Questions to an agnostic

Discuss philosophical questions regarding theism (and atheism), and discuss religion as it relates to philosophy. This includes any philosophical discussions that happen to be about god, gods, or a 'higher power' or the belief of them. This also generally includes philosophical topics about organized or ritualistic mysticism or about organized, common or ritualistic beliefs in the existence of supernatural phenomenon.
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Eduk
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Re: Questions to an agnostic

Post by Eduk » August 17th, 2018, 6:28 pm

I forgot to add.
LSD is claimed (by those who partake) to raise consciousness. But I have no idea what this means and I've not seen anything unique which I could attribute only to 'raised consciousness'. Similarly those who take LSD often describe a profound religious experience. But again there is no evidence. There is a big difference between experiencing a profound religious experience and there being a profound religious experience. The brain does its best to make 'sense' of the world based on past experience and if the LSD is causing this process to go crazy it is no surprise that the brain may interpret things in a certain way which don't, in any way, correlate with reality.
It also seems reasonable to me that it is possible to have an LSD like experience without taking LSD provided one is in the right state of mind. The mind is absolutely incredible.
It is also possible that the 'guru' spiked Felix with LSD (but that would depend on whether Felix had a cup of tea or the like while there).
Unknown means unknown.

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ThomasHobbes
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Re: Questions to an agnostic

Post by ThomasHobbes » August 17th, 2018, 6:46 pm

Eduk wrote:
August 17th, 2018, 6:28 pm
I forgot to add.
LSD is claimed (by those who partake) to raise consciousness. But I have no idea what this means and I've not seen anything unique which I could attribute only to 'raised consciousness'. Similarly those who take LSD often describe a profound religious experience. But again there is no evidence. There is a big difference between experiencing a profound religious experience and there being a profound religious experience. The brain does its best to make 'sense' of the world based on past experience and if the LSD is causing this process to go crazy it is no surprise that the brain may interpret things in a certain way which don't, in any way, correlate with reality.
It also seems reasonable to me that it is possible to have an LSD like experience without taking LSD provided one is in the right state of mind. The mind is absolutely incredible.
It is also possible that the 'guru' spiked Felix with LSD (but that would depend on whether Felix had a cup of tea or the like while there).
Have you tried it?
You cannot have and LSD trip without taking LSD.

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Greta
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Re: Questions to an agnostic

Post by Greta » August 17th, 2018, 6:57 pm

Duk,

1. How would you describe the feeling of orgasm to someone who has never had it? How would you describe how it felt to be a bat without being one? Bring realistic, feelings are hard to describe at the best of times.

Your definition doesn't come close, I'm afraid, being more akin to how it feels when I have a deep story idea or look at someone and truly see the ape within. I can say I felt a overwhelming sense of unconditional love and a sense that all was understood. What the F is that? From whom? What? I don't know. I am just reporting. I felt a sense of bliss that, well, how do you describe bliss in a way that does the feeling justice? I felt a sense of either travelling at great speed or the potential of travelling at great speed. That part I did not enjoy so much; I prefer staying put thanks very much.

It was not a trip. I have tripped before. They were not that. They were unlike any other experience, one was a flash, another lasted longer. I'm not sure how long. Minutes, maybe half an hour at the most.

It is a funny thing when a rational person has woo happen to them. The obvious first thought is "[String of expletives]! Did that just happen??" :) Still, it's one thing to say one had an experience, another to make ontological claims of certainty based on such experiences, as is the case with theists. I don't make certainty claims, but I am more open minded than I once was.

2. It's a matter of you either believe we are rational people reporting unusual experiences or you believe we are damaged goods - emotionally needy and intellectually loose and dishonest. It's that simple. There is much of the latter online so cynicism is not only expected, but needed.

I can't speak for others, but I'm a rational human being in a pretty basic way - a lover of science and nature. A fan of NDgT, Brian Greene, Richard Dawkins, Lawrence Krauss etc. As a lover of science I'm saying that I had experiences that rocked my comfortable rationalism in a way that I - obviously enough - could not have imagined. Further, what others report of such experiences turn out to be very much like what I'd noticed. Most importantly, the experiences were fantastic and, for reasons unknown, did impact positively on my mental health. I would wish such experiences on everyone. They were too intense for me to want them regularly, but I'm glad to have had them.

I appreciate that subjective reports are the bottom rung of evidence. After all, as a wannabe writer I might just be spinning a yarn. That last sentence too may be tricky doublethink to throw you off! Now I'm trying too hard to be convincing - a dead giveaway :)

It's one of those situations where you just have to be there.

Eduk
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Re: Questions to an agnostic

Post by Eduk » August 17th, 2018, 7:33 pm

On some levels I could describe an orgasm quite well, for a man in particular there is an easily measurable reaction. But I get your point that ultimately no description of an orgasm can be the same as an experience of an orgasm.
But no one is telling me that orgasms are proof of divinity or even open up the possibility (well some people do to be fair). They are just a thing that happens, with a pretty obvious reason and not suggestive of God/s.
It's a matter of you either believe we are rational people reporting unusual experiences or you believe we are damaged goods
Not a fan of either or choices, false dichotomy and all that. I can believe that you had this experience but I can draw different conclusions to you about what it means or how it might be explained. For example you find that other people reporting very similar experiences supports your hypothesis but personally I think the opposite and that all it supports is that humans are similar and can experience similar things. There is no requirement for you to be damaged.
For example Dr. Francis Collins is world famous for leading the human genome project and a multitude of genetic researches. His work is furthering medical science and helping to treat things like cancer and Alzheimer's (amongst others) and yet he believes in Christianity which is obviously and painfully made up. How can someone so smart and gifted (far more than me) believe something so ridiculous and what conclusions do I draw? That he is secretly an idiot? That he is damaged. Or just that humans are complex and he is a human, what can you do.
Unknown means unknown.

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Greta
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Re: Questions to an agnostic

Post by Greta » August 17th, 2018, 8:47 pm

Yes Eduk, a false dichotomy through overstatement, but with a germ of truth within, the question being, "How credible and unbiased a witness are you?". I note that intellectual theists often see the myths of their religion in metaphorical terms and ultimately just replace the mystery of origins with a black box God; as rational people they also often don't buy into the literal claims of magic.

You can draw various conclusions about how these experiences might be explained and that would be roughly akin to a virgin working to conclude what might constitute an appropriate sex life in others. Unfortunately, you are similarly hamstrung in trying to draw conclusions around peak experiences.

How to explain that complete sense of unconditional love and understanding? It sounds completely bonkers but they were fair dinkum mystical experiences that somehow happened to me, and I still find it hard to believe myself as they recede into the past. The experiences were definitely suggestive to me that there is "something more" in terms of "mind" in reality than only our human computations. Note that this does not accord with what I know in terms of science, so I have this internal friction, which I accept as what can happen if one is agnostic.

The PEs didn't prove anything to me, though - extraordinary claims, extraordinary evidence and all that. Witness accounts are the lowest form of evidence and it all might have just been random flukey brain chemicals doing surprising things. Or perhaps it is an evolved and evolving response, since the experiences are routinely reported to result in the betterment of the affected people's lives. Maybe maybe.

"Something more" begs questions. What more? The spirits of dead ancestors? The Earth? The Sun? Saggitarius A*? God? Immaterial superintelligent beings left over from a previous universe? All or none of the above?

I see the "something more" as simply an unknown unknown, so to speak. In other words, I do not have a clue how real it was on a larger level or if I was caught on a wave of lucky brain chemicals. Whatever, I am favourably disposed to whatever was going on!

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Felix
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Re: Questions to an agnostic

Post by Felix » August 18th, 2018, 12:32 am

Yes Eduk, the AMA rescinded almost all of the policy endorsements it had made before 1959, including its policy on hypnosis, but they did not change their position on its efficacy. And the American Psychiatric Association still endorses the use of it by qualified licensed professionals.

I took LSD once (once was enough) and the experience I recounted was nothing like it. Besides, the effects of LSD do not come on suddenly (as this experience did) and I did not drink anything or lick any postage stamps while I was at the spiritual healer's office.
Eduk: I don't know what a peak experience is. I mean not really. For example my definition of peak experience would include a feeling of profundity while having no profundity.
What does it mean to "have profundity"? Are you saying that the merits of a state of consciousness should be measured by it's commercial value? - whether or not it produces valuable scientific or social insights? Aldous Huxley wrote a book on his experience with mescaline (entitled the Doors of Perception), and his conclusions about what it suggested about the operation of the human mind - don't think it sold well enough to have either profundity or profitability though.
"We do not see things as they are; we see things as we are." - Anaïs Nin

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Thinking critical
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Re: Questions to an agnostic

Post by Thinking critical » August 18th, 2018, 3:45 am

Felix wrote:
August 17th, 2018, 5:12 pm
Eduk wrote:James Randi would have paid someone a million dollars.


How does he fit in, do you consider a stage magician a reputable authority on the efficacy of alternative therapies?
Actually James Randi has proven himself beyond any reasonable doubt that he is in fact qualified and competent in the art of exposing frauds. He has after all made a successful career of publicly naming and shaming hundreds of charlatans who have stepped up to the million dollar challenge and failed miserably.
His methods are completely open and transparent and provide perfect opportunity for these self proclaimed Mystics to prove objectively, that they possess abilities which lay beyond the scope of what science can explain.

Yet still, not one person ever rose to the occasion to prove the rational mind of the sceptics wrong. Why do you think that is?
This cocky little cognitive contortionist will straighten you right out

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Felix
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Re: Questions to an agnostic

Post by Felix » August 18th, 2018, 3:52 pm

I don't see how James Randi is relevant to a conversation about healing practitioners, unless they claim they can raise the dead or something. Could he tell you if someone is a genuine acupuncturist or psychologist?
Yet still, not one person ever rose to the occasion to prove the rational mind of the sceptics wrong. Why do you think that is?
Don't know what Randi's stipulations are, what sort of claims he will or won't examine. In the case of intuition, it doesn't seem to be something that one can call up at will, so it's not surprising that those who claim they can do so are found to be frauds.
"We do not see things as they are; we see things as we are." - Anaïs Nin

Eduk
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Re: Questions to an agnostic

Post by Eduk » August 18th, 2018, 4:19 pm

Do you ever wonder that acupuncture might be made up? Like does it occur to you to think that that might be possible? Or is that a thought that doesn't enter your head?
Unknown means unknown.

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Greta
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Re: Questions to an agnostic

Post by Greta » August 18th, 2018, 4:43 pm

I have to agree with the atheist segment when it comes to alternative medicine.

I have a low enough opinion of conventional medicine, which is great with major illness and injury but tends to be worse than useless for non life threatening ailments and chronic discomfort, with the "cures" very often causing more damage than the original ailment. Gastric reflux? Prescribed carcinogenic drugs that screw up your digestion. Arthritis? No help. Maybe surgery to fuse bones and reduce ability to move. Neck pain? No help. Bulging discs in back? No help, other than stomach damaging anti-inflammatory drugs you can buy at the chemist anyway. TMJ problems? Nothing.

It's for these issues that people go to alternative medicine practitioners and find whole new ways of wasting time and money who at least provide some false hope.

Eduk
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Re: Questions to an agnostic

Post by Eduk » August 18th, 2018, 5:18 pm

No one said modern medicine was perfect. There is much that there is no known treatment for. While it may seem like great strides have been taken in some directions the progress is not uniform or linear. For me this is not a failing of modern medicine that it has not 'solved' medicine instantaneously. Truth is we are better off now than that any time in human history, I for one would not like to turn the clock back one hundred years.
Also is your low opinion well placed? Exactly what are the problems with modern medicine. I don't mean to be flippant but why don't you fix them all?
For me one of the biggest problems is that those people who practice modern medicine are human and make human mistakes. As in incompetence, laziness, hubris, greed, insert sin here. But there seems no obvious 'cure' for being human.
Personally I think the biggest stumbling block for medicine is that it is practiced on people who are also human and make mistakes. The people practiced on far out-number those doing the practicing. They also far out-weigh the medical profession in ignorance and arrogance. This is why we see alternate medicines infiltrating bodies which should know better.
Also where do you draw the line of what medicine should be expected to cure. For example it is pretty obvious that if I break my arm I would go to a hospital. Likewise if I thought that I could fly you may expect the medical profession to protect me, even if they can't actually cure me. But what about say belief in homeopathy, should doctors provide a cure? What about belief that getting drunk is great? Or that over eating is fine? Some things are just beyond what you could reasonably expect the medical profession to deal with, they aren't in a position to 'fix' human nature.
p.s. I hope you are joking that alternate medicine at least provides false hope.
Unknown means unknown.

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ThomasHobbes
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Re: Questions to an agnostic

Post by ThomasHobbes » August 18th, 2018, 5:31 pm

Greta wrote:
August 18th, 2018, 4:43 pm
I have to agree with the atheist segment when it comes to alternative medicine.

I have a low enough opinion of conventional medicine, which is great with major illness and injury but tends to be worse than useless for non life threatening ailments and chronic discomfort, with the "cures" very often causing more damage than the original ailment. Gastric reflux? Prescribed carcinogenic drugs that screw up your digestion.
Utter rubbish.
Zantac heralded the end of the stomach ulcer, rendering that surgery a thing of the past.

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Greta
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Re: Questions to an agnostic

Post by Greta » August 18th, 2018, 5:38 pm

ThomasHobbes wrote:
August 18th, 2018, 5:31 pm
Greta wrote:
August 18th, 2018, 4:43 pm
I have to agree with the atheist segment when it comes to alternative medicine.

I have a low enough opinion of conventional medicine, which is great with major illness and injury but tends to be worse than useless for non life threatening ailments and chronic discomfort, with the "cures" very often causing more damage than the original ailment. Gastric reflux? Prescribed carcinogenic drugs that screw up your digestion.
Utter rubbish.
Zantac heralded the end of the stomach ulcer, rendering that surgery a thing of the past.
Gastric reflux and stomach ulcers are different ailments.

My mother had stomach ulcers before they were found to be caused by infection, and she was treated with drugs that worsened her overall health.

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ThomasHobbes
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Re: Questions to an agnostic

Post by ThomasHobbes » August 18th, 2018, 5:51 pm

Greta wrote:
August 18th, 2018, 5:38 pm
ThomasHobbes wrote:
August 18th, 2018, 5:31 pm


Utter rubbish.
Zantac heralded the end of the stomach ulcer, rendering that surgery a thing of the past.
Gastric reflux and stomach ulcers are different ailments.

My mother had stomach ulcers before they were found to be caused by infection, and she was treated with drugs that worsened her overall health.
What's your evidence that her worsening health was caused by drugs?.. NONE.

You attack modern medicine but admit that modern medicine has identified a cause, the Heliobacter pylori. What you call an "infection", is actually a naturally occurring digestive bacteria which due to modern living tends to over produce, causing too much acid.

Studies are looking at excessive use of carbohydrates, and alcohol which encourage this bacteria.

The use of zantac, lanzoprazole and other drugs has almost eliminated ulcers and reflux.

"During the past 20–30 years the number of patients who died from peptic ulcer disease2-5, who have been operated upon5, 6, who saw physicians7, 8 or were hospitalized for peptic ulcer disease9-11 have decreased by more than 100 per cent."

https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.10 ... 9-1245-8_1

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Greta
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Re: Questions to an agnostic

Post by Greta » August 18th, 2018, 6:29 pm

The stomach ulcer drugs interacted badly with one of her other drugs. I was young. I just know she had problems with that particular medication interfering with her other medicines.

I don't "attack modern medicine" but say it's only good for major, life-threatening conditions and is largely a waste of time and money as regards numerous less severe ((but still problematic) conditions. That is why alternative medicine exists - because conventional medicine could not help or caused even more problems.

My point is that, barring major conditions, each is largely a waste of time and money that would be better spent on good food, good shoes and an exercise class membership.

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