religious experience

Biological Conspiracy Theories

Hello again, all.  Apologies for being rather inactive these days — by way of explanation, I took another trip to visit my dad in Oregon (we’re trying to fit in as much family visits as we can before the baby arrives!), and I’ve been pouring my creative energies into various other projects; so I’ve had little impetus or time left over to blog, or at least to blog well.  Generally I prefer to wait until I have at least a snowball’s chance of putting out sound material rather than just merely keeping the ball afloat by throwing out garbage — if I do write garbage, I at least want it to be thoroughly well-thought-out garbage.

Today, though, I’m choosing to shrug off this analysis paralysis and work out an idea that’s been brewing for a little while.  It centers around this kick I’ve been on lately regarding Harmon’s idea about “inference to the best explanation,” and how that applies to competing theories to explain religious phenomena.  From my perspective, when it comes to personal experiences that seem, on a prima facie level, to be supernatural in nature, there are basically two main theories that attempt to explain what is actually going on:

  1. There is, in fact, a supernatural world that sometimes intersects and affects our material world, or
  2. Such experiences begin and end with the functions of the human brain, and can be best explained with methods such as pattern-seeking, confirmation bias, etc.

Drawing from my own experiences as a case study, I’d like to explore these two competing theories. (more…)

What Has Convinced Me?

One of my favorite people with whom to discuss, hero4thought, recently asked me a question:

What are two or three top factors in your mind that convince you that a God in fact exists?

It’s such a great question that I wanted to expand my answer into a separate post.  As always, comments and thoughts are welcome 🙂 As I said in my original response, I’ll arrange these talking points in a somewhat logical order, rather than anything reflecting any chronology of my particular faith journey. (more…)

My imaginary friend revisited

I just wrapped up my long discussion with tildeb, which I genuinely enjoyed but felt it was time to throw in the towel — I felt we just could not take the discussion to the next level.  What I gained from his comments, in an extremely tight nutshell, is that I ought to abandon my Christian worldview because it is based largely upon subjective experience, and thus is just as reliable as delusion or fantasy.  In other words, God is my imaginary friend — or, at least, I have no way of determining whether He’s real or not, so I should favor the delusion hypothesis a priori based solely on the subjective nature of my methodology.

Now, I’ve spoken of the imaginary friend hypothesis before, and I would encourage my readers to give it another look (frankly, I was expecting it to garner more response when I wrote it, but such is life in the blogosphere I suppose).  Today, I would like to springboard off my points from this previous post and ask my readers (mainly those from the naturalism/materialism camp): What compelling reasons are there that I should regard my experience with God, in particular, as delusional?  I mean, sure, I’ll grant you the possibility that God does not exist, that subsequently my experiences of Him have been mostly fabrications of my mind — but what is there beyond mere possibility that this is the case that ought to compel me to accept this as the most likely situation? (more…)

Ode to my imaginary friend

In answer to this comment by Captain Cassidy (she’s always inspiring me to post something new, I love that!), I have decided to share my perspective on the naturalist hypothesis stating that my (and others’) supernatural religious experiences are nothing more than constructs of the mind.  Like so many other things posited by naturalists to be illusory fabrications — including a sense of having free will, an intuition about the existence of objective moral values, the feeling that consciousness is something separate from the body — a belief that religious experiences originate with a supernatural entity is utter hogwash.  If I hear something from God (as I believe I have), if I attribute certain experiences (which science has shown to be legitimate) to be divine rather than naturalistic in nature, if I believe that there is a perceptibly conversational aspect to prayer (as my experience has taught me), then I am the victim of my brain’s own cleverness and imagination.  I have been, and continue to be, duped.  I have nothing more in Christ than an imaginary friend.

As un-Christian-like as it may be for me to be snarky in this particular instance, I’m afraid that I cannot resist the temptation, and can only cast my weakness of character at the feet of my merciful Savior: I find it so very clever of such people to offer such a definitive and authoritative diagnosis of my psychological state without even having met me.  There must be a Nobel Prize with someone’s name on it somewhere, for that’s quite a feat.

But, since pointing out someone’s arrogance doesn’t necessarily make them wrong, my rationality is not satisfied in avoiding this possibility by hiding behind sarcasm.  We’re weighing evidence here, after all — pithy comments, regardless of how emotionally satisfying they may be, carry very little weight in this arena.  My sardonic wit is rendered impotent by my own doing in creating this blog the way I did.  And while my sense of irony balks, my reason gives an affirming (if somewhat terse) nod.

So, on with the subject at hand: (more…)

Scientism (Part 3)

I’d like to conclude (for now) the discussion on scientism.  (If you wish, you may read Part 1 or Part 2.)  Pending any objections, I think a solid case has been made that, for those who wish to take seriously the debate about God’s existence, relying solely on scientific evidence isn’t going to cut the mustard; there must be a place for non-scientific, subjective evidence to play a part in the discussion.  And, from that point, I’d like to discuss the question left unanswered from the last post:

What does subjective evidence tell us about the existence of God?