Wilson, Wilson, lama sabachthani?
Posted: 19 July 2007 03:17 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Have you seen Cast Away with Tom Hanks? Do you remember Hanks talking to the ball? Is that it? Is that all there is to it? Do we talk to a ball and invisible beings so that we don’t go insane? You might think that it is precisely the other way around: that we talk to a ball or a dead carpenter BECAUSE we are insane. But think about Hanks’s character in the movie. He was an intelligent and successful man. At least until the moment he got to be isolated on the island. Then something changed. He was still an intelligent man, but no longer was he successful. He was alone. To cope with his loneliness he “chose” (or was it an instinct?) to look for a companionship in an object.

Do we look for god because we are not successful? This would explain why even people with an above-average IQ might become religious. You might know the atomic weight of all the chemical elements by memory or be able to recite Homer’s Iliad in ancient Greek, and then one day you find your love of your life in a bed with your only friend. You’ll still know that the atomic weight of Promethium is somewhere between 127.9482600 u and 162.9535200 u, but now you will also “know” (subconsciously) that your chances of passing on your beloved genes dramatically dropped. What to do? How about “realizing” that it’s not all about the genes, and that there must be “something more to life”?

I remember Jonathan Miller in The History of Disbelief saying that as a teenager he was more interested in girls that in Judaism. I think he was lucky that the girls were also interested in return and he didn’t have to look for that “emergency meaning of life” in the synagogue.

What do you think?

[ Edited: 19 July 2007 03:56 PM by George ]
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Posted: 19 July 2007 04:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I guess I think the appeal of religion is complex. Sure, comfort in times of lonliness, pain, ect is an important component. But of course lots of wildly “successful” (whatever that means) people are religious and credit God for their luck. I also think the evolutionary arguments that we are evolved to seek meaning and pattern in randomness, to attribute agency, etc. make a lot of sense. So sure comfort in a lonesome universe is probably part of the reason for religion’s success.

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Posted: 19 July 2007 05:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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George - 19 July 2007 03:17 PM

Have you seen Cast Away with Tom Hanks? Do you remember Hanks talking to the ball? Is that it? Is that all there is to it? Do we talk to a ball and invisible beings so that we don’t go insane? You might think that it is precisely the other way around: that we talk to a ball or a dead carpenter BECAUSE we are insane. But think about Hanks’s character in the movie. He was an intelligent and successful man. At least until the moment he got to be isolated on the island. Then something changed. He was still an intelligent man, but no longer was he successful. He was alone. To cope with his loneliness he “chose” (or was it an instinct?) to look for a companionship in an object.

Do we look for god because we are not successful? This would explain why even people with an above-average IQ might become religious. You might know the atomic weight of all the chemical elements by memory or be able to recite Homer’s Iliad in ancient Greek, and then one day you find your love of your life in a bed with your only friend. You’ll still know that the atomic weight of Promethium is somewhere between 127.9482600 u and 162.9535200 u, but now you will also “know” (subconsciously) that your chances of passing on your beloved genes dramatically dropped. What to do? How about “realizing” that it’s not all about the genes, and that there must be “something more to life”?

I remember Jonathan Miller in The History of Disbelief saying that as a teenager he was more interested in girls that in Judaism. I think he was lucky that the girls were also interested in return and he didn’t have to look for that “emergency meaning of life” in the synagogue.

What do you think?

More worringly (if you choose to worry about such things) is that also why we feel the need for these forums? If so, I’ll live with that.

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Posted: 19 July 2007 10:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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My daughter has quite the imaginary world that she comes in contact with every day.  She has imaginary friends with imaginary parents, schedules and characteristics.  I just assume that it’s her way of coping with reality in much the same way you see real stuff that has happened to kids get re-enacted in playtime.  If ever there is someting new she finds, she has one ‘friend’ who’s always ‘been there, done that’ and often feels much the same as her.  And then she has another one with whom she always disagrees or has to correct usually in a similar theme to what I have recently corrected her on.  Isn’t talking to others how we figure out who we are?  And when there’s no one else in the world that seems to ‘get it’, the idea of a god who knows exactly how you feel and is on your side is very comforting.  Or in the case of my daughter, who hasn’t caught on to the god idea yet, she can create any number of persons to bounce her new ideas off of or try things out on.  (Just so you know she does know that they are imaginary, and that it is play - when I remind her of this she says ” I know!  But I’m imagining that they’re real!”  so maybe it isn’t the same as Tom hanks, or god prayer at all?!?)

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Posted: 20 July 2007 12:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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mckenzievmd - 19 July 2007 04:37 PM

But of course lots of wildly “successful” (whatever that means) people are religious and credit God for their luck.

There is a theory that the reason we made it and the Neanderthals didn’t is because we have developed religion and they had not. If true, we should certainly credit god, as Hanks should have credited Wilson. But this sounds ludicrous, doesn’t it? We have created god, and Hanks had created Wilson. The credit should go to our (and Hanks’) misery. And that’s my point. Is the reason that you and I don’t believe in god merely because we are lucky not to be unlucky? Are there more atheists in Europe compared to the rest of our planet because Europeans seem to suffer less than everybody else?

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Posted: 20 July 2007 12:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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narwhol - 19 July 2007 05:55 PM

More worringly (if you choose to worry about such things) is that also why we feel the need for these forums? If so, I’ll live with that.

I apologize, Narwhol, but I don’t understand your response. red face

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Posted: 20 July 2007 12:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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J Free - 19 July 2007 10:01 PM

Isn’t talking to others how we figure out who we are?  And when there’s no one else in the world that seems to ‘get it’, the idea of a god who knows exactly how you feel and is on your side is very comforting.  Or in the case of my daughter, who hasn’t caught on to the god idea yet, she can create any number of persons to bounce her new ideas off of or try things out on.

I don’t know, J Free. Imaginary friends might be comforting, but the problem is that you don’t really receive any feedback from them. So I am not sure how much of a learning lesson this could be.

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Posted: 20 July 2007 01:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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George,
I don’t know, but I suspect it’s more complicated than just that we feel bad so we imagine god to make us feel better. I think god is a comforting idea for many people, I just think there’s more too it than that.

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Posted: 20 July 2007 09:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Well, we die. I think it’s a strong reason to believe in supernatural things. Surely, not the only, but I think it’s a strong reason for many people (If I surrended to my desires, it would be my reason to believe: to have eternal life).

Another reason could ground in that we tend to think ( sometimes for good reasons, sometimes not ) that we are living unfair situations. If god exists, there is something that will take care of this lack of justice in this life or the next. Of course, the need for explanaiton for the universe and life could be important to a lot of people. I don’t think there is only one answer to the question of why we believe. Some people could feel more appeal for the emotional reasons ( eternal life, sense of justice ) and other a need for explanaiton.

I met a couple of person who believe because the ‘ethical need’ of god. I think they mix their desires ( desires I am very simpathetic with ) with the reality.

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Posted: 20 July 2007 10:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Barto - 20 July 2007 09:14 AM

Well, we die. I think it’s a strong reason to believe in supernatural things.

I often wonder how immune I am to the belief in the supernatural. Will I “repent” on my deathbed? Will I ever meet my Wilson? Scary… grrr

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Posted: 20 July 2007 10:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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George - 20 July 2007 10:22 AM

I often wonder how immune I am to the belief in the supernatural. Will I “repent” on my deathbed? Will I ever meet my Wilson? Scary… grrr

I agreed with what J. Miller said in ‘rough history of disbelief’. I am not afraid of dead (although I’d like to live forever), but I think in these moments… will it be painfull? will my dying brain waste a couple of jokes ( delusion or misperceptions) that will lead me to experience horrible and scaring things?.

If someone, somewhere, brings one acceptable proof of the existance of ghosts, I’d be the happiest man in the world. I remember a couple of dreams I had on the past, where I found uncontrovertible proof of ghost. I remember, in the dream, I designed an experiment to proof the existance of ghost and I could repeat it every time I wanted. grin

Of course, I don’t think my desires has something to do with reality.

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Posted: 20 July 2007 10:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Barto - 20 July 2007 10:37 AM

If someone, somewhere, brings one acceptable proof of the existance of ghosts, I’d be the happiest man in the world.

My uncle crashed in an airplane into a lake Ontario in 76. He was “dead” for an abnormally long period of time (can’t remember how long). He saw the whole thing: his body, the tunnel, the light, his deceased father and friends, etc. I asked him about it, and he told me that even though the whole thing felt very real, he’s sure it was a mere dream. I think that’s as good, Barto, as it gets. Too bad, it is fun to exist…

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Posted: 20 July 2007 11:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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My father in law had one of this NDE a couple of years ago after a car accident in which he suffered brain damage (the sequels of this damage lingers on, he experienced a drop in his cognitive skills).

He is firmly convinced on the reality of his experience. I thing the fact he was a believer in all the weird thing you can image in not a minor detail. The point is that his history is not pleasent at all. He thinks he ran away, and for year he was scared about ‘they come to bring me there’.

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Posted: 20 July 2007 11:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Don’t these two NDEs proof that I was wrong about the “misery” god? Both, my uncle and your father-in-law experienced a NDE, but one of them saw it as a mere trick of his dying brain, and the other as a proof of life after death. Why is this?

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Posted: 21 July 2007 03:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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[quote author=“George” date=“1184930214

I don’t know, J Free. Imaginary friends might be comforting, but the problem is that you don’t really receive any feedback from them. So I am not sure how much of a learning lesson this could be.

A couple of thoughts:
1.  Sometimes, in the act of talking to someone, I end up answering my own question.  Just talking about feelings and experiences helps me come to terms with how I feel about them, and what my motives or misconceptions may be.

2.  An example of what I was talking about with imaginary friends -
Me: “We have to go and get a needle today”
3-year old daughter: “Why?”
Me: “Well, it helps protect you from getting certain kinds of sickness.  It helps you to stay healthy”
3-year old daughter: “Oh.  One time Jenna got a needle, because her mom said it would help her to stay healthy”

This kind of conversation happens all the time.  She is unsure of a new procedure, and makes it her own by having a ‘friend’ who’s already done it.  I really have no clue about the psychology behind this - it just seems that she feels better and braver about something new when she’s got an imaginary friend who’s already experienced it.  Through that, she realizes that she too can do it, and therefore learns something about herself.  The odd thing is, if I mention a real person who’s been through it, like another kid, she’s not too interested.  But if I say I did it as a little girl, that she is interested in it and it seems to mean more to her as far as what she could do.  I guess it has to do with who she trusts…? 

I really am just speculating here - these are just observations I guess.  I have no training in child development.

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Posted: 23 July 2007 08:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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George - 20 July 2007 11:49 AM

Don’t these two NDEs proof that I was wrong about the “misery” god? Both, my uncle and your father-in-law experienced a NDE, but one of them saw it as a mere trick of his dying brain, and the other as a proof of life after death. Why is this?

I guess their previous beliefs had something to do with the way they interpreted their experiences.

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