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Author Topic: How did you meet God?
MxPickle
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Richard Pryor as a Southern Baptist Preacher on the 8-track-tape "Was It Something I Said?"-

"I first met God in 1962! I was walking down the street in Tupalo Mississippi, eating a tuna fish sandwich, when I heard the voice of God call unto me!

And I knew it was the voice of God because it came from within a dark alley-way! As only the voice of God can come!

But my friends and neighbors; I did not venture down that dark alley-way! For it might not have been the voice of God! But two or three niggers with a baseball bat! God only knows! And he wasn't talking! And I wasn't walking!"

[ August 09, 2011, 10:18 AM: Message edited by: MxPickle ]

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TheRallanator
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Since this thread is here, I'll do my bit.

I never met God.

My parents were fairly relaxed Presbyterians, and while my grandparents on both sides were all very very un-relaxed Presbyterians, I didn't really encounter their beliefs until after I was set in my ways.

Anywise, I never really met God. I was in a Presbyterian Sunday School and both Baptist (Boys' Brigade) and Anglican (Church of England Boys', aka CEBs) movements in my youth, but much like the local boys' soccer team it was more to do with my parents letting me have a go at everything my friends were in than any spiritual mission on their part to expose me to a higher truth. And despite the overt religious themes in all those groups (except the local boys' soccer team), it didn't catch on. And even despite the best interests of Australia's education system (where weekly scripture classes remain an unquestioned part of the cirriculum), it still didn't catch on. I really don't recall any point in my childhood where the stories of Lot or Samson or Joshua seemed any more real to me than the stories of Thor or Hercules or Frodo. I was just one of those kids who didn't get it.

Fast forward past the obligatory snotty teen atheist stage (I didn't have "The God Delusion", but I made up for it by discovering usenet halfway through), and then fast forward through years of not really caring too much, and you've got the lazy atheist that I am today.

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Viking_Longship
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quote:
That must be so, because people of faith are quite content without any logical (analytical) or physical (mechanistic) proof that the object of their affections exists.
A rationale that can be extended in many areas. One can also not prove that a nation exists. The legal entity doesn't create the nation, it's based on the presumption the nation exists. The territory is only provably a collection of tangible objects, only the country in theory. Yet we don't treat patriotism as inherently irrational despite it being if anything even more irrational and potentially deadly than religion.

[ August 09, 2011, 10:41 AM: Message edited by: Viking_Longship ]

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AI Wessex
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"Also... I'm not sure about equating "cleaving" and love. The word translated as "cleave" in the Bible is "davek", which means "to stick". Even in Modern Hebrew, devek is the word for glue. The word doesn't denote or connote any emotion. "

I understand the distinction you're drawing. Since I posited that the attachment to God is an emotional one, I do impart an emotional cause/basis to the relationship. I don't think it's so far off the Jewish notion, either. My Talmudic studies are almost non-existent, but as I understand it the word "devekut" is more than glue (mechanistic), and can also mean ecstasy or an immutable joy in one's association with God. That goes beyond an intellectual or non-emotional association.

It's interesting that we can intellectualize what we feel, sometimes well but sometimes not. I picked love to compare faith against because it has had more words written on its behalf (intellectualization) than any other feeling but faith, and yet we don't really understand it yet. IMO, there is no intellectual component to love, but there is a vast effort to rationalize it into the intellectual realm because we can't ignore those feelings consciously or otherwise.

[ August 09, 2011, 11:10 AM: Message edited by: AI Wessex ]

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Pete at Home
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You ever watch two snails ****ing? Those little critters really know how to cleave.
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AI Wessex
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[VL:] "A rationale that can be extended in many areas. One can also not prove that a nation exists."

Didn't some famous person say you can extend an analogy so far, but no further? Laws are commonly agreed upon rules for managing physical and intellectual "property". I don't see any contradiction with what I said (at least not yet, you'll have to go even further to convince me [Wink] ).

[Mr. Mxyzptlk:] "Maybe this is a good thing; if religion is just a chemical imbalance/flaw in the brain, maybe it can be cured!"

Well, all it takes are a couple of photos with a hidden camera after which (poof!) love does not exist.

[ August 09, 2011, 11:05 AM: Message edited by: AI Wessex ]

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AI Wessex
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"You ever watch two snails ****ing? Those little critters really know how to cleave. "

As I understand it, a female mantis cleaves the head from her mate's body. That would probably disgust a snail, but who cares what a snail thinks?

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noel
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Al,

Since love is non-rational, a Mozart aptitude for music is not a prerequisite for recognizing it. As for my age, my younger brother was not yet a part of that world, and since there is three years between us the upper limit for me is three. I also have vivid recollection of his homecoming, so apparently I was a strongly impressionable three year old.

Is love "real"?... We talk of pain, and suffering as real... even to the point of providing the basis for arguing in favor of athiesm. That these elemental feelings have a somatic underpinning does not make them any less real. The same can be said of rational processes, but their objective legitimacy is not challenged on that basis.

I believe that the rational/non-rational dichotomy is artificial in any case. An honest evaluation of all value-laden rational exercises begins with aknowledgement of non-rational foundational premises.

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AI Wessex
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"Is love "real"?... We talk of pain, and suffering as real... even to the point of providing the basis for arguing in favor of athiesm."

Don't you have those feelings when you think about God? How would they be different?

"An honest evaluation of all value-laden rational exercises begins with aknowledgement of non-rational foundational premises."

I don't know what this means. Can you give an example?

[ August 09, 2011, 12:28 PM: Message edited by: AI Wessex ]

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Viking_Longship
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Al a constitution does not make a country and it's physical existence is a concept, like land ownership, projected on something that existed long before. Once one accepts the idea of a nation existing then you can talk about borders, laws, and patriotism. Of course most of us never have to do this as the idea of countries is something we are taught from the cradle. So there's a non-rational foundational premise.

Once one accepts, (or simply doesn't reject the idea taught from the cradle, which is where most believers fall) the existence of God, Religions, which are complex intellectual structures are possible. Thus the belief in God may be at it's core emotional, but it is cultivated and sustained by the intellect as well.

[ August 09, 2011, 12:53 PM: Message edited by: Viking_Longship ]

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AI Wessex
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We're talking past each other. Boundaries overlaid on a map are measurable. Even if you're told not to cross that line when you don't understand what it means doesn't fictionalize or "de-rationalize" its existence. Your argument would imply that everything we know that we don't intellectualize is "non-rational". I'm saying that any rational basis you use to describe your relationship with God in no way corresponds to God's actual existence. Your perceptual and intellectual awareness of national boundaries sure as shooting relates to something real, even if one country's land is not painted red and its neighbor's green.

If my religion includes 75% of what your religion says about God, does that mean we're talking 75% of the time about the "same God"? How is the other 25% "attached" to that common entity?

[ August 09, 2011, 12:55 PM: Message edited by: AI Wessex ]

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noel
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Exactly VL.

Some interesting paradoxes pop up in the most unlikely places through the same mechanism. For example; The argument that suffering, and injustice, weigh in favor of an atheist perspective, is actually permeated by non-rational premises in the formation of concepts governing both suffering, and justice.

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noel
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Al,

Land is tangible, "countries" are conceptual. If your point is that the concept has at its core a physical object, I would agree. The question becomes... does it matter?

Are there individuals that you continue to love who have died? Does their corporeal absence have any bearing upon that love?

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AI Wessex
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Of course it matters. If you have a conceptual relationship with God and God doesn't exist, you got nothing. I wouldn't even call a "conceptual relationship" a relationship at all, but a rationalization. Boundaries are conceptual and can change, but they always refer to (are based on) something that exists.

I have a conceptual understanding of the FSM, and also of electrons. My conception if the FSM is not based on any provable foundation (that I know of, but I hear from Him I will make sure to let you know), but I can describe His Pasticity in detail without fear of contradiction. My conception of what electrons are is certainly wrong (little teeny-tiny balls spinning around and around and...), but they are very real. The fact that I can intellectualize both doesn't make them in any way comparably real. threads had a link to an interesting discussion of the fallacy of the subjectivity of probability. You should read that.

Bottom line: national boundaries are 100% real, the score so far on God is 0% real.

[Edited after 10 min to add comment about FSM]

[ August 09, 2011, 01:45 PM: Message edited by: AI Wessex ]

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PSRT
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quote:
Once one accepts the idea of a nation existing then you can talk about borders, laws, and patriotism.
No, you can talk about laws and borders and something like patriotism long before you've accepted the idea of a nation.

Law: A rule that people are going to enforce when it is violated.

Border: The edge of a region of space within which those laws will be enforced.

Patriotism: The belief that "Mine," is better than "Yours," applied to the territory within which is enforced the set of laws I adhere to

Nation: Short-cut name given to the type of entity within which a given set of laws are enforced.

Nation is a word that is used to describe the result of a certain type of behavior that is common to different groups of people.

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noel
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Al,

What do you "know" that is not ultimately a subjectively dictated probability?

It is your experience that sets the parameters of the possible in calculating the probable, and not all experience is equal... neither between, nor within individuals.

A schizophrenic may do a perfectly horrid job of interpreting the physical world, and we can all sit back with smugness about the clarity with which we perceive... I think it is hubris. Not so much that the mentally ill see things that are not there, but the assumption that our own perceptions are dispositive.

Religion no doubt has its schizophrenia component. The probability that all religious experience can be similarly dismissed strikes me as very low.

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AI Wessex
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Offer some compelling evidence, not just a position that says because the odds are greater than 0 that God exists, He therefore exists.

Stanislaw Lem wrote a very funny story about the "probability of dragons". I'll do his story great harm and I'll simplify it to the following logical proposition:

. Dragons are not known to exist.
. A great many human cultures have mythological traditions involving dragons.
. Most of those traditions agree in a great many details.
. They would not agree if there wasn't something to agree on.
. The fact of their agreement implies some possibility that dragons actual do exist, even if we haven't seen them.
. Let us assign that probability a one in a trillion likelihood.
. The galaxy contains billions of stars (say 10). That means there is a 1 in 10 chance that a dragon lives near one of the stars.
. Let us assume that stars in this galaxy have an average of 5 planets. That means that there is a 1 in 2 chance that some planet somewhere has dragons.
. Since we already know about dragons, the odds are better than 1 in 2 that the dragons are in fact on earth.

In other words, I can assure you that dragons exist. My advice is that you better wear your flame retardant underwear the next time you go out. You could substitute the word God for dragons above. It would change the text of the story only slightly, and you should still wear your special underwear when you go out.

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noel
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Al,

That response has no relation to what I wrote. I am happy to have this discussion with you, but you appear to be carrying out this dialogue with someone else.

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AI Wessex
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"The probability that all religious experience can be similarly dismissed strikes me as very low."

I'll simplify and rephrase. What religious experience are you talking about that is a valid confirmation of the existence of God? What is the probability that God exists because people have experiences of Him?

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ken_in_sc
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Pink Floyd recorded a version of the 22nd Psalm. It would have been a very appropriate quote from the pulpit of a Presbyterian Church. I drifted away from Christianity until my early 40s. I remember telling a minister that I could recite all of the Apostles Creed except the first two words, "I believe." I remember when I returned. It was on Korean Highway One between Taegu and Seoul. I was thinking about the Korean Ema Bell and that every culture, at one time, embraced blood sacrifice. At that time, Christ's sacrifice on the cross suddenly made sense to me. It put an end to the need for blood sacrifice for all time.
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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by AI Wessex:
Offer some compelling evidence, not just a position that says because the odds are greater than 0 that God exists,

Would you consider Gideon's tests as compelling, if you were in Gideon's position? (Book of judges)
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noel
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Al,

The religious experience that I can personally stand behind is my own, and I can not make it compelling to you. Descartes went through a silly exercise in an attempt to do just what you are asking for. We have moved beyond that from an intellectual standpoint, and the test itself is (by definition) experiential, not objectively analytical.

The theist/atheist scoreboard was cute, but inapplicable to this topic.

[ August 09, 2011, 07:37 PM: Message edited by: noel ]

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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by AI Wessex:

If my religion includes 75% of what your religion says about God, does that mean we're talking 75% of the time about the "same God"? How is the other 25% "attached" to that common entity?

If my news program says 75% of what toyr news program says about Carrot Top, are we talking about the same Carrot Top?
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threads
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quote:
Originally posted by noel:
The probability that all religious experience can be similarly dismissed strikes me as very low.

I tend to take most religious experiences at face value as long as they are described in terms of "I felt X", "I saw X", etc. where X is a factual description of something (emotional state, sensations, etc.). I believe that they happen. What I dismiss is the inference from I felt X (ex: warm feeling, euphoria, etc.) to X was caused by God. That inference is ***HUGE*** (emphasis) and I have never seen it supported by any sort of serious examination. This isn't surprising because to be able to discard natural explanations you would have to have a decent understanding of cognitive science and neuroscience and you would have to trust your memory of what happened (generally a very unreasonable thing to do).

The most common answer I see regarding spiritual experiences is "I could just feel it." No you couldn't because that isn't the type of fact that you can "feel". Feeling like something is true has absolutely no bearing on whether or not it is true. Ditto for feeling like you know something. You have to somehow distinguish that feeling from something that you could be imagining which is a hell of a lot tougher than it sounds. If you spontaneously discover the answer to an existing problem in a subject area in which you have no knowledge then that could be strong evidence of divine intervention (situation dependent of course). If you spontaneously discover whether or not to get married, whether or not to accept a job offer, etc. then that is not evidence for divine intervention.

I trust most people's descriptions of their experiences. I absolutely do not trust them to interpret them.

[ August 09, 2011, 10:01 PM: Message edited by: threads ]

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noel
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Threads,

"Feeling like something is true has absolutely no bearing on whether or not it is true."...

If I feel that it is okay to exterminate a race, would you base an objection on strictly rational relations (logic), or would you interject a moral dimension to your reasoning?

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MattP
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Threads' point is regarding descriptive ideas while your question is about a prescriptive one.

A prescriptive idea may be difficult to successfully transfer from one person to another because of a potential lack of shared starting premises.

A descriptive one can be analysed independent of individual philosophies - is there any reason to believe that warm feeling following a prayer was caused by God rather than say, Satan, or Thai food? What starting premises are we unlikely so share which makes "God" the valid answer for one person and not for another? This is an epistemological question, not a philosophical one. And yes, I'm aware of the potential overlap, but I still contend it's an essentially different question than one on moral correctness.

[ August 09, 2011, 11:10 PM: Message edited by: MattP ]

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noel
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Matt,

"Is there any reason to believe that a warm feeling following a prayer was caused by God..."...

Thai food would be unlikely to carry with it a sense of independent personality, but your satan option could be problematic.

I have ample experience talking to myself. Revelation is different, and rarely accomodating.


"... your question is about a prescriptive one."...

Most important religious "truths" are prescriptive. In following the recorded ministry of Christ, you will discover doctrinal inferences primarly as subtext to prescriptive injunctions.

Christianity is a religion of service first, and a map of physical reality only within the limits of cultural context.

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Viking_Longship
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quote:
Originally posted by AI Wessex:
Of course it matters. If you have a conceptual relationship with God and God doesn't exist, you got nothing. I wouldn't even call a "conceptual relationship" a relationship at all, but a rationalization. Boundaries are conceptual and can change, but they always refer to (are based on) something that exists.

I have a conceptual understanding of the FSM, and also of electrons. My conception if the FSM is not based on any provable foundation (that I know of, but I hear from Him I will make sure to let you know), but I can describe His Pasticity in detail without fear of contradiction. My conception of what electrons are is certainly wrong (little teeny-tiny balls spinning around and around and...), but they are very real. The fact that I can intellectualize both doesn't make them in any way comparably real. threads had a link to an interesting discussion of the fallacy of the subjectivity of probability. You should read that.

Bottom line: national boundaries are 100% real, the score so far on God is 0% real.

[Edited after 10 min to add comment about FSM]

National bounderies are conceptual as are nations themselves. Arguing that they're enforced, therefore real doesn't make them real. In many countries religous laws are enforced in civil law, that doesn't make God real.

What are you trying to prove? If you're arguing that believers can't prove the existence of God, who is arguing that they can?

[ August 09, 2011, 11:55 PM: Message edited by: Viking_Longship ]

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MattP
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quote:
Thai food would be unlikely to carry with it a sense of independent personality, but your satan option could be problematic.
Consider "Thai food" a shorthand for "physiological causes". There are now at least a few studies of where people report "spiritual" feelings as a result of direct neural manipulation. I couldn't speak to the similarity of these experiences to unassisted experiences, having not participated in these studies, but I have experience some fairly profound feelings in contexts which make them unlikely to be supernatural in origin. Were I in another context and predisposed toward a belief in the supernatural I might have interpreted them differently.

quote:
Most important religious "truths" are prescriptive.
Perhaps, but "is this a message from God?" is pretty solidly in the "descriptive" category. One has to come to a fairly confident conclusion in the affirmative on that question before considering the prescriptive injunctions that follow as authoritative.

This was personally where I got hung up many years ago. Smiling young missionaries (and girlfriends, and friends, and my wife...) handed me a Book of Mormon and confidently declared that I would know the truth of it if I prayed about it. But I just couldn't get past the non-specificity of the experiential proof of the this claim nor the complete inability, should that experience occur, to actually determine from what agent - good, evil, or non-sentient - it originated.

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noel
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Matt,

"Consider 'Thai food' a shorthand for 'physiological' causes."...

There is some research which strongly suggests that a specific portion of the brain does generate these feelings. That begs the question of stimulus *source*, and raises an interesting issue of why that structure operates this way in humans. There are areas dedicated to sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell because the world offers things to see, hear, eat, feel, and smell. Why does our hardwiring sense "God"?


"Perhaps, but 'Is this a message from God?'is pretty solidly in the 'descriptive' category."...

I see the point that you are driving at. We are conversing as strangers on a public forum. Do you seriously question whether I am an example of Allen Turing's artificial intelligence? Some things just feel right... sorry. [Wink]

I sense that you feel duped and/or frustrated by assurances proffered by those close to you. It might interest you to know that my experience with the Book of Mormon was not unlike yours. Fourty years later, I still have not had that overwhelming revelation. Paradoxically, even though I love the New Testament, guess what text I find the most useful in teaching the principles he lived?

He seems to make some of us work harder, and I believe there is a reason for that.

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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by MattP:

This was personally where I got hung up many years ago. Smiling young missionaries (and girlfriends, and friends, and my wife...) handed me a Book of Mormon and confidently declared that I would know the truth of it if I prayed about it. But I just couldn't get past the non-specificity of the experiential proof of the this claim nor the complete inability, should that experience occur, to actually determine from what agent - good, evil, or non-sentient - it originated.

Yup. Objective proof of God's existence would replace atheism with theophobic paranoia. Poor Mr Dawkins would talk about tha dangerous delusion of trusting God, and Penn and Teller would wear tinfoil hats and demand that God be brought before an international tribunal. Religion would be swallowed up in politics.
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TomDavidson
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quote:
Why does our hardwiring sense "God"?
It may well be vestigial, like the appendix -- or a necessary side effect of self-awareness. Perhaps the recursive consciousness necessary to think of oneself as a single entity (and thus analyze your own analyses of action) requires that we have physical circuits primed and inclined to this sort of perception.
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MattP
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quote:
Do you seriously question whether I am an example of Allen Turing's artificial intelligence?
Heh, well no, but when trying to determine the nature of something that's going on in my head, I note that I already have a relatively capable non-artificial intelligence running in there. It's not a leap to suppose that it can run more than one instance at a time. We certainly have ample evidence of the ability of human brains to do so, often in a much more dramatic fashion than a "still small voice".

quote:
I sense that you feel duped and/or frustrated by assurances proffered by those close to you.
It was quite a long time ago. I'm pretty comfortable where I'm sitting now, though I still wonder at how other people tie those chains together. Clearly it's not something I was able to accomplish, so what exactly is the difference?
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Viking_Longship
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Pete Penn and Teller would never want to bring ANYBODY before an international tribunal.
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noel
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"... so what exactly is the difference?"...

Even without knowing you, the answer is easy; Your needs are as unique as your fingerprints, and you will "meet God" at the nexus of those needs and your ability to hear. My guess is that you have already.

I am not convinced that you need to credit attribution, but it is vital to follow the promptings. You can remain an agnostic in good standing with him... his ego can handle it.

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Pete at Home
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Tom, if vestigial, then what.do you reckon was the original function?

[ August 10, 2011, 01:20 AM: Message edited by: Pete at Home ]

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TomDavidson
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quote:
Tom, if vestigial, then what.do you reckon was the original function?
No idea. Psychiatric archaeology's out of my line. *laugh*
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AI Wessex
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[Pete:] "If my news program says 75% of what toyr news program says about Carrot Top, are we talking about the same Carrot Top?"

Are you trying to equate experience of God with a TV program? That's quite a reduction in authority for the Creator of the Universe to have to endure.

[Noel:] "If I feel that it is okay to exterminate a race, would you base an objection on strictly rational relations (logic), or would you interject a moral dimension to your reasoning?"

Why do you and Pete introduce these very worldly analogies to support your argument for the existence of God???

[VL:] "What are you trying to prove? If you're arguing that believers can't prove the existence of God, who is arguing that they can?"

Pete and Noel. Pete by diversions and straw men, Noel by some argument I don't really understand about the relationship between rational and emotional experience. Really, I'm completely lost trying to follow him. His argument seems to rest on a foundation of "Some things just feel right".

[Tom:] "It may well be vestigial, like the appendix -- or a necessary side effect of self-awareness. Perhaps the recursive consciousness necessary to think of oneself as a single entity (and thus analyze your own analyses of action) requires that we have physical circuits primed and inclined to this sort of perception."

I mostly agree with this, but I again point out that the simplest explanation is evolution and biology. We think too much because our brains are wired to solve problems. God provides an escape hatch when we can't explain the fact of the world that thwarts us at every turn and rewards us at unexpected moments.

[Noel:] "you will "meet God" at the nexus of those needs and your ability to hear. I am not convinced that you need to credit attribution, but it is vital to follow the promptings. You can remain an agnostic in good standing with him... his ego can handle it."

This sort of silly "counsel" is why talking about God with people of faith is pointless.

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noel
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"Why do you and Pete introduce these worldly analogies..."...

... Just trying to meet you where you live Al.


"This sort of silly 'counsel' is why talking about God with people of faith is pointless."...

Are you disappointed that all this "person of faith" can tell you is to defer to a non-rational conscience? Would you have preferred fire and brimstone from Sinai?

Honestly Al, if you need clarification of an argument then just ask for it.

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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by AI Wessex:
[Pete:] "If my news program says 75% of what your news program says about Carrot Top, are we talking about the same Carrot Top?"

Are you trying to equate experience of God with a TV program?

Carrot Top is a person, or rather a ginger. [Big Grin]

And no, I am not "equating" them; I am showing that your reasoning is absurd on its face if applied to an arguably real entity; avoids absurdity only by assuming its premise that God does not exist outside our descriptions.


" That's quite a reduction in authority for the Creator of the Universe to have to endure."

For an atheist, You're awfully pious, Al.

That's quite a reduction in authority for the Creator of the Universe to have to endure.

"Why do you and Pete introduce these very worldly analogies to support your argument for the existence of God???"

Why do you continuously pretend that I am arguing for God's existence when I have repeatedly declined to do just that?

"[VL:] "What are you trying to prove? If you're arguing that believers can't prove the existence of God, who is arguing that they can?"

Pete and Noel"


In your dreams. Al. [Mad] When I poke holes in a bad argument against theism, or spoof a mediocre argument, that is NOT an argument that you should believe in God. Back in the days when theists mad arguments this bad for God's existence, I tore those up too.

"
[Noel:] "you will "meet God" at the nexus of those needs and your ability to hear. I am not convinced that you need to credit attribution, but it is vital to follow the promptings. You can remain an agnostic in good standing with him... his ego can handle it."

This sort of silly "counsel" is why talking about God with people of faith is pointless."
Pointless to you because we aren't arguing whe points that you want us tpo argue, and because when this crusade dulls your ordinary capacity for humor and self-reflection.

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