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yasashiku
February 26th, 2011, 09:00 AM
Apparently there is a wide disparity in the ODN community about the occurence of spiritual experiences. Some (myself included) insist that they happen all the time, while others insist that, while they have given their best efforts at trying to gain some kind of spiritual experience, their efforts were fruitless, and we have people all over the space between those two extremes.

Obviously, as these are all personal experiences and prone to subjectivity, we won't be able to be very scientific about it, but I'd like to be as scientific as we can get. The question I would like to be able to answer is:

Is/are there one or several aspects of each of these experiences that correlates with having or not having a spiritual experience?

In other words, given that someone that claims to have had a spiritual experience really had said experience, can we pinpoint something about their method of obtaining it that is not present in cases of those who have attempted, but failed?


I would like to be as formal about this as possible, with one thread dedicated to the collection of experiences (or attempts at experiences) only (i'm even thinking of writing a form on my web page to standardize formatting, as well as to ensure that all questions are answered), and a separate thread for discussion.

The purpose of this thread is I would like input as to what kind of criteria we should look for. These are the ones I am thinking of so far:
3000

Any feedback will be much appreciated. :D

Talthas
February 26th, 2011, 02:07 PM
Excellent beginning to the inquiry phase of this study. I find that there's one important detail, however, that seems to have been left out.

I think that before we can talk intelligently about "spiritual experiences," we all need to be able to agree on what exactly is meant by the expression "spiritual experience."

Is it sufficient to have "felt the presence of God" while engaged in some mundane event or during the course of an ordinary worship service, or must one have had an extraordinary event occur that significantly differs from the norm of his life? Must such an experience have an effect on that person's attitude and beliefs (whether to confirm, change, or refute), or is it necessary for a "spiritual experience" to do those things? Are we talking strictly religious-type experiences, or do encounters with ghosts, intangible spirit-beings, or demons count, too?

Don't get me wrong... I'm not trying to bring down the discussion to a semantic level. I just think that if you want to make this study as formal as possible, it's useful to have a consistent set of definitions. This could be anything from the most permissive definitions imaginable ("I felt the wind touch my cheek just right and knew it was my Stephen sending his love across the ocean...") to the very strictest definitions ("It's not enough that you saw what you thought was a demon possessing your sister, even if she was speaking in ancient Sumerian (and how do you know what that sounds like, anyway?), if she wasn't actually levitating and someone else saw it").

See how definitions can be pretty important in this discussion? :)

Lukecash12
February 26th, 2011, 02:21 PM
1. At the time of my experience, I was agnostic. As such, I wasn't sure about any claims of religious exclusivity yet.

2. I felt something I would call spiritual, but not necessarily metaphysical. It wasn't like a sudden rush of information or a lurid hallucination. It was simply a realization and then an emotional resolve.

3. No, I wouldn't consider the revelation at all when it comes to hard evidential claims.

4. I wanted a spiritual experience, but I didn't try to facilitate one because I didn't see why I would try facilitating something I don't know how to facilitate.

5. It completely subverted how aggressive I was about the issues. No more hard feelings.

yasashiku
February 27th, 2011, 07:59 AM
Excellent beginning to the inquiry phase of this study. I find that there's one important detail, however, that seems to have been left out.

I think that before we can talk intelligently about "spiritual experiences," we all need to be able to agree on what exactly is meant by the expression "spiritual experience."

Is it sufficient to have "felt the presence of God" while engaged in some mundane event or during the course of an ordinary worship service, or must one have had an extraordinary event occur that significantly differs from the norm of his life? Must such an experience have an effect on that person's attitude and beliefs (whether to confirm, change, or refute), or is it necessary for a "spiritual experience" to do those things? Are we talking strictly religious-type experiences, or do encounters with ghosts, intangible spirit-beings, or demons count, too?

Don't get me wrong... I'm not trying to bring down the discussion to a semantic level. I just think that if you want to make this study as formal as possible, it's useful to have a consistent set of definitions. This could be anything from the most permissive definitions imaginable ("I felt the wind touch my cheek just right and knew it was my Stephen sending his love across the ocean...") to the very strictest definitions ("It's not enough that you saw what you thought was a demon possessing your sister, even if she was speaking in ancient Sumerian (and how do you know what that sounds like, anyway?), if she wasn't actually levitating and someone else saw it").

See how definitions can be pretty important in this discussion? :)

I agree with everything you've brought up - I want this to be as formal as possible. Do you think that maybe I should add or change any of the questions to make it less ambiguous, or perhaps add a prologue to define what we mean by certain terms?
As far as the definition of a "spiritual experience" goes, I was hoping to have a broad enough definition to include as many viewpoints as possible, and if a response is not really applicable to the study, I was hoping to phrase the questions in a manner so as to make that readily apparent. It's usually pretty easy to filter out data after the fact - for example, if we wanted to see if there was anything specific in circumstances surrounding only events that resulted in a change in religious affiliation, it would be easy to filter out all the "no" answers to that question.
I guess what I'm really wanting to avoid is automatically discounting something like "I felt the wind touch my cheek just right and knew it was my Stephen sending his love across the ocean..." Something small like that may be very significant to the individual, but, because it can't be corroborated or their interpretation may be subjective, we might discard it if we were looking for evidence to support spiritual claims. As that's likely not the only query we'd like to make about this data, there's likely a question that we'd want to ask where an experience like this is still relevant.
I think so long as the individual feels it was spiritually significant in any way, we'd be safe including it, but I'd like to have questions that will make it easy to filter answers by.

I was thinking of adding a few more questions, maybe on the lines of:
• How certain are you (1-10) that this experience wasn't something that was just in your head?
• Would you say that this experience had a supernatural component?

Are there any other questions that anyone would like to add or change?

@Lukecash12: Thanks for the reply! Although I'm just fishing for feedback right now... I should have something more formal to submit responses with when I've worked out the kinks.

Talthas
February 27th, 2011, 09:17 PM
So, what you're really looking for, from what I gather, is people with experiences to report that have some objective or external factor and which in some fashion defy what we normally think of as "THE RULES of Modern Science (TM)." Less the slightly tongue-in-cheek description, does that sound fairly accurate?

yasashiku
March 1st, 2011, 02:10 PM
So, what you're really looking for, from what I gather, is people with experiences to report that have some objective or external factor and which in some fashion defy what we normally think of as "THE RULES of Modern Science (TM)." Less the slightly tongue-in-cheek description, does that sound fairly accurate?

Actually I think (at least for my question) I'm trying to shoot even broader than that... I'd like to try to answer the objection that some people seem to have spiritual experiences while others don't, no matter how hard they try. For example:

All this reminds me of my time spent as a theist, a Christian to be more specific. I remember countless times I spent on bended knee. Praying and praying and praying. Praying as tears came pouring down my face. Every fiber of my being wanting to get somekind of answer, only to get nothing... time and time and time again. And never getting any answers, and getting tried of talking to myself. Surely there must be at least one of you theists reading this that feels the same. Surely it must be so frustrating to have a "relationship" with a being that never, ever talks back to you. (Original post (http://www.onlinedebate.net/forums/showthread.php/21848-An-open-letter-to-the-theists-of-ODN?p=433190&viewfull=1#post433190))

Usually my response to this kind has been (I am ashamed to say) to ignore this point and assume that either:
• He must not have done it right (ie, improper motives, method, etc.)
or
• He did get an answer or answers, but failed to notice them for some reason

I used to just assume these things, because I take the following promise literally:

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. (James 1:5 (http://lds.org/scriptures/nt/james/1?lang=eng#5))
As it's near the core of my theology, I will always hold this interpretation, but personal interpretations are often impractical in many situations. I'd like to have a more direct (and hopefully a more helpful) answer to these kinds of objections.

I'm not necessarily looking for miracles or things that defy "THE RULES of Modern Science (TM)" (though such things would likely be beneficial for the study) - I'm looking for a basis to support why someone might or might not get (or notice) answers to their prayers. I'm not so much interested in what their spiritual experience was as I am in the circumstances surrounding it. Of course, the nature of the experience is still relevant, so I still want to record that, but I hope to find some common element or trend in the circumstances of the event that we could identify that correlates with either result.
Also, as I often encourage people to pray to find out for themselves if what they're learning is true, I hope to be able to peek a little farther outside of my bias - as I've grown up with a religion that expects certain results from prayer, it's often hard for me to understand how someone else might approach the process.

Perhaps it would be more exact to ask for experiences where a person felt that a prayer had been answered...? There are a couple reasons I kind of want to avoid wording it like this. The main one is that it assumes that all spiritual experiences are a result of prayer (and would thus potentially exclude pertinent information).

Does any of this make sense? I know I can ramble sometimes, and it often doesn't make sense (which one reason I'm looking for feedback...)

Talthas
March 1st, 2011, 06:53 PM
I think I can see some of the problems you're running into.

You are looking for:

a) verifiable examples of experiences that a reasonable person would accept as evidence of spiritual activity and/or

b) logically consistent reasons why these sorts of experiences are generally understood to occur more frequently to people of faith (and thus, associated with acts of faith) than to people without faith and completely divorced from that sphere of being.

If I understand correctly, this is in pursuit of the ability to discuss in objective terms with an atheist the reality of the spiritual world and how a person who otherwise does not believe in such things might come to a knowledge of it, by observing those things which have verifiably happened or which might be imitated in order to reproduce such an effect, thus providing "controlled evidence" of supernatural realities. In uncovering the reasons why someone who doesn't believe might have failed to observe such phenomena, it seems to me that you are attempting to remove one of the fundamental barriers to communication on this matter: specifically, that this sort of thing doesn't happen to atheists... or if it does, they're not atheists long.

A further roadblock is that many experiences one might call "miraculous" or otherwise supernatural can be explained away by invoking coincidence, delusion, hallucination, mistaken causation, or a convoluted "scientific" explanation that completely robs faith and the supernatural of any place in the discussion. Seeing no way past this point besides arranging for an atheist to have such an experience for himself, this is the path you seem to have chosen.

Sound about right?

HappyLady
March 1st, 2011, 08:57 PM
Ohhh, how refreshing it is to see this thread. I used to post here often and mostly it was in an effort to provide some kind of scientific parameters that spiritual experiences are real and natural and not "supernatural" at all. But, the skeptics ALWAYS win the argument because they have that nice little present wrapped in a bow that says, "There's no evidence to suggest..." and so they win.

So your thread here interests me.

I think Talthas touches on an important point. Even when you've narrowed down all of the parameters and questions, skeptics will still fall back on coincidence and delusions.

The common thread is that skeptics are generally closed off to the idea that such experiences can be real and the believers are opened to the notion that such experiences can be real. And the only way for a skeptic to become open is to have someone or something more clever than them help them change their mind. The problem is, there are very few people who are that clever.

In assessing the parameters that you've already set, I agree that you should not include prayer, and that you should keep "spiritual experience" as broad as possible. I also think you should be cautious about using the word "supernatural", because there are people like me who believe that ALL experiences are natural even though infantile science can not explain them.

I think you should make the questions as concrete and decisive as possible. You can broadly define "spiritual experiences" as "anything a person would consider spiritual by their own subjective terms." But "supernatural" is a little trickier than that.

Also, how do you go about addressing people who had experiences as children? A child wouldn't necessarily be looking for a spiritual experience or even have a religious/spiritual affiliation.

I would not use the "on a scale of 1-10" question because how does it really contribute to the study whether someone thinks the experience is all in their head or not? If you're looking for a common thread, you're not likely to find one there. How will you handle "I don't know" responses? I have had a multitude of spiritual experiences (DAILY), but I really don't know if it's all in my head or not. I BELIEVE it's not, but I also acknowledge that it could very well be.

Sorry I kind of thought out loud here...lol.

FruitandNut
March 2nd, 2011, 12:55 AM
Hi, HL - Good post. Yes, there are differences between 'spiritual experience' and 'supernatural experience' - but when it comes to the nitty gritty, both often/always from the same source, eh?

Also, depends on personal 'belief' as to whether the experience is 'natural' or 'other', and indeed whether 'natural' is just part of 'other' in any case. ;):

yasashiku
March 2nd, 2011, 11:17 AM
@Talthas:

I think I can see some of the problems you're running into.

You are looking for:
a) verifiable examples of experiences that a reasonable person would accept as evidence of spiritual activity and/or

b) logically consistent reasons why these sorts of experiences are generally understood to occur more frequently to people of faith (and thus, associated with acts of faith) than to people without faith and completely divorced from that sphere of being.

Close again, but not quite. a) doesn't really interest me much - it's more b) that I'm looking for, but with a qualification: I think anyone (atheist or otherwise) would anticipate a strong correlation with belief resulting in experiences, and unbelief resulting in none. What I am hoping to target are exceptions to this trend, like the case with Prime Zombie. Apparently, at the time of his efforts, he was a person of faith, yet didn't notice any response. I think you phrased it pretty well:

Seeing no way past this point besides arranging for an atheist to have such an experience for himself, this is the path you seem to have chosen.
This is exactly the first step for every LDS missionary. Without a spiritual confirmation that what is being taught is true, why would anyone trust a couple 19-year-old kids as authorities on religion? They rely on God Himself to independently verify what they teach through the Holy Ghost.
There is a whole chapter (http://lds.org/languages/additionalmanuals/preachgospel/PreachMyGospel___11_04_RecognizeTheSpirit__36617_e ng_011.pdf) on this process in the missionary guide. My experience has been that when someone does not recognize answers to prayer, the reason (and often the remedy) is in the details of how they approached obtaining the answer, or failure (or refusal) to recognize it when it came. However, my experience has been entirely in the context of being an LDS missionary; I am curious to see if similar trends hold for religion in general.

@HappyLady:

The common thread is that skeptics are generally closed off to the idea that such experiences can be real and the believers are opened to the notion that such experiences can be real. And the only way for a skeptic to become open is to have someone or something more clever than them help them change their mind. The problem is, there are very few people who are that clever.
I know a lot of the ODN atheists at least claim to be open to the idea - they often say that they tried and failed. One of the (perhaps too naive?) hopes I have is that maybe, just maybe we could identify something about their method that they didn't try, and that, being good scientists, they'll give the experiment another go...


In assessing the parameters that you've already set, I agree that you should not include prayer, and that you should keep "spiritual experience" as broad as possible. I also think you should be cautious about using the word "supernatural", because there are people like me who believe that ALL experiences are natural even though infantile science can not explain them.
Thanks - this one helps a lot. I believe the same way... I think I was trying to extract whether the individual felt that something needed to be supernatural to be spiritual, actually (ie someone looking for only supernatural phenomena as divine communication would likely miss actual spiritual communication when it came), but now that I think about it that question was terrible. I think the question about their expectations (that's already in the diagram) would suffice.


I think you should make the questions as concrete and decisive as possible. You can broadly define "spiritual experiences" as "anything a person would consider spiritual by their own subjective terms."
I think this is the definition I'm looking for... thanks!


Also, how do you go about addressing people who had experiences as children? A child wouldn't necessarily be looking for a spiritual experience or even have a religious/spiritual affiliation.
I think that these are very significant (as they are the kind of exception I mentioned to Talthas). Hopefully they would answer "no" to the question about whether they did anything to facilitate the experience, but we'd still have the relevant information from the other questions. Do you think we'd need another question to make sure that we don't miss something?


I would not use the "on a scale of 1-10" question because how does it really contribute to the study whether someone thinks the experience is all in their head or not? If you're looking for a common thread, you're not likely to find one there. How will you handle "I don't know" responses? I have had a multitude of spiritual experiences (DAILY), but I really don't know if it's all in my head or not. I BELIEVE it's not, but I also acknowledge that it could very well be.
I think what I'm aiming for with this question was to give a weight to each experience - I should probably invert it as well (as in, given that someone did not receive an answer, how sure they are that they didn't).
As ODN atheists tend to look for more convincing evidence than what is floating around the forums at the moment, I think that's something we should select for: if a detail surrounding an experience tends toward greater "convincingness," I'd really like to recognize it. That was the purpose of the evidence question in the diagram, but I'd like to modify it for the very reason that sometimes we're not totally sure. I, like you, have many, many experiences, and, while some are powerful and involve extreme "coincidences" that convince me of their reality beyond doubt, others are much more subtle, quiet, and are the kind I likely wouldn't bring up if I wanted to convince anyone that God is real.

Just to avoid confusion (as this may sound a little different than what I was saying to Talthas earlier), I'm not looking for experiences that we can point to as evidence to convince atheists - I'm more interested in statistically-based (I've already tried doctrinally-based, but I think I was largely ignored) recommendations as to how they could experience these things themselves.

Lukecash12
March 2nd, 2011, 05:48 PM
This is exactly the first step for every LDS missionary. Without a spiritual confirmation that what is being taught is true, why would anyone trust a couple 19-year-old kids as authorities on religion? They rely on God Himself to independently verify what they teach through the Holy Ghost.
There is a whole chapter (http://lds.org/languages/additionalmanuals/preachgospel/PreachMyGospel___11_04_RecognizeTheSpirit__36617_e ng_011.pdf) on this process in the missionary guide. My experience has been that when someone does not recognize answers to prayer, the reason (and often the remedy) is in the details of how they approached obtaining the answer, or failure (or refusal) to recognize it when it came. However, my experience has been entirely in the context of being an LDS missionary; I am curious to see if similar trends hold for religion in general.


Hmmm... I'm familiar with how LDS missionaries work, but would you agree with that? Do you yourself go and tell people to just try and facilitate a spiritual experience all of a sudden? I've always observed that that kind of experience comes after a long process.

yasashiku
March 3rd, 2011, 02:47 PM
Hmmm... I'm familiar with how LDS missionaries work, but would you agree with that? Do you yourself go and tell people to just try and facilitate a spiritual experience all of a sudden? I've always observed that that kind of experience comes after a long process.

I know it sounds kind of crazy, but we do. And it generally works when they've given it an honest effort. Of course, my opinion is that the Restoration is such a big deal that the experience is ...expedited? As in priority shipping? :grin: Looking for a good word here, but can't quite find one to fit... But, of course, that is merely my opinion.

Lukecash12
March 3rd, 2011, 07:11 PM
I know it sounds kind of crazy, but we do. And it generally works when they've given it an honest effort. Of course, my opinion is that the Restoration is such a big deal that the experience is ...expedited? As in priority shipping? :grin: Looking for a good word here, but can't quite find one to fit... But, of course, that is merely my opinion.

No offense, but this really seems like a lazy assumption to me. There must be a reason that most of the dedicated members of the LDS church happen to be part of an LDS family. How is someone supposed to commit to the LDS church without having been intimately exposed to it first? Really, I mean, "priority shipping?"

I wouldn't consider being a member without first having read all of the exclusively Mormon scriptures, and I've read it all and still don't want to be a member, so what does that say? The claims of the Mormon branch of Christianity have received a concerted intellectual and emotional effort from me, I'm still not Mormon, and there's plenty of others like me. Maybe I need more than just a fruitless prayer if the LDS church wants me as a member, my friend.

Peter himself used apologetics on the day of Pentecost, which is the largest known outpouring of the Holy Spirit, so what's up with this LDS stance against apologetics for missionaries?

yasashiku
March 3rd, 2011, 09:27 PM
No offense, but this really seems like a lazy assumption to me.
None taken. :) Indeed it is - or maybe even worse - more like pre-research speculation (hence the shame I expressed before). I'd like to do better than that... It's a question I'm studying on my own, and, while not the main purpose of this survey, hopefully it will help me answer it a little better. :)

I wouldn't consider being a member without first having read all of the exclusively Mormon scriptures, and I've read it all and still don't want to be a member, so what does that say?
No offense, but not much.
1) There's way too much of the "exclusively Mormon scriptures" for anyone to read in any reasonable amount of time (as we consider LDS prophets' and Apostles' teachings scripture), and, more importantly,
2) we believe that personal revelation is vital for understanding of spiritual things. As Joseph Smith put it:

“We never can comprehend the things of God and of heaven, but by revelation. We may spiritualize and express opinions to all eternity; but that is no authority” (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith (http://lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?hideNav=1&locale=0&sourceId=4c9720596a845110VgnVCM100000176f620a____&vgnextoid=198bf4b13819d110VgnVCM1000003a94610aRCRD )).


Peter himself used apologetics on the day of Pentecost, which is the largest known outpouring of the Holy Spirit, so what's up with this LDS stance against apologetics for missionaries?
Of course, we must use our brains with the revelation we receive, but what was the big deal about the day of Pentecost? That Peter gave an awesome talk? Certainly not. You said it yourself - it was an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Surely our puny intellectual efforts, unguided by revelation, degenerate into mere philosophy; you could read every word written or said by any latter-day prophet, but it would be a mere academic study unless revelation accompanies it.

CliveStaples
March 3rd, 2011, 11:48 PM
I don't think I've ever had what I would describe as a "spiritual experience." I don't even know how to begin attempting to have such an experience.

Spartacus
March 4th, 2011, 11:27 AM
Hi, HL - Good post. Yes, there are differences between 'spiritual experience' and 'supernatural experience' - but when it comes to the nitty gritty, both often/always from the same source, eh?

Also, depends on personal 'belief' as to whether the experience is 'natural' or 'other', and indeed whether 'natural' is just part of 'other' in any case. ;):

Also, a theist must always remember that even if something is supernatural or spiritual, it is does not necessarily mean it is of a Divine origin.

---------- Post added at 01:19 PM ---------- Previous post was at 01:15 PM ----------


I don't think I've ever had what I would describe as a "spiritual experience." I don't even know how to begin attempting to have such an experience.

Hey Clive -- walk south across the railroad tracks on a Friday night after Mar. 7 to that Church with the three-bar cross on Cresent Dr.... you'll see many people each engaged in having a "spiritual expeience" just like Christians have done for 2,000 years. :afro:

---------- Post added at 01:27 PM ---------- Previous post was at 01:19 PM ----------



Of course, we must use our brains with the revelation we receive, but what was the big deal about the day of Pentecost? That Peter gave an awesome talk? Certainly not. You said it yourself - it was an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Surely our puny intellectual efforts, unguided by revelation, degenerate into mere philosophy; you could read every word written or said by any latter-day prophet, but it would be a mere academic study unless revelation accompanies it.

Yes indeed, so what is one to think when that scripture says dark skinned people have that color skin because of past transgressions -- does truth in scripture change? Can scripture become "untrue"? When one relies heavily on personal revelation how does one determine what is and is not Divine in nature? Where in Judeo Christian scripture does it teach people to rely on personal revelations? How are "revelations" different from personal "beliefs" and "ideas"? What does Christian scripture teach about how to determine whether or not a prophet is a true prophet? Why is it that historically, Christianity recognizes no prophet since the ascension of Christ?

And why does every single LDS missionary I have ever encountered always cite James 1:15 in the first meeting? Just because we are promised wisdom simply by asking, does that mean it will come to us at a time of our choosing?

Lukecash12
March 5th, 2011, 01:33 AM
None taken. :) Indeed it is - or maybe even worse - more like pre-research speculation (hence the shame I expressed before). I'd like to do better than that... It's a question I'm studying on my own, and, while not the main purpose of this survey, hopefully it will help me answer it a little better. :)

I anticipate your research. And if you keep on with that research independently and after this thread, be sure to shoot me a PM so we can discuss this some more.


No offense, but not much.
1) There's way too much of the "exclusively Mormon scriptures" for anyone to read in any reasonable amount of time (as we consider LDS prophets' and Apostles' teachings scripture), and, more importantly,
2) we believe that personal revelation is vital for understanding of spiritual things.1. Quite right. But it certainly isn't a case of giving someone the book of Mormon, expecting them to pray about it, and returning in a week or so to see if you've got a convert on your hands. Moreover, some serious conversation has to be had over whether or not Joseph Smith was a real prophet with teachings that are in line with the scriptures, because there are valid, holistic ways to look at the purported miracles and revelations of Smith.

2. Keyword: "Vital." Personal revelation is the confirmation of one's understanding. By your own definition, personal revelation can't be the understanding itself because it is vital to it (which means it has a verb relationship with it).


Of course, we must use our brains with the revelation we receive, but what was the big deal about the day of Pentecost? That Peter gave an awesome talk? Certainly not. You said it yourself - it was an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Surely our puny intellectual efforts, unguided by revelation, degenerate into mere philosophy; you could read every word written or said by any latter-day prophet, but it would be a mere academic study unless revelation accompanies it.Peter facilitated the outpouring with apologetics. It was necessary for him to lay down the case for Christ in order for the outpouring to take place. If they had not understood that Christ was indeed the Risen King, then there would not have been any Holy Spirit involved.

Have you ever told someone to pray to receive the Holy Spirit, in order to confirm LDS teachings, without any intellectual discourse, and actually garnered results? I should think not. If I may refer you to some scripture on the issue:

Mark 4:1 Again he began to teach beside the sea. And a very large crowd gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat in it on the sea, and the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land. 2 And he was teaching them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them: 3 “Listen! A sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. 5 Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil. 6 And when the sun rose, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. 8 And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.” 9 And he said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

10 And when he was alone, those around him with the twelve asked him about the parables. 11 And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, 12 so that
“they may indeed see but not perceive,
and may indeed hear but not understand,
lest they should turn and be forgiven.”

13 And he said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables? 14 The sower sows the word. 15 And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. 16 And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy. 17 And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away. [1] (http://www.gnpcb.org/esv/search/?q=Mark+4#f1) 18 And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, 19 but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. 20 But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”

What do we see Jesus saying here that we can apply to this discussion? Well, He attests that certain conditions must be in place in order for one to even become a lifelong believer.

Prime Zombie
March 22nd, 2011, 02:24 AM
Great thread idea.

I would like to share a spiritual experience that I had, perhaps someone can put it through the rigors that the OP suggests.


I was walking through the woods the other day when all of a sudden a big, glowing, pink, flying monkey came down through the clouds and in front of me on the hilll I was hiking up. I tried to take a picture of it with my cell phone, but for some odd reason my cell phone was not working. A shame that I was all alone in the park with no one else around so that others could help substantiate my claim. But then again, Joseph Smith was all alone in the woods when he talked to the angel Moroni, and lots of people believe him.

Anyhow, the monkey told me that all religions are wrong, and went on to say that he created them all for the sake of his own personal amusment. He gave me a sandwich (ham an cheese if you are wondering) and a cup of coffee and we sat in the park and hung out for about a half hour or so. I didn't really know what to say I was so shocked, so I just ate my sandwich and drank my coffee while the monkey floated next to me. Every now and then he monkey would hum or whistle. Then he said that he had to get back to running the universe, adding that he did create it after all, and then flew away.



I am being totally serious. This really did happen. I am not being sarcastic or just making things up.

What do you guys think about my spirutual experience?

Talthas
March 22nd, 2011, 05:36 AM
I am being totally serious. This really did happen. I am not being sarcastic or just making things up.

What do you guys think about my spirutual experience?How has this experience affected your life, if at all? How has it affected what you believe about the universe, if at all?

Prime Zombie
March 23rd, 2011, 03:03 AM
How has this experience affected your life, if at all?

Isn't it obvious? I mean I saw a big, glowing, pink, flying monkey. He told me all religions are wrong. He gave me a sandwich and coffee, and told me he runs and created the universe.

All of these things have profound implications, wouldn't you agree?

I suggest based on my spiritual experiences that theists abandon their religious beliefs, because they are obviously wrong. Also atheists ought to admit that they were wrong about a diety/creator of the universe based on my spiritual experience.

The monkey gave no other information other than what I have detailed, so I am not sure what else we ought to do. I guess try and live a happy life until the monkey gives us more information, should the monkey choose to. This could also have been a one time spiritual experience, so who knows? If I see the monkey again I will let you guys know.


How has it affected what you believe about the universe, if at all?

I think I kind of covered this, but to review: I know believe that the universe is run by and was created by a big, glowing, pink, flying monkey.

Don't you? If not, why?

CliveStaples
March 25th, 2011, 09:27 AM
Isn't it obvious? I mean I saw a big, glowing, pink, flying monkey. He told me all religions are wrong. He gave me a sandwich and coffee, and told me he runs and created the universe.

All of these things have profound implications, wouldn't you agree?

I suggest based on my spiritual experiences that theists abandon their religious beliefs, because they are obviously wrong. Also atheists ought to admit that they were wrong about a diety/creator of the universe based on my spiritual experience.

The monkey gave no other information other than what I have detailed, so I am not sure what else we ought to do. I guess try and live a happy life until the monkey gives us more information, should the monkey choose to. This could also have been a one time spiritual experience, so who knows? If I see the monkey again I will let you guys know.



I think I kind of covered this, but to review: I know believe that the universe is run by and was created by a big, glowing, pink, flying monkey.

Don't you? If not, why?

Are you truly unable to distinguish between these two scenarios? I'm guessing your point is that anyone could claim that they had any sort of experience, but that doesn't mean we should accept it as instructive or real.

But I don't think people are saying "EVERY spiritual experience, and anything like a spiritual experience, is a reliable indicator of reality." You and I would surely reject the proposition "EVERY experience is a reliable indicator of reality." There are many experiences that are bad indicators of reality--dreams (even those which consist entirely of mundane/everyday phenomena), psychotic episodes, etc.

And yet we accept some experiences as good indicators, and reject others as bad. This doesn't imply irrational inconsistency on our part; why should it seem inconsistent per se to accept some spiritual experiences as good indicators, and others as bad?

BigD9832
March 25th, 2011, 10:04 AM
CLV Lk 18:27 Yet He said, "What is impossible with men is possible with God."

You are talking about miracles, I presume.

For example...
People who have terminal illnesses, that have been healed by the Power of the Holy Spirit. Oh yes, I know a few. But I also know many more who have been healed of medical conditions that were not life threating. Also, people who have died, and have come back. I know a couple of those people, too.

Now. I have seen the side show antics of many of the Televangelists. This is not what I am talking about. I have been to healing type services, where people have stepped up and publicly asked God for the healing power of His Holy Spirit. I am one of them. I was born with a certain type of deformity in my back, a skeletal deformity. Not huge. But it cause me to stay home from school a few times, from the pain, when I was a child. I was converted when I was a teenager. I went to a healing type service, I guess I was 17 or 18. My back was healed by the power of prayer and the Holy Spirit.

Now, frankly I don't care if anyone accepts this as true or not. I have enjoyed a pain free back since then, and that is my main concern. After all, how many of us run to a doctor just to provide evidence of some type? Have you? Of course not. We go to a doctor to get well, and/or alleviate our pain. However, I have seen literally thousands of physical healings in my life.

There are a few places that you can go to to receive physical healing. I used to belong to a group that would meet in someone's home on Friday evenings. I saw many miracles there, including healings.

But I think the largest gathering I have seen, and the most famous, was the services held by Kathrn Kulman. I have seen her, in California, and elsewhere. I saw her at the Shrine Auditorium. I am guessing that the Shrine holds about 6000 people. And I would say, probably during one service, more than half of them were healed. Probably close to 45000. But, to be conservative, I will say 3000. At the end of the service there was a huge pile of wheelchairs, back braces, crutches, and all manner of medical type paraphernalia.

Now, I saw all this with my own eyes. No one can ever tell me that I didn't, no matter how hard they try. At her services, there were doctors who would examine some just before they entered, to verify that they did indeed have an illness. These people were examined again by the doctors as they were leaving, to verify that they were actually healed. And they were examined again after a 5 year period to verify that the healing had lasted.


OK, I have provided some information on this subject. And the name of a famous person who held healing services. Her book is entitled, "I Believe In Miracles." I will give you another name, Amy Simple McPherson. The information is out there. Anyone can find it, if they look. But, if you don't believe, and will not look, how can you expect to find anything? And how can I take you and your research seriously? I won't.

Prime Zombie
March 27th, 2011, 09:30 AM
And yet we accept some experiences as good indicators, and reject others as bad. This doesn't imply irrational inconsistency on our part; why should it seem inconsistent per se to accept some spiritual experiences as good indicators, and others as bad?

Could you be so kind as to give me the criteria by which we determine which "spritual experiences" are "good indicators" of reality, and which ones are "bad"?

Why, for example, do you (as in you, Clive, as a Christian... you are still a Christian, right?) accept that Jesus turned water into wine but reject that Krishna picked up a mountain? Why do you reject that it's Krishna that communications with you when you pray, but accept that it is Jesus?

Do you accept or reject my spiritual experience? Why or why not?

What is the difference between my spiritual experience and any of your spiritual experiences (I am assuming that you claim to have had spiritual experiences, i.e. you pray to Jesus and he communicates with you, which I hope we can agree is a spiritual experience)?

Could you elaborate on a spiritual experience that you have had so we can have some kind of frame of reference to each other's perception of reality?

Rodriguez
March 27th, 2011, 08:02 PM
But I don't think people are saying "EVERY spiritual experience, and anything like a spiritual experience, is a reliable indicator of reality." You and I would surely reject the proposition "EVERY experience is a reliable indicator of reality." There are many experiences that are bad indicators of reality--dreams (even those which consist entirely of mundane/everyday phenomena), psychotic episodes, etc.

I disagree with this. I believe that every experience anyone can possibly have is a reliable indicator of reality.

For example: I just ingested some rather tasty mushrooms and now I believe that I am seeing giant insect-like creatures inside a stadium staring at me while I am on the stadium floor staring back at them. Later, these creatures begin to boo and then to cheer for me for no apparent reason.

The effects of the mushrooms have worn off now and the stadium along with the booing/cheering insect-like creatures have disappeared.

So was my experience a reliable indicator of reality? Of course it was!

It's evidence that sometimes psychoactive chemicals such as those found in some strains of mushroom can interfere with the normal activity of particular neural pathways to produce bizarre experiences in human brains.

It is not very good evidence that sometimes giant, insect-like creatures inhabit stadiums and stare at humans stationed on those stadiums' floors.



And yet we accept some experiences as good indicators, and reject others as bad. This doesn't imply irrational inconsistency on our part; why should it seem inconsistent per se to accept some spiritual experiences as good indicators, and others as bad?

A spiritual experience is an experience just like a dream is an experience, a chemically induced "trip" is an experience and a UFO sighting is an experience. The problem lies not in classifying these various sorts of experiences as experiences. On the contrary, they most definitely are experiences. The problem lies in the interpretation that one gives to these experiences.

Ingesting a psychoactive drug and then believing that the giant talking insects one encounters shortly afterward actually exist in external reality is not the best interpretation for that experience we have today. However, that interpretation for that experience is certainly a possible one and is one that someone ignorant about cognitive science could easily make.

Same goes for most "spiritual" experiences.

Is it possible that a given "spiritual experience" is caused by the existence of a mysterious spiritual being? Absolutely.

Is that the best explanation that we have to explain that event? Of course not.

Three people see a white form apparently floating in the distant gloaming. One "sees" a ghost. Another "sees" a sheet on a clothesline buffetted by a gentle breeze. The third sees a white form apparently floating in the distant gloaming.

The latter "vision" is the rarest, I think, of the three possibilities. This is because our brains have evolved to come to conclusions (and to do so rather quickly) on the basis of less than sufficient evidence. Only a well-trained mind can avoid, for very long, the jump to an unwarranted conclusion.

HappyLady
March 27th, 2011, 08:06 PM
Why, for example, do you (as in you, Clive, as a Christian... you are still a Christian, right?) accept that Jesus turned water into wine but reject that Krishna picked up a mountain? Why do you reject that it's Krishna that communications with you when you pray, but accept that it is Jesus?

I think you bring up an interesting point here, PZ. A spiritual experience can be subjectively "valid", and possibly even objectively valid to a degree, but that does not necessarily imply anything concrete about Truth or about what is Right.

For example, if you believe your flying monkey experience truly happened, then it is a "valid" experience, assuming there was no psychiatric known cause (like psychosis or grand delusions, and even then, who am I to judge?) It doesn't necessarily mean the event happened. It means the event happened for you.

Also, you claimed that the monkey told you things about religion. Yet, there is no evidence that what the monkey told you is true. I mean, surely he could be a demon sent by Satan to deceive you, right? But that doesn't make the event less valid.

I don't think anyone here is trying to say that just because a person has a spiritual experience that it must be "true" or mean the the information is "correct." But I do believe that spiritual experiences can be "validated" to varying degrees.

For example, if you had this experience with the monkey all alone in the wilderness, no witnesses, no evidence that it happened, etc. It is perhaps less valid than say, an experience where a psychic tells a skeptic the name of a girl he murdered while he was a Marine in Afghanistan and the psychic describes her to a tee and continues to tell the skeptic Marine about a very specific recurring dream he has about the girl and what he needs to do to make the dream stop. And then the Marine does what the psychic said, and the dream does stop.

Now, we can validate this to more of a degree than the flying monkey scenario. But there are certain things that we cannot validate. The bottom line is that the Marine could have been lying about the whole thing and just agreeing with the psychic to humor her. But what would be the point of that? It makes more sense to think there might be some validity to the experience instead of it all being farce.

So, ultimately, I don't think it is so black and white as "accepting" and "rejecting" someone's spiritual experience, but rather "validating" the experience as something that is subjectively real to the person the experience happened to. But we all have our limitations for what is "believable". Quite frankly, your story didn't sound too outrageous to me. It could happen. ;):

Lukecash12
March 28th, 2011, 05:51 PM
We miss seeing you around, HappyLady. :cry: Why don't you come around and debate about some of the stuff you used to enjoy debating? We've got a pretty diverse crowd for the time being.

Prime Zombie
April 1st, 2011, 03:53 AM
I have noticed that my post #23 has not been answered by any Clive or any other theists.

Any theists want to try and answer my questions? Thanks in advance.

Allocutus
April 2nd, 2011, 06:06 AM
But I think the largest gathering I have seen, and the most famous, was the services held by Kathrn Kulman. I have seen her, in California, and elsewhere. I saw her at the Shrine Auditorium. I am guessing that the Shrine holds about 6000 people. And I would say, probably during one service, more than half of them were healed. Probably close to 45000. But, to be conservative, I will say 3000. At the end of the service there was a huge pile of wheelchairs, back braces, crutches, and all manner of medical type paraphernalia.


But no prosthetic limbs, I bet. Why is it that miracles never involve severed limbs growing back? After all, it would seem as easy as to whisper a word when it comes to a God who could so effortlessly create an entire universe. Would it not? And the effect would be the same as it is with those who (apparently) leave their wheelchairs behind. From being unable to walk, they move to being able to walk. And let's face it, such an occurrance would be a real miracle. It could be documented and studied.

If miraculous recoveries are really as commonplace as you claim, why is it that science has not been able to agree that they occur? Why is this not documented in scientific journals? After all, any scientist who could conclusively demonstrate this to be true would probably win the Nobel Prize.

If what you say is true, it should be a walk in the park. Someone should simply gather statistical data of how many believers recover unexpectedly and compare it with how many non-believers recover unexpectedly, taking into account placebo effect (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Placebo).

The effect of prayer has been studied numerous times. Some researchers have reported positive effects. However, their methodologies were said to be flawed. The first study that actually applied strict scientific protocols was the MANTRA (Monitoring and Actualisation of Noetic Trainings) study in 2005. It concluded that the results of prayer are null. (see wiki (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Studies_on_intercessory_prayer))

Another well-known study was the STEP (Study of the Therapeutic Effects of Intercessory Prayer) Project, conducted in 2006 by a Harvard Professor, Herbert Benson. This study was commissioned by the Templeton Foundation. It is said to have applied correct and thorough scientific protocols. And the result? As above. Prayer has NULL effect on health. (Ibid)

While I appreciate the subjective power of the anecdotal "evidence" you present, it is just that; anecdotal and subjective.

I'd be interested in knowing more about your claims of people being miraculously resurrected. You claim to know a few of those personally. How do you know they were dead in the first place? Were they pronounced dead by a doctor? Who was the doctor? Once a person is pronounced dead by a medical practitioner, their coming back to life (if they ever do) should be very well documented, both legally and medically. A Death Certificate is a serious legal document and it can't be (in most known jurisdictions) revoked by the deceased simply walking in and saying "here I am, alive". Would you please point me to where the incidents you refer to are documented?

Spartacus
April 2nd, 2011, 03:38 PM
If miraculous recoveries are really as commonplace as you claim, why is it that science has not been able to agree that they occur? Why is this not documented in scientific journals?

I would not go so far as to use the word “resurrected” myself. Although technically one could say that an unexplained resuscitation after death, could be considered a “resurrection”. There are cases of people coming back to life in morgues or otherwise scaring medical staff who were in the room with “a corpse” after being declared dead.

Extensive studies require money, and how does one go about studying such things? For example studies of people who have clinically died and then come back to life receive little or no funding and a couple of the more well-known ones have been done by nurses on their own. Such studies are very new, and we will certainly see more in the coming years.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/wales/7463606.stm

"All the current sceptical arguments against near-death experiences were not supported by the research," she said.
In one case a critically-ill patient, who also had cerebral palsy, awoke from a near-death experience able to use his right arm normally, even though it had been bent and contracted since birth.
"It shouldn't have been possible without an operation to release his tendons, but he could open his arm freely," said Ms Sartori.

In another case a patient reported encountering a dead relative who gave a message to pass on to another member of the family who was still alive.
Ms Sartori said the information had stunned the receiver because it had been a secret and it was impossible the patient had prior knowledge of it.

http://www.impactednurse.com/?p=671
In fact studies have shown that 10-20 per cent of people who go through cardiac arrest and clinical death report ongoing lucid, well structured thought processes, including detailed recall of events during their resuscitation.

The same is true for “sudden unexplained recovery” which is the medical term applied to miracles – when a patient suddenly gets better for know known reason. This does happen. I have several doctors in my parish who each can give more than one case where a patient has suddenly and with no explanation recovered, often after fervent prayer. To study such cases or publish articles about them is quite difficult as the cases will not further medical knowledge as there is no medical explanation.

There is also the atheist culture within the professional medical journal publishing business. It is highly unlikely that even if a doctor were willing to invest his own time and resources into a study of miracles that such a study would ever be published. Such a doctor would also face the possibility of being "blacklisted" by the research community. I have had the opportunity to speak to many MDs, and if you get to know one well enough and bring the subject up, it seems every doctor, if they have been practicing long enough, has had cases of unexplained sudden recovery they have dealt with.

Whether atheist or theist some facts are indisputable:

People do die and come back to life. Always have. But in our modern age it happens with more frequency and such events are only now being recorded and studied. We do not know enough about the dying process to be able to render a definitive judgment on exactly what happens during this process. Medical science probably will not be able to offer reasons for everything that happens during such experiences when one dies and then comes back to life. Perhaps such events are outside the medical realm.

Unexplained sudden recoveries also happen. Theists call them miracles. Atheists just say "we don't know". In this case, it is likely theists will always say "we don't know"...not enough proof. And it has always been that way for miracles.

If one subscribes to the Christian view, Jesus came to divide us -- to give us all the opportunity to choose to be close to God or choose to deny Him.

Allocutus
April 2nd, 2011, 07:45 PM
I would not go so far as to use the word “resurrected” myself. Although technically one could say that an unexplained resuscitation after death, could be considered a “resurrection”. There are cases of people coming back to life in morgues or otherwise scaring medical staff who were in the room with “a corpse” after being declared dead.


I'm sure there are cases of incompetent doctors wrongly issuing a death certificate. However, I was replying to a poster who claimed that these are commonplace and that he knows a number of people who were actually dead and have miraculously come to back to life.



Extensive studies require money, and how does one go about studying such things?

Spart, there are plenty of studies of a lot of weird phenomena. There is an entire field of psychology called "theopsychology" which deals precisely with religious experiences, from many different psychological angles. There are neuropsychological studies of these experiences. Equally, OBE has received extensive scientific attention (see wiki (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Out-of-body_experience)) and continues to receive it (see my discussion of Parnia's study below).

How does one go about studying people "coming back to life"? I don't know. I haven't thought about it and I'm not a scientist. But I think you misunderstood me. I was replying to a post claiming that resurrections are commonplace. I'm very sceptical of the poster's claim. A dead person coming back to life is something that creates a legal dilemma as well as an apparent breach of laws of nature. The brain begins to decompose within minutes of death and a person who is dead and comes back to life with normal capacity would be a freaky thing indeed. It must be reported somewhere. If indeed such things happen in the poster's congregation, this must have attracted the attention of his local authorities and of the medical profession. It must be reported somewhere. But I suspect the poster is relying on anecdotal claims that made their way to him via hearsay; the same type of stuff that used to be said for werewolves, vampires and many other strange things.



For example studies of people who have clinically died and then come back to life receive little or no funding and a couple of the more well-known ones have been done by nurses on their own. Such studies are very new, and we will certainly see more in the coming years.

Actually, there have been many studies of NDE, starting with Dr Moody. Moody has in fact come up with positive results, but those were unable to be replicated and there have been serious doubts about his methodology.

One such study concludes that "evidence is now suggesting that mental and cognitive processes may continue for a period of time after a death has started" and describes the process of death as "essentially a global stroke of the brain. (wiki (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Near_death_experience)).

But, once again, it seems that the post I was replying to asserted that people were in fact dead and were miraculously resurrected. I was replying to that assertion. That assertion is different to a mere NDE. NDE's are fairly commonplace. An NDE is not a miraculous recovery.

Just on the subject of NDE, I can present my own anecdotal story. I know a fellow who was clinically dead. He's an atheist. After recovery, he told me "Marty, I've been there. There's no tunnel, no light, no nothing."



http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/wales/7463606.stm

"All the current sceptical arguments against near-death experiences were not supported by the research," she said.
In one case a critically-ill patient, who also had cerebral palsy, awoke from a near-death experience able to use his right arm normally, even though it had been bent and contracted since birth.
"It shouldn't have been possible without an operation to release his tendons, but he could open his arm freely," said Ms Sartori.

Yes. Dr Penny Sartori has indeed written a book on the subject.


In another case a patient reported encountering a dead relative who gave a message to pass on to another member of the family who was still alive.
Ms Sartori said the information had stunned the receiver because it had been a secret and it was impossible the patient had prior knowledge of it.

The problem is that this is based on a subjective claim by a patient. Could the patient be deluded? Could the experience itself have resulted in some confusion about whether the message was indeed a secret? Has that been addressed as a "possibility"? And if you accept this as evidence, why don't you believe in reincarnation? Proponents of reincarnation rely on very similar stories as "evidence"; they claim that people are able to remember past lives.

And what was Sartori's methodology? Where did she publish the book? What was the scientific world's response? Was this perhaps a book released to the public, not unlike many UFO books, books about the Bermuda Triangle, and other sensationalistic money-raising ventures?


http://www.impactednurse.com/?p=671
In fact studies have shown that 10-20 per cent of people who go through cardiac arrest and clinical death report ongoing lucid, well structured thought processes, including detailed recall of events during their resuscitation.

Actually, I'm interested in the accuracy of the above quote. It appears to be a misinterpretation (not by you but by your source) of the words of Dr Parnia (I say this because the quote in your source is in such close proximity of a mention of Parnia's proposed study and the figures of 10-20% would be an amazing coincidence indeed). Another source quotes him as follows:

“At least 10 to 20 percent of people who have been brought back to life will tell us they had consciousness present, and a proportion of them will tell us they were able to see doctors and nurses working on them as if they’re looking from above,” Parnia told Vieira. “When people have died, their brain goes into a flatline state, so consciousness shouldn’t be present. But it could also be that [doctors] did something amazing to get blood into their brains.” (NBC (http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/33055601/ns/today-today_health/))

Note, however that the very same source you are quoting also asserts that NDE's are likely to have very physical explanations indeed. I quote (http://www.impactednurse.com/?p=671):

In fact, many of the experiences have been induced through electrical stimulation of the temporal lobe during neurosurgery for epilepsy, or with high carbon dioxide levels, or in the decreased cerebral perfusion that results in local cerebral hypoxia experienced during rapid acceleration by fighter pilots
And that famous tunnel of light that many people report may be simply a symptom of the last electrical gasping of dying rods and cones of the retina.

Now, back to Dr Parnia. He is currently conducting a study to verify any claims of patients being able to perceive things they shouldn't be able to perceive. The study is called AWARE (AWAreness during REsuscitation) and is referred to by your source (http://www.impactednurse.com/?p=671).

According to The Australian, Parnia has already conducted a similar study, together with none other than Dr Sartori. The studies conducted involved having hidden images in the same room as a cardiac arrest patient. The aim was to see whether the patient would mention the existence of these hidden messages. The Australian (http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/features/life-after-life/story-e6frg8h6-1111118573140)goes on to comment:

Furthermore, previous hidden-target experiments by, among others, Parnia himself and Dr Penny Sartori at Morriston Hospital in Swansea, Wales, have failed to produce a single positive result. In fairness, this may be because the last thing that a floating dying person, with Jesus behind him and his body being pounded in front of him, will notice is some odd picture left on a shelf. This leaves believers in OBEs with an evidential mountain to climb.

Of similar interest is the fact that people undergoing such experiences often have visions of Jesus. This is most likely culture-based. Professor Chris French (a skeptic, to be sure) has made the following comment on the matter:

“Christians don’t see Hindu gods and Hindus don’t see Jesus, so there is some kind of cultural overlay, but we are dealing with people attempting to put an ineffable experience into words." (Ibid)

Parina himself is also skeptical. I quote him from your own source (http://www.impactednurse.com/?p=671):

“If you can demonstrate that consciousness continues after the brain switches off, it allows for the possibility that the consciousness is a separate entity. It is unlikely that we will find many cases where this happens, but we have to be open-minded. And if no one sees the pictures, it shows these experiences are illusions or false memories.
This is a mystery that we can now subject to scientific study.”

And just to finish the subject of NDE (in the OBE context) and to re-emphasise my previous point, allow me to quote Susan Blackmore, a psychologist who has spent many years studying claims of NDE:

The problem is that all the evidence remains anecdotal, and even the most impressive stories, such as Reynolds’s, tend to look less convincing on closer examination. “There are many claims of this kind,” writes the prominent psychologist Susan Blackmore, “but in my long decades of research into NDEs I never met any convincing evidence that they are true.” (The Australian (http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/features/life-after-life/story-e6frg8h6-1111118573140))

And further:

In The Skeptic, Jason Braithwaite of Birmingham University in England wrote a withering deconstruction of a headline-generating Dutch study that claimed survival of the mind after death. “(It) provided no evidence at all that the mind or consciousness is separate from brain processes,” he wrote.
(Ibid) (you can find the original article by Braithwaite here (http://www.ukskeptics.com/the-dying-brain.php))

I have not read the original sources of any of the above studies/articles. It seems that neither have you. But it would seem that there are no reliable results in existence and that has been the position ever since Moody's original studies. It's very important to be extremely cautious of sensationalist claims, especially ones that have been published for the general public (income-raisers).




The same is true for “sudden unexplained recovery” which is the medical term applied to miracles – when a patient suddenly gets better for know known reason. This does happen. I have several doctors in my parish who each can give more than one case where a patient has suddenly and with no explanation recovered, often after fervent prayer. To study such cases or publish articles about them is quite difficult as the cases will not further medical knowledge as there is no medical explanation.

Well no, you have this the wrong way around. "Miracles" is the folklore term applied to sudden unexplained recovery. Essentially, an appeal to ignorance. We don't understand a recovery (and those SUR's occur regardless of religious orientation!) so the faithful (be they Hindu, Christian, American Indian, Wiccan) will claim these to be miracles.

This is exactly how anecdotal claims are made. Keep in mind that these claims are ancient and come from times when people knew nothing of how the world works. Everything was believed to be magic back then.

Once again, as I said in my previous post, you must show strong correlation before making any miraculous claims. It must be shown that SUR's occur more frequently for believers than they do for non-believers (taking placebo into account). So far, such attempts have failed.

In fact, the Great Prayer Experiment ("STEP") (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Studies_on_intercessory_prayer)(discussed by myself in the previous post) has showed a negative correlation for the group which knew they were being prayed for. Those who didn't know they were prayed for recovered at exactly the same rates as those who were not prayed for at all. But those who knew they were prayed for suffered from more complications. Prof Benson (the Harvard-based author of this expensive and thorough study - commissioned by a Christian organisation) put it down to "performance anxiety".



There is also the atheist culture within the professional medical journal publishing business. It is highly unlikely that even if a doctor were willing to invest his own time and resources into a study of miracles that such a study would ever be published. Such a doctor would also face the possibility of being "blacklisted" by the research community. I have had the opportunity to speak to many MDs, and if you get to know one well enough and bring the subject up, it seems every doctor, if they have been practicing long enough, has had cases of unexplained sudden recovery they have dealt with.

Conspiracy theory here.

But let's get our perspective back. The post I was replying to claimed that miracles are commonplace. Surely, if that were a fact, there would be such widespread knowledge about them that there would be no shame in a doctor admitting that they are a fact. The same would be true for scientists. Why would there be such an atheistic trend in science if miracles were an everyday occurrence? It makes no sense.




Whether atheist or theist some facts are indisputable:

People do die and come back to life. Always have. But in our modern age it happens with more frequency and such events are only now being recorded and studied. We do not know enough about the dying process to be able to render a definitive judgment on exactly what happens during this process. Medical science probably will not be able to offer reasons for everything that happens during such experiences when one dies and then comes back to life. Perhaps such events are outside the medical realm.

Well, I don't entirely agree that people die and come back to life, except for the so-called clinical death. Clinical death is not true death precisely because it is reversible.

That said, it's clear that the above phenomenon, without further (and very carefully examined) evidence is not evidence of the existence of anything outside the physical realm.



Unexplained sudden recoveries also happen. Theists call them miracles. Atheists just say "we don't know". In this case, it is likely theists will always say "we don't know"...not enough proof. And it has always been that way for miracles.

Correct. And theists (of all brands) have for thousands of years attached a "miracle" or "magic" tag to anything that they failed to understand. Fortunately, so many humans have learned enough about the world to put that line of thought to the side. It is thanks to this that we have studied viruses and bacteria and their disease-causing aspects, rather than to continue to think that diseases are manifestations of evil spirits and attempting to cure them by prayer alone. This is also why we have developed chemical medications for many psychoses and for epilepsy, rather than to continue to deal with these by "chasing demons out in the name of Jesus".

The faithful (of all kinds) will always rely on anecdote in order to support their claims. And believe you me, in my time I've heard some amazing anecdotes and even more amazing "conclusions" based on them.



If one subscribes to the Christian view, Jesus came to divide us -- to give us all the opportunity to choose to be close to God or choose to deny Him.

And it never fails to amaze me why anyone would ever subscribe to the Christian view. It would seem that way too many do so based on the very type of anecdotal stories that we're discussing here.*

Not the least of which is the New Testament itself; wrtitten decades after the alleged Christ's alleged death and written in four largely inconsistent Gospels along with the inconsistent Acts along with the inconsitent Epistles, meeting all the criteria of mythology or legend....

BigD9832
April 2nd, 2011, 08:35 PM
But no prosthetic limbs, I bet. Why is it that miracles never involve severed limbs growing back? After all, it would seem as easy as to whisper a word when it comes to a God who could so effortlessly create an entire universe. Would it not? And the effect would be the same as it is with those who (apparently) leave their wheelchairs behind. From being unable to walk, they move to being able to walk. And let's face it, such an occurrance would be a real miracle. It could be documented and studied.

Now this is really funny. Someone here who has never experienced a life threatening disease is criticizing a feasible and practicable source of healing.

God has chosen to reveal Himself with the Scriptures, and the gifts of His Holy Spirit. It is such a shame that so many will not try to understand His reconciliation to mankind.

I am not sure where you are getting your information from. I have heard of people who's limbs came back to them. I think it is the first story in Kathryn Kuhlman's book I Believe In Miracles, which is about a iron worker who lost his eye to a hot coal and it returned, re-grew if you will.

So my question would be to Allocutus...

What do you really know of healings like this? What research have you done. How many organizations have you visited for yourself? Did you really think you would get this type of information from off the web? LOL


If miraculous recoveries are really as commonplace as you claim, why is it that science has not been able to agree that they occur? Why is this not documented in scientific journals? After all, any scientist who could conclusively demonstrate this to be true would probably win the Nobel Prize.

Really? You think all you have to do is receive a healing and you will get a Noble Prize? You truly are a funny guy.

And I would appreciate it if you did not put words into my keyboard. I did not say it was "commonplace." I said...


The information is out there. Anyone can find it, if they look.

Tell me, where have you looked?


The effect of prayer has been studied numerous times.

Again, I was not talking about prayer. I was talking about the Gift of Healing as provided by the Holy Spirit. But this is something you have to see for yourself.
Again I ask, where have you looked? You won't find this experience on the web.


While I appreciate the subjective power of the anecdotal "evidence" you present, it is just that; anecdotal and subjective.

Actually, it is not.

If you had actually read my post you might have noticed this portion...


... At her services, there were doctors who would examine some just before they entered, to verify that they did indeed have an illness. These people were examined again by the doctors as they were leaving, to verify that they were actually healed. And they were examined again after a 5 year period to verify that the healing had lasted.

I really hate quoting myself.


Would you please point me to where the incidents you refer to are documented?

Now why would I do that when you haven't even read the one post I created here. I would consider that a waste of time.

As I said before, the info is out there.

Where have you looked?

---------- Post added at 10:35 PM ---------- Previous post was at 10:32 PM ----------


I'm sure there are cases of incompetent doctors wrongly issuing a death certificate. However, I was replying to a poster who claimed that these are commonplace and that he knows a number of people who were actually dead and have miraculously come to back to life.

If you are referring to my post, please show where I used the term "commomplace."

Please tell us who used the term "commonplace" in thier post.

I really hate being mis-quoted.

Allocutus
April 2nd, 2011, 09:04 PM
Now this is really funny. Someone here who has never experienced a life threatening disease is criticizing a feasible and practicable source of healing.


You make a biiiig (and untrue) assumption that I have never experienced a life threatening disease. In fact, I find the above comment to be quite rude and inappropriate.


God has chosen to reveal Himself with the Scriptures, and the gifts of His Holy Spirit. It is such a shame that so many will not try to understand His reconciliation to mankind.

We're not here to discuss the scriptures. If you want to argue the validity of the Scriptures, I suggest you do so in another thread.



I am not sure where you are getting your information from. I have heard of people who's limbs came back to them. I think it is the first story in Kathryn Kuhlman's book I Believe In Miracles, which is about a iron worker who lost his eye to a hot coal and it returned, re-grew if you will.

Yes, of course you've "heard" stories. I wasn't saying that there's not a single story. I have read about some catholic claim of a 16th century miracle where a leg grew back. That wasn't my point. I was saying that you don't seem to find any artificial limbs amongst the godzillions of vota found in the godzillions of churches throughout the world. And let's face it, where are those stories of MODERN limbs growing back? You're quoting the title of a book. I'm not interested in titles. If you want to provide evidence, do so by the rules of the website. They are available on the bottom of my post (link "ODN RULES").


So my question would be to Allocutus...

What do you really know of healings like this? What research have you done. How many organizations have you visited for yourself? Did you really think you would get this type of information from off the web? LOL

Irrelevant question. But for your information, I used to be a very devout Christian, visited a large number of various congretations, attended services (and masses, where the word fits), been to large numbers of charismatic conventions. I have seen first hand what some claim to be miraculous healing.



Really? You think all you have to do is receive a healing and you will get a Noble Prize? You truly are a funny guy.

I did not say that. Please read what is said before responding.



And I would appreciate it if you did not put words into my keyboard. I did not say it was "commonplace." I said...

You have said this:


I am guessing that the Shrine holds about 6000 people. And I would say, probably during one service, more than half of them were healed. Probably close to 45000. But, to be conservative, I will say 3000.

You have also said this:


But I also know many more who have been healed of medical conditions that were not life threating. Also, people who have died, and have come back. I know a couple of those people, too.

If you claim that this does not amount to "commonplace" then so be it. You'd then say that these are rare events, would you? It just so happens that you keep stumbling upon them yourself. Is that because you are exceptionally lucky?



Tell me, where have you looked?

That's not relevant. I don't need to look. If you want to present evidence, do so.



Again, I was not talking about prayer. I was talking about the Gift of Healing as provided by the Holy Spirit. But this is something you have to see for yourself.


Are you saying that the Holy Spirit just comes to people ad hoc? You're sitting on a train, in your wheelchair and suddenly the Spirit appears and you're healed? Or are you talking about services where somebody says "be healed in the name of Jesus"? Because if it's the latter then you are talking about prayer.



Again I ask, where have you looked? You won't find this experience on the web.

You won't?

Search google under "Healing Testimony" Jesus and find 59,000 results. There are plenty testomonies out there, for plenty various religions. There are also plenty of testimonies by non-religious folks who believe in bio-energy and other magic. And yet, without very sound statistical studies, all of these are just anecdotal claims.


In other words

... At her services, there were doctors who would examine some just before they entered, to verify that they did indeed have an illness. These people were examined again by the doctors as they were leaving, to verify that they were actually healed. And they were examined again after a 5 year period to verify that the healing had lasted.


Actually, it is not.

If you had actually read my post you might have noticed this portion...

Actually, what you're quoting is an anecdotal claim. Show me where these doctors have published their findings. How do you know they were even doctors and not just members of the Show? Or give me their names. Or point me to some material about this event. Just what is it that they were healed from? What type of condition is it that a doctor can quickly exclude just minutes after a healing?

The evidence is anecdotal because:

1. Its veracity has not been confirmed by you;
2. Its veracity has not been conifrmed by anyone other than you;
3. There's been no comparison presented between these events and other possible placebo-based recoveries. The placebo effect is well known to medicine.



Now why would I do that when you haven't even read the one post I created here. I would consider that a waste of time.

As I said before, the info is out there.

I don't care if the info is "out there". If you want to present a case, you must provide evidence to support that case. So far, you have provided an entirely subjective testimony of your own. And that's fine. But it's also anecdotal. If you want o get beyond anecdotal, you must present the information you're seeking to rely on. Once again, it's in the rules of ODN.

dunrich
April 3rd, 2011, 08:32 AM
I have been facinated following this thread. I ahve been hesitant to post though, because I get defeated trying to show my thoughts, in a 'scientific way".

I beleieve there is a science to the soul. Cousciousness, has been found, independent of the mind. Especially in cases of NDE when brain activity had stopped. Yet, knowledge during that time , was realated by the ones expierienceing it afte wards was substantiated.

But, how does one measure that, in a Scientific way?

Is/are there one or several aspects of each of these experiences that correlates with having or not having a spiritual experience?


In other words, given that someone that claims to have had a spiritual experience really had said experience, can we pinpoint something about their method of obtaining it that is not present in cases of those who have attempted, but failed?

I would like to comment on this.

Does this not assume though, that what method works for one, also would another?

If so, wouldnt that negate some of the "spiritual aspect" , of it?

I kind of lean towards, the Universe would treat us all differently, in what we seek, and how to obtain that. Not sure if I am wording this right. But, if we could find, an exact method to manifest a 'spiritual expierience,,,, would that not maybe indicate a possible, physical reason, why that works? And not a Spiritual one?

When one studies about meditation for example. Many very common expieriences , from very diverse beliefs, do seem to have many common aspects. That come from, many different approaches to achieving them.

Physical meets what we think of as Spiritual, some where and some place. Maybe, there isnt actully, a dividing line ?

So, that is why I am wondering about that.

Dionysus
April 3rd, 2011, 12:44 PM
Cousciousness, has been found, independent of the mind. Especially in cases of NDE when brain activity had stopped.A Support this, please.

Lukecash12
April 4th, 2011, 01:00 AM
@Dio: I've claimed independent consciousness to be true, due to humans falling far from the standards for homeostasis and self-preservation that evolution has set thus far. We work against the curve, so something else must be going on.

You know, this might be a really enjoyable discussion for us to take up again. We've had time to think, and I think we've had plenty of experience with each other recently, so we could have a pretty good debate about this.

BigD9832
April 4th, 2011, 03:20 AM
And let's face it, where are those stories of MODERN limbs growing back? You're quoting the title of a book. I'm not interested in titles. If you want to provide evidence, do so by the rules of the website. They are available on the bottom of my post (link "ODN RULES").

You can call it whatever you like. ODN does not dictate reality and neither do you.

Kathryn Kuhlman held these services every month (mostly at the Shrine Auditorium in California) for about 25 years or so. I said I conservatively estimated about 3000 people were healed on the afternoon I was there. Do the math and you might have an idea of how many people have been healed in this fashion.


I have seen first hand what some claim to be miraculous healing.

I don't know what you saw, but I am sure you did not see anything like this. You are saying that you saw 3000 people healed in one afternoon? I don't think so Tim.

Also, none of the research that you presented here deals with what I am talking about. There is a vast difference between faith healing and healing from the power of the Holy Spirit. I have seen both. It sounds like you have seen only one.


If you claim that this does not amount to "commonplace" then so be it. You'd then say that these are rare events, would you? It just so happens that you keep stumbling upon them yourself. Is that because you are exceptionally lucky?

I have not 'stumbled' on anything. I used to hang out in circles where people were connected to this type of activity. As I said, you can find them if you look for them.

I consider "commonplace" and "rare" to be two extremes. I would think that there is a happy medium to the frequency of these events.


Are you saying that the Holy Spirit just comes to people ad hoc? You're sitting on a train, in your wheelchair and suddenly the Spirit appears and you're healed?

Again, I would consider these to be two extremes. Actually the Holy Spirit does come on people in the shower and other places like that. Perhaps when they are alone and had a chance to digest what they have seen at a meeting or service like this.


Or are you talking about services where somebody says "be healed in the name of Jesus"? Because if it's the latter then you are talking about prayer.

As I said, the research you have presented here has very little to do with what I am talking about. Kathryn Kuhlman did not heal people one at a time. To heal 3000 people in this manner would take hours. I did say it all happened in one afternoon.

I thought you said you were a Christian at one time and saw healings? And you do not know how the Holy Spirit works?

I will not describe this service or the manner of which the Holy Spirit works. I will leave that up to anyone who cares to do the research. If you want to know, there are videos of her working. Some will look her up and some will just criticize. I suppose that is natural.


You won't?
Search google under "Healing Testimony" Jesus and find 59,000 results.

I said you won't find this experience on the web. You will not experience this for yourself until you visit some of these services for yourself. Until then, you are just a spectator. You know, kinda an armchair quarterback.


There's been no comparison presented between these events and other possible placebo-based recoveries.

You keep repeating this concept of a placebo. Was this your word for the week?

A placebo is a pill. Are you suggesting that the Holy Spirit can be put into a pill?

Many of the people who were healed at these services did not even believe in God. They wer brought there by someone. They never heard of this type of activity or of Kathryn Kuhlman. Had no clue. They certainly didn't pray for a miracle. And yet they were healed.

Is that placebo enough for you? Or are you going to explain how to put this experience into a pill?

dunrich
April 4th, 2011, 04:01 AM
Alloctus, I see you know about Moody. Another person that has done some interesting work on this is the late Eccles. Cant re call his forst name. Terrible storm here right now, I keep losing my internet, will try and get links for you later on his work.

I my self, am not claiming a NDE. how ever, became awware of this phenomenon, when I discovered I was part of an extremely rare part of the population who showed signe of counsciouness while under anesthetics during a magor operation after an accident.

In the mean time, here are some sites I have, from my files. I have become facinated with meditation, and was quite surprised to have found that some even think, this is teid to counsiouness independent of the mind. So, I hade these inn my files.

The Nour Foundation is one such organization I have been following.

Their site sums it up well ;


The Human Consciousness ProjectSM
The Human Consciousness Project is an international consortium of multidisciplinary scientists and physicians who have joined forces to research the nature of consciousness and its relationship with the brain, as well as the neuronal processes that mediate and correspond to different facets of consciousness. The Human Consciousness Project will conduct the world’s first large-scale scientific study of what happens when we die and the relationship between mind and brain during clinical death. The diverse expertise of the team ranges from cardiac arrest, near-death experiences, and neuroscience to neuroimaging, critical care, emergency medicine, immunology, molecular biology, mental health, and psychiatry.

The mystery of what happens when we die and the nature of the human mind has fascinated humankind from antiquity to the present day. Although traditionally considered a matter for philosophical debate, advancements in modern science and in particular the science of resuscitation have now enabled an objective, scientific approach to seek answers to these compelling questions, which bear widespread implications not only for science, but also for all of humanity.

Since the 1950s and 60s, marked improvements in resuscitation techniques have led to higher survival rates for patients experiencing cardiac arrest. Although many studies have focused on prevention and acute medical treatment of cardiac arrest, relatively few have sought to examine cognitive functioning and the state of the human mind both during and subsequent to cardiac arrest. The in-depth study of such patients, however, could serve as the most intriguing facet of cardiopulmonary resuscitation and may lead to significant progress in improving medical care while effectively addressing the mind-brain problem.

Today, most scientists have adopted a traditionally monist view of the mind-brain problem, arguing that the human mind, consciousness, and self are no more than by-products of electrochemical activity within the brain, notwithstanding the lack of any scientific evidence or even a plausible biological explanation as to how the brain would lead to the development of mind and consciousness. This has led some prominent researchers, such as the late Nobel-winning neuroscientist Sir John Eccles, to propose a dualist view of the problem, arguing that the human mind and consciousness may in fact constitute a separate, undiscovered entity apart from the brain.

Contrary to popular perception, death is not a specific moment, but a well-defined process. From a biological viewpoint, cardiac arrest is synonymous with clinical death. During a cardiac arrest, all three criteria of clinical death are present: the heart stops beating, the lungs stop working, and the brain ceases functioning. Subsequently, there is a period of time—which may last from a few seconds up to an hour or longer—in which emergency medical efforts may succeed in resuscitating the heart and reversing the dying process. The experiences that individuals undergo during this period of cardiac arrest provide a unique window of understanding into what we are all likely to experience during the dying process.

In recent years, a number of scientific studies conducted by independent researchers have found that as many as 10-20 percent of individuals who undergo cardiac arrest report lucid, well-structured thought processes, reasoning, memories, and sometimes detailed recall of their cardiac arrest. What makes these experiences remarkable is that while studies of the brain during cardiac arrest have consistently that there is no brain activity during this period, these individuals have reported detailed perceptions that appear to indicate the presence of a high-level of consciousness in the absence of measurable brain activity.

These studies appear to suggest that the human mind and consciousness may in fact function at a time when the clinical criteria of death are fully present and the brain has ceased functioning. If these smaller studies can be replicated and verified through the definitive, large-scale studies of the Human Consciousness Project, they may not only revolutionize the medical care of critically ill patients and the scientific study of the mind and brain, but may also bear profound universal implications for our social understanding of death and the dying process.

Active Researchers and Scientific Advisory Group www.nourfoundation.com/...Mind.../The-Human-Consciousness-Project.html

This a good paper dealing with tests concerning this. Rather dry reading though :

[PDF]
Experimental Evidence suggestive of Anomalous Consciousness ...

File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat - Quick View
by DL Delanoy - 1993 - Cited by 5 - Related articles
this question is whether mind can exist independently of the body. Or to re- phrase it, ..... These 11 studies show a significant and homogeneous extraversion/ESP correlation (r = .... of Scientific Exploration 5:1 (1991), 61- 85. ...
www.stealthskater.com/Documents/Consciousness_17.pdf


This is also a intersting site :



Scientists Think Consciousness is Separate from the Brain

18 Mar 2011 ... “We have a lot of well-documented cases where we have EEG and other ... At the center of many near-death experiences is the sensation of the ...
www.coolunknown.com/index.php?option=com... - Cached

There are many examples, of NDE expieriences, where the person considered dead, no brain activity, has revived and been able to relate even stuff as the name on a lite fixture in the room they had their expierience in. Then there are the unexplained phenomenah, some expierience through meditation. I am having trouble finding it this morning, will keep trying. But studies of Tibetan monks, have showed they reach places that can not be explianed by simple, our counsiouness is only what our mind can percieve.

Furthermore, one can even can find past life reports, where individuals have known intimate details of some one who lived hudreds of years before. that might indicate this possibility as well.

I`d better sign off, lol, before it all goes down again.

Dionysus
April 4th, 2011, 07:47 AM
@Dio: I've claimed independent consciousness to be true, due to humans falling far from the standards for homeostasis and self-preservation that evolution has set thus far. We work against the curve, so something else must be going on.Awesome. I'd like to see you support it too.

Lukecash12
April 4th, 2011, 06:44 PM
Awesome. I'd like to see you support it too.

Wanna start a thread?

Dionysus
April 4th, 2011, 08:06 PM
Wanna start a thread?Nope. I would just like to see the claim supported by something other than "We don't understand how or why "X" was experienced, therefore consciousness exists outside the brain".

Lukecash12
April 4th, 2011, 08:30 PM
You know what, I've given it some more thought, and I really don't feel like supporting that position anymore. It seems unfavorable and vague.

You finally have a deserved concession.

eye4magic
April 4th, 2011, 09:36 PM
Nope. I would just like to see the claim supported by something other than "We don't understand how or why "X" was experienced, therefore consciousness exists outside the brain".

Would that mean evidence could not be used to support it?

Dionysus
April 4th, 2011, 09:52 PM
Would that mean evidence could not be used to support it?I'm not sure what you mean by this, and I suspect it's mostly rhetorical. What I mean is exactly what I said.

Typically, the claim "consciousness has been shown to exist separately from the brain" is predicated on phenomenon "X", which is not well understood and/or explained. NDEs are a classic example of this. We don't yet understand the NDE experience well enough to conclude that it is a manifestation of external consciousness. If you don't know what "X" is, then that's where the conversation about what is it should stop.

eye4magic
April 4th, 2011, 11:13 PM
I'm not sure what you mean by this, and I suspect it's mostly rhetorical. What I mean is exactly what I said.

Typically, the claim "consciousness has been shown to exist separately from the brain" is predicated on phenomenon "X", which is not well understood and/or explained. NDEs are a classic example of this. We don't yet understand the NDE experience well enough to conclude that it is a manifestation of external consciousness. If you don't know what "X" is, then that's where the conversation about what is it should stop.

I see. So your point is because there is ongoing scientific research in the area of NDE with no definitive explanation for the experience, just a lot of mounting evidence (about 12 million people world wide) of consciousness existing outside of a working, viable brain, then the conversation stop because we don't understand NDE. I understand that argument.

The question I would raise is: do we need to fully understand the nature of why something exists in order to discuss its possible benefits or setbacks and learn from the observable aspects and characteristics it demonstrates?

An analogy I could use is the science of neuroplasticity, which "refers to the ability of the brain to change as a result of one's experience, that the brain is 'plastic' and 'malleable'." For decades this phenomena was unexplainable to the medical and scientific community. In fact, it was considered wacko science for a long time. Yet some doctors and scientists, with their careers on the line, kept pushing the envelope to understand what was not understandable yet observable. They persisted because they believed the observable effects (the evidence) of the adult brain changing, which no one believed was possible, could possibily some day help many people instead of a few.

Eventually, their inquiring and investigative minds paid off and the science of neurroplasticiy is now science and is beginning to help many people (http://www.normandoidge.com/normandoidge/MAIN.html) overcome limitations they thought they would have forever.

Allocutus
April 5th, 2011, 01:56 AM
Kathryn Kuhlman held these services every month (mostly at the Shrine Auditorium in California) for about 25 years or so. I said I conservatively estimated about 3000 people were healed on the afternoon I was there. Do the math and you might have an idea of how many people have been healed in this fashion.


Well that certainly appears to meet the definition of commonplace. It should be quite easily open to statistical analysis, so as to exclude fraud/placebo/coincidence. Has anyone perform such an analysis?




I don't know what you saw, but I am sure you did not see anything like this. You are saying that you saw 3000 people healed in one afternoon? I don't think so Tim.

Also, none of the research that you presented here deals with what I am talking about. There is a vast difference between faith healing and healing from the power of the Holy Spirit. I have seen both. It sounds like you have seen only one.

Again, you're the one making the claim that these people were healed. And you're saying that there were enough doctors present to actually diagnose 3000 people after the service and pronounce that they're no longer ill? I find that very difficult to believe. I think what you're doing is stretching an already anecdotal claim.



I have not 'stumbled' on anything. I used to hang out in circles where people were connected to this type of activity. As I said, you can find them if you look for them.

So it is commonplace then.


I consider "commonplace" and "rare" to be two extremes. I would think that there is a happy medium to the frequency of these events.

If a person can hang out in "circles" where this type of thing happens all the time then I suggest it meets the definition of "commonplace". And this means that it should be easily verifiable using scientific means. And yet it hasn't been.

As for the difference between faith healing and healing by the power of the Holy Spirit, I don't consider that a difference exists. Both are based on faith in the existence of an entity with a power to heal. Both involve an alleged interference of a supernatural entity with the events of the natural world. And therefore both should be easily verifiable or falsifiable by a simple statistical analysis. And yet so far there has been no study (despite numerous attempts) to demonstrate that any type of supernatural healing is in fact successful.

Note that most religions (and many non-religious practices) claim to engage in some unexplained healing activities; Christianity is not alone in this. Any such claims need to be studied and objectively verified, using established methods. Your experiences are entirely subjective and predicated on pre-existing faith that they are true.



Again, I would consider these to be two extremes. Actually the Holy Spirit does come on people in the shower and other places like that. Perhaps when they are alone and had a chance to digest what they have seen at a meeting or service like this.

I'd say that some people believe that the Holy Spirit (and a large number o other gods and spirits, depending on one's religion) comes on them in the shower.



As I said, the research you have presented here has very little to do with what I am talking about. Kathryn Kuhlman did not heal people one at a time. To heal 3000 people in this manner would take hours. I did say it all happened in one afternoon.

What difference does that make? In order to support this claim, a statistical analysis (along with properly documented medical diagnoses) would need to be conducted.



I thought you said you were a Christian at one time and saw healings? And you do not know how the Holy Spirit works?

I will not describe this service or the manner of which the Holy Spirit works. I will leave that up to anyone who cares to do the research. If you want to know, there are videos of her working. Some will look her up and some will just criticize. I suppose that is natural.

You can't research a phenomenon that's neither documented nor verified. How can you research how an unproven entity works? At the most you can reasearch the plethora (and yes, there's a wide array of differing beliefs amongst different Christians) of claims and beliefs made about such a phenomenon.



I said you won't find this experience on the web. You will not experience this for yourself until you visit some of these services for yourself. Until then, you are just a spectator. You know, kinda an armchair quarterback.

Why can't you research it?



You keep repeating this concept of a placebo. Was this your word for the week?

That's rude and offensive, buddy. I mention placebo because placebo is very relevant to the subject.



A placebo is a pill. Are you suggesting that the Holy Spirit can be put into a pill?

No, a placebo is not a pill. The Placebo Effect is the effect often experienced by somebody who thinks that a remedy will help them, even though the remedy itself does not contain any active ingredient. It doesn't have to be a pill.

Wiki (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Placebo):
A placebo ( /pləˈsiboʊ/; Latin: I shall please)[2] is a sham or simulated medical intervention



Many of the people who were healed at these services did not even believe in God. They wer brought there by someone. They never heard of this type of activity or of Kathryn Kuhlman. Had no clue. They certainly didn't pray for a miracle. And yet they were healed.

Anecdotal. Consider that these people are present, they see the ecstasy (not to use the word "frenzy") of those present, they see others apparently getting better. They are prayed over (in ecstatic and elevated voice) by others present and so forth. The atmosphere of such services alone can certainly be very elevating and can invoke strong emotional responses.

BigD9832
April 5th, 2011, 07:10 AM
Again, you're the one making the claim that these people were healed. And you're saying that there were enough doctors present to actually diagnose 3000 people after the service and pronounce that they're no longer ill? I find that very difficult to believe. I think what you're doing is stretching an already anecdotal claim.
Why is it that people around here like to misquote you so much?

I didn't ever say that doctors were diagnosing 3000 people. Nowhere did I ever say that.


So it is commonplace then.

I have already said that to describe this a "commonplace" would be an extreme.


And this means that it should be easily verifiable using scientific means. And yet it hasn't been.

This type of healing has been going on for 100s of years. Paul describes this in the NT, which is about 2000 years old. And you are suggesting that healing is somehow not valid because someone using a scientific process has not scrutinized it? This would assume that science has discovered everything there is to know. I would quote Shakespeare...

Hamlet:
And therefore as a stranger give it welcome.
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.


As for the difference between faith healing and healing by the power of the Holy Spirit, I don't consider that a difference exists.

OK. That counts as one uninformed opinion. Next.


Any such claims need to be studied and objectively verified, using established methods.

Why? I have known many people who were healed in this manner and live productive lives. I am sure this would not be the case had these folks not been healed in this manner.


What difference does that make? In order to support this claim, a statistical analysis (along with properly documented medical diagnoses) would need to be conducted.

Need to be conducted? Why?


Consider that these people are present, they see the ecstasy (not to use the word "frenzy") of those present, they see others apparently getting better. They are prayed over (in ecstatic and elevated voice) by others present and so forth. The atmosphere of such services alone can certainly be very elevating and can invoke strong emotional responses.

This is not how I would describe a service held by Kathryn Kuhlman.
Again I would say you are uninformed in these matters.

I don't see any reason to continue this conversation. I have been healed and I have seen thousands of people healed. If you choose not to believe this that is your loss, as far as I am concerned.

Have a nice day.

Dionysus
April 5th, 2011, 07:58 AM
I see. So your point is because there is ongoing scientific research in the area of NDE with no definitive explanation for the experience, just a lot of mounting evidence (about 12 million people world wide) of consciousness existing outside of a working, viable brain...Stop right there. Note the bolded portion. THAT is an unqualified remark. NO ONE KNOWS that what they've experienced IS 'consciousness existing outside of a working, viable brain'. They know that they've experienced something, but they don't know what it is, and saying that it IS 'consciousness existing outside of a working, viable brain' is saying what it is too soon. That's my only issue.

I don't deny the accounts nor people's sincerity when they convey them. What I deny is that the evidence indisputably points to 'consciousness existing outside of a working, viable brain'. All it points to is some form of consciousness existing in a state that we don't understand, but it DOESN'T clearly point to consciousness existing separately from the agent's body. That is a huge stretch of reasoning.

Hallucinations haven't been ruled out, for example. And if we take a person's account of their experience as proof that they REALLY WERE what they believed they were during the experience (replace "NDE" with "believing I was Napoleon" and you'll understand my meaning), then we have evidence for everything that anyone has ever believed when their brain was in a compromised state.

CliveStaples
April 5th, 2011, 02:23 PM
Could you be so kind as to give me the criteria by which we determine which "spritual experiences" are "good indicators" of reality, and which ones are "bad"?

Why, for example, do you (as in you, Clive, as a Christian... you are still a Christian, right?) accept that Jesus turned water into wine but reject that Krishna picked up a mountain? Why do you reject that it's Krishna that communications with you when you pray, but accept that it is Jesus?

Certainly not because of a "spiritual experience." I believe I said so earlier, but I've never had what I would describe as a 'spiritual experience.'

The criterion is pretty obvious, I think: a "spiritual experience" is a "good indicator" of reality if and only if tit accurately (within some epsilon tolerance) reflects reality.


Do you accept or reject my spiritual experience? Why or why not?

What is the difference between my spiritual experience and any of your spiritual experiences (I am assuming that you claim to have had spiritual experiences, i.e. you pray to Jesus and he communicates with you, which I hope we can agree is a spiritual experience)?

Could you elaborate on a spiritual experience that you have had so we can have some kind of frame of reference to each other's perception of reality?

Jesus hasn't ever communicated with me in any way that I've recognized.

Bluedog
April 5th, 2011, 11:38 PM
Apparently there is a wide disparity in the ODN community about the occurence of spiritual experiences. Some (myself included) insist that they happen all the time, while others insist that, while they have given their best efforts at trying to gain some kind of spiritual experience, their efforts were fruitless, and we have people all over the space between those two extremes.

Obviously, as these are all personal experiences and prone to subjectivity, we won't be able to be very scientific about it, but I'd like to be as scientific as we can get. The question I would like to be able to answer is:

Is/are there one or several aspects of each of these experiences that correlates with having or not having a spiritual experience?

In other words, given that someone that claims to have had a spiritual experience really had said experience, can we pinpoint something about their method of obtaining it that is not present in cases of those who have attempted, but failed?


I would like to be as formal about this as possible, with one thread dedicated to the collection of experiences (or attempts at experiences) only (i'm even thinking of writing a form on my web page to standardize formatting, as well as to ensure that all questions are answered), and a separate thread for discussion.

The purpose of this thread is I would like input as to what kind of criteria we should look for. These are the ones I am thinking of so far:
3000

Any feedback will be much appreciated. :D

I would offer that anytime that someone picks up a copy of the Holy Scriptures and attempts to comprehend the revelations held within the pages thereof....they are experiencing a "spiritual edification/enlightenment". Example; "Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sin and ye SHALL RECEIVE THE "GIFT" OF THE HOLY GHOST". -- Acts 2:38.

Examine the statement, become Christians and you will receive THE GIFT of the Holy Spirit. What? Can one actually receive the HOLY GHOST (the 3rd divine personality of the Godhead)? Of course not, God is not a THING that one can possess. Note every time the Spirit of God...aka, the Holy Ghost, the Holy Spirit of Truth..etc., is mentioned in scripture said entity is always addressed as a personality, in this case....He, Him, etc., What then is the Gift Mentioned? Note also said Gift is not limited by time, It is for them, their Children, and all who are far off (or descendants). Vs. 39

This Gift is given as a witness to the truth, God gives it to all those who obey the Gospel (Acts 5:32). God's Love comes to us through this Gift of the Spirit (Romans 5:5). We are Given this Gift as a pledge (2 Cor.1:21-22). We receive this Gift of the Spirit through Faith (Gal. 3:2)

Said Gift cannot be the Baptism of the Holy Spirit as not every Gospel Believing Christian was Baptized in the Holy Spirit with Power from on High. In fact a Holy Spirit Baptism is only recorded twice in the entirety of the New Testament Scriptures, On the Day of Pentecost when the Apostles received the promise made by the Christ (Acts 1:8) to be endowed with power from on high (Acts 2), and there is a record of the Holy Spirit falling upon the Household of the Roman Centurion, a gentile, Cornelius. (Acts 10). Why? To confirm that the Faith was also intended not just for the Jews but the Gentile nations as well.

Not all Christians received miraculous power, not all had the supernatural gifts come upon them when they were baptized into the Faith. Example (Acts 8:12-17), those Christians had accepted the faith but the Spirit had not touched them until the Apostle approached them and laid hands on them. Next we find the record in (1 Cor. 12:29-31) demonstrating that not all Christians could preform miraculous acts. And of course the statement declaring that all such gifts of a miraculous nature would one day end (1 Cor. 13:8-10).

Even though the actual record demonstrates that not all Christians possessed miraculous gifts we are admonished to be filled with the Holy Spirit (Eph. 5:18-19).

Thus what are we to be filled with if not miraculous powers? The Word of God (Col. 3:16). Again, what was the commission of the Holy Spirit? To deliver ALL TRUTH (John 14:16-17), "And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you forever; even the SPIRIT OF TRUTH; whom THE WORLD CANNOT RECEIVE; because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him, but ye know Him; for He dwelleth with you, and shall be IN YOU."

As I said, The scriptures are a product of the Spirit, and are Truth (John 13:13, 2 Tim. 3:16-17), all are inspired of God. If your Spirit allows the Spirit of Truth to live IN YOU (your mind) through comprehending the Truth that was delivered as a product of the Holy Spirit of Truth's Commission.....what Spirit is it that lives in you and advises you...if is not the Spirit of God?



What was the divine commission of the Holy Spirit? Its still delivering the TRUTH today as it was commissioned to do over 2000 years ago....every time that someone picks up the Holy Bible and allows that truth to build his her faith, as, "...faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God." -- Romans 10:17

Most do not comprehend the truth that the Spirit was and is delivered by Measure, The Christ had the Spirit WITHOUT MEASURE (John 3:24), The Apostles another measure, given to establish Doctrine for the New Testament as the Spirit was commissioned to lead them into All Truth (John 16:13) and they were directly promised a certain measure by the Christ Himself (Act 1:8), Then the measure, the Gift given to all those who accept the TRUTH delivered by the Holy Spirit of Truth (Acts 2:38).

Allocutus
April 7th, 2011, 05:19 PM
I would offer that anytime that someone picks up a copy of the Holy Scriptures and attempts to comprehend the revelations held within the pages thereof....they are experiencing a "spiritual edification/enlightenment". Example; "Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sin and ye SHALL RECEIVE THE "GIFT" OF THE HOLY GHOST". -- Acts 2:38.

Examine the statement, become Christians and you will receive THE GIFT of the Holy Spirit. What? Can one actually receive the HOLY GHOST (the 3rd divine personality of the Godhead)? Of course not, God is not a THING that one can possess. Note every time the Spirit of God...aka, the Holy Ghost, the Holy Spirit of Truth..etc., is mentioned in scripture said entity is always addressed as a personality, in this case....He, Him, etc., What then is the Gift Mentioned? Note also said Gift is not limited by time, It is for them, their Children, and all who are far off (or descendants). Vs. 39

This Gift is given as a witness to the truth, God gives it to all those who obey the Gospel (Acts 5:32). God's Love comes to us through this Gift of the Spirit (Romans 5:5). We are Given this Gift as a pledge (2 Cor.1:21-22). We receive this Gift of the Spirit through Faith (Gal. 3:2)

Said Gift cannot be the Baptism of the Holy Spirit as not every Gospel Believing Christian was Baptized in the Holy Spirit with Power from on High. In fact a Holy Spirit Baptism is only recorded twice in the entirety of the New Testament Scriptures, On the Day of Pentecost when the Apostles received the promise made by the Christ (Acts 1:8) to be endowed with power from on high (Acts 2), and there is a record of the Holy Spirit falling upon the Household of the Roman Centurion, a gentile, Cornelius. (Acts 10). Why? To confirm that the Faith was also intended not just for the Jews but the Gentile nations as well.

Not all Christians received miraculous power, not all had the supernatural gifts come upon them when they were baptized into the Faith. Example (Acts 8:12-17), those Christians had accepted the faith but the Spirit had not touched them until the Apostle approached them and laid hands on them. Next we find the record in (1 Cor. 12:29-31) demonstrating that not all Christians could preform miraculous acts. And of course the statement declaring that all such gifts of a miraculous nature would one day end (1 Cor. 13:8-10).

Even though the actual record demonstrates that not all Christians possessed miraculous gifts we are admonished to be filled with the Holy Spirit (Eph. 5:18-19).

Thus what are we to be filled with if not miraculous powers? The Word of God (Col. 3:16). Again, what was the commission of the Holy Spirit? To deliver ALL TRUTH (John 14:16-17), "And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you forever; even the SPIRIT OF TRUTH; whom THE WORLD CANNOT RECEIVE; because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him, but ye know Him; for He dwelleth with you, and shall be IN YOU."

As I said, The scriptures are a product of the Spirit, and are Truth (John 13:13, 2 Tim. 3:16-17), all are inspired of God. If your Spirit allows the Spirit of Truth to live IN YOU (your mind) through comprehending the Truth that was delivered as a product of the Holy Spirit of Truth's Commission.....what Spirit is it that lives in you and advises you...if is not the Spirit of God?



What was the divine commission of the Holy Spirit? Its still delivering the TRUTH today as it was commissioned to do over 2000 years ago....every time that someone picks up the Holy Bible and allows that truth to build his her faith, as, "...faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God." -- Romans 10:17

Most do not comprehend the truth that the Spirit was and is delivered by Measure, The Christ had the Spirit WITHOUT MEASURE (John 3:24), The Apostles another measure, given to establish Doctrine for the New Testament as the Spirit was commissioned to lead them into All Truth (John 16:13) and they were directly promised a certain measure by the Christ Himself (Act 1:8), Then the measure, the Gift given to all those who accept the TRUTH delivered by the Holy Spirit of Truth (Acts 2:38).

Bluedog, what does this have to do with the subject of this thread? Have a look at the OP. This is not a biblical thread. The thread is about empirical methodology as it relates to "spiritual experiences".

How does quoting the Scriptures assist us? It can't be used unless we determine that they are reliable and relevant in the first place.

a) Are they reliable? The number of contradictions in the New Testament demonstrates that they can't be reliable.

b) Are they relevant? They're not. Nothing in what you have quoted addresses the criteria sought by the OP.

On another note, I find it interesting that you quote John 13:13 and 2 Tim. 3:16-17 on the validity of the Scriptures. Both verses were written when the canon of the New Testament did not even exist and thus they can't relate to the New Testament. The canon wasn't established until many years later. In paritucular Paul's letter was written years before any of the four Gospels were written, let alone selected from the wider collection of (many more) candidates.

So the question for you is this: how do you know whether a claimed (or perceived) spiritual experience is real or not? How did you go about having the experience? Do you consider the experience to be evidence for the existence of any god? For more details, see the flowchart in the OP.

Spartacus
April 12th, 2011, 01:42 PM
Jesus hasn't ever communicated with me in any way that I've recognized.

Really?

Not even indirectly through the Holy Bible, your church, etc.?

Also, as Christians, any spiritual contact with the Divine should be viewed as being the Holy Spirit, Not Jesus per se...but that is hairsplitting.

Clive, I publicly here invite you to see other people having a spiritual experience, this Friday beginning at 7:30PM in the church with the three-bar cross across the railroad tracks from your campus.

You will see people praying, worshiping, singing, chanting scripture, lighting candles, burning incense, prostrating themselves before God, even confessing their sins and most likely some will cry when they do.

Lukecash12
April 12th, 2011, 02:02 PM
Really?

Not even indirectly through the Holy Bible, your church, etc.?

Also, as Christians, any spiritual contact with the Divine should be viewed as being the Holy Spirit, Not Jesus per se...but that is hairsplitting.

Clive, I publicly here invite you to see other people having a spiritual experience, this Friday beginning at 7:30PM in the church with the three-bar cross across the railroad tracks from your campus.

You will see people praying, worshiping, singing, chanting scripture, lighting candles, burning incense, prostrating themselves before God, even confessing their sins and most likely some will cry when they do.

Typically most Christians who consider themselves intellectuals and don't have experiences like that, don't experience it because they don't like the idea of doing that in a public setting.

Are they ashamed? No. It's just not something you want to share with strangers, because they don't understand (IMO) and they will jump all over you like they do.

Spartacus
April 13th, 2011, 06:11 PM
Typically most Christians who consider themselves intellectuals and don't have experiences like that, don't experience it because they don't like the idea of doing that in a public setting.

Are they ashamed? No. It's just not something you want to share with strangers, because they don't understand (IMO) and they will jump all over you like they do.

In a healthy faith community, people should not be strangers.

Lukecash12
April 14th, 2011, 12:35 PM
In a healthy faith community, people should not be strangers.

To put it better:

People who aren't the individual in question, aren't in a position to think and comment about that individual's experience in an authoritative or empathetic manner. Neither authority or empathy is possible, given that they are not that individual in question.