Do you think that only theories that can be developed scientifically are rational things to believe?
Just depends on the question being asked. Spiritual questions should be answered spiritually, scientific questions should be answered scientifically. But I'd ask you to define the word theory
if the ideas in that theory are completely beyond any observation. If you're using the word colloquially, that's one thing, but that isn't a theory
I don't, as many things in life aren't science, nor is science built on "pure" reason alone, not to mention that itself has (nececary) limitations built into it. So reason and science are not equal terms to me.
To me either. I hold science far and away above reason, which is just one of many simultaneously competing psychological processes. We do science when we need an answer that we cannot trust to reason alone. Reason just allows us to communicate, to agree, and to solve problems using tools (some of which are irrational). The things in life that are beyond science are also beyond reason -- because spirituality, love, emotion, death, etc, are irrational
at the level of our experience.
But we are in the religion forum...
All the more reason to explore where religious beliefs come from, what they're grounded on, how to make sense of them when they viscerally contradict what we observe or what we think we know.
Also, just because something does not appear to you to be a necessity, doesn't mean it shouldn't be considered or even believed.
True, but if we owe anything to William of Ockham and his eponymous razor, we should probably start our explanations using the things that are
necessary (or at least patently obvious), and garnish our explanations with the supernatural only when we've finally given up on both parsimony and skepticism.
Like I said before, this one experience was only one of many experiences that affirmed their belief in God
But don't you see how circular that affirmation is? That's why it's a miracle when someone sees the face of Jesus in the clouds, but it's a funny and forgettable association if someone sees the face of Winston Churchill in the clouds. Not that there is anything wrong with that kind of affirmation, but I'd argue that it happens in people who either already believe or who are primed to believe. Of course the Augustinian notion would be that it's God's grace that puts you in this state, i.e. of believing or wanting to believe, but that explanation also only works with certain presuppositions.
Though I'm sure they'd all be easy to dismiss for you, if for no other reason (as far as I can tell) you bring to the table the assumtion that they must be coincidences. (You accuse me of being selective, but I would ask if you are not also being selective, simply acting as if anything but God is a better explanation.)
First, I don't dismiss the experience's meaning to you personally. I can take that for granted, and I value that.
But I'm not saying that anything but God
is a better explanation. I'm saying that of all the coincidences that happened on that day, God
does not deserve any more value than any other. So I'm not selectively excluding it -- I'm just speaking on behalf of all the poor, neglected coincidences, all the itches and untied shoes and wistful songs on the radio that you haven't put on the table. Why is it that you put God above all the other coincidences? (And by coincidence I simply mean things with a temporal association whose causality is unknown). How do you rank the potential explanations? What would you do if two different
friends came in practiced ancient Norse polytheism and said that they coincidentally had sacrificed to Odin for your grandfather's recovery? That's a divine explanation, but it's inconsistent with your personal beliefs -- so would you puzzle over which God was responsible for the healing, or would you quickly dismiss the religion that you disbelieved?
And about the odd-ball explanations (like doctors dumping) that you keep bringing up... They do not fit into any reasonable world-view or explanation that I've ever thought of or heard of. If you want to develope a complete world-view based on one of those options, I will consider it.
Just rhetorically, I could argue that no religious explanation is a reasonable world-view, and they're just anachronistic mythologies that have somehow survived to modernity. And I could also argue that ANY explanation is reasonable if we're going to give agency to "God" (the quotes to emphasize skepticism). What separates the God explanation from some silly explanation of mine? Only mass appeal -- you've got numbers on your side, but does that make it true?
Theism, on the other hand, I (and many intellegent and educated people all through history) have found to be a reasonable, or even the most reasonable, belief system known to man.
-How is it reasonable
-Is it reasonable only insofar as with belief you will see (and rationalize) the entire world as being consistent with that belief?
-Is all theism equally reasonable, including polytheism?
-Would it be reasonable to say that God is responsible for all evil in the universe, because he created it? Therefore is it reasonable to call God ultimately responsible for genocide, suffering, and anguish? If God is NOT responsible for these, is it still reasonable to call him an ultimate cause or to call him omnipotent?
-Can you separate the historical figures you mention from their historical times, and the religious ideas that they inherited?
And God healing in response to prayer fits very solidly in that belief system. If you need me to point out some Biblical passages or Theologans to show that, I can.
Not needed. The Bible says a lot of things. That's why Christians can look at the Torah, and read it as a Christian document, whereas Jews read it in a completely different way. Scripture affirms belief -- that's how it's used. But how specific is it for spinal injuries? How specific is it for x-rays? In my Jewish tradition we aren't supposed to eat pepperoni pizzas because the bible says not to cook a goat in its mother's milk -- so a lot of belief comes from extrapolating out of scripture, not reading it literally.
I realize that theism may seem stupid to you. But if naturalism seems stupid to me, that doesn't automatically make your view point null and void, does it?
Theism doesn't seem stupid to me. It just isn't explanatory for me. It has symbolic, cultural, anthropologic, and artistic importance. It's also a human invention, which is undeniable -- all you need to do is look at all the human decisions
that have made modern belief what it is. I mean you really think that God's revelation through scripture equally validates everything from Roman Catholocism to Eastern Orthodoxy to Calvinism to Mennonite Anabaptism (not to mention all the non-Christian traditions)? I'm completely with Spinoza here, that religion and religious texts need to be regarded in relation to the people (including the place and time) who believe, not in the absolute.
As for naturalism, I don't know what you mean by that, and I'm still not entirely convinced that you know what you mean by that. I reject the label and I reject your idea behind it as having anything to do with science, so I question its relevence.
And, no, I don't mind questions and challenges. You are right that I expected that much when I posted this on a forum. But I did post it in the "religion" forum rather than the "science" forum intentionally.
Again, discussing it in religious terms need not invoke a scientific counterargument. Aside from discussing the medical aspects, all I was really talking about were the probabilistic elements. That's not science -- it's just common sense.
I was just on a flight back from Hawaii a couple days ago, from Honolulu to Chicago. I live in North Carolina now, but on that flight I ran into a former classmate from both high school and med school who lives in Boston -- and we went to high school and med school in Connecticut. What were the odds? Better yet, I learned he was on the flight because my wife (who never knew him) was sitting next to his mother-in-law (who never knew me). It turns out I've lived in Boston for the last 3 years as a postdoctoral fellow at the same
medical school as him, and I never saw him once during these 3 years (we were based at different hospitals, but still...
Those are astronomically
small odds. If I take 12 flights per year (about accurate), and there are an average of 150 people on each flight, and I see 50% of the people on those flights, then what are the odds that I'll randomly run into someone I know when I'm not even travelling to / from a city where either of us lives?
Coincidence is a well-established statistical concept. If you do something enough times, coincidental things will
happen by random chance even if the probability is low. If you have a quarter and you flip the quarter 10 times, you'll eventually
get 10 consecutive heads if you repeat the experiment enough -- maybe the first time, maybe the 10000th time.
But we're very
good at making associations, especially ones with personal meaning to us, and it's very easy to superimpose meaning onto a coincidence if it is affirming for us in a highly emotional time. That doesn't disprove
a real association -- but it also means that we need to consider coincidence too if we give our reason any credit at all.