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A Question for atheists.

RoyLatham
Posts: 4,488
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6/4/2014 1:08:38 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
In the other thread, there was a pointer originally provided by bluesteel to an interesting video, https://www.youtube.com...

In the video, atheist Darren Brown uses psychological techniques to induce the feeling of a religious conversion in an atheist. Brown's contention is that a tendency to believe in the supernatural is hardwired into the psychological makeup of humans. What's so surprising is the ease with which Brown, a skillful practitioner, brought forth a life-changing type of religious experience in a confirmed atheist. The conversion sequence starts at about 36 minutes into the video.

I think the techniques work better on young people and on those who have not settled on how the world works and how the mind works in the world. I was thinking "this is major league horsepucky" as Brown played all the emotional chords of manipulation.
SubterFugitive
Posts: 255
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6/4/2014 3:01:45 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 6/4/2014 1:08:38 PM, RoyLatham wrote:
In the other thread, there was a pointer originally provided by bluesteel to an interesting video, https://www.youtube.com...

In the video, atheist Darren Brown uses psychological techniques to induce the feeling of a religious conversion in an atheist. Brown's contention is that a tendency to believe in the supernatural is hardwired into the psychological makeup of humans. What's so surprising is the ease with which Brown, a skillful practitioner, brought forth a life-changing type of religious experience in a confirmed atheist. The conversion sequence starts at about 36 minutes into the video.

I think the techniques work better on young people and on those who have not settled on how the world works and how the mind works in the world. I was thinking "this is major league horsepucky" as Brown played all the emotional chords of manipulation.

"a tendency to believe in the supernatural is hardwired into the psychological makeup of humans"

Atheism explains away this feature of reality in terms of illusion.

Theism explains this feature of reality simply, we're hardwired for relations with God because fundamental to all reality is God himself, the personal, not the impersonal.

"induce the feeling of a religious conversion"

... just because you can induce inauthentic perceptions doesn't mean that therefore all religious perceptions are therefore inauthentic. Scientists can induce inauthentic sounds and other stimuli in a person, but does this therefore mean that what a person authentically hears is illusory?
iamanatheistandthisiswhy
Posts: 720
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6/4/2014 7:41:15 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 5/31/2014 11:06:41 PM, PotBelliedGeek wrote:
http://www.debate.org...

I read what you wrote in the last forum. Basically, this is what I would say.

Your imagination is strong.

To clarify, a brain is an incredible thing that is easily able to deceive itself especially when we want to believe in something. I for one cannot watch Horror movies as my overactive imagination gives me problems sleeping and nightmares. Understand I am not a kid, and I know everything is fantasy but my brain tries to convince me what I have seen is real. Now that I know this I am able to turn it off, although it still crops up in my dreams where we clearly have less control than when awake.
RoyLatham
Posts: 4,488
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6/5/2014 12:29:29 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 6/4/2014 3:01:45 PM, SubterFugitive wrote:
"a tendency to believe in the supernatural is hardwired into the psychological makeup of humans"

Atheism explains away this feature of reality in terms of illusion.

Theism explains this feature of reality simply, we're hardwired for relations with God because fundamental to all reality is God himself, the personal, not the impersonal.

Did you watch the video? The religious experience is real. It's induced by playing upon inherent human emotions, and the video explains those emotional responses in terms of a survival advantage for beings who live in tribes.

"induce the feeling of a religious conversion"

... just because you can induce inauthentic perceptions doesn't mean that therefore all religious perceptions are therefore inauthentic. Scientists can induce inauthentic sounds and other stimuli in a person, but does this therefore mean that what a person authentically hears is illusory?

I agree. The fact that some people think they are communicating with God, and really are not, does not rule out the possibility that others actually communicate with God. the emotions in both cases are real. What it does prove is that having a real God is unnecessary to explain the honest feeling of communication with the supernatural. That leaves God neither proved nor disproved.

Separate from the psychological factors we do have relevant empirical data. We know that praying for a good outcome in a health crisis produces no better outcome than not praying. The National Science foundation paid for that study. We also know that religious beliefs vary widely depending upon the particular religion, and there is no reason to suppose that one category of believer is more sincere than another.

Since the tendency to adopt unproved beliefs is hardwired into humans, it's logical to ask how that tendency is expressed among atheists. I think it is sometimes, not always, expressed as unquestioning belief in a radical political ideology.
SubterFugitive
Posts: 255
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6/5/2014 5:20:23 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 6/5/2014 12:29:29 PM, RoyLatham wrote:
At 6/4/2014 3:01:45 PM, SubterFugitive wrote:
"a tendency to believe in the supernatural is hardwired into the psychological makeup of humans"

Atheism explains away this feature of reality in terms of illusion.

Theism explains this feature of reality simply, we're hardwired for relations with God because fundamental to all reality is God himself, the personal, not the impersonal.

Did you watch the video? The religious experience is real. It's induced by playing upon inherent human emotions, and the video explains those emotional responses in terms of a survival advantage for beings who live in tribes.

"induce the feeling of a religious conversion"

... just because you can induce inauthentic perceptions doesn't mean that therefore all religious perceptions are therefore inauthentic. Scientists can induce inauthentic sounds and other stimuli in a person, but does this therefore mean that what a person authentically hears is illusory?

I agree. The fact that some people think they are communicating with God, and really are not, does not rule out the possibility that others actually communicate with God. the emotions in both cases are real. What it does prove is that having a real God is unnecessary to explain the honest feeling of communication with the supernatural. That leaves God neither proved nor disproved.

I agree that having a real God is unnecessary to explain the honest feeling of communication with the supernatural but nevertheless it can be sufficient. What matters here is whether we have good grounds for affirming that the experiencer's faculties are functioning properly and in a credible way and, further, there don't exist overriding defeaters for the experience.


Separate from the psychological factors we do have relevant empirical data. We know that praying for a good outcome in a health crisis produces no better outcome than not praying. The National Science foundation paid for that study. We also know that religious beliefs vary widely depending upon the particular religion, and there is no reason to suppose that one category of believer is more sincere than another.

Well I don't think anything either way can be concluded from that NSF study. Moreover I don't know what you mean by 'better' here... Christianity was really never one of those mystical religions focused on mere well-being and fortune. Christ himself prayed that his cup of crucifixion pass from him, needless to say he was still crucified.


Since the tendency to adopt unproved beliefs is hardwired into humans, it's logical to ask how that tendency is expressed among atheists. I think it is sometimes, not always, expressed as unquestioning belief in a radical political ideology.

Again such theistic experiences are to be taken on a case by case basis. It's illegitimate to indite the whole of human experience just because we sometimes adopt unjustified beliefs and wishful thinking.

We can debate this if you like.
RoyLatham
Posts: 4,488
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6/6/2014 12:15:35 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 6/5/2014 5:20:23 PM, SubterFugitive wrote:

I agree that having a real God is unnecessary to explain the honest feeling of communication with the supernatural but nevertheless it can be sufficient. What matters here is whether we have good grounds for affirming that the experiencer's faculties are functioning properly and in a credible way and, further, there don't exist overriding defeaters for the experience.

Ducks have a strong genuine urge to fly south for the winter. Their faculties are fully functioning and unimpaired. It's a good thing for the species that they obey the instinct. The same may be true for humans and the religious instinct.

I don't think the religious instinct should be narrowly considered to be about God. Buddhism and Jainism are the common examples of godless religions. I think that political ideologies provide an equivalent to religion. My view is that the God question is not very important.


Well I don't think anything either way can be concluded from that NSF study. Moreover I don't know what you mean by 'better' here... Christianity was really never one of those mystical religions focused on mere well-being and fortune. Christ himself prayed that his cup of crucifixion pass from him, needless to say he was still crucified.

The NSF study proved that prayer had no effect on health outcome. The experiment was performed with a double blind protocol so that judgement of health improvement or not was done without knowing which side the judgment favored. Most Christians believe that prayers produce results and take that as evidence of a God that hears prayers and responds. Hence, the experiment disproves that notion. I don't know if a responsive God is necessary for Christianity, but a responsive God is certainly not necessary for Buddhism or Deism.


Again such theistic experiences are to be taken on a case by case basis. It's illegitimate to indite the whole of human experience just because we sometimes adopt unjustified beliefs and wishful thinking.

We can debate this if you like.

My point was that the existence of God cannot be proved or disproved, because God has a flexible definition. Genuine religious experience is indistinguishable from inauthentic religious experience, so it's impossible to say which are genuine and which are not.

So what resolution were thinking to debate?