The Higher Experience

Syphro
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The Higher Experience

Some things that have happened in my personal experience that have made me question my existence and the stability of my reality. I live a life full of coinsidence and full of stange activities.

While I was depressed and seriously doubting God I asked the deity (that I hated, at the time) to make my life a little more bearable. Within a few days I had made a great number of good experiences (mostly through friends who often were so disorganised they "forgot" to invite me out).

I also had a great number of other experiences concerning my confidence etc.

How can an atheist explain these minute chances without challenging reality (not just concerning god)? No such things can be explained by science.


MichaelMcF
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Syphro wrote:Some things

Syphro wrote:

Some things that have happened in my personal experience that have made me question my existence and the stability of my reality. I live a life full of coinsidence and full of stange activities.

While I was depressed and seriously doubting God I asked the deity (that I hated, at the time) to make my life a little more bearable. Within a few days I had made a great number of good experiences (mostly through friends who often were so disorganised they "forgot" to invite me out).

I also had a great number of other experiences concerning my confidence etc.

How can an atheist explain these minute chances without challenging reality (not just concerning god)? No such things can be explained by science.

 

Correlation does not equal causation.  Just because one event happened after the other it does not mean that it was caused by the first.  I'd happily put money down that you'd have experienced the same series of events had you prayed to Danny DeVito.

 

I'm going to sound like such a dick here but studies have shown - I hate that phrase so much - that people are more likely to see/assign patterns to things when they're under stress or in situations where they feel a lack of control over their lives.  I did have a link to a recent paper on this.  I'll try and find it and edit it into this response later on!

Forget Jesus, the stars died so that you could be here
- Lawrence Krauss


Vastet
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There were times in my

There were times in my childhood that I did out of desperation hope enough for an entity to deliver me from the experiences I was enduring that I made a prayer of sorts. Christian god being the only superentity I was aware of at the times, obviously it was the target. Only one of those times did everything suddenly change unexpectedly, and looking back with an older and wiser perspective I'd rather it hadn't. But even if it was perfectly what I'd needed at the time, once can be a coincidence. When it's never repeated, it's certainly a coincidence. Once determined that the one time it seemed to work ended up doing me a diservice, and coupled with the two facts that it would have been really useful at other times, and that it never happened again, it's easy to dismiss as evidence for a god. And it's not entirely impossible that my desperation itself was evidence enough for proof of my innocence in that instance that the issue was dropped. I'll not go into it further than that, it would take far too long.

Proud Canadian, Enlightened Atheist, Gaming God.


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Hmm

If the God you believe is like most gods he has omni-powers and is the supreme being, right?  So he would probably have some sort of plan, no?  Isn't asking a deity to alter his plan to help you out, someone forming 1 part of over 6 billion from one species on a tiny speck in space, a tad bit conceited?  I'm glad your life took a good turn, but I must insist you think hard about what actually caused your change in luck.

I play a game called Team Fortress 2 on the PC and the game designers recently released some rare hats for the characters you can play.  Many of the players use an alternative program to 'fake' playing in order to have a higher chance of receiving a hat.  Some players have 6+ hats, while others like me have none.  Every second I don't get a hat I don't blame anyone, and if I ever get a hat I sure won't thank anyone.

 


nigelTheBold
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My life is filled with happy

My life is filled with happy coincidences. Chock-full. Every time I've needed a new job (tired of my old one, for instance), a new, better job came along.

I've even lucked into jobs for my brothers. During my university days, I was working as an intern in the physics department, building a high-temperature superconductor experiment for one of the professors. I was cleaning out some high-vacuum pumps when a guy pulled up in a truck, and started single-handedly unloading sheet rock. I couldn't just stand by and watch, so I gave him a hand. He offered me a job on the spot. I couldn't take it (as I had a cool (ha! I made a funny) experiment to build), but I passed on his information to my younger brother, who was also attending university there.

That whole string of coincidences, starting with me becoming an intern, let to my brother getting a job that helped him pay his way through school.

And this is just one example of many. It seems I've been very fortunate, with many coincidences like that, both in work, and in my personal life.

I have never once prayed. So I reckon my not praying works.

Really, I suspect that you started taking actions that led to these coincidences. By the time you decide to pray for help, you've already decided to help yourself. Praying is part of that. Changing your attitude probably helped.

When you lose an arm and pray for it to regrow, and it does, then you might have a case for prayer. Otherwise, it seems prayer is no different than simply taking control of your life and assuming responsibility for yourself.

"Yes, I seriously believe that consciousness is a product of a natural process. I find that the neuroscientists, psychologists, and philosophers who proceed from that premise are the ones who are actually making useful contributions to our understanding of the mind." - PZ Myers


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Sounds like you're looking

Sounds like you're looking to give God credit for the effort you put in.


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Syphro wrote:How can an

Syphro wrote:

How can an atheist explain these minute chances without challenging reality (not just concerning god)? No such things can be explained by science.



Such things can be explained by science (or in this case, cognitive psychology). Google "confirmation bias".

 

Saint Will: no gyration without funkstification.
fabulae! nil satis firmi video quam ob rem accipere hunc mi expediat metum. - Terence


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Syphro wrote:Some things

Syphro wrote:

Some things that have happened in my personal experience that have made me question my existence and the stability of my reality. I live a life full of coinsidence and full of stange activities.

While I was depressed and seriously doubting God I asked the deity (that I hated, at the time) to make my life a little more bearable. Within a few days I had made a great number of good experiences (mostly through friends who often were so disorganised they "forgot" to invite me out).

I also had a great number of other experiences concerning my confidence etc.

How can an atheist explain these minute chances without challenging reality (not just concerning god)? No such things can be explained by science.

As long as they are within the range of possible, even if of low probability, they simply do not remotely challenge "reality" - I presume you mean a reality without any sort of God.

To even start to make a case you would have to take a random sample of people, list all the times they prayed, count how many times it was followed by an improbable improvement in their life versus the number of times nothing happened or things actually got worse, and also the number of times similar improvements or happy events occurred when they had not recently prayed for something like that to happen.

You have to look at all the times truly terrible things happen to people, much more serious than your troubles. Unless you make the assumption that most or all of those people never or rarely prayed, or weren't sincerely religious, which is extremely unlikely, especially if we look at countries like the USA, then that completely negates your experience as evidence about the effectiveness of praying to God in influencing events.

Every plane crash disproves prayer, especially if it is one where there would have been significant time for people to realize they were going to crash, and it is not so serious that no-one survives. How likely is it that none of the victims prayed, with every desperate pleading and honest repentance they were capable of, as the plane fell out of the sky? The best the Christian could claim is that at least the praying victims would have a better chance of getting into heaven, but I find it extremely unlikely that none of them would have been praying for God to let them survive the crash. 

EDIT: It would actually challenge a naturalistic reality if unlikely but not impossible coincidences never occurred. Individual experience doesn't count, any more than that the winner of a lottery can claim a 'miracle', since it was so unlikely that he would win. The fact that one such individually improbable win was going to happen for someone was 100% certain.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


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Syphro wrote:Some things

Syphro wrote:

Some things that have happened in my personal experience that have made me question my existence and the stability of my reality. I live a life full of coinsidence and full of stange activities.

While I was depressed and seriously doubting God I asked the deity (that I hated, at the time) to make my life a little more bearable. Within a few days I had made a great number of good experiences (mostly through friends who often were so disorganised they "forgot" to invite me out).

I also had a great number of other experiences concerning my confidence etc.

How can an atheist explain these minute chances without challenging reality (not just concerning god)? No such things can be explained by science.

So you asked God to make your life a little better, and it got a little better? Oh my ****ing God, that's so hard to explain! It's a miracle! How can the atheists even come up with a response? We should all go to church this very Sunday. I mean, obviously, it's impossible that your life just got better because people's lives often get better, and you were one of the at least millions of people who's lives were getting better at the time.   

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post_hoc

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare


Syphro
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MichaelMcF wrote:I'm going

MichaelMcF wrote:

I'm going to sound like such a dick here but studies have shown - I hate that phrase so much - that people are more likely to see/assign patterns to things when they're under stress or in situations where they feel a lack of control over their lives.  I did have a link to a recent paper on this.  I'll try and find it and edit it into this response later on!

I can believe that this is likely.

nigelTheBold wrote:

My life is filled with happy coincidences. Chock-full. Every time I've needed a new job (tired of my old one, for instance), a new, better job came along.

When you lose an arm and pray for it to regrow, and it does, then you might have a case for prayer. Otherwise, it seems prayer is no different than simply taking control of your life and assuming responsibility for yourself.

This seems to be a recurring theme. People just have good luck.

jcgadfly wrote:

Sounds like you're looking to give God credit for the effort you put in.

I agree with this, I just had doubts and the coincidence of asking a God for something. 

BobSpence1 wrote:
To even start to make a case you would have to take a random sample of people, list all the times they prayed, count how many times it was followed by an improbable improvement in their life versus the number of times nothing happened or things actually got worse, and also the number of times similar improvements or happy events occurred when they had not recently prayed for something like that to happen.

That would be the scientific methodology.

butterbattle wrote:

So you asked God to make your life a little better, and it got a little better? Oh my ****ing God, that's so hard to explain! It's a miracle! How can the atheists even come up with a response? We should all go to church this very Sunday. I mean, obviously, it's impossible that your life just got better because people's lives often get better, and you were one of the at least millions of people who's lives were getting better at the time.   

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post_hoc

I'm an atheist now, no need to mock me. The cultural influence of faith in my family is overwhelming at times. These coincidences re-inforce my view that life is a simulation or causality is the driving force of our existence.

I could argue that I am the only "real" person in the world.


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:3

Syphro wrote:

I'm an atheist now, no need to mock me.

 

Since when is this any manner of protection from mocking? Especially here!

Theism is why we can't have nice things.


nigelTheBold
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Syphro wrote:This seems to

Syphro wrote:
This seems to be a recurring theme. People just have good luck.

To a certain extent, that's true. I've been very lucky. I was born to a good parents, with decent siblings, in one of the greatest places to grow up in the world: a small logging camp in Southeast Alaska. My school got an Apple ][ when I was 12 years old, and I was allowed to go into the school unsupervised during the weekends so I could program.

I have been extremely lucky.

But: I have also taken steps to ensure I will continue to be lucky. I attempt to foresee issues and take steps to avoid them. When life gets sucky, I do something to drain off some of the suck. Sometimes that means drastic measures, like quitting a job and moving somewhere else. I'm not afraid of taking big risks.

So in other respects, though I have been extremely lucky in life, I have also made my own luck.

I suspect when people get to the point they earnestly pray for something to change in their life, they are starting to make changes themselves, whether or not they realize it. Perhaps they aren't addressing the real problem (an issue I have with prayer), but they have changed at least their attitude.

They are making their own luck, to a certain extent.

Quote:
I could argue that I am the only "real" person in the world.

True. That means you'd only be arguing with yourself, though. The biggest problem with solipsism is that it's so damned lonely.

"Yes, I seriously believe that consciousness is a product of a natural process. I find that the neuroscientists, psychologists, and philosophers who proceed from that premise are the ones who are actually making useful contributions to our understanding of the mind." - PZ Myers


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Syphro wrote:Some things

Syphro wrote:

Some things that have happened in my personal experience that have made me question my existence and the stability of my reality. I live a life full of coinsidence and full of stange activities.

Congratulations! Smiling Reality is just an opinion, stay mentally flexible.

Syphro wrote:
While I was depressed and seriously doubting God I asked the deity (that I hated, at the time) to make my life a little more bearable. Within a few days I had made a great number of good experiences (mostly through friends who often were so disorganised they "forgot" to invite me out).

I also had a great number of other experiences concerning my confidence etc.

How can an atheist explain these minute chances without challenging reality (not just concerning god)? No such things can be explained by science.

An atheist of course wouldn't bother with explaining a coincidence.
Anyway, please, don't attribute the positive occurences in your life to Jahweh (a.k.a. God), Allah, or anyone in who's name there was committed a lot of violence. If there is such a thing which can increase the quality of life, your description of it should remain comprehensible to everyone. You see, this kind of synchronicities and coincidences is not limited to any specific nation, race, age, religion or non-religion. If you want to develop an explanation, it must take this into account.
As for me, I have a theory which describes these and more events, but I'm not the one you asked. It's very long, anyway. In any case, you should make this kind of coincidences a regular part of your life. What kind of method would you try for that?

Beings who deserve worship don't demand it. Beings who demand worship don't deserve it.


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Syphro wrote:I'm an atheist

Syphro wrote:

I'm an atheist now, no need to mock me. The cultural influence of faith in my family is overwhelming at times.

Ugh, I apologize.

I keep thinking you're taking positions that you're not actually taking after reading your opening posts. In the other thread, I thought you were claiming that debate was pointless and that you thought the RRS wanted to engage in actual warfare against the religious.  

Quote:
I could argue that I am the only "real" person in the world.

I'm not sure what that means, but okay.  

 

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare