on some of the concerns he voiced anyway, then he lays this huge set of questions and arguments on me over the week end. I thought it would be good to just put them up front and answer them here. I break it into 2 parts. I'll do part 2 tomorrow or Wednesday.



Dave wrote: Moreover, many people do in fact participate in religion and or assume God exists as a sociological phenomenon, not as an unambiguous revelation of God's presence. That cuts down the numbers a bit. Peak experiences cannot be seen as clear evidence of God, as there are many different ways to explain or understand them. God is one possibility but not the only one.


William James theorized and Wuthnow and Nobel back him up with data from their studies that there is a continuum of experience. So we find people at all levels of awareness from shedding a tear at the sight of a sun set to full blown mystical experience, to complete sainthood. There is a good reason to think that no one just holds a purely intellectual belief based either only upon logic or entirely upon society, culture, or family. everyone has had some kind of experience of of God's presence even if it is just a fleeting sense. Peak experience can most certainly be seen as clear evidence of God, the alternate explainations are easily disproved and have been debuncked in my book.

My arguments are not an attempt to show some empirical proof that God is there. My argument is that the fact of sensing a presence proves the presence is real in way that seeing a red patch proves that we can see red, or not in the way that seeing a crime proves a crime was committed. I argued that we should understand it as proof, we should see it that way. One of the major reasons is the experiences fit the criteria we use to determine the reality of experiences.

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William James--famous Shrink


Metacrock replied: that's not true, read chapter 3 of my book.

Dave:
It isn't true that God is one of the explanations for peak experiences, or that God is only one potential explanation? Seriously though, you are incorrect. And I am well aware of what you wrote in Chapter 3 of your book.

It isn't true that God is ONE of the exhalations it sure as hell is! You must have mistyped that because all I have to do is show someone saying that God is one explanation and voila, it is so! Just read Hood! The above argument about criteria was in chapter three, you have no answered, neither you nor anyone. No one arguing against my argument has ever even addressed the issue, nor have you. You did not say a word about the epistemic criteria and until you do you have not answered the argument.

The problem with your assertions there and here is that you seem to presume that a sense of the numinous or a connection to the transcendent must be extra-physical and even extra-mental. That is, that it extends to something beyond the body and even beyond the mind as these terms are conventionally understood.


First of all I don't know what you mean by "extra mental" unless you mean outside of the mind. That's the standard assumption of mysticism; if by that you mean "beyond our understanding." If by extra mental you mean that reality is outside the mind, yes that's my assumption, I think it is the assumption of all people, most of us anyway. As for assuming that it has to be beyond (extra) physical I think that's a pretty reasonable and safe assumption. The current of thinking that everything must be physical is stupid. Eventually it's all going to collapse into nothing becuase it already has reduced from solid mater to energy. The term changed from "materialism" to "physicalism" because they realized that energy is a form of matter but is not solid or tangible like a brick. If you unravel the phsyics of electricity you see that subatomic particles are "charges" not little balls (which I am sure you well know). What charges are, we cant' say because so far all we have said is that charges are made up of smaller charges. you keep peeling away the solid and find there is nothing solid there. If physical means solid it ant physical.


Yes I am still convinced that eventually we will get down to mind. I am certain it will turn out that energy is mental. Reality is the thought in a transcendent mind. So does that make it "physical" or beyond physical? I don't know. You tell me. What does "physical" mean? In my opinion the meaning has changed. In the old days it meant tangible, something that can be touched. Now in phsyics and with physicialism it appears to mean something like "whatever can be taken as actually real, weather it's tangible or not." That means it's really a tautology. They might as well be saying "that which we agree to."

Dave:
Even granting that we are not talking about sense impressions from external sources, that does not tell us anything about what is actually happening other than the subjective descriptions offered by those who have so-called peak experiences. Your logic assumes that if we have an impression of something, a sense that something exists, that we can assume that A) it exists and that B) it is what we think it is.
That's a contradiction to your previous criticism. Above you seem to be criticizing me in part because I think that God is beyond our understanding. This is how I read the assertion that my views employ "extra mental." Now your criticizing becuase you seem to think I assert that we do know and what we know is given clearly and accurately and unmediated in qulia. These are obviously not true. I thought you proofed chapter 9 but guess you didn't. You should have becuase I spend half of that chapter talking about mediation of experience, weather we really understand what we experience or not and the metaphorical nature of words. My whole idea is that we don't know what heck is out there. We can know it loves us, we know it's good, we know it's all powerful but we can't know much else. The corollary to that view is that it doesn't flipping matter. That's one of the main differences between religion and scinece. Religion is helping you make it through the night, scinece is about scratching the itch to know "why does X happen?" We can't always know that, and we don't have to to get through the night. Those are two totally different needs and they are met in totally different ways. We don't need the kind of precision with religion that we have with science. Yes, I am using the image of "help me make it through the night" (the old song) in as a metaphor for getting through life and dealing with emotional pain and spiritual healing and whole ugly mess of living in a world of pain.

Dave:
If we go to sense data just for an easier analogy, that would be like saying that just because we think we see a ghost that a ghost exists. However, it may be that our senses are being fooled or that our perception (the interpretation of our senses) is inaccurate. That is, what we think we see may not actually be there and if there is something there it may not be what we think it is.
You are arguing from analogy Dave. I understand the concept here and that illustrates the issue gut it does not prove anything. Argument form analysis cannot be used as proof. Just because we are fooled by ghost phenomena doesn't' mean we are being fooled by religious experience. Even if we are that's not the issue. I never argued we can know we are not being fooled. That's very important to realize because I think that clears up a lot of misunderstanding. I am most certainly not arguing that religious experience gives us the kind of certainty we get in scinece. We don't need that kind of certainty,. It gives us existential certainty, we might call it "private" certainty. We don't' need any other kind in terms of the meaning of life. We are not going to get it anyway. In terms of life's journey that kind of certainty is exactly what we need and we certainly do get that from religious experience. There is a huge body of empirical evidence that proves that point.

14 comments:

Kristen said...

Existential certainty-- good way of putting it, Metacrock. It certainly seems that there's no other way to explain how I "know" what I experienced was divine-- I just know. There have been times when physicalist challenges have made me second-guess myself, have made me ask, "Am I sure I'm not fooling myself? Maybe I didn't really experience God at all." But there's the whisper through the doubts-- God whispering to my soul, "Hey, I'm still here." It's not susceptible a ready explanation. Nor can I say why I feel this and others don't. Some things just can't be sliced up and put on a slide under a microscope.

Dave said...

“Peak experience can most certainly be seen as clear evidence of God, the alternate explainations are easily disproved and have been debuncked in my book.”

There are always alternative explanations. I offered one. But aside from that specific example, all experiences are fundamentally subjective, which means that you cannot “disprove” explanations of peak experience as only appearing to point toward at something extra mental and extra physical (outside of the mind, outside of the body). Not matter what else you write, you can’t escape that. This doesn’t mean your argument is wrong, only that other plausible arguments are possible. There are processes in the brain at work that precede conscious awareness, so any claim regarding a conscious experience is potentially understood as the result of such processes. My reply to Kristen in the original thread provides additional information about this.

There is no need to argue whether God exists, or about reductionism, in evaluating my proposed thesis. Even if spirit is the basis of reality or God exists, that doesn’t necessarily mean that peak experiences are linked to these things. My premise rests on the current musings of scientists on the evolution of the human brain, and does not appeal to anything or contradict anything beyond that. It doesn’t say God isn’t real, it doesn’t say that peak experiences aren’t real, it doesn’t say that peak experiences cannot be caused by God. It suggests that it isn’t necessary to invoke God to explain peak experiences.

The rest of what you write is reading too much or too little into what I wrote, such as my joke in which I ask you meant when you wrote “That’s not true.” Your dichotomy of science of religion is another example. My thesis has to do with epistemology, not whether or not religion is about coping. I have no interest in this instance about what does or doesn’t help you get through the night. I am talking about whether it is possible that peak experiences could possibly be explained as something other than a revelation from God. As for argument from analogy, I actually gave a real process and an example of it, not an analogy. I am suggesting a similar but more fundamental process may be at work in shaping our experience of consciousness.

How you can claim to be fair and rational and deny the possibility of such a thing is beyond me. You are countering things I never wrote or intended. Perhaps you are fighting the phantoms of past battles, but in either case you give the appearance of defending your idea at all costs and of being dismissive of the possibility that your explanation may not be the only one. You claim only your explanation is possible.

Since you are claiming to have proven that no other explanation is possible, that gives you a special burden. Namely, you must show why pre-conscious processes (those that precede our conscious awareness, that are foundational either to producing and/or shaping it) in the brain could not give the appearance of peak experiences (again, see my reply to Kristen in your original post for more details). If they precede and shape even the most rudimentary awareness as we experience it , then any experience, no matter how profound or primal, could in fact be produced by such processes. If you cannot demonstrate that this is not possible, then you must concede it is possible, which is the point.

Dave said...

Kristen, do you really believe that is it absolutely not possible that the same processes which underlie your experience of consciousness, that provide the basis for what would appear to you as the most true of possible true things, that would appear to you as the most real and certain of all real and certain things, that these processes COULD possibly be responsible for the experiences of the divine? That these whispers of God are in fact a manifestation of this underlying foundation of your subjective reality? I am not asking if you believe they do, or if you think it is highly likely, merely whether it technically is a possibility.

It is easy to be dismissive and throq the scientific sounding explanation under the bus by saying I am trying to slice up your experience and put it under a microscope, but that does a grave disservice to the science of neurobiology and the people who are investigating the connection between the function of the brain and consciousness.

How can you say don't know or can't explain something adequately and then reject a plausible explanation for that very thing out of hand? Are you really doing that? Or are you able to say that yes, it is possible that since your sense of existence, and hence your existential certainty, may be influenced by processes in the brain, that this kind of certainty isn't unimpeachable?

I do not understand why that is so hard. It doesn't have anything to do with whether God exists, only with whether a particular reason why some people believe God exists MUST actually be explained by the existence of God. People once said the proof of God was a perfect and unchanging Creation. Now only fundamentalists do. That didn't disprove God, and people were willing to let that go as evidence for God. I am not even arguing anyone go that far -- or that my off the cusp alternative is even true -- only that it fits with current ideas on the evolution of the brain and COULD possibly explain peak experiences.

I do not understand why that should meet with a wall of denial and absolute resistance, but that is what it looks like is happening on this issue.

Metacrock said...

you can't make good on any alternative causality. It's all gone with the concepts of the open receptors and M scale. that's a margin probablity the sketpic can't overcome without begging the qustion.

The whole point is about moving on. Stop trying to debate something the believe arleady knows is real and the skeptic doesn't' truly want to know. point everyone in a direction they can make some headway in and move on.

Kristen said...

Dave said:

"Kristen, do you really believe that is it absolutely not possible that the same processes which underlie your experience of consciousness, that provide the basis for what would appear to you as the most true of possible true things, that would appear to you as the most real and certain of all real and certain things, that these processes COULD possibly be responsible for the experiences of the divine?"

Along those lines, it is also possible that I'm a brain in a vat and my entire experience of consciousness is an illusion. But what's the point? If I'm to doubt "the processes which underlie my experience of consciousness," then I also should doubt consciousness itself. Theoretically, sure-- I can doubt consciousness. Practically, I'm afraid I really can't.

Why should I consider my experience of God's love to be less real than my experience of my husband's love? Just because I can touch him, does that make his love more real? But he could, theoretically, be putting on an act. He could be having an affair and have stopped loving me years ago. But I don't believe it.

I can "prove" my husband is physically affectionate towards me. That's something susceptible to physical evidence. But really, I can't prove his love. Love isn't something you can prove. No matter where it comes from.

Dave said...

Metacrock, you can’t just wave your hand and dismiss a well-constructed argument if you want to be taken seriously, which is something seems to mean something to you. My arguments here are an attempt to take your work seriously, and you haven’t given me any reason so far to reject the thesis I proposed.

First, you neither explain open receptors or the M scale for the casual reader. I can tell you that the M scale means nothing in my thesis. Nothing at all. The M scale is subsumed and explained within my scenario, because the M scale relies on people reporting what they experience. However, my thesis argues that brain function precedes consciousness as we experience it and as such, either by generating or shaping consciousness, brain function can potentially explain anything that feels real. Anything at all. Precisely because it would be the foundation of your sense and experience of reality. It would precede it and form it. This is not begging the question any more than your own explanation is. You have zero reputable studies to cite to me that say that brain function does not affect consciousness, awareness or a sense of what is real. In fact, you will find many studies showing the opposite. You have zero reputable studies to cite to me that say that it impossible to explain our subjective experiences, including peak experiences, as an aspect of consciousness influenced by the brain. You can’t because no one knows for sure what is happening with consciousness.

Second, take that fact – that how and why we experience reality the way that we do is an open question. You can use the fact that it is an open question to say that there is room for God as a possible explanation, but you cannot use that same fact to say that God is the only explanation. The fact that we know that brain function has a strong effect on awareness and perception actually lends credence to my thesis. In the long run your line of argument is heading towards the same argument as intelligent design – that if we cannot presently give an alternative explanation for something then the explanation must be God by default. So you try to cast doubt on alternatives, which is fine, but that is not evidence for your own proposition. Again, my thesis does not require either physicalism or ontological naturalism. It is compatible with those views, but it is also compatible with their religious counterparts. It would only suggest that peak experiences are not revelations by God. Could it be used to explain away God, even a Tillichian notion? Sure, if it was properly developed and supported by additional research. Is that why I proposed it? No.

(continued)

Dave said...

I suspect that is why you are being so dismissive and calling to abandon the issue. The idea of a potentially plausible explanation for peak experiences seems to genuinely unnerve you, but that doesn’t make the possibility go away. You conclude by privileging the experience of the believer as unassailable, as off limits to scrutiny, as something that cannot be subjected to the same analysis as any other experience that humans encounter. Just the idea that there might be an alternative appears to be your sticking point, one that you so far have utterly refused to concede.

Most troublesome of all, however, is that you go right back to impugning the motives of skeptics. If anyone else had posted my objections, if it were, say Hermit, or fleetmouse, I am fairly certain you would have been more direct. However, I most certainly do want to know what is up with peak experiences, the sense of the numinous, the nature of God, the reality of God, etc. That is precisely why I objected to your closed-mindedness on the issue and came up with my thesis as an example of why you can’t have 100% certainty that peak experience equals incontrovertible evidence for God. In response you claim that such experiences are exempt from scrutiny be people who don’t automatically know that they valid, which means that only they can talk about them in a meaningful way.

As I have stated previously, I do not have and have not ever had any such experience. But even if I had, I doubt I would say that there couldn’t be any other possible explanation than God. If an important part of the spiritual journey is faith, then living with such lack of utter certainty is part of the path. I fail to see why anyone would not be willing to concede the remote possibility that such experiences could have some basis other than God unless they were not willing to part with their certainty and move into that deeper space of faith. I am sure there are other reasons why someone might react that way, but it is the only one coming to mind at present.

Metacrock said...

Metacrock, you can’t just wave your hand and dismiss a well-constructed argument if you want to be taken seriously, which is something seems to mean something to you. My arguments here are an attempt to take your work seriously, and you haven’t given me any reason so far to reject the thesis I proposed.

>>>I don't think I was being dismissive. It's not that there's anything wrong with your arguments. you make fine arguments. First I really hate writing in these comment boxes, and I hate comment sections on blogs. I also feel since I have another whole set of posts to answer which I have already said I would do you are inundating me instead of waiting to see all of my comments I feel that's not fair.

I'm also still waiting for you to answer the arguments I've made. what's your answer to the Thomas Reid argument? don't see an answer.

I am saying I'm being ganged upon by one guy. Yes, that's right, you a gang of one.

"First, you neither explain open receptors or the M scale for the casual reader. I can tell you that the M scale means nothing in my thesis. Nothing at all. The M scale is subsumed and explained within my scenario, because the M scale relies on people reporting what they experience."

>>>The problem with that is it would virtually impossible for people to accidentally answer bogus in such a way as to validate Stace's theories. that would assume that they all read STace, they all knew Hood was trying trying to validate stace and that they all plotted to do so.Otherwise it's totally amazingly remote coincidence.

as far as explaining to the causal reader I can't be explaining that all the time. Everytime I open my mouth I can't be saying waht the M scale is.I've said it before.

the answer I just gave above is in the book. It's going to be in chapter four.




"However, my thesis argues that brain function precedes consciousness as we experience it and as such, either by generating or shaping consciousness, brain function can potentially explain anything that feels real. Anything at all. Precisely because it would be the foundation of your sense and experience of reality. It would precede it and form it."

It would be on a basis of a stimulus-response. the brain chemistry would kicked in in response to experience it wouldn't give you the sensation of an experience before you had it.

some experiences might be experienced before you have them if you really expect them but there's no reason to think that everyone expects RE in the same way before they have it.

you can't assert that just because the sensations are transferred by naturalistic means hat that rules out an experience of the divine. That's making an assumption that is not in evidence.

to say that brain function can explain everything assumes that I'm trying to say the experience is not brought to us through brain function. I do not say that. that means it's not a big deal to know that brain function is involved. Just because it is we cannot aromatically assume "it's naturalistic it must not involved God." that assumption cannot be made. I've already given many reason to assume God.

I don't want to kill the book ok? don't want to be dissecting it before it comes out.I'm afraid that I have killed it already by making it an object of ridicule one to m any times. They are going to say "O that's all been disproved."

I have seven tie breakers. they are in chapter eight. go read them. I don't want them talked about in public until the book comes out ok?

Metacrock said...

"This is not begging the question any more than your own explanation is. You have zero reputable studies to cite to me that say that brain function does not affect consciousness, awareness or a sense of what is real."

right, that's because the counter argument is not that it doesn't. It's that it doesn't matter that it does. I do have plenty of reputable scholars saying that including Newberg who is the one of the major researchers in the field. The receptor thing is Hood's argument.

what I said is begging the question is the assumption that attaching brain function to it is an explanation in itself. It's not a done deal. the presence of brain chemistry in the process of the experience is not proof of God's absence in the deal.



"In fact, you will find many studies showing the opposite. You have zero reputable studies to cite to me that say that it impossible to explain our subjective experiences, including peak experiences, as an aspect of consciousness influenced by the brain. You can’t because no one knows for sure what is happening with consciousness."

again that's a misunderstanding of what's at issue. My counter argument has never been that we don't undersatnd subjective experiences. it is merely begging the question to assume "God can't be involved in that because there's naturalistic stuff there." That is to assume that the presence of God is a miracle that can't be explained and that's not the argument.

you don't have any studies that explain how it comes to be that it's always postiive and that it has this transformation effect and that it's the only thing of this nature that does. What I mean is all other aspects of sensations are either caused by expertness problems such as ergot poisoning or mental illness. There is no other example of an experience that is transmitted through brain chemistry that alters our normal perception in such as way as to be dramatically different in our understanding of reality and it's always positive with life changing long term effects.

it's true that it's not proof that it's God in the sense that a broken leg being healed immediately would be taken as proof of God's doing. That doesn't mean that we get to automatically assume that it's not. The argument itself is based upon the transfiguration effects and their postiive long term nature.

Metacrock said...

"Second, take that fact – that how and why we experience reality the way that we do is an open question. You can use the fact that it is an open question to say that there is room for God as a possible explanation, but you cannot use that same fact to say that God is the only explanation."

I have said that iff (if and only if) other alternatives are disproved or less likely. it is much less likely that transfomrative effects would obtain to a chemical imbalance or misfire of the synapse or some other pathological problem int he process and it would so often turn out beneficial. That is extremely unlikely so the idea of God being involved is more likely given the outcome.




"The fact that we know that brain function has a strong effect on awareness and perception actually lends credence to my thesis."

Not at all. that's not even in line with what the researchers say. Not only does Newberg say we can't rule God out on that basis but also the guy who did the Johns Hopkins study says it too.




In the long run your line of argument is heading towards the same argument as intelligent design – that if we cannot presently give an alternative explanation for something then the explanation must be God by default.

no it's not. that's argument from analogy.

"So you try to cast doubt on alternatives, which is fine, but that is not evidence for your own proposition."

that's total bull shit. I just disproved that.


"Again, my thesis does not require either physicalism or ontological naturalism. It is compatible with those views, but it is also compatible with their religious counterparts. It would only suggest that peak experiences are not revelations by God. Could it be used to explain away God, even a Tillichian notion? Sure, if it was properly developed and supported by additional research. Is that why I proposed it? No."

you are trying to attach a theology to it by calling it "revelations" that feeds into the mistaken assumption that it's supposed to be a miracle.

all we have going on these experiences is empirical documentation about the perceptions people have of reality. You want to make assertion about what that means based upon you expect me to argue. Apparently you haven't bothered to actually learn what I really do argue.

Metacrock said...

another reason why I hate doing this on these text boxes. It doesn't post over a certain number and number is very small and your posts are huge and answering them will take a long time.

I would much rather do it on the message board.

Kristen said...

Dave said:

"That is precisely why I objected to your closed-mindedness on the issue and came up with my thesis as an example of why you can’t have 100% certainty that peak experience equals incontrovertible evidence for God."

When has Metacrock ever done this? Over and over he has said that there can be no such thing as absolute certainty. He has always said that his standard was "rational warrant," not "absolute certainty."

Are you and Metacrock even arguing along the same lines? Is he saying there is NO other possible theory? Or is he saying his is the theory that best fits all the facts? I heard him saying the latter.

Metacrock said...

"I suspect that is why you are being so dismissive and calling to abandon the issue. The idea of a potentially plausible explanation for peak experiences seems to genuinely unnerve you, but that doesn’t make the possibility go away."'

you have not presented one. You can't just say "It could be brain chemicals." that's not enough. What if I ague that there is no such thing as red? Every time we think we see read it's not the light waves of a certain length it's really a chemical in our heads that makes us think we see read but it has no real correspondence to light. That's plausible. Its not likely but it's plausible and so therefore it must be the case?

you are working on the skeptic's assumption that anything anything that can be doubted must be doubted however unlikely the point of contention.




"You conclude by privileging the experience of the believer as unassailable, as off limits to scrutiny, as something that cannot be subjected to the same analysis as any other experience that humans encounter."

I have not made it off limits to scrutiny I've merely disproved the scrutiny. You have no study that sows how it can be that an accident in brain chemistry or some other kind of ordinary senerio acn constantly result in these wonderful effect everytime just becuase certainly imagery is involved.

begging the question is not proving.



"Just the idea that there might be an alternative appears to be your sticking point, one that you so far have utterly refused to concede."

why are you making these personal arguments?

"Most troublesome of all, however, is that you go right back to impugning the motives of skeptics. If anyone else had posted my objections, if it were, say Hermit, or fleetmouse, I am fairly certain you would have been more direct.

do you really want to do that he said she said stuff?


"However, I most certainly do want to know what is up with peak experiences, the sense of the numinous, the nature of God, the reality of God, etc. That is precisely why I objected to your closed-mindedness on the issue and came up with my thesis as an example of why you can’t have 100% certainty that peak experience equals incontrovertible evidence for God."

why do you need 100% certainty? no one has that and you know they don't so why must we have it here?

that's a personal attack.




"In response you claim that such experiences are exempt from scrutiny be people who don’t automatically know that they valid, which means that only they can talk about them in a meaningful way."

where did I ever say they are exempt from scrutiny. you have read that in somehow and said it so much to yourself it's become real to you.

"As I have stated previously, I do not have and have not ever had any such experience. But even if I had, I doubt I would say that there couldn’t be any other possible explanation than God."

I have never said there can't be any other explainable. that's a total mover simplification and misquote.

Metacrock said...

Newberg in Why god wont Go Away

these are quotes from him saying that just because brain chemistry or the brain chemistry process is involved it cant' be assumed god isn't involved. There's an implication of an argument on his part that there is proof of God's involvement.

"A skeptic might suggest that a biological origin to all spiritual longings and experiences, including the universal human yearning to connect with something divine, could be explained as a delusion caused by the chemical misfiring of a bundle of nerve cells. But …After years of scientific study, and careful consideration of the a neurological process that has evolved to allow us humans to transcend material existence and acknowledge and connect with a deeper, more spiritual part of ourselves perceived of as an absolute, universal reality that connects us to all that is."(p10)


"…Tracing spiritual experience to neurological behavior does not disprove its realness. If God does exist, for example, and if He appeared to you in some incarnation, you would have no way of experiencing His presence, except as part of a neurologically generated rendition of reality. You would need auditory processing to hear his voice, visual processing to see His face, and cognitive processing to make sense of his message. Even if he spoke to you mystically, without words, you would need cognitive functions to comprehend his meaning, and input form the brain’s emotional centers to fill you with rapture and awe. Neurology makes it clear: there is no other way for God to get into your head except through the brain’s neural pathways. Correspondingly, God cannot exist as a concept or as reality anyplace else but in your mind. In this sense, both spiritual experiences and experiences of a more ordinary material nature are made real to the mind in the very same way—through the processing powers of the brain and the cognitive functions of the mind. Whatever the ultimate nature of spiritual experience might be—weather it is in fact an actual perception of spiritual reality—or merely an interpretation of sheer neurological function—all that is meaningful in human spirituality happens in the mind. In other words, the mind is mystical by default."(p37)