How do atheists explain miracles? [Kill Em With Kindness]

DadaMungo
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How do atheists explain miracles? [Kill Em With Kindness]

The first first thing I probably need to do here is state that I am not picking a fight here. This is a sincere request for atheist thinking on the topic of miracles. I carry no pitchfork nor flaming torch! =) I ask that all responses be framed with the impartiality and courtesy with which I also seek to express myself in this post.

Okay, the second first thing I have to do when posing this question is define what I mean by the word miracle.

Let me start by saying I am not talking about the kind of "miracle" of seeing the "face of Jesus" in a cloud formation (as if anyone would know what He looked like), or seeing an statue of Mary weeping ('thou shalt not make unto thyself any graven images, nor bow down to them'). I think we can safely agree that those accounts contain more wishful thinking and self-delusion than anything else.

So what constitutes a miracle? For the sake of my question, I only need give examples of miracles that I would be interested to read an unbeliever viewpoint on. The examples given below cannot be ruled out by explanations of self-delusion, mass hysteria or so forth.

  1. People are genuinely healed of basically untreatable conditions. For example, blind people being made to see, the lame to walk, broken bones being healed on the spot, and so forth. If it makes it easier, we can discount accounts of remarkable recoveries, e.g. my own father's recovery from cancer surgery was considered by doctors as little short of miraculous, but maybe my father just happened to be eating his greens more than usual.
  2. People speaking in tongues. Let's be clear: I'm not talking about some poor soul babbling away in gibberish which none can understand - that's just sad. I'm talking about people speaking in languages they do not know and have not heard, and speaking fluently, without error, as attested by a crowd of native speakers who are present.
  3. I accept that many unfortunate people hear voices which tell them to do all kinds of crazy stuff, but I think it careless to whitewash all such instances as insanity, delusion or some such. One example of what I would consider a possible candidate, though you may feel to dismiss it as coincidence, would be again my own father being warned (when alone) to tighten his seatbelt while driving, only to be have his car hit from the side by another moments after, and coming out unscathed (and also a little shaken) in what might easily have turned out to be a rather unpleasant ending. Okay, my Dad was alone, so I only have his word, but I for one do no think he was lying.

These will suffice. I cannot think of any rational explanation for these that do not involve some "divine intervention" if you will permit the term, and am wondering if you would like to share your views. For the sake of honesty and sincerity, I have to say that I have not personally experienced any of the above (at least, my personal experience of miracles would not fall into the category of needing a pretty impressive rational explanation), but then I've never been to Australia either - does that mean that place doesn't exist? I think you get my point.

Okay, the floor is yours. And thanks in advance.

PS. I made a search of the site for the term "miracle", to check if this topic has already been addressed, as I am sure it would have been. I didn't find anything quite what I was after, so felt it reasonable to pose the question. If anyone wishes to point me in the direction of any prior discussion on this point, then I'll be obliged.


jcgadfly
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DadaMungo wrote:I AM AS GOD

DadaMungo wrote:

I AM AS GOD AS YOU wrote:
This would be all of the "god of abe" fans,  the xains, the "paulines", etc. They are the enemy to love, as to understand, as to heal, and demands  understanding our own enemy or demons with in. Jesus did his 40 days alone, and Buddha meditated a long while nearly starving, to this 'self awaking", realization of what we all are. A story so simple and humbling, that has been perverted by the innate fears and ignorance of human kind.

Some say with good reason that Buddha Jesus "saves", and that Saul Paul's christianity destroys and blinds. Idol worship is "wrong thinking", the very definition of hell and mental .

You are not far from the truth (as I see it). Indeed, the Bible teaches on many levels what you are aiming at here. And yes, it is a message that is more often than not one that is missed. It is human to externalise and over-simplify advanced concepts. A major failing of believers is that they mimic what they understand to be holiness, without understanding that it comes from within not without. They are as the stars of the sky (to play upon NT imagery), 'having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof' (2 Tim 3:5). True salvation lies within. And yes, you are as God as I. Right on, brother!

Quote:
RRS is love.

Hmmm, 'by their fruits ye shall know them'. If it's love then it's a tough love. Keep working at it!

'And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.'

If true salvation lies within Dada, why worship God?

"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


magilum
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totus_tuus wrote:magilum

totus_tuus wrote:

magilum wrote:
Ah, so the vacuum cleaners attest to man's ingenuity, but the bunny rabbits don't, so they're just an illusion.

Dignity is not ingenuity.  I will concede that man's ingenuity, or intellect is something that is indicative of his dignity, but it is not the whole ball of wax.

Neither a vacuum cleaner, nor a bunny rabbit calls me to self-discipline for the good of society; or to self-sacrifice for the well-being of others.  

I see, so it's the tautological human-ness of humanity that you feel supports your conclusion. The qualities you like about humanity, ignoring that your own humanity may be the source of that inclination. The objectivity canard; the tabula rasa.


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"If true salvation lies

"If true salvation lies within Dada, why worship God?"    .... and how, and what, when all is ONE?  Umm, worship "life and love" .... I'm good with that, but again, how?

Wild rrs Luminon posted this link recently, the interesting opening essay is in 4 parts, which I've only skimmed, but will read soon.

http://atheistbible.net/

Unlike many atheists, and because of issues with language and communication, I don't have much of a problem calling my atheism of rejecting a master creator, as my belief, faith, spiritual identity, or even religion. Heck, to do good is my religion, said Thomas Paine. On the other hand, I and gawed are one, therefore this is no possible religion outside myself. "All is ONE" ... if this is called religion, I just usually laugh. 

 


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Accounting for the unestablished

The fact that you have not witnessed an event does not, as you said, imply that it did not happen.  But it also doesn't imply that it did either.  Though it might of happened despite a lack of evidence, I am no more inclined to assume that it did and try to account for it than I am to assume the Jesus lives on the moon and then go about searching for his house.  If you claim that some occurrence has violated natural explanation, and expect me to believe you, your going to have to establish that it actually happened before you expect me to go about uprooting the foundations of science to try and explain it.  If you submit research to a journal, and the argument you offer to support you conclusion is little mot than "...I don't have any data to back up my thesis...but that doesn't mean its not true" your not very likely to get published.

Atheists account of evidence, not second hand testimony and speculation. 


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Cliche

 A miracle is just another word for "WOW, how'd that happen". There are no miracles. Jesus did not turn water into wine, the fact that a baby survives one of the dreaded church van crashes is total serendipity and the idea that I have a job..... all happenstance. Oh, but the way, have you seen my unicorn or my wand? BOTH ARE MISSING.

god -- I tried you on for size.... you were a little long in the crotch, loose in the waist, short in the length and you made my butt look extra flat. I had to take you back for an exchange.


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So no miracles?

Most of the atheist comment above is that there are no miracles because there is no evidence.

My first post here, so being shy I will ask atheists smarter than I to respond to the documented and independently scrutinised  "miracle" healings used in the Catholic church as part of teh canonization process.  As I understand it there is evidence - the test for recognising the miracle is that the healing in responce to prayer be immediate, complete, contrary to medical science and unexplained - tested by a medical panel which includes non-Catholic, sometimes even atheist doctors as well as teh persons own physician.

Just two of the many examples, Dr.  Manuel Nevado from cancerous chronic radiodermatitis Nov '92 www.vatican.va/latest/documents/escriva_miracolo-canoniz_en.html) and Ron Pytel etc - examples abound.

 

What matters is not so much the specifics of each case but rather the process of validation to which they are subjected, which as good as it gets. The process followed is clearly designed to withstand the natural attacks of sceptics - testimony to its robustness is that it does withstand the criticism.

 

sala kahle - peace

 


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akakiwibear wrote:Most of

akakiwibear wrote:

Most of the atheist comment above is that there are no miracles because there is no evidence.

My first post here, so being shy I will ask atheists smarter than I to respond to the documented and independently scrutinised  "miracle" healings used in the Catholic church as part of teh canonization process.  As I understand it there is evidence - the test for recognising the miracle is that the healing in responce to prayer be immediate, complete, contrary to medical science and unexplained - tested by a medical panel which includes non-Catholic, sometimes even atheist doctors as well as teh persons own physician.

Just two of the many examples, Dr.  Manuel Nevado from cancerous chronic radiodermatitis Nov '92 www.vatican.va/latest/documents/escriva_miracolo-canoniz_en.html) and Ron Pytel etc - examples abound.

 

What matters is not so much the specifics of each case but rather the process of validation to which they are subjected, which as good as it gets. The process followed is clearly designed to withstand the natural attacks of sceptics - testimony to its robustness is that it does withstand the criticism.

 

sala kahle - peace

 

It's not really that stringent as, to my knowledge, there is no pre- or post- miracle testing. It's not that hard to claim a complete healing for someone who never had the disease or if that person was under a physician's care before the miracle occurred.

It reminds me of what I've seen and heard from Christians in my experience. It goes along the lines of, "The docs told me I had cancer - so I prayed and asked the church to pray too. I went into the hospital for surgery that next week and started chemotherapy and radiation treatments after that. Now the cancer's gone. Praise Jesus I'm healed!"

"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


magilum
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jcgadfly wrote:akakiwibear

jcgadfly wrote:

akakiwibear wrote:

Most of the atheist comment above is that there are no miracles because there is no evidence.

My first post here, so being shy I will ask atheists smarter than I to respond to the documented and independently scrutinised  "miracle" healings used in the Catholic church as part of teh canonization process.  As I understand it there is evidence - the test for recognising the miracle is that the healing in responce to prayer be immediate, complete, contrary to medical science and unexplained - tested by a medical panel which includes non-Catholic, sometimes even atheist doctors as well as teh persons own physician.

Just two of the many examples, Dr.  Manuel Nevado from cancerous chronic radiodermatitis Nov '92 www.vatican.va/latest/documents/escriva_miracolo-canoniz_en.html) and Ron Pytel etc - examples abound.

 

What matters is not so much the specifics of each case but rather the process of validation to which they are subjected, which as good as it gets. The process followed is clearly designed to withstand the natural attacks of sceptics - testimony to its robustness is that it does withstand the criticism.

 

sala kahle - peace

 

It's not really that stringent as, to my knowledge, there is no pre- or post- miracle testing. It's not that hard to claim a complete healing for someone who never had the disease or if that person was under a physician's care before the miracle occurred.

It reminds me of what I've seen and heard from Christians in my experience. It goes along the lines of, "The docs told me I had cancer - so I prayed and asked the church to pray too. I went into the hospital for surgery that next week and started chemotherapy and radiation treatments after that. Now the cancer's gone. Praise Jesus I'm healed!"

IIRC, a prominent example of the church's methods related to Mother Teresa. I think it had something to do with a woman who'd supposedly prayed with a likeness of the nun, and claimed it cured her cancer. All the while, she's going through regular western cancer treatments as well.

I'll also reiterate what I think is the core problem with trying to prove miracles is that a miracle isn't a positive definition. It's only a miracle because it's not explained, meaning that it's synonymous with not knowing how something works, which means anything could be a miracle if you don't look for answers. That's assuming the phenomena is even present for someone to scrutinize. How many miracles come to us as vague hearsay?


DadaMungo
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I AM AS GOD AS YOU wrote:"If

I AM AS GOD AS YOU wrote:
"If true salvation lies within Dada, why worship God?"    .... and how, and what, when all is ONE?  Umm, worship "life and love" .... I'm good with that, but again, how?

Aye, there's the rub!

To answer jcgadfly's original question, we have to come to understand what is meant by 'God'. I like to use the story of the Blind (sorry, "Optically challenged&quotEye-wink Outing to the Zoo. The troop came upon an elephant, whereupon one took hold of his leg and claimed it to be a tree. Another took hold of the trunk and said, no, it was a snake. A third took the tail and claimed it was a rope. A fourth caught the ear and said it was large canvas. The point of the story is that none were correct in an absolute context, but each attempted to define what they experienced from their personal viewpoint. The discovery of God is something that is done individually. The best one can do for others is point the right direction to go (as Jesus and the prophets attempted), but one cannot reveal God to another. So, what is the direction? I have found that to be the central message of the Bible, which is played out there on many levels time and again, both in metaphor and direct teaching.

The concept of God as we have it is very much like us being the blind men around the elephant. For the most part, mankind is operating at a level of understanding that is akin to a child's perception of reality: very primitive and inadequate. We could say that we have built up a false idol of God and proceeded to worship that. It is the tendency for us to build up religions to defend our perceptions rather than challenge what we know in the search for something better. Jesus often berated the religious leaders of His people for their blindness of mind and heart. They had so missed the point that they are built layer upon layer of useless and deceptive rules and customs, which had prevented the people's understanding of what it really was to know God. Jesus attempted to remove the scales from their eyes, and it cost Him His life.

However, the gems/pearls of true understanding were and are still there for those who are looking for the path to oneness/completeness/holiness. In ancient Israel, the temple was the focal point of their religion (I won't call it Judaism). Prior to the building of Solomon's temple, the tabernacle was used as the place to store the Ark of the Covenant. According to the record, it was in the innermost chamber where God communed with His people. The high priest entered the Holy of Holies only after many rites of cleansing and purification. This is significant. The Hebrew culture and religion played heavily on the use of symbols to convey meaning, and the same is true in this case. Here, the temple is a symbol of the human heart (metaphorically speaking). It is the innermost sanctum within each individual, a holy of holies, if you will, where one can meet God. But one has to cleanse oneself of ungodliness before they can enter therein. This is why God gave His people the commandments, and why He had/has a zero-tolerance policy for wickedness. And this is why most people do not know Him, simply because they will not believe and will not change.

In the 17th chapter of John, Jesus prays to God before His ordeal in Gethsemane and on the Cross. He prays about oneness. Of oneness with God. I see that He is summing up all His teachings and those of the prophets in one moment. This is what it is all about. The worship of an external Being is not what it is about, although that is also a symbol for what should be happening on the inside. When I pray, I do not think that God is listening to my words, but rather listening to my heart, and it is there that I can "meet" Him. I will confess that this is not always successful, since I am still learning to walk the path, but I am satisfied that I'm on the right path.

But God is found within. God is expressed through us, as through all things, but mostly through us (when we do not suppress or stifle Him).

I have to get ready for work now, so I have to cut this short. I'd like to come back later to I AM GOD AS YOU's question about 'how'?


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Miracle? .... dirt,

Miracle? .... dirt, stardust, me,  WOW !  Religion ruins the miraculous awe .... Science is awe .... Science is godly ! Religion is hell .... religion is sin, religion is dogma, POISON. No Master, FUCK god of abe idol shit. Xainity is devil worship (wrong thinking)


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DadaMungo  Yes, God with

DadaMungo

  Yes, "God with in", simple, is all not ONE ? What is not the force ?


pauljohntheskeptic
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DadaMungo wrote: I like to

DadaMungo wrote:

 I like to use the story of the Blind (sorry, "Optically challenged&quotEye-wink Outing to the Zoo. The troop came upon an elephant, whereupon one took hold of his leg and claimed it to be a tree. Another took hold of the trunk and said, no, it was a snake. A third took the tail and claimed it was a rope. A fourth caught the ear and said it was large canvas. The point of the story is that none were correct in an absolute context, but each attempted to define what they experienced from their personal viewpoint. The discovery of God is something that is done individually. The best one can do for others is point the right direction to go (as Jesus and the prophets attempted), but one cannot reveal God to another. So, what is the direction? I have found that to be the central message of the Bible, which is played out there on many levels time and again, both in metaphor and direct teaching.

You use this story as do others to explain we have misconstrued God, yet you do it yourself.

DadaMungo wrote:

The concept of God as we have it is very much like us being the blind men around the elephant. For the most part, mankind is operating at a level of understanding that is akin to a child's perception of reality: very primitive and inadequate.

Yet you choose to use the writings of even more primitives to base a belief system upon.

DadaMungo wrote:

We could say that we have built up a false idol of God and proceeded to worship that. It is the tendency for us to build up religions to defend our perceptions rather than challenge what we know in the search for something better. Jesus often berated the religious leaders of His people for their blindness of mind and heart. They had so missed the point that they are built layer upon layer of useless and deceptive rules and customs, which had prevented the people's understanding of what it really was to know God. Jesus attempted to remove the scales from their eyes, and it cost Him His life.

This seems to be what you are doing as well.

DadaMungo wrote:

However, the gems/pearls of true understanding were and are still there for those who are looking for the path to oneness/completeness/holiness.

Are they now? You know this from exactly which part of the elephant you have touched. You are no different than the others who make claims of understanding from ancient writings of primitives. If you had simply said it is impossible to know what is true and what is not you might have an argument, but no you go right ahead and make the claim God is within.

DadaMungo wrote:

In ancient Israel, the temple was the focal point of their religion (I won't call it Judaism). Prior to the building of Solomon's temple, the tabernacle was used as the place to store the Ark of the Covenant. According to the record, it was in the innermost chamber where God communed with His people. The high priest entered the Holy of Holies only after many rites of cleansing and purification. This is significant. The Hebrew culture and religion played heavily on the use of symbols to convey meaning, and the same is true in this case. Here, the temple is a symbol of the human heart (metaphorically speaking). It is the innermost sanctum within each individual, a holy of holies, if you will, where one can meet God. But one has to cleanse oneself of ungodliness before they can enter therein. This is why God gave His people the commandments, and why He had/has a zero-tolerance policy for wickedness. And this is why most people do not know Him, simply because they will not believe and will not change.

You now go further making more unsubstantiated claims from your piece of elephant analogy. You can't know this is the way to know anymore than any of the other blind people who have touched your elephant. You have done exactly what you criticized.

DadaMungo wrote:

In the 17th chapter of John, Jesus prays to God before His ordeal in Gethsemane and on the Cross. He prays about oneness. Of oneness with God. I see that He is summing up all His teachings and those of the prophets in one moment. This is what it is all about. The worship of an external Being is not what it is about, although that is also a symbol for what should be happening on the inside. When I pray, I do not think that God is listening to my words, but rather listening to my heart, and it is there that I can "meet" Him. I will confess that this is not always successful, since I am still learning to walk the path, but I am satisfied that I'm on the right path.

But God is found within. God is expressed through us, as through all things, but mostly through us (when we do not suppress or stifle Him).

Such unwarranted claims and assertions about so little data. You are no different than those who form complex religions, you have formed one of your own. You say you see he is summing up in John, but what if John is fiction and so to Jesus? How can you know Jesus was not part of a literary fiction? You have very little elephant to make such claims, be honest with yourself and see what you have done.

____________________________________________________________
"I guess it's time to ask if you live under high voltage power transmission lines which have been shown to cause stimulation of the fantasy centers of the brain due to electromagnetic waves?" - Me

"God is omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent, - it says so right here on the label. If you have a mind capable of believing all three of these divine attributes simultaneously, I have a wonderful bargain for you. No checks please. Cash and in small bills." - Robert A Heinlein.


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DadaMungo,Since God is

DadaMungo,

Since God is within, basically everyone makes up God as they go along?

How is that differennt from "Pulling god claims from your anal sphicter"?

"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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I'm going to assume

I'm going to assume DadaMungo was incapable of responding to my response now.

Proud Canadian, Enlightened Atheist, Gaming God.


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From one of my papers,

From one of my papers, regarding brain death vs. clinical death, and the scientific explanation of NDEs:

Hambydammit wrote:

All the evidence says that it is. Despite hocus pocus claims from preachers and urban legends about people who have been to heaven and come back, there's no evidence that life goes on after death. Consciousness is dependent on physical processes. When the brain dies and the body decays, there is no longer an organized physical process, so the only logical conclusion is that there is no consciousness.

But what about near death experiences? Couldn't they be proof of an afterlife? Let's examine the evidence. All the stories are just that – stories. Anecdotal evidence, as we've seen, is extremely weak, and should only be considered when stronger corroborating evidence exists. Were the people who experienced NDEs in good mental and physical condition? Obviously not, as near death is a pretty bad situation, both physically and mentally. We know that even minute changes in the brain can trigger wildly erratic perceptions and behaviors. Dying is considerably more than a minute change in the brain. On the surface, the evidence for NDE's as proof of an afterlife seems fragile at best.

We're still not done, though. Is there better evidence that NDE's are simply physical, and that the perceptions of heaven and hell are illusions? It turns out that there is quite a lot. Before discussing NDEs directly, we need to be clear on a few terms.

If you've ever watched the movie, The Princess Bride, you will remember Miracle Max's famous words about death: “Whoo-hoo-hoo, look who knows so much. It just so happens that your friend here is only MOSTLY dead. There's a big difference between mostly dead and all dead. Mostly dead is slightly alive. With all dead, well, with all dead there's usually only one thing you can do. Go through his clothes and look for loose change.” The scientific descriptions are not as witty, but they're not radically different. There is a big difference between clinical death and brain death. Clinical death usually results from cardiac arrest. When the heart stops pumping, neurons no longer receive oxygen. Without new oxygen, they continue to fire for a short while, sometimes with odd side effects. It would only be a slight stretch to say that a clinically dead person is mostly dead.

Brain death, on the other hand, is all dead. Clinical death can be reversed within a certain time frame. We've all heard stories, and seen depictions on medical dramas. The heart can be started chemically, electrically, and manually, depending on the situation. Assuming that there is still some neural activity, starting a clinically dead person's heart will bring them “back to life.” Not so with brain death. Once the brain dies, the person is fully dead, and will not come back.

What, then, can we say about people who are clinically dead? For one thing, they are the only people who have ever had NDE's and lived to tell about them. For another, we can make some observations about what happens when the brain begins to die. If these observations form a parsimonious explanation for NDE's, we will have a compelling reason to believe they are not supernatural, and do not give proof of an afterlife.*

As the brain becomes oxygen depleted, neural networks begin to break down. Infants and small children have small neural networks. As they age, they form larger and larger networks as they process more and more information. An adult can temporarily break down access to fully formed networks by using drugs, or possibly meditative practice (although the latter is the subject of considerable debate). In fact, it's ironic that in the vernacular, many people say they have “transcendent” experiences while on mind altering drugs. The reality is that they are actually moving to a lower level of consciousness!

The sense of “loss of self” is a commonly reported experience in NDEs, and it has a well understood cause. Though the technical explanation sounds quite daunting to non-scientists, the cause is quite simple. In some cases, extreme overproduction of serotonin can inhibit the ability of neurons to pump potassium out of neural channels, effectively de-electrolyzing the neurons. In others, drugs can perform a function known as transmitter masking, essentially inhibiting the ability of transmitters to function properly by substituting an imposter chemical (such as an opiate) for the “proper” chemical. The end result is that synaptogenesis (the process of forming synapses) becomes temporarily “flooded.” In other words, new synapses are formed and then overturned so quickly that the brain becomes unable to process them effectively.

Critics will often object at this point in a conversation. After all, scientists have not explained every aspect of NDEs. In fact, most scientists are perfectly willing to admit that there are some very puzzling things about them, and the explanations are not always apparent. Hopefully, you've gotten good at spotting the fallacy. Someone who wants to believe in NDEs will say, “Since science doesn't have an answer, it must be proof of the afterlife.” This is a fallacy of ignorance, and is not valid logic. Still, many will argue that there are common threads. People from different religions have the same kinds of experiences. Kevin Nelson, a neurophysiologist at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, has this to say: "People say that because there's a common thread running through them all there must be a spiritual element," he says. "I look at that common thread and I see a biological process." (New Scientist, October 17, 2006) Nelson believes that he can explain the entire experience in purely scientific terms. He might be able to, but then again, he might miss something. This is not as relevant as it may seem. The important point is that good critical thinking demands that we not make up answers.

In fact, there is a common misconception about NDEs. It's not necessary to be at death's door to experience one. Quoting from the New Scientist article:

Nelson says that that's because despite the name, NDE has little to do with actually being close to death. He argues that the experience stems from an acute bout of "REM intrusion" - a glitch in the brain's circuitry that, in times of extreme stress, may flip it into a mixed state of awareness where it is both in REM sleep and partially awake at the same time. "The concept that our brain is either 100 per cent awake or 100 per cent in REM sleep is absolutely erroneous," says Mark Mahowald, a neurologist at the Minnesota Regional Sleep Disorders Center in Minneapolis. "We can have pieces of one state intruding into another, and that's when things get interesting."

REM intrusion is a common feature of narcolepsy - a neurological disorder characterised by uncontrollable bouts of sleep that can cause elaborate hallucinations and, sometimes, out-of-body experiences. But REM intrusion can affect anyone, and frequently does. Recent estimates suggest that up to 40 per cent of people have experienced "sleep paralysis", a form of REM intrusion in which you awaken with part of your brain still in REM sleep and your body paralysed. Often the result is a terrifying feeling of being unable to move, accompanied by visual or auditory hallucinations and pressure on the chest. Sleep paralysis has been offered as a rational explanation for many apparently supernatural phenomena, including witch attacks, visitations by the dead, and more recently alien abductions.

Scientists are experimenting with the phenomenon of out of body sight, too. Olaf Blanke, a cognitive neurologist at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, has caused subjects to see their legs, disembodied, from a floating perspective, simply by applying an electrical stimulus to the angular gyrus, a part of the brain involved with processing sensory information. (New Scientist)

There's yet another example of transcendental experiences that we should look at. Epileptics often report NDE-like perceptions after having particularly intense seizures. Seizures which effect the limbic system are well known for causing religious or transcendent experiences. In a way, this is an opposite cause for a similar effect. When a person has a seizure, their brain is firing too many neurons at once. Just like a computer, our brain seldom uses all of it's capacity at once. The myth that we only use 10% of our brains comes from a simple misunderstanding of this concept. When a computer is idle, or is only running a few processes, it uses a small percentage of its total processing power. Our brains function essentially the same way. Also, just like a computer, when we over tax our brains, the results are not always pleasant. How this relates to clinical death is simple. When the heart weakens, the body must compensate by increasing blood pressure drastically, keeping precious oxygen flowing to the brain. The increase in pressure wreaks havoc on the brain. Though it is still alive, it is far from normal functioning.

There is much speculation about the connection between epilepsy and religion. A nun at a Carmelite monestary in California recently discovered that the visions and transcendental raptures she'd been experiencing for years were actually epilepsy. Careful review of the private lives of many religious figures has prompted the question, were many of the prophets and religious visionaries of the past epileptics? In the end, we will probably never know about those who have long since passed. New research is coming in all the time, however, and as the connection becomes more and more concrete, it's becoming harder and harder to dismiss the evidence that NDEs, as well as mystical experiences not associated with dying, are simply misfiring neurons playing a game with our perception.

We can look at this another way. Dismiss for a moment all the possible explanations that scientists have come up with. In a recent survey, researchers found that among people who had had NDEs, a full 60 percent had sleep problems involving REM intrusion. Only 24 percent of people who had not had NDEs had similar problems. There is clearly a physical connection between REM intrusion and NDEs. Which explanation makes more sense? That there is an afterlife, and the apparent connection to sleep problems is coincidence, or that the connection is evidence of what really causes them? (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12274186/)

So, in the end, we have to concede that though there might be compelling emotional reasons to want to believe in life after death, there's simply not enough compelling logical reasons. In fact, if we apply our objectivity test by substituting another trivial question, we see clearly that without the emotional tug on our reason, we would dismiss the question out of hand. There is simply no reason to believe it.

 

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jcgadfly wrote:You've been

jcgadfly wrote:

You've been called of God to use something that the Bible shows your God doesn't have (self-discipline that benefits society) and to do what your God didn't do (self sacrifice for the well-being of others)?

I assume you mean that the crucifixion of Jesus/God was a self-sacrificial act that benefited mankind. I have to ask then - At what point in the Crucifixion did Jesus stop being God?" If he stopped being god, why venerate him? If he didn't, what did he sacrifice?

I think, JC, that we must both suffer from ADD.  We are notorious for our ability to derail threads.  LOL!  And just when this one seemed to be getting back on track.  But, I do so enjoy our discussions, so here goes....

First of all, even if God did not display self-discipline or self-sacrifice, I'd still be called to do so.  It ain't all about me.  I am my brother's keeper.  Life is not an individual journey, it is a collective experience.  Salvation is not an individual promise, it is a promise made to us collectively.

From the beginning, God has exercised self-discipline for the benfit of mankind.  At the Fall, he didn't just whach Adam and Eve and start all over again, but promised them redemption.  He spared Isaac, He led Israel out of the desert, He spared Lot and would have spared Sodom oand Gomorrah, He rescued Noah, He sustained David.  All this despite Israel's rejection of covenants, all of this despite Man's failure to uphold his end of the covenants he made with God.  Not that there weren't severe repercussions on Israel for its apostasies, but in the end, God never abandoned His people.  He had given His Word and never abandoned that promise.

"Father, if Thou art willing, remove this cup from me.  Nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done."  Again, there is a covenant to be fulfilled and God will not be swayed from fulfilling it.

Jesus never stopped being God, nor did he ever stop being man.  There was no need for an Incarnation for salvation, let alone for God to take upon Himself the punishment for our sins.  By doing so he has set an example.  There is no excuse for complaining about the difficulty of the human condition; there is no excuse for bemoaning suffering.  God has undertaken to become human, He has experienced suffering in His own flesh.  The experience of Christ is no less than the experience in which I have confidence. He is but the firstfruits of salvation.  A share in that same salvation is our hope, and "he who has hope lives differently."

 

 

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totus_tuus wrote:First of

totus_tuus wrote:

First of all, even if God did not display self-discipline or self-sacrifice, I'd still be called to do so.  It ain't all about me.  I am my brother's keeper.  Life is not an individual journey, it is a collective experience.

Yet we have those who see themselves alone and consider departing early from the life experience as even this forum has. No one dies with you, you do that all by yourself. As to the journey through life we may share transportation and lodgings with others but it seems we still experience it all on our own. Yes we communicate and interact with others and sometimes this affects our decisions but in the end we each control the direction we take our life.

totus_tuus wrote:

Salvation is not an individual promise, it is a promise made to us collectively.

This is of course your derived interpretation. As with the OP Dada, you too are guessing what the elephant looks like or even if it is one.

totus_tuus wrote:

From the beginning, God has exercised self-discipline for the benfit of mankind.  At the Fall, he didn't just whach Adam and Eve and start all over again, but promised them redemption.  He spared Isaac, He led Israel out of the desert, He spared Lot and would have spared Sodom oand Gomorrah, He rescued Noah, He sustained David.  All this despite Israel's rejection of covenants, all of this despite Man's failure to uphold his end of the covenants he made with God.  Not that there weren't severe repercussions on Israel for its apostasies, but in the end, God never abandoned His people.  He had given His Word and never abandoned that promise.

Adam and Eve supposedly would die from eating of the tree of knowledge that they are not here today shows God did whack them. In the desert God wanted to kill all of the Israelites and Moses guilt tripped God into continuing to work with them. Don't bring so many myths out at once or this thread will get severely sidetracked. If God hasn't abandoned his people what then is the point of the pretend sacrifice of part of himself to placate himself.

totus_tuus wrote:

"Father, if Thou art willing, remove this cup from me.  Nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done."  Again, there is a covenant to be fulfilled and God will not be swayed from fulfilling it.

Jesus never stopped being God, nor did he ever stop being man.  There was no need for an Incarnation for salvation, let alone for God to take upon Himself the punishment for our sins.  By doing so he has set an example.  There is no excuse for complaining about the difficulty of the human condition; there is no excuse for bemoaning suffering.  God has undertaken to become human, He has experienced suffering in His own flesh.  The experience of Christ is no less than the experience in which I have confidence. He is but the firstfruits of salvation.  A share in that same salvation is our hope, and "he who has hope lives differently."

Why not just wave a magic wand and say everything is as it should be instead of playing games with yourself? You really should consider how strange and bizarre this story sounds. God made all and knew before hand it was defective as he gave free reign to make choices. Though he is perfect he made the Universe imperfect so it could operate by free choice. When some of his beings do so he becomes pissed though he already knew before he made them it would happen. In order to justify the whole mess to himself he decides to save them all from himself by turning part of himself into part man and part God. He then is executed by some of his creatures thus being a sacrifice to himself and saving all even those that hadn't been born yet from himself. In simple terms that is what happens when you blow away the smoke and take down the mirrors.

 

 

 

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from rrsEloise- "We must

from rrs Eloise - "We must question the story logic of having an all-knowing all-powerful God, who creates faulty Humans, and then blames them for his own mistakes."  Gene Roddenberry 

from rrs greek goddess "In the beginning the universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move." ~ Douglas Adams   

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totus_tuus wrote:jcgadfly

totus_tuus wrote:

jcgadfly wrote:

You've been called of God to use something that the Bible shows your God doesn't have (self-discipline that benefits society) and to do what your God didn't do (self sacrifice for the well-being of others)?

I assume you mean that the crucifixion of Jesus/God was a self-sacrificial act that benefited mankind. I have to ask then - At what point in the Crucifixion did Jesus stop being God?" If he stopped being god, why venerate him? If he didn't, what did he sacrifice?

I think, JC, that we must both suffer from ADD.  We are notorious for our ability to derail threads.  LOL!  And just when this one seemed to be getting back on track.  But, I do so enjoy our discussions, so here goes....

First of all, even if God did not display self-discipline or self-sacrifice, I'd still be called to do so.  It ain't all about me.  I am my brother's keeper.  Life is not an individual journey, it is a collective experience.  Salvation is not an individual promise, it is a promise made to us collectively.

From the beginning, God has exercised self-discipline for the benfit of mankind.  At the Fall, he didn't just whach Adam and Eve and start all over again, but promised them redemption.  He spared Isaac, He led Israel out of the desert, He spared Lot and would have spared Sodom oand Gomorrah, He rescued Noah, He sustained David.  All this despite Israel's rejection of covenants, all of this despite Man's failure to uphold his end of the covenants he made with God.  Not that there weren't severe repercussions on Israel for its apostasies, but in the end, God never abandoned His people.  He had given His Word and never abandoned that promise.

"Father, if Thou art willing, remove this cup from me.  Nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done."  Again, there is a covenant to be fulfilled and God will not be swayed from fulfilling it.

Jesus never stopped being God, nor did he ever stop being man.  There was no need for an Incarnation for salvation, let alone for God to take upon Himself the punishment for our sins.  By doing so he has set an example.  There is no excuse for complaining about the difficulty of the human condition; there is no excuse for bemoaning suffering.  God has undertaken to become human, He has experienced suffering in His own flesh.  The experience of Christ is no less than the experience in which I have confidence. He is but the firstfruits of salvation.  A share in that same salvation is our hope, and "he who has hope lives differently."

 

 

Quote:
From the beginning, God has exercised self-discipline for the benfit of mankind.

You call allowing 6 million Jews to be gassed and burned and tortured, when you didn't have to let it happen because you are "all powerfull"..you call that "self disipline"? You call 300,000 children, women and men drowneding in a tsunami, WHEN YOU COULD HAVE PREVENTED IT, you call that "self disipline"? You call Polly Klass, a young girl, tortured and rapped by and butchered by a dopped up druggie "Self disipline"? When you COULD HAVE STOPPED IT, BUT DIDNT?

The you cop out to the bullshit argument of "fall of man". So Polly Klass was rapped and murdered because of Eve eating the apple? How come God couldn't see fit to just punish Eve? What did Polly do to deserve an "all seeing" god to sit back and say, "Sorry Polly, I know this is going to be a bitch, but it is not my fault(NEVER SEEMS TO BE) you can blame Eve. Oh yea, and while you are getting boned up the ass, just remember, it is all part of my plan, and after you get tourtured, you get to hang out with me.

God is not a rational concept. He is A College Frat Boy who spanks the pledges with a mace instead of a paddle. No wait, he gets his henchmen to do it for him so no one can point the finger at him.

My point is, I incert the graphic blashpemy, to wake you up. I am not trying to offend you, just merely trying to show you the absurdity in the logic you are using to defend your position.

All those bad things I mentioned are not a result of a man in a white robe or a man with a pitchfork whom magically manipulate atoms or neurons in favor of the hero or villan. They are all natural events, bad events are natural.

Natural does not mean that we want it to affect us. It merely means that it happens. Vocanos kill people, hurricanes kill people and people kill people. We can either incert our magical super heros or super villans in when things frighten us, or we can accept that they happen and work within reality to minimize the harm they do to us.

Just because we don't like something to happen to us, doesn't make it a product of a magical man in a red leotard. No one wants cancer, but you don't assign it's existance to the antient Egyptian villain god Set. So why would any human crime or natural disaster have magical villian or "test" purpose from a grand designer?

Could it be that we merely emotionally react to things that make us feel good, or frighten us, and then make up answers because we like them?

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Well, actually...

Vastet wrote:
I'm going to assume DadaMungo was incapable of responding to my response now.

I had already covered the inadequacy of my anecdotal reference, and I admitted it readily as such. The rest of your response simply didn't warrant any further comment, IMO.

Is there something you would like me to comment further upon?


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DadaMungo wrote:Vastet

DadaMungo wrote:

Vastet wrote:
I'm going to assume DadaMungo was incapable of responding to my response now.

I had already covered the inadequacy of my anecdotal reference, and I admitted it readily as such. The rest of your response simply didn't warrant any further comment, IMO.

Is there something you would like me to comment further upon?

Actually, yes.

We've already told you how atheists explain miracles. Why do theists go through mental gymnastics when the prayers don't work?

Saw a great example with my wife.

They've been praying for my pastor's wife who needs more breast cancer surgery.

I asked why the prayer hasn't kicked in she replied, "God's not Santa Claus"

I quoted James 5:16 and John 15:7 and she came back with:

1. God can work through medicine.

2. God can say no.

3. Healing doesn't only happen in this life.

I didn't want to get into "God gave her the cancer" yet.

Why do theists dance so hard to let God off the hook?

"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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Sorry, wife sick, long weekend, etc., etc.

pauljohntheskeptic wrote:
You use this story as do others to explain we have misconstrued God, yet you do it yourself.

Yep. If there is a God, even nearing the description of the Judo/Christian tradition, then we are certainly all far short of understanding Him. Do I claim my understanding is correct? By no means. All my statements here are based upon my personal view but nothing more. How can they be? However, my personal experience is also such that my understanding of God deepens and develops over time. Can I prove to you that I am on the right path? No, nor will I make the attempt. However, I am personally satisfied with my journey thus far, and have little reason to expect the scenery to change any time soon. Perhaps it's a case of "where there's smoke, there's fire" and it's but a question of how much smoke is required to get one's attention?

pauljohntheskeptic wrote:
Yet you choose to use the writings of even more primitives to base a belief system upon.

I have to assume you're referring to ideas as being primitive. Certainly, the peoples involved were no less primitive than us in terms of mental and physical capacity. Sure, the knowledge they had at their disposal was limited and they tried to fill in the blanks as best they could, but they weren't stupid. Actually, one might even say that in many ways, their capacity for expression was highly developed, being able to convey ideas simply yet powerfully despite that exact lack of knowledge of the empirical world that we now enjoy. The basic existence of these "primitives" was essentially the same as ours today: they were driven by the same needs and urges, and they were capable of contemplating the same issues as we beyond the empirical realm. We are not so far along from them after all, and I hardly think we can write them off as primitives. Your statement seems too dismissive for my liking.

pauljohntheskeptic wrote:
Are they now? You know this from exactly which part of the elephant you have touched. You are no different than the others who make claims of understanding from ancient writings of primitives. If you had simply said it is impossible to know what is true and what is not you might have an argument, but no you go right ahead and make the claim God is within.

Are you saying that only the empirical realm exists, and that there is no meaning? How can you know that? How can one possibly demonstrate conclusively that it is impossible to know 'what is true and what is not'? To make such a claim would be absurd! To shut the door on an exploration for meaning would be completely unwarranted.

To deny any meaning in life is IMO to suck all joy and fulfillment from it too. It poisons everything. To look upon nature's wonder and then write it off to purposelessness is to make a mockery of over very appreciation of that wonder. I find it very hard to ascribe our very make-up, i.e. that we really need purpose in life, whether construed or otherwise, as a by-product or "tool" of evolution. To be clear I'm understood - I'm not denying that it is logically feasible for reality to be exactly as I have pictured it here, but I find it unsatisfactory as an answer, or, rather, I am persuaded otherwise.

pauljohntheskeptic wrote:
You now go further making more unsubstantiated claims from your piece of elephant analogy. You can't know this is the way to know anymore than any of the other blind people who have touched your elephant. You have done exactly what you criticized.

And how do you know that I (or anyone else) can't know? This thinking comes from skepticism, and skepticism alone. There are no other grounds for such a claim.

pauljohntheskeptic wrote:
Such unwarranted claims and assertions about so little data. You are no different than those who form complex religions, you have formed one of your own. You say you see he is summing up in John, but what if John is fiction and so to Jesus? How can you know Jesus was not part of a literary fiction? You have very little elephant to make such claims, be honest with yourself and see what you have done.

Perhaps I should put a disclaimer in about my "claims", that they are simply how I see or understand things. My comments at the beginning of this post apply too.

Again you play the skeptic card about the factual reality of John and Jesus, but those are questions which have not, to my knowledge, been conclusively demonstrated. So I could ask the inverse of your questions: how do you know that they are not true? Of course, I have to admit that some of the stuff that goes on there just doesn't happen every day, and a measure of skepticism is fully warranted. No argument there.

As for forming complex religions, I'd like to know what you mean by 'complex'. I think I've already touched upon the idea of 'forming one of my own', so I don't feel the need to contest that. I also acknowledge that I need to feel as much of the elephant as I can in order to build a more comprehensive view of life, both empirically and otherwise.


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DadaMungo wrote:If there is

DadaMungo wrote:

If there is a God, even nearing the description of the Judo/Christian tradition, then we are certainly all far short of understanding Him.

Not to mention demonstrating him.

Oh snap!


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  How do atheists explain

  How do atheists explain miracles ?   Well, I've yet to see an actual miracle so I can't really say.

  Besides,  Bible stories are just....stories.  The accounts of biblical miracles carry no more weight with me than Christians give to the supernatural occurences found in the tales from all the other world religions.  Fair enough ?

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DadaMungo wrote:Yep. If

DadaMungo wrote:
Yep. If there is a God, even nearing the description of the Judo/Christian tradition, then we are certainly all far short of understanding Him. Do I claim my understanding is correct? By no means.
Err... You do claim, by inference, that one aspect of your understanding is correct: That a god exists.

And that is a rather key point.

I see no evidence to believe that, and it's not like no-one has tried to present any. It's just that every single bit of evidence presented can be better explained by natural means requiring no intervention of outside entities.

DadaMungo wrote:
Again you play the skeptic card about the factual reality of John and Jesus, but those are questions which have not, to my knowledge, been conclusively demonstrated. So I could ask the inverse of your questions: how do you know that they are not true? Of course, I have to admit that some of the stuff that goes on there just doesn't happen every day, and a measure of skepticism is fully warranted. No argument there.
One facet of skepticism is: Don't accept an idea without corroborating evidence. Your question " how do you know that they are not true?" doesn't make a great deal of sense in that context. This is where the common "There's no proof of leprechauns, do you believe in them?" counter-question comes from.

"Anyone can repress a woman, but you need 'dictated' scriptures to feel you're really right in repressing her. In the same way, homophobes thrive everywhere. But you must feel you've got scripture on your side to come up with the tedious 'Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve' style arguments instead of just recognising that some people are different." - Douglas Murray


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DadaMungo

DadaMungo wrote:

pauljohntheskeptic wrote:
You use this story as do others to explain we have misconstrued God, yet you do it yourself.

Yep. If there is a God, even nearing the description of the Judo/Christian tradition, then we are certainly all far short of understanding Him. Do I claim my understanding is correct? By no means. All my statements here are based upon my personal view but nothing more. How can they be? However, my personal experience is also such that my understanding of God deepens and develops over time. Can I prove to you that I am on the right path? No, nor will I make the attempt. However, I am personally satisfied with my journey thus far, and have little reason to expect the scenery to change any time soon. Perhaps it's a case of "where there's smoke, there's fire" and it's but a question of how much smoke is required to get one's attention?

As you say it is your personal view and it carries the validity you bring no more. It is your interpretation of the elephant and no more. As you note I look at this as a skeptic and I have no reason to accept your personal views over my observations and research.

DadaMungo wrote:

pauljohntheskeptic wrote:
Yet you choose to use the writings of even more primitives to base a belief system upon.

I have to assume you're referring to ideas as being primitive. Certainly, the peoples involved were no less primitive than us in terms of mental and physical capacity. Sure, the knowledge they had at their disposal was limited and they tried to fill in the blanks as best they could, but they weren't stupid. Actually, one might even say that in many ways, their capacity for expression was highly developed, being able to convey ideas simply yet powerfully despite that exact lack of knowledge of the empirical world that we now enjoy. The basic existence of these "primitives" was essentially the same as ours today: they were driven by the same needs and urges, and they were capable of contemplating the same issues as we beyond the empirical realm. We are not so far along from them after all, and I hardly think we can write them off as primitives. Your statement seems too dismissive for my liking.

I was in fact referring to their ideas as primitive and never suggested they were stupid or had less mental capability than present day humans. L. Ron Hubbard was very intelligent and wrote very powerfully to convey his ideas as well. Does this mean Hubbard's ideas have basis in reality? He was driven to promote ideas he felt or believed to be correct. The ancient writers of the Bible, The Book of the Dead, the Quran, and even ancient Sumerians all wrote in powerful ways to convey ideas. Does this mean that they should be considered as having knowledge that explains the Universe accurately? All of these writings have some basic understanding yet fantasy and ignorant (to them) ideas are presented as real.

DadaMungo wrote:

pauljohntheskeptic wrote:
Are they now? You know this from exactly which part of the elephant you have touched. You are no different than the others who make claims of understanding from ancient writings of primitives. If you had simply said it is impossible to know what is true and what is not you might have an argument, but no you go right ahead and make the claim God is within.

Are you saying that only the empirical realm exists, and that there is no meaning? How can you know that? How can one possibly demonstrate conclusively that it is impossible to know 'what is true and what is not'? To make such a claim would be absurd! To shut the door on an exploration for meaning would be completely unwarranted.

Where do you get this? I said simply you can't know what is true and you construe it to mean life has no meaning. I have no clue based on the writings that tell about Yahweh and the derived religions of Christianity and Islam what is real and what is not, how can you? You interpret as you said people do with the elephant you can't tell accurately what or where these stories came from originally. Many have origins in even far older civilizations such as the Sumerians, the Egyptians, and even the Canaanites. I don't know specifically what you accept and what you reject of the Hebrew Bible so in all fairness perhaps you reject most of the myths though you appear to accept some based on what you have written.

DadaMungo wrote:

To deny any meaning in life is IMO to suck all joy and fulfillment from it too. It poisons everything. To look upon nature's wonder and then write it off to purposelessness is to make a mockery of over very appreciation of that wonder. I find it very hard to ascribe our very make-up, i.e. that we really need purpose in life, whether construed or otherwise, as a by-product or "tool" of evolution. To be clear I'm understood - I'm not denying that it is logically feasible for reality to be exactly as I have pictured it here, but I find it unsatisfactory as an answer, or, rather, I am persuaded otherwise.

Every day I look forward to learning new things and having new experiences. I use each day to gain knowledge and understanding of all that I can much like Vger in StarTrek. I look at nature's wonder and I see beauty, complexity, and areas to understand and learn. The Universe is much more wonderful than laying it on a creator god named Yahweh. I see the god creator as poisoning everything, because if it is true we are basically a science experiment no more. The only purpose in that worldview is to serve the god creator master that makes the rules, so what would the point be to that?

DadaMungo wrote:

pauljohntheskeptic wrote:
You now go further making more unsubstantiated claims from your piece of elephant analogy. You can't know this is the way to know anymore than any of the other blind people who have touched your elephant. You have done exactly what you criticized.

And how do you know that I (or anyone else) can't know? This thinking comes from skepticism, and skepticism alone. There are no other grounds for such a claim.

In several thousand years skeptics have criticized many religions and demanded evidence. So far evidence has not been presented. My point to you was you only see a piece and you have interpreted that piece based on your current knowledge and your acceptance of certain views. You have no evidence that your personal views even resemble what may be and you then  made a claim that God was within. I dispute that you can know this without any evidence any more than a claim An and Ki were not the actual creator gods.

DadaMungo wrote:

pauljohntheskeptic wrote:
Such unwarranted claims and assertions about so little data. You are no different than those who form complex religions, you have formed one of your own. You say you see he is summing up in John, but what if John is fiction and so to Jesus? How can you know Jesus was not part of a literary fiction? You have very little elephant to make such claims, be honest with yourself and see what you have done.

Perhaps I should put a disclaimer in about my "claims", that they are simply how I see or understand things. My comments at the beginning of this post apply too.

Again you play the skeptic card about the factual reality of John and Jesus, but those are questions which have not, to my knowledge, been conclusively demonstrated. So I could ask the inverse of your questions: how do you know that they are not true? Of course, I have to admit that some of the stuff that goes on there just doesn't happen every day, and a measure of skepticism is fully warranted. No argument there.

There is at present no way to know if Jesus was real and even if he was exactly what he did if he lived. See Rook's writings and several threads on the subject of the historical Jesus and his take that the Gospels are literature and hence fiction. My position is I don't know if Jesus was a real person that has been turned into legends or if he never lived at all and the writing was fiction in the first place. Since the early church fathers destroyed many heretic writings they may have destroyed part of the truth such that we can not know the truth. 

 

 

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"I guess it's time to ask if you live under high voltage power transmission lines which have been shown to cause stimulation of the fantasy centers of the brain due to electromagnetic waves?" - Me

"God is omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent, - it says so right here on the label. If you have a mind capable of believing all three of these divine attributes simultaneously, I have a wonderful bargain for you. No checks please. Cash and in small bills." - Robert A Heinlein.


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DadaMungo wrote:Vastet

DadaMungo wrote:

Vastet wrote:
I'm going to assume DadaMungo was incapable of responding to my response now.

I had already covered the inadequacy of my anecdotal reference, and I admitted it readily as such. The rest of your response simply didn't warrant any further comment, IMO.

Is there something you would like me to comment further upon?

So you can't respond. Thanks. Always good to know when I can add another notch to my axe. Smiling

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We usually think they don't

We usually think they don't happen, or if they do happen, that they were hallucinations, and if they were witnessed by multiple people that they are either conspirators or having multiple hallucinations.

 

 


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On the subject of miracles...

 

 

I think that we can only venture to explain an instance that we ourselves have perceived as miraculous, and, even then, we can expect to be met with disbelief upon recounting the tales to others. By definition, a 'miracle' would lack a logical explanation. I think the major problem with using such an instance to generate belief in a deity among non-believers is that your average freethinking person will naturally seek explanation for a so called miracle, especially if the event is being retold by a third party or shown upon the television. Perhaps a first-hand experience of such a phenomenon would work to persuade an atheist of god's existence, but, since most human beings in this world are incapable of working miracles, such a feat is left in the hands of the deity in question.

As for myself, I have encountered a few things that defy logical and rational explanation. I don't care to share these memories, not because I am concerned about them being explained away (that would be absurd as I have been trying to at least do something with them for years.) It is also much like I said, a person who wasn't present for an event will only succeed in explaining the phenomenon to themselves, but they cannot experience it as I have, no matter how well I try to tell it. I am more concerned about the anomalies of my own personal experiences being used as 'evidence' as god's existence and justification for the religious beliefs of another. I don't feel the necessity to categorize such phenomenon as 'proof of god,' rather they are classified in my own mind as 'what can't be explained.' Keeping it in mind keeps me on the agnostic side of atheism when it comes to god, although I do know for certain that organized religion is a foolish venture for all but those who profit from it.

I will say this of what I have seen and cannot explain: If these experiences are, in fact, evidence or even proof of the existence of god, then god is completely random and inane when choosing where to place a miracle.

 

 

 

 


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gingerpunk wrote:  I think

gingerpunk wrote:

 

 

I think that we can only venture to explain an instance that we ourselves have perceived as miraculous, and, even then, we can expect to be met with disbelief upon recounting the tales to others. By definition, a 'miracle' would lack a logical explanation. I think the major problem with using such an instance to generate belief in a deity among non-believers is that your average freethinking person will naturally seek explanation for a so called miracle, especially if the event is being retold by a third party or shown upon the television. Perhaps a first-hand experience of such a phenomenon would work to persuade an atheist of god's existence, but, since most human beings in this world are incapable of working miracles, such a feat is left in the hands of the deity in question.

As for myself, I have encountered a few things that defy logical and rational explanation. I don't care to share these memories, not because I am concerned about them being explained away (that would be absurd as I have been trying to at least do something with them for years.) It is also much like I said, a person who wasn't present for an event will only succeed in explaining the phenomenon to themselves, but they cannot experience it as I have, no matter how well I try to tell it. I am more concerned about the anomalies of my own personal experiences being used as 'evidence' as god's existence and justification for the religious beliefs of another. I don't feel the necessity to categorize such phenomenon as 'proof of god,' rather they are classified in my own mind as 'what can't be explained.' Keeping it in mind keeps me on the agnostic side of atheism when it comes to god, although I do know for certain that organized religion is a foolish venture for all but those who profit from it.

I will say this of what I have seen and cannot explain: If these experiences are, in fact, evidence or even proof of the existence of god, then god is completely random and inane when choosing where to place a miracle.

 

 

 

 

 

Just because you cannot explain a thing or understand it doesn't mean that no one CAN explain it.
It just means you can't.

Someone else might just be able to explain it. 
And even if no one has or can currently doesn't mean that in the future that someone won't explain it or it's unexplainable.

A cigarette lighter must seem like magic to an ancient Babylonian.
It doesn't render it unexplainable and given enough time to study it close up they might be able to understand the lighter phoenomena and replicate it.

I know vaguely how computers and the internet work but that doesn't render them unexplainable. 

"Lisa, if the Bible has taught us nothing else, and it hasn't, it's that girls should stick to girls sports, such as hot oil wrestling and foxy boxing and such."
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Is this the argument from

totus_tuus wrote:

Neither a vacuum cleaner, nor a bunny rabbit calls me to self-discipline for the good of society; or to self-sacrifice for the well-being of others.  

 

morality now? Nothing that's material can be moral - only some magical, external, invisible stuff? Your moral system is the product of your existence as a social mammal made of physical star stuff- it's not proof of a mighty god existing off-planet.

Let me ask you, totus, when you read the bible, do you make value judgments as you interpret the text? I suggest you do and these judgments are based on your innate values as a big, social monkey. You ask 'Does this text support my social monkey value system' and if the answer is yes, then the text can be seen as good. You cannot argue that there are things in the bible that make no sense and things in the bible that are immoral. How do you know it's immoral to hold slaves, practice incest, beat your servants/wives, makes war on the infidel? To say the bible is the core value system of man is erroneous.

I suggest the bible is a messy and contaminated text containing the undiluted morality of times long past. If not re-written for new generation the bible will become increasingly unsupportable. Can this ugly and incoherent book possibly be represent the inspired word of the one true god? 

 

 

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


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Oh - and as regards the OP

 

No to miracles, though if some legs grow back, I'll consider them. At their core miracles are the product of chance. The body given time, is wonderful healer. No god required.

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


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magilum wrote:jcgadfly

magilum wrote:

jcgadfly wrote:

akakiwibear wrote:

Most of the atheist comment above is that there are no miracles because there is no evidence.

My first post here, so being shy I will ask atheists smarter than I to respond to the documented and independently scrutinised  "miracle" healings used in the Catholic church as part of teh canonization process.  As I understand it there is evidence - the test for recognising the miracle is that the healing in responce to prayer be immediate, complete, contrary to medical science and unexplained - tested by a medical panel which includes non-Catholic, sometimes even atheist doctors as well as teh persons own physician.

Just two of the many examples, Dr.  Manuel Nevado from cancerous chronic radiodermatitis Nov '92 www.vatican.va/latest/documents/escriva_miracolo-canoniz_en.html) and Ron Pytel etc - examples abound.

 

What matters is not so much the specifics of each case but rather the process of validation to which they are subjected, which as good as it gets. The process followed is clearly designed to withstand the natural attacks of sceptics - testimony to its robustness is that it does withstand the criticism.

 

sala kahle - peace

 

It's not really that stringent as, to my knowledge, there is no pre- or post- miracle testing. It's not that hard to claim a complete healing for someone who never had the disease or if that person was under a physician's care before the miracle occurred.

It reminds me of what I've seen and heard from Christians in my experience. It goes along the lines of, "The docs told me I had cancer - so I prayed and asked the church to pray too. I went into the hospital for surgery that next week and started chemotherapy and radiation treatments after that. Now the cancer's gone. Praise Jesus I'm healed!"

IIRC, a prominent example of the church's methods related to Mother Teresa. I think it had something to do with a woman who'd supposedly prayed with a likeness of the nun, and claimed it cured her cancer. All the while, she's going through regular western cancer treatments as well.

I'll also reiterate what I think is the core problem with trying to prove miracles is that a miracle isn't a positive definition. It's only a miracle because it's not explained, meaning that it's synonymous with not knowing how something works, which means anything could be a miracle if you don't look for answers. That's assuming the phenomena is even present for someone to scrutinize. How many miracles come to us as vague hearsay?

 

That is not how I would define miracles. They aren't phenomena that "haven't yet been exaplained," but rather phenomena that are in fact "inexplicable" in nature.

 

For example, the water into wine miracle, assuming for the sake of the argument that it happened as the bible says it happened.

Jesus didn't touch the wine. He didn't pull a packet of grape kool-aid  out of His pocket when no one was looking. Even if He did, it would not pass for wine by any wine-drinker, let alone high-quality wine.

So explaining some scientific process by which water could somehow be transformed to wine, by some technology available to us 2000 years after the miracle happened, does absolutely nothing to make His claim any less miraculous. Because He didn't use any technology to do this. Just like He didn't use a Cardiac Defibrilater on Lazarous to bring him back to life. He didn't build a dam to stop the waters for the Israelites to pass through.

I know none of the atheists here believe that any of this stuff really happened, and I know what I'm saying here doesn't do anything to convince you that it did happen. I'm just saying that if it did happen the way it was reported, then there is no explanation, and there never can be any explanation for what happened other than God did it. And that is why it's called a miracle. Just some random natural occurence that has never been seen before and can't be explained, would never qualify as a miracle, unless someone was specifically praying for it to happen.

 

On a personal note, I believe all of those miracles did happen, just as I believe man was created from dirt, and woman from man's rib, and all of that in 6 days. But that doesn't matter to this discussion.

 

"For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." 1Cor 1:18


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Brian37 wrote:totus_tuus

Brian37 wrote:

totus_tuus wrote:

jcgadfly wrote:

You've been called of God to use something that the Bible shows your God doesn't have (self-discipline that benefits society) and to do what your God didn't do (self sacrifice for the well-being of others)?

I assume you mean that the crucifixion of Jesus/God was a self-sacrificial act that benefited mankind. I have to ask then - At what point in the Crucifixion did Jesus stop being God?" If he stopped being god, why venerate him? If he didn't, what did he sacrifice?

I think, JC, that we must both suffer from ADD.  We are notorious for our ability to derail threads.  LOL!  And just when this one seemed to be getting back on track.  But, I do so enjoy our discussions, so here goes....

First of all, even if God did not display self-discipline or self-sacrifice, I'd still be called to do so.  It ain't all about me.  I am my brother's keeper.  Life is not an individual journey, it is a collective experience.  Salvation is not an individual promise, it is a promise made to us collectively.

From the beginning, God has exercised self-discipline for the benfit of mankind.  At the Fall, he didn't just whach Adam and Eve and start all over again, but promised them redemption.  He spared Isaac, He led Israel out of the desert, He spared Lot and would have spared Sodom oand Gomorrah, He rescued Noah, He sustained David.  All this despite Israel's rejection of covenants, all of this despite Man's failure to uphold his end of the covenants he made with God.  Not that there weren't severe repercussions on Israel for its apostasies, but in the end, God never abandoned His people.  He had given His Word and never abandoned that promise.

"Father, if Thou art willing, remove this cup from me.  Nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done."  Again, there is a covenant to be fulfilled and God will not be swayed from fulfilling it.

Jesus never stopped being God, nor did he ever stop being man.  There was no need for an Incarnation for salvation, let alone for God to take upon Himself the punishment for our sins.  By doing so he has set an example.  There is no excuse for complaining about the difficulty of the human condition; there is no excuse for bemoaning suffering.  God has undertaken to become human, He has experienced suffering in His own flesh.  The experience of Christ is no less than the experience in which I have confidence. He is but the firstfruits of salvation.  A share in that same salvation is our hope, and "he who has hope lives differently."

 

 

Quote:
From the beginning, God has exercised self-discipline for the benfit of mankind.

You call allowing 6 million Jews to be gassed and burned and tortured, when you didn't have to let it happen because you are "all powerfull"..you call that "self disipline"? You call 300,000 children, women and men drowneding in a tsunami, WHEN YOU COULD HAVE PREVENTED IT, you call that "self disipline"? You call Polly Klass, a young girl, tortured and rapped by and butchered by a dopped up druggie "Self disipline"? When you COULD HAVE STOPPED IT, BUT DIDNT?

The you cop out to the bullshit argument of "fall of man". So Polly Klass was rapped and murdered because of Eve eating the apple? How come God couldn't see fit to just punish Eve? What did Polly do to deserve an "all seeing" god to sit back and say, "Sorry Polly, I know this is going to be a bitch, but it is not my fault(NEVER SEEMS TO BE) you can blame Eve. Oh yea, and while you are getting boned up the ass, just remember, it is all part of my plan, and after you get tourtured, you get to hang out with me.

God is not a rational concept. He is A College Frat Boy who spanks the pledges with a mace instead of a paddle. No wait, he gets his henchmen to do it for him so no one can point the finger at him.

My point is, I incert the graphic blashpemy, to wake you up. I am not trying to offend you, just merely trying to show you the absurdity in the logic you are using to defend your position.

All those bad things I mentioned are not a result of a man in a white robe or a man with a pitchfork whom magically manipulate atoms or neurons in favor of the hero or villan. They are all natural events, bad events are natural.

Natural does not mean that we want it to affect us. It merely means that it happens. Vocanos kill people, hurricanes kill people and people kill people. We can either incert our magical super heros or super villans in when things frighten us, or we can accept that they happen and work within reality to minimize the harm they do to us.

Just because we don't like something to happen to us, doesn't make it a product of a magical man in a red leotard. No one wants cancer, but you don't assign it's existance to the antient Egyptian villain god Set. So why would any human crime or natural disaster have magical villian or "test" purpose from a grand designer?

Could it be that we merely emotionally react to things that make us feel good, or frighten us, and then make up answers because we like them?

 

If God is all-powerful and as tyrannical as you assert, logically that would be even more reason to bow down to Him, than if He was a loving God.

Of course, He isn't tyrranical at all. But I'm just saying, if He was I wouldn't want to piss Him off.

"For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." 1Cor 1:18


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jcgadfly wrote:DadaMungo

jcgadfly wrote:

DadaMungo wrote:

Vastet wrote:
I'm going to assume DadaMungo was incapable of responding to my response now.

I had already covered the inadequacy of my anecdotal reference, and I admitted it readily as such. The rest of your response simply didn't warrant any further comment, IMO.

Is there something you would like me to comment further upon?

Actually, yes.

We've already told you how atheists explain miracles. Why do theists go through mental gymnastics when the prayers don't work?

Saw a great example with my wife.

They've been praying for my pastor's wife who needs more breast cancer surgery.

I asked why the prayer hasn't kicked in she replied, "God's not Santa Claus"

I quoted James 5:16 and John 15:7 and she came back with:

1. God can work through medicine.

2. God can say no.

3. Healing doesn't only happen in this life.

I didn't want to get into "God gave her the cancer" yet.

Why do theists dance so hard to let God off the hook?

 

Because phyisical health is not what Jesus died to ensure for us. Spiritual health is much more important to Him. We will all get new bodies eventually anyway, so if this one has cancer for a few years or even 80 years, compare that to an eternity of health. Is it really that important in the grand scheme of things, from that perspective? I'm not belittling the suffering your pastor's wife went through. I'm just saying, Jesus healed some people in His earthly ministry, but He didn't heal everyone. He certainly could've snapped His fingers and the entire earth would've been healed, but He didn't. Just like He could do that now, but He doesn't. Physical healing isn't His primary goal. He will heal all of us when our short lives are over. He will heal some prior to that according to His purposes, not ours.

Prayers do work. I could give many personal testimonies to support this, but it has already been made clear that such claims would not suffice as evidence, so why bother?

"For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." 1Cor 1:18


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Atheistextremist

Atheistextremist wrote:

totus_tuus wrote:

Neither a vacuum cleaner, nor a bunny rabbit calls me to self-discipline for the good of society; or to self-sacrifice for the well-being of others.  

 

morality now? Nothing that's material can be moral - only some magical, external, invisible stuff? Your moral system is the product of your existence as a social mammal made of physical star stuff- it's not proof of a mighty god existing off-planet.

Just because stars are visible doesn't make them any more likely a magical creator of life.

 

"For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." 1Cor 1:18


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I'm only going to take #3

I'm only going to take #3 because I have a problem with "memory is a shady thing." That's akin to saying your father is either stupid or crazy, in my opinion, and doesn't address the question. Furthermore, I had a very similar experience that did NOT involve a trauma that might have clouded my retrospective memory. In fact, nothing happened at all.

I was driving myself and some friends home from a weekend in the country, going somewhat over the speed limit as most of us do when the roads are dry and clear of traffic. Descending this long, curving, downhill stretch of highway, the thought popped into my head "I'd better slow down on this curve or I could lose control of the car" (my mom's). Not ten seconds later, we reach the bottom of the hill, and there's a cop car sitting there just waiting to certainly give me a speeding ticket had I not hit the brakes. We also happened to have pot on us (I wasn't stoned), which could have led to a much, much worse evening for us if things had gone awry with the cop for some reason.

Certainly it could've been divine intervention, but my belief now is that there is a great deal about the powers of the human mind that we don't even slightly understand. There's also the fact that Time is both a mysterious notion in terms of how it really operates, and also that our perception of it is hemmed in by the common sense that it's strictly linear, unidirectional, and unchanging. I find it equally as plausible that my mind is capable of a style of perception science hasn't (yet) explained as that some other-worldly being that science can't (ever) explain was speaking to me.

If it's true that the mind has these type of latent perceptual abilities, and it's also true that (some) religious people are more prone to receiving them, it may just be that belief in religion, as a side-effect, allows the mind to be open enough for certain pieces of information to get in. I still don't think that's necessarily proof of anything in particular.


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smartypants wrote:I'm only

smartypants wrote:

I'm only going to take #3 because I have a problem with "memory is a shady thing." That's akin to saying your father is either stupid or crazy, in my opinion, and doesn't address the question. Furthermore, I had a very similar experience that did NOT involve a trauma that might have clouded my retrospective memory. In fact, nothing happened at all.

I was driving myself and some friends home from a weekend in the country, going somewhat over the speed limit as most of us do when the roads are dry and clear of traffic. Descending this long, curving, downhill stretch of highway, the thought popped into my head "I'd better slow down on this curve or I could lose control of the car" (my mom's). Not ten seconds later, we reach the bottom of the hill, and there's a cop car sitting there just waiting to certainly give me a speeding ticket had I not hit the brakes. We also happened to have pot on us (I wasn't stoned), which could have led to a much, much worse evening for us if things had gone awry with the cop for some reason.

Certainly it could've been divine intervention, but my belief now is that there is a great deal about the powers of the human mind that we don't even slightly understand. There's also the fact that Time is both a mysterious notion in terms of how it really operates, and also that our perception of it is hemmed in by the common sense that it's strictly linear, unidirectional, and unchanging. I find it equally as plausible that my mind is capable of a style of perception science hasn't (yet) explained as that some other-worldly being that science can't (ever) explain was speaking to me.

If it's true that the mind has these type of latent perceptual abilities, and it's also true that (some) religious people are more prone to receiving them, it may just be that belief in religion, as a side-effect, allows the mind to be open enough for certain pieces of information to get in. I still don't think that's necessarily proof of anything in particular.

Interesting story.

 

FWIW, I don't think God helped you not get caught breaking the law on two counts. God might've told you to slow down for your safety, but not to avoid a ticket. The bible makes it clear that God wants us to submit to our governing authorities and obey man's laws as well as God's laws.

"For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." 1Cor 1:18


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Musicdude wrote:smartypants

Musicdude wrote:

smartypants wrote:

I'm only going to take #3 because I have a problem with "memory is a shady thing." That's akin to saying your father is either stupid or crazy, in my opinion, and doesn't address the question. Furthermore, I had a very similar experience that did NOT involve a trauma that might have clouded my retrospective memory. In fact, nothing happened at all.

I was driving myself and some friends home from a weekend in the country, going somewhat over the speed limit as most of us do when the roads are dry and clear of traffic. Descending this long, curving, downhill stretch of highway, the thought popped into my head "I'd better slow down on this curve or I could lose control of the car" (my mom's). Not ten seconds later, we reach the bottom of the hill, and there's a cop car sitting there just waiting to certainly give me a speeding ticket had I not hit the brakes. We also happened to have pot on us (I wasn't stoned), which could have led to a much, much worse evening for us if things had gone awry with the cop for some reason.

Certainly it could've been divine intervention, but my belief now is that there is a great deal about the powers of the human mind that we don't even slightly understand. There's also the fact that Time is both a mysterious notion in terms of how it really operates, and also that our perception of it is hemmed in by the common sense that it's strictly linear, unidirectional, and unchanging. I find it equally as plausible that my mind is capable of a style of perception science hasn't (yet) explained as that some other-worldly being that science can't (ever) explain was speaking to me.

If it's true that the mind has these type of latent perceptual abilities, and it's also true that (some) religious people are more prone to receiving them, it may just be that belief in religion, as a side-effect, allows the mind to be open enough for certain pieces of information to get in. I still don't think that's necessarily proof of anything in particular.

Interesting story.

 

FWIW, I don't think God helped you not get caught breaking the law on two counts. God might've told you to slow down for your safety, but not to avoid a ticket. The bible makes it clear that God wants us to submit to our governing authorities and obey man's laws as well as God's laws.

That's YOUR God. I don't think I actually would have lost control of the car. At that point I just thought I was playing it safe. MY God, if there is one, would be smart enough to know that I'm not a bad person, wasn't hurting anyone, and a night in jail would have been a wholly awful experience for no good reason. I feel sorry for you that you believe in a god that so closely resembles an abusive parent.

I've also realized since that comment that I didn't even need to tap into something temporally inconsistent. All I needed to do was sense that there was a cop (a living being with a specific pattern of thoughts) poised and ready behind some trees.


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Case in point:1) Miraculous

Case in point:

1) Miraculous healings. Obviously it is not possible to document HOW that stuff happened (if it was, it wouldn't be a miracle). Still, some stuff COULD be documented. Let's make an ass-pull, or example out of the top of my head.

Let's suppose a certain girl was blind as a rock. Medically diagnosed as such. Her condition was not psychosomatic (there ought to be a physical disease present), not known to spontaneously subside, and without medical treatment available. On a further point in time, that same girl spontaneously stops being blind as a rock, and is medically proven that she sees again.

That's the evidence we'd need to know that a spontaneous healing previously thought as impossible has indeed taken place. Then it would be arguable that it was a miracle, and the burden of proof would befall on the atheist side to "debunk" or at least, prove that occurrences of spontaneous ("miraculous&quotEye-wink recovery happen with a certain regularity, and thus medical science was wrong on the fact that it was naturally irreversible.

 

2) You ought to prove a single case of a person speaking fluently in a language they have not known beforehand, and attest that they did not indeed know that language. Tough standard of proof, but if not the evidence is meaningless. As far as I know, those phenomena were frequent when bilinguism was rare, and claiming to "speak in tongues" was a classic way for quacks charlatans who happened to know more than one language to impress the populace in their search for tips Sticking out tongue.

 

3) I've had quite similar experiences. Still, I've also had that kinds of thoughts and hunches and were meaningless. Confirmation bias, caused by selective memory, makes sure we only remember the successful hunches.