Meta: "Religious evolved out of the human contact with the sense of the numinous. . . . Mystical experince at the root of all religions"
Brap: I have read your links in the past where you discuss the studies about mystical experiences and their documented transformations. The reason this atheist doesn’t view that evidence as a rational reason to believe in God is that the cause of the mystical experiences themselves is too easily explained by the current state of knowledge about neuropsychology, cognitive sciences, etc.
That is total absolute bull shit. I've demonstrated over and over again that it is not the case! That's the usual atheist tendency to say "Ok if one littel tiny connection is made tot he natural realm then the the whole thing is explained naturally. Here's an analogy to what's going on there. That's like if you argue with a young earth guy and shows conclusively that one fossil is really much younger than it's supposed to be, they says "see that proves the whole age of the earth is off and it's really only 10,000 years old." Then he doesn't' listen to your answer and goes off for the next 40 years telling people he's proved that the earth is only 10,000 years old. That's exactly what you and all other atheists are doing. Its' become an easy mantra for dismissing one of the most powerful arguments for belief that has ever been. People should be coming to God in droves if they understood the research, but it's easy to muddle and easy to dismiss since people are not concerned with details and not careful with facts and couple of buzz words like "naturalistic" can through off years of research for no reason.
Brap:They have natural explanations, in other words. (See Valerie Tarico’s work)Wrong there are several problems with that.
(1) no research, not Tarico or anyone who claims to have evoked religious experience by manipulating the brain has actually used the M scale (invented by Ralph Hood Jr. University of Tennessee Chattanooga) (except the Grifiths study of Johns Hopkins, I will deal with that in a moment).
That means they can't prove they did evoke mystical experience because they can't demonstrate what it is. The M scale is the most valid measurement scale because it has been validated in the field cross culturally many times. Without that there is no proof that mystical experience can be evoked by brain chemistry or stimulating parts of the brain.
(2) Grifiths said that his study does not disprove divine presence in mystical experience.
(3) Andrew Newberg, one of the pioneers in research on the genetic basis for religious experience tells us that the brain is constructed such that if God spoke to us he would have to use brain chemistry. So the fact that we find a link form Religious experience to brain chemistry no more proves it's only naturalistic than does the fact that we have ears. If God wishes to speak to Moses he must gives Moses ears, and if he wishes us to feel his presence he has to go through brain chemistry. God himself made us that way (if God made us) so we should not find it odd that there is a connection, it doesn't mean that much.
(4) There is no research that links the naturalistic processes to thee outcomes.
Brap:I think you had a blog post a few months ago arguing that it doesn’t matter if there are natural explanations for these mystical experiences or the sense of the numinous. If I’m getting the gist of that right, it takes me back to a question I asked earlier in this comment, which is how can we tell the difference between a God that interacts with our world in a way that doesn’t violate the laws of nature and a God that does not exist?I answered that question too and you have not responded to it. The result of having the experience cannot be explained. The qulia that make up the experience itself are linked to brain chemistry and manipulation of the brain, but what is not linked to anything is the link to the result; the life transforming effects. There is no external cause that can be linked to long term positive effects of such a dramatic nature, and all the organic processes are degenerative. There is nothing that can explain how it is that having this experience changes your life so.
There's also no way to explain how such experiences would give such noetic qualities. So there is an explanatory gap.
Meta: "Creation myths as we know them are late inventions."
Brap: Is “late” anything after the Pentateuch was written?Pentateuch guy did not invent creation myth. That was written and redacted in the form we have it in the inter-testamental period, very recent. But even it's invention in oral form which pre-dates Summer is relatively recent in anthropological and world history terms. Anything after the last great ice age is "recent." Humans were sensing the numinous and burying their dead with herbs and flowers and celebrations of after life 30,000 years ago.
Meta: "Creation myths as we know them are mythology and mythology is about archetypes . . . It's about the psyche not about history."
Brap: The creation myth in Genesis does seem fairly important for Christianity, though, because that is the reason, as I understand it, humans are burdened with original sin.
The point is, besides the fact that you used creation myth as supposedly religious explanation for scientific fact and I said it's theological tenet not an explainable for the world, the major point is that humans have been sensing the numinous since before they were actually humans (Neanderthal 60,000 years ago give evidence o burying the dead prepared for afterlife and decorating knives and other implements--which indicates magical ideas). So religion has been a part of humanity from the inception of modern humans. Creation myths are relatively recent (within 5000 years). they are not the reason anyone believes and they aer not designed to explain stuff like rain. But of cousre the question "where did we come from" is in there but it had more metaphysical import than it did scientific curiosity. Religion is not must primitive failed scinece. It's an existential response to existential questions.
Brap:I have asked this question on other blogs, but never have gotten an answer: Without a literal Adam and Eve, how are humans burdened with original sin?
We are not. That's why I don't bleieve in a literal Adam and Eve. Not all Christians believe in orignial sin. That's a Catholic (Augustinian) doctrine and it's been distorted anyway. Augustine just said it's the basic capacity to sin. Its' not surplus guilt. Original sin dos not say we are born guilty of sin. I think the question you really want to ask is "how is the capacity of sin transmitted to humanity if there is no one original sinner that led humanity down into the ditch, right?"
Answer: There does not have to be a one original sin that leads people down. The basic tendency of being sentient and being self transcendent that leads to anxiety and causes people to sin. It happens to everyone just like getting sexual urges and wanting to master-bait when you reach a certain level of development happens to everyone. I'm not equate sex with sin, but it's that kind of thing, you come of ge, Its lose of innocence.
Brap: 7. I have read “The Demon-Haunted World” by Carl Sagan, and I can’t think of anything in that book I disagree with.
Meta: "I have not read that book, but I'd be willing to bet that he got it wrong. If what Brap is saying is an accurate reflection I would assume that Sagan makes the same fallacious assumptions that Brap does."
Brap: I would estimate that less than 5% of the book deals directly with religion, and Sagan is much gentler on religion than Dawkins or Hitchens would be while heavily sedated. I would love to see a review of that book by a person of faith, to see if they disagree with any sections not dealing with religion, and why.
I have no doubt that he is not raving like Dawkins and Hitchens. I like Sagan's personality, he came across as a nice guy. I enjoyed Cosmos on PBS. Maybe I'll review the book if I get a chance to get it. On the other hand, the things I'm calling "fallacies" are ideas form the nineteenth century that even benign liberals get wrong, such as the assumption that religion was invented to explain nature.
Brap:As I recall there are sections where he does focus on the mythological aspects of religion, so you wouldn’t like those parts.
Depends upon what he says
Meta: "We need to move beyond the simplistic understanding of the world that seeks to set "scientifically proved" "facts" as the foundation of the world view off against all other forms of knowledge. . . . Thus we need to shed this delimiting crutch that only "scientific proof" counts as a valid reason to believe something and move toward a global understanding of knowledge in general."
Brap: “The Demon-Haunted World” clearly spells out the dangers of believing in things with insufficient proof, providing examples throughout history and in modern times. It’s easy to come away from that book both scared for and disappointed in humanity. Groupthink is a powerful and potentially dangerous phenomenon, and nobody and no group is immune from it, including scientists and atheists.
Sagan's assertions about religion are not backed by real facts or studies. I'm sure he never new anything about the research I've done. A lot of it was not done until after he died. you are basing the case on fiction. I don't need a diatribe against religion to be disappointed in human history. I can understand (I say "can" I share) disappointment of fellow political liberals in the nature of fundamentalism especially when it comes to the politics of the era.
Belief in God is not based upon lack of evidence. Atheists join my parade of shame of things humans do that disappoint me when it comes to discussion of reasons for bleief in God.
I have a ton of evidence for God. the inability of atheists to evaluate it fairly or rationally is shocking and disheartening. The atheist ability to fairly evaluate evidence for God is like the ability of people in the deep south in the 1950s to fairly evaluate the notion of integration. God is speaking to our hearts. Atheists are people who closet heir hearts to the truth God is speaking because they seek to protect little pet sins. The junkie analogy would fit there. It's like trying to get junkies to rationally decide to quite drugs.