Why People Believe in Gods

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Og3
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Re: Why People Believe in Gods

Post by Og3 » Thu Nov 08, 2018 8:42 pm

(as opposed to, "I knew this guy, this one time, and while he was really high this time, he like spoke to like, you know, like Buddha."

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SEG
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Re: Why People Believe in Gods

Post by SEG » Thu Nov 08, 2018 11:13 pm

Would you be surprised that scientists can replicate this experience by stimulating the brain?
Og3 wrote:
Thu Nov 08, 2018 8:29 pm
Not in the least. But at that moment, there was not a scientist hovering over me with a PETN scan, nor sticking electrodes into my brain.
I was suggesting that there also was not a god hovering over you either, it was just you stimulating yourself.
“There are no known non-biblical references to a historical Jesus by any historian or other writer of the time during and shortly after Jesus's purported advent.” His so-called life was a farce.

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Moonwood the Hare
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Re: Why People Believe in Gods

Post by Moonwood the Hare » Thu Nov 08, 2018 11:19 pm

Og3 wrote:
Tue Nov 06, 2018 11:05 am

The difference between a logical deduction and an experience is that a deduction may be a valid derivation of a false conclusion, based on a false induction, as you note, but an experience cannot. An experience cannot be valid and not true. What would such an experience look like?
The method of knowing by direct experience is widely accepted as valid but is also often thought to be infallible. Descartes for example thought this. If the method is valid and no experience of direct knowing can be valid without the thing perceived being true it would follow that the method must be infallible. You, yourself, seem to be using the method when you say A thing is either true or false, one or zero, which is a restatement of the principle of bivalence, a modified form of the law of excluded middle. You do not feel the need to prove this but experience it as true and expect other people to do the same. It also seems you believe this kind of experience to lead infallibly to the truth and on that I disagree. What is more I think I can show you are wrong.
I can demonstrate that the experience of intuiting something as self evidently true can lead to mistakes or false conclusions. The examples I use will be derrived from the fields of Maths and logic. Frege tried to show that the whole of arithmetic could be derived from self evident axioms, that is from axioms experienced as true. One of these axioms was that sets can either contain their selves or not, so for example the set of all red things is not itself red and so does not contain itself while the set of all things that are not red is not itself red thing and so does not contain itself. This does indeed appear,once you grasp the concepts, to be self evidently true. Frege also says that all sets either contain their selves or do not. An application of the law of excluded middle which is itself regarded as being self evidently true. However Russel raised the question of the set of all sets that do not contain their selves,since this seems neither to contain itself or not. So either sets do not have these properties which it seemed self evident they did, or the law of excluded middle which seemed to be self evident is false. Another example would be the self evident intuition that their cannot be numbers greater than infinity which Cantor showed to be false.
I am suggesting that religious experiences are experiences of this kind, and that while being a valid way of knowing truth they are not infallible.
If I experience a sudden fear that space aliens are landing in my driveway, either there objectively are aliens in my driveway or there are not; and if there are, then my experience is true and my fear is valid; else both the experience and the fear are false and invalid. This is the distinction between reality and delusion.
It is possible to use emotions or feelings as a way to reach conclusions about the external world but this is a skill most people have not developed very well. The fear regarding the aliens would almost certainly be a displaced fear of something else and I would want to explore that rather than focusing on the putative objective truth. And in clinical practice this approach to distinguishing reality and delusion has not proved valid. DSM 5 defines delusions as follows
Delusions are false beliefs based on incorrect inference about external reality that persist despite the evidence to the contrary; these beliefs are not ordinarily accepted by other members of the person's culture or subculture.
The second part of the definition is important because our perceptions of reality are shaped, that is constructed by, our culture. So for example if in a particular culture communicating with gods or angels is normalised then that behavior is not seen as delusional.
Conclusions I draw ABOUT my experience my be true or false, and independently valid or invalid, but those are deductions, not the experiences in themselves. I speak here exclusively of the experiences.
I am suggesting there are such things as belief forming experiences and that the conclusions and the experience in this case are so close up together they cannot be separated. So my belief that I am sitting at my desk is formed by my experience of sitting at my desk. the experience simply triggers the belief. To put it another way Descartes is wrong: I do not infer the world from my sensations; rather my perceptions lead me to form unavoidable conclusion regarding he world; initially that there is one.
I disagree with your definition. By your definition, being baptized as an baby, in the long-ago immemorial fog of infancy, is a "religious experience" whereas I would call that a "religious event." (For those following the Logic thread, I am posing a weak negation as an example to counter the strong affirmation of the definition; SOP to oppose SAP).
Firstly I think that psychologically speaking you are completely wrong to think an experience can only impact on our beliefs if we remember it. The evidence points overwhelmingly in the opposite direction. But in any case those who see a causal relationship between belief and baptism do so because they think baptism brings about an objective ontological or relational change so memory would not be a factor if that were true.
I define a religious experience as an experience in which a person believes himself to have interacted with the supernatural (whether as a conversation with a god, or as an approach to nirvana, or as a "burning in the bosom" if one is of that persuasion). The consequences of such an experience are immaterial to the nature of the experience.
I think that is way too narrow a definition to account for all religious beliefs. the supernatural is a modern concept stemming from an era when mankind believed it was using science to define the limits of nature and by extension whatever could be placed above or outside nature. If the consequence of an experience is that it engenders a religious belief, surely that is significant in determining whether the experience was a religious one.
I am not saying here (as one might infer) that my religious experience is good, valid, and religious in nature because it is mine; and all other experiences are delusions because they are not mine. I am saying that I believe persons of many religions experience what they feel to be supernatural experiences -- in other words, they have religious experiences. But the distinction is that to be valid and true, those must be experiences with the One True God.
And I cannot see how you would know whether or not that is the case unless you are claiming to have exhaustive knowledge of that God.
If there are many religions with "valid and true" religious experiences, then no religious experience, including my own, is truly valid. And this is because the gods of the various religions are mutually exclusive. Oh, it's common to lump them all together and to throw in a vague generalization, but I need to be clear here: If Krshna is an ascended master, then Jesus is not Lord; If Jesus is Lord, then Allah is not God; If Allah is God, then YHWH is not; If YHWH is God then Krshna is not an ascended master. We might experience a religious experience -- an event we hold to be supernatural in nature -- among any religion. But at most only one religion can have "true and valid" religious experiences.
I don't accept this need to conflate true and valid.
I happen to believe -- and reasonably, I submit -- that the religion which gives valid and true religious experiences is the Christian religion. I submit that YHWH is Elohim, and that Jesus is Lord. If I am correct, then a "true and valid" religious experience of a Christian will be qualitatively different from a religious experience by a practitioner of another religion.
The evidence does not seem to favour this view. Religious experiences are very varied and even among Christians there are many different types of religious experiences. Some at least seem similar to experiences we find in other traditions. For example I was reading something recently by a Buddhist where he identified the Dark Night of the Soul experience which is a specifically Christian experience with the Buddhist experience known as dukkha nanas or knowledge of suffering. There is a similarity between the two and the psychogist Roberto Assagioli has explored the significance of this kind of experience for personal growth.And although the DNS may be thought of as a Roman Catholic experience there are analogues in Protestantism where this is sometimes called a dessert experience. I think John Wesley describes it in his book on Christian Perfection.
Many Christians feel that the sense of personal relationship with God is something unique to Christian tradition, and while I agree that this is so I feel this writing of the personal dimension in spirituality is found in the Islamic faith in the writings of the Sufis and in Judaism in the Hasidic tradition and especially in the writings of Martin Buber.
Again if you think the born again type conversion experience is the most significant type of Christian experience I would encourage you to take a look at the account of this and its relation to the unconscious in William James' Varieties of Religious Experience.
I suspect that we approach this from different directions: You from the experience deducing whether it is valid; and me from the validity (which I ascribe to Christianity) towards the experience.
Yes, I think this is so.
In the same way, I would distinguish between a valid conversation between two humans and an invalid "conversation" between a human and an imaginary 6-foot rabbit named Harvey. The former is a real, or "true" event, and the second is a hallucination or a delusion.
Well I would not say conversation with Harvey was invalid unless it was having destructive consequences. I don't really buy the very narrow modernistic definitions of sanity that underlie this.
A fair point. If I hold a conversation with Harvey as a game, or a construct for the examination of a proposition (as C.S. Lewis did with Letters to Malcolm, Chiefly on Prayer, for example), then the conversation may have valid and true aspects. But if I hold the conversation because I believe Harvey to be real, and he in fact is not, then I am delusional, and my conversations with him are neither valid nor true.
I don't think reality can be that narrowly defined. You are assuming that when something is consciously constructed this can have valid aspects but what if it is a product of the part of the self of which we are not normally aware, the part sometimes called the unconscious. Take for example Carl Jung's encounters with the one he calls Philemon, an aspect of himself he identifies with higher wisdom. http://philemonfoundation.org/about-phi ... -philemon/ Now we are talking truth of a different kind, something that will not fit the neat distinction between subjective and objective, for here there are things from within the self that stand over against the ego with the otherness of the objective.
Sanity may be a fluid concept, but truth is not. A thing is either true or false, one or zero.
But as Jung said
It is of course a fundamental mistake to imagine that when we see the non-value in a value or the untruth in a truth, the value or the truth ceases to exist. It has only become relative. Everything human is relative, because everything rests on an inner polarity; for everything is a phenomenon of energy.
Jung was quite critical of Western or Aristotelian logic favouring the form of thinking developed in Buddhism.
I will take those sources under advisement, and I thank you for bringing them to my attention.
I would William James Varieties of Religious Experience, Otto's The Idea of the Holy (which you may know from it's influence on C. S.Lewis) and Roy Clouser's Knowing with the Heart whose influence can be seen very strongly on what I have said here.

Og3
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Re: Why People Believe in Gods

Post by Og3 » Fri Nov 09, 2018 5:42 am

SEG wrote:
Thu Nov 08, 2018 11:13 pm
Would you be surprised that scientists can replicate this experience by stimulating the brain?
Og3 wrote:
Thu Nov 08, 2018 8:29 pm
Not in the least. But at that moment, there was not a scientist hovering over me with a PETN scan, nor sticking electrodes into my brain.
I was suggesting that there also was not a god hovering over you either, it was just you stimulating yourself.
Inasmuch as I was surprised by the phenomenon, and had no prior expectation of such an experience, I find that unlikely.

Og3
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Re: Why People Believe in Gods

Post by Og3 » Fri Nov 09, 2018 6:43 am

Moonwood the Hare wrote:
Thu Nov 08, 2018 11:19 pm
Og3 wrote:
Tue Nov 06, 2018 11:05 am

The difference between a logical deduction and an experience is that a deduction may be a valid derivation of a false conclusion, based on a false induction, as you note, but an experience cannot. An experience cannot be valid and not true. What would such an experience look like?
The method of knowing by direct experience is widely accepted as valid but is also often thought to be infallible. Descartes for example thought this. If the method is valid and no experience of direct knowing can be valid without the thing perceived being true it would follow that the method must be infallible. You, yourself, seem to be using the method when you say A thing is either true or false, one or zero, which is a restatement of the principle of bivalence, a modified form of the law of excluded middle. You do not feel the need to prove this but experience it as true and expect other people to do the same. It also seems you believe this kind of experience to lead infallibly to the truth and on that I disagree. What is more I think I can show you are wrong.
I can demonstrate that the experience of intuiting something as self evidently true can lead to mistakes or false conclusions. The examples I use will be derrived from the fields of Maths and logic. Frege tried to show that the whole of arithmetic could be derived from self evident axioms, that is from axioms experienced as true. One of these axioms was that sets can either contain their selves or not, so for example the set of all red things is not itself red and so does not contain itself while the set of all things that are not red is not itself red thing and so does not contain itself. This does indeed appear,once you grasp the concepts, to be self evidently true. Frege also says that all sets either contain their selves or do not. An application of the law of excluded middle which is itself regarded as being self evidently true. However Russel raised the question of the set of all sets that do not contain their selves,since this seems neither to contain itself or not. So either sets do not have these properties which it seemed self evident they did, or the law of excluded middle which seemed to be self evident is false. Another example would be the self evident intuition that their cannot be numbers greater than infinity which Cantor showed to be false.
Again I have to ask you for a definition of "valid" in this context. I do make the assumption of the unexcluded middle with respect to truth. I do also realize that this assumption leads me into a rabbit-hole of paradoxes, as any inductive assumption must. From that, I intuit that our reasoning is fundamentally flawed at a very deep level, that is, that there is some ambiguity in how we speak of our most basic terms.

I must confess to a bit of Neo-Platonism, so when we have a set of all things not contained by the set of all red things, and not contained by the set of all non-red things, I tend to think that the set of all things is both meta-red and meta-non-red. But again, this is my intuition, and by expanding the realm of all things into the meta-realm, necessarily moves outside the question at hand.

To simply, I believe (acknowledge, admit?) that there are things we cannot reason out. On one hand, all paradoxes are matters of definition, and as in the case of paradoxes of infinity (Banuch-Tarski comes to mind) we are failing to define infinity in a way that truly comprehends (in the sense of engulfing) the infinite. At the root of it all, we are left in a swamp of paradox, and our only option is to build rafts of assumptions, knowing that they themselves are paradoxical.

But given the assumptions we've made -- and I assume bivalent truth -- then how can we call an experience Valid and Not True?

Even Hume had to say that even though idealism was where his logic lead him, he could not live there. So let's bring this into the space where we live: If I experience a numinous thing, how am I to define its truth and its validity based on your raft of assumptions?
I am suggesting that religious experiences are experiences of this kind, and that while being a valid way of knowing truth they are not infallible.
If I experience a sudden fear that space aliens are landing in my driveway, either there objectively are aliens in my driveway or there are not; and if there are, then my experience is true and my fear is valid; else both the experience and the fear are false and invalid. This is the distinction between reality and delusion.
It is possible to use emotions or feelings as a way to reach conclusions about the external world but this is a skill most people have not developed very well. The fear regarding the aliens would almost certainly be a displaced fear of something else and I would want to explore that rather than focusing on the putative objective truth. And in clinical practice this approach to distinguishing reality and delusion has not proved valid. DSM 5 defines delusions as follows
Delusions are false beliefs based on incorrect inference about external reality that persist despite the evidence to the contrary; these beliefs are not ordinarily accepted by other members of the person's culture or subculture.
The second part of the definition is important because our perceptions of reality are shaped, that is constructed by, our culture. So for example if in a particular culture communicating with gods or angels is normalised then that behavior is not seen as delusional.
But many people in my culture (North America, 21st century) would tend to believe that there were space aliens regardless of proof for or against; that neither validates nor invalidates the truth of the experience. Note that in the first part of the DSM-V definition, you quoted
incorrect inference about external reality
and that phrasing presupposes that there is also a correct inference about external reality. By that definition, a delusion, regardless of its cultural aspect, can be objectively determined to be a false belief. To me, that is also invalid. The cultural aspect, as I understand DSM-5, is solely for the purpose of determining whether such a delusion is normal to the culture. If I live among alien enthusiasts, a sudden fear of space aliens in my driveway is still a delusion, but in that culture, the delusion is normal, and not a diagnostic sign of (for example) schizophrenia per se.
Conclusions I draw ABOUT my experience my be true or false, and independently valid or invalid, but those are deductions, not the experiences in themselves. I speak here exclusively of the experiences.
I am suggesting there are such things as belief forming experiences and that the conclusions and the experience in this case are so close up together they cannot be separated. So my belief that I am sitting at my desk is formed by my experience of sitting at my desk. the experience simply triggers the belief. To put it another way Descartes is wrong: I do not infer the world from my sensations; rather my perceptions lead me to form unavoidable conclusion regarding the world; initially that there is one.
So are you thus saying that even without perceptions, you would know that there was a world? Or are you distinguishing perceptions from sensations?
I disagree with your definition. By your definition, being baptized as an baby, in the long-ago immemorial fog of infancy, is a "religious experience" whereas I would call that a "religious event." (For those following the Logic thread, I am posing a weak negation as an example to counter the strong affirmation of the definition; SOP to oppose SAP).
Firstly I think that psychologically speaking you are completely wrong to think an experience can only impact on our beliefs if we remember it. The evidence points overwhelmingly in the opposite direction. But in any case those who see a causal relationship between belief and baptism do so because they think baptism brings about an objective ontological or relational change so memory would not be a factor if that were true.
In my religious culture, the baptism is purely symbolic, so there is no ontological change. Also, I am defining a religious experience as a communication between a human and a deity, so it stretches the point to suppose that an infant communicates with a deity. We can question whether a baptized infant even has a sense of identity, or of self and not self, at the age of infant baptism.
I think that is way too narrow a definition to account for all religious beliefs. the supernatural is a modern concept stemming from an era when mankind believed it was using science to define the limits of nature and by extension whatever could be placed above or outside nature. If the consequence of an experience is that it engenders a religious belief, surely that is significant in determining whether the experience was a religious one.
I am at a loss to conceive an example of an experience that engenders a religious belief, without it being perceived by the subject as an interaction with something supernatural. Even if I were to walk into the woods and feel from the sublime beauty of that environment that some majesty was somehow embued within nature, I would have to have felt that I interacted with that majesty, whether I called it God, nature, Gaia, Demeter, or "the force."
And I cannot see how you would know whether or not that is the case unless you are claiming to have exhaustive knowledge of that God.
It would be sufficient for that One True God to have exhaustive knowledge of Himself. As a human, with my limited reasoning, bound on all sides by the axioms I have called forth, I can only judge whether or not it is a reasonable conclusion that God is God, that is that my God is the One True and Living God.
I don't accept this need to conflate true and valid.
You have not yet defined "valid."
The evidence does not seem to favour this view. Religious experiences are very varied and even among Christians there are many different types of religious experiences. Some at least seem similar to experiences we find in other traditions. For example I was reading something recently by a Buddhist where he identified the Dark Night of the Soul experience which is a specifically Christian experience with the Buddhist experience known as dukkha nanas or knowledge of suffering. There is a similarity between the two and the psychologist Roberto Assagioli has explored the significance of this kind of experience for personal growth.And although the DNS may be thought of as a Roman Catholic experience there are analogues in Protestantism where this is sometimes called a dessert experience. I think John Wesley describes it in his book on Christian Perfection.
Many Christians feel that the sense of personal relationship with God is something unique to Christian tradition, and while I agree that this is so I feel this writing of the personal dimension in spirituality is found in the Islamic faith in the writings of the Sufis and in Judaism in the Hasidic tradition and especially in the writings of Martin Buber.
I would submit that those are all examples of a specific type of human experience, but that in and of themselves they are not supernatural. DNS is essentially despair, imho. Even an existentialist, denying the metaphysical a priori, will speak of ennui and of existential dread (neither of which is specifically DNS, but both are related).

My contention here is that, while common human experiences, those are not Religious Experiences, in that dread and despair are not interactions with the supernatural. I'll do more research on the Sufis.
Again if you think the born again type conversion experience is the most significant type of Christian experience I would encourage you to take a look at the account of this and its relation to the unconscious in William James' Varieties of Religious Experience.

Yes, I think this is so.

I don't think reality can be that narrowly defined. You are assuming that when something is consciously constructed this can have valid aspects but what if it is a product of the part of the self of which we are not normally aware, the part sometimes called the unconscious. Take for example Carl Jung's encounters with the one he calls Philemon, an aspect of himself he identifies with higher wisdom. http://philemonfoundation.org/about-phi ... -philemon/ Now we are talking truth of a different kind, something that will not fit the neat distinction between subjective and objective, for here there are things from within the self that stand over against the ego with the otherness of the objective.
I think that Jung placed a great emphasis on psychological phenomena, to the point of losing perspective. Jung acknowledges that Philemon was an aspect of himself, so we cannot call him delusional. That he ascribes to Philemon higher wisdom is, in my opinion, a facet of Jung's belief in a collective unconsciousness. This is understood by some as genetic programming, and by others as a shared dream state, and if Jung were asked which it was, he would likely smile benignly and say "Yes."

If I can raise a counter-example from popular culture: In the television show House M.D., House suffers delusions named Amber and uses them to tap into his own unconscious memories. Now, technically Amber is not a delusion because House knows that she is not real; at the same time Amber enables House to have real delusions and to lie to himself about them (and his culture is highly antithetical to imaginary doctors offering assistance and wisdom). If House were to write books about this phenomenon, he might call them the Amber encounters, and there might be an amber foundation for exploring the wisdom he gleaned from her. But I don't see that she would require us to redefine delusion or truth.
But as Jung said Jung was quite critical of Western or Aristotelian logic favouring the form of thinking developed in Buddhism.
Everything … is relative, because … [it] rests on … polarity;
I'm sorry, but Jung or not, that's double talk.
I would William James Varieties of Religious Experience, Otto's The Idea of the Holy (which you may know from it's influence on C. S.Lewis) and Roy Clouser's Knowing with the Heart whose influence can be seen very strongly on what I have said here.
Thank you for the discussion. So, how then might you define "Valid?"

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Moonwood the Hare
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Re: Why People Believe in Gods

Post by Moonwood the Hare » Fri Nov 09, 2018 6:44 pm

Og3 wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 6:43 am
Again I have to ask you for a definition of "valid" in this context.
A way of knowing can be called valid if it reliably leads to true conclusions. Valid ways of knowing might include logical inference, the hypothetico deductive method, induction and direct experience. Some are more reliable than others depending on the context,and none are infallible.
I do make the assumption of the unexcluded middle with respect to truth. I do also realize that this assumption leads me into a rabbit-hole of paradoxes, as any inductive assumption must.
That is interesting. Do you regard all logical laws as inductions or do you intuit any of them as true?
From that, I intuit that our reasoning is fundamentally flawed at a very deep level, that is, that there is some ambiguity in how we speak of our most basic terms.
So although you use reasoning you would not see it as infallible even when used correctly. I think we agree that there are no infallible ways of knowing.
I must confess to a bit of Neo-Platonism, so when we have a set of all things not contained by the set of all red things, and not contained by the set of all non-red things, I tend to think that the set of all things is both meta-red and meta-non-red. But again, this is my intuition, and by expanding the realm of all things into the meta-realm, necessarily moves outside the question at hand.
It is possible we have such a set, if the ascription of a term like non-red to a set is a category error. But I don't see what it means to say all red things are meta-not red.
To simply, I believe (acknowledge, admit?) that there are things we cannot reason out. On one hand, all paradoxes are matters of definition, and as in the case of paradoxes of infinity (Banuch-Tarski comes to mind) we are failing to define infinity in a way that truly comprehends (in the sense of engulfing) the infinite. At the root of it all, we are left in a swamp of paradox, and our only option is to build rafts of assumptions, knowing that they themselves are paradoxical.
So you are agreeing that a method does not need to lead invariably to truth in order to be valid and hence you must see a place for saying aperson's experiential knowing was valid (it is valid to use experience as a way of knowing) whether or not they have reached a true conclusion. So a person may know by experience that Allah is the true God and that experience is valid even if Allah is not the true God because the method used(knowing by experience) is valid whether or not the conclusion was true.
But given the assumptions we've made -- and I assume bivalent truth -- then how can we call an experience Valid and Not True?
As above, the way of knowing (by direct experience) can be valid even if the conclusion reached is false. Just as the way of knowing (reason) can be valid even if it sometimes leads to false conclusions.
Even Hume had to say that even though idealism was where his logic lead him, he could not live there. So let's bring this into the space where we live: If I experience a numinous thing, how am I to define its truth and its validity based on your raft of assumptions?
I don't understand the question here. I don't see why there has to be a special definition of truth or validity for the numinous.
I am suggesting that religious experiences are experiences of this kind, and that while being a valid way of knowing truth they are not infallible.
But many people in my culture (North America, 21st century) would tend to believe that there were space aliens regardless of proof for or against; that neither validates nor invalidates the truth of the experience. Note that in the first part of the DSM-V definition, you quoted
incorrect inference about external reality
and that phrasing presupposes that there is also a correct inference about external reality. By that definition, a delusion, regardless of its cultural aspect, can be objectively determined to be a false belief. To me, that is also invalid. The cultural aspect, as I understand DSM-5, is solely for the purpose of determining whether such a delusion is normal to the culture. If I live among alien enthusiasts, a sudden fear of space aliens in my driveway is still a delusion, but in that culture, the delusion is normal, and not a diagnostic sign of (for example) schizophrenia per se.
Well the problem I see here is that you are trying to use the clinical term delusion in a special metaphysical sense that no responsible clinician would use. This is the way Richard Dawkins wants to use it when he says God is a delusion. You are using it in the same way when you say any God other than the one I believe in is a delusion. I guess you can both say that to each other but this is a special use of the word delusion that boils down to saying whatever someone believes that I don't is a delusion.
In my religious culture, the baptism is purely symbolic, so there is no ontological change. Also, I am defining a religious experience as a communication between a human and a deity, so it stretches the point to suppose that an infant communicates with a deity. We can question whether a baptized infant even has a sense of identity, or of self and not self, at the age of infant baptism.
I would agree that an infant cannot receive communication from a deity, in the sense that there can be no exchange of information, but I regard this idea of our relation with the divine as a modernistic error. Most experiences of the divine do not seem to consist in God passing on new information. There is really no evidence to suggest that God is routinely passing on new information to selected individuals. But an infant could commune with the divine just as it can commune with its mother whether it has a sense of identity or not (and the evidence suggests not). There seems to be an instance of this in Luke's gospel chapter 1 v 41-44. It seems to me to be a major error of enlightenment thinking to see human beings as existing as individuals with a sense of self prior to their being in communion with others.
I would submit that those are all examples of a specific type of human experience, but that in and of themselves they are not supernatural. DNS is essentially despair, imho. Even an existentialist, denying the metaphysical a priori, will speak of ennui and of existential dread (neither of which is specifically DNS, but both are related).

My contention here is that, while common human experiences, those are not Religious Experiences, in that dread and despair are not interactions with the supernatural. I'll do more research on the Sufis.
I know that DNS can lead to despair especially in those who lack instruction but I cannot see that it simply is despair. I cannot see why an interaction with what you are calling the supernatural could not produce dread and despair but as I have said I really do not find the term supernatural very helpful. For one thing it suggests we can only know God is present once we have ruled out all possible natural explanations which seems to lead straight into the god of the gaps.
I think that Jung placed a great emphasis on psychological phenomena, to the point of losing perspective. Jung acknowledges that Philemon was an aspect of himself, so we cannot call him delusional. That he ascribes to Philemon higher wisdom is, in my opinion, a facet of Jung's belief in a collective unconsciousness. This is understood by some as genetic programming, and by others as a shared dream state, and if Jung were asked which it was, he would likely smile benignly and say "Yes."

If I can raise a counter-example from popular culture: In the television show House M.D., House suffers delusions named Amber and uses them to tap into his own unconscious memories. Now, technically Amber is not a delusion because House knows that she is not real; at the same time Amber enables House to have real delusions and to lie to himself about them (and his culture is highly antithetical to imaginary doctors offering assistance and wisdom). If House were to write books about this phenomenon, he might call them the Amber encounters, and there might be an amber foundation for exploring the wisdom he gleaned from her. But I don't see that she would require us to redefine delusion or truth.
My point, which I think you missed, was that all the examples you gave of non-delusional personal perceptions of persons who were not empirically there were conscious constructs. However that seems to be beside the point for you if a product of the unconscious can be equally non-delusional as long as it is acknowledged as part of the self. However Jung does not see Philemon as purely part of his self even in the extended sense of self he uses when he includes the personal unconscious. He sees him as both part of his individual self and as transcending that. He would tend to see God in the same way. And I need to add that Christian tradition, which developed before the enlightenment, does not tend to see God as a purely external being.
Everything … is relative, because … [it] rests on … polarity;
I'm sorry, but Jung or not, that's double talk.
I don't think so. It is pointing to the energic nature of human perception. Each concept contains and tips over into its opposite. We can see that here where the concept of God as an external entity has to be seen as at best a half truth. Pursue it at the expense of the God within and the God within will find you, often in dramatic ways as He tries to get your attention.
Thank you for the discussion. So, how then might you define "Valid?"
As above. And thank you. I do not think we are really very far apart in our understanding. We just approach things differently. I can't recommend Clouser's Knowing with the Heart too strongly. Roy has written a final book summing up his life's work but cannot find a publisher. You may find him interesting to talk to. He will answer emails.

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Re: Why People Believe in Gods

Post by Og3 » Sat Nov 10, 2018 2:21 am

I am hoping to have a time for recreational reading late this Winter; I fear that I've made it too small a priority this year. If I can work in some reading time and possibly a Powell's run, I will keep your recommendations at hand.

I think we are mostly in agreement regarding the failings of reason, and I think I see that you apply validity only to the method and not to the experience per se.
Well the problem I see here is that you are trying to use the clinical term delusion in a special metaphysical sense that no responsible clinician would use. This is the way Richard Dawkins wants to use it when he says God is a delusion. You are using it in the same way when you say any God other than the one I believe in is a delusion. I guess you can both say that to each other but this is a special use of the word delusion that boils down to saying whatever someone believes that I don't is a delusion.
It's not quite that simple. I may be delusional as well; Of course given a choice between accepting what I perceive and a communicated perception that I don't perceive, I will tend to accept my own perceptions first. As I said, I hold to a binary (bivalent, Boolean) view of truth: 0 and 1. This is an axiom, and if you choose not to postulate it, then you may reach different conclusions. But so long as there is an objective truth, whether or not I am delusional depends on whether or not I conform to the objective truth.

I am thinking of delusions in a diagnostic sense, and that does require a reference point. I once held a strong belief in the absolute and unquestionable superiority of a certain make of motor vehicle. Of course that's nonsense; I held a delusion. That delusion (and similar others) was not uncommon in my culture and age group, so it was not a sign of a diagnosable ailment. But it was a delusion; it was a strongly held belief which cannot be objectively true. If Dawkins were right that God cannot be objectively real, then he would be correct that God is a delusion. Of course, he's wrong, but we digress.

So I may be the one who is delusional, if it turns out that I am reincarnated as a bowl of petunias ("Oh, no, not again"). But I doubt it.
But an infant could commune with the divine just as it can commune with its mother whether it has a sense of identity or not (and the evidence suggests not). There seems to be an instance of this in Luke's gospel chapter 1 v 41-44. It seems to me to be a major error of enlightenment thinking to see human beings as existing as individuals with a sense of self prior to their being in communion with others.
"Commune with the divine." See, that's the sort of phrase that gives me angst. If I watch a sunset and feel happy, am I communing with the divine? Or just having a nice day? I'd really like a better definition, something with a bit more concrete on its base. I'll have to run; more perhaps later. But on God of the Gaps, no, I am not that binary. I see no reason why the proximate "natural" cause should rule out a divine efficient cause, just as a cue ball for the proximate cause of an object ball's motion does not rule out the efficient cause of a billiard player.

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Re: Why People Believe in Gods

Post by Moonwood the Hare » Sun Nov 11, 2018 8:59 am

Og3 wrote:
Sat Nov 10, 2018 2:21 am
I am hoping to have a time for recreational reading late this Winter; I fear that I've made it too small a priority this year. If I can work in some reading time and possibly a Powell's run, I will keep your recommendations at hand.

I think we are mostly in agreement regarding the failings of reason, and I think I see that you apply validity only to the method and not to the experience per se.
Yes. If a Muslim says he has an experience of Allah I am not pretending to know what is happening in any kind of ultimate ontological sense. I would say it reasonable for him to say he knows by experience that Allah is the true God.
It's not quite that simple. I may be delusional as well; Of course given a choice between accepting what I perceive and a communicated perception that I don't perceive, I will tend to accept my own perceptions first. As I said, I hold to a binary (bivalent, Boolean) view of truth: 0 and 1. This is an axiom, and if you choose not to postulate it, then you may reach different conclusions. But so long as there is an objective truth, whether or not I am delusional depends on whether or not I conform to the objective truth.

I am thinking of delusions in a diagnostic sense, and that does require a reference point. I once held a strong belief in the absolute and unquestionable superiority of a certain make of motor vehicle. Of course that's nonsense; I held a delusion. That delusion (and similar others) was not uncommon in my culture and age group, so it was not a sign of a diagnosable ailment. But it was a delusion; it was a strongly held belief which cannot be objectively true. If Dawkins were right that God cannot be objectively real, then he would be correct that God is a delusion. Of course, he's wrong, but we digress.

So I may be the one who is delusional, if it turns out that I am reincarnated as a bowl of petunias ("Oh, no, not again"). But I doubt it.
This is largely semantic but I think you are misusing the word delusional and the much less emotive for mistaken would suffice. You have asked SEG if your views are reasonable and he has said no. If he thinks no then he does think you are delusional, but if he thought your views were reasonable but false he would dimply think you were mistaken. A lot of knowledge is person relative. I may know, because I was with him doing something else, that Mike did not rob the shop at 11:00 am on Sunday. But if the judge and jury think I have a motive to lie for my friend. If I can't prove I was with him and if he has form then they may be mistaken in finding hin guilty but they are not delusional.
"Commune with the divine." See, that's the sort of phrase that gives me angst. If I watch a sunset and feel happy, am I communing with the divine? Or just having a nice day? I'd really like a better definition, something with a bit more concrete on its base. I'll have to run; more perhaps later. But on God of the Gaps, no, I am not that binary. I see no reason why the proximate "natural" cause should rule out a divine efficient cause, just as a cue ball for the proximate cause of an object ball's motion does not rule out the efficient cause of a billiard player.
In enlightenment thinking the clear proposition is the ideal type of true communication and interactions between persons can be reduced to the exchange of such propositions. The Bible is then seen as God providing us with a set of such propositions. However I would contend far more is going on in interpersonal relationships, and a child can be in a relationship with God and be aware of that relationship even before it has a sense of itself as an individual. So the romantics may be right in finding God in nature, we may sense a personal presence in the cosmos even if the objective signs of propositional communication are not present.

I think you are confusing your terminology a little. Where you use the term natural Aristotle and those who follow him would use the term efficient and where you use the term efficient they would use the term final. Unless you are introducing some other distinction I am not aware of.

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Re: Why People Believe in Gods

Post by Og3 » Mon Nov 12, 2018 9:57 am

I am necessarily using poor terminology. I am using "natural" as opposed to "supernatural" and not as "of or pertaining to the nature of." I am using "Efficient" as Aristotle intended, to mean the reason for the existence of something: In the case of the motion of the object ball it can be the billiard player, who by fiat caused the motion. It is my understanding that the "Final" Cause of the motion of the ball, in Aristotle's terms, would be so that the billiard player might win the game.

The cause I am throwing in that does not strictly belong would be the proximate cause, which actually comes from the field of law and not of Aristotle's philosophy.

wrt "Communing with the divine," it is interesting that a variety of opinions exist, however imho, our more immediate question, to which we seek an answer, is whether a religious experience implies the existence of a god.

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Re: Why People Believe in Gods

Post by Moonwood the Hare » Mon Nov 12, 2018 5:51 pm

Og3 wrote:
Mon Nov 12, 2018 9:57 am
I am necessarily using poor terminology. I am using "natural" as opposed to "supernatural" and not as "of or pertaining to the nature of." I am using "Efficient" as Aristotle intended, to mean the reason for the existence of something: In the case of the motion of the object ball it can be the billiard player, who by fiat caused the motion. It is my understanding that the "Final" Cause of the motion of the ball, in Aristotle's terms, would be so that the billiard player might win the game.
Yes, but what you are calling the proximate cause would also be an efficient cause as well wouldn't it? Yes the final cause would be the player's purpose just as the final cause of an event could be God's purpose.
The cause I am throwing in that does not strictly belong would be the proximate cause, which actually comes from the field of law and not of Aristotle's philosophy.

Calvin, who did have legal training, uses the term proximate cause and contrasts it with remote cause i.e God can be the remote cause of an event as well as it having a proximate cause. He does elsewhere use the term supernatural but not relating to causality and with the Roman Catholic meaning where nature is contrasted with supernatural grace. I think I have said that the concept of the supernatural as you use it really derives from the enlightenment concept of nature as something governed by scientific laws and the supernatural operating from or not bounded by those laws. Hence from this perspective an event is supernatural if there is no possible scientific explanation. It's why in the RC Church a miracle is only declared once natural explanations are ruled out; it's starting from a false premise as far aa I'm concerned and maybe for you as well? An event can have a natural explanation and still be a miracle (surprising event pointing to God).
wrt "Communing with the divine," it is interesting that a variety of opinions exist, however imho, our more immediate question, to which we seek an answer, is whether a religious experience implies the existence of a god.
No. We can say if there were a God people would have religious experiences but cannot invert that and say if people have religious experiences there is a God (error of affirming the consequent). The only way you could infer God from religious experiences is if there was a type of religious experience people could have iff (if and only if) there was a God, which again takes you into the realm of ruling out all possible natural explanations. For me that is just unnecessary: religious experience gives direct knowledge not inferential knowledge. We know by experience there is a God but we do not infer God from our experience. Just as we know from our experience there is an external world but we do not infer there is an external world from our experience. (Are you familiar with Moore's 'Here is one hand' argument?)

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