The immediate context of this argument is my God argument no.6 "religious a prori."
It was being debated on my boards by a friend called "anti-matter" and I. But the answers here work for most all of my experientially based arguments. Please scroll to previous post to see the major argument I use that is experientially based. The question I'm concerned with here is put by Anti-Matter quite well.
Basically, why should we not assume these experiences are just naturalistic? I am trying to communicate the mistake being made to think the argument turns on the miraculous nature of the experiences. They are natural, but that doesn't matter. It's still a fine God argument.
I'm rather confused by this argument, Meta. As far as I can tell, it doesn't accomplish anything or make any significant claims. You begin by arguing that there could be no objective evidence for god because religion is wholly separate from the rigors of science, but then you go on to describe objective (or "inter-subjective") footprints that god should leave behind. The examples you provide consist entirely of the feelings and significant events that religious adherents worldwide all claim to experience. You further argue that faith is a requirement to perceive these religious experiences, as god selectively grants these experiences only to those who are looking for them. We're left with two obvious explanations:
Meta: I didn't put it that way. So far you have described rational warrant so I fail to see why you say it doesn't accomplish anything. It laid the ground work for the weakness of empirical knowledge then exploited it by setting up a criteria for a different category of knowledge which is in religion's own special domain.
1. An undetectable transcendent agent interacts with reality in such a manner as to engender religious experiences and feelings.
2. Religious experience is a result of malleable human memory and confirmation bias, and religious feelings and the sense of god's presence is merely a psychological outcome of religious adherence and ritual.
Even your argument concedes that these phenomenon may have naturalistic explanations, but you argue that this "misses the boat" because both of the above explanations may simultaneously be true.
Meta:yes, I fail to see the problem here. I've long argued that the atheist is working under a misconception to try and point out naturalistic causes to these experiences. that in no way diminishes them. It doesn't negate their role as rationally warranting belief. it's just a matter of understanding how the warrant is predicated.
if the effects where entirely naturalistic I suppose that would be a problem, but as there is no data at all to back up even a slight view of their naturalistic causality that's not really an issue. No reason why it can't be both. like with the God Pod. it's part of brain chemistry but there's no proof that isn't the way God did it.
the question is would it do that entirely on its own. I don't see how it could.
You also point out that claims of religious experience do not constitute proof but "must be taken on its own terms." So you see, I'm left wondering what we gained from this argument aside from shoring up religion, making it unassailable to criticism.
Meta: isn't that enough?
AM: Explanation 2 above seems sufficient to explain the phenomenon you described. You provide no other reason to accept the supernatural explanation, and I can think of several reasons to find it implausible. For instance, I could describe the religious experiences of non-theistic religions or cults. I could also point out the almost total hostility of our universe towards life. To the best of our knowledge, all environments outside our pale blue dot are inhospitable, which suggests the universe was not designed for our benefit. Given these counter-examples, what is the rational warrant for your alternative explanation?
Meta: To take the last two first:
(1) other faiths
that is not a reason to disbelieve. I've explained a million times how this one reality stands behind all traditions. the label "theistic" or "non" is unimportant. all labels are bull shit, all words are bull shit. words have no meaning. The one reality is beyond words. It's only experienced. we load it into words, which means into culture and that filters it through the lens of culture. this is what makes religions different. but it doesn't mean there is no such reality.
why does the universe have to be designed for us? we are not put in the whole universe to live, just on the blue dot. It's designed for us quite well.
these do nothing to get under my argument. they not pertain directly to any part of the argument (which is not a design argument).
you offered these as examples of the implausibility of a supernatural explication. But it's a mistake to think the SN works in my view as a design argument would work. You expect to see the SN as some kind of contradicting alternative. I don't see the supernatural in that way and my argument doesn't turn on the need to explain some sort of miraculous nature of these experiences. I've commented many times that is not the nature of the argument.
this argument turns entirely upon the ability of our experince to go around sense data and to offer an object of theological discourse that is beyond the domain of empirical data.
that is a rational warrant for belief because it is commensurate with one's phenomenological apprehension of reality. The empirical materialism of an atheist is merely metaphysical hegemony that seems to mutilate one's experiences and reduce them to ideological orthodoxy.
see now this is why I started by the observation about how things fall between the cracks of inductive scientific data gathering. this is becasue what I'm saying is the atheist tires to reduce the phenomena to fit parts that fit his world view, and in so doing he loses the phenomena because these experiences are things that fall between the cracks.
so we go between the cracks (that's where the SN is) we say "hey this is not according to hole but it's real none the less" thus between the cracks we see there's a whole other view of reality
the argument doesn't turn on being able to say "this is a miracle that people have this experience because it couldn't happen unless God did this directly." That is not the argument. I will argue that There are unique aspects that couldn't happen without divine presence being involved. I have said that we must discuss what the supernatural is in order to answer this question. Supernatural is an ontology, but it is also the power of God to vivify human nature and raise it to the higher level. These experiences do exactly what the supernatural is supposed to do. since they are actually mystical experience itself, and that was the original conceit of the supernatural, they are literally the supernatural. no question about it. they are it.
That these experiences can be induced naturally is really not surprising nor does it undermine the argument. It would if the argument was a proof of God in an absolute sense, but since I claim only rational warrant this is a rational warrant for belief:
(1) the content is usually religious
(2) the effects draw people into belief
(3) it fits what we should expect of god
(4) no other aspect of life produces this effect, no other aspect has the data to back it up. When compared with other forms of support, even when smoking is controlled or religious smokers do better than non religious.
we only get these results from religious experience. This means there is a validity to religion that justifies in considering these phenomena to be indicative of the co-determinate of God consciousness and thus, rationally warrant belief. If one is determined to construe such phenomena as signs of the veracity of religion it is not illogical to do so.
Natural and supernatural are juxtapositions, they are not antithesis of each other. They are two sides or facets of the same harmony. We should be willing to find supernatural in the natural, and that's just what Maslow says we find:
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 archetypal symbols? (For more on archetypes see Jesus Christ and Mythology page II) The "primitives" 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 numinous, that is the origin of religion."
"In Appendix I and elsewhere in this essay, I have spoken of unitive perception, i.e., fusion of the B-realm with the D-realm, fusion of the eternal with the temporal, the sacred with the profane, etc. Someone has called this "the measureless gap between the poetic perception of reality and prosaic, unreal commonsense." Anyone who cannot perceive the sacred, the eternal, the symbolic, is simply blind to an aspect of reality, as I think I have amply demonstrated elsewhere (54), and in Appendix I,
--Abrham Maslow, Peak Experience