All good theists must have an answer to this question

A_Nony_Mouse
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All good theists must have an answer to this question

If you are claiming there is a god or gods what is the chain of authority for this knowledge?

Take for example relativity. We know who first enunciated it. We know the evidence upon which it was built. We can derive the same thing ourselves independent of him. We can verify it independently.

Similarly there is the Grand Canyon. We have heard of it. We have seen pictures of it. We can go see it. We can verify measurements of it.

From where came this knowledge of your god or gods? By what method was this knowledged derived? How can it be verified? How can we do for this knowledge what we can do for every other item of knowledge?

It was revealed? How do we verify that? How do we double check the revelation? How do we test it if it is correct? How do we know it was revealed?

If in fact you do believe in a god or gods you must have some credible basis for this belief.

If you do not, why did you start believing in the first place?

Jews stole the land. The owners want it back. That is all anyone needs to know about Israel. That is all there is to know about Israel.

www.ussliberty.org

www.giwersworld.org/made-in-alexandria/index.html

www.giwersworld.org/00_files/zion-hit-points.phtml


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I've had first-hand

I've had first-hand experiences of God. I don't think first-hand information (of any kind, mind you) can be verified. Our only tests are against similar experiences - as you say, "we can derive the same thing ourselves." It's common among believers to have shared similar and even identical experiences, so for us that's proof our experience is real.


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JeremyHenson wrote:I've had

JeremyHenson wrote:

I've had first-hand experiences of God. I don't think first-hand information (of any kind, mind you) can be verified. Our only tests are against similar experiences - as you say, "we can derive the same thing ourselves." It's common among believers to have shared similar and even identical experiences, so for us that's proof our experience is real.

It's also common for those shared experiences to happen after being conditioned with such statements "If you're a real Christian, you have to have these experiences."

 

"I do this real moron thing, and it's called thinking. And apparently I'm not a very good American because I like to form my own opinions."
— George Carlin


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jcgadfly wrote:It's also

jcgadfly wrote:
It's also common for those shared experiences to happen after being conditioned with such statements "If you're a real Christian, you have to have these experiences."

That wasn't my experience.

 


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JeremyHenson wrote:jcgadfly

JeremyHenson wrote:

jcgadfly wrote:
It's also common for those shared experiences to happen after being conditioned with such statements "If you're a real Christian, you have to have these experiences."

That wasn't my experience.

 

They didn't claim it to be theirs either. They all claimed unique experiences. My point is if you are being told that you have to have one to be in the club - you will have one (even if you have to generate it yourself)

"I do this real moron thing, and it's called thinking. And apparently I'm not a very good American because I like to form my own opinions."
— George Carlin


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JeremyHenson wrote:I've had

JeremyHenson wrote:

I've had first-hand experiences of God. I don't think first-hand information (of any kind, mind you) can be verified. Our only tests are against similar experiences - as you say, "we can derive the same thing ourselves." It's common among believers to have shared similar and even identical experiences, so for us that's proof our experience is real.

 

And I have had first hand experience of the stars falling out of the sky.  Mind you, I had been using LSD that night.  Even so, it happened just as surely as your experience of god. 

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Ciarin
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jcgadfly wrote:JeremyHenson

jcgadfly wrote:

JeremyHenson wrote:

jcgadfly wrote:
It's also common for those shared experiences to happen after being conditioned with such statements "If you're a real Christian, you have to have these experiences."

That wasn't my experience.

 

They didn't claim it to be theirs either. They all claimed unique experiences. My point is if you are being told that you have to have one to be in the club - you will have one (even if you have to generate it yourself)

 

That wasn't my experience either.


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Ciarin wrote:jcgadfly

Ciarin wrote:

jcgadfly wrote:

JeremyHenson wrote:

jcgadfly wrote:
It's also common for those shared experiences to happen after being conditioned with such statements "If you're a real Christian, you have to have these experiences."

That wasn't my experience.

 

They didn't claim it to be theirs either. They all claimed unique experiences. My point is if you are being told that you have to have one to be in the club - you will have one (even if you have to generate it yourself)

 

That wasn't my experience either.

I'd love to hear which of the old gods you experienced. And you had no one telling you how to experience the gods?

"I do this real moron thing, and it's called thinking. And apparently I'm not a very good American because I like to form my own opinions."
— George Carlin


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jcgadfly wrote:I'd love to

jcgadfly wrote:

I'd love to hear which of the old gods you experienced. And you had no one telling you how to experience the gods?

 

Actually, I was referring to when I was christian(despite being told by other christians to "experience god", I never did), but ok. I've experienced signs of Woden and Thunor, and Artemis. No one told me how to experience them.


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Ciarin wrote:jcgadfly

Ciarin wrote:

jcgadfly wrote:

I'd love to hear which of the old gods you experienced. And you had no one telling you how to experience the gods?

 

Actually, I was referring to when I was christian(despite being told by other christians to "experience god", I never did), but ok. I've experienced signs of Woden and Thunor, and Artemis. No one told me how to experience them.

Ok.

I still wonder how much of the "experincing God "is due to conditioning (raised in a Christian family, sitting under sermons for years) or the tendency for humans to want to conform to a group they like.

"I do this real moron thing, and it's called thinking. And apparently I'm not a very good American because I like to form my own opinions."
— George Carlin


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Ciarin wrote:jcgadfly

Ciarin wrote:

jcgadfly wrote:

I'd love to hear which of the old gods you experienced. And you had no one telling you how to experience the gods?

 

Actually, I was referring to when I was christian(despite being told by other christians to "experience god", I never did), but ok. I've experienced signs of Woden and Thunor, and Artemis. No one told me how to experience them.

 

Old Gods, Experienced... why does my mind keep jumping to a scene of getting raped by a white bull? o_O

 

How else does one experience the old gods? as far as i can remember its all sex and killing

What Would Kharn Do?


Ciarin
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jcgadfly wrote:Ciarin

jcgadfly wrote:

Ciarin wrote:

jcgadfly wrote:

I'd love to hear which of the old gods you experienced. And you had no one telling you how to experience the gods?

 

Actually, I was referring to when I was christian(despite being told by other christians to "experience god", I never did), but ok. I've experienced signs of Woden and Thunor, and Artemis. No one told me how to experience them.

Ok.

I still wonder how much of the "experincing God "is due to conditioning (raised in a Christian family, sitting under sermons for years) or the tendency for humans to want to conform to a group they like.

 

Maybe you should do a study.

 

btw, my family wasn't really christian. I was the only one to go to church(sometimes I made my mom come with me). Sometimes I made my own sermons. Also since paganism is so varied, it's pretty hard to conform to them.


Ciarin
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The Doomed Soul wrote:Ciarin

The Doomed Soul wrote:

Ciarin wrote:

jcgadfly wrote:

I'd love to hear which of the old gods you experienced. And you had no one telling you how to experience the gods?

 

Actually, I was referring to when I was christian(despite being told by other christians to "experience god", I never did), but ok. I've experienced signs of Woden and Thunor, and Artemis. No one told me how to experience them.

 

Old Gods, Experienced... why does my mind keep jumping to a scene of getting raped by a white bull? o_O

 

Maybe you equate "experience" with "fucking".

 

Quote:

How else does one experience the old gods? as far as i can remember its all sex and killing

 

I'm pretty sure there are probably a plethora of ways one can experience an old god. I've heard from others that they experience a god in their dreams, sometimes during ritual, sometimes it's just a feeling inside them.

 

And how do you remember it's all sex and killing?


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Ciarin wrote:jcgadfly

Ciarin wrote:

jcgadfly wrote:

Ciarin wrote:

jcgadfly wrote:

I'd love to hear which of the old gods you experienced. And you had no one telling you how to experience the gods?

 

Actually, I was referring to when I was christian(despite being told by other christians to "experience god", I never did), but ok. I've experienced signs of Woden and Thunor, and Artemis. No one told me how to experience them.

Ok.

I still wonder how much of the "experincing God "is due to conditioning (raised in a Christian family, sitting under sermons for years) or the tendency for humans to want to conform to a group they like.

 

Maybe you should do a study.

 

btw, my family wasn't really christian. I was the only one to go to church(sometimes I made my mom come with me). Sometimes I made my own sermons. Also since paganism is so varied, it's pretty hard to conform to them.

I'm not right wing enough to get bankrolled for that Smiling

"I do this real moron thing, and it's called thinking. And apparently I'm not a very good American because I like to form my own opinions."
— George Carlin


The Doomed Soul
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Ciarin wrote: Quote:How

Ciarin wrote:

 

Quote:

How else does one experience the old gods? as far as i can remember its all sex and killing

I'm pretty sure there are probably a plethora of ways one can experience an old god. I've heard from others that they experience a god in their dreams, sometimes during ritual, sometimes it's just a feeling inside them.

 

And how do you remember it's all sex and killing?

1 track mind?

 

My point is, from my view-point, the Old Gods didnt pussy foot around like jesus & co.

Zeus got horny? he went out and directly had sex with his peons

"God" ghost impregnated a virgin

When I get an urge to kill someone, i dont think "Oh hey! Khorne's telling me its time to send more skulls! Well, off i go... "

 

Polytheistic gods are usually described in a way, that makes them "active" and "personable"

Monotheistic gods do the whole "subtle" thing.

 

An example;

Farmer in a field, doing his thing. Nike appears before him, in all her glory, bitch slaps him across the face, tells him how he is wasting is life, his potential to be a warlord of great power, and then leaves a sword behind in order to give the farmer a starting chance.

 

Of course i could be wrong...

 

 

Basically, what  presents did Woden, Thunor and Artemis give you? ^_^

What Would Kharn Do?


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The Doomed Soul

The Doomed Soul wrote:

Basically, what  presents did Woden, Thunor and Artemis give you? ^_^

 

They didn't give me shit.


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jcgadfly wrote:My point is

jcgadfly wrote:
My point is if you are being told that you have to have one to be in the club - you will have one (even if you have to generate it yourself)

Perhaps. Most folks I know who've been in situations like that left. It's mainly only charismatic branches of Christianity that think that way. Mainliners get uncomfortable around talk of spiritual experiences.

I don't much bother with any institutionalized form of Christianity. I think it's pretty off-track.


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Ciarin wrote:The Doomed Soul

Ciarin wrote:

The Doomed Soul wrote:

Basically, what  presents did Woden, Thunor and Artemis give you? ^_^

 

They didn't give me shit.

 

oh... so you DID get screwed.... ahaha >.<

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Ciarin
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The Doomed Soul wrote:Ciarin

The Doomed Soul wrote:

Ciarin wrote:

The Doomed Soul wrote:

Basically, what  presents did Woden, Thunor and Artemis give you? ^_^

 

They didn't give me shit.

 

oh... so you DID get screwed.... ahaha >.<

 

well, I guess if you think the purpose of old gods is to get free stuff, then yea. But since I didn't give them anythign, why should they give me anything? I'm not a mooch.


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You don't have to be told

You don't have to be told expressly what god is like to have a completely generic religious experience. People who claim to be abducted by aliens usually tell similar stories. It's not because there are alien abductions, it's because abduction lore is so prevalent in society that anyone would concoct a similar story.

Nobody went to every person on the planet and explained to them in explicit detail what a dragon looks like, but if you ask nearly anyone in the world what a dragon looks like they'll say something similar. And people don't even worship dragons and aliens.

It's such BS to say that no one told you what god was like yet you experienced god in a way that's in accord with other people's notions about it. Have you read books? Have you watched films or television? Have you listened to music? I assume that you talk to other people. It's not like you were living alone on an island or in a cave.

There are twists of time and space, of vision and reality, which only a dreamer can divine
H.P. Lovecraft


Ciarin
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Gauche wrote:You don't have

Gauche wrote:

You don't have to be told expressly what god is like to have a completely generic religious experience. People who claim to be abducted by aliens usually tell similar stories. It's not because there are alien abductions, it's because abduction lore is so prevalent in society that anyone would concoct a similar story.

Nobody went to every person on the planet and explained to them in explicit detail what a dragon looks like, but if you ask nearly anyone in the world what a dragon looks like they'll say something similar. And people don't even worship dragons and aliens.

It's such BS to say that no one told you what god was like yet you experienced god in a way that's in accord with other people's notions about it. Have you read books? Have you watched films or television? Have you listened to music? I assume that you talk to other people. It's not like you were living alone on an island or in a cave.

 

being told of a god, or reading about one, doesn't exactly mean the same thing as a group of people telling how to experience god.

 

and my experience wasn't generic.


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Ciarin wrote: being told of

Ciarin wrote:

 

being told of a god, or reading about one, doesn't exactly mean the same thing as a group of people telling how to experience god.

 

and my experience wasn't generic.

Oh, I wasn't talking about what you said. I was talking about JeremyHenson. He said:

Quote:
It's common among believers to have shared similar and even identical experiences, so for us that's proof our experience is real.


I don't know what your experience was, maybe it wasn't generic, but the point is that nobody has to tell you how to experience something that already pervades the culture you experience in your quotidian life.

There are twists of time and space, of vision and reality, which only a dreamer can divine
H.P. Lovecraft


Ciarin
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Gauche wrote:Ciarin

Gauche wrote:

Ciarin wrote:

 

being told of a god, or reading about one, doesn't exactly mean the same thing as a group of people telling how to experience god.

 

and my experience wasn't generic.

Oh, I wasn't talking about what you said. I was talking about JeremyHenson. He said:

Quote:
It's common among believers to have shared similar and even identical experiences, so for us that's proof our experience is real.


I don't know what your experience was, maybe it wasn't generic, but the point is that nobody has to tell you how to experience something that already pervades the culture you experience in your quotidian life.

 

ah ok.

 

I don't think heathenism pervades the culture just yet though.


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JeremyHenson wrote:Perhaps.

JeremyHenson wrote:

Perhaps. Most folks I know who've been in situations like that left. It's mainly only charismatic branches of Christianity that think that way. Mainliners get uncomfortable around talk of spiritual experiences.

While I'm not going to claim Wikipedia is the most trustworthy source, I found these two bits:

 

Charismatics in the USA

Charismatic Christianity has grown in the last decade. As of 2008, according to Barna surveys, one out of every four Protestant churches in the United States (23%) is a charismatic congregation. A slight majority of all "born-again" Christians (51%) are charismatic. Nearly half of all adults who attend a Protestant church (46%) are charismatic.[3]

 

Numbers

In 2000 the Charismatic Movement numbered 176 million, neocharismatics 295 million and Pentecostals 66 million[citation needed]

This means that charismatics are the second largest branch of Christianity after the Roman Catholic Church (although charismatic Catholics do not see themselves as part of a separate non-Catholic ecclesial entity). They are 27 percent of all Christians. Charismatics are growing at the rate of 9 million per year making the total adherents around 618 million by 2009.[4]

 

 

That sounds reasonably "mainline" to me.

Quote:
I don't much bother with any institutionalized form of Christianity. I think it's pretty off-track.

How do you have non-institutionalized Christianity, exactly?


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JeremyHenson wrote:I've had

JeremyHenson wrote:

I've had first-hand experiences of God.

Say it with me: anecdotes are not evidence. No matter how many anecdotes there are, they still aren't evidence.

 

Quote:
I don't think first-hand information (of any kind, mind you) can be verified. Our only tests are against similar experiences - as you say, "we can derive the same thing ourselves." It's common among believers to have shared similar and even identical experiences, so for us that's proof our experience is real.

You don't think that any first-hand information can be verified? You do realize that all information has to track back to a first-hand source, don't you? Things can be verified if they are testable/falsifiable. For example, science operates around the scientific method, which is the most solid way we have of verifying the validity of information.

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Balkoth wrote:That sounds

Balkoth wrote:
That sounds reasonably "mainline" to me.

Wow, didn't realize they were "number 2" after Catholics. I meant "mainline" to refer to non-evangelical Protestant groups like Presbyterians, Lutherans, Methodists, etc. But yeah, in terms of the main stream, looks like charismatics are it among Protestants.

Balkoth wrote:
How do you have non-institutionalized Christianity, exactly?

That will likely take a lot of explaining. I'll try a short answer, and if needs be it can branch off to its own thread.

Non-institutionalized Christianity has no human authority structure or hierarchy. So there's no modern pastor in an individual church, no denomination, nothing like that. There's rarely a building.

Instead, a group of Christians meet (usually in a house) and share Christ collectively with each other. A meeting is ideally led by Christ directly, supernaturally if you will through the Holy Spirit. People will spontaneously, by guidance from the Spirit, share a song, a prayer, a story, a prophecy, a teaching from scripture, or whatever else they're led to do. It doesn't always work out smoothly - people aren't perfect - but it's a powerful experience when it happens.

There are workers, people who carry on the tradition of the apostles. They help establish churches, help people come together and learn to follow the Spirit. They're often available to answer questions or give advice to resolve conflicts, but as a rule workers are hands-off so Christians can grow to maturity by resolving their own differences and not relying on human leaders. Workers don't have authority over churches; they're respected for their experience and call from God.

Churches should judge a worker by their character and teaching instead of blithely following, because there are false ones, and even legitimately called ones aren't perfect.

The goal is to let Christ be manifest among the church. The church is called the "Body of Christ" for a reason. From my experience, most institutional forms are really about keeping people safe from Christ, letting them stay immature because becoming mature is a painful process. So few believers function, instead sitting passively, and only a small fraction "do ministry."

I still consider institutional Christians my spiritual brothers and sisters, despite my disagreement with their practices. I hope that answers the question, but if it raises a lot more questions I'll start a new thread.

Zymotic wrote:
Say it with me: anecdotes are not evidence.

"Anecdote" implies telling someone something, which is second- or third-hand information. It's not an anecdote when it's first-hand. That means it's evidence for me, but not evidence for anyone who hasn't shared the experience.

Zymotic wrote:
Things can be verified if they are testable/falsifiable.

We can often reproduce experiences others have had, which is a kind of test, but we can't really know what someone else experiences. For instance, I might say "I see a red car." If you look and see a red car, you'll probably accept that my claim is true.

So if I say "I heard God speak to me," and you'd never heard God yourself or accepted anyone else's claim of hearing God, you probably wouldn't believe me. If you'd heard God, too, we'd probably describe our experiences to each other as a means of testing them. If I say God sounded like a whistling wind and you say he sounded like an avalanche, we might still not believe each other.

Even if our experiences match, one of us could still be lying or delusional. We judge, we assess, based on whatever we've found to be reliable.


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JeremyHenson

JeremyHenson wrote:

"Anecdote" implies telling someone something, which is second- or third-hand information. It's not an anecdote when it's first-hand. That means it's evidence for me, but not evidence for anyone who hasn't shared the experience.

First of all, don't play semantics with me. I am using the correct definition of anecdotal evidence, and first hand, non-verifiable experience is anecdotal evidence. If you can't recreate or falsify it, then it shouldn't even be evidence for yourself.

Quote:

We can often reproduce experiences others have had, which is a kind of test, but we can't really know what someone else experiences. For instance, I might say "I see a red car." If you look and see a red car, you'll probably accept that my claim is true.

And this isn't anecdotal evidence, and I'm sure you understand why.

Quote:

So if I say "I heard God speak to me," and you'd never heard God yourself or accepted anyone else's claim of hearing God, you probably wouldn't believe me. If you'd heard God, too, we'd probably describe our experiences to each other as a means of testing them. If I say God sounded like a whistling wind and you say he sounded like an avalanche, we might still not believe each other.

Even if our experiences match, one of us could still be lying or delusional. We judge, we assess, based on whatever we've found to be reliable.

But this is anecdotal evidence. Unlike the red car, we can't empirically say that you've heard anything at all and if you have heard anything, whether or not it is a neurological issue or (less likely) a supernatural entity speaking directly to you. We can't design a test to verify whether or not god talks to you. We can't falsify whether or not you actually hear voices, so there is no way to empirically say that god is speaking to you.

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Ciarin
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yep, zymotic is right,

yep, zymotic is right, jeremyhenson.


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JeremyHenson wrote:I still

JeremyHenson wrote:

I still consider institutional Christians my spiritual brothers and sisters, despite my disagreement with their practices. I hope that answers the question, but if it raises a lot more questions I'll start a new thread.

Long story short, not really, and a new thread would be helpful if you feel like copy/pasting that segment, trying not to clutter this thread too much.


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A_Nony_Mouse wrote:From

A_Nony_Mouse wrote:

From where came this knowledge of your god or gods? By what method was this knowledged derived? How can it be verified? How can we do for this knowledge what we can do for every other item of knowledge?

I don't see why it makes a difference where the knowledge came from.  Even if my knowledge of the Grand Canyon originated from my geography class, I do not see how it would be sufficient justification for my claim that the Grand Canyon is real. 

To answer the question; logic, revelation of scripture, the experiences of people, history, etc.

Quote:
It was revealed? How do we verify that? How do we double check the revelation? How do we test it if it is correct? How do we know it was revealed?

Maybe "revealed" is a fuzzy term, but we have the biblical records, which themselves are meant to be taken as historical documents.  Why are you trying to apply the scientific method to history?  We could not scientifically test the existence of Jesus because we have no DNA or fossils (since he was resurrected, we could not).

God, by his very nature, would not comport with the scientific method.  So why would you apply that to Him?  If I am making the claim that there exists a being who, as the creator of the universe, cannot be subject to its laws, then you need to find a different criteria by which you can judge the validity of my claim.  If you assume the validity of materialistic naturalism, then you need offer some justification.

Quote:
why did you start believing in the first place?

Because I sought Him and I found Him. 


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Zymotic wrote:First of all,

Zymotic wrote:
First of all, don't play semantics with me. I am using the correct definition of anecdotal evidence, and first hand, non-verifiable experience is anecdotal evidence. If you can't recreate or falsify it, then it shouldn't even be evidence for yourself.

Ah, so you're saying within the scientific definition, this is "non-scientific observations or studies, which do not provide proof but may assist research efforts" or perhaps "casual observations or indications rather than rigorous or scientific analysis." That's not exactly the plain meaning of the word; those first two meanings listed are more in line with what I understood.

As for the rest, I'll start a different thread tomorrow. Smiling


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.

JeremyHenson wrote:
I've had first-hand experiences of God. I don't think first-hand information (of any kind, mind you) can be verified. Our only tests are against similar experiences - as you say, "we can derive the same thing ourselves." It's common among believers to have shared similar and even identical experiences, so for us that's proof our experience is real.

That leaves you without a religion.

But tell me, how did you test the experience? We know how to induce and enhance feelings of god experiences. In and of itself the experience has no meaning.

Care to describe this experience?

Jews stole the land. The owners want it back. That is all anyone needs to know about Israel. That is all there is to know about Israel.

www.ussliberty.org

www.giwersworld.org/made-in-alexandria/index.html

www.giwersworld.org/00_files/zion-hit-points.phtml


LosingStreak06
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A_Nony_Mouse wrote:If you

A_Nony_Mouse wrote:

If you are claiming there is a god or gods what is the chain of authority for this knowledge?

Take for example relativity. We know who first enunciated it. We know the evidence upon which it was built. We can derive the same thing ourselves independent of him. We can verify it independently.

Similarly there is the Grand Canyon. We have heard of it. We have seen pictures of it. We can go see it. We can verify measurements of it.

From where came this knowledge of your god or gods? By what method was this knowledged derived? How can it be verified? How can we do for this knowledge what we can do for every other item of knowledge?

I do not consider my "knowledge" of any gods to be on par with any of the examples you have presented. I don't really consider it knowledge at all, to be perfectly honest.

A_Nony_Mouse wrote:
It was revealed? How do we verify that? How do we double check the revelation? How do we test it if it is correct? How do we know it was revealed?

I'm afraid you don't. Fortunately, I would never ask you accept that my beliefs are true, tenable, or even anything more than nonsensical whimsy.

A_Nony_Mouse wrote:
If in fact you do believe in a god or gods you must have some credible basis for this belief.

Not as such, I'm afraid.

A_Nony_Mouse wrote:
If you do not, why did you start believing in the first place?

Pure, unentitled compulsion. Also, some psychotropic substances.


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A_Nony_Mouse wrote:But tell

A_Nony_Mouse wrote:
But tell me, how did you test the experience? We know how to induce and enhance feelings of god experiences. In and of itself the experience has no meaning.

Care to describe this experience?

The only tests I had for myself - which aren't scientific - were that the content didn't resemble things I already knew or believed, and that I couldn't find anything inherently wrong - amoral, insane, incongruous with my understandings of the world - with them.

I've heard of the research on inducing "god experiences;" it's interesting stuff.

My initial experience of God was when I was an agnostic 13-year-old. For background, I had attended a Presbyterian (PCUSA) church from early childhood 'til I was 12 or 13, when I'd long since disregarded the whole thing as a bunch of well-meaning delusional old folks. I retained a belief in spiritual things in general, but made no claims on understanding any of it and wouldn't have been surprised if materialism was the only truth.

My first experience of God was during a bike ride to a friend's house. It was lightly raining and I don't recall thinking about anything beyond getting where I was going safely. I felt a sudden rush of insight, so unnerving I had to stop to prevent falling over. The "message" was what I called the meaning of life. Life was to be lived to please God and for the sake of other people, and these things were really the same. I recognize it now as the "golden rule" or "great commandment," but couldn't have told you a thing about either at the time.

I did not know it was the Abrahamic God at the time, but I knew it was a singular and omnipotent God. I can't offer any proof or test to that knowledge, beyond saying there are some things that can't be mistaken. I was effectively a deist until 2006 (when I was 24), and still didn't bother with anything religious.

At 24 I met the woman I later married, who was a Christian and pursuaded me to read the gospel of Mark. I recognized the God I'd heard in the bible, and came to believe in Jesus Christ. My theology and beliefs have been developing since, because I'm initially skeptical of most teachings and do my best to study things for myself.

That was my first experience of several, and the pattern is fairly consistent. God reveals something which may or may not have familiar components but always shows me something I'd never considered or heard of before. Sometimes they're impressions of God speaking (like my first experience), sometimes they're visions, once it was a dream. Only two experiences - both visions - contained traditional biblical imagery, and neither matched my preconcieved ideas of the subject matter.