It is and it isn't

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It is and it isn't

Can something exists and not exist? Of course not you say. But think about it as possible for a minute. Can you FEEL the cognitive dissonance? Now continue to contemplate the possibility until you discover how to make the dissonance go way WITHOUT compartmentalizing. This is the essence of "mystical" experience. To accomplish it you need to essentially learn to "silence" your mind . Which brings me to my point.  "Silence your mind" is not accurate. In fact, there is NO language based description for such a state of mind for when it is acheived, language is absent. I think this is a huge problem when supplying evidence regarding god. Such a state of mind CANNOT be described empirically or logically because those are both language based. And yet such an altered state of conciousness can be acheived and even measured. The crux of the matter is the interpretation of the state of conciousness. If I devise an experiment that through electrical stimulation induces the same brain wave patterns as somebody in a deep meditative state have I duplicated the experience or just the neurological presentation of a mind state? Is it really the same or is it like vanilla from a bean v.s. artificial flavoring? An undiscerning palate may not be able to tell the difference between natural and artificial vanilla, but a good chef can. And so where does the experimentalist justify the conclusion "I have duplicated mysticism" when all they have duplicated is a similar pattern of neurological activity?

Note that I am NOT offering such experience as evidence for god.  All I am thinking about here is the fact that such altered states of conciousness are duplicatable, can be acheived through training, and can be measured. But none of that tells me how to interpret the experience. I would suggest that you cannot divorce the experience from the context. If you induce such a state through electircal stimulation, it will "taste" artificial, especially to an experienced practitioner. And if you acheive such a state through religious contemplation, it "tastes" different than if you acheive it through a more secular or non-theistic pathway.

 


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wavefreak wrote: Can

wavefreak wrote:

Can something exists and not exist? Of course not you say. But think about it as possible for a minute. Can you FEEL the cognitive dissonance? Now continue to contemplate the possibility until you discover how to make the dissonance go way WITHOUT compartmentalizing. This is the essence of "mystical" experience. To accomplish it you need to essentially learn to "silence" your mind . Which brings me to my point. "Silence your mind" is not accurate. In fact, there is NO language based description for such a state of mind for when it is acheived, language is absent. I think this is a huge problem when supplying evidence regarding god. Such a state of mind CANNOT be described empirically or logically because those are both language based. And yet such an altered state of conciousness can be acheived and even measured. The crux of the matter is the interpretation of the state of conciousness. If I devise an experiment that through electrical stimulation induces the same brain wave patterns as somebody in a deep meditative state have I duplicated the experience or just the neurological presentation of a mind state? Is it really the same or is it like vanilla from a bean v.s. artificial flavoring? An undiscerning palate may not be able to tell the difference between natural and artificial vanilla, but a good chef can. And so where does the experimentalist justify the conclusion "I have duplicated mysticism" when all they have duplicated is a similar pattern of neurological activity?

Note that I am NOT offering such experience as evidence for god. All I am thinking about here is the fact that such altered states of conciousness are duplicatable, can be acheived through training, and can be measured. But none of that tells me how to interpret the experience. I would suggest that you cannot divorce the experience from the context. If you induce such a state through electircal stimulation, it will "taste" artificial, especially to an experienced practitioner. And if you acheive such a state through religious contemplation, it "tastes" different than if you acheive it through a more secular or non-theistic pathway.

 

How can these be measured if it can't be put into words (I'll put it into words if you like since I have a similar mind state when I am experiencing a WILD... a wake induced lucid dream)? If one can not describe how what these events are like then surely it's not very testable... since everyones experience COULD be wildly different.

I suppose you're going to suggest that the excorcism phenomena is similar to this?


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CrimsonEdge wrote: How can

CrimsonEdge wrote:

How can these be measured if it can't be put into words (I'll put it into words if you like since I have a similar mind state when I am experiencing a WILD... a wake induced lucid dream)? If one can not describe how what these events are like then surely it's not very testable... since everyones experience COULD be wildly different.

I suppose you're going to suggest that the excorcism phenomena is similar to this?

 As far as I know, the brain wave patterns of people during Transcendental Meditation have been measured and there is a quantitative difference between the meditative state and the non-meditative state. The measurable thing is the brain waves. This isn experience that can be called mystical without stretching things too much.

 I have never seen an excorcism. Nor would I suggest demon possession is real

 


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Ah, Parmenides... He of the

Ah, Parmenides...

He of the is and is not 

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


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wavefreak wrote: I have

wavefreak wrote:
I have never seen an excorcism. Nor would I suggest demon possession is real

Excorcisms are a ritual present in many societies all of which are (usually) performed wildly different but with the same results. They all invoke the same brain wave patterns regardless of how they are done. All this shows is that such a ritual enduces odd brain functions

I know you are saying the same thing, but I've got a feeling that it leads somewhere. All meditation, excorcism and other would-be supernatural phenomena do nothing but trick the brain into believing it's under a certain stimulus when it really isn't.  It's very similar to WILD'ng in the sense that you trick your brain to stay "awake" and aware while you sleep... which leads to lucid dreaming.


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Wavefreak, I don't

Wavefreak,

I don't understand where you are going with this in the context of this forum.  The inability to describe a feeling can demonstrate the limitations of one's lingual abilities.  A state of consciousness may likewise be difficult to describe or measure.  I see no bearing on the existence of gods here.

The words in each of the following word pairs are not interchangeable:

"Their" and "there."
"Its" and "it's."
"Your" and "you're."
"Then" and "than."


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CrimsonEdge

CrimsonEdge wrote:

wavefreak wrote:
I have never seen an excorcism. Nor would I suggest demon possession is real

Excorcisms are a ritual present in many societies all of which are (usually) performed wildly different but with the same results. They all invoke the same brain wave patterns regardless of how they are done. All this shows is that such a ritual enduces odd brain functions

I know you are saying the same thing, but I've got a feeling that it leads somewhere. All meditation, excorcism and other would-be supernatural phenomena do nothing but trick the brain into believing it's under a certain stimulus when it really isn't. It's very similar to WILD'ng in the sense that you trick your brain to stay "awake" and aware while you sleep... which leads to lucid dreaming.

 

It's not leading anywhere at this point. I am trying to find a framework that fits my own experiences that doesn't have a bunch of woo woo involved.  One of my trains of thought is that logic and empiricism cannot fully describe reality. The type of experience often called mystical can be measured by a viewer (i.e. brain waves) but this does not describe the experience from the practioneres point of view. And in fact, non-verbal states of conciousness CANNOT be described BECAUSE they are non-verbal. So what I see is an actual experiential phenomenon that while we know it is real and reproducible, the experience itself falls outside the capacity of any language to give an adequate description. It must be experienced, it cannot be described. There is a common "cop out" used "I can't explain it, you just have to believe me". I am suggesting that there are definite, reproducible mental states that CANNOT be described because they explicitly divest the mind of the verbal tools necessary for description.  


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Ryan wrote: Wavefreak, I

Ryan wrote:

Wavefreak,

I don't understand where you are going with this in the context of this forum. The inability to describe a feeling can demonstrate the limitations of one's lingual abilities. A state of consciousness may likewise be difficult to describe or measure. I see no bearing on the existence of gods here.

Not really going anywhere just yet. Mostly grappling with the evidentiary requirement by atheists for god's existence . It seems to me that some atheists want a god detection device like some neutrino detector buried in a mine shaft. This type of evidence is a straw man. So I am going through my past experiences and considering why I allow them as personal evidence even if not scientific evidence. If I can more clearly understand this in myself then I may be able to develop some justifications for my beliefs that I can adequately communicate. Or maybe not.


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Let me preface by saying I'm

Let me preface by saying I'm not anti-subjective. I won't force you to account for things you make no objective claims about. Science, logic, and rationality are a reliable way for people to communicate with each other; but I think personal experiences, especially strange ones, occupy an ambiguous place for the individual: real to our perception, but empirically insubstantial. A person can find value in it, but can't for now relate that to another person. As long as it doesn't involve an objective claim, it doesn't bother me. Sometimes I wake up in a state similar to what I understand as nothingness. Aware of things, but free from worry and attachment, feeling nothing but warmth for everything around me. I'm not spiritual, so I don't attribute it to anything, and I don't know anything about neuroscience: so I set it aside as an interesting experience.
Now that all that contextualizing is out of the way, I'm going to put this as gently as possible. In my experience, the simplest way to reconcile two seemingly contradictory points is not to know enough about either of them to recognize the contradiction. I've seen this time and again with the 'spiritual' people in my life. It doesn't concern only philosophical matters either; it's an attitude of petulant ignorance they apply to everything from technology to their relationships. I would hold off on considering double-think a desirable state.


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Wavefreak, I really just

Wavefreak, I really just wish you'd attempt to put into words what your experience was like. I've never had this problem and haven't met anyone else who has.

Atleast try? 


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wavefreak wrote: Not

wavefreak wrote:

Not really going anywhere just yet. Mostly grappling with the evidentiary requirement by atheists for god's existence . It seems to me that some atheists want a god detection device like some neutrino detector buried in a mine shaft. This type of evidence is a straw man. So I am going through my past experiences and considering why I allow them as personal evidence even if not scientific evidence. If I can more clearly understand this in myself then I may be able to develop some justifications for my beliefs that I can adequately communicate. Or maybe not.

Isn't claiming that atheists require a god-detector a straw man argument itself?  Smiling

I do appreciate what you are trying to do here, but I am not convinced that the verbal vs. non-verbal state means anything.  I am not talking about the existence of gods here. I simply mean that talking about a "non-verbal" state of consciousness seems meaningless in general. 

If you cannot describe an experience it is because you:

A.  Cannot remember it clearly

or

B.  Lack the language skill to convey it.

I am not saying that your memory or language skills are lacking.  Many things are difficult for most people to describe.  That's what poets are for.  Rumi described mystical experience so well that I went nuts for two years trying to believe in a god.  That's another discussion, but I just want you to know that there are atheists out there who have had very strong mystical experiences that are as indescribable or "non-verbal" as yours.  I just don't see where this common framework gets us.  I wish you well in your soul searching.

The words in each of the following word pairs are not interchangeable:

"Their" and "there."
"Its" and "it's."
"Your" and "you're."
"Then" and "than."


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Ryan wrote: wavefreak

Ryan wrote:
wavefreak wrote:

Not really going anywhere just yet. Mostly grappling with the evidentiary requirement by atheists for god's existence . It seems to me that some atheists want a god detection device like some neutrino detector buried in a mine shaft. This type of evidence is a straw man. So I am going through my past experiences and considering why I allow them as personal evidence even if not scientific evidence. If I can more clearly understand this in myself then I may be able to develop some justifications for my beliefs that I can adequately communicate. Or maybe not.

Isn't claiming that atheists require a god-detector a straw man argument itself? Smiling

I do appreciate what you are trying to do here, but I am not convinced that the verbal vs. non-verbal state means anything. I am not talking about the existence of gods here. I simply mean that talking about a "non-verbal" state of consciousness seems meaningless in general.

If you cannot describe an experience it is because you:

A. Cannot remember it clearly

or

B. Lack the language skill to convey it.

I am not saying that your memory or language skills are lacking. Many things are difficult for most people to describe. That's what poets are for. Rumi described mystical experience so well that I went nuts for two years trying to believe in a god. That's another discussion, but I just want you to know that there are atheists out there who have had very strong mystical experiences that are as indescribable or "non-verbal" as yours. I just don't see where this common framework gets us. I wish you well in your soul searching.

I will look up Rumi.

This doesn't get us anywhere right now. I look at it this way. Someone like Decarte, Plato, or any other "professional" philosopher took years to develop their ideas and theories. I'm just a guy with a lot of questions. I suspect it will be a while before I can put down anything new, if ever. Most of what I post here are equivalent to trial balloons. I get pressure to prove my theism. But I can't to the satisfaction of those that attend this forum. So for now, I don't try. But not being able to prove something to others does not invalidate my experiences. It only means, at least for now, that I haven't the skill and knowledge to answer objections made by VERY skilled philosophers and scientists. 


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wavefreak wrote: I will

wavefreak wrote:

I will look up Rumi.

This doesn't get us anywhere right now. I look at it this way. Someone like Decarte, Plato, or any other "professional" philosopher took years to develop their ideas and theories. I'm just a guy with a lot of questions. I suspect it will be a while before I can put down anything new, if ever. Most of what I post here are equivalent to trial balloons. I get pressure to prove my theism. But I can't to the satisfaction of those that attend this forum. So for now, I don't try. But not being able to prove something to others does not invalidate my experiences. It only means, at least for now, that I haven't the skill and knowledge to answer objections made by VERY skilled philosophers and scientists. 

If you ever do acquire this skill and knowledge, you yourself will be the philosopher.  I'm sure that if you work hard enough to develop your skills you will increase your effectiveness in discussion with non-theists.  You may continue to impress and befriend them in greater numbers.  As to answering their questions however, no amount of skill will change the mind of a similarly skilled thinker.   It comes down to knowledge, the other attribute you mentioned.

 Knowledge and experience are two different things, my friend.  Which one is more important can be a language game.  The difference between "knowing the path" and "walking the path" is experiential, yet each one contains the other (uh oh, taoism.)  Anyone can say this, but unless there is actually some knowledge there, it is meaningless.  Theism contains no knowledge, only experience.

After thousands of years, religion has produced nothing new.  No knowledge.  Nothing new to add to our experience (with the possible exception of those who study meditation, which does not depend on theism.)  Some of us have moved on.  Until the rest of us do, the dialogue is important to our social evolution and our survival. 

The words in each of the following word pairs are not interchangeable:

"Their" and "there."
"Its" and "it's."
"Your" and "you're."
"Then" and "than."


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Quote: I am trying to find

Quote:
I am trying to find a framework that fits my own experiences that doesn't have a bunch of woo woo involved.

Your topic is well named. You are searching for a framework to fit (describe) your experience by suggesting that some things cannot be described.

It took me a while to recover from dazing myself by bashing my head with a granite coaster trying to understand what you were saying. The resulting stars in my eyes didn't help at all, and now I have a headache.

Quote:
One of my trains of thought is that logic and empiricism cannot fully describe reality.

I think that most of your problems expressing yourself stem from trying to fit square pegs into round holes, metaphorically. Logic and empiricism don't describe anything. Logic is the codification of human thought. You can say that logic is the description of how knowledge forms, but you cannot say that logic describes something. Similarly, empiricism doesn't describe anything. You can describe something empirically, but empiricism is simply a word we use to create a separation between experience and woo-woo. You've read Todangst's refutation of a priori reasoning for anything outside of tautalogy, and you yourself reject revelation when it contains anything supernatural. Intuition, if you study it, is empirical, though it functions on a lower level of consciousness, and we are not aware of the mechanics that have rendered our intuitive decision.

Quote:
The type of experience often called mystical can be measured by a viewer (i.e. brain waves) but this does not describe the experience from the practioneres point of view.

Here's a definite mistake. It absolutely does describe the experience, and can even describe what the practicioner is experiencing in some ways. What I think you're trying to say is that the outside observer's description is not equal to the first hand experiential knowledge of the event. This is a limitation of language, to be certain, but it is not unique to mystical experiences. You can describe my perception of reading your post all day long, and you will never describe it adequately enough so that a third party could experience exactly what I experience, simply by listening to the description of it. For that matter, I could give the same description, and even though I am experiencing it first hand, language is inadequate to allow someone complete understanding.

Put another way, you're singling out mystical experiences as an example of language limitations, but there's no particular reason for doing so. Language is equally limited in its capacity to explain any and all perceptive experience.

Quote:
And in fact, non-verbal states of conciousness CANNOT be described BECAUSE they are non-verbal.

For all its apparent profundity, all this sentence really says is "Things that can't be described can't be described." It's true because it's a tautology, but it is not particularly useful.

Quote:
I am suggesting that there are definite, reproducible mental states that CANNOT be described because they explicitly divest the mind of the verbal tools necessary for description.

Again, you're assigning elevated importance to these mystical experiences because they are not common to everyone, and language is especially deficient for trying to explain them, but the fact is, any experience, mystical or not, cannot be explained fully by language. Your only reason, then, for wanting to single out mysticism, is that you want badly for it to be unique. Alas, it is not.

 

 

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

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What survival or

What survival or replication value would mystical experiences have? What pressures, and therefore why, would be have evolved them?

My answer is this: they're a side effect of our attentive and dream state mechanisms.


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Quote: What survival or

Quote:

What survival or replication value would mystical experiences have? What pressures, and therefore why, would be have evolved them?

My answer is this: they're a side effect of our attentive and dream state mechanisms.

What a tease!

It ought to be illegal to dangle a carrot like that.  More, please.

 

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

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wavefreak wrote:  If I

wavefreak wrote:

 If I devise an experiment that through electrical stimulation induces the same brain wave patterns as somebody in a deep meditative state have I duplicated the experience or just the neurological presentation of a mind state? Is it really the same or is it like vanilla from a bean v.s. artificial flavoring? An undiscerning palate may not be able to tell the difference between natural and artificial vanilla, but a good chef can. And so where does the experimentalist justify the conclusion "I have duplicated mysticism" when all they have duplicated is a similar pattern of neurological activity?

For an empirical viewpoint I suggest you could refer to existing data on psychaedelic substances. mind-altering chemicals are frequently an ingredient of traditional mysticism which ensures that neurological activity is basically duplicated among mystic groups, as you suggested, and it does tend to correlate experientially too. 

As to your question about the gourmet vs the lay-taster, I'd extend on what Hamby was saying, there is inherent uncertainty about all our experiences, even when we are at our most objective, let alone mystical, but I will say if you taste artificial vanilla and real vanilla one after the other the odds that you'll prefer the real thing are pretty high, no matter who you are.

 

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Hambydammit wrote: Again,

Hambydammit wrote:

Again, you're assigning elevated importance to these mystical experiences because they are not common to everyone, and language is especially deficient for trying to explain them, but the fact is, any experience, mystical or not, cannot be explained fully by language. Your only reason, then, for wanting to single out mysticism, is that you want badly for it to be unique. Alas, it is not.

 

 

I'm not elevating the importance of the experience. Just because it cannot be verbalized does not make it special. Nor have I suggested anything about it being a unique experience. I am challenging the notion that just because similar neurological activity can be reproduced in a laboratory doesn't mean the subjects are experiencing the same thing. Hence the analogy about artificial vanilla flavoring is not the same as real vanilla. 

Let's say I enter one of these non-vebal states of conciousness while I'm hooked up to an EEG. And let's say there is a demonstrable change in my brain waves. Now if the researcher asks me "What are you perceiveing now?" I CAN'T answer without retreating back into a state of conciousness that allows verbalization. But as soon as I enter that state I am no longer in the state that is in question. I can talk about it before I enter the altered state and I can talk about it after, but I CANNOT talk about it while in it without destroying the altered state itself. So if I tell you that while in the altered state I was communicating with the Flying Spaghetti Monster how do you challenge that perception? You can tell me it wasn't the FSM, and I can insist that it was. And further, replicating the experience through electrical stimulation of the brain doesn't guarantee anything other than similar brain wave patterns - the artifical vanilla flavoring, if you will.


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wavefreak wrote: Can

wavefreak wrote:

Can something exists and not exist? Of course not you say. But think about it as possible for a minute. Can you FEEL the cognitive dissonance? Now continue to contemplate the possibility until you discover how to make the dissonance go way WITHOUT compartmentalizing. This is the essence of "mystical" experience. To accomplish it you need to essentially learn to "silence" your mind . Which brings me to my point. "Silence your mind" is not accurate. In fact, there is NO language based description for such a state of mind for when it is acheived, language is absent. I think this is a huge problem when supplying evidence regarding god. Such a state of mind CANNOT be described empirically or logically because those are both language based. And yet such an altered state of conciousness can be acheived and even measured. The crux of the matter is the interpretation of the state of conciousness. If I devise an experiment that through electrical stimulation induces the same brain wave patterns as somebody in a deep meditative state have I duplicated the experience or just the neurological presentation of a mind state? Is it really the same or is it like vanilla from a bean v.s. artificial flavoring? An undiscerning palate may not be able to tell the difference between natural and artificial vanilla, but a good chef can. And so where does the experimentalist justify the conclusion "I have duplicated mysticism" when all they have duplicated is a similar pattern of neurological activity?

Note that I am NOT offering such experience as evidence for god. All I am thinking about here is the fact that such altered states of conciousness are duplicatable, can be acheived through training, and can be measured. But none of that tells me how to interpret the experience. I would suggest that you cannot divorce the experience from the context. If you induce such a state through electircal stimulation, it will "taste" artificial, especially to an experienced practitioner. And if you acheive such a state through religious contemplation, it "tastes" different than if you acheive it through a more secular or non-theistic pathway.

 

So your saying that through religious contemplation and meditation we can change our brain state to experiance something new? Thats great. I would not disagree. I could also drop some acid  and experiance something new. I could do all sorts of other things to alter my perception, brain chemistry or what ever. So what? It does not matter if its repeatable so what? One bhuddist monk can repeat the same sate of meditative enlightenment again and again but there is no way of knowing whether this is the same state any other monk doing suposedly the same thing. More to the point there is no way of showing that the "insights" gained from such meditations are in any way relevant to the world.

 

Dropping acid is a good example. In my youth I had many trippy insights on acid, I've felt like I was on the verge of working it all out, that I was just on the tip of some comic understanding of the universe. Many others have felt the same. But when one grows up a bit one realises that all the "insights" when tripping are a load of old bollocks brought about by a chemical fucking with your synapses. Whilst it all feels very cosmicly significant it isnt, its just a trip. 

The important thing is that there is no way to verify any of the "insights" externally they are entirely subjective things. Without any objective way of verifying these insights the Bhuddists monk meditating himself into a stupor is merely tripping. Its no worse or better than altering ones brain by dropping a load of acid.  


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evil religion wrote:  

evil religion wrote:

 

Dropping acid is a good example. In my youth I had many trippy insights on acid, I've felt like I was on the verge of working it all out, that I was just on the tip of some comic understanding of the universe. Many others have felt the same. But when one grows up a bit one realises that all the "insights" when tripping are a load of old bollocks brought about by a chemical fucking with your synapses. Whilst it all feels very cosmicly significant it isnt, its just a trip.

The important thing is that there is no way to verify any of the "insights" externally they are entirely subjective things. Without any objective way of verifying these insights the Bhuddists monk meditating himself into a stupor is merely tripping. Its no worse or better than altering ones brain by dropping a load of acid.

Dropping acid is not a good example because it is still possible to verbalize the experience while in the state of altered conciousness. The telling does not alter the state. And further, even if during one of these altered states of conciousness there were external objective changes - even something as "miraculous" as levitation (no, I've never levitated) - you could still say it it was not contact with a divinity but just some natural phenomenon that will eventually be explained by science. So I say "It was god" and you say "No it wasn't"

Yes it was.

No it wasn't.

Yes it was.

No it wasn't

Yes it was.

No it wasn't

Yes it was.

No it wasn't

 

 

ad nauseum ... 

 

 

 

 


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I think I see where you're

I think I see where you're coming from, but I might projecting my own opinions here a little, so let me know if I'm off the mark.

There are somethings in life that can be described in others.
E.g. If I tell someone I saw a blue pig, they know what a pig is, they know what it would like for the pig to be blue so they know what I'm talking about when I say that I saw a blue pig.
When we try to introduce someone to a new food, we do have a vocab of taste concepts like spicy and tangy, but often we'll agree that you have to taste it for yourself to understand.

I think that Wave is trying to make a similar claim about religious thought and religious experience cannot be explained in terms of something else, it's something you have to directly experience for yourself if you want to understand it. I agree. That's why I kind of sympathise with mystics as they recognise they have something that cannot be expressed in scientific terms and treat it accordingly.


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Strafio wrote: I think I

Strafio wrote:
I think I see where you're coming from, but I might projecting my own opinions here a little, so let me know if I'm off the mark. There are somethings in life that can be described in others. E.g. If I tell someone I saw a blue pig, they know what a pig is, they know what it would like for the pig to be blue so they know what I'm talking about when I say that I saw a blue pig. When we try to introduce someone to a new food, we do have a vocab of taste concepts like spicy and tangy, but often we'll agree that you have to taste it for yourself to understand. I think that Wave is trying to make a similar claim about religious thought and religious experience cannot be explained in terms of something else, it's something you have to directly experience for yourself if you want to understand it. I agree. That's why I kind of sympathise with mystics as they recognise they have something that cannot be expressed in scientific terms and treat it accordingly.

 

Yeah. Something like that. But I also realize that this creates problems in determining the "truthiness" of the experience. You can't elevate the experience to some special place just because you had it. 


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I think the way to get

I think the way to get around this is to recognise that we use the word 'truth' in a lot of different ways. Sometimes we mean truth as a fact about the world, which is how it is used in science. However, we also use the word 'truth' in other contexts.
Advice, for instance, doesn't describe the world so is a different context but there can still be truth an falsity. We can talk about truth and falsity when describing personality characteristics. E.g. it's true that I'm a nice guy and false that I'm nasty.
Nice and nasty don't have a place in our scientific language either.

So there can be 'truth' about God, but it's truth in the way that scientific facts are truth, and when talking about the world then I don't think that any statement about God can be meaningful let alone truth. But when we use the word 'truth' in the more general sense where it kind of means 'relevent', God's existence can be true indeed... if you see where I'm going with this...?

So then the question means, what does atheism mean?
Is it the belief that God doesn't exist in the sense we use when describing the world? If so, many Christians are implicitly atheistic, and I reckon that you'd be an atheist too.
If it's a question of whether God is relevent, then atheists are those who find the concept of God distasteful to their worldview while theists are those who find the concept wonderful.

Thoughts?


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Quote: I CAN'T answer

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I CAN'T answer without retreating back into a state of conciousness that allows verbalization. But as soon as I enter that state I am no longer in the state that is in question.

I didn't realize mutually exclusive levels of consciousness were special. When you're asleep, you can't very well explain what state you're in, either.

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can talk about it before I enter the altered state and I can talk about it after, but I CANNOT talk about it while in it without destroying the altered state itself.

And?

No offense. I just don't see what the connection is.

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So if I tell you that while in the altered state I was communicating with the Flying Spaghetti Monster how do you challenge that perception?

By pointing out that there is no flying spaghetti monster, most likely.

While I was asleep, I dreamed that I could fly. Once I'm awake, how can you prove I wasn't really flying?

It's the same question, even though it doesn't look like it. Yeah, you can see my body was there, but maybe I was flying in the mystical land of Winkin' Blinkin' and Noddin off to Sleep. You can't prove I wasn't, so I was.

Point is, neurons fire, chemicals are released, we perceive things differently. Inducing altered states of consciousness is nothing new, and it's quite scientific. Why would you think that self-induced states would be any different.

I hate to tell you this, but your theory is right up there with CptPineapples infinite consciousness. It's just a non-sequitur, adding an extraneous detail to a perfectly parsimonious explanation.

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And further, replicating the experience through electrical stimulation of the brain doesn't guarantee anything other than similar brain wave patterns - the artifical vanilla flavoring, if you will.

I ignored this analogy last time you used it, hoping you would see how flawed it is and abandon it. Brain waves are brain waves. Neurons are neurons. When neurons fire, brain activity happens.

Imitation vanilla is not vanilla. It's substituting an entirely different set of chemicals to produce a similar result. It's equivalent to saying that we use different kinds of neurons to make different kinds of brain waves, which would approximate a mystical experience, but wouldn't be one.

Fact is, if it reads the same on the instruments, it IS the same.

Unless, of course, you've discovered something that neurologists have missed.

 

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:
And further, replicating the experience through electrical stimulation of the brain doesn't guarantee anything other than similar brain wave patterns - the artifical vanilla flavoring, if you will.

I ignored this analogy last time you used it, hoping you would see how flawed it is and abandon it. Brain waves are brain waves. Neurons are neurons. When neurons fire, brain activity happens.

Precisly. Neurons can't tell the difference between neural electricity and an electrode. A signal is a signal is a signal. Brain waves are merely the collective patterns of fireing.

You could think of the brain as a huge circuit. You can insert batteries into the circuit and change its operation (brain stimulation). You can remove parts of the circuit (lobotomy). You can hold a super sensitive radio reciever up to it and listen to it (EEG). Does the circuit act any differently if you use external energy? No.

You don't have to stimulate the brain with electrodes either. You can even do it non-invasively via induction. The experiences are rough analogues of some of the experiences people have. The brain is far from a perfect circuit, and it is more than plausible it can malfunction and create these experiences on its own.

One example is meditation, which I will call waking overfocus. Think of deaming as a screen saver for your mind, after a certain period of inactivity it goes into sleep mode. Waking overfocus is when you sit around and concentrate on a single thing, causing the rest of your mind to "go to sleep." Only instead of you observing the dream from the inside, you will observe it from the outside.

Here's an experiment you can try. Get lots of sleep so that it will be hard for you to fall asleep. Now, drink a whole mess of coffee but not so much that you're restless and twitchy. Now, climb back into bed and try to sleep.

It may take a few tries but you'll eventually end up in a state of semi-sleep. First it will feel something like having warm water poured over your body, but not over your head. Once you begin to feel this, concentrate on it and try to make the sensation more vivid. You're essentially paralyzing yourself so that you don't go off sleepwalking. Scientists counteracted this process once with cats, and they ended up walking around bumping into things.

Now, open your eyes and look at your room without the aid of your subconscious. Don't freak out or you'll start to have a sort of waking nightmare. If you do freak out, try to turn your head. You will not be able to move anything but your head and trying to do so will eventually wake you up, but it takes a lot longer. Once while doing this I hallucinated getting up 3 or 4 times before finally moving my head. Mildly frustrated was I.


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Hambydammit wrote: Point

Hambydammit wrote:

Point is, neurons fire, chemicals are released, we perceive things differently. Inducing altered states of consciousness is nothing new, and it's quite scientific. Why would you think that self-induced states would be any different.

 

You've got to be kidding me. This is like saying I had 5 minutes of REM sleep and you had 5 minutes of REM sleep so we had the same dream. Now you're being ridiculous.


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Quote:   You've got to be

Quote:

 

You've got to be kidding me. This is like saying I had 5 minutes of REM sleep and you had 5 minutes of REM sleep so we had the same dream. Now you're being ridiculous.

Feh.

You should know me better than that, wave.  I'm saying we both had a dream.

 

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:

 

You've got to be kidding me. This is like saying I had 5 minutes of REM sleep and you had 5 minutes of REM sleep so we had the same dream. Now you're being ridiculous.

Feh.

You should know me better than that, wave. I'm saying we both had a dream.

 

And I'm saying that while an deliberately entered altered state of conciousness may be mimicked by some other method does not make it the same. Just as our dreams are different even though the REM brain waves are similar, so is the altered state of conciousness conciousness different, even if a brain scan shows similarities..


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wavefreak wrote: Dropping

wavefreak wrote:

Dropping acid is not a good example because it is still possible to verbalize the experience while in the state of altered conciousness. The telling does not alter the state.

 

Anyone who has used psychoactive substances knows that this is untrue.  Speaking while under the influence can suddenly shift you out of your state, or deeper into it.  Also, there are people who meditate or pray in a waking state through years of concentrated practice.  Is their experience different from yours because they can simultaneously speak about it?  You'll never know, and so the analogy stands.

Quote:
 And further, even if during one of these altered states of conciousness there were external objective changes - even something as "miraculous" as levitation (no, I've never levitated) - you could still say it it was not contact with a divinity but just some natural phenomenon that will eventually be explained by science. So I say "It was god" and you say "No it wasn't"

"Even if..."  You may be right here.  Even if you levitated, I'd look for an explanation before jumping to magic.  I think the greater point is that this has NEVER happened. 

The words in each of the following word pairs are not interchangeable:

"Their" and "there."
"Its" and "it's."
"Your" and "you're."
"Then" and "than."


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Ryan wrote: "Even if..."

Ryan wrote:

"Even if..." You may be right here. Even if you levitated, I'd look for an explanation before jumping to magic. I think the greater point is that this has NEVER happened.

This is a key issue. It seems to me that many atheists make the evidentiary standard so high it becomes impossible to meet. 


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wavefreak wrote: This is a

wavefreak wrote:

This is a key issue. It seems to me that many atheists make the evidentiary standard so high it becomes impossible to meet. 

I don't know which god you believe in.  I don't know what characteristics you have assigned to it, but I have yet to hear a definition that does not include fantastic claims.  Extraordinary claims require extraordinay evidence, but I'm not even asking for that.  The standard is not set too high for a god of any definition.  Is one piece of solid evidence too much to ask?  Is that what you mean by a high standard?  If something as small as levitation (which we humans can do with magnets now) is beyond your god, why call it god? 

The words in each of the following word pairs are not interchangeable:

"Their" and "there."
"Its" and "it's."
"Your" and "you're."
"Then" and "than."


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Sorry, Wavefreak.   I

Sorry, Wavefreak.   I should be careful using a word like "any."  I could define god as coffee or beer.  Actually, they have physical evidence of their existence.  Hmm...  I suppose if you define a god as "something that does not exist" then the standard for evidence is probably too high. 

The words in each of the following word pairs are not interchangeable:

"Their" and "there."
"Its" and "it's."
"Your" and "you're."
"Then" and "than."


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Quote: This is a key issue.

Quote:
This is a key issue. It seems to me that many atheists make the evidentiary standard so high it becomes impossible to meet.

Here's where you're making the mistake, wave.  We don't set the standard.  The standard is there, and we acknowledge it.

I'm not going to pontificate on this because deludedgod and todangst have covered it over and over.  I'm sure you've read all the threads about the foundations of logic and science, and understand that they are the way they are simply because there's no other option!

We aren't setting any standards.  We're simply observing the standards that lead to valid conclusions.  We don't have any more control over the standards than theists.  We just choose to actually abide by them.

 

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

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Hambydammit wrote:

Quote:
This is a key issue. It seems to me that many atheists make the evidentiary standard so high it becomes impossible to meet.

Here's where you're making the mistake, wave. We don't set the standard. The standard is there, and we acknowledge it.

I'm not going to pontificate on this because deludedgod and todangst have covered it over and over. I'm sure you've read all the threads about the foundations of logic and science, and understand that they are the way they are simply because there's no other option!

We aren't setting any standards. We're simply observing the standards that lead to valid conclusions. We don't have any more control over the standards than theists. We just choose to actually abide by them.

 

 

This seems like tap dancing around the obvious. The eveidentiary standards of science were not handed down by god, the came about through the actions of humans. Those standards are created by consensus, they are not some absolute that defines reality. What I mean by the standard of evidence as being too high is illustrated by the the denial of the miraculous even in the absurdity of human levitation. Is there ANY event that could take place that would be considered evidence of god?  Or is the first thought "there must be a scientific explanation"?


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Quote: The eveidentiary

Quote:
The eveidentiary standards of science were not handed down by god, the came about through the actions of humans.

Wave, you're a smart guy. Don't be dense. Logic is the way that we think. Logical proofs are valid. We identified and codified logic, but we didn't invent it. Same for science. The scientific method was identified by people. We didn't invent a way of discovering truth that worked, we discovered it. It's a very, very big difference.

Quote:
Those standards are created by consensus, they are not some absolute that defines reality.

No. Think about this carefully. The reason that we can add 2+2 and get 4 is that regardless of consensus, 2 and 2 are 4. The reason we know we exist is that we can't ask the question without retorting it. No matter what the consensus, retortion proves axioms. In science, it doesn't matter if 60% of the population disagrees with you. Truth is truth. (Or, have you forgotten that 60% of America is not on board with the truth of evolution. Good thing it's not about consensus!)

Quote:
What I mean by the standard of evidence as being too high is illustrated by the the denial of the miraculous even in the absurdity of human levitation. Is there ANY event that could take place that would be considered evidence of god? Or is the first thought "there must be a scientific explanation"?

Wave, I'm not trying to be mean to you. You know I respect you and that I don't try to just lay on insults when you're trying to learn, but this is one of the weakest threads you've posted in a long time, and your lack of logic is really disturbing me.

Yes, there are events that could be considered evidence of god, but you have two problems: 1) If god is natural, that evidence would be scientific in nature, and would conform to the standards of logic and science, by definition! 2) If god is supernatural, you know good and well what the results would be for any and all knowledge of anything and everything.

Let me rephrase your statement for you and see if that illuminates the absurdity of it:

"What I mean by the standard of evidence as being too high is illustrated by the the denial of the miraculous (unexplained) even in the absurdity of human levitation (James Randi would sure love to document this actually happening!)."

or, put another way, "The standard of evidence is so high that scientists don't accept the explanation that we can't explain something, and always go about looking for an explanation, rather than attributing it to magic, thus committing an appeal to ignorance."

 

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

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