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Author Topic:   Immaterial "Evidence"
Parasomnium
Member (Idle past 769 days)
Posts: 2191
Joined: 07-15-2003


Message 121 of 154 (524594)
09-17-2009 5:07 PM
Reply to: Message 120 by Rahvin
09-17-2009 3:11 PM


Re: degrees of acceptance
Rahvin writes:

Our "gut," our basic sense of credulity, is so flawed as to be worse than useless, literally counterproductive, when trying to ascertain what is or is not likely.

Quite so. Most people are appalling statisticians. When the lottery in a neighbouring state has a staggering jackpot, people are prepared to drive long distances in order to buy a ticket, neglecting the fact that, statistically, they are more likely to die in a car crash on the way than to win the jackpot. Even a person who buys fifty tickets a week will only win the jackpot about once every 30,000 years, on average. (Source: The Making Of The Fittest - DNA and the ultimate forensic record of evolution, by Sean B. Carroll.)

By the way, my compliments, Rahvin, on some of your recent contributions to this thread. Well thought out, well expressed, well done.


"Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science." - Charles Darwin.
This message is a reply to:
 Message 120 by Rahvin, posted 09-17-2009 3:11 PM Rahvin has not yet responded

  
Straggler
Member
Posts: 10284
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


(1)
Message 122 of 154 (524675)
09-18-2009 3:32 AM
Reply to: Message 114 by New Cat's Eye
09-17-2009 1:07 PM


Re: degrees of acceptance
I dunno. If that were true, then it wouldn't be claimed that atheism is the rational choice over agnosticism.

Given that you have explicitly stated previously:
A) That you are not expecting me to take into account the subjective evidence of others when drawing conclusions regarding gods.
B) That even you are not actually assuming that immaterial subjective evidence leads to conclusions that are more reliable than guessing.

Can you explain to me on what basis you continue to deny that a degree of "human invention is the most likely explanation" atheism is not justified over "It's 50-50 I just don't know" agnosticism with regard to any given objectively unevidenced god concept?

Because given your current stated position on subjective evidence I do not understand on what basis you continue to disagree with me on this.

Rahvin writes:

That's what we mean when we say "no better than random guessing." We aren't saying "this model is definitely bullshit,"

I dunno. If that were true, then it wouldn't be claimed that atheism is the rational choice over agnosticism.

Why? Why is a degree of atheism not the rational conclusion for me to draw? Forget certainties and definites. Nobody here is arguing in terms of certainties and definites except those misrepresenting the atheist position.

Edited by Straggler, : No reason given.

Edited by Straggler, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 114 by New Cat's Eye, posted 09-17-2009 1:07 PM New Cat's Eye has responded

Replies to this message:
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New Cat's Eye
Inactive Member


(1)
Message 123 of 154 (524743)
09-18-2009 10:58 AM
Reply to: Message 122 by Straggler
09-18-2009 3:32 AM


Re: degrees of acceptance
Can you explain to me on what basis you continue to deny that a degree of "human invention is the most likely explanation" atheism is not justified over "It's 50-50 I just don't know" agnosticism with regard to any given objectively unevidenced god concept?

I don't even know what you're talking about anymore. Now that you've both italicized and bolded the word 'degree' and turned agnosticism into the flip of a coin, I don't think we're talking about the same thing, or maybe we are more than we think.

When you limit athesim to being just a degree of it qualified with a likelyhood, then I don't think we talking about the position that god does not exist... it basically becomes agnosticim in the sense of: "I don't know but I doubt it." This still falls into the agnosticism that I think is more rational and logical than the atheism that claims that god does not exist. And I don't think that agnosticism has to be a 50-50 thing either. In addition to including the "I don't know but I doubt it" it also includes "I don't know but probably." So really, when you say that:

'a degree of "human invention is the most likely explanation" atheism IS justified over "It's 50-50 I just don't know" agnosticism'

then actually I agree. But its a strawman of my position.

In my position atheism answers the question "Does god exits?" with "No." and agnosticism covers the non-no answers all the way up to the "yes" that makes the person theist. It is not just the 50-50 "teeter-tottering on the fence" position where as leaning any amount one way makes it either atheism or theism.

In this sense, your position of "human invention is the most likely explanation" is justified over 50-50 agnosticism, but it remains agnosticism and it is more rational/logical than a blatant "no, god doesn't exist" atheism that I have been referring to.

Does that clear it up?

Now, this also places me, when limited to rational and logical explanations, as an agnostic as well. I don't know that god exists. But given all this "immaterial evidence", I'm leaning towards the 'he probably does' side of the fence. Its just that I'm comfortable being irrational and allowing for faith to let me cross that line into theism. But you seem to not want to allow for those reasons for me to lean to that side to count for anything and I think they should so there's a major disagreement.

You, on the other hand, seem to want to remain rational/logical. I don't think you can rationally/logically get to the "no, god doesn't exist" atheism but I do think that your "I doubt it" atheism is justified, just that I don't think its properly called 'atheism'. Although, maybe in the sense that you don't believe that god does exist it is rightfully called atheism, but I don't think you've rationally crossed the line into active disbelief in god.

You've used the fact that specific descriptions of god have been shown to be false to get a likelyhood for a god in general but I don't think it follows.


This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
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Kitsune
Member (Idle past 2373 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 responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 126 by Modulous, posted 09-18-2009 11:27 AM Kitsune has responded
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Modulous
Member (Idle past 177 days)
Posts: 7789
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 125 of 154 (524748)
09-18-2009 11:15 AM
Reply to: Message 123 by New Cat's Eye
09-18-2009 10:58 AM


Re: degrees of acceptance
In my position atheism answers the question "Does god exits?" with "No."

If that 'no' is definite then there are probably about three atheists in the world, and I've met none of them.

If that 'no' is the same kind of 'no' you might hear if you asked someone "Do fairies/goblins/elves exist?' then I probably qualify. Obviously I can't say 100% that elves don't exist, but I am comfortable in not splitting hairs and saying 'no' for practical purposes.

However, according to your definition - Richard Dawkins is likely not an atheist. I'm fairly sure most people would be comfortable with the position that Dawkins is an atheist, so it might be that your definitions are a little off kilter.

Dawkins has a seven point scale which, copying from wiki looks like this:

1. Strong theist. 100 per cent probability of God. In the words of C.G. Jung, 'I do not believe, I know.'
2. Very high probability but short of 100 per cent. De facto theist. 'I cannot know for certain, but I strongly believe in God and live my life on the assumption that he is there.'
3. Higher than 50 per cent but not very high. Technically agnostic but leaning towards theism. 'I am very uncertain, but I am inclined to believe in God.'
4. Exactly 50 per cent. Completely impartial agnostic. 'God's existence and non-existence are exactly equiprobable.'
5. Lower than 50 per cent but not very low. Technically agnostic but leaning towards atheism. 'I do not know whether God exists but I'm inclined to be sceptical.'
6. Very low probability, but short of zero. De facto atheist. 'I cannot know for certain but I think God is very improbable, and I live my life on the assumption that he is not there.'
7. Strong atheist. 'I know there is no God, with the same conviction as Jung "knows" there is one.'

Iano is a 1, Dawkins, Straggler and myself are about a 6.

Dawkins says that he would be

quote:
surprised to meet many people in category 7

and that

quote:
I am agnostic only to the extent that I am agnostic about fairies at the bottom of the garden

He doesn't believe there are fairies there, or a God elsewhere. Neither do I. I think it is fair to say that anybody that does not believe that there is a god or fairies is an atheist and an afayist.

At the very least - you should probably keep it in mind that most people that are called atheists are agnostic in your view and that many people that are called theists are agnostic in your view.

Its just that I'm comfortable being irrational and allowing for faith to let me cross that line into theism

Then you join the ranks of Percy and we technically have no quarrel with you on this subject. There are some people on this board, that think there is evidence that rationally justifies crossing the line. This thread was meant to give them the opportunity to explain.

To quote Bertrand Russell

quote:
As a philosopher, if I were speaking to a purely philosophic audience I should say that I ought to describe myself as an Agnostic, because I do not think that there is a conclusive argument by which one can prove that there is not a God. On the other hand, if I am to convey the right impression to the ordinary man in the street I think that I ought to say that I am an Atheist, because, when I say that I cannot prove that there is not a God, I ought to add equally that I cannot prove that there are not the Homeric gods

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Replies to this message:
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Modulous
Member (Idle past 177 days)
Posts: 7789
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 126 of 154 (524750)
09-18-2009 11:27 AM
Reply to: Message 124 by Kitsune
09-18-2009 11:05 AM


commonality of causes....
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.

I said that we do not have what you said you would accept for any supernatural entity. Can you tell me which supernatural entity about which everybody agrees on the properties?

I guess what I'm saying is that I think a large body of anecdotal information can point to the possibility of something legitimate.

I've not seen anybody advance the position that religious or other 'spooky' experiences are not possibly something legitimate.

The more anecdotes, and the more consilience between them, the likelier they are to be true (though of course that's no guarantee).

I think we should be careful. We certainly agree that they point to a common cause - but I don't think that, given other evidence, we can hold the position that they are particularly likely to be interpreted correctly by the subjects. If I went back in time and showed a primitive village an optical illusion which looks like it is in motion, but is not - they might all report that a man with a magic picture came to them.

That doesn't mean the picture is magic. It just means that they were all affected by a common cognitive shortcut.

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 hold that the only thing we can be sure about, is that many people did have experiences that they geniunely believed were of ghosts or gods. One explanation is that some of them did. One explanation is that they were all victims of their own flawed brain. We have evidence that brains make significant and convincing errors. Do we have any evidence that ghosts or gods exist independently of these reports?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 124 by Kitsune, posted 09-18-2009 11:05 AM Kitsune has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 133 by Kitsune, posted 09-18-2009 3:52 PM Modulous has responded

  
Hyroglyphx
Member
Posts: 5622
From: Austin, TX
Joined: 05-03-2006


(1)
Message 127 of 154 (524751)
09-18-2009 11:29 AM
Reply to: Message 125 by Modulous
09-18-2009 11:15 AM


Re: degrees of acceptance
Dawkins has a seven point scale which, copying from wiki looks like this:

1. Strong theist. 100 per cent probability of God. In the words of C.G. Jung, 'I do not believe, I know.'
2. Very high probability but short of 100 per cent. De facto theist. 'I cannot know for certain, but I strongly believe in God and live my life on the assumption that he is there.'
3. Higher than 50 per cent but not very high. Technically agnostic but leaning towards theism. 'I am very uncertain, but I am inclined to believe in God.'
4. Exactly 50 per cent. Completely impartial agnostic. 'God's existence and non-existence are exactly equiprobable.'
5. Lower than 50 per cent but not very low. Technically agnostic but leaning towards atheism. 'I do not know whether God exists but I'm inclined to be sceptical.'
6. Very low probability, but short of zero. De facto atheist. 'I cannot know for certain but I think God is very improbable, and I live my life on the assumption that he is not there.'
7. Strong atheist. 'I know there is no God, with the same conviction as Jung "knows" there is one.'

Iano is a 1, Dawkins, Straggler and myself are about a 6.

Based on the descriptions, I'd rank myself at a 5.


"Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind." -- Bertrand Russell
This message is a reply to:
 Message 125 by Modulous, posted 09-18-2009 11:15 AM Modulous has acknowledged this reply

    
Hyroglyphx
Member
Posts: 5622
From: Austin, TX
Joined: 05-03-2006


(1)
Message 128 of 154 (524752)
09-18-2009 11:50 AM
Reply to: Message 124 by Kitsune
09-18-2009 11:05 AM


Re: tod und verzweiflung
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).

Not necessarily. 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, as you view your parents and other adults as authority figures who have already taken the appropriate steps in determing its reality. People being taught that God is mysterious and elusive may in turn try and find God in the minor details and will then expect God to be as such.

They may then likely associate or attribute any anomalies as God communicating to them in that mysterious way that was taught to them as children, and what they've come rationalize all their lives.

The same could be said of ghost stories. Where I work is co-located with an old Army fort that dates back to the Revolutionary War. There is also an old lighthouse on the grounds, both of which set the mood for spooky ghost tales. The old lighthouse keeper's home is also located on the property and it is said that at night (conveniently) on occasion you can see the lighthouse keepers wife's ghost vigilantly standing in the window.

My point is, prior to hearing the story, I didn't think twice about it. Now that I've been told the spook story, it really is kind of creepy at night. So is it that there really are ghosts at the fort or the lighthouse, or that now my subconscious has been tapped in to?

The more one hears about ghost stories or about the divine, the more one contemplates on their existence. That may not necessarily be consilience but rather a manufacturing of beliefs.


"Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind." -- Bertrand Russell
This message is a reply to:
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Kitsune
Member (Idle past 2373 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 yet responded

    
Kitsune
Member (Idle past 2373 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:
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New Cat's Eye
Inactive Member


(1)
Message 131 of 154 (524779)
09-18-2009 2:55 PM


xkcd - the search

http://xkcd.com/638/


Replies to this message:
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Rahvin
Member (Idle past 1259 days)
Posts: 3964
Joined: 07-01-2005


Message 132 of 154 (524780)
09-18-2009 3:02 PM
Reply to: Message 131 by New Cat's Eye
09-18-2009 2:55 PM


Are we really lowering the level of debate to argument via comic?

ABE - you know what, it's so retarded that I'll run with it.

Your comic suggests that we may not recognize god(s) (or other life) because we don't know what we're looking for, and we're expecting to find only that which we are familiar with.

That's a valid argument...that has absolutely nothign whatsoever to do with what we're discussing.

See, in the real world, outside of comics, people think they have found god(s)...they just don;t have any evidence to support the notion.

To carry over into your retarded comic, this would be the equivalent of the ants determining that, despite not seeing any intelligent non-ants and not seeing any pheromone trails, there must still be other intelligent life.

Could there be intelligent life, and the ants are simply haven't found it yet? Obviously! So too can god(s) possibly exist, and we just haven't found the evidence yet or are looking for the wrong things.

But given that, it is still irrational to take an absence of evidence and conclude that existence is likely!

None of the atheists on the board have claimed that god(s) are impossible. None of us have claimed that the conclusions drawn from subjective evidence cannot be correct. We have simply noted that the accuracy of those conclusions cannot be tested, verified, or falsified, and so there is no rational reason to have confidence that they are in fact accurate.

Do you disagree? If so, what reason, specifically, is there to have confidence in the accuracy of an untestable, unverifiable, unfalsifiable conclusion?

Edited by Rahvin, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
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Kitsune
Member (Idle past 2373 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 responded

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

    
Modulous
Member (Idle past 177 days)
Posts: 7789
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 134 of 154 (524790)
09-18-2009 5:15 PM
Reply to: Message 133 by Kitsune
09-18-2009 3:52 PM


Re: commonality of causes....
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.

I can't speak for people I'm unfamiliar with and their reactions in contexts I am ignorant of. I can say that the quotes you attribute to them are not necessarily problematic.

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?

Have you ever had a feeling of warmth, elation, joy and 'oneness' that you attributed to some plane of existence or unseen entity? Have you ever seen something move and attributed it to unseen 'energies' or spirits? Have you ever returned to something and found it different than before and thought that some agent was responsible?

Have you ever spoken to someone who is dead, or otherwise absent as if they were there?

Have you ever held a belief purely because your parents or other authority figure told you it was true?

Have you ever thought about something, dreamed about it, and then had it happen and attributed it to something 'going on' behind the scenes?

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.

Neuroscience shows us many interesting results about the kind of shortcuts the mind takes. This includes erroneous perceptions of motion, a tendency to attribute agency to mysteries, a tendency to rewrite memory to conform with this attribution and to enquiries and investigation.

As a quick (somewhat trivial) example, a sizeable number of people, when asked, said that they remembered seeing the first plane hit the WTC building on television on September 11th. Various other memories surrounding the event were equally cloudy.

People have been asked to watch a video of an event and then answer questions about what they saw just minutes later and they remember details that simply weren't there to begin with and they are absolutely positive they saw them.

A good example might be so called UFO waves. When a town or other region has been primed by lots of media reports of UFO sightings, that tends to fuel more sightings. Here is one account:

quote:
He explained why to his wife and, a little
farther, they saw the light that then appeared to them as integrated in a vast dark and elongated unit, where they
could make out a tail and even ailerons. But the object speed was so slow that it could not be a plane. Finally, the
two witnesses who drove then very slowly decided to stop for better observing. The object, that revealed only a
greyish and fuzzy structure, as drowned in the fog, carried on moving slowly and noiselessly. The initial light
seemed now to be on the side of the structure and looked like a broad elongated picture window brightly lit from
inside. The driver somehow felt a “presence” behind this window. Under the structure, there was a flashing red
light. The driver’s initial anxiety, perhaps triggered by dreams full of flying saucers that it had made for ten years,
gave way to a peaceful feeling: “it is only that”, he thought. A painter with a higher education, he drew very
precisely what he had seen. His sighting, illustrated by his sketch, was published in SOBEPS magazine, where,
without the least hesitation, the investigator and the editors built a beautiful UFO case.

(From Renaud Leclet's "The Belgian UFO wave of 1989-1992 - a neglected hypothesis -")

He felt a 'presence', and 'peaceful feelings'. Here is what he drew:

A helicopter. The man was seemingly 'primed' into thinking 'alien space craft' rather than 'helicopter'.

Being able to identify which known cognitive flaws may be behind x or y is obviously difficult (because it is difficult to know which details the witness experienced at the time, and which are later retrodicted additions), but the fact remains that we have evidence of people jumping to extraordinary conclusions and making significant memory errors.

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'?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 133 by Kitsune, posted 09-18-2009 3:52 PM Kitsune has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 135 by Kitsune, posted 09-18-2009 5:46 PM Modulous has responded

  
Kitsune
Member (Idle past 2373 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 responded

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

    
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