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What kind of Religious Experience would qualify as 'proof'?

 
 
Reply Mon 15 Jun, 2009 01:01 pm
I've often suggested that the only valid proof of any particular religion will be a Religious Experience. And by this I do not mean a spiritual feeling in a group of religious people nor a sense of love in prayer which could both be identified as subconscious projections/delusions/illusions etcetara.
In fact almost any kind of religious experience that I can think of could be explained psychologically rather than in terms of a divinity. So I wonder whether there is any conceivable religious experience that would compell you to rationally believe in any particular notion of 'God'.

If it is argued that no such experience is conceivable then where does that leave religious believe in terms of its validity? I mean:
IF there is a concieveably valid religious experience THEN why should God not grant that to all of us (or any?)?
IF not THEN should we abandon a literal approach to religious beliefs? e.g. should God be understood (at best) as a regulative concept in an antirealist sense rather than the classic constitutive, realist, concept?
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Neil D
 
  1  
Reply Mon 15 Jun, 2009 02:38 pm
@Greg phil,
You can have belief in a god without being a religious person. A scientific person can have belief in god as well. At times i have thought that maybe the unified field Einstein was seeking was a kind of godfield, or the quantum electrodynamic field Dirac was investigating was perhaps the elusive god. God is really an ambiguous term. To me god may be a force, or a combination of forces, or some kind of field the unites everything, and the nature of such a being may indeed be unfathomable for us.

I think one way to discover god would be through science/physics, or perhaps just logic and reasoning alone, although it hasnt worked extrememly well so far.

i cant really speak on behalf of religious, or divine experiences. In general, i dont believe it.
GoshisDead
 
  1  
Reply Mon 15 Jun, 2009 06:40 pm
@Neil D,
The isse here is simply, using the wrong tool for the job. Trying to measure faith with any sort of empiricism is like trying to measure the volume of water in a bucket with a clock.

Faith simply defined is Believing in something that has no empirical evidence. Trying to validate it with the empirical is like (see above). All sorts of empirical phenomena can be witnessed during acts of faith as you have noted 'feeling the spirit' can be explained as delusion induced chemical flooding of the brain, and still have you explained the spirtual experience?

Spirituality, conversion, and mysticism of any sort are methodical in their validation process i.e follow this path, reach enlightenment. The main key to all of them is faith that at some point, following the method will result in the validation, in many cases experiential. Yet in almost all the traditions real personal validation comes at a great price, mostly paid in time etc...

One might argue that the validation is also a delusion brought on by the desire not to have your faith be a waste. Then the counter argument might be that you never showed faith to begin with but were just going through the motions and were bound not to reach a full validation. Faith is like that.

See how trying to rheify faith through empiricism will inherently disprove faith, while on the contrary practicing faith without the rheification of empiricism necessarily affirms faith. Tricky Tricky
salima
 
  1  
Reply Mon 15 Jun, 2009 07:23 pm
@GoshisDead,
GoshisDead;69501 wrote:

Spirituality, conversion, and mysticism of any sort are methodical in their validation process i.e follow this path, reach enlightenment. The main key to all of them is faith that at some point, following the method will result in the validation, in many cases experiential. Yet in almost all the traditions real personal validation comes at a great price, mostly paid in time etc...


there is also the possibility of having a 'spiritual experience' without having faith beforehand, without having sought for it.

one of the things i liked about certain eastern traditions is that they say up front you dont have to have any faith, it will work if you follow the practice. among some of the things i have tried are meditation, tai chi, and hatha yoga. (various breathing and relaxation techniques go along with these of course.)

so here you have someone practicing yoga for a better sense of balance-or tai chi for strengthening the lower body-and suddenly in the midst of it all comes a spiritual happening. what could maintaining a certain position with the physical body cause to happen? and i am not talking about years of practice, just a very short time and that without much dedication.

it may be a case of 'when the student is ready the teacher appears' and the same things would happen to someone even if they were working in their garden or playing baseball-come to think of it, i recall stories like that.

and whether or not you subscribe to a controlling god or force, if the organism is not physically or mentally tuned no matter by what method it wont be able to receive, assimilate and apply any new elements. that is the answer to the OP question: "IF there is a concieveably valid religious experience THEN why should God not grant that to all of us (or any?)?"

"IF not THEN should we abandon a literal approach to religious beliefs? e.g. should God be understood (at best) as a regulative concept in an antirealist sense rather than the classic constitutive, realist, concept?"...greg


and in answer to the second question quoted above, i would say that yes we definitely should abandon all the old literal approaches to religious beliefs if we are able. i propose that we also do not need to understand 'god' or the 'first cause' or whatever term you want to use as being regulatory...i am not sure what antirealist rather than classic constitutive means.

there are so many attributes a person could imagine and apply to the human concept of god without using the ideas such as 'father', 'creator', 'ruler', 'judge', etc. i like the analogy that god is the ocean and we are the waves. if you phrase your questions in these terms, look what happens!
i.e. why would the ocean not tell the waves where it is going? (i realize if you add factors like the moon making the ocean have tides it messes up the symbols, so you have to use some imagination here. imagine the ocean is all there is.)
richrf
 
  1  
Reply Mon 15 Jun, 2009 11:23 pm
@salima,
Why do you need any proof? If you have it, great. If some others have it, great for them. Enjoy it.

It only becomes an issue if you think someone else has it and you are not sure, but if that person really did have it, then you want to become an avid follower and pay him for his sermons and books. Then maybe you might want proof, but my approach would be don't bother. Just wait patiently for your own.

Rich
0 Replies
 
nameless
 
  1  
Reply Tue 16 Jun, 2009 01:31 am
@Greg phil,
Greg;69444 wrote:
What kind of Religious Experience would qualify as 'proof'?

'Evidence' abounds!
'Meaning', 'interpretation', 'proof' is in the eye of the beholder, and all 'beholders' are unique Perspectives.
What one perceives/considers to be 'proof', is proof, to him, in that context, and as such, is a 'real' feature of the complete Universe, and thus 'real'.
All Perspectives are 'valid/real', ultimately.
Greg phil
 
  1  
Reply Tue 16 Jun, 2009 04:34 am
@GoshisDead,
GoshisDead;69501 wrote:
The isse here is simply, using the wrong tool for the job. Trying to measure faith with any sort of empiricism is like trying to measure the volume of water in a bucket with a clock.

Faith simply defined is Believing in something that has no empirical evidence. Trying to validate it with the empirical is like (see above). All sorts of empirical phenomena can be witnessed during acts of faith as you have noted 'feeling the spirit' can be explained as delusion induced chemical flooding of the brain, and still have you explained the spirtual experience?

Spirituality, conversion, and mysticism of any sort are methodical in their validation process i.e follow this path, reach enlightenment. The main key to all of them is faith that at some point, following the method will result in the validation, in many cases experiential. Yet in almost all the traditions real personal validation comes at a great price, mostly paid in time etc...

One might argue that the validation is also a delusion brought on by the desire not to have your faith be a waste. Then the counter argument might be that you never showed faith to begin with but were just going through the motions and were bound not to reach a full validation. Faith is like that.

See how trying to rheify faith through empiricism will inherently disprove faith, while on the contrary practicing faith without the rheification of empiricism necessarily affirms faith. Tricky Tricky

I agree that any form of religious faith could not be proved empirically so maybe I need to clarify my meaning of 'religious experience'. I guess it means a (private) phenomenal ascertainty.
I'll use an analogy to help explain: take the proposition 'you are conscious (in the phenomenal rather than psychological sence) and are not a zombie (a physical human which has no experiences)'. This proposition CANNOT be verified empirically because it is subjective and qualititive and irredicible (I think). However your experience of it PROVES to YOU that you are consious. Similarly it may be concievable that God could give us an experience that is not empiracle or reducible but PROVES that a particular model of God (or absolute etc) is correct.
I obviously cannot describe this because I have no had one nor could it be described anyway since it is subjective and irreducible.


Samila an antirealist approach to religion (or ethics or maybe other fields) means a subjective, symbolical, almost existentialist approach. So for example an antirealist Christian might argue that God does not REALLY exist, but God is the ideal of Love to which the religious community aspires to; and Jesus was not literally the Son of God but rather Jesus was so kind and loving that, symbolically, God became present through him; and Jesus resurection should be understood that the live of love that Jesus taught 'lives on' in the hearts of his followers (even though in reality Jesus is just plain dead).
I think your argument implies that you tend to an antirealist approach.


nameless I must argue that I don't like the idea that everyone is right in there own way. There can be different forms of truth I know (e.g. the truth of the statements 'Barack Obama exists' and 'the number 2 exists'. They both DO exist, but in different types of existence) but I do feel that some people can be just plain wrong or right about religious beliefs. For example a realist Theist Muslim argues that a being called God exists (cause of the world, good, intimately involved in creation, etc) whereas a realist Atheist argues that no such being exists: they can't both be right.
0 Replies
 
GoshisDead
 
  1  
Reply Tue 16 Jun, 2009 11:24 am
@Greg phil,
Salima:
Quote:
one of the things i liked about certain eastern traditions is that they say up front you dont have to have any faith, it will work if you follow the practice. among some of the things i have tried are meditation, tai chi, and hatha yoga. (various breathing and relaxation techniques go along with these of course.)


This is exactly what I am talking about, faith is not a knowledge, some might even say belief is too strict a term for it. Read the post closely and i was talking about the faith to do, to complete the method as prescribed just as you said above, it takes faith to do these things and expect a result. Tai Chi, Reiki and meditation traditions do not say do it and you will find the experience, they say do it right, and doing it right is no layman's effort it is an effort in good faith and determination that normally takes one past cursory method following. Also if one meditates or follows any of these traditions expecting that they will not gain the experience, they will not gain the experience.
richrf
 
  1  
Reply Tue 16 Jun, 2009 11:32 am
@GoshisDead,
GoshisDead;69639 wrote:
Salima:
Tai Chi, Reiki and meditation traditions do not say do it and you will find the experience, they say do it right, and doing it right is no layman's effort it is an effort in good faith and determination that normally takes one past cursory method following. Also if one meditates or follows any of these traditions expecting that they will not gain the experience, they will not gain the experience.


Hi Salima,

In my experiences, every teacher I have ever met in any of these traditions, including myself, teaches in a different way. Every student learns in a different way. Results vary. I ended up learning it my way, and am very happy with the results. Smile

Rich
0 Replies
 
salima
 
  1  
Reply Tue 16 Jun, 2009 05:55 pm
@Greg phil,
maybe i was not being clear enough, or maybe there is more to consider on the subject that i didnt realize at first. tai chi and hatha yoga do not claim to be guaranteed to produce spiritual experiences per se, and individual teachers may claim whatever they want. in whatever i tried, i didnt expect to have or not have any results, i had no expectations whatever, i thought just give it a try.

the faith to do is something i would call commitment-and i was able to commit to trying various methods in my life for limited periods of time being open to the possibility that they may do me good in some area of my life, not necessarily spiritual. some of these had effects that were plain to see and others may have had some effects i could not observe, somtimes i had experiences that would seem to be unrelated to the practice i was attempting to learn, some may have had no effects. but what i have found about any spiritual experiences i have had in my life is that i couldnt produce them at will nor could i point to any reason why they happened when they did.

what i dont like is the kind of blind faith prescribed by many religious teachers and frauds in any traditions who claim that your belief in them is a prerequisite before it will work. for a teacher or proponent of any method to claim that your faith is part of it is putting a disclaimer out in the very beginning.

belief and faith alone are also catalysts that can bring about changes even outside of traditions, i am not saying that they unimportant. i guess i am saying that i believe that any methods may produce good results in ways you may not even expect, and at the same time you may naturally achieve success without using any particular methods at all. for instance, look at AA and it's twelve step method. i dont know if anyone holds that up as being a spiritual practice, but i see a striking similarity to what they do and many traditions, and i have seen my own brother become a very spiritual person as a result of adhering to their plan.

having a 'spiritual experience' of the kind i presime greg is talking about confirms the faith of the faithful and produces faith in the faithless. maybe they are more likely to happen to a person who is desperately searching for them...someone who is in the middle of his 'dark night of the soul' period of life.
richrf
 
  1  
Reply Tue 16 Jun, 2009 06:22 pm
@salima,
salima;69736 wrote:

the faith to do is something i would call commitment-and i was able to commit to trying various methods in my life for limited periods of time being open to the possibility that they may do me good in some area of my life, not necessarily spiritual. some of these had effects that were plain to see and others may have had some effects i could not observe, somtimes i had experiences that would seem to be unrelated to the practice i was attempting to learn, some may have had no effects. but what i have found about any spiritual experiences i have had in my life is that i couldnt produce them at will nor could i point to any reason why they happened when they did.


Hi salima,

Gotcha. I'm on your page. Give it a shot and see what happens. Then move on if you wish, or hang around if you like.

Rich
0 Replies
 
GoshisDead
 
  1  
Reply Wed 17 Jun, 2009 02:03 pm
@salima,
Quote:
maybe i was not being clear enough, or maybe there is more to consider on the subject that i didnt realize at first. tai chi and hatha yoga do not claim to be guaranteed to produce spiritual experiences per se, and individual teachers may claim whatever they want. in whatever i tried, i didnt expect to have or not have any results, i had no expectations whatever, i thought just give it a try.


Both Tai Chi Chuan and Hatha Yoga have spiritual claims, In Tai Chi (qi) the life force is right in the name.
Qi - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Hatha yoga is the way of training the prana, is it not, also a term for life force.
Pranayama - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Maybe my term for spiritual is a bit broader than some and this is where the disagreement lies. Both are meditative traditions, however, as practiced by many western practitioners, this may have become very secularized in presentation, but the method is the same and thus the reason why one who practices may not be promissed a 'spirtual" experience but gets one anyway.

The faith as committment, I can get down with that. For the most part people in the west do yoga and tai for their exercise+meditative properties no one really does yoga purely for it physical properties. So to reach these meditative 'oneness' level one must show 'commitment' and practice 'faithfully'.
Krumple
 
  1  
Reply Wed 17 Jun, 2009 04:40 pm
@Greg phil,
I don't think any christian has faith but they do have a different F word instead. I think calling it faith is a way to give their F word a more appealing feel. You can forcibly get someone to make decisions if you provide for them alternatives that are in some way negative. So having this F word as the basis for their belief is not something I would consider divine or holy in any sense. So what's the F word I am talking about?

FEAR
richrf
 
  1  
Reply Wed 17 Jun, 2009 04:50 pm
@GoshisDead,
Hi,

GoshisDead;69920 wrote:
Both Tai Chi Chuan and Hatha Yoga have spiritual claims, In Tai Chi (qi) the life force is right in the name.
Qi - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Just a small correction. There use to be some confusion here, but the two are not related. Modern phonetics is Taiji (old phonetics Tai Chi) which is roughly Grand Ultimate. This is different from Qi (old phonetics Chi). So the Chinese characters for the two concepts are different, thought they sound very similar.

Quote:
Hatha yoga is the way of training the prana, is it not, also a term for life force.
Pranayama - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Maybe my term for spiritual is a bit broader than some and this is where the disagreement lies. Both are meditative traditions, however, as practiced by many western practitioners, this may have become very secularized in presentation, but the method is the same and thus the reason why one who practices may not be promissed a 'spirtual" experience but gets one anyway.
I would agree that classical practices of both Taijiquan and Yoga have spiritual elements. In modern China, the spiritual elements of Taijiquan have been suppressed because of the materialistic bent of communism. As for Yoga, as part of the effort to export the practice to other countries, particularly the U.S., the spiritual aspects have been de-emphasized so as not to upset people who have embraced a particular religion. The pranayama and hatha practices are health no matter what, but bringing in the spiritual thoughts may be too much for an average yoga group. Even pranayama is de-emphasized nowadays in favor of simple calisthenics.


Rich
0 Replies
 
salima
 
  1  
Reply Wed 17 Jun, 2009 06:38 pm
@GoshisDead,
GoshisDead;69920 wrote:
Both Tai Chi Chuan and Hatha Yoga have spiritual claims, In Tai Chi (qi) the life force is right in the name.
Qi - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Hatha yoga is the way of training the prana, is it not, also a term for life force.
Pranayama - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Maybe my term for spiritual is a bit broader than some and this is where the disagreement lies. Both are meditative traditions, however, as practiced by many western practitioners, this may have become very secularized in presentation, but the method is the same and thus the reason why one who practices may not be promissed a 'spirtual" experience but gets one anyway.

The faith as committment, I can get down with that. For the most part people in the west do yoga and tai for their exercise+meditative properties no one really does yoga purely for it physical properties. So to reach these meditative 'oneness' level one must show 'commitment' and practice 'faithfully'.


ok-let's put it this way then. it is possible to have spiritual experiences in the midst of any activity-whether or not they are designed solely for that purpose or not. the greatest experience i ever had was while i was listening to music, without any thought of anything at all. this was years before i had attempted any follow-the-rules traditional types of activities designed to reach those goals.

i also think that it is not possible to cause spiritual experience by following any particular tradition or ritual unless the person is not somehow ready to receive it. how to get ready i dont know-many spiritual traditions say they are "the way", but there are more people who have tried them and failed than there are those who have tried them and succeeded....i get that impression, anyway. (no, i havent taken any surveys about that.)
0 Replies
 
GoshisDead
 
  1  
Reply Wed 17 Jun, 2009 06:41 pm
@Greg phil,
Quote:
i also think that it is not possible to cause spiritual experience by following any particular tradition or ritual unless the person is not somehow ready to receive it. how to get ready i dont know-many spiritual traditions say they are "the way", but there are more people who have tried them and failed than there are those who have tried them and succeeded....i get that impression, anyway. (no, i havent taken any surveys about that.)


There is no denying some of the most spiritual experiences are random.

This circles back to my original comment. People have tried and failed, they must not have had faith.
salima
 
  1  
Reply Wed 17 Jun, 2009 06:52 pm
@Greg phil,
Gosh-
maybe i had faith and didnt know it.

do you think there is such a thing as grace? i would think it is that thing rather than faith that makes for spiritual experiences and success in a lot of areas. otherwise it is too easy to say to people who swear that they have faith something will work when it doesnt that 'oh, you really didnt have faith, you just thought you did.'

i believe there is such a thing as grace but i dont know what it is or how it happens. i dont believe the christian definition of it or that it is randomly given to some people and not others by a mysterious behind-the-scenes benefactor. maybe that is what i should define as the 'readiness' i mentioned. but again it is pure conjecture and i cant support it.
GoshisDead
 
  1  
Reply Wed 17 Jun, 2009 07:33 pm
@salima,
Lol salima, yeah faith is a conundrum, but only if you use standard empirical measurements, saying I tried but it didn't happen is the wrong measurement. Saying I tried and it didn't happen and I'm better off having had it not happen at this moment is a little better. But measuring it by personal determination is prolly even better, I tried it didn't happen but so what I'll try again, and when it happens it then is not a huge deal it feels as if its part of your normal progression and this is the way it has been all along I just didn't realize it.
salima
 
  1  
Reply Wed 17 Jun, 2009 07:55 pm
@GoshisDead,
GoshisDead;69984 wrote:
Lol salima, yeah faith is a conundrum, but only if you use standard empirical measurements, saying I tried but it didn't happen is the wrong measurement. Saying I tried and it didn't happen and I'm better off having had it not happen at this moment is a little better. But measuring it by personal determination is prolly even better, I tried it didn't happen but so what I'll try again, and when it happens it then is not a huge deal it feels as if its part of your normal progression and this is the way it has been all along I just didn't realize it.


i like the way you measure things! i think i need a new toolbox...
richrf
 
  1  
Reply Wed 17 Jun, 2009 08:46 pm
@GoshisDead,
GoshisDead;69976 wrote:
There is no denying some of the most spiritual experiences are random.

This circles back to my original comment. People have tried and failed, they must not have had faith.


Hi all,

Yep. During the period of my divorce (my ex and I are very good friends, it is just she wanted to go in a different direction), all of a sudden I had a slew of synchronicity events. Boom, boom, boom. One after another. Some, which my friends witnessed, couldn''t believe it. Smile It was a strange period in my life. And nothing like it has happened again since.

Rich
 

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