Best Reason

Discuss arguments for existence of God and faith in general. Any aspect of any orientation toward religion/spirituality, as long as it is based upon a positive open to other people attitude.

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Re: Best Reason

Postby Metacrock on Mon Dec 15, 2008 10:13 pm

First of all, start at the begining. Now let's look at what my argument said first


Argument (1)There are real affects from Mytical 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 explaintions we should assume that they are genuine.

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

(5)The true measure of the reality of the co-determinate is the transformation power of the affects.



now that right there tells you why you should assume an evidential aspect to these studies and why transformational properties are indicative of the divine. Look at number four. the content of the experience is that of God. One experincs the divine, one gains a snese of meaning in life, one feels the presence of god,t he truth of God. if the content of it is content of God then we are logically justified in deducting that this is an experince of God.

Secondly since the content of it is of God and the effects are real, we are justified in assuming the experience is that of god! I can't see for the life of me why that is not logical. it's the way we do other experinces. I see yellow. I assume this is an experince of something yellow. I see an opening in the wall. I assume I can walk through it, i do, so it must be a door because that's' what door do for you. so it have really been a door I was looking at.

Moreover, there's an ancient association here. this is why we have religion in the first place. this is the essence why belief in god came about to begin with. TIs' always been this association around the world for thousands of years, this kind of feeling has always been associated with the divine, since even before the concept of God per se.

Furthermore, it's the nature of religion to produce transformation. That's what religion is.It's an identification of the problem with being human and then a response to that problem through transformation experiences. its' the basic reason religion exists in the first place.


Now you deny the basis of the argument by trying to degrade the studies by calling them a litany. of what/ of bull shit? why wouldn't they proof? what else is religion suppossed to be? its' suppossed to change our life. and lookie here., it does! what could be more proof? would could be better evidence?



religion does that which it is suppose to do, how could anything else be better proof?


As for evidential, 300 studies, but really more 2000 but we can narrow wit down to just studies about mystical experinces. I gave you links to literature talking about them. I don't have 300 studies on my book shelf. you have to look somethings up.

Here's a fine article that lists maybe as many as a 100 studies and talks about thier findings.

http://ipi.org.in/texts/ip2/ip2-4.5-.htm


Research studies

For the purpose of this review of studies relating spirituality with psychological well-being, studies involving religious influence have also been considered as they are closely related to spirituality.

Spirituality and well-being

From time immemorial it is believed that spiritual experiences and practices have a therapeutic value in so far as they are capable of establishing an integrated personality. A report (Culligan, 1996) of a 1995 conference held at Harvard University reflects the new collaborative attempts of religion and medicine wherein there is a recognition of the power of religion and spiritual practices in medical treatment. The conference explored the relationship between spirituality and healing in medicine, with reference to the major world religions, and it provided a platform to discuss the physiological, neurological and psychological effects of healing resulting from spirituality.

Several recent studies (Allman et al., 1992; Elkins, 1995; Shafranske & Malony, 1990) have shown that the majority of practicing psychologists though not involved in organized religion, consider spirituality important not only to their personal lives but also to their clinical work. In a study Sullivan (1993) reports findings from a larger qualitative study that is seeking to discover factors associated with the successful adjustment of former and current consumers of mental health services. The study concludes that spiritual beliefs and practices were identified as essential to the success of 48% of the informants interviewed.

Vaughan (1991) explored the relevance of spiritual issues for individual psychotherapy among those motivated by spiritual aspiration and concluded that spirituality underlies both, personal impulses to growth and healing, and many creative cultural and social enterprises. Spitznagel (1992) and Sweeney and Witmer (1992) discussed the spiritual element in the well-ness model approach to work-adjustment and rehabilitation counselling and said that this holistic concept of working with clients is generally centred on faith, belief and values. Westgate (1996) in her review proposed four dimensions of spiritual wellness: (1) meaning in life (2) intrinsic value (3) transcendence and (4) spiritual communality. The paper also discussed the implications of these dimensions for research, counselling and counsellor education.

In a two year exploratory group study of participants in spiritual healing practices, Glik (1986) found that the healing which occurred is related to various measures of psychological wellness defined as the construct of subjective health. Fehring et al., (1987) correlating studies that investigate the relationship between spirituality and psychological mood states in response to life change, found that spiritual well-being, existential well-being and a spiritual outlook showed a strong inverse relationship with negative moods, suggesting that spiritual variables may influence well-being.

Over the years numerous claims have been made about the nature of spiritual/mystical and Maslow’s “peak experiences”, and about their consequences. Wuthnow (1978) set out to explore findings regarding peak experiences from a systematic random sample of 1000 persons and found that peak experiences are common to a wide cross-section of people, and that one in two has experienced contact with the holy or sacred, more than eight in ten have been moved deeply by the beauty of nature and four in ten have experienced being in harmony with the universe. Of these, more than half in each have had peak experiences which have had deep and lasting effects on their lives. Peakers are more likely also, to say they value working for social change, helping to solve social problems, and helping people in need. Wuthnow stressed the therapeutic value of these experiences and also the need to study the social significance of these experiences in bringing about a world in which problems such as social disintegration, prejudice and poverty can be eradicated. Savage et al., (1995) provided clinical evidence to suggest that peakers produce greater feelings of self-confidence and a deeper sense of meaning and purpose. Mogar’s (1965) research also tended to confirm these findings.

Some researchers in the recent past have found that life satisfaction correlated positively with mystical / spiritual experiences, and these experiences were further found to relate positively to one’s life purpose (Kass, et al., 1991). In fact researchers are of the view that a positive relation between positive affect and mystical experiences may not be surprising given that intense positive affect is often considered to be one of the defining characteristics of these experiences (Noble, 1985; Spilka, Hood & Gorsuch, 1985). The few studies that investigated well-being measures, spirituality and spiritual experience have found that people who have had spiritual experiences are in the normal range of well-being and have a tendency to report more extreme positive feelings than others (Kennedy, Kanthamani & Palmer, 1994; Kennedy & Kanthamani, 1995).

Spiritual experiences are also considered to be exceptional human experiences at the upper end of the normal range such as creative inspiration and exceptional human performance, and can be life changing. Fahlberg, Wolfer and Fahlberg (1992) interpreted personal crises from a developmental perspective that includes the possibility of self-transcendence through spiritual experience / or emergency. The authors suggest that health professionals need to recognize, facilitate and support positive growth experiences.

A study by De Roganio (1997) content-analyzed and organized into a paradigm case examples found in themes of 35 lived-experience informants and 14 autobiographers who represented a wide range of people with physical disability and chronic illness. It was found that the combined elements of spiritual transformation, hope, personal control, positive social support and a meaningful energetic life enabled individuals to improve themselves and come to terms with their respective conditions. These experiences led many people to realize their own interest, sense of wholeness and unity, and to experience and integrate a deeper meaning, sense of self and spirituality within their lives.

Some studies have offered a spiritual approach to addiction problems. Caroll (1993) found that 100 members of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) benefited from spirituality which was found to correlate positively with having a purpose in life and the length of sobriety. Frame and Williams (1996), in their study of religions and spiritual dimensions of the African-American culture, address the role of spirituality in shaping identity, and conclude that reconnecting AA clients to their powerful spiritual tradition may be a crucial catalyst for personal empowerment and spiritual liberation. The finding was confirmed in a later study by Wif and Carmen (1996). Another study reported by Green et al., (1998) described the process of spiritual awakening experienced by some persons in recovery during the quest for sobriety. The data suggested that persons in recovery often undergo life altering transformations as a result of embracing a power higher than one’s self i.e., a “higher power”. The result is often the beginning of an intense spiritual journey that leads to sustained abstinence.

In the last few years investigators in the rapidly growing field of mind-body medicine are coming across findings that suggest that an attitude of openness to unusual experiences such as spiritual, transcendental, peak, mystical may be conducive to health and well-being. For example, Dean Ornish, a heart disease researcher, believes that “opening your heart” to “experience a higher force” is in an important component of his programme for reversing heart disease (Ornish, 1990, chapter 9). There are also studies that relate illness with spirituality: Reese (1997) found in her study of terminally ill adults aged 20-85 years that, (1) they had a greater spiritual perspective than non-terminally ill hospitalized adults and adults, (2) their spiritual perspective was positively related to well-being and (3) a significant larger number of terminally ill adults indicated a change toward increased spirituality than did non-terminally ill or healthy adults.

Further, McDowell et al., (1996) investigated the importance of spirituality among 101 severely mentally ill and chronically dependent in-patients, and 31 members of the nursing staff who treated them. It was found that both the patients and the staff who treated them were equally spiritually oriented, and that the patients viewed spirituality as essential to their recovery and they valued the spiritual programme in their treatment more than some of the more concrete items.

Numerous studies have found positive relationships between religious beliefs and practices and physical or mental health measures. Although it appears that religious belief and participation may possibly influence one’s subjective well-being, many questions need to be answered such as when and why religion is related to psychological well-being. A review by Worthington et al., (1996) offers some tentative answers as to why religion may sometimes have positive effects on individuals. Religion may (a) produce a sense of meaning, something worth living and dying for (Spilka, Shaves & Kirkpath, 1985); (b) stimulate hope (Scheier & Carver, 1987) and optimism (Seligman, 1991); (c) give religious people a sense of control by a beneficient God, which compensates for reduced personal control (Pargament et al., 1987); (d) prescribe a healthier lifestyle that yields positive health and mental health outcomes; (e) set positive social norms that elicit approval, nurturance, and acceptance from others; (f) provide a social support network; or (g) give the person a sense of the supernatural that is certainly a psychological boost-but may also be a spiritual boost that cannot be measured phenomenologically (Bergin & Payne, 1993). It is also reported by Myers and Diener (1995) that people who experience a sustained level of happiness are more likely to say that they have a meaningful religious faith than people who are not happy over a long period of time.

A study by Handway (1978) on religiosity concluded that religion is one potential resource in people’s lives. More recently Myers and Diener (1995) in their survey of related studies observe that links between religion and mental health are impressive and that culture and religiosity may provide better clues to understanding the nature of well-being. Religious belief and practice play an important role in the lives of millions of people worldwide. A review by Selway and Ashman (1998) highlighted the potential of religion to effect the lives of people with disabilities, their families and care givers.

Research relating stress to religion indicated that religious and non-religious people tend to experience equal amounts of stress but religion may help people deal better with negative life events and their attendant stress (Schafer & King, 1990). A study by Maton (1989) supports the view that high level of stress individuals are likely to benefit from perceived spiritual support and is consistent with the stress and coping model based on religion proposed by Pargament. Anson et al., (1990) found that belonging to a religious community reduced stress whereas personal religious beliefs did not among 230 members of a kibbutzim. Similar findings were obtained by Williams et al., (1991) where for 720 adults religious attendance buffered the deleterious effects of stress on mental health. Courtenary et al., (1992) found a significant relationship between religiosity and physical health and that religion and coping were strongly related especially among the oldest-old.

With regard to coping Pargament (1996) cites five studies that show that religious forms of coping are especially helpful to people in uncontrollable, unmanageable or otherwise difficult situations. In the same lines Moran also believes that survivors of crisis or disaster may benefit by experiencing God as a refuge and as a reason to have hope (Moran, 1990). Patricia (1998) in her review shows how religion and spirituality help adult survivors of childhood violence.

Individuals with strong religious faith have been found to report higher levels of life satisfaction, greater personal happiness, and fewer negative psychological consequences of traumatic life events (Ellison, 1991). Anson et al., (1990) examined among 639 Jewish retirees over 60 years the relationship between self-rated religiosity, physical and psychological well-being and life satisfaction using data from a longitudinal study. Findings revealed religiosity was only weakly and inversely related to health and psychological distress, poor well-being at time 1 and a decline in well-being during the follow-up year led to an increase in religiosity. Ellis and Smith (1991) administered to 100 undergraduate students the Reasons for Living Inventory (RFL) and a spiritual well-being scale, and found a positive correlation between religious well-being and the total RFL score. Ellison’s (1993) data from a national survey of Black Americans supported the hypothesis that participation in Church communities fosters positive self-perception.

There have been studies on the effects of religiosity. A study by Mookherjee (1994) found that the perception of well-being was positively and significantly influenced by, among other things, church membership and frequency of church attendance. Blaine and Crocker (1995) found that religious belief salience and psychological well-being were moderately positively correlated among Black students. Two-thirds of the panel reported a consistently positive attitude –toward being religious when subjects attached importance to being religious even after 14 years later (Atchley, 1997).

Many psychologists who study religion distinguish between intrinsic and extrinsic religious orientation (Paloutzian, 1996). An intrinsic orientation involves internal religious motives within a person. On the contrary extrinsic orientation involves external motives outside of the religion, using the religion for unreligious ends. There appears to be a positive correlation between intrinsically religious people (religion as an end in itself) deriving substantial positive mental health benefit from their religion (Donahue, 1985). Intrinsic religiosity has been related to the following qualities characterising positive mental health: internal locus of control, intrinsic motivational traits, sociability, sense of well-being, responsibility, self-control, tolerance, and so on (Bergin, 1991).

A long standing misconception is that religion is a crutch for the weak. However, researchers in the psychology of religion have found that many religious individuals were competent. Payne et al., (1991) in their review on religion and mental health found that there was a positive influence of intrinsic religiosity on mental health in regard to well-being. In one study (Ventis, 1995) found that individuals with intrinsic religious motivation reported a greater sense of competence and control, as well as less worry and guilt than did individuals with extrinsic religious motivation. In another study by (Genia, 1998) it was found that intrinsically religious and pro-religious students reported greater existential well-being than extrinsic or nonreligious subjects.

As Indian culture has a long tradition of spiritual practitioners as well as authentic records of spiritual experiences it will not be out of place here to consider them briefly. In addition their contribution to well-being is not inconsiderable.



I think you are forgetting that I say the actual experince itself is not the issue. so I don't expect the experience itself to be a "miracle" os some kind. the effects of the experince are the point because that's what religion is suppossed to do for you. that means it's truth content can and be judged by the extent to which it is transformational.
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Re: Best Reason

Postby KR Wordgazer on Mon Dec 15, 2008 10:58 pm

Just to bring Metacrock's discussion from the general to the specific:

A man called in to a Christian radio talk show a while back, while I was listening to the radio. He said he had been addicted to drugs and alcohol, and had been homeless, jobless, and living in his sister's apartment. He remembered climbing out the 5th-story window and getting ready to jump, because his life felt worthless. He said he cried out, just before he was about to jump: "God if you're there, if you care, help me now!" He said he felt warmth rush all through his body, and he climbed back in the window, flushed his drugs down the toilet, and has been walking with God since that moment, and his life is completely turned around.

Now, I know this is anecdotal. But my own experiences, though not so dramatic (because I never became a homeless addict), are still quite real. You can decide the caller could be lying-- but with what motive? He didn't give his name; it's not like he was trying to become famous or anything. . .

I have never heard anyone say they had a life change like this and not attribute it in some way to the divine. So isn't that a reason to think it just might be the divine?
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Re: Best Reason

Postby marxiavelli on Tue Dec 16, 2008 12:43 am

Argument (1)There are real affects from Mytical 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 explaintions we should assume that they are genuine.

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

(5)The true measure of the reality of the co-determinate is the transformation power of the affects.


now that right there tells you why you should assume an evidential aspect to these studies and why transformational properties are indicative of the divine. Look at number four. the content of the experience is that of God. One experincs the divine, one gains a snese of meaning in life, one feels the presence of god,t he truth of God. if the content of it is content of God then we are logically justified in deducting that this is an experince of God.


My objection -- which I've made three or four times at this point -- goes ignored. Putting a number in front of the statement "these effects can not be explained by naturalistic cause and effect" does not constitute evidence that ruling out naturalistic causes is at all warranted. And again, as I said, simply repeating this over and over again does not serve as evidence. I realize you already believe it to be true. But repeating to me that you believe it doesn't really offer me any new information to work with in terms of deciding whether or not I or anyone else who doesn't already accept your assertions should believe them to be true. Does that make sense to you?

Secondly since the content of it is of God and the effects are real, we are justified in assuming the experience is that of god! I can't see for the life of me why that is not logical. it's the way we do other experinces. I see yellow. I assume this is an experince of something yellow. I see an opening in the wall. I assume I can walk through it, i do, so it must be a door because that's' what door do for you. so it have really been a door I was looking at.


Again, all of that hinges upon whether or not the "effects" are in fact supernatural in origin in the first place. It seems perfectly reasonable to take a naturailstic approach to therapeutic practices that involve altered states of consciousness and interpret those states in a metaphysical framework that is actually irrelevant or superfluous to the therapeutic process itself. Take meditation for example. Dozens of different religious traditions use meditation and connect medtitation to a wide variety of theological models and other religious beliefs; but it doesn't seem logical to assume that the therapeutic efficacy of meditation, or the immediate phenomenological experience of meditation, is any indication that those particular theological systems are true -- unless, of course, it can be demonstrated that the effects can have no other cause but the one specified within the belief system itself.

Moreover, there's an ancient association here. this is why we have religion in the first place. this is the essence why belief in god came about to begin with. TIs' always been this association around the world for thousands of years, this kind of feeling has always been associated with the divine, since even before the concept of God per se.


This would seem to work against and not for your argument. The fact that we have these experiences and can interptet them in many different ways seems to cast doubt that they can be used as an endorsement or proof of any particular belief system or that divine origin is necessary at all. Similarly the fact that human beings have experienced something for a long period of time doesn't say anything in particular about one or another way of interpreting that phenomenon. Take dreams for example. Human beings have been dreaming since before they were human, probably, and many cultures simpled assumed that dreams were an alternate reality that was just as valid as what we experienced in the waking world. The fact that many people believed this throughout history does not really speak to the veracity of the belief. Beliefs aren't like fine wine -- they're not necessarily better simply because they're old.

Furthermore, it's the nature of religion to produce transformation. That's what religion is.It's an identification of the problem with being human and then a response to that problem through transformation experiences. its' the basic reason religion exists in the first place.


Oh really? Says who? I mean, what if I say that religion is actually the opposite of transformation? What if I say that transformative and ecstatic traditions have always been on the margins of religious life throughout human history, and that the vast mainstream of religion has always -- throughout all cultures -- been more interested in maintaining other aspects of the existing social hierarchy? What if I say that religion is really about maintaining the routines of community life and social order, about comforting people and allowing them to cope with the every-day? What if most of religious thought and energy is really just a game of making life and death a little more palatable for people? I don't see why I should assume that it is the "nature of religion to produce transformation". If you want to try to convince me that this is true, go for it. But I'm not in a position to simply take your word for it.

Now you deny the basis of the argument by trying to degrade the studies by calling them a litany. of what/ of bull shit? why wouldn't they proof? what else is religion suppossed to be? its' suppossed to change our life. and lookie here., it does! what could be more proof? would could be better evidence?


No, I don't have any trouble with these studies. I'm simply saying that you are making claims that these studies can't support.

religion does that which itis suppose to do, how could anything else be better proof?


As for evidential, 300 studies, but really more 2000 but we can narrow wit down to just studies about mystical experinces. I gave you links to literature talking about them. I don't have 300 studies on my book shelf. you have to look somethings up.


Again, my problem isn't the studies. I do not deny that religious and mystical experiences have been studied. I'm denying that I see any reason to accept the conclusions you draw from them. There have been thousands of studies done on the effect of cadmium on the human body. But if I give you a list of studies about cadmium, and tell you that injesting cadmium will make you live forever, and you say... "Hey wait. These studies don't actually say that", repeating over and over again that studies have been done about cadmium won't actually support my claim, will it?

Take for example the review article you cite below. If you actually read what the article says, it shows various reasons to think that religion in people's lives can be a helpful thing for psychological and physical health. It does not say that it is helpful because the belief systems themselves are literally true. That is simply your own conclusion, and it is one I am asking you to support. Claiming that it is uncomplicatedly supported by these studies is simply not true. The studies provided so far do not say that, and passing off your own interpretations as scientific fact is a little bit less than fully honest, in my humble opinion.

What you have said before is that there is a (a) correlation between the effect it has on people's lives and what they believe in (b) no other possible causal explanation for those effects. (b) remains unargued and undemonstrated. (a) is unconvincing. Take the placebo effect, for example. I have a sugar pill that I think will cure me of depression because I've been told that it's an anti-depressant. As it turns out, there are cases where 75% percent of the people who have claimed lasting positive changes as a result of some anti-depressants were not effected by the medication itself at all but by the placebo effect.

So:

(a) I take the pill believing it will cure me.
(b) I am cured after I take the pill.

According to you, I can now claim:

(c) This pill actually cures depression! How do we know? Because it does what it says it is supposed to do!

But this clearly isn't sufficient, because it can turn out that:

(d) It was just a sugar pill to begin with, and that the fact that (b) I am cured does not necessarily mean that I am cured by the pill.

So from an epistemological perspective, correlations between (a) belief/intention and (b) efficacy does not create some third thing, (c) causal veracity. Am I wrong?

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Re: Best Reason

Postby Metacrock on Tue Dec 16, 2008 11:08 am

marxiavelli wrote:
Argument (1)There are real affects from Mytical 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 explaintions we should assume that they are genuine.

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

(5)The true measure of the reality of the co-determinate is the transformation power of the affects.


now that right there tells you why you should assume an evidential aspect to these studies and why transformational properties are indicative of the divine. Look at number four. the content of the experience is that of God. One experincs the divine, one gains a snese of meaning in life, one feels the presence of god,t he truth of God. if the content of it is content of God then we are logically justified in deducting that this is an experince of God.


My objection -- which I've made three or four times at this point -- goes ignored. Putting a number in front of the statement "these effects can not be explained by naturalistic cause and effect" does not constitute evidence that ruling out naturalistic causes is at all warranted.


No that's not it. that was the one about why they are connected. the answer as to why its not naturalistic is that no other case can the naturalistic cause be shown to produce that kind of behavior when religious experince is not involved. don't you understand what I'm saying? let's you say the reason for the transofmative effect is the chemical xr2.. I'm making that up. So xr2 is often found in high does when people have these effects. so you say 'well xr2 is the real cause." But no other studies show that xr2 by itself does this. only when it is linked with mystical experince does it produce these effects.

now what I don't understand is why you can't line my answers up with the right argument. every time I have given five reasons why it's not naturalistic and they do not have anything to do with number 4 up there.

look at the lists, when you see

(1) transfomrative

(2) noetic

(3) always positive

(4) meaning

(5) I can't remember

then those are the answers to that question.


And again, as I said, simply repeating this over and over again does not serve as evidence. I realize you already believe it to be true. But repeating to me that you believe it doesn't really offer me any new information to work with in terms of deciding whether or not I or anyone else who doesn't already accept your assertions should believe them to be true. Does that make sense to you?



it does not make sense to me that you can't line up the answers. there are no alternate causes that are shown to produced these effects. I really just can't see why you can't understand that that answers it. why wouldn't it. just look at what it says.

NO alternate causes shown to produce these effects.

why does that not answer it? if it was naturalistic it would be produced by a naturalistic cause, no? of course it would.

Secondly since the content of it is of God and the effects are real, we are justified in assuming the experience is that of god! I can't see for the life of me why that is not logical. it's the way we do other experinces. I see yellow. I assume this is an experince of something yellow. I see an opening in the wall. I assume I can walk through it, i do, so it must be a door because that's' what door do for you. so it have really been a door I was looking at.


Again, all of that hinges upon whether or not the "effects" are in fact supernatural in origin in the first place.


no that's still the answer about why associate this kind of experince with tthe divine. understand?

again, why can't you line them up> I said clearly what i"m using that to answer. why can't you see it? I said up front: "now that right there tells you why you should assume an evidential aspect to these studies and why transformational properties are indicative of the divine."

I think part of the problem is that you are assuming these experinces are suppossed to be miracles in and of themselves. I've said that is not the argument. The argument doesn't turn on the experience being a miracle.


It seems perfectly reasonable to take a naturailstic approach to therapeutic practices that involve altered states of consciousness and interpret those states in a metaphysical framework that is actually irrelevant or superfluous to the therapeutic process itself.


if that were the case why doesn't it produce the effects when not associated with the experiences?


Take meditation for example. Dozens of different religious traditions use meditation and connect medtitation to a wide variety of theological models and other religious beliefs; but it doesn't seem logical to assume that the therapeutic efficacy of meditation, or the immediate phenomenological experience of meditation, is any indication that those particular theological systems are true -- unless, of course, it can be demonstrated that the effects can have no other cause but the one specified within the belief system itself.



but that is a religious experince in and of itself. Your just using cooptation of the experince to argue against the experince. Mediation opens the receptors. It's a trigger. But if that was totally naturalistic then you should be able to produce it with a chemical apart form mediation and apart from experiences that entail the divine.

Mediation does indicate that there is a truth in those traditions and my arguments include meditation, or RE gained in meditation. But you can't produce those effects apart from it.

you are assuming its miracle. the arguemnt is not about miracles. It's about incorporating God into ordinary psychology. But, there's still a distinction between that and naturalistic processes part from the spirituals aspects of the experience.





Moreover, there's an ancient association here. this is why we have religion in the first place. this is the essence why belief in god came about to begin with. TIs' always been this association around the world for thousands of years, this kind of feeling has always been associated with the divine, since even before the concept of God per se.


This would seem to work against and not for your argument. The fact that we have these experiences and can interptet them in many different ways seems to cast doubt that they can be used as an endorsement or proof of any particular belief system or that divine origin is necessary at all.



No not at all. The experinces of mystical though all times and cultures are the same. The same commoalites emerge from all of them. That means the traditions themselves are not the issue. you are assuming the truth is in the fiddely bits. But the truth is in the overall expression of connection with the same reality that stands behind all traditions.

we experince God at the mystical level, beyond words and images. So we have to talk about it because we are talkative creatures. We can't talk about things beyond words, so we have to load the experiences into words, that means into cultural constructs to talk about them. Thus all traditions are different because they employ different cultural constructs. But the same reality stands behind all of them, and that's why the same commonalities emerge in mystical experince.





Similarly the fact that human beings have experienced something for a long period of time doesn't say anything in particular about one or another way of interpreting that phenomenon.


that argument is not advanced as a general evidence of truth, it's used as a specific link between the kind of the experince and the notion of the divine. you said something to the effect of why should we link this kind of experince to any sort of overall truth content and religion. this is why. ti's not a proof of the veracity of the experience, it's a link between the experince and why we put it in a religious context.



Take dreams for example. Human beings have been dreaming since before they were human, probably, and many cultures simpled assumed that dreams were an alternate reality that was just as valid as what we experienced in the waking world. The fact that many people believed this throughout history does not really speak to the veracity of the belief. Beliefs aren't like fine wine -- they're not necessarily better simply because they're old.



I just answered this. As I said it links the experince to a concept of the divine. ti's not meant to be a proof of veracity in itself.

Furthermore, it's the nature of religion to produce transformation. That's what religion is.It's an identification of the problem with being human and then a response to that problem through transformation experiences. its' the basic reason religion exists in the first place.


Oh really? Says who? I mean, what if I say that religion is actually the opposite of transformation?


who says are (1) Fred Strunge, late professor of Perkins school of theology and (2) Neil Mcfarland of the same seminary both experts in comparative religion. You are flying in the face of what comparative religionists have said as a whole.


What if I say that transformative and ecstatic traditions have always been on the margins of religious life throughout human history, and that the vast mainstream of religion has always -- throughout all cultures -- been more interested in maintaining other aspects of the existing social hierarchy?


there's a basis for making that argument if you only at it from an institutional basis. But there's a hell of a lot of data to contradict you. Because mystics are in all traditions. That has a lot more to do wit the modern understanding of the origins of religion.


What if I say that religion is really about maintaining the routines of community life and social order, about comforting people and allowing them to cope with the every-day? What if most of religious thought and energy is really just a game of making life and death a little more palatable for people? I don't see why I should assume that it is the "nature of religion to produce transformation". If you want to try to convince me that this is true, go for it. But I'm not in a position to simply take your word for it.



they serve as a socail insutitution so they do that too. But they had to do something before they did that or they would not be vested with that funciton. two arguments.

(1) Shanadar burial of neanderthal shows flowers an mushrooms and other medicinal herbs known to produce mystical experinces. So obviously they had that even back then, and they had some idea of after life (because they had a burial ceremony of some kind) so they had an inkling of religious ideas at that time (65,000 years ago) yet mystical experince was par of it even then.

(2) article by Thomas Ideanopolis shows the works of another theolgoian who argues that mysticism at the roots of all organized religion.

http://www.crosscurrents.org/whatisreligion.htm

Transpersonal Childhood Experiences of Higher States of Consciousness: Literature Review and Theoretical Integrationm (unpublished paper 1992 by Jayne Gackenback


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

Gackenback website is Spiritwatch

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 charactoristics.

[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.

Now you deny the basis of the argument by trying to degrade the studies by calling them a litany. of what/ of bull shit? why wouldn't they proof? what else is religion suppossed to be? its' suppossed to change our life. and lookie here., it does! what could be more proof? would could be better evidence?


No, I don't have any trouble with these studies. I'm simply saying that you are making claims that these studies can't support.



perhaps my communications skills are not as great and I think they are. Because you seem to be unable to line the arugments up the way I think I'm presenting them. So this must be that I'm not presenting them clealry.

The studies do make the claims I've said they make. this is a complex thing. I'm writing a book about it. it's good that I'm getting to understand how badly I'm doing. But claims not made by the studies are backed by other evidence.

religion does that which itis suppose to do, how could anything else be better proof?


As for evidential, 300 studies, but really more 2000 but we can narrow wit down to just studies about mystical experinces. I gave you links to literature talking about them. I don't have 300 studies on my book shelf. you have to look somethings up.


Again, my problem isn't the studies. I do not deny that religious and mystical experiences have been studied. I'm denying that I see any reason to accept the conclusions you draw from them. There have been thousands of studies done on the effect of cadmium on the human body. But if I give you a list of studies about cadmium, and tell you that injesting cadmium will make you live forever, and you say... "Hey wait. These studies don't actually say that", repeating over and over again that studies have been done about cadmium won't actually support my claim, will it?



what you don't seem to grasp is that there is not even one study showing the same effects apart from these causes. You dont' find studies showing that people have these transformation effects just form smoking mushrooms alone apart form the religious experiences. That would indicate that the chemicals are opening receptors and the receptors are receiving the trace of God. that is producing the effects.

they are not produced by secular support groups, mental illness, serotonin levels above the average, or anything esle by itself without the experinces.

Take for example the review article you cite below. If you actually read what the article says, it shows various reasons to think that religion in people's lives can be a helpful thing for psychological and physical health. It does not say that it is helpful because the belief systems themselves are literally true. That is simply your own conclusion, and it is one I am asking you to support. Claiming that it is uncomplicatedly supported by these studies is simply not true. The studies provided so far do not say that, and passing off your own interpretations as scientific fact is a little bit less than fully honest, in my humble opinion.



No ti's not my conclusion. I did not "belief systems are litterally true." beliefs systems are not litterally true, they are metaphors. what is litterally true is some big mystical thingie that we can't understand apart from experince. We can only understanding in expericing it and when we talk about it we have to load the experinces into cutlral constructs and that means metaphors. so we have to make metaphors to speak of it.

that's waht religious traditions are, theya re metaphors. but that doesn't mean:

(1) Jesus s a metaphor

Or

(2) that there isn't a reality behind the metaphors.



What you have said before is that there is a (a) correlation between the effect it has on people's lives and what they believe in (b) no other possible causal explanation for those effects. (b) remains unargued and undemonstrated. (a) is unconvincing.



then show me one. I've ruled out all the obvious ones. I ruled out metnal illness. I ruled out brain chemistry alone. I ruled out mushrooms alone. so ou show me one. its' burden of proof because I met the prima face burden.

ok well maybe I didn't talk about mushrooms here. I apologize I just got through arguing this in depth with someone else on this board. So I guess I may be confusing the two. But the people in the good Friday study were already mystical and so I conclude the mushrooms are opening up receptors and the receptors are the way God made us and they receive the divine.

because a bunch of mushroom freaks in the back ally don't become mystics without have mystical experinces. they don't get their lives fixed up just form smoking mushrooms, there has to be a history of religious commitment and experince before hand or the mushrooms don't work.




Take the placebo effect, for example. I have a sugar pill that I think will cure me of depression because I've been told that it's an anti-depressant. As it turns out, there are cases where 75% percent of the people who have claimed lasting positive changes as a result of some anti-depressants were not effected by the medication itself at all but by the placebo effect.



I can rule out placebo categorically. I'll present that info below. I have to get into my files and take it out of my drug chapter of my Ms for the book.



So:

(a) I take the pill believing it will cure me.
(b) I am cured after I take the pill.

According to you, I can now claim:

(c) This pill actually cures depression! How do we know? Because it does what it says it is supposed to do!



you got it backwards. there is no study where the sugar pill produces that kind of effect. the life transformational effects of religious experiences are not reproduced by anything apart from the experiences.



But this clearly isn't sufficient, because it can turn out that:

(d) It was just a sugar pill to begin with, and that the fact that (b) I am cured does not necessarily mean that I am cured by the pill.

So from an epistemological perspective, correlations between (a) belief/intention and (b) efficacy does not create some third thing, (c) causal veracity. Am I wrong?

- "marxiavelli"



there's a lot wrong with the placebo model. But in short, no study demonstrates giving a placebo and produced the kind of effects we are talking about without mystical experinces being invovled. since faith is the trigger, giving a pill might induce faith and thus open the receptors.

so you have to have a tie breaker, because either way ti can be either thing, nature or faith.

the tie breaker si you can't produced these effects apart from the experince.
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answers on placebo

Postby Metacrock on Tue Dec 16, 2008 11:11 am

unfortunately this will be minus the sources. I'll put them in latter. below


An atheist on “exChristian.net” alaments that his aging parents will never “know the truth.” She says
But, religion is THE most important thing in my mom’s life. It gives her “purpose”. The placebo effect of Jesus makes her believe everything will be ok. Church gives her a positive social outlet. When the day comes that she passes away, religion will give her strength since she will totally believe the best is just getting ready to start. My dad is also very religious, but not quite as much. But both parents want me to “get saved”. They don’t overly push it, but make little comments. (emphasis mine)
This is typical of the kind of thinking one finds among atheists; anything that makes you feel good is a “placebo” meaning its’ not real so the effects are not important. The illogic of this sort of thinking is apparent. It begins with the atheist assertion that the effect of religious experience are not very impressive, as one denizen of message boards once put it “it’s just a bunch of Christians getting happy.” That’s how he dismissed the 300 studies in the studies chapter, “just a bunch of pastors asking their guys to email them and say how they are getting happy.” Your whole life is totally renovated, after a life time of frustration you are suddenly able to see yourself and life and your place in life in a way you never could before, a way that makes life work for you for a change; but its just a lie and you have to give it because its not true. They will also have the audacity to compare this with the giddy little adolescent fleeing they had when they turned away form God and felt like the “Fonz” rebelling against Mommy and Daddy. The effects are amazing and real, work across the board even to the point of helping one survive cancer, get off heroin and a life time of alcoholism, but “hey it’s a just lie, have to give it up so you have truth.” What is the truth? Going back to dying of cancer, that’s their “truth.” I know of no other instance where a lie really works so well. Atheists on the net often scoff at the notion that “working” (proving the advantages of RE) is not an indication of truth. I cannot understand why that would be the case. I would think that if something works so well, is transformative and to the extent of being normative, that we should be able to assume to humans are fit for it for a reason. We are made to have this; it’s part of who we are. I cannot understand why this would not be an indication of truth claims, but certainly why it would not be a reason to believe it eludes me.
From a more serious source we find Bill Taylor in New Scientist magazine asking the same question:

The special report on religious belief "Beyond Belief" seems to raise the inevitable question of how faith works (28 January, p 28). Is religion just a placebo effect, and how is belief translated into physical benefit? I recall being told during my training in clinical psychology of a study that suggested that the best predictor of the recovery of hospital patients was their own belief that they would recover.
What is the biochemical mechanism triggered by belief which leads to the body's recovery? On the other hand, is there perhaps a negative placebo effect in the process involving "learned helplessness", which has been demonstrated in humans, dogs, monkeys - even detached cockroach legs. The most dramatic examples discussed at some length in the 1975 book Helplessness by Martin Seligman is Voodoo or Hex Death, where individuals sentenced to death by their tribe just go off and quietly die. How does a psychological experience have such a devastating effect on a body's natural survival processes? It is fairly easy to comprehend the feelings of distress, anguish and depression, but the link to the physical process which results in the heart stopping seems to raise questions that are awaiting further study. A controlled study would have a job getting past an ethics committee, I suppose.

It’s worth noting that the example he gives is one of negative effects. My arguments turn upon the notion that no alternate causes can be produced for long term positive effects. The only example here is for negative. This is the only connection that can be made with anything approaching evidence; not the healing aspects of RE but to the helplessness implicit in curses and voodoo. There is no data connecting placebo effects, which are medical and stem for expectations involving treatment, to the actual long-term effects of having religious experiences.
That issue Taylor mentions (the “Belief Special” in the Jan issue 2006) includes several articles in that do a hatchet job on religious belief.
Belief Special: How Evolution found God.
· In the beginning religion didn't exist, so why did we feel the need to create it, asks evolutionary biologist Robin Dunbar
· Belief special: Glad to be gullible
Some people believe the weirdest things - but they may just be onto something
· Belief special: When delusion triumphs over truth
Belief seems intangible until you take a close look inside the brain, as New Scientist discovers
· Belief special: What's it all about?
Why did human evolution lead to the invention of God, how does belief affect your brain, and why do we choose to believe in blatant charlatans?

The one about being gullible is about psychic powers. The one on delusion is about healing and the suggestion of placebo:

BELIEF has never literally moved a mountain, but it can have some dramatic effects. Take Madeleine Rizan. By the time she bathed in the waters of Lourdes in 1858 she had been paralysed for 24 years, yet, according to the record, she regained her ability to move. Then there are the dozens of heart patients in the 1950s who were helped by a procedure known as internal mammary ligation - which worked just as well when patients simply believed it had been done. There are even instances of women who stop menstruating, grow a round belly and begin to lactate, in the firm but mistaken belief that they are pregnant. Equally mysterious are the paralysed people who believe their limbs are still working normally, despite the evidence of their own eyes.
What is going on inside our brains when we believe? How does that trigger physical changes in our bodies? ...

Of course this is typical skeptical thinking; the person is really healed but we don’t dare consider a reality beyond the healing. It just must be naturalistic and we will bust a gut coming up with a naturalistic song and dance to prove it. Of course what is the most ready to hand theory that we can pull into the mix? Even though there is no data of any kind to make it fit, we can just assert it has to be…placebo! This is accomplished by an amazing argument from analogy (which is still a fallacy even in this day and age). Both deal with brains, both deal with minds, both deal with belief (got to be what it is, after all, it could just never never never never never be God). One might wonder why the woman, in 24 years, could not fine a way to make herself believe and get up out and walk, but be that as it may. But the issue of physical healing and Lourdes, that is for another book. I will not venture to deal with that at this time. Mystical experience is even one step more removed from these kinds of physical healings. The people go to Lourdes or who are brought Lourdes water are expecting to be healed. They have a physical aliment so they have a focus for what is to be healed. But religious experience as healing is a lot more oblique. No one seeks religious experience to be healed. The data clearly indicates it is quite common that people are not seeking such changes, or such “transformative power.” There is no data to indicate that placebo works to produce the kinds of self-actualization and transformative results one finds in mystical experiences.
There are several good arguments against the assertion that RE is “just a placebo.”

(1) Argument from analogy (above)
(2) No data linking placebo in medicine to other areas
(3) RE not often expected (converts, childhood)
(4) RE often contradicts expectations of doctrine
(4) Placebo is not understood


As for argument (1) (which I mention above) we see a tendency for people to use the concept of placebo for anything involving the mind, expectations, and desire.


Moreover, people frequently expand the concept of the placebo effect very broadly to include just about every conceivable sort of beneficial biological, social, or human interaction that doesn't involve some drug well-known to the pharmacopoeia. A narrower form of this expansion includes identifying "natural history" or "regression to the mean" (as we might observe them in a randomized, controlled trial) as part of the placebo effect. But natural history and regression occur not only in the control group. Nothing in the theory of regression to the mean hints that when people are selected for being extreme on some measure (blood pressure or cholesterol, for example), they are immune to regression if they receive active treatment. Such recipients are as likely (or unlikely) to move toward homeostasis as are control group patients. So, regression to the mean is in no meaningful way a "placebo effect." Ernst and Resch took an important step in trying to clarify this situation by differentiating the "true" from the "perceived" placebo effect. But "true placebo effect" hasn't really caught on as a viable concept.
The concept of the placebo effect has been expanded much more broadly than this. Some attribute the effects of various alternative medical systems, such as homeopathy or chiropractic to the placebo effect. Others have described studies that show the positive effects of enhanced communication, such as Egbert's as "the placebo response without the placebo.”
This quotation speaks of the situation within the medical community. It pertains to medical practices. But this is what I find skeptics doing when they stretch the definition of Placebo to include religious experience. They are not using the term in a responsible way but are merely clutching at some sloppy, rough, approximation to symbolize the idea that they think the results of RE are just in one’s head and have no bearing upon any external truth. The arguments I am making do not turn upon proving God. The skeptics will continue to assert, “it could be this, it could be that.” Well, it could be. But that’s not the issue. The issue is that belief is rational. If we choose to believe that one is granted self-actualization as a result of contract with divine, it is not illogical to assume so. This means the power of an alternate cause must be taken in terms of likelihood and probability. But how much likelihood does one find when the argument is based upon a fallacy such as argument from analogy?
Placebo works from expectation, while ME and RE are seldom expected as conscious avenues of healing, most of the transformational effects such as self actualization are not even known to most people. The very definition of Placebo in modern medicine trades upon this concept of expectation: “The "placebo effect" -- an apparent therapeutic response caused by patients' expectations -- can confound the assessment of treatment efficacy, especially with subjective outcomes.” But I’ve already provided evidence in the chapter on Proudfoot’s labeling issue that shows a great deal of mystical experience is not expected. Most people who seek mystical experiences are not thinking of the self-actualization, but of spiritual knowledge. Most people don’t know this is a possibility. Some who experience this kind fo mystical experience are converted to believe and had no believe before hand (such as myself) and then there are the children, I document in the chapter on Proudfoot that the experience is commonly found in Children. Certainly one would not think all those children at are seeking self-authentication of self-actualization. Moreover, I’ve documented several examples of how RE contradicted the experiencing person’s pet doctrines. In chapter 5 “Proudfoot” I show five examples of mystics whose basic doctrine and religious orientation was contradicted by their experiences: St Teresa, Ratisboone, Arobindo, Bucke, and if I am draw upon my megar experince, not that I call myself a mystic, but my own example. It doesn’t make much sense to think that RE would meet expectations of healing but contradict the doctrines people expect to be born out as true. Moreover, as also documented previously, mystical experience often contradicts one’s expectations of doctrine. Now it is true that mystical use their experience to justify their religious tradition, but often within that tradition specific doctrines are contradicted. I gave examples from both Christianity and from Hinduism. But there is even more to be examining in terms of placebo effects.
The skeptic is jumping the gun to assume that placebo is a trick, something false, and something that doesn’t work. The effects are real, and the new interest in placebo as a valid therapeutic approach proves this. But at the same time the placebo effect is still not really understood. The literature, both in popular press and scientific publications indicate a mass of conflicting theories and approaches. An article in British Journal, by Aaron K. Vallance demonstrates the fragmented nature of our current understanding. First, it’s hard to even define what Placebo is, and harder still to define the “effect.” We can see this in what has been said above about stretching the definition to include more things. As Vallance points out: The basic split in definitions is between viewing placebo effect as the effect of placebo administration (giving an inert compound under the guise of medicine and then defining the effects as “placebo.”) vs the difference in outcome between a group treated with placebo as opposed to one not so treated. The first is tautological, since you can’t define a placebo treated group then determine its outcome if the outcome is the definition. The second lacks explanatory power. The third option is to define it as any effect attributable to a pill, potion, or procedure, but not to its pharmacodynamic or specific properties’. The problem here is definitions are usually given based upon properties; to base the definition upon what it is not might cause redundancy in the long run. Some try to use the underlying mechanism as the definition but we still don’t know enough about the phenomena to say that mechanism is. Without a definition in the first place it seems impossible to say anyway.
New developments in understanding placebo have brought about changes in understanding how the process works. Moreman equates Placebo with “meaning response.” This notion of meaning as the mechanism has caught on throughout the literature. Moerman’s article has been much quoted and made has had an influence. Moreman and Jonas set forth a new framework of thinking about placebos, the “meaning response.” It is not actually just the expectation of cure that makes it work but the meaning transmitted through cultural constructs that is embedded within the placebo itself. He uses a study for the New England Study of Medicine to illustrate. Two groups of students were given blue and red pills. They were told the red pills keep you awake and give you energy. The blue pills make you sleepy. Two pills do more of what they are supposed to do than one. All the pills were placebos. The pills have the desired effect on the each group. The administrators where equally enthusiastic about both blue pills as well as the red pills. The outcome cannot be ascribed to regression of the mean they are explained by meaning. Blue indicates sleep, southing, and comfort, read means danger, power, and energy. The Moreman article indicates several other studies that show a meaning relationship between the product and name identification. For example “viagra” implies vital, vivacious, and “niagra” (subliminal reference an icon of romance and sex). 835 British women treated fro headaches. One group received brand name aspirin, and another received the same aspirin in unmarked package. The brand name aspirin (although the same product) worked better on headaches. 64% of the branded aspirin worked one hour after taking, vs 45% for the no brand. Another study used two groups of people doing aerobic exercise. One group was told that the exercises would increase their aerobic capacity and well being (self esteem and confidence were the measure of “well being.”) The other group was just told they would increase their aerobic capacity. The group told they would also increase well being did increase their well being and responded with higher scores on tests designed to measure self esteem and confidence. The other group only increased its aerobic capacity. So meaning is the new understanding of placebo, but we still don’t understand the mechanism by which the meaning is transfused into real action upon the body. One new approach this problem is top down cauality.
There are effects from placebos that bear closer scrutiny. There is a new paradigm shaping up whereby placebo is used in a serous way as part of the healing regimen. In ration to this effort there is good evidence that placebo, or some aspects of placebo effects are the result of a real connection between the central nervous system and the immune system. In other words, there’s a chance the mind is really actually healing the body. No data that I’ve found suggests that this process can heal cancer, or mend a broken leg faster than it would mean, but to a certain degree there may be a real effect by the mind upon the body via connections in the brain. If that is the case the analogy skeptics draw would be negated completely, because then the arguments about God using a physical pathway for communication would obtain. It is becoming increasingly possible to view the phenomena as a case of downward causation.

Therapeutic action may now be seen as a special case of development that occurs within the interactional context of cultural evolution, personal history, and the genome. Human evolution is increasingly dominated by culture operating on the mind/brain through downward causation. This concept refers to the influence of higher organizational entities (e.g., mind) upon lower ones (e.g., brain). Although little recognized, downward causation is tacitly assumed in psychotherapeutic interventions, and is illustrated in recent fMRI studies. The clinical integration of the downward causation concept links therapeutic action to the power of cultural evolution, and facilitates reunion with traditional science.

There has also been a discovery illuminating a genetic link between the central nervous system and the immune system. This could be a hint, although not definite at the moment, that some meaning response could actually affect the body through top down causality, and the link might be one between central nervous and immune systems. David Felton at the University of Rochester, who won the MacArthur “Genus grant” award has produced research results that definitely offer a link between mind and body, top down causality. "Our grandmothers knew all along that our minds and our bodies were connected, even if the scientific community didn't. We've simply provided irrefutable data showing that it's true." Using dies he traced the first connection between blood vessels leading to cells of the immune system when he was at Indiana in 1981. An experimental psychologist named Adler already suspected the connection from a 1974 study. He gave rats a chemical that would retard the immune system, and associated it with a sweet solution. He wanted to see how long the conditioned response would last, so he took out the immune suppressing chemical. The rats began dying of diseases. The chemical to suppress the immune system was no longer there, but the rat brains turned off the immune system just because of the association with the sweet. The connection was clear but the link was still unknown, that was supplied by Felton. He traced the pathway from spleen to immune system. The discovery was critical, as Felton says “one hundred percent quantifiable results, showing that the immune system and the central nervous system are indeed connected."
This is all the skeptic needs to make the argument that RE is nothing more than the interpretation of meaning applied by the mind to turn on the neural path ways that produce religious experience, and then from there the effects would just follow because that’s the effect such experiences have when we combine them with belief. That seems like a pretty good argument on the surface and it’s backed by empirical evidence. But the problem here is the same as it is in the case of the “God Pods.” There is no way to distinguish between faith producing healing because it opens up to something beyond itself, in which case the chemical connects are just the route taken by God, or if the experience originates totally within the brain apart from any external cause. Meaning is embedded in religion and cultural. The link from cultural to religion has already been discussed: Mystical sense of divine must be filtered through cultural constructs in order to be able to talk about it. One might argue that we are drawing the cultural meaning through religious belief all the time. That might make for meaning response in a placebo fashion (although its still an argument from analogy because there is no still no definite data to connect the two) but there are also negative meanings to Re in society. People are hesitant about having religious experiences because they are seen as proof of insanity or instability, emotions out of control and that sort of thing (even though the actual data shows this is not true). Just having a bunch of associations doesn’t necessarily prove anything. Certainly this argument doesn’t account for the lack of expectation. Even though the placebo is shifted fro expectation to “meaning response” there still has to be a certain degree of expectation or the meaning won’t matter. For example, the people taking the blue pills had to expect that the pills were real medicine, even though they interpreted blue as “sleep making.” So someone not expecting to feel the presence of God, not understanding anything about the mystical qualities of RE who might react by finding faith is totally unaccounted for by this explanation.
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tie breakers

Postby Metacrock on Tue Dec 16, 2008 11:12 am

Tiebreakers







How to distinguish RE from naturalistic misfire of neurons or brain chemistry? This would include drugs or placebo. In all three cases, drugs, placebo, and “God pod” there’s basically a tie. It could go either way between being a trick of the brain chemistry or a natural conduit for the divine, or an aid via drugs that opens up some form of receptors. Placebo can pretty much be eliminated as a bad analogy, or a misunderstanding of the process of spiritual function. But we still need a way to tell the difference between these possibilities of naturalistic alternative causes vs. trace of the divine. There are tie breakers, factors which shed light upon the issues in such a way as to point up the trace of the divine.




(1) The Transformational effects

The transforamtive effects upon the life of the subject cannot be explained by alternate causes or pop psychology. Nothing in the process of brain chemistry that explains how such a “misfire” can alter one’s overall view of the world, behavior, attitude and out look in such a way as to produce the kinds of dramatic changes that occur in the subjects of these experiences.

a. Complex effects


Transformational effects run the gamut from better self-confidence to freedom from drug addition; they include self actualization (which is best described as “wholeness” or coming into one’s own as a well integrated person), well grounded psychological health, a deep sense of meaning in purpose in life, overcoming fear of death, overcome physical addictions such as alcoholism and drug abuse, happiness and personal bliss. Moreover, its not just a list of “feel good” things, but a total re-orienting toward one’s overall life, a dramatic transformation of life. In fact there’s even more: self-authentication. The nature of life itself, its value and meaning is affirmed and one’s place in the universe is made meaningful. This sense of the numinous is the basis of religion. The origin of religion is probably found in these experiences; religion is based upon the desire to find ultimate transformative experiences to overcome the human problematic; it works. Religion works to achieve the personal goal for which it developed so long ago; transformational effects that resolve the human problematic.

b. Placebo argument neutralized

There is no medical or scientific evidence to show that placebo effects can be extrapolated to such complex psychological levels as to fix one’s life as a whole for a lifetime. If this could be done everyone would have found a way to do it. It’s true that confidence can accomplish a lot, and perhaps belief that an all-powerful being is contracting us with messages of love and care would create the confidence necessary to carry one through life. If such is the case, there’s no real evidence to back it up. It also works for those who don’t believe a supernatural being is trying to help them. Eastern style mystics have the same transformtive effects. Something about the experience itself, perhaps believing that one has found some answer regarding the overall scheme of reality is so stimulating that it alters one’s fix on life. But that’s not really an argument against religion, that’s something one might expect religion to accomplish. It certainly speaks to the noetic quality of mystical experiences. Since the placebo argument turns on a bad analogy anyway, there’s no reason to take that seriously.

c. Neurologically it’s much harder to be positive, as we get older.

The idea that these effects are not important or amazing because it’s all just a placebo and anyone who thinks positively and believes that a loving God take care of him can just snap out of any funk by the power of placebo is going counter to what we know about the brain. As we get older it gets harder to catch the fire of good vibes and positive thoughts, as Newberg tells us:

Neurologically, enlightenment and peace are unlikely. Even Kohlberg admitted that only a small percentage of adults will reach a moral level at which their lives are governed by higher ethical principles. Nevertheless this level can be reached by those who choose to work diligently toward the ideas it involves, although this process can take decades of introspection and practice…at any time in life a person—through meditation, prayer, and critical thinking might be able to transcend the narcissistic confines of adolescence and thereby alter the neural functioning of the brain.


My parents had their major religious experiences after the age of 60 and for both of them it profoundly transformed their lives. People who have these experiences are not zapped into instant perfection. They are still human and they still make mistakes, but the fact of it is the atheist blithely dismisses the phenomena on the basis of placebo is flying in the face of the major evidence. It is not just “getting happy” its not easy, it is amazing and there is no good explanation other than Divine transformation.



d. The effects are real; therefore, the cause is real.


This is an argument form sign, but arguments from sign are not necessarily fallacious. The only problem that would falsify an argument from sign is if some counter causality cannot be addressed. I have now answered all the major and likely counter causalities. Given all that was said in chapter two about how the experiences are historically linked to the divine and lie at the root of why we even have a concept of God in the first place, the content is linked to the divine and often draws one into religious belief, the experience itself often seems to be about God, the divine, the ultimate reality or the nature of being, and the effects are real; without these counter causalities there is no reason not to assume the cause is real.





e. “It Works” Is a reason to assume it’s true

Skeptics will be inclined to answer that “just because it works doesn’t mean its true.” I admit this is not a proof, but then I’ve never claimed to “prove” the existence of God. My argument from the beginning was that belief is rationally warranted not proved. The fact that these experiences work to provide transformational results is a rational warrant for belief that the ultimate source of the experience is the divine. The fact that it works is a tiebreaker. The tie is that it could be naturalistic; or it could be that the naturalistic elements are just the particular working out of the divine approach to sentient life. How to decide which it is? Well we do tend to see ‘it works’ as the ultimate justification. I argue that this is how we determine cause and effect and its’ how we decide that science is valid. We determine cause and effect results. We can’t see cause and effect happening. We don’t see causal agents, we make correlations and the tightest ones we assume to be causal relationships, if we can’t link it to intervening variables or alternate causes. The alternate causes are stuck in the tie. So the tiebreaker is that the correlation is tight enough to assume causes; the end result delivers the goods. When we trouble shoot any sort of electronic or mechanical device, the way we tell if we fixed it is if the trouble stops. If it works we assume our understanding of the problem was right. Working equals truth, in the epistemic field of our assumptions. Science is the umpire of reality; it has come to be regarded as the major source of knowledge and the only true test. The reason for this state of affairs is because science delivers the goods. How many atheists are willing to assume there is no supernatural because the natural is demonstrated in all scientific endeavors and the supernatural is supposedly “never demonstrated” in any scientific endeavors? This is nothing more on the atheists part than saying “working equals truth, if it works we can assume its true.”

Julian Baggini, A Very Short Introduction to Atheism, offers a fine example of this atheist tendency in argument. Baggini essentially argues:

*Science works to deliver the epistemic goods, its’ findings are empirical and demonstrable. Therefore, naturalism is deemed true.

*Religions cannot offer empirical demonstrable evidence of the supernatural (so he thinks), therefore, the supernatural is not true.

He tells us:

“This is only evidence against God’s existence in a negative sense: that is to say, evidence for God’s existence will be found to be lacking and so we will be left with no reason to suppose he exists.”


“The evidence of experience is that we live in a world governed by natural laws, that everything that happens in it is explained by natural phenomena.” (19)


In other words, he’s arguing that science works, naturalism works via scientific empiricism; therefore, it must be true. Moreover, he’s arguing if something doesn’t work (ie religion) then it must not be true. Of course Baggini is not even aware of the nature of religious experience or the huge body of data and scientific works backing it up. The supernatural is demonstrated in that religious beleif accomplishes its basic task of mediating transformational experiences that overcome the human problematic. That is the supernatural. That is not just part of the supernatural or an effect of the supernatural, that’s the original concept itself.
Therefore, RE works, so it must be true. In reality we don’t see labels on rocks and trees saying, “there is no supernatural, this is a natural rock.” We have no actual proof there is no supernatural naturalistis assume so because the anti-thesis of supernatural, natural, is assumed to be the only provable case merely because scientific hypotheses work, and they are deemed to work because things conform to predictions; science delivers the goods. In other words, “it works” is deemed to be proof of truth. The point is, for science the assumption is made that science gives us truth about reality, because it delivers the goods, it works so it must be true. There is no evidence against the supernatural, but the skeptical assumption is science works so we assume science is true.
The reasons for thinking that God is behind these experiences are laid out in chapter two. The construal that this is the trace of God is valid logically. It is a construal it is a warrant for belief and not proofs. The thesis that God exists does not have to be logically or scientifically proven for the construal of God as the ultimate source to the experiences to be rationally warranted. The construal works. Religious belief works to produce the effects of transformation in people’s lives, which is the basic task of religious belief; overcoming the human problematic.

Of course atheists will try to minimize the effects. All of my observations as to what atheists will say come from years of experience in arguing with them on the Internet. Some have been extremely uneducated and clueless, some have been very well educated and very intelligent, all of them always take this approach, to try and minimize the effects. One of the worst examples was a young atheist who charged “these ‘studies’ are just Christian pastors asking their flock to email them and tell them how they are getting happy.” I don’t think Abraham Maslow was a Christian pastor. I think he was an atheist with Buddhist tendencies. These are real, as we have seen in the studies chapter, and there are just too many of them to minimize the effects. The studies are longitudinal, cross-cultural, from many different fields and areas. The studies include cancer patients, alcohol and drug addicts, the mentally ill, regular people, and highly successful and accomplished people and so on. The affects are sometimes very dramatic and far-reaching, they can last a lifetime from just one experience. Moreover, they are therapeutic; they help people get better and overcome their problems. It doesn’t stack up to say that these are just trivial things that one can get from any kind of change or hobby or nice time. If that were so why would people continue to have their problems? If you can resolve this stuff (drug addiction, depression, mental illness, meaninglessness and so forth) by collecting stamps or watch football or going to the park, why do people have problems? Obviously those things while helpful, are not transformative.



"...My feeling is that if it were never to happen again, the power of the experience could permanently affect the attitude toward life. A single glimpse of heaven is enough to confirm its existence even if it is never experienced again. It is my strong suspicion that even one such experience might be able to prevent suicide, for instance, and perhaps many varieties of slow self-destruction, e.g., alcoholism, drug-addiction, addiction to violence, etc. I would guess also, on theoretical grounds, that peak-experiences might very well abort "existential meaninglessness," states of valuelessness, etc., at least occasionally. (These deductions from the nature of intense peak-experiences are given some support by general experience with LSD and psilocybin. Of course these preliminary reports also await confirmation. )... ...This then is one kind of peak-knowledge of whose validity and usefulness there can be no doubt, any more than there could be with discovering for the first time that the color "red" exists and is wonderful. Joy exists, can be experienced and feels very good indeed, and one can always hope that it will be experienced again...."

"...Perhaps I should add here the paradoxical result—for some—that death may lose its dread aspect. Ecstasy is somehow close to death-experience, at least in the simple, empirical sense that death is often mentioned during reports of peaks, sweet death that is. After the acme, only less is possible. In any case, I have occasionally been told, "I felt that I could willingly die," or, "No one can ever again tell me death is bad," etc. Experiencing a kind of "sweet death" may remove its frightening aspect. This observation should, of course, be studied far more carefully than I have been able to. But the point is that the experience itself is a kind of knowledge gained (or attitude changed) which is self-validating. Other such experiences, coming for the first time, are true simply because experienced, e.g., greater integration of the organism, experiencing physiognomic perception, fusing primary-and secondary-process, fusing knowing and valuing, transcending dichotomies, experiencing knowing as being, etc., etc. The widening and enriching of consciousness through new perceptual experiences, many of which leave a lasting effect, is a little like improving the perceiver himself...."



When I have argued this tiebreaker (it works) on the Internet, atheists have responded by special pleading. Apparently they seem to think that the differences between science and religion are such that for science ‘it works” is the basis for being true, but not for religion. This may be because they feel that what it works to do is invalid (but of course they have to reduce self actualization to “It makes me happy” and they have to ignore the studies to get away with it). They try to disvalue the transformational effects of RE and then they think the difference in science and religion are such that they will work to make “it works” good for science but not important for religion. This is nothing more than special pleading. It’s not at all the same as saying “if the universe must a cause why doesn’t God have a cause.” The differences in science and religion have no bearing on the general principle of working as an indication of truth. No one ever says, “it works, it must be a lie.” Or “it works, we have done something wrong.” That it does what it’s meant to do (provide Ultimate Transformational Effects to resolve the human problematic) is what religion is “meant” to do.


(2) Noetic Qualities


“Noetic” refers to the knowledge giving effects of mystical experiences. Typically the sort of knowledge one derives from these experiences is “spiritual” in nature, such as “God is love” it can also be doctrinal such as (for some) “everything is one.” The knowledge giving (Noetic) qualities of mystical experience offer a tiebreaker because they imply that more is going on than just some misfire of neurons or an imbalance of Brain chemistry. While I don’t advocate making doctrine solely on the basis of religious experience, the sense of the noetic quality is important for foundational understanding of a sort that can only be gained in “personal relationship.” This is where the entire sense of “knowing God” is found. What makes it a tiebreaker? The skeptic will certainly say “so what if you have bunch of false ideas about an imaginary entity based upon these mistaken experiences?” But the sense of personal knowledge, first hand knowledge of God that comes from such experiences fits the basic criteria we use to make epistemic judgments. In speaking of the noetic qualities Maslow said:

"The question has to be differentiated still further. There is no doubt that great insights and revelations are profoundly felt in mystic or peak-experiences, and certainly some of these are, ipso facto, intrinsically valid as experiences. That is, one can and does learn from such experiences that, e.g., joy, ecstasy, and rapture do in fact exist and that they are in principle available for the experiencer, even if they never have been before. Thus the peaker learns surely and certainly that life can be worthwhile, that it can be beautiful and valuable. There are ends in life, i.e., experiences which are so precious in themselves as to prove that not everything is a means to some end other than itself."
The previous quote from Maslow, is also an example of the kind of knowledge gained, not doctrinal knowledge about the nature of God but personal and existential knowledge about live the possibilities of transcendence.
Remember the second argument from chapter two? I speak of the “argument from epistemic judgment” (or “the Thomas Reid argument”). We habitually subject epistemic questions of an empirical nature to a litmus test of regularity, consistency, and inter-subjectivity (“shared”). We follow perceptions that work in terms of how they allow us to navigate in the world. We check our perceptions against others (“did you see that?” “do you find it hot in here too, or is it just me?”). We assume that irregularity and inconsistency are earmarks of anomaly. Mystical experiences are regular, consistent, and inter-subjective. They are regular and consistent to the extent that one can have the same kinds of experiences in prayer every time one prays. Probably there will be one major experience that won’t ever be repeated but a lesser version of the same kind of thing might recur on a regular basis. The experiences are consistent to the extent that they yield the same kinds of results time after time; a loving presence, a pervading sense of peace. I can think of some counter examples, such as the example given by James, but for the most part they are consistent. That which we identify as God’s presence has a familiarity abut it such that we can identify it time after time. This sense of God’s presence is not wonderful one time and horrible the next. There is a sense of God’s presence, which is “terrible” in that one feels convicted of sin, overwhelmed by a clearly superior greatness, over awed by the unknown, in short, the terrible sublime; yet even in this sense the undertone of love and peace and acceptance is still pervasive. Such experiences are usually resolved with the sense of peace, love, and well being.
All of this is more complex, unified, directed and seems too purposeful to be a mere “misfire” or some trick of the mind. It’s not based upon expectations so it can’t be a palacebo. It seems to have a positive end or direction and the noetic quality gives it a sense of purpose that transcends merely brain chemistry. Why would a trick of brain chemistry lead to self-authentication and be regular, consistent, and inter-subjective. The inter-subjective qualities are important because it doesn’t likely that millions of people, across all cultural boundaries and in different time periods would be getting the same kinds of “misfires,” “accidents,” mistakes in perception, do the same kind of labeling, have the same kinds of placebos. Yet is the case that the same kinds of experiences with the same qualities keep popping up again and again. It is also true that most of the time these experiences are always noetic. They are always regular, consistent, and inter-subjective as well.




(3) Sense of the numinous (Holiness)

In the chapter on Proudfoot’s label idea I said that there is some aspect to the experiences that the labeling theory is leaving out. I said that Proudfoot was losing the phenomena, which he accused the religious subject of doing. This was seen in the Bradley case that he quoted from William James where there had to be something more than just a rapid heart beat to lead Bradley to think more was happening than just a heart attack. In most of these experiences there is a “the numinous” the spiritual, something more than just the normal aspects of reality. Often times that sense is the sense of the Holy that Rudolf Otto speaks of. The notion of a pervasive sense of otherness, and cleanness, goodness, love, something beyond the mundane, something otherworldly that is not reducible to any mundane contrivance. This is the que that give us the religious sense to the experience. Why would that happen so consistently with just some misfire of neurons or some reaction of brain chemistry? The skeptic can dig up the labeling or placebo argument but I think that was dealt with pretty well. The skeptics are just losing the phenomena.
It doesn’t seem very likely that there would be this accidental misfire or chemical imbalance, that would always produce this same sense of holiness that is also always connected to the concept of God or the divine. It doesn’t make sense that this could be a product of labeling or placebo because they would always have to be loading the experience into the same constructs. Yet these experience seem to transcend time and culture. How is that the same constructs are there in every culture to lead to the same pervasive sense of the Holy? Maslow would say say this is because they are loading experiences into archetypes. While he valued mystical experience, he also reduced the sense of the numinous to everyday psychology and put the supernatural in the natural. The naturalized the archetypes but they also serve as a bridge to the divine. They essentially the Platonic forms reduced to psychological proportions. All one need do is flip the notion over and we move into the world of Agustine. It’s like one of those three-D pictures that looks like a repetitive muddle of little pictures melted into each other, but if you stare at it long enough in the right way it suddenly pop into a three dimensional window that really does look like another world. The sense of the holy is too purposive and pervasive, too rational, to be merely a mistake of brain chemistry. The La Markian nonsense that tires to base genes upon the need to cope with angst is not an adequate answer. The placebo effect assumes cultural constructs that can’t lend themselves to the cultural verities of the experiences.



(4) Why is it positive?


This may seem redundant because I speak of the long term positive effects above. But this is a slightly different question. If these experiences are the result of accidents, mistakes, and tricks of the mind, why don’t they also produce negative results, as well as positive? There is no evidence at all that mystical experience is long term negative or harmful. There have been some short-term findings of anxiety associated with TM, but there is no evidence that a mystical experience that grounding one in belief in God ever hurt anyone. These are totally positive experiences in almost every occasion. They are so strongly linked with positive results; there are no studies that show they are harmful. Why would this happen? Why would the always be so positive and never harm or lead to mental illness? Even in cases where mentally ill people have mystical experiences, the experience is good for them enable faster recovery and can be distinguished from the experience itself. (see mental illness from studies chapter).



(5) Bad evolutionary answers

Mystical experiences are not connected to gene frequency. All the answer about being comforted are just non-Darwininan, and at worst La Markian. As pointed out in the previous chapter, such experiences are not related to gene frequency and no link has been found to connect them with reproduction. To explain the experience by some factor such as the need of early man to cope with death and unknown one has to assume LaMark was right and that experiences become genetics traits. No mechanism can be produced that tells us that our existential fears can become part of our genetic endowment, or that resolving them can become a heritable trait. Thus this means that the overall experience is unaccounted for and the positive results are still mysterious. (see Kirkpatrich in “God-Pod” chapter) This means the effects are totally unexplained, and in fact the entire phenomena is unexplained in terms of why it would be so.

(6) Meaning, it makes too much sense

It is always hazardous to argue meaning, since meaning is subjective, and since it it is also imposed. What do I mean by saying “it makes too much sense?” I mean that these experiences form the basis of a worldview, a worldview that commentates in self-authentication. Not only do the experiences themselves produce self-actualization (the maximizing of values, self definition and abilities into a holistically integrated “well” individual) but also self-authentication; the validation of one’s existence in relation to the universe and one’s sense of place in the universe. Self-authentication would lead one to say, “this is what my life is about, this is what it all means to me, and its worth it to be me and live this life.” To argue that this is all just imposed meaning from the labeling of quirks and characteristics that can’t be explained, or it’s a placebo because it involves belief, or some accidental misfire of neurons in the brain produced this by mistake (and keeps on producing it in one of four people in the whole population, across cultures and throughout history) just pushes the envelope on credulity. Why would anyone who finds this sort of bliss even care anyway? The skeptic has to do the Caption Kirk thing and destroy paradise after paradise to save the prime directive? Not that I’m content to make up a fantasy that I like and live in it. But why would anyone who actually experiences these things ever decide it’s nothing but a fantasy anyway? There are people who have mystical experiences and decide they aren’t to indicative of God and go on to become skeptics, but its not just automatic that such an experiences produced instant self authentication. But the fact remains that this is the outcome most associated with the experiences, and that alone should tell us that there is an indication that it’s pointing to some greater reality.
The skeptic will argue that meaning is just imposed. Skeptics seem to always assert that any meaning derived from anything is always imposed. Is meaning imposed? Sure it is. We cant’ do anything but impose meaning. We can’t without imposing meaning. All understanding is imposed meaning. That is no reason to shun meaning because if it is then we will have to shun all meaning. We cannot communicate without imposing meaning, and when we seem to make contact and actually communicate we assume the meaning corresponds with intent. Newberg told us in the previous chapter that our brain sorts out meaning meanings. We never see a view of the world as it is, all our senses feed the data to the brain and the brains re writes the picture to make sense of the world for us. We operate in the world not based upon direct empirical perceptions of what is, but based upon our imposed re-written propaganda version of meaning we impose. Yet we can navigate and make sense of things. When this seems to work out we assume we got it right. The fact that meanings are imposed is not a major barrier for us. We don’t sweat this, we don’t figure it out, we move fluidly through the world never noticing the problem. The fact that the upshot of religious experience is a coherent, rational world view that works in that it allows us to operate in the world and culminates in the sense of well being and ultimate meaning that authenticates our existence is a good reason to assume that these experiences are the trace of God, that they are something more than just an accident of brain chemistry.
Not only this, but the world view that is built enables one to navigate through life in the sense of being able to cope with what comes. Pargament (1996) sites five studies showing that religious experience, devotion and spirituality enable one to cope to a greater extent with extreme conditions of hardship. Moran (1990) and Patricia (1998) both show religious practices and devotion enable coping with childhood violence. Deragario (1998) finds that spirituality enables those with handy capes and chronic illness to cope with life. It seems absurd to think that all these coping mechanisms are either just the result of a chemical imbalance, which should always in other cases turn out negatively, or the result of a natural deposit of serotonin which never enables this sort of thing apart form religiosity. To these entire tie breakers atheists will no doubt posit the existence of some mechanism that is totally naturalistic but employs these effects for survival in some sense. In fact they already posit such things in terms of the “God part of the brain” (God Pod). As I argued, they do that with Lamarkian assumptions. There is no basis for the notion that such experiences contribute to physical survival or gene frequency. Probably not too many early humans were drugs addicts. These experiences seem to well fitted to our basic epistemic criteria, too complex, too meaningful and purposive to be attributed to either an accident, and the survival mechanism theory can’t hold water.


Rational warrant

The skeptic will no doubt reply “but you haven’t’ actually proven that there is a God, much less that god is doing this” We only need a rational warrant. I never claimed that my arguments prove the existence of God. I only claimed to offer rational warrant for belief, and I think I’ve done that. Here I want to bring in the concept of the “freedom from the need to prove.” The atheists on the net use the concept of the “defaults assumption.” That is, they are saying that in the absence of proof (of God) they must assume as a “default” that there is no God. But if the arguments for the trace of God have met its prima facie burden then we should be able to expect a that presumption has shifted and rational warrant established. The freedom from the need to prove I have introduced in chapter two and in chapter four. The atheist says, “in the absence of proof I must assume there is no God.” The believer’s default says, “I know something is there because my life was transformed.” Until it is proven otherwise I must assume that God is real. Thus I am freed from the need to prove because I have certainty for my own life. Now the atheist is going to charge that I’m just reversing the burden of proof, but in fact this a reasonable move according to the rules of a prima facie case. Once a PF case is established it becomes the other side’s burden to show that more is required. We have good reason to believe that these naturalistic aspects are merely intervening variables; they are not disproof of the trace of the divine. Until that is disproved, belief is rationally warranted.
How do we know the PF burden has been met? According to the criteria that were laid out in Chapter one.



(1) Documented perceptual evidence

350 studies or so


(2) Perceptions (or other evidence) that is regular (a form of replicability).

Regularity is well documented. One can cultivate the experiences, it may not always be exactly the same, but it can be repeated with prayer or other practices.


(3) Consistency (meaning no internal contradictions).

The experiences are consistant with themselves; the same presence can be recognized each time.

(4) Inter-subjective verification (others can experience similar phenomena, share the data, observe the same kinds of qualia).

The same commonalities show up across all cultural boundaries and throughout history.

(5) Logical inference from both inductive and deductive reasoning

The skeptic must show that the inference is not logical; the content is about God, the experiences are real, that is a logical basis for the assumption that the content and the outcome match up and indicate the origin.

(6) Tangible measurable effects

The M scale has demonstrates this point.


(7)No counter causality: counter causes must be defeated, disproved, or rendered less likely

The tiebreakers render the counter causality less likely.

(8) Must be falsifiable.

The studies could show the experiences were illusory of the transfomrative effects were not concrete, but that has not been the case. The M Scale makes the experiences falsifiable. The studies. Combined with Newberg’s neurological evidence rules out the idea of illusory effects. Real changes occur in the brain, real behaviors (and changes of behavior) occur in the lives of the believers, and attitude changes and a new level of conscious perception accompany them. This lines up with the content of the experiences, its noetic quality and its tendency to draw one to the divine. All of that indicates that we are following the trace of God; these are the effects upon the human heart and lives that we should expect from the divine.

The overall point is one of phenomenological import. The individual must realize the reality of God in his/her own life by understanding the nature of his/her own experiences. It’s not a matter of “proof” it’s not a matter of objective public knowledge to which all must either give assent or disprove. It is a matter of one’s own subjective and inter-subjective existential decision based upon the affects of the divine (or what is taken as the divine) in one’s own life. To the extent that the prima facie burden is met the reader should be able or willing to trust to extent and to seek for herself.
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Re: Best Reason

Postby Metacrock on Tue Dec 16, 2008 11:14 am

sources


ExChristian.net (letter from “Jeff”). URL: http://exchristian.net/testimonies/2005 ... advice.php visited 10/28/08
Bill Taylor, New Scientist Magazine, 25 Feb (2006) see also online edition URL: http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg1 ... acebo.html visited 10/28/08


Nonscientist, 28 Jan 2006.
Aliceon Motluk, “Belief Special: When Delusion Triumphs over Truth.” New Scientist, (2006) Jan 28, issue 2536

Daniel E. Morman Ph.D. and Wane B. Jonas, MD. “Deconstructing the Placebo Effect and Finding the Meaning Response.” Annals of Internal Medicine, 19 March (2002) | Volume 136 Issue 6 | Pages 471-476 I removed footnote notation from this quotation that pertain to the original article.
Anne Herrington, The Placebo Effect. Cambridge Mass.: Harvard University Press, (2000) 117
J.Coyle, “Seeing a Placebo Work in the Brain.” Journal Watch, oct 3, (2001).
Aaron K Vallance, “Something Out of Nothing, the Placebo Effect,.” The British Journal of Psychiatry. Advances in Psychiatric Treatment (2006) 12: 287-296 This journal is also known as BJ Psych. Aaron Vallance is currently a staff-grade child and adolescent psychiatrist with the Service for Adolescents and Families in Enfield. He is also Associate Research Fellow with the Metabolic and Clinical Trials Unit, Department of Mental Health Sciences, The Royal Free Hospital, London, and a member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.
Ibid.
Ibid.
Daniel E. Moreman,Ph.D. and Wayne B.Jonas M.D., “Deconstructing the Placebo Effect and Finding the Meaning Response.” Annals of Internal Medicine. The American College of Physicians, 19 March (2002) Vol 136, issue 6, 471-476. Dr. Moerman: Department of Anthropology, University of Michigan–Dearborn, 6515 Cherry Hill Road, Ypsilanti, MI 48198.
A study of doctor-patient rapport N Engl J Med. 1964;270:825-7.in Moreman Ibid.
Moreman, Ibid.
Ibid.
Clay C. Whitehead, “Toward a New Paradigm of Therapeutic Action—Neuro Psychoanalysis and Downward Causation.” Journal of American Academy of Psychoanalysis, (2005) 33:637-656
The Rochester Review, University of Rochester, Rochester, New York, USA 1997, University of Rochester Maintained by University Public Relations Last updated 3-26-1997 URL: http://www.rochester.edu/pr/Review/V59N3/feature2.html visited 10/10/08
Ibid.
Ibid
Rick Doblin, “Pahnke’s ‘Good Friday Experiment’ a Long Term Follow up and Methodological Critique.” The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 1991, Vol. 23, No.1, 1-28
Ibid
Ibid
M. Laski, Ecstasy in Secular and Religious Experiences, Los Angeles: J.P. Tarcher (1990) 271, also found on council on spiritual practices website: URL: http://www.csp.org/chrestomahty/ecstasy_in.html. Visited 11/4/08
Sanford M. Unger, “Mescaline, LSD-25, Psilocybin and Personality Change.” Psychiatry Journal for the Study of Interpersonal Processes. Vol 26, no 2, May (1963)
Doblin, Ibid.
Ibid.
Ibid
Roland Griffiths, W.A. Richards, U. McCann, R.Jesse. “Psilocybin Can Occasion Mystical Type Experiences Have Substantial and Sustained Personal Meaning and Spiritual Significance.” Psychopharmacology, Jan, (2006) 187, 268-283.
Ibid, abstract.
Ibid, 270
Religion and the Future of Religion, ed. Robert Forte San Francisco: Council on Spiritual Practices, (1997) second printing (Dec 2000)

websie council on spiritual pracitcies. URL: http://www.csp.org/practices/entheogens/EFR.html
visited 11/8/08
Andrew New Berg, Why We Believe What We Believe, op cit 128.
Julian Baggnini and Peter Fost, A Very Short Introduction to Atheism: A Conpendium of Philosophical Concepts and Methods. Oxford University press, 2002. Baggini edits Philospher Magazine, Fost is listed as “Transylvania University.”
Ibid, 16
Ibid. 19
see Eugene R. Fairweather, “Christianity and the Sueprnatural” in New Theology No. 1. ed. Martin E. Marty and Dean Peerman, MacMillian, 1964.
Abraham H. Maslow, opc cit Appendix D. “What is the Validity of Knowledge Gained in Peack Experience?”
Abraham H. Maslow, op cit, Appendix I. An Example of B-Analysis
Spiritual Emergency Mystical or Unitive Experince. Op cit
Lee A. Kirkpatrick. OP cit
K.I. Pargament, “Religious Methods of Coping: Resources for the Conversation and Transformation of Significance.” In E.P. Shafnaske (ed.) Religion and Clinical Practice of Psychology, Washington DC: American Psychological Association, (1996) 215-239.
Ibid, Pargament.
L. De Rogario, “Spiriutality in the lives of People With disability and Chronic Illness: A Creative Paradigm of Wholeness and Reconstitution.” Disability and Rehabilitation: An International Multi-disciplinary Journal, 19, (1997) 427-423
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Re: Best Reason

Postby marxiavelli on Tue Dec 16, 2008 5:25 pm

Okay.

It's clear to me at this point that you don't have any intention of responding substantively to my questions. You may think that you have done so by simply repeating yourself and citing studies which simply do not actually support your claims, and so this comment of mine may strike you as being unfair. In general I have found you to be:

(a) extremely and unnecessarily aggressive
(b) repetative in your claims ("cut and paste" arguments)
(c) unwilling to take into consideration the specific concerns or questions of others
(d) fundamentally unable to justify or even the explain the conclusions you draw from things you percieve as evidence

It is impossible for me to fully evaluate the merits of your position -- indeed it is impossible for me to even fully understand your position -- because these traits deny scrutiny or elaboration.

If there is truth in your beliefs, I will never know it, because you simply don't have the patience to communicate. Throwing pages and pages of repetative text at someone is not communication. Actually listening to their questions, thinking about them, and answering them is.

Anyway, that's all from me. I am an atheist, but I'm an atheist who considers the possibility of the divine a wonderful thing -- if it is true. I'm also rare among atheists in that I agree that reductionist concepts are derivative of some deeper phenomenological content, and not the other way around. In other words, if you can't explain your case to me, then you should be prepared to limit yourself to the choir.

If you have the time, please delete my account.

Thanks, and all the best,

- "marxiavelli"
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Re: Best Reason

Postby Metacrock on Tue Dec 16, 2008 10:14 pm

It's pretty obvvious to me that you are playing games. I know I have some problems being clear but if my communications sills are this bad I will end my life tonight. there' s no way. You are playing games.

you have not the slightest intention of understanding what I"m saying. It's clear enough. you are playing games. we aren't here to do this. we don't tolerate trolls here.


I do not believe that you have the slightest intention of understanding any of this. I was clear enough that anyone could understand it. I have thread on this going on carm now, those guys are real idiots they understand it a lot better than you claim to. I don't believe you are on the level. you are some kind of ridicule artist or playing some kind of game. I don't have time for it.
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Re: Best Reason

Postby KR Wordgazer on Tue Dec 16, 2008 11:34 pm

FWIW, I didn't have any trouble following or understanding Metacrock's reasoning, and I do think he addressed each of Marxiavelli's concerns.

What it looked like to me was that Marxiavelli was looking at things through his scientific materialist worldview, and was either unable or unwilling to shift to a different perspective. For example, he seemed to think Metacrock was using the religious experience argument to prove one particular set of religious beliefs, and because they didn't do this, Marxiavelli appeared to think that this trumped all rational warrant for a belief in anything non-material at all. But Metacrock was not arguing for Christianity; he was arguing for the interaction between humans and something Divine that was undefined.

What I was seeing was something that I myself have experienced-- the challenge by an atheist to prove theism, but only within the atheism box. Invitations to climb out of the box and look further, were apparently misunderstood as not answering the questions.

There were a few times that Metacrock got frustrated, but I really don't think he was being "extremely and unnecessarily agressive."
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