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Author Topic:   Immaterial "Evidence"
Kitsune
Member (Idle past 4411 days)
Posts: 788
From: Leicester, UK
Joined: 09-16-2007


Message 51 of 154 (522120)
09-01-2009 9:32 AM
Reply to: Message 46 by Modulous
08-27-2009 1:31 PM


Re: Strange but sincere
Hi Modulous,
It's been an interesting experience reading this thread, and there are many thought-provoking posts here. It was difficult to pick one to reply to. I had been hoping to continue discussing with you in the faith/delusion thread so here goes.
quote:
Is it possible that someone, somewhere, some day, might have a religious experience that for some reason they see through an IPU lens? Or, if that doesn't sit well - do you concede that it is possible someone could be deluded into thinking they have had a religious experience regarding the IPU?
Maybe it would help if I outlined the criteria I would personally use, which I think are similar to those that RAZD has been espousing. First of all, since it is one individual claiming they have experienced the IPU (and no photographs or videos), then it is obvious that all the rest of us cannot validate that experience empirically. I am hoping that we can get past the tautology mentioned earlier {it's not empirical=it's not scientific=it's not valid.}
Does anyone else claim to have seen the IPU? No.
Is belief in the IPU part of a mainstream religion? No. (Consensus gentium is obviously not infallible but sometimes it can be an indicator of truth; it needs to be considered along with other pieces of evidence.)
Had the viewer been taking drugs or anything else that would alter normal consciousness?
Could the IPU have been a mirage, or could the viewer be otherwise mistaken about what they thought they really saw?
Could the viewer be lying for some reason? Maybe hoaxing?
What was the nature of the vision? Was it silent, radiating peace? Or perhaps it told the viewer to pull his clothes off and run naked through the streets? The former has often been reported as a characteristic of religious experience; the latter seems to be more an indicator of mental instability.
What is the personality of the viewer? Is this a "salt of the earth" sort of person who is usually rational and has never reported anything like this before? Or do they already have a reputation as being eccentric? What would a psychologist say after an interview?
How has the viewer reacted to the experience? Does it seem to have been a positive influence on their life? Or has it, for example, led them to commit acts of violence? I said in the faith/delusion thread that the vast majority of people belonging to a religion believe in a deity that is peaceful and loving. I suppose it's conceivable that the IPU was a malevolent entity bent on getting people to do its will but I personally find it difficult to see any easy way of telling this apart from mental illness.
A summary of the methods above might be logic, consensus gentium, and knowledge of human nature (from one's own experience or from sociology or anthropology or psychology), with empirical investigation where possible. The fact that the IPU is a rhetorical fiction and not a well-established world religious figure counts against the validity of an IPU "religious experience" but does not discount it completely. People have been claiming to see spirits in various shapes and forms for thousands of years. If some of these experiences were real, maybe the viewers' own cultures and beliefs somehow caused the entities to manifest in these particular shapes and forms, or maybe it was a decision on the entities' part.
After thorough investigation, we may be no closer to establishing the validity of such a vision. Then what? Several here have expressed doubt that it is possible to separate genuine religious experience from delusion. But no one has asked why that seems to be so very necessary.
Let's say that a psychologist has established that the viewer of the IPU is perfectly sane. They lead an ordinary life and were not expecting to have such an experience. It has not since been repeated. The vision was peaceful and reassuring somehow, though it did not speak. It most certainly did not give instructions to carry out harmful acts. In the viewer's mind, this will forever be a strange but real experience.
Why is it so vital for some to draw a definitive line between what we perceive to be real and fantasy? If as above, there are no negative consequences to adopting a faith that something is real, then why is this such a bad thing?
When I was a teenager I was into Tarot cards and Ouija boards and crystals. When I graduated from college and entered the working world I had doubts about everything I'd ever believed, and decided it had been nonsense. Reality consisted of making enough money to survive, maintaining relationships, and generally trying to protect myself from the thoroughly unpersonified, fickle, shit-happens universe. I thought this way for a long time and only recently have started turning back to some of the beliefs I had when I was younger (modified in the light of experience). I still can't be completely sure that this is right and that I'm not deluded. But it's not doing me or anyone else any harm and I enjoy investigating different possibilities. Maybe at some point I will have a really convincing experience involving my 5 senses but I looked for that for years and it didn't come. My mistake may have been to search in that particular way. The point is that whatever I decide to have faith in, for whatever reasons, it's not pathological in its consequences for me or others; and maybe having an open mind will lead to something interesting down the road.
I'd like to add that empiricism puts limits on what we can allow subjective evidence to tell us. We know that the earth cannot be 6,000 years old. We know there was never a worldwide flood. It also seems pretty clear that there are no personified deities living in the sky, hurling thunderbolts or otherwise smiting the wicked; nor do they shout commandments down at us in booming voices. I personally look for the commonality in all religions and religious experiences and view that as some indicator of what the truth might really be. This is of course opposed to Straggler's claims that this commonality is simply a sign of humanity's tendency to make things up.
Edited by LindaLou, : No reason given.
Edited by LindaLou, : No reason given.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 46 by Modulous, posted 08-27-2009 1:31 PM Modulous has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 52 by Straggler, posted 09-01-2009 10:18 AM Kitsune has not replied
 Message 53 by Rahvin, posted 09-01-2009 1:38 PM Kitsune has replied
 Message 59 by Modulous, posted 09-01-2009 4:05 PM Kitsune has not replied

  
Kitsune
Member (Idle past 4411 days)
Posts: 788
From: Leicester, UK
Joined: 09-16-2007


Message 54 of 154 (522158)
09-01-2009 3:17 PM
Reply to: Message 53 by Rahvin
09-01-2009 1:38 PM


Re: The human mind is not an accurate tool
Hi Rahvin,
Thanks for elucidating your position. Most people I talk with on this topic will not admit that subjective evidence can actually be correct. Granted, you are distrustful of it to the point of dismissing it out of hand (or almost doing so), but I don't disagree with all of your reasons for this. I also hope it's clear that I accept that empiricism is the most accurate epistemology for us to learn about the physical world, e.g. the age of rocks or the chemical composition of benzene. It obviously gets much murkier when you try to apply empiricism to places where it doesn't work so well, like faith. I feel like I am back in the faith/delusion thread here with the way this conversation is headed, but I will try to keep a focus on so-called "immaterial evidence."
quote:
The problem is that the validity of nonemipirical "evidence" cannot be determined.
I find myself wondering how you personally would define non-empirical evidence. In my previous post I listed the criteria I would go through to try to determine whether someone's vision of the IPU might warrant some (tentative) plausibility. Which of those criteria would you consider to be empirical? Because those criteria can be used by anybody having a religious experience, including me. While doing someone's psychological profile isn't necessarily going to prove anything in and of itself, it can lead us to conclusions about that person, including how likely they are to be telling a truthful and accurate story. This is a point RAZD made a few times -- that non-empirical evidence can give us clues that head us in the right direction. That makes having a gut feeling or a sudden inspiration valid in their ways too, if they lead to profitable actions. Which leads me to your next point:
quote:
. . . and so their accuracy is no better than random guessing.
I asked Straggler several times to explain what he meant by "random guessing" but he wouldn't. I think I see what you are both getting at now, after your example of the belief that angels have given the winning lottery number (though this seems a curious example to me because all you have to do is wait til the draw to have this belief empirically tested). It seems nonsensical to me to apply "random guessing" to a religious belief because what exactly are the probabilities involved? I seem to remember that Catholic Scientist also asked this. Some people believe that there is a heaven and a hell. Some believe to varying degrees that the eucharist host becomes the body of Christ at Communion. Some believe that God forgives sins through a priest. (Can you tell I was brought up Catholic.) I don't see how you could measure any of these beliefs against random guesses -- do you think you can calculate a probability that God is going to forgive my sins if I go to confession? Don't forget to work out the probability of God existing in the first place and of it being a celestial being who grants favours depending on how well we have pleased him. And what are the odds that it's even a "him" and not a "her" . . .
quote:
It simply means that those who accept the subjective as evidence sacrifice their ability to determine the accuracy of their beliefs
There are degrees of this of course. How do you think I did with the IPU evidence? We may end up not knowing whether it was real or not, but we can build in safeguards to eliminate the more obvious rational explanations first (I'm sure there could be more than the ones I thought of). Interestingly, you didn't answer my question of why it's so important in such a case to draw the line between "real" and "delusion." If all rational explanations have been discounted, then the viewer is left with the choice to believe what they saw, or to dismiss it as their imagination or somesuch. Can you see a problem with them making the choice to believe?
quote:
insisting that beliefs are indeed accurate without any degree of testability is irrational.
No, it just means that you make a deliberate choice whether or not to have faith. People do this all the time. I think the manner in which the "insisting" is done can be a factor too. A creationist might insist to me that all scientists are liars in a giant conspiracy and that if I don't convert to their beliefs I will burn in hell forever. Another devout Christian might wait for me to have enough interest and open-mindedness to approach him and ask him for some teaching. Both of these people are convinced that their beliefs are accurate even though they are untestable, but one of them is forcefully trying to convince me while the other one is not.
quote:
Only beliefs that are logically inconsistent or that directly contradict objective evidence are invalid - because there is a degree of testability to claims for which evidence (or contradictory evidence) exists, and logically contradictory arguemnts cannot be valid.
Most faith-based beliefs are not contradicted by objective evidence. Some are logically inconsistent, but most of those have rationalizations to explain away the inconsistencies (Paul says the OT Mosaic Law doesn't apply to Gentile Christians, etc).
I agree. It's interesting that you move from this to God of the Gaps. This is similar to Straggler saying that people invented gods to explain the irrational and to give comfort. You said,
quote:
the less specific a belief is, the less likely it is to be invalid.
It sounds to me like you are implying that people such as Deists keep shifting the goalposts so that they can keep their comfortable faith while not contradicting any existing evidence. Having read posts by Percy and others, I think their reasoning might be that they want their faith to square with our knowledge of the world and so they won't tie themselves to details that are improbable; for example, there is no empirical evidence that a god has actively been participating in human affairs, so it would be irrational of them to adhere to this belief. To me this is a search for the truth rather than an avoidance of it. I do the same with my own beliefs; if for some reason they appear improbable, I shift them. I see no reason to dismiss them entirely.
Similarly to Straggler, you go on to explain why you think that psychology can explain away religious beliefs. While I wouldn't argue with anything you said about the possible inaccuracies of human experience and anecdotes, and you've made the point that this evidence is unreliable, we are also left with the fact you also acknowledged that it can be true. IMO it is can be worth pursuing the one true experience even if it is like searching for the proverbial needle in the haystack. Let's say that out of 100 people, 99 of them are mistaken about the objective truth of a religious experience. That leaves one with a genuine experience. You could use whatever numbers you want: one in 1000, one in a million. That one genuine experience could possibly lead us to new truths. From having spoken to people all my life and being an avid reader, I would hazard a guess that genuine experiences aren't quite as rare as that.
I had one myself, though it wasn't anything grand. My parents made me continue to go to church with them when I was a teenager even though I no longer subscribed to their faith. I was standing rather resentfully in the pews, having listened to yet another homily that I did not agree with, and with no power to object. It them came time for everyone to hold hands while they recited a prayer. I dutifully took the hands of the people on either side of me and was surprised to feel energy moving through. It's difficult to describe but it was definitely there and it wasn't static electricity. I hadn't anticipated it, had never wished for it, and to be honest I wouldn't have thought it likely that I'd ever experience anything unusual during a seemingly soulless mass that everyone repeated the words for every Sunday even if their thoughts went somewhere else more interesting.
My interpretation was not that God was present and moving through us, but that we were sharing energy as we joined hands. Eastern philosophies would consider this to be perfectly normal. I can't prove anything about this to you or anyone else and for all you know I could be lying. I, however, have no reason to believe that my experience was not genuine.
quote:
Subjective experiences are deomosntrably inaccurate when it comes to drawing conclusions about the real world.
From an empirical epistemological point of view this makes perfect sense.
To someone like me who holds some solipsistic views (as explained in the faith/delusion thread), it's somewhat questionable.
You may call philosophy "navel gazing" but there are actually a number of different ways of viewing the nature of reality, and there are degrees to those views.
quote:
But you still have no objective evidence, and no way to falsify or verify the accuracy of your beliefs. That leaves you prone to the failings of the human mind, a decidedly poor tool when not used in conjunction with rigorous adherence to objectivity.
Which brings me back to the beginning of this post: empiricism is a poor investigative tool where religious faith is concerned, so those of us who do not so readily dismiss the whole concept need to use other epistemological means. I stand by what I said about the IPU experience in my previous post. If after all investigation, that viewer was still convinced they saw it, no one could prove otherwise, and that belief did no harm to anyone, I'm happy to leave the jury out on the matter.
Edited by LindaLou, : No reason given.
Edited by LindaLou, : No reason given.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 53 by Rahvin, posted 09-01-2009 1:38 PM Rahvin has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 55 by Straggler, posted 09-01-2009 4:23 PM Kitsune has replied
 Message 61 by Rahvin, posted 09-01-2009 7:26 PM Kitsune has not replied

  
Kitsune
Member (Idle past 4411 days)
Posts: 788
From: Leicester, UK
Joined: 09-16-2007


Message 56 of 154 (522183)
09-01-2009 4:33 PM
Reply to: Message 55 by Straggler
09-01-2009 4:23 PM


Re: The human mind is not an accurate tool
Straggler,
Curiously, though my posts here have not been addressed to you, you have again been reiterating your position to me while ignoring large chunks of what I have written in my own posts. This is the reason I stopped debating with you in the previous thread. Your final question makes this doubly clear, because I have answered it:
quote:
are you really agnostic about ALL these things? I mean really?
And anyway, from your OP:
quote:
FAITH: NOT INTERESTED AND OFF TOPIC

This message is a reply to:
 Message 55 by Straggler, posted 09-01-2009 4:23 PM Straggler has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 57 by Straggler, posted 09-01-2009 4:47 PM Kitsune has replied

  
Kitsune
Member (Idle past 4411 days)
Posts: 788
From: Leicester, UK
Joined: 09-16-2007


Message 58 of 154 (522164)
09-01-2009 3:56 PM
Reply to: Message 57 by Straggler
09-01-2009 4:47 PM


Re: The human mind is not an accurate tool
quote:
I have every right to both ask questions of the poeple that participate in this thread and to express my own point of view.
Everyone on the forum has that right. What I see happening is the same thing that RAZD and I were talking about in the faith/delusion thread: you state and re-state your position while ignoring major points that others make. Re-stating your position is not the same thing as engaging in what other people are saying.
quote:
Well if faith is your only basis for special pleading one unevidenced entity over any other then we seem to have concluded that atheism rather than agnosticism is the rational position.
Firstly, I said no such thing. Secondly, you would understand that this is a misstatement of my views if you had been reading my posts with any care.
Please try to see what's going on here because it narks people off.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 57 by Straggler, posted 09-01-2009 4:47 PM Straggler has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 60 by Straggler, posted 09-01-2009 4:12 PM Kitsune has not replied

  
Kitsune
Member (Idle past 4411 days)
Posts: 788
From: Leicester, UK
Joined: 09-16-2007


Message 97 of 154 (524481)
09-17-2009 3:21 AM
Reply to: Message 96 by Modulous
09-08-2009 9:29 PM


Re: The magic organ between the ears
Hi Modulous and others,
Sorry I dropped out of the conversation a while back. I've had some difficulties; these are the sorts of things that test whatever faith a person has. I've often found myself during that time, thinking about what I believe or what I'd like to believe, and what people have said in this thread and elsewhere. I think it's good to be made to question. I'd like to re-join the discussion and I'm aware that there are several lengthy posts awaiting my reply; it's been problematic for me to be able to do this in detail for them all. I'd like to summarise here what I've been thinking and if anyone feels that there are still questions they have that I have not answered, please let me know and I will do so.
I think we're all agreed that we can't measure the divine by empirical means. For some that's the end of the matter: if it can't be detected in such a way, it doesn't exist. As I've expressed before, I believe this is a closed-minded approach. I've outlined ways that we could study someone's claims of having had a spiritual experience, and at the very best we can end up with the conclusion of "We don't know." Where do we go from there?
I can't remember if I posted this link before, but I think it's a good case in point:
Man Warned Away from Explosion
He says he considers himself a "rational person" and set about trying to find such an explanation for what he experienced. This would seem to be an ordinary person going about ordinary day-to-day activities who would neither desire nor expect such an experience. Possible explanations that occur to me:
This story could be fictional, or truth embellished.
It could be coincidence (though I find it difficult to see how).
Someone might have been hoaxing him (though it would be an elaborate one).
Out of the above three, I'd pick the first as the likeliest possibility. Let's assume that this story is true in all relevant details. Then:
Maybe the warning was some form of telepathy.
Maybe the man was experiencing precognition.
Maybe there was a spirit or a god giving the warning.
There are many similar cases like this. Not everyone tells them, for fear of being ridiculed by self-styled rational people.
IMO the only explanation that invokes the divine is the last one. Telepathy and precognition aren't necessarily undetectable spiritual manifestations and they don't require the existence of the divine. If someone chose to believe that God or a guardian angel was protecting the man, it's a belief that is unprovable and one which does no harm to the believer or others. Maybe this is really all we can say with certainty about faith: that it's a choice someone makes. We can use the existing evidence to steer us as far as we can, and avoid choosing to believe in things that are proven to be false. Then, it's perhaps a matter of what ideas appeal to us. Sometimes it's a matter of deciding to listen to one's inner voice. There's no proof that it exists but nonetheless I'm pretty sure I've got one.
By the way Modulous, you said in your last post about the brain being the seat of consciousness . . . not everyone believes this. It's interesting that something like 95% of your serotonin (that neurotransmitter that SSRI antidepressants target) is in your gut. This is one reason why people get side effects from the meds: they work indiscriminately everywhere in the body. That's a lot of serotonin that's not in your brain. (Though maybe this is a discussion for another thread, as the nature of consciousness is a topic in itself.)
Edited by LindaLou, : No reason given.
Edited by LindaLou, : No reason given.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 96 by Modulous, posted 09-08-2009 9:29 PM Modulous has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 98 by Straggler, posted 09-17-2009 6:29 AM Kitsune has replied
 Message 100 by NosyNed, posted 09-17-2009 9:05 AM Kitsune has replied
 Message 107 by Modulous, posted 09-17-2009 10:57 AM Kitsune has replied

  
Kitsune
Member (Idle past 4411 days)
Posts: 788
From: Leicester, UK
Joined: 09-16-2007


Message 99 of 154 (524496)
09-17-2009 7:37 AM
Reply to: Message 98 by Straggler
09-17-2009 6:29 AM


Re: The magic organ between the ears
Hi Straggler,
quote:
Actually I don't think this is a true representation of any of those you have been debating with.
Not all of them, but quite a few, including you I thought. Can you tell me how your own position is different from "I don't believe the divine exists because it cannot be measured by empirical means"?
I agree with all the possibilities you cited about the "Man Warned Away from Explosion" story. And I think that if anyone wants to get at the objective truth, then all of these things need to be considered. But they are possibilities. We will probably never know how much of this particular story represents reality. I do think, however, that if we decide to make these rational explanations the default explanations, we run the risk of missing some true phenomena. When I first joined this forum I shared a particular experience that someone close to me had, and all the evidence that makes it credible to me, and not a single person I spoke with here seemed to consider the possibility that it could actually be true. They ended up insisting that all people involved, whom I know and they do not, must have been mistaken or lying. Having said that, this story -- like the one I linked to here -- doesn't necessarily have anything to do with the divine, unless you choose to believe so.
quote:
If either of these human abilities exist then it is the methods of science that will eventually allow us to understand them. Should this happen they will be "natural" rather than "supernatural". Telepathy has been tested, and as far as I am aware, has failed those tests. Precognition would require abandoning the laws of physics as we know them and seems an exceptionaly unlikely possibility.
I agree that such abilities would be natural, not supernatural, and as such could be investigated by science.
There have been successful tests of telepathy in the past and some are ongoing.
I don't see why that or precognition has to "abandon the laws of physics."
This is all off topic here though really, because if these abilities do exist, they don't necessarily have anything more to do with the divine than me brushing my teeth. This of course is part of the problem of looking for evidence of the divine. We shouldn't credit it for everything we do not currently understand; that's no different from people thousands of years ago thinking that lightning bolts were hurled by the gods.
quote:
I would suggest that getting people to make predictions based on these voices rather than relying on connections made with hindsight would result in conclusions that are no better than guessing in terms of reliability.
Well you'd have to find some voices that wanted to predict the future and actually were able to do so (as opposed to, conceivably, spirits having some fun with you by claiming they have knowledge that they don't). Various cultures and religions have prophecies; I was reading some Native American ones the other day. Of course, there are all kinds of problems with prophecies. I don't personally know anyone who claims to have had voices tell them the future but I don't see why you couldn't study someone who did.
quote:
based on the material objective evidence, the evidence with a proven record of reliability, the human mind is a far more likely and rationally justifiable explanation than the actual existence of gods, spirits and the like.
I agree with you to an extent. I don't personally draw the conclusion that therefore humans are always mistaken, and the divine does not exist. Do you? If you do, I'm wondering what the purpose of this thread is, because I can't see what anyone could say that would cause you to question your beliefs.
Edited by LindaLou, : No reason given.
Edited by LindaLou, : No reason given.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 98 by Straggler, posted 09-17-2009 6:29 AM Straggler has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 117 by Straggler, posted 09-17-2009 2:55 PM Kitsune has not replied

  
Kitsune
Member (Idle past 4411 days)
Posts: 788
From: Leicester, UK
Joined: 09-16-2007


Message 101 of 154 (524515)
09-17-2009 9:13 AM
Reply to: Message 100 by NosyNed
09-17-2009 9:05 AM


Re: Warnings
I get those every time I have to drive into the middle of town and go to the shopping mall
Seriously, this is the problem. Instinct might guide us correctly sometimes but not others; and sometimes we might think we're listening to our instinct when something else is going on. I've had depression and I know for a fact that the feelings of doom I got were from my neurotransmitters and hormones being messed up. If I were suddenly hit by a feeling of doom for no apparent reason -- say, upon entering a certain place -- and the feeling lifted when I left the place, I'd be tempted to consider that it was telling me something. All of this is just guessing of course. I can understand why many people don't want to go there; it's not reliable.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 100 by NosyNed, posted 09-17-2009 9:05 AM NosyNed has not replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 102 by Hyroglyphx, posted 09-17-2009 10:02 AM Kitsune has replied

  
Kitsune
Member (Idle past 4411 days)
Posts: 788
From: Leicester, UK
Joined: 09-16-2007


Message 103 of 154 (524527)
09-17-2009 10:29 AM
Reply to: Message 102 by Hyroglyphx
09-17-2009 10:02 AM


Re: Warnings
I'm interested in the paranormal too; I aim to be an open-minded skeptic. But for the purposes of this thread, I think it can be hard to differentiate which phenomena labelled "paranormal" point to the existence of the divine. If science eventually explains them, then how is that any closer to finding God?

This message is a reply to:
 Message 102 by Hyroglyphx, posted 09-17-2009 10:02 AM Hyroglyphx has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 105 by Hyroglyphx, posted 09-17-2009 10:43 AM Kitsune has replied

  
Kitsune
Member (Idle past 4411 days)
Posts: 788
From: Leicester, UK
Joined: 09-16-2007


Message 106 of 154 (524533)
09-17-2009 10:50 AM
Reply to: Message 105 by Hyroglyphx
09-17-2009 10:43 AM


Re: Warnings
quote:
I doubt that it would. There's just too many unknowns to account for.
Can you give an example?

This message is a reply to:
 Message 105 by Hyroglyphx, posted 09-17-2009 10:43 AM Hyroglyphx has not replied

  
Kitsune
Member (Idle past 4411 days)
Posts: 788
From: Leicester, UK
Joined: 09-16-2007


Message 108 of 154 (524537)
09-17-2009 11:27 AM
Reply to: Message 107 by Modulous
09-17-2009 10:57 AM


Re: tod und verzweiflung
Interesting subtitle, rather grim
quote:
It is a possibility that the divine could have allowed itself to be empirically testable.
I guess that depends on how one views the divine. Seeing it as a human-like entity that makes conscious choices is easy because we can relate to that. If the divine exists then I think in reality it must go beyond this. Maybe there is no being that has conscious thoughts. Maybe God could simply be all of us, incarnate -- in which case we're erroneously looking for something outside of ourselves. Maybe the divine really is empirically detectable; but like bacteria under the microscope, we are unable at this time to detect it. Who knows? You could argue that the IPU is out there and we could find it if we built an IPU detector, but then we have actually discovered real things with new instruments. Or maybe it really does require a sixth sense/third eye.
quote:
Is there any kind of evidence in favour of the supernatural that if we translated it into a murder case would result in you being comfortable with convicting someone of a serious crime?
Lots of strong circumstantial evidence (logic).
Lots of eyewitness testimonies that have consilience (anecdote).
I also am against the death penalty; a wrong conviction can never be reversed.
What's more, empirical evidence can sometimes be misleading. You might be one of the unlucky ones whose DNA matches that found at the scene of the crime when in reality it is not yours. Someone might do a good job of framing you, for example by planting evidence on you.
quote:
It is possibly that my pen just fell off my desk because of goblins, fairies, elves, unicorns, gremlins etc etc. Or it could be that it was cylindrical and I knocked it with my elbow which is low on nerves so I didn't feel it. I see no reason to believe it was a gremlin, despite its possibility.
I think you've clarified the point. But it's far, far more logical to conclude that you knocked your pen off the desk yourself. What if, instead, it seemed to fly on a strange trajectory, perhaps travelled too slowly or too quickly, and came to a dead stop when physics says it should have rolled on the floor? What if it seems to have appeared on your desk from nowhere and is slightly warm to the touch? What if you hear a zipping noise while you are bent over reading alone, and suddenly your pen hits you on the back of your head? I know this all sounds utterly ridiculous but these are the kinds of phenomena that have repeatedly been reported in poltergeist cases all over the world, for centuries. They happened to people I know. Though maybe this point won't mean anything to you if you are unwilling to admit the possibility that they could happen to anyone at all.
And again, I don't think this is necessarily evidence for the divine. Based on the available evidence, I believe in the one-ness of all things; I'm not sure if you could even call that theism really. Would you categorise belief in spirits as theism? I believe in those too.
Edited by LindaLou, : No reason given.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 107 by Modulous, posted 09-17-2009 10:57 AM Modulous has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 112 by Modulous, posted 09-17-2009 12:55 PM Kitsune has replied
 Message 113 by Rahvin, posted 09-17-2009 12:59 PM Kitsune has replied

  
Kitsune
Member (Idle past 4411 days)
Posts: 788
From: Leicester, UK
Joined: 09-16-2007


Message 124 of 154 (524745)
09-18-2009 11:05 AM
Reply to: Message 112 by Modulous
09-17-2009 12:55 PM


Re: tod und verzweiflung
Hi Modulous,
quote:
it could have been the case that an entity we all agree is 'divine' could have been empirically detectable (such as a God wandering around a garden cursing and blessing people in tangible ways). Obviously - such a blatantly detectable divinity isn't around.
True. This could be because . . .
It doesn't exist.
It exists but is undetectable empirically.
It is detectable empirically but we do not currently have the means to detect it.
It once made itself detectable empirically but no longer does so now.
I find the final explanation to be rather unlikely, though it is the one that most Christians seem to adopt in order to explain why Jesus was accepted as a messiah, but someone claiming to be Jesus today (even though his second coming was foretold) is likely to find themselves institutionalised. Or why God no longer smites the wicked.
quote:
Lots of strong circumstantial evidence (logic).
Lots of eyewitness testimonies that have consilience (anecdote).
***
I don't think we have these things for any supernatural entity.
Why not? The fact that so many people throughout time have been inclined to some sort of spiritual practice indicates to me that the spiritual might exist. I know that others here think that this can be explained by wishful thinking, wanting explanations for the unexplained, imagination, and so on. I don't deny that those factors exist but I think it's unlikely that they explain away every person's spirituality since the dawn of time.
quote:
I've experienced this kind of thing, and friends and family have too. Indeed - given how many people have experienced this, one has to wonder why they only seem to occur when the ability to verify is low. Human memory is very frail and easily changed. Ever heard of the idea that a person has told a lie so often they believe it themselves? Well it turns out it is quite true, and more.
Again, I don't disagree that people make mistakes. I guess what I'm saying is that I think a large body of anecdotal information can point to the possibility of something legitimate. For the divine -- so many people believing in it, for thousands, probably hundreds of thousands, of years. Poltergeist manifestations like the things I described with the pen are the same. I've read meta-analyses of cases through history, some of them well documented by researchers who took pains to investigate the empirical evidence (such as setting up measuring systems within a warehouse where objects were moving, and tracking their trajectories). People from disparate cultures and periods of time, many of them with no awareness of what a poltergeist is let alone what it's supposed to do, have reported similar phenomena. Some of these phenomena have been witnessed by authority figures such as the police. I'm getting off topic here but the point I'm making is that I think we make a mistake if we rationalise all anecdotal information away. The more anecdotes, and the more consilience between them, the likelier they are to be true (though of course that's no guarantee).

This message is a reply to:
 Message 112 by Modulous, posted 09-17-2009 12:55 PM Modulous has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 126 by Modulous, posted 09-18-2009 11:27 AM Kitsune has replied
 Message 128 by Hyroglyphx, posted 09-18-2009 11:50 AM Kitsune has replied

  
Kitsune
Member (Idle past 4411 days)
Posts: 788
From: Leicester, UK
Joined: 09-16-2007


Message 129 of 154 (524772)
09-18-2009 2:19 PM
Reply to: Message 113 by Rahvin
09-17-2009 12:59 PM


Re: tod und verzweiflung
Rahvin wrote:
quote:
when you cannot test, cannot repeat, and cannot independently verify, how could you ever claim that you rationally think that one concept of the "divine" that may actually exist is more accurate than any other?
I'll take you through the basics of my thinking in the last 20 years or so.
I came across a book by Joseph Campbell which showed me the parallels between world mythologies. This was an eye opener because I had been raised in my own Catholic faith with no information about other faiths. Suddenly I could see that the Biblical flood had its roots in flood myths that pre-dated it and with which it shared undeniable similarities. I was never one to take everything in the Bible literally, but what really shook me up was the realisation that this knowledge was out there but generally hidden by my church, for obvious reasons -- it hints strongly that the Bible is the product of a human culture passing on traditions, and not the Word of God.
There's also something unlikely about the belief that the Christian God talked clearly to people in the Bible, actively led his chosen people, sent his son to the world who produced miracles -- and somewhere along the line all this stopped. None of it happens today. Why? Maybe, again, because the Bible is the product of a human culture etc.
What's more, it seems clear to me that one specific incarnation of God is unlikely to be The Correct One. And the incarnations are given human qualities that make them easy for us to relate to but that don't really reflect what we see in our day-to-day lives. A belief in a god would have to transcend this. Some branches of Eastern religion do so.
We're left with a concept of the divine that doesn't actively intervene in our lives like a personified god would (e.g. wiping out humans in a global flood because he's angry with them). Something that transcends the idiosyncrasies of individual myths. For me personally, I feel this leaves me with believing that "all is one" and that we are part of the divine ourselves: there is no person in the sky to talk to. IMO this is a belief that could be consistent with science one day, the more we learn about quantum physics and the nature of reality. This doesn't preclude the existence of spirits or other entities, but I'm not sure if I'd include those in a general concept of theism.
I hope this answers some other questions here too . . . it's hard to keep up when there are so many posts directed to me. I'll have a look at what I haven't addressed yet.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 113 by Rahvin, posted 09-17-2009 12:59 PM Rahvin has not replied

  
Kitsune
Member (Idle past 4411 days)
Posts: 788
From: Leicester, UK
Joined: 09-16-2007


Message 130 of 154 (524778)
09-18-2009 2:47 PM
Reply to: Message 128 by Hyroglyphx
09-18-2009 11:50 AM


Re: tod und verzweiflung
Hyroglyphx wrote:
quote:
The more one speaks about anecdotes, the more they become affixed in the subconscious. If you grow up being taught about God, chances are you aren't going to question it
Hang on; I'm not sure if that analogy fits. I was generalising about spiritual beliefs -- the fact that any of them exist. This tells me that maybe there is some kind of truth at the core. We don't know that but we can consider it a possibility. You're talking about a specific belief with which someone is indoctrinated. People do question their beliefs. I did, and there are ex-creationists on this forum, some of whom are still theists.
I take your point about confirmation bias. It's best avoided. That's why anecdotes involving people with no previous reason to wish for or expect what they experienced, can be the most intriguing.
In my previous post here I explained how I went through what could be described as a process of elimination, whereby I arrived at a concept of the divine that does not IMO defy logic or what we understand about reality. I'm aware that I did not present any actual positive evidence. As I said previously, I don't think it's sensible to write off every single anecdote as mistaken or wishful thinking, delusion, misidentification, hoaxes and lies, etc. No doubt some of them are. I believe it's likely that some are not, and I am not willing to ignore them due to the difficulty of establishing which ones are true and which aren't. I know people who have experienced some strange stuff. I've either seen it myself, or I've discussed it with them; I don't suppose it makes any difference here because this is me just asking you to take my word for it, but I'm convinced that the experiences were out of the ordinary and I'm curious about what was going on. I also believe that some wise people in the world seem to have knowledge that goes beyond typical human understanding. It's all personal opinion and as such you could consider it irrational, but it's part of what has influenced me to cross the line into faith.
Edited by LindaLou, : No reason given.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 128 by Hyroglyphx, posted 09-18-2009 11:50 AM Hyroglyphx has not replied

  
Kitsune
Member (Idle past 4411 days)
Posts: 788
From: Leicester, UK
Joined: 09-16-2007


Message 133 of 154 (524786)
09-18-2009 3:52 PM
Reply to: Message 126 by Modulous
09-18-2009 11:27 AM


Re: commonality of causes....
Modulous wrote:
quote:
I've not seen anybody advance the position that religious or other 'spooky' experiences are not possibly something legitimate.
Some people will give lip service to this, while at the same time doggedly (or dogmatically) sticking to the belief that all alternative "rational" explanations must be correct. I've seen this with people like Robert Wiseman and Susan Blackmore, who seem simply unable to admit the possibility of genuine phenomena and so fall back on standard claims such as, "The methodology must be flawed somewhere," or the old argument from disbelief, which becomes a tautology: "That's just impossible." I'm not accusing anyone on this forum of thinking this way; just that sometimes it's easy for someone to say they're open to possibilities when perhaps if they're honest with themselves they aren't.
quote:
That doesn't mean the picture is magic. It just means that they were all affected by a common cognitive shortcut.
I was thinking myself of something like a bright light in the sky -- maybe a meteor burning up -- being interpreted by people as a UFO (i.e. an alien spaceship). That's not to say that the phenomenon isn't real; what's erroneous is the interpretation. I don't think this could be applied to my own theology, though you're welcome to pick my brains on this one. How do I say "Goddidit" about anything if I don't believe in a conscious god in the sky? In fact, if I say that you and I and everyone and everything is part of a Whole, and that we are linked to each other in some way, I expect that future science might be able to verify that. Quantum entanglement is an intriguing beginning.
I've got ideas tossing around in my head about why we are here, what happens to us after we die, what we're meant to be doing in this life, etc; and also, what kinds of beings and realities there might be. These possibilities shift frequently in my mind and I don't know if I'll ever hit upon a system that I want to solidify as one I will believe in. Maybe that's why I keep looking for personal experiences and people that might guide me, but maybe I'll never find them. There are plenty of people who want me to believe what they believe but I've never settled on any that convince me enough. I think I, too, need some kind of evidence to guide me, not just a wish to believe something comfortable.
quote:
So - the question is, is there any evidence that suggests that poltergeists, gods and so on are anything more than the results of common cognitive shortcuts and problems, that they are the result of a common experience of actual ghosts or gods?
I don't know what poltergeists are, but I've read enough details about cases -- and commonalities across the world and in different time periods -- to believe that some of the phenomena are genuine. I'm not sure how a cognitive shortcut would produce what sometimes are labelled as core phenomena, because they occur so often in these cases. I know personally of some that have happened and like the imaginary case of the misbehaving pen, they don't seem to make any sense. People find them odd, surprising, often annoying. But to be honest, I don't know what I could say that would convince anyone here even to admit, "We don't know." This was one of the first topics I discussed on EvC and I think we got to the point where I was told that no one could rationally consider believing me anyway because I'm just someone relating my experiences on a forum. Sometimes I wonder what additional anecdotes would be available to us if some people weren't so certain of ridicule that they never speak to anyone about them.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 126 by Modulous, posted 09-18-2009 11:27 AM Modulous has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 134 by Modulous, posted 09-18-2009 5:15 PM Kitsune has replied

  
Kitsune
Member (Idle past 4411 days)
Posts: 788
From: Leicester, UK
Joined: 09-16-2007


Message 135 of 154 (524793)
09-18-2009 5:46 PM
Reply to: Message 134 by Modulous
09-18-2009 5:15 PM


Re: commonality of causes....
quote:
Have you ever had a feeling of warmth, elation, joy and 'oneness' that you attributed to some plane of existence or unseen entity?
Not that I can remember. I've always thought it was different kinds of energy I was experiencing. Chi is everywhere.
quote:
Have you ever seen something move and attributed it to unseen 'energies' or spirits?
No. I know someone who has though, but I suspect you might say that he was probably mistaken.
quote:
Have you ever returned to something and found it different than before and thought that some agent was responsible?
No, but again I know someone who has. Several people. They only acknowledged that what was happening was odd; they did not rush out to join to Jesus army or anything. You can remind me of all the ways the human mind can be flawed but I think we're going to end up disagreeing on where we each set our plausibility meters. What's more, I think we're looking here at acceptance of the reality of phenomena, rather than proof of the divine. It's a different thing altogether to claim that poltergeists are manifestations of God.
quote:
Have you ever spoken to someone who is dead, or otherwise absent as if they were there?
No, but I know people who have.
quote:
Have you ever held a belief purely because your parents or other authority figure told you it was true?
If anyone did, does that invalidate the belief?
What's more, I accept a lot of things on authority. Many of them are scientific things, because scientists are experts and I am not.
quote:
Have you ever thought about something, dreamed about it, and then had it happen and attributed it to something 'going on' behind the scenes?
There are studies going on for these things all the time. I'm aware of one for guessing correctly who is calling you on the phone, and for guessing who is sending you an email. I won't go into those here. Some cultures do not conceive of time the way we do, so our skepticism of telepathy or precognition is partly rooted in our way of seeing time as rigidly linear. Even so, as I've asked here before, how is any of this proof of the divine? IMO these are phenomena that will eventually be accepted as real and normal. And yes, I am aware that people can be mistaken too, see patterns where there are none, have selective memories, and so on. People who design clairvoyance studies take these things into account.
quote:
So we have evidence for one explanation behind these reports. Is there any evidence (as per this topic) to suspect that there might be something above and beyond this that is 'going on'?
For the account you gave, no. Not all UFO sightings are as easy to explain as this, though it has to be said I have little knowledge of this area. I'm not claiming we've been visited by aliens, just that maybe there's something of interest in some cases. The rational mind would logically deduce, no doubt, that since many cases have normal explanations, then they all do; and the unsolved ones simply don't present enough evidence to be rubber-stamped to that effect. I've simply been saying all along that I'm not convinced that we ought to be rationalising all of these things away because we could be missing something. I don't see any harm in this; and I do think there's a danger that we can be pretty cocksure of what we think we know, and miss opportunities to expand our knowledge.
I think we're getting off topic again here, though. I don't believe that UFOs are evidence of the divine and I'm not aware of anyone who does. I don't think poltergeists, ghosts, telepathy, or precognition are either, necessarily. If the reality of all of these things were proved, I don't know that we'd be any closer to finding God.
Edited by LindaLou, : No reason given.
Edited by LindaLou, : No reason given.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 134 by Modulous, posted 09-18-2009 5:15 PM Modulous has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 136 by Modulous, posted 09-19-2009 1:47 AM Kitsune has replied

  
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