Why I believe in God

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lostexpectation
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Post by lostexpectation » Wed Dec 24, 2008 3:10 pm

Patrick Fowke wrote:Washington
washington wrote:Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz........I'm still waiting for an explanation of the 'Road to Damascus' incident!.....was it a bimp on ze hed?....not now Cato!..........Happy Atheist Xmas to all....
The following isn't an attempt at an argument, either scientific or philosophical. Rather it's me trying to put on a writer's/poet's hat to try and describe / evoke the Road-To-Damascus-like experience.

The problem is I'm not a very good writer / poet. But anyway, give it a go.

I was aged 17. Studying for my exams. Lightbulb moment: 'there's more to life than exams. Why get so uptight about them?' So went outside to do one of my favourite passtimes (mainly to unwind / relax): sketch.
Found an old building to sketch, and began to sketch. And then it happened.
Immediately the view in front of me began to alter. I could see an astonishing beauty before me that before I hadn't seen. I remember seeing a golden hue reflected in the snow, and elsewhere.
Then (or at the same time, can't remember) felt a positive, warm, crisp, electric, exicting energy flood through my body. Worry, stress, guilt disappeared in a flash like cobwebs being blasted away.
I experienced complete harmony of thought and feeling - harmony of mind, body and spirit.
And then I experienced this sensation of being loved (sounds vague, I know) and of wanting to love others (a love more of just being in harmony with others and sharing joy).
None of this seemed strange or weird. It just seemed right.
I had extraordinary dreams all the way through the night.
Overall I experienced intense happiness and peace.
pretentious much :)
test
JH
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Post by JH » Wed Dec 24, 2008 3:19 pm

Patrick Fowke wrote:I had extraordinary dreams all the way through the night.
Overall I experienced intense happiness and peace.
What you've described sums up perfectly an experience I had when I was about 22. A feeling of intense happiness, an electric energy flowing through my body, and visual beauty I can't even really describe; my senses of hearing and sight became one, music turned into shapes and colours before my eyes. I felt nothing but love towards the people around me.

Not caused by god, or any divine intervention. Simply a tiny amount of lysergic acid diethylamide. :)
Patrick Fowke
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Post by Patrick Fowke » Wed Dec 24, 2008 5:16 pm

lostexpectation wrote:
pretentious much :)
I stand by every word of that. I didn't make it up. That is the best way I can describe this experience. You can call me a lousy communicator / writer but not pretentious (at least on that).
Last edited by Patrick Fowke on Wed Dec 24, 2008 5:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Patrick Fowke
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Post by Patrick Fowke » Wed Dec 24, 2008 5:17 pm

JH wrote: Not caused by god, or any divine intervention. Simply a tiny amount of lysergic acid diethylamide. :)
No. I hadn't taken any substances.
JH
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Post by JH » Wed Dec 24, 2008 8:51 pm

Patrick Fowke wrote:
JH wrote: Not caused by god, or any divine intervention. Simply a tiny amount of lysergic acid diethylamide. :)
No. I hadn't taken any substances.
I was pointing out that the brain is capable of doing unexpected things under the right conditions. If I'd been standing in a shed and started seeing hallucinations and experiencing feelings of 'electricity' in my body, I'd narrow down the causes something like this;

1) Mind-altering substances, or the after effects (either with or without my knowledge) - LSD, alcohol, carbon monoxide from a boiler in the corner of the shed, vapor from a leaking oil tank etc.

2) Physical anomaly, e.g. lack of oxygen to the brain, mild stroke, low blood pressure, etc.

Logically the chances of the above being the cause of my hallucinations greatly outweigh (by the order of one-to-infinity) the chances of a non-existent being choosing my location at the exact time I'm standing there to change the laws of physics (Jim) for my own personal Road to Damascus experience.
Patrick Fowke
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Post by Patrick Fowke » Wed Dec 24, 2008 10:15 pm

JH
JH wrote: I was pointing out that the brain is capable of doing unexpected things under the right conditions. If I'd been standing in a shed and started seeing hallucinations
Misdiagnosis: I didn't "hallucinate".

Also, you are watering down the physical diagnoses to

"and experiencing feelings of 'electricity' in my body"

It wasn't quite (nearly, probably) 'electricity' either.

But the real point is that you leave out the whole metaphysical experience. Part of the problem is how do you communicate metaphysical experiences? You can begin to have a shot if you are Shakespeare, or Donne, or Yeats, or a poet like that. But I am not a poet.

Do you believe there is any value in peotry? In the arts? Music? Other than mere physical stimulation?

What is the value in Shakespeare, for example? What is the poetic? What is the poetic in Shakespeare, for example?

Do you believe that all existence can, in theory, be diagnosed and / or expressed in some scientific / mathematical formula?
JH wrote: Logically the chances of the above being the cause of my hallucinations greatly outweigh (by the order of one-to-infinity) the chances of a non-existent being choosing my location at the exact time I'm standing there to change the laws of physics (Jim) for my own personal Road to Damascus experience.
"Logically" - the above sentence seems more subjective than logical. How do you justify / qualifying using that word here?
JH wrote:

(by the order of one-to-infinity)
I don't understand the implications of this. Are you suggesting you absolutely don't believe in the divine, or that the existence of the divine is extremely improbable?
JH
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Post by JH » Thu Dec 25, 2008 2:46 am

Patrick Fowke wrote:Misdiagnosis: I didn't "hallucinate".
Patrick Fowke wrote:Immediately the view in front of me began to alter.
You either experienced an hallucination, or there was something physically wrong with your eyes. Whatever was happening happened inside your head. Unless you are claiming the objects and light you were viewing changed of their own accord, defying known laws of physics.

I'm only pointing out that I would appraise the most obvious explanations first. Did you even consider the other possibilities before jumping to the conclusion that it was something 'spiritual' that happened?
Patrick Fowke wrote:Do you believe there is any value in peotry? In the arts? Music? Other than mere physical stimulation?
Essentially that's what it is, sound waves hit our eardrums, light hits our retina, our brain does the rest; it interprets these sights and sounds stimulating different parts of our brain triggering memories, releasing chemicals (endorphins, adrenaline, dopamine etc.), evoking emotion and physical responses.
Patrick Fowke wrote:
JH wrote: Logically the chances of the above being the cause of my hallucinations greatly outweigh (by the order of one-to-infinity) the chances of a non-existent being choosing my location at the exact time I'm standing there to change the laws of physics (Jim) for my own personal Road to Damascus experience.
"Logically" - the above sentence seems more subjective than logical. How do you justify / qualifying using that word here?
I was using the word 'logic' to imply that I would think logically about the situation; what is it that is causing this effect on my brain? - I wouldn't even consider a supernatural cause. Just because something can't be explained immediately doesn't mean it's caused by a divine being.

If I see a light in the sky, I don't immediately say 'That's a UFO' - I think about it for a while. Even if I can't figure it out at first, the UFO explanation would be further down the list of possibilities.
Patrick Fowke wrote:
JH wrote:
(by the order of one-to-infinity)
I don't understand the implications of this. Are you suggesting you absolutely don't believe in the divine, or that the existence of the divine is extremely improbable?
Both.
Patrick Fowke
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Post by Patrick Fowke » Thu Dec 25, 2008 10:34 pm

JH wrote:
You either experienced an hallucination, or there was something physically wrong with your eyes. .
I simply don't think you have nearly enough evidence to make such a prescriptive diagnosis as this.
JH wrote:
Whatever was happening happened inside your head. Unless you are claiming the objects and light you were viewing changed of their own accord, defying known laws of physics.
As I said before, it was, ultimately, a metaphsical experience not a material / physical experience.
JH wrote: Did you even consider the other possibilities before jumping to the conclusion that it was something 'spiritual' that happened?
"Even" - with respect, you know next-to-little about me nor of the expereince to use this word in reference to me.
JH wrote:
jumping
You assume that I "jumped" to a conclusion. As it is I scrutinized this experience many times over much time (as discussed earlier on in this thread) - as I scrutinize every inch of my belief in the divine / Christianity - because I believe that blind faith isn't Christian (St Paul: "you have to work out your salvation."

Considering you hardly know me, don't really know that much about the experinece (compared to me, the person who experienced it), and so on, I think if anyone has "jumped" to conclusions it is you, not me.
Patrick Fowke wrote:Do you believe there is any value in peotry? In the arts? Music? Other than mere physical stimulation?
JH wrote: I wouldn't even consider a supernatural cause.
That sounds like an absolutist position to me.
JH wrote:
Just because something can't be explained immediately doesn't mean it's caused by a divine being.
I would agree with that. What's the got to do with anything I have said?
JH wrote:

JH: 'both'
This seems illogical to me. Either you hold an absolutist point-of-view or you don't (at least at the same time - unless your views change over time?).

Seems to me that I am willing to entertain both positions: that the experience was material in origin / that it was divine in origin. And after much reflection, I have come to the conclusion that it was, (almost) certainly, divine in origin. You seem to entertain no other possibility other than it can't have been divine in origin.
JH
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Post by JH » Fri Dec 26, 2008 1:58 am

Actually, scratch that last post.

If you're happy believing what happened to you was 'divine', then good luck to you.
Patrick Fowke
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Post by Patrick Fowke » Fri Dec 26, 2008 2:09 am

JH wrote:Actually, scratch that last post.

If you're happy believing what happened to you was 'divine', then good luck to you.
Good luck to you too / enjoy the holiday break.
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