Why People Believe in Gods

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Claire
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Re: Why People Believe in Gods

Post by Claire » Mon Oct 29, 2018 4:17 am

Og3 wrote:
Humanguy wrote:Do you accept that there are people of all nationalities and religious beliefs who have had that experience?
Trick question. It relies upon an ambiguous definition and through that, a contradiction.

If there is One True and Living God (meaning that all other gods are neither truly gods nor living, hence the profundity in the meaning of the name "I Am")(YHWH) then it follows that a person who has had a life-changing encounter with the One True and Living God cannot be of a religious belief other than belief in the One True and Living God.

I do believe that there are Christians from all nationalities and who were formerly of all religious beliefs. I have met such men, and we have worshiped the One True and Living God together.

Do I believe that believers in Islam (for example) have had mystical religious experiences convincing them that they must embrace Islam more deeply (or convert to Islam if they were not already Muslims)? In my diligent search for such case studies, I have not found any. I have found a few stories about mystical Islamic experiences, but the nature and quality of those statements ("I heard about this one guy once who...") lead me to discount them, much the way that I discount such stories even from Christians (have you heard the one about the North Korean church that was suddenly raided by soldiers?).

Let's face it, all religions have their Kripkean Dogmatists, who will accept any evidence, however weak, if it supports their position. I once had someone challenge me regarding testimonies on behalf of Sathya Sai Baba, for example. So I read the stories. Every one of them happened at an undefined time and place to an unidentified individual and consisted primarily of an appeal to the emotions with a bit of a miracle thrown in. I discounted them all on the grounds that they have no provenance. I discount the Maria Valtorta stories for the same reason: There is no provenance. I discount stories of people driving through flaming tanker trucks for the same reason.
Maria Valtorta claims to have received visions of Jesus's, Mary's, etc, time on Earth, and dictations from Jesus Himself, His Mother Mary, etc. In regards to her visions for example, she is highly detailed in her descriptions of what she sees, including the people, places, and times in which her visions take place. There are even visions that included certain astronomical events which was shown to be accurate years later, and gave a timeline for the events being described, because those astronomical events could be traced back to specific dates in which they had occurred. She even provides the time, date, and place in which she is writing, and experiencing those visions in the present. So, while you have every right not to believe her claims, I'm curious to know how her writings lack provenance. Will you please explain?

Claire
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Re: Why People Believe in Gods

Post by Claire » Tue Oct 30, 2018 8:05 am

Well, all I've seen are accusations against Maria Valtorta and her writings, but no one backing them up.

Humanguy
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Re: Why People Believe in Gods

Post by Humanguy » Sun Nov 04, 2018 12:12 am

SEG wrote:
Sun Oct 28, 2018 4:51 am
Humanguy wrote:
Sun Oct 28, 2018 2:22 am

It isn't a trick question at all. You said that one reason people believe in a god is that "they have experienced the immediate presence of the One True and Living God." I see no ambiguity in that, and anyway you said it.

And in response I ask you if you accept that believers in other religions can have the same experience, that they could experience the immediate presence of the One True and Living God of their religion.
Have you noticed HG that on every single contentious moral issue, other believers and Christians of every denomination fall on both sides of the arguments? Whether it's gay marriage, euthanasia, stem cell research, condoms, pre-marital sex, ANYTHING, even in the same CHURCH, no-one agrees with everyone else.

Their "One True and Living God" also agrees with them on every issue. For instance you will never hear someone say, "I don't believe in gay marriage, but my god does so I just go along with that." or vica versa.
Just as they will not accept that believers in other religion have valid religious experiences. The Christians own it all, those other people aren't doing it the way they do it so their religions are invalid. Does it make sense? To them, it absolutely does.

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SEG
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Re: Why People Believe in Gods

Post by SEG » Sun Nov 04, 2018 12:39 am

Claire wrote:
Tue Oct 30, 2018 8:05 am
Well, all I've seen are accusations against Maria Valtorta and her writings, but no one backing them up.
all I've seen are accusations against Billy Graham and his writings, but no one backing them up. Who cares?
Premise One: If a compassionate God exists, then he would do things just as a compassionate person would.
Premise Two: God doesn't do things as a compassionate person would.
Conclusion: Therefore, a compassionate God does not exist.

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SEG
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Re: Why People Believe in Gods

Post by SEG » Sun Nov 04, 2018 12:45 am

Humanguy wrote:
Sun Nov 04, 2018 12:12 am
Just as they will not accept that believers in other religion have valid religious experiences. The Christians own it all, those other people aren't doing it the way they do it so their religions are invalid. Does it make sense? To them, it absolutely does.
I found out yesterday from my uncle that not only did his family not believe in God, but his parents (my grandparents) didn't either, except if someone tried to get married to an "outsider" religion like Roman Catholicism. Then all hell would break loose.
Premise One: If a compassionate God exists, then he would do things just as a compassionate person would.
Premise Two: God doesn't do things as a compassionate person would.
Conclusion: Therefore, a compassionate God does not exist.

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Moonwood the Hare
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Re: Why People Believe in Gods

Post by Moonwood the Hare » Sun Nov 04, 2018 2:27 pm

Humanguy wrote:
Sun Nov 04, 2018 12:12 am
Just as they will not accept that believers in other religion have valid religious experiences. The Christians own it all, those other people aren't doing it the way they do it so their religions are invalid. Does it make sense? To them, it absolutely does.
I accept that believers in other religions have valid experiences but that does not lead me to conclude that all religions are somehow true. I think you have to distinguish between using a valid means, in this case experience, and reaching a true conclusion. The problem is that there is another thing I know by experience, and that is that two contradictory claims cannot both be true. And if I do accept this experience based claim I cannot conclude that we are both right even if the means we have both used is valid.

Some people would say that this experience based claim regarding contradictions is so certain that no one could possibly doubt it, and this creates a special case different to other experience based claims, but I would say that is not the case. The law of non contradiction was introduced into western logic by Aristotle precisely because Heraclitus had been making claims like 'we do and do not step into the same river twice'. And around the same time in another part of the world Buddha introduced ways of thinking, also based on experience, that led to logical systems that are not based on this supposedly unavoidable claim.

I know people will argue that if a method does not reach the same conclusion for everyone that uses it then it cannot be valid but that does not seem to me to follow. Most atheists will say they have arrived at their atheism through a combination of evidence and argument and no one doubts that evidence and argument are valid methods. However, it is not the case that all people using evidence and argument always reach the same conclusions. Hence it is not the case that people being able to use a method and reach different conclusions invalidates the method.

Where does that leave me in terms of believers in other religions? It leaves me, as it often leaves me with my fellow Christians, respecting but disagreeing, on some things at least. Then I remember the wise words of John F Kennedy: 'If we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity.'

Humanguy
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Re: Why People Believe in Gods

Post by Humanguy » Mon Nov 05, 2018 4:26 am

Hi Moon. It's a good post but I'm somewhat wasted at this time, but it's a great post, a prime example of your erudite wisdom.

Og3
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Re: Why People Believe in Gods

Post by Og3 » Mon Nov 05, 2018 7:25 am

Moonwood the Hare wrote:
Sun Nov 04, 2018 2:27 pm
Humanguy wrote:
Sun Nov 04, 2018 12:12 am
Just as they will not accept that believers in other religion have valid religious experiences. The Christians own it all, those other people aren't doing it the way they do it so their religions are invalid. Does it make sense? To them, it absolutely does.
I accept that believers in other religions have valid experiences but that does not lead me to conclude that all religions are somehow true. I think you have to distinguish between using a valid means, in this case experience, and reaching a true conclusion. The problem is that there is another thing I know by experience, and that is that two contradictory claims cannot both be true. And if I do accept this experience based claim I cannot conclude that we are both right even if the means we have both used is valid.

Some people would say that this experience based claim regarding contradictions is so certain that no one could possibly doubt it, and this creates a special case different to other experience based claims, but I would say that is not the case. The law of non contradiction was introduced into western logic by Aristotle precisely because Heraclitus had been making claims like 'we do and do not step into the same river twice'. And around the same time in another part of the world Buddha introduced ways of thinking, also based on experience, that led to logical systems that are not based on this supposedly unavoidable claim.

I know people will argue that if a method does not reach the same conclusion for everyone that uses it then it cannot be valid but that does not seem to me to follow. Most atheists will say they have arrived at their atheism through a combination of evidence and argument and no one doubts that evidence and argument are valid methods. However, it is not the case that all people using evidence and argument always reach the same conclusions. Hence it is not the case that people being able to use a method and reach different conclusions invalidates the method.

Where does that leave me in terms of believers in other religions? It leaves me, as it often leaves me with my fellow Christians, respecting but disagreeing, on some things at least. Then I remember the wise words of John F Kennedy: 'If we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity.'
I would contest the word "valid" as being ambiguous. You, here, distinguish between "valid" and "true." I am uncertain what meaning you apply to "valid" in this sense.

To me, a "valid" experience is one that is true. I use true, meaning that it is an actual interaction between a human being and a God; Such an experience is valid and experiences that are not interactions between a human and a god are invalid.

I recall a lecture by a Psych. professor, one Dr. Bedford, who stated that if we would fast for forty days, we would without exception have religious experiences. If we survived that long. Dr. B. referred, of course, to a physiological malfunction of the brain, and thus I would not call such an experience valid. Further, a mystical experience can be caused by peyote, other forms of hallucinogenics, and possibly by PETN scans. I posit that these are malfunctions and must be distinguished from a valid communication between two beings, one of whom happens to be God.

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.

On point: Do people in other religions have religious experiences? Certainly, though again, there is a paucity of reasonable reports. Are those experiences "valid" or "true?" imho, no, they are not.

But I will not commit the fallacy of judging evidence by my conclusion: Bring me case studies and we can discuss the validity thereof.
EGO TE ABSOLVO, and there's nothing you can do about it.

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Moonwood the Hare
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Re: Why People Believe in Gods

Post by Moonwood the Hare » Mon Nov 05, 2018 2:40 pm

Og3 wrote:
Mon Nov 05, 2018 7:25 am
I would contest the word "valid" as being ambiguous. You, here, distinguish between "valid" and "true." I am uncertain what meaning you apply to "valid" in this sense.

To me, a "valid" experience is one that is true.
I remember when my friend was applying for a place on a philosophy course they asked him about the distinction between truth and validity. It seems to be widely accepted by philosophers that truth and validity are distinct. For example I could see your argument is valid but your conclusion is false if your argument was based on a premise I regarded as false. I could also say your method, inference, is valid but your logic is faulty so even though your premise is true and the method you use is valid at a more general level your actual logic is not.
I use true, meaning that it is an actual interaction between a human being and a God; Such an experience is valid and experiences that are not interactions between a human and a god are invalid.
I would not think in that way. It would mean I could never discuss religious experience with a person who did not have the same experience as me and draw the same conclusions from that experience. So it would strike me as being rather impractical as I would be left simply insisting that I was right and anyone with different experiences is wrong. I could proclaim but never dialogue.
I recall a lecture by a Psych. professor, one Dr. Bedford, who stated that if we would fast for forty days, we would without exception have religious experiences. If we survived that long. Dr. B. referred, of course, to a physiological malfunction of the brain, and thus I would not call such an experience valid. Further, a mystical experience can be caused by peyote, other forms of hallucinogenics, and possibly by PETN scans. I posit that these are malfunctions and must be distinguished from a valid communication between two beings, one of whom happens to be God.
I would define religious experience as experience that has a significant influence on religious belief. If you believe in a specific religion then you will tend to regard religious experiences that lead to other types of belief as malfunctions. But it is not the spectacular nature of some such experiences that makes them religious but their consequences.
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.
On point: Do people in other religions have religious experiences? Certainly, though again, there is a paucity of reasonable reports. Are those experiences "valid" or "true?" imho, no, they are not.

But I will not commit the fallacy of judging evidence by my conclusion: Bring me case studies and we can discuss the validity thereof.
Well I need to know what you are reading but something like Happhold's anthology on Mysticism, Ninian Smart's Religious experience of mankind or Keith Ward's Images of Eternity might be relevant. Ward is especially important because he compares Christian, Muslim, Jewish and Hindu experiences of God in a main representative of each tradition and concludes they are all talking about, what on the basis of their definitions, would have to be called the same being. I really won't have time to go through a case study in detail

Og3
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Re: Why People Believe in Gods

Post by Og3 » Tue Nov 06, 2018 11:05 am

Moonwood the Hare wrote:
Mon Nov 05, 2018 2:40 pm
Og3 wrote:
Mon Nov 05, 2018 7:25 am
I would contest the word "valid" as being ambiguous. You, here, distinguish between "valid" and "true." I am uncertain what meaning you apply to "valid" in this sense.

To me, a "valid" experience is one that is true.
I remember when my friend was applying for a place on a philosophy course they asked him about the distinction between truth and validity. It seems to be widely accepted by philosophers that truth and validity are distinct. For example I could see your argument is valid but your conclusion is false if your argument was based on a premise I regarded as false. I could also say your method, inference, is valid but your logic is faulty so even though your premise is true and the method you use is valid at a more general level your actual logic is not.
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? 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.

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 use true, meaning that it is an actual interaction between a human being and a God; Such an experience is valid and experiences that are not interactions between a human and a god are invalid.
I would not think in that way. It would mean I could never discuss religious experience with a person who did not have the same experience as me and draw the same conclusions from that experience. So it would strike me as being rather impractical as I would be left simply insisting that I was right and anyone with different experiences is wrong. I could proclaim but never dialogue.
I recall a lecture by a Psych. professor, one Dr. Bedford, who stated that if we would fast for forty days, we would without exception have religious experiences. If we survived that long. Dr. B. referred, of course, to a physiological malfunction of the brain, and thus I would not call such an experience valid. Further, a mystical experience can be caused by peyote, other forms of hallucinogenics, and possibly by PETN scans. I posit that these are malfunctions and must be distinguished from a valid communication between two beings, one of whom happens to be God.
I would define religious experience as experience that has a significant influence on religious belief. If you believe in a specific religion then you will tend to regard religious experiences that lead to other types of belief as malfunctions. But it is not the spectacular nature of some such experiences that makes them religious but their consequences.
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).

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 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.

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 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.

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.
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.

Sanity may be a fluid concept, but truth is not. A thing is either true or false, one or zero.
On point: Do people in other religions have religious experiences? Certainly, though again, there is a paucity of reasonable reports. Are those experiences "valid" or "true?" imho, no, they are not.

But I will not commit the fallacy of judging evidence by my conclusion: Bring me case studies and we can discuss the validity thereof.
Well I need to know what you are reading but something like Happhold's anthology on Mysticism, Ninian Smart's Religious experience of mankind or Keith Ward's Images of Eternity might be relevant. Ward is especially important because he compares Christian, Muslim, Jewish and Hindu experiences of God in a main representative of each tradition and concludes they are all talking about, what on the basis of their definitions, would have to be called the same being. I really won't have time to go through a case study in detail
I will take those sources under advisement, and I thank you for bringing them to my attention.
EGO TE ABSOLVO, and there's nothing you can do about it.

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