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Old 8th April 2012, 02:52 PM   #1
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The the God hypothesis a scientific hypothesis?

Dawkins' major argument in The God Delusion is that the existence of God is a scientific hypothesis and should be treated as such. Here are some quotes to illustrate the point:

Quote:
Perhaps you feel that agnosticism is a reasonable position, but that atheism is just as dogmatic as religious belief? If so, I hope Chapter 2 will change your mind, by persuading you that 'the God Hypothesis' is a scientific hypothesis about the universe, which should be analysed as sceptically as any other.

...

Contrary to Huxley, I shall suggest that the existence of God is a scientific hypothesis like any other. Even if hard to test in practice, it belongs in the same TAP or temporary agnosticism box as the controversies over the Permian and Cretaceous extinctions. God's existence or non-existence is a scientific fact about the universe, discoverable in principle if not in practice. If he existed and chose to reveal it, God himself could clinch the argument, noisily and unequivocally, in his favour. And even if God's existence is never proved or disproved with certainty one way or the other, available evidence and reasoning may yield an estimate of probability far from 50 per cent.

...

But I suggest that even a non-interventionist, NOMA God, though less violent and clumsy than an Abrahamic God, is still, when you look at him fair and square, a scientific hypothesis. I return to the point: a universe in which we are alone except for other slowly evolved intelligences is a very different universe from one with an original guiding agent whose intelligent design is responsible for its very existence. I accept that it may not be so easy in practice to distinguish one kind of universe from the other. Nevertheless, there is something utterly special about the hypothesis of ultimate design, and equally special about the only known alternative: gradual evolution in the broad sense. They are close to being irreconcilably different.

...

I have some sympathy with his aims because, as argued in Chapter 2, I believe the existence of God as a scientific hypothesis is, at least in principle, investigable.
This position is controversial to say the least, and many would disagree.

To me, Dawkins' position is sound. One could argue that a god who is outside the universe and never interferes in it is outside the reach of science and I agree (though it would be an utterly meaningless idea). But this is not the god that people believe in. The god widely believed in has created the universe, interfered multiple times in history, radically affected historical events, performs miracles, and is deeply concerned about humanity, handing out rewards and punishments depending on behavior. Surely the effects of his activities should be discovoerable by scientific means. Certain claims we can directly test, such as if prayer works (it doesn't) or if Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt (he didn't, because the story is fictious).

We can test and reject the hypothesis that thunder is caused by Thor fighting giants. There is no evidence for the Thor hypothesis, and we have other hypotheses that fit the facts better. The god that is widely believed in today isn't really that different. If you wonder what concerned scientists think, you might be interested in reading why almost all cosmologists are atheists.

Those of you who disagree and don't think the God hypothesis is a scientific hypothesis, how do you view the question of the existence of God?
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Old 8th April 2012, 03:03 PM   #2
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The physicist and philosopher Victor Stenger wrote a very good book on this very subject titled God: The Failed Hypothesis, which digs into this question pretty thoroughly. Of course, when addressing these questions, one must first clearly define what is meant by "God"; Stenger defined "God" in his book as the monotheistic Abrahamic god of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

The bottom line of Stenger's book, and I agree with him, is that if one is defining "God" in a way that makes empirically testable claims (which many fundamentalists do all the time), then we can most certainly subject those beliefs to scientific scrutiny. And, so far, such scrutiny shows those beliefs to be factually incorrect, such as with the scientific vacuity of creationism.

In fact, I wrote an article awhile back for the JREF Swift blog on this very point:
http://www.randi.org/site/index.php/...ernatural.html
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Old 8th April 2012, 03:28 PM   #3
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Of course you can't make God a scientific hypothesis. If one is defining "God" in a way that makes empirically testable claims, then one is defining God in exoteric terms. That is how spiritual children define God. That is how fundamentalists define God.

There are two ways to define God. Exoteric and esoteric. The exoteric layer of religion is to the believer as a milk bottle is to a baby.

"I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready." 1 Corinthians 3:2

The exoteric layer is an oversimplification of God and religion that leads to the illusion that science can test it. It's a kindergarteners understanding of God for the uninitiated man-on-the-street.

The esoteric layer of religion is like solid food, and it is where the true definition of God is found. If a scientist were to try to understand the esoteric in order to test it, he would find that science isn't up to the task.
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Old 8th April 2012, 03:36 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Limbo View Post
The esoteric layer of religion is like solid food. If a scientist were to try to understand the esoteric in order to test it, he would find that science isn't up to the task.

Because it doesn't exist.
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Old 8th April 2012, 04:32 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Limbo View Post
Of course you can't make God a scientific hypothesis. If one is defining "God" in a way that makes empirically testable claims, then one is defining God in exoteric terms. That is how spiritual children define God. That is how fundamentalists define God.

There are two ways to define God. Exoteric and esoteric. The exoteric layer of religion is to the believer as a milk bottle is to a baby.

"I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready." 1 Corinthians 3:2

The exoteric layer is an oversimplification of God and religion that leads to the illusion that science can test it. It's a kindergarteners understanding of God for the uninitiated man-on-the-street.

The esoteric layer of religion is like solid food, and it is where the true definition of God is found. If a scientist were to try to understand the esoteric in order to test it, he would find that science isn't up to the task.
So if you defined God in esoteric terms, yet you still make empirical claims about said God, you maintain that skeptics still wouldn't be able to test that hypothesis scientifically? Because, you know, the same Bible you quote makes some pretty solid empirical claims about God. That whole creation myth is just one of them.

Sounds to me like you might be trying to have it both ways.
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Old 8th April 2012, 04:43 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by MattusMaximus View Post
So if you defined God in esoteric terms, yet you still make empirical claims about said God, you maintain that skeptics still wouldn't be able to test that hypothesis scientifically?

Yes.

Quote:
Because, you know, the same Bible you quote makes some pretty solid empirical claims about God. That whole creation myth is just one of them.

Sounds to me like you might be trying to have it both ways.

I know.
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Old 8th April 2012, 04:43 PM   #7
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God as currently described is a scardey-cat hiding away from people whenever we look.

This is the philosophical corner into which the concept has been pushed for lack of evidence...whenever we look.


The modern philosophical notion that "God is a valid concept" because, hey, you can't prove an infinitely powerful thing that wants to hide doesn't exist, is invalid, given that's the only thing left after apologists were forced to pare away any and every actual interaction with reality of said deity.
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Old 8th April 2012, 04:47 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Limbo View Post
Yes.

I know.
Well, at least you're honest about your intellectual dishonesty
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Old 8th April 2012, 04:58 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by MattusMaximus View Post
Well, at least you're honest about your intellectual dishonesty

Hold on a second. I didn't say it was intellectually dishonest. I said I know it sounds that way to you. Since when is everything the way it sounds?
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Old 8th April 2012, 05:22 PM   #10
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Is something really happened, it is within the realm of science.
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Old 8th April 2012, 05:45 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Limbo View Post
Hold on a second. I didn't say it was intellectually dishonest. I said I know it sounds that way to you. Since when is everything the way it sounds?
Then I suggest you explain yourself.
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Old 8th April 2012, 05:48 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Limbo View Post
Hold on a second. I didn't say it was intellectually dishonest. I said I know it sounds that way to you. Since when is everything the way it sounds?
Limbo, please give an example of a quote from the Bible which makes an empirical claim about God, and explain to us why it cannot be scientifically tested. Please choose a good example of this phenomenon so we can cut right to the chase and begin debating your assertion.
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Old 8th April 2012, 05:59 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by MattusMaximus View Post
Then I suggest you explain yourself.

Sure.

Let's say I define God in esoteric terms and then make an empirical claim about God. If you want to test that claim, then you would also need to use esoteric terms and esoteric methods. That would include imaginative participation. How could a skeptical scientist possibly manage that?

Mysticism and the Study of Esotericism

[...]

Imaginative Participation

Yet if we acknowledge what is to me obvious, that there is a mystical process or set of experiences ‘behind’ what we read, this makes our work as scholars considerably more difficult. If everything is merely “text,” well then we need only play with it or analyze it as text. A nod is as good as a wink to a blind horse. But it quickly becomes clear to those with eyes to see that when we look at the field of esotericism, we are dealing with very complex currents of thought and kinds of experiences that do not always conform at all to contemporary perspectives. What are we to make of Böhme’s immensely complex and often circular expression of a visionary cosmology deeply indebted to alchemy and astrology? What are we to make of Pordage’s visionary journeys into spiritual realms, or of Fowler-Wolff’s accounts of absolute transcendence? Here I would answer: as much as possible, we should seek to avoid making much of their accounts, and instead concentrate on seeking to imaginatively understand them on their own terms.

Here I’m arguing that in the study of esotericism more generally, and specifically in the field of mysticism, it is essential for scholars to engage at minimum in a process of imaginative participation. Sympathetic empiricism represents a middle ground between historiographic objectification on the one hand, and phenomenological subjectification on the other. Sympathetic empiricism means that one seeks, as much as possible, to enter into and understand the phenomenon one is studying from the inside out. The further removed historically that one is from such a religious phenomenon, the more valuable historiography is in recreating context, but without a sympathetic approach, in the field of esotericism, misunderstanding and reductionism become inevitable.

[...]
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Old 8th April 2012, 07:10 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Limbo View Post
Sure.

Let's say I define God in esoteric terms and then make an empirical claim about God. If you want to test that claim, then you would also need to use esoteric terms and esoteric methods. That would include imaginative participation. How could a skeptical scientist possibly manage that?

Mysticism and the Study of Esotericism

[...]

Imaginative Participation

Yet if we acknowledge what is to me obvious, that there is a mystical process or set of experiences ‘behind’ what we read, this makes our work as scholars considerably more difficult. If everything is merely “text,” well then we need only play with it or analyze it as text. A nod is as good as a wink to a blind horse. But it quickly becomes clear to those with eyes to see that when we look at the field of esotericism, we are dealing with very complex currents of thought and kinds of experiences that do not always conform at all to contemporary perspectives. What are we to make of Böhme’s immensely complex and often circular expression of a visionary cosmology deeply indebted to alchemy and astrology? What are we to make of Pordage’s visionary journeys into spiritual realms, or of Fowler-Wolff’s accounts of absolute transcendence? Here I would answer: as much as possible, we should seek to avoid making much of their accounts, and instead concentrate on seeking to imaginatively understand them on their own terms.

Here I’m arguing that in the study of esotericism more generally, and specifically in the field of mysticism, it is essential for scholars to engage at minimum in a process of imaginative participation. Sympathetic empiricism represents a middle ground between historiographic objectification on the one hand, and phenomenological subjectification on the other. Sympathetic empiricism means that one seeks, as much as possible, to enter into and understand the phenomenon one is studying from the inside out. The further removed historically that one is from such a religious phenomenon, the more valuable historiography is in recreating context, but without a sympathetic approach, in the field of esotericism, misunderstanding and reductionism become inevitable.

[...]
If I weeded my way through that word salad successfully, it seems that this "imaginative participation" is a study of whether or not we can go down the same imaginary pathways as someone else and "imaginatively understand them on their own terms". And of course we can. Anyone who can competently describe a scenario can make others envision the same scenario in a somewhat similar manner. Without such an ability, no human being would be able to appreciate fiction. But where this falls short is in the fact that it says absolutely nothing about determining whether or not such an imaginative pathway has any basis in reality. You don't do that by participating in their illusion. You do that by testing if such concepts work in the real world. If they don't, then they are useless for describing reality, no matter how much fun they are to imagine.

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Old 8th April 2012, 07:36 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Tricky View Post
If I weeded my way through that word salad successfully, it seems that this "imaginative participation" is a study of whether or not we can go down the same imaginary pathways as someone else and "imaginatively understand them on their own terms". And of course we can. Anyone who can competently describe a scenario can make others envision the same scenario in a somewhat similar manner.

Insufficient.

"The study of esotericism in general, and the study of mysticism in particular, are in fact frequently the study of changes in consciousness..."

If I make an esoteric claim about God and you want to test it, you need to duplicate the conditions. Including duplicating the altered state of mystical consciousness. I don't think a skeptic is capable of that, much less a skeptical scientist.
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Old 8th April 2012, 07:47 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Limbo View Post
Insufficient.

"The study of esotericism in general, and the study of mysticism in particular, are in fact frequently the study of changes in consciousness..."
If anyone is curious as to the source of this uncited quotation, it is here.

Quote:
If I make an esoteric claim about God and you want to test it, you need to duplicate the conditions. Including duplicating the altered state of mystical consciousness. I don't think a skeptic is capable of that, much less a skeptical scientist.
You've been asked about empirical claims regarding God.
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Old 8th April 2012, 07:51 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Limbo View Post
Insufficient.

"The study of esotericism in general, and the study of mysticism in particular, are in fact frequently the study of changes in consciousness..."

If I make an esoteric claim about God and you want to test it, you need to duplicate the conditions. Including duplicating the altered state of mystical consciousness. I don't think a skeptic is capable of that, much less a skeptical scientist.
Which is, of course, impossible for a skeptic or for anyone else. You cannot duplicate another's mental state because you cannot know another's mental state. Oh, sure, you can imagine that you're duplicating the "altered state of mystical consciousness", but how could you ever show that you had done so to an impartial observer? But skeptics are just as capable of entertaining the daydreams of others as non-skeptics are. Heck, most of the folks here are fans of science fiction, and it that's not a "mystical consciousness" then I don't know what is.

The difference is, we don't confuse it with reality. You seem to take some sort of pride in your inability to distinguish reality from imaginative states. It seems an odd thing to be proud of, but hey, to each his own.
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Old 8th April 2012, 08:04 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Tricky View Post
Which is, of course, impossible for a skeptic or for anyone else. You cannot duplicate another's mental state because you cannot know another's mental state. Oh, sure, you can imagine that you're duplicating the "altered state of mystical consciousness", but how could you ever show that you had done so to an impartial observer?

That would depend on the esoteric methods used to gain the altered state of mystical consciousness. There are different ways. For instance you could learn the specific meditation techniques.

"You do that by testing if such concepts work in the real world."

Well, here is a real-world encounter with God that had real-world after effects that improved a persons life. IN THE REAL WORLD. You could duplicate it for yourself, as I have. There are many similar claims just waiting for armchair skeptics to get off their lazy asses and test them.
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Old 8th April 2012, 08:13 PM   #19
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The concept of God (if it represents an aspect of actual physical reality) certainly should be at least theoretically testable. That doesn't mean it would be easy (testing the multiverse concept isn't either), but it should be doable. Of course if the concept isn't a part of reality, then you can't test it no matter what.
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Old 8th April 2012, 08:20 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Limbo View Post
That would depend on the esoteric methods used to gain the altered state of mystical consciousness.
Prove it.

Originally Posted by Limbo View Post
Well, here is a real-world encounter with God that had real-world after effects that improved a persons life. IN THE REAL WORLD. You could duplicate it for yourself, as I have. There are many similar claims just waiting for armchair skeptics to get off their lazy asses and test them.
You want us to determine a double-blind protocol for testing this, or do you have one? Or are you just making claims (while sitting on your lazy ass) you have no abilty to support and no intention of doing so?

But let me give you a tip for starting your protocol. If it starts with "first you must believe" then it's not ever going to be a scientific hypothesis.
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Old 8th April 2012, 08:43 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by Limbo View Post
Insufficient.

"The study of esotericism in general, and the study of mysticism in particular, are in fact frequently the study of changes in consciousness..."

If I make an esoteric claim about God and you want to test it, you need to duplicate the conditions. Including duplicating the altered state of mystical consciousness. I don't think a skeptic is capable of that, much less a skeptical scientist.
As has been pointed out to you already, you were challenged on the question of empirical claims. This road you're going down seems to be a distraction from that point.

So, to further the conversation on the question I actually asked you, I will reiterate the question posed to you in post #12 by SonOfLaertes:
Quote:
Limbo, please give an example of a quote from the Bible which makes an empirical claim about God, and explain to us why it cannot be scientifically tested. Please choose a good example of this phenomenon so we can cut right to the chase and begin debating your assertion.
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Old 8th April 2012, 08:49 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by Limbo View Post
That would depend on the esoteric methods used to gain the altered state of mystical consciousness. There are different ways. For instance you could learn the specific meditation techniques.

"You do that by testing if such concepts work in the real world."

Well, here is a real-world encounter with God that had real-world after effects that improved a persons life. IN THE REAL WORLD. You could duplicate it for yourself, as I have. There are many similar claims just waiting for armchair skeptics to get off their lazy asses and test them.
Okay, but the problem is you haven't defined "God". How do you know, for example, that such an encounter wasn't from a non-supernatural alien being with advanced technology? Or that it was a hallucination induced by the fasting? And it sounds like you are making an empirical claim (i.e. "in the real-world" sounds pretty empirical to me).

Another problem is that in the next sentence you state that you duplicated these empirical effects, which you stated earlier was impossible to do because you couldn't repeat the altered mental state of someone who'd had these experiences.

So which is it? Is it testable or is it untestable? Can it or can it not be duplicated? Or is it testable and repeatable only by mystics such as yourself but not by scientists?

Can anyone else make sense of what Limbo is saying here, because it doesn't appear to me their "explanations" are helping to clear things up.

ETA:
Never mind. It seems that Limbo has taken the view that only non-skeptics can test these claims, and that they'll always find the "truth" of them because they aren't skeptical. At least, that's how I'm reading what Limbo is writing.
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Old 8th April 2012, 08:51 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by Limbo View Post
Insufficient.

"The study of esotericism in general, and the study of mysticism in particular, are in fact frequently the study of changes in consciousness..."

If I make an esoteric claim about God and you want to test it, you need to duplicate the conditions. Including duplicating the altered state of mystical consciousness. I don't think a skeptic is capable of that, much less a skeptical scientist.
Why not?
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Old 9th April 2012, 12:07 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by MattusMaximus View Post
Why not?
Probably for the same reason that (most) adults can't see boogeymen hiding in the closet or under the bed, while children can.
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Old 9th April 2012, 01:53 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by MattusMaximus View Post
Or that it was a hallucination induced by the fasting?
It's more likely a hallucination induced by the large quantity of hallucinogens he ingested. Erowind is a site which gives information about drugs and allows people to share their experiences of taking drugs.

Limbo is of the opinion that when you take hallucinogenic drugs that you're actually tapping in to some real higher state of consciousness and that what you see in your hallucinations is a more accurate representation of reality than what you see in your day to day life.
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Old 9th April 2012, 06:43 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by MattusMaximus View Post
Okay, but the problem is you haven't defined "God". How do you know, for example, that such an encounter wasn't from a non-supernatural alien being with advanced technology? Or that it was a hallucination induced by the fasting? And it sounds like you are making an empirical claim (i.e. "in the real-world" sounds pretty empirical to me).

Another problem is that in the next sentence you state that you duplicated these empirical effects, which you stated earlier was impossible to do because you couldn't repeat the altered mental state of someone who'd had these experiences.

So which is it? Is it testable or is it untestable? Can it or can it not be duplicated? Or is it testable and repeatable only by mystics such as yourself but not by scientists?

Can anyone else make sense of what Limbo is saying here, because it doesn't appear to me their "explanations" are helping to clear things up.

ETA:
Never mind. It seems that Limbo has taken the view that only non-skeptics can test these claims, and that they'll always find the "truth" of them because they aren't skeptical. At least, that's how I'm reading what Limbo is writing.

I can see you're confused. I think it boils down to the fact that you have yet to actually study esoterica and mysticism, and so you don't have a handle on what an esoteric God is all about. People grow up thinking of God in exoteric terms and it's unreasonable to expect a skeptic or a believer to suddenly switch to esoteric terms without even having the background knowledge. It actually takes time and effort to understand esoterica and mysticism (aside from childish pop-culture understandings, which must be unlearned), and I have yet to talk to a skeptic willing to put any time and effort into it. They seem to expect a few posts from me to substitute for independent effort and independent learning, and then they blame me for their confusion when they should blame themselves for insisting on a quick and easy understanding of a very complex thing.
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Last edited by Limbo; 9th April 2012 at 07:01 AM.
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Old 9th April 2012, 06:57 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by Limbo View Post
I can see you're confused. I think it boils down to the fact that you have yet to actually study esoterica and mysticism, and so you don't have a handle on what an esoteric God is all about. People grow up thinking of God in exoteric terms and it's unreasonable to expect a skeptic or a believer to suddenly switch to esoteric terms without even having the background knowledge. It actually takes time and effort to understand esoterica and mysticism (aside from childish pop-culture understandings), and I have yet to talk to a skeptic willing to put any time and effort into it. They seem to expect a few posts from me to substitute for independent effort and independent learning, and then they blame me for their confusion when they should blame themselves for insisting on a quick and easy understanding of a very complex thing.
I have an argument that proves you wrong, but I'm not going to show it to you because you wouldn't understand it.
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Old 9th April 2012, 06:59 AM   #28
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Originally Posted by Twiler View Post
I have an argument that proves you wrong, but I'm not going to show it to you because you wouldn't understand it.

Well obviously your pride has nothing to do with anything.
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Old 9th April 2012, 07:03 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by Limbo View Post
Well obviously your pride has nothing to do with anything.
Oh yes; My refusal to admit error has led me to pomposity. As I leave behind my self-serving delusions of grandeur, I see that embracing reality is the best path for me.
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Old 9th April 2012, 07:14 AM   #30
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For a religious doctrine to qualify as a "scientific hypothesis", it needs to be "testable". But if it is testable, then scientists with an atheistic inclination will hurry to test it. In no time the hypothesis would be demoted as an error or promoted as proof of God. The latter has not happened yet, that I have heard anyway.
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Old 9th April 2012, 07:15 AM   #31
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Originally Posted by Twiler View Post
Oh yes; My refusal to admit error has led me to pomposity. As I leave behind my self-serving delusions of grandeur, I see that embracing reality is the best path for me.

The smart-kid clique is predictably offended at the prospect that there is something they can't instantly understand about religion, having conceived of religion as the domain of simpletons for so very, very long.
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"Faith in what?" he asked himself, adrift in limbo.

"Faith in faith," he replied. "It isn't necessary to have something to believe in. It's only necessary to believe that somewhere there's something worthy of belief."

Last edited by Limbo; 9th April 2012 at 07:17 AM.
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Old 9th April 2012, 07:21 AM   #32
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Originally Posted by Limbo View Post
The smart-kid clique is predictably offended at the prospect that there is something they can't instantly understand about religion, having conceived of religion as the domain of simpletons for so very, very long.
How do you test whether someone understands mysticism or not?
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Old 9th April 2012, 08:12 AM   #33
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Originally Posted by Twiler View Post
How do you test whether someone understands mysticism or not?
If they agree with charlatans and nutcases.
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Old 9th April 2012, 08:15 AM   #34
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Originally Posted by Limbo View Post
That would depend on the esoteric methods used to gain the altered state of mystical consciousness. There are different ways. For instance you could learn the specific meditation techniques.

"You do that by testing if such concepts work in the real world."

Well, here is a real-world encounter with God that had real-world after effects that improved a persons life. IN THE REAL WORLD. You could duplicate it for yourself, as I have. There are many similar claims just waiting for armchair skeptics to get off their lazy asses and test them.
How is that an "esoteric" experience (not sure if I'm using the word correctly). The link you provided clearly states that buddy was tripping on a psychedelic. These experiences are replicable not because there is a god but because these substances have similar effects on the brain. Our brains are powerful devices for processing reality but they can mislead us or be altered by real substances. I think once you understand this, it becomes more obvious that religious experiences are more then likely false.
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Old 9th April 2012, 08:18 AM   #35
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Originally Posted by Limbo View Post
The smart-kid clique is predictably offended at the prospect that there is something they can't instantly understand about religion, having conceived of religion as the domain of simpletons for so very, very long.
Of course on the other hand, this mystic tree-house club becomes offended when asked to provide evidence for its claims, or at the very least a coherent supporting argument.

This talk of "esoterica" reeks of bafflement by ********.
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Old 9th April 2012, 08:42 AM   #36
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"Nobody understand things the way I do!" he shouted, then stormed up to his room and slammed the door.

Originally Posted by Limbo View Post
The smart-kid clique is predictably offended at the prospect that there is something they can't instantly understand about religion, having conceived of religion as the domain of simpletons for so very, very long.
If you truly understood it yourself, you could explain it in a way that would be understandable to others. People aren't dumb here. If you aren't able to communicate, then perhaps the problem is in the transmitter, not the reciever.

Last edited by Tricky; 9th April 2012 at 08:45 AM.
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Old 9th April 2012, 08:50 AM   #37
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The logic behind claiming that the god hypothesis is a scientific one is extremely simple: if any deity has any impact on reality, it will be measurable and therefore testable (remember, not all tests are done in labs--finding fossils in an outcrop or looking at stars through a telescope is just as much a test as anything a physicist does). If the deity does NOT interact with reality, and has not interacted with it, it's indistinguishable from the deity not existing and parsimony demands we reject the god hypothesis (and please don't trot out the tired old "God works in mysterious ways" line--doing so is by definition claiming to know something which is unknowable).

"Altered states of conciousness" amount to nothing more than controled insanity--they are a rejection of the real world, and therefore cannot inform us about the external world (the INTERNAL one, in the same way that crash-testing a car can inform us about the internal structure of the car, but just because you experience something doesn't make it real). Even drug adicts acknowledge this. Look at any website discussing how to use sylvia (chosen because it's a legal hallucinogen in my state--I AM NOT advocating drug use), and they'll recommend that you have someone watching you while you're high on it because you'll see things that aren't there and not see things that are.

Originally Posted by Limbo
The smart-kid clique is predictably offended at the prospect that there is something they can't instantly understand about religion, having conceived of religion as the domain of simpletons for so very, very long.
You've seriously misunderstood the arguments against religion. No one denies that religion includes some profound thinkers--Eurasmus, Abulard, Aquinus, Augustus, the Benedicts, etc. stand as shining examples of the human intellect, for example. The issue is that many of us believe that theists make a fundamental error. Extremely complex systems can be built upon erronious foundations. The science of ancient Greece stands as a monument to what happens when you think really, really hard on a system that's based on a faulty premise. The difference is that we know the error in the theistic system, and strive to correct it. It's not saying that religion is the domain of simpletons; even great thinkers can commit basic errors. It's saying okay, we've found the flaw; now let's recognize that it IS flawed, and move on.
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Old 9th April 2012, 08:54 AM   #38
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Originally Posted by Twiler View Post
How do you test whether someone understands mysticism or not?

You don't. You become a mystic yourself and meet God yourself and then decide about God for yourself. Rather than sitting there deferring to scientific or religious authorities like a bunch of brain-dead soulless cowards. Why? Because science can't do it for you, lazy asses. Neither can organized religion.

But hey, lets just make it all about pride and pissing contests.
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"Faith in faith," he replied. "It isn't necessary to have something to believe in. It's only necessary to believe that somewhere there's something worthy of belief."
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Old 9th April 2012, 08:56 AM   #39
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Originally Posted by Limbo View Post
You don't. You become a mystic yourself and meet God yourself and then decide about God for yourself. Rather than sitting there deferring to scientific or religious authorities like a bunch of brain-dead soulless cowards. Why? Because science can't do it for you, lazy asses. Neither can organized religion.

But hey, lets just make it all about pride and pissing contests.
So, why should we recognise you as a mystic? What makes your supposed knowledge more significant than that of someone who dreams of deities in their sleep?
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Old 9th April 2012, 09:25 AM   #40
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Originally Posted by Limbo View Post
You don't. You become a mystic yourself and meet God yourself and then decide about God for yourself. Rather than sitting there deferring to scientific or religious authorities like a bunch of brain-dead soulless cowards. Why? Because science can't do it for you, lazy asses. Neither can organized religion.

But hey, lets just make it all about pride and pissing contests.
What's lazy is your refusal to offer supporting evidence for your supernatural claims. Now anyone can disturb his/her brain in such a fashion that one hallucinates, that's easy. Your assertions are of another kind and if you can't explain them adequately, or even at all, exactly whose fault is that?
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