I believe in God. And I'm not silly. - Page 2 - VeggieBoards
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#31 Old 03-18-2008, 11:26 PM
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But it hasn't turned into a debate , so why shift it , there seems to be a paranoia on the VB's that as soon as the word "god" in a thread is typed it has to go to the heap .



"God" is a topic that not everyone agrees on, so a discussion on god will usually lead to a debate.If a thread about God also has the word silly in the title, it's pretty much guaranteed that it will turn into a debate. The patch is for light hearted discussion. The heap is for friendly debate. This thread is not light hearted and will be a debate, ergo, it goes in the heap.

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#32 Old 03-19-2008, 07:20 AM
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Sillyness aside, I also believe in God. And I don't really care whether or not anyone thinks I'm delusional for my beliefs. My spirituality is very personal and as long as it fulfills my needs, people can think what they want.
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#33 Old 03-19-2008, 07:36 AM
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I don't think those who believe in God are silly. I do think, though, that



1. attempts to provide empirical/scientific evidence to support God will inevitably fail, and I think also the mixing of religious beliefs and empirical claims in the evolution vs. creationism debate is silly.



2. attempts to "prove" God by general logical or metaphysical arguments, such as the ones Aquinas used, and such as the argument about a "necessary being" etc., will inevitably fail.



3. personally, I see no way out whatsoever from the so-called problem of evil, i.e. the problem of reconciling the bad things that happen (which go way beyond what humans do) with an omnipotent and good-willing deity.

"and I stand

upon a mountain

made of weak and useless men"

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#34 Old 03-19-2008, 07:55 AM
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maybe God considers life too precious, for it to be controlled, or for it to arise and live in a controlled environment.

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#35 Old 03-19-2008, 07:57 AM
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"God" is a topic that not everyone agrees on

Are there any topics that everyone agrees on?! (Maybe honey?)

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Originally Posted by taryn View Post

I think that anyone who believes they can prove that God exists is afraid and trying too hard. Its impossible, so relax.

I dont feel like having to prove anything in order to believe in God.

This is a quote I recently found, which I find relevant:

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Originally Posted by D. Elton Trueblood View Post


Faith is not belief without proof, but trust without reservation.

Having this kind of trust, or rather growing into it and in it, is not silly to me!

But I can imagine why this (or I!) might seem silly to somebody else, given that people experience very different kinds and levels (and this is not meant to be valuing) of spirituality. I dont think there are people who have no spirituality at all, it may just happen in another way, and they may not (yet have) fully recognise(d) it. This definitely is a very individual matter (not quite!).

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I stopped being a Christian when I started being honest with myself

This is quite interesting (and a very interesting post altogether, thanks for sharing), as it wasnt until I started being honest with myself, that I could seriously begin to become a Christian.



In my opinion, faith, belief, religion, and dogma (both the concepts and the terms) etc. are being mixed up far too much, especially (but not exclusively) by atheists. And the often-used dichotomy of faith (or belief, or religion, depending) vs. science doesnt seem correct to me either.
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#36 Old 03-19-2008, 08:04 AM
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maybe God considers life too precious, for it to be controlled, or for it to arise and live in a controlled environment.

I think that's a variation of the "free will" argument to the problem of evil, i.e. the argument that there is evil in the world because if God prevented it, that would prevent freedom. And it has the same problem as that argument: we already are not free, we already live in a "controlled environment". Our physiology, especially our neurophysiology, creates all kinds of restrictions on us: physical, moral, social, emotional.. It seems very arbitrary to me to say that this amount of restriction on our thoughts and behaviour is okay and constitutes freedom, but a small tinkering of our neurophysiology -- that would prevent some of the most evil actions for example -- would violate our freedom.



We are free to some extent and degree, not "free, period".

"and I stand

upon a mountain

made of weak and useless men"

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#37 Old 03-19-2008, 08:33 AM
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I believe in many gods and goddesses.



I am silly.



I also find myself in agreement with what Sevenseas posted.



One of the things that originally attracted me about Pagan polytheism is that the "problem of evil" goes away if you don't have a single all-knowing and all-powerful deity who is supposed to embody moral perfection. It's an inherent problem in the theology of the Abrahamic monotheisms.



I also believe that mystical experiences are one way human beings have of relating to the spiritual dimension of life, and that they are quite different from delusion or other conditions that we regard as mental illness. Mystical experiences often result in positive change for the person involved and for the social group in which they function. I don't think they get one very far in terms of "proving" any particular theology, but I don't think they can be dismissed out of hand either. Anyone seeking to give a compelling account of human religion and spirituality must address mystical experiences as a distinct phenomenon.



IMO, the reason religion has become such a popular target in recent times is that there are some religions (most conspicuously, conservative forms of Christianity) that have become rigid and literalistic in their approach to faith, relying on an unsophisticated interpretation of their holy scriptures to answer questions that science can now address much more productively.



Once religion becomes about shouting that the world was created in 4004 BC instead of living life in accord with the spiritual insights of one's faith, it becomes a strawman easily knocked over.
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#38 Old 03-19-2008, 08:58 AM
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I don't think those who believe in God are silly. I do think, though, that



1. attempts to provide empirical/scientific evidence to support God will inevitably fail, and I think also the mixing of religious beliefs and empirical claims in the evolution vs. creationism debate is silly.



I think many mystics would agree with the first part of point 1. From post #19: "The mystic feels that all attempts to prove the existence of God by logic end in questions that cannot be answered. He believes that all the truths discovered by science lead finally to objects in space and time. The mystic believes that, following certain preperations, the heart can understand in a flash of insight what the mind may not be able to understand logically. He feels that intuition is the basis of religion."



As to the second part of point one: I think that the mixing of spiritual beliefs and the empirical claims in evolution can be mixed but it depends on how it's mixed. A religious zealot may try to twist the facts to support an idea in religion whereas a mystic would try to see how the facts of evolution can deepen one's "understanding" of God.



Quote:
2. attempts to "prove" God by general logical or metaphysical arguments, such as the ones Aquinas used, and such as the argument about a "necessary being" etc., will inevitably fail.



Which is why I think Aquinas stopped writing after his "experience of God". He didn't even try to correct his writings or to even hint at what he experienced. So many people who are pro-Aquinas or anti-Aquinas fail to appreciate why he stopped writing.



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3. personally, I see no way out whatsoever from the so-called problem of evil, i.e. the problem of reconciling the bad things that happen (which go way beyond what humans do) with an omnipotent and good-willing deity.



The mystic would say that you are trying to figure out these questions in your mind and that is your stumbling block.
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#39 Old 03-19-2008, 09:12 AM
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I started this thread so I'd have the material from The Miracle Detective on hand here on VB. Often people attempt to do what AlainWinthrope did in post#13: group in the belief in God with the belief in fairies and Santa and the Easter Bunny. But we now have many tests conducted on people who were going to have an "experience of God" at a certain time and a certain place. They were studied while having this experience and science cannot explain it. This has not happened with people who believe in Leprechauns.



Again, this does not prove that God exists but it should at least give some people pause when they want to dismiss all spiritual experiences out of hand. I would love to hear of a more plausible explanation for what is happening to these visionaries in Medjugorje.



Did these children stumble upon some technique of meditation that enabled them to do what experienced monks were able to do (see post 15)? Was this new technique so much better that they were able to make their brain waves mimic that of the monks even as the children had their eyes wide open and their lips moving? Did they then seek to dupe a bunch of people with their new "powers"? Did they have some good reason to stick to their "story" of seeing Mary even under continuous interrogation by priests and communist government authorities (see post 5)?



These were children aged 10-17 when it first started. I'm amazed that more people aren't amazed at what's going on. Even from a strictly scientific point of view.
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#40 Old 03-19-2008, 09:19 AM
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These were children aged 10-17 when it first started. I'm amazed that more people aren't amazed at what's going on. Even from a strictly scientific point of view.



It doesn't amaze me, because it just confirms the kind of thing I have thought all along.

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#41 Old 03-19-2008, 09:26 AM
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whereas a mystic would try to see how the facts of evolution can deepen one's "understanding" of God.

Which sounds great to me, i.e. I have no problem with that.



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The mystic would say that you are trying to figure out these questions in your mind and that is your stumbling block.

But am I, really? Because if one really thinks about the rape, torture and murder going on all around the world, about the Rwandan genocide where people used to hack limbs off one at a time to prolong suffering, about what goes on in vivisection, about child prostitutes, about factory farms, about AIDS, even about all the violence and suffering and death going on in the wild where animals tear each other to pieces out of an evolutionary necessity that colors the ground with blood -- if one really thinks about all this, I think the reaction to it is not intellectual or scientific or something like that, but a reaction of the whole soul.



To me, the problem of evil is definitely a spiritual question (at least in some sense of the word), not an abstract philosophical construction. And as such, I don't think the problem is created by "the mind" or mere thinking as opposed to emotions etc.; I think the problem of evil is born when someone faces the evil in the world with his/her whole person.



(Incidentally, I really like one Tom Waits lyrics which probably sounds controversial for at least a traditional theist, but which is one that paints an interesting image of God:



"And if god is great and god is good, why can't he change the hearts of men?

Well, maybe god himself is lost and needs help

Maybe god himself he needs all of our help

Maybe god himself is lost and needs help

He's out upon the road to peace
")

"and I stand

upon a mountain

made of weak and useless men"

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#42 Old 03-19-2008, 09:31 AM
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It doesn't amaze me, because it just confirms the kind of thing I have thought all along.



I'm not surprised that you're not amazed. I'm not really amazed either. But I mean those who say that God certainly doesn't exist and yet here are these children saying that God does exist and that they are seeing Mary. They allow researchers to test them and the researchers are amazed. These tests are written about in a book by one who is skeptical about God. There seems to be a profound lack of interest in what's going on by those who say that there is certainly no God.
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#43 Old 03-19-2008, 09:40 AM
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But am I, really? Because if one really thinks about the rape, torture and murder going on all around the world, about the Rwandan genocide where people used to hack limbs off one at a time to prolong suffering, about what goes on in vivisection, about child prostitutes, about factory farms, about AIDS, even about all the violence and suffering and death going on in the wild where animals tear each other to pieces out of an evolutionary necessity that colors the ground with blood -- if one really thinks about all this, I think the reaction to it is not intellectual or scientific or something like that, but a reaction of the whole soul.



To me, the problem of evil is definitely a spiritual question (at least in some sense of the word), not an abstract philosophical construction. And as such, I don't think the problem is created by "the mind" or mere thinking as opposed to emotions etc.; I think the problem of evil is born when someone faces the evil in the world with his/her whole person.



But what you're talking about isn't foreign to, for instance, Christianity. Here we ask the same question: why is the son of God being scourged at the pillar? Why is he being crowned with thorns? Why is he carrying a cross that while people are jeering at him? Why is he having nails pounded into his hands and feet? Why is he slowly dying on the cross? What has he done wrong?



These questions don't lead us to reject the idea of God but to contemplate life/suffering/death/love/ etc.



But at some point, the mystics say, we must move from our head to our heart. There we will find answers to why Jesus suffered and why others are suffering and why we are suffering.
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#44 Old 03-19-2008, 09:50 AM
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Well, my point wasn't that Christians don't think about the question, only that personally, I find all the answers to it that I have seen very unsatisfactory. So I guess I could say that if I think about the problem of evil with my mind, I see all the arguments (like free will) as quite poor rationalizations, and if I "move to my heart", my heart is unable to balance empathy for the suffering and death with condoning or accepting it -- any of it, really. Neither my heart nor mind finds any explanation.



Agnostics and atheists can face the evil in the world as a horrible reality which they don't have to accept in any way: no one is responsible for all of it (even though in a sense we're all responsible). But to think there exists someone who could have prevented it -- and not some of it, like we can all do in our lives, but all of it -- seems a thought that would be almost unbearable, a responsibility so grave that it transcends all possible understanding.

"and I stand

upon a mountain

made of weak and useless men"

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#45 Old 03-19-2008, 10:03 AM
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But to think there exists someone who could have prevented it -- and not some of it, like we can all do in our lives, but all of it -- seems a thought that would be almost unbearable, a responsibility so grave that it transcends all possible understanding.



This is where I think you are in your mind. You are THINKING about a concept of God from a logical perspective.



1. There is suffering in the world.

2. God is all powerful.





Therefore God can prevent suffering and is choosing not to. That's not love. That's not loving.



Logically you are correct. But a mystic would say that we cannot understand God with logic. So we move to our "heart". But if we think about that move with our minds it seems we end up in the same place: "in my heart I feel the pain and the suffering of the world".



But that's not what the mystic is talking about. From the encyclopedia quote in post 19: "The mystic believes that, following certain preparations, the heart can understand in a flash of insight what the mind may not be able to understand logically." The mystics teach us to follow those preparations so we can truly move into the "heart" or the "soul" or whatever. It's not about a switch from logic to emotion. Some people don't follow those preparations but still end up with a mystical "understanding" of God. Like Saul/Paul from the bible and Aquinas.



But anyway, I respect those who don't believe in God and I'm not trying to convince you. All I'm saying is that in the mystical tradition of many religions the idea of suffering has been incorporated into the understanding of God.
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#46 Old 03-19-2008, 10:51 AM
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But a mystic would say that we cannot understand God with logic.



Most people who talk about god talk about some form of truth (as opposed to a subjective subject such as art). If the truth can not be understood with logic, and by extension reason, or as you put it, by using our minds, then the truth seems arbitrary. If truth has no basis in reason, then it won't make sense; at all. If truth doesn't make sense what is the point of even attempting to understand it or pursue it? You will always come up with the wrong answer.
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#47 Old 03-19-2008, 11:05 AM
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Logically you are correct. But a mystic would say that we cannot understand God with logic. So we move to our "heart". But if we think about that move with our minds it seems we end up in the same place: "in my heart I feel the pain and the suffering of the world".



But that's not what the mystic is talking about. From the encyclopedia quote in post 19: "The mystic believes that, following certain preparations, the heart can understand in a flash of insight what the mind may not be able to understand logically." The mystics teach us to follow those preparations so we can truly move into the "heart" or the "soul" or whatever. It's not about a switch from logic to emotion. Some people don't follow those preparations but still end up with a mystical "understanding" of God. Like Saul/Paul from the bible and Aquinas.

I don't know, this sounds a bit like discounting the feelings and thoughts of "ordinary people" (especially non-believers) because they haven't followed the correct methods (the preparations).



I would say I've had deeply profound, all encompassing experiences involving an understanding of the world and of suffering. I've just had those by listening to music. And while I would say those experiences go beyond words and concepts (verbal explanation), I don't think they have gone beyond logic. And it is exactly those experiences, involving a very deep sense of empathy, that emphasize the wrongness of any suffering in the world.

"and I stand

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made of weak and useless men"

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#48 Old 03-19-2008, 11:10 AM
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Most people who talk about god talk about some form of truth (as opposed to a subjective subject such as art). If the truth can not be understood with logic, and by extension reason, or as you put it, by using our minds, then the truth seems arbitrary. If truth has no basis in reason, then it won't make sense; at all. If truth doesn't make sense what is the point of even attempting to understand it or pursue it? You will always come up with the wrong answer.



We could talk around in circles about this if you like. If Aquinas, great writer that he was, couldn't explain it then I won't attempt to either. The mystics say it's there and that it does make sense but they can't explain it. Many others have experienced God and understand in some way what that experience means but they can't explain it.



So why would anyone want to pursue it? I don't know. It seems some are inclined that way. They want some kind of understanding of life but they don't find it in logic as we understand logic.



I think some are inspired by the experiences of God that others have. Such as what is going on in Medjugorje. They figure there might be something to the idea of "God" and then they read of these children who claim to see Mary. Many groups of researchers test the seers and do find that they enter an altered state of mind but they simply cannot explain it with any kind of rational explanation. This leads some to pursue this experience that cannot be explained by mystics or by scientific researchers.
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#49 Old 03-19-2008, 11:27 AM
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I don't know, this sounds a bit like discounting the feelings and thoughts of "ordinary people" (especially non-believers) because they haven't followed the correct methods (the preparations).



I would say I've had deeply profound, all encompassing experiences involving an understanding of the world and of suffering. I've just had those by listening to music. And while I would say those experiences go beyond words and concepts (verbal explanation), I don't think they have gone beyond logic. And it is exactly those experiences, involving a very deep sense of empathy, that emphasize the wrongness of any suffering in the world.



In asserting ones beliefs it seems that it is about discounting the beliefs of others. What I'm saying is that the beliefs of the mystics is also legitimate. You view seems to conclude that the world is "wrong" because there is suffering and suffering is "wrong". The mystics find that the world is "right" and "in order" in a way that cannot be explained.



If you are happy with you conclusion that the world is "wrong" then you won't pursue a different path. If you want to "understand" how mystics can believe the world is "right" then you may consider pursuing their way. Not that there is one way in mysticism.



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Julian of Norwich (c. November 8, 1342 c. 1416) is considered to be one of the greatest English mystics. Little is known of her life aside from her writings. Even her name is uncertain, the name "Julian" coming from the Church of St Julian in Norwich, where she was an anchoress, meaning that she was walled into the church behind the altar during a mass for the dead. At the age of thirty, suffering from a severe illness and believing she was on her deathbed, Julian had a series of intense visions. (They ended by the time she overcame her illness on May 13, 1373.[1]) She recorded these visions soon after having them, and then again twenty years later in far more theological depth. They are the source of her major work, called Sixteen Revelations of Divine Love (circa 1393). This is believed to be the first book written by a woman in the English language.[2] Julian became well known throughout England as a spiritual authority: Margery Kempe mentions going to Norwich to speak with Julian.[3]



...



Her great saying, "... All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well", reflects this theology.



http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julian_of_Norwich
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#50 Old 03-19-2008, 11:27 AM
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There seems to be a profound lack of interest in what's going on by those who say that there is certainly no God.

Seems like those too are not safe from being set in their ways.

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Maybe god himself is lost and needs help

He's out upon the road to peace

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Agnostics and atheists can face the evil in the world as a horrible reality which they don't have to accept in any way: no one is responsible for all of it (even though in a sense we're all responsible).

Liberation theologian Dorothee Sölle

(who was rather critical of the concept of an omnipotent God herself I think), wrote:

Gott hat keine anderen Hände als unsere.

(God doesnt have any other hands but ours)

I dont necessarily agree completely, but I think it is a worth-wile thought (and not silly at all),

especially when it comes to faith in practice.

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But to think there exists someone who could have prevented it -- and not some of it, like we can all do in our lives, but all of it -- seems a thought that would be almost unbearable, a responsibility so grave that it transcends all possible understanding.

Quite possible that all we can do here is (trying to) near (partial) understanding of why God, although (possibly) omnipotent, may choose to not take the kind of actions that we think (by the way, does mankind agree on what actions God should take, what God should prevent and what not - where the line should be drawn?) would follow from our own (possibly extremely limited?!) reasoning, logic, perception of time, etc.

No "reason" for me to not believe though.
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#51 Old 03-19-2008, 11:32 AM
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The people representing many aspects of science, who observed these children, were mystified by the results they obtained. They say they are seeing Mary. They say they are having "an experience of God". The scientists are stumped.



I'm looking forward to the scientific results of observations done on those who believe in Santa Claus or Leprechauns or whatever. Please provide links.



Why don't you provide links to these "scientific studies" "proving" that these kids aren't delusional. I've never heard of these kids and can't be expected to dredge out the evidence and deconstruct the experiences of every nut job on the planet.



Can I explain every Loch Ness sighting on record? No. But that doesn't validate Nessie's existence. And it's absolutely impossible to prove that these kids aren't delusional. Why? Well, tell me, do you think it is possible to prove the existence of god(s)? I think most of the people posting in this thread will say that they "believe," but realize that the existence of deities cannot be proven. If so, then it's impossible for scientists to "conclude" that the children aren't delusional, because that conclusion would be contingent upon god(s) existing in the first place and--at the very least--we know that that's something that cannot be proven.

In other words, "concluding that the children weren't delusional" would also (necessarily) have to conclude that whatever they were believing in existed. If that were the case, I think we would have heard about it.
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#52 Old 03-19-2008, 11:42 AM
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Why don't you provide links to these "scientific studies" "proving" that these kids aren't delusional. I've never heard of these kids and can't be expected to dredge out the evidence and deconstruct the experiences of every nut job on the planet.



If you are truly interested in what's going on in Medjugorje then I would suggest you read "The Miracle Detective" by Randall Sullivan. It may even be in your local library. It doesn't sound like you are interested, though. You have dismissed these children as "nut jobs" even though you have "never heard of these kids".
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#53 Old 03-19-2008, 11:50 AM
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And it's absolutely impossible to prove that these kids aren't delusional. Why? Well, tell me, do you think it is possible to prove the existence of god(s)? I think most of the people posting in this thread will say that they "believe," but realize that the existence of deities cannot be proven. If so, then it's impossible for scientists to "conclude" that the children aren't delusional, because that conclusion would be contingent upon god(s) existing in the first place and--at the very least--we know that that's something that cannot be proven.



In other words, "concluding that the children weren't delusional" would also (necessarily) have to conclude that whatever they were believing in existed. If that were the case, I think we would have heard about it.



"Delusional" and "psychosis" are terms used by pyschiatrists and others in the mental health field. They can conclude whether the kids are delusional or not or whether they are experiencing some kind or psychosis or not. The professionals who have studied them have concluded that they are not delusional or psychotic. I'm not sure what else I can tell you.



Randall Sullivan was not a believer when he started to write that book. He was a writer for Rolling Stone magazine. He started on a story that led him to Rome and then to Medjugorje. At the end of the book he doesn't seem to have come to any hard conclusions. There would be no reason for him to write only about studies that conclude these children are not delusional. In fact he writes about many people, including the former bishop who was overseeing Medjugorje, who do not believe the seers.
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#54 Old 03-19-2008, 12:04 PM
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I started this thread so I'd have the material from The Miracle Detective on hand here on VB. Often people attempt to do what AlainWinthrope did in post#13: group in the belief in God with the belief in fairies and Santa and the Easter Bunny.



We group them together because they each have as much evidence as the other, and share the same burden of proof. I'm really disappointed that you're so intolerant towards the people who ardently believe in leprechauns--those are your people!



And, as to the people who say that religion's okay as long as no one's oppressed--well, the fact is that we atheists are oppressed by the religious (largely Christian) majority almost daily. We've been dismissed as "the reality-based community" by the right wing of politics, I have to listen to the pledge of allegiance every day in school with such an insufferable label of oppression that it isolates me from my country, thirteen states in the US refuse to teach evolution due to religious "silliness" (and thirteen more receive c's or d's in its instruction), and, getting back to leprechauns, an atheist was expelled from his school for questioning another student's ardently held belief in leprechauns (http://atheism.about.com/b/a/258538.htm).
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#55 Old 03-19-2008, 12:10 PM
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In other words, "concluding that the children weren't delusional" would also (necessarily) have to conclude that whatever they were believing in existed. If that were the case, I think we would have heard about it.



No, that's incorrect. "Delusional" is a psychiatric term with a specific meaning and specific diagnostic criteria. It is not synonymous with belief in something that does not exist, that cannot be proven, or that most others do not believe. Psychiatry does not deal with epistemological or metaphysical judgments, it deals with human behavior. Most people who have religious experiences do not behave the way that delusional or psychotic people behave. They function well socially, they can have rational discussions regarding contradictory points of view or contradictory evidence, etc.



The psychiatric judgment that a person with a religious experience is not delusional does not verify the existence of God or Mary or whatever. But it does counter a superficial dismissal of their experience on the grounds of mental illness.
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#56 Old 03-19-2008, 12:14 PM
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We group them together because they each have as much evidence as the other, and share the same burden of proof.



Right. And when I provide quotes from a book that explains how children claiming to see Mary entered altered states that cannot be explained by science you dismiss the book out of hand.



As I wrote in post 39:



"Again, this does not prove that God exists but it should at least give some people pause when they want to dismiss all spiritual experiences out of hand. I would love to hear of a more plausible explanation for what is happening to these visionaries in Medjugorje.



Did these children stumble upon some technique of meditation that enabled them to do what experienced monks were able to do (see post 15)? Was this new technique so much better that they were able to make their brain waves mimic that of the monks even as the children had their eyes wide open and their lips moving? Did they then seek to dupe a bunch of people with their new "powers"? Did they have some good reason to stick to their "story" of seeing Mary even under continuous interrogation by priests and communist government authorities (see post 5)?



These were children aged 10-17 when it first started. I'm amazed that more people aren't amazed at what's going on. Even from a strictly scientific point of view."



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I'm really disappointed that you're so intolerant towards the people who ardently believe in leprechauns--those are your people!





Direct me to the book where those who are seeing leprechauns are subjected to valid scientific research while they are claiming to see the leprechauns. I'm not intolerant towards those who believe in leprechauns. Just give me the title and the author so I can get the book myself.
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#57 Old 03-19-2008, 12:17 PM
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No, that's incorrect. "Delusional" is a psychiatric term with a specific meaning and specific diagnostic criteria. It is not synonymous with belief in something that does not exist, that cannot be proven, or that most others do not believe. Psychiatry does not deal with epistemological or metaphysical judgments, it deals with human behavior. Most people who have religious experiences do not behave the way that delusional or psychotic people behave. They function well socially, they can have rational discussions regarding contradictory points of view or contradictory evidence, etc.



The psychiatric judgment that a person with a religious experience is not delusional does not verify the existence of God or Mary or whatever. But it does counter a superficial dismissal of their experience on the grounds of mental illness.



Ok, so you explain it way better than I do.
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#58 Old 03-19-2008, 12:22 PM
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No, that's incorrect. "Delusional" is a psychiatric term with a specific meaning and specific diagnostic criteria. It is not synonymous with belief in something that does not exist, that cannot be proven, or that most others do not believe. Psychiatry does not deal with epistemological or metaphysical judgments, it deals with human behavior. Most people who have religious experiences do not behave the way that delusional or psychotic people behave. They function well socially, they can have rational discussions regarding contradictory points of view or contradictory evidence, etc.



The psychiatric judgment that a person with a religious experience is not delusional does not verify the existence of God or Mary or whatever. But it does counter a superficial dismissal of their experience on the grounds of mental illness.



No, that's incorrect. The psychiatric definition of delusional and the colloquial definition are almost exactly the same. Here's Jaspers three main criteria for psychiatric delusion: certainty (held with absolute conviction), incorrigibility (not changeable by compelling counterargument or proof to the contrary), impossibility or falsity of content (implausible, bizarre or patently untrue)



Here's the dictionary definition:

Delusion is commonly defined as a fixed false belief and is used in everyday language to describe a belief that is either false, fanciful or derived from deception.



Pretty much exactly the same thing. And yes, "the psychiatric judgment that a person with a religious experience is not delusional" does demand the conclusion that Mary or whatever is a valid perception of reality.
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#59 Old 03-19-2008, 12:28 PM
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We group them together because they each have as much evidence as the other, and share the same burden of proof. I'm really disappointed that you're so intolerant towards the people who ardently believe in leprechauns--those are your people!



The difference is one of cultural context. There is evidence that people having extraordinary experiences tend to interpret them according to the categories and prototypes offered by their culture. So, for example, there are parallels between present-day alien abduction accounts and medieval demonic or angelic visitations. It might be (a) both groups were experiencing extraterrestrials, but the medieval people could not conceive of that so understood them as demons or angles, or (b) both groups were experiencing demons and angels, but modern secular people find space travelers more credible, and so interpret them as such, or (c) both groups are experiencing neither of these things, but their minds cast the hard-to-interpret experience in terms that are culturally available.



The point is that it's unwise to draw a parallel between a culturally widespread phenomenon/experience/belief and one that is very marginal. People who hold extremely marginal beliefs are operating in a different social and psychological context than those who hold widespread beliefs.
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#60 Old 03-19-2008, 12:42 PM
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The difference is one of cultural context. There is evidence that people having extraordinary experiences tend to interpret them according to the categories and prototypes offered by their culture. So, for example, there are parallels between present-day alien abduction accounts and medieval demonic or angelic visitations. It might be (a) both groups were experiencing extraterrestrials, but the medieval people could not conceive of that so understood them as demons or angles, or (b) both groups were experiencing demons and angels, but modern secular people find space travelers more credible, and so interpret them as such, or (c) both groups are experiencing neither of these things, but their minds cast the hard-to-interpret experience in terms that are culturally available.



The point is that it's unwise to draw a parallel between a culturally widespread phenomenon/experience/belief and one that is very marginal. People who hold extremely marginal beliefs are operating in a different social and psychological context than those who hold widespread beliefs.



How is it unwise? Tell me how the two beliefs are qualitatively different.



Earlier, you said that you believe in gods and goddesses. Given your current standards, wouldn't you be invalidating your own beliefs because they are comparatively "marginal." I don't think that the number of people who share a belief has anything to do with its correctness.



But I can get behind your earlier statements: churls didn't get abducted by demons any more than people currently get abducted by UFO's. Most of these weird experiences can be explained: the outer body experience created in near death circumstances is the result of a dwindling supply of O2 to the brain, and UFO experiences can be provoked by stimulating a particular part of a person's brain (especially those prone to such delusions).
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