Friday, January 06, 2012

Reasons for Belief

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Atheists have a new trick--which is actually their original trick but dusted off. They seem to be on a tangent of arguing that "there's no proof for your God." Of course, they have never really stopped saying that. But perhaps a new generation is coming up. I find more of them more often arguing that there is not "one single piece of scientific evidence..." When I put out several posts on the CARM atheist board similar to the previous post here, Kuhn, science is a social construct, they just went ape. One of them was saying "you are making such a fool of yourself to say these things..." Of course it takes real ignorance not to know that not so long ago (mid 90's perhaps) Kuhn was hot stuff. He was a major force, considered a major thinker in the world for about four decades. But I'm making a fool of myself! When I told them we should not expect to find scientific of evdience of God because God is not a scientific question they just sort of blinked their eyes (in writing so to speak) and said "that's why you shouldn't believe in him." Before it was all said and done one of them had made several pronouncements to the effect that "science tells us everything that is worth knowing and if something isn't given in science it's not worth knowing." Moreover, "the only meaningful questions are scientific questions because that's what makes them meaningful." I bet that guy is magic in a relationship.

There's even a more recent gimmick of arguing that God is just an idea in the mind and nothing more. The erason for this is--well--there's no hard phsyical data for God so therefore, he must just an idea in the mind. Afer all everything we can't see touch or smell is just an idea in the mind, right? I say "what about dark matter?" What about sub-atomic articles. Then they say (they being "big Thinker" atheist on CARM, and others) those are just place holders. Then they explain that there's a correlatin between those concepts and some kind of phenomena that might suggest them, so they are theoretical construct meant to mark that relationship whle we try to find out what it really is. Then I say I can do the same thing with God, the object the religious experiences people have, the results of which are concrete and can be studied and have definitely measurable effects on their lives. They say "no that can't be because God is just an idea in the mind. So when it's there place holder it's concrete and has a pile a facts behind it, when it's a place holder they don't want it's pile of facts is just BS and it's only an idea in the mind.

What can one say? Everyone likes a booster. When confronted with the challenge to prove that science is the only valid form of knowledge--with scientific data only--of course they responded with philosophical arguments and logic. Naturally they never tried to offer one single piece of evidence from science, and when I put up the post defending religious experience with 300 studies they just poo pooed and said it wasn't science. So science is the only valid knowledge, but you can't prove that with science, and when it supports religion it's not science. Of course the real problem is its impossible to really tell people why we believe in God. No one actually comes to believe because of some fact or argument. It's so ultra foolish to expect scientific proof because belief is a world view, it's not based upon any one fact, but upon thousands of fact, upon the way we look at ourselves and the world. It's important to make God arguments, not to prove the existence of God, but because you can't say "I have reasons, they are supported by lots of things and deal and junk and stuff." God arguments help us to focus on detailed reasons that support belief, but they are not meant to prove anything.




The real problem is, on the one hand, the believer really doesn't have a single cogent provable reason for belief, on the other hand, the atheist doesn't understand the nature of world views. Atheists don't understand their own unbelief. They can't get it that they are touting an ideology. They think all the have to do is say "it's the absence of a belief" and that's suppose to make it real simple and clear it of any ideological connotations. But its' not that simple. Belief is a world view.It's foundational, that is is serves as the basis for everything else you think and the ways you view the world. You can't just take out the centerpiece of a world view and not replace it with something. Its' absurd to say "atheism is just the absence of a belief" there is no such thing. The absence of a belief is the presence of unbelief and that is an ideology. This is what Derrida teaches us: absence is presence and presence is absence. It's easy to be a skeptic all you have to do is just keep doubting things and demeaning that no evidence is of any value until it lines up with the ideology. But they have a very clear ideology to fill in the blank left by God and it is based upon reductionism. Nothing short of absolute scientific proof will do becasue the absence of the foudnation requires the presence of a replacement foundation.

atheists can only see the primitive misunderstanding, they can't see the sense of transcendence behind it.



Maslow talks about the psychological necessity of being able to maintain a tranformative symbology. He is not merely saying that we should do this, but that we do it, it is universal and through many different technqiues and psychological schools of thought he shows that this has been gleaned over and over again. What Jung called the Archetypes are universal symbols of transfomration which we understand in the uncoscious, and we must be able to hold them in proper relation to the mundane (the Sacred and the Profane) in order to enjoy healthy growth, or we stagnate and become pathological. It is crucial to human psychology to maintain this balance. Far from merely being stupid and not understanding science, striving to expalin a pre-Newtonian world, the primatives understood this balance and held it better than we do. Religious beleif is crucial to our psychological well being, and this fact far more than social order or the need for examplianation exaplians the origins of religion.

Quote:

"For practically all primitives, these matters that I have spoken about are seen in a more pious, sacred way, as Eliade has stressed, i.e., as rituals, ceremonies, and mysteries. The ceremony of puberty, which we make nothing of, is extremely important for most primitive cultures. When the girl menstruates for the first time and becomes a woman, it is truly a great event and a great ceremony; and it is truly, in the profound and naturalistic and human sense, a great religious moment in the life not only of the girl herself but also of the whole tribe. She steps into the realm of those who can carry on life and those who can produce life; so also for the boy's puberty; so also for the ceremonies of death, of old age, of marriage, of the mysteries of women, the mysteries of men. I think that an examination of primitive or preliterate cultures would show that they often manage the unitive life better than we do, at least as far as relations between the sexes are concerned and also as between adults and children. They combine better than we do the B and the D, as Eliade has pointed out. He defined primitive cultures as different from industrial cultures because they have kept their sense of the sacred about the basic biological things of life.

"We must remember, after all, that all these happenings are in truth mysteries. Even though they happen a million times, they are still mysteries. If we lose our sense of the mysterious, or the numinous, if we lose our sense of awe, of humility, of being struck dumb, if we lose our sense of good fortune, then we have lost a very real and basic human capacity and are diminished thereby."

"Now that may be taken as a frank admission of a naturalistic psychological origin, except that it invovles a universal symbology which is not explicable through merely naturalistic means. How is it that all humans come to hold these same archetypical symbols? (For more on archetypes see Jesus Chrsit and Mythology page II) The "prematives" viewed and understood a sense of transformation which gave them an integration into the universe. This is crucial for human development. They sensed a power in the numenous, that is the origin of religion."


He is saying that the reductionist can only see a flimsy superstition in such primitive doings, but the real knight of faith sees in it the sense of the numinous the way religion really affects people on in daily life. In the words of Thomas Indinopulos:

I think this is a healthy development. When emphasis shifts away from what a Christian believes or does not believe, we can begin to understand the power and meaning of Christianity in a given culture, at a certain time. In other words, I should say that a better way to ascertain Christian belief is to focus on how Christians actually live their lives. I say this on the basis of years spent with Greek villagers who, when asked what they believe, can hardly answer in any precise way. But ask them how they would identify themselves as Greek Orthodox and you will hear a recital of ritual observances and traditional acts of faith that leave no doubt that their faith is not a matter of what is believed or thought about, but rather what is done or felt or imagined. For such villagers the daily life of faith is not reducible to or equatable with a set of formal beliefs. The academic or pedagogical implications here are enormous. When professors teach Christianity as a matter of beliefs, ideas, and institutions, they may be teaching something that is not at all equivalent to the religion practiced by the people who claim the Christian religion as their own. But if they were to teach Christianity as practiced, they would have to pay attention to that which is not so easily categorized as doctrine -- the unspoken, often emotional undertones of faith on the part of ordinary believers.



My point being that real belief is faith, not words on paper. The reasons people relay believe in God have to do with the way they sense their presence in the world and the relation to that sense of God which they also intuit in the world. A good example of this came out in a message board discussion I had on CARM recently:

I don't remember who the other party in the discussion was, I'll just call him "friendly atheist."

Quote:
Originally Posted by Metacrock View Post
the studies show believers are less depressed. you should encourage her faith even if you dont' believe in it. I'm not saying it's your fault but obviously it's very damaging to someone who fervently believes to have that crushed. Please don't think I'm accusing you.




FA:Many of us who are no longer believers have dealt with the transition. I'm not sure that 'damaging' is the correct word. Sometimes growth is hard. Sometimes realizing that what you believed for a long time is false can be hard to deal with. It requires a commitment to intellectual honesty and a desire to know rather than to believe.


Meta: a lot will depend upon why the loss of faith. If one outgrows the Provencal nature of one's faith context, then it's not damaging it's actually a form of growth. Unfortunately due to the fundies and other religious people a lot of people never find the more progressive style of faith so they don't go on with it. But to lose faith due to personal tragedy or just being worn down and not having a chance to cultivate it is deadly. it's killing.





Quote:
FA:My wife and I don't argue about it. I'm not 'anti' about it.


Meta: that's good. what do you hope for? The best you can do is momentary happiness and not really that if you have hard times.


FA:Even in hard times there are things that can be hoped for. I hope for ease, happiness, love, the same as anyone


Meta:Yes but I have someone to trust in hard times. I know from personal experince I can trust God to me through anything. I'm not the least bit worried about the backing collapse. I expect to die in the gutter but I'm looking froward to a lot of republicans learning something!

more than just beyond life. It's the hope that some force of love cares about you.


FA:I prefer to be loved by someone rather than think that I am loved by a 'force'. Perhaps being loved by a force is sufficient for many people but 'love' to me is an active thing.

Meta:I understand why it would be hard for you to think of god as real, but It's not all hard for me. In fact the opposite. it's nearly impossible for the to deny God's reality, becasue the experinces I've had cannot be denied.

even in times when I thought God abandoned me I was still not wiling to give up the concept, I was willing to think of God as impersonal before I was willing to say there wasn't one. Then he came through and I knew I just needed to trust.

I know it's hard for you think of that as a reality since you have not experienced it. but I have and i know it's real. I know it as well as I know I exist myself.


Meta:It's not the hope of getting money because you pray for it anything like that. But meaning in life gives hope.

FA:I agree. I would rather have real meaning than imaginary meaning. But either way, whether one believes that God has a purpose or if one gives credit to something else for their purpose, ultimately it all comes from the self. WE determine our purpose, our meaning.


Meta:meaning that I get from God is a priroi. IT is real and it doesn't depend upon the existence of a God with a mind who knows who I am. Just the attitude to being that undersatnd from studying theology gives me a rock solid meaning that can't be deneied. It is real and I prove it's real (the meaning that is not the being named God who thinks and knows who I am).

Now I believe God is mind and knows who I am but even at a default of an impersonal ;God who si just being itself and nothing ore the meaning that comes from that is undeniable.

but the experinces I've had lead me to have a major hope because I know God is real and is more than just being.

Quote:
Quote:
Atheists can only have localized small letter meaning, meaning that is related to the immediate context. Believers in God can have big capital letter meaning.


FA:Atheists and believers are no different here, the 'meaning' in our lives comes from the same place, ourselves. Some just have the need to put the cause on something else.


Meta:I disagree. I've been both. I was a Sartean atheist so the idea of making youkr own meaning was crucial to my thinking. it was total revolution when I got saved. It was day from night.


repentance is not just saying words. It means "turn from sin" so you are changing your thinking and your behavior. if one really repents one does not want to do the same things again.


FA:Did the thief on the cross do more than just say the words?


Meta:Yes, he sure as hell did. His words were not empty they were backed by the attitude of the heart, which is true repentance. He did more than say words, he repented, he turned his heart toward God!

27 comments:

Dave said...

Ah, well, for some of us it is just about ideas and any sense of the numinous is just one of them. I have no idea why that is, even though I speculated about it in a previous series of replies here a month or two ago, but it is true. There is no sense of deeper meaning or primal awe, no agency in the patterns of existence, no hint of a greater or deeper reality lurking within the prosaic world of appearances.

Reasons for belief cannot substitute for or generate the experiences on which belief is based--is that what you are saying? Because I think here we are in agreement. You cannot think or will yourself into belief.

Kristen said...

Metacrock said:

"Atheists don't understand their own unbelief. They can't get it that they are touting an ideology. They think all the have to do is say "it's the absence of a belief" and that's suppose to make it real simple and clear it of any ideological connotations."

Yes, here is where I have a problem with "atheism is simply an absence of belief." That is true, of course-- but so is theism simply the presence of a belief that there's a diety or dieties. Neither one is a full worldview. Both atheists and theists hold their belief (or disbelief) in God as one aspect of a larger set of views about the world. To not see that is to be blind about one's own presuppositions and the foundational concepts one uses to organize the world. Theism is usually part of a greater world view called "Christianity," or "Islam" or "Hinduism." Atheism is usually part of a greater world view called "physicalist naturalism," or "secular humanism," or some such.

And yet so many times atheists compare their "simple lack of belief" to a theist's whole world view-- which is an improper comparison. Either compare tenet-to-tenet (belief that there is a diety to lack of belief in a diety) -- or compare worldview-to-worldview -- physicalist naturalism to Christianity, for instance. But don't pretend all there is to your beliefs is a lack of belief in God. No one can go through life just having a lack of belief in something, and nothing else. And don't say, "Christianity has killed all these people but atheism never killed anyone." Theism-- simply believing there's a diety-- never killed anyone either. What kills people are worldviews that have little or no respect for human life. And a worldview like that can either be theistic, or atheistic.

Metacrock said...

"And yet so many times atheists compare their "simple lack of belief" to a theist's whole world view-- which is an improper comparison."

your entire comment was brilliant, but that may be the best line.

Metacrock said...

Dave says:

Ah, well, for some of us it is just about ideas and any sense of the numinous is just one of them. I have no idea why that is, even though I speculated about it in a previous series of replies here a month or two ago, but it is true. There is no sense of deeper meaning or primal awe, no agency in the patterns of existence, no hint of a greater or deeper reality lurking within the prosaic world of appearances.

of course there is. all those things are real.

Reasons for belief cannot substitute for or generate the experiences on which belief is based--is that what you are saying? Because I think here we are in agreement. You cannot think or will yourself into belief.

No. you of all people should understand what I'm saying. It's just the same as eastern enlightenment. you don't hear Buddhists making cosmological arguments. They could. If they did they wouldn't be wrong but they usually don't because they don't need hem. They have discovered truth on a different level.

Dave said...

Just saying "of course there is all those things are real" doesn't make it true. I said that it wasn't true for some of us. I never said it didn't seem true to others or that it couldn't be true, but we are talking here about a fundamental difference in perception.

And hence my next comment was that you cannot be persuaded or argued or will yourself to change that perception. Are you suggesting otherwise? Do you think giving reasons for belief or arguments for belief can be a substitute for the experiences upon which belief rests? You seemed to be arguing against the idea that they can.

There are Buddhist cosmological arguments but as you suggest they are peripheral, or at least they are something you build to rather than begin with, which ties in with what I was writing. That they are peripheral because of the centrality of experience over philosophy or theology and abstractions in general. Even more so in Buddhism than in Christianity, as the latter is tied to history.

I do not see a contradiction, then, with what I wrote before on that score. And I still personally perceive no deeper sense of primal awe, no agency in the patterns of existence, and so on. I have hypotheses (which you reject) which can explain this, but all I've ever seen you do in your explanations is blame it on people being closed-minded.

That's not a criticism, but I can't recall you ever explaining how a person who has studied and practiced religious and spiritual forms in good faith can still have no inkling on any level of these things which are supposed to be unassailable truths accessible to all.

In any case I was just trying to find a point of agreement, but perhaps you do think people can substitute ideas and arguments for experiences of some deeper reality. That doesn't make sense to me, but I don't claim to be an authority on the matter.

Metacrock said...

Just saying "of course there is all those things are real" doesn't make it true. I said that it wasn't true for some of us. I never said it didn't seem true to others or that it couldn't be true, but we are talking here about a fundamental difference in perception.

And hence my next comment was that you cannot be persuaded or argued or will yourself to change that perception.

I just meant I understand that, but in my view or the way I see it it is (those things are real).



Are you suggesting otherwise?

no.


Do you think giving reasons for belief or arguments for belief can be a substitute for the experiences upon which belief rests? You seemed to be arguing against the idea that they can.


Frankly I think there is a bit of mystery as to why believe. My theory is that they are being touched at some fundamental level by some aspect of God's reality even if can't say what that is. I can't prove it that's' just my idea.

There are Buddhist cosmological arguments but as you suggest they are peripheral, or at least they are something you build to rather than begin with, which ties in with what I was writing. That they are peripheral because of the centrality of experience over philosophy or theology and abstractions in general. Even more so in Buddhism than in Christianity, as the latter is tied to history.

Bhuddists seem less dependent on such things. There are westerns on message boards on both sides that can't conceive of belief without proving it in an argument. I am saying that is unnecessary.

that's the real nub of what I'm saying. we don't arguments to believe and to be "ratinoal" "not stupid" believers.


I do not see a contradiction, then, with what I wrote before on that score.

I didn't say there had to be one.


And I still personally perceive no deeper sense of primal awe, no agency in the patterns of existence, and so on. I have hypotheses (which you reject) which can explain this, but all I've ever seen you do in your explanations is blame it on people being closed-minded.


it' hard for me to believe that. you seemed to be so into Buddhism and eastern thinking and yet surely you don't value becuase you have a cosmological argument for it?

That's not a criticism, but I can't recall you ever explaining how a person who has studied and practiced religious and spiritual forms in good faith can still have no inkling on any level of these things which are supposed to be unassailable truths accessible to all.


As I say I find it hard to believe. I just think you are thinking about the full range and depth of experience. James put it on a sliding scale or a range and it starts with just the most innocuous sense of "getting it" and gradually move up to real mysticism. I guess I've been assuming that you do have some sense of it on a subliminal level. my theory is that we all do.

I have said that many times. I've said we experience God at the subliminal level and then we try to filter that through cultural constructs.

I'm not saying that's really the case and I understand it. I don't know what you feel. I'm not trying to dictate your feelings to you.

you don't have to believe based upon experiences, you can believe based upon arguments. I just have a hard time believing anyone does.


In any case I was just trying to find a point of agreement, but perhaps you do think people can substitute ideas and arguments for experiences of some deeper reality. That doesn't make sense to me, but I don't claim to be an authority on the matter.

what would make sense to me is that people have different thresholds of understanding for what I call the "subliminal level."

Dave said...

I don't think that the sense of deeper meaning or of a profound reality lurking within the prosaic is strictly cosmological, although it has similar overtones and these perceptions or intuitions can be directly linked to a cosmological representation of origins, hells, heavens, etc.

If we are speaking of Buddhist cosmology, then there in no beginning. It's all cyclical. But if we are just talking about some sense of the numinous, some inkling or flashes of even subtle realizations of a world that goes beyond the flat experience of superficial appearances, then no, I have no contact with that, however hard it is for you to believe.

I took that mystical scale test from, uh, what's-his-name, uh, oh, Ralph Hood, and if it were translated into an EKG I would have flat-lined. I don't presume his scale is the end-all or be-all of measuring or describing this kind of thing, but it did confirm my subjective self-analysis of my own experiences which said that I lack any connection to some hidden depth in my being.

Which is to say, that on a strictly practical level, while I find atheism to be like having an answer in search of a question no one asked and materialism to be self-limiting form on philosophical myopia, I can't claim any actual experience or perception of experience that suggests the reality of anything even bordering on pantheism, let alone theism, deism, panentheism, pandeism, etc.

Thomas Merton wrote about not being able to ever fully perceive God or the foundation of our reality because it is too vast and at the same time to intimate and familiar. That even in mystical union it is still like seeing the shadow God's light casts, that the logical mind cannot come up with any framework for such an experience, and only remembers or can describe the afterglow.

He and others have also talked about the mystery of such belief, that it is like seeing something with peripheral vision, and when you try to glance at it or grab it vanishes. All of this sounds compatible with what you are saying. However, for me they are only words that point to something beyond my experience.

The idea of being subliminal or subconscious really doesn't help because that's like saying my friend Harvey is right over there, he's just invisible. I would have no personal reason to believe it. Besides, even in a strictly secular context my experiences and my expressions of them run pretty shallow. A "spiritual" atheist who gets overwhelmed looking at the sky at night has more of a sense of the numinous than I do.

Metacrock said...

I'm not trying to say anything in stone. I'm not Thomas Merton and I don't pretend to be. I'm struggling to understand it all too.
If I caused you to doubt your faith I am profoundly sorry. I didn't mean to do that.

I think you are trying to characterize mystical experience in a way that's not the entirety of it.

Dave said...

One cannot doubt what one doesn't believe. My views are not readily swayed by people writing on blogs. I'm just giving my perspective in relation to the notion of "reasons for belief". I am not arguing here about what is or isn't true, or what other people should believe.

The fact is that some people do not have experiences which can be attributed to a meaningful sense of the numinous. I know this because it describes me. I suspect there may be more who fit this description than is commonly reported because in some cases the language is ambiguous. For example, how many people in a survey would distinguish between something that is aesthetically pleasing or emotionally charged because of a previous experience and its associated memory and a genuine sense of deep and moving beauty?

So maybe some theists have no significant sense of the numinous and maybe some atheists do but both types are caught up in cultural narratives, social landscapes, ideological struggles and personal histories that define them as belonging to the "believer" and "non-believer" camps. Who knows?

As I said, I don't really fit those kinds of dichotomies, and not because I think being eccentric and out-of-step with the mainstream is hip. Still, this is why I like to ponder innovative or expansive concepts and notions of existence that allow for growth and nuance.

But if we cut it down to actual experience and perception, then I cannot honestly claim any form of greater depth or meaning to existence, which in and of itself is not strictly theistic but which is fundamental to spirituality of all stripes. It all sounds nice, but so do a lot of things.

Kristen said...

Personally, I continue to think that there may be some physical difference in the brain that keeps some people from having any sort of numinous experience. It might be analogous to a person born blind having no idea what color really is, except on an intellectual level.

If a person, seeing the limitations of materialist reductionism, believes in some sort of diety anyway, based on ideas and arguments rather than experiences he or she cannot have, then I admire that person. I feel that they are, in a sense, overcoming a kind of handicap.

I cannot explain why (philosophically speaking)these things are not accessible to all, any more than I understand why some are born blind-- but it does make sense to me to say that just because they are not accessible to some, need not make them untrue.

(PS. Metacrock, thank you for your kind words. I really like having something I said called "brilliant" :) )

Metacrock said...

you and Dave are both highly valued friends. and apparently the only people who want to talk to me here. I always like the posts both of you make.

I don't know what to say here.

Dave said...

Kristen, I've wondered the same thing myself. There was a popular parable many years ago about a village of people born without eyes. Someone with eyes visited the village, and the villagers assumed she was delusional when she spoke of sight. They examined her, and thought that her eyes were actually tumors pressing against her brain and causing hallucinations. If she would only allow them to remove the tumors, they argued, her hallucinations would cease.

In this case, I don't know of any significant and consistent structural differences in the brains of those who claim experiences of the numinous and those who do not. But which way do we go? Is such an experience pointing to something real to wsich some people are blind, or is it a false perception?

In the case of the villagers in the parable, one test would be to see if this so-called "sight" really did give a perceptual advantage. The woman with eyes should be able to demonstrate a greater awareness of what is happening in the world, maybe predict or explain things with more accuracy or navigate more quickly and efficiently than those without eyes for example.

I think this is part of the believer/non-believer debate as well--why can't people who claim spiritual perception provide such a clear and unamibigous demonstration? I don't claim to have an answer to any of this, but it does help to more clearly delineate these different perspectives on the issue.

Metacrock, you are at a loss for words? This is a first!

Metacrock said...

In the case of the villagers in the parable, one test would be to see if this so-called "sight" really did give a perceptual advantage. The woman with eyes should be able to demonstrate a greater awareness of what is happening in the world, maybe predict or explain things with more accuracy or navigate more quickly and efficiently than those without eyes for example.

I think this is part of the believer/non-believer debate as well--why can't people who claim spiritual perception provide such a clear and unamibigous demonstration? I don't claim to have an answer to any of this, but it does help to more clearly delineate these different perspectives on the issue.


that relates to my argument that the acid test is the effects of the experiences on navigation in the world. I'm sure a person with eyes would demonstrate an advantage in navigation.

don't take that as a statement of superiority.


Metacrock, you are at a loss for words? This is a first!

Norman please coordinate

Kristen said...

"Norman please coordinate"

LOL. Classic Trek line. "I, Mudd" was the episode.

*Trekkie hand-shakes with Metacrock*

Dave, I don't have answers either-- but I feel that the research Metacrock has discussed, about how religious experiences improve people's ability to navigate their own emotional lives, may be some indication of the reality of spiritual experience.

Metacrock said...

"Norman please coordinate"

LOL. Classic Trek line. "I, Mudd" was the episode.

*Trekkie hand-shakes with Metacrock*

I knew you would get it. I'm doing that Vulcan hand thing with the spread out finger: "live long and prosper."

Kristen said...

*returns Vulcan salute*

Peace and long life!

Brap Gronk said...

"I feel that the research Metacrock has discussed, about how religious experiences improve people's ability to navigate their own emotional lives, may be some indication of the reality of spiritual experience."

Could it also be an indication that the belief that one has a relationship with the omniscient, omnipresent, maximally good creator of the universe might improve one's ability to navigate his or her own emotional life?

Metacrock said...

Could it also be an indication that the belief that one has a relationship with the omniscient, omnipresent, maximally good creator of the universe might improve one's ability to navigate his or her own emotional life?

Hey Brap. the problem is that doesn't expalin:

(1) mystical experince when it's an unexpected first time and conversion experince, which does happen quite a bit.

(2) it doesn't explain why it often contradicts the accepted doctrines of the mystics who have the experiences.

your assertion implies a sort of placebo where by the experience is response to expectation. If the experience contracts what people feel should be happening then how can it be so?

It is not at all uncommon for it to contradict.

Brap Gronk said...

Meta wrote: "the problem is that doesn't expalin:"

"(1) mystical experince when it's an unexpected first time and conversion experince, which does happen quite a bit."

I can't imagine a more life-changing event leading to a conversion experience than unexpectedly going from a state of not believing in a supreme being to a state of not only believing in a supreme being but also believing you have a relationship with that being (or "ground of being," as some like to call God.)


"(2) it doesn't explain why it often contradicts the accepted doctrines of the mystics who have the experiences."

I can't imagine anything that would change a person's previously accepted doctrines (or dogmas) than going from a state of not believing in a supreme being to a state of not only believing in a supreme being but also believing you have a relationship with that being.


"your assertion implies a sort of placebo where by the experience is response to expectation. If the experience contracts what people feel should be happening then how can it be so?
It is not at all uncommon for it to contradict."

I may not get exactly what you're saying here, but if I had a mystical experience that was a factor in changing me from a non-believer to a believer, I'm fairly certain my believing self would feel and do many things that my non-believing self does not currently expect. And it's probably a safe bet that my believing self will have some unmet expectations as well as some surprises long the way.

All I'm really saying is that I can't imagine any belief that could come close to being so transformative in a person as believing in a personal relationship with God. Based on the testimonies I've read from people who have left the dark side and converted to Christianity, that belief totally changes a person's worldview, outlook on life, etc.

I'm not denying that there are measurable, quantifiable effects. I'm questioning the claim that those effects and changes in a person's life were due to something supernatural, since I have yet to read or hear a testimony that included anything that couldn't be accounted for by natural means. Some amazing coincidences, to be sure, but confirmation bias tends to bring those to the surface anyway.

Metacrock said...

brap it's always good to see you and I appreciate your thoughtful post but they are always so long!

I may not get exactly what you're saying here, but if I had a mystical experience that was a factor in changing me from a non-believer to a believer, I'm fairly certain my believing self would feel and do many things that my non-believing self does not currently expect. And it's probably a safe bet that my believing self will have some unmet expectations as well as some surprises long the way.


I am saying you assume the experience follows the belief, you must assume that if you think the experience is the result of some sort of placebo. I'm saying the belief follows the experience, often. The experience can't be placebo because that assumes expectation. placebos come when you expect something. if the experience comes when you don't expect it it's not a placebo or less likely to be one.

Metacrock said...

All I'm really saying is that I can't imagine any belief that could come close to being so transformative in a person as believing in a personal relationship with God. Based on the testimonies I've read from people who have left the dark side and converted to Christianity, that belief totally changes a person's worldview, outlook on life, etc.

OK

I'm not denying that there are measurable, quantifiable effects. I'm questioning the claim that those effects and changes in a person's life were due to something supernatural, since I have yet to read or hear a testimony that included anything that couldn't be accounted for by natural means.

that comes form not understanding the concept of the SN. The SN that experience, that's the original meaning of the term. The experience happens, therefore, the SN happens. The question is what makes the SN happen? Not is there a SN. yes there is, this is it.

It doesn't' have to be something divorced form the natural. but the outcomes can't be expalined by natural means. The experience itself might be in terms of its texture or what people feel but not the outcome or the effect upon the person having it.

for example it's not expected, it contradicts expectations.



Some amazing coincidences, to be sure, but confirmation bias tends to bring those to the surface anyway.
7:33 PM

the whole point I'm making is the experience precedes the belief. The experience is often not a response to believing but the catalyst to believe.

Brap Gronk said...

. . . I appreciate your thoughtful post but they are always so long!

Based on the average length of your posts here and elsewhere, I believe the pot has just called the kettle black. :-)


I am saying you assume the experience follows the belief, you must assume that if you think the experience is the result of some sort of placebo.

Actually I don’t think the experience is the result of some sort of placebo. I think the experience just happens (for whatever reason), it is probably unexpected, and it is then misinterpreted. What you refer to as a mystical experience, I think Sam Harris refers to as transcendence. Here’s a five-minute video where he talks about it a little bit:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g0B-cUSX57Q

He is saying there is more to these experiences than simply being in awe of nature, but there is no basis to extrapolate from these personal experiences (universal or not) to anything about the origin of the universe. (He has written plenty more about transcendence on his blog.)

It doesn't' have to be something divorced form the natural. but the outcomes can't be expalined by natural means.

Can you provide some examples of such outcomes? (Forgive me if there are some in this posting. I probably skimmed it pretty quickly back when I read it.)

the whole point I'm making is the experience precedes the belief. The experience is often not a response to believing but the catalyst to believe.

I’m totally on board with the experience occurring first, and with it being the catalyst to believe. I’m asking if there is any evidence that the belief is true?

Metacrock said...

. . . I appreciate your thoughtful post but they are always so long!

Based on the average length of your posts here and elsewhere, I believe the pot has just called the kettle black. :-)


Ha! take that Kettle! ;-)


Meta:"I am saying you assume the experience follows the belief, you must assume that if you think the experience is the result of some sort of placebo."

Brap: Actually I don’t think the experience is the result of some sort of placebo. I think the experience just happens (for whatever reason), it is probably unexpected, and it is then misinterpreted. What you refer to as a mystical experience,

that's merely ignoring the content and prentedning it's something other than it is. Franly that's a pretty insulting poly. "you don't know what you experienced.You can' really understand but I can even though I didn't experience it."



I think Sam Harris refers to as transcendence. Here’s a five-minute video where he talks about it a little bit:

such total bull shit. Hood explodes that CRAP. The reason it's crap is because Harris believe in some from of spirituality, which is essentially religious.

spirituality = sense of the numinous it come out of religious belief and is basically just the heart of religion. It's also the same experiences for all mystics, just different names are applied. People who hate God and hate organized religion don't want to call it "God" so they call it something else.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g0B-cUSX57Q

He is saying there is more to these experiences than simply being in awe of nature, but there is no basis to extrapolate from these personal experiences (universal or not) to anything about the origin of the universe. (He has written plenty more about transcendence on his blog.)


certainly there is. the historical association says it all. It's just a matter of preferring a different metaphor.

It doesn't' have to be something divorced form the natural. but the outcomes can't be expalined by natural means.

try to get this concept for once ok? be the first break though the realm. The original term "super nature" was coined in 500 by pseudo Dionysus.what he meant by the term was the transformative sense of the experiences. So Mystical experience is by its every nature a priori supernatural. It's in the enlightenment that the term SN was changed to means magic or other realms of something beyond what is natural. The real term refers to the process of experince whereby one is elevated in consciousness.

Can you provide some examples of such outcomes? (Forgive me if there are some in this posting. I probably skimmed it pretty quickly back when I read it.)

of what?

Meta:the whole point I'm making is the experience precedes the belief. The experience is often not a response to believing but the catalyst to believe.

Brap I’m totally on board with the experience occurring first, and with it being the catalyst to believe. I’m asking if there is any evidence that the belief is true?

the results are proof that's it an experience of something. You don't get results like that in any other area. Mental illness is degenerative, drug induced delusion is not as long lasting or as transfomative (although the experience can be triggered by drugs--but drugs in themselves don't usually do this) the content of the experience is usually about God or the divine or the meaning of life. Even when they don't use those terms the experiences are themselves the same.

(1) the content is usually about God

(2) It fits the criteria we use to determine the reality of experience.

Brap Gronk said...

Brap: He [Sam Harris] is saying there is more to these experiences than simply being in awe of nature, but there is no basis to extrapolate from these personal experiences (universal or not) to anything about the origin of the universe.

Meta: certainly there is. the historical association says it all. It's just a matter of preferring a different metaphor.

Can you expand on “the historical association?” I don’t recall seeing that term in this context before.

Meta: The original term "super nature" was coined in 500 by pseudo Dionysus.what he meant by the term was the transformative sense of the experiences. So Mystical experience is by its every nature a priori supernatural. It's in the enlightenment that the term SN was changed to means magic or other realms of something beyond what is natural. The real term refers to the process of experince whereby one is elevated in consciousness.

So by that definition the word “supernatural” simply refers to the changes (mental, physical, whatever) one goes through during (and after?) a mystical experience, correct? I’m ok with that definition, so let’s go with that. Now since that doesn’t seem to imply the existence of anything outside of the natural world, how does one get from “mystical experience” to “God exists?”

Can you provide some examples of outcomes (of mystical experiences) that can’t be explained by natural means?

When you say “the content of the experience is usually about God or the divine or the meaning of life,” what exactly do you mean? Is that how the people who have a mystical experience describe it? Or do people have a hard time describing it, so that’s the closest our language can come to describing it? If people have a hard time describing it in our current language, how do we know it’s really about God or the divine and not simply some mental state not yet fully explained or documented by science?

The following quote is attributed to Hippocrates: “Men think epilepsy divine, merely because they do not understand it. But if they called everything divine which they do not understand, why, there would be no end to divine things.” Is it possible that mystical experiences are considered divine because we don't really understand what's going on in that state of consciousness?

Metacrock said...

yes SN refers to the experiences of transfomrative power. Of course in coining that term they made certain assumptions, such as the power of God to raise us to a higher level of consciousness but it was not about other realms or psychic powers or ghosts or any such thing.

I am going to answer the rest of you post next week in a regular Bog thing, perhaps on Monday.

Metacrock said...

I will answer the Polycrates quote about epilepsy. I do want to congratulate you on knowing that quote. you've made great progress for an alien form another planet.

That's a special case because epilepsy seems to include mystical experience because it comes wiht a sense of great pace (when it's over) and a sense that one understands all things.It might be for a similar reason that the parts of the brain that receive the input of the experience are also stimulated in epilepsy.

Because the experience is communicated partly through physical processes doesn't mean it's not connected to the divine. That's like saying if God speaks to our physical ears it can't be God speaking. not that I think God does that.

Metacrock said...

"But if they called everything divine which they do not understand, why, there would be no end to divine things.” Is it possible that mystical experiences are considered divine because we don't really understand what's going on in that state of consciousness?

two different things going on here. (1) the argument that we can't just say anyting is divine there has to be a distinction, (2) the implication that we are just making a God of the gaps argument or an appeal to ignorance.

On (1) there is a distinction that links the epileptic experience to mystical experience. A similarity so that's not just calling everything divine.

(2) One is not calling it that merely becuase we don't understand it for the reasons in no 1.

I'm going to talk about it more on Monday in the regular blog feature.