Hi Patrick, thanks for joining us on the forum.
Patrick Fowke wrote:
Thousands of people believe in ghosts because they have SEEN (as opposed to just having a gut belief in) ghosts. You can question the validity of 'seen'. Nevertheless there is a big difference between just 'believe' and jumping from this to 'must exist'.
Secondly, leading on from 'seen', the fact that many people claim to have seen 'ghosts' makes the subject, at least, worthy of some level of investigation / exploration as opposed to flat out rejection.
I'm curious to know what sort of independent, empirically-driven investigation you feel would be appopriate for this? Certainly I am highly skeptical of it, and I feel we ought to be skeptical of extraordinary claims such as these. I suppose something like lie-detector tests would be a start; however, this wouldn't at all rule out self-delusion. I'd genuinely be delighted if rigorous data could be collected on the matter though. Regardless, surely you can see that the quotation you use is simply making the point that just because
so many people claim to have seen them doesn't mean that they do
, as a matter of fact, exist?
Patrick Fowke wrote:
Even science doesn't necessarily require "proof".
THEORETICAL SCIENCE. Multiple dimensions - an important new area of quantum phyics - is about a subject that is precisely beyond proof because multiple dimensions are beyond ours of time / space / matter.
Whoa there! Quantum physics - we're talking about mathematically-based
constructs to explain observed phenomena as being part of the natural
world (because remember, regardless of whether or not we can directly experience it, no one in the physics community is claiming it to be supernatural in any sense - it's within the physical laws of the Universe. If you accept their conclusions, it's as much a part of the physical world as you or I.) You're surely not trying to draw a parallel between this peer-reviewed, evidence-substantiating and mathematically-sound literature on unseeable aspects of the NATURAL world, bound by laws and not free to transcend, and religious faith, which actually flies in the face of the methods here used, are you?
Religious belief is the anti-thesis of this: it celebrates blind faith as virtuous... if you claim to believe something, then - well - that's your belief, and how dare I or anyone else question it. Quite apart from the miscellany of supernatural events and occurences in which Christians/Jews/Muslims claim to believe accoding to their holy books, for example transubstantiation in the case of the Catholics (and if you're a deist or some sort of pantheist, none of the preceding will apply to you, so please ignore), I'm often told by religious people that the world we inhabit is evidence of devine intervention. Sure: even in this day and age it's probably easy to believe, when sat here subjectively on planet Earth, that we're at the centre of the Universe still, but it's an illusion brought on by our brains - evolved to deal with human-centered objects on the plains of Africa as they are. Take every planet around every star; billions and billions of them, you don't think it inevitable that at least in ONE instance the conditions would be favourable towards the evolution of life? The anthropic principle: the very fact that we're here means we must necessarily
happen to be on just such a planet; it implies nothing about how often this occurs or how "special" it is.
Patrick Fowke wrote:
It is precisely 'whatever works' as opposed to understanding why it works which is the crucial thing (believers might not understand the metaphysical peace and joy that they receive through prayer, for example, but they know it works - and to them it is beyond something that the body, for example, could induce through physical stimulation - and more besides - trying to keep post to reasonable length here ..)
I certainly wouldn't at all deny that the placebo effect can be very powerful. If someone is finding life difficult to deal with, then prayer may well be an effective means of relieving stress if one truly believes in the efficacy of it. I suspect in most situations, however, that it's more a case of hope than belief. Actually, it's interesting that you mentioning prayer specifically, because double-blind testing actually has
been carried out by the American Heart Journal
(in fact, just to show that this wasn't cold-hearted science stomping all over dearly-held faith, it was initiated and actually paid-for by the Templeton Foundation, a religious organisation!)
is a direct link to the paper. As you can see, they had three separate groups of people praying for three different cardiac bypass patients. Two of the patients were told that they may or may not receive prayer (one then did, and the other did not), while the last patient was told that they would receive prayer, and did. They found more
complications in those prayed-for than in the lucky sod who wasn't!