Why I believe in God

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Patrick Fowke
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Post by Patrick Fowke » Sat Dec 20, 2008 1:15 pm

bipedalhumanoid wrote:
I look forward to the source
I can't find the source (I can't remember whether I read in newspaper, heard it on TV - or internet). Spent some time googling. I am happy to retract the statment until I find the source.

I am going to spend the rest of the time allotted to the forum today answering another question/s (but will keep browsing for a source).
Last edited by Patrick Fowke on Sat Dec 20, 2008 1:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Patrick Fowke
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Post by Patrick Fowke » Sat Dec 20, 2008 1:19 pm

bipedalhumanoid wrote:
I look forward to the source
I can't find the source (I can't remember whether I read in newspaper, heard it on TV - or internet). Spent some time googling. I am happy to retract the statment until I find the source.

I am going to spend the rest of the time now answering another question on this forum.[/quote]
bipedalhumanoid wrote:
A piece of evidence is any objective observation that supports the predictions made by the theory or hypothesis.
With respect "objective observation" is subjective / open to interpretation. Can you be more specific. Can you qualify with examples / analogies, whatever.
Last edited by Patrick Fowke on Sun Dec 21, 2008 12:42 am, edited 1 time in total.
Patrick Fowke
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Re: Why I believe in God

Post by Patrick Fowke » Sat Dec 20, 2008 1:24 pm

Michael
MichaelNugent wrote:
My second question was this: Do you also attribute other characteristics and abilities to whatever it is that causes your ecstatically peaceful experiences? If so, what are these characteristics and abilities, and why do you attribute them to it?
No (I scrutized the experiences - and tried to come up with alternative, natural explanations for what happened - couldn't find any).
washington
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Post by washington » Sat Dec 20, 2008 7:15 pm

Hi Patrick,
your thread has certainly turned the lights on! I dont have a background in Philosophy so much of the discourse has gone over my head but I am interested in your OP which describes your 'metaphysical experiences' and the ecstasy involved. I have a few questions which I hope you will not find perjorative but are meant purely to help establish the nature and type of experience about which you speak:
(1) Were there any mind-altering substances involved before or during the experiences?
(2) Were there any prayers, incantations, mantras or other induction techniques used prior or during the experiences?
(3) Were you alone or part of a group during any or all of these experiences?
(4) How long approx. did the feelings of joy/ecstasy last?
(5) Can you repeat these feelings when desired? and if so how do you access them?
Patrick Fowke
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Post by Patrick Fowke » Sat Dec 20, 2008 8:01 pm

Hi Washington

Firstly, just like to say (haven't said it before in this thread, and think important to say) I don't believe I am any superior (or inferior) than others for such experiences.

I believe that such experiences are part of the many types of gifts that we are endowed with. I am a contemplative / introverted person (boring talking about one self - and in this way - but don't know how else to discuss this subject - the subject of such experiences in general not me - that I hope to be of interest / use to others), and believe that a practical / extroverted person, for example, is still open to such experiences but, perhaps, typically, not to such an intense degree. However, saying that, the practical / extroverted person has other gifts (that I / a person such as me doesnt have / have to such a degree) that enable him to experience, typically, God more intensely in other ways.

Try and answer your questions.

(1) Were there any mind-altering substances involved before or during the experiences? - No.

(2) Were there any prayers, incantations, mantras or other induction techniques used prior or during the experiences? - Initially no (the first and most significant which was like a Road-to-Damascus experience it was just so dramatic and intense and real). But later on, sometimes, yes (see below, Q. 5, for more on this).

(3)Were you alone or part of a group during any or all of these experiences? - Alone (but after initial experience, I would often experience these in the company of others, although they weren't so intense then that they would know, necessarily, what I was experiencing).

(4) How long approx. did the feelings of joy/ecstasy last? - They've never really gone away. They are not as intense now as then (I was 17 then - I am 36 now). But in many ways they are still just as real and powerful. I have days / weeks / months when they are insignificant, and other days / weeks / months when they are significant.

(5) Can you repeat these feelings when desired? and if so how do you access them? I don't know how to answer this question. These experiences come with prayer / contemplation / reflection / certain actions (engaging, positively, with other people, for example) and outside prayer / contemplation / reflection / certain actions (engaging, positively, with other people, for example). I admit I fail on this question. Don't mean to be mysterious / paradoxical but that's the best I can do.

The experiences are all different. Almost as if there are different themes / genres to them (sounds a bit pretentious but, honestly, can't think of a better way of describing it than that).

The experiences involve:

- just pure happiness
- just pure peace
- sensations of intense excitement
- sense of harmony of mind and emotion
- thoughts and ideas seem to fall into place logically
- thoughts and ideas seem far reaching and make sense for some reason
- beauty (dreams and seeing beauty in things in the natural world - some days such things might seem grey and other days they take on a visual richness that is, well really enjoyable ..)
- harmony with other people
- there is an element of humour in them (this is very vague but I could write pages on this). I am confident that positive humour / wit and so on derive from the divine (and that sarcasm and so on derives from the worst and most negative part of people).
- These experiences take place awake (mostly) and often in dreams.
- These experiences are both down-to-earth / natural / seem normal - and at the same time other worldly, mysterious, fascinating, intriguing, and so on.
- These experiences lead one to feeling refreshed, energized and so on

Could go on. Will stop ..
washington
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Post by washington » Sun Dec 21, 2008 2:43 am

Patrick,
thanks for the post. I am very interested in your the 'Road to Damascus' reference . I am a product of the Pauline Vincentian eductional system....hence my proclivity for falling off horses or animals in general. The Damascus experience was very traumatic for Paul and proved to be seismic in Christian terms but you are very opaque about the effect the 'Road to Damascus' experience has been for you. Can you elucidtate?
How traumatic was it?
Alexis
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Re: Why I believe in God

Post by Alexis » Sun Dec 21, 2008 4:43 am

Patrick Fowke wrote: I believe in God ....
Hi Patrick. What do you mean by the word "God"?
CelticAtheist
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Post by CelticAtheist » Sun Dec 21, 2008 12:39 pm

- just pure happiness
- just pure peace
- sensations of intense excitement
- sense of harmony of mind and emotion
- thoughts and ideas seem to fall into place logically
- thoughts and ideas seem far reaching and make sense for some reason
- beauty (dreams and seeing beauty in things in the natural world - some days such things might seem grey and other days they take on a visual richness that is, well really enjoyable ..)
- harmony with other people
- there is an element of humour in them (this is very vague but I could write pages on this). I am confident that positive humour / wit and so on derive from the divine (and that sarcasm and so on derives from the worst and most negative part of people).
- These experiences take place awake (mostly) and often in dreams.
- These experiences are both down-to-earth / natural / seem normal - and at the same time other worldly, mysterious, fascinating, intriguing, and so on.
- These experiences lead one to feeling refreshed, energized and so on
Did it ever enter your mind that maybe you're just a happy person?

Those experiences don't seem particularly Christian.
Or even Abrahamic.

They're more along the lines of Buddhist Nirvana to be perfectly honest.
Patrick Fowke
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Post by Patrick Fowke » Sun Dec 21, 2008 1:07 pm

Michael (will try and answer others in a while).

Why I believe in God (Why do you believe in God?)

- Becuase of these intense, extroardinary, diverse experiences. There often seems to be a kind of pattern to them. Often they occure after prayer to Christ.

- Becuase of Christ / The Trinity. There is something about Christ and his teachings of compassion and so on that just ring true. The Christian God is so focused on human beings that He actually existed as a human being on Earth (human in everything except sin) Himself. Not some remote Zeus-like figure but a figure completely focused on the human condition / suffering of human beings and how to lead them out of it. Christianity is, ultimately, about things such as hope, peace, beauty and love.
What is this word "love"? The very sacrifice of Christ Himself during His ministry and His death (of metaphysical significance). The Prodigal Son. The Good Samaratin. St Paul's famous Corinthians 13. And so on.
There is good evidence that Christ existed as an historical figure. But it takes faith, ultimately, to believe in His divine nature / miracles and so on (because we could debate this point further - for those who are interested).

- At the end of the day I don't like to use the word 'evidence' to God's existence (I find the word 'evidence' actually quite vague - perhaps someone can iron out what they understand 'evidence' to be). I like to think of clues.
And I think that we have to approach Christianity, holistically. Each clue most be looked at together as a whole. Crude ananlogy: looking at a quilt or jigsaw puzzle or painting with parts missing. The 'clues' gain significance when they are looked at together, as opposed to looking at each 'clue' on its own and accepting or dismissing the 'clue' on its own (as opposed to collectively).

Clues to the existence of God (other than the really important ones for me, already, mentioned):

- the fact that there is stuff (time / space / matter) as opposed to nothingness (wouldn't be having this debate, I guess, if there was just nothingness ..).

- the fact that there is (relative) order in the universe. The fact that we have the laws of physics we to me is a strong indicator to the existence of a designer. Why should chaos emerge to form (relative) order. Order to the extent, for example, that our atoms are able to hold together, enough, for example, to breathe, sleep, eat, live. Gravity plays an important role in that but where did gravity and the laws that govern it emerge from?

- the fact that we have (as far as I believe and as I know many non-believers believe) free will. How do we get to escape the predetermined laws of nature?

- the fact that we have things such as beauty in the natural world where there is no functional purpose for that beauty.
Add to this the idea of beauty in music, in literature, in the arts in general.

- the fact that human beings have humour, and wit, and personality, and love each other beyond the kind of survival love of others animals.

And more.

Have to go ..
Last edited by Patrick Fowke on Sun Dec 21, 2008 1:41 pm, edited 3 times in total.
CelticAtheist
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Post by CelticAtheist » Sun Dec 21, 2008 1:39 pm

1. Prayer research has been shown to be ineffectual (and in the case of praying for medical purposes, made things marginally worse).

2. Zeus was far from remote.
The Greek gods were just as involved in people's lives as people think the Abrahamic God is today. In fact, they represented different aspects of people's lives, they existed within things. For example, Aphrodite was the Goddess of Love, the personification of love.

3.
There is good evidence that Christ existed.
However, there is little to suggest he was divine, other than the Bible which was selectively edited, mistranslated and contains extremely Earthly concerns.

Do you know how many Gospels there were originally? Quite a few more than we have today. Why? They reveal Jesus to be a man, not God.

What happened to them?
Thrown out by the Roman Emperor when he was creating the Catholic Church the way he wanted. He needed Jesus to be a divine figure, so he selected the gospels that leant in favour of that. If Jesus wasn't a godly figure, he couldn't convince his people to abandon the Greco-Roman gods that they worshipped..

4.
The clues are vastly in favour of deities' non-existence....
Again, unless you place holy books above science, the position of believing in deities becomes unworkable from the point of view of evidence.

Claiming that the Abrahamic God would be undetectable to science is a ridiculous idea. If s/he affects our lives so much, there should be at least some empirical evidence to support that (which there isn't).

Besides, why would God hide? Why would God not want all his/her children to know him/her?

5.
Space is nothingness.
Time is the measure of change.
Matter is large amounts of contained energy.

Order in the universe is preserved by the laws of physics.
A designer is impossible because where would the designer come from then? Unless you're suggesting that the designer is quite literally the universe itself, in which case worshipping it is pointless anyway. Nor would the universe be concerned with things like human sexuality, considering it has no will of its own.

This universe did not emerge from Chaos (that's a Greek/Egyptian idea if I recall), there are several theories. I am personally a fan of the recurring Big Bang/Crunch, i.e. the universes are created and destroyed in cycles.

Religion is based on the false assumption that Time had a beginning and will have an end. The reason behind this is simple, humans are mortal, and have a beginning and end. Death is inescapable, which is also why many religions are obsessed with immortality.

Free will would indicate a complete lack of deities.
Read up on existentialist ideas, and that becomes perfectly clear.

Beauty in the natural world is actually very functional.
Evolution and natural selection see to that.
If a creature was beautiful, but not functional, then it would die out as more successful creatures usurped its position.

Music, Literature, Arts etc are all the product of human culture.
Intelligent beings tend to get bored with the usual survival stuff whenever they develop their technology to fulfill their basic needs. Hence, human culture really kicked off once farming became commonplace. Maybe I should show you Dr.Maslow's pyramid of motivation...

Humour, wit, personality and love are all human creations from human perceptions as well. Animals can have just as much personality, and many animals develop very close bonds along human lines also.

And I don't know if you have a dog, but mine is pretty full of personality.
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