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.
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.
William James--famous Shrink
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.
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."
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.
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.