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HumanityBlues
7th February 2010, 02:17 AM
Am I the only one here who thinks that phrase is really annoying and means nothing?!?!:jaw-dropp

I would have more respect I suppose if someone said "I don't believe in God but.....something's going on."

athon
7th February 2010, 02:26 AM
Am I the only one here who thinks that phrase is really annoying and means nothing?!?!:jaw-dropp

I would have more respect I suppose if someone said "I don't believe in God but.....something's going on."

Really? How is that second phrase any more meaningful?

People often lack the words to describe a sentiment they're feeling. 'Higher power' is a vague term they've heard others use that describes that feeling they have that makes the universe seem sentient. Of course, it's not a logical conclusion born out of reason, but a feature of a brain that's tuned to see faces in the clouds and find it hard to believe a mind is an emergent property of nervous signals.

I might not share their sentiment, but I can certainly see where it comes from and why they have trouble articulating it.

Athon

Soapy Sam
7th February 2010, 02:31 AM
As it stands , the statement is simply incomplete:

A higher power than what?

Than me? Than mankind?

And in what sense "higher"?

Higher up some putative evolutionary chain?
Possessed of higher technology?
Morally superior?

I believe in higher powers too.
They won't let you use the words **** , ***** or ****-********
for a start.

HumanityBlues
7th February 2010, 02:42 AM
Really? How is that second phrase any more meaningful?

People often lack the words to describe a sentiment they're feeling. 'Higher power' is a vague term they've heard others use that describes that feeling they have that makes the universe seem sentient. Of course, it's not a logical conclusion born out of reason, but a feature of a brain that's tuned to see faces in the clouds and find it hard to believe a mind is an emergent property of nervous signals.

I might not share their sentiment, but I can certainly see where it comes from and why they have trouble articulating it.

Athon

Second phrase was just supposed to funny more than realistic.

I can see where they're coming from. But c'mon. Take a stand. If you believe in a higher power you believe in God.

Or another common phrase is "I don't believe in God but I'm a very spiritual person". Which usually means, you don't believe in God but you smoke a lot of grass.:D

zooterkin
7th February 2010, 02:44 AM
The phrase "a Higher Power" makes me think of the Twelve Step Programme, as used by Alcoholics Anonymous and other similar organisations. That seems to depend on giving control to this higher power to take decisions on your behalf; it sounds like a mind-game to me, a way to circumvent one's natural urges or addiction. Anyway, the phrase seems designed to be as inoffensive to theists as possible, by being deliberately vague; it falls down when dealing with non-believers as they don't have something in their lives that fits the description (there is much discussion on the web about whether Twelve Step programmes can work for atheists).

HumanityBlues
7th February 2010, 02:49 AM
The phrase "a Higher Power" makes me think of the Twelve Step Programme, as used by Alcoholics Anonymous and other similar organisations. That seems to depend on giving control to this higher power to take decisions on your behalf; it sounds like a mind-game to me, a way to circumvent one's natural urges or addiction. Anyway, the phrase seems designed to be as inoffensive to theists as possible, by being deliberately vague; it falls down when dealing with non-believers as they don't have something in their lives that fits the description (there is much discussion on the web about whether Twelve Step programmes can work for atheists).

Well I don't know how 12 step programs work in England, but here are the "original" 12 steps via wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twelve-step_program):

"1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs."

I know some still use this exact one....

zooterkin
7th February 2010, 03:00 AM
Well I don't know how 12 step programs work in England, but here are the "original" 12 steps via wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twelve-step_program):

"1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs."

I know some still use this exact one....

I don't know how the programme works here either, I've only read about it, mainly on the internet. And I've mainly seen the term "Higher Power" in conjunction with it. As that wikipedia page says, immediately after the steps:In some cases, where other twelve-step groups have adapted the AA steps as guiding principles, they have been altered to emphasize principles important to those particular fellowships, to remove gender-biased or specific religious language.

There are whole books and courses about the issue of the Higher Power in the 12 step programme, such as this (http://hindsfoot.org/kHP1.html).

HumanityBlues
7th February 2010, 03:06 AM
Wow. Good thing I can't hold my liquor. I don't have to worry about any of this.

athon
7th February 2010, 03:10 AM
I can see where they're coming from. But c'mon. Take a stand. If you believe in a higher power you believe in God.

But that's my point - some people aren't prepared to 'take a stand'.

The term God has rather specific implications. It's typically male, has a personality, intentions and some form of direct involvement in human affairs. Each person might have their own take on precisely what God is or isn't, but the point is that the vague hand-waving accompanying the term 'power' is a direct result of a vague feeling that has been afforded no thought.

Athon

HumanityBlues
7th February 2010, 03:12 AM
But that's my point - some people aren't prepared to 'take a stand'.

The term God has rather specific implications. It's typically male, has a personality, intentions and some form of direct involvement in human affairs. Each person might have their own take on precisely what God is or isn't, but the point is that the vague hand-waving accompanying the term 'power' is a direct result of a vague feeling that has been afforded no thought.

Athon

Point well taken.

GrandMasterFox
7th February 2010, 04:07 AM
If you believe in a higher power you believe in God.

Not really. Since the term "God" doesn't exactly have a valid definition, once cannot assume such a statement.

It's possible they believe something is interfering with our lives but it could be ghosts, aliens, the secret society of witches or whatever.

It's also important to note that people ususally refer the term "God" to the christian\jewish\muslim biblical god which isn't the intention of the people you refer to.

JcR
7th February 2010, 04:13 AM
Wow. Good thing I can't hold my liquor. I don't have to worry about any of this.

Many people can't hold it, Their addictions and the liquor destroys their lives.
AA has a good support community, Is this why it can be effective for so many people.
One doesn't have to follow the Twelve steps to make it all work. "I didn't"
If you can tolerate the stories and all that coffee that is.
If they want to attribute it all to a Biblical God, a God detached from the Bible, or to all the energy in the Universe.
...A Universe that just might not care if we are in the picture or not.
However intelligent the design.
So be it.

Cainkane1
7th February 2010, 04:40 AM
Am I the only one here who thinks that phrase is really annoying and means nothing?!?!:jaw-dropp

I would have more respect I suppose if someone said "I don't believe in God but.....something's going on."
When it comes to beliefs I personally am never surprised at what people say. Don't let it annoy you.

Dancing David
7th February 2010, 05:04 AM
Am I the only one here who thinks that phrase is really annoying and means nothing?!?!:jaw-dropp

I would have more respect I suppose if someone said "I don't believe in God but.....something's going on."

I don't believe in god but I believe in a higher power. Mine is reality.

Dancing David
7th February 2010, 05:05 AM
It's possible they believe something is interfering with our lives but it could be ghosts, aliens, the secret society of witches or whatever.




Hey some witches aren't so secret!

MRC_Hans
7th February 2010, 05:06 AM
I think the statement(s) in the opening post really means: I am done with God, but I'm not quite ready to fully suspend belief.

Fair enough, IMHO; people like that are not likely to tell others what they should believe, and they have an open mind.

Hans

Dancing David
7th February 2010, 05:07 AM
As it stands , the statement is simply incomplete:

A higher power than what?

Than me? Than mankind?

And in what sense "higher"?

Higher up some putative evolutionary chain?
Possessed of higher technology?
Morally superior?

I believe in higher powers too.
They won't let you use the words **** , ***** or ****-********
for a start.

Well, I chose reality and sobriety as my higher power.

My other higher powers are a bunch of stand up comics.

calebprime
7th February 2010, 06:08 AM
Well, I chose reality and sobriety as my higher power.

My other higher powers are a bunch of stand up comics.

agreed :)

Philip
7th February 2010, 06:51 AM
I believe in the 100th power of 10, often called a googol, from which the name of the almighty Google is derived.

I also believe in 500 W, which is more power from heat and useful physical exertion than I can produce.

Trent Wray
7th February 2010, 07:12 AM
This also reminds me of when some people will make a joke about god or the bible or something, and then look up over their shoulder like lightening is going to strike them. Now THAT is annoying :)

thatguywhojuggles
7th February 2010, 07:24 AM
What I love is when some of my friends and I will sit and have a good hearty laugh about Christians and their beliefs, and then in a beat, with a straight face, they turn to me and explain how the rock around their neck is healing them.

MatildaGage
7th February 2010, 08:53 AM
I tend to view the statements in the OP as indicative of a person moving through the developmental steps from theism to atheism....or a gradual lessening of denial, if you will.:)

And sometimes, without knowing it, people like to espouse middle-of-the-road stances because, let's face it, atheism is socially unacceptable.

In terms of addiction groups, Rational Recovery has a more skeptical view.

AA is definitely Xian, usually nondenominational (which Xians often confuse with nonreligious). Sometimes members claim the "higher power" can be anything, including an inanimate objects, which of course is totally ludicrous.

Bodi
7th February 2010, 10:42 AM
My personal definition of spiritual is the quest to understand how I fit into reality. Reality, the big picture, exists. Me, the little picture, exists. The relationship between the two is what I call the realm of spirituality.

And while I can't back it up in a few words or even a few posts, since its taken a lifetime to come to it, I do firmly believe that there is meaning deeply embedded in things, that comes from the most fundamental level of reality, whatever that means.

squareone
7th February 2010, 11:27 AM
I don't see "meaning" embedded in anything, rather, meaning is something that I can transiently designate.

Bodi
7th February 2010, 01:06 PM
I don't see "meaning" embedded in anything, rather, meaning is something that I can transiently designate.

OK. I think I see what you mean and I can accept that. So maybe a better way to say it is that I think there is fundamentally something to this whole general sort of mish mash that can be interpreted as having a positive, purposeful nature.

By this I do not mean God. I do not mean a conscious entity in the sense of a person. Maybe its the same thing as a tree. A tree doesn't plan and think out its growth, but there is something there directing it's growth. I think the universe is the same. I think it's alive.

But of course this brings up all sorts of definitional issues. So before you jump all over it, at least try to understand where I'm coming from when I say that.

JcR
7th February 2010, 03:32 PM
It is interesting that under the right conditions Life will set up shop and try and strive. It will take the ride for as long as it can. Making it beyond simple organisms, bacteria, etc., or us, is another matter. I guess in an unconscious world/life/existence, there would be no discussion on this matter. (wanted to put smilie here) Conscious being advantageous for some species for survival; Sure. For all, maybe not. Do I want to insert examples here? Not really.
Do I want to insert (here) that I absolutely know what it takes to make the big clock tick. I don't know that much yet. : ) If I play with particle accelerators or palpate cattle, and believe in Tooth fairies; I can still be very effective smashing atoms, or at evaluating a pregnancy diagnosis.

Back to AA: No one I ever knew during my time with AA, and that decided a coffee cup let's say, was their Higher Power believed that cup had mystical powers that kept them sober. Well if they secretly did, they may have been kooky to start with. But if that helped them keep sober, What the hay.
I never was a big drinker so why was I even at these AA meetings?
I guess the same reason bacteria might find a home in a tar pit... :)

squareone
7th February 2010, 03:50 PM
When you say "there is something there directing it's growth", are you suggesting something with intention?
I see no evidence (nor any convincing argument) for this.

jakesteele
7th February 2010, 04:03 PM
As it stands , the statement is simply incomplete:

A higher power than what?

Than me? Than mankind?

And in what sense "higher"?

Higher up some putative evolutionary chain?
Possessed of higher technology?
Morally superior?

I believe in higher powers too.
They won't let you use the words **** , ***** or ****-********
for a start.

As far as higher power, it is something that is outside of and greater than humans. The problem is, like you implied, "how much "greater than": Infinite "greater than" or does it have boundaries and limitations and what is it's purpose, if any?

As it stands, science is no better or worse at answering these questions than metaphysics. In a sense, we are like monkeys who are trying to work on a car. They know it's a car and it has an engine they are trying to figure out, but the problem comes in when they look at the steering wheel and the pedals and ask the question; does someone or something put the car in motion and direct it or is the steering wheel and pedals just there for looks?

Bodi
7th February 2010, 04:26 PM
When you say "there is something there directing it's growth", are you suggesting something with intention?
I see no evidence (nor any convincing argument) for this.

So.... you think trees just appear out of nowhere and there's nothing ordering or directing their development? That part of the quote was about trees and their growth, you know. Isn't there a plan built into their DNA?

Bodi
7th February 2010, 04:37 PM
Oh, yeah. Define intention.

JcR
7th February 2010, 04:50 PM
I know that a tree seed by design intends on being a tree. Is it conscious of this? Does it have to be? :D Does the energy behind all this life have intentions? Conscious in the way we define conscious. I still find it funny that life inserts itself into the picture anyways.
I know if I had to make the conscious decision (other than taking antibiotics for secondary Bacterial infections) about how my body would fight off pathogens, I would mess it all up.
I guess I might be able to do it with an army of administrative and technical help. Even philosophers can tag along.

ETA: Nature made trees to cast seeds, and spread new trees, stronger trees. It's all so darn funny.

Bodi
7th February 2010, 05:12 PM
So, just to speculate....

Is there a kind of intelligence or consciousness in life that's categorically different than what we normally mean by these words? Does your body have 'intelligence' that's separate (in kind) from your mind/ego?

JcR
7th February 2010, 05:38 PM
So, just to speculate....

Is there a kind of intelligence or consciousness in life that's categorically different than what we normally mean by these words? Does your body have 'intelligence' that's separate (in kind) from your mind/ego?

Well it (the body) and all it's mechanisms certainly needs many minds and combined studies to understand.
Certainly a smart engine. The notion of Bagpipes? That is more of a mystery to me. :)
I am confident I would not be aware of what my body may or may not be doing without me.
My brain detached. Then again it might just take advantage of the situation and leave. (I would)
What is safe to say? That Nature/Evolution made me.
Bucket of mud made the frog..:D

ETA: Why is life so persistent on sticking around? Even when it is not always an ideal medium for it.

steve s
7th February 2010, 09:18 PM
Am I the only one here who thinks that phrase is really annoying and means nothing?!?!:jaw-dropp



It's almost as bad as "I'm not religious. I'm spiritual."

Steve S

DevilsAdvocate
7th February 2010, 11:57 PM
I don't believe in God but I believe in a higher power...

Am I the only one here who thinks that phrase is really annoying and means nothing?

I used to not believe in God, but believed in a higher power or spritual force.

I would say that I did not believe in God because I did not believe in an anthropomorphic, intelligent being that was directly involved in the minutiae of the daily lives of humans and could be affected by pray and sacrifices.

However, I believed that there was a higher power or spiritual force because:

1) I could not reconcile that there it something instead of nothing. There must have been some power or force that created something from nothing and started the big bang.

2) Our understanding of the universe describes specific, predictable laws of physics, chemistry, etc. The universe is ordered and not chaotic. Therefore, there must be some power or force that established this order and laws.

3) The chance that this order, these laws of physics, would, by themselves, by chance, result in something like human beings seemed so incredibly impossible. It seemed that the power or force that created the order of the universe did so in such a way so that it would result in the evolution of humans. I was agnostic on whether the order created by the force was intelligent design or just random chance.

4) It seemed there was something to the experience of life (sensations, pain, love, purpose, the simple “experience” of a smell or a seeing a color) that was separate from my physical being. I studied epistemology and did not consider myself a dualist, but I could not really get past the certainty that I experience sensations (both empirical and non- empirical) that are just as real as, but separate from, the material. So it seemed there was something (even if only imagined or only representative of reality) that was other than myself—something “higher” or “spiritual”.

5) It seemed there was something more to life than mere existence, procreation for the sake of procreation, hedonism, nihilism, etc. It seemed this “something more to life” was related to the “something more to experience”, just as the “something more to the existence of everything” was related to the “something more to the order of the universe”. So the something that was “higher” or “spiritual” was entangled with the “power” or “force”. So there must be a “higher power” or “spiritual force”.

I believed that understanding of the purpose of life, morality, justice, beauty, etc. could be better understood by better understanding the nature of the “power” or “force” and the “higher” or “spiritual” through science and logical reasoning. So I was in favor of science and philosophy. I was definitely not in favor of religion or faith or God.

I don’t think saying that you don’t believe in God, but do believe in a higher power or spiritual force or some such thing, is annoying, meaningless, contradictory, word play, or even fence-sitting.

(I am now a complete atheist and basically believe in secular humanism. I still believe that there is some “force” that started the big bang, but I believe it is a natural force. I have resolved to not care why there is something instead of nothing—if I think about it I go in circles begging the question or conclude that it is like asking what is north of the North Pole. Either way, I have not found pursuit of the answer to be productive in enhancing the experience of life.)

SusanB-M1
8th February 2010, 01:16 AM
Devil's Advocate #35
Very much agree with your post. I did not go into the philosophical details as much as you did, but increasing information about scientific discoveries, the total lack of any relevance of this vague power/force/energy, its necessary remoteness .... beyond the universe? Ridiculous. All around us? even more ridiculous. All this led to my complete satisfaction with atheism.

HumanityBlues
8th February 2010, 01:19 AM
It is interesting that under the right conditions Life will set up shop and try and strive. It will take the ride for as long as it can. Making it beyond simple organisms, bacteria, etc., or us, is another matter. I guess in an unconscious world/life/existence, there would be no discussion on this matter. (wanted to put smilie here) Conscious being advantageous for some species for survival; Sure. For all, maybe not. Do I want to insert examples here? Not really.
Do I want to insert (here) that I absolutely know what it takes to make the big clock tick. I don't know that much yet. : ) If I play with particle accelerators or palpate cattle, and believe in Tooth fairies; I can still be very effective smashing atoms, or at evaluating a pregnancy diagnosis.

Back to AA: No one I ever knew during my time with AA, and that decided a coffee cup let's say, was their Higher Power believed that cup had mystical powers that kept them sober. Well if they secretly did, they may have been kooky to start with. But if that helped them keep sober, What the hay.
I never was a big drinker so why was I even at these AA meetings?
I guess the same reason bacteria might find a home in a tar pit... :)

Ok, I gotta ask. What's with the picture?

CatInTheBag
8th February 2010, 05:36 AM
For many (harking back to the AA reference), the higher power is in the Gestalt - it's the values and principles which drive us, whether internally driven or inherited from society.

There's no reason that a higher power cannot just be a concept.

To that end, it's probably no surprise the only good things that comes from religion are the parts that equate directly to values and principle (like be nice, don't kill people, brush your teeth regularly).

RenaissanceBiker
8th February 2010, 06:28 AM
I have had Jehovah's Witnesses ask me if I believe in a "higher power." After I tell them I am an atheist, some seem to have a hard time believing I don't have some spiritual belief. They seem to think that not believing in some higher power means I think I am the most important thing in the universe. Someone must be telling them that atheists are egotistical maniacs. Anyway, when I ask them to define "higher power" they usually respond with, "something greater than yourself." I say, "Of course I believe in something greater than myself. By that definition the planet Jupiter is a higher power. It has much more influence on what happens in our solar system than I do and I have direct evidence that it exists. The Sun is a higher power than Jupiter. The cluster of black holes at the center of our galaxy is a higher power than our sun. As powers go, you, me and all of mankind are nearly insignificant."

JcR
8th February 2010, 08:01 AM
Ok, I gotta ask. What's with the picture?

A zombie might have had something to do with it.