Why I believe in God

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brianmmulligan
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Post by brianmmulligan » Tue Dec 30, 2008 2:00 pm

Patrick Fowke wrote:Brian

Non-fuctional beauty (in the natural world)

Inanimate objects such as the moon, a snowflake, a raindrop, can be beautiful - there is no functional purpose in their beauty.
Is this your opnion or have you some evience for this? Have you considered any alternative theories that might suggest that perception of beauty in these views may have a functional purpose?

Finding it hard to think of such a theory??

Well that means there must be none!

Just kidding. We all know that just because we can't think of an alternative explanation, it does not mean that there is none. (Don't we?)

How about this evolutionary psychology explanation of the perception of beauty in landscapes (not my own):

The human mind has evolved to find landscapes with lush vegetation and water very pleasant as these are the types of landscapes more likely to contain food.

Not to bad, eh? Now how could we set up tests to give us further information on the probability of this theory reflecting reality?
Brian
brianmmulligan
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Post by brianmmulligan » Tue Dec 30, 2008 2:18 pm

Patrick Fowke wrote:Smiffy

To try and answer your questions / points
smiffy wrote:
brianmmulligan wrote:To illustrate the answer, you could use the experience you had that you suggest was metaphysical. Tell us of some of the alternative explanations you considered and how you came to your final determination.
.
Firstly, when I had the experience, I was thinking to myself: this is extraordinary, extraordinary, otherwordly (not: "I wonder what the material explanation for this is"). But then afterwards, and for many years, I began to scrutinize the experience. Trying to think of some physical reason for all of this. I couldn't. It is still as extraordinary, extraordinary, otherwordly, now as it was then. The more I consider it, the more sure I am that it was divine in origin.
As the good teacher I like to think I am, I have to give you a mark and feedback on this answer:

20%
Mostly for effort, because I do believe you when you said you tried to find alternative explanations.
However, a basic flaw in logic: just because you can't think of an alternative explanation doesn't mean one does not exist. (I'm presuming from your response that you could not think of any material explanations at all, as opposed to being able to think of them and then proceeding to discount them). Now, I think you have come to the right place for this. You have been supplied with a number of such alternative explanations. The next step is to devise a method of testing all of them to see which is most likely to be true.

You can see from the above that as a teacher, I'm more concerned with using the correct methods than getting the right answer. (My god, I am patronising).
Brian
Patrick Fowke
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Post by Patrick Fowke » Tue Dec 30, 2008 2:40 pm

Brian
brianmmulligan wrote:

However, a basic flaw in logic: just because you can't think of an alternative explanation doesn't mean one does not exist.
I don't think there's any flaw in logic here (I never said / suggested I was absolute in my belief about anything - if I was absolute, then yes, but I am not). I don't make the claim that because I "can't think of an alternative explanation doesn't mean one does not exist" - (you attribute that claim to me). And I don't claim your approach or anyone else's for that matter is flawed in logic either.

I might be wrong (or right). You could be right (or wrong). But, with respect, how far have you entertained the possibility that it could be divine in origin. I'm sure you've heard / know of many skeptical explanations for what happened. But here you've got someone (me) who claims to have had such experiences. Instead of just approaching this from a purely skeptical point-of-view (as it appears so to me, I might be wrong), why not, also, approach it from the point-of-view that I might actually be accurate in my final assessment of what happened. Why not try and entertain that point-of-view and see where it may lead?
brianmmulligan wrote:

The next step is to devise a method of testing all of them to see which is most likely to be true.
What sort of method? And why do you believe that sort of method is the ultimate arbitrator of what is truth of not - of what is real or not? Etc ..
brianmmulligan wrote:

You can see from the above that as a teacher, I'm more concerned with using the correct methods than getting the right answer.
"Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he learned in school"! - Albert Einstein
brianmmulligan
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Post by brianmmulligan » Tue Dec 30, 2008 5:42 pm

Patrick Fowke wrote:
brianmmulligan wrote:

The next step is to devise a method of testing all of them to see which is most likely to be true.
What sort of method? And why do you believe that sort of method is the ultimate arbitrator of what is truth of not - of what is real or not? Etc ..
A fair question, Patrick, but I'm surprised by your asking it. I would imagine that you would accept that faced with a choice between several different options a person must use some form of reasoning for making a choice. A 'gut feeling' is generally unreliable. It is now obvious from your response that you were not able to think up of possible alternative explanations to your experience and even if you had, you do not have a particular technique for identifying the most plausible. Irrespective of what conclusions you come to it is very hard to take them seriously if the process you use to come to them is not rigourous.

Back to answering your question. The Scientific Method. The roots of this method go back thousands of years, but have been particularly refined in the last 3 or 4 hundred years and have reached a level of reliability to the point where they have not really changed in the last 60 years or more. This method contends that nothing is completely provable, but that certainty increases with the as the weight of evidence increases. Evidence is essentially repeatable measurements and observations. One of the most powerful techniques in the method is that by continuously attempting to disprove your claims and failing you strengthen it. (eg. recent measurements in dark matter - if they turned out to be different, the theory would have been weakened - but they turned out to be bang on - so the theory is strengthened further).

You have asked several times, why we thought this method of reasoning was better than others (even though you did not give an example of any other methods), to which I will answer the following. The Scientific Method has proven over time to be the most reliable way of predicting future event, be it the behaviour of the natural world or man made materials. (It is useful to contrast this with furure predictions with a metaphysical basis). It is this predictive ability that is responsible for the increase in the quality of life over the centuries, including both material and philosophical. It is not necessarily an 'ultimate arbitrator' but it is, by far, the best method ever devised.

So just in case my requests have been lost in the above explanation. Do you have a method of reasoning, comparable to the above method, that would persuade us that your views are in any way reliable?
Brian
Patrick Fowke
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Re:

Post by Patrick Fowke » Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:59 am

Brian
brianmmulligan wrote:
I would imagine that you would accept that faced with a choice between several different options a person must use some form of reasoning for making a choice.
Yes. I would never recommend an absence of reason in any situation. Nor would I recommend 100% reason (a certain percentage of reason, but not 100%) in all situations either, for example: writing a poem; painting a work of art; coming up with new ideas in work, whether that be in science, or business, marketing; choosing whether to get married to someone or not; and so on.
brianmmulligan wrote:
A 'gut feeling' is generally unreliable.
"Gut feeling" is not a phrase I used.

You say is "generally" unreliable. In which cases is it reliable?
brianmmulligan wrote:
"It is now obvious from your response that you were not able to think up of possible alternative explanations to your experience"

- the important thing is, though, that I tried (have you tried / have you entertained the possibility that the experience might have been divine in origin?)
- a logical explanation for this could be that there was no alternative explanation
brianmmulligan wrote:
-The Scientific Method. The roots of this method go back thousands of years, but have been particularly refined in the last 3 or 4 hundred years and have reached a level of reliability to the point where they have not really changed in the last 60 years or more. This method contends that nothing is completely provable, but that certainty increases with the as the weight of evidence increases. Evidence is essentially repeatable measurements and observations. One of the most powerful techniques in the method is that by continuously attempting to disprove your claims and failing you strengthen it. (eg. recent measurements in dark matter - if they turned out to be different, the theory would have been weakened - but they turned out to be bang on - so the theory is strengthened further).
- I wouldn't disagree with your account of the scientific method. But how does all of this tie in with my particular experience? How would you apply what you say here to such an experience? What kind of method would you set up?

You talk of "scientific method", though, as if it must be the ultimate arbitrator of such an occurence. Is science the only arbitrator of what is true / real? If not then what value do you place in philosophy for example?

Most scientists don't believe that science is the ultimate arbitrator of what is true or real. Most scientists would regard science as being about understanding how the natural world works. Many, such as Max Planck (founder of quantum physics and devout Christian) would have argued that science is outside the remit of certain phenomena (i.e the transcendental). Many agnostic scientists would place great value in other areas of learning such as philosophy, or in culture in general, for enlightenment - not science as the ultimate arbitrator of all truth / reality.
brianmmulligan wrote:
You have asked several times, why we thought this method of reasoning was better than others (even though you did not give an example of any other methods), to which I will answer the following. The Scientific Method has proven over me to be the most reliable way of predicting future event, be it the behaviour of the natural world or man made materials.
And I wouldn't dispute this in a million years. I am not suggesting any other method in trying to understand the natural world.

But the difference between your approach and mine is this:

- I am prepared to consider the possibility that it could be either natural or divine in origin. You (appear, at least) prepared to consider the possibility that is natural in origin only. You jump to the conclusion that it was natural in origin, and base your approach / argument around this. Whereas I have been (trying at least) to examine the evidence in a neutral way, and then come to conclusion based on that.
brianmmulligan wrote:
So just in case my requests have been lost in the above explanation. Do you have a method of reasoning, comparable to the above method, that would persuade us that your views are in any way reliable?
Like I have said before, I have tried every reasonable approach (I can think of) to try and come to a natural reason for this experience. You haven't given me any detail, at all, about what sort of model (not debating that you wouldn't use a model - but what particular kind / how would it would relate to this particular case) you would use.
bipedalhumanoid
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Re: Why I believe in God

Post by bipedalhumanoid » Fri Jan 02, 2009 6:14 pm

"The fact of your own existence is the most astonishing fact you will ever have to face. Don’t you ever get used to it." - Richard Dawkins... being shrill and offensive again I suppose.
brianmmulligan
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Re: Re:

Post by brianmmulligan » Fri Jan 02, 2009 6:21 pm

Patrick,

I'm afraid that I will have to bow out of this interchange. My celebration of Christmas and the New Year in having the luxury of time to take part is now drawing to a close. In addition there are a number of points in my last posting that you have either been unable to respond to or chose not to. I'll just draw your attention to these:
Patrick Fowke wrote:
brianmmulligan wrote:
"It is now obvious from your response that you were not able to think up of possible alternative explanations to your experience"

- the important thing is, though, that I tried (have you tried / have you entertained the possibility that the experience might have been divine in origin?)

- a logical explanation for this could be that there was no alternative explanation
Nope. I think you may have missed my little joke. Not being able to think of an alternative explanation tends to indicate a closed mind. I did suggest that if you could not think of an alternative explanation that you use one of the many proposed here and subject it to a rigourous analysis using some sort of technique.

Patrick Fowke wrote:
brianmmulligan wrote:
-The Scientific Method. The roots of this method go back thousands of years, but have been particularly refined in the last 3 or 4 hundred years and have reached a level of reliability to the point where they have not really changed in the last 60 years or more. This method contends that nothing is completely provable, but that certainty increases with the as the weight of evidence increases. Evidence is essentially repeatable measurements and observations. One of the most powerful techniques in the method is that by continuously attempting to disprove your claims and failing you strengthen it. (eg. recent measurements in dark matter - if they turned out to be different, the theory would have been weakened - but they turned out to be bang on - so the theory is strengthened further).
- I wouldn't disagree with your account of the scientific method. But how does all of this tie in with my particular experience? How would you apply what you say here to such an experience? What kind of method would you set up?

You talk of "scientific method", though, as if it must be the ultimate arbitrator of such an occurence. Is science the only arbitrator of what is true / real? If not then what value do you place in philosophy for example?

Most scientists don't believe that science is the ultimate arbitrator of what is true or real. Most scientists would regard science as being about understanding how the natural world works. Many, such as Max Planck (founder of quantum physics and devout Christian) would have argued that science is outside the remit of certain phenomena (i.e the transcendental). Many agnostic scientists would place great value in other areas of learning such as philosophy, or in culture in general, for enlightenment - not science as the ultimate arbitrator of all truth / reality.
brianmmulligan wrote:
You have asked several times, why we thought this method of reasoning was better than others (even though you did not give an example of any other methods), to which I will answer the following. The Scientific Method has proven over me to be the most reliable way of predicting future event, be it the behaviour of the natural world or man made materials.
And I wouldn't dispute this in a million years. I am not suggesting any other method in trying to understand the natural world.

But the difference between your approach and mine is this:

- I am prepared to consider the possibility that it could be either natural or divine in origin. You (appear, at least) prepared to consider the possibility that is natural in origin only. You jump to the conclusion that it was natural in origin, and base your approach / argument around this. Whereas I have been (trying at least) to examine the evidence in a neutral way, and then come to conclusion based on that.
brianmmulligan wrote:
So just in case my requests have been lost in the above explanation. Do you have a method of reasoning, comparable to the above method, that would persuade us that your views are in any way reliable?
Like I have said before, I have tried every reasonable approach (I can think of) to try and come to a natural reason for this experience. You haven't given me any detail, at all, about what sort of model (not debating that you wouldn't use a model - but what particular kind / how would it would relate to this particular case) you would use.
I personally do not believe that you can divide up phenomena detectable by humans into natural and divine (or metaphysical - are you suggesting that the divine is not natural). I do, from time to time, in the interests of keeping an open mind, do revisit my opinions on the existence of the metaphysical. However, two issues keep me from giving it much time: the 'principle of parsomony' (or Occham's Razor) which suggests that simpler explanations are generally more likely, and lack of repeatable evidence. However, even if I were to accept that metaphysical phenomena were possible, you still have not put forward a technique that would be able to be used to examine such phenomena, discriminate between the huge number of metaphysical claims and indicate to some level of reliability (which could be used for predictive purposes) to estimate relative likelihood of truth.

To be more precise on your responses, you have still not proposed any possible alternative explanations nor even proposed an alternative technique for determining truth in metaphysical (divine) claims. If you would like me to continue, I need you to address these two issues satisfactorily.

Just an observation: Your approach has been used over millenia to explain natural phenomena (remember when the stars were thought to be gods). Since those times, the scientific method has continuously succeeded in explaining such phenomena naturally, to the point where religious scientists now only cling to phenomena of the mind and conciousness as being metaphysical (and only some of these - see experiment of drinking 10 pints of beer and its effect on thinking - what state is my soul in when I'm plastered). Even that is now under threat.
Brian
Patrick Fowke
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Re: Why I believe in God

Post by Patrick Fowke » Fri Jan 02, 2009 6:33 pm

Incorrect diagnosis (I should know, I am the one who experienced it). Might as well suggest it was caused by a veruka (that is how wrong it appears to me: the person who had the actual experience). Or that temporal lobe is really what people experience when they "fall in love", or have transcendental experiences when painting, or writing poetry, or being in an inspiring location - whatever.

I don't doubt that the brain and nervous system can cause people to have sensational experiences (I had a strong one, once, in hospital with morphine). But it was a purely one-dimensional experience. One of pure physical pleasure only.

The experience I had was quite different. It was three-dimensional. And it went on, and still carries on, in degrees now. Above all, the experiences are similar to that of "being in love"' or being moved by a book or a painting or some scence, whatever. And left with a sense of happiness and peace about a million times deeper (three-dimensional) than a physical sensation induced by chemicals in the brain / nervous system, whatever.

With respect, there is a discrepancy, i think, between your quick, concrete-like / full-proof explanation and lack of asking questions / fishing for more clues as to the nature of the experience.
brianmmulligan
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Re: Why I believe in God

Post by brianmmulligan » Fri Jan 02, 2009 10:29 pm

Patrick Fowke wrote:
Incorrect diagnosis (I should know, I am the one who experienced it)
Why should experiencing it make you more qualified in diagnosis? Try saying that to your doctor.

I think you may be missing the point of the video. If you have any sort of mental experience, even if YOU think it is metaphysical, it is possible (as illustrated in the video), that it has a biochemical basis.

Can I ask you a few questions?

Do you accept that feelings and emotions are biochemical?

Do you accept that simulated experiences (eg. dreams) are biochemical?
Brian
Patrick Fowke
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Re: Why I believe in God

Post by Patrick Fowke » Fri Jan 02, 2009 11:46 pm

brianmmulligan wrote:
Patrick Fowke wrote:
Incorrect diagnosis (I should know, I am the one who experienced it)
brianmmulligan wrote:
Why should experiencing it make you more qualified in diagnosis? Try saying that to your doctor.
If it were natural in origin, only, then yes. But "natural in in origin, only" is what our disagreement is all about.
brianmmulligan wrote:
I think you may be missing the point of the video. If you have any sort of mental experience, even if YOU think it is metaphysical, it is possible (as illustrated in the video), that it has a biochemical basis.
I don't deny that such experiences can have "biochemical" properties (have refered to that before in thread, but put in a different way).

To give a crude (as in general) example. Sexual intercourse can be "having sex" or "making love". There is, obviously (at least to many people), a big difference between the two.
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