Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Dialogue on Mystical Experience: Eliminating Alternate (naturalistic) Causes

 photo ecstasy_zpsc471511b.jpg
Bernini's Ecstasy of St. Teresa*

This was a discussion on CARM that I had a couple of days ago.I know, CARM is usually just toxic slag heap these guys are not worth taking seriously. This is guy, Pixie, he's one of the best. I was debating him 1x1 when my brother died, so we didn't finish the debate. I came to respect him becuase he gave one of the few really good hits on my experience arguments that I've ever gotten. Here he tries to save a thread that went south thanks to the idiocy of CARM trolls, he's trying hard to salvage something of a serious discussion I think I did a good job responding. So it deserves to be seen by those who can appreciate both attempts.
Quote Originally Posted by The Pixie View Post
It is not a sticking point, it is something you have failed to address entirely.

Post #31 raises these points (some of which I think you have addressed when responding to others). (post 31)
False dichotomy

You are saying either the experiences come from culture - in which case they would be diverse - or they come from God - and they are all similar. Other possibilities exist. Maybe they come from the mind. We all have a human mind, with very similar biochemistry, it would seem at least possible that mystical experiences originate in a certain chemical imbalance in the brain. The same imbalance would give the same result all across the world.

I have answered the human mind arguemnt many many times.

(1) if it were true that just having human mind means we have these same experiences then why don't we have the same acid trip? why don't we all like the same color? why don't all men love the same woman and women love the same man?

(2) you are just creating a poinciana becasue you have no real answer. I don't think you can show me any empirical evidence that proves that we have any experiences that are the same just because we have human brains, except for perceptual sense, but that's not what Mystical experience is.

(3) mystical experience is most often associated with religion. it's played through religious symbol. religion and it's symbols are totally cultural construct. they are not based upon the kind of brain we have.
 [note: The first argument is in answer to my argument that the like-ness of mystical experience--which is alike the world over when we allow for the differences in names--indicates that they are really experiencing an objective reality--ie God.]


Not obviously correlated

We can observe a finger making a finger print, so we have overwhelming reason to associate fingerprints with the person. No one has ever observed the divine doing, well, anything.

we have ample reason to associate the two.

(a) mystical experience leaves the effects promised as effects by religious belief.
(b) the association is historical and has been made since neanderthal
(c) mystical experience is always found at the core of every organized religion
(d) anthropologists and comparative religionists theorize that religion began as explanation of mystical.

the correlation is strong, it's in all cultures and religions.



You are essentially saying they feel like they come from God, therefore they do.

wrong, they are often about God. they are about the things connected with God, the meaning of life, the nature of reality, the undifferentiated unity of all things (which includes the divine)and as I have said the association is historical and old.


I do not feel that that is a warranted belief, and it seems to me, in part from reading about Hood, that religious people tend to associate mystical experiences with the divine, and non-religious people do not. That leads me to think that the religious feeling is cultural.


that's not true. you set it up to look that way in your mind. there is no such data. there plenty of examples of atheists converting and coming to believe in God from their experiences, I'm one of them. There are also atheist refusing the experience because they don't want to believe in God.

the sharp dichotomy that if you are not religious you don't see it as religious is not just true.
[note: I should have also argued that if it's just cultural then you lose that first argument about the experinces of the human mind all being alike since cultures means no genetic part to it--in which case the alike aspects are a good indication that they are experiencing the same objective reality]


Filtered results?

The danger here is that you say it is only a mystical experience if it has positive transformative effects, and then use the fact that all mystical experiences have positive transformative effects as evidence for God. I am not sure if that is what is happening here, but it does look suspicious.
(1) It's empirical. there is no data showing the kind of thing mystical experience imparts (unity and numinous) and in a negative form.

(2) there's a larger umbrella that mystical experience is placed under and that includes a negative type of experience although not coming from mystical per se. IN that umbrella only 3% are negative.[note: Ken R. Vencient "Scientific Investigation of "the dark Side"--
the umbrella term is "Spiritually trans-formative experiences (STE) that includes mystical and others; mystical, near death, death bed visions, after death communications, the negatives are under the other sections, not mystical. I would also include out of body. I don't to use the term "transformation" in relation to negatives to me it's  a positive term].


Also from drugs

These positive transformative effects can arise from drug-induced mysical experiences..
drugs are a problematic case.

Hood's receptor arguemnt takes it out.

that argument: physiological mechanisms are required for physical results, even by God. If God want you to hear him verbalize he must give you ears. If he wants to make you feel is presence he must give you some form of receptor and chemical link so it can register on the brain because that's how biological critters work. Drugs just trigger those receptors.

problem: the good friday experiment found that the drug takers were must more profoundly effected than the natural mystics, and not only only more deeply but more of them. But guess what? all of the people in the experiment had had mystical experiences as children. so the drug may have been just reawakening something they already had. that's contaminated data.

a lot of evidence to separate the two types, drug and natural.

[this begins an evidential block from Doxa that I posted there]
Cannot be reduced to Drug inducement.

Most Skeptics are not going to argue that all mystics take drugs. But many will argue that since drugs can induce mystical experience this proves it is merely a chemical reaction in the brain, whether naturally occurring or induced by some foreign agent. However, this is a mistake. Mystical experience cannot be induced by taking drugs. This is a popular fallacy and many studies disprove it.

The Religious Experience: A Social-Psychological Perspective.
Batson, C. Daniel, and Ventis, W. Larry. (1982).
New York: Oxford University Press.

"If this analysis is correct, two implications follow. First, drugs can facilitate but cannot produce creative religious experience. They can facilitate it if they are used in the context of an ongoing intrapsychic process that includes not only self-surrender (incubation) and new vision (illumination) but also a preceding struggle with one or more existential questions (preparation) and a subsequent new life (verification). If the individual is not already wrestling with existential concerns, psychedelics are not likely to evoke a creative transformation. This point is underscored by the findings of Masters and Houston, of the Spring Grove project, and of Pahnke; in each study religious insight seemed limited to those actively addressing existential questions (preparation). At the same time, if the experience is to be more than psychic "fireworks," there must be positive consequences for one's everyday life (verification)." (page 115)

Ecstasy in Secular and Religious Experiences.
M.Laski. (1990).
Los Angeles: J. P. Tarcher.

"I conclude, then, that though mescalin may occasionally give momentary ecstatic feelings, as it may have done to Mr. Mayhew, it does not typically do so and that mescalin experiences do not feel like ecstatic experiences. This is not affected by the fact that some people may believe that what they have experienced under mescalin is religious experience; but I should have thought that for anyone seeking the Beatific Vision (which was, before Mr. Huxley, granted only to Moses and St. Paul) there were surer and pleasanter ways of attaining it than by taking mescalin. "(pages 271-271)

Laski complies quite a lengthy list of differences between mescaline use and spiritual ecstacies, to summarize:

"Ecstatics always unanimous about high value of their experince, mescaline users are not. (pages 263-264) Mescaline experience is always extrovertive, extacy of the highest type introvertive Escstatic experience always goes either from escstacy to extacy or despair to ecstacy, never the reverse. The Mystical experience may be momentary or last a half hour, but it is never hours, and it is always transformative, leaving a long term sense of the highest value, the Mescaline user may feel very casual approach, last for hours. Also mystic in introvertive state cannot function, Mescaline user do any ordinary things (pages 264-265) Feelings about time are vastly difference. Mescaline user has casual attitude, but the mystic systeses eternity. (page 265) Major differences in triggers are recorded, the escatic usually taking the trigger form that which is found to be beautiful or valuable, the Mescaline user form whatever ordinary object seems enhanced. (pages 267-268) Differences toward a sense of a transformed world, (page 269) pleasure and pain (page 269-270)

The Evidential Force of Religious Experience. Davis, Caroline Franks. (1989).
Oxford: Clarendon Press.

"There is a great deal of evidence that drugs cannot produce religious experiences on their own, in the way that, say, a blow to the head produces an experience of 'stars'. At the most, it appears they can act as a catalyst, and so it is open to the theist to argue that it was other, nonpathological factors which were crucial to the religious content of the experience. John Bowker informs us, for instance, that drugs do not introduce anything new into the mind or behavior or affect stored information in a discriminatory and meaningful manner, but can only initiate or inhibit brain activity. ..."

"The discussion in the previous section showed that, in some respects, typical drug-induced experiences are like psychotic experiences in the way they differ from typical mystical experiences. It is, moreover, clear from the literature that drug-induced mystical experiences are almost always extrovertive rather than the introvertive type extolled by most mystical traditions, and there is rarely a sense of personal presence or of union with another being. The use of drugs to induce religious experiences cannot be recommended, partly because of the dangers of drug use, and partly because experiences produced in such a way tend to be regarded as something separated from normal life and so may not become properly integrated into the subject's religious, psychological, and cognitive development."[Ibid.(pages 218-221)]

Davis also adds that subjects given drugs do not have mystical experiences in sensory deprivation, another indication that the convetional triggers have to be in place, that the drugs merely facilitate but cannot cause the experiences; the setting has to be appropriate.

Gagenback also Docujments Lukoff , Alexander, and other sutdies which find important differences in Drug induced states and pure consciousness, such that pure consciousness is not reduceable to mere drug induced states.



Hood's questions are far to vague to make the claim that everyone experiences the same thing.

nonsense. they may look veg to you but that's becuase you have not read Stace. they are right up the Stace alley. that's why they are the way they are they are calculated to reflect Stace.



Post #37 looks specifically at the qualitative difference between seeing an apple on the desk and having a mysical experience and believing it is God, with reference to regularity, consistency, intersubjectivity and navigation. (37)


You can refer to the original posts for the full text.
that's sounds pretty meaningless. talk about vague.

(1) you are mixing apples and more oranges, sorry. you are comparing one kind of thing to another and saying why isn't this other kind of thing like my kind of thing? well its just not

(2) the idea that something as to be tangible and observable or it can't be true is certainly disproved by science. Look at the things science posits that can't be gotten at through those means:

laws of phsyics.
string theory
laws of nature
dark matter
big bang singularity

there's more if I wanted to belabor the point

(3) that's exluding

(a) the tangible nature of spiritual experience. Not mystical becuase that invovles no work thought or image (making tangible pretty impossible for it). This invovles tangible. examples: speaking in tongues, healing, palms burning in prayer is a common thing. a magnetic like force pulls my arms up when I lift them to pray.

(b) other tangible aspects of God arguments such as cosmology or fine tuning.

*the image is misleading because mystical experience is not about visions or voices. Yet some major mystics had visions as well, this is one of St. Teresa of Avila's major visions.

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