Metacrock vs any commer: debate Religious Experience Argumen

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Metacrock vs any commer: debate Religious Experience Argumen

Post by Metacrock » Thu Jan 31, 2008 9:12 pm

Overview:


Decision Making Paradigm: logic of the lamp post"

AT the heart of all religious belief and all organized religions is experience and the sense of the numinous. This is the foundation of religious belief. If we are going to argue for God it would behoove us to examine the nature of this sense of the numinous.

The logic of the lamp post is this: we can't find our keys in the dark. We look under lamp post even if we did not drop them there because that is where we will find them. We can't find God in sense data, because God is not given in sense data. So we look in place we will find him, personal experience. Since this is the basis of religious belief it makes sense to look there.

Co-determinate: The co-determinate is like the Derridian trace, or like a fingerprint. It's the accompanying sign that is always found with the thing itself. In other words, like trailing the inviable man in the snow. You can't see the inviable man, but you can see his footprints, and wherever he is in the snow his prints will always follow.

We cannot produce direct observation of God, but we can find the "trace" or the co-determinate, the effects of God in the world.

Now how do we know the co-determinate? Schleiermacher saw it as the feeling of utter dependence, because the object or correlates of having such a feeling was the thing that evokes the feeling. Just feelings of sublimity imply that one encounters the sublime, feelings of love imply that there is a beloved, so feelings of utter dependence imply that there is a universal necessity upon which the live world and worlds are supremely utterly dependent. We can also include mystical experince and life transformation because these are part and parcel of what is meant by the idea of religion and the divine. As far back as we can dig for artifacts we seem to find some form of mystical experince at the heart of all organized religion. So we can conclude that God, religion, and life transformation always go hand in hand. The studies themselves tell us that life transformation always accompanies dramatic experiences which are understood as and which evoke a strong sense of the Holy. Is this really phenomenological? We can screw up our phenomenological credentials by responding to it in a non phenomenological way. But it is the product of the phenomenological method, because it derives from observation of the phenomena and allowing the phenomena to tell us what categories to group the data into.





The only question at that point is "How do we know this is the effect, or the accompanying sign of the divine? But that should be answerer in the argument below. Here let us set out some general perameters:

(1) The trace produced content with specifically religious affects

(2)The affects led one to a renewed sense of divine reality, are trans formative of life goals and self actualization

(3) Cannot be accounted for by alternate causality or other means.

_________________________________
this is the actual argument,

Argument:



(1)There are real affects from Mystical experince.

(2)These affects cannot be reduced to naturalistic cause and affect, bogus mental states or epiphenomena.

(3)Since the affects of Mystical consciousness are independent of other explanations we should assume that they are genuine.

(4)Since mystical experince is usually experince of something, the Holy, the sacred some sort of greater transcendent reality we should assume that the object is real since the affects or real, are that the affects are the result of some real higher reality.

(5)The true measure of the reality of the co-determinate is the transfomrative power of the affects. Since those are real we can assume the apparent cause is real.

___________________________________

Analysis:
Real Affects of Mystical Experience Imply Co-determinate

A. Study and Nature of Mystical Experiences

Mystical experince is only one aspect of religious experince, but I will focuses on it in this argument. Most other kinds of religious experience are difficult to study since they are more subjective and have less dramatic results. But mystical experince can actually be measured empirically in terms of its affects, and can be compared favorably to other forms of conscious states.

1) Primarily Religious

Trans personal Childhood Experiences of Higher States of Consciousness: Literature Review and Theoretical Integration (unpublished paper 1992 by Jayne Gackenback


http://www.sawka.com/spiritwatch/cehsc/ipure.htm

Quotes:

"The experience of pure consciousness is typically called "mystical". The essence of the mystical experience has been debated for years (Horne, 1982). It is often held that "mysticism is a manifestation of something which is at the root of all religions (p. 16; Happold, 1963)." The empirical assessment of the mystical experience in psychology has occurred to a limited extent."



2) Defining characteristics.

[Gackenback]

"In a recent review of the mystical experience Lukoff and Lu (1988) acknowledged that the "definition of a mystical experience ranges greatly (p. 163)." Maslow (1969) offered 35 definitions of "transcendence", a term often associated with mystical experiences and used by Alexander et al. to refer to the process of accessing PC."



Lukoff (1985) identified five common characteristics of mystical experiences which could be operationalized for assessment purposes. They are:

1. Ecstatic mood, which he identified as the most common feature;
2. Sense of newly gained knowledge, which includes a belief that the mysteries of life have been revealed;
3. Perceptual alterations, which range from "heightened sensations to auditory and visual hallucinations (p. 167)";
4. Delusions (if present) have themes related to mythology, which includes an incredible range diversity and range;
5. No conceptual disorganization, unlike psychotic persons those with mystical experiences do NOT suffer from disturbances in language and speech.
It can be seen from the explanation of PC earlier that this list of qualities overlaps in part those delineated by Alexander et al.


3)Studies use Empirical Instruments.

Many skeptics have argued that one cannot study mystical experince scientifically. But it has been done many times, in fact there are a lot of studies and even empirical scales for measurement.

(Ibid.)

Quote:

"Three empirical instruments have been developed to date. They are the Mysticism Scale by Hood (1975), a specific question by Greeley (1974) and the State of Consciousness Inventory by Alexander (1982; Alexander, Boyer, & Alexander, 1987). Hood's (1975) scale was developed from conceptual categories identified by Stace (1960). Two primary factors emerged from the factor analysis of the 32 core statements. First is a general mysticism factor, which is defined as an experience of unity, temporal and spatial changes, inner subjectivity and ineffability. A second factor seems to be a measure of peoples tendency to view intense experiences within a religious framework. A much simpler definition was developed by Greeley (1974), "Have you ever felt as though you were very close to a powerful, spiritual force that seemed to lift you out of yourself?" This was used by him in several national opinion surveys. In a systematic study of Greeley's question Thomas and Cooper (1980) concluded that responses to that question elicited experiences whose nature varied considerably. Using Stace's (1960) work they developed five criteria, including awesome emotions; feeling of oneness with God, nature or the universe; and a sense of the ineffable. They found that only 1% of their yes responses to Greeley's question were genuine mystical experiences. Thus Hood's scale seems to be the more widely used of these two broad measures of mysticism. It has received cross cultural validation" (Holm, 1982; Caird, 1988).




4) Incidence.

(Ibid.)

Quote:

"Several studies have looked at the incidence of mystical experiences. Greeley (1974) found 35% agreement to his question while Back and Bourque (1970) reported increases in frequency of these sorts of experiences from about 20% in 1962 to about 41% in 1967 to the question "Would you say that you have ever had a 'religious or mystical experience' that is, a moment of sudden religious awakening or insight?" Greeley (1987) reported a similar figure for 1973".

"The most researched inventory is the State of Consciousness Inventory (SCI; reviewed in Alexander, Boyer, and Alexander, 1987). The authors say "the SCI was designed for quantitative assessment of frequency of experiences of higher states of consciousness as defined in Vedic Psychology (p. 100)."

"In this case items were constructed from first person statements of practitioners of that meditative tradition, but items were also drawn from other authority literatures. Additional subscales were added to differentiate these experiences from normal waking experience, neurotic experience, and schizophrenic experience. Finally, a misleading item scale was added. These authors conceptualize the "mystical" experience as one which can momentarily occur in the process of the development of higher states of consciousness. For them the core state of consciousness is pure consciousness and from it develops these higher states of consciousness.



Whereas most researchers on mystical experiences study them as isolated or infrequent experiences with little if any theoretical "goal" for them, this group contextualizes them in a general model of development (Alexander et al., 1990) with their permanent establishment in an individual as a sign of the first higher state of consciousness. They point out that "during any developmental period, when awareness momentarily settles down to its least excited state, pure consciousness [mystical states] can be experienced (p. 310). " In terms of incidence they quote Maslow who felt that in the population at large less than one in 1,000 have frequent "peak" experiences so that the "full stabilization of a higher stage of consciousness appears to an event of all but historic significance (p. 310)."

"Virtually all of researchers using the SCI are very careful to distinguish the practice of meditation from the experience of pure consciousness, explaining that the former merely facilitates the latter. They also go to great pains to show that their multiple correlation's of health and well-being are strongest to the transcendent experience than to the entire practice of meditation (for psychophysiological review see Wallace, 1987; for individual difference review see Alexander et al., 1987;



The point of all of this is that the long term positive effects of mystical consciousness demonstrate for themselves the divine in action in the world. The argument is not that we can't figure out how such effects are caused. This is not an explanation of something based upon an appeal to God ,as the atheist straw man would have it. That's the only way atheists know how to think about things. We know this is caused by brain chemistry that's not the issue. That doesn't' tel us anything because it could be just a matter of random evolution, or it could be that this is how God creates corporeal life, he use chemicals links for consciousness. That is not at issue. The issues is that nothing else can produce such effects. It is God's action because nothing else will produce these effects to this degree.

at that level questions of causation do come int o it but as ex post facto argument on counter causality.


B. Long-Term Positive Effects of Mystical Experience


what follows is a summary of the major studies. The data is gathered by subjecting subjects whose experiences are measured by Hood's "M scale" (mystical scale) to standardized personality tests and demographics. We seen in these first examples high ratings of self actualization for mystical experiences. Self actualization tests are standardized and form a measurable base in psychological research. Essentially it means how comfortable you are with being you. In these results we see those who have had religious experiences score much higher than those who have not.




Research Summary

From Council on Spiritual Practices Website

"States of Univtive Consciousness"


Also called Transcendent Experiences, Ego-Transcendence, Intense Religious Experience, Peak Experiences, Mystical Experiences, Cosmic Consciousness. Sources:

Wuthnow, Robert (1978). "Peak Experiences: Some Empirical Tests." Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 18 (3), 59-75.

Noble, Kathleen D. (1987). ``Psychological Health and the Experience of Transcendence.'' The Counseling Psychologist, 15 (4), 601-614.
Lukoff, David & Francis G. Lu (1988). ``Transpersonal psychology research review: Topic: Mystical experiences.'' Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 20 (2), 161-184.

Roger Walsh (1980). The consciousness disciplines and the behavioral sciences: Questions of comparison and assessment. American Journal of Psychiatry, 137(6), 663-673.

Lester Grinspoon and James Bakalar (1983). ``Psychedelic Drugs in Psychiatry'' in Psychedelic Drugs Reconsidered, New York: Basic Books.

Furthermore, Greeley found no evidence to support the orthodox belief that frequent mystic experiences or psychic experiences stem from deprivation or psychopathology. His ''mystics'' were generally better educated, more successful economically, and less racist, and they were rated substantially happier on measures of psychological well-being. (Charles T. Tart, Psi: Scientific Studies of the Psychic Realm, p. 19.)



Long-Term Effects

Wuthnow:

*Say their lives are more meaningful,
*think about meaning and purpose
*Know what purpose of life is
Meditate more
*Score higher on self-rated personal talents and capabilities
*Less likely to value material possessions, high pay, job security, fame, and having lots of friends
*Greater value on work for social change, solving social problems, helping needy
*Reflective, inner-directed, self-aware, self-confident life style

Noble:

*Experience more productive of psychological health than illness
*Less authoritarian and dogmatic
*More assertive, imaginative, self-sufficient
*intelligent, relaxed
*High ego strength,
*relationships, symbolization, values,
*integration, allocentrism,
*psychological maturity,
*self-acceptance, self-worth,
*autonomy, authenticity, need for solitude,
*increased love and compassion

Short-Term Effects (usually people who did not previously know of these experiences)

*Experience temporarily disorienting, alarming, disruptive
*Likely changes in self and the world,
*space and time, emotional attitudes, cognitive styles, personalities, doubt sanity and reluctance to communicate, feel ordinary language is inadequate

*Some individuals report psychic capacities and visionary experience destabilizing relationships with family and friends Withdrawal, isolation, confusion, insecurity, self-doubt, depression, anxiety, panic, restlessness, grandiose religious delusions

Links to Maslow's Needs, Mental Health, and Peak Experiences When introducing entheogens to people, I find it's helpful to link them to other ideas people are familiar with. Here are three useful quotations. 1) Maslow - Beyond Self Actualization is Self Transcendence ``I should say that I consider Humanistic, Third Force Psychology to be transitional, a preparation for a still `higher' Fourth Psychology, transhuman, centered in the cosmos rather than in human needs and interest, going beyond humanness, identity, selfactualization and the like.''

Abraham Maslow (1968). Toward a Psychology of Being, Second edition, -- pages iii-iv.



2) States of consciousness and mystical experiences
The ego has problems:
the ego is a problem.

``Within the Western model we recognize and define psychosis as a suboptimal state of consciousness that views reality in a distorted way and does not recognize that distortion. It is therefore important to note that from the mystical perspective our usual state fits all the criteria of psychosis, being suboptimal, having a distorted view of reality, yet not recognizing that distortion. Indeed from the ultimate mystical perspective, psychosis can be defined as being trapped in, or attached to, any one state of consciousness, each of which by itself is necessarily limited and only relatively real.'' -- page 665




Roger Walsh (1980). The consciousness disciplines and the behavioral sciences: Questions of comparison and assessment. American Journal of Psychiatry, 137(6), 663-673.



3) Therapeutic effects of peak experiences

``It is assumed that if, as is often said, one traumatic event can shape a life, one therapeutic event can reshape it. Psychedelic therapy has an analogue in Abraham Maslow's idea of the peak experience. The drug taker feels somehow allied to or merged with a higher power; he becomes convinced the self is part of a much larger pattern, and the sense of cleansing, release, and joy makes old woes seem trivial.'' -- page 132

Lester Grinspoon and James Bakalar (1983). ``Psychedelic Drugs in Psychiatry'' in Psychedelic Drugs Reconsidered, New York: Basic Books.




Transpersonal Childhood Experiences of Higher States of Consciousness: Literature Review and Theoretical Integration. Unpublished paper by Jayne Gackenback, (1992)
http://www.sawka.com/spiritwatch/cehsc/ipure.htm

"These states of being also result in behavioral and health changes. Ludwig (1985) found that 14% of people claiming spontaneous remission from alcoholism was due to mystical experiences while Richards (1978) found with cancer patients treated in a hallucinogenic drug-assisted therapy who reported mystical experiences improved significantly more on a measure of self-actualization than those who also had the drug but did not have a mystical experience. In terms of the Vedic Psychology group they report a wide range of positive behavioral results from the practice of meditation and as outlined above go to great pains to show that it is the transcendence aspect of that practice that is primarily responsible for the changes. Thus improved performance in many areas of society have been reported including education and business as well as personal health states (reviewed and summarized in Alexander et al., 1990). Specifically, the Vedic Psychology group have found that mystical experiences were associated with "refined sensory threshold and enhanced mind-body coordination (p. 115; Alexander et al., 1987)."




(4) Greater happiness


Religion and Happiness

by Michael E. Nielsen, PhD


Many people expect religion to bring them happiness. Does this actually seem to be the case? Are religious people happier than nonreligious people? And if so, why might this be?

Researchers have been intrigued by such questions. Most studies have simply asked people how happy they are, although studies also may use scales that try to measure happiness more subtly than that. In general, researchers who have a large sample of people in their study tend to limit their measurement of happiness to just one or two questions, and researchers who have fewer numbers of people use several items or scales to measure happiness.

What do they find? In a nutshell, they find that people who are involved in religion also report greater levels of happiness than do those who are not religious. For example, one study involved over 160,000 people in Europe. Among weekly churchgoers, 85% reported being "very satisfied" with life, but this number reduced to 77% among those who never went to church (Inglehart, 1990). This kind of pattern is typical -- religious involvement is associated with modest increases in happiness



Argyle, M., and Hills, P. (2000). Religious experiences and their relations with happiness and personality. The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 10, 157-172.

Inglehart, R. (1990). Culture shift in advanced industrial society. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
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Re: Metacrock vs any commer: debate Religious Experience Argumen

Post by QuantumTroll » Mon Feb 18, 2008 4:45 pm

Hey Meta!

I see no one has responded to this open challenge, so I'm willing to have a go at it :-)

The heart of the argument is this:
some general perameters:
(1) The trace produced content with specifically religious affects

(2)The affects led one to a renewed sense of divine reality, are trans formative of life goals and self actualization

(3) Cannot be accounted for by alternate causality or other means.

_________________________________
this is the actual argument,

Argument:



(1)There are real affects from Mystical experince.

(2)These affects cannot be reduced to naturalistic cause and affect, bogus mental states or epiphenomena.

(3)Since the affects of Mystical consciousness are independent of other explanations we should assume that they are genuine.

(4)Since mystical experince is usually experince of something, the Holy, the sacred some sort of greater transcendent reality we should assume that the object is real since the affects or real, are that the affects are the result of some real higher reality.

(5)The true measure of the reality of the co-determinate is the transfomrative power of the affects. Since those are real we can assume the apparent cause is real.

___________________________________
The problem that I see is in Argument pt 2 (A2). It is clearly intended to address the 3rd requirement (or "general parameter"), but it does so only by assertion. I think that the observed effects of mystical experiences can all be reduced to ordinary natural origins. I don't think that any of the stuff in the 'Analysis' section adequately addresses this point.

Argument pt 5 (A5) is wrong. The transformative power of the effects is a measure of the magnitude of psychological change. An experience doesn't have to be true for it to have consequences.

Basically, my counter argument is this:
1a) Your argument A2 is unsupported. Transformative religious experiences are consistent with pure naturalism.
1b) Your argument A5 is incorrect. The transformative power of the experience does not indicate that the experience reflects a truth.
2) Therefore religious experience does NOT prove the reality of the divine.

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Re: Metacrock vs any commer: debate Religious Experience Argumen

Post by Metacrock » Wed Feb 20, 2008 11:26 pm

QuantumTroll wrote:Hey Meta!

I see no one has responded to this open challenge, so I'm willing to have a go at it :-)

The heart of the argument is this:
some general perameters:
(1) The trace produced content with specifically religious affects

(2)The affects led one to a renewed sense of divine reality, are trans formative of life goals and self actualization

(3) Cannot be accounted for by alternate causality or other means.

_________________________________
this is the actual argument,

Argument:



(1)There are real affects from Mystical experince.

(2)These affects cannot be reduced to naturalistic cause and affect, bogus mental states or epiphenomena.

(3)Since the affects of Mystical consciousness are independent of other explanations we should assume that they are genuine.

(4)Since mystical experince is usually experince of something, the Holy, the sacred some sort of greater transcendent reality we should assume that the object is real since the affects or real, are that the affects are the result of some real higher reality.

(5)The true measure of the reality of the co-determinate is the transfomrative power of the affects. Since those are real we can assume the apparent cause is real.

___________________________________
The problem that I see is in Argument pt 2 (A2). It is clearly intended to address the 3rd requirement (or "general parameter"), but it does so only by assertion. I think that the observed effects of mystical experiences can all be reduced to ordinary natural origins. I don't think that any of the stuff in the 'Analysis' section adequately addresses this point.
that is your assertion. you can't make good on it. But don't make the mistake of thinking its enough to argue that it doesn't prove it. That's not the issue. It is enough to offer rational warrant for believing it.





Argument pt 5 (A5) is wrong. The trans formative power of the effects is a measure of the magnitude of psychological change. An experience doesn't have to be true for it to have consequences.
wrong. Since it 's not proof in the demonstrative sens, but in the rational warrant sense, it only has to be rational to believe it. Real consequences mean real event. If you can't produce alternate causes it is reasonable to assume the content is as real as the effects, and thus, it was an encounter iwth the divine.


Basically, my counter argument is this:
1a) Your argument A2 is unsupported. Transformative religious experiences are consistent with pure naturalism.
I don't see any demonstration. you think just because you label my argument as assertion that you can make assertions?


1b) Your argument A5 is incorrect. The transformative power of the experience does not indicate that the experience reflects a truth.
of course it does, if no other causality is for coming and the effects are consistant with what we would expect of the divine, and it is consistent with the content.

having whip lash is proof you were in a wreck. there could be other reasons for whip lash, but if you have it and you claim to have been in a wreck your claim is rationally warranted.


2) Therefore religious experience does NOT prove the reality of the divine.

ok those are nice labels. now make the argument. :mrgreen: :D

btw thanks for playing.
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Re: Metacrock vs any commer: debate Religious Experience Argumen

Post by QuantumTroll » Thu Feb 21, 2008 5:01 am

Metacrock wrote:
QuantumTroll wrote: The problem that I see is in Argument pt 2 (A2). It is clearly intended to address the 3rd requirement (or "general parameter"), but it does so only by assertion. I think that the observed effects of mystical experiences can all be reduced to ordinary natural origins. I don't think that any of the stuff in the 'Analysis' section adequately addresses this point.
that is your assertion. you can't make good on it. But don't make the mistake of thinking its enough to argue that it doesn't prove it. That's not the issue. It is enough to offer rational warrant for believing it.
Oh come on, you said "Cannot be accounted for by alternate causality or other means." and "These affects cannot be reduced to naturalistic cause and affect, bogus mental states or epiphenomena."

You can't just make those two statements without backing them up. Perhaps an argument for rational warrant shouldn't be using such absolutist wording? If you want us to accept a premise, it needs to be supported. Where's the support? Otherwise, you can re-word the statements: "I believe the effects cannot be accounted for by alternate causes" and "I believe these effects cannot be reduced to naturalistic phenomena". If I accepted these assumptions as true, then I think your argument holds perfectly. I just think that accepting your assumptions is not a correct thing to do. Lower down in the post, I make some arguments for the naturalistic explanations of religious experiences.
Argument pt 5 (A5) is wrong. The trans formative power of the effects is a measure of the magnitude of psychological change. An experience doesn't have to be true for it to have consequences.
wrong. Since it 's not proof in the demonstrative sens, but in the rational warrant sense, it only has to be rational to believe it. Real consequences mean real event. If you can't produce alternate causes it is reasonable to assume the content is as real as the effects, and thus, it was an encounter iwth the divine.
But, I can produce alternate causes. If I couldn't, then I wouldn't be so sure of myself, now would I?
Basically, my counter argument is this:
1a) Your argument A2 is unsupported. Transformative religious experiences are consistent with pure naturalism.
I don't see any demonstration. you think just because you label my argument as assertion that you can make assertions?
Hey, if you can make assertions, then I can do the same, okay? The difference is that in this post I attempt to back them up...
1b) Your argument A5 is incorrect. The transformative power of the experience does not indicate that the experience reflects a truth.
of course it does, if no other causality is for coming and the effects are consistant with what we would expect of the divine, and it is consistent with the content.

having whip lash is proof you were in a wreck. there could be other reasons for whip lash, but if you have it and you claim to have been in a wreck your claim is rationally warranted.
But if the whip lash was from a roller-coaster ride, then you'd be wrong if you believed in the wreck. If we're at a theme-park, then I'd have to seriously question whether you're thinking clearly. The way I see it, we're in the theme-park of naturalism, and you're claiming the whip lash of religious experience is proof of the wreck of divinity. It's not the best explanation for the available evidence (as I see it).
2) Therefore religious experience does NOT prove the reality of the divine.
ok those are nice labels. now make the argument. :mrgreen: :D

btw thanks for playing.
I think I have just one main premise that you wanted to see support for: Religious experiences can be positive transformative experiences without a trace of the divine.

First, I will show that the content of an experience is not validated by the magnitude of the response. Consider this story of an office prank gone wrong (the first one, by |Raziel|). The poor man was moved to tears by the experience of smelling his rotting dead dog, even though that's not what he was smelling at all. There is also a slew of psychology that supports this premise: placebo effect, the slight academic advantage of people whose names start with 'A' vs. 'D', the positive feeling you get when you hear good news doesn't have any bearing on the veracity of the news, etc, etc. What you feel in response to some experience doesn't affect the truth value of your interpretation, and the truth of the experience doesn't affect the response you'll have. All that matters is your perception, i.e. what happens in your head.

Now, I will argue that religious experiences are no different from other experiences in this respect. Actually, never mind. If you believe that they're different, then you can explain how. I think I've done enough to explain that the consequences of an experience doesn't depend on the truth of that experience. I don't see why religious experience would be any different.

Your claim seems to be that there is no natural explanation for profound life-changing experiences, and that is what I'll address now. For example, let's take a hypothetical woman who just quits drug use after a particularly powerful praying session with the Virgin Mary. Did God touch her and heal her, or did she do it by herself? It's definitely possible that she did it by herself, since people quit using drugs all the time. What kept her from going back to drugs was renewed interest in hobbies and friends, so the idle moments of the day when she'd be tempted were few and far between. Then why did she feel as if Jesus saved her from drugs? Because in her view, she was unable to save herself, and was stuck in a cycle of depression. When Mary answered the prayer and Jesus saved her, it was her mind that finally kicked itself out of a self-destructive mode and tapped into the energy that she had all along. Obviously, I can't prove one way or the other what's happening to these people, but I strongly believe that a simple natural explanation can be found in the vast majority of cases.

Here's another argument for natural causes of religious experiences. People with all kinds of beliefs have these experiences. The interpretation of the experience differs, but the common thread is that all people can have them. There is probably a common source for these experiences. Since beliefs differ, and some don't even believe in God, the interpretation that it's the touch of the divine isn't universal, and it's clearly not belief that triggers the experience. The one common thread that links all people together is that we're all human. Our brains grow in the same patterns, and are based on the same chemistry and internal structure. If there's a purely subjective experience that all kinds of people can experience, then it's very likely that the experience is due to our brains. Sleeping, waking, imagination, drowsiness, we can all relate to these experiences and we all accept that they're due to our brain activity. So why can't you accept that religious experience is caused by brain activity?

In closing, I just want to say that 'yes, it could be God, touching the core of our being', but a natural explanation exists and isn't even very far-fetched. I mean, maybe I didn't even write this post, it's just God editing the TCP stream as it gets to your computer and putting in text for you to read. Possible, but not as likely as the natural explanation. I've tried to explain why I believe that natural explanations exist for mystical experiences, now could you try to explain why you don't believe they exist? This disbelief of yours is what your entire argument is based on, yet you haven't explained or supported it at all. None of the observations detailed in the tail end of your OP are in my opinion difficult to explain naturally.

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Re: Metacrock vs any commer: debate Religious Experience Argumen

Post by Metacrock » Sun Feb 24, 2008 7:16 am

I am having a problem with this mf text box. I can't type in it because it always shits back to the top so I can't see what I'm writing. this makes it real hard to follow the flow of the debate. I don't know what to do. that would probably the soft ware and I can't get at it and wouldn't know what to do with it anyway.

this problem with the text box made this a sucky experience. I can't get a break!
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Re: Metacrock vs any commer: debate Religious Experience Argumen

Post by Metacrock » Sun Feb 24, 2008 8:18 am

Due to the problems I'm having with the text box, I'm going to summarize all of this up to this point with one general answer and forget the progression of the verbage line by line.

The problem with counter causality is this:

(1) atheists never have data. they always try to assert some trivial thing that makes you happy or that changes the way you think, that's suppossed to be on a par with the depth of RE. but tha's pathetic, one guy argued watching footballl changed his lie. They have data to show the level of change, it always comes out they are talking about trivial changes.

(2) Re has long term positive effects. Atheists can never show this. I've never seen them produce anything approach this. All the forms of change they can come up with are always regenerative or trivial. Re is not degenerative. tis' positive you don't get worse, you get better, it's dramatic and deep it can come after just one experience.

(3) on my God argument list this argument is five pages. It has a lot of data disproving the link to mental illness. Re is not mental illness.

(a) long term positive effects documented with 326 studies! that's a huge amount (2 or 3 would do)

(b) mental illness, pathology and degenerative causes are eliminated by studies that takes out mental illness.

(c) brain chemistry specifically addressed with a whole page of argument.

(4) argument of the co-determinate; reason is given to assume these effects are the co determinate and thus they are the indication of he divine. because they are what we should expect from the divine.




http://www.doxa.ws/experience/mystical.html

having whip lash is proof you were in a wreck. there could be other reasons for whip lash, but if you have it and you claim to have been in a wreck your claim is rationally warranted.[/quote]
But if the whip lash was from a roller-coaster ride, then you'd be wrong if you believed in the wreck. If we're at a theme-park, then I'd have to seriously question whether you're thinking clearly. The way I see it, we're in the theme-park of naturalism, and you're claiming the whip lash of religious experience is proof of the wreck of divinity. It's not the best explanation for the available evidence (as I see it).

whip lash thing is a rational warrant. having whiplash proves something gave it to you. Now it is true it could be many things. so it's not proof. but it si a reason to believe it was a wreck so you must show why we should nt o believe that. see? it's your burden.



I think I have just one main premise that you wanted to see support for: Religious experiences can be positive transformative experiences without a trace of the divine.

your BOP

First, I will show that the content of an experience is not validated by the magnitude of the response. Consider this story of an office prank gone wrong (the first one, by |Raziel|). The poor man was moved to tears by the experience of smelling his rotting dead dog, even though that's not what he was smelling at all.
again, trivial example and no data. First, you no link to any kind of longer term positive change. this is not an example of change. It's not transformation. But you also have no data indicating it has anything to do with any kind of change like the sort I'm talking about.

you have shown no data to indicate any sort of counter causes because you have no data about transformation.




There is also a slew of psychology that supports this premise: placebo effect, the slight academic advantage of people whose names start with 'A' vs. 'D', the positive feeling you get when you hear good news doesn't have any bearing on the veracity of the news, etc, etc. What you feel in response to some experience doesn't affect the truth value of your interpretation, and the truth of the experience doesn't affect the response you'll have. All that matters is your perception, i.e. what happens in your head.
This is a different point. The argument doesn't turn on just having a nice feeling. It turns upon the result. Again, you present nothing to show that the kinds of things you are talking about can produce the kind of change I'm talking about.

to say "feeling does not produce change" is not the issue. The issue is the experiences do produce the changes. It doesn't matter if you link to fillings or not. But the point is not feelings demonstrateing truth vlaue. the point is real effects imply a ral cause.


RE is not placebo

http://havetheologywillargue.yuku.com/t ... acebo.html


Now, I will argue that religious experiences are no different from other experiences in this respect. Actually, never mind. If you believe that they're different, then you can explain how. I think I've done enough to explain that the consequences of an experience doesn't depend on the truth of that experience. I don't see why religious experience would be any different.

what do you mean by different?

(1) obviously they are different in content

(2) obviously different in outcome. you have not shown one bit of data to indicate anything that produces the kind of changes I'm talking about.




Your claim seems to be that there is no natural explanation for profound life-changing experiences, and that is what I'll address now.



you can't produce data. You might hint at something that potentially could cause changes but you can't demonstrate like my studies do that there is real concrete result.


For example, let's take a hypothetical woman who just quits drug use after a particularly powerful praying session with the Virgin Mary. Did God touch her and heal her, or did she do it by herself? It's definitely possible that she did it by herself, since people quit using drugs all the time.
No, that's an extremely foolish statement. people who do not quite drugs all the time, not when their level of addiction is high. It's extremely had to do, that's partly why they are illegal. That sort of thing is one factor in outcome, but it's not the only one

in other words, with RE she quites drugs and has all the other effects too! total life transformation.

B. Long-Term Positive Effects of Mystical Experience


Research Summary

From Council on Spiritual Practices Website

"States of Univtive Consciousness"


Also called Transcendent Experiences, Ego-Transcendence, Intense Religious Experience, Peak Experiences, Mystical Experiences, Cosmic Consciousness. Sources:

Wuthnow, Robert (1978). "Peak Experiences: Some Empirical Tests." Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 18 (3), 59-75.

Noble, Kathleen D. (1987). ``Psychological Health and the Experience of Transcendence.'' The Counseling Psychologist, 15 (4), 601-614.
Lukoff, David & Francis G. Lu (1988). ``Transpersonal psychology research review: Topic: Mystical experiences.'' Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 20 (2), 161-184.

Roger Walsh (1980). The consciousness disciplines and the behavioral sciences: Questions of comparison and assessment. American Journal of Psychiatry, 137(6), 663-673.

Lester Grinspoon and James Bakalar (1983). ``Psychedelic Drugs in Psychiatry'' in Psychedelic Drugs Reconsidered, New York: Basic Books.

Furthermore, Greeley found no evidence to support the orthodox belief that frequent mystic experiences or psychic experiences stem from deprivation or psychopathology. His ''mystics'' were generally better educated, more successful economically, and less racist, and they were rated substantially happier on measures of psychological well-being. (Charles T. Tart, Psi: Scientific Studies of the Psychic Realm, p. 19.)



Long-Term Effects

Wuthnow:

*Say their lives are more meaningful,
*think about meaning and purpose
*Know what purpose of life is
Meditate more
*Score higher on self-rated personal talents and capabilities
*Less likely to value material possessions, high pay, job security, fame, and having lots of friends
*Greater value on work for social change, solving social problems, helping needy
*Reflective, inner-directed, self-aware, self-confident life style

Noble:

*Experience more productive of psychological health than illness
*Less authoritarian and dogmatic
*More assertive, imaginative, self-sufficient
*intelligent, relaxed
*High ego strength,
*relationships, symbolization, values,
*integration, allocentrism,
*psychological maturity,
*self-acceptance, self-worth,
*autonomy, authenticity, need for solitude,
*increased love and compassion

Short-Term Effects (usually people who did not previously know of these experiences)

*Experience temporarily disorienting, alarming, disruptive
*Likely changes in self and the world,
*space and time, emotional attitudes, cognitive styles, personalities, doubt sanity and reluctance to communicate, feel ordinary language is inadequate

*Some individuals report psychic capacities and visionary experience destabilizing relationships with family and friends Withdrawal, isolation, confusion, insecurity, self-doubt, depression, anxiety, panic, restlessness, grandiose religious delusions

Links to Maslow's Needs, Mental Health, and Peak Experiences When introducing entheogens to people, I find it's helpful to link them to other ideas people are familiar with. Here are three useful quotations. 1) Maslow - Beyond Self Actualization is Self Transcendence ``I should say that I consider Humanistic, Third Force Psychology to be transitional, a preparation for a still `higher' Fourth Psychology, transhuman, centered in the cosmos rather than in human needs and interest, going beyond humanness, identity, selfactualization and the like.''

Abraham Maslow (1968). Toward a Psychology of Being, Second edition, -- pages iii-iv.


What kept her from going back to drugs was renewed interest in hobbies and friends, so the idle moments of the day when she'd be tempted were few and far between.
ahahahahaha you are nuts! do you not know what addiction is? Jesus Christ are you serious! you have have never known a druggie have you?

those people can't have hobby! they destroy all their friendships they put drugs before everything.

you sure as hell can't show me any data that says hobbies can get you off drugs!






Then why did she feel as if Jesus saved her from drugs? Because in her view, she was unable to save herself, and was stuck in a cycle of depression. When Mary answered the prayer and Jesus saved her, it was her mind that finally kicked itself out of a self-destructive mode and tapped into the energy that she had all along. Obviously, I can't prove one way or the other what's happening to these people, but I strongly believe that a simple natural explanation can be found in the vast majority of cases. [/quote]

I have a study which shows that 16% of those with RE quite drug addiction. you have no study of any kind to show that hobbies can do it. you are making hypothetical speculative arguments with no data.

It's the sense of the profound nature of the experience that gives one the courage to try to change.




Here's another argument for natural causes of religious experiences. People with all kinds of beliefs have these experiences. The interpretation of the experience differs, but the common thread is that all people can have them. There is probably a common source for these experiences.



that in no way proves it's natural. that only proves God is speaking to everyone. It's certainly accounted for by my theology. God is speaking to us all at the mystical level, we filter it through our culture and that makes religious differences.. NO one ever said that RE is given in exchange for having good doctrine!


Since beliefs differ, and some don't even believe in God, the interpretation that it's the touch of the divine isn't universal, and it's clearly not belief that triggers the experience.



well of course not! 45% are children so they aren't seeking anything. why would you think that belief has to be what triggers it? that would count against your placebo argument too. Placebo works by expectation. who says it's given in exchange for right belief?


The one common thread that links all people together is that we're all human. Our brains grow in the same patterns, and are based on the same chemistry and internal structure. If there's a purely subjective experience that all kinds of people can experience, then it's very likely that the experience is due to our brains. Sleeping, waking, imagination, drowsiness, we can all relate to these experiences and we all accept that they're due to our brain activity. So why can't you accept that religious experience is caused by brain activity?
that's not a specific argument. of course it has to do with our brains, what about them? Does being in the brain prove God isn't behind the experince? No of course not! here's more on that issue:

http://www.doxa.ws/experience/Mystical3-2.html


In closing, I just want to say that 'yes, it could be God, touching the core of our being',
then belief is rationally warranted

but a natural explanation exists and isn't even very far-fetched.
where's the data? I see not one study.
I mean, maybe I didn't even write this post, it's just God editing the TCP stream as it gets to your computer and putting in text for you to read. Possible, but not as likely as the natural explanation.




you have no data to back your counter causes no reason to believe them. that RE is the only long term positive effect producing phenomenon is reason enough to believe it as the cause.

I've tried to explain why I believe that natural explanations exist for mystical experiences, now could you try to explain why you don't believe they exist? This disbelief of yours is what your entire argument is based on, yet you haven't explained or supported it at all. None of the observations detailed in the tail end of your OP are in my opinion difficult to explain naturally.

I have said it every single time NO DATA! you don't have data. you just have guesses, most of them don't apply, like placebo.

you got no studies man!
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Re: Metacrock vs any commer: debate Religious Experience Argumen

Post by QuantumTroll » Sun Feb 24, 2008 2:06 pm

I'm not going to answer most of your post point-by-point, because that would take too much space. Instead, I will open with an argument that addresses a fair number of your points.

First of all, a recurring theme in your thinking is the idea that RE are orders of magnitude more profound than common psychological variation. My response to you is that you are your psychology. Your are a delicate process of electrochemical information flow in your brain, so clearly changes in your brain can completely transform you. I'm not sure what you mean when you say there are no studies. I've seen some of yours, and I don't think you can point to a single positive result that couldn't happen naturally. There's no difficulty in changing people. The fact that it's positive can be attributed to a natural healing process, or God. Heck, the number of suicides every year indicates that either Satan kills people or people's spirits can be severely damaged naturally. I'm more inclined to think that people's minds are fragile than the Satan hypothesis, aren't you? What's weird about positive psychological events that means God must exist? There's nothing in those studies that indicates that the positive effects are not completely natural. Honestly, I'm not blankly just blankly denying that you have evidence, but nothing in your "long-term effects" is very remarkable. Can you explain in more detail why it's impossible for natural causes to these effects?

I also want to apologize for the "lack of data". I don't actually keep track of the articles and magazines that I read, and I haven't read any journals, but I've seen no references to any study that actually concluded that religion accomplishes something out of the ordinary. From what I've seen of it, I'm pretty sure you don't really have data either, but I'll probably never know since I'm not going to read it all ;). Seriously, though, could you point out what specifically happens that the brain couldn't do by itself? That's really the important data.

Which brings me to Burden Of Proof. We live in a natural world, with natural laws all around. We ourselves are made by and of natural laws. This will be undeniable when we build a thinking machine, but it really should be apparent from evolutionary biology and observing the animals around us. Through psychopharmacology, we've learned that the mental condition is easily and profoundly influenced by some substances. Emotions - even love - have been dissected and laid bare as chemical processes that executive instincts. These are the facts as they stand. There are more questions, but we're learning new answers at an increasing rate. Until this situation changes, the Null Hypothesis is "nature" and the Burden Of Proof
is with you.
Metacrock wrote:
QuantumTroll wrote:
Metacrock wrote:having whip lash is proof you were in a wreck. there could be other reasons for whip lash, but if you have it and you claim to have been in a wreck your claim is rationally warranted.
But if the whip lash was from a roller-coaster ride, then you'd be wrong if you believed in the wreck. If we're at a theme-park, then I'd have to seriously question whether you're thinking clearly. The way I see it, we're in the theme-park of naturalism, and you're claiming the whip lash of religious experience is proof of the wreck of divinity. It's not the best explanation for the available evidence (as I see it).
whip lash thing is a rational warrant. having whiplash proves something gave it to you. Now it is true it could be many things. so it's not proof. but it si a reason to believe it was a wreck so you must show why we should nt o believe that. see? it's your burden.
I believe you ignored what I said. Whiplash is only rational warrant for having been in a wreck if you're not at a cheap themepark with giant signs advertising for a local chiropractor. Positive effects from religious experiences are still not rational warrant that religion is true. In fact, the positive effects also help explain why religion has generally proven to be difficult to destroy, but that's another point entirely.
again, trivial example and no data. First, you no link to any kind of longer term positive change. this is not an example of change. It's not transformation. But you also have no data indicating it has anything to do with any kind of change like the sort I'm talking about.

you have shown no data to indicate any sort of counter causes because you have no data about transformation.
A trivial example is enough. It doesn't matter whether the experience that changes a man's life is real, just whether or not he experiences it. This is true no matter how big the change is, from crying about the dog and firing employees, to tremendous life-affirmation.

Also, be careful of moving goal posts. Positive change now means "transformation"? How many of these "transformed" people have been subject to studies, and how significant was their transformation really? Let's stick with positive change, because transformation sounds like dubious anecdotal studies...
ahahahahaha you are nuts! do you not know what addiction is? Jesus Christ are you serious! you have have never known a druggie have you?

those people can't have hobby! they destroy all their friendships they put drugs before everything.

you sure as hell can't show me any data that says hobbies can get you off drugs!
Actually, I can show you data. Sweden is the only country that has decreased its drug use over the last decade. Winning the drug war is done by understanding the motivations and the dynamics of drug users, and experts concluded that the winning strategy focuses on providing better things for users to do. It's ironic that I'm saying this, but you can't argue with results ;)

The rest of your post just repeats the same thing: "No Data". You want a study that shows a positive long-term effect that wasn't an RE. The problem is, there's no limit on what you call a RE. If I pull up an example, you'd easily judge it as "trivial" and ignore it, or as "RE" and say it's evidence for your case. I mean, what is a Religious Experience except a profound and positive experience? A meditating atheist might realize that he's been living the wrong life and forms a deep resolution to never harm another person again, and you'd call it a Religious Experience. There's no data for natural explanations because your frame of mind doesn't include such a possibility. If I'm wrong about you, then I'd like an example of a positive experience with a long-term effect that would not be a Religious Experience.

Perhaps I ought to say something about the stuff you've written here. The excerpts and quotes on that page do a wonderful job of describing the sorts of stuff that the mind does. But I don't think it supports your view. Nowhere is there evidence of something that does not come from the brain. You ignore the profound changes in mental state that can be caused by brain surgery and drugs, insisting that the mind controls the brain and body downwards despite clear evidence of the reverse. If the state of the mind is a representation of the state of the brain, and the brain has a profound influence on the body, then the mind would indeed appear to control certain things yet the mind would still be affected by physical changes. My atheistic mind/brain theory fits the facts perfectly.

Phew, what a long post. I oughta get paid for this ;). If you want my post in short, it says that I've seen nothing that couldn't very reasonably be attributed to natural causes. My idea of your argument is taking any data at all, then as long as it's consistent with your viewpoint you can declare a victory for "rational warrant". I might do the same with naturalism, and have one less entity in my worldview. Occam says that means I win. ;)

Anyway, I don't think rational warrant works that way. If everything from suicide to love is brain chemistry, then it is rational to believe that the rest is, too. Rational warrant can be granted if there's a concrete reason to doubt the natural explanations. Given how long these posts are getting, I'm going to consider this discussion over (after you've had another post, of course). I'd like you explain why these purely psychological changes are unlikely to be caused by natural events in the mind and brain. Then it'd be cool if we invited the other forumgoers to see what they think of the discussion :)

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Re: Metacrock vs any commer: debate Religious Experience Argumen

Post by QuantumTroll » Mon Feb 25, 2008 4:45 am

Oops, I forgot to address a point you made.

The point goes sort of like this: Religious Experiences work, so they must be real.

My response is: They are real experiences, that's why they work. But workingness doesn't necessarily imply truthiness.

To use an analogy, Newtonian mechanics usually works, so we really live in a Newtonian universe. In truth, we live in a quantum field universe, and Newtonian mechanics is a shortcut that is useful for humans but says nothing about the nature of the universe. Similarly, RE is a shortcut to a psychological transformation, but we don't live in a universe where the RE really has a deeper meaning.

Or at least, that's the way I see it.

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Re: Metacrock vs any commer: debate Religious Experience Argumen

Post by Metacrock » Wed Feb 27, 2008 9:43 pm

First of all, a recurring theme in your thinking is the idea that RE are orders of magnitude more profound than common psychological variation. My response to you is that you are your psychology. Your are a delicate process of electrochemical information flow in your brain,
O thank you! I think you are a phenomenon. :mrgreen:


so clearly changes in your brain can completely transform you. I'm not sure what you mean when you say there are no studies. I've seen some of yours, and I don't think you can point to a single positive result that couldn't happen naturally.


you have no data to support that. Obviously if people could just start feeling that life was great, they understood allt higns, no longer fear death, get off drugs without major medical help and so forth then they would do those things all the time. If all it took was a little trick of the mind, or a change of attitude. one little experince no one would have any problems. You do no do not have a study that says "the results of RE are not remarkable." everyone who has done the studies says it's remarkable, not you have no data saying otherwise.

that's just another version of saying "I refuse to believe it! I wont allow religion to be good, I just wont believe it I don't want to."

There's no difficulty in changing people. The fact that it's positive can be attributed to a natural healing process, or God.


please open your eyes think about what you are saying! If it was easy to change people who do they have to pay hundredes of dollars an hour for years of therapy and still don't get better? why do they spend millinos of dollors to convence people to by brnd x and they they go under?

ridiculous totally ridiculous1 look at what you are saying, you do not have a study, no one single study that says "X% of people who are depressed got over depression by experince y." you do not have not have that. You can guess and assert all you wish, you have no documentation of anything that produces long term positive change in these ways.

Larsen examined 2000 articles in social science journals and found the no one factor in well being is religion. you do not have any data that disputes this.



Heck, the number of suicides every year indicates that either Satan kills people or people's spirits can be severely damaged naturally. I'm more inclined to think that people's minds are fragile than the Satan hypothesis, aren't you?
what? what? what the hell? what the fuck is that? what kind of assumption are making now?


What's weird about positive psychological events that means God must exist? There's nothing in those studies that indicates that the positive effects are not completely natural. Honestly, I'm not blankly just blankly denying that you have evidence, but nothing in your "long-term effects" is very remarkable. Can you explain in more detail why it's impossible for natural causes to these effects?

you are still assuming it's a god of gaps argument. O we don't know what makes people feel good, if they feel good it must be god. that's not what I'm saying. But in terms of argument there is no data indicating that anything other than RE produces long term positive change at this life trans formative level. since that is what we should expect to result from contact of the divine we can assume it is the co-determinate. the argument turns on the co-determinate.

this is what we should expect God to do, and it's consistent with the content of the experience. so we are rationally warranted to believe that's what it is.



I also want to apologize for the "lack of data". I don't actually keep track of the articles and magazines that I read, and I haven't read any journals, but I've seen no references to any study that actually concluded that religion accomplishes something out of the ordinary. From what I've seen of it, I'm pretty sure you don't really have data either, but I'll probably never know since I'm not going to read it all ;). Seriously, though, could you point out what specifically happens that the brain couldn't do by itself? That's really the important data.

I've already posted the data. You are just like the guys that would not look through galleleos telescope. you are one of the intelligent atheitss. this says it all.

thansk for playing.
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Re: Metacrock vs any commer: debate Religious Experience Argumen

Post by QuantumTroll » Sat Mar 01, 2008 6:27 am


Heck, the number of suicides every year indicates that either Satan kills people or people's spirits can be severely damaged naturally. I'm more inclined to think that people's minds are fragile than the Satan hypothesis, aren't you?


what? what? what the hell? what the fuck is that? what kind of assumption are making now?
Sorry, I was unclear. I see psychological trauma as a kind of polar opposite of RE effects. Sometimes, people just get in a very bad place mentally, and they often get stuck there long-term. Nervous breakdowns (more accurately, sudden acute onset of certain mental illnesses) are analogous to RE experiences with negative consequences. The only difference between Religious Experiences and the worst night of your life is that RE are positive and nervous breakdowns are negative. There are two possible reasons for nervous breakdowns, either there is a natural cause or there is not. Again, this is the same as RE. Clearly, I don't believe that nervous breakdowns are caused by the "Ground of UnBeing" or some other polar opposite of the Ground of Being(God). You don't believe that either, right?

If the only difference between RE and nervous breakdowns is the direction of the change, then the causes are probably related. Either there's a difference between RE and nervous breakdowns that I do not perceive, or it is likely that they're either both natural or both transcendent experiences. Ugh, sorry about nested clauses in that sentence. I'll go for both natural, but you've got some options. You might disagree that RE and nervous breakdown are analogous. You might believe that mental illness is sometimes caused by divine influences (I doubt that this is your choice). Or you could change your mind about the nature of religious experiences ;)

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