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RE: [existlist] certainty of meaning

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  • james tan
    hi eduard, u brought out a curious question. and my opinioniated reply to your questions. i believe we can make choices independent of a transcendental god. as
    Message 1 of 58 , Jul 31, 2001
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      hi eduard,

      u brought out a curious question. and my opinioniated reply to your
      questions. i believe we can make choices independent of a transcendental
      god. as to whether we create god in our need for meaning, it is also highly
      plausible. in other words, it is not so much god creating man in his image,
      but we creating god in our own images. if u read the religious texts of most
      religions, their mythologies, u might feel the same way as i do, that these
      so called gods are quite human in personality and character structures. some
      of them seems to suffer the same neurosis and psychosis of humans. it
      appears that they are the direct imitation of humans. but then, it is hard
      to say whether the way they are similar to humans is a result of god
      creating us in their image of vice versa. i tend to think the latter.

      that said, it is still hard to determine whether god exist independently of
      us. u seems to think that they don't if we humans don't exist, and u gave a
      plausible scenario (or thought experiment, as u would prefer to call it).
      personally i'd think it's entirely possible that god dies the moment
      humanity is wiped out, so that what used to be worshipped was merely a
      figment of man's imagination, a fossil that testify to man's need for
      meaning, and nothing more.

      but i have heard testimonies of people whose integrity i can trust, when
      they mentioned they feel a 'peace beyond human understanding' as they
      worship god. they said they 'know' that god exist. now, given my
      orientation, i'd prefer if they use the word 'believe' rather than 'know',
      but they insist they 'know'. at this pt, i'd say either they are muddled
      about the semantics of words, or they truly have an experiential basis of
      god's presence in their lives, just as you'd say u know the computer screen
      in right before your eyes.

      this then bring us to the phenomenology of what we mean by 'know'. without
      going into elaboration, i'd just say that u know something if u have an
      immanent intuition of something as being there. nothing can go more basic
      than that. i'm not going into the arguments of descartes, hume, kant into
      their theories of knowledge, it'd be too troublesome and lengthy. so, it is
      also highly plausible that these peoples know what they're talking about
      when they say they know god exist, independently of them. now, if they have
      truly heard, felt or seen god, we can argue they may be suffering from some
      psychosis or schizophrenia. but i have met also people who are themselves
      professionals, such as psychiatrists, psychologists, doctors, lecturers who
      make such claims (u see, being curious, i do a little bit of interviewing
      and surveying whenever opportunities present); i.e. except for the part
      about feeling/hearing/seeing god in their lives, they are totally functional
      person, their speech are not disorganised, they do not manifest catatonic
      behaviours, they don't suffer from affective flattening, alogia, or
      avolition, socially and occupationally they're functional, they don't have
      any mood disorders. by all accounts, they are not delusional. so, what of

      now, when i happened to observe them in the church singing and worshipping,
      i could 'see' that some of them feel god's presence and loving-kindness.
      with their eyes closed, some with tears flowing as they 'worshipped'. i
      myself, though an atheist, felt an uplifting and somewhat awesome feeling as
      if in the presence of someone majestic, awesome, loving. it is weird, i
      know. i wondered, was it the lyrics? was it the melodies with the lyrics?
      was there truly a presence? was it my own secret, unconscious yearning and
      (spiritual) needs?? was it neurological, in the sense that man is
      biologically gene-d or wired to appropriate such transcendental? neither do
      i believe nor know if god exist, but there is a certain restive peace
      settling in as i sat there listening and appreciating the meaning of the
      words sang, and the whole experience is inexplicable, it was as if i've been
      a traveller and have come home. and i could well imagine how much more
      intense is the experience for them who believe and worship 'wholeheartedly'.

      but i doubt in such experience as a indicator of the transcendental. i have
      similar experience when i was invited to watch a football match in a huge
      stadium and when everybody (tens of thousands of them) roared and cheered as
      one; that feeling is also majestic (though not restful). i suspect that such
      experience is neurological, as is all experiences. many physiological
      experiments have been conducted that showed conclusively our sense of well
      being, happiness, sadness, depression, meaningfulness or meaninglessnes,
      personality, etc correlate to the working and mechanism of our neurons, the
      activities of the synapes and neuro-transmitters, their interconnections.
      perception of reality is totally dependent on our 'chemicals'; and there is
      no reality per se, there is only perceptions of reality; reality is only
      reality as humans see or experience it. or, as human construct it, based on
      his unique biological configurations and 'the interaction of chemicals'.
      what is supposedly spiritual is really chemical in nature. i could create a
      spiritual experience just by 'poking' at the right part of the brain/brain
      circuits, so to speak. the 'spirit' is really a imputed concept; or is it
      not? the fact that religious experiences is so common through time and
      geography and culture does not so much attesh to his reality as that all
      experiences are neurological in nature (since we all have a brain; i hope i
      can assume that).

      even the buddhist's meditation, which lead them to conclude that there is no
      self, or that the self and the universe is one (another example of
      transcendent experience), is pretty neurological in nature. as they focus
      and concentrate in meditation, a group of neurons in the superior parietal
      lobe, cease in activities. this lobe of the brain is responsible for
      processing information about time and space and the body's orientation in
      space. this orentation area need sensory inputs, and as one meditate, by
      definition it is to shut out all input but to focus on one thing (if one is
      successful in that), they prevent the brain from forming the difference
      between self and not-self. this give rise to the experience that we are one
      with one another and the universe. for someone whose temporal lobe is
      destroyed, it becomes impossible for them to experience any religious
      emotions of joy and awe. the occipital lobe is responsible for conjuring up
      religious images, such as the cross or buddha meditating.

      has this effectively ruled out that god exist independently of humans to
      answer part of your question? not really. there could still be a god out
      there. we can never know whether it is our brain wiring that creates the
      idea of god or whether god created our brain wiring so that we may recognise
      him for who he is. if there is no god, then one believes because one already
      has the 'hardware' for it, or he will TO WILL to believe; if there is a god,
      then it could be said that he is knocking at the door of our heart all
      along, so to speak.

      couldn't help but agreeing with maddona in one of her songs that 'life is a
      mystery, everyone stands alone'.

      as for those who are 'forced' to believe by their parents or culture, it is
      quite a different story altogether.


      From: "Eduard Alf" <yeoman@...>
      Reply-To: existlist@yahoogroups.com
      To: <existlist@yahoogroups.com>
      Subject: RE: [existlist] certainty of meaning
      Date: Tue, 31 Jul 2001 18:14:56 -0400

      hi Tony,

      hmmmm, interesting.

      Lets try a thought experiment.

      Start with a world which is populated by humans.
      These humans have developed a religion. And since
      this is a sort of utopic world, lets also say that
      they have been fortunate in avoiding religious
      strife, such that they have only one religion and
      everyone on the planet believes in it fully. In
      other words, you are constrained in your counter
      arguement in that there is no people who believe
      something different, and since there is no strife,
      the entire plant sees no reason to even consider
      alternative religions or philosophies. Let us
      assume that the religion which is believed by
      everyone, is Christianity. Everyone believes that
      there is a god, and that there is an afterlife.
      In short, the Christianity as it is today without
      any sects. It is totally uniform. In affect, you
      can talk any Christian believer today and consider
      that to be the same everywhere without variation.

      OK? Is that clear?

      Now, let us introduce a virus onto this planet.
      Everyone gets the disease and it is 100% fatal.
      The entire planet dies. No one is left.

      the question is then: does the god die with the
      people? And here "dying" means what we commonly
      think it is: the end the object, entity, whatever.

      The reason why i pose this thought experiment and
      question, is to find the view of members regarding
      our ability to make a choice without a concern for
      a transcendental god. that we create or gods and
      that is the only way they can exist. it relates
      to whether there is any certainty from which to
      say that we have meaning.


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    • C. S. Wyatt
      No one knows anything beyond what he or she experiences. All else is faith and / or bias. As far as I can tell, everything is a matter of meaning and intent.
      Message 58 of 58 , Aug 2, 2001
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        No one "knows" anything beyond what he or she experiences. All else is faith
        and / or bias.

        As far as I can tell, everything is a matter of meaning and intent. I have a
        great deal of faith that there are things greater and more important than
        mankind, though I dare not try to name that which is above man. (My Judaic
        bias, with some pagan "universe" worship.)

        From my web site:

        Logic has too many definitions to use the term without referencing the
        logical model being utilized in analysis. I tend to favor phenomenological,
        mathematical, or scientific logic. These conflict with other models due to
        their reliance upon individual proofs -- the proofs human beings can
        understand. In other words, what I cannot prove to myself, I cannot accept
        on a logical basis -- but I can accept on faith.

        Faith is important to me and most other humans. Faith and logic are, at
        least using the definitions utilized in modern philosophy, at odds but not
        exclusive: eventually I might prove those concepts in which I have faith.
        Faith is "accepting as fact that which cannot be mathematically or
        scientifically proven beyond all doubt." Notice the phrase "all doubt" and
        its importance.

        Ethics: (1) The study and philosophy of human conduct with emphasis on the
        determination of right and wrong. (2) A system of morals.

        Moral: (1) Based on probability; generalized human behavior. (2) Conforming
        to group standards of conduct.

        Justice: (1) The rendering of what is due or merited. (2) Being impartial.
        (3) Honest or equitable.

        Truth: (1) Conformity to requirements. (2) Faith in a statement's logic. (3)
        Conforming to a system of rules.

        - C. S.
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