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Author Topic:   God says this, and God says that
Primordial Egg
Inactive Member


Message 16 of 417 (25744)
12-06-2002 11:29 AM
Reply to: Message 15 by gene90
12-06-2002 11:18 AM


quote:
If somebody on an acid trip claims to have met the president, does that mean that Colin Powell is a junkie? Yeah if you stimulate the right parts of the brain you can replicate spiritual experiences. Doesn't mean the same parts of the brain are not being stimulated by other things, even possibly supernatural influences.
True, but it does mean that personal "spiritual" experiences alone do not constitute proof of, or even evidence for, the supernatural.
PE

This message is a reply to:
 Message 15 by gene90, posted 12-06-2002 11:18 AM gene90 has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 18 by gene90, posted 12-06-2002 12:00 PM Primordial Egg has replied

Primordial Egg
Inactive Member


Message 21 of 417 (25787)
12-06-2002 8:55 PM
Reply to: Message 18 by gene90
12-06-2002 12:00 PM


Gene,
We're making the same point from two different sides. The fact that certain "spiritual" responses can be elicited using electrodes in the brain does not, as you rightly point out, mean that God is not behind any spiritual experience - it may even be his mechanism for elucidating one.
BUT it does mean that we shouldn't take it for granted that just becasue somebody's had a religious experience it provides any evidence whatsoever for the existence of God. It could just be a freak chemical reaction in the brain and you wouldn't know the difference.
We have to consider the naturalistic explanations first, I'm sure God would have wanted it that way
quote:
And, even if it is entirely biological, is there anything even slightly harmful about it, to justify atheism?
I don't understand the question. Can you rephrase?
PE

This message is a reply to:
 Message 18 by gene90, posted 12-06-2002 12:00 PM gene90 has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 31 by gene90, posted 12-07-2002 3:50 PM Primordial Egg has replied

Primordial Egg
Inactive Member


Message 35 of 417 (25877)
12-07-2002 7:22 PM
Reply to: Message 31 by gene90
12-07-2002 3:50 PM


Even if it is completely naturalistic, does it justify hard atheism? Is there anything actually wrong with it?
If not, why the intolerance from hard atheists?
By hard atheism, I take it you mean the belief that there is no God (as opposed to lack of belief in God)? I'm not aware of anyone who would use the fact that stimulating electrical impulses in your brain can provide spiritual experiences as their sole justication for believing there is no God. But I can see how it might sway the balance somewhat.
Hard atheism seems difficult to fathom at first - it appears to require as much of a leap of faith as a belief in God (given that you can't disprove a negative)...but on thinking about it further I'd imagine a hard atheist to be closer to someone who thinks the existence of God is about as likely as the Invisible Pink Unicorn e.g I can't prove it, but I believe strongly that there isn't a Goblin outside my front door who's invisible to everyone else and disappears whenever I look outside.
My own experience is that I have met people who believe in God purely because they've had a religious experience and as we've seen, a spiritual experience doesn't prove anything. Just as someone who has a firm conviction that they're Napolean are unlikely to be the real thing, its important to weed out all the natural causes first.
PE
------------------
Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep thoughts can be winnowed from deep nonsense - Carl Sagan

This message is a reply to:
 Message 31 by gene90, posted 12-07-2002 3:50 PM gene90 has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 36 by gene90, posted 12-07-2002 7:38 PM Primordial Egg has replied
 Message 37 by funkmasterfreaky, posted 12-07-2002 7:39 PM Primordial Egg has not replied
 Message 47 by gene90, posted 12-08-2002 12:52 AM Primordial Egg has replied

Primordial Egg
Inactive Member


Message 50 of 417 (25923)
12-08-2002 9:19 AM
Reply to: Message 36 by gene90
12-07-2002 7:38 PM


Gene,
quote:
How do you 'look outside' in the spiritual sense? You can walk outside and check your doorstep for footprints. The notion of God is not exactly that close to home. Nowhere to look for footprints. A strong feeling that there is a God, and a lot more testimonies out there than there are for your doorstep goblin
Heh....I forgot to mention that the goblin leaves no footprints . I think we've misunderstood one another here, let me try and restate my analogy more clearly:
If you were to ask me if there was a Goblin outside my door, I would say no. You could then argue, quite successfully, that I "couldn't prove it" and you'd be quite right, I couldn't. But the point is, I still don't believe there's a Goblin outside the front door.
Now, does this take an act of faith? Kind of, but not really. I don't go through all the possibilities in my head and discount them, obviously. But, I say it again, if you asked me whether there was a Goblin outside my door, I'd say no. If you substitute the notion of "Goblin outside the door" with "God" you've pretty much got an internally consistent hard atheism model.
Another interesting way to approach this is to use your idea that what separates the God and the Goblin idea in plausibility is "strong feelings and a lot more testimonies". We can represent this on an Axis of Plausibility, such that if you find the strong feelings and testimonies utterly convincing (e.g an Ayatollah or the Pope) you would score 100, whereas if you find the feelings / testimonies utterly unconvincing (e.g Dawkins, Bertrand Russell) you'd score 0. You now have a continuum of belief in God based upon how seriously you regard the evidence.
The point I was wanted to make with the Axis if Plausibility is the fact that spiritual experiences can be artificially recreated would, in the minds of many, reduce the weighting for the feelings and testimonies and slide down the scale towards 0 - not always into atheism, admittedly.
quote:
Plus...this comes down to either there is a God or not a God. We're not limited to whether the object on your doorstep is a goblin, a pink unicorn, a purple dinosaur, or a couple of missionaries for the Jehovah's Witnesses.
Again I don't follow your reasoning, the example I chose was deliberately set up to allow no observable physical manifestation - so we could in fact have had God herself at the door.
quote:
So, suppose...that if I cannot open my front door, and I cannot walk around outside to see...and yet I am ABSOLUTELY certain that there is NO doormat out front, so certain in fact that I ridicule people who believe in the Doormat simply because there is no evidence for it, is that logical? And is that not an analogy for the atheist at least that is at least as fair as your analogy for the theist?
I sense a recurring theme....the sense in which atheism should be logically allowed (if thats the right word) to ridicule those who believe in God.
I'm just going to have to shrug my shoulders on that - I don't know what should and shouldn't be ridiculed. One position is to ridicule nothing, but then life becomes a little dull. Another is to ridicule absolutely everything, but then you don't tend to hang around for very long As humans, we tend to ridicule some things and not others. If your God is a God of forgiveness and understanding, and you can see that, for an atheist, belief in God is the same as a belief in Santa or the Tooth Fairy, perhaps you'll understand why God believers are sometimes subject to ridicule by atheists - they simply don't understand where your belief in God comes from.
And besides, many atheists have been subjected to hours of endless preaching by religionists who call them stupid for not accepting God's word or lazy for not doing enough to accept God etc Its a two way street.
PE
------------------
Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep thoughts can be winnowed from deep nonsense - Carl Sagan

This message is a reply to:
 Message 36 by gene90, posted 12-07-2002 7:38 PM gene90 has not replied

Primordial Egg
Inactive Member


Message 52 of 417 (25925)
12-08-2002 10:01 AM
Reply to: Message 47 by gene90
12-08-2002 12:52 AM


Gene,
quote:
Suppose you have a modern art museum, and one of the exhibits is a cardboard box on an ornate marble stand, roped off from crowd. This exhibit is from a famous artist, who mostly specializes in extremely complicated (read: weird) pottery but has a nefarious sense of humor1. But of course, the gist here is that we don't know what, if anything, is in the box. People in the crowd speculate. Being modern art nobody can really describe the putative work but several suggestions float about regarding its general nature based upon the artist's previous work: It's a vase, it's a stein, it's a pot, it's a statuary. Nobody can really agree what it is, there are nearly as many hypotheses as there are observers.
Suddenly a new idea emerges. Somebody says, "We don't have any evidence that anything is in the box at all!1 Therefore the box only contains air!" This group then ridicules the others for their unsubstantiated belief in a work that they insist does not exist. The group is then polarized between people who insist the box is empty and people who insist there is something hidden within.
Evaluate the logical validity of this view. How is the "Box is Empty" camp superior to the "Something Hidden" camp?
If it was modern art, I don't think anyone would be surprised if there was nothing in the box , but I understand the analogy.
The point is, whatever is in the box, it may astonish them in an artistic and cultural context, but it would take something special to defy all the laws of nature or be something completely outside the realms of the audience's physical experience and worldview. Your analogy only works within an artistic context. How many people are thinking that there could be a supernatural entity inside the box? As you've argued, you've no reason, other than experience to think there there isn't a supernatural entity inside the box, but our brains don't work like that. It takes something else to anticipate the extraordinary else it wouldn't be, well, extraordinary.
Simple example, if I told you I had a pet iguana, you probably wouldn't be that surprised. If I told you I had a pet gorilla, you probably wouldn't believe me but if I showed you a photo and ownership documents you might. If I told you I had a pet velociraptor then you'd probably want to check it out for yourself, and even if you saw it, you'd probably be checking for robotic components. And even then you'd think I must have drugged you....you'd go through and eliminate every single natural cause to convince yourself that what you were seeing was for real.
Now if I were to ask people who didn't know me what sort of pet I had, how many would think I had an animal which no longer exists? Would they be laughed at? Should they be laughed at?
Its a cliche, but extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof - thats why the empty box vs full box is not a fair analogy - neither scenario is extraordinary enough.
Whether that gives justification for goading, I leave to the philosophers.
PE
PS What do the superscripts refer to?
------------------
Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep thoughts can be winnowed from deep nonsense - Carl Sagan
[This message has been edited by Primordial Egg, 12-08-2002]

This message is a reply to:
 Message 47 by gene90, posted 12-08-2002 12:52 AM gene90 has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 53 by forgiven, posted 12-08-2002 10:42 AM Primordial Egg has replied
 Message 55 by gene90, posted 12-08-2002 11:58 AM Primordial Egg has not replied

Primordial Egg
Inactive Member


Message 61 of 417 (25952)
12-08-2002 4:24 PM
Reply to: Message 53 by forgiven
12-08-2002 10:42 AM


Hi forgiven,
quote:
see, the group who believed something was in the box were so convinced because of past evidences left by the artist... christians believe the order of the universe (among other things) is an evidence of God's existence, which means the "box" of their faith isn't empty nor is it in the least unreasonable...
Unreasonable wasn't the word I chose, rather extraordinary, and I didn't even mean it in quite that sense. If you want to convince me of something outside of my sensory perception (e.g that air has weight) then you have to provide evidence (like weighing a balloon before and after inflating). The more outside of my own direct experience that is, the more direct evidence I'll require. If the argument is that the notion of God (or more mysteriously "that which we cannot know") is just as, if not more likely than no God then you have to explain to me why more likely or different from the Goblin outside my door. (Gene hinted at it with his strong feelings and testimonies comment, but it seemed more like a throwaway comment in context).
(Mind you, the analogy seemed to be centred on what whether it was ok for atheists to feel intellectually superior, not really a topic I feel qualified to comment on....depends on who you are really, I guess).
quote:
now the theme i believe i sensed is one that asks how it is that atheists seem to borrow from the christian worldview when arguing against christianity... i've seen others belittle this stance with arguments like "one can't prove a negative," but that in no way invalidates the concept... it's based, it seems to me, in a contradicion, in a mindset that both affirms and denies metaphysical or transcendental entities... the atheist who uses reason and logic to argue with the theist is using something that has no materiality, something unexplainable in a naturalistic worldview yet *is* explainable in a christian worldview...
The debate takes a flight into the esoteric! I have to admit, I didn't follow much of this - I think you must have written it when you'd already warmed up and you're catching me cold.
From reading following posts, you seem to be saying that I am using reason, which is inherently a Christian worldview, and that I have no way of knowing that reason is "right". Much of what you say centres around the concept of materiality, or what is immaterial or not so I'm first going to examine what that might mean.
To me, material means "something you can touch", to put it crudely, or, in an accounting sense "something of non-trivial importance", or to a fundamentalist materialism may be something to do with rampant consumerism. Later on you describe a property of a material universe as "occurring by accident", and then "something existing in nature".
Aha, but looking at the philosophy dictionary it defines it as:
Belief that only physical things truly exist. Materialists claim (or promise) to explain every apparent instance of a mental phenomenon as a feature of some physical object. Prominent materialists in Western thought include the classical atomists, Hobbes, and La Mettrie.
So I'm learning something...
Well, logic certainly isn't something you can touch (does this make it immaterial?), but I can't see how you make the leap to :"an atheist should not be interested in logic". This is getting almost too esoteric here, but I don't see the problem in having concepts per se be you atheist or theist - for example are you saying that an atheist should not use concepts like charge or gravity without an external logocentral absolute to pin them down onto?
I'm also very troubled by your notion that using logic is a Christian worldview. Did you really mean to write this?
quote:
the atheist (admittedly i'm speaking of the person who believes the material world is all that exists) who then uses these weapons is borrowing them from the very people who believe they know from whom they come
Even if this were true (which I don't accept), I'm not sure what it means - after all, Christians use toasters, thus implicitly bringing science rather than faith into their lives
Would a true materialist say that electric charge "existed", or quark colour? These concepts, like words can only be described in terms of other concepts, or words. Does that make them immaterial?
PE
------------------
Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep thoughts can be winnowed from deep nonsense - Carl Sagan

This message is a reply to:
 Message 53 by forgiven, posted 12-08-2002 10:42 AM forgiven has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 65 by forgiven, posted 12-08-2002 6:32 PM Primordial Egg has replied

Primordial Egg
Inactive Member


Message 92 of 417 (26171)
12-10-2002 7:19 AM
Reply to: Message 65 by forgiven
12-08-2002 6:32 PM


hi forgiven,
quote:
as for your goblin (an issue i had to go read since it wasn't part of my original post), i tend to agree with gene that if we had people with strong personal convictions/interactions with a goblin then the "evidence" for its existence could be more easily accepted...
however, that analogy is the same that others use whether or not it's a pink unicorn, etc.. granted, the numbers of people who hold a view don't speak to the truth of that view, there is still weight to be attached to views held by large groups... in those cases, checking to see which group is more internally consistent would be appropriate
We're starting to arrive at an answer to my common theme - what are the reasons for believing in God over believing in the Invisible Pink Unicorn, or Goblins or whatever? Amalgamating yours and Gene's comments the principal reasons (i say principal as these are the ones you've offered up first) would appear to be:
  • strong feelings
  • strong testimonies
  • ceteris paribus - beliefs held by large groups to be favoured over smaller groups
I don't buy the "internally consistent" method of differentiation as the IPU is completely internally consistent (for more on the IPU see here).
quote:
it's a christian worldview in the sense that christians can claim to know from where metaphysical (or transcendental) entities come... the materialist not only can't make such a claim, they deny the existence of such entities
yes, logic is immaterial by definition... i never said an atheist shouldn't be interested in, nor even utilize, logic... having such concepts is fine, what isn't fine is being inconsistent in ones worldview... the atheist (materialist, anyway) uses reason and logic every day... unfortunately, she denies the very existence of that which she uses to deny the existence of ...
I think I'm finally beginning to understand your point (again ). To paraphrase, you're saying that a materialist is being inconsistent in that he uses transcendental objects to deny the existence of transcendental objects. To demonstrate what you mean, you use the fact that logic is a transcendental object, so we can specify your argument to "materialists use logic to deny the existence of logic", or even more sharply to "if only physical objects can be said to exist then logic does not exist".
By "physical objects", you would include gravity, electric charge and quark colour because they are "suspended in space and time". Can you explain what you mean by this? Take the example of gravity - gravity is what makes masses attract. And what makes masses attract? Well, gravity. Does this make it a thing, or an explanatory tool? If you look at a logic gate or a computer, then isn't logic also physically suspended in space time? Or are you saying that a materialist doesn't accept the existence of gravity etc either?
quote:
yes i did mean it... see p.e., the christian believes that being created in God's image means (among other things) being created with the attributes he possesses... we believe transcendental entities exist because God exists, therefore we have no inconsistencies in this area... to my knowledge no other worldview embraces such a concept
As did the Jews before the Christians and many cultures before that - to claim that materialists are borrowing from a Christian worldview is a major distortion.
quote:
if logic existed before life, why? is it an inherent property of the universe? was it "born" during bb? by what means?
You have to define exactly what you mean by logic before I can answer this? Why would it be surprising if it was a human invention? Did the concept of "humanity" exist before life? Again, you'll have to differentiate the two transcendental concepts for me.
PE
------------------
Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep thoughts can be winnowed from deep nonsense - Carl Sagan

This message is a reply to:
 Message 65 by forgiven, posted 12-08-2002 6:32 PM forgiven has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 93 by forgiven, posted 12-10-2002 7:31 AM Primordial Egg has not replied
 Message 96 by John, posted 12-10-2002 10:06 AM Primordial Egg has replied

Primordial Egg
Inactive Member


Message 98 of 417 (26195)
12-10-2002 10:25 AM
Reply to: Message 96 by John
12-10-2002 10:06 AM


quote:
I made this same point. Apparently, forgiven considers the Christian worldview as having permiated the universe since its creation, even though such worldview hadn't been verbalized until circa 200 AD. Thus, these various peoples ALL borrowed from this sort-of thing in itself christian worldview.
Aha, so she's not using Christian in the sense of "religion founded by Jesus Christ" but in the sense of "a prehistoric absolute"?
PE
------------------
Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep thoughts can be winnowed from deep nonsense - Carl Sagan

This message is a reply to:
 Message 96 by John, posted 12-10-2002 10:06 AM John has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 101 by John, posted 12-10-2002 11:41 AM Primordial Egg has replied

Primordial Egg
Inactive Member


Message 102 of 417 (26207)
12-10-2002 11:51 AM
Reply to: Message 101 by John
12-10-2002 11:41 AM


quote:
That started because forgiven made a claim to the effect that logic existed before humans. The Christian worldview likewise existed before Christianity. I have a problem with both of these assertions.
The second one I agree with you. I'm not sure about the first (open to persuasion tho') - it seems to me to lie within the definition of "logic". If you define logic as that which comes out of a logic gate, then logic becomes a tangible measurable quantity, like charge or gravity. If you define logic as a method of assigning relationships between things, then it only exists before life inasmuch as "methods for assigning relationships" existed before life.
It does smack a little of "how many angels can dance on a head of a pin?" to me tho', I must admit. Maybe I haven't had the relevance properly explained to me?
PE
------------------
Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep thoughts can be winnowed from deep nonsense - Carl Sagan
[This message has been edited by Primordial Egg, 12-10-2002]

This message is a reply to:
 Message 101 by John, posted 12-10-2002 11:41 AM John has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 103 by John, posted 12-10-2002 12:26 PM Primordial Egg has replied

Primordial Egg
Inactive Member


Message 104 of 417 (26211)
12-10-2002 12:45 PM
Reply to: Message 103 by John
12-10-2002 12:26 PM


quote:
quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
If you define logic as that which comes out of a logic gate, then logic becomes a tangible measurable quantity, like charge or gravity.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
But it seem to me that you are measuring electricity or some other physical quality, and not logic itself. In other words, does the quantity you measure actually fit what we consider logic? I can't convince myself that it does.
I don't have the same problem. One way of measuring the force of gravity on Earth is by the distance two suspended heavy balls move towards one another. You're measuring distance, but you're inferring gravity from it.
That said, to define logic as that which comes out of a logic gate does seem like a pretty unusual idea, kind of like bootstrapping a physical quantity - I claim that one for myself
PE
------------------
Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep thoughts can be winnowed from deep nonsense - Carl Sagan

This message is a reply to:
 Message 103 by John, posted 12-10-2002 12:26 PM John has not replied

Primordial Egg
Inactive Member


Message 348 of 417 (27734)
12-23-2002 12:04 PM
Reply to: Message 347 by funkmasterfreaky
12-23-2002 11:56 AM


quote:
Originally posted by funkmasterfreaky:
Well, a lot of people report religious feelings as feeling that they are "one with God", or "one with the universe". Euphoria or joy, and the feeling of great contentment and peace are also common descriptions.
These are just emotions.

Can you explain the difference?
Every experience is always more "real" to the person experiencing them.
PE
[This message has been edited by Primordial Egg, 12-23-2002]

This message is a reply to:
 Message 347 by funkmasterfreaky, posted 12-23-2002 11:56 AM funkmasterfreaky has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 349 by funkmasterfreaky, posted 12-23-2002 10:08 PM Primordial Egg has not replied

Primordial Egg
Inactive Member


Message 413 of 417 (30415)
01-28-2003 4:25 AM
Reply to: Message 412 by funkmasterfreaky
01-28-2003 2:35 AM


Funkster,
I think this was my original question to you, something along the lines of how a genuine religious experience differed from an emotional reaction. I was assuming you had first hand knowledge of religious experiences.
Given that you don't, and you share my skepticism, its probably best asked of someone who has had a religious experience. Apologies.
PE

This message is a reply to:
 Message 412 by funkmasterfreaky, posted 01-28-2003 2:35 AM funkmasterfreaky has not replied

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