The Psychology of "Finding God"

Discussion in 'Science and the Universe' started by Tao_Equus, Aug 24, 2008.

  1. Quahom1

    Quahom1 What was the question?

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    I suppose it is due to the nature of my own education and experiences. Evidence, whether hard or circumstantial, is tangible. Even, should a person for example, confess to an action, jurisprudence demands that the investigation continues in order to find tangible evidence for or against the confessor's declaration.

    Wherein social science extrapolation of cultures and psychology, may produce trends and patterns and "historical evidence" of continuous ways of living, it still does not present an absolute; as far as the existence of or lack of existence of a god (supreme intelligence, entity, force, etc.).

    v/r

    Q
     
  2. Quahom1

    Quahom1 What was the question?

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    I think you ask very valid questions Tao. I think that the right conditions are created when a person is open and still (for even just a moment). Usually the question in the back of the mind is "what if" or "could it be". Somewhere along the way those questions are answered in a satisfactory manner for the one questioning.

    The "irritating" speck, begins to become a "pearl"...
     
  3. path_of_one

    path_of_one Embracing the Mystery

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    That's interesting. I find that the senses are rather limited and not very good at all at helping me define or understand reality.

    I find it odd to dismiss my experiences as a mystic as only in my head, while believing my experiences in other states of consciousness as real. It simply isn't very logical to me. I either live in an imaginary world all the time, or a real one all the time, or a real one that I can't fully know because I am too limited (I bet on option #3).

    In my case, as a mystic, if #1 is true then you all, myself, my society, my world, and my God are all equally figments of an imagination that doesn't really exist. If #2 is true, then you all, myself, my society, my world, and my God all exist exactly as I "sense" them. If #3 is true, then it's what I do with these things that matters, as I can never know the "real" you, me, society, or God.

    The arguments about mystics all speaking the same language being evidence for "all in our head" qualities of our experiences is no more valid than the argument that such unity is evidence for response to the same Divine Being. Both require belief. Neither are proven. That (some) human brains have the capacity for mystical experience doesn't mean that it is not a response to external stimuli (or internal stimuli, if God is part of or within us). That is like saying that human brains and eyes have the capacity for 3D vision but some other animals do not, so three dimensions are really just a figment of the mind and vision center. More to the point, some cultures do not describe color beyond black/white/red. So is color a "real" thing or an imagined thing? In our heads or in the rods and cones in our eyes? The biological capacity to experience something doesn't indicate a total independence from response to a real environment, be it social, physical, or spiritual/energetic.

    If my experience of God feels as real as my experience of my husband, my dog, or my colleague... and certainly more real than my experience of you all- who are simply (for the most part) a bunch of words on a virtual space (and so not really existing outside my mind and a social construction)... why would I privilege the "realness" of some entities and not others?
     
  4. path_of_one

    path_of_one Embracing the Mystery

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    Not really. This concept has been heavily debated among anthropologists and mostly tossed out. And all this by a field that is predominantly filled with atheists.

    It is not just an issue to theists. It is an issue in science.
     
  5. Tao_Equus

    Tao_Equus Interfaith Forums

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    Its not really within the remit of anthropology though. There is ample neurological evidence however. Quite aside from that Ruby has explained himself very well and his reasoning is absolutely sound and to my mind very simply so. Earl uses a device to get round that but that is all it is in this case, a device of avoidance.

    tao
     
  6. RubySera_Martin

    RubySera_Martin Well-Known Member

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    This is beyond my comprehension. People on the internet acquire just as real personalities for me as do the people in "real life." Tone of voice, attitude toward others--these things come through in choice of words and patterns of interaction and are the "stuff of life" so far as I am concerned. "God" is the same. The problem is when there is NO evidence of his existence. See my Post 60 (I think) for my descriptions of what I expect of God's demonstration of existing.

    Q, I saw your post but see no demonstration on your part of having read any of the stuff I referenced so I cannot take your answer seriously. Sorry. I think I provided solid evidence for my position. Your post describes the general approach of sociology as opposed to the specific items I think I mention.
     
  7. earl

    earl ?

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    Ruby, I am amazed at how you draw conclusions about me that my own words have not even justified, (but then I think you just like to look for opportunities to argue:)that is I think you're 1 of those folk that if a person says black, you'll say white even if they never said black in the first place). When in doubt re where I'm coming from, if my words aren't sufficiently clear, you could check the visuals. :) the last words I'll leave you Ruby on this thread are simply may peace be with you, earl
     
  8. earl

    earl ?

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  9. path_of_one

    path_of_one Embracing the Mystery

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    Sorry; I was under the impression that a whole field of scientists who do feel it is in the jurisdiction of anthropology counted for something. I see now that as long as your ideas agree with Ruby's, science and academia count for nothing in your mind, since you two agree and the rest of the world should simply follow suit or be "avoiding" the truth you've so aptly found.

    :rolleyes:

    Forgive me if I remain partial to the realm of academia and science, and think any discipline can continue to explore the matter as they deem necessary.

    As FYI, anthropology is the holistic study of the human being, and so incorporates neuroscience and biological data. Materialist reductionism is not only debated in anthropology, but also in biology, ecology, and the natural sciences. There is a very big literature on the subject, if you care to read it. But generally, from what I've seen, you don't care to seriously read viewpoints with which you disagree, even if they come from your beloved scientific mode of inquiry.

    Eh, I'll stick with the realm of academic and scientific inquiry, myself. I am not saying Ruby does not have her strong points, but I don't think she's necessarily agreeing with reductionism (as you think she is) either. Neuroscience studies how the brain functions, not what external stimuli are causing such functioning. I've looked at some of these issues more than you know, and my ideas are not founded on fluff. But, as I disagree with you, I am sure you'll see my thoughts as simply "avoiding" the issue. Fortunately, real science takes criticism of such poor theory more seriously.
     
  10. path_of_one

    path_of_one Embracing the Mystery

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    Yes, but you are defining the terms of evidence. Anyone can define them differently.

    I have exactly the same amount (if not more) evidence in my own life of God's existence as the existence of you, Tao, earl, and all these internet folks. I have a bunch of communications, some amount of sentiment, some guesses about personality. I do experience a tone of voice, an attitude toward myself... of God (or I should say, of manifestations of God). And I have experiences that are far more real and memorable of God than of any of you (no offense, I do love y'all).

    Except none of you have ever been here with me in meditation, in times of distress, and so forth. I've never gone out of body and found you guys. You seem to pretty much exist only in this little space in a virtual world, which for all the world seems like it could be all in my head and a visual illusion.

    Just because you have defined certain terms for God's existence and found them lacking in your own life does not negate my terms for God's existence and their reality in my own life. This is my point. Most of the time, atheists rest their case on their own definitions and their own lack of evidence, or alternatively, as Tao is trying to do, on the existence of neurological wiring that supports experience of God. But both arguments are fundamentally faulty and both are not scientifically valid.

    You can't comprehend my world where God is as real as you are, and I can't comprehend a world where God is not present at all. This is why I'm generally in accord with option #3- my world is as real to me as yours is to you, but arguing about whose world is the "real" real one is pointless and not scientific (and also has little practical value). If anything, we've learned that humans view things through the lens of culture, of personality, of neurological wiring (which differs in different people), and so forth-- so we construct the reality we experience, whether it includes God or not. This has little bearing on whether the "real" reality has God or doesn't, has you virtual people or doesn't, and so forth... well, it does in a way if some ideas from quantum mechanics is correct, but that is an aside that probably should not enter the equation here. My point is that "real" reality for some folks includes a world that has no color blue or green, whereas for others of us we see those colors in the sky and trees. Whose world is real? Is it simply for the Western elite to determine, or does the whole world get a say? Do some cultures and societies have the only valid ways of knowing and seeing reality, or do all humans get an equal say in what their worlds consist of?
     
  11. RubySera_Martin

    RubySera_Martin Well-Known Member

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    Do you allow atheists equal say in this or only theists? I ask because you descibed how you think atheists define God and how the world looks to atheists. What you wrote did not resonate with me at all and I am an athiest. Your challenge about "equal say" coming on the back of that sort of catches me by surprise. Thus, I wonder whether you allow me an equal say in what my world consists of or if you only allow this right to theists....

    Earl, thank you for wishing me peace. I don't know what I want with more than I already have but thanks anyway. And if you don't want to talk with me, that is fine, I guess. It seems you feel offended by something I said. I am sorry about that, though I haven't a clue what it is you are offended about.
     
  12. earl

    earl ?

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    That link I provided as to evidence re the separability of consciousness and brain function seems quite supportive of the point of view that consciousness functions through the brain but is not to use a term used in this debate simply an epiphenomenon of brain. Rather, it seems to support 1 commonly used analogy in the mind-brain discussion: the brain is like a radio receiver for mind, et al. Some folks' receivers function better or more clearly than others and certainly "broken" receivers really scramble the messages. Now for my speculations re to Path's point. Path did not mention it here but has elsewhere here that in addition to her "visionary" tendencies, she is rather psychic and comes from a family of pyschics. There is plenty of suggestive evidence that psychic ability is at least partially genetically determined. Psychics, of course, seem able to sense things most of us can't. If the brain is simply the interface between mind and the material-physical sensory data, mind functioning through brain, it is quite possible that some folks inherit brains more capable of more "sensitive" attunement to realms not otherwise "receivable-" wish I got some of your stations in Path.:D The suggestive evidence for a natural psychic ability of very young children which seemingly disapears with age-maturational changes in the brain-further seems to support a hypothesis that the "brain interface" affects our sensitivity to data beyond ordinary physical sensory experience. So, then, if Path says she grooves to a different tune, perhaps that music is actually playing "out there.":) earl
     
  13. path_of_one

    path_of_one Embracing the Mystery

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    I was describing a process through which you defined the evidence for God, and then claimed God did not exist. I pointed out that others could define the evidence differently and so claim God does exist. I don't see how that is affirming either viewpoint. I argue, rather, for a neutral and unbiased view that we all have limited capacity to perceive reality and so theism and atheism are both equally relevant viewpoints.

    Because of this, I think I am allowing equal say to all people and agreeing that all perceptions of reality are likely to be because of the intersection of neurology, culture, and some sort of "real" world. For each individual, their own "reality" is the most relevant one by necessity, but we can learn from each other. What I argue against is the tendency among predominantly first world atheists to suppose that their perception of the "real" world is correct, that others are less enlightened or under some sort of illusion.

    I never said that described you, but it does describe many atheists I know (and I do know many). It certainly could describe Tao, given his history of communication with me. Even so, I think Tao and I have had great conversations. We rile each other up in a mostly friendly manner and I certain don't seek to silence him (or others) as much as to assert the philosophy, logic, and science behind my own viewpoints. I daresay, based on Tao's other conversations with me, that he'd prefer a world with little religious diversity (basically, one where people everywhere are atheist). I prefer a world filled with diversity, including atheism. I fail to see how that is an attempt to silence anyone or to treat people unequally.

    I hope that explains my view. I welcome atheistic viewpoints as much as any, but I draw the line at anyone who claims to have The Truth about anything, and thus seeks to silence other views, or to ridicule them, or to assume a position of cultural or intellectual superiority. Just as Western Christianities often do this, so too does Western atheisms.
     
  14. Snoopy

    Snoopy Well-Known Member

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    Yeah I like that too; haven't seen that idea before: having your no-cake and eating it. :rolleyes:

    s.
     
  15. Snoopy

    Snoopy Well-Known Member

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  16. earl

    earl ?

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    Tao keeps God honest. He'll be there.;):D earl
     
  17. lunamoth

    lunamoth Episcopalian

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    Reminds me of a saying, "May you have two feet in heaven before the devil knows you're dead."

    So, that may be kind of ambiguous (if I got it right), but I always interpretted it to mean once in heaven you have squatter's rights. :D
     
  18. RubySera_Martin

    RubySera_Martin Well-Known Member

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    Yes, that clarifies your position, path-of-one, thank you.
     
  19. Tao_Equus

    Tao_Equus Interfaith Forums

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    POO,

    In an above reply to Ruby, (sorry Ruby for inferring you were male in an earlier post :p ), you said that my view tended toward reducing diversity in culture. And that I somehow supported such a notion. I would like to reply to that.

    First and foremost my belief is that we are now very much a Global Community. As such we are in need of a set of values on which we can all agree. My opposition to religions stems primarily from the recognition of that idea. In a sense my atheism and my argument against religions are separate matters.

    For a future where Global harmony is a fact, where all nations are at peace, I believe it is an absolute requirement that religions hold no political stage. This is the opposite of the current situation where religion is for the common man a culturally imposed artificial separation from his fellow man. I believe few "leaders" have a religious bone in their bodies but most are all to quick to harness this most effective and well proven method of controlling populations. Currently religion and politics are inseparable on the world stage and the argument is that because so many people "believe" religion has every right to political representation. And that is a difficult point to argue against.

    If we want a peaceful and progressive future for our children there has to be some hard truths faced. Do you want to live in a world where the Mullahs or evangelical pastors dictate to you what you can or cannot wear, paint, read or write? Of course not and such a world will never come about. The drives of the people toward such a dystopia will always breed opposition such as mine and so we would have no peace. So the only way toward lasting global peace is by removing religion from the political equation. Despite my vigorous opposition to the established super-faiths I do recognise that for most individuals the message of their faith is one of peace. It is what happens to it when it grows into a mass movement of political influence that concerns me.

    I am an atheist. This makes it easy for me to look in on faith as a totality. Doing so I have no conflict with the individual desire, need, compulsion or right of any individual to interpret their thoughts as they wish. In a world free from institutionalised religion we would not see less diversity but more. People freed from towing the dogmatic line of the political religions would create and describe a richer and far more honest expression of their existential and spiritual experience. So I refute that I am against diversity, quite the opposite is true.

    Its seems so often here that people confuse my opposition to religion as an opposition the belief itself. It happens so often that it must be at least partly my fault. But also I feel there is this tendency amongst some to interpret what is a dialogue against the institutions of religion as a personal attack. The psychology of this has barely been touched upon yet, and I was hoping it would be here, and until it is I can see little chance of real headway being made in mutual understanding. I am not an atheist because I do not understand spirituality. I feel I am an atheist because I do understand spirituality. I have yet to see anyone here of a spiritual leaning actually accept that. The psychology of that is revealing.

    Finally, and I think not for the first time, I say that I always welcome your replies and never ever take them as a personal affront. Unlike some I know what a debate is and am not afraid of any questions or answers.

    The resident to55er,


    tao
     
  20. Tao_Equus

    Tao_Equus Interfaith Forums

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    :D Good aint it!
     

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