"Spiritual Experiences" (I had them, but believe they are false.)

doctoro
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"Spiritual Experiences" (I had them, but believe they are false.)

This is an EXTREMELY important issue.

I have found "spiritual experiences" to be at the heart of many if not ALL of my debates with Christians who did not fit into the "my parents are Christian so I am too" category.

That is to say, many "born again" Christian types become Christians in the face of adversity -- due to spiritual experiences when they are depressed and vulnerable.

I know 2 preachers who have revealed specific experiences to me. I have listened to a number of these experiences through my participation on internet forums and even some of the RRS radio shows. I am fascinated by these experiences.

My challenge is to find ATHEISTS who have had "spiritual experiences" that they once attributed to supernatural means but then later determined with rational thought that they were natural or delusional.

By "spiritual experiences," I suppose I mean affirmative supernatural "feelings" of God's presence or interaction with you.

Even still, I would be content with ANY kind of supernatural experience such as ghosts, visions, clairvoyance, etc.

I want to see if there is any ATHEIST here who has had an experience in which they thought something to be supernatural, but later, they concluded it was natural and their attribution of supernatural origin was delusional.

If you haven't had one yourself, do you know of any? Or have you read any books with such material?

I will share my experience.


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cslewisster

cslewisster wrote:
jcgadfly wrote:

Okay, then you lose because of point 2 (has preexisting knowledge of Christianity). Happy now?

 

The interviewer said her mother was an Athiest when she had her experience. I'm not saying that this is or is not legit, but this is what you asked for.

First, I asked for nothing. Second, her parents being atheists doesn't preclude the child herself from having religious knowledge.

"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


doctoro
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I agree, gadfly. 

I agree, gadfly.  Regardless of whether or not this child's parents were atheists, she's growing up in Christian culture, and I find it hard to believe that she had not bee exposed to images of Jesus or any religious teachings prior to the flourishing of her supposed gifts.

 I actually find it more likely that this child is suffering from a special kind of seizure in the temporal lobe.  This happens to be a case in which incredible painting talent exists as well.  I find it to be coincidental, and not necessarily causally connected.

See; this is how science works.  Assume natural explanations first, then try to disprove them.  For example, if I assume she is having temporal lobe seizures, I would do EEG studies, PET, fMRI, or SPECT scanning of her brain.  If all is normal -- maybe it's supernatural...  If you can completely disprove a natural explanation for her gifts and visions, then you may have something.  The problem with supernatural and delusionary thinking is that one automatically assumes the opposite:  that this is supernatural until proven otherwise.

The way I think is this:  Everything I know in the world is natural.  I have never encountered anything supernatural and all claims for supernatural interaction are flawed in some way.  Thus, to completely topple my understanding of the world and show me that supernatural things exist, I would need extraordinary evidence that could not possibly be explained by coincidence or natural means.

There is a reason why I said Amazon tribesmen seeing Jesus.  No exposure whatsoever to Jesus images.  Arguing that because this child's parents were atheists, she is unexposed to images of Jesus, is poor.

 Furthermore, Jesus was a Jew.  Her paintings of Jesus in her pictures depicting a white caucasian male are somewhat ludicrous.  And finally, the most preposterous thing about the video was this:  "There are hundreds of millions of colors we've never seen!"  Bullshit.  Anyone who has studied the visible light spectrum, frequencies of light, and the 65 million colors available on a computer knows that "hundreds of millions of other colors" in heaven is asinine.

 If this girl possesses supernatural talents, then surely should would not make such ridiculous comments.

And in conclusion, I find it downright maniacal for God to give a child the ability to paint as something superlatively good.  Fuck "bringing people to God".  How about saving people's lives?  Give someone the power to heal the sick and dying with supernatural touch.  That's a power that would be inherently useful.

 The "God works in mysterious ways" axiom simply will not do for rational, sane thinking.  If God is incomprehensible, then we might as well live our lives as though he didn't exist.

 So, on two counts, claiming this child has supernatural abilities is flawed.  First, it can be explained by natural means.  Secondly, the supreme reason for giving her such a gift is completely illogical (and unuseful).

On temporal lobe seizures: 

http://www.melvinmorse.com/e-tlp.htm 

 (There is more out there on these seizures, and if you require a more thorough bibliography, I will be happy to put in the time for such an endeavor.)


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Spiritual Experiences

They had these two guys at my catholic church when I was six, everyone would get in line to be blessed. One of them would place his hand over the person's head and ask "do you reject this" "do you reject that" "do you accept" and the other would go in circles around the person reading from a book in what I can only guess was Latin. Nearly everyone shook in convulsions and fainted or fell to their knees, children included. When it was my turn I felt a slight tremor and nothing else. This worried me, I had felt what I thought to be a divine presence and I clung onto this experience for a very long time as the basis of my faith despite all other attempts to contact the divine. I was even more worried because I seemed to be the only one who wasn't affected so much, I took this as a sign that I was very removed from the presence of God. Turns out I was just nervous being put on the spotlight being asked all these serious questions about things I knew nothing about ("do you reject the devil?&quotEye-wink and shivered as a result. The whole thing was really silly.

To be godless is probably the first step towards innocence, to lose the sense of sin and subordination, the false grief for things supposed to be lost. So by innocence you mean not an absence of experience, but an absence of illusions. An absence of need for illusions. A love of and respect for what is right before your eyes.


Eloise
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doctoro

doctoro wrote:

----------------------------

I would find these experiences much more convincing if:

1. The person was completely happy, and it was just an ordinary day.

2. The person had NO pre-existing knowledge of any myths pertaining to the content of his spiritual experience. (ie an Amazonian tribesman seeing Jesus).

3. No desire or active seeking for spiritual experiences or signs.

If you know where these examples exist, I'd like to know. I should offer a personal $666 challenge for a reference to an existing human with such an experience. That's about how confident I am that there are none.

 

Hi doctoro,

I'm not sure I'd fit your criteria for your challenge regarding my "spiritual" experiences but I will mention-

1. Your first criterion is easy to fit. I can honestly say that I have met with interesting or strange 'spiritual' perspectives on perfectly ordinary days at the happiest times of my life and I can equally say I've walked away from undeniably good and happy life experiences to pursue more understanding of said spiritual occurrences. 

2. I couldn't say that I did not have any prior knowledge of myths or legends through which I interpreted the content of experiences, I definitely did that, though I have often come to see those interpretations of mine as naive and trivial on later occasions in most cases. That's not to say that rethinking my interpretations has affected the integral validity of the experiences, it generally only affects the validity of the interpretation.

3. I couldn't entirely say that I was not seeking spiritual experience every time. But there is one or two experiences which to this day I still believe have a spiritual significance, and were not actively sought or pre-empted by me in any way. It could not possibly have been because I had no foreknowledge or pre-existing imaginative concept of any such possibilities.

These experiences, as you can probably guess, do underlie the particular form of theism which I follow, panentheism. Which is to say that my experiences are of direct communication with a seemingly intelligent and knowledgable entity through empirical means, and that, in a strictly panentheist viewpoint, I have come to associate that entity with an indwelling aspect of the universe, from which logically proceeds that the same entity is indwelling in my own personal self, therefore my interaction with the empirical universe is likewise an interaction with a portion of my real self. 

As I have said, my experiences probably do not entirely fit your criteria, but I mean to say, I understand where you are coming from in setting that criteria is that a spiritual experience which does not ultimately come around to a rational conclusion that there is an entity which can exert such powers as to create any such spiritual experience, or as long as the rational and reasonable road leads one to realise natural and physical explanations are superior to the naive mythological interpretation, the spiritual experience must surely be bunk. I agree with your reasoning entirely, in that case, but I also am confident that I have had a spiritual experience which is repeatable and leads logically to a theistic conclusion (an indwelling supernal, intelligent and personal entity exists in the universe) which is superior to all other possible natural conclusions.

Theist badge qualifier : Gnostic/Philosophical Panentheist

www.mathematicianspictures.com


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StMichael wrote: We do

StMichael wrote:

 

We do accept what other people say all the time. When Tom's wife tells Tom, "Honey, the trash truck is coming, so please take out the trash," does Tom take out the trash? Yes. He accepts the word of his wife as a reasonable object of authority in this matter.

But, as to God, we accept His Revelation as coming from Him because it carries with it such external signs of His authority as miracles and prophecies, of which only God could be the author.

I don't see what Malachi 3:10 has to do with it....

Yours In Christ, Eternal Wisdom,

StMichael

we trust other people based on reasonable assumptions. Through trial and error experimentation we are able to determine how likely a person is of telling a lie. Then we assign a trust value, thus the cry wolf effect. Given that this is his wife, the trust value must be high. Secondly we determine reasonableness and plausibility of claim. We determine plausibility by our personal experiences. The claim that the trash truck is coming seems very ordinary as you know what a trash truck is, have experienced it and independently confirmed it numerous times without failure. On top of that you've experienced the arrival of the trash truck on certain days at certain times with a degree of accuracy. Thus if they usually don't come on Sundays, and it's a Sunday, the claim of your wife, no matter how much you trust her, loses an incredible amount of credibility. Lastly you notice whether there would be any motive or reason for the person making a claim to mislead you.  Could you imagine of any possible reason why anyone would lie to you about the trash truck coming without coming up with an extremely elaborate paranoid motive that bears very little plausibility?

This may all seem a little confusing but it's how we determine the reality of our world and it's an almost unconscious process that takes place in a fraction of a second. Now a claim that you can live forever in an afterlife bears an obviously much lower level of plausibility seeing as it has little basis on what is known. Now granted this limits the human experience, epistemologically speaking, even if our five senses are flawed they are the best tools we have for determining reality and we must use the best tools we have for determining reality until better tools come along.

To be godless is probably the first step towards innocence, to lose the sense of sin and subordination, the false grief for things supposed to be lost. So by innocence you mean not an absence of experience, but an absence of illusions. An absence of need for illusions. A love of and respect for what is right before your eyes.


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cslewisster wrote:doctoro

cslewisster wrote:

doctoro wrote:
If you know where these examples exist, I'd like to know. I should offer a personal $666 challenge for a reference to an existing human with such an experience. That's about how confident I am that there are none.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TZSGK5lvYMY

 

You owe me $666.00. Smiling

turns out she's a fake. kind of.

http://www.kutv.com/content/news/specialreport/story.aspx?content_id=110D722E-A08E-4864-A01B-81C2368496F2&gsa=true

To be godless is probably the first step towards innocence, to lose the sense of sin and subordination, the false grief for things supposed to be lost. So by innocence you mean not an absence of experience, but an absence of illusions. An absence of need for illusions. A love of and respect for what is right before your eyes.


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Clairvoyanceloads of it, I

Clairvoyance

loads of it, I am a cyclist, and a canoeist, and a risk taker in these activities, the amount of times I should have died horribly I wouldn't like to calculate, but every time I've avoided death and or serious injury

I could attribute every incident to the divine intervention of the flying spaghetti monster

Or I could also attribute every incident, to years of playing 3D games giving me a heightened spatial awareness, thus the ability to subconsciously know when something bad is going to happen

Either way it's dammed spooky when it happens


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unclesamslair

unclesamslair wrote:

cslewisster wrote:

doctoro wrote:
If you know where these examples exist, I'd like to know. I should offer a personal $666 challenge for a reference to an existing human with such an experience. That's about how confident I am that there are none.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TZSGK5lvYMY

 

You owe me $666.00. Smiling

turns out she's a fake. kind of.

http://www.kutv.com/content/news/specialreport/story.aspx?content_id=110D722E-A08E-4864-A01B-81C2368496F2&gsa=true

Try this link


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Eloise wrote:I have had a

Eloise wrote:

I have had a spiritual experience which is repeatable and leads logically to a theistic conclusion (an indwelling supernal, intelligent and personal entity exists in the universe) which is superior to all other possible natural conclusions.

Please elaborate, unless it's psychotropic drugs, then I've also had this repeatable experience


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StMichael wrote:The

StMichael wrote:
The condemnation of Galileo was only indirectly related to heliocentrism. They condemned him not for holding one position or another, but trying to force the Church's hand in defining heliocentrism as doctrine. The Church never made an infallible declaration on heliocentrism itself. Yours In Christ, Eternal Wisdom, StMichael

Oh, man, I love this guy. Seriously. Finally a real Theist that is almost intelligent and worth talking to. I'll explain.

First, I'm sure he will agree that Protestants and other "personal revelation" based religions/denominations can go fuck themselves. They're idiots.  They claim to know what God is telling them, but they haven't even read the Bible in the original languages and simply declare on their own behalf that they know the mystries of life.  As an atheist, I can admit that there is some good stuff in religions, but its NEVER going to come from some two-bit asshole who went to church a few times and just feels like he can speak about life, the universe and everything because he is somehow imbued with the "holy spirit".  Moran.

This leads me to Catholicism. The only true Xian religion (ask the Pope).  It has a wonderful, rich history (especially if you like intellectual thoughts, blood, sex, killing, betrayal and love!). It truly has the religious mumbo-jumbo down pat and creates such circular reasoning that it works like that spinny ride at the amusement park: it keeps you glued to the wall, with no hope of getting out unless the ride stops.

Don't get me wrong. It's all hogwash but beautifully wrought hogwash and even has a few intellectual/philosophical gems in it.

 

So, StMichael, I hope you stick around. You are a true religious extremist that we can all learn from. We should understand your way of thinking so we can avoid it like the plague - but don't take that as an insult (as I'm sure you won't) since, after all, I'm a dirty, stinking athiest with Satan in my heart, so of course I don't agree with you. You, who has the truth and beauty of the Lord on his side!  What I mean is that you would be like asking a Nazi to explain his beliefs so we can understand them better - but the Nazi understands his position as the only true and good position (as I'm sure you'll agree, since you share the feeling that those bastard jews should be eradicated for what they did to your Jesus. So, you know where they're coming from right? Right? Torquemada and all those dirty heathens who wouldn't convert... Can I get an amen?)

 

As I said, finally a real Theist. Not one of these self-satisfied, psuedo-intellectuals who thinks they've found a loop-hole in logic to force their pathetic opinion.  Here is a true Theist who takes the word of long dead people over any thought of his own and is willing to spend his life twisting his mind to their beliefs. Jim Jones would be proud.

 

I hope he sticks around. I would love to explore the nooks and crannies of his religion-addled brain. I also like watching zombie movies.

And I'm totally serious.  This guy, StMichael, is a gem. Finally someone who can regurgitate the dogma and it seems that he actually believes it, not just idling c&p'ing it from ApologeticsRus.com.

 

StMicheal (I even loves how he has named himself after his Idol), if I could ask. What was your first inclination that you should believe the Catholic tradition over any other?  How did you come to enter into your circular reasoning?

 

Again, I am totally serious.

Imagine the people who believe such things and who are not ashamed to ignore, totally, all the patient findings of thinking minds through all the centuries since the Bible was written. And it is these ignorant people, the most uneducated, the most unimaginative, the most unthinking among us, who would make themselves the guides and leaders of us all; who would force their feeble and childish beliefs on us; who would invade our schools and libraries and homes. I personally resent it bitterly.
Isaac Asimov


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Interesting topic.  It's a

Interesting topic.  It's a shame that Christianity leads people to think that emotionally charged experiences are actually spiritual in nature, but at least some people (including the OP) are able to realize how much that's total BS.

I do, however, have a few bones to pick with the criteria you propose:

doctoro wrote:

1.  The person was completely happy, and it was just an ordinary day.

2.  The person had NO pre-existing knowledge of any myths pertaining to the content of his spiritual experience.  (ie an Amazonian tribesman seeing Jesus).

3.  No desire or active seeking for spiritual experiences or signs.

1) I've never met someone who was completely happy for any significant portion of their life.

2 and 3) If these criteria were applied to another context, say, a scientist doing research in a lab, would they be fair?  If said scientist determines via math that a certain behavior should be expected to occur under certain conditions, and he deliberately seeks out the experience by constructing an experiment which satisfies those conditions, would his observation of the expected behavior be invalid?  When other scientists attempted to reproduce the results, would the fact that they were anticipating the results discredit their objectivity?

I propose instead that the following criteria be used.  These are the criteria that I would use if I wanted to determine whether an experience was actually spiritual or just a figment of my imagination.  The spiritual experience being observed must either:

1) Also be observed by third parties who have no expectation that anything out of the ordinary is going to happen, and these third parties must be seen to react in a way that can only be reasonably explained by such an unexpected observation

or...

2) Produce some clearly observable physical change that can only be reasonably explained by a spiritual phenomenon, which must be observed by third parties who don't believe that such a phenomenon will occur


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Spooked ? ummm , I can't

Spooked ? ummm , I can't remember that lasting for more than 2 seconds .... I AM under the spell of a few goddesses tho, I do confess .....   

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WLQgnaLnX78


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doctoro wrote:This is an

doctoro wrote:
This is an EXTREMELY important issue. I have found "spiritual experiences" to be at the heart of many if not ALL of my debates with Christians who did not fit into the "my parents are Christian so I am too" category. That is to say, many "born again" Christian types become Christians in the face of adversity -- due to spiritual experiences when they are depressed and vulnerable. I know 2 preachers who have revealed specific experiences to me. I have listened to a number of these experiences through my participation on internet forums and even some of the RRS radio shows. I am fascinated by these experiences. My challenge is to find ATHEISTS who have had "spiritual experiences" that they once attributed to supernatural means but then later determined with rational thought that they were natural or delusional. By "spiritual experiences," I suppose I mean affirmative supernatural "feelings" of God's presence or interaction with you. Even still, I would be content with ANY kind of supernatural experience such as ghosts, visions, clairvoyance, etc. I want to see if there is any ATHEIST here who has had an experience in which they thought something to be supernatural, but later, they concluded it was natural and their attribution of supernatural origin was delusional. If you haven't had one yourself, do you know of any? Or have you read any books with such material? I will share my experience.

What do you think of this experience? I just want to see what you're opinion is, if you think it's weird, that's fine.

http://www.muslimjourneytohope.com/testimonies/testimony_afshin.wmv

 


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I actually more recently

I actually more recently posted a thread on spirituality, because I had no idea this one existed. I found by the end it was very helpful. I haven't believed in god for some time, but I was convinced such a thing as spirituality had to exist. I feel I learned quite a bit from everyone who replied. In think a way it does exist, but only within the reality of someone who has no clear way of explaining the moments of incredible emotional intensity we all at some point experience. I think some people actually prefer to remain in the dark about what these are, but for me gaining a greater understanding has just made them better.

 

All in all, I'm pretty damn glad I found this site....

"We are the star things harvesting the star energy"
-Carl Sagan