Most Logical Argument Of The Year Award.

I posted to a blog where a christian was talking about the tradition of meditating/praying in total darkness as the true way to get close to god, and how christians apparently traditionally did this.  I responded:

Another way to look at it is sensory deprivation which can induce hallucinations and even psychotic experiences.

From wikipedia:

“Studies have been conducted to test the effect of sensory deprivation on the brain. One study took 19 volunteers, all of whom tested in the lower and upper 20th percentiles on a questionnaire which measures the tendency of healthy people to see things not really there, and placed them into a pitch black, soundproof booth for 15 minutes. After, they completed another test that measures psychosis-like experiences, originally used to study recreational drug users. Five people reported seeing hallucinations of faces, six reported seeing shapes/faces not actually there, four noted a heightened sense of smell and two people reported sensing a “presence of evil” in the room. Not surprisingly, people who scored lower on the first test experienced fewer perceptual distortions; however, they still reported seeing a variety of delusions and hallucinations.  According to the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease the hallucinations are caused by the brain misidentifying the source of what it is currently being experienced, a phenomenon called faulty source monitoring.[12]”

This to me is no different than tribes using peyoti to induce “visions”.

It is not only possible but extremely common for people to subjectively experience things which aren’t real. We do so every night when we dream, and often do so when we’re awake as well.

The scientific approach is to look for evidence outside of our subjective experience and try to tell if it really exists or if it’s just in our heads. And like with out of body experiences, ghost sightings, countless supposed miracle occurrences the objective evidence is usually predictably lacking.

To which he responded:

“you are so wrong. it’s due to the prejudicial premises you establish a priori.
you are an atheist and that’s your premise…But I shall try to answer, although I know that something is preventing you from thinking normally…is it a perverted addiction you have? whatever it is, your thought processes are not straight.
So, just like the LIGO experiment which is looking for gravity waves, and finding none…it is not possible to empirically test for GOD…that is the definition of GOD…duh…GOD is not subject to human manipulation…Gravity waves cannot be found by LIGO because the whole cosmos moves locally and the super exact lasers detect NOTHING. dude, faith is the only certainty. I am not going to waste my breath on you, most probably, unless, and until you admit to refusing to let go of your immoral addiction which is preventing you from seeing the Light of Truth…is is POT? some weird sex orientation? what is it?”

Bravo sir, bravo.

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About agnophilo

Nerd.
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23 Responses to Most Logical Argument Of The Year Award.

  1. Nous_Apeiron says:

    I simply cannot match the sheer amazingsauce that is his rebuttal to your comment, but I do have a couple of questions for you.1.  What counts as evidence “outside of our subjective experience”?2.  What would count as objective evidence that is typically lacking in cases of alleged miracles, for example?

  2. Lovegrove says:

    I always used to drink alcohol to induced spiritual enlightenment but for some reason sued to be possessed at time by a demon who couldn’t talk clearly ort walk straight.

  3. It’s definitely the pot.

  4. Aloysius_son says:

    Admittedly I saw God a lot more when I was in college than I do these days. I thought it was because my eyesight is fading with age. A worship group I sometimes patron engages in traditional eastern meditation. The use of chanting, incense and dim lighting do enhance the experience. While I do derive a deep sense of calming and spiritual bliss from the process I can’t help but wonder if it is merely self hypnosis or an actual Divine experience. I am not entirely certain there is in fact a difference.A scientific explaination does not negate the effects however. Meditation and prayer are effective ways to realign ones psyche. The key is to focus on ones center of being. For most  that would be on each their own tangible sense of self in relationship with everything surrounding us. Complex and yet soothing.Often I use the technique to analyze various problems or situations in order to focus my thoughts and find the most viable course of action. I attribute the success I achieve to “God” which may or may not be the case, ultimately it is I who found the solutions, with or without Its help.As for seeing things that are not there. Heck I see things that nobody else sees all the time. When I point them out to people they often look more closely and say “Oh yeahh, I see it now”. On a final note, if only we could make our dreams real… Like the one where I was digging in my garden and uncovered a cache of antique coins worth millions. Needless to say when I awoke and went out to the garden they weren’t there.Who knows, perhaps God is just like those coins. or perhaps not.I like the way you make me think.

  5. All I have to say to that guy is “Huh?”

  6. YouToMe says:

    I’m on same page or similar chapter with you. I like the way he makes me think, but you also thanks, John. @Aloysius_son – 

  7. YouToMe says:

    Ps I want to rec this and the blog but alas I’m in detox for rec abuse. @Aloysius_son – 

  8. To be fair, he is correct that you cannot empirically test the existence of God. That said, he was incredibly rude and quite the hypocrite.

  9. The_ATM says:

    Well, everyone I know who doesn’t agree with me is a child molester…You agree with me on anything and everything right?

  10. liquor90 says:

    Sensory deprivation is also used to curb hallucinations. http://bjp.rcpsych.org/content/105/438/235.abstractLOGIC

  11. llxgrimxll says:

    wait, im a christian and i like pot and wierd sex…im not going to even argue my christian points here cuz well. i dont think its truly relevent here. this dude was just being a jerk. but he did make some valid points, as did you.

  12. agnophilo says:

    @Nous_Apeiron – “1.What counts as evidence “outside of our subjective experience”?”Well to be fair we experience objective evidence subjectively, but I mean empirical evidence which can be objectively verified by others.  If for instance I have sex with a woman and then she has a child, I will believe that child is mine but in court I would need DNA evidence to convince others who do not share my subjective experience.”2.  What would count as objective evidence that is typically lacking in cases of alleged miracles, for example?”Well usually a total absense of objective verification.  Lacking as in not there at all.

  13. agnophilo says:

    @Lovegrove – Heh : )  Though maybe making that a habit is good of course.@DrummingMediocrity – I don’t do drugs or drink, fyi.@Aloysius_son – Glad you liked the blog – and I enjoy your comments : )  Your comments about meditation reminded me of this speech by adam savage of the mythbusters, the bit  on why prayer works.@x_damaged_yet_unbroken_x – Yeah, really.@TheBlueNinjaTiger – I don’t know that what he was saying was even that coherent.  I can relate though, often having to make someone else’s position more logical before I can respond to the anti-strawman I have just created.@The_ATM – Heh : )@liquor90 – And anti-depressants can cause suicidal depression, go figure : P@llxgrimxll – Not sure what valid points he made, but okay : )

  14. Aloysius_son says:

    @agnophilo – I’ll be danged. So an eagle is going to gobble up my consiousness when I die. I’ve always known I wasn’t going to heaven.

  15. @agnophilo – Gah. Er. Then we’ll have to come up with a new explanation for your crudish Atheism!!!!

  16. Nous_Apeiron says:

    @agnophilo –  “Well to be fair we experience objective evidence subjectively, but I mean empirical evidence which can be objectively verified by others.  If for instance I have sex with a woman and then she has a child, I will believe that child is mine but in court I would need DNA evidence to convince others who do not share my subjective experience.”So objective evidence is evidence that is experienced subjectively by more than one subject and is attested to by more than one subject.  Am I missing something?  That doesn’t seem like a very strong sort of objectivity,”Well usually a total absense of objective verification.  Lacking as in not there at all.”I may not have presented my request very well.  Perhaps we need an example to work with.  Let’s take the cliche example of a terminal cancer patient, recently diagnosed because she was afraid to go to the doctor for several years.  Finally, her daughter convinces her to go.  She has 3 months to live according to her doctors.  At her next visit, the cancerous tissues are gone.Hypothetically speaking, what would you accept as objective evidence for a miracle?

  17. agnophilo says:

    @Aloysius_son – Well it’s not true of course : P@DrummingMediocrity – : )@Nous_Apeiron – I will put it this way, if two people witness a crime and one person had a camcorder and filmed it, which is more credible, the video of the incident or the eyewitness account?  People lie and hallucinate and remember things wrong, but ten people aren’t going to hallucinate identically while watching a video.As for the cancer example, a doctor being wrong or not knowing how a cancer tumor vanished no more suggests yahweh is somehow behind it than not knowing how the cancer began suggests the person getting cancer is a miracle.  Miracles are what people call things they don’t understand (but only if they are positive, because no one wants to think bad miracles happen).  I’ve never heard of a miracle where something logically indicated a supernatural or omniscient source.  And we know now that tumors can die and dissolve spontaneously via programmed cell death, just as other tumors can grow and then spontaneously stop and just sit there benign forever.  Without knowing how cells do this we might conclude that god halted the spread of the tumor, but similarly without knowing what causes lightning or drought or the flu we used to assume these were miracles too (or caused by demons).  And it’s even in the bible.

  18. Happy Birthday Mark. I didn’t know our birthdays were only 2 days apart. I hope you had a great one.

  19. Nous_Apeiron says:

    @agnophilo – “I will put it this way, if two people witness a crime and one person had a camcorder and filmed it, which is more credible, the video of the incident or the eyewitness account?  People lie and hallucinate and remember things wrong, but ten people aren’t going to hallucinate identically while watching a video.”So video evidence would count as objective evidence.  Fair enough.  I might have some concerns about the increasing availability and quality of video editing software, but no evidence is perfect, I guess.”As for the cancer example, a doctor being wrong or not knowing how a cancer tumor vanished no more suggests yahweh is somehow behind it than not knowing how the cancer began suggests the person getting cancer is a miracle.  Miracles are what people call things they don’t understand (but only if they are positive, because no one wants to think bad miracles happen).  I’ve never heard of a miracle where something logically indicated a supernatural or omniscient source.  And we know now that tumors can die and dissolve spontaneously via programmed cell death, just as other tumors can grow and then spontaneously stop and just sit there benign forever.  Without knowing how cells do this we might conclude that god halted the spread of the tumor, but similarly without knowing what causes lightning or drought or the flu we used to assume these were miracles too (or caused by demons).  And it’s even in the bible.”We’re getting rather far afield, aren’t we?  I didn’t ask why it’s common for people to assign miraculous significance to natural events, and I certainly didn’t bring a deity or a religious text into it.  I just asked what would count as evidence of a miracle in a hypothetical scenario.So let me add to our scenario and see if this would count as objective evidence in your view.  Let’s say that in the case of our cancer patient, the dying women’s daughter was using a camcorder on a tripod to take video of her last few weeks of conversation with her mother to share with other members of the family and help remember her mother.  Both mother and daughter are surprised to find another person in the room without warning.  This person is glowing and appears to have blue skin and four arms and identifies himself as Vishnu.  This person tells the woman that her cancer is gone and that it is not yet her time to visit Svarga.  The mother and daughter are very confused by all this.  Doctors subsequently confirm that her cancer is gone.So would the video evidence in this hypothetical scenario count as objective evidence of a miracle for you?  If not, what discounts it as objective evidence?

  20. agnophilo says:

    @Kristenmomof3 – Neither did I, happy birthday to you too : )”So video evidence would count as objective evidence.  Fair enough.  I might have some concerns about the increasing availability and quality of video editing software, but no evidence is perfect, I guess.”No evidence is 100%, what we call proof is just evidence that makes the odds of something not being true very ridiculously small.  If for instance you identified someone killing someone on a video it’s possible they could have a long lost identical twin sibling (which has happened – not the video part bit unknown identical siblings have been charged with crimes of their brother or sister, I know of at least one example).”We’re getting rather far afield, aren’t we?  I didn’t ask why it’s common for people to assign miraculous significance to natural events, and I certainly didn’t bring a deity or a religious text into it.  I just asked what would count as evidence of a miracle in a hypothetical scenario.”A miracle is generally defined as a supernatural force (usually a deity and in the US almost invariably yahweh) suspending the properties of nature to allow an impossible thing to happen.  I was simply explaining why I reject that definition in the instance you gave.  I can hardly answer the question of whether I consider something a miracle without getting into what the word miracle means.  If you aren’t talking about god making something impossible happen, what do you mean by “miracle”?  Are you asking if something weird and inexplicable happening is proof that something weird and inexplicable happened?”So let me add to our scenario and see if this would count as objective evidence in your view.  Let’s say that in the case of our cancer patient, the dying women’s daughter was using a camcorder on a tripod to take video of her last few weeks of conversation with her mother to share with other members of the family and help remember her mother.  Both mother and daughter are surprised to find another person in the room without warning.  This person is glowing and appears to have blue skin and four arms and identifies himself as Vishnu.  This person tells the woman that her cancer is gone and that it is not yet her time to visit Svarga.  The mother and daughter are very confused by all this.  Doctors subsequently confirm that her cancer is gone.”Well one problem with your example is that I believe the depiction of vishnu, like the figure of the laughing buddha, is largely symbolic, the multiple arms I believe are a metaphor for omnipotence (but not in the sense of theistic religions).  So that would raise questions of whether it was a hoax.  As far as the glowing stuff I’d want to see the video.  Either way I would consider it more a mystery.  There are multiple possible explanations off the top of my head, though many are improbable.  Bear in mind it’s actually possible for people to be born with genuine multiple limbs, and in the configuration of the traditional depiction of vishnu like so.”So would the video evidence in this hypothetical scenario count as objective evidence of a miracle for you?  If not, what discounts it as objective evidence?”As the expression goes, ordinary claims require ordinary evidence, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.  If the claim is that a guy who looks like x robbed a store, that can be proven via a simple photograph.  If the claim is that x person is vishnu (rather than simply looking like the traditional depiction), then that is harder to prove.  And while someone’s cancer going away is unlikely it is far from impossible, and that the person is vishnu is not the only possible explanation.  I suppose to prove the identity of the blue-multi-limbed figure as vishnu would require us to know enough about vishnu to make that identification, just as proving someone is x person and no one else would require a picture of x person’s face, fingerprint, DNA etc – what equivalent of a fingerprint we could get of the mystical powers of a diety I don’t know.

  21. agnophilo says:

    @Nous_Apeiron – Having this person repeatedly and without preparation do this on demand would go a long way to proving they had abilities no person on earth has, but they could still be an alien etc.  Of course then maybe vishnu’s an alien : )

  22. Nous_Apeiron says:

    @agnophilo – “A miracle is generally defined as a supernatural force (usually a deity and in the US almost invariably yahweh) suspending the properties of nature to allow an impossible thing to happen.  I was simply explaining why I reject that definition in the instance you gave.  I can hardly answer the question of whether I consider something a miracle without getting into what the word miracle means.  If you aren’t talking about god making something impossible happen, what do you mean by “miracle”?  Are you asking if something weird and inexplicable happening is proof that something weird and inexplicable happened?”Not at all.  I’m just trying to understand what objective evidence you believe should be provided by theists for miracles that is lacking in all these cases of alleged miracles.  If we’re going to call folks to account for not providing evidence, I think it’s only fair to be clear as to what evidence would be acceptable.At the very least, it might streamline some of the discussion between atheists and theists, which as I’m sure you know very well, tends to be rather tedious and non-productive.Of course, in light of the following statements you made, I can see why it would be difficult to provide an example of objective evidence which would be acceptable, because there’s not any such evidence, is there?”As the expression goes, ordinary claims require ordinary evidence, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.  If the claim is that a guy who looks like x robbed a store, that can be proven via a simple photograph.  If the claim is that x person is vishnu (rather than simply looking like the traditional depiction), then that is harder to prove.  And while someone’s cancer going away is unlikely it is far from impossible, and that the person is vishnu is not the only possible explanation.”I was wondering when the ordinary/extraordinary claims distinction was going to come into the discussion.  It took longer than expected, but we got there.What makes a claim extraordinary?”I suppose to prove the identity of the blue-multi-limbed figure as vishnu would require us to know enough about vishnu to make that identification, just as proving someone is x person and no one else would require a picture of x person’s face, fingerprint, DNA etc – what equivalent of a fingerprint we could get of the mystical powers of a diety I don’t know.Having this person repeatedly and without preparation do this on demand would go a long way to proving they had abilities no person on earth has, but they could still be an alien etc.  Of course then maybe vishnu’s an alien : )”So in essence, you and I are agreed that it would be nearly impossible to demonstrate that any particular entity claiming to be a deity is in fact that deity (due to an inability to calibrate our measures), and that even if an entity fits the description fairly well, it would be more plausible that it is an alien imposter or that the deity is an alien in fact rather than that the entity is the deity as defined in [insert religious tradition here].  Is that right?

Speak yer mind.

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