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Thread: Religious Experience

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    Religious Experience

    For the theists what are your experiences with god? Supernatural events, answers to prayers, prophesies?

    I listened to someone on an all night radio show similar to Art Bell. He had a guy who has written books on his alleged experiences.

    He was i n the hospital for an operation and sodium pentathol was used as an anesthetic to put him under.

    He described getting out of his body and going through a 'space tine portal' to have a talk with Jesus.

    Another time at the beach a portal opens. As he walked towards it water receded from his feet.

    From his history he he talked about he sounded like a troubled guy. I'd say he was delusional.

    I was invited by an Evangelical acquaintance to one of his meetings. People had visions and talked about it.

    So, what are your theist experiences? Does god talk to you, does Jesus appear? Angels? Devils?

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    And, if I may add my own curiosity -- how do believer react when they hear or read that believers in vastly different faith systems are reporting the same phenomena?

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    Sapere aude Politesse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ideologyhunter View Post
    And, if I may add my own curiosity -- how do believer react when they hear or read that believers in vastly different faith systems are reporting the same phenomena?
    I shout "hey, Edmund Husserl"!
    Last edited by Politesse; 11-24-2019 at 10:30 PM.

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    Formerly Joedad
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    Quote Originally Posted by ideologyhunter View Post
    And, if I may add my own curiosity -- how do believer react when they hear or read that believers in vastly different faith systems are reporting the same phenomena?
    Why are believers not interested in the religious genealogy of their ancestors? I would think most people have changed religious allegiances many times on average. It might be deprovincializing to understand what heathens and heretics you are descended from.

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    Sapere aude Politesse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by T.G.G. Moogly View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by ideologyhunter View Post
    And, if I may add my own curiosity -- how do believer react when they hear or read that believers in vastly different faith systems are reporting the same phenomena?
    Why are believers not interested in the religious genealogy of their ancestors? I would think most people have changed religious allegiances many times on average. It might be deprovincializing to understand what heathens and heretics you are descended from.
    This is actually a major thing for me, and one of the reasons I participate in both Pagan and Christian rituals in my daily life. There is a long inheritance there, and when I can I like to pick up the threads of my ancestors' cultures, languages, and faith lives in the present. Even if just in little ways. I'm also an avid genealogist, and know that I couldn't possibly honor the lot of them. I have more than two thousand known and named ancestors in my database to say nothing of the more complicated story my DNA indicates. Still, I like the feeling of connection that comes with continuing old legacies, and like to imagine that perhaps with the longer perspective that death might afford, they are understanding of the limitations of what I can carry along.

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    Super Moderator Atheos's Avatar
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    There are literally tens of thousands of denominations within Christianity alone. In regards to this topic denominations range from the ultra experience-oriented to the opposite extreme. I came from a very conservative denomination myself, where it was a point of doctrine that there were no modern miracles or direct intervention of acts of God in human affairs. We'd pray for the sick but did not pray for miracles.

    Once, early in my career as a young preacher, I was invited to go to a "prayer session" with a small group of young people (roughly my age). I was unprepared for what ensued. Nearly all of them got into the spirit and began speaking in tongues and getting all touchy-feely. I just sat there stoically reading I Corinthians chapters 11-13, smug in my belief that I was above that sort of delusional behavior. What a pompous ass I was. In retrospect I guess I still am, but at least now I'm an ass of a different color. Gotta feel like you've accomplished something in 60 years of living.

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    Sapere aude Politesse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by steve_bank View Post
    For the theists what are your experiences with god? Supernatural events, answers to prayers, prophesies?

    I listened to someone on an all night radio show similar to Art Bell. He had a guy who has written books on his alleged experiences.

    He was i n the hospital for an operation and sodium pentathol was used as an anesthetic to put him under.

    He described getting out of his body and going through a 'space tine portal' to have a talk with Jesus.

    Another time at the beach a portal opens. As he walked towards it water receded from his feet.

    From his history he he talked about he sounded like a troubled guy. I'd say he was delusional.

    I was invited by an Evangelical acquaintance to one of his meetings. People had visions and talked about it.

    So, what are your theist experiences? Does god talk to you, does Jesus appear? Angels? Devils?
    I'm not exactly a theist, but I have certainly had my fair share of the sorts of experiences you describe. Clearly you are aware that such phenomenon not only exist, but are fairly commonplace in religious communities. I've known many. In my anthropology of religion course, we do essentially a whole three hour lecture on the subject of spiritual and mystical experiences across cultures; it's always an interesting one, because the students get quite interested in the topic, and are keen to explore their own previous experiences, which are often more esoteric and diverse than you might assume of a community college in a mostly conservative Christian county.

    If it is "delusional" to have visions, there are certainly an awful lot of delusional people. This is, to me, a significant weakness in the ideology of atheism; it struggles to really explain human experiences in a satisfying and unbiased fashion. If you are already an atheist, of course, it no doubt sounds quite reasonable to assume that everyone who disagrees with you on philosophical matters is also surely suffering from psychological maladies that make their testimony inherently untrustworthy. But that speaks more to egotism than mutual understanding, and of course theists do the same thing right back ("You think you're being rational about this, but you're really just rejecting God because of childhood trauma", etc, etc).

    It's not just atheists/theists, of course. Fundamentalists of any faith will be quick to dismiss the reality of spiritual experiences they aren't personally familiar with, even if the people experiencing them are ostensibly members of the same faith tradition. For many Christians, practices such as divination, spirit possession, and even simple meditation are not just unfamiliar but actually perceived as moral or existential threats of some kind. While others, of course, engage in all of the above regularly.

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    Content Thief Elixir's Avatar
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    I have had plenty of experiences that are beyond my ability to explain. Some may bespeak the existence of some kind of ... I dunno what ... benevolent "higher intelligence"?
    I certainly don't automatically assume it's actually an external "thing", and go on to assign omni properties to it and conclude it created the universe, as religions like to do... that seems insane to me. I think religions simply co-opt these relatively common experiences to exert undue influence over people.
    I am agnostic about whether or not my experiences have any relationship to anything external, but I am absolutely an atheist when it comes to religions and all their goddery.

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    Deus Meumque Jus
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    Quote Originally Posted by Politesse View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by steve_bank View Post
    For the theists what are your experiences with god? Supernatural events, answers to prayers, prophesies?

    I listened to someone on an all night radio show similar to Art Bell. He had a guy who has written books on his alleged experiences.

    He was i n the hospital for an operation and sodium pentathol was used as an anesthetic to put him under.

    He described getting out of his body and going through a 'space tine portal' to have a talk with Jesus.

    Another time at the beach a portal opens. As he walked towards it water receded from his feet.

    From his history he he talked about he sounded like a troubled guy. I'd say he was delusional.

    I was invited by an Evangelical acquaintance to one of his meetings. People had visions and talked about it.

    So, what are your theist experiences? Does god talk to you, does Jesus appear? Angels? Devils?
    I'm not exactly a theist, but I have certainly had my fair share of the sorts of experiences you describe. Clearly you are aware that such phenomenon not only exist, but are fairly commonplace in religious communities. I've known many. In my anthropology of religion course, we do essentially a whole three hour lecture on the subject of spiritual and mystical experiences across cultures; it's always an interesting one, because the students get quite interested in the topic, and are keen to explore their own previous experiences, which are often more esoteric and diverse than you might assume of a community college in a mostly conservative Christian county.

    If it is "delusional" to have visions, there are certainly an awful lot of delusional people. This is, to me, a significant weakness in the ideology of atheism; it struggles to really explain human experiences in a satisfying and unbiased fashion. If you are already an atheist, of course, it no doubt sounds quite reasonable to assume that everyone who disagrees with you on philosophical matters is also surely suffering from psychological maladies that make their testimony inherently untrustworthy. But that speaks more to egotism than mutual understanding, and of course theists do the same thing right back ("You think you're being rational about this, but you're really just rejecting God because of childhood trauma", etc, etc).

    It's not just atheists/theists, of course. Fundamentalists of any faith will be quick to dismiss the reality of spiritual experiences they aren't personally familiar with, even if the people experiencing them are ostensibly members of the same faith tradition. For many Christians, practices such as divination, spirit possession, and even simple meditation are not just unfamiliar but actually perceived as moral or existential threats of some kind. While others, of course, engage in all of the above regularly.
    I agree. Labeling religious experience as delusional starts from the assumption that this is a changeable aspect of our behavior, and not intrinsic to what and who many of us are. Science can easily explain religious experience, but the things we do themselves don't have to follow logical axioms by necessity. IOW, science can explain human behavior, but can't and shouldn't claim that it's 'wrong', whatever that would mean.

    And in practice we're all spiritual, even hard-line atheists fawn over the mystery of the universe, the birth of their children, and the majesty of everything. This is what distinguishes us from other animals.

    This is why I find myself sympathetic to the religious of all walks of life. There's something human about experiencing the divine, no matter what you perceive that divine to be.

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    Contributor skepticalbip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elixir View Post
    I have had plenty of experiences that are beyond my ability to explain. Some may bespeak the existence of some kind of ... I dunno what ... benevolent "higher intelligence"?
    I certainly don't automatically assume it's actually an external "thing", and go on to assign omni properties to it as it seems religions like to do... that seems insane to me.
    I am agnostic about whether or not my experiences have any relationship to anything external, but I am absolutely an atheist when it comes to religions.
    I don't think that there is any rational dispute that some people have extraordinary 'experiences'. Some sense 'presences', some hear voices, some experience alien abduction and anal probing, some are raped by a succubus or incubus, some travel out of their body, some see angels, etc. etc. The question is in the explanation of causes.

    Personal opinion is that these experiences are internal. The mind creates many odd experiences during the dream state that feel absolutely real at the time. A brain that did not adequately filter out these 'experiences' during wakefulness would leave the experiencer with the conclusion that they actually happened in the real world. Some researchers have been able to recreate some of these 'experiences' (such as the 'near death experience') using a pulsed magnetic field over specific areas of the brain.

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