Why I believe in God

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Patrick Fowke
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Post by Patrick Fowke » Fri Dec 19, 2008 11:51 am

bipedalhumanoid wrote: But who is the ultimate arbitrator of Action A - you or the laws of nature? Who? This is a loaded question. Why should there be a "who"?
OK "what" then? What physical component is the final arbitrator? And how does this physical component have autonomy over the physical laws of nature?
bipedalhumanoid wrote: All of these questions assume that free will exists. That's an unsubstantiated premise. You should consider the following possibilities...
True. But this isn't necessarily an argument confined to belief (in the divine) versus non-belief. Many non-believers believe in free will. Just as many believers don't believe in free will (i.e in the area of Protestant Calvinism / predestination, Roman Catholic tradition of janenism - although the latter is considered heretical by the establised R.C. Church).
bipedalhumanoid wrote:

There are good arguments on either side, but in neither case do we need to invoke the supernatural to explain it.
I am not talking about 'explanations' or suggesting proofs or certainties. But the fact that we could have free will opens up the possibility of the existence of God, rather than assuming that we necessarily need to deny, outright, the possibility of God.
bipedalhumanoid
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Post by bipedalhumanoid » Fri Dec 19, 2008 11:55 am

Patrick Fowke wrote:
- "that kind" - I have only been able to describe about 1% (the only way I can express my inability to communicate what I believe to be a metaphysical experience) of the experience (experiences in fact).

- that leaves about 99% beyond the diagnosis of a neurological expert.
I don't really understand what you're trying to get at there. I'm talking about experience that the subjects describe in the same way you have. As Religious, spiritual, metaphysical.
Patrick Fowke wrote: - even with the 1% that a neurological expert has to go, how can the neurological expert be certain that the "diagnosis" actually correlates with the "symptoms" described by the person who has had the experience? At the end of the day such an experience (experiences) is not a malady. In fact the person (I) feels completely different, physically, afterwards: refreshed, energized, relaxed, feels more healthy.
Refreshed, energised, relaxed etc are all terms I would use to describe experiences I have had post meditation. Those experiences are also linked to the same phenomenon.
Patrick Fowke wrote: What exactly does the neurological expert base his / her diagnosis on (and how much of the diagnosis is based on theory?)
The neurologist stimulates the temporal lobe using electro-magnetism; monitors the effect this has on the brain using MRI and asks the subject what they experienced during the period of stimulus. The subjects claim to have been at one with god, at one with the universe, to have been with Jesus Christ; Muhammad etc.

I don't really understand what more you need.
Patrick Fowke wrote: Don't forget that the best I could compare my experience was to the quote I gave by Shakespeare. To me it was something 99% more in the area of the poetic (or the metaphysical) than the epileptic / neurological (or physical). When poets evoke the metaphysical, is that something that can be put down to the neurological too? Is human "love" something that can be reduced to a neurological explanation?
I don't really understand the question. Are you of the belief that poetry requires a supernatural explanation?
Patrick Fowke wrote: Do you believe in the metaphysical at all (many non-believers do, in particular, Bhuddists, although without attributing divine origin to such experiences - nevertheless metaphysical as opposed to material).
I don't believe in any supernatural phenomenon because I have been presented with no evidence to suggest it exists. I'd need to see evidence and personal subjective experience doesn't qualify.
Patrick Fowke wrote: What is beauty in the natural world (where there is no functional reason for there to be such a thing). What is human wit, humour, personality, and so on?
You've lost me. What does any of this have to do with anything? These are all subjective things. There is no such thing as objective beauty. What you find beautiful is your opinion. Human wit, humour, personality are all subject to the brain. A neurosurgeon can remove your personality surgically. The procedure is called a frontal lobotomy.
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Post by bipedalhumanoid » Fri Dec 19, 2008 12:03 pm

Patrick Fowke wrote:
OK "what" then? What physical component is the final arbitrator? And how does this physical component have autonomy over the physical laws of nature?
If I said I did not know would that add any weight what so ever to your explanation of these things? I'd also point out that 'god' as an explanation of the unmoved mover requires you to invoke the idea of something existing for eternity... so why is it such a leap to consider the possibility of matter existing for eternity. Matter, being a much simpler, far less complex thing than an intelligent being surely has a better chance of existing.
Patrick Fowke wrote: I am not talking about 'explanations' or suggesting proofs or certainties. But the fact that we could have free will opens up the possibility of the existence of God, rather than assuming that we necessarily need to deny, outright, the possibility of God.
What about Ockham's razor? You're invoking an unnecessary explanatory concept (supernatural free will) to open up the 'possibility' of another unnecessary explanatory concept (god). That simply makes no sense.
adamd164
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Post by adamd164 » Fri Dec 19, 2008 12:21 pm

Patrick Fowke wrote: OK "what" then? What physical component is the final arbitrator? And how does this physical component have autonomy over the physical laws of nature?
Just on this point - what makes you think that there must be a "final arbitrator" in the brain? Why can our actions not be the result of numerous processes in different regions of the brain, working in concert? There isn't necessarily a place where the "buck stops" - it's a matter of philosophical debate.

I can recommend Daniel C. Dennett's Consciousness Explained if you want to see what a strictly materialistic theory on consciousness involves.
Last edited by adamd164 on Fri Dec 19, 2008 12:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
nozzferrahhtoo
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Post by nozzferrahhtoo » Fri Dec 19, 2008 12:23 pm

I agree with robdonn that I’m envious of the OPs experience. I’ve indulged in lucid dreaming, a hard skill to achieve and to maintain, but have achieved levels of pleasure and transcendence such as described.

The problem with some people is they don’t feel they can qualify such experiences without religious doctrine. Religion tends to be the only game in town in qualifying and quantifying such experiences. They do not “separate the numinous and transcendent from the divine”.

Instead what happens is they quantify the experiences based on the context in which they were looking for them, or in the context of the religion they were brought up to believe.

If Mohammad goes into a cave looking for Allah and he has a personal moment of transcendence he will quantify that as being a perfect proof of that which he was searching for.

Those not looking for anything, but who have the kind of mental chemistry that is particularly labile, achieve one of these moments while not looking for it and they tend to quantify it in terms of the religion they were brought up with.

As a case in point we all know the story of the human genome project leader who, while walking in the forest, was overcome with awe at a frozen waterfall forming three streams. This personal moment of awe and beauty brought him to his knees and he gave himself to Jesus. A complete non-sequitur.

Alas that is what the opening poster describes. He has a make up that is particularly labile and prone to such experience. However, instead of trusting himself with quantifying that experience, he attributed it to something higher than himself. Again a complete non-sequitur.

It adds nothing to that experience to assume it came from a god and it would take nothing away from it to assume it did not.

Either way we can hope he has such experiences again as these are the moments we should all be living to achieve. I wish him well and in the words of Dave Allen “May your god go with you”.
Patrick Fowke
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Post by Patrick Fowke » Fri Dec 19, 2008 12:25 pm

bipedalhumanoid wrote: I don't really understand what you're trying to get at there. I'm talking about experience that the subjects describe in the same way you have. As Religious, spiritual, metaphysical.
My main point is that such experiences are, largely, subjective in nature. Science is about focusing on the objective evidence or symptoms. It would be largely impossible for a scientist (or neurologist) to diagnose the evidence because it is largely subjective as opposed to being objective or physically tangible.
bipedalhumanoid wrote: Refreshed, energised, relaxed etc are all terms I would use to describe experiences I have had post meditation. Those experiences are also linked to the same phenomenon.
I have done meditation, myself, and no doubt experienced similar sensations to you or others. But the metaphysical experiences were quite different to my experiences of meditation.
bipedalhumanoid wrote: The neurologist stimulates the temporal lobe using electro-magnetism; monitors the effect this has on the brain using MRI and asks the subject what they experienced during the period of stimulus. The subjects claim to have been at one with god, at one with the universe, to have been with Jesus Christ; Muhammad etc.
But how much of this is based on theory? You can set up an experiment, attempt a diagnosis and so on. And come to a conclusion. But until some evidence can be produced that experiment worked, then the conclusion is mere theory. In other words how do you validate the conclusion of your (the neurologists) findings. How do you know that it 'worked?' That is as important as the actual scientific method which you describe. Unless there is some kind of evidence that the experiment or scientific method 'worked' then it is mere theory.
bipedalhumanoid wrote: I don't really understand the question. Are you of the belief that poetry requires a supernatural explanation?.
It opens up the possibility of, yes (not 'proof' of). What do believe the nature of poetry / the poetic is?
bipedalhumanoid wrote: I don't believe in any supernatural phenomenon
With respect that is not what I asked. My point was specifically about "the metaphysical" (many non-believers believe in the existence of the metaphyiscal, Bhuddists being a good case in point, as well as many non-believers outside the Bhuddist tradition).
bipedalhumanoid wrote: because I have been presented with no evidence to suggest it exists.
What do you mean by "evidence". I mean there is no "evidence" for many important theories in quantum physics. How could "evidence" be produced, for example, for multiple dimensions (an important contemporary subject of quantum physics.
Also, science (the human discpline of learning most associated with "evidence" obviously) doesn't require evidence in experimental science (Faraday, for example) but whatever works.
What value do you place in Philosophy where "evidence" is absent otherwise the subject would no longer be philosophy but science.
What value do you place in the Arts which is about the poetic, the human condition and so on as opposed to "evidence".
bipedalhumanoid wrote: There is no such thing as objective beauty. What you find beautiful is your opinion.
Aesthetics is one of the most important branches of philosophy. It has been a central subject for most of the prominent philosophers from the time of Plato / Aristotle to now. Yes, beauty can be in the eye of the beholder. I accept that argument. But the important thing is that most human beings accept the idea of beauty (I am talking about beauty that has no functional purpose i.e unlike the beauty in the tail of a peacock or whatever - which is designed to attract a mate etc ..). Where does this idea of beauty exist? This is related to Plato's idea of the forms. That there exist ideas outside the natural world. Ideas such as, for example, the perfect circle. The perfect circle doesn't exist, but we are all able to imagine it. This is related to the nomainl truths of Mathematics. Where do these truths come from? Where do the laws of physics come from?
Will stop there ..
Last edited by Patrick Fowke on Fri Dec 19, 2008 12:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
adamd164
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Post by adamd164 » Fri Dec 19, 2008 12:29 pm

Patrick Fowke wrote:What do you mean by "evidence". I mean there is no "evidence" for many important theories in quantum physics. How could "evidence" be produced, for example, for multiple dimensions (an important contemporary subject of quantum physics.
Also, science (the human discpline of learning most associated with "evidence" obviously) doesn't require evidence in experimental science (Faraday, for example) but whatever works.
What value do you place in Philosophy where "evidence" is absent otherwise the subject would no longer be philosophy but science.
What value do you place in the Arts which is about the poetic, the human condition and so on as opposed to "evidence".
Patrick - I replied to you in the logical fallacies forum on this topic. Perhaps you could address that before continuing to use the argument? I think it's only fair.
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Post by Patrick Fowke » Fri Dec 19, 2008 12:40 pm

bipedalhumanoid wrote:[ If I said I did not know would that add any weight what so ever to your explanation of these things?
- My focus is not to prove anything but rather to lay open the possibility of God (with many scenarios building up to an overall picture of the possibility of God, that makes the possibility of God more likely than just looking at this subject from one or two or a handful of areas, only).
bipedalhumanoid wrote: I'd also point out that 'god' as an explanation of the unmoved mover requires you to invoke the idea of something existing for eternity... so why is it such a leap to consider the possibility of matter existing for eternity.
- true. The idea of a timeless God is extraordinary. But the idea of timeless matter, to me at least, is just even more extraordinary.
bipedalhumanoid wrote: Matter, being a much simpler, far less complex thing than an intelligent being surely has a better chance of existing.
- if black holes, string theory, the poetic, human love, beauty, and so on can exist, why draw the line at a higher being?
bipedalhumanoid wrote: What about Ockham's razor? You're invoking an unnecessary explanatory concept (supernatural free will) to open up the 'possibility' of another unnecessary explanatory concept (god). That simply makes no sense.
"unnecssary" - why so? My experience of what I believe to be divine has brought me about a millions time more happiness, peace and so on than before I was really a believer. It isn't "unnecssary" to me.
Patrick Fowke
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Post by Patrick Fowke » Fri Dec 19, 2008 12:47 pm

Hi nozzferrahhtoo


Sorry for not giving you the attention I would like but got work to do.

Just like to say that my belief in God is not absolute (although strong). Nor is it just based on these experiences mentioned above.

I strongly believe in critical analysis, and have probably spent as much time scrutinizing such experiences as I have experiencing them.

My belief in God is holistic. I believe in God for a variety of reasons. Rather like a patchwork of reasons that make up a large quilt (with many gaps, unfortunately, in the patchwork ..).

Sorry, that's the best I can do for now.
Patrick Fowke
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Post by Patrick Fowke » Fri Dec 19, 2008 12:48 pm

adamd164 wrote:
Patrick - I replied to you in the logical fallacies forum on this topic. Perhaps you could address that before continuing to use the argument? I think it's only fair.
Thanks Adam. Will go over to have a look.
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