Oops... science backs god a little farther into the corner

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Oops... science backs god a little farther into the corner

Primarily because it amuses me to watch theists twitch when science disagrees with them, I'll post this again.  It's kind of old, but oddly enough, it just didn't get a lot of media coverage.

 

Tracing the Synapses of Our Spirituality
Researchers Examine Relationship Between Brain and Religion
By Shankar Vedantam, Washington Post
Sunday, June 17, 2001


In Philadelphia, a researcher discovers areas of the brain that are activated during meditation. At two other universities in San Diego and North Carolina, doctors study how epilepsy and certain hallucinogenic drugs can produce religious epiphanies. And in Canada, a neuroscientist fits people with magnetized helmets that produce "spiritual" experiences for the secular. The work is part of a broad effort by scientists around the world to better understand religious experiences, measure them, and even reproduce them. Using powerful brain imaging technology, researchers are exploring what mystics call nirvana, and what Christians describe as a state of grace. Scientists are asking whether spirituality can be explained in terms of neural networks, neurotransmitters and brain chemistry.

What creates that transcendental feeling of being one with the universe? It could be the decreased activity in the brain's parietal lobe, which helps regulate the sense of self and physical orientation, research suggests. How does religion prompt divine feelings of love and compassion? Possibly because of changes in the frontal lobe, caused by heightened concentration during meditation. Why do many people have a profound sense that religion has changed their lives? Perhaps because spiritual practices activate the temporal lobe, which weights experiences with personal significance. "The brain is set up in such a way as to have spiritual experiences and religious experiences," said Andrew Newberg, a Philadelphia scientist who wrote the book "Why God Won't Go Away." "Unless there is a fundamental change in the brain, religion and spirituality will be here for a very long time. The brain is predisposed to having those experiences and that is why so many people believe in God."

The research may represent the bravest frontier of brain research. But depending on your religious beliefs, it may also be the last straw. For while Newberg and other scientists say they are trying to bridge the gap between science and religion, many believers are offended by the notion that God is a creation of the human brain, rather than the other way around.

"It reinforces atheistic assumptions and makes religion appear useless," said Nancey Murphy, a professor of Christian philosophy at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif. "If you can explain religious experience purely as a brain phenomenon, you don't need the assumption of the existence of God." Some scientists readily say the research proves there is no such thing as God. But many others argue that they are religious themselves, and that they are simply trying to understand how our minds produce a sense of spirituality. Newberg, who was catapulted to center stage of the neuroscience-religion debate by his book and some recent experiments he conducted at the University of Pennsylvania with co-researcher Eugene D'Aquili, says he has a sense of his own spirituality, though he declined to say whether he believes in God, because any answer would prompt people to question his agenda. "I'm really not trying to use science to prove that God exists or disprove God exists," he said.

Newberg's experiment consisted of taking brain scans of Tibetan Buddhist meditators as they sat immersed in contemplation. After giving them time to sink into a deep meditative trance, he injected them with a radioactive dye. Patterns of the dye's residues in the brain were later converted into images. Newberg found that certain areas of the brain were altered during deep meditation. Predictably, these included areas in the front of the brain that are involved in concentration. But Newberg also found decreased activity in the parietal lobe, one of the parts of the brain that helps orient a person in three-dimensional space.

"When people have spiritual experiences they feel they become one with the universe and lose their sense of self," he said. "We think that may be because of what is happening in that area -- if you block that area you lose that boundary between the self and the rest of the world. In doing so you ultimately wind up in a universal state."

Across the country, at the University of California in San Diego, other neuroscientists are studying why religious experiences seem to accompany epileptic seizures in some patients. At Duke University, psychiatrist Roy Mathew is studying hallucinogenic drugs that can produce mystical experiences and have long been used in certain religious traditions. Could the flash of wisdom that came over Siddhartha Gautama -- the Buddha -- have been nothing more than his parietal lobe quieting down? Could the voices that Moses and Mohammed heard on remote mountaintops have been just a bunch of firing neurons -- an illusion? Could Jesus's conversations with God have been a mental delusion?

Newberg won't go so far, but other proponents of the new brain science do. Michael Persinger, a professor of neuroscience at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, has been conducting experiments that fit a set of magnets to a helmet-like device. Persinger runs what amounts to a weak electromagnetic signal around the skulls of volunteers.

Four in five people, he said, report a "mystical experience, the feeling that there is a sentient being or entity standing behind or near" them. Some weep, some feel God has touched them, others become frightened and talk of demons and evil spirits.

"That's in the laboratory," Persinger said. "They know they are in the laboratory. Can you imagine what would happen if that happened late at night in a pew or mosque or synagogue?"

His research, Persinger said, showed that "religion is a property of the brain, only the brain and has little to do with what's out there." Those who believe the new science disproves the existence of God say they are holding up a mirror to society about the destructive power of religion. They say that religious wars, fanaticism and intolerance spring from dogmatic beliefs that particular gods and faiths are unique, rather than facets of universal brain chemistry.

"It's irrational and dangerous when you see how religiosity affects us," said Matthew Alper, author of "The God Part of the Brain," a book about the neuroscience of belief. "During times of prosperity, we are contented. During times of depression, we go to war. When there isn't enough food to go around, we break into our spiritual tribes and use our gods as justification to kill one another."

While Persinger and Alper count themselves as atheists, many scientists studying the neurology of belief consider themselves deeply spiritual. James Austin, a neurologist, began practicing Zen meditation during a visit to Japan. After years of practice, he found himself having to reevaluate what his professional background had taught him.

"It was decided for me by the experiences I had while meditating," said Austin, author of the book "Zen and the Brain" and now a philosophy scholar at the University of Idaho. "Some of them were quickenings, one was a major internal absorption -- an intense hyper-awareness, empty endless space that was blacker than black and soundless and vacant of any sense of my physical bodily self. I felt deep bliss. I realized that nothing in my training or experience had prepared me to help me understand what was going on in my brain. It was a wake-up call for a neurologist."

Austin's spirituality doesn't involve a belief in God -- it is more in line with practices associated with some streams of Hinduism and Buddhism. Both emphasize the importance of meditation and its power to make an individual loving and compassionate -- most Buddhists are uninterested in whether God exists.

But theologians say such practices don't describe most people's religiousness in either eastern or western traditions.

"When these people talk of religious experience, they are talking of a meditative experience," said John Haught, a professor of theology at Georgetown University. "But religion is more than that. It involves commitments and suffering and struggle -- it's not all meditative bliss. It also involves moments when you feel abandoned by God.

"Religion is visiting widows and orphans," he said. "It is symbolism and myth and story and much richer things. They have isolated one small aspect of religious experience and they are identifying that with the whole of religion."

Belief and faith, believers argue, are larger than the sum of their brain parts: "The brain is the hardware through which religion is experienced," said Daniel Batson, a University of Kansas psychologist who studies the effect of religion on people. "To say the brain produces religion is like saying a piano produces music."

At the Fuller Theological Seminary's school of psychology, Warren Brown, a cognitive neuropsychologist, said, "Sitting where I'm sitting and dealing with experts in theology and Christian religious practice, I just look at what these people know about religiousness and think they are not very sophisticated. They are sophisticated neuroscientists, but they are not scholars in the area of what is involved in various forms of religiousness." At the heart of the critique of the new brain research is what one theologian at St. Louis University called the "nothing-butism" of some scientists -- the notion that all phenomena could be understood by reducing them to basic units that could be measured.

"A kiss," said Michael McClymond, "is more than a mutually agreed-upon exchange of saliva, breath and germs."

And finally, believers say, if God existed and created the universe, wouldn't it make sense that he would install machinery in our brains that would make it possible to have mystical experiences?

"Neuroscientists are taking the viewpoints of physicists of the last century that everything is matter," said Mathew, the Duke psychiatrist. "I am open to the possibility that there is more to this than what meets the eye. I don't believe in the omnipotence of science or that we have a foolproof explanation."

 


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 Notice how slanted this

 Notice how slanted this article is?  It goes ten miles out of its way to say that just because there's tons of evidence that religion is literally caused by our brain, it still might be externally true?  Not much time given to the possibility that it is, after all, "all in our heads."  Not much at all.

 

Transcendent Experience and Temporal Lobe Epilepsy

Temporal lobe epilepsy has been linked to divine encounters, artistic creation and fearful visitations from other realms. Pickover examines some of the implications of current research into this mysterious disease.

by Clifford Pickover

From: http://www.science-spirit.org/articles/Articledetail.cfm?article_ID=130
SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 1999—Temporal lobe epilepsy has often been linked to a variety of transcendent experiences: ecstatic communion with the divine, epiphanies of artistic creation, fearful encounters with alien beings. Clifford Pickover examines some of the implications of current research now shedding light on the terrors and wonders of this mysterious disease.

Treading the Labyrinth

"With TLE, I see things slightly different than before. I have visions and images that normal people don’t have. Some of my seizures are like entering another dimension, the closest to religious or spiritual feelings I’ve ever had. Epilepsy has given me a rare vision and insight into myself, and sometimes beyond myself, and it has played to my creative side. Without TLE, I would not have begun to sculpt."

This testimony comes from a woman who suffers from — and, obviously, often exults in — temporal lobe epilepsy. This condition (TLE, for short), is caused by unusual electrical activity in the brain’s temporal lobes A significant proportion of people with TLE report that their seizures often bring on extraordinary experiences of transcendent wonder, luminous insight — or, at times, harrowing, uncanny fear.

Take, for example, the numerous reported cases of "alien abduction." TLE researcher Eve LaPlante has noted that many abductees feel mild, epileptic-like symptoms just before they are "captured." Some abductees feel heat on one side of their faces, hear a ringing in their ears, and see flashes of light prior to an abduction. Others report a cessation of sound and feeling, or an overwhelming feeling of apprehension. All of this is typical of certain kinds of epileptic seizures. In fact, LaPlante suggests that the most famous abductee of our time, best-selling author Whitley Strieber, suffers from TLE.

In 1987, Strieber wrote the book Communion which described his abduction by 3 1/2 foot aliens with two dark holes for eyes. In his account, Strieber exhibits various symptoms of TLE: jamais vu (the feeling of never having been in what should be a familiar place — the opposite of deja vu); formication (feeling bugs crawling under the skin); vivid smells, hallucinations, rapid heartbeats, the sensation of rising and falling, and partial amnesia. Magnetic resonance imaging of Strieber’s brain has revealed "occasional punctate foci of high signal intensity" in his left temporoparietal region, which is suggestive of scarring that could lead to TLE.

Such alien abduction stories can tell us about the workings of the mind. Michael Persinger, a neuroscientist at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, found that people with frequent bursts of electrical activity in their temporal lobes report sensations of flying, floating, or leaving the body, as well as other mystical experiences. By applying magnetic fields to the brain, he can also induce odd mental experiences — possibly caused by bursts of neuron firing in the temporal lobes. For example, he has made people feel as if two alien hands grabbed their shoulders and distorted their legs when he applied magnetic fields to their brains.

Our modern fasicnation with other such phenomena, such as ESP, past-life regression, and out-of-the-body experiences, may also be the result of mild, undiagnosed TLE. It’s a fertile field, awaiting more research to bring such mysteries out of the realm of the "paranormal" and into the fascinating labyrinth of the brain.

Fear and Trembling

Has TLE changed the course of civilization? LaPlante and many other TLE experts speculate that the mystical religious experiences of some of the great prophets were induced by TLE — because the historical writings describe classic TLE symptoms. The religious prophets most often thought to have had epilepsy are Mohammad, Moses, and St. Paul. Dostoevsky, another famous epileptic whose works are filled with ecstatic visions of universal love (and terrible nightmares of uncanny fear and radical evil), thought it was obvious that Mohammad’s visions of God were triggered by epilepsy. "Mohammad assures us in this Koran that he had seen Paradise," Doestevsky notes. "He did not lie. He had indeed been in Paradise — during an attack of epilepsy, from which he suffered, as I do."

When Mohammad first had his visions of God, he felt oppressed, smothered, as if his breath were being squeezed from his chest. Later he heard a voice calling his name, but when he turned to find the source of the voice, no one was there. The local Christians, Jews, and Arabs called him insane. When he was five years old, he told his foster parents, "Two men in white raiment came and threw me down and opened up my belly and searched inside for I don’t know what." This description is startling similar to the alien abduction experience described by people with TLE.

Note that the overriding emotion experienced by Mohammed, Moses and St. Paul during their religious visions was not one of rapture and joy but rather of fear. When Moses heard the voice of God from a burning bush, he hid his face and was frightened. Luke and Paul both agreed that Paul suffered from an unknown "illness" or "bodily weakness" which he called his "thorn in the flesh." Many biblical commentators have attributed this to either migraine headaches or epilepsy. Paul did once have malaria, which involves a high fever that can damage the brain. Other psychologists have noted that likely TLE sufferers such as Moses, Flaubert, Saint Paul, and Dostevesky were also famous for their rages.

However, psychologist William James has argued that religious states are not less profound simply because they can be induced by mental anomalies:

"Even more perhaps than other kinds of genius, religious leaders have been subject to abnormal psychical visitations. Invariably they have been creatures of exalted emotional sensitivity liable to obsessions and fixed ideas; and frequently they have fallen into trances, heard voices, seen visions, and presented all sorts of peculiarities which are ordinarily classed as pathological. Often, moreover, these pathological features have helped to give them their religious authority and influence. To plead the organic causation of a religious state of mind in refutation of its claim to possess superior spiritual value is quite illogical and arbitrary. [Because if that were the case], none of our thoughts and feelings, not even our scientific doctrines, not even our dis-beliefs, could retain any value as revelations of the truth, for every one of them without exception flows from the state of the possessor’s body at the time. Saint Paul certainly once had an epileptoid, if not an epileptic, seizure, but there is not a single one of our states of mind, high or low, healthy or morbid, that has not some organic processes as its condition."

More recently, several TLE nuns have provided further evidence for an epileptic root of many mystical religious experiences. For example, one former nun "apprehended" God in TLE seizures and described the experience:

"Suddenly everything comes together in a moment — everything adds up, and you’re flooded with a sense of joy, and you’re just about to grasp it, and then you lose it and you crawl into an attack. It’s easy to see how, in a prescientific age, an epileptic or any temporal lobe fringe experience like that could be thought to be God Himself."

Even the Old Testament prophet Ezekiel had a TLE-like vision reminiscent of modern UFO reports — the famous, fearsome Ma’aseh Merkabah, the Vision of the Chariot:

"And I looked, and behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire enfolding itself, and a brightness was about it, and out of the midst thereof as the color of amber, out of the midst of the fire.... Also out of the midst thereof, came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance, they had the likeness of a man. And every one had four faces, and every one had four wings. And their feet were straight feet; and the sole of their feet was like the sole of a calf’s foot; and they sparkled like the color of burnished brass."

The Light of the Storm

LaPlante is just one of a growing number of writers and researchers delving into TLE-induced religious experiences. For example, Professor Michael Persinger from Ontario does research on the neurophysiology of religious feelings, and believes that spiritual experiences come from altered electrical activity in the brain. David Bear from Harvard Medical School believes that "a temporal lobe focus in superior individuals (like van Gogh, Dostoevsky, Mohammad, Saint Paul and Moses) may spark an extraordinary search for the entity we alternatively call truth or beauty." Religion, then, is sometimes our interpretation of altered temporolimbic electrical activity. This is not to demean the mystical experience, because TLE personalities have obviously accomplished great things, whose depth and meaning have radiated far beyond the electric storms of a single cranium.

LaPlante, in her book Seized, aptly sums up the growing evidence linking TLE and creativity:

"Hidden or diagnosed, admitted or unknown, the mental states that occur in TLE seizures are more than simply neurological symptoms. In people like Tennyson, Saint Paul, and van Gogh these states may have provided material for religion and art. People with TLE, whether or not they know the physiological cause of their seizures, often incorporate their symptoms into poems, stories and myths. And the disorder does more than provide the stuff of religious experience and creative work. TLE is associated with personality change even when seizures are not occurring; it amplifies the very traits that draw people to religion and art."

Clifford Pickover received his Ph.D. from Yale University’s Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry. His most recent book is Strange Brains and Genius: The Secret Lives of Eccentric Scientists and Madmen. His web site covering these and many other scientific topics can be found at: www.pickover.com.

Further Reading

Jamison, K. (1995) Manic-depressive illness and creativity. Scientific American, February. 272(2): 62-67.

LaPlante, E. (1993) Seized. HarperCollins: New York.

Mack, J. (1995) Abduction. (Revised Edition). Ballantine: New York.

Pickover, C. (1999) Strange Brains and Genius: The Secret Lives of Eccentric Scientists and Madmen. Quill: New York.

Pickover, C. (1997) The Loom of God. Plenum: New York.

Strieber, W. (1987) Communion. Avon: New York.

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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And, just to prove that

And, just to prove that atheists really are interested in knowing the truth... look who tried to have a religious experience Eye-wink

Holy visions elude scientists


By Raj Persuad
Last Updated: 8:01pm GMT 20/03/2003

Does the biological structure of our brains program us to believe in God? Recent advances in "neurotheology" have even prompted some scientists to propose they can induce the kind of holy visions of prophets, even in those who have never experienced religious belief.

Dr Michael Persinger of Laurentian University, Canada, has devised a special helmet that uses electromagnetic fields to induce electrical changes in the brain's temporal lobes, which are linked with religious belief.

 
Testing time for Dawkins

So confident is he that God is all in the mind, or the brain at least, that Dr Persinger claims he can induce mystical feelings in a majority of those willing to don his Transcranial Magnetic Stimulator.

So the BBC Science series Horizon took up the challenge by putting his hat to the ultimate test: could he get arch-sceptic and militant atheist Prof Richard Dawkins to start believing in God by electrically massaging his temporal lobes?

Prof Dawkins, author of A Devil's Chaplain, was the ideal candidate for the latest test of whether science can now explain away religion, given his famously virulent views on religion, attacking it as a "virus of the mind" and an "infantile regression".

The experiment is based on the recent finding that some sufferers from temporal lobe epilepsy, a neurological disorder caused by chaotic electrical discharges in the temporal lobes of the brain, seem to experience devout hallucinations that bear a striking resemblance to the mystical experiences of holy figures such as St Paul and Moses.

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This theory received a recent boost from Prof Gregory Holmes, a paediatric neurologist at Dartmouth Medical School, who claims that one of the principal founders of the Seventh Day Adventist Movement, Ellen White, in fact suffered from temporal lobe epilepsy.

She was seen as divinely inspired as a result of her religious visions. The new claim that her visions were, in fact, a result of a brain disorder could undermine the basis of a religious movement followed by more than 12 million people worldwide.

If strong religious feelings are no less a part of brain function than those linked with hunger and sex, the ultimate test would be to summon up mystical and religious beliefs experimentally. Indeed, it would actually be in Prof Dawkins's interests to experience religion for the first time under Dr Persinger's helmet.

After all, this would prove that mystical visions could at last be controlled by science and were no longer just at the mercy of a supernatural entity.

Unfortunately, during the experiment, while Prof Dawkins had some strange experiences and tinglings, none of them prompted him to take up any new faith. "It was a great disappointment," he said. "Though I joked about the possibility, I of course never expected to end up believing in anything supernatural. But I did hope to share some of the feelings experienced by religious mystics when contemplating the mysteries of life and the cosmos."

Dr Persinger has explained away the failure of this Transcranial Magnetic Stimulator. Before donning the helmet, Prof Dawkins had scored low on a psychological scale measuring proneness to temporal lobe sensitivity.

Recent studies on identical and fraternal twin pairs raised apart suggest that 50 per cent of our religious interests are influenced by genes. It seems Prof Dawkins is genetically predisposed not to believe.

Dr Raj Persaud is a consultant psychiatrist at the Maudsley Hos

 

{edit: Forgot to provide original link!  Shame on me.}

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/connected/main.jhtml?view=DETAILS&grid=P8&targetRule=10&xml=/connected/2003/03/19/ecfgod119.xml

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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Ok, theists.  Time to

Ok, theists.  Time to shine.  Let's try to avoid the "god made the brain this way so we could experience him" explanation, ok?  Occam would not like you much if you propose that, and you'll just beg the question of why you need to add a god to the perfectly reasonable and parsimonious explanation that our brains caused the whole damn thing.

 

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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Hambydammit wrote: Ok,

Hambydammit wrote:

Ok, theists. Time to shine. Let's try to avoid the "god made the brain this way so we could experience him" explanation, ok? Occam would not like you much if you propose that, and you'll just beg the question of why you need to add a god to the perfectly reasonable and parsimonious explanation that our brains caused the whole damn thing.

Further, why would an all powerfull God need to do anything for us to experience him?


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I've heard theists

I've heard theists postulate on this for a few years.  The first line of objection sounds reasonable, but it just doesn't work:

Theist: You keep asking for theists to provide an explanation for how the supernatural interacts with the natural... well, here it is!  God's spirit interacts with us, and the reaction in our temporal lobe is evidence of this.

Atheist: This proves nothing of the sort.  There is still no explanation for how this interaction occurs.  Electricity is produced normally in the brain without the need of god.  The temporal lobes are formed normally with physical mechanisms.  External stimuli (preachers yelling, meditation, music) are produced naturally.  We don't need to prove that people can think things that affect them emotionally.  So what's left over?  How is god interacting supernaturally (whatever that is) with these perfectly natural processes?

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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Well, this is likely to end

Well, this is likely to end badly, but ...

 

If I look at an apple, light enters my eyeball, hits the retina, and triggers brain activity. Predictable, reproducible brain activity. And we say we perceive the apple. Why should it be surprising that when I think about god we don't see predictable, reproducible brain activity? It still doesn't answer the question am I perceiving something that has an external referant or am I making it all up?


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wavefreak wrote: If I look

wavefreak wrote:
If I look at an apple, light enters my eyeball, hits the retina, and triggers brain activity. Predictable, reproducible brain activity. And we say we perceive the apple. Why should it be surprising that when I think about god we don't see predictable, reproducible brain activity? It still doesn't answer the question am I perceiving something that has an external referant or am I making it all up?

The article says (I don't want to use states since it seems rude) that one can mimic these spiritual things without thinking of God. I believe this is why I get a similar experience to spirituality while I listen to music and even stronger spiritual connections when I play music.

All that has to be done to mimic these spiritual sessions is to mimic a certain frequency, usually one that to brain produces during these sessions. The same can be done with lucid dreaming and certain drugs (generally placebo drugs).


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CrimsonEdge

CrimsonEdge wrote:

wavefreak wrote:
If I look at an apple, light enters my eyeball, hits the retina, and triggers brain activity. Predictable, reproducible brain activity. And we say we perceive the apple. Why should it be surprising that when I think about god we don't see predictable, reproducible brain activity? It still doesn't answer the question am I perceiving something that has an external referant or am I making it all up?

The article says (I don't want to use states since it seems rude) that one can mimic these spiritual things without thinking of God. I believe this is why I get a similar experience to spirituality while I listen to music and even stronger spiritual connections when I play music.

All that has to be done to mimic these spiritual sessions is to mimic a certain frequency, usually one that to brain produces during these sessions. The same can be done with lucid dreaming and certain drugs (generally placebo drugs).

 

And we can mimic other types of neural activity through forms of stimulation. During brain surgery, electrical stimulation of certain parts of the brain makes the patient "smell" things. But the smell isn't there. So all this proves is that there is a definable portion of the brain involved in "mystical" experiences and that we can both artificially stimulate this section of the brain and conciously activate it. It still does not answer the question as to whether or not there is any external referent relevant to the brain activity.


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wavefreak wrote:   And we

wavefreak wrote:
 

And we can mimic other types of neural activity through forms of stimulation. During brain surgery, electrical stimulation of certain parts of the brain makes the patient "smell" things. But the smell isn't there. So all this proves is that there is a definable portion of the brain involved in "mystical" experiences and that we can both artificially stimulate this section of the brain and conciously activate it. It still does not answer the question as to whether or not there is any external referent relevant to the brain activity.

The external refferent would be preaching, praying, listening to music, going to church, etc.

There's a reason most religious ceremonies, churches, and other religious things are all typically the same. They trigger the neural responses associated with spirituality. I would associate this same feeling I get when I listen to and play music.

I would also postulate that this is why some people are religious while others are not. I never got any sort of spiritual experience while at church, and as such has led me to not be religious or spiritual... along with other reasons. I would also postulate that this is why some people love music and others do not. For some, listening to music stimulates similar spiritual experiences that church and other religious practices do.

Some, like myself, are put into meditative trances when playing music with others (this is especially obvious in jam sessions). I associate this with a spiritual experience, as those who have described such experiences achieve similar results. 


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Wave, sorry to tell you

Wave, sorry to tell you this, but you're making the same objection I mentioned earlier.

There are two possible explanations (at least... I won't rule out more, but I can't think of them)

1) Electro-chemical impulses in the brain create mystical experiences, which humans attribute to a made up deity.

2) A deity which cannot be empirically verified created the brain in such a way that humans would, through completely natural means, perceive mystical experiences, which they would then attribute to the otherwise unverifiable deity.

Occam chooses door number one.

Furthermore, #2 does nothing to explain how the supernatural can interact with the natural.  If it did, there would be evidence of it, and so far, all the research points to a 1:1 correlation.  Mystical experience=temporal lobe stimulation.  That points away from an explanation that includes god.

Furthermore, it not only points away from god, but it virtually eliminates the Christian god, for if this is how he interacts, why then do all religious people experience it the same way when their religion is wrong?  God is left either evil, or nonexistent, once again.

(I know you're not Christian.  I'm just pre-emptively dealing with that aspect of it.)

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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CrimsonEdge

CrimsonEdge wrote:
wavefreak wrote:

And we can mimic other types of neural activity through forms of stimulation. During brain surgery, electrical stimulation of certain parts of the brain makes the patient "smell" things. But the smell isn't there. So all this proves is that there is a definable portion of the brain involved in "mystical" experiences and that we can both artificially stimulate this section of the brain and conciously activate it. It still does not answer the question as to whether or not there is any external referent relevant to the brain activity.

The external refferent would be preaching, praying, listening to music, going to church, etc.

There's a reason most religious ceremonies, churches, and other religious things are all typically the same. They trigger the neural responses associated with spirituality. I would associate this same feeling I get when I listen to and play music.

I would also postulate that this is why some people are religious while others are not. I never got any sort of spiritual experience while at church, and as such has led me to not be religious or spiritual... along with other reasons. I would also postulate that this is why some people love music and others do not. For some, listening to music stimulates similar spiritual experiences that church and other religious practices do.

Some, like myself, are put into meditative trances when playing music with others (this is especially obvious in jam sessions). I associate this with a spiritual experience, as those who have described such experiences achieve similar results.

 

I would agree with what you say. But the observations of neural activity does not disprove the existence of god. It only proves reproducible brain activity under controlled conditions. It is possible that the trance state induced by your music is a spiritual state, just not a Christian one, and somebody that considers the supernatural real would easily make this claim. Which is what leads these conversations in never ending circles.


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wavefreak wrote: with what

wavefreak wrote:
with what you say. But the observations of neural activity does not disprove the existence of god. It only proves reproducible brain activity under controlled conditions. It is possible that the trance state induced by your music is a spiritual state, just not a Christian one, and somebody that considers the supernatural real would easily make this claim. Which is what leads these conversations in never ending circles.

I would say that the spiritual experiences that Christians experience to be the same, if not very similar, to my experiences with music... as they are who I obtained my definition of spiritual experience. The way they describe things like 'A state of Grace' perfectly coorelates with my trance-like state when playing an instrument.

While, no, this does not denote the existance of a God, it does suggest that there is indeed no such thing as a God induced spiritual experience for reasons which Hamby stated.


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Hambydammit wrote: Wave,

Hambydammit wrote:

Wave, sorry to tell you this, but you're making the same objection I mentioned earlier.

There are two possible explanations (at least... I won't rule out more, but I can't think of them)

1) Electro-chemical impulses in the brain create mystical experiences, which humans attribute to a made up deity.

2) A deity which cannot be empirically verified created the brain in such a way that humans would, through completely natural means, perceive mystical experiences, which they would then attribute to the otherwise unverifiable deity.

Occam chooses door number one.

Furthermore, #2 does nothing to explain how the supernatural can interact with the natural. If it did, there would be evidence of it, and so far, all the research points to a 1:1 correlation. Mystical experience=temporal lobe stimulation. That points away from an explanation that includes god.

Furthermore, it not only points away from god, but it virtually eliminates the Christian god, for if this is how he interacts, why then do all religious people experience it the same way when their religion is wrong? God is left either evil, or nonexistent, once again.

(I know you're not Christian. I'm just pre-emptively dealing with that aspect of it.)

 

 

But the expermient doesn't talk about how or why. It is only an observation of *what* is happening. You can't conflate the evidence into statements for or against the existence of god. It is a non-sequiter. And invoking Occam's razor to support the non-existence of god is a missapplication of the idea. Occam's razor is a hueristic for deciding on useful questions to ask in light of available evidence. The evidence generated in this experiment points to specific regions in the brain which are consistently and reproducibly involved in religious experiences and trance states. It says nothing about what these states mean or if they have any external referents. What is needed is a negative result similar to the Michelson Morely experiment century that showed the concept of aether was invalid.  Unfortunately, the design of such an experiment may require a positive ontology for god concepts.


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Quote: But the expermient

Quote:
But the expermient doesn't talk about how or why. It is only an observation of *what* is happening.

100% correct.

Quote:
You can't conflate the evidence into statements for or against the existence of god.

Nor have I. Wait for it...

Quote:
And invoking Occam's razor to support the non-existence of god is a missapplication of the idea.

No it isn't. It's exactly what the idea is designed for. Occam's razor is simply the truism (not universal truth) that states that most often, the simplest explanation that includes all the evidence and excludes extraneous additions is correct. That's it. It applies perfectly to this case where there are two possible explanations, and one includes a completely unexplained and unnecessary addition, namely god.

Quote:
What is needed is a negative result similar to the Michelson Morely experiment century that showed the concept of aether was invalid.

You're suggesting that because god has been postulated as an answer that he needs to be disproven before he can be discounted. This is, of course, not true, else we'd never get around to actually proving anything. Since there's no explanation offered for how god magically interacts with the temporal lobe, we can do one of two things:

1) Look for evidence. (Good luck with that, and please let me know when you find it, so I can attend the prize ceremony. I feel like I've helped enough.)

2) Admit that it's a red herring and continue with the science.

I'm perfectly happy to let you fritter your life away looking for evidence, but until you have it, you can't say with any authority that god is a plausible answer.

Quote:
Unfortunately, the design of such an experiment may require a positive ontology for god concepts.

Unfortunately?

This sounds like personal bias on your part! Tsk, tsk. How about we just leave the god idea behind until someone comes up with a description of god that we can test? If you want to do that, kudos to you, but I think it's been demonstrated enough that any supernatural ontology is an oxymoron...

Therefore:

If God exists, then it is natural.

If it is natural, science can detect it.

If science can detect it, then when they do, they will verify it.

If they verify it, then god will be a plausible explanation.

Until then, since there's no ontology for god, postulating it as a possible explanation is ridiculous and both scientifically and logically unsound.

 

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Quote: What is needed is a

Quote:
What is needed is a negative result similar to the Michelson Morely experiment century that showed the concept of aether was invalid. Unfortunately, the design of such an experiment may require a positive ontology for god concepts.

Furthermore...

You've said as much in your own post! How ridiculous is the following proposal:

"We have a documented phenomenon in which electrochemical triggers cause the temporal lobe to induce something that we call 'mystical experiences.' I propose as a possible answer a concept called 'Chom-chom.' Chom-chom is indescribable, despite the fact that I just gave it a positive attribute. You shouldn't worry about that. Trust me, it makes sense. Anyway, chom-chom interacts with the brain, somehow... I'm not sure how, because, if you recall, it's indescribable. Despite the fact that there is a complete theory, in which electricity and chemicals behave in predictable ways, I propose that we assume that chom-chom is responsible for these mystical experiences, either some or all of the time, because the mystical experiences make me think that chom-chom is real."

Are you going to sell that to the science community? I wouldn't dare try.

 

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Yeah, I think I made a

Yeah, I think I made a thread about this a while back. Ever since that study came out in 2001, I've been fascinated by it. However, I fail to see how offering a tentative scientific explanation for a religious experience "backs God into the corner".

I appreciate and admire the efforts of the scientists involved, but I'd hesitate to call a room full of metal helmeted atheists proof that God doesn't exist.

Also, I think it's interesting that Richard Dawkins, perhaps the premier atheist of our time, failed to have an "experience".


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jmm wrote: I appreciate

jmm wrote:

I appreciate and admire the efforts of the scientists involved, but I'd hesitate to call a room full of metal helmeted atheists proof that God doesn't exist.

Again, it's not proof. It counters any claim that one needs to know God to have a spiritual experience OR that a spiritual experience is related to God in any way.


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Hambydammit wrote: If God

Hambydammit wrote:

If God exists, then it is natural.

If it is natural, science can detect it.

If science can detect it, then when they do, they will verify it.

If they verify it, then god will be a plausible explanation.

Until then, since there's no ontology for god, postulating it as a possible explanation is ridiculous and both scientifically and logically unsound.

Or something like that.

 

I should have stayed out of this oneLaughing I'm still "learning the language" that is spoken here. Until 10 weeks ago, the phrase "god has no ontology" had never entered my brain. Much of what is said here makes alot of sense. But until I have integrated it better, I won't be making any commitments either way. So I'll fritter away until I'm sure of my understanding. I'm sort of stubborn that way. I have multiple levels of understanding. There is the initial  "hmm ... that makes sense". Then I have to chew on it. Turn it over in my head 10,000 times. Jump up and down on it. Smash it up against the wall. And REALLY understand it.

I'm still chewing.


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CrimsonEdge wrote: jmm

CrimsonEdge wrote:
jmm wrote:

I appreciate and admire the efforts of the scientists involved, but I'd hesitate to call a room full of metal helmeted atheists proof that God doesn't exist.

Again, it's not proof. It counters any claim that one needs to know God to have a spiritual experience OR that a spiritual experience is related to God in any way.

It also makes the error of assuming that a lab-controlled neurological experiment is the same as a bona fide religious experience.  I'm thinking they're going to have a tough time with that one.  

Also, how does one account for the powerful religious experiences that occur outside of any stimulus - be it meditation, the god helmet, psychedelic drugs, etc?  My most profound religious experiences just came out of nowhere, materially speaking.   


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Yep, jmm.  You've missed

Yep, jmm.  You've missed the point entirely.

There are two possible explanations:

1) Natural

2) Supernatural

As you've admitted, supernatural is unverifiable, indescribable, and inherently contradictory.  Therefore, we can effectively dismiss #2 as a possible answer.  If we don't, then we literally have to throw science out the window and abandon all hope for knowlege.  I know you don't see how that's so, but it is.

If there is something involved in this process that science hasn't identified, it is natural.  If that's so, then scientific inquiry is the way to find it.  Speculating about the supernatural is all fine and dandy, but until there is a proposal on the table for exactly how it has anything to do with the question, the speculation is rightfully ignored as a viable possibility.

It's not proof against god.  It's evidence for nature.

Evidence for nature is evidence against god, since god is "supernature."  Get it?

Law of non-contradiction.

 

 

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Quote: It also makes the

Quote:
It also makes the error of assuming that a lab-controlled neurological experiment is the same as a bona fide religious experience.

This is your argument, not theirs.  The scientist simply says, "We've studied people having religious experiences, and this is what happened in their brain."

(That's how they started studying this, by the way.  They got religious people, and tested them while they were having what they claimed were religious experiences.)

If a religious experience is something else, then somebody needs to formulate a description of how it is different, and what it actually is.  Until then, the best evidence is that this is the way things are.

It's not an argument.  It's evidence.  The two are completely different.

 

Quote:
Also, how does one account for the powerful religious experiences that occur outside of any stimulus - be it meditation, the god helmet, psychedelic drugs, etc?  My most profound religious experiences just came out of nowhere, materially speaking.  

To claim this, you must demonstrate that there are religious experiences that occur without any stimulus.  Effect without a cause.  Good luck.

You didn't perceive any stimulus.  Doesn't mean there wasn't one.  People still managed to breathe before they knew that oxygen was in the air.

 

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Hambydammit wrote: If God

Hambydammit wrote:

If God exists, then it is natural.

If it is natural, science can detect it.

If science can detect it, then when they do, they will verify it.

If they verify it, then god will be a plausible explanation.

Until then, since there's no ontology for god, postulating it as a possible explanation is ridiculous and both scientifically and logically unsound.

How could God possibly be natural? That's absurd. God is even less able to be confined by nature than I am to be confined to the visual representations (notation) of the songs I write. You cannot be bound by what you create - that's irrational.

Science will never be able to detect God, because science is a discipline of the material. Again, God is not bound to the material universe, since he allegedly created it.

A plausibly explained God fails to be God. For man to fully (or even partially) understand God is equivalent to the dissolution of God himself. My God is unfathomable, and that's beautiful.

There will never be an ontology for God, because ontology deals with the material universe. Besides, why would you want a scientific or logical explanation for anything? Sure, scientific explanations can be handy from time to time, but science changes more than any other discipline. For instance, the theory of continental drift was preached as gospel truth by geologists less than 100 years ago. Now they let us know that it's simply a punchline - while dogmatically preaching the gospel of plate tectonics out of the other side of their mouth. I'm sure that in a few hundred years they'll be laughing at plate tectonics just as hard as they lauged at continental drift. And we all know where logic leads us:

-no cause and effect

-the ability for us to perceive colors as a totally different and subjective experiences from each other - yet somehow still magically point to blood and identify it as red, to grass and identify it as green, to the Beatles self-titled album and identify it as white, etc.

-intergalactic teapots

-Zeno's paradoxes

and a host of other absurdities. Like I've preached since day one on this forum, I'd seriously reconsider using science, logic, and empirical experience as the end-all be-all window through which you view and synthesize reality. Existence is absurd, and filtering it through such rigidly dogmatic formulas only serves to ultimately lead you to the biggest absurdity of all - that matter and energy not only always existed sans a creator, but that this conclusion is perfectly logical and sensible.


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jmm wrote: CrimsonEdge

jmm wrote:
CrimsonEdge wrote:
jmm wrote:

I appreciate and admire the efforts of the scientists involved, but I'd hesitate to call a room full of metal helmeted atheists proof that God doesn't exist.

Again, it's not proof. It counters any claim that one needs to know God to have a spiritual experience OR that a spiritual experience is related to God in any way.

It also makes the error of assuming that a lab-controlled neurological experiment is the same as a bona fide religious experience. I'm thinking they're going to have a tough time with that one.

Please explain what a bona-fide religious experience is. I.E. What is considered a religious experience and what is not? 

Quote:
Also, how does one account for the powerful religious experiences that occur outside of any stimulus - be it meditation, the god helmet, psychedelic drugs, etc? My most profound religious experiences just came out of nowhere, materially speaking.

I'm not sure what the god helmet is, but I can answer the other two. Both meditation and certin psychedelics stimulate certain parts of your brain that induce spiritual experiences. This effect is exactly the same as my musical trances. I know for a fact that the meditation is the same as my musical trances as I have experienced both.

From my own experiences, and from noting what others have said about their religious experiences, both are the same (with some very subtle differences that I denote to simply being a human), or atleast VERY similar. 

What we call a "spiritual experience" is nothing more than a certain part of our brain functioning to certain events. 


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Quote: Like I've preached

Quote:
Like I've preached since day one on this forum, I'd seriously reconsider using science, logic, and empirical experience as the end-all be-all window through which you view and synthesize reality.

It really isn't our fault that you haven't learned by now that it is absolutely, completely, and in all other ways utterly impossible to know anything without using logic, empirical experience, and through extension, science as a foundation. The fact that you believe otherwise is sad, but does nothing to damage the ultimate truth of it.

Your post could be the poster-child for RRS, as it demonstrates the utter absurdity of the theist position. The fact that you believe it without question demonstrates the depth of the brainwashing that religion is capable of.

I truly don't know any other way to respond to you. If you've studied the philosophy of thought and knowledge at all, and can still postulate with a straight face knowledge without empiricism and logic, then there truly is no hope for you, and I am sorry for that.

 

 

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Hambydammit wrote: Yep,

Hambydammit wrote:

Yep, jmm. You've missed the point entirely.

There are two possible explanations:

1) Natural

2) Supernatural

As you've admitted, supernatural is unverifiable, indescribable, and inherently contradictory. Therefore, we can effectively dismiss #2 as a possible answer. If we don't, then we literally have to throw science out the window and abandon all hope for knowlege. I know you don't see how that's so, but it is.

If there is something involved in this process that science hasn't identified, it is natural. If that's so, then scientific inquiry is the way to find it. Speculating about the supernatural is all fine and dandy, but until there is a proposal on the table for exactly how it has anything to do with the question, the speculation is rightfully ignored as a viable possibility.

It's not proof against god. It's evidence for nature.

Evidence for nature is evidence against god, since god is "supernature." Get it?

Law of non-contradiction.

I never said that science should be thrown out the window, but I do think that it should be taken with a relative pinch of salt, seeing as how virtually everything changes in the scientific community over the course of time.  Science seems to be helpful, but ultimately leads us nowhere in and of itself. 

Option #2 is effectively dismissed only through the dogmatically rigid formulas of science - which, again, have led us to the ultra-irrational conclusion that matter and energy always existed, sans a creator.  

It's easy to construct a set of parameters in which only one answer is acceptable.  Kind of like the pre-war voting ballots in Iraq:

[ ] Saddam Hussein

[ ] Die

*Choose wisely

Yet in America (and several other countries) we operate under a completely different set of parameters.  We're free to vote for whoever we want to vote for - we can even write people in.  So to say that your set of parameters are the only ones that are meaningful is sort of like cheating, especially since your parameters lead us to even greater absurdities than mine.  

Rejecting science as the end-all be-all window through which we view and synthesize the universe is not equivalent to abandoning all hope for knowledge.  Quite the opposite, actually.  It seeks to expand knowledge beyond the points in which science has failed and will always fail.  

It's a bit hasty (if not downright incorrect) to say that any currently unidentified processes which may exist are also merely natural.  If science can definitively explain to me how it is logical that matter and energy always existed without a creator, then I will gladly concede this point, denounce Christianity, and smear my naked body in goat's blood.  Until then, I'll stick to my "irrational delusions".  

Science leaves us with just as much (if not more) speculation than the supernatural, seeing as how the vast majority of scientific subdisciplines are speculative to the core (geology, evolutionary biology, etc).  So by your logic, we should also completely throw out science as well, seeing as how it leaves us with speculation.  This is not my view of course, as I believe that all intellectual disciplines lead to partial truth.  I believe in a synthesis of knowledge that is inclusive of all compelling data, be it scientific, artistic, supernatural, mathematical, or whatever.  

How can evidence for nature be evidence against God?  Just because music theorists sit around and decipher every nuance of J.S. Bach's body of work doesn't mean that Bach is any less responsible for them after the fact.  It just means that a bunch of anal retentive assholes got together and sucked all the joy and exhiliaration out of his work for themselves.   

Evidence for nature is evidence against god, since god is "supernature." Get it?

Law of non-contradiction.

Yeah, I get it.  I violently disagree, but I get what you're saying.  Something tells me that God is probably not limited to Aristotle's law, though.  If God exists, then he preceeded Aristotle by...well, an infinite amount of time, really.  

Okay, I've rambled on (and enjoyed it very much, by the way), but here's my bottom line:  science cannot currently account for the very beginning of existence.  It is a somewhat useful but also wildly unreliable discipline that for whatever reason, people have deemed the be-all end-all.  But science has failed, and it continues to fail.  It is a discipline of failure, really (so is my discipline, philosophy).  Until science can definitively give me a plausible, rational explanation for the origins of matter and energy sans a creator, I will stick to my irrational, contradictory claims of God's existence.  After all, it seems as though in light of current science, it is logical to at least entertain the idea that something exists beyond our five senses, and that furthermore it is very much a contradictory entity.  

 

 


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Hambydammit

Hambydammit wrote:

Quote:
Like I've preached since day one on this forum, I'd seriously reconsider using science, logic, and empirical experience as the end-all be-all window through which you view and synthesize reality.

Your post could be the poster-child for RRS, as it demonstrates the utter absurdity of the theist position. The fact that you believe it without question demonstrates the depth of the brainwashing that religion is capable of.

Whoa now, hold your horses. To say that I believe anything without question is an insult of the highest order, seeing as how I've devoted my life to thought and the pursuit of knowledge. This is a perfect example of how the atheists on this forum build up these strawman theists and then burn them down. I'm not the mindless, religious zealot that you've made me out to be. Far, far from it, actually. And this surprises me, seeing as how I've had far more interaction with you than any other RRS member. You know good and well that I'm not like that.  I consider myself to be a pretty independent (yes, albeit religious) thinker, so to say that I'm brainwashed makes me furrow my eyebrows vigorously.  

Quote:
I truly don't know any other way to respond to you. If you've studied the philosophy of thought and knowledge at all, and can still postulate with a straight face knowledge without empiricism and logic, then there truly is no hope for you, and I am sorry for that.

I have studied the philosophy of knowledge, and I think that it's largely bullshit. Obviously. Empiricism and logic can only take us so far; they can't take us to the beginning.  Philosophy, in my summation, is a discipline of beginnings and ends; science fails to take us anywhere near either.  

 

 


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Alright... in an attempt to

Alright... in an attempt to better remain focused on the central argument of threads, I will attempt to summarize in a way most favorable to the atheist position.

Science proves the all types of spiritual experiences and feelings can be replicated through non-spiritual experiences.

Therefore, theist are challenged, in the words of Hamby, to respond to this:

"How is god interacting supernaturally (whatever that is) with these perfectly natural processes?"

"Electricity is produced . . . [and] temporal lobes are formed normally . . . External stimuli (preachers yelling, meditation, music) are produced naturally . . . So what's left over?" 

 


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jmm, the flaw in your logic

jmm, the flaw in your logic is that you only throw out things that you don't fully understand and suggest that there is a higher knowledge to be gained through unconventional means.

I suggest, then, that you give us some examples where things like religion have made society, as a whole, closer to some extreme truth and then show how science can not bring us to it.


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jmm wrote: Hambydammit

jmm wrote:
Hambydammit wrote:

If God exists, then it is natural.

If it is natural, science can detect it.

If science can detect it, then when they do, they will verify it.

If they verify it, then god will be a plausible explanation.

Until then, since there's no ontology for god, postulating it as a possible explanation is ridiculous and both scientifically and logically unsound.

How could God possibly be natural? That's absurd. God is even less able to be confined by nature than I am to be confined to the visual representations (notation) of the songs I write. You cannot be bound by what you create - that's irrational.

 If God is to interact with the world (ie. change it or answer prayers, etc.), he MUST leave evidence of doing so. If you interact with the physical world, you're going to leave your mark there. In your musical analogy, suppose you wrote a piece of music on paper. We'd be able to see, incontrovertently, the evidence of you having written on it. Moreover, if you went about erasing and revising certain melodies, you would leave evidence of having done so.

 If god interacts with the world, he absolutley must leave a natural link, along with natural evidence in doing so. As it stands, there is no evidence for any god being interacting with the universe. So the only position in which god could possibly fit is a profoundly deist position, in which case he wouldn't be considered much of a god at all. Heck, even the act of observing the universe would require this god being to  alter it in some way. To "see" it he'd have to pick up light, which would be observable, or perhaps he'd map it out by bouncing gravity waves around, and even this would be visible in the universe. What I'm getting at is that there's positively no way for a god to interact with the univserse without leaving some trace of his natural or otherwise existence.

 And say, when you die, you believe in an afterlife. Suppose your "spirit" arose from your body and "ascended" into heaven. Surely there'd be some evidence of this occuring, some measurable event happening between "natural" and "supernatural". There would have to be positive evidence for a soul if it were to move anywhere, much less outside of the universe itself. 

 


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Rhad wrote: Alright... in

Rhad wrote:

Alright... in an attempt to better remain focused on the central argument of threads, I will attempt to summarize in a way most favorable to the atheist position.

Science proves the all types of spiritual experiences and feelings can be replicated through non-spiritual experiences.

Therefore, theist are challenged, in the words of Hamby, to respond to this:

"How is god interacting supernaturally (whatever that is) with these perfectly natural processes?"

"Electricity is produced . . . [and] temporal lobes are formed normally . . . External stimuli (preachers yelling, meditation, music) are produced naturally . . . So what's left over?"

Rhad, every time I'm sure you're never going to understand me, you come through for me and prove me wrong.

Thanks for the clarification.

 

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jmm wrote: I never said

jmm wrote:
I never said that science should be thrown out the window

I know you didn't mean to say this, but it's what you're saying. I'm sorry you don't see the connection. It's been covered enough times, but when I have more time, I'll write a little essay about it... again.

Quote:
but I do think that it should be taken with a relative pinch of salt, seeing as how virtually everything changes in the scientific community over the course of time. Science seems to be helpful, but ultimately leads us nowhere in and of itself.

Science changes by refinement as we attain more knowledge. Virtually everything does change because science relies on the unknown. Once we know everything (hypothetically, of course!) there will be no need for science.

And you still have yet to produce any alternative that makes any sense.

Quote:
Option #2 is effectively dismissed only through the dogmatically rigid formulas of science - which, again, have led us to the ultra-irrational conclusion that matter and energy always existed, sans a creator.

Before you call this conclusion irrational, you must demonstrate its irrationality, which you haven't. This statement can be dismissed as unfounded.

Quote:

It's easy to construct a set of parameters in which only one answer is acceptable. Kind of like the pre-war voting ballots in Iraq:

[ ] Saddam Hussein

[ ] Die

This is a logical fallacy, known colloquially as a "loaded question" in which either answer points to the answer that the questioner wants. When you have things that are contradictory, one or the other must be true, assuming that you are dealing with "real things," i.e. things that have identity.

"Natural" describes everything that exists.

Since anything that exists must be natural because of that definition, "supernatural" cannot possibly exist.

Even if we concede momentarily the possibility of the supernatural, what objection could you possibly make to these two choices? If there is "nature" and "supernature," why would you suggest that it's a loaded question to say that something must be one or the other?

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Yet in America (and several other countries) we operate under a completely different set of parameters. We're free to vote for whoever we want to vote for - we can even write people in. So to say that your set of parameters are the only ones that are meaningful is sort of like cheating, especially since your parameters lead us to even greater absurdities than mine.

Do you want to talk about politics or science?

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Rejecting science as the end-all be-all window through which we view and synthesize the universe is not equivalent to abandoning all hope for knowledge. Quite the opposite, actually. It seeks to expand knowledge beyond the points in which science has failed and will always fail.

You cannot say this without demonstrating knowledge without induction or deduction.

Until you demonstrate this as a possibility, you're not saying anything.

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It's a bit hasty (if not downright incorrect) to say that any currently unidentified processes which may exist are also merely natural. If science can definitively explain to me how it is logical that matter and energy always existed without a creator, then I will gladly concede this point, denounce Christianity, and smear my naked body in goat's blood. Until then, I'll stick to my "irrational delusions".

And people like you are why we're here. If we can reduce the number of people in the next generation who are raised believing such nonsense, the world will be a better place.

Once again, you fail to grasp the ultimate paradox of the "prime mover" or "uncaused cause" argument. It must beg the question, and therefore is, at all points, unfounded.

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Science leaves us with just as much (if not more) speculation than the supernatural, seeing as how the vast majority of scientific subdisciplines are speculative to the core (geology, evolutionary biology, etc).

No, science is constantly reducing the number of unknowns through empirical observation. There will always be unknowns. It is a mathematical certainty. However, your failure to grasp the basic nature of the scientific method is obvious here. Again, science relies on the unknown, and moves from the known to the unknown through logic and empiricism, which are the only demonstrable means of attaining knowledge.

Again, demonstrate knowledge without induction or deduction, and we'll talk. Until then, you're just making noise, not coherent sense.

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So by your logic, we should also completely throw out science as well, seeing as how it leaves us with speculation.

It's hard for me to imagine anything so non-sequitur as this comment. I honestly think this conclusion is the farthest possible conclusion from the correct one that's possible. Wavefreak will probably prove me wrong, but until then, I stand by it. This is the most absurd conclusion possible.

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I believe in a synthesis of knowledge that is inclusive of all compelling data, be it scientific, artistic, supernatural, mathematical, or whatever.

Demonstrate "supernatural knowledge" or stop claiming it.

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How can evidence for nature be evidence against God?

Evidence, jmm, is something that points us in a direction. It's not a proof. That's something you can use evidence to build. If I see blood on the carpet, it's evidence that points to someone bleeding while standing on the carpet. It doesn't prove it so, but it helps build a case.

My point is that there's lots of evidence -- real, solid, empirical evidence that points to religious experience being totally invented by the human mind. If you'd like to present real, solid, empirical evidence that shows otherwise, that's fine. But... if all the evidence points to the mind, and none points to "god," what's the verdict?

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Just because music theorists sit around and decipher every nuance of J.S. Bach's body of work doesn't mean that Bach is any less responsible for them after the fact. It just means that a bunch of anal retentive assholes got together and sucked all the joy and exhiliaration out of his work for themselves.

Huh?

What does this have to do with anything at all? I like Bach. It's fun to play fugues. Next topic.

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Yeah, I get it. I violently disagree, but I get what you're saying.

Disagree all you want, but until you present evidence that contradicts me, you're what we call "wrong."

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Something tells me that God is probably not limited to Aristotle's law, though. If God exists, then he preceeded Aristotle by...well, an infinite amount of time, really.

And if Aristotle really was god incarnate, then he preceded himself by seven point nine nanoseconds, because he's infinite, and can do anything he wants. And monkeys live inside George Bush's eyeballs.

(Well, that last one is pretty plausible, but you get my point.)

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Okay, I've rambled on (and enjoyed it very much, by the way)

I always enjoy responding to ramblings. I'd prefer it if you understood my responses better, but I'm still trying. That's why we have this site! Keep rambling!

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science cannot currently account for the very beginning of existence

True.

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It is a somewhat useful but also wildly unreliable discipline that for whatever reason, people have deemed the be-all end-all

Untrue.

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But science has failed, and it continues to fail.

Also untrue. An obvious misunderstanding of the scientific method. Perhaps I can talk BGH into collaborating on a book page explaining this.

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Until science can definitively give me a plausible, rational explanation for the origins of matter and energy sans a creator, I will stick to my irrational, contradictory claims of God's existence.

And I can't improve on your own description of how crazy this is.

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After all, it seems as though in light of current science, it is logical to at least entertain the idea that something exists beyond our five senses, and that furthermore it is very much a contradictory entity.

If you were talking about anything other than religion, someone might suggest locking you up for observation for a while. That's how lunatic this proposal is.

I'm not blaming you for the lunacy. You've been brainwashed, and it's not your fault.

 

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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Quote: Whoa now, hold your

Quote:
Whoa now, hold your horses. To say that I believe anything without question is an insult of the highest order, seeing as how I've devoted my life to thought and the pursuit of knowledge.

Ok. Fair to say. How about this: You believe despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, and answer the questions you ask with irrational answers.

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This is a perfect example of how the atheists on this forum build up these strawman theists and then burn them down. I'm not the mindless, religious zealot that you've made me out to be. Far, far from it, actually. And this surprises me, seeing as how I've had far more interaction with you than any other RRS member.

You're very thoughtful, and a good human being, who just has an enormous blind spot when it comes to religion. Again, i don't fault you for this. It's not your fault. This is why you'd make such a great poster child.

You think very well so long as it's not about god. Then, logic just flies out the window.

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You know good and well that I'm not like that. I consider myself to be a pretty independent (yes, albeit religious) thinker, so to say that I'm brainwashed makes me furrow my eyebrows vigorously.

You're brainwashed.

One of the neat things about brainwashing, psychologically speaking, is that the one who's brainwashed can't see it, but everyone around him can.

It's why you can look at say, people who believe in um... say...

Actually, I'm being totally serious here. I can't think of anything. You believe something so absurd, that I can't think of anything so absurd that you wouldn't at least give it some thought. I sat for at least three minutes trying to think of something to finish that sentence.

Maybe you can help me here. Think of something that you think is absolutely absurd -- It has to be something that some people actually believe wholeheartedly. You can see that it's absurd, right? But try to convince them, and see where you get... Nowhere. Because they're brainwashed.

Yeah, I know, you're going to use atheists as an example. Problem with that, jmm is that atheists, by your own admission, use logic and science to arrive at their conclusions, and you're the one who admits to using illogic and irrationality.

(And you'll still say that you're right and we're wrong! And you can't see that you're brainwashed?? Astonishing!)

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I have studied the philosophy of knowledge, and I think that it's largely bullshit.

Ok. You realize I'm going to ask you for proof of this, right?

What logic did you use to reach this conclusion?

Or... was it illogic...

So... you used illogic to prove that logic isn't logically logical?

And you wonder why I think you're brainwashed?

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Obviously. Empiricism and logic can only take us so far; they can't take us to the beginning.

Actually, empiricism can't take us to before the beginning (big bang). It might be able to get us there, but we don't know yet. Logic might very well take us to before the big bang. It's an assumption (and a groundless one... you just admitted it) to assume that the big bang was the beginning.

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Philosophy, in my summation, is a discipline of beginnings and ends; science fails to take us anywhere near either.

Once again, it baffles me that you've studied philosophy and science and make such fundamental errors regarding their nature.

Philosophy is, simply, the study of knowledge. Science is the study of all things empirical, including knowledge, in many cases. How you can disregard them so flippantly is beyond me.

But that's because I'm thinking about it logically.

*******

Jmm, I hope you take my debate as just that. Debate. I'm saying some harsh things about you, but I'm saying them honestly, and from the bottom of my heart. I respect you enough to tell you what I think, and I don't take offense when you disagree with me, so I hope you will take what I say in the same light. Just to be perfectly clear, I think you're a good person with every intention of arriving at truth, and I respect your honesty. I think you're dreadfully wrong, and brainwashed, and I'm trying to help you get un-brainwashed. Please don't take my responses as angry or insulting. I'm just telling you my honest opinions, and I always expect the same from you. That's what debate's all about.

On a complete side note, I really dig your new avatar.

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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dammit, hamby...  But

dammit, hamby...

 But seriously though, I'll respond at further length when I'm in a more appropriate state of mind, as I'm currently fighting a massive ear infection.  But a few tentative thoughts:

I can't really think of any way to answer your questions in an acceptable way right now.  I don't particularly consider myself a lunatic, at least not for the reasons that you do.  Haha.  I also vehemently deny all accusations of being brainwashed.  I was certainly brainwashed as a child, as most of us were, but I've let go of the idea of God and regrasped it multiple times throughout the course of my relatively short life.  Each time I leave and return, I make the idea more my own personal idea - at least I strive for that.  Organized religion seems more absurd each time I come back, even Christianity.  I suppose that it would be safe to say that I come from a Christian perspective simply because that was the faith I was raised in.  You may call it brainwashing, but relatively speaking, it's no more a matter of brainwashing than someone speaking English because they were raised in an English speaking country.  It's the channel through which I search for God.  And I search for God simply because I'm compelled seemingly beyond my own will to do so.  I can't offer you a chart or a graph or an equation that causes that to make sense or be logical, but nonetheless, that's where I am, and I'm quite enthralled with my search for knowledge and meaning, as we all are.  Some of us just take the scenic route, I suppose, and that's no reason to lock someone up.  


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Quote: I was certainly

Quote:
I was certainly brainwashed as a child

plus

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Organized religion seems more absurd each time I come back, even Christianity.  I suppose that it would be safe to say that I come from a Christian perspective simply because that was the faith I was raised in.

(bold italic is my emphasis) 

This is what brainwashing does, jmm.  You can look it square in the face, call it exactly what it is, and then deny that you have it.

 What else do you need here?

1) Belief in god is illogical by your own admission.

2) You admit that as a child you were brainwashed.

3) You admit you believe because you were raised in it.

4) You continue to believe, admitting that it's illogical

5) You say you're not brainwashed.

You tell me, jmm.  That sure sounds like brainwashed to me.

 

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You may call it brainwashing, but relatively speaking, it's no more a matter of brainwashing than someone speaking English because they were raised in an English speaking country.

Your talent for creating false analogies is prodigious.  

 English is a language.  Theism is a belief in a contradictory deity.  Being taught English does not include being taught that all other languages are false, or that English is the perfect language. 

 

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t's the channel through which I search for God.  And I search for God simply because I'm compelled seemingly beyond my own will to do so.

English is the channel through which you search for god?  Not logic?

I'm really confused about that.

And you don't find your compulsion to be evidence of brainwashing?  Because it's evidence of this contradictory god you believe in, since it's true, because you were raised with it?  

And you're not brainwashed...

 

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I can't offer you a chart or a graph or an equation that causes that to make sense or be logical,

No argument from me.

 

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but nonetheless, that's where I am, and I'm quite enthralled with my search for knowledge and meaning, as we all are.

But, even though you've seen over and over that atheists can offer up proof that supernatural deities do not exist, you persist in believing.

And you're not brainwashed.

 

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Some of us just take the scenic route, I suppose, and that's no reason to lock someone up. 

Read what I wrote carefully.  I said if you believed that about something other than religion, people would consider locking you up for observation.

I stand by that.

Consider a person who went around handing out tracts and preaching to everyone about the invisible aliens living in his pantry.  The aliens were telling him that in order to save the universe, people needed to all start wearing women's underwear on their ears between the hours of 3 and 6, eastern standard time, and that if they didn't, the world would end.

His position is just as unprovable as yours, yet he's a lunatic.  What makes you better?

(I'll answer for you...  If you think there's a better answer, chime in, but I meant it kind of as a rhetorical question)

Mass Lunacy.  Lots and lots of people happen to believe it, and we simply can't go about calling millions -- nay billions of people lunatics, can we?

Ok... that's true.  We can't.  But, we can call it what it is.

(Picture me pointing up to the top of the RRS page, at the place where we say "Mind Disease Known as Theism."

 You're not a lunatic, jmm.  You just believe something that is so absurd you ought to have given it up with Santa and the Easter Bunny.

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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Hambydammit

Hambydammit wrote:

Quote:
I was certainly brainwashed as a child

plus

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Organized religion seems more absurd each time I come back, even Christianity. I suppose that it would be safe to say that I come from a Christian perspective simply because that was the faith I was raised in.

(bold italic is my emphasis)

This is what brainwashing does, jmm. You can look it square in the face, call it exactly what it is, and then deny that you have it.

What else do you need here?

1) Belief in god is illogical by your own admission.

2) You admit that as a child you were brainwashed.

3) You admit you believe because you were raised in it.

4) You continue to believe, admitting that it's illogical

5) You say you're not brainwashed.

You tell me, jmm. That sure sounds like brainwashed to me.

1)  I mean, it's clearly not ultimately illogical to me, but I take other factors into account that y'all don't.  I do admit that it's illogical from a naturalists perspective - one perspective of many.  

2)  Well sure, I think that most of us were.  I've seen many people on this board say that.

3)  Here's where you're misrepresenting me a little.  I need to emphasize an important distinction:  I do not believe because I was raised in a very religious (and quite dysfunctional) household, I simply search for God via Christianity because it is most familiar to me.  I believe for reasons of my own:  believing that matter and energy always existed sans a creator is more absurd to me than believing that someone created it; so to me it is a logical conclusion that if science offers compelling evidence that matter and energy always existed, then there must have been a prime mover.  Whether or not this was the Christian God is certainly still a mystery to me, but the notion that some sort of God orchestrated it, well that's somewhat less of a mystery to me.  

4)  Yes.  But again, particularly illogical from the naturalist point of view, but certainly not from all points of view.  And seeing as how this is the prevalent point of view on this board, that's the perspective that I address the question from.   

5)  Nope, definitely not brainwashed.  I'm 27 years old, and I left organized religion 6 and a half years ago.  Between then and now, my belief in God has come and gone.  Now if I were a 27 year old who had never strayed from church or the worldview that my family brought me up with, then sure, you'd most likely be correct in assuming that I'm brainwashed, but this is certainly not the case.  Faith isn't my strong suit, hamby, not by a long shot.  Of course in the end it doesn't make a huge difference whether or not you say that I'm brainwashed, it's just annoying that you keep asserting it like this.  I just don't see any reason to keep doing it, other than the fact that it gives you creedence on the board here, and takes mine away by continually throwing something like that at me.  

Hambydammit wrote:
Quote:
You may call it brainwashing, but relatively speaking, it's no more a matter of brainwashing than someone speaking English because they were raised in an English speaking country.

Your talent for creating false analogies is prodigious.

English is a language. Theism is a belief in a contradictory deity. Being taught English does not include being taught that all other languages are false, or that English is the perfect language.

Hey, you've got to be good at something.

But seriously, I know that it's a limited analogy.  I actually think that most (if not all) analogies are unnecessary, and I usually steer clear of using them, but I realize that I've had a hard time articulating my views in an acceptable way on this board, so I've resorted to the dreaded analogies.  Consider it my Pascal's Wager.  

The only point I was trying to make with this analogy is that one tends toward English for communication if raised in an English speaking country.  I know that language and spirituality are two different things, that's why I was hesitant to make the analogy.  I was just saying that Christianity was kind of like my "spiritual language".  It wasn't meant to be a grand declaration of logical truth, just an approximation.  If it bothers you, just ignore it.  It's not important, I was just trying to explain why going through Christianity was most comfortable for me on my God search. 

Hambydammit wrote:
Quote:
t's the channel through which I search for God. And I search for God simply because I'm compelled seemingly beyond my own will to do so.

English is the channel through which you search for god? Not logic?

I'm really confused about that.

And you don't find your compulsion to be evidence of brainwashing? Because it's evidence of this contradictory god you believe in, since it's true, because you were raised with it?

And you're not brainwashed...

No, Christianity is the channel through which I search for God.  English is the language that I speak.  This analogy has caused much heartache.  

And no, I don't find my compulsion to be evidence of brainwashing.  Like I said, my belief in God has come and gone over the years.  Of course you don't ever shed 100% of the way you were brought up.  As a student of psychology you should know that.  But yes, I'd like to think that I've shed the majority of the dogma and brainwashing of my boyhood.  

Hambydammit wrote:
Quote:
but nonetheless, that's where I am, and I'm quite enthralled with my search for knowledge and meaning, as we all are.

But, even though you've seen over and over that atheists can offer up proof that supernatural deities do not exist, you persist in believing.

And you're not brainwashed.

Atheists can offer up reasons why they think that supernatural deities don't exist, but I'd hesitate to call it proof.  Both sides offer up evidence, most of which is slanted, incomplete, and inconclusive.  And I wouldn't exactly call my belief persistent.  I am a man of very weak faith.  

Nope, not brainwashed.   

Hambydammit wrote:
Quote:
Some of us just take the scenic route, I suppose, and that's no reason to lock someone up.

Read what I wrote carefully. I said if you believed that about something other than religion, people would consider locking you up for observation.

I don't know, people have beliefs far more absurd than a belief in God.  Just look at all the conspiracy theorists out there.  The vast majority of them are harmless.  You don't get locked up unless you're a criminal or at least a potential danger to yourself and others.  I'm neither a criminal nor a danger to anyone.  Just because the Inquisition, the Crusades, and a bunch of other atrocities were done in the name of Christianity doesn't mean that all of us are automatically insane.  That sounds eerily familiar to the whole "sins of the father" thing that atheists can't stand. 

Hambydammit wrote:
Consider a person who went around handing out tracts and preaching to everyone about the invisible aliens living in his pantry. The aliens were telling him that in order to save the universe, people needed to all start wearing women's underwear on their ears between the hours of 3 and 6, eastern standard time, and that if they didn't, the world would end.

See, you atheists get all up in arms about Christians coming on here and rehashing Pascal's Wager, but if this isn't a rehash of Russell's Teapot, then I don't know what is.  Russell's Teapot is just as asinine as Pascal's Wager.  It doesn't take into account the fact that whether or not a teapot is revolving around the sun between earth and mars has absolutely no bearing on anything.  I know that talking about God and Jesus are two different things, but at least people from around that time period were talking about him, perhaps only in heresay, and despite Rook's valiant historical efforts, it's still a pretty unanimous view that Jesus actually did exist, son of God or not.  And of course the whole story is of the utmost consequence, providing that it's true.   

Hambydammit wrote:
His position is just as unprovable as yours, yet he's a lunatic. What makes you better?

(I'll answer for you... If you think there's a better answer, chime in, but I meant it kind of as a rhetorical question)

Mass Lunacy. Lots and lots of people happen to believe it, and we simply can't go about calling millions -- nay billions of people lunatics, can we?

Ok... that's true. We can't. But, we can call it what it is.

(Picture me pointing up to the top of the RRS page, at the place where we say "Mind Disease Known as Theism."

You're not a lunatic, jmm. You just believe something that is so absurd you ought to have given it up with Santa and the Easter Bunny.

Well, his position would be less provable than mine, seeing as how, like I said before, most historians would agree that Jesus at least existed.  All you would have to do is go to his pantry and see if the aliens were there or not.  If they're not there, the sure, he's probably flipping out a little.  It happens.  

Mass lunacy?  Well, I don't know.  The majority of earth's population is theistic, so at what point do you stop and reconsider which side the lunacy is coming from?  I mean, is it really rational to assume that the vast majority of earth's population is suffering some sort of serious delusion, and the remaining minority have it all correct?  I'm not saying that the truth of an assertion is a mere appeal to popularity, but your claim is extraordinary.  

 Look, the thing I hate most about all these scenarios, be it Pascal's Wager, Lewis's Trilemma, Russell's Teapot, or whatever, is that they are wildly inaccurate (much like my language analogy), and they leave out so much background information that it renders them useless.  It just so happens that my language analogy didn't concern the existence of God, it just served as a tentative explanation as to why I still go through Christianity. 

 


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I'm sorry, Justin. Your

I'm sorry, Justin. Your arguments are sounding really desparate. I'll not continue on the brainwashed thing, because that's not my point. I was answering specific claims you made with regard to that, and I don't see that you've successsfully answered any of my points.

Quote:
But again, particularly illogical from the naturalist point of view, but certainly not from all points of view. And seeing as how this is the prevalent point of view on this board, that's the perspective that I address the question from.

As always, I welcome any coherent description of a system in which your belief is logical. You keep saying, "Yeah, but in my world, it's logical." Fine, but there are only two options here:

1) Your view is describable in a way that is consistent with the real, perceivable world, and your view can be said to be sane (consistent with reality.)

2) Your view is indescribable and/or incoherent with regard to the real, perceivable world. If this is the case, then either you or your view is delusional, i.e. irrational.

Quote:
I just don't see any reason to keep doing it, other than the fact that it gives you creedence on the board here, and takes mine away by continually throwing something like that at me.

My point was to emphasize your inability to refute the claim. Your own writing fits the description of "brainwashed." You still haven't offered a description of your beliefs that differs from that of someone who is brainwashed. (FWIW, the definition I'm working with is "a brainwashed person believes an untruth as a result of coercion, deception, or early indoctrination, and is incapable or unwilling to see the error despite being shown clear evidence." )

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But seriously, I know that it's a limited analogy.

It is not limited. It's completely false.

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No, Christianity is the channel through which I search for God. English is the language that I speak. This analogy has caused much heartache.

I'd encourage you to make good analogies. Cuts down on heartaches.

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Atheists can offer up reasons why they think that supernatural deities don't exist, but I'd hesitate to call it proof.

1) "Natural" is a description of anything that exists in the universe.

1a) "The Universe" is described as all matter, energy, and space time that exists.

2) "Supernatural" is a description of anything that exists outside of the empirically verifiable universe in which we live.

3) A term must have an ontology to have meaning.

3a) Ontology is contingent on a universe of discourse

4) "Supernatural" gives no universe of discourse. It is a description of what a thing is not, but it leaves nothing over for it to be.

5) From 1,2,3,4, we can conclude that "supernatural" does not refer to anything.

6) God is defined as "supernatural."

7) From 5,6, we can conclude that God is literally, "not anything".

Cool Therefore, God does not exist.

Please feel free to refute this.

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And I wouldn't exactly call my belief persistent. I am a man of very weak faith.

Perhaps there is hope for you, then. You're going to have to get past this brain...er... mental block you have against logic.

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Just look at all the conspiracy theorists out there. The vast majority of them are harmless.

You're implying another false analogy. We don't judge a belief's validity by its capacity to do harm, do we?

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You don't get locked up unless you're a criminal or at least a potential danger to yourself and others. I'm neither a criminal nor a danger to anyone.

Please don't get hung up on my comment about locking away people with delusions. It was an exagerration designed to make a point. Unfortunately, you're focusing on the minutea and missing the whole point.

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That sounds eerily familiar to the whole "sins of the father" thing that atheists can't stand.

You brought up the Crusades, not me.

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See, you atheists get all up in arms about Christians coming on here and rehashing Pascal's Wager, but if this isn't a rehash of Russell's Teapot, then I don't know what is.

Then let me explain.

Pascal's Wager is an incomplete, non-sequitur piece of rhetoric that even Pascal recognized as flawed.

Russell's Teapot is a reductio ad absurdium. That's a logical technique where we follow a line of reasoning to an absurd conclusion to demonstrate the irrationality of the argument.

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Russell's Teapot is just as asinine as Pascal's Wager.

Precisely!

It's using theist logic and demonstrating the absurdity of it!

That's the whole point.

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It doesn't take into account the fact that whether or not a teapot is revolving around the sun between earth and mars has absolutely no bearing on anything.

Holy Moly. Did you ever miss the point!

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it's still a pretty unanimous view that Jesus actually did exist, son of God or not.

Among Christians, yes.

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And of course the whole story is of the utmost consequence, providing that it's true.

Not if the story that purports to be about Jesus's god-ness is demonstrably false -- which it is.

(Please refer back to the bit about supernatural... If you haven't proven me wrong yet, please don't just assert something about the supernatural again. I've demonstrated that it's impossible.)

Quote:
Well, his position would be less provable than mine, seeing as how, like I said before, most historians would agree that Jesus at least existed.

Most historians have not researched Jesus. Most Christians have always assumed he existed, and most historians have not questioned it, but there's a really striking trend these days. Non-Christians who examine the historical Jesus with a non biased eye tend to conclude that there isn't enough evidence to say that he existed.

Quote:
All you would have to do is go to his pantry and see if the aliens were there or not. If they're not there, the sure, he's probably flipping out a little. It happens.

I'm trying really hard not to get aggravated, but it's almost like you're intentionally missing the point... again.

Are you really not understanding?

They're invisible, dude! You can't see them, and they don't interact with the world, except for when they tell the dude to wear panties on his ears. Get it??

(And the dude is... how do we say it... looney as a fruit bat!)

Christianity is mass lunacy because millions of people think they have an invisible friend living in their heart who's going to let them spend eternity in an invisible paradise because they believed that the invisible friend killed himself 2000 years ago so he could forgive us for being the way he made us..

You're going to tell me one story is more plausible than the other?

Quote:
Mass lunacy? Well, I don't know. The majority of earth's population is theistic, so at what point do you stop and reconsider which side the lunacy is coming from?

Argumentum ad populum. Most people believe it, therefore it's true.

At one point, the majority of the world's population believed the world was flat. Hardly lunacy, because it looked flat to them. However, science has pretty much erased god as a legitimate possibility, yet people still believe in him.

You're correct, jmm, that I can't call the majority of the world's population lunatics. I haven't.

Go back and carefully read everything I've written. I've consistently said that the belief is crazy.

Quote:
I mean, is it really rational to assume that the vast majority of earth's population is suffering some sort of serious delusion, and the remaining minority have it all correct?

In this case, yes.

When a few people discovered that the world was round, the same thing happened. You can look for yourself and see that the earth is round, right? Just look at the moon and notice the round shadow the earth makes. Or go to the top of a mountain and look. You can see the curve. Yet... the belief persisted until enough people had seen the science and understood their mistake.

Same with religion. Yes. The majority of the earth's population is wrong.

Philosophy and science have disproved the gods that the Muslims and Christians believe in. Yet, belief persists.

Quote:
I'm not saying that the truth of an assertion is a mere appeal to popularity, but your claim is extraordinary.

HUH???

My claim that things are the way they appear to be is extraordinary? Science has explained virtually everything that's ever been attributed to a deity in natural terms.

And your claim, that our understanding of the universe, built through centuries of science, is wrong, and that an invisible, unmeasurable, unquantifiable, contradictory being who created everything, and then came to earth and got himself killed so that we wouldn't have to kill goats, but only had to believe in him for him to be able to forgive us for being the way he made us...

That's ordinary??!?

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Look, the thing I hate most about all these scenarios, be it Pascal's Wager, Lewis's Trilemma, Russell's Teapot, or whatever, is that they are wildly inaccurate (much like my language analogy), and they leave out so much background information that it renders them useless.

Can't stress this enough. Russell's teapot is a logical technique used to point out how absurd theist arguments are.

Both Pascal's wager and Lewis's Trilemma are poorly conceived logical arguments built on unsupported premises and non-sequitur conclusions.

Jmm, you keep claiming things about extenuating circumstances, background information, other kinds of knowledge, special pleading, etc, and then when you're pressed to back any of it up, you retreat to: "I know it's not logical. I believe it anyway."

Could you please either put up something logical, or admit that you're delusional?

I want you to admit it to yourself. I don't care about it for me. You've got all the pieces to the puzzle in front of you, and you simply refuse to put them together. You even admit to 9/10ths of the puzzle parts, and have no defense for the 1/10th you hold out on.

 

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Quote: Rhad wrote:

Quote:
Rhad wrote:

Alright... in an attempt to better remain focused on the central argument of threads, I will attempt to summarize in a way most favorable to the atheist position.

Science proves the all types of spiritual experiences and feelings can be replicated through non-spiritual experiences.

Therefore, theist are challenged, in the words of Hamby, to respond to this:

"How is god interacting supernaturally (whatever that is) with these perfectly natural processes?"

"Electricity is produced . . . [and] temporal lobes are formed normally . . . External stimuli (preachers yelling, meditation, music) are produced naturally . . . So what's left over?"

Rhad, every time I'm sure you're never going to understand me, you come through for me and prove me wrong.

Thanks for the clarification.

Hah. You've doubted me Hamby? I'm hurt.  Alright.. I'll have to think about this some.. but it seems the thread has been taken on a bit of a tangent since I last checked up on it.  In anycase.. I'm contented at the moment for, at least, being able to summarize.


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Well, I've decided to bow

Well, I've decided to bow out of these threads.  For one, the personal attacks are unwarranted and unnecessary.  Also, we're just at a brick wall.  It's a waste of time.  We're talking about two different things, I guess.  It's usually a pleasure to converse with you, but this past week has been a pain.  So I'll just save further heartache and take a step back. 


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It's too bad to see jmm

It's too bad to see jmm leaving.  For anyone else paying attention, I'll add the following.

Why is it thjat religious people believe their religious ideas? Well, there is no scientific evidence to support them, so it must be something else.  The experiences that people have throughout their lives adds to their worldview.  How often do we hear about how it comes down to faith and/or some experience that a theist has had that bolsters their belief?

This thread is a great way to combat the "I had an experience that you cannot deny, and it's enough for me to believe" argument?  Well, the point here is that those experiences are not special to your religion, beliefs, etc; they are natural brain activities that people have, and you using having them as legitimizing your particular belie--or belief in general--is absurd. 

That is, if your proof for god is some experience you've had, and the same type of experiences can be stimulated via naturalisic means, then those types of experiences are no longer valid evidence for those beliefs.  It would be like saying that you know that aliens exist because of crop circles; if we could find ways to make crop circles without aliens, then that evidence no longer supports believing in aliens.

Granted, it is not absolute proof against, but it takes away one more reason to believe in such things.  And withoyt reasons to believe certain things, while you have the right to believe so, why would you?

Shaun 

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ShaunPhilly wrote: It's

ShaunPhilly wrote:

It's too bad to see jmm leaving. For anyone else paying attention, I'll add the following.

Why is it thjat religious people believe their religious ideas? Well, there is no scientific evidence to support them, so it must be something else. The experiences that people have throughout their lives adds to their worldview. How often do we hear about how it comes down to faith and/or some experience that a theist has had that bolsters their belief?

This thread is a great way to combat the "I had an experience that you cannot deny, and it's enough for me to believe" argument? Well, the point here is that those experiences are not special to your religion, beliefs, etc; they are natural brain activities that people have, and you using having them as legitimizing your particular belie--or belief in general--is absurd.

That is, if your proof for god is some experience you've had, and the same type of experiences can be stimulated via naturalisic means, then those types of experiences are no longer valid evidence for those beliefs. It would be like saying that you know that aliens exist because of crop circles; if we could find ways to make crop circles without aliens, then that evidence no longer supports believing in aliens.

Granted, it is not absolute proof against, but it takes away one more reason to believe in such things. And withoyt reasons to believe certain things, while you have the right to believe so, why would you?

Shaun

 

The problem with this line of reasoning is that the area of a brain that is stimulated is no indication of what the actual stimulus is. When I look at something, the visual centers of my brain are activated. When I look at something else, the same parts of the brain are activated, but this does not mean I am seeing the same thing. Recognizing that there is an area of the brain consistently activated during religious experiences and that this area is activated during other experiences does not tell us anything about the validity of the experience or how it should be interpreted. You are concluding that because this region of the brain can be activated via natural phenomona, that it cannot be activated by anything divine. You are making that statement "this region of the brain is activated if and only if the stimulus is natural". 


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ShaunPhilly wrote: It's

ShaunPhilly wrote:

It's too bad to see jmm leaving.  For anyone else paying attention, I'll add the following.

Why is it thjat religious people believe their religious ideas? Well, there is no scientific evidence to support them, so it must be something else.  The experiences that people have throughout their lives adds to their worldview.  How often do we hear about how it comes down to faith and/or some experience that a theist has had that bolsters their belief?

This thread is a great way to combat the "I had an experience that you cannot deny, and it's enough for me to believe" argument?  Well, the point here is that those experiences are not special to your religion, beliefs, etc; they are natural brain activities that people have, and you using having them as legitimizing your particular belie--or belief in general--is absurd. 

That is, if your proof for god is some experience you've had, and the same type of experiences can be stimulated via naturalisic means, then those types of experiences are no longer valid evidence for those beliefs.  It would be like saying that you know that aliens exist because of crop circles; if we could find ways to make crop circles without aliens, then that evidence no longer supports believing in aliens.

Granted, it is not absolute proof against, but it takes away one more reason to believe in such things.  And withoyt reasons to believe certain things, while you have the right to believe so, why would you?

Shaun 

How we perceive the reality of science is not always necessarily what we believe it to be. Scientific method tells us that by putting together many facts we make scientific discoveries. But this is not completely correct. The facts by themselves are not always sufficient to lead unequivocally to truth. Facts are always analyzed in terms of the prejudices of the investigator. The “why” is a very important question to be answered before one can be truly rational and logical about the answer? As stated earlier in this thread “why” is not answered. 

 Cognitive science has tied the belief in supernatural to emotions. Science has tied our spiritual reactions to a specific section of brain and a now we can artificially cause the reaction. Finding a natural means to produce a euphoric experience only proves that we need exterior stimuli for the brain to react to. These are the facts leading to the truth about "why"

If you don’t want to believe that the origin of “why” is God did it … then you have to believe evolution did it. If we evolved this way then it is necessary for human development, social interaction, prosperity or simply a needed defense mechanism. So simply put “why would you?” believe certain things? Because science proves that is what we are designed to.

Proving the origin of “why” is probably why this post didn’t get the responses desired.

Because we can produce crop circles without an alien does not prove aliens cannot produce crop circles. These results don’t give atheist or theist an upper ground on anything.


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jmm, I am also sorry to see

jmm, I am also sorry to see you go, and I hope you weren't talking about me when you said personal attacks.  I stressed again and again that I was talking about your specific belief when I said someting was absurd, lunatic, etc, and repeatedly said that I think you're a good person who thinks perfectly well on all fronts except religion.

What my last post did do was challenge you to examine your own illogic without the god filter and look at it in all its absurdity.  You have chosen to run away instead, and that makes me sad.

I hope some day you choose to face the tough questions instead of hiding behind the protection of "It's my illogic, and it makes sense to me."

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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Who else would I have been

Who else would I have been talking about, hamby?  You're the only one that insists that I'm brainwashed.  Look, I really do enjoy talking to you, but it seems as though talking about this is a waste of time.  We're coming from irreconcilable points of view.  I'm not leaving the board or anything, I'm just going to get some perspective before I post anything else on this, in hopes that I'll make better sense. 


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Ok. Jmm. I wasn't being

Ok. Jmm. I wasn't being tongue in cheek when I said that I haven't insulted you. I realize what I'm saying can be taken as insulting, but I wouldn't be talking to you if I didn't think you have the intellect to understand what I'm saying.

If anything, you're one of the theists I like the most on the boards, because you're generally willing to admit when you're wrong, and you seem to be genuinely interested in finding answers.

I'm not taking back anything i said. Your beliefs in theism are absurd. But I do want you to understand that I'm not here to "win the debate." I'm here to help people think for themselves. And when I repeatedly challenge you to provide definitions, explanations, and foundations for what you believe in, I'm giving you the chance to either A) Be right and show me where I'm wrong, or B) See that you're wrong by thinking all the way through the questions, perhaps for the first time!

The only times I get aggravated are when you retreat behind the cover of "I don't have to answer to you" or "God makes me feel ok, so I'm ok with my answers, even though they're illogical."

I'm glad you're not leaving the boards, and I'll happily put this conversation on hold until you're ready to broach it again.

 

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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I understand.  As a

I understand. 

As a sidenote, God doesn't make me feel good necessarily.  That's not why I believe in him.   


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wavefreak wrote:

wavefreak wrote:

.... You are concluding that because this region of the brain can be activated via natural phenomona, that it cannot be activated by anything divine. You are making that statement "this region of the brain is activated if and only if the stimulus is natural".

That's not quite what I'm saying. Granted, I would say that if it's effecting the brain, it must be natural. This is because causation is a natural process. This has to do with the interaction problem between natural and non-natural, and is tangental to the point here, so I will not deal with it currently.

The point is to indicate that if the religious experience is held up as proof that something divine exists, it is weak evidence at best. That is, if it is used to bolster the claim that the divine exists at all, and the experience has alternate and sufficiently understood natural explanation, then it isn't sufficient proof of the divine's existence.

It's why I used the crop circle example; if someone were trying to explain to you why they believe in the presence of aliens on our planet, and as evidence they presented crop circles, the fact that it is logically possible for beings to come here from another planet and create such patterns in our fields is not the point. The point is that we have another explanation that fits the facts just as well, so why take the next step and say it was aliens? The presence of crop circles alone is not proof of aliens because another explanation exists that doesn't require aliens' presence.

The parts of the brain activating in these natural ways are sufficient to create "religious experiences," without the necessary presence of any god or divine being. Thus, to say that these experiences are proof of god is absurd, because the natural explanation fits the facts without additional propositions or factors to the explanation (Ockham, anyone?). So yes, it does not preclude the possibility of the divine presence srimulating the experience, but if the existence of said divine is the question at hand, the example does not provide sufficient reason to conclude such a being.

I do not deny experiences. In fact I've had what some would call "religious experiences" in my life. The interpretation of the experience is key. I understand that my brain can to strange things, and that these strange things can never be evidence for a supernatural entity, because that would violate the natural/supernatural interaction metaphysics problem. As for a natural divinity, I have been more receptive to. However, I have no reason to believe that some natural 'god' is the cause, because the facts are explained by simple changes in brain activity. I see no reason to conclude that some god is responsible, or that it is a natural way to experience some god, because the experience itself is not sufficient to believe they exist and I have no other evidence sufficient to believe they exist.

Shaun

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Works for me, Shaun.

Works for me, Shaun.


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Quote:

Quote:
had wrote:

Alright... in an attempt to better remain focused on the central argument of threads, I will attempt to summarize in a way most favorable to the atheist position.

Science proves the all types of spiritual experiences and feelings can be replicated through non-spiritual experiences.

Therefore, theist are challenged, in the words of Hamby, to respond to this:

"How is god interacting supernaturally (whatever that is) with these perfectly natural processes?"

"Electricity is produced . . . [and] temporal lobes are formed normally . . . External stimuli (preachers yelling, meditation, music) are produced naturally . . . So what's left over?"

Rhad, every time I'm sure you're never going to understand me, you come through for me and prove me wrong.

Thanks for the clarification.

Alright. So-- let me try this.

If I posited this:

Science proves that all types of visual experiences can be replicated through non-visual experiences.

Does my premise support the absence of the "visual"?

In other words.. how does the ability for science to replicable spiritual experiences through non spiritual ones, preclude that the prior expierences were spiritual?

If scientist can, under controlled conditions, replicate spiritual experiences-- why could not God merely "create" the spiritual experiences under non-controlled conditions?

I don't see why it's necessary that he do it in some "supernatural way"-- merely manipulate natural ones.. as scientist do.

In anycase.. perhaps I'm missing something.. perhaps I should give it more thought.. hmm......

[edit] However, in glancing over Shaun's post, I would agree with that conclusion.  In that, the ability to replicate spiritual experiences through "non-spiritual experiences" would seem to undercut and individuals attempt to use "spiritual experiences" as clear-cut evidence for the existence of God.

Of course... it always seemed rather iffy to me-- using person experience to prove to someone else that God exists. Hm. 

 


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Quote: In other words.. how

Quote:
In other words.. how does the ability for science to replicable spiritual experiences through non spiritual ones, preclude that the prior expierences were spiritual?

It doesn't.  Please refer back to Shaun's very good reply to wavefreak, and to my own post dealing with Occam's razor.  

The ability of scienct to replicate all experiences attributed to "spiritual causes" renders the argument for spiritual causes impotent barring further evidence.

 

Quote:
If scientist can, under controlled conditions, replicate spiritual experiences-- why could not God merely "create" the spiritual experiences under non-controlled conditions?

Same answer.

 

Quote:
I don't see why it's necessary that he do it in some "supernatural way"-- merely manipulate natural ones.. as scientist do.

Natural interacts with natural, and we call it "natural."  Everything in a closed system.  If supernatural could exist, it would necessarily be "outside of nature."  If it interacted with natural, that interaction would, by virtue of affecting change in nature, be "natural."  In other words, it would leave a trail of evidence.

This is all way beyond the point where the argument fails, though.  The supernatural cannot exist, so the above is simply an extension of the argument proving the nonexistence of the supernatural.

 

Quote:
In anycase.. perhaps I'm missing something.. perhaps I should give it more thought.. hmm......

You're missing two things.

1) Supernatural is ontologically bankrupt, and cannot exist.

2) Occam's razor does not rule out supernatural.  It renders it impotent barring further evidence.

 

Quote:
However, in glancing over Shaun's post, I would agree with that conclusion.

Crike.

Should have just read the whole post before responding.

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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jmm wrote:  I appreciate

jmm wrote:

 I appreciate and admire the efforts of the scientists involved, but I'd hesitate to call a room full of metal helmeted atheists proof that God doesn't exist.

Hilarious

"A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, 'darkness' on the walls of his cell." (CS Lewis)

"A young man who wishes to remain a sound atheist cannot be too careful of his reading." (CS Lewis)