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Thread: The scientific study of religion.

  1. #1 The scientific study of religion. 
    Forum Masters Degree pavlos's Avatar
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    Certain theists here, have complained about the use of certain words/terms and about how the non-believer studies religion.

    So It leaves me to ask those of you who are theist, to help me understand the human phenomenon of religious experience, from a psychological not ecclesiastical or theological perspective. To literally study it from a scientific perspective.

    It would help if we could clearly draw a difference between the nature of religious experiences, and the value of religious claims of truth to mankind.
    And to be able to draw a conclusion as to how this may help mankind, or if religion is even necessary.

    We must discern what's true by making intellectual, philosophical and if you like spiritual judgments.

    Religion is widespread. It can motivate people for good and for evil. Modern societies have to interact with religion and this is sometimes extremely problematic.

    Science can objectively examine all the "earthly" manifestations of religion: the institutions, the rituals, the texts, the symbolism, psychological effects, the traditions, myths, etc. Indeed, we can examine the beliefs themselves and determine if evidence exists to support these beliefs. But it's because religion is such an "important and pervasive phenomenon in human society" that it should be studied (Dennett 2006).
    So lets do that. Thanks

    I would also like to impress on posters to refrain from the use of words like delusion ( myself also) as this only ends up in my threads being closed, or unfounded accusations of trolling (which does beggars belief) or putting words in peoples mouths.
    Lets try to have a discourse in a civil manner, even if you don't actually like what has been written. Just counter it politely thank you.


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    I'll add a suggestion to this that there should be zero debate as to whether or not God exists and refrain from speculating as to the effect religion has on society.

    Rather, ideas and suggestions as to how to study the nature of the belief and how it affects society.


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    put cameras in churche's , lets video tape those miracles
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    I would sttrongly suggest a topic called "The Scientific Method." A better understanding of what science is, how it works, and what it is NOT could be of national importance.
    Then shove "The Scientific Study of Religion" under anthropology, sociology and psychology where it is already being studied, and has been for quite some time.
    Last edited by Daedalus; January 27th, 2013 at 09:12 PM.
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    This section is supposed to be about those science categories and how it pertains particularly to religion. As these types of discussions are prone to go all over the place and contain a lot of personal stuff, it is better to confine it to one section. Still, the basics of the scientific method should be understood by those that want to take part in this kind of discussion of religion from a scientific viewpoint.
    Disclaimer: I do not declare myself to be an expert on ANY subject. If I state something as fact that is obviously wrong, please don't hesitate to correct me. I welcome such corrections in an attempt to be as truthful and accurate as possible.

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    I applaud the objective to discuss religion in a civil manner. I think this particular thread is too broad and needs to identify a particular topic of study, unless you are simply saying in general how things should be discussed in this sub-forum.

    I have another suggestion. It should not be necessary for anyone to identify their own religious persuasion. In fact, it would be preferable not to do so, since it is irrelevant and may suggest a bias. After all, if scientists discuss something like genetics, they do not usually feel the need to identify themselves as to race or national origin. All that matters are the facts being studied and the facts can be studied by anyone willing to adhere to the scientific method.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    I think this particular thread is too broad and needs to identify a particular topic of study, unless you are simply saying in general how things should be discussed in this sub-forum.
    Unfortunately religious experience is a broad subject, there are after all four fifths of the planet that claim they have had such experiences, what better way is there to learn and study said phenomenon than on a forum such as this.
    I know I cant ask all of them about their experiences, but those theists that are here, could give me a heads up on what it is and what is meant by it, and how religiosity is better than none.
    A logician saves the life of a tiny space alien. The alien is very grateful and, since she's omniscient, offers the following reward: she offers to answer any question the logician might pose. Without too much thought (after all, he's a logician), he asks: "What is the best question to ask and what is the correct answer to that question?" The tiny alien pauses. Finally she replies, "The best question is the one you just asked; and the correct answer is the one I gave."
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    Do you make a distinction between religious experience and spiritual experience?
    If so, what is that distinction from your point of view?
    Do you a) accept the reality of spiritual experiences b)do you consider them to be of any value?

    Answers to these questions may help constrain the discussion within paractical bounds as proposed by Harold.
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    Quote Originally Posted by pavlos View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    I think this particular thread is too broad and needs to identify a particular topic of study, unless you are simply saying in general how things should be discussed in this sub-forum.
    Unfortunately religious experience is a broad subject, there are after all four fifths of the planet that claim they have had such experiences, what better way is there to learn and study said phenomenon than on a forum such as this.
    I know I cant ask all of them about their experiences, but those theists that are here, could give me a heads up on what it is and what is meant by it, and how religiosity is better than none.
    It is hard for me to see how that kind of topic could turn into a science discussion, but we'll see what happens.
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Galt View Post
    Do you make a distinction between religious experience and spiritual experience?
    If so, what is that distinction from your point of view?
    Do you a) accept the reality of spiritual experiences b)do you consider them to be of any value?
    How do you define a "spiritual experience"? Is it being moved by a piece of music, poetry or a beautiful sunset. Or is it the direct experience of communication with spirits? (In which case how do you define "spirits"?)
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    I'm trying to determine how Pavlos defines spiritual and religious, since certain definitions may afford a degree of common ground between protagonists that would failitate this discussion. I am not seeking to participate in the discussion itself, but rather to help guide it to a productive outcome.
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Galt View Post
    I'm trying to determine how Pavlos defines spiritual and religious, since certain definitions may afford a degree of common ground between protagonists that would failitate this discussion. I am not seeking to participate in the discussion itself, but rather to help guide it to a productive outcome.
    But you introduced the "spiritual" concept so it seems a little unreasonable to expect someone else to define it....
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Galt View Post
    Do you make a distinction between religious experience and spiritual experience?
    If so, what is that distinction from your point of view?
    Do you a) accept the reality of spiritual experiences b)do you consider them to be of any value?
    I see no distinction, between the two. I consider spiritual to be of the same value.

    Quote Originally Posted by John Galt View Post
    Answers to these questions may help constrain the discussion within paractical bounds as proposed by Harold.
    I hope so.

    Quote Originally Posted by Strange View Post
    How do you define a "spiritual experience"? Is it being moved by a piece of music, poetry or a beautiful sunset. Or is it the direct experience of communication with spirits? (In which case how do you define "spirits"?)
    The reason for this thread is to try and understand the religious experience in a scientific way, being moved by a piece of music etc, has nothing whatsoever to do with spiritual/religious experience they are mutually exclusive.

    Music and poetry can be heard, a sunset seen, a kiss felt etc etc.
    I would simply like to know what such an experience curtails. and as I said in the OP " To be able to draw a conclusion as to how this may help mankind, or if religion is even necessary."
    Last edited by pavlos; January 28th, 2013 at 07:21 AM. Reason: addendum
    A logician saves the life of a tiny space alien. The alien is very grateful and, since she's omniscient, offers the following reward: she offers to answer any question the logician might pose. Without too much thought (after all, he's a logician), he asks: "What is the best question to ask and what is the correct answer to that question?" The tiny alien pauses. Finally she replies, "The best question is the one you just asked; and the correct answer is the one I gave."
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    While I appreciate the attempt to keep this scientific, it almost seems like scientifically defining a religious experience could just as easily belong in the Psychology sub-forum.

    It might be a good idea just to come up with some terms and conditions for this section. Aside from attacking/defending religion, I haven't seen it serve much of a purpose.

    For my own part, I'm primarily interested in the history of religion rather than the explanation of a "spiritual" experience (I don't actually know what that means).
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flick Montana View Post
    For my own part, I'm primarily interested in the history of religion rather than the explanation of a "spiritual" experience (I don't actually know what that means).
    I agree with that completely.
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    Quote Originally Posted by pavlos View Post
    being moved by a piece of music etc, has nothing whatsoever to do with spiritual/religious experience they are mutually exclusive.

    Music and poetry can be heard, a sunset seen, a kiss felt etc etc.
    Religious rituals, services, prayer meetings, books, etc are all things that can be seen and felt. Some music and poetry is religious in nature. I think you need to define the differences if you think they are different, or even "mutually exclusive."
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    From personal experiences, I don't think there are any, except from there being some kind of personal element to religious spirituality. The feelings of awe etc were equally intense.
    Disclaimer: I do not declare myself to be an expert on ANY subject. If I state something as fact that is obviously wrong, please don't hesitate to correct me. I welcome such corrections in an attempt to be as truthful and accurate as possible.

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    I think Harold, you are only putting up barriers, in order for you to justify disrupting or closing this thread, for some reason you seem to have something against me.
    As you know a religious/spiritual experience, or a sacred/mystical experience, are subjective experiences.
    You know this is all I am trying fathom yet you keep putting up barriers.
    I.E a religious experience is that which an individual reports contact with a transcendent reality, or an encounter or union with the divine.
    Religious experience - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    How can we study religion in a scientific way if you keep doing this. Isn't that what the forums for.
    How can I understand them or scientifically test them if you keep putting up barriers, the forum is called the scientific study of religion is it not. Or is it in you opinion the scientific study (last part ommitted). Whats the point of the forum if you wont let religion get studied, or it is only allowed to be studied under your rules.
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    A logician saves the life of a tiny space alien. The alien is very grateful and, since she's omniscient, offers the following reward: she offers to answer any question the logician might pose. Without too much thought (after all, he's a logician), he asks: "What is the best question to ask and what is the correct answer to that question?" The tiny alien pauses. Finally she replies, "The best question is the one you just asked; and the correct answer is the one I gave."
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Galt View Post
    Do you make a distinction between religious experience and spiritual experience?
    If so, what is that distinction from your point of view?
    Do you a) accept the reality of spiritual experiences b)do you consider them to be of any value?

    Answers to these questions may help constrain the discussion within paractical bounds as proposed by Harold.
    Religion:
    The practice of 'believing' In God by performing rites and rituals,and song in an organized manner, directed by the doctrine of the particular religion.

    Spiritual:
    subject matter is under extreme debate, and any attempt to define may be met with controversy.
    The term 'Free' in Free thinking, does not imply control....
    Intelligence is being able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
    God is not inside the box.
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    Quote Originally Posted by pavlos View Post
    I think Harold, you are only putting up barriers, in order for you to justify disrupting or closing this thread, for some reason you seem to have something against me.
    Wow, where did that come from? All I did was to ask for a clarification of terms, and I was not the first one to do it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flick Montana View Post
    For my own part, I'm primarily interested in the history of religion rather than the explanation of a "spiritual" experience (I don't actually know what that means).
    I would like it also to address the historic/social part of the experience. For example all the "health care" (at least in western-europe) where provided "free of charge" (kind of) by nurses from religious orders. At least before it get privatized by the Marshall Plan.

    What kind of other social services did religion cover ?
    From basic (instinctive ?) rituals like grouping at fixed date for a bit of singing (after drinking blood)...
    to provide the worshiping object to fulfill some psychological desire (now replaced by success/money/next IPhone)
    etc etc..
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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by John Galt View Post
    I'm trying to determine how Pavlos defines spiritual and religious, since certain definitions may afford a degree of common ground between protagonists that would failitate this discussion. I am not seeking to participate in the discussion itself, but rather to help guide it to a productive outcome.
    But you introduced the "spiritual" concept so it seems a little unreasonable to expect someone else to define it....
    For some people the two terms are synonymous. From a subsequent post from Pavlos this seems to be true for them. I had hoped agreement on such identity could provide common ground from which to progress. Unfortunately Pavlos has excluded the view that considers the emotions when viewing a sunset, or listening to a piano recital as being spiritual.

    This is unfortunate for two reasons. First, it eliminates that opportunity for finding common ground. Secondly, it is probably a mistaken view. I believe, though I cannot currently provide citatations, that research has shown similar (identical) neurological responses to religious experiences - e.g. feeling one is at one with God and the sense of well being or emotional resonance one experiences when listening to a moving piece of music.


    Quote Originally Posted by Pavlos
    I.E a religious experience is that which an individual reports contact with a transcendent reality, or an encounter or union with the divine.
    This is certainly a valid definition, though I find it more restrictive than necessary, but let me run with it. When I listen to a Brandenburg Concerto I very definitely feel a contact with a transcendent reality. I don't sense God,as such, since I am agnostic, but I suspect that what I feel - and what an MRI would show - is that I am experiencing much the same as a believer having a religious experience.

    I anticipate that you will be uncomfortable with some aspect of this. I look forward to learning what.


    I think you are quite misreading Harold's motives, but more to the point we do not wish this discussion to descend in debates over motives. Could we leave that out of it please.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neverfly View Post
    I'll add a suggestion to this that there should be zero debate as to whether or not God exists and refrain from speculating as to the effect religion has on society.

    Rather, ideas and suggestions as to how to study the nature of the belief and how it affects society.
    I don't see the distinction between "nature of belief" and religion. Both effect societies in measurable ways and can be studied in scientific ways--heck that tends to be among the more interesting.

    --
    Addressing the later part of the thread:
    I doubt there is any objective evidence to suggest an difference between what religious people characterize as religions/spiritual experiences and the sweeping feelings of emotion or insight many of us experience occasionally--such as overwhelming feeling of awe when I watch the fury of a storm, or elation to listening to a seemingly transcendent human performance, or suddenly awakening from a dream knowing the answer to a problem with remarkable clarity "as if it was given to me" etc. A Christian would suggest (and have), those experiences are God touching me even as I deny him, but I'm pretty sure they are part of my unconscious brain that occasionally asserts itself--either way the response could be measured with a self-reported survey or the right instruments. As JG suggest: "and what an MRI would show - I am experiencing much the same as a believer having a religious experience."
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flick Montana
    While I appreciate the attempt to keep this scientific, it almost seems like scientifically defining a religious experience could just as easily belong in the Psychology sub-forum.
    I have recently subscribed to the idea that religion can, and only will exist scientifically in the realms of psychology.
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    I don't spend a lot of time on social science research. However, from what I have read it seems that one methodology is to interview people and look for patterns. The investigator uses an "instrument" to guide the interview. Thus, I will try and give an example of a religious experience to respond to Pavlos' initial query / instrument.

    I had a significant change in religious perception about 20 years or so ago. I basically decided to determine for myself if God existed. So I decided to chase God and do whatever it takes to find Him. The changes included:
    1. Personal time in prayer and Bible study. Repentance was a key part of that.
    2. Joining a local church.
    3. Making an effort to comply / improve my own compliance with teachings of the Catholic church that hitherto I had basically complied with what I agreed with.

    The change that occurred was mainly one of perception. I started seeing God in events that hitherto I had attributed to chance or luck. Some of these events were very low probability "coincidences".

    Over the years I have come to see most religious experiences as falling into two categories:

    1. God lets me know that I am not alone.
    2. God teaches me something important.

    I am currently in the middle of #2. So I will relate a few details. Sometimes we find ourselves in situations where we are treated the way we have treated someone else, or even the way we have treated God.

    Recently, someone I am quite fond of did something that was pretty rude. At the time this happened I had even been quietly working on something on this person's behalf (without their knowledge). Then, wham, I felt like I was "smacked" by the individual's behavior. Right after this happened, a "revelation" flashed across the "screen of my mind" that basically said "Now you know how I feel."

    From this "experience" I learned about how God is often working "behind the scenes" on our behalf, and when we sin how much it hurts God. I also gained a better understanding of "reconciliation". So although I am going to bring up the issue with the individual, I will also be reflecting on my own behavior and I probably will need to apologize as well.

    From my own "experiences", reconciliation is a key element to changing one's perception of God's presence.
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    Interesting. Would you concede that all of this reflects your interpretation of what is happening, but is not subtstantive evidence that this is what is happening?
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    Quote Originally Posted by dedo View Post

    I had a significant change in religious perception about 20 years or so ago. I basically decided to determine for myself if God existed. So I decided to chase God and do whatever it takes to find Him. The changes included:
    1. Personal time in prayer and Bible study. Repentance was a key part of that.
    2. Joining a local church.
    3. Making an effort to comply / improve my own compliance with teachings of the Catholic church that hitherto I had basically complied with what I agreed with.

    The change that occurred was mainly one of perception. I started seeing God in events that hitherto I had attributed to chance or luck. Some of these events were very low probability "coincidences".
    It is this bit that most atheists would have an issue with. I am sure you are aware of that already and why that would be? I am sure you are already aware of these phenomena: Confirmation bias - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia / Apophenia - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia ? These are known mechanisms in humans.
    Disclaimer: I do not declare myself to be an expert on ANY subject. If I state something as fact that is obviously wrong, please don't hesitate to correct me. I welcome such corrections in an attempt to be as truthful and accurate as possible.

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    Quote Originally Posted by John Galt View Post
    Interesting. Would you concede that all of this reflects your interpretation of what is happening, but is not subtstantive evidence that this is what is happening?
    Sure.

    For that kind of "evidence", Pavlos would have to develop an instrument that was used to interview people in a context where each interviewee could not see what others have said. Then, patterns would come closer to something that one could draw conclusions from.

    What we are doing here is more informal. But it still could be the basis designing an actual instrument, or for launching a real study.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dedo View Post
    From my own "experiences", reconciliation is a key element to changing one's perception of God's presence.
    Would you disagree if I compared your personal experience to the following (using a series of more neutral terms)?

    A newly gained and internalized perspective on a particular subject with a rationale and narrative that is attributed to an intelligent unseen agent.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dedo View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by John Galt View Post
    Interesting. Would you concede that all of this reflects your interpretation of what is happening, but is not subtstantive evidence that this is what is happening?
    Sure.

    For that kind of "evidence", Pavlos would have to develop an instrument that was used to interview people in a context where each interviewee could not see what others have said. Then, patterns would come closer to something that one could draw conclusions from.

    What we are doing here is more informal. But it still could be the basis designing an actual instrument, or for launching a real study.
    You mean a study into whether you really do experience an extraordinary number of coincidences? Not sure what your aim is with this study?
    Disclaimer: I do not declare myself to be an expert on ANY subject. If I state something as fact that is obviously wrong, please don't hesitate to correct me. I welcome such corrections in an attempt to be as truthful and accurate as possible.

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    Quote Originally Posted by scoobydoo1 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by dedo View Post
    From my own "experiences", reconciliation is a key element to changing one's perception of God's presence.
    Would you disagree if I compared your personal experience to the following (using a series of more neutral terms)?

    A newly gained and internalized perspective on a particular subject with a rationale and narrative that is attributed to an intelligent unseen agent.
    I don't see a problem with your description. That is probably the kind of language that would need to go into a proposal for a study.

    Kalster:

    I think at this point Pavlos would just be collecting preliminary data. Patterns only emerge after numerous subjects are interviewed independently from one other. If 50 people say that religious perception / experience changed when _______ practice was done, then the pattern could be important. Interpretation of the pattern is up to the authors, and would come in the discussion.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dedo View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by scoobydoo1 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by dedo View Post
    From my own "experiences", reconciliation is a key element to changing one's perception of God's presence.
    Would you disagree if I compared your personal experience to the following (using a series of more neutral terms)?

    A newly gained and internalized perspective on a particular subject with a rationale and narrative that is attributed to an intelligent unseen agent.
    I don't see a problem with your description. That is probably the kind of language that would need to go into a proposal for a study.

    Kalster:

    I think at this point Pavlos would just be collecting preliminary data. Patterns only emerge after numerous subjects are interviewed independently from one other. If 50 people say that religious perception / experience changed when _______ practice was done, then the pattern could be important. Interpretation of the pattern is up to the authors, and would come in the discussion.
    Ok, but realistically I don't think there is going to be a study.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Quantime View Post
    I have recently subscribed to the idea that religion can, and only will exist scientifically in the realms of psychology.
    It would be truly limiting. There is not only the introversion part, that handle some of the psychological need (fear of death), but all the sociological / historical/political influence.

    I can see clear similitude in the need to build a Cathedral, than to build a Coliseum. Different game, similar people shepherding, no ?
    Anyway it give a political backbone and entertainment to entire societies.
    What a the Pyramids, and why on earth a bunch of apes may decide to "build that" ?
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    I think at this point Pavlos would just be collecting preliminary data. Patterns only emerge after numerous subjects are interviewed independently from one other. If 50 people say that religious perception / experience changed when _______ practice was done, then the pattern could be important. Interpretation of the pattern is up to the authors, and would come in the discussion.
    it would have to consider the amount of value a person places on certain places/things/actions affecting such an experience.
    lots of ppl carry cross's, some would give it unesecary value..(in 50 studies 38 had cross's)..or whatever..

    i like the idea of approaching it from a 'Bethoven' way...

    and there have been studies..(IE, the God helmet)
    The term 'Free' in Free thinking, does not imply control....
    Intelligence is being able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
    God is not inside the box.
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    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER View Post
    Ok, but realistically I don't think there is going to be a study.
    There have been several over the years.
    A logician saves the life of a tiny space alien. The alien is very grateful and, since she's omniscient, offers the following reward: she offers to answer any question the logician might pose. Without too much thought (after all, he's a logician), he asks: "What is the best question to ask and what is the correct answer to that question?" The tiny alien pauses. Finally she replies, "The best question is the one you just asked; and the correct answer is the one I gave."
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    We as humans are conditioned to our planet, we are hard wired to it. We aqcuire preferences for certain personal things, through our lifetime. Anything however that effects our senses can be tested, emotional responses are included in that. INSIDE STORY: MRI Scans

    We are evolved organisms, from complex chemical combinations. All life can be conditioned by it's environment and by experiences.
    There is also instinctual and genetic conditioning as well, like the flight or fight response or sexual behaviour.

    As humans we have been extremely conditioned in our lives. The past with its experience and knowledge and memory informs us how to react to present situations. It is this conditioning which is responsible for much of our behaviour.

    Emotional reactions to certain stimuli is merely the basis of our conditioned behaviour.

    In order to actually study the religious experience phenomena. We would need to provide facts, definitions, references to source material, and any point of information which explains the main features of the selected experience accurately.

    We will need to further examine the main aspects or viewpoints of the religious experience from different perspectives which might include highlighting points of comparison between them.

    Then we would need to evaluate supported judgements about it's various parts and present a conclusion which is supported by verifiable evidence.

    Simply stating I experienced "X" is not good enough, how can such an experience be demonstrated to another individual.
    A logician saves the life of a tiny space alien. The alien is very grateful and, since she's omniscient, offers the following reward: she offers to answer any question the logician might pose. Without too much thought (after all, he's a logician), he asks: "What is the best question to ask and what is the correct answer to that question?" The tiny alien pauses. Finally she replies, "The best question is the one you just asked; and the correct answer is the one I gave."
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    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER View Post
    You mean a study into whether you really do experience an extraordinary number of coincidences? Not sure what your aim is with this study?
    There is an experiment that B.F. Skinner the behaviorist did with his pigeons. (reference to which I don't have at the moment.)
    Where a randomly accuring behavior on part of the bird, such as a twitch, or a droop of a wing would coincide with the random drop of a food pellet. The bird would start to increase the frequency of this behavior, thus eliciting a greater number of correspondences.
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    Quote Originally Posted by pavlos View Post
    We as humans are conditioned to our planet, we are hard wired to it. We aqcuire preferences for certain personal things, through our lifetime. Anything however that effects our senses can be tested, emotional responses are included in that. INSIDE STORY: MRI Scans

    We are evolved organisms, from complex chemical combinations. All life can be conditioned by it's environment and by experiences.
    There is also instinctual and genetic conditioning as well, like the flight or fight response or sexual behaviour.

    As humans we have been extremely conditioned in our lives. The past with its experience and knowledge and memory informs us how to react to present situations. It is this conditioning which is responsible for much of our behaviour.

    Emotional reactions to certain stimuli is merely the basis of our conditioned behaviour.

    In order to actually study the religious experience phenomena. We would need to provide facts, definitions, references to source material, and any point of information which explains the main features of the selected experience accurately.

    We will need to further examine the main aspects or viewpoints of the religious experience from different perspectives which might include highlighting points of comparison between them.

    Then we would need to evaluate supported judgements about it's various parts and present a conclusion which is supported by verifiable evidence.

    Simply stating I experienced "X" is not good enough, how can such an experience be demonstrated to another individual.
    Just improve your instrument / questions if you want to explore different areas.

    Obviously, the instrument should not reveal the views of the investigator.
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    You mean a study into whether you really do experience an extraordinary number of coincidences? Not sure what your aim is with this study?
    I would have thought the bulk of tedious work in this kind of study would be in

    1) calculating statistical likelihoods for reported coincidences.
    2) testing the subjects' understandings of chance and probability.

    The interesting part comes when you try to devise some valid way of putting them together in a way that produces usable results.
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    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    You mean a study into whether you really do experience an extraordinary number of coincidences? Not sure what your aim is with this study?
    I would have thought the bulk of tedious work in this kind of study would be in

    1) calculating statistical likelihoods for reported coincidences.
    2) testing the subjects' understandings of chance and probability.

    The interesting part comes when you try to devise some valid way of putting them together in a way that produces usable results.
    I am searching for studies about people attributing failure to external contingencies.
    "My football team has lost"-> The referee was unfair/ God was punishing me / the game was rigged. The idea that they were weaker did not often occurs to them ? or did it ?

    Coincidences and the Bayesian working of the brain is definitely to be measured, but most likely, a level of self blinding will "noise" the result of any "belief based" properties.
    And self blinding/stubbornness is somewhat needed so the system agents behave in some kind of predictive way (some kind of inertia). Would it not be total chaos otherwise ?

    I can see it as an efficient trait in term of survival, to stop pondering at one time an just "get on with it".
    To choose a camp, a recipe, a way of life. To collapse that wavelike probability of a freewill and "get dirty".
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    Quote Originally Posted by dedo View Post
    I don't spend a lot of time on social science research. However, from what I have read it seems that one

    methodology is to interview people and look for patterns. The investigator uses an "instrument" to guide the interview. Thus, I will try

    and give an example of a religious experience to respond to Pavlos' initial query / instrument.
    Looking for patterns will only help me find common denominators, because we are conditioned from birth, some of us more so by religious indoctrination/inculcation.

    So there are going to be common experiences with common stories, but this in no way makes them testable or true. a lot of people believe they were taken by aliens, their stories being extremely similar, yet with no proof at all.
    They are ask the same questions and give the same answers to they experiences. So the patterns are there, but are rendered moot.
    As are religious experiences, for the very same reason.

    Hence why I've asked "In order to actually study the religious experience phenomena. We would need to provide facts, definitions, references to source material, and any point of information which explains the main features of the selected experience accurately.

    We will need to further examine the main aspects or viewpoints of the religious experience from different perspectives which might include highlighting points of comparison between them.

    Then we would need to evaluate supported judgements about it's various parts and present a conclusion which is supported by verifiable evidence.
    "

    Quote Originally Posted by dedo View Post
    I had a significant change in religious perception about 20 years or so ago. I basically decided to determine for myself if God existed. So I decided to chase God and do whatever it takes to find Him. The changes included:
    1. Personal time in prayer and Bible study. Repentance was a key part of that.
    2. Joining a local church.
    3. Making an effort to comply / improve my own compliance with teachings of the Catholic church that hitherto I had basically complied

    with what I agreed with.

    The change that occurred was mainly one of perception. I started seeing God in events that hitherto I had attributed to chance or luck.

    Some of these events were very low probability "coincidences".

    Over the years I have come to see most religious experiences as falling into two categories:

    1. God lets me know that I am not alone.
    2. God teaches me something important.
    And what makes this testable? where would I find evidence? what conclusion could I get too? Your viewpoint only becomes viable once some basic truth/s has been established.
    Only then can we make a judgement on it's veracity.

    Just studying patterns isn't going to help me reach a conclusion.
    A logician saves the life of a tiny space alien. The alien is very grateful and, since she's omniscient, offers the following reward: she offers to answer any question the logician might pose. Without too much thought (after all, he's a logician), he asks: "What is the best question to ask and what is the correct answer to that question?" The tiny alien pauses. Finally she replies, "The best question is the one you just asked; and the correct answer is the one I gave."
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    Quote Originally Posted by pavlos View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by dedo View Post
    I had a significant change in religious perception about 20 years or so ago. I basically decided to determine for myself if God existed. So I decided to chase God and do whatever it takes to find Him. The changes included:
    1. Personal time in prayer and Bible study. Repentance was a key part of that.
    2. Joining a local church.
    3. Making an effort to comply / improve my own compliance with teachings of the Catholic church that hitherto I had basically complied

    with what I agreed with.

    The change that occurred was mainly one of perception. I started seeing God in events that hitherto I had attributed to chance or luck.

    Some of these events were very low probability "coincidences".

    Over the years I have come to see most religious experiences as falling into two categories:

    1. God lets me know that I am not alone.
    2. God teaches me something important.
    And what makes this testable? where would I find evidence? what conclusion could I get too? Your viewpoint only becomes viable once some basic truth/s has been established.
    Only then can we make a judgement on it's veracity.

    Just studying patterns isn't going to help me reach a conclusion.
    um.. the first part is gathering data..you are not observing a phenomenon with a conclusion already in mind..with exception, concerning God, without any proof one way or the other, all viewpoints are viable..

    what is that axiom? when there is no proof to the contrary all hypothosis's are valid. (?)

    don't go into the experiment expecting a certain result. it increases the chance that you will make the data fit your conclusion.
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    Just a reminder that the anecdotes offer very little compared to objective studies, so we shouldn't solicit them or dwell on them in a science of religion discussion. It's much more effective to stick to peer review studies when possible.

    For Example:
    "
    We used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to measure signal changes in the brains of thirty subjects—fifteen committed Christians and fifteen nonbelievers—as they evaluated the truth and falsity of religious and nonreligious propositions. For both groups, and in both categories of stimuli, belief (judgments of “true” vs judgments of “false”) was associated with greater signal in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, an area important for self-representation [3], [4], [5], [6], emotional associations [7], reward [8], [9], [10], and goal-driven behavior [11]. This region showed greater signal whether subjects believed statements about God, the Virgin Birth, etc. or statements about ordinary facts. A comparison of both stimulus categories suggests that religious thinking is more associated with brain regions that govern emotion, self-representation, and cognitive conflict, while thinking about ordinary facts is more reliant upon memory retrieval networks."
    PLOS ONE: The Neural Correlates of Religious and Nonreligious Belief
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    Quote Originally Posted by NMSquirrel View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by pavlos View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by dedo View Post
    I had a significant change in religious perception about 20 years or so ago. I basically decided to determine for myself if God existed. So I decided to chase God and do whatever it takes to find Him. The changes included:
    1. Personal time in prayer and Bible study. Repentance was a key part of that.
    2. Joining a local church.
    3. Making an effort to comply / improve my own compliance with teachings of the Catholic church that hitherto I had basically complied

    with what I agreed with.

    The change that occurred was mainly one of perception. I started seeing God in events that hitherto I had attributed to chance or luck.

    Some of these events were very low probability "coincidences".

    Over the years I have come to see most religious experiences as falling into two categories:

    1. God lets me know that I am not alone.
    2. God teaches me something important.
    And what makes this testable? where would I find evidence? what conclusion could I get too? Your viewpoint only becomes viable once some basic truth/s has been established.
    Only then can we make a judgement on it's veracity.

    Just studying patterns isn't going to help me reach a conclusion.
    um.. the first part is gathering data..you are not observing a phenomenon with a conclusion already in mind.
    No of course not you go where the evidence takes you.
    You do not make a conclusion before evidence is obtained, then you study said evidence and look for more corroborating evidence else you will colour the data with bias.
    Quote Originally Posted by NMSquirrel View Post
    with exception, concerning God, without any proof one way or the other, all viewpoints are viable..
    Wrong, how so. If what you say is correct then belief in fairies, orks, wizards, dragons, unicorns, etc, are all just as viable.
    If something has no evidence to support it, then there is no logical reason to believe it, no evidence does not make it just as reasonable to believe.

    If I believe I was HIV positive etc, without any evidence would it be reasonable for me to believe that I was.
    And live my life accordingly.

    Quote Originally Posted by NMSquirrel View Post
    what is that axiom? when there is no proof to the contrary all hypothosis's are valid. (?)
    Already shown to be nonsense.

    Quote Originally Posted by NMSquirrel View Post
    don't go into the experiment expecting a certain result. it increases the chance that you will make the data fit your conclusion.
    You got that arse about face, sir, that is exactly what you are suggesting I do.
    A logician saves the life of a tiny space alien. The alien is very grateful and, since she's omniscient, offers the following reward: she offers to answer any question the logician might pose. Without too much thought (after all, he's a logician), he asks: "What is the best question to ask and what is the correct answer to that question?" The tiny alien pauses. Finally she replies, "The best question is the one you just asked; and the correct answer is the one I gave."
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    Quote Originally Posted by pavlos View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by NMSquirrel View Post
    with exception, concerning God, without any proof one way or the other, all viewpoints are viable..
    Wrong, how so. If what you say is correct then belief in fairies, orks, wizards, dragons, unicorns, etc, are all just as viable.
    dont go anti-religion on me ..i put several disclaimers on that statement...

    everything else you said, ignored the disclaimers..
    The term 'Free' in Free thinking, does not imply control....
    Intelligence is being able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
    God is not inside the box.
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    Quote Originally Posted by NMSquirrel View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by pavlos View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by NMSquirrel View Post
    with exception, concerning God, without any proof one way or the other, all viewpoints are viable..
    Wrong, how so. If what you say is correct then belief in fairies, orks, wizards, dragons, unicorns, etc, are all just as viable.
    dont go anti-religion on me ..i put several disclaimers on that statement...

    everything else you said, ignored the disclaimers..
    Why is "god" allowed the exception and none of the other examples?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dywyddyr View Post
    Why is "god" allowed the exception and none of the other examples?
    didn't say he was the exception..

    the excuses some ppl use to justify god are the exceptions..(some are just too ridiculous to consider)
    The term 'Free' in Free thinking, does not imply control....
    Intelligence is being able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
    God is not inside the box.
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    Then this
    If what you say is correct then belief in fairies, orks, wizards, dragons, unicorns, etc, are all just as viable.
    applies?
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    I am still unclear about how the proposed study is to be conducted. Is it something along the lines of the study Lynx referenced? Dedo?
    Disclaimer: I do not declare myself to be an expert on ANY subject. If I state something as fact that is obviously wrong, please don't hesitate to correct me. I welcome such corrections in an attempt to be as truthful and accurate as possible.

    "Gullibility kills" - Carl Sagan
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    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER View Post
    I am still unclear about how the proposed study is to be conducted. Is it something along the lines of the study Lynx referenced? Dedo?
    It is an enigma to me also. It is Pavlos' study. It seems as though Pavlos' is still working it out. I only made a suggestion so that responding to the initial query / instrument was reasonable.

    As far as I can tell, Pavlos is just trying to comprehend what different people interpret as a religious experience.

    Whether that alone is something that an audience would want to read about, or whether it would be helpful to obtain information on whether such experience effects something else that is measurable is beyond me.

    Perhaps people who have read studies of religious experiences would know more about what kind of things could be investigated to see if this can be steered toward something new.
    Last edited by dedo; January 30th, 2013 at 05:38 PM.
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    Ok, let me ask this: How do these events that you notice where god shows himself in your life point you towards a certain religion? NMSquirrel describes experiencing the same kinds of "god moments", if I can put it like that, that you do, yet he feels compelled to disregard any specific religions, including your Catholic leanings. From your perspective, would you say he doesn't get the whole message or that is just how god interacts with him, or...? Again, how do you make this determination?
    Disclaimer: I do not declare myself to be an expert on ANY subject. If I state something as fact that is obviously wrong, please don't hesitate to correct me. I welcome such corrections in an attempt to be as truthful and accurate as possible.

    "Gullibility kills" - Carl Sagan
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    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER View Post
    Ok, let me ask this: How do these events that you notice where god shows himself in your life point you towards a certain religion? NMSquirrel describes experiencing the same kinds of "god moments", if I can put it like that, that you do, yet he feels compelled to disregard any specific religions, including your Catholic leanings. From your perspective, would you say he doesn't get the whole message or that is just how god interacts with him, or...? Again, how do you make this determination?
    From my perspective, God can interact with people in different ways. The emotional connections people get with nature, art, or music is one of the most common. Since I see God as an artist, I think He likes to move people with His art. That is my perspective.

    However, most of the teaching on how to do better comes from the local church, and from people around me that God works through.

    If I am struggling with getting things done, and "coincidentally" I walk into a sermon (last Sunday) dealing with procrastination, or a friend gives tips on prioritizing, then I thank God for that.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dedo View Post
    From my perspective, God can interact with people in different ways.
    How do you know it's god? Or, more bluntly: what makes you think it's god?

    The emotional connections people get with nature, art, or music is one of the most common.
    So "joy" or whatever is felt is a connection to god? How do you know?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dywyddyr View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by dedo View Post
    From my perspective, God can interact with people in different ways.
    How do you know it's god? Or, more bluntly: what makes you think it's god?

    The emotional connections people get with nature, art, or music is one of the most common.
    So "joy" or whatever is felt is a connection to god? How do you know?
    A common believer's perspective is to attribute all good things as coming from God. So if it is good, then it is easy.

    It gets tougher if you are trying to plot a course or make a decision. Then you can compare what you are doing to the Bible or get counsel from others. Some decisions require specific expertise that can only come from people with that training. However, one concept I got from a local church is that God can only guide us if we are moving. So do something to get guided. (I am talking to myself.)

    It gets easier if several different sources all say the same thing.

    Even Christian theology tells people to question whether something comes from God.

    From my perspective, God can work through anyone including non-believers through his / her conscience. Thus, I am careful to avoid judging others since you never know who is going to help you along the way.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dedo View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Dywyddyr View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by dedo View Post
    From my perspective, God can interact with people in different ways.
    How do you know it's god? Or, more bluntly: what makes you think it's god?

    The emotional connections people get with nature, art, or music is one of the most common.
    So "joy" or whatever is felt is a connection to god? How do you know?
    A common believer's perspective is to attribute all good things as coming from God. So if it is good, then it is easy.
    This is where your statement fails, as it does not answer the question.
    In fact it is completely irrelevant, the question posed was "how do you know?"

    Quote Originally Posted by dedo View Post
    As far as I can tell, Pavlos is just trying to comprehend what different people interpret as a religious experience.
    No that is wrong, what I am trying to fathom is why people claim certain things as religious experience, and how those claims can be verified.
    I have yet to come across a religious experience that can't be shown to be purely subjective.
    Last edited by pavlos; January 30th, 2013 at 06:58 PM. Reason: addendum
    A logician saves the life of a tiny space alien. The alien is very grateful and, since she's omniscient, offers the following reward: she offers to answer any question the logician might pose. Without too much thought (after all, he's a logician), he asks: "What is the best question to ask and what is the correct answer to that question?" The tiny alien pauses. Finally she replies, "The best question is the one you just asked; and the correct answer is the one I gave."
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    IOW your default position is to say "if it's good it's from god", without examining why you think this is so?
    Without actually having any "evidence" that it is so?
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    Pavlos..

    What if..?

    What if you got the evidence for God beyond a shadow of a doubt, absolute empirical proof that God exists..

    Then what?

    What would that change?
    The term 'Free' in Free thinking, does not imply control....
    Intelligence is being able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
    God is not inside the box.
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    Quote Originally Posted by NMSquirrel View Post
    What if you got the evidence for God beyond a shadow of a doubt, absolute empirical proof that God exists..

    Then what?

    What would that change?
    He'd accept that God exists, as would any other skeptical rationally minded person who accepts proof of empirical, observable and testable evidence.
    "If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe". - Carl Sagan
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    Quote Originally Posted by NMSquirrel View Post
    Pavlos..

    What if..?

    What if you got the evidence for God beyond a shadow of a doubt, absolute empirical proof that God exists..

    Then what?

    What would that change?
    I am not intending to troll when I ask: which one?
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    irrelevant..
    (imagine society fighting over 'which' God just made himself known..)
    The term 'Free' in Free thinking, does not imply control....
    Intelligence is being able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
    God is not inside the box.
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    Quote Originally Posted by NMSquirrel View Post
    irrelevant..
    (imagine society fighting over 'which' God just made himself known..)
    Sort of my point. You have a different version of god than Dedo has, but rely on more or less the same kind of subjective experiences to inform your respective versions. The same can be said about the rest of the huge variety of different subjective definitions of god and the subjective experiences that inform that variety.

    That is part of why I am asking: which one? If it is just evidence for a being possessing the basics of godly characteristics (Omnipotence, Omnipresence, and Omniscience), then I would be extremely surprised. I would then be stuck, as I wouldn't know what to do with that information. I wouldn't be afraid or anything though.
    Disclaimer: I do not declare myself to be an expert on ANY subject. If I state something as fact that is obviously wrong, please don't hesitate to correct me. I welcome such corrections in an attempt to be as truthful and accurate as possible.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dywyddyr View Post
    IOW your default position is to say "if it's good it's from god", without examining why you think this is so?
    Without actually having any "evidence" that it is so?
    Maybe I am just not explaining it very well.

    The change I experienced was mainly one of perception. The way I perceived the same events changed. Some of the events were incredibly improbable. I felt the "improbable" events happened to convince me that God is there. They were not designed such that I could use them to convince others.

    I never conducted "tests" of reproducibility. The only "tests" I think I conduct is if I mess up I may see if I am going to have some sort of "judgement" coincide with the mistake. Instead, what I almost always find is an expression of mercy. Gentle correction only comes if something becomes a pattern like continuing to procrastinate.

    From my perspective, God is like the perfect parent. He keeps finding a way to let me know He is there no matter what. He will do His best to keep me from messing up; however, if I really mess up, He will walk with me through it, just like a parent would. He wants me to know that He will never leave or abandon me, even if I mess up.

    If you are looking for something measurable there are a couple things that might be testable that are common things believers attribute to God:

    1. When I was growing up, my mother taught me to say "Three Hail Mary's" when I lost something that I am trying to find. I do this to this day. It is so effective that my Protestant wife now does it. That is something that could be tested.

    2. Daily religious practice seems to make it easier to resist temptation. That is something that could be tested.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dedo View Post
    The change I experienced was mainly one of perception.
    I'd say that about sums it up. IOW not "actually" god.

    1. When I was growing up, my mother taught me to say "Three Hail Mary's" when I lost something that I am trying to find. I do this to this day. It is so effective that my Protestant wife now does it. That is something that could be tested.
    It certainly could be. And it'll probably end up with the same results as those testing the efficacy of prayer.
    (Although there's some possibility that that practice helps focus the memory, thus helping the location of lost objects).

    2. Daily religious practice seems to make it easier to resist temptation. That is something that could be tested.
    Wouldn't say anything about "god" though.
    All you're doing here is a form of cognitive behavioural therapy. A self-reinforcing behaviour.


    Either of those could be tested in a number of ways: checking the "religion" aspect against no practises, checking a meaningless phrase against "Hail Mary"... etc.
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    Quote Originally Posted by NMSquirrel View Post
    Pavlos..

    What if..?

    What if you got the evidence for God beyond a shadow of a doubt, absolute empirical proof that God exists..

    Then what?

    What would that change?
    Then I would have to accept that, that being is more powerful than I, and act accordingly. However I could never know if that being was actually god and not a extremely advanced alien taking advantage of me.
    Either way I would have to succumb to it's power. "Sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic" - Arthur C Clarke

    Also as Kalster said "which one" It is Dependent on which god as to whether I would worship it.
    The only god which would be worthy of my worship would be one of my own making, or one that has never played a role in our existence from day one.
    A logician saves the life of a tiny space alien. The alien is very grateful and, since she's omniscient, offers the following reward: she offers to answer any question the logician might pose. Without too much thought (after all, he's a logician), he asks: "What is the best question to ask and what is the correct answer to that question?" The tiny alien pauses. Finally she replies, "The best question is the one you just asked; and the correct answer is the one I gave."
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dywyddyr View Post
    1. When I was growing up, my mother taught me to say "Three Hail Mary's" when I lost something that I am trying to find. I do this to this day. It is so effective that my Protestant wife now does it. That is something that could be tested.
    It certainly could be. And it'll probably end up with the same results as those testing the efficacy of prayer.
    (Although there's some possibility that that practice helps focus the memory, thus helping the location of lost objects).
    This made me think of the expression often uttered upon finding a lost item - "It's always in the last place you look." Indeed I became so frustrated by this usage that now upon finding the missing object I continue looking for a little longer. (You can call me eccentric, but you'd have to join the queue.)
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    Quote Originally Posted by pavlos View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by NMSquirrel View Post
    Pavlos..

    What if..?

    What if you got the evidence for God beyond a shadow of a doubt, absolute empirical proof that God exists..

    Then what?

    What would that change?
    Then I would have to accept that, that being is more powerful than I, and act accordingly. However I could never know if that being was actually god and not a extremely advanced alien taking advantage of me.
    Either way I would have to succumb to it's power. "Sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic" - Arthur C Clarke

    Also as Kalster said "which one" It is Dependent on which god as to whether I would worship it.
    according to just about any religion..God is a jealous God..(which i do not believe) and according to the concensus on religion..if God were to empiricly show himself, then alot of ppl would be 'doomed' as soon as he showed himself..those who did not believe would not get the oppertunity to 'repent' once he showed himself..(i still do not believe this, but i am argueing from the religious perspective.)
    (see simpsons episode with bar patrons running to church and church goers running to the bar..)

    and wouldn't you be more inclined to 'do as he says'? without question?


    The only god which would be worthy of my worship would be one of my own making, or one that has never played a role in our existence from day one.
    this is the God of the atheist?
    The term 'Free' in Free thinking, does not imply control....
    Intelligence is being able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
    God is not inside the box.
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    Quote Originally Posted by NMSquirrel View Post
    according to just about any religion..God is a jealous God..
    Buddhism in general has no such creator type deity figure as far as I am aware of.

    God in Buddhism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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    Quote Originally Posted by NMSquirrel View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by pavlos View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by NMSquirrel View Post
    Pavlos..

    What if..?

    What if you got the evidence for God beyond a shadow of a doubt, absolute empirical proof that God exists..

    Then what?

    What would that change?
    Then I would have to accept that, that being is more powerful than I, and act accordingly. However I could never know if that being was actually god and not a extremely advanced alien taking advantage of me.
    Either way I would have to succumb to it's power. "Sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic" - Arthur C Clarke

    Also as Kalster said "which one" It is Dependent on which god as to whether I would worship it.
    according to just about any religion..God is a jealous God..(which i do not believe) and according to the concensus on religion..if God were to empiricly show himself, then alot of ppl would be 'doomed' as soon as he showed himself..those who did not believe would not get the oppertunity to 'repent' once he showed himself..(i still do not believe this, but i am argueing from the religious perspective.)
    (see simpsons episode with bar patrons running to church and church goers running to the bar..)
    Relevance!

    Quote Originally Posted by NMSquirrel View Post
    and wouldn't you be more inclined to 'do as he says'? without question?
    Well I did say "I would have to accept that, that being is more powerful than I, and act accordingly." and "I would have to succumb to it's power." So either your question is moot or you have a reading bias.


    Quote Originally Posted by NMSquirrel View Post
    The only god which would be worthy of my worship would be one of my own making, or one that has never played a role in our existence from day one.
    this is the God of the atheist?
    If by that you mean a moral god that doesn't pick favourites, or a god that hasn't killed people, a god that hasn't interfered. Then yes, if that kind of god was empirically proven then that would be the one an atheist would prefer, I assume.
    I cannot speak for all atheist, we are after all individuals.

    Here is something for you and dedo to mull over, from an honest theist would you believe. On hearing God

    Here is a snip it
    Many believers today want to have that same kind of experience. They want personal, spiritual direction from the Lord. Attempting to receive guidance from God, they listen longingly for his audible voice or wait for some intuitive, emotional prompting or impression that will unveil His will for their lives.

    But that kind of communication, whether it’s audible or intuitive, is not trustworthy. In fact, it’s useless — and can even be dangerous.

    Why isn’t it trustworthy? To begin with, there’s no valid way to discern divine truth in what a person hears or feels. Experience is unreliable because it’s always subjective. There are no means set forth in the Bible to test or prove or discern the meaning of some inner voice or prompting you may think you heard or felt. In fact, Scripture never gives believers even the slightest encouragement to listen for private revelations from God. --- Using your own experiences to determine divine truth gives too much weight to your own perspective and interpretation. Scripture says, “He who trusts in his own heart is a fool” (Proverbs 28:26). The church does not receive new or private revelation, either corporately or individually. Scripture clearly warns against adding to the completed revelation given in the Bible "18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll."(Revelation 22:18).
    Your personal revelations/experiences are heresy.
    A logician saves the life of a tiny space alien. The alien is very grateful and, since she's omniscient, offers the following reward: she offers to answer any question the logician might pose. Without too much thought (after all, he's a logician), he asks: "What is the best question to ask and what is the correct answer to that question?" The tiny alien pauses. Finally she replies, "The best question is the one you just asked; and the correct answer is the one I gave."
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    It looks like our scientific study has turned into more of a theological discussion, hasn't it?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    It looks like our scientific study has turned into more of a theological discussion, hasn't it?
    No still a study, but yet to get verifiable input to actually study. So I assume people are just passing time. It could after all be a long time until we get something worth studying, don't you think. It's just a waiting game tis all.

    Unless you know of any verifiable revelations, we could study.

    Thanks in anticipation. Pavlos.


    The study is about theological experiences and revelations, so a discussion on it is part and parcel, don't you think.
    Last edited by pavlos; January 31st, 2013 at 04:41 PM. Reason: Addendum
    A logician saves the life of a tiny space alien. The alien is very grateful and, since she's omniscient, offers the following reward: she offers to answer any question the logician might pose. Without too much thought (after all, he's a logician), he asks: "What is the best question to ask and what is the correct answer to that question?" The tiny alien pauses. Finally she replies, "The best question is the one you just asked; and the correct answer is the one I gave."
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    Quote Originally Posted by pavlos View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    It looks like our scientific study has turned into more of a theological discussion, hasn't it?
    No still a study, but yet to get verifiable input to actually study. So I assume people are just passing time. It could after all be a long time until we get something worth studying, don't you think. It's just a waiting game tis all.

    Unless you know of any verifiable revelations, we could study.

    Thanks in anticipation. Pavlos.


    The study is about theological experiences and revelations, so a discussion on it is part and parcel, don't you think.
    As Lynx Fox noted earlier, anecdotes are of limited or negligible scientific value.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by pavlos View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    It looks like our scientific study has turned into more of a theological discussion, hasn't it?
    No still a study, but yet to get verifiable input to actually study. So I assume people are just passing time. It could after all be a long time until we get something worth studying, don't you think. It's just a waiting game tis all.

    Unless you know of any verifiable revelations, we could study.

    Thanks in anticipation. Pavlos.


    The study is about theological experiences and revelations, so a discussion on it is part and parcel, don't you think.
    As Lynx Fox noted earlier, anecdotes are of limited or negligible scientific value.
    Exactly hence why I made this study in the first place, need I repeat from the OP "It would help if we could clearly draw a difference between the nature of religious experiences, and the value of religious claims of truth to mankind.
    And to be able to draw a conclusion as to how this may help mankind, or if religion is even necessary." I think we are coming a long fine at the moment, pretty soon we may even get a step further by establishing some actual facts.
    But I'm not holding my breath, I'd be happy with a hypothesis or even theory.
    A logician saves the life of a tiny space alien. The alien is very grateful and, since she's omniscient, offers the following reward: she offers to answer any question the logician might pose. Without too much thought (after all, he's a logician), he asks: "What is the best question to ask and what is the correct answer to that question?" The tiny alien pauses. Finally she replies, "The best question is the one you just asked; and the correct answer is the one I gave."
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    Quote Originally Posted by pavlos View Post
    Exactly hence why I made this study in the first place, need I repeat from the OP "It would help if we could clearly draw a difference between the nature of religious experiences, and the value of religious claims of truth to mankind.
    I'm afraid I don't follow. You asked for anecdotal evidence because it has no scientific value?

    And to be able to draw a conclusion as to how this may help mankind, or if religion is even necessary." I think we are coming a long fine at the moment, pretty soon we may even get a step further by establishing some actual facts.
    But I'm not holding my breath, I'd be happy with a hypothesis or even theory.
    Don't you have a hypothesis already? How will you test your hypothesis?
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    Quote Originally Posted by pavlos View Post
    Well I did say "I would have to accept that, that being is more powerful than I, and act accordingly." and "I would have to succumb to it's power." So either your question is moot or you have a reading bias.
    so you would give up your free will?
    The term 'Free' in Free thinking, does not imply control....
    Intelligence is being able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
    God is not inside the box.
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    But I'm not holding my breath, I'd be happy with a hypothesis or even theory.
    unless its from a theist?
    The term 'Free' in Free thinking, does not imply control....
    Intelligence is being able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
    God is not inside the box.
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    Quote Originally Posted by NMSquirrel View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by pavlos View Post
    Well I did say "I would have to accept that, that being is more powerful than I, and act accordingly." and "I would have to succumb to it's power." So either your question is moot or you have a reading bias.
    so you would give up your free will?
    Firstly what free will (but that is another debate) and secondly I would have too (had I had any, but it is another debate).
    Quote Originally Posted by NMSquirrel View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by pavlos View Post
    But I'm not holding my breath, I'd be happy with a hypothesis or even theory.
    unless its from a theist?
    Oh yes! Even from a theist, any human being to be exact. Sorry I don't see the difference. I'm loathed to understand why you would make such a statement.
    A logician saves the life of a tiny space alien. The alien is very grateful and, since she's omniscient, offers the following reward: she offers to answer any question the logician might pose. Without too much thought (after all, he's a logician), he asks: "What is the best question to ask and what is the correct answer to that question?" The tiny alien pauses. Finally she replies, "The best question is the one you just asked; and the correct answer is the one I gave."
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by pavlos View Post
    Exactly hence why I made this study in the first place, need I repeat from the OP "It would help if we could clearly draw a difference between the nature of religious experiences, and the value of religious claims of truth to mankind.
    I'm afraid I don't follow. You asked for anecdotal evidence because it has no scientific value?
    Oh it has value, But you don't want it discussed.
    I repeat this from Dennett as the scientific study of religion holds all these things to be true
    Science can objectively examine all the "earthly" manifestations of religion: the institutions, the rituals, the texts, the symbolism, psychological effects, the traditions, myths, etc. Indeed, we can examine the beliefs themselves and determine if evidence exists to support these beliefs. But it's because religion is such an "important and pervasive phenomenon in human society" that it should be studied (Dennett 2006).
    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by pavlos View Post
    And to be able to draw a conclusion as to how this may help mankind, or if religion is even necessary." I think we are coming a long fine at the moment, pretty soon we may even get a step further by establishing some actual facts.
    But I'm not holding my breath, I'd be happy with a hypothesis or even theory.
    Don't you have a hypothesis already? How will you test your hypothesis?
    Not yet, I need some evidence first, the jury is still out on that. And when we do gets some evidence then we will be able to Filch proof it, if it is at all possible.
    A logician saves the life of a tiny space alien. The alien is very grateful and, since she's omniscient, offers the following reward: she offers to answer any question the logician might pose. Without too much thought (after all, he's a logician), he asks: "What is the best question to ask and what is the correct answer to that question?" The tiny alien pauses. Finally she replies, "The best question is the one you just asked; and the correct answer is the one I gave."
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    Quote Originally Posted by NMSquirrel View Post
    so you would give up your free will?
    How could we?
    If god does exist qua GOD then we have no free will (at all) in the first place.
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    Quote Originally Posted by pavlos View Post
    Oh it has value, But you don't want it discussed.
    I wish you would make up your mind on that, because I thought you agreed that anecdotal evidence does not have scientific value.
    I repeat this from Dennett as the scientific study of religion holds all these things to be true
    Science can objectively examine all the "earthly" manifestations of religion: the institutions, the rituals, the texts, the symbolism, psychological effects, the traditions, myths, etc. Indeed, we can examine the beliefs themselves and determine if evidence exists to support these beliefs. But it's because religion is such an "important and pervasive phenomenon in human society" that it should be studied (Dennett 2006).
    I have no doubt that science can objectively examine earthly manifestations of religion. I just don't see it happening.
    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by pavlos View Post
    And to be able to draw a conclusion as to how this may help mankind, or if religion is even necessary." I think we are coming a long fine at the moment, pretty soon we may even get a step further by establishing some actual facts.
    But I'm not holding my breath, I'd be happy with a hypothesis or even theory.
    Don't you have a hypothesis already? How will you test your hypothesis?
    Not yet, I need some evidence first, the jury is still out on that. And when we do gets some evidence then we will be able to Filch proof it, if it is at all possible.
    How is the jury out before there is any evidence? How are you expecting to get evidence?

    You are using a definition of "filch" that I am not familiar with. Can you define that word?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    I have no doubt that science can objectively examine earthly manifestations of religion. I just don't see it happening.
    Yeah, I wonder why...
    I wish you would make up your mind on that, because I thought you agreed that anecdotal evidence does not have scientific value.
    Wouldn't you say that anecdotal evidence is an Earthly manifestation?
    Anecdotal evidence has no scientific value with regard to whateveritis that's (supposedly) being reported. It does, however, have significant value with regard to assessing to the perceptions/ world view/ attitudes/ etc of the reporter. Got it?

    You are using a definition of "filch" that I am not familiar with. Can you define that word?
    Maybe you should actually read threads that YOU lock. That way you'd find out out whether they actually should be locked or not.
    Last edited by Dywyddyr; February 1st, 2013 at 05:40 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by pavlos View Post
    Oh it has value, But you don't want it discussed.
    I wish you would make up your mind on that, because I thought you agreed that anecdotal evidence does not have scientific value.
    I didn't say it did. It has value in this study, to determine an outcome scientifically.
    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by pavlos View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by pavlos View Post
    And to be able to draw a conclusion as to how this may help mankind, or if religion is even necessary." I think we are coming a long fine at the moment, pretty soon we may even get a step further by establishing some actual facts.
    But I'm not holding my breath, I'd be happy with a hypothesis or even theory.
    Don't you have a hypothesis already? How will you test your hypothesis?
    Not yet, I need some evidence first, the jury is still out on that. And when we do gets some evidence then we will be able to Filch proof it, if it is at all possible.
    How is the jury out before there is any evidence? How are you expecting to get evidence?
    I would like to think we will be getting some evidence, the theist does seem to think they have it, I would just like them to share it. Or is it you don't think there is any evidence or value to theism?

    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    You are using a definition of "filch" that I am not familiar with. Can you define that word?
    You poo poo'ed it as troll worthy, when I posted up the thread so here's the link, A Field Guide to Critical Thinking
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    A logician saves the life of a tiny space alien. The alien is very grateful and, since she's omniscient, offers the following reward: she offers to answer any question the logician might pose. Without too much thought (after all, he's a logician), he asks: "What is the best question to ask and what is the correct answer to that question?" The tiny alien pauses. Finally she replies, "The best question is the one you just asked; and the correct answer is the one I gave."
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    Quote Originally Posted by pavlos View Post
    I would like to think we will be getting some evidence, the theist does seem to think they have it, I would just like them to share it. Or is it you don't think there is any evidence or value to theism?
    I don't think you really expect theists to provide evidence, do you? Evidence for theism and value to theism are two different questions. What I think doesn't matter. It's your scientific study, so I am asking about your scientific method.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dywyddyr View Post
    Wouldn't you say that anecdotal evidence is an Earthly manifestation?
    Anecdotal evidence has no scientific value with regard to whateveritis that's (supposedly) being reported. It does, however, have significant value with regard to assessing to the perceptions/ world view/ attitudes/ etc of the reporter. Got it?
    So far we have a sample size of 2 theists. The method of inquiry is to ask them open ended questions, then argue with them. Somehow I doubt we will learn much about the perceptions, world views, or attitudes of theists in that manner.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by pavlos View Post
    I would like to think we will be getting some evidence, the theist does seem to think they have it, I would just like them to share it. Or is it you don't think there is any evidence or value to theism?
    I don't think you really expect theists to provide evidence, do you? Evidence for theism and value to theism are two different questions.
    Wrong! Evidence quantifies it's value.
    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    What I think doesn't matter.
    If that is so then why are you posting.
    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    It's your scientific study, so I am asking about your scientific method.
    My scientific method is the same as anybody else's.
    What other science method is there.

    The data at the moment is quite small so it would be unfair to come to a conclusion just on two cases, two cases do not a study make. It would be best to wait and see what comes along.

    Give the study a chance it has only been up for four days and 35 minutes.
    Or is it your intent to close it, cause you don't like religion being discussed.
    A logician saves the life of a tiny space alien. The alien is very grateful and, since she's omniscient, offers the following reward: she offers to answer any question the logician might pose. Without too much thought (after all, he's a logician), he asks: "What is the best question to ask and what is the correct answer to that question?" The tiny alien pauses. Finally she replies, "The best question is the one you just asked; and the correct answer is the one I gave."
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    Okay. If you think this is a scientific study, then carry on. I just wanted to be clear what your method is.
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    I said I wouldn't return and I hereby demonstrate weak will power... but I just miss you guys and these pointless discusions! (only pointless in the sense that we will never get anywhere near the truth)

    This discussion is almost refreshing... I think Pavlos does show a bias and has a conclusion that has been formed prior to commencement of this 'study', that doesn't conform to the proper scientific way according to what I know about it, but it does seem reasonable to me that somebody would already have a world view which they seek to validate via a 'scientific' study, such as this. So I don't see any problem with that.

    I think as far as evidence is concerned... we have evidences such as life and all it's complexities. The fact that the universe exists... huge masses of different materials that became at some point the building blocks of life. Intelligence, energy in all things.

    These are observable evidences that others can repeatedly observe.

    The problem seems to be that one person can theorise that these observations are evidence for a higher intelligence at work, a creative essence which has manifest the awe inspiring evidences we observe.... yet another person can theorise that all that is observable has developed via billions of incidents of random chance events many of which can never be repeated.

    So it seems to me that no matter what evidence we find, their will always be people who fit it in to their own preconceptions and world views. It is my understanding after taking an interest in the world of science that there is very little that can be known comprehensively witout doubt, in otherwords there is very little that can be proved.

    In my opinion, it is 'scientifically proper' that 'world views' and political agendas should be kept out of the scientific study of reality... and scientists should be fully aware of the limitations of their experiments as well as their interpretations of observable evidences... which would result in a very open minded aproached and exit from any given topic.

    I think we are a long long way off being able to know the truth of the matter (reality) and so anybody who believes they know the answers from the scientific experiments done to date, is under some kind of illusion. They are harbouring beliefs and dogmas which have been given to them by certain political ellements at work in the world.
    Anybody who beleives what they are told by a religion, who unquestionally accepts and goes on to influence others with the same beliefs and ideas, is probably also harbouring beliefs created or adapted by political ellements at work in the world.

    For me, in this subject, what a person experiences for themselves within their own 'being' is in fact the most robust and reliable source from which to form some kind of opinion. 'Conventional science' doesn't seem to accept any worth in this kind of personal observation, yet in this subject I think our personal experiences and perceptions offer more than the conventional scientific method ever can.

    Just to sumarize my position at present... those that believe in what they are told or allow certain interpretations of observations to strongly influence their 'world view' or belief systems, are misguided by the convictions they have adopted. Those who remain open minded to possible conclusions that could be drawn from certain observations, are aware of their ignorance and therefor are intelligent and trustworthy. Those who go only on their personal subjective experiences in my opinion will have a much stronger and superior conception of what is possible and indeed what is true.

    For example... if a person through their own meditations and studies has worked out enough about the forces and phenomenas in nature, to decide that it is fully posible that some higher unifying mind could be in existence, and bases a conception of the nature of that mind on the nature of living things and the nature of nature itself... Then that person in my opinion will have a more enjoyable experience throughout life, and death, than somebody who has been influenced by politically motivated dogmas regarding the purely material, mechanical existence which lacks vitality or meaning of anykind and in fact doesn't really exist except inside your head as neurological impulses.
    Likewise the person who has allowed themselves to be influenced by 'religious' dogmas which are also largely politically motivated, such as idk, believing in a system of morality based on conformity to man's laws which St. Peter will assess you on before deciding weather to let you into heaven or caste you into the burning flames of eternity... will also in my opinion suffer a lesser experience through life and up until death.

    Because the fact is and this can be verified by science as well as any other apparent fact... that everybody is motivated by selfishness... and the only single person who we can really trust for the truth is ourselves. Our own subjective experience of reality is the only thing we can trust to be honest with us about our reality, which is a product of our thinking and perceptions as well as being that which comes before our perceptions and exists after as a constantly evolving 'reality'. Everything and everybody else except our personal experience has an agenda and a motive of their own. If we seek to know without agenda except the agenda of knowing, then we are more likely to find some answers or a perspective which correllates with reality as witnessed by all.

    The truth is within.

    I don't think the word 'religion' necesarily has to entail a conception of a higher mind... In my perception, religion is when people ligion themselves together in a shared world view, or opinion or philosophy and work together protect and propergate this world view/belief system... so it could be argued that many things are religions including following a footall team, following a legal system, following a societal agenda such as 'progress' or 'civilisation'... it's all a form of religion in my opion and the study of 'religion' would also have to study all instances where people get together under a shared belief or opinion and work together seeking to further the reaches of this particular belief or opinion or plan. A 'superhuman' controlling power is not an essential aspect of a 'religion'... it has merely come to be associated as an essential aspect of religion by people who don't properly understand the definition of the word.

    Perhaps the first place to begin a scientific study of religion is with an etymologistic look at the word itself?

    I propose that society cannot exist without religion as apart from anything else, it is a religion.

    I apologise about being so long winded and rambling... and that my sentences are not easy to read let alone comprehend... but I hope I have contributed some relevant points to be considered by those wishing to study 'Religion', for whatever motives.
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    Quote Originally Posted by pavlos View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by NMSquirrel View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by pavlos View Post
    Well I did say "I would have to accept that, that being is more powerful than I, and act accordingly." and "I would have to succumb to it's power." So either your question is moot or you have a reading bias.
    so you would give up your free will?
    Firstly what free will (but that is another debate) and secondly I would have too (had I had any, but it is another debate).
    so what if..
    what if there is a God AND he does not want us to loose our freedom of choice? (our free will so to speak..)


    Quote Originally Posted by NMSquirrel View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by pavlos View Post
    But I'm not holding my breath, I'd be happy with a hypothesis or even theory.
    unless its from a theist?
    Oh yes! Even from a theist, any human being to be exact. Sorry I don't see the difference. I'm loathed to understand why you would make such a statement.
    because, i have offered other hypothosis/theorys..
    The term 'Free' in Free thinking, does not imply control....
    Intelligence is being able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
    God is not inside the box.
    http://squirrels-nest.proboards.com/
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    Oops:
    Quote Originally Posted by question for you View Post
    Those who remain open minded to possible conclusions that could be drawn from certain observations, are aware of their ignorance and therefor are intelligent and trustworthy.
    Really? How so? Or are you using some variable meaning of "intelligent" and "trustworthy"?

    Those who go only on their personal subjective experiences in my opinion will have a much stronger and superior conception of what is possible and indeed what is true.
    Does not compute.
    Subjective experience gives you a better view of what is true?
    those that believe in what they are told or allow certain interpretations of observations to strongly influence their 'world view' or belief systems, are misguided by the convictions they have adopted.
    But, apparently, those who decide for themselves (ignoring everything that has been verified by others) aren't subject to misguided convictions that they have adopted?

    if a person through their own meditations and studies has worked out enough about the forces and phenomenas in nature, to decide that it is fully posible that some higher unifying mind could be in existence, and bases a conception of the nature of that mind on the nature of living things and the nature of nature itself... Then that person in my opinion will have a more enjoyable experience throughout life, and death, than somebody who has been influenced by politically motivated dogmas regarding the purely material, mechanical existence which lacks vitality or meaning of anykind and in fact doesn't really exist except inside your head as neurological impulses.
    Leaving aside the fact that what they have decided due to meditation isn't verifiably true you're talking here about the effect that conviction has on people, not whether or not the underlying "cause" (higher unifying mind) is actually real or not. There's a difference - an important one.

    Because the fact is and this can be verified by science as well as any other apparent fact... that everybody is motivated by selfishness...
    And here's another scientifically verified fact - we ALL have an "altruistic gene" (for want of a
    better word). IOW we're also motivated by caring about others.

    If we seek to know without agenda except the agenda of knowing, then we are more likely to find some answers or a perspective which correllates with reality as witnessed by all.
    Yet you just effectively claimed that we can't operate that way. And "reality as witnessed" or "reality as verified" by all? Which is the better guideline? I know which I'd go for.

    The truth is within.
    What "truth"?

    I don't think the word 'religion' necesarily has to entail a conception of a higher mind... In my perception, religion is when people ligion themselves together in a shared world view, or opinion or philosophy and work together protect and propergate this world view/belief system... so it could be argued that many things are religions including following a footall team, following a legal system, following a societal agenda such as 'progress' or 'civilisation'... it's all a form of religion in my opion and the study of 'religion' would also have to study all instances where people get together under a shared belief or opinion and work together seeking to further the reaches of this particular belief or opinion or plan. A 'superhuman' controlling power is not an essential aspect of a 'religion'... it has merely come to be associated as an essential aspect of religion by people who don't properly understand the definition of the word.
    Yeah well... redefining a word to suit your agenda can prove anything.

    I propose that society cannot exist without religion
    On what basis?
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    Man it's gona take some messing around with quotes to answer each of your comments/questions! I'll do me best.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dywyddyr View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by question for you View Post
    Those who remain open minded to possible conclusions that could be drawn from certain observations, are aware of their ignorance and therefor are intelligent and trustworthy.
    Really? How so? Or are you using some variable meaning of "intelligent" and "trustworthy"?
    They are aware that they do not know what the observed evidence points to for sure. Quite simple to grasp.

    Variable meaning of intelligent and trustworthy? what do you mean?
    Intelligence and trustworthyness are variable qualities. The meanings i used are quite standard.

    If a person draws convictions from evidences that could also point to other conclusions then that person is not of the highest intelligence, therefore when it comes to guiding others they cannot be trusted.

    I think it you thought about it for yourself, you wouldn't need me to explain.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dywyddyr View Post
    Those who go only on their personal subjective experiences in my opinion will have a much stronger and superior conception of what is possible and indeed what is true.
    Does not compute.
    Subjective experience gives you a better view of what is true?
    Maybe you need to get a more powerful system? perhaps you can get some kind of implant to help with your computing processes?

    Experience gives you the only basis to form conceptions of reality and what that means to you. Your reality is subjective, your experience is subjective... your interpretation of experience is subjective. I don't see what your getting at.


    Quote Originally Posted by Dywyddyr View Post
    those that believe in what they are told or allow certain interpretations of observations to strongly influence their 'world view' or belief systems, are misguided by the convictions they have adopted.
    But, apparently, those who decide for themselves (ignoring everything that has been verified by others) aren't subject to misguided convictions that they have adopted
    Thats correct. The word misguided makes blatant an ellement of guidence. A guide is a third party who shows the way. People do not misguide themselves, only a guide is capable of misguiding.

    Also, adopted mean to have taken on board something which is of somebody elses making, it is not your own, as such. Our own things or ideas we 'give birth to', we do not adopt. Other peoples ideas we adopt, we do not give birth to. The answer is in the words really.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dywyddyr View Post
    if a person through their own meditations and studies has worked out enough about the forces and phenomenas in nature, to decide that it is fully posible that some higher unifying mind could be in existence, and bases a conception of the nature of that mind on the nature of living things and the nature of nature itself... Then that person in my opinion will have a more enjoyable experience throughout life, and death, than somebody who has been influenced by politically motivated dogmas regarding the purely material, mechanical existence which lacks vitality or meaning of anykind and in fact doesn't really exist except inside your head as neurological impulses.
    Leaving aside the fact that what they have decided due to meditation isn't verifiably true you're talking here about the effect that conviction has on people, not whether or not the underlying "cause" (higher unifying mind) is actually real or not. There's a difference - an important one.
    And yes I am talking about the effects of beleifs upon our lives... perhaps the most important aspect of all beliefs is the effects they have on our lives. But thats just obvious.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dywyddyr View Post
    And here's another scientifically verified fact - we ALL have an "altruistic gene" (for want of a
    better word). IOW we're also motivated by caring about others.
    I'd be all for beleiving in that.

    Please explain how science has proven that an action can be motivated by selfless concern for others with no possible beneficial consequences for the acter?

    If it can be discerned that altruism does genuinely exist, even in every human or animal perhaps, then I bet there is no specific gene which governs this psychological ability... That kind of thinking is just wrong. But then you did say you wanted a better word, so thats fine.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dywyddyr View Post
    If we seek to know without agenda except the agenda of knowing, then we are more likely to find some answers or a perspective which correllates with reality as witnessed by all.
    Yet you just effectively claimed that we can't operate that way. And "reality as witnessed" or "reality as verified" by all? Which is the better guideline? I know which I'd go for.
    How did i effectively claim we cant operate which way?

    For all intents and purposes I think witnessed and verified both mean the same thing within my sentence... that others can witness and thereby verify the same aspect of reality.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dywyddyr View Post
    The truth is within.
    What "truth"?
    The truth that matters the most to you. Your little slithers of the truth of reality.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dywyddyr View Post
    I don't think the word 'religion' necesarily has to entail a conception of a higher mind... In my perception, religion is when people ligion themselves together in a shared world view, or opinion or philosophy and work together protect and propergate this world view/belief system... so it could be argued that many things are religions including following a footall team, following a legal system, following a societal agenda such as 'progress' or 'civilisation'... it's all a form of religion in my opion and the study of 'religion' would also have to study all instances where people get together under a shared belief or opinion and work together seeking to further the reaches of this particular belief or opinion or plan. A 'superhuman' controlling power is not an essential aspect of a 'religion'... it has merely come to be associated as an essential aspect of religion by people who don't properly understand the definition of the word.
    Yeah well... redefining a word to suit your agenda can prove anything.
    Thats exactly why I suggest you and other first consult a dictionary and then a etymologist on the meaning of the word religion rather than redifining it in order to suit your agenda.

    The fact you thought a belief system needs to incorperate a superhuman mind in order to be a religion just goes to show you how the word has been redifined in order to suit an agenda which is being carried out by people who do not even realise what they are doing and who they are doing it for. It thrives on ignorance, ignorance of the facts from the most basic, such a the definitions of the words it uses, all the way through. Which is why people who believe in this politically motivated agendas without even realising thats what they beliieve in, are not as intelligent or trustworthy as those who do not allow themselves to be manipulated by such political agendas.


    Quote Originally Posted by Dywyddyr View Post
    I propose that society cannot exist without religion... because it is a religion itself
    On what basis?
    Wow! on the basis that society conforms to the definition of the word religion which can be found in any reputable dictionary.
    Last edited by question for you; February 1st, 2013 at 03:35 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by pavlos View Post
    My scientific method is the same as anybody else's.
    What other science method is there.
    Here's a definition of the scientfic method:
    The Oxford English Dictionary defines the scientific method as: "a method or procedure that has characterized natural science since the 17th century, consisting in systematic observation, measurement, and experiment, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses."

    S
    ystematic observation - does not mean posting on the internet hoping for random data to come in.
    Measurement - You are not doing any.
    Experiment - None
    Testing - None
    Hypothesis - You don't have one. You are waiting for someone else to supply it.
    In short - FAIL.
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    In short, Harold, I suspect that you were already aware that scientific social studies do not follow that procedure.

    ETA: Here, in case you weren't, I'll help you out. I see your definition and raise you one book;
    http://scholarcommons.usf.edu/cgi/vi...t=oa_textbooks
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neverfly View Post
    In short, Harold, I suspect that you were already aware that scientific social studies do not follow that procedure.
    Really? There are no hypotheses, no measurements taken? No, I wasn't aware of that.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    Really? There are no hypotheses, no measurements taken? No, I wasn't aware of that.
    Then see my edit- You're welcome.
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    Quote Originally Posted by NMSquirrel View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by pavlos View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by NMSquirrel View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by pavlos View Post
    Well I did say "I would have to accept that, that being is more powerful than I, and act accordingly." and "I would have to succumb to it's power." So either your question is moot or you have a reading bias.
    so you would give up your free will?
    Firstly what free will (but that is another debate) and secondly I would have too (had I had any, but it is another debate).
    so what if..
    what if there is a God AND he does not want us to loose our freedom of choice? (our free will so to speak..)
    Then he should have never shown himself to exist, the moment he did, his will overpowered ours. ( but I have said this is for another debate.) so off topic.
    Quote Originally Posted by NMSquirrel View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by pavlos View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by NMSquirrel View Post
    unless its from a theist?
    Oh yes! Even from a theist, any human being to be exact. Sorry I don't see the difference. I'm loathed to understand why you would make such a statement.
    because, i have offered other hypothosis/theorys..
    Where! Remember even a hypothesis or theory needs evidence to support them. An Idea or opinion is not there equivalent.
    A logician saves the life of a tiny space alien. The alien is very grateful and, since she's omniscient, offers the following reward: she offers to answer any question the logician might pose. Without too much thought (after all, he's a logician), he asks: "What is the best question to ask and what is the correct answer to that question?" The tiny alien pauses. Finally she replies, "The best question is the one you just asked; and the correct answer is the one I gave."
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    Quote Originally Posted by question for you View Post
    Variable meaning of intelligent and trustworthy? what do you mean?
    Intelligence and trustworthyness are variable qualities. The meanings i used are quite standard.
    Then you have made an unjustified assumption. Being open minded and/ or aware of your ignorance is no guarantor of "intelligent" and "trustworthyness".

    If a person draws convictions from evidences that could also point to other conclusions then that person is not of the highest intelligence, therefore when it comes to guiding others they cannot be trusted.
    Oops, another assumption. Intelligence covers a number of facets. Being "stupid" in one area doesn't mean you're not of the "highest intelligence". Nor does it indicate a general untrustworthiness.

    I think it you thought about it for yourself, you wouldn't need me to explain.
    If you had thought about maybe you could have phrased it more correctly.

    Maybe you need to get a more powerful system? perhaps you can get some kind of implant to help with your computing processes?
    Experience gives you the only basis to form conceptions of reality and what that means to you. Your reality is subjective, your experience is subjective... your interpretation of experience is subjective. I don't see what your getting at.
    It's quite simple: subjective is not the only basis to "form conceptions of reality", nor is it a reliable method to do so. This is why science relies on objectivity and corroboration. Ergo - a subjective "truth" isn't necessarily anywhere near the truth.

    Thats correct. The word misguided makes blatant an ellement of guidence. A guide is a third party who shows the way. People do not misguide themselves, only a guide is capable of misguiding.
    Wow, you're at least consistent: since one is (self) guided by one's beliefs, outlook etc then people can, and do, misguide themselves.

    Also, adopted mean to have taken on board something which is of somebody elses making, it is not your own, as such. Our own things or ideas we 'give birth to', we do not adopt. Other peoples ideas we adopt, we do not give birth to. The answer is in the words really.
    If you're going to argue semantics you could at least attempt to get it correct -
    Adopt:
    1. choose and follow; as of theories, ideas, policies, strategies or plans
    2. take up and practice as one's own
    3. take on titles, offices, duties, responsibilities
    4. take on a certain form, attribute, or aspect
    5. take into one's family
    6. put into dramatic form
    7. take up the cause, ideology, practice, method, of someone and use it as one's own

    See numbers 1 and 2?
    One can reject or adopt one's own ideas.
    Let's keep going:
    etymology:
    c.1500, a back-formation from adoption or else from Middle French adopter or directly from Latin adoptare "take by choice, choose for oneself, select, choose" (especially a child). Originally in English also of friends, fathers, citizens, etc. Sense of "to legally take as one's own child" and that of "to embrace, espouse" a practice, method, etc. are from c.1600. Related: Adopted; adopting.
    "take by choice, choose for oneself"
    Oops...

    And yes I am talking about the effects of beleifs upon our lives... perhaps the most important aspect of all beliefs is the effects they have on our lives. But thats just obvious.
    So, basically, so long as someone is happy it doesn't matter what delusions they're under? Or what they know about reality?

    Please explain how science has proven that an action can be motivated by selfless concern for others with no possible beneficial consequences for the acter?
    Um, because evolution is never about the individual - it's about the species.

    If it can be discerned that altruism does genuinely exist, even in every human or animal perhaps, then I bet there is no specific gene which governs this psychological ability... That kind of thinking is just wrong. But then you did say you wanted a better word, so thats fine.
    Oh dear - genes, genes, genes.

    How did i effectively claim we cant operate which way?
    It's quite simple:
    You - everybody is motivated by selfishness.
    How does that statement compare with - If we seek to know without agenda.
    Selfishness - me first - IS an agenda.

    For all intents and purposes I think witnessed and verified both mean the same thing within my sentence... that others can witness and thereby verify the same aspect of reality.
    I see your error. Witnesses can be wrong - for a number of reasons. "Witnessed" is not "verified".

    The truth that matters the most to you. Your little slithers of the truth of reality.
    In other words - not necessarily the truth.

    Thats exactly why I suggest you and other first consult a dictionary and then a etymologist on the meaning of the word religion rather than redifining it in order to suit your agenda.
    Oops again.
    Religion

    • the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods: ideas about the relationship between science and religion
    • [count noun] a particular system of faith and worship: the world’s great religions
      [count noun]
      a pursuit or interest followed with great devotion: consumerism is the new religion

    Religion
    1.a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.

    Religion
    a. Belief in and reverence for a supernatural power or powers regarded as creator and governor of the universe.

    Etymology
    c.1200, "state of life bound by monastic vows," also "conduct indicating a belief in a divine power," from Anglo-French religiun (11c.), Old French religion "religious community," from Latin religionem (nom. religio) "respect for what is sacred, reverence for the gods," in Late Latin "monastic life" (5c.).

    The fact you thought a belief system needs to incorperate a superhuman mind in order to be a religion just goes to show you how the word has been redifined in order to suit an agenda which is being carried out by people who do not even realise what they are doing and who they are doing it for. It thrives on ignorance, ignorance of the facts from the most basic, such a the definitions of the words it uses, all the way through. Which is why people who believe in this politically motivated agendas without even realising thats what they beliieve in, are not as intelligent or trustworthy as those who do not allow themselves to be manipulated by such political agendas.
    So you claim there's another definition? One in general use (i.e. the one understood by most people)? Please share. As opposed to telling me to look up the definition - the one that accidentally happens to coincide with my understanding of the word.

    Wow! on the basis that society conforms to the definition of the word religion which can be found in any reputable dictionary.
    So you're also looking to redefine the word "reputable" now too?


    All in all a spectacular fail on your part.
    "[Dywyddyr] makes a grumpy bastard like me seem like a happy go lucky scamp" - PhDemon
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    All you managed to do was present a load of definitions which confirm what I said the words mean, then pretend you trumped my comments.

    I'm not impressed enough to respond in any detail, also I don't want to spend my time chatting to somebody who uses the word fail in the way you do, due to a delusion that it is cool or funny. You must be quite young.

    All the best in your...ermm... whatever it is that you do. Creating illusions or self delusions of victorious debates or something. I see some points you made, but I choose not to engage you further with the answers as I don't like your demeanure. Or maybe I don't choose? either way, I'm not enjoying this convo geeza, see ya later.
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  98. #97  
    Genius Duck Moderator Dywyddyr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by question for you View Post
    All you managed to do was present a load of definitions which confirm what I said the words mean, then pretend you trumped my comments.
    So effectively you're claiming that either A) you can't read or B) you're dishonest.
    Let's quote exactly what you did say:
    I don't think the word 'religion' necesarily has to entail a conception of a higher mind... In my perception, religion is when people ligion themselves together in a shared world view, or opinion or philosophy and work together protect and propergate this world view/belief system... so it could be argued that many things are religions including following a footall team, following a legal system, following a societal agenda such as 'progress' or 'civilisation'.
    Since those definitions do include the belief in a higher power (or a superhuman controller) your first phrase is demonstrably incorrect. Additionally neither football, legal systems nor societal agendas (in general - unless enforced) include such a belief either.
    Likewise, the definition/ etymology given of "adopt" also shows how and where you were mistaken.

    Perhaps, next time, rather than suggest that someone else look up the definition of a word, YOU should do so in order to avoid coming across as ridiculous.

    I'm not impressed enough to respond in any detail, also I don't want to spend my time chatting to somebody who uses the word fail in the way you do
    In other words you've realised your error and can't bring yourself to be graceful about it.

    You must be quite young.
    And you're evidently incapable of looking at a poster's profile.

    Creating illusions or self delusions of victorious debates or something.
    Delusions? Like where I showed not only that you were wrong but also HOW you were wrong? Some delusion.

    I see some points you made, but I choose not to engage you further with the answers as I don't like your demeanure. Or maybe I don't choose? either way, I'm not enjoying this convo geeza, see ya later.
    Yeah, bye.
    "[Dywyddyr] makes a grumpy bastard like me seem like a happy go lucky scamp" - PhDemon
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    I certainly don't understand what you say, nor how you could seriously think you're clever. The things you say are so visibly distorted that I would be letting myself down if I began to adress them.

    Sorry, thats just the way it is.
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  100. #99  
    Genius Duck Moderator Dywyddyr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by question for you View Post
    The things you say are so visibly distorted that I would be letting myself down if I began to adress them.
    Distorted?
    In what way?
    Or is the actual "reason" you're not addressing my "distortions" the fact that they really aren't and that you're lying?
    I wonder...1

    You might try honesty - with yourself and others - it's quite refreshing.

    1 I don't wonder actually - I know.
    Last edited by Dywyddyr; February 1st, 2013 at 08:11 PM.
    "[Dywyddyr] makes a grumpy bastard like me seem like a happy go lucky scamp" - PhDemon
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  101. #100  
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    Quote Originally Posted by pavlos View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by NMSquirrel View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by pavlos View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by NMSquirrel View Post
    Pavlos..

    What if..?

    What if you got the evidence for God beyond a shadow of a doubt, absolute empirical proof that God exists..

    Then what?

    What would that change?
    Then I would have to accept that, that being is more powerful than I, and act accordingly. However I could never know if that being was actually god and not a extremely advanced alien taking advantage of me.
    Either way I would have to succumb to it's power. "Sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic" - Arthur C Clarke

    Also as Kalster said "which one" It is Dependent on which god as to whether I would worship it.
    according to just about any religion..God is a jealous God..(which i do not believe) and according to the concensus on religion..if God were to empiricly show himself, then alot of ppl would be 'doomed' as soon as he showed himself..those who did not believe would not get the oppertunity to 'repent' once he showed himself..(i still do not believe this, but i am argueing from the religious perspective.)
    (see simpsons episode with bar patrons running to church and church goers running to the bar..)
    Relevance!

    Quote Originally Posted by NMSquirrel View Post
    and wouldn't you be more inclined to 'do as he says'? without question?
    Well I did say "I would have to accept that, that being is more powerful than I, and act accordingly." and "I would have to succumb to it's power." So either your question is moot or you have a reading bias.


    Quote Originally Posted by NMSquirrel View Post
    The only god which would be worthy of my worship would be one of my own making, or one that has never played a role in our existence from day one.
    this is the God of the atheist?
    If by that you mean a moral god that doesn't pick favourites, or a god that hasn't killed people, a god that hasn't interfered. Then yes, if that kind of god was empirically proven then that would be the one an atheist would prefer, I assume.
    I cannot speak for all atheist, we are after all individuals.

    Here is something for you and dedo to mull over, from an honest theist would you believe. On hearing God

    Here is a snip it
    Many believers today want to have that same kind of experience. They want personal, spiritual direction from the Lord. Attempting to receive guidance from God, they listen longingly for his audible voice or wait for some intuitive, emotional prompting or impression that will unveil His will for their lives.

    But that kind of communication, whether it’s audible or intuitive, is not trustworthy. In fact, it’s useless — and can even be dangerous.

    Why isn’t it trustworthy? To begin with, there’s no valid way to discern divine truth in what a person hears or feels. Experience is unreliable because it’s always subjective. There are no means set forth in the Bible to test or prove or discern the meaning of some inner voice or prompting you may think you heard or felt. In fact, Scripture never gives believers even the slightest encouragement to listen for private revelations from God. --- Using your own experiences to determine divine truth gives too much weight to your own perspective and interpretation. Scripture says, “He who trusts in his own heart is a fool” (Proverbs 28:26). The church does not receive new or private revelation, either corporately or individually. Scripture clearly warns against adding to the completed revelation given in the Bible "18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll."(Revelation 22:18).
    Your personal revelations/experiences are heresy.
    Not correct.

    Attributing all good things to God, and thanking God for good things is not bad theology. I suggest your read the Psalms of David.

    Learning important insights involving improved behavior is also not bad theology especially when those insights come in Church or from the Bible.

    However, your personal attitude toward God is a massive confirmation of why God does not generally supply easily obtained "proof" of His existence to people who don't want to learn about His nature. Good theology is that God loves all His creations equally, and He really does want to get to know each of us. Thus why would He want to have people "obey Him but not worship Him"?

    And your scientific method of asking open ended questions and then arguing with respondents is not mainstream.

    Nevertheless, the point your reference makes about seeking "guidance / signs" from God as being dangerous is worth discussing and possibly even investigating.

    How about this:

    Improve the initial study questions / instrument to measure the level of religious practice among people who say that they are "believers".

    Consider placing "believers" in ~4 groups:

    1. Believes in God but engages in minimal religious practice.
    2. Believes in God and engages in moderate religious practice (church attendance etc.)
    3. Believes in God and engages in daily+ religious practice (daily prayer / Bible study /?volunteerism)
    4. Religious professional.

    Each group can answer questions about manifestations of God in their lives.

    Then you can ask individuals in each group if they feel that God wants them to "do something" and to describe what that is.

    Then re-interview subjects after a period of time (one year?) and see if they did anything.

    This might yield some interesting insights about whether or not perceptions of God is different depending on efforts of the believer, and whether or not action based on belief changes, or is related to something measurable.

    For example, maybe people who do / don't do _____ tend to regularly perform altruistic tasks beneficial to society. People who don't do / don't do ______ tend to do nothing etc. People who don't do / don't do _____ tend to be susceptible to behaviors generally considered to be harmful to either the individual or to society.
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