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Can Atheism be seen as an intellectual luxury for the wealthy?
Posted: 14 January 2014 08:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 61 ]
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(** Note this was posted just as you were writing that last long post. It will take me a little time to absorb that one. **)

Well Arda, we could just go on insulting each other, but I don’t see much point in that. “What the hell makes me think you haven’t” heard of those things is that you never mentioned them. You say you “offered support” to your assertions, but I don’t see it. It’s possible it’s there and I’m missing it, but I’m getting tired of attempting to clarify. If that bothers you, you might want to ask yourself why you came here? This is a scientific inquiry discussion. SoulPancake.com would be more your style.

You’ll probably take that as an insult too, although I don’t know why. You bounce from saying “people aren’t told to seek out such experiences”  to “I’m not alone in wanting that.” I agree with the latter and I hope you find other fellow seekers. But in “rationalist circles”, yes, you will find that gods and science don’t mix well. You could investigate phenomenon of the mind but if you want people to understand “that there are possibly infinite valid perceptions of divinity, because whether or not any perception of divinity is valid is a personal matter.” That’s not science. Nor are statements like “That is up to everyone to discover and decide for themselves.” I’m not against people deciding for themselves, it’s just the opposite of science.

I can’t find it, but I thought I read on your polygnostic site that you accept that some people can connect to the divine while others might experience it to a lesser degree. This is the most troublesome aspect I found of polygnosticism as it sets up a potential structure of those who are in the know and those who aren’t. Correct me if I’m misread that. Or maybe I made it up since I can’t find a quote.

I should mention that I still sometimes attend the churches I used to frequent. They have less of a problem with me than you do. You may want to figure out a way to incorporate atheism into your poly-system. The “guidance” exercise you suggested would be closer to what I do when I read a good fiction book or any other form of storytelling, I find myself in the story. I can do that with the gospels as well. I don’t see any advantage to tacking on the aspect of the possibility of something greater. Which doesn’t mean that I’ve dismissed something greater, because that would be unscientific.

If you have been treated as ass-backward, I empathize. I haven’t always been in the “in” crowd either, but I won’t go into that. Coming here and getting angry with me isn’t going to help with that.

[ Edited: 14 January 2014 09:04 PM by Lausten ]
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Posted: 14 January 2014 08:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 62 ]
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arda_asura - 14 January 2014 08:02 PM

Atheists don’t often look into reasons for why people pursue what they perceive to be the divine.

You are absolutely wrong there. Many of us used to be Christians and we understand the motivation for seeking supernatural explanations. Then we used our intellectual abilities and realized invoking the supernatural to explain things is wishful thinking at best, hallucinating at worst.

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Posted: 14 January 2014 09:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 63 ]
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Lausten - 14 January 2014 08:03 PM

Well Arda, we could just go on insulting each other, but I don’t see much point in that. “What the hell makes me think you haven’t” heard of those things is that you never mentioned them. You say you “offered support” to your assertions, but I don’t see it. It’s possible it’s there and I’m missing it, but I’m getting tired of attempting to clarify. If that bothers you, you might want to ask yourself why you came here? This is a scientific inquiry discussion. SoulPancake.com would be more your style.

I tried to clarify and you ignored most of what I wrote, picking out the parts that seemed problematic out of context and creating a caricature of me who brought nothing to the table.  I’m sorry that my ideas weren’t well-formed enough for you, but it felt to me like you were dismissing them because they weren’t academic papers.  And you accused me of “wasting my time”.  Is there anything I could do short of dropping gods and professing atheism that would change your mind about how I make use of my time?

SoulPancake is okay on YouTube, and the book is a mixture of meh and hm.

You’ll probably take that as an insult too, although I don’t know why. You bounce from saying “people aren’t told to seek out such experiences”  to “I’m not alone in wanting that.” I agree with the latter and I hope you find other fellow seekers.

Yeah, been there, don’t want to go back.  I like rational people much better, except for, well…

But in “rationalist circles”, yes, you will find that gods and science don’t mix well.

That’s a shame, because there’s plenty of scientific evidence that suggests this whole god thing is something that people in psychological sciences, in particular, should pay attention to!  Kind of like other important personal matters—sexual orientation for instance.

I’ll just throw it out there one last time for kicks:  Does nobody else find it flooring that most primal peoples, of whom we’re aware, were/are polytheists who directly experienced their gods?  Does this not say *anything* to *anyone*? 

What good is data when people don’t care?

You could investigate phenomenon of the mind but if you want people to understand “that there are possibly infinite valid perceptions of divinity, because whether or not any perception of divinity is valid is a personal matter.” That’s not science. Nor are statements like “That is up to everyone to discover and decide for themselves.” I’m not against people deciding for themselves, it’s just the opposite of science.

And that’s why I’ve been “wasting my time”? 

So, frankly, what *is* the right answer to the god question?  I think there is a right answer given what we know about the nature of people’s minds, and the natures of the gods they worship, and frankly I think that divinity being a personal matter *is* the right answer.  Because who can really make that assertion for anyone else?  Honestly?

And with that, let’s start taking some data on people and their gods, to see what personal answers get people where.  Let’s blow the lid off this once and for all!

Does that stoke anyone’s interest?

I can’t find it, but I thought I read on your polygnostic site that you accept that some people can connect to the divine while others might experience it to a lesser degree. This is the most troublesome aspect I found of polygnosticism as it sets up a potential structure of those who are in the know and those who aren’t. Correct me if I’m misread that. Or maybe I made it up since I can’t find a quote.

What I was trying to say was: the only one who has any right to be called “in the know” on a personal matter like one’s own gods is oneself.  There’s no heirarchy there.

I should mention that I still sometimes attend the churches I used to frequent. They have less of a problem with me than you do.

Yeah and other atheists I know have less of a problem with me than you do.  So….

You may want to figure out a way to incorporate atheism into your poly-system.

If people don’t perceive divinity that’s their thing!  That’s their choice!  Easy, find your own gods or find no gods! is what I like to say.

The “guidance” exercise you suggested would be closer to what I do when I read a good fiction book or any other form of storytelling, I find myself in the story. I can do that with the gospels as well. I don’t see any advantage to tacking on the aspect of the possibility of something greater. Which doesn’t mean that I’ve dismissed something greater, because that would be unscientific.

Cool, so that’s something I can relate to…  Check the long post before this.

If you have been treated as ass-backward, I empathize. I haven’t always been in the “in” crowd either, but I won’t go into that. Coming here and getting angry with me isn’t going to help with that.

I’m angry because you seem very… honestly?  Dogmatic.  You’re a very forceful thinker, but you’re also a safe thinker.  You’d rather throw accepted answers out than have to go out on a limb and see where someone is coming from.  You’d rather note the incompleteness of ideas than entertain the possibility that there might be something there.  And you do this in the name of, I don’t know, great justice?  Maybe? 

But it’s all stuff I’ve heard before, and it’s all stuff I had to move away from in order to find answers for myself that were actually worth a hoot—for me.  I had to do a lot of thinking to break from that kind of safe thinking, and I’ll never regret doing so…

I don’t think we’re going to see eye to eye, and that’s the way things go I guess.  I don’t know that I’ll be around much more because I think I got what I wanted from this thread.  I have a better idea of what I have to do next, and I don’t know that I’m going to find much more help here.

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Posted: 14 January 2014 09:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 64 ]
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DarronS - 14 January 2014 08:10 PM
arda_asura - 14 January 2014 08:02 PM

Atheists don’t often look into reasons for why people pursue what they perceive to be the divine.

You are absolutely wrong there. Many of us used to be Christians and we understand the motivation for seeking supernatural explanations. Then we used our intellectual abilities and realized invoking the supernatural to explain things is wishful thinking at best, hallucinating at worst.

And that’s cool!  I’m serious about that, that’s a *good thing*! 

But I’m not talking about supernatural explanations—I’ll be the first to say that’s inconsequential mumbo-jumbo.  I’m talking about the actual experiences people have when they commune with that which they perceive to be divine.  I’m talking about their judgments regarding what is divine, what makes it divine to them, and then what they perceive when they commune with it.  Do they feel at peace? moved? wiser? more thoughtful?  What happens?

One of the many things that I’m trying to make clear here is that divine communion is a practice with observable—measurable—results.  Meditation works for some people, and that’s cool, but until I was talking to something I really and truly felt had some sort of legitimate divinity about it I wasn’t going anywhere in my life.  Am I alone in that?  I doubt it.

I’d do a study to confirm that, somehow, but no money, and rationalists tend to think I’m weird or something.

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Posted: 15 January 2014 11:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 65 ]
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Is there anything I could do short of dropping gods and professing atheism that would change your mind about how I make use of my time?

Yes. I’ve made a few suggestions throughout this thread.

As for me not responding to things you’ve said, how about my statement about how I’ve said that because you haven’t mentioned any studies or authors, I don’t know what you’re talking about. Then when I ask if you have heard of some specific things you’re angry because I didn’t assume you had. You’ve used the term “experiential theism” but I can’t find much on that. I’m not asking for a dissertation, just some indication of what you’ve read or where you’re coming from.

Lausten: You’ll probably take that as an insult too, although I don’t know why. You bounce from saying “people aren’t told to seek out such experiences”  to “I’m not alone in wanting that.” I agree with the latter and I hope you find other fellow seekers.

Arda: Yeah, been there, don’t want to go back.  I like rational people much better, except for, well…

I don’t understand what you’re saying here. Where don’t you want to go back to?

That’s a shame, because there’s plenty of scientific evidence that suggests this whole god thing is something that people in psychological sciences, in particular, should pay attention to!  Kind of like other important personal matters—sexual orientation for instance.

This is what I keep hearing, and now you are referencing back to earlier posts and saying you provide support, but these types of statement are all I see. If you know of evidence, tell me. If you think “science” is not doing enough, point to where it is lacking and I’ll see if I have heard of something you haven’t. That would be a conversation, not whatever it is you are doing. You’re going to have to do more than say something like; people believe in tulpas, therefore, ITS FOR REALZ.

BTW, have you read the history of how the DSM was changed so homosexuality was not classified as a mental illness? People risked their careers and now gay marriages are happening.  It’s upsetting that you are so angry at what’s not being done but you’re not acknowledging what has been done.

I’ll just throw it out there one last time for kicks:  Does nobody else find it flooring that most primal peoples, of whom we’re aware, were/are polytheists who directly experienced their gods?  Does this not say *anything* to *anyone*?

There are libraries of books on this.

So, frankly, what *is* the right answer to the god question?

42

What I was trying to say was: the only one who has any right to be called “in the know” on a personal matter like one’s own gods is oneself.

I said that in one of my first responses to you.

I’d do a study to confirm that, somehow, but no money, and rationalists tend to think I’m weird or something

.

If you are thinking about doing a study, you might want to figure out how to propose one. Your entire approach here has been to make a claim then say it is wrong that others aren’t looking for evidence for your claim or accepting the general evidence you think you have. A study begins with a hypothesis and then asks, if that were true what conditions would create that result? Then you design an experiment that isolates those conditions and collects some data. Then, and only then, can you draw any conclusions about whether or not your hypothesis is correct.

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Posted: 15 January 2014 05:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 66 ]
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The only sensible way to reply here is, /thread. 

I’m sorry I got upset with you.

Peace, CFI.  It’s been educational.

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Posted: 15 January 2014 08:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 67 ]
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That’s a better ending than most discussions with gnostics here. Just so this doesn’t go to waste, I made some notes on this earlier, but then forgot about it. On your opening webpage you say, we “may as well also debate whether people actually see the color red”.

We call it red by convention, true we can’t see inside someone’s head and know what their experience of red is, but once you are taught what red is, it never changes. We agree on what is red and I can write down a formula of pigments and it will be red to everyone in the world. No one wakes up one day and suddenly realizes they can see red when they couldn’t before. Not unless they were color blind then their ability to see it physically changes but then we’re still talking about something explainable by natural causes. No one prays and then starts understanding what red is.

What you’re talking about is, there is a color that can’t be shown. Let’s call it xylblek. You are told about it as a kid, but unlike other colors, nothing in nature is that color. Computers can’t create it. You can’t mix other colors together and get xylblek. It’s not in a rainbow. To see xylblek, you have to accept that it is possible to see xylblek or do some sort of prescribed ritual or exercise. If you think you see it, there is no definitive, agreed upon test that verifies you’ve really seen it. It can come and go.

Some people think they can tell. They’ll look at how you identify and use other colors, and if you don’t do it like them, they’ll say you don’t really see xylblek. Experiences of it become, as you say, persistent, because people are rewarded if they claim to have the experience and punished if they don’t. Hopefully you get where I’m going with this.

It’s been real.

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Posted: 15 January 2014 09:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 68 ]
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Lausten - 15 January 2014 08:26 PM

That’s a better ending than most discussions with gnostics here. Just so this doesn’t go to waste, I made some notes on this earlier, but then forgot about it. On your opening webpage you say, we “may as well also debate whether people actually see the color red”.

We call it red by convention, true we can’t see inside someone’s head and know what their experience of red is, but once you are taught what red is, it never changes. We agree on what is red and I can write down a formula of pigments and it will be red to everyone in the world. No one wakes up one day and suddenly realizes they can see red when they couldn’t before. Not unless they were color blind then their ability to see it physically changes but then we’re still talking about something explainable by natural causes. No one prays and then starts understanding what red is.

What you’re talking about is, there is a color that can’t be shown. Let’s call it xylblek. You are told about it as a kid, but unlike other colors, nothing in nature is that color. Computers can’t create it. You can’t mix other colors together and get xylblek. It’s not in a rainbow. To see xylblek, you have to accept that it is possible to see xylblek or do some sort of prescribed ritual or exercise. If you think you see it, there is no definitive, agreed upon test that verifies you’ve really seen it. It can come and go.

Some people think they can tell. They’ll look at how you identify and use other colors, and if you don’t do it like them, they’ll say you don’t really see xylblek. Experiences of it become, as you say, persistent, because people are rewarded if they claim to have the experience and punished if they don’t. Hopefully you get where I’m going with this.

It’s been real.

Well, explain me then.  Explain my long-ass post about how I had to give into my own perceptions eventually, even though they went against everyone else’s admonitions.

I’m glad that I didn’t let people like you get to me, and keep me from becoming myself.

The point you make about the color red is a very good one.  I’ll remove it from the website.

Bye.

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Posted: 16 January 2014 06:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 69 ]
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arda_asura - 15 January 2014 09:02 PM

Well, explain me then.  Explain my long-ass post about how I had to give into my own perceptions eventually, even though they went against everyone else’s admonitions.

It was YOUR experience. There is a limit to how much I can say without knowing you a lot better. Something not possible in this forum. It helped you, that’s good, but I didn’t know you before either, so I can’t judge. Be yourself, sounds good. You are aware of how some people give up everything to cults. Also good. Good that you didn’t do that. I had a friend who joined a cult. It called itself a Baptist church, but she gave up a lot.

I searched for “tulpas” and found a NYT article by Luhrman. It sounds like there are others who have done what you have and some who have studied and written on it. They could give you much better answers than me. Your statements about your “gods” giving you what you need or being fruitful are purely subjective. I could claim to have found better through diet and exercise and reading, but how could we really evaluate it? Individually, that would be difficult, however the affect of belief systems on cultures can be determined.

The thing I wish you would drop would be the stuff about what you think atheists think. Again, there are whole books by scientists (from a variety of belief backgrounds) that pursue what perceptions of the divine are. It’s not “just about indoctrination”, that just happens to be an issue that is currently causing a lot of trouble, so it is getting a lot of attention. There is no value in setting yourself against atheists.

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Posted: 16 January 2014 02:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 70 ]
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arda_asura - 14 January 2014 08:02 PM

Atheists don’t often look into reasons for why people pursue what they perceive to be the divine. 

Boy have you gotten on the right website. The atheist here will ask you.

I can completely understand, having experienced the amazing invigoration and sense of purpose that comes with communing with my gods, why people who are otherwise powerless in their lives would want something like that.

Sounds like you are on the cutting edge of mainstream belief system in U.S. A. Religion is not about belief in a god that created everything. God is about a personal relationship.
Fact, the bone box of James, brother of Jesus. Christians do not want it to be true. If it was just a possibility of it being real, think about it, the place the bones of “GOD” was placed could be right next door to James. Every true believer in the world would go to the tome and the ossuary. Yet, Christians do not seem to be interested. Same thing happen when they found the Ark.

People have been doing this whole god thing since the beginning of, well, people.  We’re in a good position to make some sense of it all today.  People who seek, need, or experience these kinds of things, for whatever reasons, are nowhere near alone in our society, or even in history.

To me it about history. History is inherence, being part of mankind and able to understand where mankind is today and how we got here. It is a never ending learning experience and can be quite fun and rewarding.
This week for example I been studying the Jewish scholars mainly from Alexandria, Egypt near the time of Jesus. People like Philo to get an idea of the college education Jesus would have gotten if he had went to the University at Alexandria. And from his teachings, I would bet James and Jesus did go to college there. James and Jesus were Gnostic in thought as were the teachings in Alexandria.  The question I was trying to answer is “Was Jesus an atheist?” Because when you look and the creation of Christianity and the way it came about and the way people looked at religion at that time, there is no way that Jesus could have looked at God the way the Christians do. And I feel pretty confident that Jesus was an atheist. A lot of people will have trouble understanding this and that is because like religion, the thinking of god and atheist can have different meanings to people. And of course everyone thinks that their version is the correct one.
Jesus said “God is Light (knowledge)” and light is in everyone.
It is this light(knowledge) of all people that created the god of Jesus. Which is not Jesus’s idea, but much older thinking out of India.
I guess what I am trying to say here is that you feel that you may be in an awkward place when it come to god. But you have some pretty famous company. Think what Jesus and James must have gone through on their path to understanding.
Mike

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